Friday, 31 August 2012

Pietro Antonio Rotari and Girl With A Book

'Girl with a Book' (date not found) by Pietro Antonio Rotari ; location not found

I just recently discovered Italian painter Pietro Rotari, born on 30 September 1707 and died on 31 August 1762, through another blog. I immediately fell in love with this painting of a girl with a book. Googling his other paintings, I saw that there were more nice ones, like this and this one. I like Young Woman with a Fan a lot too. Born in Verona, Rotari studied in Venice, Rome and Naples. He returned to Verona in 1734 where he set up a private painting academy and produced historical and religious paintings that brought him national and international fame. He travelled further to Vienna and Dresden to work for aristocratic and royal patrons. In Dresden he received an invitation of Empress Elizabeth of Russia to come to St. Petersburg and become a court painter. Here at the court, Rotari perfected his style of portrait painting. He stayed the remainder of his life in St. Petersburg and worked for the Imperial family and Russian aristocracy.

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Jacques-Louis David and The Oath of the Horatii (detail)

'The Oath of the Horatii' (detail) (1784); Musée du Louvre, Paris

Today's artist is Jacques-Louis David, born on 30 August 1748, the most influential painter of the Neoclassical movement in France. He received his first training from François Boucher, a distant relative, and continued to study under Joseph-Marie Vien. He became frustrated when he failed the competition for the Prix de Rome, an art scholarship to study at the French Academy in Rome, several times. His fifth attempt was finally succesful and he went to Rome with Vien in 1775. He returned to Paris in 1780 and established his position as an opponent of the Rococo movement. David was politically very active and a supporter of the French Revolution and Robespierre. He was also an ardent supporter of Napoleon and was able to keep his social and artistic position during Napoleon's reign. So apart from being famous for his art, there is more to remember him by but not all in a positive way. For further reading, please click on the painter's link above. Probably David's most famous painting is The Death of Marat, a painting of the French revolutionary Jean-Paul Marat who was found stabbed to death in his bathtub. I would recommend to read more about this painting because it is very interesting and historical. The painting that I have chosen for today, The Oath of the Horatii, is also very famous. You can click here to see it in full. The reason why I have decided to post only a fragment is because every time that I see an image of this painting, my eyes get drawn to the right where the women are seated. They are weeping and awaiting the results of the fighthing between the brothers of the two families. It's too much to explain the painting's story in my own words so I want to refer you to the painting's link. I think the women are beautifully portrayed in their distress and I like the silk garments very much. One more note: David had a lot of pupils, amongst others Jean-Auguste Dominique Ingres, yesterday's painter. He left behind a rich legacy and to be his pupil was considered to be prestigious.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Jean-Auguste Dominique Ingres and Mademoiselle Caroline Rivière

'Mademoiselle Caroline Rivière' (1806) by Jean-Auguste Dominique Ingres;
Musée du Louvre, Paris

Today the choice was easy. French artist Jean-Auguste Dominique Ingres, born on 29 August 1780, is a well-known painter of portraits and oriental subjects. He was actually one of the greatest portrait painters of the 19th century. The son of an unsuccesful painter and sculptor, he studied under Jacques-Louis David in Paris. He won the Prix de Rome for his painting 'The Ambassadors of Agamemnon'. He went to Rome for quite an extensive period (1806-1820) where he developed his style and drawing. His style is influenced by both David and the Italian Renaissance painter Raphael. After Rome he went to Florence and stayed there for four years. Upon his return to Paris, he was very succesful and became the recognised leader of the Neoclassicists. To read more about his life and work, I want to refer you to the link above. Today's painting I find beautiful and it is the third of three portraits of the Rivière family that Ingres painted that year. The other two portraits are of Caroline's father and mother. Early on in his career, Ingres painted commissioned portraits for wealthy patrons. Today's portrait was painted in 1806, before his Rome period. Caroline, the portrayed girl, would have been between thirteen and fifteen years old at the time of the painting. The portrait is seen in the light of tragedy since the sitter died within a year after completion of the work.  

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Elisabetta Sirani and Cleopatra

'Cleopatra' (c. 1662-3) by Elisabetta Sirani; Private Collection

For today I have chosen another Italian painter but this time a female one, Elisabetta Sirani, born on 8 January 1638 and died on 28 August 1665 (the Italian page says 28, the English one mentions the 25th as the date of death). Sirani's father was Giovanni Andrea Sirani who had been the personal assistant of the artist Guido Reni. There's little known of Elisabetta's training but as a woman she would not have had access to any academy and was probably her father's pupil. Her style is close to Reni's, idealised but with strong colours and chiaroscuro. She painted portraits, religious themes and allegories and worked very fast. By the time she died, at 27, she had completed approximately 170 paintings, 14 etchings and also a number of drawings. She was buried in Guido Reni's tomb.

