Tuesday, 31 January 2012

'The Reader in White' by Jean-Louis Ernest Meissonier

'The Reader in White' (1857) by Jean-Louis Ernest Meissonier;
Musée d'Orsay, Paris

My struggling days to find a painting for a specific date might be over. Going through art books wasn't satisfying enough. I would find nice paintings but no suitable dates. Today I came across a link and it lists dates of births and deaths of artists. So Wikipedia didn't give me an artist for today but this link did. Jean-Louis Ernest Meissonier (21 February 1815 - 31 January 1891) was a French artist and well-known for his paintings of Napoleon and military themes. I'm not really into military scenes but I do like this painting, a simple depiction of a man reading a book.

Monday, 30 January 2012

Georges de La Tour and Magdalene of Night Light

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'Magdalene of Night Light' (between 1640 and 1645) by Georges
de La Tour; Musée du Louvre, Paris

I visited Museo del Prado in Madrid in May 2009 (click here) and saw this painting of Georges de La Tour (born on March 13, 1593, and died on January 30, 1652), on loan from Musée du Louvre. The light in this painting is absolutely beautiful. It's clear that this is an example of Chiaroscuro and that La Tour was influenced by Caravaggio and the Dutch Caravaggisti. He became well-known for the use of candlelight in his paintings. Apparently La Tour painted four different representations of the repentant Magdalene. This is the one that I saw in Madrid. It looks very much like Magdalene with the Smoking Flame, the first one in the series. You can tell the two paintings apart by looking at the flame: in this painting it's not smoky but clear. I think I like the one with the smoking flame better. I understand there is symbolic meaning to this painting and that the skull represents death, but I find this particular object a bit disturbing since the rest of the painting and the delicate Magdalene seem so peaceful.

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Alfred Sisley and Village on the Banks of the Seine

Village on the Banks of the Seine
'Village on the Banks of the Seine' (1872) by Alfred Sisley;
State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg

It is not so difficult to find a beautiful painting by English Impressionist artist Alfred Sisley, born on 30 October 1839 (in Paris) and died on 29 January 1899. He spent most of his time in France but retained British citizenship. He was one of the least appreciated major Impressionist painters, partly because of his Anglo-French background. Very dedicated to landscape painting, more consistently than any other Impressionist painter, he is considered to be one of the 'purest' Impressionists. He was among the artists whose work was shown during the first Impressionist exhibition in 1874. Although the exhibition received negative criticism, he managed to sell 21 of his paintings but for little money. He was the only one of the Impressionists to be recognised for his work áfter his death. I used to like Impressionist painters better when I was younger, but I wasn't really familiar with Sisley's work and quite like his landscapes. The one I chose for this post is absolutely beautiful in colour.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Ernest William Christmas and Kilauea Caldera

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'Kilauea Caldera' (1816-18) by Ernest William Christmas; Private Collection

Maybe a more extensive search would have come up with another artist, because I struggled again to find one, but I am satisfied with the Australian painter Ernest William Christmas, born on January 28, 1863. I had never heard of him before and am not familiar with Australian art at all. In that respect alone, it is nice to show a painting of Christmas in this post. He was born in Australia but travelled the world. He became a landscape painter, with a particular interest in lakes and mountains. During his stay in Hawaii, he painted the volcano Kilauea and became a member of the Volcano School.  I find that kind of fascinating, a group of artists painting volcanos. Look at the detail on this particular painting: the two tiny figures at the front. If you are interested to know more about this painter, click here.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Hendrick Avercamp and the Colf Players on Ice

'Colf Players on Ice' (c.1625) by Hendrick Avercamp; Houston Museum of Fine Arts,
Collection Edward & Sally Speelman, Houston

Hendrick Avercamp, baptised on the 27th of January, 1585, is most famous for his paintings of winter landscapes. I visited the exhibition on Avercamp at the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam (20 November 2009 - 15 February 2010), and really enjoyed it. It's one of those exhibitions that is generally liked by the public. Avercamp's paintings and drawings are very accessible, even fun for children to look at. They are depictions of winter scenes where people, from all ages and classes, share the joy and hardship of the severe winters. Avercamp was unable to speak and probably also unable to hear so he might have possessed a greater ability of observation. You can look at his paintings for hours, simply because of all the details. To choose one painting for this post was not easy because there are so many. Thus I have opted for a more detailed scene, like this painting of 'The Colf Players on Ice'. I would definitely recommend to see more of his work.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Louis Anquetin and the Woman on the Champs-Élysées

Het Van Gogh Museum heeft het schilderij Vrouw op de Champs-Élysées bij nacht (ca. 1891) van Louis Anquetin (1861-1932) aangekocht. Deze aankoop was mede mogelijk door de steun van de BankGiro Loterij, de Vereniging Rembrandt (mede dankzij het Prins Bernh ...

