Saturday, July 14, 2012

Lorenzo The Magnificent

Lorenzo de Medici was born on January 1, 1449 in Florence, Italy. "Lorenzo il Magnifico"(Lorenzo The Magnificent), as he was called by the people of Florence, was a statesman, ruler,a politician, poet , the ruthless "boss of bosses" , the savior of needy and patron of the arts. "The Magnificent" was a common title of respect in Italy at the time, but it was Lorenzo who raised it to special status. Niccolo Machiavelli, the supreme theorist of power and politics called him "the greatest living person alive".His father Piero de Medici sponsored the arts and was a collector. His mother, Lucrezia, was a poet of sorts and mingled with the literati. Lorenzo was born at the time when his grandfather , Cosimo stood securely at the summit of Florentine politics.Thus Lorenzo was groomed for power and politics.He assumed the sole power in Florence and retained it until his own death in 1492.

Medici Family ruled Florence and later Tuscany, during most of the period from 1434 to 1737, except for two brief intervals (from 1494 to 1512 and from 1527 to 1530). It provided the church with four popes (Leo X,Clement VII,Pius IV, and Leon XI) and married into the royal families of Europe (most notably in France, in the persons of queens Catherine de Médicis and Marie de Médicis). 

  Lorenzo was not concerned with the banking much but he had a passion for arts and was quite well in politics.Medici were the greatest bankers of their age, and the Medici bank pioneered crucial aspects of modern finance. They were "foreign exchange dealers" who enacted a "transfiguration of finance", points out the financial historian Niall Ferguson. In 15th Century. Medici Bank became the largest bank in Europe and later Cosimo de Medici became Europe's richest man.When we look at Botticelli's Venus, we are looking at money.
Lorenzo de Medici. The greatest and the most loved of all Medicis and the one who made his  family name to be remembered by all. Machiavelli considered him to be the greatest man alive.
   Lorenzo was a poet and scholar, a master horseman and huntsman, a creditable dancer and musician, savior of the needy ,patron of arts , he was a consummate politician and a master of diplomacy, an influential ruler , a taste maker,promoter of Plato's philosophy,an important banker (though his heart wasn’t really in the family business) and above all, as Unger calls him, “the foremost statesman of the age”. 
Lorenzo while still 10 years of age was displayed by Medici as 'Master of  Ceremony',  in a lavish ceremony hosted by Medici ,attended by Kings and Princes from Italy and across Europe and including the Pope himself.As Lorenzo entered in his teen years he impressed those around him with his talent and driving energy.He was conversant in with literary classics and acquired other skills like horse riding, handling of arms, archery and playing the lyre. He not only studied mathematics and record keeping, but was instructed in the art of diplomacy. He was a personality of lights and darks, of fiercely pssionate friendships and equally passionate hatreds.Lorenzo once saved his father from assassination by his quick thinking and the plot against his father failed.While still in his youth he was given the title of Magnifico."Magnifico" title was given to Lorenzo because of his help to the needy people of Florence.

  Lorenzo's formal education was entrusted to his tutor Gentile Becchi, who was a priest and an amateur poet of more erudition than talent. With his tutor Lorenzo was able to learn the entire range of Classical literature from ancient literature to modern masters such as Dante.Florence was in 15th century the intellectual capital of Europe and Lorenzo took of unparalleled educational resources available.In 1458 he attended a course on poetry in University of Florence.Niccolo Valori wrote "Lorenzo was devoted to religion and to poor and those in need, he was so solicitous that none seeking help or charity were turned away". After Cosimo's death in 1464 there were many who wanted a republican Florence and enemies of Medici were plotting to get Florence out of their rule. Piero, Lorenzo's father was now in charge of the city but he was weak and was not active in politics and lacked the leadership skills to act as a ruler.But then there was Lorenzo, whom Niccolo Valori concluded as "worthy of being included among the rare miracle of nature". Even Lorenzo's enemies and critics admired that he had a brilliant and outstanding mind.
Lorenzo de Medici in "Journey of Magi" fresco , indeed within the Medici Palace this fresco is the statement of Lorenzo's extraordinary power. Lorenzo il Magnifico (in centre)is the boy in this fresco .Lorenzo is portrayed as a supreme authority in this fresco or one with extraordinary power in Florence around the Kings and Royalties of Italy and the rest of the world. His authority is displayed here even when he was young and not the official leader of Medici family.It shows that he had leadership and other qualities while in his youth which were observed by Cosimo and which Lorenzo proved later in future.
The fissures that had begun to appear from both people and leaders of Florence in months since Cosimo's death made it urgent for Medici to make new alliance with Duke of Milan and Pope. Piero  sent Lorenzo to meet Francesco Sforza, the Duke of Milan and the Pope.After Lorenzo's few visits Sforza's family got closer to the Medici the prime reason was that Venice wanted to take over Milan and so the Duke was in need of alliance himself.Pope Paul being a Venetian came to know of Medici's new ties with Milan and so no favorable results were received by Lorenzo after meeting the Pope.With a firm allaince with Milan Lorenzo returned home confidently.

Since Cosimo's death the Pitti family were angling for top position in Signoria (the town hall of Florence).Pitti's leadership of anti-Medici faction was confirmed when oath appeared along with 400  fellow citizens pledging to work towards democratic reforms(elections). After few months the election took place and Piero won.Later on the Lorenzo's art of diplomacy , genius and his charismatic personality turned Lucca Pitti into a friend.After this Lorenzo became not only the right-hand man of his father but also the leading spokesman of Florence.Lorenzo married Clarice Orsini, daughter of Giacomo Orsini on 7th February 1469.

 Piero died on Dec. 5, 1469 due to gout, and two days later the 20-year-old Lorenzo was asked by a delegation of eminent citizens to take control of the state. This he did, ruling as his father and grandfather had done, from behind the scenes and without holding any public office.Lorenzo enhanced the prestige and stability of his house when he came to an agreement with Pope Sixtus IV in 1471 by which the Medici would continue to handle the papal finances. And in 1472 he won the hearts of all Florentines by saving the city from an imminent famine. When the bad harvest of that year threatened the population with disaster, it was Lorenzo who imported large amounts of grain.

“How beautiful is youth, that is always slipping away! Whoever wants to be happy, let him be so: about tomorrow there’s no knowing.”

Pazzi Conspiracy and Aftermath
Although it was a maxim of Medici policy to retain close ties with the Holy See, relations between Lorenzo and Pope Sixtus were not always cordial.Pazzi and the Salviati families hated Medici family as well partly because of the success of Medici Bank and rising power and fame of Medici family in Florence and throughout Italy. The Pontiff was very displeased when Lorenzo's diplomacy achieved an alliance between Florence, Venice, and Milan, for such a combination was more than a match for the armies of the Church. Sixtus felt thwarted in his ambitions to expand the papal territory and uneasy about the safety of what the Church already held. His hostility grew when he learned that Lorenzo was trying to buy the town of Imola, which was strategically important. Consequently the Pope agreed to a plot designed to rid Florence of both Lorenzo and his brother Giuliano.In 1478 the conspiracy of the Pazzi (with alliance of Salviati family) nearly succeeded in overthrowing the Medici.The chief conspirators were the Pazzi family, a rival banking house and bitter enemies of the Medici. 

 The plan was to assassinate the two brothers at a moment when their guard would be down, during the celebration of Mass on Easter Sunday, April 26, 1478. Bernardo Baroncelli actually struck the first blow on the Pazzi conspiracy’s big day, planting a dagger in the chest of Giuliano di Piero de’ Medici in the theatrical setting of Florence’s Duomo, with the theatrical declaration, “Here, traitor!” Giuliano was slain, but Lorenzo escaped with wounds. Bernardo Baroncelli and Francesco Pazzi charged at Giuliano de' Medici, and stabbed him multiple times, killing him .They also stabbed Lorenzo de' Medici, however only were able to injure Lorenzo.

Giuliano wound up dead, but the rest didn’t work out so well.Baroncelli, however, managed to evade the resulting paroxysm of civic vengeance and hightail it to Ottoman Istanbul, where he had some contacts.Unfortunately for Bernardo, Florence had some contacts there, too. Ottoman relations with the various Italian city-states were actually quite strong, and Florence in particular enjoyed lucrative trade arrangements bringing its wool textiles to Bursa to exchange for silk.A Florentine representative quickly sailed for the Ottoman capital to make the arrangements, and returned with the hated Bandini on Dec. 24. Five days later, he was hanged over the side of the Bargello.The people of Florence rallied to the Medici standard and visited a terrible retribution on the hapless conspirators, most of whom did not survive the day. The conspirators were thrown from the window of Palazzo Vecchio. Francesco de' Pazzi was hung to the third window of the Loggia dei Lanzi and also Francesco Salviati, his brother Jacopo , Bernardo Baroncelli and other priests conspirators suffered the same fate.

1478 Sketch by Leonardo depicting the hanging of Pazzi Conspirator, Giuliano's Assassin-Bernardo di Bandino Baroncelli.

The result of the conspiracy caused Lorenzo to get a firmer hold upon the state.The events of the Pazzi Conspiracy had shown Lorenzo in a favorable light. Driven to utmost fury by the collapse of the Conspiracy and the heightened public support for the Medicis, Pope Sixtus IV now drew up an ecclesiastical censure against Florence,he called for troops to be sent to Florence to eliminate the Medici family , withdrawing sacraments and the right to a Christian burial from all Florentine citizens. He also excommunicated Lorenzo. This had little effect and so, forming a military alliance with King Ferrantes of Naples, the Pope began planning an attack on Florence. The traditional Medici allies in Milan and Bologna were reluctant to help them fight the Pope, and a certain disaster seemed likely.
        Bust of Lorenzo de Medici

The Pope, enraged, excommunicated Lorenzo and placed an interdict on the city. In 1479, in the midst of unbearable tension, Sixtus and King Ferrante (Ferdinand) of Naples declared war on Florence. Lorenzo, knowing that the safety of his city and his dynasty were at stake, undertook the most hazardous adventure of his colorful career. It was averted only by Lorenzo's brilliant tact. Switching effortlessly from avenger to peace-maker, he personally traveled to Naples along with powerful Florentine friends to confer with the King,virtually placing his life in the hands of the King and an understanding was achieved without resorting to war. Ferrante was won over by Lorenzo's charm,hard cash,political skills , diplomacy and his persuasive argument that it would not do for Italy to be divided or Florence destroyed. Lorenzo returned to Florence with the gift of peace and was received with great joy. Sixtus was bitter but grudgingly bowed to necessity and in 1480 made peace. Lorenzo's control over Florence and its possessions would not be challenged again. From then on Lorenzo became known as the Savior of Florence. 

Painting showing Pope Sixtus IV making peace with the Florentine legates.The angered Italian Princes of Rome and Milan allied with Lorenzo to force Sixtus IV to make peace, to his great annoyance.

A new constitution in 1480 simplified the structure of Florentine government. The Signory, or executive branch, chose 30 citizens, who in turn selected 40 more, all to serve for life in a new council. Hence forward all other branches, including the Signory, were responsible to this permanent Council of Seventy. Since the council was filled with Lorenzo's adherents, the effect of the constitutional change was to make his tyranny more obvious. Under this rule the prosperity of Florence grew, primarily through banking and commerce. Not the least of Lorenzo's contributions to this prosperity was the peace which his diplomacy, from 1480 until his death, maintained between Florence and the rest of Italy.

Cultural Life
The private fortune of the Medici did not fare so well under Lorenzo's management as did the economy of Florence. This is attributable to the fact that he tended to neglect business, so preoccupied was he with diplomatic and cultural concerns. It is not accidental that the last decade of his life coincided with the period of Florence's greatest artistic contributions to the Renaissance. He paid with a lavish hand the painters Sandro Botticelli, Domenico Ghirlandaio, and Fra Filippo Lippi to add beauty to the city. The humanist John Lascaris and the poet Angelo Poliziano traveled great distances at the behest and the expense of Lorenzo in search of manuscripts to enlarge the Medici libraries. What could not be bought was copied, and Lorenzo permitted the scribes of other eager book collectors to copy from his stores. When Poliziano and others scorned the new invention of printing from movable type, Lorenzo had the foresight to recognize its value and encourage its use. The famous Platonic Academy frequently met at Lorenzo's palace, where in lively philosophic discussions the ruler was quite the equal of Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, Michelangelo, and Marsilio Ficino. The University of Pisa owes it revival to Lorenzo.

Magnifico: The Brilliant Life and Violent Times of Lorenzo de' Medici.
This beautifully illustrated book tells the story of this impressive man, whose of the arts, whose implementation of balance of power, his support and unmatched impact on the world of art and whose passion for learning truly earned him the title "Lorenzo the Magnificent."
Art could hardly have found a more liberal patron in Lorenzo de' Medici than in his forbears, but he may have been a more enlightened one, having more of the artistic temperament, and being moreover a man who could impress others with his own ideas.The attention to landscape and the growth of fancy to be noticed in the Florentine art of the later years of the century have been attributed to him and doubtless much of the prevailing prosperity of the city was due to the ardor with which he encouraged new arts, such as engraving on copper and on stones and gems, carving, the revival of mosaic, and the inlaying of wood and metal. Perhaps Lorenzo's greatest contribution to history was his patronage of the arts.Lorenzo de' Medici made vast additions to the Medici collection of antiques. One of his finest enterprises was the opening of his garden alongside San Marco as a kind of school for artists. Here he displayed all his treasures of ancient carvings, and statues, together with designs by the best masters, and welcomed every student of any promise, of whom, as all the world knows, Michelangelo was one.These all sat at his table in company, on a perfect equality with his other guests. Bertoldo, Donatello' s pupil, was the custodian of the school, and he and Verrocchio repaired, completed and preserved all the priceless collection. Lorenzo de Medici was the one who discovered the genius of Michelangelo at age of 15 and he trained the young Michelangelo at the training gardens built by Lorenzo de Medici and all his life remained close to Lorenzo de Medici.

Statue of Lorenzo de Medici at the Uffizi Gallery, on the facade of the Gallery building.

  Lorenzo, in fact, can lay as definitive a claim to the epithet ‘Renaissance man’ as his contemporary (and employee) Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo (young Michelangelo worked for him, too). He was a poet and scholar, a master horseman and huntsman, a creditable dancer and musician, savior of the needy ,patron of arts , he was a consummate politician and a master of diplomacy, an influential ruler , a taste maker,an important banker (though his heart wasn’t really in the family business), the "boss of bosses" and, above all, as Unger calls him, “the foremost statesman of the age”. Magnifico is a top title in Italian Culture invented for Lorenzo because of his generosity towards the city of Florence as a patron of arts.
Lorenzo treated the artists under his protection with respect and warm-hearted familiarity.Lorenzo was a poet himself,he contributed more than anyone to the flowering of Florentine genius in the late 15th century and supported the work of such Renaissance masters as Botticelli, Raphael,Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo (whom the Medicis commissioned to complete their family tombs in Florence).Some say that if Lorenzo was not present we might not be able to see artists like Michelangelo , Leonardo or Raphael.