Monday, 27 August 2012

Titian and Salome with the Head of John the Baptist

'Salome with the Head of John the Baptist' (c. 1515) by Titian;  Galleria Doria Pamphilj, Rome

Most people probably have heard of famous Italian Renaissance painter Titian, born c. 1488-1490 and died on 27 August 1576, but may not be familiar with his full name, Tiziano Vecelli (like me). He was one of the most influential artists in the history of Western art and the leading painter of the Venetian School. He studied with Gentile Bellini and Giovanni Bellini, and the latter would leave a lasting imprint on his style. He continued his studies with Giorgione and became his personal assistant. Their style was very similar and it was difficult to tell their works apart. After the death of Bellini and Giorgione, Titian was the master of the Venetian painters and was famous during his lifetime. The painting chosen for today I find very beautiful and I have been very fortunate to see in it real life during my visit to Rome earlier this month. It is on display at the Galleria Doria Pamphilj and since it is one of the gallery's masterpieces, it has its own private space. If you are interested in reading more about Salome, click here.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Édouard Joseph Dantan and Portrait

'Portrait' (c.1880) by Édouard Joseph Dantan; no location found

Today's painter is Édouard Joseph Dantan, a French artist who was born on 26 August 1848. He painted in the Academic tradition and is most known for his depictions of sculpture studios. He was born into an artistic family of sculptors but chose the art of painting himself. Sculpture would still play a big part in his life. He studied art in Paris and had already exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1869 when a year later he volunteered to fight in the Franco-Prussian War. After the war he reached the peak of his career with interior scenes of a sculptor at work, a subject that was very close to home for him. At a later stage, his work became less popular because of its classical style. Dantan died in an accident with his horse at the young age of 48. I do like the paintings of the sculpture studios (here's one) but when I saw this portrait, I knew I'd prefer it over the other paintings. I like the colours and especially the woman's hair bun. It looks so real. The portrait is just called 'Portrait' and I could not find its location.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Henri Fantin-Latour and Vase of Peonies

 'Vase of Peonies' (1902) by Henri Fantin-Latour; Private Collection

When you google the paintings of today's French artist Henri Fantin-Latour, born on 14 January 1836 and died on 25 August 1904, you see mainly paintings of flowers and group portraits. But there are also some nice single portraits so I had initially chosen Portrait of Sonia as today's painting. I wanted to add some links to a couple of his still life paintings because I have to say they are quite exquisite. I wanted to show you these still lifes (click here and here and here) and had chosen the painting of the 'Vase of Peonies' as an added link. But then looking at it closer, I liked it so much that I decided to use it for today. I hardly have done any posts on still lifes and I love peonies so this is a good opportunity. Fantin-Latour was a contemporary of the Impressionists but his style was more conservative. His paintings are done in an almost photographic realistic style. The use of colour is intense. His group portraits are of contemporary Parisian artists (e.g. Eugène Delacroix, Manet, Monet, Renoir) who were friends of his. These paintings have become important historical documents.

Friday, 24 August 2012

Lavinia Fontana and Bianca Cappello de Medici

'Bianca Cappello de Medici' (no date found); Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas

Again nothing really exciting to choose from today. Then I came across Lavinia Fontana, an Italian female painter who was born on August 24, 1552. I saw this painting right away and decided that it was good enough. Now, that sounds like I have chosen it by lack of something better. But I honestly like it and when you look closer and see all the details of the woman's garment, then it is beautiful. The lace looks quite sophisticated. The depicted woman is Bianca Cappello, a Venetian noblewoman, who was the mistress and later on the second wife of Francesco I de Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany. She was famous for her beauty and intellect. The boy on the left is Bianca's son. The painter of this portrait, Lavinia Fontana, was trained by her father Propero Fontana, who was a leading painter in the Mannerist tradition in their native city of Bologna. She painted mainly portraits and religious scenes, but it is her portraiture that she is known for. I couldn't find a date for today's painting but I read somewhere that the portrait might have been posthumous because Bianca Cappello died in 1587.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Henryk Siemiradzki and Christ and The Samaritan Woman

