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Caspar David Friedrich - The Wanderer above the Mists

Masters of Art: Caspar David Friedrich (1774 – 1840)

Caspar David Friedrich (September 5, 1774 – May 7, 1840) was a 19th-century German Romantic landscape painter, generally considered the most important German artist of his generation. He is best known for his mid-period allegorical landscapes which typically feature contemplative figures silhouetted against night skies, morning mists, barren trees or Gothic ruins. His primary interest as an artist was the contemplation of nature, and his often symbolic and anti-classical work seeks to convey a subjective, emotional response to the natural world. Friedrich’s paintings characteristically set a human presence in diminished perspective amid expansive landscapes, reducing the figures to a scale that, according to the art historian Christopher John Murray, directs “the viewer’s gaze towards their metaphysical dimension”.

Movements: Romanticism 

Friedrich was born in the Swedish Pomeranian town of Greifswald, where he began his studies in art as a youth. He studied in Copenhagen until 1798, before settling inDresden. He came of age during a period when, across Europe, a growing disillusionment with materialistic society was giving rise to a new appreciation of spirituality. This shift in ideals was often expressed through a reevaluation of the natural world, as artists such as Friedrich, J.M.W. Turner (1775–1851) and John Constable (1776–1837) sought to depict nature as a “divine creation, to be set against the artifice of human civilization”.

Caspar David Friedrich - The Sea of Ice

Caspar David Friedrich – The Sea of Ice

Friedrich’s work brought him renown early in his career, and contemporaries such as the French sculptor David d’Angers (1788–1856) spoke of him as a man who had discovered “the tragedy of landscape”. Nevertheless, his work fell from favour during his later years, and he died in obscurity, and in the words of the art historian Philip Miller, “half mad”.

As Germany moved towards modernisation in the late 19th century, a new sense of urgency characterised its art, and Friedrich’s contemplative depictions of stillness came to be seen as the products of a bygone age. The early 20th century brought a renewed appreciation of his work, beginning in 1906 with an exhibition of thirty-two of his paintings and sculptures in Berlin. By the 1920s his paintings had been discovered by the Expressionists, and in the 1930s and early 1940s Surrealists and Existentialists frequently drew ideas from his work. The rise of Nazism in the early 1930s again saw a resurgence in Friedrich’s popularity, but this was followed by a sharp decline as his paintings were, by association with the Nazi movement, misinterpreted as having a nationalistic aspect.

It was not until the late 1970s that Friedrich regained his reputation as an icon of the German Romantic movement and a painter of international importance.

Friedrich began his formal study of art in 1790 as a private student of artist Johann Gottfried Quistorp at the University of Greifswald in his home city, at which the art department is now named in his honour (Caspar-David-Friedrich-Institut). Quistorp took his students on outdoor drawing excursions; as a result, Friedrich was encouraged to sketch from life at an early age.

Through Quistorp, Friedrich met and was subsequently influenced by the theologian Ludwig Gotthard Kosegarten, who taught that nature was a revelation of God. Quistorp introduced Friedrich to the work of the German 17th-century artist Adam Elsheimer, whose works often included religious subjects dominated by landscape, and nocturnal subjects.

Guido di Pietro (Fra Angelico) - Coronation of the Virgin

Masters of Art: Fra Angelico (1395 – 1455)

Fra Angelico (born Guido di Pietro; c. 1395 – 1455) was an Early Italian Renaissance painter described by Vasari in his Lives of the Artists as having “a rare and perfect talent”. He was known to contemporaries as Fra Giovanni da Fiesole (Brother John of Fiesole) and Fra Giovanni Angelico (Angelic Brother John). In modern Italian he is called il Beato Angelico (Blessed Angelic One);  the common English name Fra Angelico means “Angelic Brother.”

Movements: Renaissance, Naturalism, International Gothicism, Perspectivism

Vasari wrote of Fra Angelico:

But it is impossible to bestow too much praise on this holy father, who was so humble and modest in all that he did and said and whose pictures were painted with such facility and piety.

 Receiving the Stigmata

Receiving the Stigmata

Fra Angelico was born Guido di Pietro at Rupecanina in the Tuscan area of Mugello near Fiesole towards the end of the 14th century. Nothing is known of his parents. He was baptized Guido or Guidolino. The earliest recorded document concerning Fra Angelico dates from October 17, 1417 when he joined a religious confraternity at the Carmine Church, still under the name of Guido di Pietro. This record also reveals that he was already a painter, a fact that is subsequently confirmed by two records of payment to Guido di Pietro in January and February 1418 for work done in the church of Santo Stefano del Ponte.  The first record of Angelico as a friar dates from 1423, when he is first referred to as Fra Giovanni, following the custom of those entering a religious order of taking a new name. According to Vasari, Fra Angelico initially received training as an illuminator, possibly working with his older brother Benedetto who was also a Dominican and an illuminator. San Marco in Florence holds several manuscripts that are thought to be entirely or partly by his hand. The painter Lorenzo Monaco may have contributed to his art training, and the influence of the Sienese school is discernible in his work. He had several important charges in the convents he lived in, but this did not limit his art, which very soon became famous. According to Vasari, the first paintings of this artist were an altarpiece and a painted screen for the Carthusian Monastery of Florence; none such exist there now.

From 1408 to 1418 Fra Angelico was at the Dominican friary of Cortona where he painted frescoes, now destroyed, in the Dominican Church and may have been assistant to or follower of Gherardo Starnina. Between 1418 and 1436 he was at the convent of Fiesole where he also executed a number of frescoes for the church, and the Altarpiece, deteriorated but restored. A predella of the Altarpiece remains intact in the National Gallery, London which is a superb example of Fra Angelico’s ability. It shows Christ in Glory, surrounded by more than 250 figures, including beatified Dominicans.

The Story of St Nicholas

The Story of St Nicholas

In 1436 Fra Angelico was one of a number of the friars from Fiesole who moved to the newly-built Friary of San Marco in Florence. This was an important move which put him in the centre of artistic activity of the region and brought about the patronage of one of the wealthiest and most powerful members of the city’s Signoria, Cosimo de’ Medici, who had a large cell (later occupied by Savonarola) reserved for himself at the friary in order that he might retreat from the world. It was, according to Vasari, at Cosimo’s urging that Fra Angelico set about the task of decorating the monastery, including the magnificent Chapter House fresco, the often-reproduced Annunciation at the top of the stairs to the cells, the Maesta with Saints and the many smaller devotional frescoes depicting aspects of the Life of Christ that adorn the walls of each cell.

Tempera on panel

Tempera on panel

In 1439 he completed one of his most famous works, the Altarpiece for St. Marco’s, Florence. The result was unusual for its times. Images of the enthroned Madonna and Child surrounded by saints were common, but they usually depicted a setting that was clearly heavenlike, in which saints and angels hovered about as divine presences rather than people. But in this instance, the saints stand squarely within the space, grouped in a natural way as if they were able to converse about the shared experience of witnessing the Virgin in glory. Paintings such as this, known as Sacred Conversations, were to become the major commissions of Giovanni Bellini, Perugino and Raphael.

In 1445 Pope Eugenius IV summoned him to Rome to paint the frescoes of the Chapel of the Holy Sacrament at St Peter’s, later demolished by Pope Paul III. Vasari claims that at this time Fra Angelico was offered by Pope Nicholas V the Archbishopric of Florence, and that he refused it, recommending another friar for the position. While the story seems possible and even likely, if Vasari’s date is correct, then the pope must have been Eugenius and not Nicholas. In 1447 Fra Angelico was in Orvieto with his pupil, Benozzo Gozzoli, executing works for the Cathedral. Among his other pupils were Zanobi Strozzi.

From 1447 to 1449 he was back at the Vatican, designing the frescoes for the Niccoline Chapel for Nicholas V. The scenes from the lives of the two martyred deacons of the Early Christian Church, St. Stephen and St. Lawrence may have been executed wholly or in part by assistants. The small chapel, with its brightly frescoed walls and gold leaf decorations gives the impression of a jewel box. From 1449 until 1452, Fra Angelico was back at his old convent of Fiesole, where he was the Prior.

In 1455 Fra Angelico died while staying at a Dominican Convent in Rome, perhaps in order to work on Pope Nicholas’ Chapel. He was buried in the church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva.

