Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Johannes Vermeer and Girl With A Pearl Earring

'Girl With A Pearl Earring' (c. 1665) by Johannes Vermeer; Mauritshuis, The Hague

I guess on the list of most famous Dutch painters, next to Rembrandt and Van Gogh, ranks Johannes Vermeer, baptised on 31 October 1632 (no record of his actual date of birth). His Girl With a Pearl Earring is his masterpiece and world famous, sometimes referred to as 'The Dutch Mona Lisa'. To see it in closer detail, click here and once again to enlarge it. It is indeed beautiful, but not my favourite painting by Vermeer and also not my favourite painting of the collection of the wonderful Mauritshuis in The Hague. I have visited the museum numerous times now and can recall the first time I saw the Girl with the Pearl Earring. I thought it was beautiful but I was also a bit disappointed. It is such a famous painting that when I looked at it for the first time in real life, it didn't hold any surprises. It was just the way I had seen it in art books and reproductions. This might sound terrible to art connoisseurs but that's how I experienced it. The blue wasn't more startling (Vermeer preferred to use cool tones of blue), nor the intimate look in the girl's eyes. For instance, I find a Rembrandt painting always a bit of a surprise seeing it in real life, because his dramatic use of light can never be matched in a reproduction. Anyway, I hope I didn't offend any fervent fans of this particular painting. About the man himself, I only want to mention the following and the rest you can read by clicking on his name above. Vermeer was known for his paintings of domestic interior scenes of middle class life and only produced forty or so paintings. He stayed relatively unknown during his brief lifetime and it wasn't until the 19th century that he got recognition and appreciation for his work. Of course I could have chosen another painting by Vermeer, like Diana and Her Companions (also to be seen at the Mauritshuis) or the The Milk Maid or the beautiful The Lacemaker, all of which I like better than the Girl with the Pearl Earring. But I guess I want to post this masterpiece to appreciate its beauty more. Click here for a list of Vermeer's paintings.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Emilius Ditlev Bærentzen and Portrait of the Actress Johanne Luise Heiberg

'Portrait of the Actress Johanne Luise Heiberg' (1841) by Emilius Ditlev Bærentzen; Thorvaldsens Museum, Copenhagen

I found a Danish painter for today, Emil Bærentzen, born on 30 October 1799. He was a portrait painter and active during the Golden Age of Danish Painting. He studied at the Danish Academy and soon became one of Copenhagens's leading portraitists. His paintings were characterised by a sober style, like today's painting. The dress is elegant but simple, and all attention is being drawn to the woman's face and her smile. Bærentzen was commissioned by Bertel Thorvaldsen to do a portrait on the famous Danish actress Johanne Luise Heiberg. With this commission, Thorvaldsen would have a portrait of his favourite actress ánd a painting by Bærentzen in his collection. The painting is to be seen at the Thorvaldsens Museum in Copenhagen. I have done a post on another Danish painter, Wilhelm Marstrand, who also painted a portrait of the actress. Click here and see which one you like better (I like the Marstrand one better).

Monday, 29 October 2012

Gaston La Touche and Pardon in Brittany

'Pardon in Brittany' (1896) by Gaston La Touche; Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago

The reason why today's painting by French painter Gaston La Touche, born on 29 October 1854, caught my eye while browsing the net, will be clear just by looking at the image. The light of the glowing candles is beautiful and I immediately wanted to know what scene is being depicted in this painting. I will come to that in a minute. La Touche was a Post-Impressionist painter whose first paintings were of working-class Parisians, done in a depressing style. He made the acquaintance of Edgar Degas and Édouard Manet and wished to study art with the latter. Manet refused him as a student and said there was nothing he could teach him. La Touche just needed to use a variety of colours and paint what he saw. Another friend of his, Félix Bracquemond, advised him to paint in the style of Watteau and Fragonard, who were known for their dreamy subjects, soft pastels and light themes. La Touche took the advice and burned almost all of his old paintings. He sought out scenes of beauty to suit the lighter mood of his new paintings and ended up in Brittany, on the northwest coast of France. Here, on the feast days of patron saints, were processions of pilgrims in traditional dress. The pilgrimages were called Pardons and the pilgrims would seek forgiveness. Together they walked in prayer and a priest granted them absolution. Which brings us to today's painting. We see a man leading a horse with a woman and child. It's almost as if the horse is suspended in space amongst a carpet of white lace bonnets. In front of the horse, the priest receives the penitents holding their candles. Although the scene is crowded, there is a quiet peacefulness to it. I think it's nice to know the story of a narrative painting. It sometimes makes you look at a painting differently. But with this painting, I think the main character is still the beautiful light of the glowing candles. The artist's English Wikipedia doesn't give much information, so I used this article.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Lowell Birge Harrison and November

