Edwin Lord Weeks - Along The Ghats Mathura

Life and Paintings of Edwin Lord Weeks (1849 -1903)

Edwin Lord Weeks - An Indian Hunting Party

Edwin Lord Weeks – An Indian Hunting Party

Edwin Lord Weeks (1849 – 1903) was an american artist distinguished as a painter of oriental scenesWell he was born in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1849. Weeks’ parents were affluent spice and tea merchants from Newton, a suburb of Boston and as such they were able to accept, probably encourage, and certainly finance their son’s youthful interest in painting and travelling. As a young man Edwin Lord Weeks visited the Florida Keys to draw and also travelled to Surinam in South America. His earliest known paintings date from 1867 when Weeks was eighteen years old, although it is not until his Landscape with Blue Heron, dated 1871 and painted in the Everglades, that Weeks started to exhibit a dexterity of technique and eye for composition—presumably having taken professional tuition.

He relocated to Europe in 1872, and studied in Paris, where he was a pupil of Léon Bonnat and Jean-Léon Gérôme. He made many voyages to the East, and was distinguished as a painter of oriental scenes.

Edwin Lord Weeks - Moorish Girl Lying on a Couch

Edwin Lord Weeks – Moorish Girl Lying on a Couch

In 1895, he wrote and illustrated a book of travels, From the Black Sea through Persia and India, and two years later he published Episodes of Mountaineering. He died in November 1903. He was a member of the Légion d’honneur, France, an officer of the Order of St. Michael, Germany, and a member of the Secession, Munich.

Let’s enjoy some of his most stunning works.

 

Edwin Lord Weeks - The Return Of The Imperial Court From The Great Mosque At Delhi

Edwin Lord Weeks – The Return Of The Imperial Court From The Great Mosque At Delhi

 

Edwin Lord Weeks - Sketch Two Nautch Girls

Edwin Lord Weeks – Sketch Two Nautch Girls

 

Edwin Lord Weeks - The Last Voyage

 

Edwin Lord Weeks - Interior of the Mosque at Cordova

Edwin Lord Weeks – Interior of the Mosque at Cordova

 

Edwin Lord Weeks - Festival at Fatehpur Sikri

Edwin Lord Weeks – Festival at Fatehpur Sikri

 

Edwin Lord Weeks - Along The Ghats Mathura

Edwin Lord Weeks – Along The Ghats Mathura

 

Edwin Lord Weeks - Two Arabs Reading in a Courtyard

Edwin Lord Weeks – Two Arabs Reading in a Courtyard

 

 

Edwin Lord Weeks - An Open-Air Restaurant Lahore

Edwin Lord Weeks – An Open-Air Restaurant Lahore

 

Hope you enjoyed the article as much as i did compiling the info and the images! See you next time!

Articles’ Images are in the public domain because their copyright has expired or are displayed here under the “ fair use” copyright law, and are available through WikipediaWikimedia.

This Articles’ text is licensed under the Creative Commons BY-SA License since it partially uses material from Wikipedia.

Article publié pour la première fois le 20/08/2014

Paul Cézanne - Card Players

Masters of Art: Paul Cézanne (1839 – 1906)

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 endeavour to a new and radically different world of art in the 20th century. Cézanne can be said to form the bridge between late 19th-century Impressionism and the early 20th century’s new line of artistic enquiry, Cubism. The line attributed to both Matisse and Picasso that Cézanne “is the father of us all” cannot be easily dismissed.

Cézanne’s often repetitive, exploratory brushstrokes are highly characteristic and clearly recognizable. He used planes of colour and small brushstrokes that build up to form complex fields. The paintings convey Cézanne’s intense study of his subjects.

Movements: Post-Impressionism, Modernism 

The Cézannes lived in the town of Cesana now in West Piedmont, and the surname may be of Italian origin. Paul Cézanne was born on 19 January 1839 in Aix-en-Provence, in Provence in the South of France. On 22 February, Paul was baptized in the parish church, with his grandmother and uncle Louis as godparents. His father, Louis-Auguste Cézanne (28 July 1798 – 23 October 1886), was the co-founder of a banking firm that prospered throughout the artist’s life, affording him financial security that was unavailable to most of his contemporaries and eventually resulting in a large inheritance.

Paul Cézanne - Mardi Gras

Paul Cézanne – Mardi Gras

On the other hand, his mother, Anne Elisabeth Honorine Aubert (24 September 1814 – 25 October 1897),  was “vivacious and romantic, but quick to take offence”. It was from her that Paul got his conception and vision of life. He also had two younger sisters, Marie and Rose, with whom he went to a primary school every day.

At the age of ten Paul entered the Saint Joseph school in Aix. In 1852 Cézanne entered the Collège Bourbon (now Collège Mignet), where he met and became friends with Émile Zola, who was in a less advanced class, as well as Baptistin Baille—three friends who would come to be known as “les trois inséparables” (the three inseparables).

He stayed there for six years, though in the last two years he was a day scholar. In 1857 he began attending the Free Municipal School of Drawing in Aix, where he studied drawing under Joseph Gibert, a Spanish monk. From 1858 to 1861, complying with his father’s wishes, Cézanne attended the law school of the University of Aix, while also receiving drawing lessons.

Going against the objections of his banker father, he committed himself to pursuing his artistic development and left Aix for Paris in 1861. He was strongly encouraged to make this decision by Zola, who was already living in the capital at the time. Eventually, his father reconciled with Cézanne and supported his choice of career. Cézanne later received an inheritance of 400,000 francs (£218,363.62) from his father, which rid him of all financial worries.

 

In Paris, Cézanne met the Impressionist Camille Pissarro. Initially the friendship formed in the mid-1860s between Pissarro and Cézanne was that of master and disciple, in which Pissarro exerted a formative influence on the younger artist. Over the course of the following decade their landscape painting excursions together, in Louveciennes and Pontoise, led to a collaborative working relationship between equals.

Cézanne’s early work is often concerned with the figure in the landscape and includes many paintings of groups of large, heavy figures in the landscape, imaginatively painted. Later in his career, he became more interested in working from direct observation and gradually developed a light, airy painting style. Nevertheless, in Cézanne’s mature work there is the development of a solidified, almost architectural style of painting.

Paul Cézanne - The Large Bathers

Paul Cézanne – The Large Bathers

Throughout his life he struggled to develop an authentic observation of the seen world by the most accurate method of representing it in paint that he could find. To this end, he structurally ordered whatever he perceived into simple forms and colour planes. His statement “I want to make of impressionism something solid and lasting like the art in the museums”,and his contention that he was recreating Poussin “after nature” underscored his desire to unite observation of nature with the permanence of classical composition.

Cézanne was interested in the simplification of naturally occurring forms to their geometric essentials: he wanted to “treat nature by the cylinder, the sphere, the cone” (a tree trunk may be conceived of as a cylinder, an apple or orange a sphere, for example).

Additionally, Cézanne’s desire to capture the truth of perception led him to explore binocular vision graphically, rendering slightly different, yet simultaneous visual perceptions of the same phenomena to provide the viewer with an aesthetic experience of depth different from those of earlier ideals of perspective, in particular single-point perspective. Cézanne’s innovations have prompted critics to suggest such varied explanations as sick retinas,pure vision, and the influence of the steam railway.

Main periods of Cézanne’s work

Paul Cézanne - Paul Alexis Reading to Zola

Paul Cézanne – Paul Alexis Reading to Zola

Dark Period (1861 – 1870): In 1863 Napoleon III created by decree the Salon des Refusés, at which paintings rejected for display at the Salon of the Académie des Beaux-Arts were to be displayed. The artists of the refused works included the young Impressionists, who were considered revolutionary. Cézanne was influenced by their style but his social relations with them were inept—he seemed rude, shy, angry, and given to depression. His works of this period are characterized by dark colours and the heavy use of black. They differ sharply from his earlier watercolours and sketches at the École Spéciale de dessin at Aix-en-Provence in 1859, and their violence of expression is in contrast to his subsequent works.

In 1866–67, inspired by the example of Courbet, Cézanne painted a series of paintings with a palette knife. He later called these works, mostly portraits, une couillarde (“a coarse word for ostentatious virility”). Lawrence Gowing has written that Cézanne’s palette knife phase “was not only the invention of modern expressionism, although it was incidentally that; the idea of art as emotional ejaculation made its first appearance at this moment”.

Among the couillarde paintings are a series of portraits of his uncle Dominique in which Cézanne achieved a style that “was as unified as Impressionism was fragmentary”. Later works of the dark period include several erotic or violent subjects, such as Women Dressing (c.1867), The Rape (c.1867), and The Murder (c.1867–68), which depicts a man stabbing a woman who is held down by his female accomplice.

Impressionist period (1870 – 1878):  After the start of the Franco-Prussian War in July 1870, Cézanne and his mistress, Marie-Hortense Fiquet, left Paris for L’Estaque, near Marseilles, where he changed themes to predominantly landscapes. He was declared a draft dodger in January 1871, but the war ended the next month, in February, and the couple moved back to Paris, in the summer of 1871. After the birth of their son Paul in January 1872, in Paris, they moved to Auvers in Val-d’Oise near Paris. Cézanne’s mother was kept a party to family events, but his father was not informed of Hortense for fear of risking his wrath. The artist received from his father an allowance of 100 francs.

Paul Cézanne - Sunday Afternoon

Paul Cézanne – Sunday Afternoon

Camille Pissarro lived in Pontoise. There and in Auvers he and Cézanne painted landscapes together. For a long time afterwards, Cézanne described himself as Pissarro’s pupil, referring to him as “God the Father”, as well as saying: “We all stem from Pissarro.”  Under Pissarro’s influence Cézanne began to abandon dark colours and his canvases grew much brighter.

Leaving Hortense in the Marseille region, Cézanne moved between Paris and Provence, exhibiting in the first (1874) and third Impressionist shows (1877). In 1875, he attracted the attention of the collector Victor Chocquet, whose commissions provided some financial relief. But Cézanne’s exhibited paintings attracted hilarity, outrage, and sarcasm. Reviewer Louis Leroy said of Cézanne’s portrait of Chocquet: “This peculiar looking head, the colour of an old boot might give [a pregnant woman] a shock and cause yellow fever in the fruit of her womb before its entry into the world.”

In March 1878, Cézanne’s father found out about Hortense and threatened to cut Cézanne off financially, but, in September, he relented and decided to give him 400 francs for his family. Cézanne continued to migrate between the Paris region and Provence until Louis-Auguste had a studio built for him at his home, Jas de Bouffan, in the early 1880s. This was on the upper floor, and an enlarged window was provided, allowing in the northern light but interrupting the line of the eaves. This feature remains today. Cézanne stabilized his residence in L’Estaque. He painted with Renoir there in 1882 and visited Renoir and Monet in 1883.

Mature period (1878 – 1890):  In the early 1880s the Cézanne family stabilized their residence in Provence where they remained, except for brief sojourns abroad, from then on. The move reflects a new independence from the Paris-centered impressionists and a marked preference for the south, Cézanne’s native soil. Hortense’s brother had a house within view of Montagne Sainte-Victoire at Estaque. A run of paintings of this mountain from 1880 to 1883 and others of Gardanne from 1885 to 1888 are sometimes known as “the Constructive Period”.

Paul Cézanne - Pool at the Jas de Bouffan

Paul Cézanne – Pool at the Jas de Bouffan

The year 1886 was a turning point for the family. Cézanne married Hortense. In that year also, Cézanne’s father died, leaving him the estate purchased in 1859; he was 47. By 1888 the family was in the former manor, Jas de Bouffan, a substantial house and grounds with outbuildings, which afforded a new-found comfort. This house, with much-reduced grounds, is now owned by the city and is open to the public on a restricted basis.
Also in that year Cézanne broke off his friendship with Émile Zola, after the latter used him, in large part, as the basis for the unsuccessful and ultimately tragic fictitious artist Claude Lantier, in the novel L’Œuvre. Cézanne considered this a breach of decorum and a friendship begun in childhood was irreparably damaged.

Final period (1890 – 1905):  Pyramid of Skulls, c. 1901, The dramatic resignation to death informs several still life paintings Cézanne made in his final period between 1898 and 1905 which take the skulls as their subject. Today the skulls themselves remain in Cézanne’s studio outside of Aix-en-Provence.

Cézanne’s idyllic period at Jas de Bouffan was temporary. From 1890 until his death he was beset by troubling events and he withdrew further into his painting, spending long periods as a virtual recluse. His paintings became well-known and sought after and he was the object of respect from a new generation of painters.

The problems began with the onset of diabetes in 1890, destabilizing his personality to the point where relationships with others were again strained. He traveled in Switzerland, with Hortense and his son, perhaps hoping to restore their relationship. Cézanne, however, returned to Provence to live; Hortense and Paul junior, to Paris. Financial need prompted Hortense’s return to Provence but in separate living quarters. Cézanne moved in with his mother and sister. In 1891 he turned to Catholicism.

Cézanne alternated between painting at Jas de Bouffan and in the Paris region, as before. In 1895 he made a germinal visit to Bibémus Quarries and climbed Montagne Sainte-Victoire. The labyrinthine landscape of the quarries must have struck a note, as he rented a cabin there in 1897 and painted extensively from it. The shapes are believed to have inspired the embryonic “Cubist” style. Also in that year, his mother died, an upsetting event but one which made reconciliation with his wife possible. He sold the empty nest at Jas de Bouffan and rented a place on Rue Boulegon, where he built a studio.

The relationship, however, continued to be stormy. He needed a place to be by himself. In 1901 he bought some land along the Chemin des Lauves, an isolated road on some high ground at Aix, and commissioned a studio to be built there (now open to the public). He moved there in 1903. Meanwhile, in 1902, he had drafted a will excluding his wife from his estate and leaving everything to his son. The relationship was apparently off again; she is said to have burned the mementos of his mother.

Paul Cézanne - Self-Portrait on Rose Background

Paul Cézanne – Self-Portrait on Rose Background

One day, Cézanne was caught in a storm while working in the field. Only after working for two hours under a downpour did he decide to go home; but on the way he collapsed. He was taken home by a passing driver. His old housekeeper rubbed his arms and legs to restore the circulation; as a result, he regained consciousness. On the following day, he intended to continue working, but later on he fainted; the model with whom he was working called for help; he was put to bed, and he never left it again.

He died a few days later, on 22 October 1906 of pneumonia and was buried at the old cemetery in his beloved hometown of Aix-en-Provence.

After Cézanne died in 1906, his paintings were exhibited in Paris in a large museum-like retrospective in September 1907. The 1907 Cézanne retrospective at the Salon d’Automne greatly affected the direction that the avant-garde in Paris took, lending credence to his position as one of the most influential artists of the 19th century and to the advent of Cubism.

Cézanne’s explorations of geometric simplification and optical phenomena inspired Picasso, Braque, Gris and others to experiment with ever more complex multiple views of the same subject and eventually to the fracturing of form. Cézanne thus sparked one of the most revolutionary areas of artistic enquiry of the 20th century, one which was to affect profoundly the development of modern art. A prize in his memory, called the Cézanne medal, is granted by the city of Aix en Provence, in France for special achievement in the arts.

Cézanne’s painting The Boy in the Red Vest was stolen from a Swiss museum in 2008. It was recovered in a Serbian police raid in 2012.

Hope you enjoyed the article as much as i did compiling the info and the images! See you next time!

Articles’ Images are in the public domain because their copyright has expired or are displayed here under the “ fair use” copyright law, and are available through WikipediaWikimedia.

This Articles’ text is licensed under the Creative Commons BY-SA License since it partially uses material from Wikipedia.

Article publié pour la première fois le 18/03/2014

Matthias-Grünewald-The-Mocking-of-Christ

Masters of Art: Matthias Grünewald (1470 – 1528)

Matthias Grünewald or “Mathis” (as first name), “Gothart” or “Neithardt” (as surname), (c. 1470 – August 31, 1528), was a German Renaissance painter of religious works, who ignored Renaissance classicism to continue the expressive and intense style of late medieval Central European art into the 16th century.

Movements: Renaissance

 Benefactor with Bird Cage

Benefactor with Bird Cage

Only ten paintings—several consisting of many panels—and thirty-five drawings survive, all religious, although many others were lost at sea in the Baltic on their way to Sweden as war booty. His reputation was obscured until the late nineteenth century, and many of his paintings were attributed to Albrecht Dürer, who is now seen as his stylistic antithesis. His largest and most famous work is the Isenheim Altarpiece created between 1506-1515.

