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Misfit: Henri Fantin-Latour 1 First flowers
Painters of note in France during the latter half of the nineteenth century are generally quite easy to classify. There were Impressionists, some of whom became Divisionists and/or Post-Impressionists, Realists and Naturalists (whose work I have covered quite extensively here), the Nabis at the end of the century, and... Read more
Rolling Thunder: lightning in the landscape
For many people in the past, the most awe-inspiring and impressive events in their lives were thunderstorms. Even today, lightning strikes make hot favourite movies and still images in social media. Although paintings of thunderstorms and lightning strikes may be pale imitations of their vivid and earth-shaking reality, they... Read more
Gustave Courbet 1: The Desperate Man
Among the immediate precursors to the great art movements of the late nineteenth century, Naturalism and Impressionism, were Eugène Delacroix, Camille Corot, and Gustave Courbet (1819–1877). In a month’s time, we’ll be celebrating the bicentenary of Courbet’s birth, and I hope that you’ll join me in this short series... Read more
Corydon: 1 Stories of shepherds
However pastoral the landscape looks, life for the shepherd (and shepherdess) is seldom as peaceful as it’s made out to be. This weekend’s two articles look at the depiction of shepherds and shepherdesses in paintings. I start with their role in stories. Ever since the domestication of the sheep... Read more
Medium Well Done: 5 Watercolour and gouache
Watercolour is the most inappropriately-named of the popular painting media. Oil paint uses drying oils as its binder, egg tempera uses the yolk of eggs, and glue tempera various types of glue. Water is, of course, not the binder in watercolour, but the diluent, used to turn blocks of... Read more
The Divine Comedy: Inferno 6 Avarice, Wrath, and more
From the gluttons, Virgil leads Dante past the great foe of Plutus, a wolf-like creature who is chided by Virgil, and so they descend to see the next densely-populated circle of avaricious misers and prodigal spendthrifts. William Blake (1757–1827), Plutus, Dante and Virgil (Dante’s Inferno) (1824-27), watercolour on paper,... Read more
The Divine Comedy: Inferno 2 Crossing with Charon
Dante has been rescued from three wild beasts by the ghost of Virgil, who leads him along the only route away, taking the pair to the gate of Hell. There inscribed above the gate is a forbidding series of lines which leave the traveller in no doubt as to... 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
Painting Goethe’s Faust: 7 Gretchen sentenced to death
After Faust and Mephistopheles have attended the Walpurgis Night gathering in the Harz Mountains, and following a brief intermezzo, they are seen talking together on a gloomy day, in open country. Faust laments that his love Gretchen is now imprisoned, and blames Mephistopheles for that, and for concealing the... Read more
Painting Goethe’s Faust: 6 Walpurgis Night
After Gretchen has attended a mass for the dead at the cathedral, and fainted there, Faust and Mephistopheles head off to celebrate Walpurgis Night in the Hartz Mountains. Saint Walpurga, an abbess in France in the eighth century, is reputed to have fought many of the people’s problems such... Read more