'November' (1881) by Lowell Birge Harrison; Musée des Beaux-Arts, Rennes

Today's painter, Lowell Birge Harrison, born on 28 October 1854, and his painting November, I know from the exhibition Illusions of Reality (8 October 2010 - 16 January 2011) at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. I thought it was one of the most beautiful paintings of the exhibition. Large in size and beautiful in colour, my gaze was drawn to it the moment I walked into the room. November is drawing near on the actual calendar so this painting might put you in the mood for an autumn walk in the woods. Before the exhibition, I had never heard of Harrison. He was an American painter and an advocate of Tonalism. In the 1870s, he met John Singer Sargent who persuaded him to come to Paris to study art. He stayed there for six years and exhibited at the Paris Salon with his painting 'November' in 1882. It became one of the first paintings by an American artist to come into the possession of the French government. Harrison was known for his poetic winter landscapes and street scenes. When you google the images of his paintings, there are many that are beautiful. Like Grand Central And The Biltmore In Hazy Twilight and Moonlight River and Fifth Avenue at Twilight. Please click here for more.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Charles Spencelayh and Helping Mother

'Helping Mother' (1899) by Charles Spencelayh; Private Collection?

I had never heard of English painter Charles Spencelayh, born on 27 October 1865. Judging from the length of his Wikipedia page, he seems to be a minor painter. Today's painting of a girl helping her mother immediately caught my eye. I think it is quite stunning because of its photographic quality and because the girl's face looks so modern. I also find that it could be two paintings, namely a portrait and a still life. Because both depictions in this painting are strong enough to stand on its own. Just imagine the girl without the food in front of her and the other way around. Do you see what I mean? Spencelayh was a painter in the Academic style and exhibited at the Paris Salon but more often in Britain. He painted domestic scenes, still lifes and portraits. I couldn't find the location for today's painting but found that it sold at Christie's in 1999 for 45,500 GBP.

Friday, 26 October 2012

William Hogarth and Sigismunda Mourning over the Heart of Guiscardo

'Sigismunda Mourning over the Heart of Guiscardo' (1759) by William Hogarth;
Tate Britain, London

I couldn't really make a choice today and I had initially dismissed English painter William Hogarth, born on 10 November 1697 and died on 26 October 1764. I'm not a big fan of his work but when I saw this painting of Sigismunda, I had to doublecheck its painter because it doesn't look like a Hogarth painting at all and I like it. The Tate says about this painting: "This was Hogarth's most deliberate attempt to prove that modern English painters could handle heroic themes as convincingly as the revered Italian old masters." Although Hogarth had expressed his distaste for the old Renaissance masters, he copied their style for this painting. It's a depiction of a dramatic scene from Boccaccio's Decameron. Sigismunda clutches the golden cup to her heart, sent to her by her father. Inside the cup is the heart of her dead husband Giuscardo, one of her father's servants. Distraught at the death of her beloved husband, she puts poison in the cup and kills herself. Hogarth had to endure harsh criticism for this painting and almost abandoned painting altogether for the last years of his life. For more information, click here.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

William Merritt Chase and Young Girl with Flowers

'Young Girl with Flowers' (1885) by William Merritt Chase; Palacio Real, Madrid

When you google the paintings of American Impressionist artist William Merritt Chase, born on 1 November 1849 and died on 25 October 1916, you see still lifes, women portraits, women set in landscapes and lush interiors, some paintings of men and children. It is his portraits that he is best known for. I didn't know him before doing this blog, but I have come across his name and paintings so often now that it only feels natural to dedicate a post to him, also because I like his work. He studied art in New York, but it was at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Munich where he received his most decisive training. When he returned to New York, he began teaching. He had adopted the plein air method of painting and often taught his students in outdoor classes. He devoted much of his time and energy to teaching and even opened the Chase School of Art in 1896. Two years later it became the New York School of Art. Chase was the most important art teacher around the turn of the 20th century. Many well-known American artists like Georgia O'Keeffe have studied under Chase. For today I have chosen a beautiful portrait of a young girl with flowers. I love the dark background and the contrasting red and green and multiple colours of the bouquet. There's no particular reason why I have chosen this painting when there are so many other paintings that I like and could have chosen. I will provide you with a link, click here, so you can see his other paintings as well. Enjoy!

