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Medium Well Done: Wood panels
So far in this series, I have looked almost exclusively at the paints used to make paintings, particularly in terms of the binder that holds pigment particles to the ground. What I have largely glossed over is the equally important matter of the ground and how it is supported.... Read more
A Terrifying Beauty: Medusa 1
Even those whose knowledge of classical myths is sketchy know the terrifying power of Medusa. Formerly a beautiful young woman, she was transformed into a monster with live snakes instead of hair, and but a glance at her face and you became a stone statue. Ovid’s rather late account... Read more
The Modern Christmas, paintings 1867-1921
For previous Christmases, I have shown collections of nativity scenes. This year, following on from the theme of a Dickensian Christmas, my selection shows Christmas festivities during the latter half of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Most are rather different from what we will be doing today. Dante... Read more
The Annunciation, old and new
The festival of the Annunciation is overshadowed by Lent and Easter. As tomorrow is Christmas Day, here is a look at some more unusual paintings of the annunciation to the Virgin Mary: one of the most popular themes in European art. The great majority of paintings of the annunciation... Read more
Into the Light: the brilliance of Jacek Malczewski
Unless you happen to have studied Symbolism, or have visited galleries in Poland or the Ukraine, you are most unlikely to have seen the amazing paintings of Jacek Malczewski (1854–1929). He was born in Radom, a city to the south of Poland’s capital Warsaw, when it was controlled by... Read more
Highlights of the painting articles of 2016
I have no idea how many painters and paintings I have featured in articles here this year, but I have greatly enjoyed learning about them, and I hope that you have enjoyed them too. Here is a whirlwind tour of the last twelve months, and some of its highlights... Read more
Changing Stories: Ovid’s Metamorphoses on canvas, 21 – Perseus and Medusa
Having rescued Andromeda from the sea-monster Cetus, Perseus makes offerings to the gods, and prepares for his wedding to his newly-won bride. It is then, at his wedding feast, that Ovid has Perseus tell the story of his encounter with the Gorgon Medusa, which brings Book 4 of the... Read more
The Emptiness of It All: Vanitas paintings
We all go through times when life seems so transient and empty, when worldly goods and the pleasures of the flesh are hollow and fleeting. World events of the last year or two have brought many to feel the same. It may be comforting to know that this is... Read more
Among the Hutsul: the oils and pastels of Teodor Axentowicz
Seen from Western Europe, the Vienna Secession may seem distant and of little importance, except in its indirect influence on Art Nouveau through Alphonse Mucha. That is a very parochial view, and ignores altogether the rich art histories of central and eastern European countries, including Germany, Austria, Poland, Hungary,... Read more
Coast: The drowned man
Wherever people go near bodies of water, some become submerged in that water, and drown. For those living and working on the coast, this is most likely to be the death of those who go to sea, the fishermen. Drowned fishermen are quite a common theme in visual art,... Read more