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Showing posts from October, 2012

Cristofano Allori

John the Baptist in the Desert, 1600's Born in Florence on October 17, 1577, Cristofano Allori was a Mannerist painter whose distinct realism sets him on the cusp of the Baroque in his later works. His father, Alessandro Allori, was also a noted painter yet Cristofano chose to go his own way to synthesize the strict draftsmanship of the Florentines with the coloring of the Venetians. This idea was not uncommon, and in fact many artists of the early Baroque favoured such harmony but it was how Allori was able to achieve it that makes him unique. His attention to detail unfortunately limited the amount of works produced, in combination with passing away at the height of his powers at the age of 44, but it is his style that deserves particular merit. In John the Baptist in the Desert Allori depicts him with the freshness of a Caravaggio, yet with vibrant red and a deep blue sky behind him. Instead of placing St. John the Baptist in dark shadows, he puts the trees and ground in


Hide and Seek, 1877 James Jacques Joseph Tissot was born on October 15, 1836 on the western coast of France. A contemporary of Whistler, Degas and Manet, he reached a fair degree of success in his life yet strangely is almost forgotten today. Born twenty years before Sargent, Tissot would examine contemporary modern life while idealizing beautifully dressed women. Tissot had an eye for capturing moments and facial expressions that deserves particular attention because he did it without resorting to melodrama. He had an acute sense of light and composition, telling a story without having to a need to say a lot, yet still manages to captivate. Oddly enough, in his later years he suddenly became religious and his paintings took a mostly artificial turn, failing to capture the spontaneity and freshness of life that he was a master of. On occasion, he took biblical inspiration into anachronism and made modern-day interpretations of the bible, some of which are worth noting. In Hide


Raft of the Medusa, 1819 Continuing our theme of French artists, Jean Louis Théodore Géricault was born on September 26, 1791 in Rouen, Northern France. Géricault was a pioneer in Romanticism, a newer, more vigorous and less polished realism than the prevailing NeoClassicism of the day. Expressiveness, independent thought and thicker brushstrokes helped pave the way for a movement that would change history and lead the way to modernism. His oeuvre would cover a range of material from military to horses, even so far as doing studies of mental patients at a hospital. Many of the studies from that experience lead to quite macabre subjects, painting skulls, severed limbs and body parts, yet Géricault's portraits are what separate him from his contemporaries. Géricault would only live to the age of 32. In Raft of the Medusa above, Géricault's first major work and his most famous, depicts a true story of a highly publicized shipwreck near the coast of West Africa where the Médu

François Boucher

Vulcan Presenting Venus with Arms for Aeneas,1757 Born September 29th in 1703, the Master of the Rococo, François Boucher is the painter associated with warm skin tones, vivid cool backgrounds and clothing, and probably for the first time in art history, painting nude women for the sake of beauty and nothing else. In direct contrast to the dark realism of Caravaggio and the Baroque, Boucher is about art for art's sake , which irritated many of his critics, but his style is not as easy to categorize as we might think. Boucher's landscapes are idyllic and lush, providing a backdrop for his subjects, and yet he is among the first to really introduce a natural, erotic element to his women that seems innocent at the same time. Technically, Boucher was an incredible draftsman and he fully embraced every medium of his day, his influence carrying into the decorative arts also, such as porcelain and tapestry all throughout Europe. While he may have had less of an impact on art than


The Diet, late 1800's Jehan Georges Vibert was an Academic painter from France born in Paris on September 30, 1840. A contemporary of Jean-Léon Gérôme , Vibert would also find himself at the École des Beaux-Arts where he studied under François-Édouard Picot, who also taught artists such as Cabanel and Bouguereau. Where the breadth of Gérôme's interests and subject matter crossed into many different areas, Vibert had a seemingly insatiable appetite for sarcasm and wit, especially in his anticlerical work. Had he widened his oeuvre we may have seen an incredible eye on humanity, yet ironically within his narrow range he still managed to create insightful and stunningly vivid works that challenge our everyday notions on religion and society. And he did it often with subtle humour, a rare thing in art. In The Diet above, Vibert shows a cleric eating milk and biscuits in what is clearly someone who needs to drop a few pounds. Look at the attention to drapery here. Vibert mad


Christ and the Woman Taken in Adultery, ca.1550 Jacopo Comin, (or formerly known as Jacopo Robusti) knicknamed Tintoretto because his father was a clothing dyer, was born on September 29, 1518 in Venice. Also known as Il Furioso for his frenetic speed and dynamic energy to his painting, Tintoretto really embodies Mannerism: long twisting figures, complex compositions, and dynamic perspective. Like all Mannerists, he was deeply influenced by Michelangelo but gave his work the distinct Venetian touch of Titian's colors with his own chiaroscuro. It must have seemed remarkably modern at the time, pushing the limits of what was learned from the Renaissance to something less stiff and more dynamic rather than purely harmonious. Unfortunately, this movement would eventually suffer from its own selfish vices to become artificial and posed, lacking any sincerity or real drama that would come to be replaced by the Baroque in the early 1600's. Tintoretto's technique is remarka

Orazio Riminaldi

Samson defeats Philistines, 1625 A painter from Pisa, Orazio Riminaldi was a Baroque tenebrist born in 1586 on September 5th. Riminaldi was unfortunately one of many painters who died young, in his case from the plague in 1630, but it is what he accomplished in those brief years that merits attention. Riminaldi's expressive faces and body language, along with superb skin tones and dramatic skies, take his art to a deeper level than some his contemporaries, who were perhaps more cautious in their techniques. Look at the fury of the scene above. It is quite rare in painting to see a pile of bodies with a warrior like Samson no less, stepping on top of one while grabbing the hair of another. And yet Riminaldi manages to make it look majestic and noble. The anatomy of the figures shows foreshortening combined with Caravaggio's chiaroscuro in a tight yet carefully arranged composition. By making it vertical, in a triangular design, it heightens the sense of drama while requi

Ciro Ferri

Head of a Beared Man Looking to Upper Left, 1600's Ciro (Italian for Cyrus) Ferri, born in 1634, was the disciple of Pietro da Cortona , leading painter of the early Baroque. Ferri is not well known outside of Italy except for some of his drawings at the Met, which are remarkably astute and full of character. Notice the interesting angle of the man above, how he uses foreshortening to define the character and the action. I love how Ferri uses subtle strokes of white to heighten the form. Drawing such as this never ceases to inspire me. Head of a Woman,1600's Capturing the expression of a woman lost in thought here, seems to have a poetry all its own. A painting is not required here. Chastity of Joseph, ca.1650's Look at this tantalizing display of color and dynamics. A backdrop of red defines the lust of the woman reaching out for him. The choice of blue and yellow is unique and appealing. Note the marble floor with tiles in perspective and the scene