The details of his life are unusually unclear for a painter of his significance at this date, despite the fact that his commissions show that he had reasonable recognition in his own lifetime. The first source for his biography is the German art historian Joachim von Sandrart, who describes him as around 1505 working on the exterior decoration of an altarpiece by Albrecht Dürer in Frankfurt; this is the sort of work typically performed by apprentices and therefore an estimate of his age can be reached, suggesting he was born in 1480-83.  Sandrart records that Grünewald had as an apprentice the painter Hans Grimmer, who would become famous in his time, but most of whose works were lost in the Thirty Years’ War.  Sandrart describes Grünewald as leading a withdrawn and melancholy life, and marrying unhappily.

More recent investigations have provided further information on Grünewald’s life. In 1511 he became court artist of Uriel von Gemmingen, Archbishop of Mainz, and he also worked for the next archbishop, Albert of Brandenburg. In 1512 he settled in nearby Frankfurt where records indicate he bought a house and married Anna, a converted Jew, then probably aged 18; the marriage was not happy and in 1523 she would be institutionalised with what is variously described as mental illness and demonic possession.

From 1512 to 1514 or 1515 he worked on the Isenheim altarpiece, apparently in partnership with another Mathis, variously surnamed Nithart, Neithart, von Würzburg (after his place of birth), or Gothardt. Grünewald seems to have left Isenheim in a hurry, returning to Frankfurt, and his subsequent poverty suggests he was not fully paid for the altarpiece. In 1527 he entered the services of the wealthy and noble von Erbach family, apparently with a child (whether his own or adopted, is unclear). He most probably died in 1532, although sources vary.

There has been considerable uncertainty about the details of his life. In 1938 Walter Karl Zülch published the theory that Grünewald and his partner Nithart/Gothardt were the same person; this Nithart/Gothardt was a painter, engineer, and “water artist” born in Würzburg in the 1460s or maybe 1470s and probably dying in 1528. This theory is now generally discredited, although more recent historians believe Nithart/Gothardt may have pretended to be Grünewald for business reasons.

The Temptation of St Anthony

The Temptation of St Anthony

The Resurrection

The Resurrection

The Mocking of Christ

The Mocking of Christ

The crucifixion

The crucifixion

The crucifixion

The crucifixion

The crucifixion

The crucifixion

The Annunciation

The Annunciation

Stuppach Madonna

Stuppach Madonna

Sts Paul and Anthony in the Desert

Sts Paul and Anthony in the Desert

Matthias Grünewald - St Lawrence and St Cyricus

Matthias Grünewald – St Lawrence and St Cyricus

Matthias Grünewald - St Elizabeth and a Saint Woman with Palm

St Elizabeth and a Saint Woman with Palm

 

Meeting of St Erasm and St Maurice

Meeting of St Erasm and St Maurice

 Lamentation of Christ

Lamentation of Christ

Concert of Angels and Nativity

Concert of Angels and Nativity

 Carrying the cross

Carrying the cross

Grünewald’s first dated painting is probably in Munich, dated 1503 on a much later note which apparently records an older inscription. There is much speculation about Grünewald’s politics, with some people associating him with the Reformation or support for the lower classes. He may have left the Archbishop of Mainz because of sympathies either with the German Peasants’ War, or Lutheranism (he had some Lutheran pamphlets and papers at his death.

Hope you enjoyed the article as much as i did compiling the info and the images! See you next time!

Articles’ Images are in the public domain because their copyright has expired, and are available through Wikimedia

This Articles’ text is licensed under the Creative Commons BY-SA License since it partially uses material from Wikipedia.

Article publié pour la première fois le 31/08/2012

Eugène Delacroix - The Massacre at Chios

Life and Paintings of Eugène Delacroix (1798 – 1863)

Ferdinand Victor Eugène Delacroix (26 April 1798 – 13 August 1863) was a French Romantic artist regarded from the outset of his career as the leader of the French Romantic school. Delacroix’s use of expressive brushstrokes and his study of the optical effects of colour profoundly shaped the work of the Impressionists, while his passion for the exotic inspired the artists of the Symbolist movement. A fine lithographer, Delacroix illustrated various works of William Shakespeare, the Scottish writer Walter Scott and the German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.

Movements: Romanticism 

In contrast to the Neoclassical perfectionism of his chief rival Ingres, Delacroix took for his inspiration the art of Rubens and painters of the Venetian Renaissance, with an attendant emphasis on colour and movement rather than clarity of outline and carefully modelled form. Dramatic and romantic content characterized the central themes of his maturity, and led him not to the classical models of Greek and Roman art, but to travel in North Africa, in search of the exotic. Friend and spiritual heir to Théodore Géricault, Delacroix was also inspired by Lord Byron, with whom he shared a strong identification with the “forces of the sublime”, of nature in often violent action.

Eugène Delacroix - Liberty Leading the People

Eugène Delacroix – Liberty Leading the People

However, Delacroix was given to neither sentimentality nor bombast, and his Romanticism was that of an individualist. In the words of Baudelaire, “Delacroix was passionately in love with passion, but coldly determined to express passion as clearly as possible.”

Delacroix was born at Charenton (Saint-Maurice, Val-de-Marne), in Île-de-France, near Paris. There is reason to believe that his father, Charles-François Delacroix, was infertile at the time of Eugène’s conception and that his real father was Talleyrand, who was a friend of the family and successor of Charles Delacroix as Minister of Foreign Affairs, and whom the adult Eugène resembled in appearance and character.

Throughout his career as a painter, he was protected by Talleyrand, who served successively the Restoration and king Louis-Philippe, and ultimately as ambassador of France in Great Britain, and later by Talleyrand’s grandson, Charles Auguste Louis Joseph, duc de Morny, half-brother of Napoleon III and speaker of the French House of Commons.

His father, Charles Delacroix, died in 1805, and his mother Victoire (daughter of Jean-François Oeben) in 1814, leaving 16-year-old Eugene an orphan. His early education was at the Lycée Louis-le-Grand, and at the Lycée Pierre Corneille in Rouen where he steeped himself in the classics and won awards for drawing.

In 1815 he began his training with Pierre-Narcisse Guérin in the neoclassical style of Jacques-Louis David. An early church commission, The Virgin of the Harvest, (1819), displays a Raphael-esque influence, but another such commission, The Virgin of the Sacred Heart, (1821), evidences a freer interpretation. It precedes the influence of the more colourful and rich style of the Flemish painter Peter Paul Rubens (1577–1640), and fellow French artist Théodore Géricault (1791–1824), whose works marked an introduction to Romanticism in art.

Eugène Delacroix - The Barque of Dante

Eugène Delacroix – The Barque of Dante

The impact of Géricault’s The Raft of the Medusa was profound, and stimulated Delacroix to produce his first major painting, The Barque of Dante, which was accepted by the Paris Salon in 1822. The work caused a sensation, and was largely derided by the public and officialdom, yet was purchased by the State for the Luxembourg Galleries; the pattern of widespread opposition to his work, countered by a vigorous, enlightened support, would continue throughout his life. Two years later he again achieved popular success for his The Massacre at Chios.

Delacroix’s painting of the massacre at Chios shows sick, dying Greek civilians about to be slaughtered by the Turks. One of several paintings he made of this contemporary event, it expresses sympathy for the Greek cause in their war of independence against the Turks, a popular sentiment at the time for the French people. Delacroix was quickly recognized as a leading painter in the new Romantic style, and the picture was bought by the state. His depiction of suffering was controversial however, as there was no glorious event taking place, no patriots raising their swords in valour as in David’s Oath of the Horatii, only a disaster. Many critics deplored the painting’s despairing tone; the artist Antoine-Jean Gros called it “a massacre of art”.

The pathos in the depiction of an infant clutching its dead mother’s breast had an especially powerful effect, although this detail was condemned as unfit for art by Delacroix’s critics. A viewing of the paintings of John Constable and the watercolour sketches and art of Richard Parkes Bonnington prompted Delacroix to make extensive, freely painted changes to the sky and distant landscape.

Delacroix produced a second painting in support of the Greeks in their war for independence, this time referring to the capture of Missolonghi by Turkish forces in 1825. With a restraint of palette appropriate to the allegory, Greece Expiring on the Ruins of Missolonghi displays a woman in Greek costume with her breast bared, arms half-raised in an imploring gesture before the horrible scene: the suicide of the Greeks, who chose to kill themselves and destroy their city rather than surrender to the Turks. A hand is seen at the bottom, the body having been crushed by rubble. The whole picture serves as a monument to the people of Missolonghi and to the idea of freedom against tyrannical rule. This event interested Delacroix not only for his sympathies with the Greeks, but also because the poet Byron, whom Delacroix greatly admired, had died there.

Eugène Delacroix - Greece on the Ruins of Missolonghi

Eugène Delacroix – Greece on the Ruins of Missolonghi

A trip to England in 1825 included visits to Thomas Lawrence and Richard Parkes Bonington, and the colour and handling of English painting provided impetus for his only full-length portrait, the elegant Portrait of Louis-Auguste Schwiter, (1826–30). At roughly the same time, Delacroix was creating romantic works of numerous themes, many of which would continue to interest him for over thirty years. By 1825, he was producing lithographs illustrating Shakespeare, and soon thereafter lithographs and paintings from Goethe’s Faust. Paintings such as The Combat of the Giaour and Hassan, (1826), and Woman with Parrot, (1827), introduced subjects of violence and sensuality which would prove to be recurrent.

These various romantic strands came together in the Death of Sardanapalus, (1827-8). Delacroix’s painting of the death of the Assyrian king Sardanapalus shows an emotionally stirring scene alive with beautiful colours, exotic costumes and tragic events. The Death of Sardanapalus depicts the besieged king watching impassively as guards carry out his orders to kill his servants, concubines and animals. The literary source is a play by Byron, although the play does not specifically mention any massacre of concubines.

Sardanapalus’ attitude of calm detachment is a familiar pose in Romantic imagery in this period in Europe. The painting, which was not exhibited again for many years afterward, has been regarded by some critics as a gruesome fantasy involving death and lust. Especially shocking is the struggle of a nude woman whose throat is about to be cut, a scene placed prominently in the foreground for maximum impact. However, the sensuous beauty and exotic colours of the composition make the picture appear pleasing and shocking at the same time.

Eugène Delacroix - The Death of Sardanapalus

Eugène Delacroix – The Death of Sardanapalus

A variety of Romantic interests were again synthesized in The Murder of the Bishop of Liège, (1829). It also borrowed from a literary source, this time Scott, and depicts a scene from the Middle Ages, that of the murder of Louis de Bourbon, Bishop of Liège amidst an orgy sponsored by his captor, William de la Marck. Set in an immense vaulted interior which Delacroix based on sketches of the Palais de Justice in Rouen and Westminster Hall, the drama plays out in chiaroscuro, organized around a brilliantly lit stretch of tablecloth. In 1855, a critic described the painting’s vibrant handling as “Less finished than a painting, more finished than a sketch, The Murder of the Bishop of Liège was left by the painter at that supreme moment when one more stroke of the brush would have ruined everything”.

In 1838 Delacroix exhibited Medea about to Kill Her Children, which created a sensation at the Salon. His first large-scale treatment of a scene from Greek mythology, the painting depicts Medea clutching her children, dagger drawn to slay them in vengeance for her abandonment by Jason. The three nude figures form an animated pyramid, bathed in a raking light which penetrates the grotto in which Medea has hidden. Though the painting was quickly purchased by the State, Delacroix was disappointed when it was sent to the Lille Musée des Beaux-Arts; he had intended for it to hang at the Luxembourg, where it would have joined The Barque of Dante and Scenes from the Massacres of Chios.

From 1833 Delacroix received numerous commissions to decorate public buildings in Paris. In that year he began work for the Salon du Roi in the Chambre des Députés, Palais Bourbon, which was not completed until 1837. For the next ten years he painted in both the Library at the Palais Bourbon and the Library at the Palais du Luxembourg. In 1843 he decorated the Church of St. Denis du Saint Sacrement with a large Pietà, and from 1848 to 1850 he painted the ceiling in the Galerie d’Apollon of the Louvre. From 1857 to 1861 he worked in the Chapelle des Anges at St. Sulpice. These commissions offered him the opportunity to compose on a large scale in an architectural setting, much as had those masters he admired, Paolo Veronese, Tintoretto, and Rubens.

The work was fatiguing, and during these years he suffered from an increasingly fragile constitution. In addition to his home in Paris, from 1844 he also lived at a small cottage in Champrosay, where he found respite in the countryside. From 1834 until his death, he was faithfully cared for by his housekeeper, Jeanne-Marie le Guillou, who zealously guarded his privacy, and whose devotion prolonged his life and his ability to continue working in his later years.

In 1862 Delacroix participated in the creation of the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts. His friend, the writer Théophile Gautier, became chairman, with the painter Aimé Millet acting as deputy chairman. In addition to Delacroix, the committee was composed of the painters Carrier-Belleuse and Puvis de Chavannes. Among the exhibitors were Léon Bonnat, Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux, Charles-François Daubigny, Gustave Doré, and Édouard Manet. Just after his death in 1863, the society organized a retrospective exhibition of 248 paintings and lithographs by Delacroix—and ceased to mount any further exhibitions.

Eugène Delacroix - The Women of Algiers

Eugène Delacroix – The Women of Algiers

Eugène Delacroix died in Paris, France, and was buried there in Père Lachaise Cemetery.

His house, formerly situated along the canal of the Marne, is now near the exit of the motorway leading from Paris to central Germany.

Eugène Delacroix - The Sultan of Morocco and his Entourage

Eugène Delacroix – The Sultan of Morocco and his Entourage

Eugène Delacroix - The Massacre at Chios

Eugène Delacroix – The Massacre at Chios

Eugène Delacroix - The Fanatics of Tangier

Eugène Delacroix – The Fanatics of Tangier

Eugène Delacroix - The Entry of the Crusaders into Constantinople

Eugène Delacroix – The Entry of the Crusaders into Constantinople

Eugène Delacroix - The Barque of Dante

Eugène Delacroix – The Barque of Dante

Eugène Delacroix - The Abduction of Rebecca

Eugène Delacroix – The Abduction of Rebecca

Eugène Delacroix - Odalisque

Eugène Delacroix – Odalisque

Eugène Delacroix - Lion Hunt

Eugène Delacroix – Lion Hunt

Eugène Delacroix - Jacob Wrestling with the Angel (detail)

Eugène Delacroix – Jacob Wrestling with the Angel (detail)

Eugène Delacroix - Hamlet and Horatio in the Graveyard

Eugène Delacroix – Hamlet and Horatio in the Graveyard

Hope you enjoyed the article as much as i did compiling the info and the images! See you next time!

Articles’ Images are in the public domain because their copyright has expired or are displayed here under the “ fair use” copyright law, and are available through WikipediaWikimedia.

This Articles’ text is licensed under the Creative Commons BY-SA License since it partially uses material from Wikipedia.

 

Article publié pour la première fois le 20/04/2014

Charles Le Brun - Entry Of Alexander Into Babylon

Life and Paintings of Charles Le Brun (1619 – 1690)

Charles Le Brun (24 February 1619 – 22 February 1690) was a French painter and art theorist. Declared by Louis XIV “the greatest French artist of all time”, he was a dominant figure in 17th-century French art.

Born in Paris, he attracted the notice of Chancellor Séguier, who placed him at the age of eleven in the studio of Simon Vouet. He was also a pupil of François Perrier. At fifteen he received commissions from Cardinal Richelieu, in the execution of which he displayed an ability which obtained the generous commendations of Nicolas Poussin, in whose company Le Brun started for Rome in 1642.

In Rome he remained four years in the receipt of a pension due to the liberality of the chancellor. There he worked under Poussin, adapting the latter’s theories of art.

Charles Le Brun - Apotheose of Louis XIV

Charles Le Brun – Apotheose of Louis XIV

On his return to Paris in 1646, Le Brun found numerous patrons, of whom Superintendent Fouquet was the most important, for whom he painted a large portrait of Anne of Austria. Employed at Vaux-le-Vicomte, Le Brun ingratiated himself with Mazarin, then secretly pitting Colbert against Fouquet. Colbert also promptly recognized Le Brun’s powers of organization, and attached him to his interests. Together they took control of the Academy of Painting and Sculpture (Académie royale de peinture et de sculpture, 1648), and the Academy of France at Rome (1666), and gave a new development to the industrial arts.

Another project Le Brun worked on was Hôtel Lambert. The ceiling in the gallery of Hercules was painted by him. Le Brun started work on the project in 1650, shortly after his return from Italy. The decoration continued intermittently over twelve years or so, as it was interrupted by the renovation of Vaux le Vicomte.

In 1660 they established the Gobelins, which at first was a great school for the manufacture, not of tapestries only, but of every class of furniture required in the royal palaces. Commanding the industrial arts through the Gobelins—of which he was director—and the whole artistic world through the Academy—in which he successively held every post—Le Brun imprinted his own character on all that was produced in France during his lifetime. He was the originator of Louis XIV Style and gave a direction to the national tendencies which endured centuries after his death.

