Arnold Boecklin - Der Krieg

History of Modern Art: Symbolism

We’ll be continuing our exploration in modern art movements with Symbolism. Symbolism was a late nineteenth-century art movement of French, Russian and Belgian origin in poetry and other arts.

In literature, the style had its beginnings with the publication Les Fleurs du mal (The Flowers of Evil, 1857) by Charles Baudelaire. The works of Edgar Allan Poe, which Baudelaire admired greatly and translated into French, were a significant influence and the source of many stock tropes and images. The aesthetic was developed by Stéphane Mallarmé and Paul Verlaine during the 1860s and ’70s. In the 1880s, the aesthetic was articulated by a series of manifestos and attracted a generation of writers.

The name “symbolist” itself was first applied by the critic Jean Moréas, who invented the term to distinguish the symbolists from the related decadents of literature and of art.

Arnold Boecklin - Der Krieg

Arnold Boecklin – Der Krieg

The symbolist style has frequently been confused with decadence. Several young writers were derisively referred to by the press as “decadent” during the mid 1880s. A few of these writers embraced the term while most avoided it.

Jean Moréas’ manifesto was largely a response to this polemic. By the late 1880s, the terms “symbolism” and “decadence” were understood to be almost synonymous.Though the aesthetics of the styles can be considered similar in some ways, the two remain distinct. The symbolists were those artists who emphasized dreams and ideals; the Decadents cultivated précieux, ornamented, or hermetic styles, and morbid subject matters.

The subject of the decadence of the Roman Empire was a frequent source of literary images and appears in the works of many poets of the period, regardless of which name they chose for their style, as in Verlaine’s “Langueur”.

Carlos Schwabe - The Death of the Grave Digger

Carlos Schwabe – The Death of the Grave Digger

Symbolism in literature is distinct from symbolism in art although the two were similar in many respects. In painting, symbolism was a continuation of some mystical tendencies in the Romantic tradition, which included such artists as Caspar David Friedrich, Fernand Khnopff and John Henry Fuseli and it was even more similar to the self-consciously morbid and private decadent movement.

The symbolist painters used mythological and dream imagery. The symbols used by symbolism are not the familiar emblems of mainstream iconography but intensely personal, private, obscure and ambiguous references. More a philosophy than an actual style of art, symbolism in painting influenced the contemporary Art Nouveau style and Les Nabis.

Franz von Stuck - Der Wächter des Paradieses

Franz von Stuck – Der Wächter des Paradieses

The symbolist painters were an important influence on expressionism and surrealism in painting, two movements which descend directly from symbolism proper. The harlequins, paupers, and clowns of Pablo Picasso’s “Blue Period” show the influence of symbolism, and especially of Puvis de Chavannes.

In Belgium, symbolism became so popular that it came to be thought ofas a national style: the static strangeness of painters like René Magritte can be considered as a direct continuation of symbolism. The work of some symbolist visual artists, such as Jan Toorop, directly affected the curvilinear forms of art nouveau.

Many early motion pictures also employ symbolist visual imagery and themes in their staging, set designs, and imagery. The films of German expressionism owe a great deal to symbolist imagery. The virginal “good girls” seen in the cinema of D. W. Griffith, and the silent movie “bad girls” portrayed by Theda Bara, both show the continuing influence of symbolism, as do the Babylonian scenes from Griffith’s Intolerance.

Symbolist imagery lived on longest in horror film: as late as 1932, Carl Theodor Dreyer’s Vampyr showed the obvious influence of symbolist imagery; parts of the film resemble tableau vivant re-creations of the early paintings of Edvard Munch.

Hope you enjoyed our short journey through symbolism.

Franz von Stuck - Judith und Holofernes

Franz von Stuck – Judith und Holofernes

 

Arnold Boecklin - Selbstporträt mit fiedelndem Tod

Arnold Boecklin – Selbstporträt mit fiedelndem Tod

Arnold Boecklin  - Das Spiel der Najaden

Arnold Boecklin – Das Spiel der Najaden

Franz von Stuck - Wilde Jagd

Franz von Stuck – Wilde Jagd

Franz von Stuck -Wind und Welle

Franz von Stuck -Wind und Welle

Giovanni Segantini - Die Strafe der Wollüstigen

Giovanni Segantini – Die Strafe der Wollüstigen

Giovanni Segantini - Lebensengel

Giovanni Segantini – Lebensengel

Gustave Moreau - Herkules und die Lernäische Hydra

Gustave Moreau – Herkules und die Lernäische Hydra

Gustave Moreau - Prometheus

Gustave Moreau – Prometheus

Hans Thoma - Adam and Eve

Hans Thoma – Adam and Eve

Odilon Redon - Muse auf Pegasus

Odilon Redon – Muse auf Pegasus

Odilon Redon - Portrait of Violette Heymann

Odilon Redon – Portrait of Violette Heymann

Pierre Cécile Puvis de Chavannes - Automn

Pierre Cécile Puvis de Chavannes – Automn

 