'Christ and The Samaritan Woman' (1890) by Henryk Siemiradzki; Lviv National Art Gallery, Lviv, Ukraine

I had never heard of Polish painter Henryk Siemiradzki, born on 15 November 1843 and died on 23 August 1902. In fact, I don't know any Polish painters. He was a 19th century artist who is best remembered for his monumental paintings. His art teacher was a former student of Russian painter Karl Briullov. He studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg and went to Rome where he permanently settled. Many of his paintings are depictions of pastoral scenes from antiquity, or of biblical or historical scenes. His large-scale canvasses are to be seen in the major museums of Poland, Russia and Ukraine. Today's religious painting caught my eye because of the beautiful light.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Jean-Honoré Fragonard and A Young Girl Reading

'A Young Girl Reading' (c.1770) by Jean-Honoré Fragonard;
National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.

There's only one painting by French artist Jean-Honoré Fragonard, born on 5 April 1732 and died on 22 August 1806, that I truly like and it is this one of a girl reading. I have always liked it and will keep on liking it. It's beautiful in colour and detail and the girl is lovely to look at. Fragonard was a painter of the Rococo movement and his paintings were frivolous witty scenes in pastel-like colours. His style was lighthearted and even his most erotic subjects were never vulgar. He was a pupil of François Boucher before winning the Prix de Rome in 1752. In 1756 he left for Rome to study at the French Academy and made a special study of Italian painter Tiepolo. His work reflected 18th century life and society always on the lookout for the next diversion or entertainment. When the French monarchy came to an end, the same happened to Fragonard's popularity. His career was finished and he was reduced to poverty. For further reading on today's lovely painting, please click here.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Alexander Nikolayevich Samokhvalov and In The Sun

'In the Sun' (1953) by Alexander Nikolayevich Samokhvalov; no location found

Today was one of those days again. I couldn't find a painter that I liked well enough. When I had finally found this Russian painter, Alexander Nikolayevich Samokhvalov, born on 21 August 1894, there weren't that many paintings to choose from. A good thing that I like this one. It's so colourful and the woman seems to be neither happy nor sad. Samokhvalov was probably not such an insignificant painter because Wikipedia has a whole page in English on him. He studied in St. Petersburg and painted mainly portraits and genre paintings. He was one of the painters of the Leningrad School of Painting and their work is well represented in the collections of the major museums throughout Russia. You will recognise today's painting as a work of Impressionism and apparently between 1950 and 1980, artists of the Leningrad School painted in the Impressionist style.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Amélie Helga Lundahl and The Garden Girl

'The Garden Girl' (1885) by Amélie Helga Lundahl;
Ateneum Art Museum, Helsinki

Today I struggled a bit to come up with a painting but then found female Finnish painter Amélie Helga Lundahl, born on 26 May 1850 and died on 20 August 1914. She attended art school in Stockholm and Helsinki and was one of the first Finnish women to study at the Académie Julien in Paris. After spending time in Bretagne in the 1870s, she had acquired a taste for the outdoors. She settled in Bretagne later and painted peasant themes. It appears that the painting that I chose for today is her most significant work and dates from her Bretagne period. I couldn't find much about the painting but if you read Finnish (or a very bad translation), then click here. I like this painting and it reminds me of the many Realist painters who depict peasant themes.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

William-Adolphe Bouguereau and Head of A Young Girl

'Head of A Young Girl' (1898) by William-Adolphe Bouguereau; Private Collection

Before doing this art blog I had never heard of French Realist painter William-Adolphe Bouguereau, born on 30 November 1825 and died on 19 August 1905. But browsing for painters on other blogs and websites, made me come across this painter numerous times. Sweet scenes of angels and children (especially this one) passed by very frequently as did this image of today's painting that I came to like very much. Bouguereau studied at L'École des Beaux Arts in Paris where he got his traditional academic training. In 1850, he was awarded a prize which enabled him to study in Italy for four years. He studied the work of Giotto and of the Renaissance masters. He was also very impressed by classical art. The influence of classical works is very evident in his work after this period. His romanticised Realism and highly finished style would become his trademark. Although he was held in high regard by his contemporaries, his work was viewed as mediocre by the new generation of painters who were experimenting with Impressionism. These painters opposed his sentimentality and his high technical finish. Sentimental or not, there is a lot of his work that I like and especially today's painting. 

