The Summit of Beauty in Art

June 16, 2022 at 12:24 pm (Art)

On my art-cluttered coffee table, this gorgeous volume currently takes precedence. It is a birthday gift from Ron – my most splendid husband.

Giotto’s O is about the great painter Giotto de Bondone. His genius pointed the way forward from the art of the Middle Ages to the triumph of the High Renaissance.

From Andrew Ladis’s Introduction:

The tale of Giotto’s O is a story of magical technical mastery and the most unassuming interpretive intelligence, an extraordinary combination of hand and mind. The painter transforms himself into a human compass, but in addition to mechanical precision there is a diagnostic dimension behind the mark that is equally astonishing, an idea that informs and elevates the painter’s manual dexterity….

The murals by Giotto in the Arena Chapel…constitute the greatest pictorial cycle of fourteenth-century Europe. Above all, what elevates them to the realm of the universal and timeless is their profound humanity. In a series of images whose subtlety, truthfulness, and dramatic range anticipate Caravaggio and Rembrandt, Giotto explored the world of the human heart and mind in such a way that, as the nineteenth-century English critic John Ruskin put it, he “defines, explains and exalts every sweet incident of human nature; and makes dear to daily life every mystic imagination of natures greater than our own. He reconciles, while he intensifies, every virtue of domestic and monastic thought. He makes the simplest household duties sacred, and the highest religious passions serviceable and just.”

Recently, I’ve taken a Lifelong Learning class entitled The Giotto Revolution. I’ve had this instructor before, but this time she really outdid herself. The course was not only about Giotto; several other great artists were covered. Among the most notable, Duccio di Buoninsegna. ( I love his name):

Rucellai Madonna, ca. 1285
Meleager Sarcophagus, 220-230 AD
Cimabue Madonna and Child
Giotto, Ognissanti Madonna ca. 1310
Pulpit of the Pisa Baptistry, Nicola Pisano

Ducci, Maesta ca.1308-1311

Duccio, Maesta, reverse

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Lady Audley’s Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon

April 10, 2022 at 8:12 pm (Art, books)

To begin with, the word ‘Secret’ should have been plural: Lady Audley had several, any one of which, if revealed, could have torpedoed her status as ‘My Lady’ within the staid rigors of Victorian society.

I first encountered information on this novel in the pages of Kate Summerscale’s riveting book The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher. One of the things that made that book so fascinating was the telling of the various ways in which the contemporary culture reacted to news of the grotesque murder at the center of Summerscale’s narrative. During the heat of the high profile investigation, both Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins caught ‘detective fever’ and found themselves speculating on possible solutions. Meanwhile, Mary Elizabeth Braddon‘s response to the hubbub was to write Lady Audley’s Secret.

From the viewpoint of plot, the two books have very little in common. But from the standpoint of character, they have one commonality: both feature a woman at the center of a maelstrom, a woman whose moral compass has malfunctioned, with predictably disastrous results. Braddon’s novel falls into the category of literature called ‘novels of sensation.’ Allow me to quote myself, from the post I linked to above:

‘According to Henry James, works of this type dealt with “‘those most mysterious of mysteries, the mysteries that are at our own doors…the terrors of the cheerful country house, or the busy London lodgings.’” Summerscale elaborates: “Their secrets were exotic, but their settings immediate – they took place in England, now, a land of telegrams, trains, policemen. The characters in these novels were at the mercy of their feelings, which pressed out, unmediated, onto their flesh: emotions compelled them to blanch, flush, darken, tremble, start, convulse, their eyes to burn and flash and dim.”‘

In other words, if your feelings are somewhat numb – try one!

This was actually my second reading of Lady Audley’s Secret. Why did I decide to reread this novel at the present moment? I was having trouble finding reading matter that adequately matched my mood. In particular, I was experiencing one disappointment after another with new so-called ‘literary fiction.’ I’m sure some of it is very good; it just did not seem to be written for me.

When I descend into doldrums of this sort, I tend to reach back to the classics for consolation – and inspiration. My first attempt was a novel I’ve always meant to read but have never gotten all the way through: Crime and Punishment. I’ve always found Dostoevsky tougher going than Tolstoy. I recently read, for the first time, the latter’s short story “Master and Man” and found it powerfully moving. So, how did I do with Dostoevsky this time around? Better…but not completely. These days, due to the magic of Kindle, I could tell precisely how much of the novel I got through: eighty-one percent. I was reading the Constance Garnett translation; possibly a more recent one would have worked better for me. At any rate, I may go back to it, at some future time….