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

So let’s see some of his most important works:

Saint Lawrence receives the treasures of the Church

Saint Lawrence receives the treasures of the Church

Saint Anthony the Abbot Tempted by a Lump of Gold

Saint Anthony the Abbot Tempted by a Lump of Gold

Massacre of the Innocents

Massacre of the Innocents

Giudizio universale

Giudizio universale

 Entombment of Christ

Entombment of Christ

Deposition from the Cross

Deposition from the Cross

Coronation of the Virgin

Coronation of the Virgin

Circumcision

Circumcision

Annunciation

Annunciation

Artistic legacy

Through Fra Angelico’s pupil Benozzo Gozzoli’s careful portraiture and technical expertise in the art of fresco we see a link to Domenico Ghirlandaio, who in turn painted extensive schemes for the wealthy patrons of Florence, and through Ghirlandaio to his pupil Michelangelo and the High Renaissance.

Apart from the lineal connection, superficially there may seem little to link the humble priest with his sweetly pretty Madonnas and timeless Crucifixions to the dynamic expressions of Michelangelo’s larger-than-life creations. But both these artists received their most important commissions from the wealthiest and most powerful of all patrons, the Vatican.

When Michelangelo took up the Sistine Chapel commission, he was working within a space that had already been extensively decorated by other artists. Around the walls the Life of Christ and Life of Moses were depicted by a range of artists including his teacher Ghirlandaio, Raphael’s teacher Perugino and Botticelli. They were works of large scale and exactly the sort of lavish treatment to be expected in a Vatican commission, vying with each other in complexity of design, number of figures, elaboration of detail and skilful use of gold leaf. Above these works stood a row of painted Popes in brilliant brocades and gold tiaras. None of these splendours have any place in the work which Michelangelo created. Michelangelo, when asked by Pope Julius II to ornament the robes of the Apostles in the usual way, responded that they were very poor men.

Within the cells of San’Marco, Fra Angelico had demonstrated that painterly skill and the artist’s personal interpretation were sufficient to create memorable works of art, without the expensive trappings of blue and gold. In the use of the unadorned fresco technique, the clear bright pastel colours, the careful arrangement of a few significant figures and the skilful use of expression, motion and gesture, Michelangelo showed himself to be the artistic descendant of Fra Angelico. Frederick Hartt describes Fra Angelico as “prophetic of the mysticism” of painters such as Rembrandt, El Greco and Zurbarán.

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 07/08/2012

Michelangelo - Pietta

Masters of Art: Michelangelo (1475 – 1564)

Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni (6 March 1475 – 18 February 1564), commonly known as Michelangelo , was an Italian Renaissance sculptor, painter, architect, poet, and engineer who exerted an unparalleled influence on the development of Western art.

Despite making few forays beyond the arts, his versatility in the disciplines he took up was of such a high order that he is often considered a contender for the title of the archetypal Renaissance man, along with fellow Italian Leonardo da Vinci.

Movements: Renaissance, Idealism, Classicism, Monumentalism, Humanism

Michelangelo was considered the greatest living artist in his lifetime, and ever since then he has been held to be one of the greatest artists of all time.

A number of his works in painting, sculpture, and architecture rank among the most famous in existence. His output in every field during his long life was prodigious; when the sheer volume of correspondence, sketches, and reminiscences that survive is also taken into account, he is the best-documented artist of the 16th century.

Michelangelo - Pietta

Michelangelo – Pietta

Two of his best-known works, the Pietà and David, were sculpted before he turned thirty. Despite his low opinion of painting, Michelangelo also created two of the most influential works in fresco in the history of Western art: the scenes from Genesis on the ceiling and The Last Judgment on the altar wall of the Sistine Chapel in Rome. As an architect, Michelangelo pioneered the Mannerist style at the Laurentian Library. At 74 he succeeded Antonio da Sangallo the Younger as the architect of St. Peter’s Basilica. Michelangelo transformed the plan, the western end being finished to Michelangelo’s design, the dome being completed after his death with some modification.

 

Michelangelo - David

Michelangelo – David

In a demonstration of Michelangelo’s unique standing, he was the first Western artist whose biography was published while he was alive.

Two biographies were published of him during his lifetime; one of them, by Giorgio Vasari, proposed that he was the pinnacle of all artistic achievement since the beginning of the Renaissance, a viewpoint that continued to have currency in art history for centuries. In his lifetime he was also often called Il Divino (“the divine one”).

One of the qualities most admired by his contemporaries was his terribilità, a sense of awe-inspiring grandeur, and it was the attempts of subsequent artists to imitate Michelangelo’s impassioned and highly personal style that resulted in Mannerism, the next major movement in Western art after the High Renaissance.

Michelangelo - The Creation of Adam

Michelangelo – The Creation of Adam

The fresco of The Last Judgment on the altar wall of the Sistine Chapel was commissioned by Pope Clement VII, who died shortly after assigning the commission. Paul III was instrumental in seeing that Michelangelo began and completed the project. Michelangelo labored on the project from 1534 to October 1541. The work is massive and spans the entire wall behind the altar of the Sistine Chapel.

Michelangelo - The last judgement

Michelangelo – The last judgement

The Last Judgment is a depiction of the second coming of Christ and the apocalypse; where the souls of humanity rise and are assigned to their various fates, as judged by Christ, surrounded by the Saints. In that work, the position of the figure of Christ appears to pay tribute to that of Melozzo’s Christ in the Ascension of our Lord, once in the Santi Apostoli, now in the Quirinal Palace.

Censorship always followed Michelangelo, The infamous “fig-leaf campaign” of the Counter-Reformation, aiming to cover all representations of human genitals in paintings and sculptures, started with Michelangelo’s works. To give two examples, the marble statue of Cristo della Minerva (church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva, Rome) was covered by added drapery, as it remains today, and the statue of the naked child Jesus in Madonna of Bruges (The Church of Our Lady in Bruges, Belgium) remained covered for several decades. Also, the plaster copy of the David in the Cast Courts (Victoria and Albert Museum) in London, has a fig leaf in a box at the back of the statue. It was there to be placed over the statue’s genitals so that they would not upset visiting female royalty.

Michelangelo - Cristo della Minerva

Michelangelo – Cristo della Minerva

In 1546, Michelangelo was appointed architect of St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, and designed its dome. As St. Peter’s was progressing there was concern that Michelangelo would pass away before the dome was finished. However, once building commenced on the lower part of the dome, the supporting ring, the completion of the design was inevitable. Michelangelo died in Rome at the age of 88 (three weeks before his 89th birthday).

His body was brought back from Rome for interment at the Basilica of Santa Croce, fulfilling the maestro’s last request to be buried in his beloved Tuscany.

Lets now enjoy some of his other celebrated works:

 

Sculpting

 

Painting

 

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 07/09/2012

Albert Bierstadt - Lake Tahoe, (1868), Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Masters of Art: Albert Bierstadt (1830 – 1902)

Albert Bierstadt (January 7, 1830 – February 18, 1902) was a German-American painter best known for his lavish, sweeping landscapes of the American West. In obtaining the subject matter for these works, Bierstadt joined several journeys of the Westward Expansion. Though not the first artist to record these sites, Bierstadt was the foremost painter of these scenes for the remainder of the 19th century.

Albert Bierstadt - Among the Sierra Nevada Mountains, California, (1868), Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC.

Albert Bierstadt – Among the Sierra Nevada Mountains, California, (1868), Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC.

Bierstadt was part of the Hudson River School, not an institution but rather an informal group of like-minded painters. The Hudson River School style involved carefully detailed paintings with romantic, almost glowing lighting, sometimes called luminism. An important interpreter of the western landscape, Bierstadt, along with Thomas Moran, is also grouped with the Rocky Mountain School.

Bierstadt was born in Solingen, Germany. His family moved to New Bedford, Massachusetts, in 1831. He developed a taste for art early and made clever crayon sketches in his youth. In 1851, he began to paint in oils. He studied painting with the members of the Düsseldorf school of painting in Düsseldorf from 1853 to 1857. He taught drawing and painting briefly before devoting himself to painting.

Bierstadt began making paintings in New England and upstate New York. In 1859, he traveled westward in the company of Frederick W. Lander, a land surveyor for the U.S. government, returning with sketches that would result in numerous finished paintings. In 1863 he returned west again, in the company of the author Fitz Hugh Ludlow, whose wife he would later marry. He continued to visit the American West throughout his career.

