Saturday, March 31, 2012

Utrillo, Maurice

Church Saint-Pierre
oil on cardboard
107 x 76 cm
Musee de l'Orangerie, Paris, France

Maurice Utrillo (1883 - 1955) was a French painter who specialized in cityscapes.
Born in the Montmartre quarter of Paris, as the illegitimate son of a painter, he learned the skills from his mother, who wanted to keep him away from his addiction to alcohol. He soon showed real artistic talent. With no training beyond what his mother taught him, he drew and painted what he saw in Montmartre.
After 1910 his work attracted critical attention, and by 1920 he was internationally acclaimed.
In 1928, the French government awarded him the Cross of the Légion d'honneur.

In middle age he became fervently religious and in 1935, at the age of fifty-two, he married Lucie Valore and moved to just outside of Paris. By that time, he was too ill to work in the open air and painted landscapes viewed from windows, from post cards, and from memory. Throughout his life, he was plagued by alcoholism and his mental disorder resulted in his being interned in mental asylums repeatedly.

His paintings up until 1907 are dominated by the colors yellow, turquoise, wine red and zinc white. From 1909 to 1914 he confines his palette to white and shades of gray. In order to attain a greater realistic effect with his paintings, he mixed sand and gypsum into the paint. This so-called "Periode blanche" (White Period) marks the highlight of Utrillo's creation.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Rousseau, Henri

Discord on Horseback (War), La chevauchée de la discorde (La guerre)
Oil on Canvas
114 x 195 cm
Musée d'Orsay, Paris

According to Rousseau, the painting was inspired by a cartoon of the Tsar published in l'Egalité. Bearing Symbolist overtones, it depicts a horse and piles of bodies using fresh, harmonious colors and strange lighting.

Henri Rousseau (1844 -  1910) was a French Post-Impressionist painter in the Naïve or Primitive manner. He was also known as Le Douanier (the customs officer), a humorous description of his occupation as a toll collector. Ridiculed during his life, he came to be recognized as a self-taught genius whose works are of high artistic quality. At age 49 he retired from his job to work on his art.

He never left France or saw a jungle. His jungle landscapes derive from his visits and studies at the Paris Botanical Gardens. He was an outsider, and he was not familiar with the rules of the artistic establishment. Although he worked in traditional genres, producing landscapes, portraits, allegories, and exotic scenes, they were transformed in his hands. Flattened shapes and perspectives, the freedom of color and style, the subordination of realistic description to imagination and invention are the hallmarks of his work.
Rousseau's work exerted influence on several generations of vanguard artists, starting with Picasso and including Léger and the Surrealists

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Jakuchu Ito

Mandarin Duck in The Snow
Japanese hanging scroll painting on silk fabric
141.8 x 79.0cm
Collection of Imperial Household Agency

Ito, Jakuchu (1716 - 1800) was a Japanese painter of the mid-Edo period when Japan had closed its doors to the outside world.
He developed an amazingly realistic style and added to it decorative touches. His works display a great degree of experimentation with perspective, and with other very modern stylistic elements.

He was the eldest son of a Kyoto grocer whose shop lay in the center of downtown Kyoto. Jakuchu ran the shop from the time of his father's death in 1739 until 1755, when he turned it over to one of his brothers. He is said to have been very calm, restrained, and professional. He held strong ties to Zen Buddhist ideals, and was considered a lay brother.

His painting was mostly derived from inspirations from nature and from examining paintings at Zen temples. Though a number of his paintings depict exotic or fantastic creatures, such as tigers and phoenixes, it is evident from the detail and lifelike appearance of his paintings of chickens and other animals that he based his work on actual observation.

Well-known and well-reputed in the Kyoto art community, Jakuchu received many commissions for role-screen paintings, and was at one time featured above a number of other notable artists. Despite his commercial successes, however, Jakuchu can definitely be said to have lived the life of a literati. He was friends with many notable literati, went on journeys with them, and was influenced by their artistic styles. His own degree of experimentation was a result of a combination of this literati influence and his own personal creative drive.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Delvaux, Paul

oil on canvas
150 x 240 cm
Fondation Paul Delvau

Paul Delvaux (1897 - 1994)  was born in Antheit, Belgium. At the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts in Brussels he studied architecture and decorative painting. He was associated with Surrealism art movement, although he never officially joined.