The prodigious feats of patronage touched upon here, as valuable as they are, are secondary in the scale of Lorenzo's accomplishments. It is not too much to say that Lorenzo, with his verses in the vernacular, elevated Tuscan Italian to the dignity and respect it had known in Dante's time, before the humanists buried it under mounds of classical Latin. He promoted Greek philosophy and rose awareness of Aristotle and Plato's philosophy in Florence. Although his friend Poliziano still favored Latin, Lorenzo composed Italian poetry not inferior to anything written in his time. His canti carnascialeschi (carnival songs) are still read with pleasure.Lorenzo was not an attractive man physically. He had a heavy face with a large flat nose and a swarthy complexion. He was tall and robust and given to athletic exertions. His dignity, charm, and wit lay in his manner rather than his appearance. Physical shortcomings and a reputation for personal and commercial immorality, however, did not prevent him from being loved and admired.

Florence was a state where powerful families competed with each other in order to rule.So to be a leader one must have to be ruthless otherwise he will never be able to succeed.Lorenzo was in fact the first man to use diplomacy and avoided conflicts and though when required he was ruthless as well. 

 In 1471 Lorenzo de Medici calculated that since 1434, his family had spent some 663,000 florins (approx. 460 million USD today) for charity, buildings and taxes. He wrote," I do not regret this for though many would consider it better to have a part of that sum in their purse, I consider it to have been a great honour to our state, and I think the money was well-expended and I am well-pleased."

Portrait of Lorenzo il Magnifico or "Lorenzo The Magnificent" by Giorgio Vasari.

Lorenzo de Medici is very much a Nietzschean Übermensch(though Nietzsche only claimed Cesare (Roman) to be closest to his ideal Ubermensch )as he was a Machiavellian politician , ruthless warrior, aristocrat ,scholar,poet and artist, master of diplomacy,foremost statesman of his time, patron of arts(he himself paid for Italian Renaissance art), helper of poor people, an influential ruler and for what he did alone justifies that he was of higher biological type/drive. He surely had good and evil side... his good side was to help needy people of Florence, spread the philosophy of Plato and was an educationalist , patron of arts and scholars.His evil side was his ruthlessness to scare his enemies , his tactics to rule and maintain his control and he was Machiavellian who used deception and manipulation for 'personal' gain(this personal gain was for betterment of people of Florence) .His mastery of diplomacy suggests that he had mastered all spectrum of human spectrum. Lorenzo also protected artists and scholars like Nietzsche suggests.

"Journey of Magi" fresco in Palazzo Medici painted by Benozzo Gozzoli.One of the best fresco ever painted.

As compared with Cosimo, whose buildings have remained, and have made the city what she is, he was rather the inspirer of artists than their patron. He had the gift of imposing his personality on others; they felt with his feeling, saw with his eyes, and his influence on the art of his time is more real, though more intangible, than that of his illustrious grandfather. But in the world of letters his position was wholly different: here indeed he sat with his peers. For the Medici, and for Lorenzo de' Medici in particular, the things of the mind were not an ornament, still less an accessory; they were a necessity of life, something vital. Setting aside his literary achievements to be considered later, as a lover and leader of learning he holds an honorable place.He was a great admirer of Plato and spread the teachings of Plato in Florence and throughout Italy. 

Lorenzo de' Medici's favourite artists among the galaxy that were then painting, were Filippo Lippi,Benozzo Gozzoli, Ghirlandaio ,especially, Botticelli and Michelangelo .Lorenzo privately requested Botticelli to produce of "Birth of Venus" and "Primavera". 


Primavera by Botticelli. Primavera along with Birth of Venus was commissioned by Lorenzo de' Medici for his country villa. Primavera was comissioned for the fourteen-year-old Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco de Medici.

Thus will the birds their brief silence break
singing here and there amongst the branches -
several for old nests seem to take
fresh straw, and tiny strands to weave.
Mushrooms hosted in the verdant meadows,
are chased by light-hearted women who
pick now these, now those.
Then the dormouse her sleep and home will quit
till evening comes, the cry of the owl with it.
And when a gentle breeze here be blowing
in sweet decree it bends the flowers to ground,
playf’lly around them spinning and swirling,
by turns, it ties, looses, binds as it bounds.
The tall grass, doomed to the scythe, is swaying
angrily falling down upon the mound;
in delicate notes the young bough answers
sweetly, nor falls to the ground any flower.
Amidst so many pleasant and fine things
my lady, very beautiful and kind,
surpassing th’others, all of them graces,
in her most diaphanous garment white.
Speaking in new and never uttered words,
her eyes to my heart, for her mouth is silent:
Come, she says to me, O my dear sweetheart,
here’s peace, fulfilment longed for by your heart.

Poem by Lorenzo de Medici

Lorenzo's book on Poems
Well equipped with Greek and Latin erudition, with a profound admiration for Dante and for Petrarca, and a firm belief in the future of the vernacular, he forwarded every private enterprise of intellectual value.Lorenzo de' Medici helped in the collecting of codices, in the encouragement of lectures, in the fostering of the University, and in the liberal help accorded to scholars. He needed such companionship as broadened the mind and sharpened the wits, and he always made it a companionship of equals; the wise, the witty, the frivolous, the artistic, the learned, each in turn contributed to him and he to them.Lorenzo at the height of Renaissance was the most powerful and respected person in Florence and also made his family name to to be written under the "aristocratic" families of Italy(before him Medici were known as bankers or merchants and he raised their status ).

It was in the circle of the Platonic Academy that Lorenzo de' Medici was most at home. He was steeped in Platonism; he had a strong vein of mysticism in his nature, which was too poetic to be satisfied with a material creed. He was neither sceptic nor materialist, and he had what many better man has not, the religious sense.Before he died, Lorenzo de' Medici received the last Sacraments with intense contrition and devotion. His chosen friends Pico and Poliziano attended him and those around him said that he died nobly, with all the patience, the reverence, the recognition of God which the best of holy men could show.

What Lorenzo the famous of all Medici is his love for art and his contribution to advancement of art world and the making of Florence the most beautiful city in the world.Lorenzo de Medici had all the money one can imagine, so had Cosimo de Medici(Richest man of Europe) but the guilt he removed from Medici family made him the jewel of Medici Family plus his spread of arts rather than seizing power made him the greatest ruler of Italy. 

Lorenzo died during the night of April 8 and 9, 1492 in the Villa of Careggi at the age of 43.Florentines were so moved by Lorenzo's premature death that the entire population attended his funeral.It is an undoubted fact that on his death bed Lorenzo de' Medici sent for Savonarola, saying that he knew no honest friar save him.Accounts of their final meeting differ. Some scholars speculate that in the end Savonarola remembered his duty as a priest, giving Lorenzo absolution for his sins. Others content that Savonarola's judgement was harsh, that he damned Lorenzo. According to Poliziano, who is surely a trustworthy witness, on that April day in 1492, when the sun of Lorenzo de' Medici set, Fra Girolamo Savonarola exhorted and blessed him, and, simply, departed.With his death, the center of the Italian Renaissance shifted from Florence to Rome, where it would remain for the next century and beyond.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Painters and Paintings

1. Michelangelo Buonarroti

 Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564) was possibly the greatest artist that ever lived. Besides his inherent genius, which alone would have paved the road to his greatness, two events helped him rise even higher: to be born during the most fertile period in Western art in the most artistically developed country of the time: Renaissance Italy.Lorenzo de Medici was the one who discovered the genius of Michelangelo at age of 15 and he trained the young Michelangelo at the training gardens built by Lorenzo de Medici and all his life remained close to Lorenzo de Medici and built many masterpieces  for the Medici family.

Leonardo Da Vinci and Michelangelo were among  the few who were paid high by Medici family( mostly by Lorenzo de Medici) to provide art in Italy.

          Michelangelo's fresco in Palazzo Medici Riccardi

Not only was Michelangelo a sculptor (David and Pieta his most famous piece of sculpture)—marble sculpture was his preferred art ,he was also a supreme fresco painter .The "Creation of Adam" and "The Last Judgement" ,both in the Sistine Chapel are his and he was also an architect and poet. Michelangelo had an art to show beauty at its supreme form,in his painting the colours and contrasts give perfect beauty and for this reason some consider him a top painter. At age thirteen, Michelangelo entered his apprenticeship at the studio of the Ghirlandaio brothers and learned the basic techniques of painting techniques, imitating the ancient masters and painting from life. His first pictures was the Doni Tondo, dating from about 1503-1507.Michelangelo was mainly a sculptor and so made few paintings but because of the fame and beauty of these few paintings he is considered a master in painting,"Nine Scenes from Book of Gensis(which include Creation of Adam)" and and "The Last Judgement" still rank today as the best frescos ever painted.Nevertheless, these unforgettable masterpiece are enough to guarantee him a place of honor in the history of painting.He used the technique of "buon fresco" in his painted frescos.Though some rate Picasso ,Raphael and Da Vinci better than him but being so diverse and an artistic genius and yet a supreme painter he takes the top position.He inspired many painters including Raphael and Rubens.Although painting was not his preferred art and he was not a complete painter , most of his paintings are about humans and bodies and was not much into surroundings etc- some say he had a passion for human body. But yet he produced the greatest masterpieces of painting.

Johann von Goethe said it best on Michelangelo's fresco: “Without having seen the
 Sistine Chapel one can form no appreciable idea of what  one man is capable of achieving.”

Michelangelo so dedicated himself to his love of art that during his lifetime he never married.
He began his career in Florence while the city was at its height, under Lorenzo the Magnificent and moved to and fro Rome, soon to reach its apogee under a series of great popes: Julius II and Leon X, the latter a Medici and a Florentine.Michelangelo was the only artist who was free of authorities and was given permission to produce art work he liked ,while other artists used to work under patrons during Renaissance period. "Creation of Adam" , "The Last Judgement", "Doni Tondo" and "Manchester Madonna" are his best known paintings.Michelangelo more even than Da Vinci or Raphael , embodies a standard of artistic genius which reveals a radically changed image of human.
Though Picasso , Da Vinci or Raphael may be the best painters of all time but because of artistic masterpieces in many fields (sculpture, architecture) including painting make him the best artist of all time and possibly the best fresco painter of all time.His paintings have a sculptural quality to them, as if he had created the sculpture in his mind and then painted that.

Michelangelo never wanted to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and did everything he could to avoid it. It was a plot by his rivals to draw him away from sculpture, which they saw he had mastered. When the pope forced his hand, he invented a kind of freestanding scaffolding and let nobody into the chapel. But Raphael sneaked in and, seeing the work-in-progress, immediately changed his own style and repainted his most recent masterpiece.Michelangelo was a man of very strong character, who preferred to work alone rather than suffer incompetent assistants. He often lost his temper and would find himself in difficulties because of it. Many a commission he abandoned for this reason, but fortunately for art he met a patron whose character was just as strong as his: Julius II, who bent Michelangelo to his will, forcing him to paint, much to Michelangelo’s chagrin, the walls and ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and was the man behind the beauty of St.Peter's Basilica and Palazzo Medici Riccardi Pope Julius II summoned Michelangelo in 1508 to paint Sistine Chapel and the work was finished in 4 years.Because of his artistic talent and the emotional intensity in his art pieces he was called as the "Divine" one.Michelangelo was the favorite man of Lorenzo de Medici and Lorenzo asked him to make many marvels of art during Renaissance.Michelangelo had the previlage to live with the Medici during Renaissance.There is two variant spellings of the artist's name: Michelangelo and, in an archaic spelling, Michelangiolo. In Florence it is possible to find one spelling or the other.
Prophet Ezekiel by Michelangelo
The elegant  doom of St.Peter's Basillica designed by Michelangelo(Michelangelo was also chief architect of St.Peter's Basilica)
Michelangelo's portrait
Creation of Sun and Moon
Noah after the Flood
Michelangelo's work in Sistine Chapel,Central to the ceiling decoration are nine scenes from the Book of Genesis

The Last Judgement
The Last Judgement(detail of the Boatman Charon,1536-41,fresco)

Michelangelo's work in Sistine Chapel 

Michelangelo's 'Creation of Adam', at the Sistine Chapel ceiling (a work that made him a rival of Leonardo Da Vinci in painting)
Doni Tondo

The Torment of Saint Anthony 
The incomplete Manchester Madonna
The Entombment

The Crucifixion of St Peter, last fresco by Michelangelo.A small self portrait of Michelangelo himself is belived to be found in the painting. Maurizio De Luca, inspector and chief restorer of the Vatican claimed that he had identified Buanorroti as the figure wearing a blue turban among one of three riders in the top left of the fresco.

2. Leonardo Da Vinci

 A painter, a sculptor,scientist,mathematician, an architect and an engineer, Leonardo Da Vinci's numerous skills and mastery in many fields have earned him the title of Renaissance Man.His work covered these main themes: painting, architecture, science, mathematics, music, botany ,engineering,elements of mechanics, military strategy and human anatomy. Da Vinci's fascination with science and his in-depth study of human anatomy aided him in mastering the realist art form. While Leonardo's counterparts were known to create static figures in their works, Leonardo always tried to incorporate movement and expression into his own paintings. All the personages in his works are painted with great accuracy and detail that it is sometimes said that Da Vinci painted from the bones outward.Having lived until the age of 67, Leonardo experienced a very long career that was filled with times during which the painter was celebrated, but at times he was also humiliated and cast away. His life experiences all influenced his works and often, his paintings never left the sketchpad, or were only partially completed, as Leonardo often abandoned his commissions in order to flee from social situations.

Today, there are records of only few Da Vinci paintings, and 20 notebooks. Thankfully, these works have been preserved over the hundreds of years since Leonardo's time, and while his works are scattered in different areas of the globe, everyone can enjoy Da Vinci through the numerous books detailing his life, or through any of the many Da Vinci posters that have been printed.
Da Vinci was a unique talent a man of the most curious mind ever and the most versatile man , he puts codes , mysteries and science in his drawings.A well known master in the history of art, Leonard Da Vinci is renown by people all over the map, and those of us who cannot travel to view the true works that the genius created can at least bring home a piece of him when we buy Da Vinci posters or prints. His most famous paintings, and the most popular Da Vinci posters around, are those of The Last Supper, The Mona Lisa and Vitruvian Man: The Proportions of the Human Figure. These works, displayed in Milan and Paris respectively, are among the most influential works ever created.

The Battle of Anghiari  , a lost painting of Leonardo da Vinci.  At times referred to as "The Lost Leonardo", which some commentators believe to be still hidden beneath one of the later frescoes in the Salone dei Cinquecento (Hall of the Five Hundred) in the Palazzo Vecchio, Florence.Some say that if found again , it would become the best painting of all time.Leonardo, who loathed war as "a most beastly madness", depicted a group of horses and riders furiously fighting. He abandoned the project a year after he started, probably because a new experimental technique for frescoes failed. But some of his preparatory studies remain, as well as other artists' copies of the original fresco.
Leonardo Da Vinci's self-portrait
 Leonardo Da Vinci was the original Renaissance Man, a man ahead of his time , the most diversely talented man ever and perhaps the most intelligent.