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Frederick Cayley Robinson and A Winter's Evening

'A Winter's Evening' (1899) by Frederick Cayley Robinson; no location found

Today I was doubting between Italian Baroque painter Guido Reni and English painter Frederick Cayley Robinson. I can still use Reni for the 4th of November when he has his date of birth but Robinson I can only use today. He died on January 4, 1927. The images of the paintings of this English artist, who was born on 18 August 1862, immediately caught my eye. The colours are very vivid and there are quite some paintings who have incredible light. The light in today's painting is subtle whereas in other paintings it comes from a clear source like a moon. Click here and here and here. Robinson studied in London and Paris and his work was highly influenced by the French artist Puvis de Chavannes. He went to Florence and studied the art of tempera painting and the work of Giotto and Michelangelo. He was an illustrator as well and probably his most popular work were the illustrations he did for the printed version of Maurice Maeterlinck's play 'The Blue Bird' (1911). Click here for one of his illustrations and here for the informative accompanying article. He designed the costumes and décor for 'The Blue Bird' play at the Haymarket Theatre in 1909 and painted the decorative panels for the Middlesex Hospital, 1910-14. I'm very happy to meet him today and enjoyed doing this post and seeing more of his art work.

Friday, 17 August 2012

Jacob Backer and Portrait of Rebecca Schellingwou

'Portrait of Rebecca Schellingwou' (1644) by Jacob Backer; Amsterdam Museum

Today I found my painter quickly. Jacob Backer, born in 1608 and died on 17 August 1651, was a Dutch painter from the Golden Age. I have attached the link to the Dutch Wikipedia page which mentions the 17th of August as the date of his death, whereas the English page says the 27th. I'm going to stick to the Dutch page because I can't be bothered looking for another painter for today because of conflicting dates. I have seen an exhibition on Backer at Museum Het Rembrandthuis in Amsterdam (the exhibition ran from 29 November 2008 till 22 February 2009) and really liked it. Amongst the paintings that were on display were two masterpieces from the collection of the Amsterdam Museum, formerly Amsterdam Historical Museum: the portraits of Bartholomeus Breenbergh and Rebecca Schellingwou who were husband and wife. I especially liked the painting of Rebecca Schellingwou. The colours are beautiful and Backer is a master in painting fabrics. He was mainly active in Amsterdam and had a succesful career. He had studied in Leeuwarden and was a fellow student of Govert Flinck. Together they went to Amsterdam where Flinck alone studied under Rembrandt. It was believed, incorrectly, that Backer also had studied with Rembrandt. There is little known of his life. He never married, never painted a landscape, never was the subject of any gossip or scandal. He worked extremely fast and his work can be characterised by a vivid use of colour. He was one of the most famous painters in Amsterdam at the time and he died when he was in his early forties.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Angel Zárraga and Basket of Plenty

'Basket of Plenty' (1922) by Angel Zárraga; Private Collection?

It was not easy to choose a painting today. Finally I had opted for Dutch painter Pieter Janszoon Saenredam (well-known for his paintings of church interiors) but then found out there were conflicting dates for his death. So I looked further and stumbled upon Mexican painter Angel Zárraga, born on 16 August 1886. The painting 'Basket of Plenty' caught my eye because I had to think immediately of a painting by Julio Romero de Torres, even though they do not really resemble one another. Zárraga was one of the greatest Mexican painters of the early 19th century who spent more than half of his life abroad, about forty years in Europe, mostly in France. His work was influenced by Paul Cézanne and Giotto (after 1921). He was also a close associate of Diego Rivera, during their student years at the National School of Fine Arts in Mexican City and later in Paris. Today's painting shows most likely Zárraga's first wife, the Russian sportswoman Jeanette Ivanoff. She served as a model for her husband throughout his career. I like this painting with the warm, ruddy palette very much. I could not find its location but it had been put up for auction at one point so it's very likely that it is in private hands.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

