Paintings You Should Know: Girl With A Pearl Earring, by Johannes Vermeer (c.1665)

Vermeer Girl With A Pearl Earring 1665
‘Girl With A Pearl Earring’, Vermeer, c.1665

While the historical novel by Tracy Chevalier, and the movie based on it, have told us otherwise, the truth is that we have no idea who this girl is, or why she’s dressed up in Oriental garb, complete with the titular earring (which one Dutch astrophysicist has suggested might actually be made of tin). Perhaps this mystery is part of what makes the picture so intriguing. Continue reading “Paintings You Should Know: Girl With A Pearl Earring, by Johannes Vermeer (c.1665)”

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New Zealand Artist: Rita Angus

Rita Angus, Cass, 1936
Rita Angus, Cass, 1936

Rita Angus (1908-1970) is well-known in New Zealand for her clear, sharp-edged portraits and landscapes, including ‘Cass’, which was voted New Zealand’s favourite painting in a 2006 TV show. Rather than talking about her, I’m just going to show you a few of her paintings. Continue reading “New Zealand Artist: Rita Angus”

Paintings You Should Know: Caravaggio’s ‘The Death of the Virgin’, C.1602-06

2 Caravaggio Death of the Virgin 1604to06
Caravaggio, The Death of the Virgin, 1604-06

The interesting thing about this painting, beyond anything to do with the composition or the skill of the artist, is the fact that it was, and for some arguably still is, controversial to the point of outright offensiveness. Continue reading “Paintings You Should Know: Caravaggio’s ‘The Death of the Virgin’, C.1602-06”

Recommended Read: Female Artists in History (Facebook page)

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Into the Light-14, by Marion van Nieuwpoort, 2007. Love the contrast in this painting: stillness and movement, washed-out neutrals and bright pinks.

I’ve been following the Female Artists in History Facebook page for several months now, and wanted to share it here for anyone who might be interested. Curated by two women, Christa Zaat and Carel Ronk, the page presents works, primarily paintings, by women artists along with brief biographies.

And it turns out there are a lot of them. All the well-known names are there: Artemisia Gentileschi, Frida Kahlo, Mary Cassatt, Georgia O’Keefe… but there are also heaps of names that I (and probably you) have never come across before. Continue reading “Recommended Read: Female Artists in History (Facebook page)”

Summer Holidays #3: The Portraits of Gottfried Lindauer (1829-1926)

heeni-hirini-and-child-1878
Heeni Hirini and child, 1878. This was one of Lindauer’s most famous works, and he reproduced it numerous times.

When the classically-trained Bohemian artist Gottfried Lindauer arrived in New Zealand in 1874 it marked the beginning of one of the most significant eras in New Zealand’s artistic history. Lindauer set up shop as a portrait artist in the nascent British colony, producing exquisitely detailed paintings of some of the more prominent colonists, and wedding portraits for middle-class couples. But it wasn’t long before he came to be intrigued by another set of artistic subjects: Maori rangatira (chiefs) and other Maori people of note. Continue reading “Summer Holidays #3: The Portraits of Gottfried Lindauer (1829-1926)”

Paintings You Should Know: ‘The Skating Minister’ by Henry Raeburn (1784)

This is one of those paintings that you really should know about just because it’s fun. What’s not to love about The Reverend Robert Walker Skating on Duddingston Loch? The Minister so solemn and intent in his serious black coat, hat, and hose, arms folded in what one might imagine is a gesture of restraint – and yet gliding in joyful frivolity over the ice of the Loch, one leg upraised behind him.

The skating Minister, by Henry Raeburn
Henry Raeburn, The Rev. Robert Walker Skating, mid-1790s

Continue reading “Paintings You Should Know: ‘The Skating Minister’ by Henry Raeburn (1784)”

Paintings You Should Know: The Arnolfini Portrait by Jan Van Eyck (1834)

The Arnolfini Portrait, also known as The Arnolfini Wedding, The Arnolfini Marriage, or The Portrait of Giovanni Arnolfini and His Wife, is one of those paintings which changed the world of art. During the preceding Gothic period, art had been focussed almost exclusively on religious subjects, but this is a large-scale work depicting two real individuals in a realistic setting.

van_eyck_-_arnolfini_portrait

Continue reading “Paintings You Should Know: The Arnolfini Portrait by Jan Van Eyck (1834)”

A Very Short History of Art: The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, Realism, and Impressionism

1 Camille Corot A View Near Volterra 1838
Camille Corot, ‘A View Near Volterra’, 1838. Neither Romantic nor Realist, but merging aspects of both, this view is a real one, based on sketches Corot made on a visit to Italy a decade before.

From the early Christian period to the Rococo, the story of European art is one of evolution: the Gothic art of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries blossomed into the Renaissance of the fifteenth and sixteenth, which developed into the elaborate Baroque of the seventeenth century, which reached the furthest extent of its development in the Rococo of the early eighteenth. Only at that point did a conscious disconnection from the immediately preceding style occur, first in the opposition of Neoclassicism to the principles of the Rococo, and then in the rebellion of Romanticism against the principles of Neoclassicism.

But as we move into the nineteenth century, something different happens. For the first time, rather than a single, unified artistic school or a pair of opposing schools we encounter the beginnings of a plurality of distinct artistic styles. These styles sprang from different, sometimes conflicting, artistic philosophies, but they coexisted alongside one another, and in doing so arguably laid the groundwork for the endless variation in artistic expression which would be produced by the artists of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Continue reading “A Very Short History of Art: The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, Realism, and Impressionism”

A Very Short History of Art: Neoclassicism and Romanticism

1 Jacques Louis David The Oath of the Horatii 1784to5
Jacques-Louis David, The Oath of the Horatii, 1784-85 – one of the earliest Neoclassical paintings.

Both Neoclassicism and Romanticism began as expressions of rejection. Neoclassicism, which emerged in the 1740s, with its clean lines and commitment to an idealised reality, was a rejection of Rococo extravagance and embellishment, which by the 1780s had succeeded in supplanting it. Romanticism, with its love of drama, emotion, and the natural world, was a rejection of the perceived coldness and intellectualism of Neoclassicism, and emerged just as the Rococo was disappearing. Continue reading “A Very Short History of Art: Neoclassicism and Romanticism”