Sunday, January 30, 2011

!00 paintings artists should know Unit 6

Nothing but the hits! Proceeding with my list in no logical order we have:

15) The hunters in the snow, by Pieter the elder Breugel 1525-1569
The first of the three Breugels in Flemish painting, Pieter was father to Jan and Pieter the younger. This painting is a haunting vision of life in medieval times. Influenced by Hieronymus Bosch Breugel did many paintings of peasant life. He actually dressed as a peasant in order to study their taverns and weddings, and daily life. There is a charm and sometimes almost Rockwellian coziness in his paintings.

16) The Arnolfini portrait Jan van Eyck before 1395 - 1441
This is a very early oil painting. Sometimes Van Eyck has been credited with inventing oil painting, however that is not so. However he perfected the art and helped to popularize its use. This painting has been analyzed many times, and every few years its interpretations are revised.
It has been suggested that the bride looks pregnant and more recently that she died just before or during the time the picture was painted. This is a rather small painting and the level of finish and detail is amazing.

17) Woman holding a balance, Johannes Vermeer 1632?- 1675
Vermeer was rediscovered in the 19th century. So little was know about him that he was called the Sphinx of Delft. Recently scholarship has revealed more. The natural look of his paintings and his close observation of the actual appearance of form in the play of light gives these paintings a look of quiet perfection. I could have selected any of a number of Vermeers including one or two that are better known, but I have always liked this one. There has been much talk in recent years about his possible use of a camera obscura, a device like a camera containing no film, to make his paintings. Other art historians disagree. This has been presented in the press as a sort of scandal. Even if he used the device it still doesn't explain his paintings. Anyone can acquire one, but no one else seems to be able to make anything of the quality of Vermeer using one.


Dot Courson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dot Courson said...

...Really like the baseball card info idea! Maybe you should do "Artist cards". As a kid I had "Author cards"- and memorized major authors's names, pen name, bits of info about their most famous books, etc. Later in school I'd impress my elementary school teachers since I seemingly knew more literature than most of them. (sad, huh?)I could appear intelligent and conversational in a superficial way... (kinda like now).
But then again, maybe kids would only do it now if you made it an educational Nintendo dsi game...

Robert J. Simone said...

I doubt Vermeer used the camera obscura. Why would he when he surely knew that great drawing, accurate proportions, values and color are possible without out. I think the device would have been more of a hindrance to him.

The whole myth about his use of the device is probably perpetuated by those who feel a need to justify that they project images for their own paintings.

Anonymous said...

All three of my siblings, my niece, and self have a print of this Breugel painting displayed somewhere in our homes. I guess, it appeals to our winter loving dispositions. There is something enduring and modern not only about how it is painted, but the subject of life continuing as usual in deep winter.

Philip Koch said...

Three wonderful choices served up for us today!
I feel I'm starting my day on a high note.

Lucy said...

"Rockwellian Coziness", now that's a term the art historians should get a hold of. Then we could do more reading!
Thanks for a great selection as we start our painting day.

Mary Bullock said...

One thing that gives credence to the theory about Vermeer, is that he lived next door to Antoine Van Leeuwenhoek. Leeuwenhoek invented the microscope and would of course have a lot of lenses lying about (easy access for Vermeer). They were apparently fairly good friends as Leeuwenhoek was the trustee for Vermeer's estate at his death.

I believe that the controversy arose because of certain perspectives and light refractions seen in Vermeer's paintings that are only seen through a camera obscura. If he did use one, it would have to be large enough for him to sit or stand in. The man who has put forth this theory has shown how this was possible.

Whether Vermeer used a camera obscura or not is really pure conjecture and as Stape says, doesn't really diminish the exquistie quality of his paintings or his talent.

Strange - I was just discussing Vermeer and this controversy with some kids I teach and asked them to think about how the same controversy is raging in today's art world with artists using projectors and such.

Bill said...

Hunters in the Snow is perhaps my favorite painting of all time.

If they had projectors in Ruben's time, artists certainly would have used them instead of all that tedious cartooning, punching little holes, and pouncing.

Unknown said...

I feel a certain affinity with those hunters, having had to trudge through deep snow in the middle of a recent hike...
"quiet perfection" - that's a lovely phrase. I think it is something we should strive for in at least one painting this year.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Many people who will read this blog have had no particular schooling in art history. I am trying to lay out a course at the most basic possible level.Later on I will go into greater detail, or not.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Their are artists who can't draw who attempt to prove that on one else could either.

Stapleton Kearns said...

It is a very charming picture, I love it too.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Thanks, tonight is Rubens night!

Stapleton Kearns said...


Stapleton Kearns said...

I think that projectors are useful if you have the chops to put something in them worth projecting, and an evil device if you don't.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I love my computer, they would have used it too.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I myself am noisy and imperfect.