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A PIECE OF ART.
Artist: Francois-Andre Vincent 1746-1816
Vincent was considered one of the greatest French innovators of Neoclassic art focussing on natural history in the late 1700”s. He was a painter and draftsperson and was a prolific painter of portraits, mainly of aristocrats and fellow students. Vincent was well respected amongst his peers and was known to use a number of mediums in his work. His classical antiquity style was influenced by the masters of the Italian High Renaissance, in particular that of Raphael and in 1768 he was awarded the coveted Prix de Rome. In 1970, Vincent was appointed master of drawings to King Louis XVI. His skill in the arts is reflected in his appointment as a professor at the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture which became the School of Arts (Vincent being a founding member). The Battle of the Pyramids depicts the Egyptian Mamelukes fighting bravely against the heavily armed and well drilled French forces of Napoleon in his conquest of Egypt in 1798. The sketch clearly represents both his drafting background and his interest in historical subjects, and was done in preparation for a large painting that was commissioning by Bonaparte that was never completed. The French army can be seen formed in squares and is where Napoleon displayed his tactical brilliance in the use of a massive divisional square to split up the forces.
The Wedding at Cana 1563
Artist: Paolo Veronese 1528 – 1588
Born Paolo Cailari in 1528 to a stonecutter and his wife, Paolo adapted the surname Veronese from his birthplace in Verona. He was one of the great masters of the Venetian school in the Renaissance period, whose conservative tradition remained a characteristic of his artwork. By the age of 15 and as an apprentice, he was already responsible for painting altarpieces with a talent that far surpassed his age. As he progressed, he became adept at large colourful pieces often depicting Christ at supper or large radiant feasts. In 1573, Veronese had some trouble in the inquisition in relation to his version of the last supper. His defence was that as a painter, he should be able to “take the same licence as poets and jesters take”. The Wedding at Cana was pillaged by Napoleon and taken to Paris, where it hangs in the Louvre today as one of the largest paintings on display. It was one of the paintings that were not returned after treaties aimed at returning stolen artwork were put in place after Napoleon”s reign. It is meant to symbolise one of the many stories of Christ (seen in the middle of the painting) performing one of his seven miracles by turning water into wine. In a painting that was clearly aimed at presenting a spectacular banquet, Veronese himself is seen in the crowd with friends and important persons at that time. The painting is a grand display of cityscape architecture mixed with many people in colourful garments, which was typical of Veronese during his more mature phase of work.
Cleopatra (ca. 1515)
Artist: Giovanni Pietro Rizzoli (Active 1495-1549)
The artist Giampietrino (for a long time unidentified, but now widely agreed to be Giovanni Pietro Rizzoli) was a student of Leonardo da Vinci in Milan in the early 1500s. His works are strongly influenced, but also overshadowed by his association with Leonardo, as he is considered to be a talented painter, but one whose style and theme echo his master’s artistry. Giampietrino is known for a body of work that has strong religious overtones. His works depict mainly tragic female religious and mythological figures such as Mary and Cleopatra, often at their point of death or vulnerability. The painting depicts the suicide of one of the most famous Egyptian queens, Cleopatra, after the death of her husband Julius Caesar and her lover Mark Anthony. Cleopatra chose a traditional form of suicide in that time, the fatal bite of an asp. Leonardo”s influence is thought to be shown in the graceful female figure, use of soft shading and idealised facial features.
