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The Art of the Brain and a family of portraits
Most of the pioneering studies of the brain and retina were based on drawings of what the researcher saw down the microscope. Among the most important of those neuroscientists, who made many of the most exquisitely beautiful drawings, was Santiago Ramón y Cajal (1852-1934). Santiago Ramón y Cajal (1852-1934),... Read more
Impressions from Spain: The work of Marià Fortuny, 1860-69
When I wrote a couple of days ago about the art of the de Madrazo family, particularly the brothers Ricardo and Raimundo, one person kept reappearing: Marià Fortuny, a brilliant Spanish painter and print-maker who had a tragically short life, from 1838–1874. In this article and the next, I... Read more
Impressions from Spain: The work of Marià Fortuny, 1870-74
By 1870, Marià Fortuny (1838–1874) was painting quickly outdoors, using high-chroma colours, and in a very painterly style. His orientalism was flourishing too, and he seems to have enjoyed critical appreciation. Marià Fortuny (1838–1874), Moors on Horseback (date not known), brush and watercolor on off-white paper, 5.1 x 15.2... Read more
The best of this year’s paintings and articles
As today is New Year’s Eve, it is time to look back on some of my favourite paintings which I have featured in articles here over the past year. This is one of my favourite articles to write, because it gives me an excuse to go back and enjoy... Read more
Orientalism: the fantasy
Woman is one of the oldest themes in art – at least most art made by men. Although social attitudes in pre-Christian Europe often revelled in the open expression of eroticism in art, Christianisation suppressed that in most forms. Virtuous art, which could be praised and funded by the... Read more
The Eclectic Georges Clairin: elegance, corpses, and frou-frou
We seem to know remarkably little about Georges Jules Victor Clairin (1843-1919), although in his day he was a popular and successful artist. His surviving work is puzzling, in that it spans almost every genre and style, from almost illustrative depictions of society women in the late eighteenth century,... Read more
The Alhambra: 1 History
Here in the UK daylight is now brief, the weather often grim, so I think it’s time to head off for a long weekend somewhere lighter, warmer, and less glum: this weekend we’ll go to Granada, in Andalusia, southern Spain, and visit the Alhambra there. In this first of... Read more
The Alhambra: 2 Landscapes 1767-1883
Given the very pleasant climate of Granada and the Alhambra, by rights it should have been painted as much as the Roman Campagna, which in the eighteenth century was the cradle of plein air oil painting, and the high school for landscape art in Europe. Yet the great pioneer... Read more
Landscapes of Martín Rico: 1 1852-1872
My recent long weekend looking at paintings of the Alhambra in Granada, Spain, reminded me of how few Spanish landscape painters are now known outside the country of their birth. The work of Martín Rico y Ortega (1833–1908) was widely recognised in the late nineteenth century, and can be... Read more
Landscapes of Martín Rico: 2 1873-1908
In the years prior to 1873, the Spanish landscape painter Martín Rico y Ortega (1833–1908) had trained in Madrid and Paris, and painted even further afield in Switzerland. But it was when he was sharing a studio with Marià Fortuny in Granada, during 1871-72, that he developed his mature... Read more