In contrast, reading Lady Audley’s Secret was a breeze. I was engrossed from the outset and stayed that way until the end. In addition, at the time of this reading, I was taking a most pleasurable Lifelong Learning class on the Pre-Raphaelite painters. Just before the final session of this course, I happened upon a passage in which the author describes a portrait of Lady Audley:

Yes, the painter must have been a pre-Raphaelite. No one but a pre-Raphaelite would have painted, hair by hair, those feathery masses of ringlets, with every glimmer of gold, and every shadow of pale brown. No one but a pre-Raphaelite would have so exaggerated every attribute of that delicate face as to give a lurid brightness to the blonde complexion, and a strange, sinister light to the deep blue eyes. No one but a pre-Raphaelite could have given to that pretty pouting mouth the hard and almost wicked look it had in the portrait. 

It was so like, and yet so unlike. It was as if you had burned strange-colored fires before my lady’s face, and by their influence brought out new lines and new expressions never seen in it before. The perfection of feature, the brilliancy of coloring, were there; but I suppose the painter had copied quaint mediaeval monstrosities until his brain had grown bewildered, for my lady, in his portrait of her, had something of the aspect of a beautiful fiend. 

Her crimson dress, exaggerated like all the rest in this strange picture, hung about her in folds that looked like flames, her fair head peeping out of the lurid mass of color as if out of a raging furnace. Indeed the crimson dress, the sunshine on the face, the red gold gleaming in the yellow hair, the ripe scarlet of the pouting lips, the glowing colors of each accessory of the minutely painted background, all combined to render the first effect of the painting by no means an agreeable one.’

I immediately copied this text and sent it to our instructor. The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood was founded in 1848. Lady Audley’s Secret came out in 1862. The edition at the top of this post features a painting by Dante Gabriel Rosetti entitled Monna Vanna.

Dante Gabriel Rossetti: Monna Vanna, 1866.

Meanwhile, I had recently read of a new book by Christine Emba, one of my favorite Washington Post columnists. Here it is:

The cover image is by yet another Pre-Raphaelite painter, Frederick Sandys. It is called Love’s Shadow.

Love’s shadow *oil on panel *40.6 x 32.5 cm *1867

There really is something witchy about the way in which the Pre-Raphaelite painters depict certain women…

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Hans Holbein the Younger

March 9, 2022 at 12:13 am (Art, Music)

An exhibit featuring the works of Hans Holbein the Younger is currently to be seen at the Morgan Library and Museum in Manhattan. The exhibit is entitled “Holbein: Capturing Character.”

The artist’s famed portrait of Sir Thomas More has been conveyed downtown from the Frick Collection in order to be part of this showing.

I’ve known this painting my whole life. I’ve spent many hours in front of it, gazing intently, hypnotized. It has always been for me a sort of summation of the endlessly fascinating history of England. (I was especially delighted to encounter Holbein himself in the pages of Hilary Mantel’s magnum opus, Wolf Hall. )

And by the way, Holbein Senior was no slouch either, as I learned from Franny Moyle’s biography The King’s Painter.

Death of the Virgin by Hans Holbein the Elder c.1490

Peter Scheldahl, who writes about art – wonderfully – for The New Yorker, covered this exhibit in the magazine’s February 28 issue. In particular, he describes a work that is not part of the installation at the Morgan. He first saw it where it resides in the Kunstmuseum in Basel, Switzerland. It made an unforgettable impression him, as it has on many others, including myself:

Tantalizing hints of unfulfilled potential attend much of [Holbein the Younger’s] tyro work, notably one of the most indelibly shocking images of all time, “The Dead Christ in the Tomb” (1521-1522). The painting, measuring a foot high and six and a half feet wide, depicts a gruesomely putrefying corpse that, if unearthed, could present only a sanitation problem. Famously, Dostoyevsky’s encounter with the picture, in 1867, shook his Christian faith and obsessed him thereafter, figuring as a philosophical provocation a year or so later in his novel “The Idiot.”

Scheldahl adds parenthetically: “The work is not in the Morgan show but I will not forget, no matter how hard I try, my own first look, in the Kustmuseum Basel, at that…what? That thing.”

