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Monday, June 30, 2014

Bellini, Giovanni


The Feast of the Gods
1514
oil on canvas
170 x 188 cm
National Gallery of Art, Washington DC, USA

Giovanni Bellini (c.1430-1516) was an Italian Renaissance painter born in Venice, Venetian painter, founder of the Venetian school of painting. He raised Venice to a center of Renaissance art that rivaled Florence and Rome. He brought to painting a new degree of realism, a new wealth of subject-matter, and a new sensuousness in form and color. Through the use of clear, slow-drying oil paints, he created deep, rich tints and detailed shadings. His sumptuous coloring and fluent, atmospheric landscapes had a great effect on the Venetian painting school. Little is known about his family. His father was a pupil of one of the leading 15th-century Gothic revival artists. He probably began his career as an assistant in the father's workshop.

Bellini became one of the greatest landscape painters. His ability to portray outdoor light was so skillful that the viewer can tell not only the season of the year but also almost the hour of the day. He lived to see his own school of painting achieve dominance and acclaim. His influence carried over to his pupils, two of whom became better known than he was: Giorgione and Titian. His younger contemporary, the German painter Albrecht Durer, wrote of Bellini in 1506: "He is very old, and still he is the best painter of them all." Bellini died in Venice in 1516.

Bellini's historical importance is immense. In his 65-year evolution as an artist, he brought Venetian painting from provincial backwardness into the forefront of Renaissance and the mainstream of Western art. Moreover, his personal orientations predetermined the special nature of Venice's contribution to that mainstream. These include his luminous colorism, his deep response to the natural world, and his warm humanity.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Somone Martini


The Annunciation and Two Saints
1333
Tempera and gold on wood
305 × 265 cm
Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence

This wooden triptych beautiful Annunciation was painted by Simone Martini and his brother-in-law Lippo Memmi for the chapel of Sant'Ansano of the Cathedral in Siena. The work is considered an absolute masterpiece and one of the greatest examples of Sienese Gothic painting, characterized by the wonderful elegance of both line and color. The Archangel Gabriel has just touched ground in front of the Virgin as shown by his unfold wings and his swirling mantle. The Virgin is portrayed almost surprised and frightened by the sudden appearance. Gabriel, holding an olive branch in his hand, a traditional symbol of peace, is to communicate her that she will soon bear the child Jesus, whose name means the "Savior." The exquisite rhythm of the lines and dematerialized forms of Gabriel and Mary in the central portion of The Annunciation led a number of artists to imitation, but none of them achieved such vibrant contours and such spirited forms as did Simone in this great masterpiece.

Simone Martini (c.1284-1344) was an Italian painter born in Siena. He was a major figure in the development of early Italian painting and greatly influenced the development of the International Gothic style. Very little documentation of Simone's life survives, and many attributions are debated by art historians. He died while in the service of the Papal court at Avignon, France. His brother-in-law was the artist Lippo Memmi.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Artemisia Gentileschi


Allegory of Inclination (known as "The Angel")
1616
Casa Buonarroti, Florence, Italy
other detail unknown

Artemisia Gentileschi (1593-1656) was an Italian Baroque painter. Her father, a Tuscan master painter Orazio Gentileschi, was heavily influenced by the baroque master Caravaggio, and so was Artemisia. She is considered to be one of his most talented followers. Later she added classical influences into her work. Today she is considered one of the most accomplished painters in the generation following that of Caravaggio.

In an era when women painters were not easily accepted by the artistic community or patrons, she was the first woman to become a member of the Accademia di Arte del Disegno in Florence. She painted many pictures of strong and suffering women from myth and the Bible - victims, suicides, warriors - and made it her speciality to paint the Judith story.

She was raped by her tutor painter and participated in prosecuting the rapist, long overshadowed her achievements as an artist. For many years she was regarded as a curiosity. Today she is regarded as one of the most progressive and expressionist painters of her generation.

During her lifetime, she managed to do the unheard of: thrive in a male-dominated field as a woman. Today, she remains an inspiration, not only for her powerful artwork, but for her ability to overcome the limits and prejudices of her time.

Artemisia Gentileschi


Self-portrait
1617
oil
30 × 28 cm
Curtis Galleries, Minneapolis

Artemisia Gentileschi (1593-1656) was an Italian Baroque painter. Her father, a Tuscan master painter Orazio Gentileschi, was heavily influenced by the baroque master Caravaggio, and so was Artemisia. She is considered to be one of his most talented followers. Later she added classical influences into her work. Today she is considered one of the most accomplished painters in the generation following that of Caravaggio.

In an era when women painters were not easily accepted by the artistic community or patrons, she was the first woman to become a member of the Accademia di Arte del Disegno in Florence. She painted many pictures of strong and suffering women from myth and the Bible - victims, suicides, warriors - and made it her speciality to paint the Judith story.

She was raped by her tutor painter and participated in prosecuting the rapist, long overshadowed her achievements as an artist. For many years she was regarded as a curiosity. Today she is regarded as one of the most progressive and expressionist painters of her generation.
During her lifetime, she managed to do the unheard of: thrive in a male-dominated field as a woman. Today, she remains an inspiration, not only for her powerful artwork, but for her ability to overcome the limits and prejudices of her time.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Sassetta


The Meeting of Saint Anthony and Saint Paul
c.1440
46.5 x 33.4 cm
tempera on panel
National Gallery of Art, Washigton DC, USA

Sassetta chose to ignore the recently discovered laws of perspective and methods of rendering form realistically. In this picture, he has reverted to the medieval book illustrators' technique of showing consecutive events simultaneously on a single panel and representing early Christian legends in contemporary settings.

Stefano di Giovanni di Consolo, known as il Sassetta (c.1392-c.1451) was an Italian painter who is considered one of the most important representatives of the early 15th century Sienese painters.
Many consider Sassetta's fusing of traditional and contemporary elements as integral to the move from the Gothic to the Renaissance style of painting in Siena. He mingles an innate conservatism, especially in his architectural structures, with a delight in the svelte forms of International Gothic figure design, and in the clarity and unity of Renaissance pictorial space.
Sassetta was a fiercely pious man, and the meaning of his nickname Sassetta is obscure.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Correggio, Antonio


The Adoration of the Magi
1518
oil on canvas
84 x 108 cm
Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan, Italy

Antonio Allegri da Correggio (1489-1534), usually known as Correggio, named after the small town in Emilia where he was born, was one of the greatest Italian artists of the Renaissance, who was responsible for some of the most vigorous and sensuous works of the 16th century. Relatively unknown in his lifetime, he was to have an enormous posthumous reputation. He was revered by Federico Barocci and the Carracci, and throughout the 17th and 18th centuries his reputation rivalled that of Raphael.