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'Woman on the Champs-Élysées by night' (1891) by Louis Anquetin;
Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam

Ever since the Van Gogh Museum acquired the painting 'Woman on the Champs-Élysées by night' by French painter Louis Anquetin (born on 26 January 1861), I have loved this painting and every time I visit the Van Gogh Museum I go up to the third floor and admire it once more. I kept forgetting the name of the artist though and kept asking my sister, who works at the museum. Now I'm sure I will always remember Anquetin's name. He was among the same circle of artists as Vincent van Gogh and Émile Bernard. This particular painting shows the nocturnal side of Paris and keeps captivating me. You want to know where this woman is headed to and the movements in the background give me the impression that she's in a hurry. The Parisian art critics praised the work at the time and you can see why.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Govert Flinck and the Blessing of Jacob

'Isaac blessing Jacob' (1638) by Govert Flinck; Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Govert Flinck, born on January 25, 1615, is one of those Dutch painters that I know by name but never know exactly what his most famous paintings are. He was a portrait painter among others and he is well-known for his so-called Civic Guard Group Portraits (in Dutch: 'Schuttersstukken'). If you don't know what a 'Schuttersstuk' looks like, then think of Rembrandt's 'The Night Watch'. Click here for 'Schuttersstukken' by Flinck in the Rijksmuseum (in Dutch). Since I am not particular fond of this kind of paintings, I've chosen the beautiful 'Isaac blessing Jacob', an image of the biblical story. The painting reminds me very much of Rembrandt's work which isn't surprising. Flinck was a pupil of Rembrandt until 1636 and was greatly influenced by his master.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Amedeo Modigliani and a Nude Sitting on a Divan

'A Nude Sitting on a Divan' (1917) by Amedeo Modigliani; Private Collection

'A Nude Sitting on a Divan (The Beautiful Roman Woman)' is a painting by the Italian artist Amedeo Modigliani, born on July 12, 1884, and died on January 24, 1920. I love his paintings, mainly portraits of women with elongated faces. There are numerous portraits that I could have chosen, all beautiful in form and colour. The painting posted here is the one that sold for a staggering sum of $ 68.9 million at Sotheby's in New York on the 2nd of November, 2010. This is the highest price ever paid for an artwork by Modigliani. Click here for the article in the New York Times.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Édouard Manet and The Girl in a Bar at the Folies-Bergère

'A Bar at the Folies-Bergère' (1882) by Édouard Manet; Courtauld Institute of Art, London
This is one of the greatest paintings by Édouard Manet, born on 23 January 1832. It was his last major work and was on exhibition at the Paris Salon in 1882. I have always liked this painting. A girl standing behind the bar, looking unhappy and detached in the midst of a room crowded with people having a good time. Her desolateness is in sharp contrast with the cheerfulness of the rest of the crowd. The images in the mirror are not being reflected correctly which makes the painting apart from beautiful also interesting. Since the Folies-Bergère was a middle-class brothel in Manet's days, it is very possible that the barmaid isn't who she appears to be. Numerous extensive studies have been made of this painting so if you are interested, read more on the net. 

Sunday, 22 January 2012

King Edward VII by Franz Xaver Winterhalter

'Albert Edward, Prince of Wales' (1846) by Franz Xaver Winterhalter; Royal Collection, St. James's Palace, London

No noteworthy artists born or died on this day, as far as I could find, so I've chosen a historical event. On January 22, 1901, Edward VII was proclaimed King after his mother, Queen Victoria, died. The painter Franz Xaver Winterhalter, who had been appointed court painter of the King of France, made a portrait of Edward (he was christened Albert Edward) when he was a child. I quite like this portrait and have liked Winterhalter ever since I have visited the opening exhibition in the Hermitage Amsterdam, 'At the Russian court'. His portrait of Countess Varvara Musina-Pushkina was part of the exhibition and had been used for promotional material.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Harriet Backer By Lamplight

'By Lamplight' (1890) by Harriet Backer; The Rasmus Meyer Collection,
The Bergen Art Museum, Bergen

I was extremely fortunate today. I hadn't found an artist yet for this post and was flipping through the book "1001 paintings you must see before you die" and I saw this beautiful painting by Harriet Backer, a Norwegian painter that I had never heard of before. I googled her name and it was almost a shock to find out that she was born on the 21st of January, 1845. How lucky can you get! Harriet Backer was a leader among female artists both in Scandinavia and other European countries. I chose the same painting as I found in the book although I could have easily picked another one since I like her paintings. 'By Lamplight' stands out because of, not surprisingly, the beautiful light. It also breathes an air of loneliness. Imagine how this painting must look in real life. Never been to Norway. Apparently I have to see it before I die.