Success years

The nature of his emphatic and pompous talent was in harmony with the taste of the king, who, full of admiration of the paintings by Le Brun for his triumphal entry into Paris (1660) and his decorations at the Château Vaux le Vicomte (1661), commissioned him to execute a series of subjects from the history of Alexander. The first of these, “Alexander and the Family of Darius,” so delighted Louis XIV that he at once ennobled Le Brun (December, 1662), who was also created Premier Peintre du Roi (First Painter to His Majesty) with a pension of 12,000 livres, the same amount as he had yearly received in the service of the magnificent Fouquet. The King had declared him “the greatest French artist of all time”.

From this date all that was done in the royal palaces was directed by Le Brun. In 1663, he became director of the Académie royale de peinture et de sculpture, where he laid the basis of academicism and became the all-powerful, peerless master of 17th-century French art. It was during this period that he dedicated a series of works to the history of Alexander The Great (The Battles of Alexander The Great), and he did not miss the opportunity to make a stronger connection between the magnificence of Alexander and that of the great King. While he was working on The Battles, Le Brun’s style became much more personal as he moved away from the ancient masters that influenced him.

Charles Le Brun - The Resolution of Louis XIV to Make War On The Dutch Republic

Charles Le Brun – The Resolution of Louis XIV to Make War On The Dutch Republic

The works of the gallery of Apollo in the Louvre were interrupted in 1677 when he accompanied the king to Flanders (on his return from Lille he painted several compositions in the Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye), and finally—for they remained unfinished at his death—by the vast labours of Versailles, where he reserved for himself the Halls of War and Peace (Salons de la Guerreand de la Paix, 1686), the Ambassadors’ Staircase, and the Great Hall of Mirrors (Galerie des Glaces, 1679–1684). Le Brun’s decoration is not only a work of art, it is the definitive monument of a reign.

At the death of Colbert, François-Michel le Tellier, Marquis de Louvois, Colbert’s enemy, who succeeded as superintendent in the department of public works, showed no favour to Le Brun who was Colbert’s favorite, and in spite of the king’s continued support Le Brun felt a bitter change in his position. This contributed to the illness which on 22 February 1690 ended in his death in his private mansion, in Paris.

Charles Le Brun - Adoration of the Shepherds

Charles Le Brun – Adoration of the Shepherds

Le Brun’s work and legacy

Le Brun primarily worked for King Louis XIV, for whom he executed large altarpieces and battle pieces. His most important paintings are at Versailles. Besides his gigantic labours at Versailles and the Louvre, the number of his works for religious corporations and private patrons is enormous. Le Brun was also a fine portraitist and an excellent draughtsman, but he was not fond of portrait or landscape painting, which he felt to be a mere exercise in developing technical prowess. What mattered was scholarly composition, whose ultimate goal was to nourish the spirit. The fundamental basis on which the director of the Academy based his art was unquestionably to make his paintings speak, through a series of symbols, costumes and gestures that allowed him to select for his composition the narrative elements that gave his works a particular depth. For Le Brun, a painting represented a story one could read. Nearly all his compositions have been reproduced by celebrated engravers.

Charles Le Brun - Allegory

Charles Le Brun – Allegory

In his posthumously published treatise, Méthode pour apprendre à dessiner les passions (1698) he promoted the expression of the emotions in painting. It had much influence on art theory for the next two centuries.

Many of his drawings are in the Louvre and the Monaco Royal Collection. He was also the teacher of painter Ludovico Dorigny.

On 23 January 2013, artistic advisors for the Hôtel Ritz Paris, Wanda Tymowska and Joseph Friedman, announced the discovery of The Sacrifice of Polyxena, an early work of Le Brun. The picture, dated 1647, ornamented the Coco Chanel suite of the famous Parisian palace, and went unnoticed for over a century.

 

 

Charles Le Brun - Martyrdom of St. John the Evangelist at Porta Latina

Charles Le Brun – Martyrdom of St. John the Evangelist at Porta Latina

 

Charles Le Brun - Holy Family With The Adoration Of The Child

Charles Le Brun – Holy Family With The Adoration Of The Child

 

Charles Le Brun - Entry Of Alexander Into Babylon

Charles Le Brun – Entry Of Alexander Into Babylon

 

Charles Le Brun - Chancellor Seguier At The Entry Of Louis XIV Into Paris In 1660

Charles Le Brun – Chancellor Seguier At The Entry Of Louis XIV Into Paris In 1660

 

Hope you enjoyed the article as much as i did compiling the info and the images! See you next time!

Articles’ Images are in the public domain because their copyright has expired or are displayed here under the “ fair use” copyright law, and are available through WikipediaWikimedia.

This Articles’ text is licensed under the Creative Commons BY-SA License since it partially uses material from Wikipedia.

Article publié pour la première fois le 04/12/2013

Jacques-Louis David - The Oath of the Horatii

Masters of Art: Jacques-Louis David (1748 – 1825)

Jacques-Louis David ( 30 August 1748 – 29 December 1825) was an influential French painter in the Neoclassical style, considered to be the preeminent painter of the era. In the 1780s his cerebral brand of history painting marked a change in taste away from Rococo frivolity toward a classical austerity and severity, heightened feeling chiming with the moral climate of the final years of the Ancien Régime.

Movements: Neoclassicism, Realism

Jacques-Louis David - Self-Portrait

Jacques-Louis David – Self-Portrait

David later became an active supporter of the French Revolution and friend of Maximilien Robespierre (1758–1794), and was effectively a dictator of the arts under the French Republic. Imprisoned after Robespierre’s fall from power, he aligned himself with yet another political regime upon his release, that of Napoleon I. It was at this time that he developed his Empire style, notable for its use of warm Venetian colours. David had a huge number of pupils, making him the strongest influence in French art of the early 19th century, especially academic Salon painting.

Jacques-Louis David was born into a prosperous family in Paris on 30 August 1748. When he was about nine his father was killed in a duel and his mother left him with his prosperous architect uncles. They saw to it that he received an excellent education at the Collège des Quatre-Nations, but he was never a good student: he had a facial tumor that impeded his speech, and he was always preoccupied with drawing. He covered his notebooks with drawings, and he once said, “I was always hiding behind the instructor’s chair, drawing for the duration of the class”. Soon, he desired to be a painter, but his uncles and mother wanted him to be an architect.

He overcame the opposition, and went to learn from François Boucher (1703–1770), the leading painter of the time, who was also a distant relative. Boucher was a Rococo painter, but tastes were changing, and the fashion for Rococo was giving way to a more classical style. Boucher decided that instead of taking over David’s tutelage, he would send David to his friend Joseph-Marie Vien (1716–1809), a painter who embraced the classical reaction to Rococo. There David attended the Royal Academy, based in what is now the Louvre.

David attempted to win the Prix de Rome, an art scholarship to the French Academy in Rome, five times. At each failure he became increasingly frustrated with the Academy for denying him the prize, and this dissatisfaction sowed the seeds of a long-standing grudge against the institution. Once, he lost according to legend because he had not consulted Vien, one of the judges. Another time, he lost because a few other students had been competing for years, and Vien felt David’s education could wait for these other mediocre painters.

In protest, he attempted to starve himself to death. Finally, in 1774, David won the Prix de Rome. Normally, he would have had to attend another school before attending the Academy in Rome, but Vien’s influence kept him out of it. He went to Italy with Vien in 1775, as Vien had been appointed director of the French Academy at Rome. While in Italy, David observed the Italian masterpieces and the ruins of ancient Rome. David filled twelve sketchbooks with material that he would derive from for the rest of his life. He met the influential early neoclassical painter Raphael Mengs (1728–1779), and through Mengs was introduced to the pathbreaking theories of art historian Johann Joachim Winckelmann (1717–1768). While in Rome, he studied great masters, and came to favor above all others Raphael. In 1779, David was able to see the ruins of Pompeii, and was filled with wonder. After this, he sought to revolutionize the art world with the “eternal” concepts of classicism.

David’s fellow students at the academy found him difficult to get along with, but they recognized his genius. David was allowed to stay at the French Academy in Rome for an extra year, but after 5 years in Rome, he returned to Paris. There, he found people ready to use their influence for him, and he was made a member of the Royal Academy. He sent the Academy two paintings, and both were included in the Salon of 1781, a high honor. He was praised by his famous contemporary painters, but the administration of the Royal Academy was very hostile to this young upstart.

After the Salon, the King granted David lodging in the Louvre, an ancient and much desired privilege of great artists. When the contractor of the King’s buildings, M. Pécoul, was arranging with David, he asked the artist to marry his daughter, Marguerite Charlotte. This marriage brought him money and eventually four children. David had his own pupils, about 40 to 50, and was commissioned by the government to paint “Horace defended by his Father”, but he soon decided, “Only in Rome can I paint Romans.” His father-in-law provided the money he needed for the trip, and David headed for Rome with his wife and three of his students, one of whom, Jean-Germain Drouais (1763–1788), was the Prix de Rome winner of that year.

In Rome, David painted his famous Oath of the Horatii, 1784. In this piece, the artist references Enlightenment values while alluding to Rousseau’s social contract. The republican ideal of the general will becomes the focus of the painting with all three sons positioned in compliance with the father. The Oath between the characters can be read as an act of unification of men to the binding of the state.

The issue of gender roles also becomes apparent in this piece, as the women in Horatii greatly contrast the group of brothers. David depicts the father with his back to the women, shutting them out of the oath making ritual; they also appear to be smaller in scale than the male figures.

The masculine virility and discipline displayed by the men’s rigid and confident stances is also severely contrasted to the slouching, swooning female softness created in the other half of the composition. Here we see the clear division of male-female attributes which confined the sexes to specific roles, under Rousseau’s popular doctrines.

These revolutionary ideals are also apparent in the Distribution of Eagles. While Oath of the Horatii and Oath of the Tennis Court stress the importance of masculine self-sacrifice for one’s country and patriotism, the Distribution of Eagles would ask for self-sacrifice for one’s Emperor (Napoleon) and the importance of battlefield glory.

In 1787, David did not become the Director of the French Academy in Rome, which was a position he wanted dearly. The Count in charge of the appointments said David was too young, but said he would support him in 6 to 12 years. This situation would be one of many that would cause him to lash out at the Academy in years to come.

For the salon of 1787, David exhibited his famous Death of Socrates. “Condemned to death, Socrates, strong, calm and at peace, discusses the immortality of the soul. Surrounded by Crito, his grieving friends and students, he is teaching, philosophizing, and in fact, thanking the God of Health, Asclepius, for the hemlock brew which will ensure a peaceful death… The wife of Socrates can be seen grieving alone outside the chamber, dismissed for her weakness. Plato is depicted as an old man seated at the end of the bed.” Critics compared the Socrates with Michelangelo’s Sistine Ceiling and Raphael’s Stanze, and one, after ten visits to the Salon, described it as “in every sense perfect”. Denis Diderot said it looked like he copied it from some ancient bas-relief. The painting was very much in tune with the political climate at the time. For this painting, David was not honored by a royal “works of encouragement”.

Jacques-Louis David - The Lictors Returning to Brutus the Bodies of his Sons

Jacques-Louis David – The Lictors Returning to Brutus the Bodies of his Sons

For his next painting, David created The Lictors Bring to Brutus the Bodies of His Sons. The work had tremendous appeal for the time. Before the opening of the Salon, the French Revolution had begun. The National Assembly had been established, and the Bastille had fallen. The royal court did not want propaganda agitating the people, so all paintings had to be checked before being hung. David’s portrait of Lavoisier, who was a chemist and physicist as well as an active member of the Jacobin party, was banned by the authorities for such reasons.

When the newspapers reported that the government had not allowed the showing of The Lictors Bring to Brutus the Bodies of His Sons, the people were outraged, and the royals were forced to give in. The painting was hung in the exhibition, protected by art students. The painting depicts Lucius Junius Brutus, the Roman leader, grieving for his sons. Brutus’s sons had attempted to overthrow the government and restore the monarchy, so the father ordered their death to maintain the republic. Thus, Brutus was the heroic defender of the republic, at the cost of his own family. On the right, the Mother holds her two daughters, and the nurse is seen on the far right, in anguish. Brutus sits on the left, alone, brooding, seemingly dismissing the dead bodies of his sons. Knowing what he did was best for his country, but the tense posture of his feet and toes reveals his inner turmoil. The whole painting was a Republican symbol, and obviously had immense meaning during these times in France.

In the beginning, David was a supporter of the Revolution, a friend of Robespierre and a member of the Jacobin Club. While others were leaving the country for new and greater opportunities, David stayed to help destroy the old order; he was a regicide who voted in the National Convention for the Execution of Louis XVI. It is uncertain why he did this, as there were many more opportunities for him under the King than the new order; some people suggest David’s love for the classical made him embrace everything about that period, including a republican government.

Others believed that they found the key to the artist’s revolutionary career in his personality. Undoubtedly, David’s artistic sensibility, mercurial temperament, volatile emotions, ardent enthusiasm, and fierce independence might have been expected to help turn him against the established order but they did not fully explain his devotion to the republican regime. Nor did the vague statements of those who insisted upon his “powerful ambition… and unusual energy of will” actually account for his revolutionary connections. Those who knew him maintained that “generous ardor”, high-minded idealism and well-meaning, though sometimes fanatical, enthusiasm rather than selfishness and jealousy, motivated his activities during this period.

Soon, David turned his critical sights on Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture. This attack was probably caused primarily by the hypocrisy of the organization and their personal opposition against his work, as seen in previous episodes in David’s life. The Royal Academy was chock full of royalists, and David’s attempt to reform it did not go over well with the members. However, the deck was stacked against this symbol of the old regime, and the National Assembly ordered it to make changes to conform to the new constitution.

David then began work on something that would later hound him: propaganda for the new republic. David’s painting of Brutus was shown during the play Brutus, by the famous Frenchman, Voltaire. The people responded in an uproar of approval.

In 1789, Jacques-Louis David attempted to leave his artistic mark on the historical beginnings of the French Revolution with his painting of The Oath of the Tennis Court. David undertook this task not out of personal political conviction but rather because he was commissioned to do so. The painting was meant to commemorate the event of the same name but was never completed. A meeting of the Estates General was convened in May to address reforms of the monarchy. Dissent arose over whether the numerous members of the Third Estate would be counted by head or – following tradition – as one body.

On June 17 the members of the Third Estate renamed themselves the National Assembly. The new assembly decided that each individual would be counted by head and the members alone would levy taxes. Shortly thereafter, on June 20, the National Assembly attempted to meet but the chamber doors were locked and guarded by soldiers of the monarchy. Members of the new National Assembly convened at a nearby tennis court and vowed they would not be disbanded until they had created a constitution. In 1789 this event was seen as a symbol of the national unity against the ancien regime. David was enlisted by the Society of Friends of the Constitution, the body that would eventually form the Jacobins, to enshrine this symbolic event.

This instance is notable in more ways than one because it eventually led David to finally become involved in politics as he joined the Jacobins. The picture was meant to be massive in scale; the figures in the foreground were meant to be life-sized portraits of the counterparts, including Jean-Sylvain Bailly, the President of the Constituent Assembly. Seeking additional funding, David turned to the Society of Friends of the Constitution. The funding for the project was to come from over three thousand subscribers hoping to receive a print of the image. However, when the funding was insufficient, the state ended up financing the project.

David set out in 1790, to transform the contemporary event into a major historical picture, which would appear at the Salon of 1791 as a large pen and ink drawing. As in the Oath of the Horatii, David represents the unity of men in the service of a patriotic ideal. In what was essentially an act of intellect and reason, David creates an air of drama in this work. The very power of the people appears to be “blowing” through the scene with the stormy weather, in a sense alluding to the storm that would be the revolution.

Symbolism in this work of art closely represents the revolutionary events taking place at the time. The figure in the middle is raising his right arm making the oath that they will never disband until they have reached their goal of creating a “constitution of the realm fixed upon solid foundations.”

The importance of this symbol is highlighted by the fact that the crowd’s arms are angled to his hand forming a triangular shape. Additionally, the open space in the top half contrasted to the commotion in the lower half serves to emphasize the magnitude of the Tennis Court Oath.

On 13 July 1793, David’s friend Marat was assassinated by Charlotte Corday with a knife she had hidden in her clothing. She gained entrance to Marat’s house on the pretense of presenting him a list of people who should be executed as enemies of France. Marat thanked her and said that they would be guillotined next week upon which Corday immediately fatally stabbed him. She was guillotined shortly thereafter. Corday was of an opposing political party, whose name can be seen in the note Marat holds in David’s subsequent painting, The Death of Marat.