His career is poorly documented and his training has to be conjectured on stylistic grounds. Echoes of Mantegna's manner in many of his early paintings indicate that he may have studied that master's work in Mantua, and he was influenced in these works also by Leonardo. Later he developed a style of conscious elegance and allure with soft sfumato and gestures of captivating charm. Although he worked mainly in provincial centers, he was one of the most sophisticated artists of his time, blending disparate sources into a potent synthesis. In his use of dynamic composition, illusionistic perspective and dramatic foreshortening, he prefigured the Rococo art of the 18th century.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Reni, Guido


Bacchus and Ariadne
c.1621
oil on canvas
96 x 86 cm
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA, USA

"He had about him a certain air of grandeur and gravity that exceeded his station in life, which produced in everyone, even those of high rank, a hidden veneration and respect." (so wrote an early biographer of Guido Reni)

Guido Reni (1575-1642), born in Bologna into a family of musicians, was an early Italian Baroque painter noted for the classical idealism of his renderings of mythological and religious subjects. He admired Raphael unconditionally. His graceful, classical style featured refined colors, delicate and varied flesh tones, soft modeling, and gentle emotion that owes a debt to Raphael's work. He did, however, come to terms with Caravaggio's naturalism in a group of youthful works. He spent 1602-13 in Rome, and he was reputed to have met (and quarreled with) Caravaggio in the workshop of Carracci where he learned classicizing style.

Reni exalted the clarity of light, the perfection of the body, and lively color. He was a quintessentially classical academic but he was also one of the most elegant painters in the annals of art history. Toward the end of his life, his paintings became so airy as to seem insubstantial and were almost completely monochrome. He also used long, flowing brushstrokes and conveyed an atmosphere laden with intense melancholy. He was constantly seeking an absolute, rarefied perfection which he measured against classical Antiquity and Raphael.

He was notoriously pious and eccentric. He disliked and feared women, whom he barred from his house even as servants, yet he was devoted to his mother and renowned for his heartfelt Madonnas. "The fear of God was always the first advice that Reni gave his pupils," his biographer wrote. His large studio dominated the Bolognese school, and his fame spread throughout Europe. His success was underlined by the important commissions he received. He died in Bologna and was buried in the Rosary Chapel of the Basilica of San Domenico in Bologna.

The eighteenth century loved him, the nineteenth century, persuaded by the violent criticism of John Ruskin, hated him. But even his detractors cannot deny the exceptional technical quality of his work nor the clarity of his supremely assured and harmonious brushwork.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Ghirlandaio, Domenico


Madonna and Child Enthroned with Saints
c.1483
Tempera on wood
191 x 200 cm
Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence, Italy

Domenico Ghirlandaio (1449-1494, original name Domenico di Tommaso Bighordi) was an Italian early Renaissance painter of the Florentine school noted for his detailed narrative frescoes, which include many portraits of leading citizens in contemporary dress. Among his many apprentices was Michelangelo.

He was the son of a goldsmith, and his nickname "Il Ghirlandaio" (garland-maker)" was derived from his father's skill in making garlands. His father was famed for creating the metallic garland-like necklaces worn by Florentine women. He probably began as an apprentice in his father's shop, but almost nothing is known about his training as a painter or the beginnings of his career. In his father's shop, Ghirlandaio is said to have made portraits of the passers-by, and he was eventually apprenticed to Alessio Baldovinetti to study painting and mosaic.

Ghirlandaio never received a major commission from the Medici family or from any other leading patrons. In the late 19th century, however, because of the high degree of realism in his work, he was ranked as a leading Florentine painter of the 15th century. Although during much of the 20th century the greater imaginative power of Botticelli or Filippino Lippi made Ghirlandaio's paintings seem dull, since the 1960s the honesty and truth of his works have brought him back into critical favour.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Veronese, Paolo


The Marriage at Cana
1563
oil on canvas
666 x 990 cm
Musee du Louvre, Paris, France

The Wedding at Cana was commissioned by the Benedictine monks for the San Giorgio Maggiore Monastery, on a small island across from Saint Mark's, in Venice. The contract insisted on the huge size, and that the quality of pigment and colors should be of premium quality. For example, the contract specified that the blues should contain the precious mineral lapis-lazuli, that the painting should include as many figures as possible. The scene, taken from the New Testament Book of John, II, represents the first miracle performed by Jesus, the making of wine from water, at a marriage in Cana, Galilee.

Paolo Caliari, known as Paolo Veronese (1528-1588) from his birthplace in Verona, the fifth child to a stone-cutter, was an Italian painter, born at Verona but active in Venice. Veronese, known as a supreme colorist, was one of the greatest of all decorative artists, delighting in painting enormous pageant-like scenes that bear witness to the material splendor of Venice in its Golden Age.

With Tintoretto, ten years older, he became the dominant figure in Venetian painting in the generation after Titian, at least a generation older. Veronese was one of the "great trio that dominated Venetian painting of the cinquecento" or 16th-century late Renaissance. He has always been appreciated for the chromatic brilliance of his palette, the splendor and sensibility of his brushwork, the aristocratic elegance of his figures, and the magnificence of his spectacle, but his work has been felt not to permit expression of the profound, the human, or the sublime, and of the "great trio" he has often been the least appreciated by modern criticism. Nonetheless, many of the greatest artists may be counted among his admirers, including Rubens, Watteau, Tiepolo, Delacroix and Renoir.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Michelangelo


The Last Judgment
1536-1541
Fresco
1370 x 1220 cm
Sistine Chapel, Vatican City

The Last Judgment by Michelangelo covers the wall behind the alter of the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City. It is a depiction of the Second Coming of Christ and the final and eternal judgment by God of all humanity. Although Michelangelo is clearly inspired by the Bible, it is his own imaginative vision that prevails in this painting. He portrayed the separation of the blessed souls and the damned souls by showing the saved ascending on the left and the damned descending on the right, as judged by Christ surrounded by prominent saints.  The work took four years to complete. Michelangelo began working on it twenty five years after having finished the Sistine Chapel ceiling.

While traditional medieval last judgments showed figures dressed according to their social positions, Michelangelo created all the figures naked. The controversies, that continued for years, that the works of art in sacred places had to be modest, led in 1564 to the decision by the Congregation of the Council of Trent to have some of the figures of the Judgment that were considered "obscene" covered. The task of painting the covering drapery (pants) was given to a pupil of Michelangelo, Daniele da Volterra, and da Volterra covered the figures nakedness with loincloths and veils. Other over painting was added in the next two centuries and for the same reason. With the restoration of the chapel in the 1980's and 1990's only Daniele da Volterra's additions have been saved as part of the history of the painting, all other additions have now been removed.

Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni (1475-1564) was an Italian Renaissance painter, sculptor, architect who exerted an unparalleled influence on the development of Western art. He was considered the greatest living artist in his lifetime, and ever since then he has been held to be one of the greatest artists of all time. In his lifetime he was also often called Il Divino ("the divine one").

In his personal life, Michelangelo was abstemious. He told his apprentice: "However rich I may have been, I have always lived like a poor man." It is said he was indifferent to food and drink, eating "more out of necessity than of pleasure" and that he "often slept in his clothes and ... boots." He was by nature a solitary and melancholy person. His biographer says, "His nature was so rough and uncouth that his domestic habits were incredibly squalid, and deprived posterity of any pupils who might have followed him."