Friday, 20 January 2012

The Gleaners and Jean-François Millet

'The Gleaners' (1857) by Jean-François Millet; Musée d'Orsay, Paris

When I saw that Jean-François Millet had died on January 20, 1875, and I could use him for this date, I knew right away that I was going to post 'The Gleaners'. I did not even look for another painting. It is probably his most famous work and you can tell why. It's a simple study of daily work but very powerful. You can see the fatigue in the movements of the peasant women. I find it a beautiful and strong image and I can only regret not (yet) having visited Museé d'Orsay in Paris to view it in all its splendor.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Paul Cézanne and The Card Players

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'The Card Players' (5th version, 1894-1895) by Paul Cézanne; Musée d'Orsay, Paris

Paul Cézanne was a well-known French painter who was born on 19 January 1839, and is said to have built a bridge between Impressionism and Cubism. A long long time ago, when I was studying, I used to have a postcard framed of a landscape painting by Cézanne. It hung on the wall in my student flat. I couldn't find this particular image while searching for a painting for this post, or I simply didn't recognise it. I still like some of his landscape works as well as his still life paintings but finally decided to post this one of 'The Card Players'. Apparently he made five versions of this painting (click here for a detailed description) with the number of players varying. It was towards the 1890s that Cézanne became interested in portraying human beings and 'The Card Players' is evidence of that.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Margaret of Parma, Regent of The Netherlands, by Anthonis Mor

'Margaret of Parma' (ca. 1562) by Anthonis Mor; Preussischer Kulturbesitz, Berlin

Today was a difficult day. I could not find any artists that I liked well enough and even struggled with historical events and figures. But I found Margaret of Parma at last. She was governor of The Netherlands, an illegitimate daughter of Emperor Charles V, and she became Duchess of Parma. She died on the 18th of January, 1586. Antonis Mor, a Dutch portrait painter, was popular at the European courts and did this portrayal of Margaret of Parma. I chose it for this post because I like her friendly smile and again, I'm fascinated by the robes and collar. 

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Paulus Potter and The Bull

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'The Bull' (1647) by Paulus Potter; Mauritshuis, The Hague

This painting is a depiction of a very Dutch scene. A bull, a cow, a farmer and some sheep in a Dutch meadow. I didn't even like it that much at first but having been at the Mauritshuis in The Hague several times, this painting sort of grows on you, also because of its huge size. Upon entering the room, you can not help going straight to this painting and admiring it. The artist is Paulus Potter, whose actual date of birth and death isn't mentioned on Wikipedia (it's probably not known) but he was buried on the 17th of January, 1654, in Amsterdam.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Arnold Böcklin and Summer's Day

'Summer's Day' (1881) by Arnold Böcklin; Galerie Neue Meister, Dresden

Arnold Böcklin (16 October 1827 - 16 January 1901) is best known for his masterpiece 'Isle of the Dead'. I've decided not to use this painting here because I've already used it in a post on my other blog. I struggled a bit to find another work by Böcklin that I like since 'Isle of the Dead' is so impressive and unsurpassable. But I was thinking that maybe I wouldn't even have liked 'Isle of the Dead' so much if I wouldn't have seen it in real life in Die Alte Nationalgalerie in Berlin. It had made a huge impression on me then. Böcklin is a symbolist painter and a lot of his paintings I find too depressing and eerie. I've chosen the painting 'Summer's Day' because of the bright blue sky, the large trees and the depiction of what looks like children playing. Beautiful colours and water reflections. But although it looks quite innocent, it also has an ominous feel to it so it might not be what it looks like.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Gustav Adolph Hennig and The Reading Girl

'Reading Girl' (1828) by Gustav Adolph Hennig; Museum of Fine Arts, Leipzig

I've started using other methods to look for painters to match the days of the calendar because the search on Wikipedia and the internet wasn't satisfying enough. So I took my numerous art books from the shelf and began to look for images of nice paintings. Next step would be to go on the internet and look for the actual date of birth or death of the painter. So I came across this wonderful painting by an artist unknown to me, Gustav Adolph Hennig, born on 14 June 1797 and died on the 15th of January, 1869. The simplicity of Hennig's portrayal of a girl reading is what makes this such a strong painting. I love this! Wikipedia doesn't have an English page on the artist so I hope you read German. 

