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Alessandro Magnasco, the Dark Genius

The Tame Magpie, 1708 Born on February 4, 1667 in Genoa, Italy, Alessandro Magnasco was a late Baroque painter, aka. il Lissandrino. His style was highly distinctive and idiosyncratic—elongated, muscular forms in brisk brushwork reminiscent of Tintoretto along with some of his contemporaries: Tintoretto, Sebastiano Ricci, Francesco Solimena, and Giovanni Pellegrini. His strong shadows and vibrant colors are reminiscent of a Venetian style, yet suggest an ominous influence of Piranesi in his architectural capriccios. What makes him interesting is his highly idiosyncratic subject matter that was not common during his era, making him a genre painter by definition, or Bamboccianti as some may have described him. Highly individualistic or Romantic, his work is interesting so let's take a closer look. In The Tame Magpie above, an odd collection of people gather round to watch a man attempt to teach a magpie to sing. Some appear to be drunk and destitute, the woman representing c
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Frits Thaulow, Norwegian Impressionist for the Seasons

Ponte Pietra, Verona 1894 Frits Thaulow was born on October 20 1847 in Oslo (formerly Christiania), Norway. A member of the Skagen Painters, Thaulow studied in Copenhagen and under Hans Gude . Thaulow painted in Skagen for a few years before returning to Norway and finally moving to northern France where he found inspiration in the idyllic views there where he would explore tonalist Impressionism and a vibrant palette. Thaulow is one of the most underrated of Impressionist painters in his distinctive sense of color and light in his water reflections. He is more naturalist than Impressionist. His paintings immerse us into his world. In Ponte Pietra, Verona above Thaulow contrasts a rustic, ancient Roman bridge made of brick and travertine with the beautiful green tones in the water. This is a view from the right which is not often depicted in photos even today, and yet this has a freshness that makes us feel like we are standing at the very spot. Thaulow's muted brushwo
After a lengthy hiatus from a very busy 2022, I have now refocused and set some time to return again here and focus on the art that inspires and teaches me constantly. J

The Dreamy Landscapes of Trouillebert

Rowboat, ca. 1800's Born on 1829 in Paris, France Paul Désiré Trouillebert was a French Barbizon painter. Often compared to Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot for his very similar treatment of mood and trees, in fact one of Trouillebert's paintings was sold by a collector to the son of Alexandre Dumas (author of The Three Musketeers ) as a Corot with a forged signature. However, on this post I will be examining in closer detail why the style of Trouillebert is much more individual and distinct from Corot. In Rowboat above, Trouillebert varies the thickness and variety of the trees in this asymmetrical composition. What is beautiful about this painting is how the main source of light is a mysterious white glow at the horizon line of this very overcast day with the clouds becoming warmer as they near the top of the painting before turning dark to suggest imminent rain. Fishermen on a boat is not an entirely original theme, admittedly but the way in which Trouillebert's palet

Hans Gude, Norwegian Lord of the Land and Sea

Norwegian Highlands in Sunrise, 1854 Hans Fredrik Gude was born on March 13, 1825 in Oslo (formerly Christiania), Norway. A Romanticist from the Düsseldorf school of painting , a German Romanticist school in the mid-1800's that produced an impressive array of artists painting in a very detailed yet powerfully emotional way. The landscape as an artistic genre, although very common today, was often regarded as a lower genre and something not as "serious" as the more religious, historical or portrait genres that dominated the art world for centuries. German Romanticism changed that in a relatively short period of time and attracted artists from all over the world to study at the prestigious Düsseldorf Academy . Gude's career established him as an icon of Norwegian artists and became a master of the seascape and a distinguished art professor in his later years. He often collaborated with artist Adolph Tidemand, a highly skilled portrait and figure painter on his own ri

Isaac Levitan, Russian Poet of Nature

Before the Storm, 1890 Born August 30, 1860, Isaac Ilyich Levitan was a Russian landscape painter. Born in Congress Poland to a Jewish family, Levitan would study art in Moscow where he would become friends with Anton Chekov and his brother, Nikolay who was also an artist. Levitan's work has a unique mood that is very distinct from the Impressionism of France and the Classicism of Russia...sometimes compared to Monet but still different. Levitan has a rare presence with astute attention to detail and a fascination with light at different times of day. At times highly accurate, while in his more personal work deeply Impressionistic and imbued with rich tone and color. There is something about Levitan that lingers in your mind long after seeing his a way that is individual and personal, not attached to a specific genre or movement, but to the world around him. In Before the Storm , Levitan captures a moment so stunning it seems to defy words...of sunlight piercing

Tom Roberts, Australian Impressionist

Portrait of Florence, 1898 Thomas William "Tom" Roberts was born on March 8, 1856 in Dorchester England and a prominent member of The Heidelberg School , which was an Australian Impressionist art movement of the late 1800's. His family moved to Australia when he was 13, where he stayed for 12 years before returning to study in England and travel through Spain, where he met artists such as Ramon Casas . Roberts painted mostly landscapes and portraiture. His work is characterized by distinctive brushstrokes, subtle contrasts of edges, and a muted but natural palette in contrast to many of his contemporaries, who often used vibrant colors in their shadows. In Portrait of Florence above, Roberts shows us the scale of his talent and the Spanish influence. I love the wistful look on her face. The tactile fabric of her dress, in warm neutral tones seems to resonate with the background even though the tones are very similar. The pink ruffled collar is what grabs our attenti