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Jan Lievens and Study Of An Old Man

'Study Of An Old Man' (c. 1629) by Jan Lievens; Private Collection

There were two Dutch painters to choose from today. Jan Lievens, who was born on 24 October 1607, and Gabriël Metsu, buried on the 24th of October, 1667. They were even contemporaries. I just read their biographies online and found out that they were both born in Leiden. Lievens died in Amsterdam and Metsu was buried there (there's no information on the date or location of his death). As much as I like Metsu and in particular this painting of a Man Writing a Letter, I choose Jan Lievens for this post. If you follow this blog, you get a sense of what paintings I like and lots of times those are of beautiful women. But I also love paintings of old men, in the way that Ribera and Rembrandt have painted them. Of course Rembrandt was the master in painting old men (I love this painting) but today's painter Lievens comes very close. You will notice similarities between Lievens and Rembrandt and this is not surprising since Lievens was a student of Pieter Lastman who was Rembrandt's teacher. Lastman paid a lot of attention to painting features like hands, feet and faces, and these are also very apparent in the paintings of Lievens and Rembrandt. Lievens shared a studio with Rembrandt from about 1626 till 1631 in Leiden and they became friends. I have visited the exhibition on Jan Lievens at the Museum Het Rembrandthuis in Amsterdam in 2009, and it was actually the first time that I got introduced to his work. Today's painting of a study of an old man, he probably painted in 1629, when he and Rembrandt were making studies on old age. I think it is beautiful. It was put up for auction at Sotheby's in London in 2010, together with a painting by Frans Hals. The estimated price for both paintings was between 2,25 and 3,37 million euros.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Wilhelm Maria Hubertus Leibl and Farm Girl With A White Head Scarf

'Farm Girl With A White Head Scarf' (1876) by Wilhelm Maria Hubertus
 Leib; Neue Pinakothek, Munich

Not much to choose from today but that made it easier and I found German painter Wilhelm Leibl, born on 23 October 1844, very quickly. He was a Realist painter of portraits and scenes of peasant life. He was one of the most prominent German Realists of the late 19th century. He studied at the Munich Academy and went to Paris to work with Gustave Courbet. His style was in opposition to the Romantic naturalism dominant in Germany at the time. He was an admirer of Dutch old masters and painted with thick brush strokes against dark backgrounds. Apparently, Leibl started to work immediately with colour, without any preliminary sketching, and this resembled the working method of the Impressionists. I quite like his portraits, like the one shown here today. Beautiful colours, and although many of Leibl's paintings are rather dark, this one has a light background and the white scarf makes it a light painting as well. The face looks so fresh like she just came from outside, working the land, with a healthy blush on her cheeks.

Monday, 22 October 2012

John Faed and Posthumus and Imogen

'Posthumus and Imogen' (c. 1865) by John Faed; Private Collection?

I didn't look any further beyond the first painter on my list to check out for paintings. Scottish artist John Faed was born on 31 August 1819 and died on 22 October 1902. I instantly liked this painting, although it is rather sweet. But the colours are beautiful and I like the romantic depiction. It is a scene from Shakespeare's Cymbeline. Posthumus has secretly married Imogen, the daughter of the King of Britain, Cymbeline, and the moment depicted here is when he has been banished from Cymbeline's kingdom. He gives Imogen a bracelet in return for a ring of hers, with the promise to come back to her (click on the links provided to read the full story). The painting sold at Christie's in London in 2007 for $38,073. Faed mainly painted historical, religious and literary scenes.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Domenichino and The Cumaean Sibyl

 'The Cumaean Sibyl' (c. 1610) by Domenichino;
Pinacoteca Capitolina, Rome 

I'm happy to do a post on Italian painter Domenichino, born on October 21, 1581, as Domenico Zampieri because I get to post the painting 'The Cumaean Sibyl', which I like very much. Domenichino was a leading Baroque painter and worked with other Bolognese artists under Annibale Carracci. He painted frescoes on commission and paintings. The Last Communion of St. Jerome, dated 1614, is one of the period's greatest paintings and is holding its own with wonderful artworks like Transfiguration by Raphael. Today's painting of The Cumaean Sibyl is the version that is at the Pinacoteca Capitolina in Rome and belongs to the Albergati Collection. I wasn't aware before doing this post but apparently there are four known versions of Sibyl. All Sibyls have similar exotic turbans and rich fabrics. There is one at the Galleria Borghese, Rome, dated 1616-17, which is very similar to the one at the Pinacoteca. The Sibyl that is in the Wallace Collection in London is called The Persian Sibyl and is slightly different. Then there is a fourth Sibyl which Domenichino had painted for the Ratta family in Bologna but I couldn't find an image for that one. It must be very similar to the one at Pinacoteca Capitolina. Actually, while doing this post, I got a bit confused and stopped looking for the Ratta's Sibyl. Anyway, these are the sources for my little research on the different versions (click here and here). For further reading on The Cumaean Sibyl, click here.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Aelbert Cuyp and View of Dordrecht