Portrait of Cecilia Gallerani by Da Vinci

Ginevra de' Benci

Virgin of the Rocks
Th Last Supper, perhaps Leonardo's best work

                                            St. Jerome in the Wilderness , unfinished painting by Da Vinci

Mona Lisa, the world's most famous and mysterious portrait of all time. While the remarkable thing about Mona Lisa is that it has been painted a number of times ,her eyes follow you from every angle and her smile is mysterious as well.It contains a whole geometry and here is the link to understand it:"Mona Lisa" Her elegant Geometry
The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne
Madonna Litta

Vitruvian Man

Adoration of the Magi(left uncomplete by Da Vinci)
Madonna of Yarnwinder
3. Raphael Sanzio

Raphael was born Raphaello Sanzio in Urbino , he was the master of High Renaissance as a painter and also was an architect (he was chief architect of St Peter Basilica). Raphael Sanzio was crowned the "Prince of Painters" by Giorgio Vasari.His first painting lessons came from his father. It is said that he then trained with Perugino. His early work supports this theory reflecting the clarity and harmony which is prevalent in the work of Perugino.Later Raphael worked in Tuscany and Umbria where the work of Leonardo da Vinci - especially compositional devices - influenced his development. Evidence of this can be seen in La Belle Jardiniere (Virgin and Child with the Infant St. John the Baptist) one of a number of paintings completed at this time of The Virgin and the Child.Though Raphael's ideals were Michelangelo and Da Vinvi but in terms of "visual perfection" he surpassed them both while yet in his youth and this earned him the title of "Prince of Painting" .He truely is the Ubermensch in painting.Pope Julius II summoned Raphael to Rome in 1508 where he was employed to complete the fresco decoration of a number of rooms in the Vatican. The best known of these works is The School of Athens, a majestic piece which glorify's the philosophers of antiquity.

While we may term other works paintings, those of Raphael are living things; the flesh palpitates, the breath comes and goes, every organ lives, life pulsates everywhere.
Giorgio Vasari, Lives of the Artists.

The Stanza della Segnatura contains some of the artists best known works including the School of Athens, the Parnassus, and the Disputation of the Holy Sacrament. The function of the room is reflected in the subjects of the ceiling frescoes — Theology, Poetry, Philosophy, and Justice, which correspond to the classification of books according to the faculties. In the frescoes Raphael shows a genius for finding simple pictorial means to convey these complex abstract concepts. In the most celebrated of all the frescoes, the School of Athens, a group of philosophers with Plato and Aristotle at the centre are shown beneath a majestic vaulted building which probably reflects Bramante's plan for St Peter's. The brooding figure of the philosopher inserted in the foreground of the composition is the first evidence of Raphael's study of Michelangelo's recently unveiled Sistine Chapel ceiling. The various preparatory drawings related to the Disputa, the first fresco to be painted, show Raphael's painstaking process in establishing a harmonious composition, in which the mass of figures is divided into smaller groups linked by gesture and pose. Two large lunettes over the windows represent Parnassus and Jurisprudence.

The four Stanze di Raffaello ("Raphael's rooms") in the Palace of the Vatican form a suite of reception rooms, the public part of the papal apartments. They are famous for their frescoes, painted by Raphael and his assistants. Together with Michelangelo's ceiling frescoes in the Sistine Chapel, they are the grand fresco sequences that mark the High Renaissance in Rome and even today these frescos hold the top position in art world . and After completing the second room, in 1514 Raphael was in such demand that assistants completed much of his work from then on. There are some exceptions however including portraits like that of Baldassare Castiglione (1514/15). This piece, above many, has been admired by artists since Raphael. Titian, it is believed, was deeply influenced after seeing this piece on display in the house of the subject. Cézanne was taken with 'how well rounded the forehead is, with all the distinct planes. How well balanced the patches in the unity of the whole.' Rembrant modelled one of his numerous self portraits on the exact same pose after seeing the image at a sale in Amsterdam in 1639.
Raphael never married but is said to have many lovers. Chief among these is Margherita Luti who was his mistress throughout his life in the papal court. He was engaged to Cardinal Medici Bibbiena's niece, Maria Bibbiena, but this seems to have been at the request of the cardinal rather than any real enthusiasm on the part of the artist.
Raphael died on the 6th of April 1520 (on his 37th birthday) and was buried the next day in the Pantheon. His funeral was very well attended attracting large crowds. Vasari says that Raphael's early death 'plunged into grief the entire papal court'. He was a popular personality, famous, wealthy, and honoured (Vasari says Pope Leo X, 'who wept bitterly when he died', had intended making him a Cardinal), and his influence was widely spread even during his own lifetime through the engravings of Marcantonio Raimondi. His posthumous reputation was even greater, for until the later 19th century he was regarded by almost all critics as the greatest painter who had ever lived — the artist who expressed the basic doctrines of the Christian Church through figures that have a physical beauty worthy of the antique. He became the ideal of all academies (it was against his authority that the Pre-Raphaelites revolted), and today we approach him through a long tradition in which Raphaelesque forms and motifs have been used with a steady diminution of their values. 

                                  St. Michael Vanquishing Satan

The Sistine Madonna
The Transfiguration

Disputation of the Holy Sacrament(part of Raphael Room Fresco)

Galatea by Raphael
Saint Michael and the Dragon

The School of Athens (part of Raphael Room Fresco)
Vision of the Cross (part of Raphael Room Fresco)
Madonna della Sedia

Portrait of a Man
Raphael Sanzio Self-portrait
Vision of Ezekiel
Raphael, The Miraculous Draught of Fishes

 4. Rembrandt Van Rijn

Rembrandt van Rijn is generally considered one of the greatest painters in European art history and the most important painter in Dutch history. Rembrandt is known as a painter of light and shade and as an artist who favoured an uncompromising realism.Rembrandt moved to Amsterdam in 1631 ,an exceptionally fine example from this period is the Portrait of Nicolaes Ruts (1631, Frick Collection, New York City). In addition, Rembrandt's mythological and religious works were much in demand, and he painted numerous dramatic masterpieces such as The Blinding of Samson (1636, Städelsches Kunstinstitut, Frankfurt). Because of his renown as a teacher, his studio was filled with pupils, some of whom (such as Carel Fabritius) were already trained artists. In the 20th century, scholars have reattributed a number of his paintings to his associates; attributing and identifying Rembrandt's works is an active area of art scholarship.
Rembrandt produced many of his works in this fashionable town house in Amsterdam (above left). Purchased by the artist in 1639, when he was 33, it proved to be the scene of personal tragedy: his wife and three of his children died here. The house became a financial burden, and in 1660 Rembrandt was forced to move. A new owner added the upper story and roof, giving it the appearance it still bears. In 1911 the Dutch movement made it a Rembrandt museum -preserving it both as a shrine of a revered national artist and as an imposing example of 17th Century Dutch architecture.
The Night Watch

Despite Rembrandt's financial success as an artist, teacher, and art dealer, his penchant for ostentatious living forced him to declare bankruptcy in 1656. An inventory of his collection of art and antiquities, taken before an auction to pay his debts, showed the breadth of Rembrandt's interests: ancient sculpture, Flemish and Italian Renaissance paintings, Far Eastern art, contemporary Dutch works, weapons, and armor. Unfortunately, the results of the auction - including the sale of his house - were disappointing.
These problems in no way affected Rembrandt's work; if anything, his artistry increased. Some of the great paintings from this period are The Jewish Bride (1665), Bathsheba (1654, Louvre, Paris), Jacob Blessing the Sons of Joseph (1656, Staatliche Gemäldegalerie, Kassel, Germany), and a self-portrait (1658, Frick Collection). His personal life, however, continued to be marred by sorrow. His beloved Hendrickje died in 1663, and his son, Titus, in 1668- only 27 years of age. Eleven months later, on October 4, 1669, Rembrandt died in Amsterdam.
Belshazzar's Feast

The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp

The Blinding of Samson
Jacob Blessing the Sons of Joseph
Return of the Prodigal Son

Rembrandt's self portrait


Storm on the Sea of Galilee

The Archangel Leaving the Family of Tobias
Raising of Lazarus

Dead Peacocks
The Risen Christ Appearing to Mary Magdalen

5. Pablo Picasso

 Yet Cubism and Modern art weren't either scientific or intellectual; they were visual and came from the eye and mind of one of the greatest geniuses in art history,Pablo Picasso. Picasso along with Michelangelo is considered the greatest artistic genius of all time.Picasso was born in Spain, was a child prodigy ,father of Cubism, a sculptor, ceramicist,print maker, and probably the best painter of modern era.The small Museo de Picasso in Barcelona is devoted primarily to his early works, which include strikingly realistic renderings of casts of ancient sculpture.

"He was a rebel from the start and, as a teenager, began to frequent the Barcelona cafes where intellectuals gathered. He soon went to Paris, the capital of art, and soaked up the works of Manet,Gustave Courbet, and Toulouse-Lautrec, whose sketchy style impressed him greatly. Then it was back to Spain, a return to France, and again back to Spain - all in the years 1899 to 1904.
"Before he struck upon Cubism, Picasso went through a prodigious number of styles - realism, caricature, the Blue Period, and the Rose Period. The Blue Period dates from 1901 to 1904 and is characterized by a predominantly blue palette and subjects focusing on outcasts, beggars, and prostitutes. This was when he also produced his first sculptures. The most poignant work of the style is in Cleveland's Museum of Art, La Vie (1903), which was created in memory of a great childhood friend, the Spanish poet Casagemas, who had committed suicide. The painting started as a self-portrait, but Picasso's features became those of his lost friend. The composition is stilted, the space compressed, the gestures stiff, and the tones predominantly blue. Another outstanding Blue Period work, of 1903, is in the Metropolitan, The Blind Man's Meal. Yet another example, perhaps the most lyrical and mysterious ever, is in the Toledo Museum of Art, the haunting Woman with a Crow (1903).

The painting "Les Demoiselles d'Avignon" marks the beginning of Cubism in 1907, which Pablo Picasso develops together with Georges Braque and that can be separated into two categories, the "analytical Cubism" and the "synthetic Cubism".Picasso gets to know Fernande Olivier in 1904. His women also play a big role for his artistic oeuvre, they are his lovers, his models and his muses. Their facial features appear in many of his works. Fernande is followed by the dancer Olga Koklowa, whom he meets while working on designs for Sergej Diaghilew's "Ballets Russes". Around 1917 Picasso was also working as costume andstage designer for Jean Cocteau's ballet "Parade".
Pablo Picasso's works after 1918 can not be clearly categorized in terms of stylistic terminology, it contains objective-realistic, classicist, symbolistic, surreal and also abstracts elements. The artist takes on what is already there, familiarizes himself with it and breaks new grounds in terms of composition, finding inspiration in his own reality and motifs that surround him.

Picasso meets Marie-Thérèse Walter in 1927, she also becomes his lover and muse at the same time. Besides paintings, a vast graphic oeuvre is created, such as first series of etchings. Picasso makes more and more sculpture as of 1928, as well as mixed media objects with wires and assemblages.
Picaso executes the large-size painting "Guernica" for the Spanish pavilion at the world exhibition in Paris in 1937, a haunting anti-war painting, which is seen as the key work of art of the 20th century. The photographer Dora Maar, his new lover, captures the painting's creation.An innovator and a multi-faceted personality, Picasso dominated the 20th century Western Art, spreading his influence beyond art into many aspects of culture and life. In his several film appearances Picasso always played himself. His lifestyle remained as bohemian and vivacious as it was in his youth. Picasso died in style while entertaining his guests at a dinner party, on April 8, 1973, in Mouglins, in southeastern France. Picasso's last words were "Drink to me, drink to my health, you know I can't drink any more." He was interred at Castle Vauvenargues' park, in Vauvenargues, Bouches-du-Rhone, in the South of France.

Picasso's sculpture in Chicago
Pablo Picasso's paintings rank among the most expensive artwork in the world, establishing a price record with $104 million sale of "Garson a la pipe" in 2004. Picasso produced over 13 thousand paintings or designs, 100,000 prints and engravings, 34 thousand book illustrations and 300 sculptures, becoming the most prolific artist ever.
Pablo Picasso, the father of Modern Art and the most influential artist since Michelangelo

Woman with a crow
Three Dancers

"The Rose Period began around 1904 when Picasso's palette brightened, the paintings dominated by pinks and beiges, light blues, and roses. His subjects are saltimbanques (circus people), harlequins, and clowns, all of whom seem to be mute and strangely inactive. One of the premier works of this period is in Washington, D.C., the National Gallery's large and extremely beautiful Family of Saltimbanques dating to 1905, which portrays a group of circus workers who appear alienated and incapable of communicating with each other, set in a one-dimensional space.
Weeping Woman
Portrait of Wilhelm Uhde
"In 1905, Picasso went briefly to Holland, and on his return to Paris, his works took on a classical aura with large male and fernale figures seen frontally or in distinct profile, almost like early Greek art. One of the best of these of 1906 is in the Albright-Knox Gallery in Buffalo, NY, La Toilette. Several pieces in this new style were purchased by Gertrude (the art patron and writer) and her brother, Leo Stein. The other major artist promoted by the Steins during this period was Henri Matisse, who had made a sensation in an exhibition of 1905 for works of a most shocking new style, employing garish and dissonant colors. These pieces would be derided by the critics as "Fauvism," a French word for "wild beasts." Picasso was profoundly influenced by Matisse. He was also captivated by the almost cartoon-like works of the self-taught "primitive" French painter Henri "Le Douanier" Rousseau, whom he affectionately called "the last ancient Egyptian painter" because his works have a passing similarity to the flat ancient Egyptian paintings.
Pablo Picasso's version of Diego Velazquez' Las Meninas


African Period
Dora Maar au Chat

Three Musicians

Family of Saltimbanques


Woman Playing the Mandolin
Garçon à La Pipe

The Old Guitarist (A textbook painting of Blue Period)
Femme aux Bras Croisés
Girl Before a Mirror

The Tragedy


6. Diego Velazquez

Diego Rodriguez  Velazquez was born in 1599 in Seville. Almost nothing is known about Diego’s siblings – five brothers and a sister. Velasquez seems to have started his apprenticeship with Francisco de Herrera the Elder (c.1590-1654), but a short while later (in 1611) his father put him with Francisco Pacheco (1564-1644), who was an artist of modest talent, but a tolerant teacher and a man of society. Francisco Pacheco had good contacts in the royal court and besides, intellectuals of the city, poets, scholars, and artists, liked to meet at his workshop to discuss the subjects of classical antiquity, Raphael, Michelangelo and above all Titian, as well as the theory of art. At this time, Velazquez became familiar with the school of Caravaggio.