His paintings are primarily nostalgic scenes in which women often appear in the nude. The painstakingly detailed nature of his works manages to convey an unreality, a world of his own imagination. His combination of photographic realism with unusual juxtapositions and a sense of mystery, places him in the same surrealistic category as Rene Magritte and Giorgio de Chirico.
He is considered an important contributor to modern art of the mid 20th century.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


medium unknown
14 x 12 inches (35.6 x 30.5 cm)
Private collection

The Russian-born painter Romain de Tirtoff (1892 – 1990), who called himself Erté after the French pronunciation of his initials, was one of the foremost fashion and stage designers of the early twentieth century.

He was a diversely-talented artist and designer who flourished in an array of fields, including fashion, jewelry, graphic arts, costume and set design for film, theater, and opera, and interior decor. He designed the cover of Harper’s Bazaar for 22 years. The influence of his work as a result of the high visibility of Harper’s influenced an entire art movement that was to become known as "Art Deco" and he became known as "The Father of Art Deco".

Erté pursued his chosen career with unflagging zest and creativity for almost 80 years. On his death in 1990, he was hailed as the "prince of the music hall" and "a mirror of fashion for 75 years".

Monday, March 26, 2012

Alsloot, Denis van

Skating during Carnival
c. 1620
Oil on panel
57 x 100 cm
Museo del Prado, Madrid

Denis van Alsloot (c.1570–c.1626) was a Flemish Baroque painter.
Alsloot was born in Mechelen. He initially painted using the style of Gillis van Coninxloo, but after 1610 gradually developed a style of his own.
At the beginning of the 17th century, his career rose when he served as court painter to Albert and Isabella. Van Alsloot's work can be regarded as a precursor to modern Landscape art.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Picabia, Francis

Nu devant un paysage (Naked in front of landscape)
Öl auf Leinwand (Oil on canvas)
81 x 100 cm
Musée Magnelli de Céramique, France

Francis Picabia (1879 - 1953) , painter and poet associated with both the Dada and Surrealist art movements, was born to an upper class family in Paris, 82 rue des Petits Champs, the same house where he died. He was a son of a French mother and a Cuban father of Spanish descent.

During the seventy four intervening years, he explored most of the artistic movements of his time. Up to 1908 he painted landscapes in the manner of Corot and the Impressionists, especially Sisley. Then, influenced by Matisse's Fauvism on one hand, and by Cubism of Braque and Picasso on the other, he tried to combine both movements and created bright-colored Cubists pictures unlike the somber monotone paintings of Cubism founders.
In 1910, he met Marcel Duchamp and Guillaume Apollinaire. The friendship with Marcel Duchamp, a pioneer in the use of ready-made art, and G. Apollinaire, an Avant-garde poet and critic, significantly influenced Picabia's following works.
In 1927, his period of  'transparencies' started. He was looking for alternative methods to depict three-dimensional space without traditional rules of perspective. He developed this approach in his works, in which flat images of different scales overlay and interlace to show an object from a variety of viewpoints. When an eye accommodates to intersections of different planes and foreshortening, an illusion of three-dimensional space really appears.
In 1934, the transparent images were forced out by heavy brutal shapes of pseudo classicism. Exaggerating the manner of the self-taught Primitivists and Kitch stylistic, Picabia parodied the high genres of allegory, portraiture and Mythological scenes.
Picabia died in Paris in 1953 and was interred in the Cimetière de Montmartre.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Klimt, Gustav

The Black Feather Hat
oil on canvas
79 x 63 cm
Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna, Rome

Gustav Klimt (1862 - 1918) was an Austrian Symbolist painter and a co-founder of the school of painting known as the Vienna Sezession, a group of modernist architects and artists who organized their own exhibition society and gave rise to the Viennese version of Art Nouveau, embodying the high-keyed erotic, psychological, and aesthetic preoccupations of turn-of-the-century Vienna's dazzling intellectual world.

