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Geese 1: Farmyards and wetlands
Described in a masterful understatement as being “among the most aggressive of all poultry”, geese can be fearsome birds. They were first domesticated in Europe several millenia ago, and since then have provided meat, eggs, fat and their downy feathers to keep people fed, greased and warm. This weekend... Read more
Medium Well Done: 5 Watercolour and gouache
Watercolour is the most inappropriately-named of the popular painting media. Oil paint uses drying oils as its binder, egg tempera uses the yolk of eggs, and glue tempera various types of glue. Water is, of course, not the binder in watercolour, but the diluent, used to turn blocks of... Read more
Introduction to Dante’s Divine Comedy
I’m reaching the end of my coverage of paintings of Goethe’s Faust, so it’s time to open another book which has been a major inspiration to and influence on visual art. This time it’s Dante Alighieri’s narrative poem, The Divine Comedy, which is divided into three parts: Inferno (Hell),... Read more
The Decameron: Index to stories and the finest paintings
Over the last couple of months, I have looked at those stories in Boccaccio’s Decameron which have been depicted in paintings. Although I haven’t searched out all the many cassone on which such scenes have been painted, the following stories are those which have had significant presence in visual... Read more
The Story in Paintings: Rinaldo and Armida, murder sublimated
Having seen how Poussin depicted the story of Rinaldo and Armida, it is time to examine how others tackled the same task. To refresh your memory, here is my précis of Tasso’s story: In this scene (Canto 14, Esolen p 281), Rinaldo has been secretly pursued by Armida, who... Read more
The Forgotten Pre-Raphaelite: Marie Spartali Stillman, 1 – to 1883
Now unfortunately overshadowed by Impressionism, the Pre-Raphaelite movement was a major influence in European painting in the middle and later years of the 1800s. The core of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood was small and transient, but the movement and its periphery spread further, and lasted until the early twentieth century.... Read more
The Forgotten Pre-Raphaelite: Marie Spartali Stillman, 2 – 1884 to 1892
In the first article, I gave an account of the early life and work of Marie Spartali Stillman (1844–1927), up to her return to England after five years in Florence, in 1883. During that period she had made good advantage of her time in northern Italy, which had brought... Read more
The Forgotten Pre-Raphaelite: Marie Spartali Stillman, 3 – from 1892
In my previous article, I described the life and work of Marie Spartali Stillman (1844–1927) during some of her most active and productive years. This article completes my account. Late 1892 saw Marie’s step-daughter Bella married after a brief engagement to the Slade Professor of Fine Art at Cambridge... Read more
The Story in Paintings: Philip Hermogenes Calderon 2, Shakespeare and the naked saint
Following the success of his Broken Vows and subsequent work, particularly his mediaeval Home After Victory, Philip Hermogenes Calderon (1833–1898) was elected a full member of the Royal Academy in 1867. He was now an established and successful artist, and had helped found the ‘St John’s Wood Clique’, a... Read more
The Story in Paintings: Mariana – Shakespeare or Tennyson?
Artists of all periods since have painted characters and scenes from the plays of William Shakespeare. Some – such as Hamlet, King Lear, the witches from Macbeth, and Romeo and Juliet – have been generally popular. Less well-known characters from the less popular plays have sometimes appeared in several... Read more