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The Great Wave 1, Vernet to Hokusai
Nature has many wonderful forms, of which the near-breaking or “surfer’s” wave is one of the most fascinating. Unless you were an artist in central Europe who didn’t get out much, chances are that you would have witnessed these forms, even if their scale wasn’t so impressive. This article... Read more
Next Year in Paintings: da Vinci, Courbet, Renoir, and more
There are some major anniversaries of artists this year, most notably the five hundredth since the death of Leonardo da Vinci, the bicentenary of the birth of Gustave Courbet, and centenary of the death of Pierre-Auguste Renoir. Here’s how the year is looking. 9 January: 200th anniversary of the... Read more
Shipwrecked art history: Géricault’s Raft of the Medusa
Sometimes nuggets of knowledge and understanding just seem to drift off into increasing fiction. Unfortunately the Internet and Wikipedia do not appear to help this; in many cases they are part of the cause. If you read my recent review of Julian Barnes’ excellent collection of essays on art,... Read more
There is a lot more to this world than the things which are most popular. However, I am often surprised at your preferred choice of the articles posted here. I thought that you might be interested to know which have proved most viewed in the Painting section so far.... Read more
The Story in Paintings: Géricault’s Raft of the Medusa
Théodore Géricault (1791–1824) would almost certainly have slipped into obscurity were it not for one vast narrative painting: The Raft of the Medusa (1818-19). Telling the horrific and scandal-ridden story of disaster at sea, it became an immediate celebrity, and even its tragic deterioration (due to his extensive use... Read more
The Story in Paintings: Frederic, Lord Leighton – Victorian eye candy?
Frederic, Lord Leighton (1830–1896) was a bastion of the arts establishment in the UK in the late nineteenth century, being the President of the Royal Academy from 1878 to 1896. He trained under the Austrian history painter Eduard von Steinle, Giovanni (Nino) Costa, a Roman member of the Macchiaioli,... Read more
The Story in Paintings: Pierre Guérin, the Prix de Rome, and the Death of Cato
In the nineteenth century, the revolution in painting brought by the Impressionists targeted the Salon, the annual state-run and heavily-juried exhibition. As the bastion of conservatism and often hackneyed taste, Manet, Monet, and others riled against it, although in their day most of them enjoyed some success – or... Read more
Into the Light: Ivan Aivazovsky, Master Mariner
Think of nineteenth-century paintings of shipwreck and rough seas, and (if in Europe or America) you’re almost certain to bring to mind JMW Turner. Allow me to introduce the master of marine painting of that period, who must have been one of the most prolific marine artists ever: Ivan... Read more
Seeing History: Motion and photographic artefact
In the previous article in this series exploring the changes that have occurred in our visual environment, I considered how static images such as landscapes have altered. That was a highly artificial situation, though, as most of what we see is constantly changing; if it doesn’t move, we move,... Read more
Seeing History: Towards a timeline
Over the last couple of months, I have been trying to get a better idea of how the human visual environment, and our perception of it, might have changed. The last eight articles have considered different aspects, and in this final article I try to bring all those thoughts... Read more