Klimt's style drew upon an enormous range of sources: classical Greek, Byzantine, Egyptian, and Minoan art; late-medieval painting and the woodcuts of Albrecht Dürer; photography and the symbolist art of Max Klinger; and the work of both Franz von Stuck and Fernand Khnopff. In synthesizing these diverse sources, Klimt's art achieved both individuality and extreme elegance.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Monet, Claude

"Impression, Sunrise"
oil on canvas
48 × 63 cm (18.9 × 24.8 in)
Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris

Claude Monet (1840 - 1926) was a founder of French impressionist painting, and the most consistent and prolific practitioner of the movement's philosophy of expressing one's perceptions before nature, especially as applied to plein-air landscape painting. The term Impressionism is derived from the title of his painting "Impression, Sunrise" (Impression, Soleil Levant).

One day in 1871, legend says, Claude Monet walked into a food shop in Amsterdam, where he had gone to escape the Prussian siege of Paris. There he spotted some Japanese prints being used as wrapping paper. He was so taken by the engravings that he bought one on the spot. The purchase changed his life — and the history of Western art.
Monet went on to collect 231 Japanese prints, which greatly influenced his work and that of other practitioners of Impressionism, the movement he helped create. Under the new Meiji Emperor, Japan in the 1870s was just opening to the outside world after centuries of isolation. Japanese handicrafts were flooding into European department stores and art galleries. Japonisme, a fascination with all things Japanese, was soon the rage among French intellectuals and artists, among them Vincent van Gogh, Edouard Manet, Camille Pissarro and the young Monet.

Perhaps the greatest gift Japan gave Monet, and Impressionism, was an incandescent obsession with getting the play of light and shadow, the balance of colors and the curve of a line, just right — not the way it is in reality, but the way it looks in the artist's imagination. "I have slowly learned about the pattern of the grass, the trees, the structure of birds and other animals like insects and fish, so that when I am 80, I hope to be better," Hokusai wrote 16 years before his death at age 89. "At 90, I hope to have caught the very essence of things, so that at 100 I will have reached heavenly mysteries. At 110, every point and line will be living."
At Giverny where he built a Japanese bridge over a Japanese pond in a Japanese garden, Monet spent the rest of his life painting the private paradise, his water lilies of the pond, again and again, until he lost his eyesight in quest of an elusive, transcendent perfection that might best be called Japanese.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

La Tour, Georges de

The New-born Child
c. 1648
Oil on canvas
76 × 91 cm (29.9 × 35.8 in)
Musée des Beaux-Arts, Rennes, France

Georges de La Tour (1593 - 1652) was a French Baroque painter, who spent most of his working life in the Duchy of Lorraine, near Nancy. He painted mostly religious chiaroscuro scenes lit by candlelight.

La Tour's work shows influences from Caravaggio. La Tour is best known for the nocturnal light effects which he developed much further than his artistic predecessors had done, and transferred their use in the genre subjects in the paintings of the Dutch Caravaggisti, to religious painting in his. Unlike Caravaggio his religious paintings lack dramatic effects.

He was involved in a Franciscan-led religious revival in Lorraine, and over the course of his career he moved to painting almost entirely religious subjects, but in treatments with influence from genre painting. He became an extremely successful master painter during his lifetime. He was given the title "Painter to the King of France" in 1638, and he also worked for the Dukes of Lorraine, local bourgeoisie, and he achieved a certain affluence.

Georges de la Tour and his family died in 1652 in an epidemic in his town. After his death, La Tour's work was forgotten until rediscovered in the twentieth century; some of La Tour's work had in fact been confused with Vermeer.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Fra Angelico

Virgin and Child with Sts Dominic and Thomas Aquinas
c. 1445
Detached fresco transferred to canvas
196 x 184 cm
The Hermitage, St. Petersburg, Russia

 "He who does Christ's work must stay with Christ always". (Angelico)
Because of the perfect integrity of his life and the almost divine beauty of the images he painted, he earned the epithet "Blessed Angelico".

Fra Angelico (c. 1395 – 1455) was an Early Italian Renaissance painter having "a rare and perfect talent". He was known to his contemporaries as Fra Giovanni Angelico (Brother John the Angelic One).

Angelico combined the influence of the elegantly decorative International Gothic style with the more realistic style of Renaissance masters. His skill in creating monumental figures, representing motion, and suggesting deep space through the use of linear perspective mark him as one of the foremost painters of the Renaissance.

