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A Terrifying Beauty: Medusa 2
In yesterday’s first of this pair of articles, I looked at paintings of the terrifying Medusa. This concluding article follows the story of her life, or rather the end of her life at the hands of Perseus. Perseus was the heroic son of Jupiter and Danaë, conceived when the... 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
Corydon: 1 Stories of shepherds
However pastoral the landscape looks, life for the shepherd (and shepherdess) is seldom as peaceful as it’s made out to be. This weekend’s two articles look at the depiction of shepherds and shepherdesses in paintings. I start with their role in stories. Ever since the domestication of the sheep... Read more
Painting the Floral Spring 2
In the previous article, I looked at how Botticelli’s Primavera influenced artists in the first couple of centuries after its creation, and how Poussin told a set of stories from Ovid’s Metamorphoses in his sequel Empire of Flora. Sandro Botticelli (Alessandro di Mariano di Vanni Filipepi), Primavera (Spring) (c... Read more
Painting the Floral Spring 1
For many, Spring is the start of the year. In the countryside around the city of Florence, as in much of Europe, it was the time when livestock could return to life outdoors, rather than being cramped in with families, when the often undernourished people could start eating again,... Read more
Paintings of Félix Vallotton: 3 Myth and Mists
In the first few years of the twentieth century, the former Nabi painter and print-maker Félix Vallotton (1865–1925) had concentrated on painting mysterious interiors, as well as portraits and other figurative works. Although those interiors often seemed to be ‘problem pictures’ hinting at narrative, I’ve been unable to find... Read more
A Peculiar Beauty: the paintings of Ker-Xavier Roussel 2
Although the Nabis as a group had effectively dissolved well before 1910, several of its former members remained close friends. Their styles had changed, with higher chroma resulting from the influence of the Fauves and their love for painting in the Midi, the south of France. Among them, Ker-Xavier... Read more
More Than Portraits: the paintings of Diego Velazquez 7 Late Portraits and Myths
Soon after Diego Velázquez (1599–1660) had painted Las Hilanderas, he was arranging his second visit to Italy. Diego Velázquez (1599–1660), A Country Lass (La Gallega) (1645-50) , oil on canvas, 65 x 51 cm, Private collection. Wikimedia Commons. It is thought that another painting which he started prior to... Read more
Poussin’s Inheritance: the 400th anniversary of Charles Le Brun 1
The great French landscape and narrative painter Nicolas Poussin worked for most of his career in Rome. Between 1642-46, Poussin taught one of his few pupils in his studio in Rome, the brilliant young Charles Le Brun (1619–1690), who was born four hundred years ago tomorrow. Le Brun was... Read more
The Women in the Life of Jules Joseph LeFebvre 1
Most painters paint women, but I can think of only one artist whose whole career consisted of painting almost exclusively women: Jules LeFebvre (1834–1912). He was also one of the great teachers of the late nineteenth century, perhaps inevitably counting at least two significant women artists among his many... Read more