Though his paintings sold for princely sums, Bierstadt was not held in particularly high esteem by critics of his day. His use of uncommonly large canvases was thought to be an egotistical indulgence, as his paintings would invariably dwarf those of his contemporaries when they were displayed together. The romanticism evident in his choices of subject and in his use of light was felt to be excessive by contemporary critics. His paintings emphasized atmospheric elements like fog, clouds and mist to accentuate and complement the feel of his work. Bierstadt sometimes changed details of the landscape to inspire awe. The colors he used are also not always true. He painted what he believed was the way things should be: water is ultramarine, vegetation is lush and green, etc.

Nonetheless, in 1860 he was elected a member of the National Academy; he received medals in Austria, Bavaria, Belgium, and Germany; and his paintings remain popular.

He was a prolific artist, having completed over 500 (possibly as many as 4000) paintings during his lifetime, most of which have survived. Many are scattered through museums around the United States. Prints are available commercially for many. Original paintings themselves do occasionally come up for sale, at ever increasing prices.

In 1882 his studio at Irvington, New York, was destroyed by fire, with many of his pictures.

Because of Bierstadt’s interest in mountain landscapes, Mount Bierstadt and Bierstadt Lake in Colorado are named in his honor. Bierstadt was probably the first European to visit the summit of Mount Evans in 1863, 1.5 miles from Mount Bierstadt. Bierstadt named it Mount Rosa, a reference to both Monte Rosa above Zermatt and, Rosalie Ludlow, his future wife, but the name was changed from Rosalie to Evans in 1895 in honor of Colorado governor John Evans.

 

Albert Bierstadt - Staubbach Falls, Near Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland, 1865

Albert Bierstadt – Staubbach Falls, Near Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland, 1865

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 05/03/2013

Francisco Goya - Dance of the Majos at the Banks of Manzanares

Life and Paintings of Francisco Goya (1746 – 1828)

Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes (30 March 1746–16 April 1828) was a Spanish romantic painter and printmaker regarded both as the last of the Old Masters and the first of the moderns. Goya was a court painter to the Spanish Crown, and through his works was both a commentator on and chronicler of his era. The subversive and imaginative element in his art, as well as his bold handling of paint, provided a model for the work of later generations of artists, notably Manet, Picasso and Francis Bacon.. In his honour, Spain’s main national film awards are called the Goya Awards.

Movements: Romanticism

Claude-Joseph Vernet - Shipwreck In a Stormy_Sea by the Coast

Life and Paintings of Claude-Joseph Vernet (1714 – 1789)

Claude-Joseph Vernet (14 August 1714 – 3 December 1789) was a French painter. His son, Antoine Charles Horace Vernet, was also a painter.

Vernet was born in Avignon. By fourteen years of age he aided his father Antoine Vernet (a skilled decorative painter) in the most important parts of his work. The panels of sedan chairs, however, could not satisfy his ambition, and Vernet started for Rome. The sight of the sea at Marseilles and his voyage thence to Civitavecchia (Papal States’ main port on the Tyrrhenian Sea) made a deep impression on him, and immediately after his arrival he entered the studio of a marine painter, Bernardino Fergioni.

Claude-Joseph Vernet - Landscape with Bathers (detail)

Claude-Joseph Vernet – Landscape with Bathers (detail)

Claude-Joseph Vernet - Landscape with Bathers

Claude-Joseph Vernet – Landscape with Bathers

Slowly Vernet attracted notice in the artistic milieu of Rome. With a certain conventionality in design, proper to his day, he allied the results of constant and honest observation of natural effects of atmosphere, which he rendered with unusual pictorial art. Perhaps no painter of landscapes or sea-pieces has ever made the human figure so completely a part of the scene depicted or so important a factor in his design. In this respect he was heavily influenced by Giovanni Paolo Panini, whom he probably met and worked with in Rome. Vernet’s work draws on natural themes, but in a way that is neither sentimental nor emotive. The overall effect of his style is wholly decorative. “Others may know better”, he said, with just pride, “how to paint the sky, the earth, the ocean; no one knows better than I how to paint a picture”. His style remained relatively static throughout his life. His works’ attentiveness to atmospheric effects is combined with a sense of harmony that is reminiscent of Claude Lorrain.

Claude-Joseph Vernet - Shipwreck In a Stormy_Sea by the Coast

Claude-Joseph Vernet – Shipwreck In a Stormy_Sea by the Coast

For twenty years Vernet lived in Rome, producing views of seaports, storms, calms, moonlights, becoming especially popular with English aristocrats, many of whom were on the Grand Tour. In 1745 he married an Englishwoman whom he met in the city. In 1753 he was recalled to Paris: there, by royal command, he executed the series of the seaports of France (now in the Louvre and the Musée national de la Marine) by which he is best known. His The Port of Rochefort (1763, Musée national de la Marine) is particularly notable; in the piece Vernet is able to achieve, according to art historian Michael Levey, one of his most ‘crystalline and atmospherically sensitive skies’. Vernet has attempted to bring the foreground of his work to life through painting a wide array of figures engaging in a variety of activities, endeavouring to convey a sense of the commotion and drama of France’s seaports. Throughout his life Vernet returned to Italian themes, as shown through one of his later works – A Seashore (National Gallery). On his return from Rome he became a member of the academy, but he had previously contributed to the exhibitions of 1746 and following years, and he continued to exhibit, with rare exceptions, down to the date of his death, which took place in his lodgings in the Louvre on the 3rd of December 1789. Amongst the very numerous engravers of his works may be specially cited Le Bas, Cochin, Basan, Duret, Flipart and Le Veau in France, and in England Vivares.

 

Claude-Joseph Vernet - a Seashore

Claude-Joseph Vernet – a Seashore

 

Claude-Joseph Vernet - Storm with a Shipwreck

Claude-Joseph Vernet – Storm with a Shipwreck

 

Claude-Joseph Vernet - Shipwreck

Claude-Joseph Vernet – Shipwreck

 

Claude-Joseph Vernet - Shepherd In the Alps

Claude-Joseph Vernet – Shepherd In the Alps

 

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 06/01/2014

Giovanni Francesco Barbieri (Guercino) - Susanna and the Elders

Masters of Art: Guercino (1591 – 1666)

Giovanni Francesco Barbieri (February 8, 1591 – December 22, 1666), best known as Guercino or Il Guercino, was an Italian Baroque painter and draftsman from the region of Emilia, and active in Rome and Bologna. The vigorous naturalism of his early manner is in contrast to the classical equilibrium of his later works. His many drawings are noted for their luminosity and lively style.

Movements: Baroque,  Emotionalism, Classicism

Giovanni Francesco Barbieri (Guercino) - Et in Arcadia Ego

Giovanni Francesco Barbieri (Guercino) – Et in Arcadia Ego

He was born at Cento, a village between Bologna and Ferrara. At an early age he acquired the nickname Guercino (Italian for ‘squinter’) because he was cross-eyed.

Mainly self-taught, he was apprenticed at the age of 16 to Benedetto Gennari, a painter of the Bolognese School. By 1615 he had moved to Bologna, where his work gained the praise of an elder Ludovico Carracci. Guercino painted two large canvases, Elijah Fed by Ravens and Samson Seized by Philistines, in what appears to be a stark naturalist Caravaggesque style (although it is unlikely he had been able to see any of the Roman Caravaggios first-hand). They were painted for Cardinal Serra, Papal Legate to Ferrara.

The Arcadian Shepherds (Et in Arcadia ego) was painted in 1618 contemporary with The Flaying of Marsyas by Apollo in Palazzo Pitti. Its dramatic composition is typical of Guercino’s early works, which are often tumultuous. His first style, he often claimed, was influenced by a canvas of Annibale Carracci in Cento. Some of his later pieces approach rather to the manner of his contemporary Guido Reni, and are painted with more lightness and clearness.

Giovanni Francesco Barbieri (Guercino) - Angels Weeping over the Dead Christ

Giovanni Francesco Barbieri (Guercino) – Angels Weeping over the Dead Christ

He was recommended by Marchese Enzo Bentivoglio to the Bolognese Ludovisi Pope, Pope Gregory XV. The two years he spent in Rome, 1621–23, were very productive. From this period came his frescoes of Aurora at the casino of the Villa Ludovisi and the ceiling in San Crisogono (1622) of San Chrysogonus in Glory; his portrait of Pope Gregory (now in the Getty Museum, and, what is considered his masterpiece, The Burial of Saint Petronilla or St. Petronilla Altarpiece, for the Vatican (now in the Museo Capitolini).