René Magritte and The Son of Man

'The Son of Man' (1964) by René Magritte; Private Collection

I'm not very fond of Surrealist paintings. I actually forgot to do a post on Salvador Dalí, the greatest of the Surrealist painters, and now his date of birth and death have come and gone. I probably would have struggled to find a painting I like because I don't really like Dalí's paintings. I find them interesting though and there is always a lot to see and discover. So if I continue this blog next year, I might include him, just because I cannot ignore him really. But having said that, today's Surrealist Belgian painter René Magritte, born on 21 November 1898 and died on 15 August 1967, I do like. He displays ordinary objects in an unusual context. He was interested in the mystery of the visible everyday reality and wanted to create poetic imagery. His paintings are symbolic and often humorous. His early paintings were in the Impressionist style and in 1926, he made his first Surrealist painting, The Lost Jockey, and he held his first exhibition in Brussels in 1927. Today´s painting The Son of Man is probably Magritte´s most famous work. Even if you wouldn´t know it was painted by Magritte, chances that you have seen this image before are high. About the painting Magritte himself said: ´At least it hides the face partly. Well, so you have the apparent face, the apple, hiding the visible but hidden, the face of the person. It´s something that happens constantly. Everything we see hides another thing, we always want to see what is hidden by what we see. There is an interest in that which is hidden and which the visible does not show us. This interest can take the form of a quite intense feeling, a sort of conflict, one might say, between the visible that is hidden and the visible that is present.´ (Quote: Wikipedia)

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Simeon Solomon and The Sleepers and the One who Watcheth

'The Sleepers and the One who Watcheth' (1870) by Simeon Solomon; Birmingham
Museums and Art Gallery, Birmingham

Another Pre-Raphaelite painter unknown to me. Simeon Solomon, born on 9 October 1840 and died on 14 August 1905, met Dante Gabriel Rossetti and joined the circle of the Pre-Raphaelite painters. He struck up a close friendship with Edward Burne-Jones. His early work are mainly depictions of religious subjects and slowly he began to show subtle traces of his homosexuality in some of these paintings. After he joined the Pre-Raphaelites, the expression of his sexuality in his work began to increase considerably. In the 1860s he began to focus on the female figure which reveals his awareness of aesthetic taste. In 1873 he was arrested with another man for indecent behaviour and sentenced to 18 months of hard labour. He only served two weeks of his sentence before being bailed out. His brilliant career was cut short due to the intolerance of Victorian society. It was now impossible for him to exhibit or sell his paintings. Despite the scandal and the end of his public career, he never stopped working. In the painting chosen for today, we see a couple sleeping while an angel watches over them. It is very reminiscent of Edward Burne-Jones in the way he depicts the androgynous figures. I think it´s beautiful!

Monday, 13 August 2012

George Benjamin Luks and Society Girl

'Society Girl' (1920) by George Benjamin Luks; Weatherspoon Art Museum,
University of North Carolina, Greensboro

George Luks, born on August 13, 1867, was an American Realist painter that I have never heard of but his Wikipedia page is quite long so I guess he was an important painter. It could have something to do with the fact that he was one of the members of the Ashcan School, a group of American painters who depicted urban scenes in a realistic style. The movement grew out of a group called The Eight. Eight artists, led by Robert Henri, exhibited their work at Macbeth's Gallery in New York in 1908 in a purposeful attempt to free artists from the artistic restrictions imposed by the National Academy. This was the only time that the group acted together. If you click here, you can see one of Luks' urban scene paintings (Allen Street, c.1905). I've chosen 'Society girl', a painting from his later period. Probably not so difficult to guess why. With this painting Luks wanted to interpret wealth and the importance of society. I think it's beautiful.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Jozef Israëls and Meditation

'Meditation' (1850) by Jozef Israëls; Dordrechts Museum, Dordrecht

Today I can do a post on a Dutch painter again. Jozef Israëls, born on 27 January 1824 and died on 12 August 1911, was one of the most important painters of the Hague School (Haagse School). The Hague School was heavily influenced by the French Barbizon School. If you see the images of Israëls' paintings together, you recognise the Realist style that both schools are known for. Israëls studied art in Groningen, Amsterdam and Paris. After an illness, he went to the fishing-town of Zandvoort to recover and started painting fishermen and beach scenes. Today's painting is called 'Mijmering' in Dutch. The English equivalent would be 'reverie' but I found one mention of an English translation of the title and they used 'Meditation' so I do as well. The painting is very different from his other work. It reminded me immediately of Ary Scheffer whose work is also to be seen in the Dordrechts Museum. In fact, the museum has the biggest collection of Scheffers' work in The Netherlands. I read somewhere that the painting 'Meditation' (that has undergone a major restoration) is the key piece of the museum's collection because it connects the French-Romantic style of Scheffers' paintings with Israëls' 19th century realistic work and that of his contemporaries. I find this painting beautiful! Great light! I have to go and see it and Scheffer's work as well. 