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Raffaello Sanzio


Madonna del Cardellino (Madonna of the Goldfinch)
1506
oil on panel
107 × 77 cm
Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy

Madonna Del Cardellino was a wedding gift from Raphael to his friend Lorenzo Nasi. On November 17, 1548 Nasi's house was destroyed by an earthquake and the painting broke into seventeen pieces. It was immediately taken to be salvaged, and was hastily put back together, though the seams were quite visible. In 2002, a taskforce to restore this damaged painting started utilizing resources such as X-rays, CAT scans, reflective infra-red photography, and even lasers. During the six year process that followed, the team worked to remove the years of grime that had degraded the paintings color, and to fix the damage done by the earthquake long ago. The team closely studied the past quick fix layers that had been applied and removed them until the original by Raphael finally shone through. The restoration was completed in 2008, and the painting was put on display in Uffizi.

In this painting, the goldfinch represents Christ’s crucifixion. The reason for its association comes from the legend that its red spot was born at the time of the crucifixtion. It flew down over the head of Christ and was taking a thorn from His crown, when it was splashed with the drop of His blood. The book in Mary’s hand reads Sedes Sapientiae or “The Throne of Wisdom.” This term usually is applied to images in which Mary is seated upon a throne, with Jesus on her lap, but in this case, the inscription implies the rock which Mary sits on as her natural throne.

Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino (1483-1520), better known simply as Raphael, was an Italian painter and architect of the High Renaissance, celebrated for the perfection and grace of his paintings and drawings. His work is admired for its clarity of form and ease of composition and for its visual achievement of the Neoplatonic ideal of human grandeur. Together with Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci, he forms the traditional trinity of great masters of that period. He was a popular personality, famous, wealthy, and honored.

Raphael was enormously productive, running an unusually large workshop, and despite his death at 37, a large body of his work remains. Many of his works are found in the Apostolic Palace of The Vatican, where the frescoed Raphael Rooms were the central, and the largest, work of his career. After his early years in Rome much of his work was self-designed, but for the most part executed by the workshop from his drawings, with considerable loss of quality. He was extremely influential in his lifetime, though outside Rome his work was mostly known from his collaborative printmaking.

He died on his thirty-seventh birthday, April 6, 1520, because of acute illness, which lasted fifteen days, and was buried the next day, at his request, in the Pantheon amidst universal mourning and acclaim. His funeral was extremely grand, very well attended by large crowds. It is said that Raphael's early death plunged into grief the entire papal court. Pope Leo X, who had an intention to make him a cardinal, wept bitterly when he died. The inscription in his marble sarcophagus reads: "Here lies that famous Raphael by whom Nature feared to be conquered while he lived, and when he was dying, feared herself to die." He is said to have had many affairs, but he never married. The reason of his premature death is unknown.

Raphael's influence was widely spread even during his own lifetime. His posthumous reputation was even greater, for until the later 19th century he was regarded as the greatest painter who had ever lived - the artist who expressed the basic doctrines of the Christian Church through figures that have a physical beauty worthy of the antique. (it was against his authority that the Pre-Raphaelites revolted). He became the ideal of all academies, and today we approach him through a long tradition in which Raphaelesque forms and motifs have been used with a steady diminution of their values. In the modern era Raphael's past canonical status has counted against him and he has inevitably been compared, often unfavorably, to Leonardo and Michelangelo, whose personalities and artistic expression more readily accord with 20th-century sensibilities.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Leonardo da Vinci


The Madonna of the Carnation
1478-1480
oil on panel
62 x 47.5 cm
Alte Pinakothek, Munich, Germany

The Madonna of the Carnation spent most of its existence being attributed to Andrea del Verrocchio. Modern scholarship has revised attribution in favor of Leonardo, based on the handling of the drapery and background scenery, the nearly scientific rendering of the carnations in the vase, and overall similarities between this composition and the undisputed Benois Madonna. This painting is a free variant of the Benois Madonna in the Hermitage, being more complex in its composition and spatial arrangement.

Unfortunately, this painting has deteriorated badly and due to an improper restoration the surface has taken on a leathery look; this is especially obvious on the Madonna's face. In this painting, Jesus reaches out awkwardly for the flower held delicately in Mary's fingers. Like all infants he looks yet unable to control his movements as he attempts to grasp the symbol of the Passion.

Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci (1452-1519) was an Italian Renaissance polymath: painter, sculptor, architect, musician, scientist, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, geologist, cartographer, botanist and writer whose genius, perhaps more than that of any other figure, epitomized the Renaissance humanist ideal.

He was born in the small Tuscan town of Vinci in the region of Florence as the son of a wealthy notary and a peasant woman. He was handsome, persuasive in conversation, and a fine musician and improviser. He is widely considered to be one of the greatest painters of all time and perhaps the most diversely talented person ever to have lived. Renaissance humanism recognized no mutually exclusive polarities between the sciences and the arts, and Leonardo's studies in science and engineering are as impressive and innovative as his artistic work. These studies were recorded in 13,000 pages of notes and drawings, which fuse art and natural philosophy (the forerunner of modern science), made and maintained daily throughout Leonardo's life and travels, as he made continual observations of the world around him. A creator in all branches of art, a discoverer in most branches of science, and an inventor in branches of technology, Leonardo deserves, perhaps more than anyone, the title of Homo Universalis, Universal Man.

In the normal course of events many men and women are born with remarkable talents; but occasionally, in a way that transcends nature, a single person is marvelously endowed by Heaven with beauty, grace and talent in such abundance that he leaves other men far behind, all his actions seem inspired and indeed everything he does clearly comes from God rather than from human skill. Everyone acknowledged that this was true of Leonardo da Vinci, an artist of outstanding physical beauty, who displayed infinite grace in everything that he did and who cultivated his genius so brilliantly that all problems he studied he solved with ease. (by Giorgio Vasari in the edition of Lives of the Artists, 1568)

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Verrocchio, Andrea del


Tobias and the Angel
between c.1470-c.1475
egg tempera on poplar wood
83.6 x 66 cm
National Gallery, London, UK

The subject is taken from the apocryphal Book of Tobit. Tobias was sent by his blind father, the merchant Tobit, to collect a debt. It is said that the young Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519), who was in Verocchio's workshop around 1470-1477, painted some parts of this painting.

Andrea del Verrocchio (c.1435-1488), born Andrea di Michele di Francesco de' Cioni, was an Italian painter, sculptor, goldsmith, master of an important workshop in Florence, and the teacher of Leonardo da Vinci. He became known by his nickname "Verrocchio" which in Italian means "true eye" a tribute given to him for his artistic achievement. Few paintings are attributed to him with certainty, but a number of important painters were trained at his workshop. His pupils included Leonardo da Vinci and Pietro Perugino, the latter Raphael’s teacher. His greatest importance was as a sculptor and his last work, the equestrian statue of Bartolomeo Colleoni in Venice, is universally accepted as a masterpiece.

Little accurate biographical information is known about Verrocchio. He was the son of a maker of bricks and tiles who later became a tax collector. Financial security always seemed to be a family problem. Never marrying, he supported several of his brothers and sisters.