In 1617, Velasquez was accepted into the painters’ guild of St. Luke in Seville. Membership in this guild was necessary before he could start his own workshop, employ assistants, and receive commissions from churches and public institutions. The same year Velasquez married Juana, daughter of his teacher Pacheco. Within less than three years they had two daughters, of whom only one, Francisca, survived. The paintings executed by Velasquez in Seville before 1622 include bodegones (very popular genre of kitchen or tavern scenes, in which food and drink plays the main part) and his first portraits and religious compositions: Old Woman Frying Eggs, Three Men at Table, The Waterseller in Seville, Mother Jernima de la Fuente, The Adoration of the Magi. In The Adoration of the Magi the main characters are thought to be portraits: the young king is a self-portrait of the artist, the kneeling king behind him – Pacheco, and Baby Jesus and the Virgin Mary – Pacheco’s daughter and Velasquez’ wife, Juana. In 1622, Velasquez visited Madrid for the first time to see its art treasures, and to make useful contacts; then he went to Toledo to see works by El Greco and other painters of that city, including Pedro de Orrente (1580-1645) and Juan Sanchez Cotan (1561-1627). In the spring of 1623, Velasquez was summoned to court by the powerful Prime Minister, Count-Duke of Olivares, and received his first commission for a portrait of Philip IV. The success of this picture brought the artist an appointment as court painter and the privilege of becoming the only artist permitted to paint the king in the future. In 1628, Peter Paul Rubens came to the court in Madrid on diplomatic business. Velasquez often visited him at work. Actually he was the only Spanish painter to be honored with these personal conversations. It was Rubens who persuaded Velasquez to go to Italy.

During his first journey to Italy in 1629-30, Velasquez visited Genoa, Venice (where he saw the work of Titian, who effected him more strongly than any other artist), Florence, and Rome, where he stayed for almost a year. He copied old masters, but also painted large compositions of his own including The Forge of Vulcan and Joseph’s Bloody Coat Brought to Jacob. His portraits became famous and later was hailed as the world's best portrait painter.In 1834-35, Velasquez was working on the decoration of the new palace of Buen Retino. One of his major works intended for this setting, together with several equestrian portraits, is The Surrender of Breda, part of a cycle of twelve battle pictures by different painters. The besieged fortress town of Breda in North Brabant surrendered to the Spanish general Spinola after a staunch resistance of 12 months. The victorious general had granted honorable terms to the captured garrison. The ceremony of the delivery of the keys is the subject of Velasquez’s painting. The work was soon popularly renamed The Lances, because of the verticals which seemed to express the peaceful halt of the army at the moment of surrender. It has been considered the best historical work in West European painting.

 In 1636, the king appointed his court painter “Assistant to the Wardrobe” (without the corresponding salary); in 1643 the king promoted Velasquez to the post of Chamberlain of his private chambers (although still without a regular salary), later he was made assistant to the superintendent of special building projects. In the next few years Velasquez’ art approached its peak in such pictures as Venus at her Mirror and The Fable of Arachne.Velazquez is best in portraits as he added realism in portraits , facial expressions and eyes were painted with reality in them. During his second visit to Rome (1649-1651) Velasquez, among other pictures, painted the famous portrait of Pope Innocent X, which the pope himself declared to be ‘too truthful’. On his return to Madrid he was appointed Supreme court marshal, his obligations not connected with painting increased, but he was able now to enlarge his workshop, employing many assistants and pupils (none of whom, however, were of very great artistic merit). Velasquez’s career ended with his most significant work Las Meninas. The painting is a multiple portrait of the royal family and court. The principal figure with all the power of her mischievous charm, is the little Infanta Margarita, who has burst into Velasquez’s studio, followed by her ladies, dwarfs and dogs, in a flurry of skirts, cloaks and ribbons, while he was intent on painting the king and queen, whose only images are visible, reflected in the mirror hanging on the wall in the background, where two large mythological paintings, one by Rubens, the other by Jordaens, are also hanging. The great master died in the palace in Madrid on August 6, 1660.

Villa Medici in Rome

Las Meninas

Old Woman Cooking
Philip IV hunting Wild Boar

The Triumph of Bacchus
Painting by Diego Velazquez

Painting of Diego Velasquez

The Spinners by Velasquez
The Forge of Vulcan
The Surrender of Breda (The Lances)

Portrait of a Lady with Veil  (The portrait shows Velasquez as a supreme portrait painter)
Venus at her Mirror

Diego Velasquez's Self-portrait

7. Jan Van Eyck

Jan van Eyck , the most famous and innovative Flemish painter of the 15th century, is thought to have come from the village of Maaseyck in Limbourg.No record of his birthdate survives, but it is believed to have been about 1390; his career, however, is well documented. He was employed (1422-24) at the court of John of Bavaria, count of Holland, at The Hague, and in 1425 he was made court painter and valet de chambre to Duke Philip the Good of Burgundy. He became a close member of the duke's court and undertook several secret missions for him, including a trip (1428-29) to Spain and Portugal in connection with negotiations that resulted in the marriage (1430) of Philip of Burgundy and Isabella of Portugal. Documents show that in 1432-33 van Eyck bought a house in Bruges. He signed and dated a number of paintings between 1432 and 1439, all of which are painted in oil and varnished. According to documents, he was buried on July 9, 1441.
Van Eyck has been credited traditionally with the invention of painting in oils, and, although this is incorrect, there is no doubt that he perfected the technique. He used the oil medium to represent a variety of subjects with striking realism in microscopic detail; for example, he infused painted jewels and precious metals with a glowing inner light by means of subtle glazes over the highlights. Like Robert Campin, van Eyck carefully selected and arranged his subject matter so that it would contribute deeper symbolic meaning to his painting, a style that Erwin Panofsky has called disguised symbolism. The meticulous attention to detail in his paintings of architectural interiors and landscapes is also evident in his portraits, painted with unrelenting, dispassionate accuracy.

Van Eyck's most famous(one of the world's best art work) and most controversial work is one of his first, the Ghent altarpiece (1432), a polyptych consisting of twenty panels in the Church of St. Bavo, Ghent. On the frame is an incomplete inscription in Latin that identifies the artists of the work as Hubert and Jan van Eyck. The usual interpretation is that Hubert van Eyck (d. Sept. 18, 1426) was the brother of Jan and that he was the painter who began the altarpiece, which Jan then completed. Another interpretation is that Hubert was neither Jan's brother nor a painter, but a sculptor who carved an elaborate frame for the altar. Because of this controversy, attribution of the panels, which vary somewhat in scale and even in style, has differed, according to the arguments of scholars who have studied the problem. The exterior of the altar depicts Jodocus Vijdt, the donor, and his wife kneeling on either side of two grisaille (painted in gray to resemble statuary) representations of St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist; above is an Annunciation. The brightly colored interior is dominated by a panel representing the Adoration of the Holy Lamb. Equally famous is the wedding portrait of Giovanni Arnolfini and his wife (1434; National Gallery, London), which the artist signed "Johannes de Eyck fuit hic 1434" (Jan van Eyck was here), testimony that he witnessed the ceremony. Other important paintings are the Madonna of Chancellor Rolin (1433-34 Louvre, Paris) and the Madonna of Canon van der Paele (1436; Groeninge Museum, Bruges).
Ghent Altarpiece

Marienaltar, Dresdner Triptychon, Rückseite der Flügel
Arnolfini Portrait
Ghent Alterpiece "Angels"

Ghent Alterpiece

Jan van Eyck's Church 

Symbolic light in van Eyck

As we look at the Annunciation, we become warmly conscious of the gentle radiance of the light, illuminating everything it embraces, from the dim upper roofing to the glancing gleam of the angel's jewels. The clarity would be too intense were it not also soft, an integrating, enveloping presence. This diffused presence, impartial in its luminescence, is also a spiritual light, surrogate of God Himself, who loves all that He has made.
The symbolism goes even deeper: the upper church is dark, and the solitary window depicts God the Father. Below though, wholly translucent, are three bright windows that remind us of the Trinity, and of how Christ is the light of the world. This holy light comes in all directions, most obviously streaming down towards the Virgin as the Holy Spirit comes to overshadow her: from this sacred shadow will arise divine brightness. Her robes swell out as if in anticipation, and she answers the angelic salutation ``Ave Gratia Plena'' (``Hail, full of grace'') with a humble `` Ecce Ancilla Domini'' (``Behold the handmaid of the Lord''). But with charming literalness, van Eyck writes her words reversed and inverted, so that the Holy Spirit can read them. The angel is all joy, all smiles, all brightness: the Virgin is pensive, amazed, unbejewelled. She knows, as the angel apparently does not, what will be the cost of her surrender to God. Her heart will be pierced with grief when her Child is crucified, and we notice that she holds up her hands in the symbolic gesture of devotion, but also as if in unconscious anticipation of a piercing.
The angel advances over the tiles of a church, where we can make out David slaying Goliath. (Goliath represents the power--ultimately fruitless--of the Devil.) The message the angel gives Mary sets her forth on her own road to the giant-slaying that is her motherhood and holiness.

Oil: a new painting medium

The van Eycks started their careers as manuscript illuminators. The often miniature detail and exquisite rendering found in van Eyck paintingsm such as the Annunciation, reveal a strong affinity with this art form. However, the single factor that most distinguishes the van Eycks from the art of manuscript illumination was the medium they used.
For many years Jan van Eyck was wrongly credited with the ``discovery of painting in oil''. In fact, oil painting was already in existence, used to paint sculptures and to glaze over tempera paintings. The van Eycks' real achievement was the development-after much experimentation--of a stable varnish that would dry at a consistent rate. This was created with linseed and nut oils, and mixed with resins.
The breakthrough came when Jan or Hubert mixed the oil into the actual paints they were using, instead of the egg medium that constituted tempera paint. The result was brilliance, translucence, and intensity of color as the pigment was suspended in a layer of oil that also trapped light. The flat, dull surface of tempera was transformed into a jewel-like medium, at once perfectly suited to the representation of precious metals and gems and, more significantly, to the vivid, convincing depiction of natural light.
Van Eyck's inspired observations of light and its effects, executed with technical virtuosity through this new, transparent medium, enabled him to create a brilliant and lucid kind of reality. The invention of this technique transformed the appearance of painting.
The Virgin of Chancellor Rolin

Jan van Eyck
The Ghent Altarpiece "God Almighty"

Jan van Eyck
Portrait of a Man

The Annunciation


Tiziano Vecellio, known as TITIAN, is generally regarded as the best painter of the Venetian school. As noted by Umberto Fortis in The Uffizi: A Guide to the Gallery (Venice: Edizione Storti, 1980, p. 85), "[T]he classicism of the Veneto did not find its fundamental expressive force in the use of line to create its images, but in the development of tonal painting, creating noble forms of a solemn plasticity to attain, with Titian, an ideal of ample, monumental beauty, yet anchored firmly in earthly reality."

Born in a small village in the Dolomite range of the Alps near Belluno, Titian removed to Venice where he worked first with the mosaicist Sebastiano Zuccato, then in the studio of Gentile and Giovanni Bellini. Titian was significantly influenced by Giorgione, whom he assisted in executing the external fresco decoration of the Fondaco dei Tedeschi on the Grand Canal in Venice. Upon Giorgione's death, 1510, Titian completed several of Giorgione's works-in-progress.Titian started his artistic training in the workshop of the mosaicist Sebastiano Zuccato. He later briefly joined Gentile Bellini’s workshop. After Gentile’s death in 1507, Titian joined the workshop of Gentile's brother, Giovanni Bellini, which at that time was the most important in Venice.Titian's career escalated rapidly after he received a commission, 1511, to execute three frescoes for the Scuola del Santo in Padua. By 1513 he had begun painting a Battle for the Chamber of the Grand Council [Maggior Consiglio] in the Doge's Palace in Venice. Upon the death of Giovanni Bellini, 1516, Titian became official painter to the Republic.

In 1511 Titian painted his celebrated frescoes in the ‘Scuola del Santo’ in Padua. His style had now reached maturity, marked by fullness of forms, compositional confidence and chromatic balance. These features made his work fundamental to the development of Venetian – and also European – painting.

He became famous as a portraitist (examples in the National Gallery are La Schiavona and Portrait of Gerolamo (?) Barbarigo). He was also known as a painter of various profane subjects. These skills drew the attention of intellectually ambitious Italian dukes and aristocrats.Titian was also commissioned to paint prestigious public religious paintings. His Venetian success was sealed by the execution of the altarpiece for the high altar of the important Franciscan church of Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari in Venice. The so-called ‘Assunta’ (Assumption of the Virgin Mary), which is nearly seven metres high, was displayed in 1518, creating a revolutionary watershed in Venetian altarpiece design.

Between 1519 and 1526, he painted the celebrated ‘Pala Pesaro’ for the same church. This asymmetrical composition strongly influenced Venetian altarpiece painting right up until the 18th century.

Some of Titian's most acclaimed works of the ensuing ten years were the Assumption for the Church of S. Maria Gloriosa dei Frari (1518) (in which the soaring movement of the Virgin is said to anticipate the later Baroque period), three paintings for Alfonso d'Este in Ferrara (the Worship of Venus, the Bacchanal and Bacchus and Ariadne) (1518-23), an altarpiece in Ancona (1520), a polyptych in Brescia centered on a Resurrection of Christ (1520-2), and the altarpiece for the Pesaro family side altar in the Church of S. Maria Gloriosa dei Frari (1519-26).

Later Titian's work became more heavily weighted toward portraiture. Young Giorgio Cornaro (H-4) was one of his subjects in a 1538 painting. Among other prominent subjects were Pope Paul III (1546) and Charles V (1548), Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. The Emperor appointed Titian court painter and gave him the rank of Count Palatine and Knight of the Golden Spur.Titian is best known for his secular, sexual, and mythological subjects that convey a certain attraction to erotic pleasure and emotion-filled religious art paintings and for this reason he is considered by many as the greatest painter of Renaissance.
In the 1540s Titian's work became more heavily influenced by the Mannerism of central and north Italy. He travelled to Rome in 1545-6 for his only visit there. In 1550 he was in Augsburg to paint portraits of Emperor Charles V's son, who was to become Phillip II of Spain and an important later patron of Titian. A detail from his 1567-8 self-portrait, now at the Prado, Madrid, is shown below.

The last phase of Titian’s life coincided with a radical revision of his own style and painting technique. Starting from the late 1550s, Titian developed a much freer use of the brush and a less descriptive representation of reality.In the late 1560s and early 1570s, when Titian was already extremely old, he pushed his art to the edge of abstraction. This later style has been defined as ‘magic impressionism’. All of this is well represented by two of his latest works, The Death of Actaeon at the National Gallery, and the ‘Pietà’, now in the Gallerie dell’Accademia in Venice.The ‘Pietà’ was originally destined for his own tomb in the church of Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, where Titian was buried after dying of the plague on 27 August 1576.

Titian's self portrait
Bacchus and Ariadne

Penitent St. Mary Magdalene

Worship of Venus
The Venus of Urbino

The Rape of Europa


Sacrifice of Issac


 Diana and Actaoen by Titian

Assumption of the Virgin or Assunta, it took Titian two years (1516–1518) to complete his Assunta, whose dynamic three-tier composition and color scheme established him as the preeminent painter north of Rome.