The Body of the Dead Christ in the Tomb, by Hans Holbein the Younger, 1520-1522

But the portraits for which Holbein is best known are those he made in England, of King Henry VIII:

1536 or1537

Now, go back and gaze once more at these extraordinary images while you listen to some music of the period: Ave Maria by Josquin des Pres and Cantate Domino by Claudio Monteverdi. The Monteverdi is a bit later than Holbein’s time, but I love it and wanted to include it here.

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Need for the Solace of Beauty

March 5, 2022 at 5:59 pm (Art, Music, Spiritual)

This work resides in the Groeningenmuseum in Bruges, Belgium. It was painted between 1434 and 1436 by Jan van Eyck. To me, it is somewhere beyond beautiful, even approaching perfection. Art historian Carel Huydecoper offers an enlightening explication. You can enjoy his talk, or simply stare, and be mesmerized – or both.

While you are gazing on the painting, you can listen to Panis Angelicus, an exquisite short piece of sacred music by César Franck. I’ve long known about the version with Pavarotti and the children’s choir of Montreal’s Notre-Dame Basilica. But the version below came as a surprise to me – and a pleasant one that I wasn’t expecting:

Here is Pavarotti at the Notre-Dame Basilica:

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Post for the Christmas Season, 2021

December 25, 2021 at 3:50 am (Art, Christmas, Music)

So, this year is not ending on the upbeat, carefree note we were all hoping for. Nevertheless, there is still beauty in the world to be thankful for. I would like to share several of my favorite art works and musical performances with you.

I’ve taken several art courses over the past year, and they’ve given me many precious images to contemplate. A course in the Harlem Renaissance served to remind me how many terrific African American artists deserve a closer look.

Jacob Lawrence:

                                         Steel workers

 

This Is Harlem

Faith Ringgold:

We Came To America

 

Jazz Quilt

I was also introduced to some artists whose work was well worth getting to know.

Elizabeth Catlett:

                                               Homage to Black Women Poets

 

Playmates

Kara Walker:

Black out Silhouettes Then and Now

In May of 2014, Kara Walker created a work of public art entitled A Subtlety, or the Marvelous Sugar Baby, an Homage to the unpaid and overworked Artisans who have refined our Sweet tastes from the cane fields to the Kitchens of the New World on the Occasion of the demolition of the Domino Sugar Refining Plant. It is so…well, I’ll let this video do the explaining:

I also took a class entitled “Gustav Klimt and the Viennese Secessionist Movement.” It was a revelation. All I knew about Klimt was the The Kiss:

and Portrait of Adele Bloch Bauer I, also known as The Woman in Gold or The Lady in Gold:

This painting was the subject of the famous legal battle that was fought between the Austrians, claiming that the work was rightfully theirs, and Maria Altmann, a niece of Adele’s husband Ferdinand. Maria, who was living in California at the time, claimed that the Nazis had stolen the painting during the war and that she was its rightful owner.

The story is told in the book The Lady in Gold by Anne-Marie O’Connor. There’s also a film, Woman in Gold, starring Helen Mirren as Maria Altmann. Worth watching, especially to see Helen Mirren doing her usual superb work:

 

Our instructor took us beyond Klimt’s so-called gold period, to his later work which consisted primarily of landscapes. These I found utterly enchanting:

Apple Tree One

 

Farm Garden with Sunflowers

 

Slope in a Forest on Atterslee Lake

Sebastian Smee is a journalist whose writing about art combines insight with a rare eloquence. He absolutely outdid himself in a recent article in the Washington Post in which he analyzes and rhapsodizes on the subject of a painting attributed to the great Jan van Eyck: Saint Francis receiving the Stigmata:

To read Smee’s article, click here.

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And now, for music and ballet.

This performance of Mozart’s  final symphony, the Jupiter (No.41) knocked my proverbial socks off the first  time I heard it. I shall always love it. For a new kid on the block – it was founded in 1992 – the Orquesta Sinfonica de Galicia has become a major player, especially under the baton of conductor Dima Slobodeniouk. This performance is a knockout. The final movement rises to a tremendous crescendo of pure joy. The audience went wild. I don’t blame them.

