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Pushing it back: depth and repoussoir 2
In the first article of this pair yesterday, I explained and showed how trees to one side of the foreground of a painting strengthen the cues for depth, a compositional technique known as repoussoir, pushing back. This had become quite widely used by the end of the eighteenth century,... Read more
The Great Wave 1, Vernet to Hokusai
Nature has many wonderful forms, of which the near-breaking or “surfer’s” wave is one of the most fascinating. Unless you were an artist in central Europe who didn’t get out much, chances are that you would have witnessed these forms, even if their scale wasn’t so impressive. This article... Read more
Medium Well Done: 6 Oils
Since the decline of egg tempera as the preferred medium for easel paintings in the Renaissance, oil paints have dominated those used by professional painters. This is due to their longevity and versatility. When appropriate techniques are used, oil paintings readily survive over five hundred years, and are the... 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
Glaciers and Views of Awe by Caspar Wolf
Well before the famous landscape paintings of Switzerland by Alexandre Calame (1810–1864), one of the pioneers of Alpine views was Caspar Wolf (1735–1783). Wolf was born in the town of Muri in central northern Switzerland. He trained in Konstanz, and during the 1750s worked as a decorative painter in... Read more
The Sight of Sibyls 2
In the first of these two articles, I showed paintings of Christian sibyls which were made before 1650, when they fell from favour. Angelica Kauffman (1741–1807), A Sibyl (1775), oil on canvas, 125.1 x 94 cm, Private collection. Wikimedia Commons. In 1775, Angelica Kauffman painted this faithful copy of... Read more
John Ruskin, Godfather to the Pre-Raphaelites, was born 200 years ago today
Two hundred years ago today, the major British art critic and writer John Ruskin was born in London. Although Ruskin appears to have painted only in watercolour, and for his own ends, this article takes a look at some of his paintings and his role as a major influence... Read more
Detail, the painterly, and the abstract: 1 A matter of scale
For millenia, painting was representational to some degree. Although modern theorists like to talk in degrees of abstraction, the artist’s intent was to represent in paint some form of visual reality, whether tangible or imagined. The twentieth century brought paintings which didn’t set out to represent anything in particular,... Read more
Favourite Paintings 6: Joseph Mallord William Turner, The Blue Rigi, Sunrise, 1842, and Norham Castle, Sunrise, c 1845
Two late paintings portraying tranquil sunlit scenes of dawn over still water, remarkable in their anticipation of Impressionism. Painter Joseph Mallord William Turner Painting The Blue Rigi, Sunrise Year 1842 Media watercolour on paper Dimensions 29.7 x 45 cm (11.7 x 17.7 in) Collection The Tate Gallery, London Link... Read more
Favourite Paintings 6: Joseph Mallord William Turner, The Blue Rigi, Sunrise, 1842, and Norham Castle, Sunrise, c 1845
Two late paintings portraying tranquil sunlit scenes of dawn over still water, remarkable in their anticipation of Impressionism. Painter Joseph Mallord William Turner Painting The Blue Rigi, Sunrise Year 1842 Media watercolour on paper Dimensions 29.7 x 45 cm (11.7 x 17.7 in) Collection The Tate Gallery, London Link... Read more