Initially he was trained as a goldsmith. His first studies in painting date possibly from the mid-1460s. It is assumed that he and Sandro Botticelli worked together under the early Renaissance master Fra Filippo Lippi in Prato, a city near Florence, where Lippi had been commissioned to execute a series of murals for the cathedral.
His rise to artistic prominence, which he owed chiefly to encouragement by Piero de’ Medici and his son Lorenzo, the leading art patrons of Florence, evidently began after the death, in 1466, of Donatello, who had been the Medici favourite.
Besides the paintings and sculptures he produced for the Medici, he designed costumes and decorative armour for their festivals, tournaments, and solemn receptions.

Sandro Botticelli, the major Florentine painter of the late 15th century, and Francesco di Giorgio, the important Sienese artist, clearly oriented themselves toward Verrocchio’s art in certain phases of their development.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Fra Angelico


St. Peter preaches, while St. Mark writes his Gospel
1433
Tempera on panel
39 x 56 cm
Museo di San Marco, Florence, Italy

Saint Pierre preaching in a hexagonal pulpit while Saint Mark is shown seated in profile to left, puts his words written with the assistance of an acolyte.

Fra Angelico (c.1395-1455) was a Florentine painter, a Dominican friar described as having "a rare and perfect talent". Although in popular tradition he has been seen as 'not an artist properly so-called but an inspired saint', (Ruskin), Angelico was in fact a highly professional artist, who was in touch with the most advanced developments in contemporary Florentine art and in later life traveled extensively for prestigious commissions. The name Fra Angelico means "Angelic Brother." His art stands as an important link between the first and later generations of Renaissance painting in Florence.

Angelico entered a Dominican convent in Fiesole in 1418 and became a friar.
Although his teacher is unknown, he apparently began his career as an illuminator of missals and other religious books. He began to paint altarpieces and other panels. In 1436 some of the Dominican friars of Fiesole moved to the convent of San Marco in Florence. Angelico  painted many frescoes for the cloister, chapter house, and entrances to the 20 cells on the upper corridors.  In 1445 he was summoned to Rome by Pope Eugenius IV to paint frescoes for the now destroyed Chapel of the Sacrament in the Vatican.

Angelico had considerable influence on Italian painting. he combined the influence of the elegantly decorative International Gothic style with the more realistic style of such Renaissance masters as the painter Masaccio. He was also aware of the theories of perspective. His representation of devout facial expressions and his use of color to heighten emotion are particularly effective. His skill in creating monumental figures, representing motion, and suggesting deep space through the use of linear perspective, especially in the Roman frescoes, mark him as one of the foremost painters of the Renaissance. He painted numerous altarpieces as well as frescos, several outstanding examples being in the S. Marco museum. His particular grace and sweetness stimulated the school of Perugia, and Fra Bartolommeo, who followed him into S. Marco in 1500, had something of his restraint and grandeur.
Angelico died in Rome and was buried in the church of S. Maria sopra Minerva, where his tombstone still exists. He has long been called 'Beato Angelico' (the Blessed Angelico). In 1982 Pope John Paul II conferred beatification, in recognition of the holiness of his life.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Orazio Gentileschi


Lute Player
c.1626
oil on canvas
144 x 130 cm
National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C., USA

Orazio Gentileschi (1563-1639) was born in Pisa to the Florentine goldsmith, and in 1576 or 1578, he moved to Rome. His own career was slow in starting and he was almost 40 before it really got underway. Then in the first decade of the seventeenth century friendship with Caravaggio brought about a sudden change. After working in a Mannerist style he became one of the closest and most gifted of Caravaggio's followers. He was one of the few Caravaggisti who was a friend of the master, and in 1603 he and Caravaggio and two other artists were sued for libel by Giovanni Baglione. After Caravaggio's departure from Rome in 1606, Orazio seems to have adopted a more openly Caravaggesque style. This change in style brought a shift away from religious commissions to works for the private collectors who had been the first supporters of Caravaggio.

In 1621 a nobleman invited him to Genoa where he met Van Dyck, and this was the start of the extraordinary international success he enjoyed with several aristocratic patrons. They commissioned canvases for their collections and he often produced the same composition in more than one version. While in Genoa he painted an Annunciation that is often considered his masterpiece. In 1624 he left for Paris where he worked for Marie de' Medici. He then moved to London where he settled and became court painter to Charles I. His travels were a factor in spreading the Caravaggesque manner, but by the end of his career he had long abandoned heavy chiaroscuro in favour of light colours. He was much admired by the English court and private collectors for the now much lighter-toned and very enjoyable quality of his canvases, and he painted the ceilings for the Queen's House at Greenwich, now in Marlborough House, London. He remained in london until he died.

His work does not have the power and uncompromising naturalism of Caravaggio, tending rather towards the lyrical and refined. His graceful figures are stately and clearly disposed, with sharp-edged drapery-qualities recalling his Tuscan heritage of superb elegance and draughtsmanship.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Caravaggio


Fortune Teller (La buona ventura) - second version -
c.1595
oil on canvas
93 × 131 cm
Louvre, Paris, France

For the second version, Caravaggio copied from the first version but with certain changes. The undifferentiated background of the first version becomes a real wall broken by the shadows of a half-drawn curtain and a window sash, and the figures more completely fill the space and defining it in three dimensions. The light is more radiant, and the cloth of the boy's doublet and the girl's sleeves more finely textured. The dupe becomes more childlike and more innocently vulnerable, the girl less wary-looking, leaning in towards him, more in command of the situation.

The Fortune Teller exists in two versions, both by Caravaggio, the first from 1594 (Pinacoteca Capitolina, Rome), the second from 1595 (Louvre, Paris). The painting shows a foppishly-dressed boy (in the second version the model is believed to be Caravaggio's companion, the Sicilian painter Mario Minniti), having his palm read by a gypsy girl.

A foppishly dressed young man, a milksop with no experience of life, gives his right hand to a young girl whose expression is difficult to define, in order to have his future read. His ideas about his future are effectively influenced by the astute young gypsy girl, whose gentle caress in tracing the lines of his hand captivates the handsome young fool so completely that he fails to notice: the girl is removing his ring from his finger as she gently strokes his hand.

Caravaggio's revolutionary impact on his contemporaries - beginning with The Fortune Teller - was to replace the Renaissance theory of art as a didactic fiction with art as the representation of real life.

It is said that Caravaggio picked the gypsy girl out from passers-by on the street in order to demonstrate that he had no need to copy the works of the masters from antiquity: "When he was shown the most famous statues of Phidias and Glykon in order that he might use them as models, his only answer was to point towards a crowd of people saying that nature had given him an abundance of masters." (Caravaggio's biographer Giovanni Pietro Bellori)

The first version aroused considerable interest among younger artists and the more avant garde collectors of Rome, but Caravaggio's poverty forced him to sell it for the low sum of eight scudi. It entered the collection of a wealthy banker and connoisseur, the Marchese Vincente Giustiniani, who became an important patron of the artist. Giustiniani's friend, Cardinal Francesco Maria Del Monte, purchased the second version.