 

A performance of rare perfection: the Adagio from Spartacus by Aram Khatchaturian, danced by Anna Nikulina and Mikhail Lobukhin of the Bolshoi:

 

Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis, by Ralph Vaughan Williams. This performance takes place in Gloucester Cathedral. This is the same venue where the piece was first performed in 1903 and conducted by the composer. A writer who was present on that occasion had this to say:

The work is wonderful because it seems to lift one into some unknown region of musical thought and feeling…one is never sure whether one is listening to something very old or very new. The voices of the old church musicians are around one, and yet their music is enriched with all that modern art has done, since Debussy, too, is somewhere in the picture. It cannot be assigned to a time or a school, but it is full of visions.

 

I think many people feel that they could use a blessing at this time. (I know I do.) Here is an especially beautiful one, a Gaelic blessing entitled Deep Peace, written by John Rutter and sung by Libera:

 

At this Holiday Season, I wish everyone the best.

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Introduction to American Art, Part Two

July 8, 2021 at 1:49 pm (Art)

It will be noted, from the examples in Part One, that early American painting possesses a certain folk art , even primitive, quality. We must keep in mind the fact that the European art of this period – the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and prior – had a glorious artistic heritage to draw upon, starting with the statuary and sculpture of antiquity, followed by the vivid imagery evoked in the West by the doctrines and rich lore of Christianity.

In addition, there was little if any professional caliber instruction available to aspiring artists in colonial America. Reproductions of the great masterpieces of Europe could be seen only in the engravings that were circulated at the time in the colonies. These would have reproduced the outline of  each work and not the color – no color!

Apollo Belvedere

 

Laocoon and His Sons

Both of the above works are housed in the Vatican Museums.

The Laocoon was discovered buried beneath a Roman vineyard. Michelangelo was present as it was gradually unearthed. I have a picture in my mind of his standing there. eyes wide with amazement, as this masterpiece was revealed to the world.

Portrait of Michelangelo by Daniele da Volterra, c. 1545

This striking image of the Genius of the Age provides a neat segue into the Renaissance:

Madonna and Child Enthroned with Saints, by Raphael, 1504

 

Giovanni Bellini, Madonna of the Meadow, 1505

Saw this painting  for the first time yesterday and fell in love with it at once. The chubby, blissfully dozing little baby, his beautiful mother, robed in red and blue, adoring her little offspring as new mothers will do, the clouds above her curving around a to the left and almost seeming to form a halo…

Talk about getting sidetracked!

Anyway, American art of the pre-Revolutionary period seems positively quaint when compared to masterpieces like the above. This is not to say, however that it does not possess its own unique virtues:

Isaac Royall and Family, by John Feke

 

Mann Page and Elizabeth Page, by John Wollaston

There is a certain piquancy in the way these characters peer out at us from their two-dimensional space. The children are especially charming.

Yet it seems almost miraculous to go from the above to this full-blooded, beautifully rounded portrait of Henry Pelham:

 

Boy with a Flying Squirrel, 1765

Henry Pelham was the half-brother of John Singleton Copley, the first great painter to emerge from the Colonies.

Statue of Jon Singleton Copley in Copley Square, Boston

 

 

 

 

 

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Introduction to American Art, Part One

June 29, 2021 at 9:11 pm (Art)

Did I ever get a gloriously heavy dose of American Art the week before last! Two hours on a Friday evening, followed by a 9:30 AM to 4 PM session on the following Saturday.

Art historian Bonita Billman started us off with Jacques Le Moyne de Morgues. Ever heard of him? I hadn’t either.

Here’s a quick précis from the Met:

Born in Dieppe, a center for cartography and manuscript illumination, Le Moyne de Morgues emigrated to London, probably following the Huguenot massacres of 1572.

Le Moyne de Morgues accompanied a French expedition to Florida in 1564. The goal of the  expedition was to establish a colony. In this they did not succeed; however, Le Moyne de Morgue, a gifted artist, made numerous botanical paintings. This one is held by the Metropolitan Museum of Art; it is entitled A Sheet of Studies of Flowers: A Rose, a Heartsease, a Sweet Pea, a Garden Pea, and a Lax-flowered Orchid:

Equally valuable are Le Moyne de Morgue’s sketches of Native Americans.

For more on Le Moyne de Morgue’s images of Native American, click here.