Marat, a member of the National Assembly and a journalist, had a skin disease that caused him to itch horribly. The only relief he could get was in his bath over which he improvised a desk to write his list of suspect counter-revolutionaries who were to be quickly tried and, if convicted, guillotined. David once again organized a spectacular funeral, and Marat was buried in the Panthéon. Because Marat died in the bathtub, writing, David wanted to have his body submerged in the bathtub during the funeral procession. This did not play out because the body had begun to putrefy. Instead, Marat’s body was periodically sprinkled with water as the people came to see his corpse, complete with gaping wound. The Death of Marat, perhaps David’s most famous painting, has been called the Pietà of the revolution. Upon presenting the painting to the convention, he said “Citizens, the people were again calling for their friend; their desolate voice was heard: David, take up your brushes.., avenge Marat… I heard the voice of the people. I obeyed.” David had to work quickly, but the result was a simple and powerful image.

Jacques-Louis David - The Death of Marat

Jacques-Louis David – The Death of Marat

The Death of Marat, 1793, became the leading image of the Terror and immortalized both Marat, and David in the world of the revolution. This piece stands today as “a moving testimony to what can be achieved when an artist’s political convictions are directly manifested in his work”.

A political martyr was instantly created as David portrayed Marat with all the marks of the real murder, in a fashion which greatly resembles that of Christ or his disciples.The subject although realistically depicted remains lifeless in a rather supernatural composition. With the surrogate tombstone placed in front of him and the almost holy light cast upon the whole scene; alluding to an out of this world existence. “Atheists though they were, David and Marat, like so many other fervent social reformers of the modern world, seem to have created a new kind of religion.”At the very center of these beliefs, there stood the republic.

After executing the King, war broke out between the new Republic and virtually every major power in Europe. David, as a member of the Committee of General Security, contributed directly to the reign of Terror.

The committee was severe. Marie Antoinette went to the guillotine; an event recorded in a famous sketch by David. Portable guillotines killed failed generals, aristocrats, priests and perceived enemies. David organized his last festival: the festival of the Supreme Being. Robespierre had realized what a tremendous propaganda tool these festivals were, and he decided to create a new religion, mixing moral ideas with the republic, based on the ideas of Rousseau, with Robespierre as the new high priest. This process had already begun by confiscating church lands and requiring priests to take an oath to the state. The festivals, called fêtes, would be the method of indoctrination. On the appointed day, 20 Prairial by the revolutionary calendar, Robespierre spoke, descended steps, and with a torch presented to him by David, incinerated a cardboard image symbolizing atheism, revealing an image of wisdom underneath. The festival hastened the “Incorruptible’s” downfall.

Soon, the war began to go well; French troops marched across the southern half of the Netherlands (which would later become Belgium), and the emergency that had placed the Committee of Public Safety in control was no more. Then plotters seized Robespierre at the National Convention and he was later guillotined, in effect ending the reign of terror. As Robespierre was arrested, David yelled to his friend “if you drink hemlock, I shall drink it with you.”

After this, he supposedly fell ill, and did not attend the evening session because of “stomach pain”, which saved him from being guillotined along with Robespierre. David was arrested and placed in prison. There he painted his own portrait, showing him much younger than he actually was, as well as that of his jailer.

After David’s wife visited him in jail, he conceived the idea of telling the story of the Sabine Women. The Sabine Women Enforcing Peace by Running between the Combatants, also called The Intervention of the Sabine Women is said to have been painted to honor his wife, with the theme being love prevailing over conflict. The painting was also seen as a plea for the people to reunite after the bloodshed of the revolution.

David conceived a new style for this painting, one which he called the “Grecian style,” as opposed to the “Roman style” of his earlier historical paintings. The new style was influenced heavily by the work of art historian Johann Joachim Winkelmann. In David’s words:

the most prominent general characteristics of the Greek masterpieces are a noble simplicity and silent greatness in pose as well as in expression.

On the Bourbons returning to power, David figured in the list of proscribed former revolutionaries and Bonapartists — for having voted execution for the deposed King Louis XVI; and for participating in the death of Louis XVII. Mistreated and starved, the imprisoned Louis XVII was forced to confess to incest with his mother, Queen Marie-Antoinette, (untrue; separated early, son and mother were disallowed communication, nevertheless, the allegation helped earn her the guillotine).

The new Bourbon King, Louis XVIII, however, granted amnesty to David and even offered him the position of court painter. David refused, preferring self-exile in Brussels. There, he trained and influenced Brussels artists like François-Joseph Navez and Ignace Brice, painted Cupid and Psyche and quietly lived the remainder of his life with his wife (whom he had remarried). In that time, he painted smaller-scale mythological scenes, and portraits of citizens of Brussels and Napoleonic émigrés, such as the Baron Gerard.

Jacques-Louis David - Mars Disarmed by Venus and the Three Graces

Jacques-Louis David – Mars Disarmed by Venus and the Three Graces

David created his last great work, Mars Being Disarmed by Venus and the Three Graces, from 1822 to 1824. In December 1823, he wrote:

This is the last picture I want to paint, but I want to surpass myself in it. I will put the date of my seventy-five years on it and afterwards I will never again pick up my brush.

The finished painting — evoking painted porcelain because of its limpid coloration — was exhibited first in Brussels, then in Paris, where his former students flocked to view it. The exhibition was profitable — 13,000 francs, after deducting operating costs, thus, more than 10,000 people visited and viewed the painting. In his later years, David remained in full command of his artistic faculties, even after a stroke in the spring of 1825 disfigured his face and slurred his speech.

In June 1825, he resolved to embark on an improved version of his Anger of Achilles (also known as the Sacrifice of Iphigenie; the earlier version was completed in 1819 and is now in the collection of the Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, Texas. David remarked to his friends who visited his studio “this [painting] is what is killing me” such was his determination to complete the work, but by October it must have already been well advanced as his former pupil Gros wrote to congratulate him, having heard reports of the painting’s merits. By the time David died, the painting had been completed and the commissioner Ambroise Firmin-Didot brought it back to Paris to include it in the exhibition “Pour les grecs” that he had organised and which opened in Paris in April 1826.

When David was leaving a theater, a carriage struck him, and he later died, on 29 December 1825. At his death, some portraits were auctioned in Paris, they sold for little; the famous Death of Marat was exhibited in a secluded room, to avoid outraging public sensibilities. Disallowed return to France for burial, for having been a regicide of King Louis XVI, the body of the painter Jacques-Louis David was buried at Brussels Cemetery, while his heart was buried at Père Lachaise, Paris.

Jacques-Louis David was, in his time, regarded as the leading painter in France, and arguably all of Western Europe; many of the painters honored by the restored Bourbons following the French Revolution had been David’s pupils.

David’s student Antoine-Jean Gros for example, was made a Baron and honored by Napoleon Bonaparte’s court. Another pupil of David’s, Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres became the most important artist of the restored Royal Academy and the figurehead of the Neoclassical school of art, engaging the increasingly popular Romantic school of art that was beginning to challenge Neoclassicism.

To be one of David’s students was considered prestigious and earned his students a lifetime of reputation.

Despite David’s reputation, he was more fiercely criticized right after his death than at any point during his life. His style came under the most serious criticism for being static, rigid, and uniform throughout all his work. David’s art was also attacked for being cold and lacking warmth.

David, however, made his career precisely by challenging what he saw as the earlier rigidity and conformity of the French Royal Academy’s approach to art. David’s later works also reflect his growth in the development of the Empire style, notable for its dynamism and warm colors. It is likely that much of the criticism of David following his death came from David’s opponents; during his lifetime David made a great many enemies with his competitive and arrogant personality as well as his role in the Terror.

Jacques-Louis David -The Death of Socrates

Jacques-Louis David -The Death of Socrates

David sent many people to the guillotine and personally signed the death warrants for King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. One significant episode in David’s political career that earned him a great deal of contempt was the execution of Emilie Chalgrin. A fellow painter Carle Vernet had approached David, who was on the Committee of Public Safety, requesting him to intervene on behalf of his sister, Chalgrin. She had been accused of crimes against the Republic, most notably possessing stolen items. David refused to intervene in her favor, and she was executed. Vernet blamed David for her death, and the episode followed him for the rest of his life and after.

In the last 50 years David has enjoyed a revival in popular favor and in 1948 his two-hundredth birthday was celebrated with an exhibition at the Musée de l’Orangerie in Paris and at Versailles showing his life’s works. Following World War II, Jacques-Louis David was increasingly regarded as a symbol of French national pride and identity, as well as a vital force in the development of European and French art in the modern era.

Jacques-Louis David - The Death of Seneca

Jacques-Louis David – The Death of Seneca

Jacques-Louis David - The Intervention of the Sabine Women

Jacques-Louis David – The Intervention of the Sabine Women

Jacques-Louis David - The Loves of Paris and Helen

Jacques-Louis David – The Loves of Paris and Helen

Jacques-Louis David -  Cupid and Psyche

Jacques-Louis David – Cupid and Psyche

Jacques-Louis David - Antiochus and Stratonica

Jacques-Louis David – Antiochus and Stratonica

Jacques-Louis David - Consecration of the Emperor Napoleon I and Coronation of the Empress Josephine

Jacques-Louis David – Consecration of the Emperor Napoleon I and Coronation of the Empress Josephine

Jacques-Louis David - Leonidas at Thermopylae

Jacques-Louis David – Leonidas at Thermopylae

Jacques-Louis David - Madame Raymond de Verninac

Jacques-Louis David – Madame Raymond de Verninac

Jacques-Louis David - Napoleon at the St. Bernard Pass

Jacques-Louis David – Napoleon at the St. Bernard Pass

Jacques-Louis David - Portrait of Antoine-Laurent and Marie-Anne Lavoisier

Jacques-Louis David – Portrait of Antoine-Laurent and Marie-Anne Lavoisier

Jacques-Louis David - Portrait of Francois Buron

Jacques-Louis David – Portrait of Francois Buron

Jacques-Louis David - Portrait of Pope Pius VII

Jacques-Louis David – Portrait of Pope Pius VII

Jacques-Louis David - Portrait of the Comtesse Vilain XIIII and her Daughter

Jacques-Louis David – Portrait of the Comtesse Vilain XIIII and her Daughter

Jacques-Louis David - Portrait of the Marquise d'Orvilliers

Jacques-Louis David – Portrait of the Marquise d’Orvilliers

Jacques-Louis David - Sappho and Phaon

Jacques-Louis David – Sappho and Phaon

Jacques-Louis David - St Roch Asking the Virgin Mary to Heal Victims of the Plague

Jacques-Louis David – St Roch Asking the Virgin Mary to Heal Victims of the Plague

Jacques-Louis David - The Combat of Mars and Minerva

Jacques-Louis David – The Combat of Mars and Minerva

Jacques-Louis David - The Death of Bara

Jacques-Louis David – The Death of Bara

 

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Article publié pour la première fois le 15/01/2013

John Everett Millais - The Ruling Passion (1885) Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum

Life and Paintings of John Everett Millais (1829 – 1896)

Sir John Everett Millais, 1st Baronet, ( 8 June 1829 – 13 August 1896) was an English painter and illustrator and one of the founders of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. Millais was born in Southampton, England in 1829, of a prominent Jersey-based family.

Movements: Medievalism, Naturalism, Academicism, Pre-Raphaelitism

The author Thackeray once asked him “when England conquered Jersey.” Millais replied “Never! Jersey conquered England.” (cited in Chums annual, 1896, page 213). His prodigious artistic talent won him a place at the Royal Academy schools at the unprecedented age of eleven. While there, he met William Holman Hunt and Dante Gabriel Rossetti with whom he formed the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood (known as the “PRB”) in September 1848 in his family home on Gower Street, off Bedford Square.

Millais’s Christ In The House Of His Parents (1850) was highly controversial because of its realistic portrayal of a working class Holy Family labouring in a messy carpentry workshop. Later works were also controversial, though less so. Millais achieved popular success with A Huguenot (1852), which depicts a young couple about to be separated because of religious conflicts. He repeated this theme in many later works. All these early works were painted with great attention to detail, often concentrating on the beauty and complexity of the natural world. In paintings such as Ophelia (1852) Millais created dense and elaborate pictorial surfaces based on the integration of naturalistic elements. This approach has been described as a kind of “pictorial eco-system”.

John Everett Millais -Cherry Ripe (1879) Private Collection

John Everett Millais -Cherry Ripe (1879) Private Collection

This style was promoted by the critic John Ruskin, who had defended the Pre-Raphaelites against their critics. Millais’s friendship with Ruskin introduced him to Ruskin’s wife Effie. Soon after they met she modelled for his painting The Order of Release. As Millais painted Effie they fell in love. Despite having been married to Ruskin for several years, Effie was still a virgin. Her parents realized something was wrong and she filed for an annulment. In 1855, after her marriage to Ruskin was annulled, Effie and John Millais married. He and Effie eventually had eight children: Everett, born in 1856; George, born in 1857; Effie, born in 1858; Mary, born in 1860; Alice, born in 1862; Geoffroy, born in 1863; John in 1865; and Sophie in 1868. Their youngest son, John Guille Millais, became a notable naturalist and wildlife artist.
Effie’s younger sister Sophy Gray sat for several pictures by Millais, prompting some speculation about the nature of their apparently fond relationship.

After his marriage, Millais began to paint in a broader style, which was condemned by Ruskin as “a catastrophe”. It has been argued that this change of style resulted from Millais’s need to increase his output to support his growing family. Unsympathetic critics such as William Morris accused him of “selling out” to achieve popularity and wealth. His admirers, in contrast, pointed to the artist’s connections with Whistler and Albert Moore, and influence on John Singer Sargent.

Millais himself argued that as he grew more confident as an artist, he could paint with greater boldness. In his article “Thoughts on our art of Today” (1888) he recommended Velázquez and Rembrandt as models for artists to follow. Paintings such as The Eve of St. Agnes and The Somnambulist clearly show an ongoing dialogue between the artist and Whistler, whose work Millais strongly supported. Other paintings of the late 1850s and 1860s can be interpreted as anticipating aspects of the Aesthetic Movement. Many deploy broad blocks of harmoniously arranged colour and are symbolic rather than narratival. From 1862, the Millais family lived at 7 Cromwell Place, Kensington, London.

Later works, from the 1870s onwards demonstrate Millais’s reverence for old masters such as Joshua Reynolds and Velázquez. Many of these paintings were of an historical theme and were further examples of Millais’s talent. Notable among these are The Two Princes Edward and Richard in the Tower (1878) depicting the Princes in the Tower, The Northwest Passage (1874) and the Boyhood of Raleigh (1871).

Such paintings indicate Millais’s interest in subjects connected to Britain’s history and expanding empire. Millais also achieved great popularity with his paintings of children, notably Bubbles (1886) – famous, or perhaps notorious, for being used in the advertising of Pears soap – and Cherry Ripe. His last project (1896) was to be a painting entitled The Last Trek. Based on his illustration for his son’s book, it depicted a white hunter lying dead in the African veldt, his body contemplated by two Africans.

This fascination with wild and bleak locations is also evident in his many landscape paintings of this period, which usually depict difficult or dangerous terrain. The first of these, Chill October (1870) was painted in Perth, near his wife’s family home. Chill October (Collection of Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber), was the first of the large-scale Scottish Landscapes Millais painted periodically throughout his later career. Usually autumnal and often bleakly unpicturesque, they evoke a mood of melancholy and sense of transience that recalls his cycle-of-nature paintings of the later 1850s, especially Autumn Leaves (Manchester Art Gallery) and The Vale Of Rest (Tate Britain), though with little or no direct symbolism or human activity to point to their meaning.

John Everett Millais - The Eve of Saint Agnes (1863)

John Everett Millais – The Eve of Saint Agnes (1863)

In 1870 Millais returned to full landscape pictures, and over the next twenty years painted a number of scenes of Perthshire where he was annually found hunting and fishing from August until late into the autumn each year. Most of these landscapes are autumnal or early winter in season and show bleak, dank, water fringed bog or moor, loch and riverside. Millais never returned to “blade by blade” landscape painting, nor to the vibrant greens of his own outdoor work in the early fifties, although the assured handling of his broader freer, later style is equally accomplished in its close observation of scenery. Many were painted elsewhere in Perthshire, near Dunkeld and Birnam, where Millais rented grand houses each autumn in order to hunt and fish. Christmas Eve, his first full landscape snow scene, painted in 1887, was a view looking towards Murthly castle.

Millais was elected as an associate member of the Royal Academy of Arts in 1853, and was soon elected as a full member of the Academy, in which he was a prominent and active participant. He was created a Baronet, of Palace Gate, in the parish of St Mary Abbot, Kensington, in the county of Middlesex, and of Saint Quen, in the Island of Jersey, in 1885,  the first artist to be honoured with a hereditary title.