9.Vincent Van Gogh

Vincent van Gogh, for whom color was the chief symbol of expression, was born in Groot-Zundert, Holland on March 30, 1853.He remained in Belgium to study art, determined to give happiness by creating beauty. The works of his early Dutch period are somber-toned, sharply lit, genre paintings of which the most famous is "The Potato Eaters" (1885). In that year van Gogh went to Antwerp where he discovered the works of Rubens and purchased many Japanese prints.The son of a pastor, brought up in a religious and cultured atmosphere, Vincent was highly emotional and lacked self-confidence. Between 1860 and 1880, when he finally decided to become an artist, van Gogh had had two unsuitable and unhappy romances and had worked unsuccessfully as a clerk in a bookstore, an art salesman, and a preacher in the Borinage (a dreary mining district in Belgium), where he was dismissed for overzealousness.

In 1886 he went to Paris to join his brother Théo, the manager of Goupil's gallery. In Paris, van Gogh studied with Cormon, inevitably met Pissarro, Monet, and Gauguin, and began to lighten his very dark palette and to paint in the short brushstrokes of the Impressionists. His nervous temperament made him a difficult companion and night-long discussions combined with painting all day undermined his health. He decided to go south to Arles where he hoped his friends would join him and help found a school of art. Gauguin did join him but with disastrous results. Near the end of 1888, an incident led Gauguin to ultimately leave Arles. Van Gogh pursued him with an open razor, was stopped by Gauguin, but ended up cutting a portion of his own ear lobe off. Van Gogh then began to alternate between fits of madness and lucidity and was sent to the asylum in Saint-Remy for treatment.

The only painting he sold during his lifetime, The Red Vineyard, was created in 1888. It is now on display in the Pushkin Museum in Moscow, Russia.Vincent van Gogh now exchanged painting dots for small stripes. He suffered from depression, and in 1889 on his own request Van Gogh was admitted to the psychiatric center at Monastery Saint-Paul de Mausole in Saint Remy de Provence, Bouches-du-Rh, France. During his stay here the clinic and its garden became his main subject. Pencil strokes changed again, now into spiral curves.

In May of 1890, he seemed much better and went to live in Auvers-sur-Oise under the watchful eye of Dr. Gachet. Two months later he was dead, having shot himself "for the good of all." During his brief career he had sold one painting. Van Gogh's finest works were produced in less than three years in a technique that grew more and more impassioned in brushstroke, in symbolic and intense color, in surface tension, and in the movement and vibration of form and line. Van Gogh's inimitable fusion of form and content is powerful; dramatic, lyrically rhythmic, imaginative, and emotional, for the artist was completely absorbed in the effort to explain either his struggle against madness or his comprehension of the spiritual essence of man and nature.
Van Gogh's self-portrait
               Road with Cypress and Star

Blick auf Arles
Starry Night
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Van Gogh
Van Gogh
Van Gogh
Blossoming Almond Tree
Circa Art


  10. Claude Monet

Claude Monet, also known as Claude Oscar Monet, was the original founder and practitioner of the French Impressionist movement in painting. Some of his best known works include Impression, Sunrise (for which the movement was named), Water Lilies, and Haystacks.
Monet was born Claude Oscar Monet on November 14, 1840 in Paris, France to Claude-Adolphe, a grocery store owner, and Louise-Justine Aubree, a singer. As the younger of two sons, Monet's father hoped that he would continue the family grocer store business, but Monet had other ideas. To his father's dismay, Monet openly declared his love of art and his hopes of living life as an artist.
In 1851, at the age of eleven, Monet began his studies at the Le Havre school for the arts and began selling charcoal paintings to locals in the area. After studying under the watchful eye of Jacques-Francois Ochard for a few years, Monet met and befriended Eugene Boudin who helped Monet master oil paints and "plein air" techniques. In 1857, Monet's mother passed away and he left school to live with his aunt, Marie-Jeanne Lecadre.
On a visit to the Louvre in Paris, Monet observed painters mimicking the work of famous artists. Instead of copying styles of other painters, Claude Monet, who always traveled with his paints, sat by the window and painted the view. His life in Paris brought him closer to other painters, many of whom he befriended. One of these painters was Edouard Manet.
In 1861 Monet joined the First Regiment of African Light Cavalry in Algeria where he stayed for two years. Although he was originally supposed to remain in Algeria for seven years, his aunt petitioned for his return after he contracted typhoid. In exchange for his unfulfilled work with the Cavalry, Monet agreed to study art at a university. After trying his hand at academics, Monet began studying with Charles Gleyre in 1862 and met Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Alfred Sisley, and Frederic Bazille with whom Monet shared ideas on new, rapid painting techniques.
During his time with Gleyre, Monet met Camille Doncieux with whom he had a son, Jean, in 1867. Shortly thereafter, Monet ran into financial difficulties and attempted suicide in 1868. Camille helped him recover and they married in June of 1870.
When the Franco-Prussian War began in July of 1870, Monet and Camille decided to leave France and take refuge in England where Claude Monet studied other artists like John Constable and Joseph William Turner. Although his paintings were denied exhibition by the Royal Academy, Monet refused to give up and, instead, moved to Zaandam to continue his work. In the fall of 1871 Monet returned to France where he settled in Argenteuil near Paris.The term Impressionism (painting term) is derived from the title of his painting Impression, Sunrise.So Monet is considered as the father of Impressionism.
During his time at Argenteuil, Monet focused more on developing his impressionistic style, painting the famous Impression, Sunrise in 1872 which later served to name the impressionist movement.
Camille fell ill in 1876 and never fully recovered. Although she eventually gave birth to their second son, Michel, Camille's body was weak and she passed away on September 5, 1879 from tuberculosis. Monet painted Camille Monet, on her death bed, a last tribute to his wife.
Camille's death was very difficult on Monet and he grieved heavily for several months. Eventually Monet became even more determined to create masterpieces and he started painting in groups and series. He and his children moved into the home of Ernest Hoshede, a patron of the arts. After Hoshede experienced some financial problems, Monet moved to Poissy with Hoshede's wife, Alice, and her six children and later to Giverny where Claude Monet planted a vast garden that later inspired his famous works featuring willows and water lilies. Although they'd been estranged for many years, Alice waited until after her husband's death to accept Monet's hand in marriage. They exchanged vows in 1892.
Monet continued his focus on series' paintings, using his garden as constant inspiration. After his wife's death in 1911 and Jean's death in 1914, Monet developed cataracts that affected his ability to see accurate colors. Claude Monet even went back and adjusted some of these colors after his surgery.
Claude Monet died in 1926 from lung cancer. He is buried in the cemetery of the Giverny church. His remaining family and heirs bequeathed his Giverny home and gardens to the French Academy of Fine Arts in 1966.
Claude Monet

Water Lily Pond by Monet(image of  Monet's Giverny Garden)
Monet's Water Lilies (image of  Monet's Giverny Garden)

Venice Twilight
Palm trees at Bordighera

Monet's work


Painting of Monet's Giverny Garden
Waterloo Bridge III
Banks of the Seine, Vétheuil,

Monet's painting
Impression Sunrise
Garden at Sainte-Adresse
Orchard in Spring

11.Salvadoe Dali

 Dalí, Salvador (1904-89): Spanish painter, sculptor, graphic artist, and designer. After passing through phases of Cubism, Futurism and Metaphysical painting, he joined the Surrealists in 1929 and his talent for self-publicity rapidly made him the most famous representative of the movement. Throughout his life he cultivated eccentricity and exhibitionism (one of his most famous acts was appearing in a diving suit at the opening of the London Surrealist exhibition in 1936), claiming that this was the source of his creative energy. He took over the Surrealist theory of automatism but transformed it into a more positive method which he named `critical paranoia'. According to this theory one should cultivate genuine delusion as in clinical paranoia while remaining residually aware at the back of one's mind that the control of the reason and will has been deliberately suspended. He claimed that this method should be used not only in artistic and poetical creation but also in the affairs of daily life. His paintings employed a meticulous academic technique that was contradicted by the unreal `dream' space he depicted and by the strangely hallucinatory characters of his imagery. He described his pictures as `hand-painted dream photographs' and had certain favorite and recurring images, such as the human figure with half-open drawers protruding from it, burning giraffes, and watches bent and flowing as if made from melting wax (The Persistence of Memory, MOMA, New York; 1931).
In 1937 Dalí visited Italy and adopted a more traditional style; this together with his political views (he was a supporter of General Franco) led Breton to expel him from the Surrealist ranks. He moved to the USA in 1940 and remained there until 1955. During this time he devoted himself largely to self-publicity; his paintings were often on religious themes (The Crucifixion of St John of the Cross, Glasgow Art Gallery, 1951), although sexual subjects and pictures centring on his wife Gala were also continuing preoccupations. In 1955 he returned to Spain and in old age became a recluse.
Apart from painting, Dalí's output included sculpture, book illustration, jewellery design, and work for the theatre. In collaboration with the director Luis Buñuel he also made the first Surrealist films---Un chien andalou (1929) and L'Age d'or (1930)---and he contributed a dream sequence to Alfred Hitchcock's Spellbound (1945). He also wrote a novel, Hidden Faces (1944) and several volumes of flamboyant autobiography. Although he is undoubtedly one of the most famous artists of the 20th century, his status is controversial; many critics consider that he did little if anything of consequence after his classic Surrealist works of the 1930s. There are museums devoted to Dalí's work in Figueras, his home town in Spain, and in St Petersburg in Florida.

Still Life Moving Fast

Dali's The Persistence of Memory

Dali's work
The Slave Market With The Disappearing Bust Of Voltaire

Dali's work

Salvadore Dali's work
Portrait of Hortensia, Peasant Woman of Cadaques

Dali's painting
Swans Reflecting Elephants
Tuna Fishing

Salvadore Dali

12.Johannes Vermeer

Born in Delft, Netherlands, circa October 31, 1632, Johannes Vermeer is the most highly regarded Dutch artist. His works have been a source of inspiration and fascination for centuries, but much of his life remains a mystery. His father, Reynier, came from a family of craftsmen in the town of Delft, and his mother, Digna, had a Flemish background.After his baptismal record at a local church, Vermeer seems to disappear for nearly 20 years. He likely had a Calvinist upbringing. His father worked as a tavern keeper and an art merchant, and Vermeer inherited both of these business upon his father's death in 1652. The following year, Vermeer married Catherina Bolnes. Bolnes was Catholic, and Vermeer converted to her faith. The couple moved in with her mother, and would eventually have 11 children together.

In 1653, Jan Vermeer registered with the Delft Guild as a master painter. There's no record of who he may have apprenticed under, or whether he studied locally or abroad. Vermeer definitely had at least a friendship with leading Delft painter Leonard Bramer, who became one of his early supporters. Some experts also believe that Vermeer may have been influenced by the works of Rembrandt through one of Rembrandt's students, Carel Fabritius. The influence of Caravaggio is apparent in Vermeer's early works, including "The Procuress" (1656). The painter also explored mythology in "Diana and Her Companions" (1655-56) and religion in "Christ in the House of Mary and Martha" (c. 1655). By the end of the decade, Vermeer's unique style began to emerge.Many of Vermeer's masterworks focus on domestic scenes, including "The Milkmaid" (c. 1657-58). This depiction of a woman in the midst of her work showcases two of his trademarks: his realistic renderings of figures and objects, and his fascination with light. Many of his works have a luminous quality, including the portrait "Girl with a Pearl Earring" (1665). This captivating portrait of a young woman inspired the 1999 novel Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier, as well as a 2003 film adaptation of this book.Vermeer enjoyed some success in Delft, selling his works to a small number of local collectors. He also served as head of the local artistic guild for a time. However, Vermeer was not well-known outside of his community during his lifetime.

Jan Vermeer struggled financially in his final years, due in large part to the fact that the Dutch economy had suffered terribly after the country was invaded by France in 1672. Vermeer was deeply indebted by the time of his death; he died in Delft circa December 16, 1675.Since his passing, Vermeer has become a world-renowned artist, and his works have been hung in many prominent museums around the globe. Despite how much he is admired today, Vermeer left behind a legacy in terms of actual works—approximately 36 paintings have been officially attributed to the painter.

Varmeer's work: 
Girl with the Pearl Earring

The Art of Painting

Christ in the House of Martha and Mary

The Milkmaid

The Music Lesson

The Allegory of the Faith

Woman with a Balance

Young Woman Seated at a Virginal

Young Woman Sleeping

Also on 12. Henri Matisse 

Althought the long career of Henri Matisse spanned the entire first half of the twentieth century, art history ties him closely to Fauvism, on of the movements giving vitality to the French artistic milieu in the first decade of the century, before the appearance of Cubism. In those years a number of young painters were beginning their careers in Paris under the influence of Paul Cezanne and the Post-Impressionists. They sought to free themselves from the pictorial language that had been established by Impressionism.

A group of these young artists had spent time at the studio of the Symbolist painter Gustave Moreau, who favored exotic and decorative subjects, but who encouraged his students to develop their own individual personalities. There Matisse met Charles Camoin, Henri Manguin, Albert Marquet, and Georges Rouault. later this group was joined by Georges Braque, and other artists.To a greater or lesser degree each of these artist developed a very free style of painting, using vibrant, arbitrary color - that is to say, color independent from the actual hue of the object represened in the picture.

In the 1905 Salon d'Automne several works by Camoin, Derain, Manguin, and Henri Matisse were shown together in one gallery, surrounding an Italianate bust by another artist. The daring of their ideas caused the expected reaction when Louis Vauxcelles, art critic of the magazine Gil Blas, exclaimed: "Look! A Donatello among the wild beasts!", thus christening the group.

There was behind Fauvism no other theoretical argument than its radical and arbitrary colorism. Unlike the great avant-garde styles that appeared after 1910, it was never meant to be an organized movement (though it was perceived as such by critics and the public). Perhaps for this reason Fauvism had effectively ended by 1907, and later its former members followed divergent paths. But until Cubism came to the fore of the Parisian artistic scene in the years just before World War I, Fauvism was the most advanced movement of the time.

Henri Matisse's colleagues at the 1905 Salon d'Automne considered him their leader; not only was he the most gifted painter among them but he was also the oldest and had a somewhat professorial demeanor. (For these latter reasons, Deerain asked him in 1901 to visit his parents and persuade them that painting was a respectable calling.) Although Fauvism was a brief episode in Matisse's career, the interests and concerns raised in those years would remain in his work until the end of his life.

Matisse's work:
The Luxembourg Gardens.
Woman with a Hat

Matisse's work 

Henri Matisse
Odalisque with Yellow Persian Robe and Anemones

The Dessert: Harmony in Red

Matisse's painting

Matisse's painting
Woman in Blue
Les toits de Collioure
Luxury, Calm and Pleasure

13. Sandro Botticelli

Scenes from Life of  Moses Fresco by Botticelli
  Botticelli was born in about 1445/46 under the birth name of Alessandro di Mariano di Vanni Filipepi. Quite a mouthful, it is understandable that over the course of time that his Christian name, Alessandro, became shortened to Sandro. The name Botticelli, meaning Little Barrel, was the nickname of his well rounded older brother. The name was so familiar that eventually it was conferred upon every family member.Sandro's career as a painter started at the relatively late age of about eighteen when he was apprenticed to Fra Filippo Lippi a well respected Florentine artist. In Lippi's workshop he would learn the techniques of composition and fresco painting in addition to the grinding and mixing of various paints.   