When singing my praise, don't liken my talents to those of Apelles. Say, rather, that, in the name of Christ, I gave all I had to the poor. The deeds that count on Earth are not the ones that count in Heaven. I, Giovanni, am the flower of Tuscany. (epitaph, tomb of Fra Angelico)

Pope John Paul II beatified Fra Angelico in 1982 and in 1984 declared him patron of Catholic artists.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Bouguereau, William-Adolphe

Tête d'Etude l'Oiseau (Dear Bird)
Oil on canvas
87.5 x 69 cm (32 x 26 inches)
private collection

William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1825 - 1905) was a French academic painter. He used mythological themes, making modern interpretations of Classical subjects, with an emphasis on the female human body.
He described his love of his art: "Each day I go to my studio full of joy; in the evening when obliged to stop because of darkness I can scarcely wait for the next morning to come…if I cannot give myself to my dear painting I am miserable."

Throughout his lifetime, he staunchly defended the academic tradition of painting and was viewed as an obstructionist by the new generation of painters who were experimenting with Impressionism. While immensely popular during his lifetime, Bouguereau's reputation suffered with the advent of the modernists who viewed his work as mediocre and overly sentimental.

Recent exhibitions have focused attention on the contribution of mid-19th century artists and Bouguereau's work has enjoyed a resurgence in popularity. He painted eight hundred and twenty-six paintings.
On August 19, 1905, Bouguereau died in La Rochelle at the age of 79 from heart disease.

Monday, March 19, 2012

De Morgan, Evelyn

Angel Piping to the Souls in Hell
Oil on canvas
20 by 24 in. (50.8 by 61 cm.)
Private collection

On the morning of her seventeenth birthday, Evelyn recorded in her diary, "Art is eternal, but life is short..." "I will make up for it now, I have not a moment to lose."

Evelyn De Morgan (1855 – 1919) was an English Pre-Raphaelite painter. Her preferred subjects included sacred and allegorical figures and scenes, and legends with a moral or social message.
She was particularly fond of the works of Botticelli.

An Angel Piping to the Souls in Hell depicts an angel playing music for the damned souls of hell. Come from afar the Angel bends over the abyss and pipes her angelic strains that the flame-tossed souls in Hell may hear the distant music. It was exhibited at the Red Cross benefit exhibition in 1916.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Hockney, David

A Bigger Splash
Acrylic on canvas
242.5 x 243.9 cm (95 1/2 x 96 in)
Tate gallery, London

David Hockney (1937 - ) is an English painter, stage designer and photographer, who is based in London.
He is an important contributor to the Pop art movement of the 1960s, and is considered one of the most influential British artists of the twentieth century.
He moved to California in 1964, where he immediately fell in love with the light, the culture and the urban landscape of the West Coast.

A Bigger Splash depicts a swimming pool beside a modern house, disturbed by a large splash of water created by an unseen figure who has apparently just jumped in from a diving board. It was painted in California between April and June 1967, when Hockney was teaching at the University of California, Berkeley, United States.
Hockney has expressed his pleasure at taking two weeks to paint a moment that lasted two seconds
"It took me two weeks to paint an event that lasts two seconds".

Saturday, March 17, 2012

O'Keeffe, Georgia

Apple Family 3
Oil on canvas
7 7/8 x 10 7/8 in. (20 x 27.6 cm)
Milwaukee Museum of Art, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Georgia O'Keeffe (1887 - 1986), a unique blend of abstract and representational American artist, was known for the purity, boldness, and clarity of her still-life compositions. She was considered the premier female artist of the 20th century, a title she considered sexist. She was an artist ahead of her time, a modernist who used minimalism and anticipated the reductivism of the 1970s.
In her long career, O'Keeffe focused on nature as well as man-made works, but rarely painted living creatures or people. She used bright colors, and created more than a hundred often giant-sized flower paintings.

She died at Santa Fe in 1986, at the age of 98. In accordance with her wishes, her body was cremated and her ashes were scattered to the wind at the top of Pedernal Mountain, over her beloved "faraway".

Friday, March 16, 2012

O'Keeffe, Georgia

Oil on canvas
36 x 30 in. (91.44 x 76.2 cm)
Milwaukee Museum of Art, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Georgia O'Keefe (1887 - 1986), an American original, was an independent and unique artist who painted boldly colored still-lifes and haunting landscapes using a synthesis of the abstract and the representational.
She hovered between representation and abstraction throughout her long career. These over-scale poppies seductively reveal their inner beauty and proclaim themselves a generative force of nature.