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Berthe Morisot and the Woman Chasing Butterflies

'Chasing Butterflies' (1874) by Berthe Morisot; Musée d'Orsay, Paris

Berthe Morisot is well-known among art lovers because she was one of the few great female Impressionist painters. Born on January 14, 1841, she was a member of the group of Impressionist painters in Paris and married the brother of Édouard Manet, thus becoming his sister-in-law. Manet made a portrait of her in 1872, called 'Berthe Morisot with a bouquet of violets'. I had contemplated using that portrait for this post but then, that would be a work of art by Manet and I wanted to show you one of Morisot's fine paintings. So here it is!

Friday, 13 January 2012

Dutch landscape painter Jan van Goyen and View on The Hague

'View on The Hague' (1651) by Jan van Goyen; The Hague Historical Museum, The Hague

I probably would have picked a portrait painter for this post if I could have found a nice one but Jan van Goyen happened to be born on the 13th of January, 1596. And just because I like portraits better doesn't mean that I don't like landscapes. For instance, I love the paintings by Casper Friedrich but I'm also beginning to appreciate Dutch landscape artists more than I used to. This painting here is said to be almost 5 metres wide and many of the buildings depicted in this particular scene still exist to this day. I might go and catch the train to The Hague and see it some day.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

José de Ribera and the Apostle San Andrés (St. Andrew)

'St. Andrew Apostle' (San Andrés) (1630) by José de Ribera; Museo del Prado, Madrid

A couple of years ago I visited Museo del Prado in Madrid for the first time and absolutely loved it. They have several paintings on display by the Spanish artist José de Ribera, born on 12 January 1591, and I was particularly impressed by the paintings that showed his apparent knowledge of anatomy. The painting that I chose for this post is a great example of Tenebrism. This is the style of painting used by Caravaggio. I know it as Chiaroscuro, extreme contrasts of light and dark to heighten dramatic effect. Ribera was a Tenebrist artist. I can't help but marvel at this anatomical study. What a piece of craftmanship!

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Parmigianino and Pallas Athene

'Pallas Athene' (1539) by Parmigianino; Royal Collection, Windsor Castle, London

I know Parmigianino (11 January 1503 - 24 August 1540) as the Italian artist who painted 'Madonna with the long neck', an art work in the Mannerist tradition. He was a prominent Mannerist painter from Parma. Parmagianino is his nickname and means 'the little one from Parma'. This portrait of Pallas Athene has been painted in the Mannerist style as well, with the unmistakable elongated proportions. I think this is a beautiful painting and you probably must know by now that I like portraits better than landscapes or still life paintings. 

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Jean-Auguste Dominique Ingres and Napoleon Bonaparte on his imperial throne

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'Napoleon on his imperial throne' (1806) by Jean-Auguste Dominique Ingres; Musée de l'Armée, Hôtel des Invalides, Paris

I think I might start to develop a taste for paintings depicting kings or other heads of state in, some would say, monstrous robes, but I would call it a glorious outfit (see for a similar outfit the post of the 5th of January). Jean-Auguste Dominique Ingres did a fine job portraying Napoleon on his imperial throne. I have a thing for fabrics in paintings and I am always amazed how painters can transfer the feel of a certain fabric to the canvas. I find it astonishing that you can see that for the greater part these robes are made of velvet. I chose Napoleon for this post because of a historical event on the 10th of January, 1810. Nothing military though. It was the day he divorced his first wife Joséphine. 

Monday, 9 January 2012

Alexander Brullov and Evdokia Bakunina

'Evdokia Bakunina' (1820) by Alexander Brullov; Tropinin Museum, Moscow

The Russian painter Alexander Pavlovich Brullov was born on November 29, 1798, and died on the 9th of January, 1877. He came from an artist's family and went with his brother Karl to Italy to study art. I had never heard of either of them. Although I was not totally impressed with Alexander's paintings, I quite like the portraits he made of women. They are actually drawings, soft coloured, and look almost like fashion sketches. I will probably do a post on the brother Karl later, because there was one painting of his that was quite stunning. It's called 'Italian morning'. I'm not going to give the link here so if you can't wait till the post comes up (in June or December, because he had his date of birth and death then), you will have to google it.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

'A Coign of Vantage' by Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema

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'A Coign of Vantage' (1895) by Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema; Private Collection

I contemplated posting a lesser known painting by Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema and there are plenty of nice ones, but 'A Coign of Vantage' is still my favourite. I keep forgetting that Tadema was a Dutch painter, probably because he was highly influenced by the Pre-Raphaelite painters and some even considered him to be a member of the brotherhood. He became famous for his depictions of classical themes. Born in The Netherlands on the 8th of January, 1836, he trained at the Royal Academy of Antwerp, and moved to England in 1870. He lived there for the rest of his life and became the most succesful painter of his time.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Sir Thomas Lawrence and The Countess of Blessington

