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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
A Terrifying Beauty: Medusa 1
Even those whose knowledge of classical myths is sketchy know the terrifying power of Medusa. Formerly a beautiful young woman, she was transformed into a monster with live snakes instead of hair, and but a glance at her face and you became a stone statue. Ovid’s rather late account... Read more
Paradise in paintings
After yesterday’s visit to the underground dungeons of Hell, today’s paintings try to show the reward after life for those who follow the way of the righteous: Paradise. Paradise is a concept rather more peculiar to Christianity, and although there are pre-Christian equivalents in earlier and different European traditions,... Read more
The devil you know – in paintings 2
After Hieronymus Bosch, the artist who has developed the theme of devils more than any other was the visionary William Blake, who was influenced by Henry Fuseli. William Blake (1757–1827), Satan Exulting over Eve (c 1795), graphite, pen and black ink, and watercolor over colour print, 42 x 53... Read more
The Story in Paintings: who killed John the Baptist? 3 Salome
By the middle of the nineteenth century, some ambiguity had been developing in the traditional biblical story of Herod’s party, Salome’s dance, and the execution of Saint John the Baptist. Although the underlying story still put Herodias as the driver behind John’s beheading, attention had been steadily transferred to... Read more
Sargent’s Furies: a rare but powerful story
At the end of the First World War, John Singer Sargent (1856–1925) had commitments on both sides of the Atlantic. He had been working on murals in the Boston and Cambridge areas of Massachusetts, but was also expected to deliver his monumental work about the war, Gassed, in Britain.... Read more
Franz von Stuck’s Thoroughly Modern Histories: 1 1887-1891
Along with Lovis Corinth and others, Franz von Stuck (1863–1928) was one of the co-founders of the Munich Secession, and a career-long painter of myth and narrative. If Corinth is little-known outside Germany, von Stuck is essentially unknown. Usually labelled as a Symbolist, his style changed as much as... Read more
Painting the Impossible: Gone with the Wind – land and sea
One not uncommon English phrase to express futility and difficulty is to say that it’s like painting the wind. As we are now at that time of year when the wind tends to blow strongest, I thought it might be interesting to examine the evidence for that figure of... Read more
Franz von Stuck’s Thoroughly Modern Histories: 2 1892-1900
The Munich Secession, in 1892, was a watershed in von Stuck’s life and his art. Together with Lovis Corinth and almost a hundred other artists, von Stuck resigned from the official Artists’ Association, which was opposed to Impressionism, Expressionism, and Symbolism. They established their own association, and held their... Read more
Franz von Stuck’s Thoroughly Modern Histories: 3 1901-1909
By 1900, Franz von Stuck had built upon his already substantial reputation, and remained active in the Munich Secession. Franz von Stuck (1863–1928), Spring (1902), oil, dimensions not known, Szépművészeti Múzeum, Budapest, Hungary. Wikimedia Commons. Von Stuck’s Spring (in German, Frühling) (1902) was a departure from his previous femmes... Read more