At the age of 84, she began to go blind, eventually retaining only peripheral vision. She did her last unassisted oil painting in 1972. The next year, a young ceramic artist, Juan Hamilton, arrived at her door to offer his assistance as a handyman. He became her controversial assistant, companion, and representative for her remaining years.
In 1984, in failing health, O'Keeffe moved to Santa Fe to live with Juan Hamilton and his family. The next year she died, leaving most of her estate to Juan Hamilton, which prompted a legal suit by O'Keeffe's family. Hamilton eventually agreed to turn over more than two-thirds of his inheritance to the museums and institutions in her original will. In 1997, the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum opened in Santa Fe, with its first exhibition curated by Juan Hamilton. It is the first art museum dedicated to the work of an internationally acclaimed woman artist.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Cézanne, Paul

The Basket of Apples
Oil on canvas
62 x 79 cm
The Art Institute of Chicago

Paul Cézanne (1839 - 1906) was a French artist and Post-Impressionist painter whose work laid the foundations of the transition from the 19th century conception of artistic endeavor to a new and radically different world of art in the 20th century. His art, misunderstood and discredited by the public during most of his life, grew out of Impressionism and eventually challenged all the conventional values of painting in the 19th century through its insistence on personal expression and on the integrity of the painting itself. He has been called the father of modern painting.

This painting is most notable for the disjointment of perspective, as if the two sides of the painting were completed using two different points of view. The right side of the table is not in the same plane as the left side of the table. This was a stylized method used by Cezanne to incorporate the differences of viewpoint.
This painting is an example of the way in which Cezanne tried to deal with the complexities of visual perception.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Hammershøi, Vilhelm

Interior with Woman at Piano
oil on canvas
22.0 x 17.3 inch (56 x 44 cm)
private collection

Vilhelm Hammershøi, in English Vilhelm Hammershoi (1864 – 1916), was a Danish painter. He is known for his poetic, low-key portraits and interiors.

He worked mainly in his native city Copenhagen, painting portraits, architecture, and interiors. He also journeyed to the surrounding countryside and locations beyond, where he painted rolling hills, stands of trees, farm houses, and other landscapes. He is most celebrated for his interiors, many of which he painted in the old merchant house in Copenhagen where he lived with his wife. He travelled widely in Europe.

Hammershøi's wife figures in many of his interiors, often depicted from behind.
He is now one of the best-known artists in Scandinavia, and comprehensive retrospectives of his work have been organized by the Musée d'Orsay in Paris and the Guggenheim Museum in New York.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Laurencin, Marie

Femmes au chien (Women with a dog)
oil on canvas
80x100 cms
Musee-Orangerie, Paris

Marie Laurencin (1883 - 1956) was a French painter, stage designer and illustrator. She studied porcelain painting at 18.
Picasso and the poet Guillaume Apollinaire (she once became romantically involved with Guillaume Apollinaire, and has often been identified as his muse) supported her and integrated her in discussions about art theory, which lead to Cubism. Laurencin's own creative work, however, remained untouched by such theoretical demands.
Her work shows mainly lyrical motifs like graceful, dreamy young girls in pastel coloring and soft shading. This color-sensitive inventiveness leads to a variation of repetitions of form and motifs. The influence of Persian miniature painting and Rococo art are undeniable.

During the early years of the 20th century, Laurencin was an important figure in the Parisian avant-garde.
In 1983, on the one hundredth anniversary of Laurencin's birth, the Musée Marie Laurencin opened in Nagano Prefecture, Japan. The museum is home to more than 500 of her works and an archive.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Nolde, Emil

St. Mary of Egypt Among the Sinners (Left panel of a triptych)
oil on canvas
2' 10" x 3' 3" (86 x 99 cm)
Kunsthalle (Museum of Art), Hamburg, Germany

"I had an infinite number of visions at this time, for wherever I turned my eyes nature, the sky, the clouds were alive, in each stone and in the branches of each tree, everywhere, my figures stirred and lived their still or wildly animated life, and they aroused my enthusiasm as well as tormented me with demands that I paint them."