John Everett Millais - Ophelia (1852) Tate Britain, London

John Everett Millais – Ophelia (1852) Tate Britain, London

John Everett Millais - Autumn Leaves (1856)

John Everett Millais – Autumn Leaves (1856)

John Everett Millais -Victory O Lord! (1871)

John Everett Millais -Victory O Lord! (1871)

John Everett Millais -The Boyhood of Raleigh (1871)

John Everett Millais -The Boyhood of Raleigh (1871)

John Everett Millais - The Vale of Rest (1858) Tate Britain, London

John Everett Millais – The Vale of Rest (1858) Tate Britain, London

John Everett Millais - The Tribe of Benjamin Seizing the Daughters of Shiloh (1847)

John Everett Millais – The Tribe of Benjamin Seizing the Daughters of Shiloh (1847)

John Everett Millais - The Rescue (1855) National Gallery of Victoria

John Everett Millais – The Rescue (1855) National Gallery of Victoria

John Everett Millais - The Proscribed Royalist, 1651 (1853)

John Everett Millais – The Proscribed Royalist, 1651 (1853)

John Everett Millais - The Martyr of the Solway (c. 1871)

John Everett Millais – The Martyr of the Solway (c. 1871)

John Everett Millais - The Knight Errant (1870)

John Everett Millais – The Knight Errant (1870)

John Everett Millais - The Blind Girl (1856)

John Everett Millais – The Blind Girl (1856)

John Everett Millais - Isabella (1849)

John Everett Millais – Isabella (1849)

John Everett Millais - Christ In The House Of His Parents (1850)

John Everett Millais – Christ In The House Of His Parents (1850)

After the death of Lord Leighton in 1896, Millais was elected President of the Royal Academy, but he died later in the same year from throat cancer. He was buried in St Paul’s Cathedral.

John Everett Millais - Pizarro Seizing the Inca of Peru (1846), Victoria and Albert Museum, London

John Everett Millais – Pizarro Seizing the Inca of Peru (1846), Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Hope you enjoyed the article as much as i did compiling the info and the images! See you next time!

Articles’ Images are in the public domain because their copyright has expired or are displayed here under the “ fair use” copyright law, and are available through WikipediaWikimedia.

This Articles’ text is licensed under the Creative Commons BY-SA License since it partially uses material from Wikipedia.

Article publié pour la première fois le 11/04/2014

Life and Paintings of Giotto Di Bondone (12)

Life and Paintings of Giotto (1266 – 1337)

Giotto di Bondone (1266/7 – January 8, 1337), better known simply as Giotto, was an Italian painter and architect from Florence in the late Middle Ages. He is generally considered the first in a line of great artists who contributed to the Italian Renaissance.

Giotto’s contemporary, the banker and chronicler Giovanni Villani, wrote that Giotto was “the most sovereign master of painting in his time, who drew all his figures and their postures according to nature. And he was given a salary by the Comune of Florence in virtue of his talent and excellence.”

Life and Paintings of Giotto Di Bondone (1)

Life and Paintings of Giotto Di Bondone

The late-16th century biographer Giorgio Vasari describes Giotto as making a decisive break with the prevalent Byzantine style and as initiating “the great art of painting as we know it today, introducing the technique of drawing accurately from life, which had been neglected for more than two hundred years.”

Giotto’s masterwork is the decoration of the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua, also known as the Arena Chapel, completed around 1305. This fresco cycle depicts the life of the Virgin and the life of Christ. It is regarded as one of the supreme masterpieces of the Early Renaissance. That Giotto painted the Arena Chapel and that he was chosen by the Comune of Florence in 1334 to design the new campanile (bell tower) of the Florence Cathedral are among the few certainties of his biography. Almost every other aspect of it is subject to controversy: his birthdate, his birthplace, his appearance, his apprenticeship, the order in which he created his works, whether or not he painted the famous frescoes at Assisi, and his burial place.

It has been traditional to hold that Giotto was born in a hilltop farmhouse, perhaps at Colle di Romagnano or Romignano; since 1850 a tower house in nearby Colle Vespignano, a hamlet 35 kilometres north of Florence, has borne a plaque claiming the honour of his birthplace, an assertion commercially publicized. Very recent research, however, has suggested that he was actually born in Florence, the son of a blacksmith. His father’s name was Bondone, described in surviving public records as “a person of good standing”. Most authors accept that Giotto was his real name, but it may have been an abbreviation of Ambrogio (Ambrogiotto) or Angelo (Angelotto).

The year of his birth is calculated from the fact that Antonio Pucci, the town crier of Florence, wrote a poem in Giotto’s honour in which it is stated that he was 70 at the time of his death. However, the word “seventy” fits into the rhyme of the poem better than would have a longer and more complex age, so it is possible that Pucci used artistic license.

Life and Paintings of Giotto Di Bondone (2)

Life and Paintings of Giotto Di Bondone

In his Lives of the Artists, Giorgio Vasari relates that Giotto was a shepherd boy, a merry and intelligent child who was loved by all who knew him. The great Florentine painter Cimabue discovered Giotto drawing pictures of his sheep on a rock. They were so lifelike that Cimabue approached Bondone and asked if he could take the boy as an apprentice. Cimabue was one of the two most highly renowned painters of Tuscany, the other being Duccio, who worked mainly in Siena.

Vasari recounts a number of such stories about Giotto’s skill. He writes that when Cimabue was absent from the workshop, his young apprentice painted such a lifelike fly on the face of the painting that Cimabue was working on, that he tried several times to brush it off. Vasari also relates that when the Pope sent a messenger to Giotto, asking him to send a drawing to demonstrate his skill, Giotto drew, in red paint, a circle so perfect that it seemed as though it was drawn using a compass and instructed the messenger to give that to the Pope.

Many scholars today are uncertain about Giotto’s training, and consider that Vasari’s story that he was Cimabue’s pupil is legendary, citing early sources which suggest that Giotto was not Cimabue’s pupil. Giotto’s art shares many qualities with Roman paintings of the later 13th century. Cimabue may have been working in Rome in this period, and there was an active local school of fresco painters, of whom the most famous was Pietro Cavallini. The famous Florentine sculptor and architect, Arnolfo di Cambio, was then also working in Rome.

Life and Paintings of Giotto Di Bondone (3)

Life and Paintings of Giotto Di Bondone

From Rome, Cimabue went to Assisi to paint several large frescoes at the newly built Basilica of St Francis of Assisi, and it is possible, but not certain, that Giotto went with him. The attribution of the fresco cycle of the Life of St. Francis in the Upper Church has been one of the most hotly disputed in art history. The documents of the Franciscan Friars that relate to artistic commissions during this period were destroyed by Napoleon’s troops, who stabled horses in the Upper Church of the Basilica, and scholars have been divided over whether or not Giotto was responsible for the Francis Cycle. In the absence of documentary evidence to the contrary, it has been convenient to ascribe every fresco in the Upper Church that was not obviously by Cimabue to Giotto, whose prestige has overshadowed that of almost every contemporary. Some of the earliest remaining biographical sources, such as Ghiberti and Riccobaldo Ferrarese, suggest that the fresco cycle of the life of St Francis in the Upper Church was his earliest autonomous work. However, since the idea was put forward by the German art historian, Friedrich Rintelen in 1912,many scholars have expressed doubt that Giotto was in fact the author of the Upper Church frescoes. Without documentation, arguments on the attribution have relied upon connoisseurship, a notoriously unreliable “science.”

However, technical examinations and comparisons of the workshop painting processes at Assisi and Padua in 2002 have provided strong evidence that Giotto did not paint the St. Francis Cycle. There are many differences between the Francis Cycle and the Arena Chapel frescoes that are difficult to account for by the stylistic development of an individual artist. It seems quite possible that several hands painted the Assisi frescoes, and that the artists were probably from Rome. If this is the case, then Giotto’s frescoes at Padua owe much to the naturalism of these painters.

The authorship of a large number of panel paintings ascribed to Giotto by Vasari, among others, is as broadly disputed as the Assisi frescoes. According to Vasari, Giotto’s earliest works were for the Dominicans at Santa Maria Novella. These include a fresco of the Annunciation and the enormous suspended Crucifix, which is about 5 metres high. It has been dated around 1290 and is therefore contemporary with the Assisi frescoes. Other early works are the San Giorgio alla Costa Madonna and Child now in the Diocesan Museum of Santo Stefano al Ponte, Florence, and the signed panel of the Stigmata of St. Francis, once in San Francesco at Pisa, today in the Louvre.

In 1287, at the age of about 20, Giotto married Ricevuta di Lapo del Pela, known as “Ciuta”. The couple had numerous children, (perhaps as many as eight) one of whom, Francesco, became a painter. Giotto worked in Rome in 1297–1300, but few traces of his presence there remain today. The Basilica of St. John Lateran houses a small portion of a fresco cycle, painted for the Jubilee of 1300 called by Boniface VIII. In this period he also painted the Badia Polyptych, now in the Uffizi, Florence.

Life and Paintings of Giotto Di Bondone (6)

Life and Paintings of Giotto Di Bondone

Giotto’s fame as a painter spread. He was called to work in Padua, and also in Rimini, where today only a Crucifix remains in the Church of St. Francis, painted before 1309. This work influenced the rise of the Riminese school of Giovanni and Pietro da Rimini. According to documents of 1301 and 1304, Giotto by this time possessed large estates in Florence, and it is probable that he was already leading a large workshop and receiving commissions from throughout Italy.

Around 1305 Giotto executed his most influential work, the painted decoration of the interior of the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua. Enrico degli Scrovegni commissioned the chapel to serve as a family worship and burial space, even though his parish church was nearby; its construction caused some consternation among the clerics at the Eremitani church next door.  It has also been speculated that Enrico commissioned the chapel as a penitence for his sin of usury (i.e. charging interest for lending money), which at the time was considered unjust. In fact, Dante himself accused Enrico’s father of it and condemned him in his Divine Comedy.  The presence of Enrico near the center of The Final Judgement, handing the Arena Chapel to the Three Marys, on the virtuous side of the judgement and not with the other usurers (shown hanging by the strings of their money bags on the opposite side) may also be seen as proof of his repentance. This chapel is externally a very plain building of pink brick which was constructed next to an older palace that Scrovegni was restoring for himself. The palace, now gone, and the chapel were on the site of a Roman arena, for which reason it is commonly known as the Arena Chapel.

The theme is Salvation, and there is an emphasis on the Virgin Mary, as the chapel is dedicated to the Annunciation and to the Virgin of Charity. As is common in the decoration of the medieval period in Italy, the west wall is dominated by the Last Judgement. On either side of the chancel are complementary paintings of the Angel Gabriel and the Virgin Mary, depicting the Annunciation. This scene is incorporated into the cycles of The Life of the Blessed Virgin Mary and The Life of Christ. The source for The Life of the Virgin is the Golden Legend of Jacopo da Voragine while The Life of Christ draws upon the Meditations on the Life of Christ by the Pseudo-Bonaventura. The frescoes are more than mere illustrations of familiar texts, however, and scholars have found numerous sources for Giotto’s interpretations of sacred stories.

The cycle is divided into 37 scenes, arranged around the lateral walls in three tiers, starting in the upper register with the story of Joachim and Anna, the parents of the Virgin and continuing with the story of Mary. The life of Jesus occupies two registers. The Last Judgment fills the entire pictorial space of the counter-façade.

The top right hand tier deals with the lives of Mary’s parents, the left of her early life and the middle tier deals with the early life and miracles of Christ.

The bottom tier on both sides is concerned with the Passions of Christ. He is depicted mainly in profile, as is customary, historically, when depicting persons of importance. His eyes point continuously to the right, perhaps to guide the viewer onwards in the episodes. The kiss of Judas near the end of the sequence signals the close of this left-to-right procession.

Much of the blue in the fresco has been worn away by time. This is because Enrico degli Scrovegni ordered that, because of the expense of the pigment ultramarine blue used, it should be painted on top of the already dry fresco stucco fresco to preserve its brilliance. For this reason it has disintegrated faster than the other colors which have been fastened within the plaster of the fresco. An example of this decay can clearly be seen on the robe of Christ as he sits on the donkey.

Between the scenes are quatrefoil paintings of Old Testament scenes, like Jonah and the Whale that allegorically correspond and perhaps foretell the life of Christ.

Life and Paintings of Giotto Di Bondone (7)

Life and Paintings of Giotto Di Bondone

While Cimabue painted in a manner that is clearly Medieval, having aspects of both the Byzantine and the Gothic, Giotto’s style draws on the solid and classicizing sculpture of Arnolfo di Cambio. Unlike those by Cimabue and Duccio, Giotto’s figures are not stylized or elongated and do not follow set Byzantine models. They are solidly three-dimensional, have faces and gestures that are based on close observation, and are clothed not in swirling formalized drapery, but in garments that hang naturally and have form and weight. He also took bold steps in foreshortening and with having character face inwards, with their backs towards the observer creating the illusion of space. however, the Medieval tradition of only representing a few faces is continued in Giotto’s representation of the apostles in the Lamentations seen. Those whose faces can be seen show incredible emotion but the others are refused to the form of a group of background halos. What he did achieve was, regardless, remarkable. Although aspects of this trend in painting had already appeared in Rome in the work of Pietro Cavallini and at Assisi, Giotto took it so much further that he earned the reputation for setting a new standard for representational painting.

The heavily sculptural figures occupy compressed settings with naturalistic elements, often using forced perspective devices so that they resemble stage sets. This similarity is increased by Giotto’s careful arrangement of the figures in such a way that the viewer appears to have a particular place and even an involvement in many of the scenes. This dramatic immediacy was a new feature, which is also seen to some extent in the Upper Church at Assisi.

Famous narratives in the series include the Adoration of the Magi, in which a comet-like Star of Bethlehem streaks across the sky. Giotto is thought to have been inspired by the 1301 appearance of Halley’s comet, which led to the name Giotto being given to a 1986 space probe to the comet. Another famous scene is the Lamentation, in which Giotto adapted the traditional Byzantine iconography of the scene to create an emotional representation that draws the viewer into the sacred narrative.

Giotto’s depiction of the human face and emotion sets his work apart from that of his contemporaries. When the disgraced Joachim returns sadly to the hillside, the two young shepherds look sideways at each other. The soldier who drags a baby from its screaming mother in the Massacre of the Innocents does so with his head hunched into his shoulders and a look of shame on his face. The people on the road to Egypt gossip about Mary and Joseph as they go. Of Giotto’s realism, the 19th-century English critic John Ruskin said “He painted the Madonna and St. Joseph and the Christ, yes, by all means … but essentially Mamma, Papa and Baby.”

Among those frescoes in Padua which have been lost are those in the Basilica of. St. Anthony and the Palazzo della Ragione, which are however from a later sojourn in Padua.

Life and Paintings of Giotto Di Bondone (8)

Life and Paintings of Giotto Di Bondone

Numerous painters from northern Italy were influenced by Giotto’s work in Padua including Guariento, Giusto de’ Menabuoi, Jacopo Avanzi, and Altichiero.

From 1306 to 1311 Giotto was in Assisi, where he painted frescoes in the transept area of the Lower Church, including The Life of Christ, Franciscan Allegories and the Maddalena Chapel, drawing on stories from the Golden Legend and including the portrait of bishop Teobaldo Pontano who commissioned the work. Several assistants are mentioned, including one Palerino di Guido. However, the style demonstrates developments from Giotto’s work at Padua.

In 1311 Giotto returned to Florence. A document from 1313 about his furniture there shows that he had spent a period in Rome some time before. It is now thought that he produced the design for the famous Navicella mosaic for the courtyard of the Old St. Peter’s Basilica in 1310, commissioned by Cardinal Giacomo or Jacopo Stefaneschi and now lost to the Renaissance church, except for some fragments and a Baroque reconstruction. According to the cardinal’s necrology he also at least designed the Stefaneschi Triptych, a double-sided altarpiece for St. Peter’s, now in the Vatican Pinacoteca. But the style seems unlikely for either Giotto or his normal Florentine assistants, so he may have had his design executed by an ad hoc workshop of Romans.

Life and Paintings of Giotto Di Bondone (10)

Life and Paintings of Giotto Di Bondone

In Florence, where documents from 1314–1327 attest to his financial activities, Giotto painted an altarpiece known as the Ognissanti Madonna and now in the Uffizi where it is exhibited beside Cimabue’s Santa Trinita Madonna and Duccio’s Rucellai Madonna. The Ognissanti altarpiece is the only panel painting by Giotto that has been universally accepted by scholars, and this despite the fact that it is undocumented. It was painted for the church of the Ognissanti (all saints) in Florence, which was built by an obscure religious order known as the Humiliati. It is a large painting (325 x 204 cm), and scholars are divided on whether it was made for the main altar of the church, where it would have been viewed primarily by the brothers of the order or for the choir screen, where it would have been more easily seen by a lay audience.

