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Pushing it back: depth and repoussoir 2
In the first article of this pair yesterday, I explained and showed how trees to one side of the foreground of a painting strengthen the cues for depth, a compositional technique known as repoussoir, pushing back. This had become quite widely used by the end of the eighteenth century,... Read more
Pushing it back: depth and repoussoir 1
Repoussoir is a term you’ll see bandied about in writing about art, particularly landscape painting. It’s French for pushing back, and refers to compositional techniques used to make the distant parts of an image look further away and deeper into the picture. In this article and its sequel tomorrow,... Read more
Gustave Courbet 5: Waves and caves
Best-known if not infamous for his erotic nudes during the 1860s, Gustave Courbet (1819–1877) in fact painted far more interesting works over the decade, although reading and explaining them may be more difficult. While our attention may be focussed on those popular displays of desirable flesh, Courbet’s certainly wasn’t.... 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 2: The group
Before the young Gustave Courbet (1819–1877) had even completed The Stone Breakers, he had already started work on an even greater masterpiece, A Burial at Ornans, one of the canonical paintings of the century. Gustave Courbet (1819–1877), A Burial at Ornans (1849-50), oil on canvas, 315 x 668 cm,... Read more
Corydon: 2 Shepherds from staffage to social symbol
The first part of this account of shepherds and shepherdesses in paintings looked at their role in stories, from the earliest classical myths to epic English poetry. This second and concluding article looks at paintings of shepherds in landscapes, and in their own right as the motif. Nicolas Poussin,... Read more
More Than Portraits: 9, the revolutionary paintings of Diego Velázquez
Over the last couple of months, I have been exploring the life and paintings of Diego Velázquez beyond the many portraits for which he is usually most famous. In this concluding article to that series, I pick seven of his paintings which I think were revolutionary. 1, early bodegone... Read more
Glaciers: vanishing motifs
If you want to paint a glacier, now may already be too late. Around the world, they’re in retreat, thanks to our changing climate. This article first demonstrates that in paintings and more recent photographs of the Lower Grindelwald Glacier, after which I show some other notable paintings of... Read more
Glaciers and Views of Awe by Caspar Wolf
Well before the famous landscape paintings of Switzerland by Alexandre Calame (1810–1864), one of the pioneers of Alpine views was Caspar Wolf (1735–1783). Wolf was born in the town of Muri in central northern Switzerland. He trained in Konstanz, and during the 1750s worked as a decorative painter in... Read more
Landscape oil sketches from Valenciennes to Pissarro
Yesterday, I commemorated here the anniversary of the death of the landscape painter who made plein air oil sketching a part of standard practice, so paving the way for the transformations which occurred in the nineteenth century and after – Pierre-Henri de Valenciennes (1750–1819). This article looks at his... Read more