'View of Dordrecht' (c. 1650) by Aelbert Cuyp; The Anthony de Rothschild Collection,
 Ascott House, Buckinghamshire

Today there was not much to choose from but I am happy to do a post on Dutch painter Aelbert Cuyp, born on 20 October 1620, even though I am not a huge fan of his work. I do like his use of light a lot though. Cuyp was born in Dordrecht, a small provincial town in The Netherlands, and was one of the most important landscape painters of the 17th century, the Dutch Golden Age. He lived and worked in his native town and in his early landscape paintings, the influence of Jan van Goyen is evident in its grey-green palette. In the 1640s, his landscape style transformed when he met Utrecht artist Jan Both who had developed a different style after his stay in Italy. Cuyp had never visited Italy himself but from now on he bathed his paintings in golden Italian sunlight. Besides the role that light played in his work, animals were a main feature in his landscape paintings. Most people in The Netherlands know Cuyp, even if they have never heard of the painter. The Albert Cuyp streetmarket in Amsterdam is probably the most well-known and most popular market in the country. I like the light of the setting sun in today's painting and the calm and friendly atmosphere.

Friday, 19 October 2012

Bonifacio Veronese and Madonna and Child with Saints

'Madonna and Child with Saints' (no date found) by Bonifacio Veronese; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

I like adding new names to my list of Italian painters. I never knew that I loved Italian art this much. Today I'm happy to get to know Bonifacio Veronese or Bonifacio de' Pitati (I'm sticking to the Italian spelling of the name), born in 1487 and died on 19 October 1553. He was a contemporary of Titian and Palma Vecchio and was influenced by the style of old Venetian masters like Bellini and Giorgione. In Venice, he was a succesful painter of compositions of Madonna and Child. In the work shown here today, we see the young Christ balancing on his mother's hand. He's holding a blue globe and is blessing the infant John the Baptist who is surrounded by his parents, the saints Elizabeth and Zechariah.  On the other side are the saints Joseph and Catherine of Alexandria. I provided you with the links to the Wikipedia pages in case you want to polish up your biblical knowledge.The colour scheme in this painting of reds, blues and greens is very like early Titian and I think it is beautiful.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Mikhail Nesterov and Taking the Veil

'Taking the Veil' (1897-98) by Mikhail Nesterov; State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg

I had never heard of Russian painter Mikhail Nesterov, born on 31 May 1862 and died on 18 October 1942, but he was a major representative of religious Symbolism. He was born into a merchant family and received an orthodox education. He studied art in Moscow, and joined a group of artists called Peredvizhniki, The Wanderers. He first tried his hand at historical paintings and everyday life scenes but became increasingly interested in religious themes. He was more influenced by French Symbolism, and in particular by the work of Jules Bastien-Lepage, than by old Russian icon painting. The landscape plays an important role in Nesterov's paintings, and there's a lyrical connection between his figures and their surroundings. I chose today's painting because it has such a Pre-Raphaelite quality. A group of nuns are taking part in a procession to accompany a novice who's about to take the veil, with in the background the Volga countryside. Nesterov was doing a cycle of paintings on the fate of Russian women and was inspired by the writings of Pavel Ivanovich Melnikov. I love this painting more the longer I look at it. Just by watching the solemnn faces, I can almost imagine myself clicking the play button on this image, and the procession will go on and beautiful music is being heard.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Frederick Childe Hassam and The Sonata

'The Sonata' (1893) by Frederick Childe Hassam; The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City

Today's artist is Frederick Childe Hassam, born on 17 October 1859, a painter whose name I vaguely recognise but I never really knew his paintings. Hissam was a leading and influential American Impressionist painter who was very productive with over 3,000 artworks over the course of his career. He was initially trained as an apprentice to a wood-engraver and went to art school in Boston and Paris. He spent five years in France where he was influenced by Claude Monet. In 1898, he became one of the founders of The Ten, a group of ten American painters who were considered exponents of Impressionism and who rebelled against the conservative Academy. He painted city life as well as life in the countryside, with great use of colour and light. His most famous paintings are the so-called 'Flag' series, paintings of urban celebrations at the end of World War I. His credo, which he stated in 1892, was: "The man who will go down to posterity is the man who paints his own time and the scenes of everyday life around him." For today I chose a lovely depiction of a woman behind the piano. I just found an article on a blog about the artwork. Apparently it was an important painting to the artist himself. We see a woman who is exhausted after having played Beethoven's difficult and lenghty Sonata Appassionata. This painting was probably the model for his many other interior paintings depicting women. Hassam was very attached to it and after already having sold practically all of his collection, he couldn't let go of The Sonata until 26 years after he painted it.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Frank Cadogan Cowper and Vanity