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

Articles’ Images are either in the public domain because their copyright has expired Or legal to display for non commercial educational purposes, under the Fair Use Copyright Law (and are available through Wikimedia & Wikipedia)

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

 

Article publié pour la première fois le 15/12/2012

Anatomy-of-Internet-Ad-Design-(Infographic)

Anatomy of Internet Ad Design (Infographic)

Today we have a cool infographic about internet ad design. Internet ads have elements that help them perform well when used in optimized online advertising campaigns. These critical organs make up the anatomy of well-designed banners, emails, and landing pages. In this infographic these elements are examined and analyzed.

Anatomy of Internet Ad Design

 

Hope you found this infographic useful and informative! If you want to know more about designing infographics, check out our past articles: 9 tips for designing awesome infographics & Choosing the right infographic for your business !

Article publié pour la première fois le 06/12/2013

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

 

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 15/01/2013

Diego Velázquez - Las Meninas or The Family of Philip IV

Ways to Improve Portrait Drawing Technique

If you are an artist, you’ll at some point find the portrait market to be quite lucrative. But, how can you improve your portrait drawing technique? There are actually several things you can do to improve your technique, and we all know, the closer you can get to full time art, the sooner you can “quit the day job”.

Treat it like a job

That may seem like a very unromantic view of art, but if you’re going to make a living at it, you have to work an 8 hour day. It’s the same with musicians – in college, as you’re training in performance, you practice 6 to 8 hours a day. Any job requires a 40 hour week, and art is no different. Whether you’re going to be a concept artist or illustrator, you’ve got to draw. Draw from models, from other art, and from your memory. No, you don’t have to sit at your drawing board and do it, as you would with an 8 to 5 desk job, but the time spent drawing makes you better and more prepared for the workplace.

Take lessons

You never stop learning. Or, at least, you shouldn’t. Take lessons every week. Life drawing lessons are crucial to polish your skills and to keep you fresh. You get new ideas, new skills, and new perspectives with different teachers. You may even find a master who continually inspires and instructs you. Your drawing classes will probably take 3 to 4 hours per session, and prices vary.

Draw everything

Your skill in drawing portraits can actually improve with practice in drawing everything you see. It has to do with values. Draw items that have different qualities of reflection, such as a shiny Christmas ornament, a ball of twine, and a satin sheet. The skills you gain through these activities will transfer to your portraiture when drawing skin tones, hair, draping, and other elements in your portrait.

Study the masters

Find a portrait artist you admire, and copy him or her. As you copy the master’s works, you’ll gain an insight to his techniques. You may start to see the subject through his eyes. Select several masters, and you’ll learn even more.

Think dimensionally 

You’ve got to remember to think dimensionally. Nothing in nature is flat, but so much artwork is flat. The human face is not a plane with features on it. Imagine the location of the back of the subject’s head, even if you are drawing the face. If you’re drawing a profile, you should picture the other side of the head as you do your artwork.

Use a variety of mediums

If your chosen medium is pencil, switch to charcoal, brush pen, or graphite. Use different tools, and you may find that you learn a whole new appreciation for the forms you are recreating. This will stretch your skills, if not your patience, and in the long run, make you a better artist. If you can keep this up for a couple of months, you’ll be amazed at how much you improve. You owe it to yourself to give it a try.

Article by Laura Green

Laura Green enjoys her health and hobbies, when she isn’t writing about how to enjoy your spare time, she tries to help promote online drawing courses.

Article publié pour la première fois le 28/12/2012

CC Photo - Christmas egg scene with Snoopy and Woodstock by Kevin Dooley

Creative Gift Ideas for Christmas

CC Photo - Christmas egg scene with Snoopy and Woodstock by Kevin Dooley

CC Photo – Christmas egg scene with Snoopy and Woodstock by Kevin Dooley  – source

Merry Christmas everyone! With happiness, health and endless creativity :)

We hope you are enjoying our articles as much as we do writing them!

For those who want some last minute gift ideas for the New Years Eve, or for Christmas, I assembled for you some cool articles we had posted during December and you might missed them!

Christmas craft ideas for kids

As the days get darker, earlier, and the cold discourages kids from venturing outside I find that keeping them busy and occupied at this time of year is easy with festive arts and craft.