After the death of Gregory XV, Guercino returned to his hometown. In 1626 he began his frescoes in the Duomo of Piacenza. The details of his career after 1629 are well documented in the account book, the Libro dei conti, that Guercino and his brother, Paolo Antonio Barbieri, kept and which has been preserved.

In 1642, following the death of Guido Reni in Bologna, Guercino moved his busy workshop to that city and become its principal painter. The Franciscan order of Reggio in 1655 paid him 300 ducats for the altarpiece of Saint Luke Displaying a Painting of the Madonna and Child (now in Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City). The Corsini also paid him 300 ducats for the Flagellation of Christ painted in 1657.

Giovanni Francesco Barbieri (Guercino) - Virgin and Child with Four Saints

Giovanni Francesco Barbieri (Guercino) – Virgin and Child with Four Saints

He was remarkable for the extreme rapidity of his execution—he completed no fewer than 106 large altar-pieces for churches, and his other paintings amount to about 144. He was a prolific draftsman who made many drawings, usually in ink, ink with wash, or red chalk. Most were made as preparatory studies for his paintings, but for his own enjoyment he also drew landscapes, genre subjects, and caricatures. His drawings are noted for their fluent style in which “rapid, calligraphic pen strokes combined with dots, dashes, and parallel hatching lines describe the forms”.

Let’s now enjoy his most celebrated works

Giovanni Francesco Barbieri (Guercino) - The Martyrdom of St Peter

Giovanni Francesco Barbieri (Guercino) – The Martyrdom of St Peter

Giovanni Francesco Barbieri (Guercino) - Susanna and the Elders

Giovanni Francesco Barbieri (Guercino) – Susanna and the Elders

Giovanni Francesco Barbieri (Guercino) - St William of Aquitaine Receiving the Cowl

Giovanni Francesco Barbieri (Guercino) – St William of Aquitaine Receiving the Cowl

Giovanni Francesco Barbieri (Guercino) - St Peter Weeping before the Virgin

Giovanni Francesco Barbieri (Guercino) – St Peter Weeping before the Virgin

Giovanni Francesco Barbieri (Guercino) - Semiramis Receiving Word of the Revolt of Babylon

Giovanni Francesco Barbieri (Guercino) – Semiramis Receiving Word of the Revolt of Babylon

Giovanni Francesco Barbieri (Guercino) - Samson Captured by the Philistines

Giovanni Francesco Barbieri (Guercino) – Samson Captured by the Philistines

Giovanni Francesco Barbieri (Guercino) - Madonna of the Swallow

Giovanni Francesco Barbieri (Guercino) – Madonna of the Swallow

Giovanni Francesco Barbieri (Guercino) - Abraham Casting Out Hagar and Ishmael

Giovanni Francesco Barbieri (Guercino) – Abraham Casting Out Hagar and Ishmael

Giovanni Francesco Barbieri (Guercino) -The Toilet of Venus

Giovanni Francesco Barbieri (Guercino) -The Toilet of Venus

Guercino continued to paint and teach up to the time of his death in 1666, amassing a notable fortune. As he never married, his estate passed to his nephews, Benedetto Gennari II and Cesare Gennari.

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 13/11/2012

Ary Scheffer - Battle

Life and Paintings of Ary Scheffer (1795 – 1858)

Ary Scheffer (10 February 1795 – 15 June 1858), French painter of Dutch and German extraction, was born in Dordrecht.

After the early death of his father Johann Baptist, a poor painter, Ary’s mother Cornelia, herself a painter and daughter of landscapist Arie Lamme, took him to Paris and placed him in the studio of Pierre-Narcisse Guérin. When Scheffer left Guérin’s studio, Romanticism had come into vogue in France, with such painters as Xavier Sigalon, Eugène Delacroix and Théodore Géricault. Scheffer did not show much affinity with their work and developed his own style, which has been called “frigidly classical”.

Ary Scheffer - Self portrait

Ary Scheffer – Self portrait

Scheffer often painted subjects from literature, especially the works of Dante, Byron and Goethe. Two versions of Dante and Beatrice and have been preserved at Wolverhampton Art Gallery, United Kingdom, and Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, USA. Particularly highly praised was his Francesca da Rimini painted in 1836. Ary Sheffer’s popular Faust-themed paintings include Margaret at her wheel; Faust doubting; Margaret at the Sabbat; Margaret leaving church; The garden walk, and Margaret at the well. In 1836, he painted two pictures of Goethe’s character Mignon.

He now turned to religious subjects: Christus Consolator (1836) was followed by Christus Remunerator, The shepherds led by the star (1837), The Magi laying down their crowns, Christ in the Garden of Olives, Christ bearing his Cross, Christ interred (1845), and St Augustine and Monica (1846).

His Christus Consolator, lost for 70 years, was rediscovered in a janitor’s closet in Gethsemane Lutheran Church in Dassel, Minnesota in 2007. It has been restored and is on display at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

Ary Scheffer - The Ghosts of Paolo and Francesca Appear to Dante and Virgil

Ary Scheffer – The Ghosts of Paolo and Francesca Appear to Dante and Virgil

Scheffer was also an accomplished portrait painter. His subjects included composers Frédéric Chopin and Franz Liszt, the Marquis de la Fayette, Pierre-Jean de Béranger, Alphonse de Lamartine, Charles Dickens, Duchess de Broglie, Talleyrand and Queen Marie Amélie.

After 1846, he ceased to exhibit. His strong ties with the royal family caused him to fall out of favour when, in 1848, the Second Republic came into being. Shut up in his studio, he produced many paintings that were only exhibited after his death, which took place at Argenteuil on the 15th of June 1858. He is buried in the Cimetière de Montmartre.

Ary Scheffer - Faust and Marguerite in the Garden

Ary Scheffer – Faust and Marguerite in the Garden

The works first exhibited posthumously include Sorrows of the earth, and the Angel announcing the Resurrection, which he had left unfinished. By the time of his death, his reputation was damaged: though his paintings were praised for their charm and facility, they were condemned for poor use of color and vapid sentiment.

Scheffer was married to the widow of General Baudrand. His brother Hendrik, born at the Hague on 27 September 1798, was also a prolific painter. Scheffer was made commander of the Legion of Honour in 1848, that is, after he had wholly withdrawn from the Salon.

 

Ary Scheffer - Margaret at the Fountain

Ary Scheffer – Margaret at the Fountain

 

Ary Scheffer - The Death of Gericault

Ary Scheffer – The Death of Gericault

 

Ary Scheffer - Portrait De Mme Frederick Kent

Ary Scheffer – Portrait De Mme Frederick Kent

 

Ary Scheffer - Macbeth et Les Sorcieres

Ary Scheffer – Macbeth et Les Sorcieres

 

Ary Scheffer - Battle

Ary Scheffer – Battle

 

Ary Scheffer - Santa Monique and Saint Augustin

Ary Scheffer – Santa Monique and Saint Augustin

 

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Article publié pour la première fois le 02/01/2014

Jan Van Eyck - Self-portrait

Masters of Art: Jan Van Eyck (1395 – 1441)

Jan van Eyck (or Johannes de Eyck)(c. 1395 –  1441) was a Flemish painter active in Bruges and is generally considered one of the most significant Northern European painters of the 15th century. The few surviving records indicate that he was born around 1390, most likely in Maaseik. Little is known of his early life, but his activities following his appointment to the court of Philip the Good c. 1425 are comparatively well documented.

Movements: Renaissance, Naturalism

Jan Van Eyck - Self-portrait

Jan Van Eyck – Self-portrait

Van Eyck had previously served John of Bavaria-Straubing, then ruler of Holland, Hainault and Zeeburg. By this time van Eyck had assembled a workshop and was involved in redecorating the Binnenhof palace in The Hague. He moved to Bruges sometime around 1425 and there came to the attention of Philip the Good. He served as both court artist and diplomat and became a senior member of the Tournai painters’ guild, where he enjoyed the company of similarly esteemed artists such as Robert Campin and Rogier van der Weyden. Over the following decade van Eyck’s reputation and technical ability grew, mostly from his innovative approaches towards the handling and manipulating of oil paint.

His revolutionary approach to oil was such that a myth, perpetuated by Giorgio Vasari, arose that he had invented oil painting.