At this time he also painted the Dormition of the Virgin, now in the Berlin Gemäldegalerie and the Crucifix in the Church of Ognissanti.

According to Lorenzo Ghiberti, Giotto painted chapels for four different Florentine families in the church of Santa Croce, although he does not identify which chapels they were. It is only with Vasari that the four chapels are identified: the Bardi Chapel (Life of St. Francis), the Peruzzi Chapel (Life of St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist, perhaps including a polyptych of Madonna with Saints now in the Museum of Art of Raleigh, North Carolina) and the lost Giugni Chapel (Stories of the Apostles) and the Tosinghi Spinelli Chapel (Stories of the Holy Virgin). As with almost everything in Giotto’s career, the dates of the fresco decorations that survive in Santa Croce are disputed. The Bardi Chapel, immediately to the right of the main chapel of the church, was painted in true fresco, and to some scholars the simplicity of its settings seems relatively close to those of Padua, while the Peruzzi Chapel’s more complex settings suggest a later date. The Peruzzi Chapel is adjacent to the Bardi Chapel and was largely painted a secco. This technique, quicker but less durable than true fresco, has resulted in a fresco decoration that survives in a seriously deteriorated condition. Scholars who date this cycle earlier in Giotto’s career see the growing interest in architectural expansion that it displays as close to the developments of the giottesque frescoes in the Lower Church at Assisi, while the Bardi frescoes have a new softness of color that indicates the artist going in a different direction, probably under the influence of Sienese art, and so must be a later development.

Life and Paintings of Giotto Di Bondone (11)

Life and Paintings of Giotto Di Bondone

The Peruzzi Chapel pairs three frescoes from the life of St. John the Baptist (The Annunciation of John’s Birth to his father Zacharias; The Birth and Naming of John; The Feast of Herod) on the left wall with three scenes from the life of St. John the Evangelist (The Visions of John on Ephesus; The Raising of Drusiana; The Ascension of John) on the right wall. The choice of scenes has been related to both the patrons and the Franciscans.Because of the serious condition of the frescoes, it is difficult to discuss Giotto’s style in the chapel, although the frescoes show signs of his typical interest in controlled naturalism and psychological penetration. The Peruzzi Chapel was especially renowned during Renaissance times. Giotto’s compositions influenced Masaccio’s Brancacci Chapels, and Michelangelo is known to have studied the frescoes.

The Bardi Chapel depicts the life of St. Francis, following a similar iconography to the frescoes in the Upper Church at Assisi, dating from 20–30 years earlier. A comparison makes apparent the greater attention given by Giotto to expression in the human figures and the simpler, better-integrated architectural forms. Giotto represents only 7 scenes from the saint’s life here, and the narrative is arranged somewhat unusually. The story starts on the upper left wall with St. Francis Renounces his Father. It continues across the chapel to the upper right wall with the Approval of the Franciscan Rule, moves down the right wall to the Trial by Fire, across the chapel again to the left wall for the Appearance at Arles, down the left wall to the Death of St. Francis, and across once more to the posthumous Visions of Fra Agostino and the Bishop of Assisi. The Stigmatization of St. Francis, which chronologically belongs between the Appearance at Arles and the Death, is located outside the chapel, above the entrance arch. This arrangement encourages viewers to link scenes together: to pair frescoes across the chapel space or relate triads of frescoes along each wall. These linkings suggest meaningful symbolic relationships between different events in St. Francis’s life.

In 1320 Giotto finished the Stefaneschi Triptych, now in the Vatican Museum, for Cardinal Giacomo (or Jacopo) Gaetano Stefaneschi, who also commissioned him to decorate the apse of St. Peter’s Basilica with a cycle of frescoes that were destroyed during the 16th century renovation. According to Vasari, Giotto remained in Rome for six years, subsequently receiving numerous commissions in Italy and in the Papal seat at Avignon, though some of these works are now recognized to be by other artists.

In 1328 the altarpiece of the Baroncelli Chapel in Santa Croce, Florence was completed. This work, previously ascribed to Giotto, is now believed to be mostly a work by assistants, including Taddeo Gaddi who later frescoed the chapel). Giotto was called by King Robert of Anjou to Naples where he remained with a group of pupils until 1333. Few of Giotto’s Neapolitan works have survived: a fragment of a fresco portraying the Lamentation of Christ in the church of Santa Chiara, and the Illustrious Men painted on the windows of the Santa Barbara Chapel of Castel Nuovo (which are usually attributed to his pupils). In 1332 King Robert named him “first court painter” with a yearly pension.

After Naples Giotto stayed for a while in Bologna, where he painted a Polyptych for the church of Santa Maria degli Angeli, and, according to the sources, a lost decoration for the Chapel in the Cardinal Legate’s Castle.

In 1334 Giotto was appointed chief architect to Florence Cathedral, of which the Campanile (founded by him on July 18, 1334) bears his name, but was not completed to his design.

Before 1337 he was in Milan with Azzone Visconti, though no trace of works by him remain in the city. His last known work (with assistants’ help) is the decoration of Podestà Chapel in the Bargello, Florence.

Life and Paintings of Giotto Di Bondone (12)

Life and Paintings of Giotto Di Bondone

In his final years Giotto had become friends with Boccaccio and Sacchetti, who featured him in their stories. In The Divine Comedy, Dante acknowledged the greatness of his living contemporary through the words of a painter in Purgatorio (XI, 94–96): “Cimabue believed that he held the field/In painting, and now Giotto has the cry,/ So the fame of the former is obscure.”

Giotto died in January 1337. According to Vasari, Giotto was buried in Santa Maria del Fiore, the Cathedral of Florence, on the left of the entrance and with the spot marked by a white marble plaque. According to other sources, he was buried in the Church of Santa Reparata. These apparently contradictory reports are explained by the fact that the remains of Santa Reparata lie directly beneath the Cathedral and the church continued in use while the construction of the cathedral was proceeding in the early 14th century.

During an excavation in the 1970s bones were discovered beneath the paving of Santa Reparata at a spot close to the location given by Vasari, but unmarked on either level. Forensic examination of the bones by anthropologist Francesco Mallegni and a team of experts in 2000 brought to light some facts that seemed to confirm that they were those of a painter, particularly the range of chemicals, including arsenic and lead, both commonly found in paint, that the bones had absorbed.

The bones were those of a very short man, of little over four feet tall, who may have suffered from a form of congenital dwarfism. This supports a tradition at the Church of Santa Croce that a dwarf who appears in one of the frescoes is a self-portrait of Giotto. On the other hand, a man wearing a white hat who appears in the Last Judgement at Padua is also said to be a portrait of Giotto. The appearance of this man conflicts with the image in Santa Croce.

Vasari, drawing on a description by Boccaccio, who was a friend of Giotto, says of him that “there was no uglier man in the city of Florence” and indicates that his children were also plain in appearance. There is a story that Dante visited Giotto while he was painting the Scrovegni Chapel and, seeing the artist’s children underfoot asked how a man who painted such beautiful pictures could create such plain children, to which Giotto, who according to Vasari was always a wit, replied “I made them in the dark.”

Life and Paintings of Giotto Di Bondone (13)

Life and Paintings of Giotto Di Bondone

Forensic reconstruction of the skeleton at Santa Reperata showed a short man with a very large head, a large hooked nose and one eye more prominent than the other. The bones of the neck indicated that the man spent a lot of time with his head tilted backwards. The front teeth were worn in a way consistent with frequently holding a brush between the teeth. The man was about 70 at the time of death.

While the Italian researchers were convinced that the body belonged to Giotto and it was reburied with honour near the grave of Brunelleschi, others have been highly skeptical.

 

Life and Paintings of Giotto Di Bondone (15)

Life and Paintings of Giotto Di Bondone

 

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Article publié pour la première fois le 12/03/2014

Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn - The Nightwatch

Masters of Art: Rembrandt (1606 – 1669)

Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn (15 July 1606  – 4 October 1669) was a Dutch painter and etcher. He is generally considered one of the greatest painters and printmakers in European art history and the most important in Dutch history.

His contributions to art came in a period of great wealth and cultural achievement that historians call the Dutch Golden Age, when Dutch Golden Age painting, although in many ways antithetical to the Baroque style that dominated Europe, was extremely prolific and innovative.

Movements: Baroque, Pietism, Gesturalism, Emotionalism, Sectarianism

Having achieved youthful success as a portrait painter, Rembrandt’s later years were marked by personal tragedy and financial hardships. Yet his etchings and paintings were popular throughout his lifetime, his reputation as an artist remained high, and for twenty years he taught many important Dutch painters.

Rembrandt’s greatest creative triumphs are exemplified especially in his portraits of his contemporaries, self-portraits and illustrations of scenes from the Bible. His self-portraits form a unique and intimate biography, in which the artist surveyed himself without vanity and with the utmost sincerity.

In his paintings and prints he exhibited knowledge of classical iconography, which he molded to fit the requirements of his own experience; thus, the depiction of a biblical scene was informed by Rembrandt’s knowledge of the specific text, his assimilation of classical composition, and his observations of Amsterdam’s Jewish population. Because of his empathy for the human condition, he has been called “one of the great prophets of civilization.”

Rembrandt - Christ in the Storm on the Sea of Galilee

Rembrandt – Christ in the Storm on the Sea of Galilee

Life

Rembrandt was born on 15 July 1606 in Leiden, in the Dutch Republic, nowadays the Netherlands. He was the ninth child born to Harmen Gerritszoon van Rijn and Neeltgen Willemsdochter van Zuytbrouck.

His family was quite well-to-do; his father was a miller and his mother was a baker’s daughter. As a boy he attended Latin school and was enrolled at the University of Leiden, although according to a contemporary he had a greater inclination towards painting; he was soon apprenticed to a Leiden history painter, Jacob van Swanenburgh, with whom he spent three years. After a brief but important apprenticeship of six months with the famous painter Pieter Lastman in Amsterdam, Rembrandt opened a studio in Leiden in 1624 or 1625, which he shared with friend and colleague Jan Lievens. In 1627, Rembrandt began to accept students, among them Gerrit Dou.

In 1629, Rembrandt was discovered by the statesman Constantijn Huygens, the father of Christiaan Huygens (a famous Dutch mathematician and physicist), who procured for Rembrandt important commissions from the court of The Hague. As a result of this connection, Prince Frederik Hendrik continued to purchase paintings from Rembrandt until 1646.

At the end of 1631 Rembrandt moved to Amsterdam, then rapidly expanding as the new business capital of the Netherlands, and began to practice as a professional portraitist for the first time, with great success. He initially stayed with an art dealer, Hendrick van Uylenburg, and in 1634, married Hendrick’s cousin, Saskia van Uylenburg.

Saskia came from a good family: her father had been lawyer and burgemeester (mayor) of Leeuwarden. When Saskia, as the youngest daughter, became an orphan, she lived with an older sister in Het Bildt. Rembrandt and Saskia were married in the local church of St. Annaparochie without the presence of Rembrandt’s relatives.

In the same year, Rembrandt became a burgess of Amsterdam and a member of the local guild of painters. He also acquired a number of students, among them Ferdinand Bol and Govert Flinck.

Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn - Philosopher in Meditation

Rembrandt – Philosopher in Meditation

In 1635 Rembrandt and Saskia moved into their own house, renting in fashionable Nieuwe Doelenstraat. In 1639 they moved to a prominent house (now the Rembrandt House Museum) in the Jodenbreestraat in what was becoming the Jewish quarter; the mortgage to finance the 13,000 guilder purchase would be a primary cause for later financial difficulties.

Rembrandt should easily have been able to pay the house off with his large income, but it appears his spending always kept pace with his income, and he may have made some unsuccessful investments. It was there that Rembrandt frequently sought his Jewish neighbors to model for his Old Testament scenes. Although they were by now affluent, the couple suffered several personal setbacks; their son Rumbartus died two months after his birth in 1635 and their daughter Cornelia died at just three weeks of age in 1638.

In 1640, they had a second daughter, also named Cornelia, who died after living barely over a month. Only their fourth child, Titus, who was born in 1641, survived into adulthood. Saskia died in 1642 soon after Titus’s birth, probably from tuberculosis. Rembrandt’s drawings of her on her sick and death bed are among his most moving works.

During Saskia’s illness, Geertje Dircx was hired as Titus’ caretaker and nurse and also became Rembrandt’s lover. She would later charge Rembrandt with breach of promise and was awarded alimony of 200 guilders a year. Rembrandt worked to have her committed for twelve years to an asylum or poorhouse (called a “bridewell”) at Gouda, after learning she had pawned jewelry that had once belonged to Saskia and that he had given to her.

Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn - The Anatomy Lecture of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp

Rembrandt – The Anatomy Lecture of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp

In the late 1640s Rembrandt began a relationship with the much younger Hendrickje Stoffels, who had initially been his maid. In 1654 they had a daughter, Cornelia, bringing Hendrickje a summons from the Reformed Church to answer the charge “that she had committed the acts of a whore with Rembrandt the painter”. She admitted this and was banned from receiving communion. Rembrandt was not summoned to appear for the Church council because he was not a member of the Reformed Church.

The two were considered legally wed under common law, but Rembrandt had not married Henrickje, so as not to lose access to a trust set up for Titus in the son’s mother’s will.

Rembrandt lived beyond his means, buying art (including bidding up his own work), prints (often used in his paintings), and rarities, which probably caused a court arrangement to avoid his bankruptcy in 1656, by selling most of his paintings and large collection of antiquities. The sale list survives and gives us a good insight into Rembrandt’s collections, which apart from Old Master paintings and drawings included busts of the Roman Emperors, suits of Japanese armor among many objects from Asia, and collections of natural history and minerals; the prices realized in the sales in 1657 and 1658 were disappointing.

Rembrandt was forced to sell his house and his printing-press and move to more modest accommodation on the Rozengracht in 1660.

The authorities and his creditors were generally accommodating to him, except for the Amsterdam painters’ guild, who introduced a new rule that no one in Rembrandt’s circumstances could trade as a painter. To get round this, Hendrickje and Titus set up a business as art-dealers in 1660, with Rembrandt as an employee.

In 1661 Rembrandt (or rather the new business) was contracted to complete work for the newly built city hall, but only after Govert Flinck, the artist previously commissioned, died without beginning to paint. The resulting work, The Conspiracy of Claudius Civilis, was rejected and returned to the painter; the surviving fragment is only a fraction of the whole work.

It was around this time that Rembrandt took on his last apprentice, Aert de Gelder. In 1662 he was still fulfilling major commissions for portraits and other works. When Cosimo III de’ Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany came to Amsterdam in 1667, he visited Rembrandt at his house.

Rembrandt outlived both Hendrickje, who died in 1663, and Titus, who died in 1668, leaving a baby daughter. He died within a year of his son, on October 4, 1669 in Amsterdam, and was buried in an unmarked grave in the Westerkerk.

Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn - The Risen Christ Appearing to Mary Magdalen

Rembrandt – The Risen Christ Appearing to Mary Magdalen

Themes and styles

Throughout his career Rembrandt took as his primary subjects the themes of portraiture, landscape and narrative painting. For the last, he was especially praised by his contemporaries, who extolled him as a masterly interpreter of biblical stories for his skill in representing emotions and attention to detail.

Stylistically, his paintings progressed from the early “smooth” manner, characterized by fine technique in the portrayal of illusionistic form, to the late “rough” treatment of richly variegated paint surfaces, which allowed for an illusionism of form suggested by the tactile quality of the paint itself.

A parallel development may be seen in Rembrandt’s skill as a printmaker. In the etchings of his maturity, particularly from the late 1640s onward, the freedom and breadth of his drawings and paintings found expression in the print medium as well. The works encompass a wide range of subject matter and technique, sometimes leaving large areas of white paper to suggest space, at other times employing complex webs of line to produce rich dark tones.

It was during Rembrandt’s Leiden period (1625–1631) that Lastman’s influence was most prominent. It is also likely that at this time Lievens had a strong impact on his work as well.

Paintings were rather small, but rich in details (for example, in costumes and jewelry). Religious and allegorical themes were favored, as were tronies.

In 1626 Rembrandt produced his first etchings, the wide dissemination of which would largely account for his international fame. In 1629 he completed Judas Repentant, Returning the Pieces of Silver and The Artist in His Studio, works that evidence his interest in the handling of light and variety of paint application, and constitute the first major progress in his development as a painter.

From 1640 his work became less exuberant and more sober in tone, possibly reflecting personal tragedy. Biblical scenes were now derived more often from the New Testament than the Old Testament, as had been the case before. In 1642 he painted The Night Watch, the most notable of the important group portrait commissions which he received in this period, and through which he sought to find solutions to compositional and narrative problems that had been attempted in previous works.

