Arthub Logo
Book Review: The Vincent Van Gogh Atlas, Denekamp and van Blerk
“The Vincent Van Gogh Atlas” Nienke Denekamp and René van Blerk, with Teio Meedendorp Yale UP and Van Gogh Museum, November 2016 Hardback, 25.4 x 19.7 cm (10 x 7.8 in), 181 pp., £16.99/$25.00 ISBN 978 0 300 22284 5 Not available for Kindle, nor in the iTunes Store.... Read more
Plutarch’s Lives in Paint: 0 Introduction to a new series
Literary sources were (and still are) crucial to a great many artists. Until the late twentieth century, most had been thoroughly educated in the Classics and the Bible. Most studios and workshops contained bookshelves with key reference works, including the Bible, Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, Virgil’s Aeneid,... Read more
Plutarch’s Lives in Paint: 1a Theseus, to the killing of the Minotaur
Theseus was the founder of the city of Athens, or perhaps more accurately the person responsible for its early development and growth, and Plutarch’s biography of him was selected for comparison with that of Romulus, the founder of the city of Rome. Although not the first of the Lives... Read more
Plutarch’s Lives in Paint: 1a Theseus, from the flight to Naxos
In the first half of this summary of the biography of Theseus given in Plutarch’s Lives, I traced his story from birth to his killing of the Minotaur on the island of Crete. To accomplish the latter, he entered into a pact with Ariadne, daughter of King Minos, that... Read more
Plutarch’s Lives in Paint: 1b Romulus, to the founding of Rome
The early history of the city of Rome is shrouded in myth. Although there is consensus that twin brothers Romulus and Remus played a key part, Plutarch admits that some ancient authorities didn’t even believe that the city was named after Romulus, let alone acknowledge his existence. He opens... Read more
Plutarch’s Lives in Paint: 1b Romulus, from the rape of the Sabines
With the newly-founded city of Rome built and populated by the slaves and outcasts from Alba, it faced a serious problem: its inhabitants were almost entirely male, and were in desperate need of wives. Plutarch’s account of the solution, the abduction (or rape) of a group of Sabine women,... Read more
Plutarch’s Lives in Paint: 2a Lycurgus
The second great Greek civilisation was Sparta, with its unique society and culture. In the second pair of biographies in his Parallel Lives, Plutarch tackles that of the founding father of Spartan law and culture. In doing so, he provides one of the best sources of information about both... Read more
Plutarch’s Lives in Paint: 2b Numa
Just as Lycurgus was believed to have provided Sparta with its laws and institutions, Numa (or Numa Pompilius) was claimed to have fulfilled that role for early Rome. Hence Plutarch’s match for his account of the Spartan is the largely legendary King of Rome who succeeded Romulus. It has... Read more
Plutarch’s Lives in Paint: 3a Solon
Plutarch’s third pair of biographies are a good example of the influence that they had over art: dealing with Solon and Publicola, unless you are a classical scholar, you are unlikely to have ever come across their subjects. Yet there are significant numbers of surviving paintings which are based... Read more
Plutarch’s Lives in Paint: 3b Publicola
From its foundation, the city of Rome was ruled by monarchs with absolute authority, leaders in its all too frequent times of war. Plutarch chooses to compare against the Greek leader Solon one of the Roman statesmen who oversaw the city’s transition from that monarchy to a more democratic... Read more