Painting of the Month

August 2020

The Broken Mirror

Renowned for his portraits and genre paintings, Jean-Baptiste Greuze (1725-1805) was popular in the 1760s but is quite unfashionable today. He had an astute sensitivity for capturing subtle emotions in his subjects’ faces, reproducing inner thoughts and feelings in such a way as to permit us as a viewer to participate in the scene before…

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July 2020

Dante and Virgil

The selection of this artwork as Painting of the Month has been motivated by two occurrences; one good and one terrible. I’ll start with the good. Since lockdown began I have reinstated my former student status and joined in a weekly online seminar about Dante’s Divine Comedy, on which I took a module for my…

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June 2020

The Memory of Your Touch

This month’s Painting of the Month (which is happily not a painting) has been selected and written by Anne Abouchar. Follow her on Instagram @mylondonpassion.   I am delighted to be writing something for this wonderful blog. I admit, however, my preferences in art sit solidly in the 20th and 21st centuries. At times, these contemporary…

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May 2020

The Little Street

Last month, I chose Arthur Hacker’s Imprisoned Spring (1900) as my Painting of the Month, a view of a young woman looking out at nature through a window. This month I wanted to pick something to reflect the slight easing of lockdown, inspired by walks around my neighbourhood. As we are all spending more time…

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April 2020

Imprisoned Spring

We humans are connected to the natural world in a profound and innate way. We often seek to synchronise our bodies with the rising and retiring of the sun, we bask in its light and warmth, we crave fresh air and find joy in the sights, sounds and sensations of being outside. This month Winter officially…

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March 2020

Death and the Miser

From a quick glance at some of the paintings of Hieronymus Bosch (c.1450-1516), you would be forgiven for assuming that he was mad. But you would be wrong. He was a highly intelligent man, a respected and successful artist who had many important patrons. While to our modern eye his peculiar and fantastical creations seem strange and surreal,…

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February 2020

Love Steering the Boat of Humanity

For an artist who did not adhere to any dogmatic faith, many of the works by George Frederic Watts (1817-1904) is saturated in spirituality. Images of life and death, virtue and sin, the earth-bound and the otherworldly through religious and moral subject matter dominate his artistic output and were often utilised to reflect both universal…

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January 2020

The Beheading of St. John the Baptist

The Beheading of St. John the Baptist by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio stands out from all preceding depictions of the scene in the history of art. It pauses on a strikingly specific moment; one in which John’s head is not fully severed from his body. The emphasis on the explicit details of the act of his killing is often read…

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August 2018

The Temptation and Fall of Eve

I finally got around to reading John Milton’s Paradise Lost, and since finishing it I have found myself thinking about it often. Comprised of 645 verses, the poem is a deeply personal and epic retelling of the Genesis story, with which Milton set out to ‘assert Eternal Providence, and justify the ways of God to men’. Considered to be…

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July 2018

Homage to the Square: Departing from Yellow

Colour has a profound effect on our lives; on our mood, the train of our thoughts, our mental associations, our outlook. When we see a tone or combination of tones, a mental and/or physical reaction occurs on some level, the trigger of which be a hugely varied and complex thing. As children, we have favourite…

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June 2018

Jupiter Beguiled by Juno on Mount Ida

James Barry (1763-1806) is a brilliant anomaly in Britsh art history, but is also one of the most (if not the most) important Irish Neoclassical artists. I’ve wanted to choose one of his works for Painting of the Month for some time, but I have been torn between this one, a Self Portrait of 1803 in the National…

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May 2018

Crucifixion

Seventeenth-century Spanish Catholic art has a distinct visual language, reflecting the traditions of religious theory and practice in that specific time and place. While Protestantism enforced the biblical commandment forbidding the creation of ‘graven images’, the Catholic Church both defended and promoted their use of art to inspire piety and strengthen faith. As one of the…