Michelangelo Merisi (1571-1610), called later Caravaggio, was born in either Milan, or a town of Caravaggio near Milan, as the son of a ducal architect. He was active in Rome, Naples, Malta, and Sicily. His paintings, which combine a realistic observation of the human state, both physical and emotional, with a dramatic use of lighting, had a formative influence on the Baroque school of painting. Few artists in history have exercised as extraordinary an influence as this tempestuous and short-lived painter. Even in his own lifetime, Caravaggio was considered enigmatic, fascinating, rebellious and dangerous. Caravaggio was destined to turn a large part of European art away from the ideal viewpoint of the Renaissance to the concept that simple reality was of primary importance. Caravaggio was one of the first to paint people as ordinary looking. Almost all of his subjects emphasize sadness, suffering, and death.

Caravaggio, orphaned at age 11, trained as a painter in Milan under Peterzano who had himself trained under Titian. In his early twenties he moved to Rome where many huge new churches and palazzi were being built and paintings were needed to fill them. During the Counter-Reformation, the Roman Catholic Church searched for religious art with which to counter the threat of Protestantism, and for this task the artificial conventions of Mannerism, which had ruled art for almost a century, no longer seemed adequate.

Caravaggio's novelty was a radical naturalism that combined close physical observation with a dramatic, even theatrical, use of chiaroscuro. This came to be known as Tenebrism, the shift from light to dark with little intermediate value. He burst upon the Rome art scene in 1600 with the success of his first public commissioned artwork. Thereafter Caravaggio never lacked commissions or patrons, yet he handled his success poorly. Since 1600, because of his violent temper Caravaggio was constantly in trouble with the law and was regularly mentioned in police records, under accusations of assault, libel and other crimes. "after a fortnight's work he will swagger about for a month or two with a sword at his side and a servant following him, from one ball-court to the next, ever ready to engage in a fight or an argument, so that it is most awkward to get along with him." (An early published notice on him, dating from 1604 and describing his lifestyle three years previously) Caravaggio was jailed on several occasions and ultimately had a death warrant issued for him by the Pope, when he became involved in killing a young man in a brawl in 1606. He fled from Rome finding refuge with a price on his head. He was involved in a brawl in Malta in 1608 again, and another in Naples in 1609, possibly a deliberate attempt on his life by unidentified enemies. This encounter left him severely injured. A year later, at the age of 38, he died under mysterious circumstances in Porto Ercole, reportedly from a fever while on his way to Rome to receive a pardon from the Pope.

Famous while he lived, Caravaggio was forgotten almost immediately after his death, and it was only in the 20th century that his importance to the development of Western art was rediscovered. Despite this, his influence on the new Baroque style was profound. It can be seen directly or indirectly in the work of Rubens, Bernini, and Rembrandt, and artists in the following generation. Heavily under his influence were called the "Caravaggisti" or "Caravagesques".
"What begins in the work of Caravaggio is, quite simply, modern painting." (Andre Berne-Joffroy)

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Caravaggio


Fortune Teller (La buona ventura) - first version -
c.1594
oil on canvas
115 × 150 cm
Pinacoteca Capitolina, Rome, Italy

The Fortune Teller exists in two versions, both by Caravaggio, the first from 1594 (Pinacoteca Capitolina, Rome), the second from 1595 (Louvre, Paris). The painting shows a foppishly-dressed boy (in the second version the model is believed to be Caravaggio's companion, the Sicilian painter Mario Minniti), having his palm read by a gypsy girl.

A foppishly dressed young man, a milksop with no experience of life, gives his right hand to a young girl whose expression is difficult to define, in order to have his future read. His ideas about his future are effectively influenced by the astute young gypsy girl, whose gentle caress in tracing the lines of his hand captivates the handsome young fool so completely that he fails to notice: the girl is removing his ring from his finger as she gently strokes his hand.

Caravaggio's revolutionary impact on his contemporaries - beginning with The Fortune Teller - was to replace the Renaissance theory of art as a didactic fiction with art as the representation of real life.

It is said that Caravaggio picked the gypsy girl out from passers-by on the street in order to demonstrate that he had no need to copy the works of the masters from antiquity: "When he was shown the most famous statues of Phidias and Glykon in order that he might use them as models, his only answer was to point towards a crowd of people saying that nature had given him an abundance of masters." (Caravaggio's biographer Giovanni Pietro Bellori)

The first version aroused considerable interest among younger artists and the more avant garde collectors of Rome, but Caravaggio's poverty forced him to sell it for the low sum of eight scudi. It entered the collection of a wealthy banker and connoisseur, the Marchese Vincente Giustiniani, who became an important patron of the artist. Giustiniani's friend, Cardinal Francesco Maria Del Monte, purchased the second version.

Michelangelo Merisi (1571-1610), called later Caravaggio, was born in either Milan, or a town of Caravaggio near Milan, as the son of a ducal architect. He was active in Rome, Naples, Malta, and Sicily. His paintings, which combine a realistic observation of the human state, both physical and emotional, with a dramatic use of lighting, had a formative influence on the Baroque school of painting. Few artists in history have exercised as extraordinary an influence as this tempestuous and short-lived painter. Even in his own lifetime, Caravaggio was considered enigmatic, fascinating, rebellious and dangerous. Caravaggio was destined to turn a large part of European art away from the ideal viewpoint of the Renaissance to the concept that simple reality was of primary importance. Caravaggio was one of the first to paint people as ordinary looking. Almost all of his subjects emphasize sadness, suffering, and death.

Caravaggio, orphaned at age 11, trained as a painter in Milan under Peterzano who had himself trained under Titian. In his early twenties he moved to Rome where many huge new churches and palazzi were being built and paintings were needed to fill them. During the Counter-Reformation, the Roman Catholic Church searched for religious art with which to counter the threat of Protestantism, and for this task the artificial conventions of Mannerism, which had ruled art for almost a century, no longer seemed adequate.

Caravaggio's novelty was a radical naturalism that combined close physical observation with a dramatic, even theatrical, use of chiaroscuro. This came to be known as Tenebrism, the shift from light to dark with little intermediate value. He burst upon the Rome art scene in 1600 with the success of his first public commissioned artwork. Thereafter Caravaggio never lacked commissions or patrons, yet he handled his success poorly. Since 1600, because of his violent temper Caravaggio was constantly in trouble with the law and was regularly mentioned in police records, under accusations of assault, libel and other crimes. "after a fortnight's work he will swagger about for a month or two with a sword at his side and a servant following him, from one ball-court to the next, ever ready to engage in a fight or an argument, so that it is most awkward to get along with him." (An early published notice on him, dating from 1604 and describing his lifestyle three years previously) Caravaggio was jailed on several occasions and ultimately had a death warrant issued for him by the Pope, when he became involved in killing a young man in a brawl in 1606. He fled from Rome finding refuge with a price on his head. He was involved in a brawl in Malta in 1608 again, and another in Naples in 1609, possibly a deliberate attempt on his life by unidentified enemies. This encounter left him severely injured. A year later, at the age of 38, he died under mysterious circumstances in Porto Ercole, reportedly from a fever while on his way to Rome to receive a pardon from the Pope.