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'Portrait of Marguerite, Countess of Blessington' (1819) by Sir Thomas Lawrence; Wallace Collection, London

Sir Thomas Lawrence, the painter of the boy in the red velvet suit (see post on my other blog), was born on April 13, 1769, and died on January 7, 1830. He was an English portrait painter, probably best remembered for his romantic paintings of the Regency. He is one of those painters that you don't really know by name but you've seen plenty of his paintings. At least, that's how it was for me. But be sure to click on the link above and you will read how I discovered Mr Lawrence's name. 

Friday, 6 January 2012

Sir John Everett Millais and Joan of Arc

'Joan of Arc' (1865) by John Everett Millais; Private Collection

Joan of Arc is said to be born on January 61412, and although there is no official record of it, the people of the town where she was born remembered that it had happened on Epiphany, Twelfth night, thus the 6th of January. The British painter John Everett Millais, whose work I absolutely love, immortalised the heroine on canvas. I know a lot of his work and saw the wonderful Millais exhibition in the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam in 2008, but I had never seen this painting before. It's so beautiful and the pre-raphaelite style is so unmistakable. Just look at that face!

Thursday, 5 January 2012

'Portrait of Louis XV' by Hyacinthe Rigaud

'Portrait of Louis XV (1715-74) in His Coronation Robes' (1730) by Hyacinthe Rigaud; Château de Versailles 

Today I could not find a painter whose work I liked well enough to do a post on. Wikipedia is my main source for a little bit of research and I decided to choose a historical event and an artwork to go with the historical figure. The event occurred on the 5th of January, 1757, when Louis XV survived an assassination attempt by Robert-François Damiens, the last person in France to receive the death penalty to be hanged, drawn and quartered. I've chosen this painting because of the wonderful robes. I find them deliciously outrageous. Hyacinthe Rigaud is the artist, who was most famous for his painting of the other Louis, number XIV. Click here.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

A Greek painter: Nikolaos Gyzis and The Stepmother

'The Stepmother' (1882-1883) by Nikolaos Gyzis; Koutlidis Collection, Athens

I don't know about you but I'm not familiar with Greek painters. I had never ever heard of Nikolaos Gyzis but I like this painting. Born in 1842 and died in 1901, on the 4th of January, Gyzis was considered to be one of Greece's most important painters and member of the Munich school, a Greek academic art movement.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

August Macke and Portrait of the Artist's Wife

'Portrait of the Artist's Wife' (1909) by August Macke; Westphalian State Museum of Art and Cultural History, Münster

I didn't really know August Macke's work. I knew him to be a member of the German Expressionist Group Der Blaue Reiter but I was unaware of the beauty of some of his paintings until now. I had to choose one image but I could have chosen numerous ones. I really like his paintings of women. In that respect he reminds me a bit of Kees van Dongen. Macke was born on 3 January 1887 and died an early death at the front in the second month of World War I, in September 1914.

Monday, 2 January 2012

Jacopo Pontormo and The Deposition from the Cross

Detail from 'The Deposition from the Cross' (completed in 1528) by Jacopo Pontormo; Church of Santa Felicita, Florence

The nice part of this calendar principle is that I might not find an artist known to me, for a certain date. Like today. So I have to go and look for an artist that I haven't heard of before. Luckily I found Pontormo, an Italian Mannerist and Renaissance painter, born on May 24, 1494, and died on January 2, 1557, and apparently not a small artist, judging by the Wikipedia page. 'The Deposition from the Cross' is an alterpiece, to be seen in the Church of Santa Felicita in Florence. Pontormo started this work around 1525 and completed it in 1528. It's a portrayal of the life of Jesus and generally considered to be his masterpiece.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Spanish artist Bartolomé Esteban Murillo and 'Two Women at a Window'

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'Two women at a window' (c.1655/1660) by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo; National Gallery of Art, Washington 

I am extremely pleased that my first post of the year will be of a painting that I have loved ever since I heard of the Spanish painter Bartolomé Esteban Murillo. Having spent a lot of time in Spain, mainly in the lovely province of Andalucía, I came to know this artist while visiting his birth town Sevilla and the beautiful Museo de Bellas Artes. Murillo is best known for his religious paintings, but this image above is quite a worldly scene. For details of the painting, click here. Murillo was born late December 1617 (no specific date is given), but baptised on the 1st of January, 1618, thus deserving this very first post. He became one of the most important Spanish Baroque painters of the seventeenth century.
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