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Showing posts from December, 2013

Austrian Poet of Nature

The Interrupted Pilgrimage (The Sick Pilgrim), 1858

Born on January 15, 1793 in Vienna, Austria, Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller was a 19th century painter from the Biedermeier period. One of Austria's most well-known artists in his day, sadly today he is quite obscure but his incredible talent for detail and beautiful colors make him particularly unique from most of the artists I've written about here. It seems like many artists, especially today, fall into either landscape or figures, but not both. Waldmüller wielded both with a musical ease...his use of sunlight is among the most natural and vibrant I can ever remember any artist ever painting. Looking at Waldmüller's work one feels a deep optimism and overall gratifying peacefulness, without the sentimentality that often accompanies art from this era. He has an epic sensibility yet embraces common people instead of heroes and religious figures of the past, a natural storyteller that includes women and children as key charac…

Parisian Poet, Jean François de Troy

Pan and Syrinx, 1724

Born on January 27, 1679 in Paris, Jean François de Troy was a French Rococo painter and tapestry designer who is known also from his teacher and father, François de Troy. A highly sensual painter with a striking palette, deep shadows and a natural penchant for group compositions, Troy pushed the limits of his Classicism to a quest for the candid. Although poetic and graceful, his figures are neither quite as affected as they may appear at first glance. The way in which he pays equal attention to the posing, anatomy and significance of both male and females reveals a pronounced Italian influence, both sculptural and illustrative, from his seven years there.

In Pan and Syrinx above—a subject that has been interpreted by countless artists— Troy depicts the moment that the fleeing Syrinx awaits advice from her river nymph sisters while horny Pan chases her from behind, clutching the water reeds that she will eventually turn into. What is unusual about this version is…

Louis de Boullogne

Born in Paris in 1657, Louis de Boullogne II was a French late Baroque-early Rococo painter. His father, sister and older brother were also painters, and having won the Prix de Rome he spent three years studying in Rome and Northern Italy before returning to Paris. His reception piece, Augustus closing the doors to the temple of Janus:

Auguste fait fermer les portes du Temple de Janus, 1681

made him an official member of the Académie royale de peinture et de sculpture. An ambitious painting for a 24 year old, Boullogne reveals an effortless composition culled from all that he learned from his intensive studies in Italy. He uses strong vertical lines in the columns balanced with the implied horizontal lines of the figures, the foreground figures adding space and three-dimensonality. Note the standing figure in green stepping onto the marble base adds a sense of naturalism to an otherwise Classical painting, while the muscular figure on the far left has a strong Baroque sensibility. Acco…

Jean Jouvenet Le Grande

Le Triomphe de la Justice, 1714

Born on May 1, 1644, Jean-Baptiste Jouvenet was a French Baroque painter from Rouen, France. At the age of 17 he moved to Paris where he worked under the legendary Charles Le Brun at Versailles for King Louis XIV. Jouvenet is one of those rare painters who was able to synthesize color with light and dark effortlessly, while also having a keen eye for composition with groups of figures. In 1713, at the age of 69, he had a stroke which left his right hand paralyzed, a horrible setback for any artist but led Jouvenet to surmount his frustration and began painting with his left hand. His last two paintings were done with his left hand before his death in 1717. This heroic and dramatic spirit is a hallmark of his painting, a master in the shadows of French Baroque art whose work deserves to be reexamined and appreciated.

In Le Triomphe de la Justice Jouvenet's figure arrangement is seamlessly blended with dramatic color, chiaroscuro and dynamic body lang…