Emil Nolde (1867 – 1956) was a German painter. He was one of the first Expressionists, and is considered to be one of the great oil painting and watercolor painters of the 20th century. He is known for his vigorous brushwork and expressive choice of colors. Nolde focused mainly on religious imagery. Some aspects of the family background affected him deeply, the family were Protestants, steeped in religion, and in his youth Nolde read the Bible a great deal.
This painting "St. Mary of Egypt among Sinners", is the left panel of a triptych. The narrative of this piece is Mary Magdalen, before her conversion to christianity, is entertaining three men.

Nolde was a supporter of the Nazi party from the early 1920s, having become a member of its Danish section. However Hitler rejected all forms of modernism as "degenerate art", and the Nazi regime officially condemned Nolde's work. 1052 of his works were removed from museums, more than those of any other artist. He was not allowed to paint, even in private, after 1941.
After World War II, Nolde was once again honored, and he was awarded the German Order of Merit in 1952, his country's highest civilian decoration. Nolde died in April 1956, aged eighty eight.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Gossart, Jan

The Adoration of the Kings
Oil on wood panel
177 x 161 cm1 (69.7 x 63.4 in)
National Gallery, London

Jan Gossart (c. 1478 – 1532), called Mabuse, Flemish painter, draughtsman and engraver. Albrecht Durer was always his master.

His early career is largely obscure.
Gossart always devoted much of his time to drawing. He was particularly attracted to pen and ink drawing, more so than to drawing in pencil. He also painted many portraits. By their rigorous psychological analysis he is surely one of the most talented northern artists to have practiced this genre.

Gossart's art was intensely personal and innovative. Although it had virtually no impact on his contemporaries, it was to profoundly influence the subsequent generation of painters. After his death in 1532, his fame began to spread through Italy, and during the 17th and 18th centuries he was also considered a major artist in the Southern Netherlands.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Courbet, Gustave

The Wave (La vague)
Oil on canvas
63 × 92 cm
Frankfurt, Staedel Museum

"I am fifty years old and I have always lived in freedom. Let me end my life free. When I am dead let this be said of me: He belonged to no school, to no church, to no institution, to no academy, least of all to any régime except the régime of liberty."

Jean Désiré Gustave Courbet (1819 – 1877) was a French painter who led the Realist movement in 19th-century French painting. He occupies an important place in 19th century French painting as an innovator and as an artist willing to make bold social commentary in his work.

The Wave is testimony to the new conception of reality, and represents a milestone in art history. There is not a trace of mankind in this work, and no land in sight. Confronted with nature’s unleashed violence, we have no fixed standpoint to which we can retreat. We are pulled into the surf and the peak of the wave is about to come crashing down on us. At the same time, our gaze wanders across the surface of the water to the horizon. We feel abandoned and exposed. This painting is the expression of human struggle for survival and at the same time symbols of a hope for a better future as well as the experience of nature.
Courbet died, at the age of 58 in Switzerland, of a liver disease aggravated by heavy drinking.
“Painting”, in Courbet's view, “should consist solely of the reproduction of things the artist can see and touch.”

Friday, March 9, 2012

Gerard, Francois

Empress Josephine at Malmaison (Portrait of Empress Josephine)
1801 (Napoleon and Napoleonic Wars)
oil on canvas
171x164 cm
Musee Nat. du Chateau de Malmaison, Rueil-Malmaison, France

François Pascal Simon, Baron Gérard (1770 – 1837) was a French painter born in Rome, where his father occupied a post in the house of the French ambassador.  As a baron of the Empire he is sometimes referred to as Baron Gérard.

This portrait of Josephine , wife of Napoleon, First Consul of France, represents a new type of more accessible portrait, lacking in official pomp. The First Lady is seen in relaxed pose, with thoughtful gaze, on the open terrace of the palace at Malmaison as she perhaps takes a rest after a walk.
The park landscape and bunch of flowers on the divan create an atmosphere of sentimental poetry, emphasizing the inner state of the sitter, which was so typical of the Romantic period. Yet the idealization of the sitter, the static composition built upon a balance of horizontal and vertical lines, and the classicizing style of the dress and hairstyle are very much based upon the traditions of Neoclassicism.

