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Pushing it back: depth and repoussoir 1
Repoussoir is a term you’ll see bandied about in writing about art, particularly landscape painting. It’s French for pushing back, and refers to compositional techniques used to make the distant parts of an image look further away and deeper into the picture. In this article and its sequel tomorrow,... Read more
A Terrifying Beauty: Medusa 1
Even those whose knowledge of classical myths is sketchy know the terrifying power of Medusa. Formerly a beautiful young woman, she was transformed into a monster with live snakes instead of hair, and but a glance at her face and you became a stone statue. Ovid’s rather late account... Read more
The coming year in painting: Degas, Murillo, and more
The new year has some anniversaries of major painters which I will be marking with articles here. Here is a sampling of some of the painters whose work I will be looking at, and a few examples of the paintings in store for the coming year. Of these anniversaries,... Read more
Fra Bartolomeo, a Renaissance Master: to 1500
Art history doesn’t do much justice to some of the best painters, but so often concentrates on a few who are deemed the very greatest Masters of the day. In his day, Fra Bartolomeo (1472–1517) was on a par with Raphael, and in the same league as Leonardo da... Read more
Fra Bartolomeo, a Renaissance Master: 1504-1512
When he became swept up in the religious fervour which accompanied the ministry and martyrdom of Savonarola, Baccio della Porta entered a monastery, became Fra Bartolomeo, and stopped painting completely. It wasn’t until 1504 that he returned to the workshop, and that was still in the San Marco monastery.... Read more
Fra Bartolomeo, a Renaissance Master: 1513-1517
The Florentine friar Fra Bartolomeo (1472–1517) had recovered from his self-imposed exile from painting following the martyrdom of Savonarola, and by about 1508 was considered the leading painter in one of the leading centres of the Renaissance. In 1513 or 1514, he travelled to Rome, where he worked on... Read more
Fra Bartolomeo: an appreciation 500 years after his death
If you were asked to name the four most important artists of the Italian High Renaissance (1495-1527), the first three would come quite easily to many: Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Raphael. For many art historians, the fourth would have to be Fra Bartolomeo, for his innovations in clothing... Read more
The Annunciation, old and more innovative
The Annunciation, the announcement by the angel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary of her role as the mother of Jesus Christ, is one of the key events in the life of Christ as told in the New Testament. It has therefore been a major theme in the Western canon... Read more
The Nativity, ancient and modern
No matter whether your Christmas is devoutly religious, or seriously secular, if you look at paintings from the Western canon it is hard not to come across scenes of the Nativity. From the central figures of the Virgin Mary as mother, and her newborn child Jesus Christ, they can... Read more
Two Scenes in One Painting: multiplex narrative from 1500 to 1600
In the first of these three articles about telling stories in paintings using the multiplex technique (or ‘continuous narrative’), I showed a series of examples stretching from classical Rome to Hieronymus Bosch just before 1500. According to some accounts of art history (the few which consider narrative modes), multiplex... Read more