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Showing posts from March, 2013

Happy Easter! Buona Pasqua!

The Resurrection of Christ by Paolo Veronese, ca.1570


Beside the Easel is now over a year old, and having written about and analysed well over 80 Old Masters from the Renaissance to Academic, I will continue to focus on techniques and methods of great artists but with more comparison and observation. Up until now I have focused on celebrating artist birthdays and their work, but moving forward I will be also writing about art books, color palettes and color, and interesting blogs to showcase some current ideas and methods.


Not Elementary, My Dear Watson...

Self portrait


Born March 8, 1869 in London, George Spencer Watson was an English Realist portrait and figure artist. Watson was a member of the prestigious Royal Institute of Oil Painters and the Royal Society of Portrait Painters, whose famous alumni include artists such as Lawrence Alma-Tadema, Henri Fantin-Latour, John Singer Sargent, James Whistler and Auguste Rodin. By the time his career was in full-swing the 20th century changed art in a way that punished Realist painters and Watson's talents were not appreciated as much as they could have been had he been born a mere fifty years earlier. Although obscure considering the company he was in, Watson had a uniquely modern eye for the portrait and especially the female nude that is definitely worth looking at.

In his Self-Portrait above, Watson portrays himself as an artist with uncanny self-awareness, studying himself with cautious scrutiny by the way he leans forward. Note how tightly rendered his head is, and how the brushst…

Mattia Preti, Poet of Calabria

St Sebastian, ca.1660



Born on 24 February, 1613 in Taverna, a small town in Catanzaro of southern Italy, Mattia Preti was a Baroque painter who worked in both fresco and large-scale paintings. Preti is the only major artist of success to come out of the region south of Naples, the only city besides Rome that was a hotbed of Baroque talent at the time. Having been influenced by Caravaggio and taught by Battistello Caracciolo, Preti would become a major force in Italian Baroque art, although today his name is not entirely recognized except in Italy. Preti's style is characterized by chiaroscuro with dynamic anatomy and dramatic angles, and a gift for facial expressions.

I had the pleasure of observing St. Sebastian at the Capodimonte Museo in Naples back in 2010, and I have to say it is not only one of Preti's masterpieces, it is a triumph of Baroque art. Choosing a low view-point, Preti's brilliant composition is created by a sagging figure with each limb bending at a sligh…

Meissonier

The Portrait of a Sergeant, 1874



Born on February 21, 1815 Jean-Louis Ernest Meissonier was born in Lyon, France. A Classical painter known primarily for his military themes, Meissonier is someone who, within his narrow subject matter, shined as a storyteller through his incredible understanding of people and body language. His portraiture and studies of people have an insight that is absolutely captivating.Where Renaissance and Baroque artists were constrained to focus on the drama and exaltation of religion, by this era the Naturalism of everyday life is what distinguished France as the last great country of art. Meissonier was one of those great Masters.

Note the use of perspective in The Portrait of a Sergeant above. Meissonier uses a warm, brick covered wall with a yellowish-grey cobble-stone pavement to frame these soldiers in their greenish-yellow uniforms, who are fascinated by the artist sketching the sergeant. Meissonier also creates depth by varying the distance and overlap…