'Vanity' (1907) by Frank Cadogan Cowper; Royal Academy of Arts, London

Today's painting I had already drafted some time ago because I think it is beautiful and I didn't want to use another painting for this date and miss out on this one. The artist Frank Cadogan Cowper, born on 16 October 1877, is described as the last of the Pre-Raphaelite painters and he's someone I had never heard of before. He took his subjects from literature, history and religion, painted in the Pre-Raphaelite style with close attention to colour and detail. Look at Vanity. Aren't the colours and details gorgeous? Cowper attended the Royal Academy Schools and exhibited his work there for the first time. In 1910, he received a commission to paint a mural for the House Of Commons. He moved to the States during the Second World War but returned to England in 1944. He continued to paint and exhibit until 1957. 

Monday, 15 October 2012

James Tissot and Kathleen Newton In An Armchair

'Kathleen Newton In An Armchair' (1878) by James Tissot; Private Collection

I had already decided on doing today's post on French painter James Tissot, born on 15 October 1836, but to choose a painting was a bit difficult because there are many that I like. Eventually I chose this portrait of Kathleen Newton because while reading Tissot's biography online, the thing that drew my attention was the relationship between him and Kathleen Newton. She was his mistress and muse and is the subject in many of his paintings. When she moved into his London home, Tissot withdrew from social life and lived quietly at home with the love of his life. She died at the age of 28 from an overdosis of laudanum. Tissot was overcome by grief and didn't leave her coffin for four days. He never recovered from her tragic death and moved back to Paris (his house in London was sold to Alma-Tadema). He never got romantically involved with a woman again and dedicated the rest of his life to painting religious scenes. If you are interested in reading about Tissot's artistic life, click on his name above.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Johan Christian Clausen Dahl and A Mother and Child by the Sea

'A Mother and Child by the Sea' (1840) by Johan Christian Clausen Dahl;
The Barber Institute of Fine Arts, Birmingham

Sometimes I don't like the idea behind this blog very much, even though I came up with it myself. Because there are thousands of beautiful paintings out there and in choosing an artwork I am bound to a stupid date. So yesterday I had the choice between two wonderful painters and I could only pick one, today I struggled a lot because the choice was very meagre. Luckily I found Norwegian painter Johan Christian Clausen Dahl, born on 24 February 1788 and died on 14 October 1857. He has painted mostly landscapes, is often referred to as 'the father of Norwegian landscape painting' and is considered the first great Romantic painter in Norway. On top of all that, his Wikipedia page mentions that he was one of the great European artists of all time. Judging by the length of his page, you can tell he was no minor artist. So forget about my complaint earlier. I'm liking the concept of my blog again because otherwise I would not have discovered this great European artist, very unknown to me until now. When you look at his paintings, you see that some of them (like The Old Oak Tree in Winter) are very similar to the romantic landscapes by Caspar David Friedrich. Also today's painting is very similar to Friedrich's Moonrise Over The Sea, even the colours. So I scanned the Wikipedia text quickly to find Friedrich's name and read that Dahl had travelled to Dresden where he was introduced to Friedrich and became his close friend. Today's painting of a mother and child by the sea was painted in 1840, the year that Friedrich died. I just went to the page of the museum where it is on display, and I wasn't wrong in thinking that this particular painting is very similar to Friedrich's work. It says that Dahl may have painted the landscape as a hommage to his friend and mentor by using elements from Friedrich's work.

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Caesar van Everdingen and Winter

'Winter' (c. 1650) by Caesar van Everdingen; Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

There was no doubt in my mind to dedicate today's post to Caesar van Everdingen, buried on October 13, 1678 (no exact date of his birth nor death is known). Because his painting known as Winter (full title 'Young Woman as Winter' or 'Young Woman warming her Hands') is one of my favourite paintings of the permanent collection of the Amsterdam Rijksmuseum and I am very happy to show it to you here. But in my post of 6 September on the painter Julius LeBlanc Stewart I had made mention of the wonderful artist John Atkinson Grimshaw whom I had just discovered, and I had hoped to be able to use him for today. But then I found out about Van Everdingen and as much as I like Grimshaw's work (like Spirit of The Night and his nightscenes like this and this and this which are stunning) and would love to dedicate an entire post to him (maybe if I continue this blog, next year), the beauty of Van Everdingen's 'Winter' wins out anytime. Also because I have seen this in real life and it is so beautiful. The painting depicts a young woman warming her hands over a pot with glowing coals. She is the personification of winter. I love all the exquisite details. The maker of this wonderful painting Van Everdingen had worked under Jacob van Campen. Through him he received some important commissions. He painted mainly historical paintings and portraits.  