And for more images of the fruits and the botanicals, which are truly lovely, click here.
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In colonial America, portraits were in demand. Among the earliest, dated between 1671 and 1674, are these two of John Freake and his wife Elizabeth Clarke Freake, shown here holding baby Mary.

These works are both held by the Worcester Art Museum in Worcester, Mass. Fascinating information concerning these paintings can be found at the Worcester Art Museum’s site.

And why have I not mentioned the name of the artist? Because it is not known. He is usually referred to as the Freake Master or the Freake Limner. He dwells, seemingly forever, among the shadows of early America, a land evoked in the haunting prose of Nathaniel Hawthorne, in such stories as”The Minister’s Black Veil” and “Young Goodman Brown.”   (Some elements of this story might make for a compelling work of historical fiction, methinks.)
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The Bermuda Group (Dean Berkeley and his Entourage), begun in 1728; reworked in 1739, by John Smibert

An interesting story lies behind this painting. Here are its main points, as summarized on the site of the Yale University Art Gallery:

The Bermuda Group commemorated an ambitious venture to found a seminary in Bermuda. Frustrated with what he saw as a corrupt European civilization, the philosopher and Anglican cleric George Berkeley (far right) believed that only in the New World would a religious and cultural rebirth be possible. His patron, John Wainright (seated), commissioned the artist John Smibert (standing left), whom Berkeley had hired to teach at the new college, to create this portrait of the expeditionary party, which included two additional wealthy supporters and members of Berkeley’s family. When the seminary project failed for lack of funds, Berkeley’s entourage returned to England, but Smibert moved to Boston and established himself as America’s first professional painter. Despite Berkeley’s misfortune, his poem “Verses on the Prospect of Planting Arts and Learning in America” became a touchstone for the new nation: “There shall be sung another golden age / The rise of empire and of arts / … Westward the course of empire takes its way.”

Westward the course of empire takes its way….

 

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Art Certificate Earned!! :))

June 5, 2021 at 8:39 pm (Art, Italy)

I got it! And I’d like to share with you just a small fragment of my delightful experience in getting there.

Art historian Rocky Ruggiero presented two four session courses this Spring for the Smithsonian: Italian Renaissance Art and Drama Most Splendid: The Art and Architecture of the Baroque and Rococo. I want to briefly talk about the Italian Renaissance course  first.

Professor Ruggiero gave us a quick survey of late Medieval Art, after which we slid easily into the early Renaissance. First, Cimabue (c. 1240 – 1302), whose famous Crucifix was so badly damaged in the 1966 flood in Florence. It took them eleven years to restore it.

The Crucifix, right after the flood

 

Cimabue Crucifix, restored

Today in Florence, priceless artworks or manuscripts are not kept at street level or underground. Higher flood barriers are in place near the Uffizi Gallery; new reservoirs and another dam were built. Regular flood drills are conducted in the city, and advance warning systems are in place, yet some experts question whether enough has been done to prevent disaster next time the Arno bursts its banks.

Cimabue’s Crucifix is now fixed on a high wall in the Museum of Santa Croce, with an electrical pulley designed to haul it up to safety in the event of another deluge.

[From “The Great Flood of Florence, 50 Years On,” by Eileen Horne, in The Guardian, November 5, 2016]

There’s a terrific book on this subject by Robert Clark: Dark Water: Art, Disaster, and Redemption in Florence.

Anyhow, after a necessarily brief stop in Siena, highlighting the work of two of its great masters, Giovanni di Paolo and Duccio di Buoninsegna,

Adoration of the Magi, by Gentile da Fabriano

Detail of the above:

Duccio’s spectacular Maesta. I love the story of how the people carried this masterpiece through the streets of the city before placing it on the altar of Siena Cathedral. I can almost see the procession, in my mind’s eye…

it was back to Florence, Cradle of the Renaissance. But wait – There’s still Pisa, a place which as lots more to see than this:

Nicola Pisano and Giovanni Pisano, equally gifted father and son, created these beautiful sculptural works:

 

Decoration of Siena Cathedral, by Nicola Pisano (c. 1220/1225 – c. 1284)

 

Pulpit – Baptistery of Pisa

So when we finally get back to Florence, we must immediately salute the mighty triumvirate of the Italian High Renaissance: Raphael, Leonardo, and Michelangelo.