Since the purse strings are getting ever so tighter, Christmas crafts are great way to entertain the kids on a budget whilst creating some wonderful homemade gifts for teachers, family and friends.

The Best Ways To Give Unique/Custom Gifts

When you give someone a gift you will want it to be a personal and thoughtful gesture that will show them that you took the time and effort to think about them and that you know them well enough to choose a gift that they’ll really like. This means that just buying something from a list, or getting a film you know they want, won’t really make much of an impact or always be as well received as it could be – it might be thoughtful an well meant, but ultimately it’s something they could have made themselves. See how you can make the difference!

Creative Ways To Present Christmas Gifts

Coming up with new and unique ways to present your Christmas presents each year can be difficult. Personally I like my gift to stand out, to be that one gift under the tree that jumps out at you above all the rest. Christmas is about being lavish, going over the top and being eccentric. But how do you come up with something unique and eye catching? Here are some creative ideas to present your gifts this year!

Perfectly Capturing Christmas

With the Christmas season already in full swing, there are bound to be a multitude of seasonal photo opportunities that will create long-lasting memories.  However, there is nothing worse than a blurry group photo, or a dull photo of a Christmas tree.  Therefore, I thought now would be the perfect opportunity to present you with a handy guide to getting the most out of your Christmas photos, which will help you to perfectly capture the most wonderful time of the year. Because some times a photo can be the best gift in the world!

Finally for your designers friends we have the best gift you can give them! A book 😉

Top 10 Design Books for Christmas

With the opportunity of Christmas, I compiled several nice reading lists concerning various aspects of design. Mostly with books I have read and found interesting or i have marked to get in the near future. And I think that they have something to offer whether you are a junior designer or a grizzled award winning designer. Either way I am sure your designer friends will love them!

That’s all folks! Enjoy your Christmas!  And if you find yourself in the need to read something new while waiting for the festive dinner, we’ll be around with fresh material in a couple of hours :)

Article publié pour la première fois le 25/12/2012

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

 

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 04/12/2012

Natalia-Goncharova-The-Cyclist

History of Modern Art: Futurism

Futurism was an artistic and social movement that originated in Italy in the early 20th century. It emphasized and glorified themes associated with contemporary concepts of the future, including speed, technology, youth and violence, and objects such as the car, the airplane and the industrial city. It was largely an Italian phenomenon, though there were parallel movements in Russia, England and elsewhere.

The Futurists practiced in every medium of art, including painting, sculpture, ceramics, graphic design, industrial design, interior design, urban design, theatre, film, fashion, textiles, literature, music, architecture and even gastronomy.

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!

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 19/10/2012

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.

 

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 10/08/2012

Dimanche by Paul Signac

History of Modern Art: Pointillism

Let’s resume our journey on modern art history by exploring Pointillism. Pointillism is a technique of painting in which small, distinct dots of pure color are applied in patterns to form an image. Georges Seurat and Paul Signac developed the technique in 1886, branching from Impressionism. So some of these painters we have already met briefly in Impressionism. But today we’ll focus more on their Pointillism works.

The term Pointillism was first coined by art critics in the late 1880s to ridicule the works of these artists, and is now used without its earlier mocking connotation. Neo-impressionism and Divisionism are also terms used to describe this technique of painting.

Le Chahut by George Seurat

Le Chahut by Georges Seurat

The technique relies on the ability of the eye and mind of the viewer to blend the color spots into a fuller range of tones. It is related to Divisionism, a more technical variant of the method. Divisionism is concerned with color theory, whereas pointillism is more focused on the specific style of brushwork used to apply the paint. It is a technique with few serious practitioners today, and is notably seen in the works of Seurat, Signac and Cross.

The practice of Pointillism is in sharp contrast to the traditional methods of blending pigments on a palette. Pointillism is analogous to the four-color CMYK printing process used by some color printers and large presses that place dots of Cyan (blue), Magenta (red), Yellow, and Key (black). Televisions and computer monitors use a similar technique to represent image colors using Red, Green, and Blue (RGB) colors.

Lady in White by Van Rysselberghe

Lady in White by Van Rysselberghe

If red, blue, and green light (the additive primaries) are mixed, the result is something close to white light. Painting is inherently subtractive, but pointillist colors often seem brighter than typical mixed subtractive colors. This may be partly because subtractive mixing of the pigments is avoided, and partly because some of the white canvas may be showing between the applied dots. The painting technique used for pointillist color mixing is at the expense of the traditional brushwork used to delineate texture. The majority of pointillism is done in oil paints. Anything may be used in its place, but oils are preferred for their thickness and tendency not to run or bleed.