Friday, 12 October 2012

François-Joseph Navez and Holy Women

'Holy Women' (c. 1820) by François-Joseph Navez; Musée du Louvre, Paris

Today's choice was quickly made. I had never heard of Belgian Neoclassical painter François-Joseph Navez, born on 16 November 1787 and died on 12 October 1869 (Wikipedia doesn't give the exact dates, but Safran Arts does), but one look at the images of his paintings, I knew I didn't have to search any further. Probably the reason why I like his paintings is because they are very reminiscent of Jacques-Louis David and it turns out that he was David's pupil. After his studies in Paris, he went to Rome where he made the acquaintance of Jean-Auguste Dominique Ingres, that other great Neoclassical painter who had also been a pupil of David. He was a great admirer of Ingres and his work reflected Ingres's combination of Neoclassical and Romantic style. Returning to Belgium, he became the director of the Brussels Academy. His history and genre paintings as well as his portraits display rich colours and a figurative approach typical of Neoclassicism. The painting I have chosen for today is such an example, and as you might see, even more Ingres-like than David-like. I think it is beautiful and also found a site that shows you the restauration of this artwork. But besides this painting, there are many that I like. I think that Massacre of the Innocents (1824) is really beautiful too and should maybe have deserved this post but you can't win them all. 

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Barend Cornelis Koekkoek and Portrait of A Young Lady

'Portrait of A Young Lady' (1846) by Barend Cornelis Koekkoek;
B.C. Koekkoek-Huis, Kleef

Dutch painter Barend Cornelis Koekkoek, born on 11 October 1803, was the first painter on my list to check for paintings. I had never heard of him before so didn't know what to expect or whether to like his work. When I googled the images of his paintings, all I initially saw were landscapes. There are some that are beautiful like The Coming Storm but then my eyes were drawn towards the only portrait standing out amidst all those landscapes. And it's a beautiful portrait! Koekkoek was born into a family of painters and studied under his father. He attended the Amsterdam Academy of Art and travelled through Belgium and Germany where he got inspired by the landscape. In 1841, he founded his own art academy. He was a very succesful painter and achieved considerable fame during his lifetime. The portrait chosen for today is indeed exceptional in his oeuvre. Although the focus is on this beautiful young woman, the landscape plays an important role as well, providing the backdrop for the main subject.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Jean-Antoine Watteau and Gersaint's Shop Sign

'Gersaint's Shop Sign' (1720) by Jean-Antoine Watteau; Staatliche Museen, Berlin

I'm not really a big fan of French Rococo painter Jean-Antoine Watteau, born on 10 October 1684. He represents the fête galante style, a French term used for (usually small scale) paintings that show groups of elegantly dressed men and women, depicted in a park or garden setting, most of the time engaged in amorous play. It's not so much the frivolity of these paintings or the subject matter that I don't like, but it has more to do with the ornate Rococo style. Watteau studied with a local painter and after his death, he studied with another painter who specialised in decorating theaters. During his 15-year career, Watteau showed his skill in a variety of genres, subjects and techniques. His best known subjects are drawn from the Italian Commedia dell'arte. The painting I have chosen for today, I do like. I have posted the full painting but if you want to see it more closely in detail, then click here and click again to enlarge it. The painting is his last masterpiece, painted on two canvasses, and is a depiction of an art gallery with clients and shop staff. It was actually painted as a shop sign for the art dealer Edme-François Gersaint but never was used as an external sign. It only spent fifteen days at the shop. For further reading on the painting, click here.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Frank Duveneck and Portrait of Maggie Wilson

'Portrait of Maggie Wilson' (1898) by Frank Duveneck; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Today wasn't so difficult to choose a painting because I stumbled upon this portrait pretty quickly and stopped looking. The painter is American artist Frank Duveneck, born on October 9, 1848. When you see his paintings together (click here), the change in his colour palette is very evident. Duveneck started out painting realistic portraits against a dark background, as a result from his training at the Royal Academy in Munich. There he studied the style of the Old Masters like Velázquez. When he returned to Cincinatti, his style and technique became more conservative, more along the lines of academic painting, although his Munich background was still visible. After 1888, his style changed again. He was devastated after the death of his beloved wife and painter Elizabeth Boott, and started devoting his life to teaching, amongst others at the Cincinatti Fine Arts Academy. The paintings from this period are clearly inspired by Impressionism and show light and colour and expressive brushstrokes. The painting I chose for today is from this period. I think it is beautiful in colour and the woman with her penetrating eyes is very beautiful too.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Filippo Lippi and Madonna with the Child and two Angels

'Madonna with the Child and two Angels' (1465) by Filippo Lippi; The Uffizi Gallery, Florence