Divinia Tragedia 1865 – 1869
Author: Paul Chenavard (1807 – 1895)
Material information and documents on Chenavard is rare as he was a relatively unknown and somewhat mysterious artist from Lyon, France. He entered the distinguished National School of fine Arts in Paris where he studied under the French Neoclassical painter Ingres (Ingres studied with Jacques-Louis David, the artist who was responsible for another Ethereal T-shirt: Intervention). After the 1848 revolution, Chenavard was commissioning by the then director of fine arts (Charles Blanc) to paint a feature mosaic to create a temple of humanity (following his belief that art should reflect humanitarianism) in the then restored Pantheon in Paris. The idea was to detail historical subjects to reflect a culmination of all the religious traditions. However, the Pantheon was returned to the Catholic Church in 1851 by Napoleon and so with it any chance of Chenavard starting his work which many at that time considered unorthodox, even heretic. The series of 19th century paintings by Chenavard, including Divine Tragedia, is considered one of the only by a Frenchman early in this period to display a full-scale illustrative expressions of mystical thinking. The painting is clearly complex, with many religious figures in intensive action including Christ, Death, The Angel of Justice, the Spirit, and others, in what seems an enthralling battle of life and death. Divine Tragedia seems reflects Chenavard”s desire to try to convey an overall philosophical message which was clearly seen unfavourably by the Catholic Church at the time, his words summing up the painting; “As the ancient religions came to a close and with the accession of the Christian Trinity into Heaven, Death, helped by the Angel of Justice and the Spirit, struck down those gods doomed to perish.
Christ on the Cross Adored by Eight Saints of the Dominican Order (1652)
Artist: Abraham van Diepenbeeck 1596-1675
Van Diepenbeeck was a Dutch painter and a student of Peter Paul Rubens, a Flemish Baroque painter. He was known for drawings, oil sketches and glass paintings; most notably in the windows of the Antwerp Cathedral His skill enabled him to be admitted to the Antwerp Guild, becoming director at the Royal Academy a few years later. He excelled in illustrative pieces, working on a number of books. However, it was during an expedition to Italy that be begun to paint in oil.The work was dedicated to the new bishop of Ypres (Ambrosius Capello) who was a Dominican; each saint in the illustration signifies qualities that a bishop should exude. Shown are Saint Thomas Aquinis (doctrinal wisdom; the saint about to write with a pen in his hand), Saint Hyacinth of Krakow (Marian Devotion; the saint pointing to a statue of the virgin), Saint Peter of Verona (courage; the saint with the daggers and swords), Saint Catherine of Siena (pure devotion; the saint bearing stigmata marks by wearing the crown), Saint Dominic (zeal in Pastoral work; the saint carrying a Marian lily), Saint Vincent Ferrers (zeal in preaching; the saint standing and pointing to heaven), Saint Raymond of Penafort (vigilance and rectitude; the elderly saint on the right hand side), Saint Antoninus (intelligence and charity; he is the saint holding the scales).The painting was produced as a model for an sculptor or engraver and was done in a monochrome style in order to make it easier to copy.
The Fish Market (1621)
Artist: Frans Snyders 1579-1657
Frans Snyders has always had a keen interest in still life’s, originally painting more traditional still life’s such as fruits and flowers. He later moved to illustrations of animals and animal hunting scenes, using a style typical to the Baroque period which gave his depictions clear, detailed life-like qualities. He is widely considered as one of the greatest painters of aquatic animals, and was known as one of the first Animaliers (artists specialising in the realistic depictions of animals). Part of a set of four still life”s, The Fish Market was especially popular and inspiring for other contemporary painters. It is possibly one of his most influential works, and was painted (along with the others of the set) for Jacques Van Ophem, an influential man in customs and revenue gathering in the government of that time (17th century). The Fish Market is a large painting, measuring close to six and a half feet tall by over eleven feet long. Snyders depicts around 27 fishes and a number of other animals. The Fish Market is a precise clear painting, but does not seem to exude the tension and drama typical to his period of art.
Young Christian Martyr (1854-5)
Artist: Paul Delaroche 1797 – 1859
French painter born into a wealthy family, Hippolyte Delaroche, more commonly known as Paul Delaroche, was one of the most popular painters of his time. Delaroche formed a large group of likeminded Parisian historical painters, further increasing his popularity (resulting also in a large body of students). Delaroche focused on historic, melodramatic events. His preoccupation with tragic historical events was thought to have sprung from the unexpected death of his wife. Delaroche’s style was typified by solid smooth surfaces, which at the time was contrary to the more artistically accepted technical use of texture. His artwork was therefore appreciated by an audience more interested in the picture itself as opposed to the technical abilities of the painter. Painted after the death of his wife in 1845, the Young Christian Martyr depicts a female in the third century floating on the Tiber River, with her hands bound and a halo above her head. Delaroche’s illustration evokes a romantic but tragic response. The female subject looks so life-like that it seems that she only just died, if someone had arrived earlier, perhaps her death could have been prevented.