Famous while he lived, Caravaggio was forgotten almost immediately after his death, and it was only in the 20th century that his importance to the development of Western art was rediscovered. Despite this, his influence on the new Baroque style was profound. It can be seen directly or indirectly in the work of Rubens, Bernini, and Rembrandt, and artists in the following generation. Heavily under his influence were called the "Caravaggisti" or "Caravagesques".
"What begins in the work of Caravaggio is, quite simply, modern painting." (Andre Berne-Joffroy)

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Luigi Premazzi


Veduta dell'Ospedale Maggiore di Milano
1842
oil on canvas
54 x 71.8 cm
Fondazione Cariplo, Milan, Italy

This painting documents the facade of Milan’s Ospedale Maggiore in 1842. Built by order of Francesco Sforza in 1456 to designs by the Florentine architect Antonio Averlino, better known as Filarete, and expanded over the centuries by the leading Lombard architects. The perspective view of the facade, with Via del Perdono and the church of San Nazaro Maggiore in the background, is based on the tried and tested model adopted in depictions of the building by Giovanni Migliara, with whom Luigi Premazzi was associated as a pupil and copyist, and his many imitators.

Luigi Premazzi (1814-1891) was an Italian painter, mainly of watercolor urban vies. He attended the Brera Academy of Fine Arts. His early watercolors were produced for the lithographic industry. His works are characterized by a repertoire of urban views produced in accordance with the dictates of perspective painting. His smooth, precise painting shows the influence of his contemporary Luigi Bisi in its descriptive focus on architectural detail. He presented work regularly at the exhibitions of the Societa Promotrice di Belle Arti in Turin as well as those of the Brera Academy. Having moved to Saint Petersburg around 1850, he became a teacher at the Imperial School of Fine Arts there in 1861. Frequent stays in the Caucasus and the Middle East provided new subjects for his paintings, which he continued to send to Italian exhibitions, where they aroused wonder and curiosity.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Eleuterio Pagliano


Geography lessons (La lezione di geografia)
1880
oil on canvas
125.7 x 180 cm
Gallerie di Piazza Scala, Milan, Italy

Eleuterio Pagliano (1826-1903) was an Italian painter of the Romantic period as well as an activist and fighter of the Risorgimento. He was born in the Kingdom of Sardinia and studied in Milan. He began his artistic career with paintings in a distinctly Neoclassical style, but very quickly he was won over to Romanticism. He joined the popular revolt against the Austrian garrison in Milan known as the cinque giornate (five days) of 1848. Also, he joined the Bersaglieri di Manara in the defense of the Republic of Rome in 1848, but returned to painting by 1851. Later in his life, he became an art teacher. He died in Milan at the age of 75. During his lifetime his paintings had failed to make a great stir; however, his reputation increased when, shortly after his death, an exhibition in his honor was mounted in Milan.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Telemaco Signorini


Ponte Vecchio a Firenze
1880
oil on canvas
130 x 152 cm
location unknown

Telemaco Signorini (1835-1901) was an Italian artist who belonged to the group known as the Macchiaioli. His intellectual curiosity led him always watching with interest the various figurative expressions, and also deal with subjects of contemporary raw.

He was born in Florence, and showed an early inclination toward the study of literature, but with the encouragement of his father, a court painter for the Grand Duke of Tuscany, he decided instead to study painting. In 1852 he enrolled at the Florentine Academy. In 1855, he began frequenting the Caffe Michelangiolo in Florence, where he met Tuscan artists who would soon be dubbed the Macchiaioli. The Macchiaioli, dissatisfied with the antiquated conventions taught by the Italian academies of art, started painting outdoors in order to capture natural light, shade, and color. They were forerunners of the Impressionists who, beginning in the 1860s, would pursue similar aims in France. He became not only one of the leading painters of the Macchiaioli, but also their leading polemicist. He was also a passionate art critic, and published in art journals and literature. In 1882, he was nominated professor of the Florentine Academy but declined the appointment.

He made his first trip outside Italy in 1861 when he visited Paris, to which he would often return in the decades that followed. There he met Degas and a group of expatriate Italian artists; unlike them, however, he remained rooted in Italy. His presence at exhibitions was frequent and prolific. The influence of photography is often suggested by the asymmetrical compositions of his works, and his late etchings of street scenes reveal additional influences: those of Japanese art, and Whistler, in their simplifications of shape, atmospheric effects, and flattened treatment of space. He taught at the Instituto Superiore di Belle Arti in Florence beginning in 1892. He was a volunteer in the Second Italian War of Independence in 1859 and fterwards painted military scenes.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Bramantino


Crucifixion
c. 1515
oil on canvas
372 x 270 cm
Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan Italy

Bartolomeo Suardi, called Bramantino (c.1456-c.1530), was an Italian painter and architect, mainly active in his native Milan.
He was trained by Donato Bramante, from whom he takes his nickname. He was appointed court painter and architect to Duke Francesco II Sforza in 1525. His main influences were the serene and sometimes unnatural quietist classicism of Piero della Francesca, Leonardo da Vinci. He assimilated some elements of the style of Leonardo, although in other respects he remained faithful to his training in the style of Central Italy.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Bernardo Daddi


The Annunciation
c.1335
panel
43 x 70 cm
Louvre Museum, Paris, France

Bernardo Daddi (c.1280-c.1348) was an early Italian Renaissance painter and apprentice of Giotto di Bondone. Giotto had a revolutionary idea that a painting should look like physical reality. As the leading Florentine painter of his generation, Daddi helped to ensure that this idea, which heralded the Renaissance and came to be taken for granted until the modern age, was kept alive.
For hundreds of years, Italian painting had been based on the abstractions of Byzantine art, which stressed patterning, flatness, and ethereal-looking people. His figures, like Giotto's, have bulk and physicality. As in everyday experience, their form is modeled by light that is earthly and real. Still, throughout his career, he retained some elements of Byzantium's legacy of abstraction, choosing its almond-shaped eyes, ornamental patterning, and gold backgrounds.

Daddi's birth date remains unknown. He focused on religious motifs and altarpieces. He rarely painted frescoes. A triptych he painted in 1328 is in the Uffizi, and there are several panels in National Gallery of Art and the Walters Art Museum. His last work dates from 1347, and it is believed he died the next year.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Giovanni Boldini


Lina Cavalieri
1901
oil on canvas
size unknown
private collection

Natalina "Lina" Cavalieri (1874-1944) was an Italian opera soprano singer, actress, and monologist.

Giovanni Boldini (1842-1931) was an Italian genre and portrait painter who enjoyed a long and successful artistic career.
He was born in Ferrara as the son of a painter of religious subjects. He went to Florence at the age of 20 to study painting, meeting there the realist painters.
He attained great success in London as a portraitist.
From 1872 he lived in Paris, where he became a friend of Edgar Degas. He also became the most fashionable portrait painter in Paris in the late 19th century. He developed his own, distinct style, and his portraits grew in fame, helped greatly by a portrait commissioned by Giuseppe Verdi in 1886, the biggest celebrity of his day. Verdi gave him an introduction into the world of opera, which led to many commissions for portraits, and to many intimate paintings of opera fans in theatres and cafes around Europe.

He also painted landscapes in the naturalistic style of his day, and worked on engravings, with pastels, watercolors and etchings. Only toward the end of his long life, did his style change, becoming more impressionistic (possibly due to his failing eyesight), using mainly dark, rich colors.

