Monday, April 29, 2019

Carlo Crivelli. Unknown birthday but an artist whose works are too beautiful to ignore.


Carlo Crivelli, (born c. 1430/35, Venice [Italy]—died c.1494/95, Ascoli Piceno, Marche), probably the most individual of 15th-century Venetian painters, an artist whose highly personal and mannered style carried Renaissance forms into an unusual expressionism.

Presumably the son of a painter, Jacopo Crivelli, Carlo was probably initially influenced by Jacopo Bellini and by the school of Antonio and Bartolomeo Vivarini, Paduan brothers living in Venice, whose works were characterized by soft, rounded figures, clear modeling and realistic detail, and heavy ornamentation. He later came into contact with the linearism of the Paduan tradition and may have seen the works of its most famous artist, Andrea Mantegna, a major 15th-century painter who especially emphasized precise linear definition of form. In 1457 Crivelli served a prison term in Venice for seducing a married woman and then left the city, apparently permanently. Thereafter, he worked mainly in the cities of the Provincia di Ancona, to the south of Venice, coming into little subsequent contact with major artistic trends.

1470 Saint George, about to deliver final fatal cut to a dragon. Horse not happy. 

1472. Saint George showing off his gorgeous armor and broken lance. 

1471. Virgin & Child with St. Francis and St. Sebastian, complete with piercings. 

Flowers at the bottom of Madonna of the Candle, 1489

Madonna of the Candle. Ornate, intricate and glorious 

For your collection of Great Books. This one belongs to Thomas Aquinas, in Crivelli's Ascoli Altarpiece.

Adorable sleepy Christ child from the alter piece of St. Dominic. 

Altarpiece of St. Dominic in Ascoli, 1476. A work of endless, fascination.

Crivelli’s works were exclusively sacred in subject. 

Although his classical, realistic figure types and symmetrical compositions follow the conventions of Renaissance painting, his unusual overall treatment transforms these conventions into a personal expression that is both highly sensuous and strongly Gothic in spirit. Crivelli’s figures, clad in richly patterned brocades that are painted with an almost incredible attention to detail, are closely crowded together in sumptuously ornamental settings to produce flat, hieratic compositions that are devotional and removed from the world of the viewer. 

His unique use of sharp outlines surrounding every form and the excessive pallor and flawlessness of complexion in his figures give his scenes the quality of shallow sculptured relief. There is an exaggerated expression of feeling in the faces of his figures, usually pensive and dreamy but sometimes distorted with grief, and in the mannered gestures of their slender hands and spidery fingers; this expression is closer to the religious intensity of Gothic art than to the calm rationalism of the Renaissance. Some of Crivelli’s more important works are “Madonna della Passione” (c. 1457), in which his individuality is only slightly apparent; a “Pietà” (1485); “The Virgin Enthroned with Child and Saints” (1491), the masterpiece of his mature style; and the eccentric and powerful late masterpiece “Coronation of the Virgin” (1493). Encyclopedia Britannica. 

Crivelli was knighted in 1490 by Ferdinand II of Naples. He had no direct followers of note.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Eugène Delacroix, April 26, 1798 - August 13,1863

Liberty Leading the People
The Lion Hunt

Eugène Delacroix, in full Ferdinand-Eugène-Victor Delacroix, (born April 26, 1798, Charenton-Saint-Maurice, France—died August 13, 1863, Paris), the greatest French Romantic painter, whose use of colour was influential in the development of both Impressionist and Post-Impressionist painting. His inspiration came chiefly from historical or contemporary events or literature, and a visit to Morocco in 1832 provided him with further exotic subjects.

"The last of the great Renaissance artists, Delacroix comes of a lineage whose founder is Michelangelo and whose prodigal son is Rubens. In his Journal, Delacroix more than once lays claim to this heritage: "Familiarity with the work of Michelangelo has exalted and elevated every subsequent generation of painters." Writing on Michelangelo, Delacroix speaks as the perpetuator of the tradition he describes: "The depiction of tender sentiments lies outside the bounds of Michelangelo's genius. In this work [The Last Judgement in the Sistine Chapel] above all, he indulged his taste for terribilitas. His imagination, oppressed by endless re-reading of the Prophets, yielded only images of dread, and the solitude he cherished could only exacerbate his melancholy disposition."  From Gilles Neret, "Eugene Delacroix 1798-1863: The Prince of Romanticism"

Massacre at Chios. A massacre of the Greeks by the Turks during the Greek war for independence.