By 1470 Botticelli had his own workshop and became a member of St Lukes Guild. His "Adoration of the Magi", painted in 1475, includes several of the Medici family within the picture and emphasizes the importance of the Medici as patrons of the arts in Renaissance Italy. Through the influence of Verocchio and the brothers Pollajuoli this idealism was combined with the naturalness of Masaccio. These qualities explain Botticelli's great influence over later painters. Botticelli's life was a retired one passed largely in very modest circumstances.

Sandro Botticelli’s work was most in demand by the Medici family. The Medici’s were a very rich and prominent member of the Florence society. Botticelli is thought to have used them as subjects for a large number of his works. They traveled in very important circles and introduced Botticelli to some of the most influential people. In these different settings, Sandro gathered material to use in his portraits and scene portrayals. The Medici family would pay huge sums of money for Botticelli’s work.In 1481, Botticelli was invited to Rome to take part in the painting of the Sistine Chapel. Sandro joined artists such as Perugino, Ghirlandaio and then Michelangelo in contributing to the most well known piece of Italian art. While there, Botticelli worked on several pieces in the Chapel. In all, Botticelli painted three large pieces, as well as seven papal portraits in the Sistine Chapel.

As Sandro grew older, his style underwent a remarkable change.Sandro included highly religious symbolism in his paintings; they seemed to be telling a story. Sandro became known as an excellent altarpiece painter and earned large amounts of money through those commissions.Botticelli’s later years seemed to be a disturbing time for him. As times changed in Florence, Botticelli tried to keep up. He often took on difficult commissions that other painters turned down. His rotating style reflected that Botticelli was struggling as a painter. His paintings were full of emotion raging from violence to grace and compassion.

We know, however that he was in the employ of the Medici and other prominent Florentine families from about 1483 to 1500. Although never inclined to frivolity he was yet influence by the worldly spirit of the age until Savonarola's powerful call to repentance aroused his moral nature and guided his powers, it now seems, into entirely new paths. He never knew how to take care of money and he died at last in need. Botticelli was too unassuming to sign and date his works in most instances, so that the order in time of his paintings has to be judged from the canvasses themselves. Primavera and Bith of Venus are his most famous masterpieces and these were commissioned by Lorenzo de Medici..Botticelli never wed, and expressed a strong aversion to the idea of marriage, a prospect he claimed gave him nightmares.It was Lorenzo de Medici who allowed Botticelli to paint pagan art and at that time such an art was considered as out of limit.

Botticelli suffered from an unrequited love for Simonetta Vespucci, a married noblewoman. According to popular belief, she had served as the model for The Birth of Venus and recurs throughout his paintings, despite the fact that she had died years earlier, in 1476. Botticelli asked that when he died, he be buried at her feet in the Church of Ognissanti in Florence. His wish was carried out when he died some 34 years later, in 1510.

Unlock the Mysteries of Renaissance Art 

Take Botticelli’s Primavera, a bewitching allegory of springtime featuring two gods, three goddesses, the three Graces, and Cupid, set in a lush orange grove. Its sheer beauty transfixes visitors to Florence’s Uffizi Gallery, where it hangs today. But what does it mean?

Noting that for centuries scholars have debated the painting’s symbolism:
  • The orange tree foliage makes a halo around the central figure of Venus, connecting her with the Virgin Mary. According to Renaissance thought, Venus may also represent humanitas—culture or civilization.
  • On the right, flowers float from the mouth of the nymph Cloris, and her finger is merging with a flower in the gown of Flora, goddess of spring. One is metamorphosing into the other as spring arrives in this ideal glade of divine love.
  • Meanwhile on the left, Mercury is waving his staff to dispel a tiny patch of clouds. He is clearing the atmosphere—the intellect—for the three Graces who represent culture and the arts.

Botticelli's work:
The Life and Miracles of St. Zenobius

Sandro Botticelli's Venus and the Three Graces Presenting Gifts to a Young Woman

Portrait of a Young Woman(Portrait of Simonetta Vespucci)

Adoration of Magi
Sandro Botticelli Self-Portrait
The Story of Lucretia
Fresco in Villa Lemmi by Botticelli

Altarpiece of Saint Barnabas

Trial of Moses

Primavera. Botticellie's Primavera is one of the most popular, most written about, and most controversial paintings in the world.

The Ovid's Fasti is a poetic Roman calendar that tells the story of nymph Chloris who was kidnapped by Zephyr, the cold wind. Botticelli was inspired by this story when he painted La Primavera.Central figure and even the one of three graces resemble Simonetta Vespucci.Flora is the one with blue eyes and wearing the dress with flower prints, her beauty inspires women and her dress inspires designers.The picture celebrates the arrival of spring and is filled with mythological symbolism. Venus, Goddess of Love, is in the centre of an orange grove on her left Flora, Goddess of Flowers and Spring, appears clad in garlands of flowers. Next to Flora is the nymph Chloris, she is pursued by Zephyrus, God of Wind, who has a burning passion for her. The Roman poet Ovid describes Chloris as transforming into Flora, Goddess of Flowers, symbolising the beginning of spring, and Botticelli has placed both figures side by side within the same painting.On the right of Venus are The three Graces, female companions of the Love Goddess who perform their dance at the onset of spring. Next to the Graces stands Mercury, Messenger of the Gods, who inspects the orange grove and protects the garden from intruders.
Floating overhead at the centre of the picture is Amor, the son of Venus, he is blindfolded as he shoots his arrows of love, their flaming tips certain to intensify the emotion of love in whoever they strike.Mercury in Primavera may have been modeled after Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco.
Flora in Primavera(The Goddess of Flowers).

Life of Moses
Madonna of Magnificant


Birth of Venus(Venus is portrayed as Simonetta Vespucci some say..). It was privately ordered by Lorenzo de Medici to be made.
Adoration of the Kings
Venus and Mars,  Wasps represent the Vespucci family that may have commissioned the painting; the symbol of the Vespucci house is the wasp.. Venus may have been Simonetta Vespucci, a great beauty of the time, married to the cousin of Amerigo Vespucci.

Boticelli's Mystische Geburt

14.Peter Paul Rubens

 Peter Paul Rubens is considered one of the most important Flemish painters of the 17th century. His style became an international definition of the animated, exuberantly sensuous aspects of baroque painting.He was obsessed with Italian Renaissance artists aswell especially Titian, Michelangelo and Caravaggio. Combining the bold brushwork, luminous color, and shimmering light of the Venetian school  with the fervent vigor of Michelangelo's art and the formal dynamism of Hellenistic sculpture, Rubens created a vibrant art, its pulsating energies emanating from tensions between the intellectual and emotional, the classical and the romantic. For 200 years the vitality and eloquence of his work influenced such artists as Antoine Watteau, in the early 18th century, and Eugène Delacroix and Pierre Auguste Renoir, in the 19th century.

On the death of his father in 1587, his widow returned the family to Antwerp, where they again became Catholics. After studying the classics in a Latin school and serving as a court page, Peter Paul decided to become a painter. He apprenticed in turn with Tobias Verhaecht, Adam van Noort, and Otto van Veen, called Vaenius, three minor Flemish painters influenced by 16th-century Mannerist artists of the Florentine-Roman school. The young Rubens was as precocious a painter as he had earlier been a scholar of modern European languages and of classical antiquity. In 1598, at the age of 21, he was accorded the rank of master painter of the Antwerp Guild of St. Luke.
Following the example of many northern European artists of the period, Rubens felt drawn by necessity to travel to Italy, the center of European art for the previous two centuries. In 1600 he arrived in Venice, where he was particularly inspired by the paintings of Titian, Paolo Veronese, and Tintoretto. Later, while resident in Rome, he was influenced by the works of Michelangelo and Raphael, as well as by ancient Greco-Roman sculpture.

Vincenzo Gonzaga (reigned 1587-1612), the duke of Mantua, employed Rubens for about nine years. Besides executing original works, Rubens copied Renaissance paintings for the ducal collection, and in 1605 he served as the duke's emissary to King Philip III of Spain. During his years in Italy, Rubens saw the early baroque works of the contemporary Italian painters Annibale Carracci and Caravaggio, and he associated with some of the leading humanist intellectuals of the day. When Rubens left Italy, he was no longer a bourgeois but a gentleman, and he was not a local artist but one of international style and reputation.

 Having formulated one of the first innovative expressions of the baroque style while in Italy, Rubens on his return was recognized as the foremost painter of Flanders and, therefore, was immediately employed by the burgomaster of Antwerp. His success was further confirmed in 1609, when he was engaged as court painter to the Austrian archduke Albert and his wife, the Spanish infanta Isabella, who together ruled the Low Countries as viceroys for the king of Spain. The number of pictures requested from Rubens was so large that he established an enormous workshop in which the master did the initial sketch and final touches, while his apprentices completed all the intermediary steps. Besides court commissions from Brussels and abroad, the highly devout Rubens was much in demand by the militant Counter Reformation church of Flanders, which regarded his dramatic, emotionally charged interpretations of religious events—such as the Triptych of the Raising of the Cross (1610-11, Antwerp Cathedral)—as images for spiritual recruitment and renewal. Prosperity allowed Rubens to build an Italianate residence in Antwerp, where he housed his extensive collection of art and antiquities.

Between 1622 and 1630 Rubens's value as a diplomat was equal to his importance as a painter. In 1622 he visited Paris, where the French queen Marie de Médicis commissioned him, for the Luxembourg Palace, to depict her life in a series of allegorical paintings (completed 1625). Despite the keen loss Rubens felt after the death of his wife in 1626, he continued to be highly productive. In 1628 he was sent by the Flemish viceroys to Spain.

The concerns of Rubens's late style, and indeed of his whole career, are summarized in The Judgment of Paris (circa 1635-37, National Gallery, London). In this painting voluptuous goddesses are posed against a verdant landscape, goddesses and landscape both symbolizing the richness of creation. Color is luxuriant, light and shade glow, and the brushwork is sensuous. All these elements further the meaning of the narrative, which is Paris's selection of what is most beautiful the lifelong concern of Rubens in his art.

Ruben's Collection:
Ruben's Self-Portrait

The Château de Steen with Hunter

The Elevation of the Cross

Rubens and Isabella Brant in the "Honeysuckle Bower"

Landscape with Thunderstorm

Diana Presenting the Catch to Pan

Diana and Callisto

The Judgment of Paris

The Massacre of the Innocents, the best painting of Rubens.

 Conversion of Saint Paul

The Fall of Man

Prometheus Bound

The Exchange of Princesses

The Consequences of War

Also on 14. David Hockney

Hockney, David (Born:1937). British painter, draughtsman, printmaker, photographer, and designer. After a brilliant prize-winning career as a student at the Royal College of Art, Hockney had achieved international success by the time he was in his mid-20s, and has since consolidated his position as by far the best-known British artist of his generation. His phenomenal success has been based not only on the flair, wit, and versatility of his work, but also on his colorful personality, which has made him a recognizable figure even to people not particularly interested in art: a film about him entitled A Bigger Splash (1974) enjoyed considerable popularity in the commercial cinema.
Paint Trolley

                                         Cactus Garden
His early paintings, often almost jokey in mood, gained him a reputation of leading Pop artist, although he himself rejected the label. In the late 1960s he turned to a weightier, more traditionally representational manner, in which he has painted some striking portraits (Mr and Mrs Clark and Percy, Tate, London, 1970-01). He has spent much of his time in the USA, and the Californian swimming pool has been one of his favourite themes ( A Bigger Splash, Tate, 1967). Often his work has a strong homo-erotic content. Hockney is a brilliant draughtsman and has been as outstanding as a graphic artist as he has as a painter, his work in this field including etched illustrations to Cavafy's Poems (1967) and Six Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm (1969). In the 1970s he came to the fore also as a stage designer, notably with his set and costume designs for Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress and Mozart's The Magic Flute produced at Glyndebourne in 1975 and 1978 respectively. The broader style demanded by stage design is reflected in his most recent easel paintings. In the 1980s he has experimented much with photography, producing, for example, photographic collages and -- since 1986 -- prints created on photocopiers. Hockney is a perceptive commentator on art and in 1976 published a book on his own work, David Hockney by David Hockney.
The Bigger Splash

Technically, it is true to say that the Pop movement started with Richard Hamilton and David Hockney in England. Hockney's early work made superb use of the popular magazine-style images on which much of Pop Art is based. However, when Hockney moved to California in the 1960s, he responded with such artistic depth to the sea, sun, sky, young men, and luxury that his art took on a wholly new, increasingly naturalistic dimension. Though one might consider A Bigger Splash a simplistic rather than a simplified view of the world, it nevertheless creates a delightful interplay between the stolid pink verticals of a Los Angeles setting and the exuberance of spray as the unseen diver enters the pool. There is no visible human presence here, just that lonely, empty chair and a bare, almost frozen world. Yet that wild white splash can only come from another human, and a great deal of Hockney's psyche is involved in the mix of lucidity and confusion of this picture.
 Hockney's art
Early Blossom

David Hockney
A Bigger Grand Canyon

Hockney's painting
Autumn Leaves

Hockney's  "landscape" work

Hockney's painting
15.Paul Cezanne

Paul Cezanne was a French artist and Post-Impressionist painter whose work laid the foundations of the transition from the 19th century conception of artistic endeavour to a new and radically different world of art in the 20th century. Cézanne was born at Aix-en-Provence in the south of France on Jan. 19, 1839.Cezanne can be said to form the bridge between late 19th century Impressionism and the early 20th century's new line of artistic enquiry, Cubism. The line attributed to both Matisse and Picasso that Cezanne "is the father of us all" cannot be easily dismissed.

Cezanne's work demonstrates a mastery of design, colour, composition and draftsmanship. His often repetitive, sensitive and exploratory brushstrokes are highly characteristic and clearly recognisable. He used planes of colour and small brushstrokes that build up to form complex fields, at once both a direct expression of the sensations of the observing eye and an abstraction from observed nature. The paintings convey Cezanne's intense study of his subjects, a searching gaze and a dogged struggle to deal with the complexity of human visual perception.Cezanne's use of colour as tone and his obsession with the formal elements of composition made it possible for artists who came after to question what they saw and how they represented what they saw on their canvas.

Pablo Picasso said the following of the artist "My one and only master . . . Cezanne was like the father of us all". Cezanne is therefore often described as the "father of modern art". Whether such and accolade is justifed or not the critics can judge, it is clear, however that Cezanne was a visionary ahead of his time.