In the decade following the Night Watch, Rembrandt’s paintings varied greatly in size, subject, and style. The previous tendency to create dramatic effects primarily by strong contrasts of light and shadow gave way to the use of frontal lighting and larger and more saturated areas of color. Simultaneously, figures came to be placed parallel to the picture plane. These changes can be seen as a move toward a classical mode of composition and, considering the more expressive use of brushwork as well, may indicate a familiarity with Venetian art (Susanna and the Elders, 1637–47)

Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn - The Nightwatch

Rembrandt – The Nightwatch

In the 1650s, Rembrandt’s style changed again. Colors became richer and brush strokes more pronounced. With these changes, Rembrandt distanced himself from earlier work and current fashion, which increasingly inclined toward fine, detailed works. His singular approach to paint application may have been suggested in part by familiarity with the work of Titian, and could be seen in the context of the then current discussion of ‘finish’ and surface quality of paintings. Contemporary accounts sometimes remark disapprovingly of the coarseness of Rembrandt’s brushwork, and the artist himself was said to have dissuaded visitors from looking too closely at his paintings.

The tactile manipulation of paint may hearken to medieval procedures, when mimetic effects of rendering informed a painting’s surface. The end result is a richly varied handling of paint, deeply layered and often apparently haphazard, which suggests form and space in both an illusory and highly individual manner.

In later years biblical themes were still depicted often, but emphasis shifted from dramatic group scenes to intimate portrait-like figures (James the Apostle, 1661). In his last years, Rembrandt painted his most deeply reflective self-portraits (from 1652 to 1669 he painted fifteen), and several moving images of both men and women.

Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn - Self-Portrait

Rembrandt – Self-Portrait

 

Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn - Two Scholars Disputing

Rembrandt – Two Scholars Disputing

Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn - Adoration of the Shepherds

Rembrandt – Adoration of the Shepherds

Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn - Apostle Paul in Prison

Rembrandt – Apostle Paul in Prison

Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn - Apostle Paul

Rembrandt – Apostle Paul

Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn - Belshazzar's Feast

Rembrandt – Belshazzar’s Feast

Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn - Christ Driving the Money-Changers from the Temple

Rembrandt – Christ Driving the Money-Changers from the Temple

Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn - Diana Bathing

Rembrandt – Diana Bathing

Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn - Holy Family

Rembrandt – Holy Family

Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn - Rembrandt and Saskia in the Scene of the Prodigal Son in the Tavern

Rembrandt – Rembrandt and Saskia in the Scene of the Prodigal Son in the Tavern

Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn - Sampling Officials of the Drapers' Guild

Rembrandt – Sampling Officials of the Drapers’ Guild

Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn - Samson and Delilah

Rembrandt – Samson and Delilah

Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn - Susanna and the Elders

Rembrandt – Susanna and the Elders

Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn - The Conspiration of the Bataves

Rembrandt – The Conspiration of the Bataves

Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn - The Raising of Lazarus

Rembrandt -The Raising of Lazarus

 

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Article publié pour la première fois le 04/12/2012

Hieronymus Bosch - The Marriage at Cana

Life and Paintings of Hieronymus Bosch (1450 – 1516)

Hieronymus Bosch  born Jheronimus van Aken (c. 1450 – 9 August 1516), was a Dutch painter. His work is known for its use of fantastic imagery to illustrate moral and religious concepts and narratives.

Movements: Renaissance

Little is known of Bosch’s life or training. He left behind no letters or diaries, and what has been identified has been taken from brief references to him in the municipal records of ‘s-Hertogenbosch, and in the account books of the local order of the Brotherhood of Our Lady. Nothing is known of his personality or his thoughts on the meaning of his art. Bosch’s date of birth has not been determined with certainty. It is estimated at c. 1450 on the basis of a hand drawn portrait (which may be a self-portrait) made shortly before his death in 1516. The drawing shows the artist at an advanced age, probably in his late sixties.

Sometime between 1479 and 1481, Bosch married Aleyt Goyaerts van den Meerveen, who was a few years older than the artist. The couple moved to the nearby town of Oirschot, where his wife had inherited a house and land from her wealthy family.

 Garden of earthly delights

Garden of earthly delights

Bosch produced several triptychs. Among his most famous is The Garden of Earthly Delights. This painting, for which the original title has not survived, depicts paradise with Adam and Eve and many wondrous animals on the left panel, the earthly delights with numerous nude figures and tremendous fruit and birds on the middle panel, and hell with depictions of fantastic punishments of the various types of sinners on the right panel. When the exterior panels are closed the viewer can see, painted in grisaille, God creating the Earth. These paintings—especially the Hell panel—are painted in a comparatively sketchy manner which contrasts with the traditional Flemish style of paintings, where the smooth surface—achieved by the application of multiple transparent glazes—conceals the brushwork. In this painting, and more powerfully in works such as his Temptation of St. Anthony (Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga, Lisbon), Bosch draws with his brush. Not surprisingly, Bosch is also one of the most revolutionary draftsmen in the history of art, producing some of the first autonomous sketches in Northern Europe.

Bosch never dated his paintings. But—unusual for the time—he seems to have signed several of them, although other signatures purporting to be his are certainly not. Fewer than 25 paintings remain today that can be attributed to him. In the late sixteenth-century, Philip II of Spain acquired many of Bosch’s paintings, including some probably commissioned and collected by Spaniards active in Bosch’s hometown; as a result, the Prado Museum in Madrid now owns The Adoration of the Magi, The Garden of Earthly Delights, the tabletop painting of The Seven Deadly Sins and the Four Last Things, the The Haywain Triptych and The Stone Operation.

Interpretations

In the twentieth century, when changing artistic tastes made artists like Bosch more palatable to the European imagination, it was sometimes argued that Bosch’s art was inspired by heretical points of view (e.g., the ideas of the Cathars and putative Adamites) as well as of obscure hermetic practices. Again, since Erasmus had been educated at one of the houses of the Brethren of the Common Life in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, and the town was religiously progressive, some writers have found it unsurprising that strong parallels exist between the caustic writing of Erasmus and the often savage painting of Bosch. “Although the Brethren remained loyal to the Pope, they still saw it as their duty to denounce the abuses and scandalous behaviour of many priests: the corruption which both Erasmus and Bosch satirised in their work”

Others, following a strain of Bosch-interpretation datable already to the sixteenth-century, continued to think his work was created merely to titillate and amuse, much like the “grotteschi” of the Italian Renaissance. While the art of the older masters was based in the physical world of everyday experience, Bosch confronts his viewer with, in the words of the art historian Walter Gibson, “a world of dreams [and] nightmares in which forms seem to flicker and change before our eyes.” In one of the first known accounts of Bosch’s paintings, in 1560 the Spaniard Felipe de Guevara wrote that Bosch was regarded merely as “the inventor of monsters and chimeras”. In the early seventeenth century, the Dutch art historian Karel van Mander described Bosch’s work as comprising “wondrous and strange fantasies”; however, he concluded that the paintings are “often less pleasant than gruesome to look at.”

In recent decades, scholars have come to view Bosch’s vision as less fantastic, and accepted that his art reflects the orthodox religious belief systems of his age.

His depictions of sinful humanity, his conceptions of Heaven and Hell are now seen as consistent with those of late medieval didactic literature and sermons. Most writers attach a more profound significance to his paintings than had previously been supposed, and attempt to interpret it in terms of a late medieval morality. It is generally accepted that Bosch’s art was created to teach specific moral and spiritual truths in the manner of other Northern Renaissance figures, such as the poet Robert Henryson, and that the images rendered have precise and premeditated significance. According to Dirk Bax, Bosch’s paintings often represent visual translations of verbal metaphors and puns drawn from both biblical and folkloric sources. However, the conflict of interpretations that his works still elicit raise profound questions about the nature of “ambiguity” art of his period.

Let’s see some of his most important works:

Triptych of the Martyrdom of St Liberata

Triptych of the Martyrdom of St Liberata

The Ship of Fools

The Ship of Fools

The Marriage at Cana

The Marriage at Cana

The Magician

The Magician

The Last Judgment

The Last Judgment

The Hell and the Flood

The Hell and the Flood

The Hay Wagon

The Hay Wagon

The Adoration of the Magi Triptych

The Adoration of the Magi Triptych

The Adoration of the Child

The Adoration of the Child

Saint John the Evangelist on Patmos

Saint John the Evangelist on Patmos

Saint John the Baptist

Saint John the Baptist

Follower of Jheronimus Bosch

Follower of Jheronimus Bosch

Death and the Miser

Death and the Miser

 Christ on the Cross, with the Virgin, St. John, St. Peter and a Youthful Donor

Christ on the Cross, with the Virgin, St. John, St. Peter and a Youthful Donor

Christ Mocked (Crowning with Thorns)

Christ Mocked (Crowning with Thorns)

 Christ Carrying the Cross

Christ Carrying the Cross

Hermit Saints Triptych

Hermit Saints Triptych

The exact number of Bosch’s surviving works has been a subject of considerable debate. He signed only seven of his paintings, and there is uncertainty whether all the paintings once ascribed to him were actually from his hand. It is known that from the early sixteenth century onwards numerous copies and variations of his paintings began to circulate. In addition, his style was highly influential, and was widely imitated by his numerous followers.

Over the years, scholars have attributed to him fewer and fewer of the works once thought to be his, and today only 25 are definitively attributed to him.

Hope you enjoyed the article as much as i did compiling the info and the images! See you next time!

Articles’ Images are in the public domain because their copyright has expired, and are available through Wikimedia

This Articles’ text is licensed under the Creative Commons BY-SA License since it partially uses material from Wikipedia.

Article publié pour la première fois le 27/05/2014

Annibale Carracci - The Mystic Marriage of St Catherine

Masters of Art: Annibale Carracci (1560 – 1609)

Annibale Carracci ( November 3, 1560 – July 15, 1609) was an Italian Baroque painter. Annibale Carracci was born in Bologna, and in all likelihood first apprenticed within his family. In 1582, Annibale, his brother Agostino, and his cousin Ludovico Carracci opened a painters’ studio, initially called by some the Academy of the Desiderosi (desirous of fame and learning) and subsequently the Incamminati (progressives; literally “of those opening a new way”).

Movements: Baroque, Academicism, Classicism

Annibale Carracci - Landscape with the Toilet of Venus

Annibale Carracci – Landscape with the Toilet of Venus

While the Carraccis laid emphasis on the typically Florentine linear draftsmanship, as exemplified by Raphael and Andrea del Sarto, their interest in the glimmering colours and mistier edges of objects derived from the Venetian painters, notably the works of Venetian Oil Painter Titian, which Annibale and Agostino studied during their travels around Italy in 1580-81 at the behest of the elder Caracci Lodovico. This eclecticism was to become the defining trait of the artists of the Baroque Emilian or Bolognese School.In many early Bolognese works by the Carraccis, it is difficult to distinguish the individual contributions made by each.

For example, the frescoes on the story of Jason for Palazzo Fava in Bologna (c. 1583-84) are signed Carracci, which suggests that they all contributed. In 1585, Annibale completed an altarpiece of the Baptism of Christ for the church of San Gregorio in Bologna.

In 1587, he painted the Assumption for the church of San Rocco in Reggio Emilia.The 17th century critic Giovanni Bellori, in his survey titled Idea, praised Carracci as the paragon of Italian painters, who had fostered a “renaissance” of the great tradition of Raphael and Michelangelo. On the other hand, while admitting Caravaggio‘s talents as a painter, Bellori deplored his over-naturalistic style, if not his turbulent morals and persona. He thus viewed the Caravaggisti styles with the same gloomy dismay. Painters were urged to depict the Platonic ideal of beauty, not Roman street-walkers. Yet Carracci and Caravaggio patrons and pupils did not all fall into irreconcilable camps. Contemporary patrons, such as Marquess Vincenzo Giustiniani, found both applied showed excellence in maniera and modeling.

Annibale Carracci - Assumption of the Virgin

Annibale Carracci – Assumption of the Virgin

In our century, observers have warmed to the rebel myth of Caravaggio, and often ignore the profound influence on art that Carracci had. Caravaggio almost never worked in fresco, regarded as the test of a great painter’s mettle. On the other hand, Carracci’s best works are in fresco.

Thus the somber canvases of Caravaggio, with benighted backgrounds, are suited to the contemplative altars, and not to well-lit walls or ceilings such as this one in the Farnese. Wittkower was surprised that a Farnese cardinal surrounded himself with frescoes of libidinous themes, indicative of a “considerable relaxation of counter-reformatory morality”. This thematic choice suggests Carracci may have been more rebellious relative to the often-solemn religious passion of Caravaggio’s canvases. Wittkower states Carracci’s “frescoes convey the impression of a tremendous joie de vivre, a new blossoming of vitality and of an energy long repressed”.

Today, unfortunately, most connoisseurs making the pilgrimage to the Cerasi Chapel in Santa Maria del Popolo would ignore Carracci’s Assumption of the Virgin altarpiece (1600–1601) and focus on the stunning flanking Caravaggio works.It is instructive to compare Carracci’s Assumption with Caravaggio’s Death of the Virgin. Among early contemporaries, Carracci would have been an innovator.

He re-enlivened Michelangelo’s visual fresco vocabulary, and posited a muscular and vivaciously brilliant pictorial landscape, which had been becoming progressively crippled into a Mannerist tangle. While Michelangelo could bend and contort the body into all the possible perspectives, Carracci in the Farnese frescoes had shown how it could dance. The “ceiling”-frontiers, the wide expanses of walls to be frescoed would, for the next decades, be thronged by the monumental brilliance of the Carracci followers, and not Caravaggio’s followers.

Let’s now enjoy his most celebrated works:

 

Annibale Carracci - Two Children Teasing a Cat

Annibale Carracci – Two Children Teasing a Cat

Annibale Carracci - The Temptation of St Anthony Abbot

Annibale Carracci – The Temptation of St Anthony Abbot

Annibale Carracci - The Samaritan Woman at the Well

Annibale Carracci – The Samaritan Woman at the Well

Annibale Carracci - The Penitent Magdalen in a Landscape

Annibale Carracci – The Penitent Magdalen in a Landscape

Annibale Carracci - The Mystic Marriage of St Catherine

Annibale Carracci – The Mystic Marriage of St Catherine

Annibale Carracci - The Choice of Heracles

Annibale Carracci – The Choice of Heracles

Annibale Carracci - The Beaneater

Annibale Carracci – The Beaneater

Annibale Carracci - The Baptism of Christ

Annibale Carracci – The Baptism of Christ

Annibale Carracci - Sleeping Venus

Annibale Carracci – Sleeping Venus

Annibale Carracci - Madonna Enthroned with St Matthew

Annibale Carracci – Madonna Enthroned with St Matthew

Annibale Carracci - Holy Women at Christ' s Tomb

Annibale Carracci – Holy Women at Christ’ s Tomb

Annibale Carracci - Christ in Glory

Annibale Carracci – Christ in Glory

Annibale Carracci - Venus and Adonis

Annibale Carracci – Venus and Adonis

It is not clear how much work Annibale completed after finishing the major gallery in the Palazzo Farnese. In 1606, Annibale signs a Madonna of the bowl. However, in a letter from April 1606, Cardinal Odoardo Farnese bemoans that a “heavy melancholic humor” prevented Annibale from painting for him. Throughout 1607, Annibale is unable to complete a commission for the Duke of Modena of a Nativity. There is a note from 1608, where in Annibale stipulates to a pupil that he will spend at least two hours a day in his studio.

There is little documentation from the man or time to explain why his brush was stilled. Speculation abounds.

In 1609, Annibale died and was buried, according to his wish, near Raphael in the Pantheon of Rome. It is a measure of his achievement that artists as diverse as Bernini, Poussin, and Rubens praised his work. Many of his assistants or pupils in projects at the Palazzo Farnese and Herrera Chapel would become among the pre-eminent artists of the next decades, including Domenichino, Francesco Albani, Giovanni Lanfranco, Domenico Viola, Guido Reni, Sisto Badalocchio, and others.

Hope you enjoyed the article as much as i did compiling the info and the images! See you next time!

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Article publié pour la première fois le 19/10/2012

Claude Lorrain - Aeneas Farewell to Dido in Carthago

Life and Paintings of Claude Lorrain (1600 – 1682)

Claude Lorrain ( born Claude Gellée dit le Lorrain; traditionally just Claude in English; c. 1600 – 23 November 1682) was a French painter, draughtsman and engraver of the Baroque era. He spent most of his life in Italy, and is admired for his achievements in landscape painting.