The portrait launched Gérard’s career as a portraitist, whose works were much sought-after because of their naturalism and brilliant characterizations. Gérard’s reputation remained high through the Restoration period. In 1817 he became court painter to Louis XVIII, and was ennobled in 1819.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Hishikawa, Moronobu

Beauty looking back
Hanging scroll, Ink, color on silk
63.0 x 31.2 cm
The Tokyo National Museum, Japan

Hishikawa Moronobu (1618 – 1694) was a Japanese painter and printmaker known as the first great master of the ukiyo-e, a genre depicting entertainment districts and other scenes of urban life. Hishikawa's importance lies in his effective consolidation of the ephemeral styles of early genre painting and illustration, creating the first truly mature form of ukiyo-e, in a style of great strength and presence that would set the standards for generations of artists who followed.
His style, one of controlled, powerful brushstrokes and solid, dynamic figures provided the groundwork for ukiyo-e masters of the following two centuries.

In this work, he has produced a memorable depiction of a woman who wears an obi sash that was then popular and has been walking somewhere but has stopped to take a look backward. This masterpiece is one of Hishikawa's best-known hand-paintings.
Ukiyo-e artists have influenced later some great European artists.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Bonnard, Pierre

Model in Backlight
oil on canvas
125 x 109 cm (49.21 x 42.91 in)
Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts, Brussels, Belgium

“Painting has to get back to its original goal, examining the inner lives of human beings.” (Bonnard)
Pierre Bonnard (1867 – 1947) was a French painter, and a founding member of Les Nabis, a group of young artists committed to creating work of symbolic and spiritual nature.
He, sometimes called an intimist, is known for his intense use of color. He did not paint from life but rather drew his subject, sometimes photographing it as well, and made notes on the colors. He then painted the canvas in his studio from his notes. Still, his often complex compositions, typically of sunlit interiors of rooms and gardens populated with friends and family members, are both narrative and autobiographical.
The process of making a painting would extend over months, even years. He was deeply conscious of the complexities of visual perception: He carefully plotted his paintings, so that what is seen in them depends upon the active participation of the viewer, as happens when we perceive scenes in the world.

He led a happy and carefree youth as the son of a prominent official of the French Ministry of War. At the insistence of his father, he studied law, graduating and practicing as a barrister briefly. However, he had also attended art classes on the side, and soon decided to become an artist.
His wife Marthe is an ever-present subject and is seen seated at the kitchen table or nude as in a series of these paintings.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Menzel, Adolph von

Procession in Hofgastein (Fronleichnamsprozession in Hofgastein)
oil on canvas
51.3 × 70.2 cm
Neue Pinakothek, Munich, Germany

Adolph Friedrich Erdmann von Menzel, (1815 – 1905) was a German artist. He was an artist who had honor in his own country and abroad during his lifetime.  Along with Caspar David Friedrich, he is considered one of the two most prominent German artists of the 19th century, and was the most successful artist of his era in Germany. The paintings which were available to the public garnered recognition not only within Germany, but from the French avant-garde as well. Edgar Degas admired and copied his work, calling him "the greatest living master".

His popularity in his native country, owing especially to politically propagandistic works, was such that few of his major paintings left Germany, as many were quickly acquired by museums in Berlin.
The painter's brilliant career was crowned with the decoration of Knight of the Black Order and elevation to the German peerage. After his death in 1905 in Berlin, his funeral arrangements were directed by the Kaiser.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Batoni, Pompeo

Diana and Cupid (Diane et Cupidon)
oil on canvas
124.5 × 172.7 cm (49 × 68 in)
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Pompeo Girolamo Batoni (1708 – 1787) was an Italian painter, born in Lucca, the son of a goldsmith, whose style incorporated elements of the French Rococo, Bolognese classicism, and nascent Neoclassicism. He adopted his style from the work of Raphael and ancient art, and was the highly-fashionable and greatest artist of eighteenth-century Rome. His portrait style was elegant and polished, often incorporating background scenes filled with Roman sculpture or architecture.