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April 2018

Soft Self-Portrait with Fried Bacon

You may find it surprising to know that Salvador Dalí was my first favourite artist. I remember discovering at him when I was studying GCSE Art & Design, and feeling that his paintings had something to say to me –  perhaps disconcerting for a 15 year old. Looking back, I think the main appeal was his ‘painted dream…

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March 2018

The Martyrdom of Saint Matthew

You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven Matthew 5:43-45   The etymology of the word ‘martyr’ is derived from the…

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February 2018

The Sower

For Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890) his work was his life’s purpose, and through his art he explored themes that meant a lot to him. He saw the work of artists of the past as something to be learnt from, to absorb their lessons and apply them to his own time. Jean-François Millet (1814-75) was someone that van Gogh felt a…

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January 2018

Snow Storm: Steam-Boat off a Harbour’s Mouth

I’m scared of the sea. I don’t like being in it or on it, or even miles in the sky above it. Watching programmes that explore the vast depths and the creatures that live there make me feel ill, and worse still is footage of tankers or container ships in the midst of a raging storm. Even…

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December 2017

Nativity (Holy Night)

The birth of a baby is a common thing, something that we probably all experience in some way during our lifetime. We know the specific feeling of celebrating a new life and adoring a child. As the first scene of Jesus’ life on Earth it should actively inspire reflection and wonder, emotions far beyond the everyday and the physical….

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November 2017

Susannah at her Bath

When I first discover a musician or band I seek out their entire back catalogue. I apply the same obsessiveness to artists, and such is the case with French painter Hughes Merle (1823-1881). Though he is often criticised as being sentimental, I find that his interpretations of literary and mythological scenes give much more than might first meet…

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October 2017

The Inspiration of Saint Matthew

I have a print of this painting on my wall at home so I spend a lot of time looking at it, mostly from having my ironing board set up in front of it. It is an altar of sorts, which is apt because is at the centre of three paintings in the Contarelli Chapel of San Luigi dei…

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September 2017

Still Life, Pink Roses by Samuel Peploe

Researching for exhibitions brings me in contact with art that I perhaps wouldn’t have discovered otherwise, which is usually a good thing. The Scottish Colourists were a group of fascinating artists, of which Samuel Peploe (1871-1935) was a leading member. The four members of the group, who were active in the 1920s, were from Edinburgh, and all were enormously…

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August 2017

A Boy Bringing Bread

There is something about the quiet harmony of this painting that I find really pleasing. The geometric details and clarity of light and air turn an everyday scene into a masterful work of art. The artist has chosen the asymmetric composition with precision and control, selecting and cropping the scene to create intrigue and balance. Yet it…

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July 2017

Portrait of Miss Anna Pitt as Hebe

If you commission an artist for a likeness, you may not consider dressing-up as someone else for the sitting, but in the 1700s this was very fashionable. Men would typically took on iconic figures from history, showing physical and moral strength through someone else’s characteristics. And women often posed as virtuous allegorical themes such as love…

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June 2017

Saint Sebastian

Earlier this month the National Gallery announced that they are putting on a very exciting exhibition next year; Mantegna and Bellini. Following the success of Michelangelo & Sebastiano (read my review here: www.art-theoria.com/michelangelo-sebastiano/) it is no surprise that they have chosen to juxtapose and focus on two masters of Italian painting again. Although I am sure…

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May 2017

A Lady with a Squirrel and a Starling (Anne Lovell?)

If the identity of a sitter for a portrait is lost, how can it be found? Art has always used symbols to give us clues as well as add embellishment. The lady here is posed with a squirrel, an animal featured on the Lovell family coat of arms. They were popular pets in the 16th century,…

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April 2017

Mary Magdalen in the Cave

Inspired by Waldemar Januszczak’s recent BBC programme Mary Magdalen: Art’s Scarlet Woman, I wanted to share my favourite vision of Mary Magdalen. Painted by Hughes Merle in 1868, I think this is the most emotionally charged and beautiful images of the saint. The first thing I notice is how close we are to her face. It is unusual, although…

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