It is known from historical record that van Eyck was considered a revolutionary master across northern Europe within his lifetime; his designs and methods were heavily copied and reproduced. His motto, one of the first and still most distinctive signatures in art history, “ALS IK KAN” (“AS I CAN”) first appeared in 1433 on Portrait of a Man in a Turban, which is most likely a self portrait and indicative of his emerging self confidence at the time.

The years between 1434 and 1436 are generally considered his high point when he produced works including the Madonna of Chancellor Rolin, Lucca Madonna and Virgin and Child with Canon van der Paele. That year he married the much younger Margaret. Records from 1437 on suggest that he was held in high esteem by the upper ranks of Burgundian nobility while also accepting many foreign commissions. He died young in July 1441, leaving behind many unfinished works to be completed by workshop journeymen; works that are nevertheless today considered major examples of Early Netherlandish painting. His local and international reputation was aided by his ties to the then political and cultural influence of the Burgundian court.

Lets enjoy some of his most important works:

St Jerome

St Jerome

Madonna mit dem lesenden Kinde

Madonna mit dem lesenden Kinde

Madonna des Kanonikus Georg van der Paele

Madonna des Kanonikus Georg van der Paele

Madonna at the Fountain

Madonna at the Fountain

Die Stigmatisation des Hl. Franziskus

Die Stigmatisation des Hl. Franziskus

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Article publié pour la première fois le 03/08/2012

Giorgione - The Three Ages

Masters of Art: Giorgione (1477 – 1510)

Giorgio Barbarelli da Castelfranco;  or simply Giorgione; (c. 1477/8 – 1510) was a Venetian painter of the High Renaissance in Venice, whose career was cut off by his death at a little over thirty.

Giorgione is known for the elusive poetic quality of his work, though only about six surviving paintings are acknowledged for certain to be his work. The resulting uncertainty about the identity and meaning of his art has made Giorgione one of the most mysterious figures in European painting.

Movements: Renaissance, Naturalism, Monumentalism, Secularism

Together with Titian, who was slightly younger, he is the founder of the distinctive Venetian school of Italian Renaissance painting, which achieves much of its effect through colour and mood, and is traditionally contrasted with the reliance on a more linear disegno of Florentine painting.

The painter came from the small town of Castelfranco Veneto, 40 km inland from Venice. How early in boyhood he went to Venice we do not know, but stylistic evidence supports the statement of Carlo Ridolfi that he served his apprenticeship there under Giovanni Bellini; there he settled and made his fame.

Contemporary documents record that his gifts were recognized early. In 1500, when he was only twenty-three, he was chosen to paint portraits of the Doge Agostino Barbarigo and the condottiere Consalvo Ferrante.

In 1504 he was commissioned to paint an altarpiece in memory of another condottiere, Matteo Costanzo, in the cathedral of his native town, Castelfranco. In 1507 he received at the order of the Council of Ten part payment for a picture (subject not mentioned) on which he was engaged for the Hall of the Audience in the Doge’s Palace.

Giorgione - Portrait of Warrior with his Equerry

Giorgione – Portrait of Warrior with his Equerry

In 1507-1508 he was employed, with other artists of his generation, to decorate with frescoes the exterior of the newly rebuilt Fondaco dei Tedeschi (or German Merchants’ Hall) at Venice, having already done similar work on the exterior of the Casa Soranzo, the Casa Grimani alli Servi and other Venetian palaces. Very little of this work survives today.

Giorgione met with Leonardo da Vinci on the occasion of the Tuscan master’s visit to Venice in 1500. All accounts agree in representing Giorgione as a person of distinguished and romantic charm, a great lover and a musician, given to express in his art the sensuous and imaginative grace, touched with poetic melancholy, of the Venetian existence of his time. They represent him further as having made in Venetian painting an advance analogous to that made in Tuscan painting by Leonardo more than twenty years before; that is, as having released the art from the last shackles of archaic rigidity and placed it in possession of full freedom and the full mastery of its means.

He was very closely associated with Titian; Vasari says Giorgione was Titian’s master, while Ridolfi says they both were pupils of Bellini, and lived in his house. They worked together on the Fondaco dei Tedeschi frescoes, and Titian finished at least some paintings of Giorgione after his death, although which ones remains very controversial.

Giorgione also introduced a new range of subjects. Besides altarpieces and portraits he painted pictures that told no story, whether biblical or classical, or if they professed to tell a story, neglected the action and simply embodied in form and color moods of lyrical or romantic feeling, much as a musician might embody them in sounds. Innovating with the courage and felicity of genius, he had for a time an overwhelming influence on his contemporaries and immediate successors in the Venetian school, including Titian, Sebastiano del Piombo, Palma il Vecchio, il Cariani, Giulio Campagnola (and his brother), and even on his already eminent master, Giovanni Bellini. In the Venetian mainland, Giorgionismo strongly influenced Morto da Feltre, Domenico Capriolo, and Domenico Mancini.

Giorgione died, probably of the plague then raging, by October, 1510. October 1510 is also the date of a letter by Isabella d’Este to a Venetian friend; asking him to buy a painting by Giorgione; in the letter she is aware he is already dead. Significantly, the reply a month later said the painting was not to be had at any price.

Giorgione - Sleeping Venus

Giorgione – Sleeping Venus

His name and work continue to exercise a spell on posterity. But to identify and define, among the relics of his age and school, precisely what that work is, and to distinguish it from the similar work of other men whom his influence inspired, is a very difficult matter.

Though there are no longer any supporters of the “Pan Giorgionismus” which a century ago claimed for Giorgione nearly every painting of the time that at all resembles his manner, there are still, as then, exclusive critics who reduce to half a dozen the list of extant pictures which they will admit to be actually by this master.

Giorgione - The Three Philosophers

Giorgione – The Three Philosophers

The difficulty in making secure attributions of work by Giorgione’s hand dates from soon after his death, when some of his paintings were completed by other artists, and his considerable reputation also led to very early erroneous claims of attribution. The vast bulk of documentation for paintings in this period relates to large commissions for Church or government; the small domestic panels that make up the bulk of Giorgione’s oeuvre are always far less likely to be recorded. Other artists continued to work in his style for some years, and probably by the mid-century deliberately deceptive work had started.

Giorgione - The Three Ages

Giorgione – The Three Ages

Though he died at 33, Giorgione left a lasting legacy to be developed by Titian and 17th-century artists. Giorgione never subordinated line and colour to architecture, nor an artistic effect to a sentimental presentation. He was arguably the first Italian to paint landscapes with figures as movable pictures in their own frames with no devotional, allegorical, or historical purpose — and the first whose colours possessed that ardent, glowing, and melting intensity which was so soon to typify the work of all the Venetian School

Let’s enjoy some of his other most celebrated works:

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Article publié pour la première fois le 11/09/2012

Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun - Self-Portrait with Her Daughter, Julie

Masters of Art: Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun (1755 – 1842)

Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun (Marie Élisabeth Louise; 16 April 1755 – 30 March 1842) was a French painter, and is recognized as the most important female painter of the 18th century. Her style is generally considered Rococo and shows interest in the subject of neoclassical painting. Vigée Le Brun cannot be considered a pure Neoclassist, however, in that she creates mostly portraits in Neoclassical dress rather than the History painting. In her choice of color and style while serving as the portrait painter to Marie Antoinette, Vigée Le Brun is purely Rococo.

Movements: Rococo, Neoclassicism

Born in Paris on 16 April 1755, Marie-Louise-Élisabeth Vigée was the daughter of a portraitist and fan painter, Louis Vigée, from whom she received her first instruction. Her mother was a hairdresser.

Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun - Self-Portrait

Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun – Self-Portrait

She was sent to live with relatives in Épernon until the age of 6 when she entered a convent where she remained for five years. Her father died when she was 12 years old following an infection from surgery to remove a fish bone lodged in his throat. In 1768, her mother married a wealthy jeweler, Jacques-Francois Le Sèvre and the family moved to the rue Saint-Honoré close to the Palais Royal. She was later patronised by the wealthy heiress Louise Marie Adélaïde de Bourbon, wife of Philippe Égalité. During this period Louise Élisabeth benefited by the advice of Gabriel François Doyen, Jean-Baptiste Greuze, Joseph Vernet, and other masters of the period.

