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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
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
Poussin’s Inheritance: the 400th anniversary of Charles Le Brun 2
Four hundred years ago today, the French painter and art theorist Charles Le Brun (1619–1690) was born in Paris. In the first article of this pair, yesterday, I traced his history and work up to the 1650s. Charles Le Brun (1619–1690), Everhard Jabach (1618–1695) and His Family (c 1660),... 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
In Memoriam Pierre-Henri de Valenciennes 2 Oil sketches
Two hundred years ago today, Pierre-Henri de Valenciennes, one of the major landscape painters of the Western tradition, died in Paris. Yesterday I showed some of his finished works, which led the evolution from the idealised landscapes of Micolas Poussin and Claude Lorrain to modern views of nature. Valenciennes’... 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 best of 2018’s paintings and articles 2
Although there remains some uncertainty over the exact year of his birth, modern opinion is that Jacopo Tintoretto was born half a millenium ago, in 1518. I therefore took the opportunity to celebrate this major anniversary; an introduction and contents of the series of articles is here. Tintoretto is... Read more
Truth in (landscape) painting 1
There are many types of ‘truth’ in painting, but the truth that I am concerned with here is fidelity to motif: how faithfully does a painter attempt to depict the objects that they are painting? It is easy to define the extremes. Hyperrealists attempt to paint absolutely everything that... Read more
Favourite Paintings 3: Nicolas Poussin, Landscape with a Calm, 1651
Nicolas Poussin, Landscape with a Calm (c 1651), oil on canvas, 97 x 131 cm, J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles. Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program. In his later years, Poussin turned more to landscape painting. This is one of his most sublime and pure... Read more