He was nominated commissioner of the Italian section of the Paris Exposition in 1889, and received the Legion d'honneur for this appointment. He died of pneumonia while in Paris, and is buried in his hometown of Ferrara, Italy.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Federico Zandomeneghi


Waiting (Girl by the Window)
year unknown
oil on canvas
65 x 54 cm
private collection

Federico Zandomeneghi (1841-1917) was an Italian Impressionist painter, born in Venice. His father and grandfather were neoclassic sculptors. As a young man, he preferred painting to sculpture, enrolling in 1856 first in the Accademia di Belle Arti in Venice, and then in the Academy of Fine Arts of Milan.

In 1860, he tried to join with the forces of Giuseppe Garibaldi (1807-1882) in his Expedition of the Thousand. This made it uncomfortable for him to reside in Venice, and in 1862, he moved to Florence where he frequented the Caffe Michelangiolo. There he joined artists in painting landscapes outdoors. Painting outside of the studio, "en plein air", was at that time an innovative approach, allowing for a new vividness and spontaneity in the rendering of light.

In 1874, he went to Paris, where he was to spend the rest of his life. He quickly made the acquaintance of the Impressionists. He admired the work of Edgar Degas, Mary Cassatt and Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and his many paintings of women in their domestic routines follow their example.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Nadir Afonso


LUANDA
oil on canvas
other details unknown
-Fair use-

Nadir Afonso, Gose (1920-2013) was a geometric abstractionist painter. Formally trained in architecture, which he practiced early in his career with Le Corbusier and Oscar Niemeyer, Nadir Afonso later studied painting in Paris and became one of the pioneers of Kinetic art, working alongside Victor Vasarely, Fernand Leger, Auguste Herbin, and Andre Bloc. As a theorist of his own geometry-based aesthetics, published in several books, he defended the idea that art is purely objective and ruled by laws that treat art not as an act of imagination but of observation, perception, and form manipulation.

He was born in Chaves. When he was born, his parents wanted to call him Orlando, but at the suggestion of a friend of his father's he was registered with a Persian and Hebrew name. Nadir means "rare" in Hebrew. At the young age of four, he painted an almost perfect circle in red on the walls of the family’s living-room, and at the age of fourteen he painted his first oil paintings. After completing secondary school in Chaves, he moved to Porto, in 1938, to enroll in the Painting course at the Porto School of Fine Arts, but was then convinced by a school clerk to forget about Painting and choose Architecture instead, as it was more prestigious.

He achieved international recognition early in his career and many of his works are in museums. His most famous works are the Cities series, which depict places all around the world. During his life he achieved great honors, representing his country at the finest level.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Jose Malhoa


Fado
1910
oil on canvas
150 cm × 183 cm
Museu da Cidade, Lisbon, Portugal

“Fado” is a symbol of the portuguese nationality, even it is not the national song. From region to region, Portugal possesses several rich and typical folk music. However, it is appreciated and recognized in all the portuguese country. The spirit of “Fado” is the expression of a collective soul, made of each one’s soul. It represents a Portuguese multicultural synthesis of Afro-Brazilian sung dances, local traditional genres of song and dance, musical traditions from rural areas of the country brought by successive waves of internal immigration, and the cosmopolitan urban song patterns of the early nineteenth century. Fado songs are usually performed by a solo singer, male or female, traditionally accompanied by a wire-strung acoustic guitar and the Portuguese guitarra - a pear-shaped lute with twelve wire strings, unique to Portugal, which also has an extensive solo repertoire.Fado was added to UNESCO’s list of World’s Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Jose Vital Branco Malhoa, known simply as Jose Malhoa (1855-1933), was the leading name in Portuguese naturalist painting, in the second half of the 19th century, who was born in Caldas da Rainha. He came to Lisbon to learn the trade of wood carver, but as fate would have it, he changed to the art of painting. He attended the Lisbon Fine Arts Academy.
He painted often popular scenes and subjects. He always remained faithful to the naturalist style, but in some of is works, there are impressionist influences.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Paula Rego


Swallows the Poisoned Apple
1995
Pastel on paper, mounted on aluminium
178 x 150 cm
location unknown
-Fair use-

In Swallows the Poisoned Apple, Paula Rego revises the tale of Snow White to expose the fallible value of youth. Dressed in traditional Disney garb, this Snow White isn’t a beautiful princess, but a middle-aged woman. Pictured moments after eating the poisoned apple, she lays sprawled amidst overturned furniture, suggesting painful and violent demise. Clutching her skirts, she alludes to her sexual nature, as if clinging to something slipping away. Her body lies between a blanket adorned with spring blossoms, and a sinister backdrop of red and black. She  illustrates the conflict of reality encroaching on the socially imposed myths of female worth, construing aging as both a physical and psychological violation.

Dame Paula Rego DBE (1935-) is a Portuguese and British visual artist who is particularly well known for her paintings and prints based on storybooks. Her style has evolved from abstract towards representational, and she has favoured pastels over oils for much of her career. Her work often reflects an aggressive feminism, coloured by folk-themes from her native Portugal.

She was born in Lisbon. Her father was an electronics engineer; her mother studied at art school but never practised as an artist. She studied at the Slade School of Fine Art and was an exhibiting member of the London Group with David Hockney and Frank Auerbach. She first won acclaim in Portugal with semi-abstract paintings that sometimes included collage elements culled from her own drawings. She was the first artist-in-residence at the National Gallery in London. She lives and works in London.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Vasco Fernandes


Jesus in the House of Marta
c.1535
Grao Vasco Museum, Viseu, Portugal
other details unknown

Vasco Fernandes (c.1475-c.1542), better known as Grao Vasco, was one of the main Portuguese Renaissance painters.
He was probably born in Viseu, in Northern Portugal, where he began his career in the team of painters executing the main altarpiece of Viseu Cathedral. Between 1506 and 1511 he painted the main altarpiece of Lamego Cathedral. After working in the Santa Cruz Monastery of Coimbra, he returned to Viseu and executed a series of altarpieces for Viseu Cathedral, considered his main works. A line of Portuguese wines are labelled with his masterpiece under the name Grao Vasco.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Nuno Goncalves


Altarpiece Panels of Saint Vincent
panel of the Archbishop  206 × 128.3 cm
panel of the Infants  206.4 × 128 cm
panels of the Fisherman  207 × 59.8 cm, and others
1460s
oil on panel
Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga, Lisbon, Portugal

Nuno Goncalves was a 15th-century Portuguese court painter for King Afonso V of Portugal. He was appointed the official painter for the city of Lisbon in 1471. Other than this information, very little is known of his life and the extent of his work, neither his birth or death dates are known, but documents of the time seems to indicate that he was active between 1450 and 1490. He is credited for the painting of the Panels of Saint Vincent. The panels depict the main elements of Portuguese society in the 15th century: clergy, nobility and common people. Panels of Saint Vicent is seen as the highest peak of Portuguese antique art. His work may be said to have initiated the Renaissance in Portuguese painting.

