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The body real: paintings by Ellen Altfest, and a Book Review
“Ellen Altfest. Painting Close-Up” Anthony Spira and others MK Gallery, 2015 Softback, 13 x 20 cm (5.1 x 7.9 in), 136 pp., £20.00 from the MK Gallery ISBN 978 0 992 9039 1 6 Not available for Kindle nor in the iTunes Store. I could have kicked myself. There... Read more
From silk to canvas: 2 saints and namban screens
The beginning It was very fortuitous that the first Europeans should start to arrive in Japan from 1543 onwards. At the time, the Japanese state had collapsed into disarray, and warring factions welcomed foreigners who could sell them large quantities of muskets and other weapons. Although the Europeans –... Read more
From silk to canvas: 3 ranga and mass-market prints
The Dutch merchants who were allowed to remain in Japan from 1638 were crowded onto a small, artifical island in Nagasaki Bay, known as Dejima (出島). For the next two centuries, until Japan became more open in the Meiji period, after 1853, those Dutch traders were the only conduit... Read more
From silk to canvas: 4 yoga v nihonga
Western realist style and techniques had been developing gradually in Japan as a result of Dutch traders at Nagasaki providing books, prints, and paintings. Then in 1853, a fleet of American ships appeared in Tokyo Bay, and within a few years Japan was opening up to Western influence. The... Read more
Book Review: Frederic Church, The Art and Science of Detail, Jennifer Raab
“Frederic Church, The Art and Science of Detail” Jennifer Raab Yale UP, October 2015 Hardback, 27.4 x 22.5 cm (10.8 x 8.8 in), 12+236 pp., £45.00/$65.00 ISBN 978 0 300 20837 5 Available for Kindle (£38.48/$58.94) and in the iTunes Store (£42.99). Frederic Edwin Church (1826-1900) was one of... Read more
The Story in Paintings: allegory, symbol, and realism
This series has, quite accidentally, come to highlight the problems which came to dominate if not overwhelm narrative painting during the 1800s, and how they somehow seem to have become resolved by the late 1900s. The problems fell into two groups: what narratives should be used, and what techniques... Read more
Illusions of reality: the paintings of Jean-Léon Gérôme
I have already considered some of the highly detailed and ‘finished’ paintings of Jean-Léon Gérôme in the context of narrative. In taking me back to look at his work again, I realised that there was a lot more that needs to be said. I will here try to cover... Read more
Huw Wystan Jones: the Welsh Impressionist
In the next few days, there should be an announcement of the ‘discovery’ of a new member of the Impressionists, from the two institutions which have painstakingly pieced together his works, biography, and their documentary archives, largely from the Mouton-Rothschild Collection. I am delighted to be able to bring... Read more
The Story in Paintings: Raising Lazarus, and 1100-1400 CE
The start of our journey through some of the wonderful art of the Middle Ages relied on ‘miniature’ paintings made on vellum and included in religious manuscripts, and the embroidery of the Bayeux Tapestry. There are surviving wall paintings, including frescoes, but most are in a sorry state of... Read more
Into the Light: Henry Ossawa Tanner, to 1902
In his day, Henry Ossawa Tanner (1859–1937) was a truly international artist. Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and trained in Philadelphia, he worked for the most of his long career in France, where he was made a Knight of the Legion of Honour. He was the first African-American painter to... Read more