Recolte des foins by Camille Pissarro

Recolte des foins by Camille Pissarro

 

Notable Pointillism Artists include:

 

A Sunday on La Grande Jatte by Georges Seurat

A Sunday on La Grande Jatte by Georges Seurat

 

Feeding the chickens by Charles Angrand

Feeding the chickens by Charles Angrand

Dimanche by Paul Signac

Dimanche by Paul Signac

Children on the farm by Camille Pissarro

Children on the farm by Camille Pissarro

Breakfast by Paul Signac

Breakfast by Paul Signac

Antibes by Henri Edmond Cross

Antibes by Henri Edmond Cross

Bathers by Georges Seurat

Bathers by Georges Seurat

Women at the Well by Paul Signac

Women at the Well by Paul Signac

The Harvesters by Charles Angrand

The Harvesters by Charles Angrand

The Beach at Heist by Georges Lemmen

The Beach at Heist by Georges Lemmen

Self portrait by VanGogh

Self portrait by VanGogh

 

Portrait of Félix Fénéon by Paul Signac

Portrait of Félix Fénéon by Paul Signac

Le-Bois-Annonciade by Henri Edmond Cross

Le-Bois-Annonciade by Henri Edmond Cross

 

Hope you enjoyed our short journey through pointillism and are willing to explore more the individual artists!

In the meantime i’d love to hear what you think of pointillism comparing to the traditional impressionism as a movement, and which of the above artists were the more influential in your opinion?

See you next time!

Articles’ Images are either in the public domain because their copyright has expired Or legal to display for non commercial educational purposes, under the Fair Use Copyright Law (and are available through Wikimedia & Wikipedia)

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

Article publié pour la première fois le 08/12/2012

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.

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 01/11/2012

Dead Christ Supported by the Madonna and St John (Pietà)

Life and Paintings of Giovanni Bellini (1430 – 1516)

Giovanni Bellini (c. 1430–1516) was an Italian Renaissance painter, probably the best known of the Bellini family of Venetian painters. He is considered to have revolutionized Venetian painting, moving it towards a more sensuous and colouristic style. Through the use of clear, slow-drying oil paints, Giovanni created deep, rich tints and detailed shadings. His sumptuous coloring and fluent, atmospheric landscapes had a great effect on the Venetian painting school, especially on his pupils Giorgione and Titian.

Movements: Renaissance, Naturalism, Perspectivism

Dead Christ Supported by the Madonna and St John (Pietà)

Dead Christ Supported by the Madonna and St John (Pietà)

Giovanni Bellini was born in Venice. He was brought up in his father’s house, and always lived and worked in the closest fraternal relation with his brother Gentile. Up until the age of nearly thirty we find in his work a depth of religious feeling and human pathos which is his own. His paintings from the early period are all executed in the old tempera method; the scene is softened by a new and beautiful effect of romantic sunrise color.

In a somewhat changed and more personal manner, with less harshness of contour and a broader treatment of forms and draperies, but not less force of religious feeling, are the Dead Christ pictures, in these days one of the master’s most frequent themes, (see for example the Pietà: Dead Christ Supported by the Virgin and St. John). Giovanni’s early works have often been linked both compositionally and stylistically to those of his brother-in-law, Andrea Mantegna.

As is the case with a number of his brother, Gentile’s public works of the period, many of Giovanni’s great public works are now lost. The still more famous altar-piece painted in tempera for a chapel in the church of S. Giovanni e Paolo, where it perished along with Titian’s Peter Martyr and Tintoretto’s Crucifixion in the disastrous fire of 1867.

Albrecht Dürer, visiting Venice for a second time in 1506, describes Giovanni Bellini as still the best painter in the city, and as full of all courtesy and generosity towards foreign brethren of the brush.

In 1507 Bellini’s brother Gentile died, and Giovanni completed the picture of the Preaching of St. Mark which he had left unfinished; a task on the fulfillment of which the bequest by the elder brother to the younger of their father’s sketch-book had been made conditional.

Barbarigo Altarpiece

Barbarigo Altarpiece

Both in the artistic and in the worldly sense, the career of Bellini was, on the whole, very prosperous. His long career began with Quattrocento styles but matured into the progressive post-Giorgione Renaissance styles. He lived to see his own school far outshine that of his rivals, the Vivarini of Murano; he embodied, with growing and maturing power, all the devotional gravity and much also of the worldly splendour of the Venice of his time; and he saw his influence propagated by a host of pupils, two of whom at least, Giorgione and Titian, equalled or even surpassed their master. Giorgione he outlived by five years; Titian, as we have seen, challenged him, claiming an equal place beside his teacher.

