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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
Favourite Paintings 2: Albrecht Dürer, The Willow Mill, 1498 or after 1506
Albrecht Dürer, The Willow Mill, 1498 or after 1506, watercolour, bodycolour, pen and ink on paper, 25.3 x 36.7 cm. Bibliothèque Nationale, Dept des Estampes et de la Photographie, Paris (WikiArt). This watercolour landscape would not look out of place alongside the works of Turner and other masters 300... Read more
Favourite Paintings 1-11: Overview
1: Jan van Eyck (c 1385 – c 9 July 1441) The Madonna of Chancellor Rolin (‘The Rolin Madonna’) Jan van Eyck, The Madonna of Chancellor Rolin (c 1435) oil on panel, 66 x 62 cm. Musée du Louvre, Paris (WikiArt). As the Masters in the South got to... Read more
Book Review: Samuel Palmer, William Vaughan
“Samuel Palmer. Shadows on the Wall” William Vaughan Yale UP, 5 June 2015 (US: 4 Aug 2015) Hardback, 26 x 29.7 cm (10.2 x 11.7 in), 12+412 pp., £50.00/$85.00 ISBN 978 0 300 20985 3 Not available for Kindle nor in the iTunes Store. Samuel Palmer (1805-81) was one... Read more
The Story in Paintings: Gustave Doré’s unknown paintings
Gustave Doré (1832–1883) is today known almost exclusively as a print-maker and illustrator of many books, although you may stumble across an occasional watercolour landscape or huge canvas of his, and he was a sculptor too. Some of his landscapes are outstanding, but produced during the era of Impressionism... Read more
Owls and the reading of Bosch’s paintings 1
If you were to count the owls in all his paintings, I suspect that Hieronymus Bosch was probably the most owlish major artist of all time. Starting with just one tucked away quietly in his Ecce Homo, one steps almost into the limelight of Saint Jerome at Prayer, while... Read more
Hieronymus Bosch: Christ Carrying the Cross, Christ Child (Vienna)
A single panel remaining from a triptych probably intended as an altarpiece, this is often seen as one of his lesser works. However, it still contains masterly passages in the details of the people shown. The Artist: Hieronymus Bosch (c 1450–1516) The Painting: Christ Carrying the Cross, reverse Christ... Read more
Alchemy: 3 – oils in the northern Renaissance
As Sir Ernst Gombrich so clearly pointed out, the Renaissance in northern Europe primarily used oil paints to explore light, form, and texture. This is perhaps first fully expressed in the mature works of Jan van Eyck, and further developed by the likes of Dürer and Lucas Cranach the... Read more
Wet in wet: a brief history of watercolour – 1, origins to 1800
Of the most popular painting media, watercolour is the most inappropriately-named. Oil paint uses drying oils as its binder, which locks the pigment particles onto the ground; I have summarised its history here. Pastels are sticks of pigment and filler which are applied to a ground and adhere mechanically;... Read more
Seeing History: Don’t believe your eyes – visual fidelity and belief
Imagine for a moment that you had never seen a rhinoceros. Even better, imagine that you had never even seen an image of a rhinoceros, as was the case for the great majority of the population until relatively recently. Artist not known, untitled wall painting (c 32,000-30,000 BCE), wall... Read more