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Medium Well Done: 13 Paper and cardboard
The first paper-like sheets were made by the ancient Egyptians from papyrus, but it was the Chinese who discovered how to break plant fibres down to form sheets of what is recognisably paper. This knowledge came to Europe in the Middle Ages, by the eleventh century, and by the... Read more
József Rippl-Rónai 1: The Hungarian Nabi
My quest to look at the paintings of the Nabis this week takes me to one who will be unknown to you, unless you are Hungarian: József Rippl-Rónai (1861–1927), dubbed by the group as le nabi hongrois, the Hungarian Nabi. I confess that I had never heard of him... Read more
Medium Well Done: 7 Pastels
Artists have long used chalks and similar solid media for drawing, but lacking any form of binding medium their only adherence to a ground is mechanical. They were thus only used for ephemeral work such as studies and cartoons used in the production of more permanent works. Leonardo da... Read more
Circus: Performers
In the previous article, I looked at the spectacle of the circus, as seen mainly during the late nineteenth century. Even in circuses which worked year-round in their own permanent buildings, performers were notoriously itinerant. And in those circuses which travelled around and operated under tentage, the life of... Read more
The Divine Comedy: Inferno 1 Into Hell
It is just before dawn on Good Friday in 1300, and Dante is in mid-life. He is wandering, lost in a dark wood. Gustave Doré (1832–1883), Dante Lost in the Forest (1861), gouache, dimensions not known, location not known. Image by Gastair, via Wikimedia Commons. When he reaches the... Read more
Introduction to Dante’s Divine Comedy
I’m reaching the end of my coverage of paintings of Goethe’s Faust, so it’s time to open another book which has been a major inspiration to and influence on visual art. This time it’s Dante Alighieri’s narrative poem, The Divine Comedy, which is divided into three parts: Inferno (Hell),... Read more
Favourite Paintings 15: Gustave Caillebotte, Skiffs on the Yerres, 1877
Some men paddle their skiffs along a wooded river: a study in rippled reflections, bright ochre paddles, and watery greens and blues. Caillebotte was not only a patron of Impressionism, but shows that he was one of its Masters too. Painter Gustave Caillebotte Painting Périssoires sur l’Yerres (Skiffs on... Read more
Beyond the French Impressionists: 1 The Macchiaioli, overview
This is the first article in the promised new series looking at radical ‘impressionist’ type painting outside the group of French Impressionists, and typically in countries other than France, in the period 1870 to 1914. My concern is that, if you look at even the most extensive accounts of... Read more
Beyond the French Impressionists: 2 The Macchiaioli, Giovanni Boldini
Giovanni Boldini (1842-1931) Boldini was brought up in Ferrara, where his father owned a restaurant and painted in his free time. Today the town houses the largest collection of Giovanni Boldini’s work, in its Museo Giovanni Boldini, part of the Gallerie d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea. Boldini moved to Florence... Read more
Beyond the French Impressionists: 4 The Macchiaioli, Federico Zandomeneghi
Federico Zandomeneghi (1841-1917) Born in Venice to a family of sculptors in 1841, he entered the Academy of Fine Arts there in 1856. In 1859 he left Venice, and the following year joined Garibaldi’s forces. As a result he was wanted by the Austrian police as a deserter, so... Read more