This picture, being considered the finest Batoni had ever painted, shows the goddess of the hunt withholding the bow from Cupid. The figure of Diana is based on the celebrated ancient statue of the sleeping Ariadne in the Vatican, which Batoni has invested with extraordinary warmth and feeling. This was painted for Sir Humphrey Morice (1723–1785), son of a wealthy merchant and director of the Bank of England.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Whistler, James Abbott McNeill

Sea and Rain, variations in violet and green
Oil on canvas
510 x 734 mm
The University of Michigan Museum of Art, Ann Arbor, MI, USA

Oil painting on canvas portraying a person walking along a foggy beach. With its delicate veils of color, the sea and shore are conveyed through subdued horizontal bands of thinly applied paint and are seen through an obscuring screen of rain and mist.

James Abbott McNeill Whistler (1834 – 1903) was an American-born, British-based artist, active mainly in England. He made copies in the Louvre, acquired a lasting admiration for Velázquez, and became a devotee of the cult of the Japanese print and oriental art and decoration in general. As a leading proponent of the credo "art for art's sake", he walked his own path from the Realism of Courbet to an aesthetic approach. Egotistical, abrasive, and yet extremely talented, he stands as an isolated figure in art history, never directly associated with a specific style or school of painting. As a result, Whistler's work has in modern times rarely received the attention it deserves.

Whistler's art was characterized by a subtle delicacy, while his public persona was combative. Finding a parallel between painting and music, he titled many of his paintings "arrangements", "harmonies", and "nocturnes", emphasizing the primacy of tonal harmony.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Munch, Edvard

Oil on canvas
91 x 109 cm
The Munch Museum, Norway

One of the most sensational and shocking images in European art. A woman with long red hair bends over a man. Love and Pain, which was the first title of the motif, indicates an ambition to express complex feelings. This painting caused a sensation when it was unveiled, touching on turn-of-the-century fears about women's liberation. Some critics were outraged by its perverse, almost sado-masochistic depiction of passion. Munch always insisted it was nothing more than "just a woman kissing a man on the neck".

Edvard Munch (1863 - 1944), Norway's most popular artist, is looked upon as one of the most significant influences on the development of German and Central European expressionism. Munch's convulsed and tortuous art was formed by the misery and conflicts of his time, and, even more important, by his own unhappy life. Childhood tragedy, intense and dramatic love affairs, alcoholism, and ceaseless traveling are reflected in his works. Munch's pictures show his social awareness and his tendency to express many of the basic fears and anxieties of mankind.

Munch died in his house near Oslo on January 23, 1944, about a month after his 80th birthday.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Court, Joseph-Désiré

Rigolette Seeks To Distract Herself During The Absence Of Germain
 (Rigolette cherchant à se distraire en l'absence de Germain)
oil on canvas
112 x 80cm
Musée des beaux-arts de Rouen, France

Joseph-Désiré Court (1797–1865), museum director and a painter of historical subjects and portraits, was born at Rouen in France.
He was strongly in demand as a portrait painter in aristocratic circles and at court, especially for his paintings that placed their subject in a fantastical scene.

His exhibition of the 'The Death of Caesar', a work manifesting earnest thought and a conscientious handling of the facts of history at the Salon in Paris in 1827, proved a sensational success and high expectations were formed of him.
Having shown himself in that painting and other works a vigorous painter, capable of seizing a subject with a masterly grasp, and having also in the region of portrait painting proved himself an artist of no common merit, he eventually dissipated his talents in the production of a series of empty official pictures painted by order of Louis Philippe.

This painting (Rigolette cherchant à se distraire en l'absence de Germain) was based on a popular serial novel by Eugene Sue called Les Mysteres de Paris.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Raoux, Jean

Young Woman Reading a Letter (Jeune femme lisant une lettre)
oil on canvas
31.9 x 39.0 inch (81 x 99 cm)
Musee du Louvre, Paris, France

Jean Raoux (1677–1734), French painter, was born at Montpellier.
His reputation had been previously established by the credit of decorations executed during his three years in Italy on the palace of Giustiniani Solini at Venice, and by some easel paintings commissioned by the grand prior of Vendôme.
Raoux's paintings on classical and literary themes display the light, cheerful atmosphere of the fêtes galantes invented by Jean-Antoine Watteau.  Raoux painted numerous portraits, both conventional formal representations and women as mythological figures. In his smaller portraits and genre subjects, he often treated light in a manner reminiscent of Rembrandt van Rijn.