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Master of Innuendo: Edmund Leighton

In Time of Peril, 1897


Born on the 21st of September, 1852 Edmund Blair Leighton was an English medieval painter from London. He was known for a highly accurate and detailed realism with a vivid palette and figures with decorative costumes. Leighton's work has a strong narrative, and when he wasn't painting Medieval themes he often explored romantic concepts and, like his Pre-Raphaelite contemporaries, may have been influenced by Lord Tennyson.

If we look at In Time of Peril above, Leighton creates a drama right out of a scene from a novel or drama. I love how the figures looking back at the old man direct our eye to him, while the child looks in the opposite direction toward where they are headed. By making the composition in two-point perspective, Leighton heightens the drama that they are in danger and eager to escape wherever they came from to arrive at a monastery. He creates vivid contrasts in texture between the water, the costumes of the figures, and the heavy stone w…
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Charles Courtney Curran, Kentucky Gem

Lady with a Bouquet, 1890


Born February 13, 1861 in Hartford, Kentucky, Charles Courtney Curran was an American painter and illustrator. He is known for his graceful and elegant paintings of women in natural surroundings with vibrant use of light and colour. His work has a highly feminine sensibility and is sometimes criticized for its sentimentality, but Curran's appreciation of both interiors and nature, light and sky, and beauty in its most unpretentious and natural form makes him worthy of study.


In Lady with a Bouquet, Curran turns a quiet moment of a woman's love of flowers into a thing of beauty herself. I don't think I've ever seen a painting with a green palette used in this way before. The folds of the woman's jacket are just right, not overstated or too simple, painted with a light stroke to emphasize texture yet with some of the underpainting visible in the shadows. The way her arm raises up to smell the bouquet, and the shape of her hat and her jacket…

Jan Hendrik Weissenbruch, Lord of the Skies

Landscape with a farm near a lake, ca.1880's




Born on June 19, 1824 in The Hague, Netherlands Jan Hendrik Weissenbruch was a Dutch landscape artist. Weissenbruch was heavily influenced by Dutch landscape Master Jacob van Ruisdael who was among the first of landscape artists to emphasize clouds as a key component to the composition and mood of his paintings. Weissenbruch is in fact quoted as saying that "painters can never pay too much attention to the sky." Often bucolic in theme with Impressionist brushwork, Weissenbruch's work is characterized by the use of light and how it defines the landscape itself. Weissenbruch seemed to prefer a limited palette that often emphasizes greens and greys while using warmer colours more as accents.

In Landscape with a farm near a lake above, the brushwork is so loose it appears dream-like, and the hazy reflection of the trees and sky in the lake seem to immerse us in this view as if we are standing in this very spot. The sky itself …

Carl Holsøe, Master of Rooms

The Artist's Wife sitting at a Window in a sunlit Room, ca.1900

Carl Vilhelm Holsøe
was born on the 12 of March, 1863 in northeast Denmark. Holsøe studied in Copenhagen and under the Danish Master Peder Krøyer. Unlike many painters who worked outdoors and favored the majestic landscapes of their environment, Holsøe chose the psychological mood of the domestic interior and the way light spills into rooms. Although Holsøe is often compared to his contemporary and friend, Vilhelm Hammershøi, Holsøe is more authentic and less vacant emotionally. His use of sunlight captures the mindfulness of the moment in a way that is reminiscent of Dutch Masters, utilizing the power of quiet and reading as emotionally satisfying and tranquil.


In the painting above, his wife sits in a kitchen chair looking out the window. On the table are cups of tea and a teapot that Holsøe gently lights the rims. The drapes are of a texture so thick it almost seems like pastel. Look at the greenish reflections on …

Raimundo de Madrazo, Master of Strokes

Birthday Wishes, ca. 1880


Born on the 24th of July, 1841 in Rome, Raimundo de Madrazo y Garreta was a Spanish realist painter. Coming from a long line of painters in the family, Raimundo moved back to Spain and studied at the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando in Madrid, then in Paris under Léon Cogniet. Raimundo stayed in Paris most of his life and like his family did mostly portraiture. Raimundo is distinctly unique from most in the way he paints fabric and drapery...elevating the women of his era in their beautiful shimmering dresses like very few artists in history. Despite this interesting niche Raimundo was a brilliant portrait painter of both men and women. Look closely in his brushwork and the influence of Velázquez is unmistakable, yet Madrazo has an ability to make those strokes dance.

In Birthday Wishes above, the narrative is clear: a woman reads a card addressed to her from an admirer while holding a bouquet of flowers. The background was a green underpainting …

Albert Edelfelt, the Finnish Master

Boys Playing on the Shore, 1884


Born on July 21, 1854 in Southern Finland, Albert Edelfelt was a successful Finnish Realist painter. While studying art in Helsinki in his late teens, Edelfelt became frustrated by the type of instruction in Finland at that time and, after a brief stint in Antwerp he moved to Paris studying under Gérôme. Edelfelt's work is comprised of both portraiture and landscape, where he often painted en plein air and equally adept in both oils and watercolour. His popularity rose in his lifetime during his time in Paris and attracted many admirers, including Van Gogh. Edelfelt's style is warm and fresh, almost like Sorolla yet with a deep respect for his own culture and people despite living in Paris for so many years. His realism is inviting and mindful, with an innate sense of colour for all of his compositions and portraits.


In Boys Playing on the Shore above, Edelfelt brings us back to childhood with a remarkably muted palette. Despite the sunshine the…