Let’s see some of his most important works:

Angel of the Annunciation and Virgin Annunciate

Angel of the Annunciation and Virgin Annunciate

Agony in the Garden

Agony in the Garden

San Zaccaria Altarpiece

San Zaccaria Altarpiece

 San Giobbe Altarpiece

San Giobbe Altarpiece

 Polyptych of San Vincenzo Ferreri

Polyptych of San Vincenzo Ferreri

Pesaro Altarpiece

Pesaro Altarpiece

Naked Young Woman in Front of the Mirror

Naked Young Woman in Front of the Mirror

Madonna and Child

Madonna and Child

Madonna and Child with Two Saints (Sacra Conversazione)

Madonna and Child with Two Saints (Sacra Conversazione)

Madonna and Child Blessing

Madonna and Child Blessing

Drunkennes of Noah

Drunkennes of Noah

Dead Christ Supported by the Madonna and St John (Pietà)

Dead Christ Supported by the Madonna and St John (Pietà)

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 24/05/2014

El Greco - St Peter in Penitence

Masters of Art: El Greco (1541 – 1614)

El Greco born Doménikos Theotokópoulos, (1541 – 7 April 1614) was a painter, sculptor and architect of the Spanish Renaissance. “El Greco” (The Greek) was a nickname, a reference to his ethnic Greek origin, and the artist normally signed his paintings with his full birth name in Greek letters, Δομήνικος Θεοτοκόπουλος (Doménikos Theotokópoulos), often adding the word Κρής (Krēs, “Cretan”).

Movements: Mannerism, Baroque, Pietism, Sectarianism, Emotionalism, Gesturalism

El Greco was born on Crete, which was at that time part of the Republic of Venice, and the centre of Post-Byzantine art. He trained and became a master within that tradition before travelling at age 26 to Venice, as other Greek artists had done.

El Greco - The Opening of the Fifth Seal (The Vision of St John)

El Greco – The Opening of the Fifth Seal (The Vision of St John)

In 1570 he moved to Rome, where he opened a workshop and executed a series of works. During his stay in Italy, El Greco enriched his style with elements of Mannerism and of the Venetian Renaissance. In 1577, he moved to Toledo, Spain, where he lived and worked until his death. In Toledo, El Greco received several major commissions and produced his best-known paintings.

El Greco’s dramatic and expressionistic style was met with puzzlement by his contemporaries but found appreciation in the 20th century.

El Greco is regarded as a precursor of both Expressionism and Cubism, while his personality and works were a source of inspiration for poets and writers such as Rainer Maria Rilke and Nikos Kazantzakis.

El Greco has been characterized by modern scholars as an artist so individual that he belongs to no conventional school. He is best known for tortuously elongated figures and often fantastic or phantasmagorical pigmentation, marrying Byzantine traditions with those of Western painting.

The primacy of imagination and intuition over the subjective character of creation was a fundamental principle of El Greco’s style. El Greco discarded classicist criteria such as measure and proportion.

He believed that grace is the supreme quest of art, but the painter achieves grace only if he manages to solve the most complex problems with obvious ease.

I hold the imitation of color to be the greatest difficulty of art.

— El Greco, from notes of the painter in one of his commentaries.

El Greco regarded color as the most important and the most ungovernable element of painting, and declared that color had primacy over form.

Francisco Pacheco, a painter and theoretician who visited El Greco in 1611, wrote that the painter liked “the colors crude and unmixed in great blots as a boastful display of his dexterity” and that “he believed in constant repainting and retouching in order to make the broad masses tell flat as in nature”.

El Greco - A Boy Blowing on an Ember to Light a Candle

El Greco – A Boy Blowing on an Ember to Light a Candle

Art historian Max Dvořák was the first scholar to connect El Greco’s art with Mannerism and Antinaturalism.Modern scholars characterize El Greco’s theory as “typically Mannerist” and pinpoint its sources in the Neoplatonism of the Renaissance.

Jonathan Brown believes that El Greco endeavored to create a sophisticated form of art; according to Nicholas Penny “once in Spain, El Greco was able to create a style of his own—one that disavowed most of the descriptive ambitions of painting”.