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Hans Memling and The Mystic Marriage of St. Catherine

'The Mystic Marriage of St. Catherine' (1474-79) by Hans Memling;
Memlingmuseum, Bruges

I never thought much of German painter Hans Memling, born c. 1430 and died on 11 August 1494. But having been in Rome last week and being surrounded by Renaissance art, it makes me look at Memling's work with a fresh pair of eyes. I have seen Compassion for the Dead Christ, With a Donor in the Galleria Doria Pamphilj but although it is quite beautiful, I don't really like the depiction of the Dead Christ. Memling, whose work shows the style and composition of his teacher Rogier van der Weyden, was very popular between the 1460s and 1480s. He was artist number one in Bruges and the most popular Flemish artist abroad. He got commissioned for altarpieces all over Europe. With Florentine and Venetian art reaching its peak, Memling's work received high praises in Italy because of its calm harmony. For today I have chosen 'The Mystic Marriage of St. Catherine', a subject that's been used frequently in Christian art. If you want to read more about it, click here. This painting, which is oil on wood, is the central panel of the St. John altarpiece and brings together many of the characteristics of Memling's art. I don't know much about the meaning and story of the painting, I should read up on that, but I do like the colours and this reminds me indeed a lot of Rogier van de Weyden.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida and Under the Awning, Zarauz

'Under the Awning, Zarauz' (1910) by Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida;
St. Louis Art Museum, St. Louis

Joaquín Sorolla, born on 27 February 1863 and died on 10 August 1923, was a Spanish painter from Valencia and specialised in portraits and landscapes. When you google the images of his paintings, you see a lot of seaside scenes and sunlit beaches. Sorollo got his initial education in his native town, at the age of fourteen. When he was eighteen years old, he went to Madrid and studied the paintings of the great masters in Museo del Prado. He received a grant after military service which enabled him to study art in Rome. He went to exhibitions of Jules Bastien-Lepage and Adolf Menzel in Paris and got influenced by their work. Upon his return to Rome he studied with Emilio Sala. He is classified as a Realist and Impressionist painter but anyone can see that his beach paintings are in the Impressionist style. Sorolla's work is represented in museums in Europe and America, and many of his paintings can also be found in private collections. It wasn't difficult for me to choose a painting and I particularly like this one because of the sweet colours and the dresses and hats. I looked up on the internet what Zarauz means and it appears to be a coastal town in Northern Spain.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Hieronymus Bosch and Triptych of Garden of Earthly Delights (detail)

'Triptych of Garden of Earthly Delights' (c.1480-1505) by Hieronymus Bosch;
Museo del Prado, Madrid

The Garden of Earthly Delights by Dutch painter Hieronymus Bosch, born c. 1450 and died on 9 August 1516, is a painting that's truly one of a kind. I have never seen anything like it. When I was at the Prado in Madrid some years ago, I entered a room and stumbled upon a huge crowd standing in front of a painting. I couldn't see what painting it was and wondered what could interest such an audience. Well, it's this painting. It's totally different from what I usually like. Maybe 'like' here is not even an adequate word. It's mesmerising, it's a masterpiece, it's mind-boggling really. There is so much to see and it's unbelievable that Bosch painted this in the fifteenth century. He had an immense imagination and eye for detail. This is a painting that one never gets tired of. I'm planning to go to Madrid this or next year and will go and see the painting again. I'll make sure I will read about it first. The Wikipedia page (click link above) gives a lot of information on the painting and the painting is also being displayed in Google Earth. If you are curious about its painter, there's a link above as well.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Giovanni Battista Salvi da Sassoferrato and The Virgin in Prayer

'The Virgin in Prayer' (1640-50) by Giovanni Battista Salvi da Sassoferrato;
National Gallery, London

I have already mentioned in my post on Velázquez last Monday that I've been to the wonderful Galleria Doria Pamphilj. There was a lot of Italian art and one of the paintings being displayed was 'The Virgin in Prayer' by Italian Baroque painter Giovanni Battista Salvi da Sassoferrato, born on August 25, 1609, and died on August 8, 1685. This particular depiction of the Virgin holding hands in prayer is one of at least four paintings made by the artist. I couldn't find an image of the version I've seen in Rome on the internet other than the one that you will see when you click here. But there are letters on that image so I chose to post the version that's at the National Gallery in London. When you compare the two versions, you see that they are very similar. The Virgin in the London version has her eyes cast downward more than the Virgin in the Rome version. In real life the painting is very beautiful, very refined and with beautiful colours. There is so much art hanging on the walls of the galleria that it is a shame that so many great paintings don't have their own space. Some hang too high, some have terrible lighting. They deserve to be in a highlighted space to get the full attention and appreciation. Salvi specialised in religious works painted in a sweet style. There's little information on his life and in the 18th century it was even generally believed that he was a contemporary of Raphael. His work must have been in demand because many of his paintings carry different (and very similar) versions. They must have been in private hands though since not many are to be seen in churches or museums.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Einar Jolin and Clo in a Bathing Suit

'Clo in a Bathing Suit' (1937) by Einar Jolin; Private Collection?