By the time she was in her early teens, Louise Élisabeth was painting portraits professionally. After her studio was seized, for practising without a license, she applied to the Académie de Saint Luc, which unwittingly exhibited her works in their Salon. On 25 October 1783, she was made a member of the Académie.

On 7 August 1775 she married Jean-Baptiste-Pierre Le Brun, a painter and art dealer. (Her husband’s great uncle was Charles Le Brun, first Director of the French Academy under Louis XIV.) Vigée Le Brun painted portraits of many of the nobility of the day and as her career blossomed, she was invited to the Palace of Versailles to paint Marie Antoinette. So pleased was the queen that during a period of six years, Vigée Le Brun would paint more than thirty portraits of the queen and her family, leading to her being commonly viewed as the official portraitist of Marie Antoinette. Whilst of benefit during the reign of the Bourbon royals, this label was to prove problematic later.

On 12 February 1780, Vigée Le Brun gave birth to a daughter, Jeanne Julie Louise, whom she called “Julie”.

In 1781 she and her husband toured Flanders and the Netherlands where seeing the works of the Flemish masters inspired her to try new techniques. There, she painted portraits of some of the nobility, including the Prince of Nassau.

On 31 May 1783, Vigée Le Brun was accepted as a member of France’s Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture. She submitted numerous portraits along with an allegorical history painting which she considered her morceau de réception—La Paix qui ramène l’Abondance (Peace Bringing Back Prosperity). The Academy did not place her work within an academic category of type of painting—history or portraiture.

Adélaïde Labille-Guiard also was admitted on the same day. The admission of Vigée Le Brun was opposed on the grounds that her husband was an art dealer, but eventually they were overruled by an order from Louis XVI because Marie Antoinette put considerable pressure on her husband on behalf of her painter. In 1789, she was succeeded as court painter to Marie Antoinette by Alexander Kucharsky.

After the arrest of the royal family during the French Revolution Vigée Le Brun fled France with her young daughter Julie. She lived and worked for some years in Italy, Austria, and Russia, where her experience in dealing with an aristocratic clientele was still useful. In Rome, her paintings met with great critical acclaim and she was elected to the Roman Accademia di San Luca.

Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun - Hubert Robert, Artist

Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun – Hubert Robert, Artist

In Russia, she was received by the nobility and painted numerous aristocrats including the last king of Poland Stanisław August Poniatowski and members of the family of Catherine the Great. Although the French aesthetic was widely admired in Russia there remained some cultural differences in what was deemed acceptable. Catherine was not initially happy with Vigée Le Brun’s portrait of her granddaughters, Elena and Alexandra Pavlovna, due to the area of bare skin the short sleeved gowns revealed. In order to please the Empress, Vigée Le Brun added sleeves giving the work its characteristic look. This tactic seemed effective in pleasing Catherine as she agreed to sit herself for Vigée Le Brun (although Catherine died of a stroke before this work was due to begin).

While in Saint Petersburg, Vigée Le Brun was made a member of the Academy of Fine Arts of Saint Petersburg. Much to Vigée Le Brun’s dismay, her daughter Julie married a Russian nobleman.

After a sustained campaign by her ex-husband and other family members to have her name removed from the list of counter-revolutionary émigrés, Vigée Le Brun was finally able to return to France during the reign of Emperor Napoleon I. In spite of being no longer labeled as émigrée, her relationship with the new regime was never totally harmonious, as might be expected given that she was a strong royalist and the former portraitist of Marie Antoinette.

Much in demand by the élite of Europe, she visited England at the beginning of the 19th century and painted the portrait of several British notables including Lord Byron. In 1807 she traveled to Switzerland and was made an honorary member of the Société pour l’Avancement des Beaux-Arts of Geneva.

She published her memoirs in 1835 and 1837, which provide an interesting view of the training of artists at the end of the period dominated by royal academies. Her portrait of fellow neoclassical painter, Hubert Robert, is in Paris at Musée National du Louvre.

Still very active with her painting in her fifties, she purchased a house in Louveciennes, Île-de-France, and lived there until the house was seized by the Prussian Army during the war in 1814. She stayed in Paris until her death on 30 March 1842 when her body was taken back to Louveciennes and buried in the Cimetière de Louveciennes near her old home.

Her tombstone epitaph states:

Ici, enfin, je repose… (Here, at last, I rest…)

Vigée Le Brun left a legacy of 660 portraits and 200 landscapes. In addition to private collections, her works may be found at major museums, such as Hermitage Museum, London’s National Gallery, in Europe and the United States.

Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun - Self-Portrait with Her Daughter, Julie

Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun – Self-Portrait with Her Daughter, Julie

 

Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun - The Daughter Portrait

Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun – The Daughter Portrait

Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun - The Genius of Alexander

Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun – The Genius of Alexander

Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun - Madame d'Aguesseau de Fresnes

Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun – Madame d’Aguesseau de Fresnes

Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun - Marie Antoinette

Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun – Marie Antoinette

Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun - Portrait of a Young Woman

Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun – Portrait of a Young Woman

Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun - Portrait of Anna Pitt as Hebe

Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun – Portrait of Anna Pitt as Hebe

Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun - Portrait of Hyacinthe Gabrielle Roland

Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun – Portrait of Hyacinthe Gabrielle Roland

Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun - Portrait of Hyacinthe Gabrielle Roland

Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun – Portrait of Hyacinthe Gabrielle Roland

Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun - Self-Portrait in a Straw Hat

Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun – Self-Portrait in a Straw Hat

 

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

Joseph Turner - The Grand Canal, Venice

Masters of Art: Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775 – 1851)

Joseph Mallord William “J. M. W.” Turner, RA (23 April 1775 – 19 December 1851) was a British Romantic landscape painter, water-colourist, and printmaker. Turner was considered a controversial figure in his day, but is now regarded as the artist who elevated landscape painting to an eminence rivalling history painting. Although renowned for his oil paintings, Turner is also one of the greatest masters of British watercolour landscape painting. He is commonly known as “the painter of light” and his work is regarded as a Romantic preface to Impressionism.

Movements: Romanticism, Classicism, Impressionism 

Joseph Mallord William Turner was born on or around the 23 April 1775 in Maiden Lane, Covent Garden, London, England. His father, William Turner (1738–7 August 1829), was a barber and wig maker,his mother, Mary Marshall, came from a family of butchers. A younger sister, Mary Ann Turner, was born in September 1778 but died aged four in August 1783.

In 1785, as a result of a “fit of illness” in the family the young Turner was sent to stay with his maternal uncle, Joseph Mallord William Marshall, in Brentford, which was then a small town west of London on the banks of the River Thames. From this period, the earliest known artistic exercise by Turner is found, a series of simple colourings of engraved plates from Henry Boswell’s Picturesque View of the Antiquities of England and Wales.

Joseph Turner - Self-Portrait

Joseph Turner – Self-Portrait

Around 1786, Turner was sent to Margate on the north-east Kent coast. Here Turner produced a series of early drawings of the town and surrounding area foreshadowing his later work. Turner would return to Margate many times in later life. By this time, Turner’s drawings were already being exhibited in his father’s shop window and sold for a few shillings each. His father boasted to the artist Thomas Stothard that: “My son, sir, is going to be a painter”.In 1789 Turner again stayed with his uncle, who by this time had retired to Sunningwell in Oxford. A whole sketchbook of work from his time in Oxford survives, as well as an early watercolour of Oxford. The use of pencil sketches on location as a basis for later finished paintings would form the basis of Turner’s essential working style for his whole career.

Many of the early sketches by Turner were studies of Architecture and/or exercises in perspective and it is known that the young Turner worked for several architects including Thomas Hardwick (junior), James Wyatt and Bonomi the Elder.

By the end of 1789 he had also begun to study under the topographical draughtsman Thomas Malton, whom Turner would later call “My real master”. He entered the Royal Academy of Art schools in 1789, when he was only 14 years old, and was accepted into the academy a year later. Sir Joshua Reynolds, president of the Royal Academy, chaired the panel that admitted him. At first Turner showed a keen interest in architecture but was advised to continue painting by the architect Thomas Hardwick (junior). His first watercolour A View of the Archbishop’s Palace, Lambeth was accepted for the Summer Exhibition of 1790 when Turner was only 15.

As a probationer in the Academy, he was taught drawing (not painting) from plaster casts of antique sculptures and his name appears in the registry of the Academy over a hundred times from July 1790 to October 1793. In June 1792 he was admitted to the life class to learn to draw the human body from nude models.