Finally a post on an Italian painter again and none other than the wonderful Filippo Lippi, who was born c. 1406 and died on 8 October 1469. In Rome, I've seen his Annunciation which dates back to 1450 and is beautiful. It was such a shame that the room where the art work was on display, was so badly lit that you could not fully appreciate its splendor. Lippi was a 15th century painter of religious subjects, and when you read his biography (please click on his name above), you discover that he had quite an eventful life. After his parents died, he stayed with his aunt. When she couldn't take care of him anymore, he was brought up at a monastery (Santa Maria del Carmine in his birth town Florence). The frescoes in this monastery by Masaccio were probably Lippi's first contact with art. He took his religious vows at the age of sixteen but left the monastery when he was 26 years old. There are some interesting pieces of information about his life. He was supposedly abducted by Moorish pirates on the Adriatic Sea and was being held captive for 18 months. He was only released after having painted a portrait of his abductor. He had a scandalous affair with a nun, Lucrezia Buti, who bore him a child. Both were released from their vows and got permission from the Pope to marry.  He was known for his bad behaviour and probably there wasn't anybody more unfit to be a monk than Lippi. For further reading, please click here. I had not initially chosen Madonna with the Child and Two Angels for today because most of the time I find the Madonna beautiful and the angels and child a bit ugly. So I had chosen Madonna delle Roccie which is a detail of a larger painting but I couldn't find which one. I was unsuccesful finding date and location and then thought, maybe it's a detail of this painting because the Madonnas look very similar. But then, there's no child's hand resting on Madonna's shoulder in the detail. So I have no clue. I found both paintings together on this blog but there's no further enlightment here either, just a biography in French on the painter. If anybody knows, please leave a comment.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Isaac Israëls and Reading Girl On A Sofa

'Reading Girl On A Sofa' (1920) by Isaac Israëls; no location found

It's always nice to be able to do a post on a Dutch painter (because I'm Dutch) and I am happy to introduce you today to Isaac Israëls, born on 3 February 1865 and died on 7 October 1934. He was linked to Amsterdam Impressionism, an art movement of the late 19th century, mainly associated with the great Dutch painter George Hendrik Breitner. Israëls was the son of the painter Jozef Israëls, who was one of the most famous artists of the Hague School, and studied at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague where he met Breitner. They became lifelong friends. Israëls's passions were painting, travel and literature, and he painted portraits, city views, and women. He often spent his summer holidays at the Dutch seaside resort of Scheveningen with his father and they would invite guests like Édouard Manet and Max Liebermann. Born in Amsterdam and died in The Hague, his work has an Amsterdam period as well as a The Hague one. There were major exhibitions in Amsterdam and The Hague over the summer months and I regret having missed them. I just haven't been paying close attention to what was going on artwise in the last few months (other than the Impressionist exhibition at the Hermitage, Amsterdam, which I háve visited, and will visit again in the coming month because it is wonderful). Anyway, these are the exhibitions that I've missed: one at the Stadsarchief in Amsterdam about Israëls's work in Amsterdam, and one at several museums in The Hague about his The Hague period. I don't even want to look closely at the links I've just provided you with, because I can kick myself for having missed the exhibitions. 

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Ford Madox Brown and The Last of England

'The Last of England' (1855) by Ford Madox Brown; Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Birmingham

Although very much a Pre-Raphaelite painter in style and colour, English artist Ford Madox Brown, born on 16 April 1821 and died on 6 October 1893, was never a member of the Brotherhood. He became closely involved with the movement because of his friendship with Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Born in Calais, he had been regarded as an outsider in the British art world, even though his parents were British. He studied drawing in Europe and became friends with German painters of the Nazarene movement. His work bears the influence of Johann Overbeck and Peter von Cornelius. During his life, Brown never made much money out of painting and he was largely ignored by his contemporaries. He had problems finishing his paintings and would retouch them constantly, even after they had been sold. Today's painting The Last of England is actually the only painting by Brown that I myself am familiar with, probably because it's his most famous work. It is an image of a couple of immigrants leaving England forever. The expression on their faces tell you their state of mind on leaving and I think Brown succeeded in making this a very strong depiction.

