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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
Rolling Thunder: stories of storms
In the first of these two articles looking at paintings of thunderstorms and lightning, I showed a succession of landscapes which didn’t attempt to tell stories. Here, I look at some paintings in which the storm is part of a narrative: every lightning bolt tells a story. In classical... 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
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