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Showing posts from February, 2013

Guercino il Magnifico

Self-Portrait of the Artist holding a Palette, ca.1635


Giovanni Francesco Barbieri, known as Guercino was born on February 8, 1591 in Cento, a small city near Ferrara. He is one of the great masters of the Italian Baroque and poet of painters. Noted for his speed and efficiency, Guercino also worked in a number of mediums with equal passion whether ink, chalk, charcoal, or oils. His nickname, which means 'little cross-eyes' in Italian, derives in part from an apocryphal childhood accident where he supposedly awoke from a deep sleep as a child from a loud scream that caused his eyes to cross. Another story says something was thrown into his eyes. At any rate, he was self-taught as an artist from as early as nine years old and by his early teens was discovered by the eldest of the Carracci where he would spend some time at the Accademia Degli Incamminati before venturing out on his own. Despite his apparent 'handicap', his vision and talent would make him a giant that few…

Michelangelo's Libyan Sibyl Drawing

Here's an informative video by Carmen Bambach, curator for the Met in New York on the thought process behind Michelangelo's most famous drawing:






http://82nd-and-fifth.metmuseum.org/thinking-aloud





The Other Canaletto

View of the Grand Canal and the Dogana, ca.1743




Born in Venice on January 30, 1721 Bernardo Bellotto was the nephew and student of his famous uncle Giovanni Antonio Canal, or Canaletto. Bellotto's style has a stronger use of chiaroscuro and tighter integration of the landscape whereas his uncle focused more on Venetian architecture as a distinctive splendor within the landscape. Bellotto was equally fascinated with old alleyways and crumbling Roman ruins as his Venetian roots. The other important distinction is that Canaletto remained in Venice for most of his career, venturing out only to London while Bellotto travelled to other parts of Italy and also to Germany, Austria, and Poland. Bellotto also returned on occasion to the vedute tradition of capriccio from Pannini, or painting from imagination rather than life, something Canaletto only depicted in his etchings.


Above in View of the Grand Canal and the Dogana we can see Bellotto's informal and approachable eye, contrastin…

The Visionary from Parma

Coronation of the Virgin with St Augustine and St William of Aquitaine, ca.1616



Born on January 26, 1582, Giovanni Lanfranco was a Baroque painter and alumni from the Accademia degli Incamminati in Bologna. A contemporary of such greats as Guido Reni and Domenichino, Lanfranco would take what he learned from the Carracci and make it uniquely his own, fusing tenebrism, color, Mannerism, Renaissance and Baroque into a very eclectic combination that at times seems to defy description. At times he can be quite Classical, other times Venetian, and yet sometimes he can be eerie enough to veer into the fringes of the surreal. Lanfranco could take the most overdone and tired theme or story and make it unreal...dreamlike and even bizarre. His subconscious seems to have been at the heart of his work, rather than merely keeping up with his colleagues or earning a paycheque. Lanfranco is, in many ways, a visionary who foresaw Surrealism by three hundred years.


Note how the composition of the figu…