Neptune and Amymone (1757)
Artist: Charles-Andre Van Loo (Carle van Loo) 1705-1765
Born in Nice, Van Loo was one of the more famous French painters of Dutch origin. He followed his brother to Turin where he studied for a while, and then moved on to Rome two years later where he started his formal education. Van Loo was a versatile artist, winning numerous prestigious prizes for his artwork in both France and Italy, resulting in a rapid rise in his popularity. His scope included portraits, alfrescos and church decorations, religious and mythological paintings and sketches, and was heavily influenced by the Italian painters of the renaissance period. This culminated in his appointment as the principal painter of King Louis XV of France. He was responsible for numerous royal commissions for Dukes and Kings, and was prevalent in producing paintings for Parisian high society. The painting depicts the story of Amymone being attaked by a chthonic Satyr and rescued by Poseidon. Greek legend has it that Amymone”s father Danaus has 50 daughters who were commanded by Danaus’ twin brother Aegyptus to marry his 50 sons. Amymone was the only one of her 49 sisters that did not assassinate her husband on their wedding night. Poseidon after rescuing her was captivated, and soon after they had a son Nauplius.
Artist: John Martin 1789-1854
Born in Northumberland in a one room cottage, Martin was originally apprenticed to a coachbuilder to learn heraldic painting. He initially supported his family by teaching drawing and painting crockery, then later painting watercolours. His paintings were displayed in the Royal Academy, which was crucial to earn patronage by Royals or prominent people of the time. Martin’s themes were heavily influenced by the Old Testament, with many of his paintings depicting imaginative, melodramatic and apocalyptic scenes. Many of his paintings were in vast settings, either architectural or landscape. Martin became a popular artist his day being knighted by the French in 1833, however after his death, his popularity dropped sharply with one painting reportedly being sold for two pounds in 1930. Pandemonium followed Martin’s interest in spacious but disastrous scenes; the painting refers to John Milton’s book Paradise Lost, where Pandemonium is the place where Satan rises out of the deep. The image on the right shows an unusual form of Satan wearing a shield and a helmet, much like a warrior. He seems to be calling to the depths of hell commanding it to rise. In the background is a massive architectural structure marrying his interests in both large building structures and hectic sensational scenes.
St Francis of Assisi Receiving the Stigmata (1620)
Artist: Frans Pourbus the Younger 1569-1622
Pourbus the Younger came from a long line of Flemish family painters, particularly skilled in portraits and portrait groups. Born in Antwerp, he most likely trained in Bruges where his grandfather had a studio as some of his early paintings had the same smooth style. He was from a more privileged background and so would have found his early days as an artist more comfortable than many of his contemporaries. He worked for a number of influential people including Henry IV of France, Marie de’ Medici Queen of France, a number of Spanish regents and Dukes and other high society patrons. Even though Pourbus had the acknowledgment of the courts from his works for them, in his later years he moved to an outer area of Paris where he formed a workshop taking on apprentices. St Francis was from a wealthy merchant family; however it was on a pilgrimage to Rome he begged with the cities poor which inspired him to lead a life of poverty. He is the first person on record to receive the Stigmata, self imposed wounds signifying the crucifixion of Christ. St Francis of Assisi is seen kneeling in the left lower corner of the painting which is a common representation of the scene. The marks can be seen clearly on his hands and feet where the nails were put through Jesus Christ, perhaps supporting the notion that his devotion was so pure as to be considered one of the most dedicated to carrying out Christ’s work in Christ’s manner.