Of the three, Raphael is my personal favorite. I love his portrait pf Baldassare Castiglione:

Also I like this video, with its dramatic re-enactments and its appealing actor, Joe McFadden, in the role of Raphael:

I can never forget standing, alongside my sister-in-law Donna, before Leonardo’s Madonna of the Rocks in London’s National Gallery:

Finally, Michelangelo. Professor Ruggiero waxed rhapsodic over this genius, of course with good reason:

Pieta

Section of the Sistine Chapel

Professor Ruggiero stated most emphatically that Michelangelo did NOT assume a prone position while painting the Sistine ceiling. He painted standing up, on the scaffolding.

This is such a quick run-though, with so much left out – sorry!  Also, I hope I haven’t made any errors – let me know if you spot any.

And I didn’t even get to “Drama Most Splendid.” Next time, then.

 

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Art to calm and to inspire

May 22, 2021 at 9:50 pm (Art)

Art and books, art and books! I am awash in both.

I know…lucky, lucky me.

Here are some paintings that I have recently come to know and love – in no particular order:

Christ Healing a Deaf Mute Person, by Philippe de Champagne

You could almost forget that this is a religious depiction, the landscape is so compelling and beautiful. Yet it is vital to know that in a small corner of the picture, a miracle is occurring.

Moonlit Landscape by Washington Allston

The Mill, Rembrandt

Is is the singularity of the structure, set against a threatening sky, the steep cliff descending into calm water below, the juxtaposition of almost glaring light, and encroaching darkness…. I don’t know. This picture has, for me, an hypnotic quality.

In the Orchard, Sir James Guthrie

To my eye, there is in this picture an element of the sacramental. The way the girl is looking past the boy rather than at him. It puts me in mind of a radically different image in which a woman is staring fixedly at something she alone can see:

Sir James Guthrie is a part of a group of Scottish artists called The Glasgow Boys. He is an artist new to me. I find his work deeply appealing.

View of the Garden of the Villa Medici, Velasquez

I have an inexplicable passion for this painting. I asked by art  guru Nora if she could help me to understand why I should feel this way about it. She noted that a view that at first seems straightforward seems later to be full of mystery. Why is the entrance to this structure boarded up in such a haphazard manner? We cannot know. And the trees seem almost to surround it, protecting it.

To me this is a portrayal of sheer beauty. It is also an atypical work for Velasquez, made on a trip to Italy. He was primarily a portrait painter.

In his youth, Velasquez was apprenticed to the painter and writer Francisco Pacheco. In time, he also became Pacheco’s son-in-law.

In the book Lives of Velasquez, Pacheco writes:

I gave him my daughter in marriage, persuaded to it by his virtue, chastity, and good qualities and by the expectations raised by his great native talent.

Michael Jacobs begins his introduction thus:

Velasquez is an artist whose works are so dazzling in their technique and so uncannily lifelike that it is difficult at times to think of him as a man of flesh and blood.

So the book I’m referring to is part of a series put out by Getty publications. They’re unusually small for art books; this volume on Velasquez measures about six inches  by four and a half. It contains Michael Jacobs’s wonderfully illuminating essay, plus the piece by Pacheco and another by Antonio Palomino (1655-1726), a Spanish painter and art historian. I should mention that there are numerous color reproductions in these books, and althouh they are small, they are nevertheless wonderful.

In order to see all the titles currently on offer in this series, click here.

Here are a few more works by Velasquez to feast your eyes upon:

Portrait of Juan de Pareja

I vividly recall the excitement at  the Metropolitan Museum of Art when this work was acquired in 1970. It has been described as “among the most important acquisitions in the Museum’s history”.

Old Woman Frying Eggs

Portrait of Pope Innocent X

Pablo de Vallidolid, the King’s fool

The famous, and incomparable, Las Meninas. To the left, Velasquez himself can be seen, pondering his work.

Whenever I gaze at the art of Velasquez, I hear the timeless, evocative music of Joaquiin Rodrigo. Here is the Adagio from the Concierto de Aranjuez:

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Happy Birthday to me, Happy Birthday to me…

May 14, 2021 at 6:23 pm (Art, Family)

 

 

Art books, a cookbook, and a mystery, all wonderful, all courtesy of this terrific guy:

Oh,and if you look closely, at the table, you will note the presence of an Amazon Gift Card.

Such bounty, such generosity! Such love.

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