The Swedish painter Einar Jolin, born on 7 August 1890, worked under Henri Matisse in Paris. Matisse's influence is quite evident in the vibrant colours. I like Matisse and now I like Jolin as well. Jolin had studied in Stockholm before going to Paris. In the 1920s he travelled extensively in Italy, North Africa and Spain. Jolin's later style was less colourful and more naturalistic. I couldn't find the location of today's painting but found that it was on auction in 2011. It doesn't say whether it sold. If it did, it might be in private hands now. If you read Swedish, then click on the link above to know more about the painter. There was no other page than Swedish available. I'm inclined to think that if there's only a page in the native language of the artist that he is mainly known in his own country. I had never heard of him.

Monday, 6 August 2012

Diego Velázquez and The Needlewoman

'The Needlewoman' (1635-43) by Diego Velázquez; National Gallery of Art,
Washington D.C.

Diego Velázquez, baptised June 6, 1599 and died on August 6, 1660, was one of the greatest and most famous Spanish painters of the 17th century. Most of his work I don't really like. He was a court painter so painted mainly portraits of the Spanish royal family and of the members of the court. One of his most famous works is Las Meninas ('Maids of Honour') which I have seen in Museo del Prado in Madrid. I don't really like that one although it sort of grows on you because it is so famous and often being used in art courses. I have very recently seen another painting by Velázquez, here in Rome where I am on a holiday now. Last Saturday we went to the wonderful Galleria Doria Pamphilj where I have seen beautiful paintings by Italian masters. But the collection's masterpiece is Velázquez's Portrait of Pope Innocent X. It is hanging in a small separate room to maximise its grandeur and beauty. I have to say that I have seen reproductions of this painting and I wasn't too impressed but seeing it in real life definitely made a difference. The painting I have chosen for today is one that I do like, The Needlewoman, and I actually had never seen it before and would not have attributed it to Velázquez. The portrait is unfinished but I wouldn't have guessed if I hadn't read it. It looks quite finished to me. I just read the whole Wikipedia page on the painting and I hadn't really been wrong in thinking that it was not a typical Velázquez painting. It is said that Velázquez started the painting but that it was completed by his son-in-law, Juan Bautista Martinez del Mazo. If you want to know more about the artist Velázquez himself, click on the first link above.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Ilya Yefimovich Repin and What Freedom!

'What Freedom!' (1903) by Ilya Yefimovich Repin; The State Russian Museum,
St. Petersburg

I don't know that many Russian painters so this is a good opportunity to add another one to my small list of Russian painters so far. Ilya Repin, born on 5 August 1844, appears to be one of the greatest Russian painters and entered the Academy of Arts in St. Petersburg at the age of 19. This coincided with an event that was important to the artistic movement in the 1860s. The event became known as 'The Riot of the Fourteen'. Fourteen young students left the Academy after having refused to use mythological subjects for their diploma work. They were strong believers that art should be close to real life. Repin would become one of the leading members of the Peredvizhniki, the so-called Wanderers, a group of Russian Realists. The painting shown here is called 'What Freedom!' and I absolutely love it. I couldn't really make the image bigger because it would then cross over the line to the right side bar so you cannot see the smile on the woman's face. But I want you to see it so click here and click again on the image to enlarge it. The woman looks so happy and the man too actually. I came across a blog where photos of the house/museum that belonged to Repin are shown. Beautiful!

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Cecilio Plá y Gallardo and Honeymoon

'Honeymoon' (1900) by Cecilio Plá y Gallardo; Private Collection

I really like this painting! The minute I saw it I knew I would select it for today's post. The Spanish painter Cecilio Plá is an artist I have never heard of. Wikipedia has a Spanish page on him, the English one doesn't carry much information other than his dates of birth and death (November 22, 1860 - August 4, 1934). He studied at the Academia de San Carlos in Valencia and the Academia de San Fernando in Madrid. He became a friend of Joaquín Sorolla, a fellow artist from Valencia (I will do a post on him on the 10th of August) who became his friend. They both had studied under Emilio Sala. When Plá was 20 years old, he went to Rome and travelled through the rest of Italy, France and Portugal. From Italy he sent paintings to be exhibited at Exposiciones Nacionales de Bellas Artes in his home country. He received numerous awards. His work is characterised by grace and elegance. I could not really find any more information on today's painting, even struggled with finding its location and year. I really like this painting because it tells a story. It seems rather sad. You can interpret it yourself because I don't know the background story. 