In the late 1870s Cézanne entered the phase known as ``constructive,'' characterized by the grouping of parallel, hatched brushstrokes in formations that build up a sense of mass in themselves. He continued in this style until the early 1890s, when, in his series of paintings titled Card Players (1890-92), the upward curvature of the players' backs creates a sense of architectural solidity and thrust, and the intervals between figures and objects have the appearance of live cells of space and atmosphere.
Finally, living as a solitary in Aix rather than alternating between the south and Paris, Cézanne moved into his late phase. Now he concentrated on a few basic subjects: still lifes of studio objects built around such recurring elements as apples, statuary, and tablecloths; studies of bathers, based upon the male model and drawing upon a combination of memory, earlier studies, and sources in the art of the past; and successive views of the Mont Sainte-Victoire, a nearby landmark, painted from his studio looking across the intervening valley. The landscapes of the final years, much affected by Cézanne's contemporaneous practice in watercolor, have a more transparent and unfinished look, while the last figure paintings are at once more somber and spiritual in mood.

Paul Cezanne's work
Chateau de Medan

Mont Sainte-Victoire and the Viaduct of the Arc River Valley

The Seine at Bercy
The Large Bathers
Gardanne Landscape

The Bridge

Chateau Noir

Ginger Jar and Fruit
Bouquet of Flowers

The Card Players

Mount Sainte-Victoire

Trees in Park
Vase With Flowers

Also on 15.René Magritte

 Rene Magritte Photo Rene Magritte was born in Lessines, in the province of Hainaut, in 1898, the eldest son of Leopold Magritte, who was a tailor and textile merchant, and Regina (nee Bertinchamps), a milliner until her marriage. Little is known about Magritte's early life. He began lessons in drawing in 1910. On 12 March 1912, his mother committed suicide by drowning herself in the River Sambre. This was not her first attempt; she had made many over a number of years, driving her husband Leopold to lock her into her bedroom. One day she escaped, and was missing for days. She was later discovered a mile or so down the nearby river, dead. According to a legend, 13-year-old Magritte was present when her body was retrieved from the water, but recent research has discredited this story, which may have originated with the family nurse. Supposedly, when his mother was found, her dress was covering her face, an image that has been suggested as the source of several oil paintings Magritte painted in 1927-1928 of people with cloth obscuring their faces, including Les Amants.

Magritte's earliest oil paintings, which date from about 1915, were Impressionistic in style. From 1916 to 1918 he studied at the Academie Royale des Beaux-Arts in Brussels, under Constant Montald, but found the instruction uninspiring. The oil paintings he produced during the years 1918-1924 were influenced by Futurism and by the offshoot of Cubism practiced by Metzinger. Most of his works of this period are female nudes.

In 1922 Magritte married Georgette Berger, whom he had met as a child in 1913. From December 1920 until September 1921, Magritte served in the Belgian infantry in the Flemish town of Beverlo near Leopoldsburg. In 1922-1923, he worked as a draughtsman in a wallpaper factory, and was a poster and advertisement designer until 1926, when a contract with Galerie la Centaure in Brussels made it possible for him to paint full-time. In 1926, Magritte produced his first surreal oil painting, The Lost Jockey (Le jockey perdu), and held his first exhibition in Brussels in 1927. Critics heaped abuse on the exhibition. Depressed by the failure, he moved to Paris where he became friends with Andre Breton, and became involved in the surrealist group.Galerie la Centaure closed at the end of 1929, ending Magritte's contract income. Having made little impact in Paris, Magritte returned to Brussels in 1930 and resumed working in advertising. He and his brother, Paul, formed an agency which earned him a living wage.

Surrealist patron Edward James allowed Magritte, in the early stages of his career, to stay rent free in his London home and paint. James is featured in two of Magritte's pieces, Le Principe du Plaisir (The Pleasure Principle) and La Reproduction Interdite, an oil painting also known as Not to be Reproduced.

During the German occupation of Belgium in World War II he remained in Brussels, which led to a break with Breton. He briefly adopted a colorful, painterly style in 1943-44, an interlude known as his "Renoir Period", as a reaction to his feelings of alienation and abandonment that came with living in German occupied Belgium. In 1946, renouncing the violence and pessimism of his earlier work, he joined several other Belgian artists in signing the manifesto Surrealism in Full Sunlight. During 1947-48-Magritte's "Vache Period"-he painted in a provocative and crude Fauve style.

Rene Magritte's work:
The Red Model

The Great War

The Son of Man
Personal Values

The Wonders of Nature

The Companions of Fear

The Lovers

Perspective: David's Madame Recamier

The Lost Jockey
The Empty Mask

Memory of a voyage

Michelangelo Merisi, known as Caravaggio (1571-1610) achieved one of the most important revolutions in the history of painting.Caravaggio was an Italian artist active in Rome, Naples, Malta, and Sicily between 1593 and 1610. His paintings, which combine a realistic observation of the human state, both physical and emotional, with a dramatic use of lighting, had a formative influence on the Baroque school of painting.

After a lacklustre apprenticeship, Caravaggio went to Rome. By 1592, he was causing scandal, not only because of his volatile character and temper but because of his controversial painting methods. 
He inherited a world where the classical idealism of Michelangelo was still normative, especially in the depiction of the human body, and where the eccentricities of his successors, who did not paint from life at all, distorted the popular notion of what the eye actually sees. He rejected both utterly. He painted with an intensity of realism never before equalled, and his impact was so immediate, profound and lasting that it affected all the great painters of the first half of the seventeenth century. The genius of each transmuted the new realism in a variety of ways, making it both the climax and the golden age of European art.

Caravaggio was always in trouble. In 1592, when he was not yet twenty, he fled Milan after 'certain quarrels' and the wounding of a police officer. He went to Rome and was there, for the most part, until 1606, when he again had to flee. His life in Rome was of growing financial and professional success, but it was also punctuated with crime. In the years 1600-1606 alone, he was brought to trial no less than eleven times. The charges covered a variety of offences, most involved violence. It is significant that, despite his posthumous reputation for homosexuality, and his endless brushes with the police, he was never charged with sodomy, then a capital offence. But he was charged with murder. He went first to Naples, then to Malta, where he was feted and made a Knight of St John. Then, after 'an ill considered quarrel' with a senior knight, he was on the run once more, all around Sicily, then on to Naples again. But this time there was no hiding place. The knights, known for their relentlessness, pursued him, and Caravaggio, now thirty nine, in an attempt to seek forgiveness and refuge in Rome, tried to get there, but died at Porto Ercole, apparently of a fever.

What is remarkable is that the artist, despite his hunted and, in the end, desperate life, always contrived to go on painting, often without a proper workshop of any kind. He was variously described, even by admirers, as a man of 'stravaganze' as 'uno cervello stravagantissimo' (exceptionally odd) .Like all the greatest artists, Caravaggio loved painting from nature. There is no direct evidence that he ever tried pure landscape, but he painted leaves, fruit and flowers with a truth and delicacy that has seldom been matched, as his Basket of Fruit (Milan, Ambrosiana) and Boy with a Basket of Fruit demonstrate. In two early masterworks, the enchanting Rest on the Flight into Egypt and Penitent Magdalene (both Rome, Doria Pamphili), he got his current mistress, a beautiful young golden redhead, to pose as the Virgin and the Magdalen, and it seems quite possible that in the Rest he painted her outdoors, for the light on her flesh is so delicate and natural. But when he did realistic genre scenes, such as The Cardsharps (Fort Worth, Kimball Art Museum), The Gypsy Fortune-teller (Rome, Capitoline) and The Concert of Youths (Metropolitan) he would put up a studio stage set and light it with elaborate care, both naturally and artificially.This was a new kind of art, which was to have momentous consequences. It has led some modern writers to speculate that, born into the twentieth or twenty-first century, Caravaggio would have been a photographer or a film maker.

 He depicts dramatic moments, whether cheating at cards or the very second a miracle occurs, in such a way that the viewer feels he is present and can step into the picture. The Church, which bought more than half his output, recognised the huge popular appeal of his vivid presentation of the faith. But it sometimes found Caravaggio too real for comfort. It rejected at least five of his commissioned works or forced him to repaint them, because (as one cardinal put it) he 'crosses the borderline between the sacred and profane' His Death of the Virgin, a work of marvellous sadness and pity (Louvre), shows her as an old woman, already a corpse. This was done from life, from the body of a prostitute found in the Tiber. His two versions of The Supper at Emmaus (National Gallery; Milan, Brera), each in different ways essays on truth, show ordinary people rather than holy figures. His Christ in The Crowning with Thorns (Prado) is in horrible pain. In his St Matthew and the Angel (Berlin, Kaiser-Friedrich-Museum, destroyed), the evangelist looks too stupid, the angel dictating to him too delicious. Judith Beheading Holofernes (Rome, Barberini) is a terrifying mass of blood and horror. Even in the most touching of his works, The Madonna of Loreto in St Augustine, Rome, showing the Virgin accepting with reverent gratitude the prayers of two old peasants, the soles of the man's feet are filthy. He was changing all the time, and in his last canvases, such as The Beheading of St John the Baptist (Valletta Cathedral) and Adoration of the Shepherds (Messina, Musee Regionale) he was using black space as a powerful character in the composition, threatening to overwhelm the lit areas, sometimes crowded into a mere quarter of the canvas.

There is no doubt about the impact Caravaggio's work had on other artists. In the years immediately after his death, he was imitated by more artists than any other master of whom we have records. Caravaggism was a kind of fever which spread over the art world. In the last century, the art historian Benedict Nicolson spent much of his life collecting photographs of early seventeenth century works in the Caravaggio manner which eventually filled three large volumes. Caravaggio had a direct or indirect influence on all the greatest spirits of the century: Rubens, Hals, Rembrandt, Vermeer, Velazquez and Bernini.

Caravaggio's Collection
Caravaggio's self-portrait

The Crucifixion of St. Peter

Judith Beheading Holofernes

Boy with a Basket of Fruit

Madonna and Child with a Serpent
The Musicians also known as The Concert of Youths
Rest on the Flight into Egypt

David with the Head of Goliath
The Conversion of St. Paul

The Cardsharps

The Calling of St. Matthew

17.Pierre-Auguste Renoir
Pierre-Auguste Renoir was born in Limoges, Haute-Vienne, France, the child of a working class family. As a boy, he worked in a porcelain factory where his drawing talents led to him being chosen to paint designs on fine china. He also painted hangings for overseas missionaries and decorations on fans before he enrolled in art school. During those early years, he often visited the Louvre to study the French master painters.In 1862, he began studying art under Charles Gleyre in Paris. There he met Alfred Sisley, Frédéric Bazille, and Claude Monet. At times during the 1860s, he did not have enough money to buy paint. Although Renoir first started exhibiting paintings at the Paris Salon in 1864, recognition did not come for another ten years, due, in part, to the turmoil of the Franco-Prussian War.During the Paris Commune in 1871, while he painted on the banks of the Seine River, some Communards thought he was a spy, and were about to throw him into the river when a leader of the Commune, Raoul Rigault, recognized Renoir as the man who had protected him on an earlier occasion.

In 1874, a ten-year friendship with Jules Le Cœur and his family ended, and Renoir lost not only the valuable support gained by the association, but a generous welcome to stay on their property near Fontainebleau and its scenic forest. This loss of a favorite painting location resulted in a distinct change of subjects.Renoir experienced his initial acclaim when six of his paintings hung in the first Impressionist exhibition in 1874. In the same year, two of his works were shown with Durand-Ruel in London.In 1881, he traveled to Algeria, a country he associated with Eugène Delacroix, then to Madrid, to see the work of Diego Velázquez. Following that, he traveled to Italy to see Titian's masterpieces in Florence and the paintings of Raphael in Rome. On 15 January 1882 Renoir met the composer Richard Wagner at his home in Palermo, Sicily. Renoir painted Wagner's portrait in just thirty-five minutes. In the same year, Renoir convalesced for six weeks in Algeria after contracting pneumonia, which permanently damaged his respiratory system.

In 1883, he spent the summer in Guernsey, creating fifteen paintings in little over a month. Most of these feature Moulin Huet, a bay in Saint Martin's, Guernsey. Guernsey is one of the Channel Islands in the English Channel, and it has a varied landscape that includes beaches, cliffs, bays, forests, and mountains. These paintings were the subject of a set of commemorative postage stamps issued by the Bailiwick of Guernsey in 1983.While living and working in Montmartre, Renoir employed as a model Suzanne Valadon, who posed for him (The Bathers, 1885–87; Dance at Bougival, 1883) and many of his fellow painters while studying their techniques; eventually she became one of the leading painters of the day.In 1887, the year when Queen Victoria celebrated her Golden Jubilee, and upon the request of the queen's associate, Phillip Richbourg, he donated several paintings to the "French Impressionist Paintings" catalog as a token of his loyalty.

In 1890, he married Aline Victorine Charigot, who, along with a number of the artist's friends, had already served as a model for Le Déjeuner des canotiers (Luncheon of the Boating Party, 1881), and with whom he already had a child, Pierre, in 1885. After his marriage, Renoir painted many scenes of his wife and daily family life, including their children and their nurse, Aline's cousin Gabrielle Renard. The Renoirs had three sons, one of whom, Jean, became a filmmaker of note and another, Pierre, became a stage and film actor.

Around 1892, Renoir developed rheumatoid arthritis. In 1907, he moved to the warmer climate of "Les Collettes," a farm at Cagnes-sur-Mer, close to the Mediterranean coast. Renoir painted during the last twenty years of his life, even when arthritis severely limited his movement, and he was wheelchair-bound. He developed progressive deformities in his hands and ankylosis of his right shoulder, requiring him to adapt his painting technique. It has often been reported that in the advanced stages of his arthritis, he painted by having a brush strapped to his paralyzed fingers, but this is erroneous; Renoir remained able to grasp a brush, although he required an assistant to place it in his hand. The wrapping of his hands with bandages, apparent in late photographs of the artist, served to prevent skin irritation.

During this period, he created sculptures by cooperating with a young artist, Richard Guino, who worked the clay. Renoir also used a moving canvas, or picture roll, to facilitate painting large works with his limited joint mobility.In 1919, Renoir visited the Louvre to see his paintings hanging with the old masters. 

Renoir's self-portrait

 Renior's collection

Le Moulin de La Galette

Twos Sisters on Terrace
Claude Monet Painting in his Garden
Girls at Piano
The Apple Seller

Jeanne Durand-Ruel
Dance at Bougival

Portrait of Berthe Morisot and daughter Julie

In the Garden

By the Water or Near the Lake
18.Gustav Klimt

Gustav Klimt was born in Baumgarten, near Vienna, the second of seven children — three boys and four girls. All three sons displayed artistic talent early on. His father, Ernst Klimt, formerly from Bohemia, was a gold engraver. Ernst married Anna Klimt (née Finster), whose unrealized ambition was to be a musical performer. Klimt lived in poverty for most of his childhood, as work was scarce and the economy difficult for immigrants.

In 1876, Klimt was enrolled in the Vienna School of Arts and Crafts (Kunstgewerbeschule), where he studied until 1883, and received training as an architectural painter. He revered the foremost history painter of the time, Hans Makart. Unlike many young artists, Klimt accepted the principles of conservative Academic training. In 1877 his brother Ernst, who, like his father, would become an engraver, also enrolled in the school. The two brothers and their friend Franz Matsch began working together; by 1880 they had received numerous commissions as a team they called the "Company of Artists". Klimt began his professional career painting interior murals and ceilings in large public buildings on the Ringstraße including a successful series of "Allegories and Emblems".

