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Showing posts from November, 2012

Lagrenée

Louis-Jean-François Lagrenée was born in Paris on December 30, 1724. A student of Carlo Van Loo, Lagrenée is a painter of pure French Rococo with beautiful skin tones and bright, sumptuous colors that are pleasing to the eye. In fact, Lagrenée is one of the most erotic painters of his day, rivaling even Boucher. It is his Classical DNA that makes him more interesting than other Rococo artists however because he combines solid anatomy and figures with expressive composition and unabashed color. His colors are purely emotional.

A familiar theme in painting, Amor and Psyche above in the hands of Lagrenée becomes a sensual moment. Look at how Psyche gazes into his eyes, touching his cheek with her hand. Lagrenée is setting the scene for a passionate kiss that will take place only in our minds. Here Lagrenée reinterprets this mythology into an allegory of young love, with Cupid as a young man who has met the woman of his dreams. The way in which Lagrenée paints his wings also indicates a …

Karel Dujardin

Hagar and Ishmael in the Wilderness, ca.1662


A lesser known Dutch Master, Karel Dujardin was born on September 27, 1622 in Amsterdam. Although active during the Dutch Golden Age he spent most of his career in Italy where he developed a rather diverse style ranging from moody landscapes to religious Baroque subjects. Dujardin is hard to pin down for this very reason, as his travels must have been extensive one can see the vast influences that permeate his work. In fact, much of his work doesn't even appear to be from the same artist yet indeed it is. It is this kind of miscellany that is fascinating to me, especially being able to handle the landscape and religious figures with the same fervor since most artists did either one or the other.


In Hagar and Ishmael in the Wilderness above we see the tenebrist influence of Caravaggio yet is stylistically quite distinct from other Italian artwork of this sort. Dujardin uses a triangular arrangement of the figures, with a notable use of r…

Monet, Poet of Light and Nature

Jeanne-Marguerite Lecadre in the Garden Sainte-Adresse, 1867



Claude Monet was born on November 14, 1840 in Paris. Father of Impressionism and pioneer of en plein air, it is difficult to imagine a world without his loose brushstrokes, but Monet was a rebel in his day to the establishment. While painters of the era were copying Old Masters in the Louvre Monet could be found sitting near a window or outside in the open air painting nature. It was this profound love of the natural world around him and the artists who inspired him, such as Constable and Turner, who took their Romantic ideals of emotion to new levels in their later years that lit the fire within for Monet. The difference for Monet was a lack of drama altogether, finding everything to express himself in nature itself without polish or attention to details. This was revolutionary thinking, and to our modern eyes we associate Monet with flowers and sunsets but it is his understanding of color and value that make him a poet of p…

Pietro da Cortona

Self-Portrait, 1600's

Pietro Berrettini was born in his namesake city of Cortona on November 1, 1596. One of the greatest giants of the Baroque era, his name has unfortunately lost much of its former glory in the shadow of others. What makes Pietro unique is not necessarily his technique but his approach to art—nicknamed cortonismo by his peers— essentially a monumental scale with multiple figures and grandiose storytelling. Pietro also did interior decoration and some architecture, and with his powerful patrons of the Barberini family he was able to secure some very large commissions, including massive ceiling frescos that have to be seen to be believed. For a period of four years he was also director or principe, of the Accademia di San Luca in Rome in which he designed the building for. It was the second greatest school in Italy (Accademia degli Incamminati was the first) which fostered a long list of teachers or principe that any art student today could only imagine, including …

Annibale il Grande

Study for an Ignudo, 1599


Annibale Carracci was born in Bologna on November 3, 1560. Having lived a relatively short life, Annibale's contribution to art was nonetheless enormous in that with his brother Agostino and older cousin Ludovico formed a historic school that would change art history and usher in the Baroque movement, the Accademia degli Incamminati. The first of its kind, they sought to combine the Florentine philosophy of line and draftsmanship with the vibrant color of Venice to create a new, unified style that would supersede the convoluted theories of Mannerism with a more hands-on approach where students and teachers alike were considered equals. The goal of the school was an inner drive to bring painting back to its Classical roots but with a fresher approach. Of the three, Annibale was the most talented and ingenious, emphasizing to his students the necessity of rigorous study before every drawing and determining what you are going to represent and what message yo…

Vermeer, painter of Mystery

Woman Holding a Balance, 1664

Johannes Vermeer was baptised on October 31, 1632—the exact date is not known. A master of indoor scenes with cool daylight, Vermeer worked slowly and deliberately, with particular attention to objects, details, body language, symbolism and composition. His exact technique is something of debate amoung scholars, with theories floating around about everything from camera obscura devices to complex glazing techniques, yet one thing is certain: no drawings of his survive. It brings attention to how he was able to conceive of such elaborate compositions without the slightest preparatory sketch or drawing, and even looking at his work up close he often blurs details and smooths out brushstrokes, as if trying to mimic a camera. At any rate his understanding of light and how it falls on an object or person, inspired by the studies of Da Vinci, reveal a simple yet very complex observational skills and technique.

In Woman Holding a Balance Vermeer's delicate re…

Domenichino

The Persian Sybil, 1600's

Domenico Zampieri was born October 21, 1581 in Bologna. A student of the Accademia degli Incamminati he would work in Rome with Annibale Carracci in Rome on the Farnese frescoes. His career would be defined by his work with not only paintings but ceilings and frescoes. Nicknamed Domenichino for his short height, he was also known as Il Bue (the ox) for his stubbornness and disciplined work methods. Although not a well-known figure in the Baroque it is his use of color and the way he painted women in particular that makes Domenichino unique. His rivalry with former collegue Giovanni Lanfranco would greatly upset him over the years, eventually bringing him to work in Naples where he could work without needless comparison to him.

The Persian Sybil demonstrates his particular genius for painting women. Draped in vivid blue and red with traces of yellow, Domenichino's effortless grace and strong face of this lovely woman is mesmerizing. Note the muted highli…