Turner continued to exhibit watercolours each year at the Academy – travelling in the summer and painting in the winter. He travelled widely throughout Britain, particularly to Wales, and produced a wide range of sketches for working up into studies and watercolours. These particularly focused on architectural work, which utilised his skills as a draughtsman. In 1793, he showed a watercolour with the title The Rising Squall – Hot Wells from St Vincent’s Rock Bristol (now lost) that foreshadowed his later climatic effects.

Cunningham in his obituary of Turner wrote that it was: “recognised by the wiser few as a nobel attempt at lift in landscape art out of the tame insipidities…[and] evinced for the fist time that mastery of effect for which he is now justly celebrated.”

Turner exhibited his first oil painting at the Academy in 1796, Fishermen at Sea. A nocturnal moonlit scene off the Needles, Isle of Wight. The image of boats in peril contrasts the cold light of the moon with the firelight glow of the fishermen’s lantern. Wilton has said that the image: “Is a summary of all that had been said about the sea by the artists of the eighteenth century.” and shows strong influence by artists such as Horace Vernet, Philip James de Loutherbourg and Willem van de Velde the Younger. The image was praised by contemporary critics and would found Turner’s reputation, both as an oil painter and as a painter of maritime scenes.

Turner travelled widely in Europe, starting with France and Switzerland in 1802 and studying in the Louvre in Paris in the same year. He also made many visits toVenice. On a visit to Lyme Regis, in Dorset, England, he painted a stormy scene (now in the Cincinnati Art Museum).

Important support for his work also came from Walter Ramsden Fawkes, of Farnley Hall, near Otley in Yorkshire, who became a close friend of the artist.

Joseph Turner - The Grand Canal, Venice

Joseph Turner – The Grand Canal, Venice

Turner first visited Otley in 1797, aged 22, when commissioned to paint watercolours of the area. He was so attracted to Otley and the surrounding area that he returned to it throughout his career. The stormy backdrop of Hannibal Crossing The Alps is reputed to have been inspired by a storm over Otley’s Chevin while Turner was staying at Farnley Hall.

Turner was also a frequent guest of George O’Brien Wyndham, 3rd Earl of Egremont at Petworth House in West Sussex and painted scenes that Egremont funded taken from the grounds of the house and of the Sussex countryside, including a view of the Chichester Canal. Petworth House still displays a number of paintings.

As he grew older, Turner became more eccentric. He had few close friends except for his father, who lived with him for 30 years, eventually working as his studio assistant. His father’s death in 1829 had a profound effect on him, and thereafter he was subject to bouts of depression. He never married but had a relationship with an older widow, Sarah Danby. He is believed to have been the father of her two daughters born in 1801 and 1811.

He died in the house of his mistress Sophia Caroline Booth in Cheyne Walk, Chelsea on 19 December 1851. He is said to have uttered the last words “The sun is God” before expiring. At his request he was buried in St Paul’s Cathedral, where he lies next to Sir Joshua Reynolds. His last exhibition at the Royal Academy was in 1850.

The architect Philip Hardwick (1792–1870) who was a friend of Turner’s and also the son of the artist’s tutor, Thomas Hardwick, was in charge of making his funeralarrangements and wrote to those who knew Turner to tell them at the time of his death that, “I must inform you, we have lost him.” Other active executors were his cousin and executor, and chief mourner at the funeral, Henry Harpur IV (benefactor of Westminster – now Chelsea & Westminster – Hospital), Revd. Henry Scott Trimmer, George Jones RA and Charles Turner ARA.

Turner’s talent was recognised early in his life. Financial independence allowed Turner to innovate freely; his mature work is characterised by a chromatic palette and broadly applied atmospheric washes of paint. According to David Piper’s The Illustrated History of Art, his later pictures were called “fantastic puzzles.” However, Turner was still recognised as an artistic genius: the influential English art critic John Ruskindescribed Turner as the artist who could most “stirringly and truthfully measure the moods of Nature.” (Piper 321)

Suitable vehicles for Turner’s imagination were to be found in the subjects of shipwrecks, fires (such as the burning of Parliament in 1834, an event which Turner rushed to witness first-hand, and which he transcribed in a series of watercolour sketches), natural catastrophes, and natural phenomena such as sunlight, storm, rain, and fog. He was fascinated by the violent power of the sea, as seen in Dawn after the Wreck (1840) and The Slave Ship (1840).

Turner’s major venture into printmaking was the Liber Studiorum (Book of Studies), a set of seventy prints that the artist worked on from 1806 to 1819. The Liber Studiorum was an expression of his intentions for landscape art. Loosely based on Claude Lorrain’s Liber Veritatis (Book of Truth), the plates were meant to be widely disseminated, and categorised the genre into six types: Marine, Mountainous, Pastoral, Historical, Architectural, and Elevated or Epic Pastoral.His printmaking was a major part of his output, and a whole museum is devoted to it, the Turner Museum in Sarasota, Florida, founded in 1974 by Douglass Montrose-Graem to house his collection of Turner prints.

Joseph Turner - Ulysses Deriding Polyphemus

Joseph Turner – Ulysses Deriding Polyphemus

Turner placed human beings in many of his paintings to indicate his affection for humanity on the one hand (note the frequent scenes of people drinking and merry-making or working in the foreground), but its vulnerability and vulgarity amid the ‘sublime’ nature of the world on the other hand. ‘Sublime’ here means awe-inspiring, savage grandeur, a natural world unmastered by man, evidence of the power of God–a theme that artists and poets were exploring in this period.

The significance of light was to Turner the emanation of God’s spirit and this was why he refined the subject matter of his later paintings by leaving out solid objects and detail, concentrating on the play of light on water, the radiance of skies and fires. Although these late paintings appear to be ‘impressionistic’ and therefore a forerunner of the French school, Turner was striving for expression of spirituality in the world, rather than responding primarily to optical phenomena.

His distinctive style of painting, in which he used watercolour technique with oil paints, created lightness, fluency, and ephemeral atmospheric effects.

One popular story about Turner, though it likely has little basis in reality, states that he even had himself “tied to the mast of a ship in order to experience the drama” of the elements during a storm at sea.

In his later years he used oils ever more transparently, and turned to an evocation of almost pure light by use of shimmering colour. A prime example of his mature style can be seen in Rain, Steam and Speed – The Great Western Railway, where the objects are barely recognizable. The intensity of hue and interest in evanescent light not only placed Turner’s work in the vanguard of English painting, but later exerted an influence upon art in France, as well; the Impressionists, particularly Claude Monet, carefully studied his techniques.

Turner left a small fortune which he hoped would be used to support what he called “decayed artists”. He planned and designed an almshouse for them at Twickenham with a gallery for some of his works. His will was contested and in 1856, after a court battle, part of his fortune was awarded to his first cousins including Thomas Price Turner.

Another portion of the money went to the Royal Academy of Arts, which occasionally awards students the Turner Medal. His collection of finished paintings was bequeathed to the British nation, and he intended that a special gallery would be built to house them. This did not come to pass owing to a failure to agree on a site, and then to the parsimony of British governments. Twenty-two years after his death, the British Parliament passed an Act allowing his paintings to be lent to museums outside London, and so began the process of scattering the pictures which Turner had wanted to be kept together.

Joseph Turner - The Angel Standing in the Sun

Joseph Turner – The Angel Standing in the Sun

In 1910 the main part of the Turner Bequest, which includes unfinished paintings and drawings, was rehoused in the Duveen Turner Wing at the Tate Gallery. In 1987 a new wing of the Tate, the Clore Gallery, was opened specifically to house the Turner bequest, though some of the most important paintings in it remain in the National Gallery in contravention of Turner’s condition that the finished pictures be kept and shown together.

Increasingly paintings are lent abroad, ignoring Turner’s provision that they be kept “constantly” in Turner’s Gallery. After the Turner content was diminished and diluted in the Clore Gallery from c. 2002, in 2010–12 only two of the nine rooms on the main floor were devoted to Turner. The claim that the Tate was fulfilling Turner’s wishes was dropped in 1995, when the Charity Commission said that the Turner Bequest had been free of Turner’s conditions. This was challenged by Leolin Price QC.

The Turner Society was founded by Selby Whittingham at London and Manchester in 1975. After that endorsed the Tate Gallery’s Clore Gallery wing as the solution (on the lines of the Duveen wing of 1910), to the controversy of what should be done with the Turner Bequest, Selby Whittingham resigned from that and founded the Independent Turner Society.

