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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
In Memoriam Pierre-Henri de Valenciennes 1 Finished paintings
Tomorrow will be the two hundredth anniversary of the death of the major French landscape painter, Pierre-Henri de Valenciennes (1750–1819). In this article, I will summarise his career with the aid of a small selection of his finished paintings. But his importance in the history of art centres on... Read more
Founders of Modern Landscape Art: Claude Joseph Vernet
Two hundred years ago this weekend, the founding father of modern European landscape painting, Pierre-Henri de Valenciennes, died. In this and a subsequent article, I will try to trace the origins of this new form of landscape art, starting here with a brief look at the work of Claude-Joseph... Read more
The Sight of Sibyls 2
In the first of these two articles, I showed paintings of Christian sibyls which were made before 1650, when they fell from favour. Angelica Kauffman (1741–1807), A Sibyl (1775), oil on canvas, 125.1 x 94 cm, Private collection. Wikimedia Commons. In 1775, Angelica Kauffman painted this faithful copy of... Read more
More Than Portraits: the paintings of Diego Velazquez 3 The challenge of narrative
When Diego Velázquez was appointed a Painter Royal to King Philip IV in October 1623, he became the most junior of a group of artists of varied status and influence. Among the most senior was Vicente Carducho, who had been painting religious and narrative works for the court for... Read more
Pigment: What used to be Naples Yellow
Many of the more traditional pigments have changed through the ages. Buy some Ultramarine Blue today, and it will have been made in a chemical plant rather than crushed from lapis lazuli won from a mine in Afghanistan. Buy some Naples Yellow, though, and you will get a colour... Read more
Hail Caesar: paintings of the Colosseum and its spectacles, 1
When the crowds at the Paris Salon of 1859 first saw Jean-Léon Gérôme’s painting Ave Caesar, Morituri Te Salutant, its visual impact would have been very different from those on a modern viewer. It was unusual if not radical in three respects: it has what we would now term... Read more