Claude Lorrain - Aeneas Farewell to Dido in Carthago

Claude Lorrain – Aeneas Farewell to Dido in Carthago

The earliest biographies of Claude are found in Joachim von Sandrart’s Teutsche Academie (1675) and Filippo Baldinucci’s Notizie de’ professori del disegno da Cimabue in qua (1682–1728). Both Sandrart and Baldinucci knew the painter personally.  Claude’s tombstone gives 1600 as his year of birth, but contemporary sources indicate a later date, circa 1604 or 1605. He was born in the small village of Chamagne, Vosges, then part of the Duchy of Lorraine. He was the third of five sons of Jean Gellée and Anne Padose. According to Baldinucci, Claude’s parents both died when he was twelve years old, and he then lived at Freiburg with an elder brother (Jean Gellée). Jean was an artist and taught Claude the rudiments of his profession. Claude then travelled to Italy, first working for Goffredo Wals in Naples, then joining the workshop of Agostino Tassi in Rome. Sandrart’s account of Claude’s early years, however, is quite different. According to it, Claude did not do well at the village school and was apprenticed to a pastry baker. With a company of fellow cooks and bakers, Claude travelled to Rome and was eventually employed as servant and cook by Tassi, who at some point taught him drawing and painting. While the details of Claude’s pre-1620s life remain unclear, most modern scholars agree that he was apprenticed to Wals around 1620–22, and to Tassi from circa 1622/23 to 1625. Finally, Baldinucci reports that in 1625 Claude undertook a voyage back to Lorraine to study with Claude Deruet, but left his studio comparatively soon, in 1626 or 1627. He returned to Rome and settled in a house in the Via Margutta, near the Spanish Steps and Trinita dei Monti.

On his travels, Claude briefly stayed in Marseilles, Genoa, and Venice, and had the opportunity to study nature in France, Italy, and Bavaria. Sandrart met Claude in late 1620s and reported that by then the artist had a habit of sketching outdoors, particularly at dawn and at dusk, making oil studies on the spot. The first dated painting by Claude, Landscape with Cattle and Peasants (Philadelphia Museum of Art) from 1629, already shows well-developed style and technique. In the next few years his reputation was growing steadily, as evidenced by commissions from the French ambassador in Rome (1633) and the King of Spain (1634–35). Baldinucci reported that a particularly important commission came from Cardinal Bentivoglio, who was impressed by the two landscapes Claude painted for him, and recommended the artist to Pope Urban VIII. Four paintings were made for the Pope in 1635–38. From this point, Claude’s reputation was secured. He went on to fulfill many important commissions, both Italian and international. In 1636 he started cataloguing his works, making tinted outline drawings in six paper books prepared for this purpose of all pictures sent to different countries, and on the back of each drawing he wrote the name of the purchaser. These volumes Claude named the Liber Veritatis.

Claude Lorrain - Seaport with the Embarkation of the Queen of Sheba

Claude Lorrain – Seaport with the Embarkation of the Queen of Sheba

In 1650 Claude moved to a neighboring house in Via Paolina (today Via del Babuino), where he lived until his death. The artist never married, but adopted an orphan child, Agnese, in 1658; she may have been Claude’s own daughter with a servant of the same name. Sons of Claude’s brothers joined the household in 1662 (Jean, son of Denis Gellée) and around 1680 (Joseph, son of Melchior Gellée). In 1663 Claude, who suffered much from gout, fell seriously ill, his condition becoming so serious that he even drafted a last will, but he managed to recover. He was painting less after 1670, but works completed after that date include important pictures such as Coast View with Perseus and the Origin of Coral (1674), painted for the celebrated arts patron Camillo Massimo, and Ascanius Shooting the Stag of Sylvia, Claude’s last painting, commissioned by Lorenzo Onofrio Colonna. The artist died in his house on 23 November 1682. He was originally buried in Trinita dei Monti, but his remains were moved in 1840 to San Luigi dei Francesi.

Critical assessment and legacy

Claude Lorrain - Landscape with Aeneas at Delos

Claude Lorrain – Landscape with Aeneas at Delos

In Rome, it was not until the mid-17th century that landscapes were deemed fit for serious painting. Northern Europeans working there, such as Elsheimer and Brill, had made such views pre-eminent in some of their paintings (as well as Da Vinci in his private drawings  or Baldassarre Peruzzi in his decorative frescoes of vedute); but not until Annibale Carracci and his pupil Domenichino do we see landscape become the focus of a canvas by a major Italian artist. Even with the latter two, as with Claude, the stated themes of the paintings were mythic or religious. Landscape as a subject was distinctly un-classical and secular. The former quality was not consonant with Renaissance art, which boasted its rivalry with the work of the ancients. The second quality had less public patronage in Counter-Reformation Rome, which prized subjects worthy of “high painting,” typically religious or mythic scenes. Pure landscape, like pure still-life or genre painting, reflected an aesthetic viewpoint regarded as lacking in moral seriousness. Rome, the theological and philosophical center of 17th century Italian art, was not quite ready for such a break with tradition.

In this matter of the importance of landscape, Claude was prescient. Living in a pre-Romantic era, he did not depict those uninhabited panoramas that were to be esteemed in later centuries, such as with Salvatore Rosa. He painted a pastoral world of fields and valleys not distant from castles and towns. If the ocean horizon is represented, it is from the setting of a busy port. Perhaps to feed the public need for paintings with noble themes, his pictures include demigods, heroes and saints, even though his abundant drawings and sketchbooks prove that he was more interested in scenography.

Claude Lorrain was described as kind to his pupils and hard-working; keenly observant, but an unlettered man until his death.

John Constable described Claude as “the most perfect landscape painter the world ever saw”, and declared that in Claude’s landscape “all is lovely – all amiable – all is amenity and repose; the calm sunshine of the heart”.

Claude Lorrain - Imaginary View of Tivoli

Claude Lorrain – Imaginary View of Tivoli

 

Claude Lorrain - Embarkation of St. Paula Romana at Ostia

Claude Lorrain – Embarkation of St. Paula Romana at Ostia

 

Claude Lorrain - Port Scene with the Departure of Ulysses from the Land of the Feaci

Claude Lorrain – Port Scene with the Departure of Ulysses from the Land of the Feaci

 

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This Articles’ text is licensed under the Creative Commons BY-SA License since it partially uses material from Wikipedia.

Article publié pour la première fois le 23/11/2013

Rogier van der Weyden - Der hl. Lukas zeichnet die Madonna

Masters of Art: Rogier van der Weyden (1399 – 1464)

Rogier van der Weyden or Roger de la Pasture (1399 – 1464) was an Early Flemish painter. His surviving works consist mainly of religious triptychs, altarpieces and commissioned single and diptych portraits. Although his life was generally uneventful, he was highly successful and internationally famous in his lifetime. His paintings were exported – or taken – to Italy and Spain and he received commissions from, amongst others, Philip the Good, Netherlandish nobility and foreign princes.

Movements: Renaissance, Naturalism

Chroniques de Hainaut

Chroniques de Hainaut

By the latter half of the 15th century, he had eclipsed Jan van Eyck in popularity. However his fame lasted only until the 17th century, and largely due to changing taste, he was almost totally forgotten by the mid 18th century. His reputation was slowly rebuilt during the following 200 years; today he is known, with Robert Campin and van Eyck, as the third (by birth date) of the three great Early Flemish artists (‘Vlaamse Primitieven’), and widely as the most influential Northern painter of the 15th century.

Due to the loss of archives in 1695 and again in 1940, there are few certain facts of van der Weyden’s life. Rogelet de le Pasture (Roger of the Pasture) was born in Tournai (in present-day Belgium) in 1399 or 1400. His parents were Henri de le Pasture and Agnes de Watrélos. He married around 1426, to Elisabeth Goffaert, and was made town painter of Brussels in 1436, and changed his name from the French to the Dutch format, becoming ‘van der Weyden’. What is known of him beyond this has been woven together from secondary sources, and some of it is contestable. However the paintings now attributed to him are generally accepted, despite a tendency in the 19th century to attribute his work to others.

Van der Weyden left no self portraits. Many of his most important works were destroyed during the late 17th century. He is first mentioned in historical records in 1427 when, relatively later in life, he studied painting under Campin during 1427–32, and soon outshone his master and, later, even influenced him. After his apprenticeship he was made master of the Tournai Guild of St Luke. He moved to Brussels in 1435, where he quickly established his reputation for his technical skill and emotional use of line and colour. He completed his Deposition in 1435, which as he had deliberately intended, made him one of the most sought after and influential artists in northern Europe and is still considered his masterpiece.

Deposition

Deposition

Van der Weyden worked from life models, and his observations were acute, yet he often idealised certain elements of his models’ facial features, and they are typically statuesque, especially in his triptychs. All of his forms are rendered with rich, warm colourisation and a sympathetic expression, while he is known for his expressive pathos and naturalism. His portraits tend to be half length and half profile, and he is as sympathetic here as in his religious triptychs. Van der Weyden used an unusually broad range of colours and varied tones; in his finest work the same tone is not repeated in any other area of the canvas; even the whites are varied.

Lets see some of his most famous works:

Der hl. Lukas zeichnet die Madonna

Der hl. Lukas zeichnet die Madonna

Braque Family Triptych Center Pane

Braque Family Triptych Center Pane

A Man Reading (Saint Ivo)

A Man Reading (Saint Ivo)

Virgin and Child

Virgin and Child

Tríptic Abegg

Tríptic Abegg

The Magdalen Reading

The Magdalen Reading

Sts Margaret and Apollonia

Sts Margaret and Apollonia

Saint George and the Dragon

Saint George and the Dragon

Porträt einer Frau

Porträt einer Frau

 Polyptych with the Nativity

Polyptych with the Nativity

Influence

His vigorous, subtle, expressive painting and popular religious conceptions had considerable influence on European painting, not only in France and Germany but also in Italy and in Spain. Hans Memling was his greatest follower, although it is not proven that he studied under Rogier. Van der Weyden had also a large influence on the German painter and engraver Martin Schongauer whose prints were distributed all over Europe from the last decades of the 15th century. Indirectly Schongauer’s prints helped to disseminate van der Weyden’s style.

 

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This Articles’ text is licensed under the Creative Commons BY-SA License since it partially uses material from Wikipedia.

Article publié pour la première fois le 10/08/2012

Domenico Zampieri (Domenichino) - A Sibyl

Masters of Art: Domenichino (1581 – 1641)

Domenico Zampieri (or Domenichino; October 21, 1581 – April 6, 1641) was an Italian Baroque painter of the Bolognese School, or Carracci School, of painters.

Movements: Baroque

Domenico Zampieri (Domenichino) - Portrait of Cardinal Agucchi

Domenico Zampieri (Domenichino) – Portrait of Cardinal Agucchi

Domenichino was born at Bologna, son of a shoemaker, and there initially studied under Denis Calvaert. After quarreling with Calvaert, he left to work in the Accademia degli Incamminati of the Carracci where, because of his small stature, he was nicknamed Domenichino, meaning “little Domenico” in Italian. He left Bologna for Rome in 1602 and became one of the most talented apprentices to emerge from Annibale Carracci’s supervision. As a young artist in Rome he lived with his slightly older Bolognese colleagues Albani and Guido Reni, and worked alongside Lanfranco, who later would become a chief rival.

In addition to assisting Annibale with completion of his frescoes in the Galleria Farnese, including A Virgin with a Unicorn (c. 1604–05), he painted three of his own frescoes in the Loggia del Giardino of the Palazzo Farnese c. 1603–04. With the support of Monsignor Giovanni Battista Agucchi, the maggiordomo to Cardinal Aldobrandini and later Gregory XV, and Giovanni’s brother Cardinal Girolamo Agucchi, Domenichino obtained further commissions in Rome.

His most important project of the first decade was decoration of the Cappella dei Santissimi Fondatori in the medieval basilica of the Abbey of Grottaferrata (1608–10), some 20 kilometers outside Rome, where Odoardo Farnese was the titular abbot. Meanwhile he had completed frescoes c. 1604–05 in the church of Sant’Onofrio, feigned stucco decoration of 1606–07 in the Palazzo Mattei, a large scene of The Flagellation of St. Andrew at San Gregorio Magno, painted in competition with a fresco by Reni that faces it, and a ceiling with Scenes from the Life of Diana, 1609, in the Villa Odescalchi at Bassano di Sutri (today Bassano Romano).

Following Annibale Carracci’s death in 1609, Annibale’s Bolognese pupils, foremost Domenichino, Albani, Reni and Lanfranco, became the leading painters in Rome (Caravaggio had left Rome in 1606 and his followers there did not compete successfully with the Bolognese for fresco or altarpiece commissions). One of Domenichino’s masterpieces, his frescoes of Scenes of the Life of Saint Cecilia in the Polet Chapel of San Luigi dei Francesi, was commissioned in 1612 and completed in 1615. Concurrently he painted his first, and most celebrated, altarpiece, The Last Communion of St. Jerome for the church of San Girolamo della Carità (signed and dated, 1614).

Domenico Zampieri (Domenichino) - Last Communion of St. Jerome

Domenico Zampieri (Domenichino) – Last Communion of St. Jerome

Domenichino’s work, developed principally from Raphael’s and the Carracci’s examples, mirrors the theoretical ideas of G. B. Agucchi, with whom the painter collaborated on a Treatise on Painting (Domenichino’s portrait of Agucchi in York occasionally has been attributed to Annibale Carracci).

In addition to his interest in the theory of painting (he was well educated and bookish), Domenichino was devoted to music, not as a performer but to the invention of instruments suited to the stile moderno or to what Monteverdi dubbed the seconda pratica. Like Domenichino’s paintings, its sources were in ancient models and aimed at clarity of expression capable of moving its audience. As the Florentine composer Giulio Caccini held and Domenichino surely believed, the aim of the composer/artist was to “move the passion of the mind”. To achieve that goal, Domenichino paid particular attention to expressive gestures. Some 1750 drawings in the Royal Collection at Windsor Castle attest to the assiduous study underlying Domenichino’s work—figural, architectural, decorative, landscape, even caricature—and to the painter’s brilliance as a draftsman.

In Roger de Piles’ Balance of 1708, an effort to quantify and compare the greatness of painters in four categories (no artist ever achieved a score above 18 in any category), the French critic awarded Domenichino 17 points for drawing (dessein), 17 for expression, 15 for composition, yet only 9 as a colorist. Domenichino’s composite score of 58 nonetheless was surpassed only by Raphael and Rubens, and it equalled that of the Carracci.

Let’s now enjoy his most celebrated works:

Domenico Zampieri (Domenichino) - The Rest on the Flight into Egypt

Domenico Zampieri (Domenichino) – The Rest on the Flight into Egypt

Domenico Zampieri (Domenichino) - A Sibyl

Domenico Zampieri (Domenichino) – A Sibyl

Domenico Zampieri (Domenichino) - Diana and her Nymphs

Domenico Zampieri (Domenichino) – Diana and her Nymphs

Domenico Zampieri (Domenichino) - Erminia among the Shepherds

Domenico Zampieri (Domenichino) – Erminia among the Shepherds

Domenico Zampieri (Domenichino) - Last Communion of St. Jerome

Domenico Zampieri (Domenichino) – Last Communion of St. Jerome

Domenico Zampieri (Domenichino) - Madonna and Child with St Petronius and St John the Evangelist

Domenico Zampieri (Domenichino) – Madonna and Child with St Petronius and St John the Evangelist

Domenico Zampieri (Domenichino) - Martyrdom of St. Peter the Martyr

Domenico Zampieri (Domenichino) – Martyrdom of St. Peter the Martyr

Domenico Zampieri (Domenichino) - Mary Magdalene Taken up to Heaven

Domenico Zampieri (Domenichino) – Mary Magdalene Taken up to Heaven

Domenico Zampieri (Domenichino) - Portrait of Virginio Cesarini

Domenico Zampieri (Domenichino) – Portrait of Virginio Cesarini

Domenico Zampieri (Domenichino) - Saint Agnes

Domenico Zampieri (Domenichino) – Saint Agnes

Domenico Zampieri (Domenichino) - The Maiden and the Unicorn

Domenico Zampieri (Domenichino) – The Maiden and the Unicorn

In spite of his activity in Rome, Domenichino decided to leave the city in 1631 to take up the most prestigious, and very lucrative, commission in Naples, the decoration of the Cappella del Tesoro di San Gennaro of the Naples Cathedral. His Scenes from the Life of San Gennaro occupied him for the rest of his life. He painted four large lunettes, four pendentives, and twelve scenes in the soffits of the arches, all in fresco, plus three large altarpieces in oil on copper. He died, perhaps by poison at the hands of the jealous Neapolitan painters, before completing the fourth altarpiece or the cupola, which was subsequently frescoed by Lanfranco.

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Articles’ Images are in the public domain because their copyright has expired, and are available through Wikimedia

This Articles’ text is licensed under the Creative Commons BY-SA License since it partially uses material from Wikipedia.

Article publié pour la première fois le 01/11/2012