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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
Beyond the French Impressionists: 2 The Macchiaioli, Giovanni Boldini
Giovanni Boldini (1842-1931) Boldini was brought up in Ferrara, where his father owned a restaurant and painted in his free time. Today the town houses the largest collection of Giovanni Boldini’s work, in its Museo Giovanni Boldini, part of the Gallerie d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea. Boldini moved to Florence... Read more
Landscape Visions: 4 Breath-taking panoramas
No matter how old and jaded you get, you can always appreciate the breath-taking view from the top of a hill, as the earth sweeps out in myriad details, as far as the distant horizon. As I wrote in the last article, I think that this is quite a... Read more
Landscape Visions: 8 Just as it is, Piazza San Marco, Venice
The great majority of landscape paintings try to depict the motif which the artist can see, with a fairly direct form of artistic vision. It is very hard to gain insight into how direct that vision is. Comparison with photographs is often unhelpful, as what the camera captures is... Read more
Visible brushstrokes: 4. the curious case of Francesco Guardi
In the second article in this series, I remarked how in the latter half of the eighteenth century, a hundred years before the birth of Impressionism, the Venetian painter Francesco Guardi used very painterly marks in his views of Venice. My example was a late view of the Piazza... Read more
Visible brushstrokes: 6. Titian, Bassano, Veronese, El Greco
In the first article in this series, I attempted a brief outline history of visible brushstrokes in paintings between 1400 and 1700. This read – in terms of artists – Jan van Eyck (a little in vegetation), El Greco, Peter Paul Rubens (oil studies), and the late Rembrandt. Those... Read more
Visible brushstrokes: 7. Painterly marks beyond Venice
In the last article in this series, I looked at some early Venetian paintings by Titian, Bassano, and Veronese, and some of El Greco’s, and became convinced that their painterly style, in which brushstrokes were clearly visible, was a Venetian trait, even posing the rhetorical question: Perhaps we should... Read more
Brief Candles: Giorgione, to 1504
… Out, out, brief candle! Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player, That struts and frets his hour upon the stage, And then is heard no more. (William Shakespeare, Macbeth Act 5, scene 5.) During the Renaissance, Venice was ideally situated for outbreaks of infectious disease. A major... Read more
Brief Candles: Giorgione, 1505 on
The first article in this two-part series covered Giorgione’s early paintings, up to 1504. This article covers those from 1505 to his tragically early death from plague in 1510. Giorgione (1477–1510), The Tempest (c 1504-8), oil on canvas, 83 × 73 cm, Gallerie dell’Accademia, Venice. Wikimedia Commons. The Tempest... Read more
William Merritt Chase: books and exhibitions to celebrate his centenary
William Merritt Chase, an American master painter and Impressionist, died on 25 October 1916: almost a century ago. To mark this centenary, there is an exhibition which is currently in Washington DC, moving to Boston and then over to Venice in 2017. Accompanying that is a new book which... Read more