A prestigious annual art award, the Turner Prize, created in 1984, was named in Turner’s honour, and twenty years later the Winsor & Newton Turner Watercolour Award was founded.

A major exhibition, “Turner’s Britain”, with material (including The Fighting Temeraire) on loan from around the globe, was held at Birmingham Museum & Art Galleryfrom 7 November 2003 to 8 February 2004.

In 2005, Turner’s The Fighting Temeraire was voted Britain’s “greatest painting” in a public poll organised by the BBC.

 

Joseph Turner - The Fall of an Avalanche in the Grisons

Joseph Turner – The Fall of an Avalanche in the Grisons

Joseph Turner - The 'Fighting Temeraire' tugged to her Last Berth to be broken up

Joseph Turner – The ‘Fighting Temeraire’ tugged to her Last Berth to be broken up

Joseph Turner - Undine Giving the Ring to Massaniello, Fisherman of Naples

Joseph Turner – Undine Giving the Ring to Massaniello, Fisherman of Naples

Joseph Turner - Campo Santo

Joseph Turner – Campo Santo

Joseph Turner - Dutch Boats in a Gale

Joseph Turner – Dutch Boats in a Gale

Joseph Turner - Frosty Morning

Joseph Turner – Frosty Morning

Joseph Turner - Heriot's Hospital, Edinburgh

Joseph Turner – Heriot’s Hospital, Edinburgh

Joseph Turner - Peace - Burial at Sea

Joseph Turner – Peace – Burial at Sea

Joseph Turner - Peace - The Shipwreck

Joseph Turner – Peace – The Shipwreck

Joseph Turner - Quillebeuf, at the Mouth of Seine

Joseph Turner – Quillebeuf, at the Mouth of Seine

Joseph Turner - Rain, Steam and Speed The Great Western Railway

Joseph Turner – Rain, Steam and Speed The Great Western Railway

Joseph Turner - San Giorgio Maggiore at Dawn

Joseph Turner – San Giorgio Maggiore at Dawn

 

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

 

Antonio da Correggio - Danaë

Life and Paintings of Antonio da Correggio (1489 – 1534)

Antonio Allegri da Correggio (August 1489 – March 5, 1534), usually known as Correggio, was the foremost painter of the Parma school of the Italian Renaissance, who was responsible for some of the most vigorous and sensuous works of the 16th century. In his use of dynamic composition, illusionistic perspective and dramatic foreshortening, Correggio prefigured the Rococo art of the 18th century.

Movements: Renaissance, Illusionism, Monumentalism

[Please note that Corregio’s paintings contain nudity, if that offends you don’t read the article.]

Antonio da Correggio - The Education of Cupid

Antonio da Correggio – The Education of Cupid

Antonio Allegri was born in Correggio, Italy, a small town near Reggio Emilia. His date of birth is uncertain (around 1489). His father was a merchant. Otherwise, little is known about Correggio’s life or training. In the years 1503-1505 he apprenticed to Francesco Bianchi Ferrara of Modena. Here he probably knew the classicism of artists like Lorenzo Costa and Francesco Francia, evidence of which can be found in his first works. After a trip to Mantua in 1506, he returned to Correggio, where he stayed until 1510.

To this period is assigned the Adoration of the Child with St. Elizabeth and John, which shows clear influences from Costa and Mantegna. In 1514 he probably finished three tondos for the entrance of the church of Sant’Andrea in Mantua, and then returned to Correggio: here, as an independent and increasingly renowned artist, he signed a contract for the Madonna altarpiece in the local monastery of St. Francis (now in the Dresden Gemäldegalerie). Correggio’s first major commission (February–September 1519) was the ceiling decoration of the private dining salon of the mother-superior (abbess Giovanna Piacenza) of the convent of St Paul called the Camera di San Paolo at Parma. Here he painted a delightful arbor pierced by oculi opening to glimpses of playful cherubs.

Below the oculi are lunettes with images of feigned monochromic marble. The fireplace is frescoed with an image of Diana. The iconography of the unit is complex, joining images of classical marbles to whimsical colorful bambini. While it recalls the secular frescoes of the pleasure palace of the Villa Farnesina in Rome, it is also a strikingly novel form of interior decoration. Other masterpieces include The Lamentation and The Martyrdom of Four Saints, both at the Galleria Nazionale of Parma.

The Lamentation is haunted by a lambence rarely seen in Italian painting prior to this time. The Martyrdom is also remarkable for resembling later Baroque compositions such as Bernini’s Truth and Ercole Ferrata’s Death of Saint Agnes, showing a gleeful saint entering martyrdom

Let’s now enjoy some of his most celebrated works

Antonio da Correggio - Noli Me Tangere

Antonio da Correggio – Noli Me Tangere

Antonio da Correggio - Assumption of the Virgin

Antonio da Correggio – Assumption of the Virgin

Antonio da Correggio - Allegory of Virtues

Antonio da Correggio – Allegory of Virtues

Antonio da Correggio - Allegory of Vices

Antonio da Correggio – Allegory of Vices

Antonio da Correggio - Venus and Cupid with a Satyr

Antonio da Correggio – Venus and Cupid with a Satyr

Antonio da Correggio - The Adoration of the Magi

Antonio da Correggio – The Adoration of the Magi

Antonio da Correggio - Madonna of the Basket

Antonio da Correggio – Madonna of the Basket

Antonio da Correggio - Madonna with St. Francis

Antonio da Correggio – Madonna with St. Francis

Antonio da Correggio - Madonna and Child with Sts Jerome and Mary Magdalen (The Day)

Antonio da Correggio – Madonna and Child with Sts Jerome and Mary Magdalen (The Day)

Antonio da Correggio - Leda with the Swan

Antonio da Correggio – Leda with the Swan

Antonio da Correggio - Danaë

Antonio da Correggio – Danaë

Correggio was remembered by his contemporaries as a shadowy, melancholic and introverted character, traits possibly conditioned by his birth into a large and poor family.

Correggio is an enigmatic and eclectic artist, and it is not always possible to identify a stylistic link between his paintings. He appears to have emerged out of no major apprenticeship, and to have had little immediate influence in terms of apprenticed successors, but his works are now considered to have been revolutionary and influential on subsequent artists. A half-century after his death Correggio’s work was well known to Vasari, who felt that he had not had enough “Roman” exposure to make him a better painter. In the 18th and 19th centuries, his works were often remembered in the diaries of foreign visitors to Italy, which led to a reevaluation of his art during the period of Romanticism.

The flight of the Madonna in the vault of the cupola of the Cathedral of Parma inspired numerous scenographical decorations in lay and religious palaces during those centuries.

Corregio’s illusionistic experiments, in which imaginary spaces replace the natural reality, seem to prefigure many elements of Mannerist and Baroque stylistic approaches. In other words, he appears to have fostered artistic grandchildren, despite having no direct disciples outside of Parma, where he was influential on the work of Giovanni Maria Francesco Rondani, Parmigianino, Bernardo Gatti, and Giorgio Gandini del Grano. His son, Pomponio Allegri became a painter.

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Hieronymus Bosch - The Marriage at Cana

Life and Paintings of Hieronymus Bosch (1450 – 1516)

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

Movements: Renaissance

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

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

 Garden of earthly delights

Garden of earthly delights

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

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

Interpretations

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

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

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

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

Let’s see some of his most important works:

Triptych of the Martyrdom of St Liberata

Triptych of the Martyrdom of St Liberata

The Ship of Fools

The Ship of Fools

The Marriage at Cana

The Marriage at Cana

The Magician

The Magician

The Last Judgment

The Last Judgment

The Hell and the Flood

The Hell and the Flood

The Hay Wagon

The Hay Wagon

The Adoration of the Magi Triptych

The Adoration of the Magi Triptych

The Adoration of the Child

The Adoration of the Child

Saint John the Evangelist on Patmos

Saint John the Evangelist on Patmos

Saint John the Baptist

Saint John the Baptist

Follower of Jheronimus Bosch

Follower of Jheronimus Bosch

Death and the Miser

Death and the Miser

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

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

Christ Mocked (Crowning with Thorns)

Christ Mocked (Crowning with Thorns)

 Christ Carrying the Cross

Christ Carrying the Cross

Hermit Saints Triptych

Hermit Saints Triptych

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

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

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

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

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