In 1888, Klimt received the Golden order of Merit from Emperor Franz Josef I of Austria for his contributions to art. He also became an honorary member of the University of Munich and the University of Vienna.

Vienna secession years

Beginning in the late 1890s Klimt took annual summer holidays with the Flöge family on the shores of Attersee and painted many of his landscapes there. These works constitute the only genre aside from the figure that seriously interested Klimt, and are of a number and quality so as to merit a separate appreciation. Formally, the landscapes are characterized by the same refinement of design and emphatic patterning as the figural pieces. Deep space in the Attersee works is so efficiently flattened to a single plane, it is believed that Klimt painted them while looking through a telescope.
In 1894, Klimt was commissioned to create three paintings to decorate the ceiling of the Great Hall in the University of Vienna. Not completed until the turn of the century, his three paintings, Philosophy, Medicine and Jurisprudence were criticized for their radical themes and material, which was called "pornographic". Klimt had transformed traditional allegory and symbolism into a new language which was more overtly sexual, and hence more disturbing. The public outcry came from all quarters — political, aesthetic, and religious. As a result, they were not displayed on the ceiling of the Great Hall. This would be the last public commission accepted by the artist. All three paintings were destroyed by retreating SS forces in May 1945. His Nuda Verita (1899) defined his bid to further shake up the establishment. The starkly naked red-headed woman holds the mirror of truth, while above it is a quote by Schiller in stylized lettering, "If you cannot please everyone with your deeds and your art, please a few. To please many is bad."In 1902, Klimt finished the Beethoven Frieze for the 14th Vienna Secessionist exhibition, which was intended to be a celebration of the composer and featured a monumental, polychromed sculpture by Max Klinger. Meant for the exhibition only, the frieze was painted directly on the walls with light materials. After the exhibition the painting was preserved, although it did not go on display until 1986.

Golden phase and critical success
Klimt's 'Golden Phase' was marked by positive critical reaction and success. Many of his paintings from this period utilized gold leaf; the prominent use of gold can first be traced back to Pallas Athene (1898) and Judith I (1901), although the works most popularly associated with this period are the Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I (1907) and The Kiss (1907 - 1908). Klimt traveled little but trips to Venice and Ravenna, both famous for their beautiful mosaics, most likely inspired his gold technique and his Byzantine imagery. In 1904, he collaborated with other artists on the lavish Palais Stoclet, the home of a wealthy Belgian industrialist, which was one of the grandest monuments of the Art Nouveau age. Klimt's contributions to the dining room, including both Fulfillment and Expectation, were some of his finest decorative work, and as he publicly stated, "probably the ultimate stage of my development of ornament." Between 1907 and 1909, Klimt painted five canvases of society women wrapped in fur. His apparent love of costume is expressed in the many photographs of Flöge modeling clothing she designed.

As he worked and relaxed in his home, Klimt normally wore sandals and a long robe with no undergarments. His simple life was somewhat cloistered, devoted to his art and family and little else except the Secessionist Movement, and he avoided café society and other artists socially. Klimt's fame usually brought patrons to his door, and he could afford to be highly selective. His painting method was very deliberate and painstaking at times and he required lengthy sittings by his subjects. Though very active sexually, he kept his affairs discreet and he avoided personal scandal. Like Rodin, Klimt also utilized mythology and allegory to thinly disguise his highly erotic nature, and his drawings often reveal purely sexual interest in women as objects. His models were routinely available to him to pose in any erotic manner that pleased him. Many of the models were prostitutes as well.

 Posthumous success

Klimt's paintings have brought some of the highest prices recorded for individual works of art. In November 2003, Klimt's Landhaus am Attersee sold for $29,128,000, but that was soon eclipsed by prices paid for other Klimts. In 2006 the artist's Apple Tree I (ca. 1912) sold for $33 million and Birch Forest (1903) sold for $40.3 million. Both works had been recently restituted to the heirs of Adele Bloch-Bauer.Purchased for the Neue Galerie in New York by Ronald Lauder for a reported US $135 million, the 1907 portrait Adele Bloch-Bauer I deposed Picasso's 1905 Boy With a Pipe (sold May 5, 2004 for $104 million) as the highest reported price ever paid for a piece of art sold at a public auction, on or around June 19, 2006. This is one of the five paintings referred to below in the Legacy section and an NPR report. On August 7, 2006, Christie's auction house announced it was handling the sale of the remaining works by Klimt that were recovered by the Bloch-Bauer heirs after a long legal battle. They auctioned Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer II in November 2006 for $88 million, the third-highest priced piece of art at auction at the time. Collectively the five restituted paintings, including aforementioned landscapes, netted over $327 million.

Style & recurring themes
Klimt's work is distinguished by the elegant gold or coloured decoration, often of a phallic shape that conceals the more erotic positions of the drawings upon which many of his paintings are based. This can be seen in Judith I (1901), and in The Kiss (1907–1908), and especially in Danaë (1907). One of the most common themes Klimt utilized was that of the dominant woman, the femme fatale. Art historians note an eclectic range of influences contributing to Klimt's distinct style, including Egyptian, Minoan, Classical Greek, and Byzantine inspirations. Klimt was also inspired by the engravings of Albrecht Dürer, late medieval European painting, and Japanese Rimpa school. His mature works are characterized by a rejection of earlier naturalistic styles, and make use of symbols or symbolic elements to convey psychological ideas and emphasize the "freedom" of art from traditional culture.

Klimt's Collection 

Portrait of Mada Prinavesi
Life and Death
Acqua Mossa

Garden with Sunflowers

Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I

The Kiss.
Klimt was 45 when he painted The Kiss, still living with his mother and two unmarried sisters. Behind the respectable facade he was a man with a ferocious sexual appetite; he fathered at least three known illegitimate children.The Kiss reflects his fascination with eroticism, and while its overall architecture is obviously phallic, it is renowned because of its tender representation of the female model who is tightly embraced within the overall geometry of the picture and whose body is formed from the most detailed, colourful and best expressed abstract passages of Klimt's career. In its tenderness, the painting deviates from his typical portrayal of woman as distant femme fatales; here the female is the protagonist, rather than merely the object of desire.
Judith and the Head of Holofernes
The Virgins

Sea Serpents
Le Tre Età Della Donna

The Tree of Life

Also on 18.Pierre Bonnard

Pierre Bonnard ,   (born October 3, 1867, Fontenay-aux-Roses, France—died January 23, 1947, Le Cannet), French painter and printmaker, member of the group of artists called the Nabis and afterward a leader of the Intimists; he is generally regarded as one of the greatest colourists of modern art.After taking his baccalaureate, in which he distinguished himself in classics, Bonnard studied law at the insistence of his father, and for a short time in 1888 he worked in a government office. In the meantime he attended the École des Beaux-Arts, but, failing to win the Prix de Rome (a prize to study at the French Academy in Rome), he transferred to the Académie Julian, where he came into contact with some of the major figures of the new artistic generation—Maurice Denis, Ker-Xavier Roussel, Paul Sérusier,Édouard Vuillard, and Félix Vallotton. In 1890, after a year’s military service, he shared a studio in Montmartre with Denis and Vuillard. Later they were joined by the theatrical producer Aurélien Lugné-Poë, with whom Bonnard collaborated on productions for the Théâtre de l’Oeuvre, in Paris. At this time he became influenced by Japanese prints, which had earlier attracted the Impressionists.

During the 1890s Bonnard became one of the leading members of the Nabis, a group of artists who specialized in painting intimate domestic scenes as well as decorative curvilinear compositions akin to those produced by painters of the contemporary Art Nouveau movement.By about 1908 Bonnard’s Intimist period had concluded. A picture such as Nude Against the Light (1908) was painted not only on a bigger scale but also with broader and more colouristic effects. Because of his increasing interest in landscape painting, he had begun painting scenes in northern France. In 1910 he discovered the south of France, and he became the magical painter of this region. The Mediterranean was considered by many of the period to be a source of French civilization. Bonnard was eager to emphasize the connections between his art and France’s classical heritage. This was evident in the pose of certain of his figures, which hark back to ancient Hellenistic sculpture. He was also enamoured of the colouristic tradition of the 16th-century Venetian school. The Abduction of Europa (1919), for example, is in a direct line of descent from the work of Titian.

The subjects of Bonnard’s pictures are simple, but the means by which he rendered such familiar themes as a table laden with fruit or a sun-drenched landscape show that he was one of the most subtle masters of his day; he was particularly fascinated with tricks of perspective, as the Post-Impressionist painter Paul Cézanne had been. In The Dining Room (1913), for example, he employed different levels of perspective and varied the transitions of tone, from warm to cool.

By about 1915 Bonnard realized that he had tended to sacrifice form for colour, so from that point until the late 1920s he painted nudes that reflect a new concern for structure without losing their strong colour values. In the 1920s he undertook a series of paintings on one of his most famous themes—a nude in a bath. From the end of the 1920s onward, the subject matter of his pictures hardly varied—still lifes, searching self-portraits, seascapes at Saint-Tropez on the Riviera, and views of his garden at Le Cannet, near Cannes, where he had moved in 1925 after marrying his model and companion of 30 years, Maria Boursin. These are paintings intense with colour.

Bonnard's Collection 
Almond Tree

Vue Du Cannet

Bonnard Self-Portrait
View of Cannet


Iris Et Lilas

Le Paysage AuCannet

The Dining Room

Gardens of Tuileries

View of Vence
Brown Coal Mine

 19.Umberto Boccioni
Umberto Boccioni was born in Reggio Calabria on 19 October 1882 to parents who originated from the Romagna region of Italy. His family moved to Padua in 1888 and then on to Catania in 1897, where he obtained his school-leaving Diploma at a Technical Institute. It was in this Sicilian city that young Umberto began his collaboration with a number of local newspapers. In 1901 he moved to Rome where he stayed with an aunt and began to frequent the studio of a poster designer. During this period he met Severini, together with whom he became a pupil of Giacomo Balla, although before long they both distanced themselves from him. In April 1906 he stayed in Paris for the first time and a few months later undertook a journey to Russia. On returning to Italy he settled in Padua and enrolled at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Venice. He set off on another journey to Russia but only got as far as Munich in Germany. On returning from this trip, he began to paint and conduct his first experiments in the field of engraving. Italian artistic life of the times was still firmly entrenched in the old provincial traditions. For this reason he chose to move to Milan, the only dynamic and forward-looking city, where he met Romolo Romani and associated with Previati, from whom he gained a certain symbolistic influence.

Following publication of the first futurist manifesto by Marinetti in "Le Figaro", Boccioni approached the avant-garde movement and in 1910, together with Carrà and Russolo, wrote the "Manifesto of futurist painters" and the "Technical manifesto of futurist painting", also signed by Severini and Balla. Boccioni became the leading and most representative exponent of the movement, developing an individual and very distinctive language. In the meantime he participated actively in all the various initiatives, from the "Futurist evenings" held in the theatres of Italian provinces to the exhibitions which he himself organised in various European capitals, including Paris,  London, Berlin and Brussels. He wrote the "Manifesto of futurist sculpture", the main pages of his poetry, sculpted and painted his dynamic work series. From 1913 onwards he contributed to the magazine "Lacerba", organised by the Florentine group headed by Soffici.Disappointed by the relative lack of interest in his art by the Italian public and the hostile attitude of certain futurist groups, such as that of Florence, he took refuge in his mother, an essential and much loved figure.

When the First World War broke out, a number of intellectuals lent their support to interventionism. Boccioni, like many other painters, enrolled in the bicycle corps and set off for the front. In the meantime his art was influenced by the new European avant-garde movements. He contributed to the magazine "Avvenimenti" and became reconciled with his old mentor Balla.In 1916 he continued to paint. The following year he again enrolled in the army and died on 17 August 1917 after falling from his horse on the outskirts of Verona.

Boccioni's Collection

Vision Simultanee

Umberto Boccioni  self-portrait

The Morning

The City Rises

Donna in Giardino
Riot in the Galleria
Dynamism of a Cyclist

Dynamism of a Soccer Player

Composizione Spiralica

 La Risata

The Street Enters the House
States of Mind

20.Henri Rousseau

Henri Julien Félix Rousseau was known as a French Post-Impressionist artist utilizing Naïve or Primitive style. In the course of his life, he also acquired a nickname of “Le Douanier” which means “the customs officer.” This was a humorous take on his job as a tax collector. Scorned at during his life, he came out as a self-educated genius; his works acclaimed to have a prominent artistic quality.
He was born on May 21, 1844 in the town of Laval, France in Loire Valley. The young Henri became a boarding student at the Lycee of Laval because of their frequent movements due to his tinsmith father’s penchant for acquiring debts. At school, his grades in some subjects were not remarkable. Drawing and Music are another case. He gets high grades and awards in them.Although he admitted receiving advice from two reputable academic painters, namely, Félix Auguste-Clément and Jean-Léon Gérôme, Henri Rosseau claimed that his only teacher was nature. He was self-taught and worked on Naïve art.

Rosseau was well recognized for his artistic depictions of jungles, exotic scenes and landscapes.Rousseau’s art, although previously ridiculed, had an extensive influence on artists such as Picasso, Jean Hugo, Beckman, and Surrealists.Al
ong with his exotic scenes there was a concurrent output of smaller topographical images of the city and its suburbs.He claimed to have invented a new genre of portrait landscape, which he achieved by starting a painting with a view such as a favourite part of the city, and then depicting a person in the foreground. In the 1998 animated film, Kirikou and the Sorceress by Michel Ocelot, the visual style was partially inspired by Rousseau – evident in the jungle vegetation. Joni Mitchell’s song, The Jungle Line is based on a painting by Rousseau. Another animated film, entitled Madagascar, used one of Henri Rousseau’s works as an inspiration.When Pablo Picasso happened upon a painting by Rousseau being sold on the street as a canvas to be painted over, the younger artist instantly recognised Rousseau's genius and went to meet him. In 1908 Picasso held a half serious, half burlesque banquet in his studio in Le Bateau-Lavoir in Rousseau's honour.

Henri Rousseau' Collection

Surprised Tiger

Le centenaire de l'indépendance
Banks of the Oise

Bouquet of Flowers
The Sleeping Gypsy

Carnival Evening

Other Supreme Paintings 

St.Francis in Ecstasy by Giovanni Bellini

San Zaccaria Altarpiece by Giovanni Bellini

Battle of San Romano by Paolo Uccello

Albrecht Altdorfer's "The Battle of Alexander at Issus"

Flaming June by Fredrick Lord Leighton

Jean-Leon Gerome's "Pollice Verso"

The Family of Darius before Alexander by Paolo Veronese

Battle of San Romano by Paolo Uccello

The Marriage at Cana by Paolo Veronese

Sacra conversazione by Piero della Francesca

The Deposition from the Cross  by the Italian Renaissance painter Jacopo Pontormo

Detail of Mount Olympus by Giulio Romano

Gentile Bellini's Procession in St Marks Square
Mary Magdalene, painted by by Rogier van der Weyden

Adoration of the Kings by the Flemish painter Hugo van der Goes.