In his mature works El Greco demonstrated a characteristic tendency to dramatize rather than to describe.  The strong spiritual emotion transfers from painting directly to the audience. According to Pacheco, El Greco’s perturbed, violent and at times seemingly careless-in-execution art was due to a studied effort to acquire a freedom of style. El Greco’s preference for exceptionally tall and slender figures and elongated compositions, which served both his expressive purposes and aesthetic principles, led him to disregard the laws of nature and elongate his compositions to ever greater extents, particularly when they were destined for altarpieces. The anatomy of the human body becomes even more otherworldly in El Greco’s mature works; for The Virgin of the Immaculate Conception El Greco asked to lengthen the altarpiece itself by another 1.5 feet (0.46 m) “because in this way the form will be perfect and not reduced, which is the worst thing that can happen to a figure'”. A significant innovation of El Greco’s mature works is the interweaving between form and space; a reciprocal relationship is developed between the two which completely unifies the painting surface. This interweaving would re-emerge three centuries later in the works of Cézanne and Picasso.

Another characteristic of El Greco’s mature style is the use of light. As Jonathan Brown notes, “each figure seems to carry its own light within or reflects the light that emanates from an unseen source”. Fernando Marias and Agustín Bustamante García, the scholars who transcribed El Greco’s handwritten notes, connect the power that the painter gives to light with the ideas underlying Christian Neo-Platonism.

Modern scholarly research emphasizes the importance of Toledo for the complete development of El Greco’s mature style and stresses the painter’s ability to adjust his style in accordance with his surroundings.

El Greco - A Lady in a Fur Wrap

El Greco – A Lady in a Fur Wrap

Harold Wethey asserts that “although Greek by descent and Italian by artistic preparation, the artist became so immersed in the religious environment of Spain that he became the most vital visual representative of Spanish mysticism”. He believes that in El Greco’s mature works “the devotional intensity of mood reflects the religious spirit of Roman Catholic Spain in the period of the Counter-Reformation”.

El Greco also excelled as a portraitist, able not only to record a sitter’s features but also to convey their character. His portraits are fewer in number than his religious paintings, but are of equally high quality. Wethey says that “by such simple means, the artist created a memorable characterization that places him in the highest rank as a portraitist, along with Titian and Rembrandt“.

Let’s now enjoy some of his most celebrated works

El Greco - The Last Supper

El Greco – The Last Supper

El Greco - The Holy Family

El Greco – The Holy Family

El Greco - The Holy Family with St Mary Magdalen

El Greco – The Holy Family with St Mary Magdalen

El Greco - The Adoration of the Shepherds

El Greco – The Adoration of the Shepherds

El Greco - St Peter in Penitence

El Greco – St Peter in Penitence

El Greco - St Jerome as a Scholar

El Greco – St Jerome as a Scholar

El Greco - Mount Sinai

El Greco – Mount Sinai

El Greco - Christ Healing the Blind

El Greco – Christ Healing the Blind

El Greco - Christ Carrying the Cross

El Greco – Christ Carrying the Cross

El Greco - Annunciation

El Greco – Annunciation

El Greco - An Allegory with a Boy Lighting a Candle in the Company of an Ape and a Fool

El Greco – An Allegory with a Boy Lighting a Candle in the Company of an Ape and a Fool

El Greco - Allegory of the Camaldolese Order

El Greco – Allegory of the Camaldolese Order

Influence on other artists

The Opening of the Fifth Seal (1608–1614, oil, 225 × 193 cm., New York, Metropolitan Museum) has been suggested to be the prime source of inspiration for Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon.

Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (1907, oil on canvas, 243.9 × 233.7 cm., New York, Museum of Modern Art) appears to have certain morphological and stylistic similarities with The Opening of the Fifth Seal.

El Greco’s re-evaluation was not limited to scholars. According to Efi Foundoulaki, “painters and theoreticians from the beginning of the 20th century ‘discovered’ a new El Greco but in process they also discovered and revealed their own selves”. His expressiveness and colors influenced Eugène Delacroix and Édouard Manet.

To the Blaue Reiter group in Munich in 1912, El Greco typified that mystical inner construction that it was the task of their generation to rediscover. The first painter who appears to have noticed the structural code in the morphology of the mature El Greco was Paul Cézanne, one of the forerunners of cubism. Comparative morphological analyses of the two painters revealed their common elements, such as the distortion of the human body, the reddish and (in appearance only) unworked backgrounds and the similarities in the rendering of space.  According to Brown, “Cézanne and El Greco are spiritual brothers despite the centuries which separate them”.

Fry observed that Cézanne drew from “his great discovery of the permeation of every part of the design with a uniform and continuous plastic theme”.

The Symbolists, and Pablo Picasso during his Blue Period, drew on the cold tonality of El Greco, utilizing the anatomy of his ascetic figures. While Picasso was working on Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, he visited his friend Ignacio Zuloaga in his studio in Paris and studied El Greco’s Opening of the Fifth Seal (owned by Zuloaga since 1897).