Friday, 3 August 2012

George Innes and Pastoral Landscape at Sunset

'Pastoral Landscape at Sunset' (1884) by George Innes; Private Collection

Today was a difficult day because when I thought I had found a painter, I also found conflicting dates on different websites. I always go for painters first who depict portraits rather than still lifes or landscapes but if I would have looked closer right away at the work of American painter George Inness, born on May 1, 1825, and died on August 3, 1894, I could have saved myself the trouble of looking any further. He was specialised in landscapes and there are actually many paintings that I like. They have a dreamlike quality. Just google his name and images and you can see what I mean. I find there's almost something poetic in his depictions of landscapes. His use of warm colours and light is another thing I like. Apparently Innes was not a minor landscape painter. He was influenced by the Barbizon School and the Hudson River school, particularly by the work of Thomas Cole. I just read that Innes' work went to a higher level of individual expression throughout the 1870s and 1880s. In this later period of his life he started to depict landscapes at dawn or twilight and used diffused light and softly defined forms. He expressed mood through colour. His later work has been compared to Impressionism but his vision is more of a spiritual nature. In that respect his work is closer to Tonalism. The more I see of his later paintings, the more I love them. Sunrise (c.1887) is another example of a dreamlike landscape as well as The Trout Brook (1891). Very happy to add Innes to my list of new painters.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

John Roddam Spencer-Stanhope and Love and The Maiden

'Love and The Maiden' (1877) by John Roddam Spencer-Stanhope; Fine Arts Museum, San Francisco

English painter John Roddam Spencer-Stanhope, born on 20 January 1829 and died on 2 August 1908, is unknown to me and belonged to the second-wave Pre-Raphaelites that also included Evelyn De Morgan. Stanhope was De Morgan's uncle and teacher. He was a friend of Edward Burne-Jones and influenced by him, although Stanhope used stronger colours in his work. He loved the Tuscan landscape and Florentine art and later in life moved to Florence due to health problems. In the painting chosen for today, 'Love and the Maiden', which is considered to be his masterpiece, he pays tribute to 14th century Florentine art. By this date he already lived in Italy permanently. He had access to famous paintings by Italian masters. This painting is based on the Annunciation and the angel Gabriel has been substituted by the winged Eros. The maiden in Stanhope's painting is very similar to the female figure in Botticelli's Venus and Mars. 'Love and The Maiden' was bought at Christie's in 1997 for the sum of 727,500 British Pounds by an Australian art collector. In 2003 he sold it at a profit to the Trustees of the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco (for the California Palace of the Legion of Honor which is part of the museum). As you might know, I love Pre-Raphaelite art and I am glad to get to know another painter belonging to the group.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Jan van Scorel and Maria Magdalene

'Maria Magdalene' (c. 1530) by Jan van Scorel; Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Today there was not a whole lot to choose from that was to my liking. But then I stumbled upon Dutch painter Jan van Scorel, born on August 1, 1495 (see his Dutch Wikipedia page for the date). I know this painter by name but never knew exactly what kind of paintings he had made. Nor did I know that he was responsible for introducing Italian High Renaissance art to The Netherlands. He was one of the first Dutch painters to visit Italy and got acquainted with the work of Michelangelo and Raphael. He painted mostly portraits or works with a religious theme. Today's painting 'Maria Magdalene' is actually not oil on canvas but was painted on a panel, like most paintings in the 15th and 16th centuries. In the late 16th century artists started to work more on canvas. Because panels were made of wood, and wood tends to warp over time as a result of changes in temperature and humidity, a top plank had been added to the panel after Van Scorel's time (just above the head of Maria Magdalene). The addition of the extra plank and thus extra blue sky reduced the tension and power of the composition and made the image of Maria Magdalene less strong. Click here for the original (smaller) painting. The size of the original was also more in line with Van Scorel's other paintings which were broader in size. This painting belongs to the collection of the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, but Wikipedia names the Frans Hals Museum in Haarlem as current location. Since the Rijksmuseum is still being renovated and won't open until next year, the painting had been on loan to the Frans Hals Museum. I couldn't find on the internet whether it is still on display in Haarlem.
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