Friday, 5 October 2012

Joachim Patinir and Landscape with Charon Crossing the River Styx

'Landscape with Charon Crossing the River Styx' (c. 1515-1524) by Joachim Patinir;
Museo del Prado, Madrid

Like the paintings by Bosch and Bruegel, I find those by Flemish painter Joachim Patinir, born c. 1480 and died on 5 October 1524, impressive and fascinating. I read that the art by Patinir forms a link between Bosch and Bruegel, his style being a combination of naturalistic detail and a sense of fantasy. There's not much known of Patinir's early life or artistic training but we do know he became a member of the Antwerp Guild of painters in 1515. Albrecht Dürer, who became his friend, called him a good landscape painter and mentioned him frequently in his notes on his travels. Patinir also painted landscape backgrounds for other painters, and the figures that appear in his own paintings were often painted by other artists. He was the first Flemish painter who regarded himself primarily as a landscape painter although many of his paintings cannot be regarded as pure landscapes. He depicted mythological and religious scenes and the figures are completely integrated in the landscape. When you see his paintings, you notice a blue and green palette which I find beautiful. I have seen his art work at the Prado in Madrid and was very much impressed by it. Today's painting is a depiction of Charon, the ferryman who crosses the river Styx and leads the dead to Hades, the god of the underworld. A departing soul faces the dilemma of choosing between Paradise and Hell. To read more about the painting, you can read its Wikipedia page.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

John Joseph Enneking and Fall Landscape

'Fall Landscape' (no date found) by John Joseph Enneking; Private Collection?

For today I found American Impressionist painter John Joseph Enneking, born on 4 October 1841, and I'm happy about the discovery. It is nice to get to know more landscape painters and I really like Enneking's paintings. Especially since the season has recently changed, seeing his fall paintings (sitting on my couch with my little netbook in my lap) makes me somehow feel connected with the weather outside. I like the colours in today's painting, and the desolateness. Enneking got his first art lessons in Cincinnati and Boston. He earned his livelihood in business before committing fully to art. He spent some years in Europe, first in Munich and then studying art in Paris under Daubigny and Léon Bonnat. He also spent some time in The Netherlands. Coming back to the States, he established himself as a landscape painter, working en plein air. Occasionally he painted genre subjects. I couldn't find a date for today's painting, nor its location but found that at some point it was for sale at the Questroyal Fine Art Gallery in New York.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Pierre Bonnard and The Red Garters

'The Red Garters' (c.1905) by Pierre Bonnard; Private Collection

There are many other paintings that I could have chosen by French artist Pierre Bonnard, born on 3 October 1867, because I like his paintings and his use of colour. He studied both law and art but decided to pursue a career in painting. He met Édouard Vuillard (who became his lifelong friend) and Maurice Denis and formed the group Les Nabis with them, a group of Post-Impressionist avant-garde artists who became influential in the field of graphic art. Bonnard's wife Maria Boursin, known as Marthe de Méligny and with whom he had lived thirty years before marrying her in 1925, was a working-class laundry girl and his model in many of his paintings. I guess she must be the model for the numerous paintings that I love of a nude woman standing in front of a mirror (here) or taking a siesta (here) or bathing (here). In fact, I just read in this very nice Dutch article online that Marthe appears in 384 of his paintings so I can be sure that she is the one in the three paintings that I've given you the link to. Ánd the model for today's painting as well. I love this depiction of a woman in garters and the beautiful colours, but like I said, I like many of his paintings and also his still lifes. To select a few, click here, or here, or here

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Hans Thoma and Woodland Meadow

'Woodland Meadow' (1876) by Hans Thoma; Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hamburg

There was not so much to choose from today but I am happy to get acquainted with German painter Hans Thoma, born on 2 October 1839. If you click on the Dutch Wikipedia page, you see more images of his paintings and I also like this one very much. Thoma practised various styles but was mainly associated with Symbolism. He studied at the Karlsruhe Academy, went to Paris in 1868 and was influenced by Gustave Courbet and the Barbizon School. His style is difficult to interpret and it's also said that he had affinities with the Pre-Raphaelites. He had attention to detail and loved nature. Today's painting is a lovely depiction of a woman picking flowers. It looks a bit like an Impressionist painting to me. In any case, it makes you long for spring again.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Frédéric Soulacroix and The Cavalier's Kiss

'The Cavalier's Kiss' (no date found) by Frédéric Soulacroix; Private Collection

I was a little bit confused today. I had already chosen this painting by French painter Frédéric Soulacroix, born on 1 October 1858 in Rome (click on the French Wikipedia page for full details and more information, or the Dutch page), but when I tried to find the location and date of the painting, I found conflicting ownership. Some sites say that the painting was by the hand of Frédéric but there were more sources who mention that his father Charles Soulacroix, a well-known painter, was the artist. So I chose a painting right off Frédéric's English Wikipedia page to be sure of ownership (also see this site). I just read on the Dutch Wikipedia page that Frédéric's work has often been mistaken for his father's, and vice versa, on the internet. But Frédéric always signed his work with a F and his father Charles his work with a C. Anyway, Frédéric lived and worked in Italy, and had studied in Florence. He is best known for his women portraits and scenes from daily life in rich interiors, painted in the Academic style. I can't find the F in this romantic painting of a cavalier who is kissing the hand of a beautiful lady.
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