The relation between Les Demoiselles d’Avignon and the Opening of the Fifth Seal was pinpointed in the early 1980s, when the stylistic similarities and the relationship between the motifs of both works were analysed.

In any case, only the execution counts. From this point of view, it is correct to say that Cubism has a Spanish origin and that I invented Cubism. We must look for the Spanish influence in Cézanne. Things themselves necessitate it, the influence of El Greco, a Venetian painter, on him. But his structure is Cubist.

— Picasso, speaking of Les Demoiselles d’Avignon to Dor de la Souchère in Antibes.

The early cubist explorations of Picasso were to uncover other aspects in the work of El Greco: structural analysis of his compositions, multi-faced refraction of form, interweaving of form and space, and special effects of highlights. Several traits of cubism, such as distortions and the materialistic rendering of time, have their analogies in El Greco’s work. According to Picasso, El Greco’s structure is cubist.

On 22 February 1950, Picasso began his series of “paraphrases” of other painters’ works with The Portrait of a Painter after El Greco. Foundoulaki asserts that Picasso “completed … the process for the activation of the painterly values of El Greco which had been started by Manet and carried on by Cézanne“.

The expressionists focused on the expressive distortions of El Greco. According to Franz Marc, one of the principal painters of the German expressionist movement, “we refer with pleasure and with steadfastness to the case of El Greco, because the glory of this painter is closely tied to the evolution of our new perceptions on art”. Jackson Pollock, a major force in the abstract expressionist movement, was also influenced by El Greco. By 1943, Pollock had completed sixty drawing compositions after El Greco and owned three books on the Cretan master.

Contemporary painters are also inspired by El Greco’s art. Kysa Johnson used El Greco’s paintings of the Immaculate Conception as the compositional framework for some of her works, and the master’s anatomical distortions are somewhat reflected in Fritz Chesnut’s portraits.

El Greco’s personality and work were a source of inspiration for poet Rainer Maria Rilke. One set of Rilke’s poems (Himmelfahrt Mariae I.II., 1913) was based directly on El Greco’s Immaculate Conception. Greek writer Nikos Kazantzakis, who felt a great spiritual affinity for El Greco, called his autobiography Report to Greco and wrote a tribute to the Cretan-born artist.

In 1998, the Greek electronic composer and artist Vangelis published El Greco, a symphonic album inspired by the artist. This album is an expansion of an earlier album by Vangelis, Foros Timis Ston Greco (A Tribute to El Greco, Φόρος Τιμής Στον Γκρέκο). The life of the Cretan-born artist is the subject of the film El Greco of Greek, Spanish and British production. Directed by Ioannis Smaragdis, the film began shooting in October 2006 on the island of Crete and debuted on the screen one year later; British actor Nick Ashdon has been cast to play El Greco.

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 16/10/2012

Peter Paul Rubens - The Fall of the Damned

Masters of Art: Peter Paul Rubens (1577 – 1640)

Sir Peter Paul Rubens (28 June 1577 – 30 May 1640), was a Flemish Baroque painter, and a proponent of an extravagant Baroque style that emphasized movement, colour, and sensuality. He is well-known for his Counter-Reformation altarpieces, portraits, landscapes, and history paintings of mythological and allegorical subjects.

Movements: Baroque, Allegoricism, Absolutism, Emotionalism, Gesturalism

Warning: Rubens’ paintings contain nudity. If that offends you, don’t read the article!

Peter Paul Rubens - Self-Portrait

Peter Paul Rubens – Self-Portrait

Rubens was born in Siegen, Westphalia, to Jan Rubens and Maria Pypelincks. His father, a Calvinist, and mother fled Antwerp for Cologne in 1568, after increased religious turmoil and persecution of Protestants during the rule of the Spanish Netherlands by the Duke of Alba. Jan Rubens became the legal advisor (and lover) of Anna of Saxony, the second wife of William I of Orange, and settled at her court in Siegen in 1570. Following Jan Rubens’s imprisonment for the affair, Peter Paul Rubens was born in 1577. The family returned to Cologne the next year.

In 1589, two years after his father’s death, Rubens moved with his mother to Antwerp, where he was raised as a Catholic. Religion figured prominently in much of his work and Rubens later became one of the leading voices of the Catholic Counter-Reformation style of painting (he had said “My passion comes from the heavens, not from earthly musings”).

In Antwerp, Rubens received a humanist education, studying Latin and classical literature. By fourteen he began his artistic apprenticeship with Tobias Verhaeght. Subsequently, he studied under two of the city’s leading painters of the time, the late Mannerist artists Adam van Noort and Otto van Veen.