In one of his most famous works, Delacroix showed an affinity with Lord Byron and other Romantic poets of his time, and he also drew subjects from Dante, William Shakespeare, and medieval history. In 1824, however, he exhibited at the Salon the Massacre at Chios, a large canvas depicting the dramatic contemporary massacre of Greeks by Turks on the island of Chios. The nature of his talent is evident in the unity he achieved in his expression of the haughty pride of the conquerors, the horror as well as despair of the innocent Greeks, and the splendor of a vast sky.

In 1832, Delacroix went to Morocco as part of a diplomatic delegation, a trip that also took him to southern Spain and Algeria. His impressions, captured in several sketchbooks, fueled the rest of his career, leading to works like “Women of Algiers in Their Apartment” (1833-34), showing three lounging women and a servant. The picture, with its air of sensuality and mystery, echoes through later works by Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Pablo Picasso

With Turner, Delacroix was the forerunner of the bold technical innovations that strongly influenced the development of Impressionism and subsequent modernist movements. The uninhibited expression of energy and movement in his works, his fascination with violence, destruction, and the more tragic aspects of life, and the sensuous virtuosity of his coloring have helped make him one of the most fascinating and complex artistic figures of the 19th century.  

    * Eugene Delacroix 1798-1863: The Prince of Romanticism, by Gilles Neret. Economical introduction from Taschen's Basic Series

    * Delacroix: The Late Work, by Vincent Pomarde. Catalog to the exhibition shown in Paris and Philadelphia.

DailyDose of Diebenkorn

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

JMW Turner April 23, 1775 - December 19, 1851

Joseph Mallord William Turner, perhaps England's most celebrated painter — and quite certainly considered so across the Channel — was born in 1775 and thus much more a Georgian than a Victorian painter, reflecting the Grand Tour rather than the Cook's Tour (did he ever travel in a train?). 

The son of a barber and wigmaker in Covent Garden, he had little formal education, no social graces and dropped aitches all his life. He was also very short — a surviving tailor's pattern for his trousers indicates an inside-leg measurement of only 19 inches, and Charles West Cope's sketch of his adding last touches to a painting of middling size hanging low in an exhibition has him standing on a bench or table. Slim as a boy, as a man he was a portly little barrel.

There had been English painters who could knock about as equals with the landed gentry, even the aristocracy — Reynolds, first president of the Royal Academy, had made himself a gentleman and Gainsborough had perhaps been much more of one than we suppose — but not Turner. This is not to say that he had no lordly friends — the part played in his life by Petworth proves that point —

but his lordly patrons for the most part bought or commissioned his paintings because he was the Damien Hirst of his day, an unpredictable and challenging celebrity, his work expensive and fashionable in the sense less of conforming to fashion than of making and re-making it throughout a life that ended at the age of 76, more than a little mad, in 1851.  If he wasn't a bit mad, he was more than a little bit eccentric  - but not solitary because we know of at least two mistresses. 

From Turner we have no daily diary of damp sheets, unwillingly shared beds or the discovery of broccoli, nor do we know how he responded to the great sculptures of antiquity and the Renaissance that were among the objectives of the Grand Tourist and so vital to Reynolds and his ilk; instead, in thousands of sketches and a multitude of paintings, he recorded his response to the serenity and terribility of landscape and to the paintings of Poussin and Claude, Titian and Rembrandt, Cuyp, Rubens, Watteau and, occasionally, his near contemporaries.

At his best, look for the "Snow Storm off Harwich," which he is supposed to have painted after being lashed for four hours to a ship's mast; this is wind, water and imminent death, a swirling turbulence in which sea and sky are one, a vortex of the elements in which mature Turner is at his most menacingly sublime, precisely illustrating the business of his exceeding the successes of his mentors. Here the 17th-century Dutch marine painters' tradition of exactitude is subsumed into the ­freedom of handling we expect from Rembrandt and translated into feeling — "I did not paint it to be understood,"Turner is reported to have said. 

Bio from the Tate

His art, however, must be the key to a life of which many details remain elusive and, arguably, no completely convincing account has yet appeared. A measured obituary in The Times acknowledged both the criticism and admiration he had received, but concluded that the best of his peers had ‘ever admitted to his superiority in poetry, feeling, fancy and genius’ and treated him with ‘that reverential respect and estimation which is given to other artists by posterity alone’. Knowingly or not, this echoed the reviewer who, in 1815, had placed Turner among ‘the masters whose day is not so much of to-day, as of “all time”’.