The Altarpiece consists of six panels, two large and four narrow ones, dominated by the figure of St. Vincent. In the large Panel of the Infante the saint is shown being venerated by a group of notables, among them Afonso V. In the other large panel, the Panel of the Archbishop, he is surrounded by clergy and knights. This remarkable portrait gallery of figures grouped in a medieval composition is a meditation on the pilgrimage of the souls of Christians on a voyage of discovery around their patron saint.

Since the discovery of the altarpiece panels in 1882 in the convent of Sao Vicente, there has been great dispute over the characters shown in the Panels. Even the claim that Prince Henry the Navigator appears in the third panel is still under debate.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Picasso, Pablo


The Rescue (Le sauvetage)
1932
oil on canvas
130 x 97.5 cm
Galerie Beyeler, Basel, Switzerland
-Fair use-

By 1927 at the latest Picasso had met the young Marie-Therese Walter, who soon became his lover. This painting The Rescue shows three women, each bearing a resemblance to Marie-Therese. The figure at the centre, seemingly still just alive, is being rescued from the water as though she were the mirror image of the upper figure. This painting is interpreted by critics as an adaptation of the myth of Narcissus, who is said to have fallen in love with his own reflection and, as he died, transmuted into the flower named after him. The flowers are formed in the breath of the rescued figure, while as an ensemble the three bodies merge into a single overarching gesture.

"My mother said to me, 'If you are a soldier, you will become a general. If you are a monk, you will become the Pope.' Instead, I was a painter, and became Picasso." (Picasso)

"Pablo Diego Jose Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno Maria de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santisima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso", known as Pablo Picasso, (1881-1973) was a Spanish painter and sculptor, born in Malaga on the southern coast of Spain. One of the greatest, dynamic and most influential artists of the 20th century, he is widely known for co-founding the Cubist movement, the invention of constructed sculpture, and for the wide variety of styles that he helped develop and explore.

He was exposed to art from a very young age by his father, who was a painter and art instructor. After studying at various art schools between 1892 and 1896, including academies in Barcelona and Madrid, he went on to the Royal Academy of San Fernando in Madrid during the winter of 1896-1897. Picasso soon became bored with academics and set himself up as an independent artist. In Barcelona in 1899 Picasso’s circle of friends included young avantgarde artists and writers who traveled between Madrid, Barcelona, and Paris. Picasso also visited these cities and absorbed the local culture. His early works were influenced by old masters such as El Greco and Velazquez and by modern artists including Paul Gauguin, Edgar Degas, and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. Picasso moved to Paris in 1904 and settled in a dilapidated section of Montmartre, a working-class quarter. This area was home to many young artists and writers, and he was gradually assimilated into their stimulating intellectual community. Although Picasso benefited greatly from the artistic atmosphere in Paris and his circle of friends, he was often lonely, unhappy, and terribly poor.

Picasso demonstrated extraordinary artistic talent in his early years, painting in a realistic manner through his childhood and adolescence. During the first decade of the 20th century his style changed as he experimented with different theories, techniques, and ideas. His revolutionary artistic accomplishments brought him universal renown and immense fortune, making him one of the best-known figures in 20th century art. Based on sales of his works at auctions, he holds the title of top ranked artist. He was also a prolific artist with estimates of 50,000 works of art production in his lifetime, including paintings, drawings, sculptures, etc..

For the last three decades of his long life Picasso lived mostly in south of France. He worked up until the day he died at age 91; literally painting till 3 am on Sunday, April 8th, which was just hours before his death. He died while he and his wife Jacqueline Roque entertained friends for dinner. Jacqueline prevented his children Claude and Paloma from attending the funeral. Picasso was interred at the Chateau of Vauvenargues near Aix-en-Provence, a property he had acquired in 1958 and occupied with Jacqueline between 1959 and 1962. Devastated and lonely after the death of Picasso, Jacqueline took her own life by gunshot in 1986 when she was 59 years old. Picasso's final words were “Drink to me, drink to my health, you know I can’t drink any more.”

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Miro, Joan


Carnival of Harlequin (Carnaval d'Arlequin)
1925
oil on canvas
66 x 90.5 cm
Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY, USA
-Fair use-

Through paintings, the Surrealists tried to capture images of dreams and subconscious thoughts. The unusual combinations of symbols, shapes and colors were a deliberate break from the traditional, realistic form of painting. The basic idea was to try to paint without thinking, without preparation or planning.

Carnival of Harlequin is one of Joan Miro's best-known works. Harlequin was a common theater character who was usually the victim of unrequited love and frequently played the guitar. Other than Harlequin, it seems very joyous, with all kinds of hybrid creatures playing, singing, dancing, and celebrating.
Busy Insects and gawking cats amongst masked men, rolling dice and dancing figurines.

Miro explained some of the imagery in 1978: "In the canvas certain elements appear that will be repeated later in other works: the ladder, an element of flight and evasion, but also of elevation; animals, and above all, insects, which I have always found very interesting; the dark sphere that appears to the right is a representation of the globe, because in those days I was obsessed with one idea: 'I must conquer the world!;' the cat, who was always by my side as I painted. The black triangle that appears in the window represents the Eiffel Tower. I tried to deepen the magical side of things."

"What I am seeking... is a motionless movement, something equivalent to what is called the eloquence of silence..." "Perhaps the events of the moment, especially the drama of the war in Spain, I did feel the need to penetrate reality. I used to go every day to work at the Grande Chaumiere (art school in Paris) in nature. At that moment I felt a need to control things through the reality" (Miro)

Joan Miro i Ferra (1893-1983) was a Spanish Catalan painter, sculptor, and ceramicist born in Barcelona. He attended a commercial school and worked as an office clerk until a mental breakdown persuaded his artisan father to permit him to study art. From the beginning he sought to express concepts of nature metaphorically. From 1919 on he lived alternately in Spain and Paris, where he came under the influence of Dadaism and Surrealism. The influence of Paul Klee is apparent in his dream pictures and imaginary landscapes of the late 1920s, in which linear configurations and patches of color look almost as though they had been set down randomly. His mature style evolved from the tension between this fanciful, poetic impulse and his vision of the harshness of modern life.

Miro was never closely aligned with any movement and was too retiring in his manner to be the object of a personality cult, like his compatriot Picasso, but the formal and technical innovations that he sustained over a very long career guaranteed his influence on 20th-century art. A pre-eminent figure in the history of abstraction and an important example to several generations of artists around the world, he remained profoundly attached to the specific circumstances and environment that shaped his art in his early years. An acute balance of sophistication and innocence and a deeply rooted conviction about the relationship between art and nature lie behind all his work and account in good measure for the wide appeal that his art has continued to exercise across many of the usual barriers of style.

Earning international acclaim, Miro's work has been interpreted as a sandbox for the subconscious mind, a re-creation of the childlike, and a manifestation of Catalan pride. In numerous interviews dating from the 1930s onwards, he expressed contempt for conventional painting methods as a way of supporting bourgeois society, and famously declared an "assassination of painting" in favor of upsetting the visual elements of established painting.

Miro worked extensively in lithography and produced numerous murals, tapestries, and sculptures for public spaces. A museum dedicated to his work, the Fundacio Joan Miro, was established in his birth city in 1975.