Much of his earliest training involved copying earlier artists’ works, such as woodcuts by Hans Holbein the Younger and Marcantonio Raimondi’s engravings after Raphael. Rubens completed his education in 1598, at which time he entered the Guild of St. Luke as an independent master.

Rubens was a prolific artist. His commissioned works were mostly religious subjects, “history” paintings, which included mythological subjects, and hunt scenes. He painted portraits, especially of friends, and self-portraits, and in later life painted several landscapes. Rubens designed tapestries and prints, as well as his own house. He also oversaw the ephemeral decorations of the Joyous Entry into Antwerp by the Cardinal-Infante Ferdinand in 1635.

His drawings are mostly extremely forceful but not detailed; he also made great use of oil sketches as preparatory studies. He was one of the last major artists to make consistent use of wooden panels as a support medium, even for very large works, but he used canvas as well, especially when the work needed to be sent a long distance. For altarpieces he sometimes painted on slate to reduce reflection problems.

His fondness of painting full-figured women gave rise to the terms ‘Rubensian’ or ‘Rubenesque’ for plus-sized women. The term ‘Rubensiaans’ is also commonly used in Dutch to denote such women.

Peter Paul Rubens - The Judgement of Paris

Peter Paul Rubens – The Judgement of Paris

His paintings can be divided into three categories: those he painted by himself, those he painted in part (mainly hands and faces), and those he only supervised. He had, as was usual at the time, a large workshop with many apprentices and students, some of whom, such as Anthony Van Dyck, became famous in their own right. He also often sub-contracted elements such as animals or still-life in large compositions to specialists such as Frans Snyders, or other artists such as Jacob Jordaens.

Let’s now enjoy his most celebrated works:
Peter Paul Rubens - The Martyrdom of St Stephen

Peter Paul Rubens – The Martyrdom of St Stephen

Peter Paul Rubens - The Happiness of the Regency

Peter Paul Rubens – The Happiness of the Regency

Peter Paul Rubens - The Fall of the Damned

Peter Paul Rubens – The Fall of the Damned

Peter Paul Rubens - The Fall of Man

Peter Paul Rubens – The Fall of Man

Peter Paul Rubens - The Discovery of the Child Erichthonius

Peter Paul Rubens – The Discovery of the Child Erichthonius

Peter Paul Rubens - The Crowning of St Catherine

Peter Paul Rubens – The Crowning of St Catherine

Peter Paul Rubens - The Battle of the Amazons

Peter Paul Rubens – The Battle of the Amazons

Peter Paul Rubens - Susanna and the Elders

Peter Paul Rubens – Susanna and the Elders

Peter Paul Rubens - Susanna and the Elders 2

Peter Paul Rubens – Susanna and the Elders

Peter Paul Rubens - Rubens, his wife Helene Fourment, and their son Peter Paul

Peter Paul Rubens – Rubens, his wife Helene Fourment, and their son Peter Paul

Peter Paul Rubens - Judith with the Head of Holofernes

Peter Paul Rubens – Judith with the Head of Holofernes

Peter Paul Rubens - Hero and Leander

Peter Paul Rubens – Hero and Leander

Peter Paul Rubens - Diana and her Nymphs Surprised by the Fauns

Peter Paul Rubens – Diana and her Nymphs Surprised by the Fauns

Peter Paul Rubens - Diana and Callisto

Peter Paul Rubens – Diana and Callisto

Peter Paul Rubens - Deborah Kip and her Children

Peter Paul Rubens – Deborah Kip and her Children

Peter Paul Rubens - Christ Triumphant over Sin and Death

Peter Paul Rubens – Christ Triumphant over Sin and Death

Peter Paul Rubens - Allegory on the Blessings of Peace

Peter Paul Rubens – Allegory on the Blessings of Peace

Peter Paul Rubens - The Union of Earth and Water

Peter Paul Rubens – The Union of Earth and Water

Peter Paul Rubens - The Three Graces 2

Peter Paul Rubens – The Three Graces

Rubens died from heart failure, which was a result of his chronic gout on 30 May 1640. He was interred in Saint Jacob’s church, Antwerp. The artist had eight children, three with Isabella and five with Hélène; his youngest child was born eight months after his death.

His paintings are highly valued and at a Sotheby’s auction on 10 July 2002, Rubens’s newly discovered painting Massacre of the Innocents sold for £49.5 million ($76.2 million) to Lord Thomson. It is a current record for an Old Master painting.

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 30/10/2012