paintings
painter
Life is beautiful for many reasons, not the less thanks to some great paintings.

venus birthThe Birth of Venus. This painting by Botticelli is among the most beautiful and famous in the world. The iconic image of the goddess Venus has been reproduced countless times. Venus represents the very spirit of the Renaissance - rebirth of Western culture and the revival of classical learning and classical arts.

The Birth of Venus is probably Botticelli's most famous painting. The picture hung in the country villa of the Medici along with "Primavera", indicating that the work was commissioned by the Medici family. Venus rises from the sea, looking like a classical statue and floating on a seashell, in what is surely one of the most recognizable images in art history.

On Venus' right is Zephyrus, God of Winds, he carries with him the gentle breeze Aura and together they blow the Goddess of Love ashore. The Horae, Goddess of the Seasons, waits to receive Venus and spreads out a flower covered robe in readiness for the Love Goddess' arrival.

Botticelli has taken some inspiration from a hymn by the classical poet Homer, however it is an unusual subject for the time, as most Renaissance artists used themes from the teachings of the Catholic church for their paintings. The mythological works by Botticelli, The Venus, "Primavera", and "Pallas and the Centaur", typify his pagan phase.

The model for Venus is thought to be Simonetta Cattaneo de Vespucci, a great beauty and favourite of the Medici court.

Botticelli also used Simonetta as the model for several other women in his paintings supporting the view that he was actually in love with her. In fact Simonetta died at the young age of twenty-two and Botticelli expressed a wish to be buried at her feet. It is thought that Simonetta was born at Portovenere in Liguria, romantically this is the birthplace of the goddess Venus.


mona lisa

Portrait of Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci (1479-1528), also known as La Gioconda, the wife of Francesco del Giocondo; 1503-06 (150 Kb); Oil on wood, 77 x 53 cm (30 x 20 7/8 in); Musee du Louvre, Paris

This figure of a woman, dressed in the Florentine fashion of her day and seated in a visionary, mountainous landscape, is a remarkable instance of Leonardo's sfumato technique of soft, heavily shaded modeling. The Mona Lisa's enigmatic expression, which seems both alluring and aloof, has given the portrait universal fame.


Reams have been written about this small masterpiece by Leonardo, and the gentle woman who is its subject has been adapted in turn as an aesthetic, philosophical and advertising symbol, entering eventually into the irreverent parodies of the Dada and Surrealist artists. The history of the panel has been much discussed, although it remains in part uncertain. According to Vasari, the subject is a young Florentine woman, Monna (or Mona) Lisa, who in 1495 married the well-known figure, Francesco del Giocondo, and thus came to be known as ``La Gioconda''. The work should probably be dated during Leonardo's second Florentine period, that is between 1503 and 1505. Leonardo himself loved the portrait, so much so that he always carried it with him until eventually in France it was sold to Fran�ois I, either by Leonardo or by Melzi.

From the beginning it was greatly admired and much copied, and it came to be considered the prototype of the Renaissance portrait. It became even more famous in 1911, when it was stolen from the Salon Carr� in the Louvre, being rediscovered in a hotel in Florence two years later. It is difficult to discuss such a work briefly because of the complex stylistic motifs which are part of it. In the essay ``On the perfect beauty of a woman'', by the 16th-century writer Firenzuola, we learn that the slight opening of the lips at the corners of the mouth was considered in that period a sign of elegance. Thus Mona Lisa has that slight smile which enters into the gentle, delicate atmosphere pervading the whole painting. To achieve this effect, Leonardo uses the sfumato technique, a gradual dissolving of the forms themselves, continuous interaction between light and shade and an uncertain sense of the time of day.

old ladyRembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn, (15 July 1606[– 4 October 1669) was a Dutch painter and etcher. He is generally considered one of the greatest painters and printmakers in European art history and the most important in Dutch history. His contributions to art came in a period of great wealth and cultural achievement that historians call the Dutch Golden Age when Dutch Golden Age painting, although in many ways antithetical to the Baroque style that dominated Europe, was extremely prolific and innovative.

Having achieved youthful success as a portrait painter, Rembrandt's later years were marked by personal tragedy and financial hardships. Yet his etchings and paintings were popular throughout his lifetime, his reputation as an artist remained high,and for twenty years he taught many important Dutch painters. Rembrandt's greatest creative triumphs are exemplified especially in his portraits of his contemporaries, self-portraits and illustrations of scenes from the Bible. His self-portraits form a unique and intimate biography, in which the artist surveyed himself without vanity and with the utmost sincerity.[2]

In his paintings and prints he exhibited knowledge of classical iconography, which he molded to fit the requirements of his own experience; thus, the depiction of a biblical scene was informed by Rembrandt's knowledge of the specific text, his assimilation of classical composition, and his observations of Amsterdam's Jewish population. Because of his empathy for the human condition, he has been called "one of the great prophets of civilization."[6]

girl with pearlThe painting Girl with a Pearl Earring (Dutch: Het Meisje met de Parel) is one of Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer's masterworks and as the name implies, uses a pearl earring for a focal point. Today the painting is kept in the Mauritshuis gallery in The Hague. It is sometimes referred to as "the Mona Lisa of the North" or "the Dutch Mona Lisa".

Why is the Girl with the pearl earring Vermeer’s best-loved painting? It must have something to do with the fact that the girl looks over her shoulder, as though hoping to see who is standing behind her. This draws the viewer into the picture, suggesting that he is the one who has made the girl turn her head.
Equally important, though, are Vermeer’s fresh colors, virtuoso technique and subtle rendering of light effects. The turban is enlivened, for example, with the small highlights that are Vermeer’s trademark. The pearl, too, is very special, consisting of little more than two brush strokes: a bright accent at its upper left and the soft reflection of the white collar on its underside.

Then there is the girl herself, who gazes at us, wide-eyed, her sensual mouth parted. She makes an uninhibited, somewhat expectant impression that cannot help exciting our interest, even though we have no idea who she is. When I this picture I feel a wish to say, "Hello are you, you have beatitude eyes. Can I invite you to have a cup of coffee with me?

coquelicotsMonet Claude (b. Nov. 14, 1840, Paris, Fr.--d. Dec. 5, 1926, Giverny)
French painter, initiator, leader, and unswerving advocate of the Impressionist style. He is regarded as the archetypal Impressionist in that his devotion to the ideals of the movement was unwavering throughout his long career, and it is fitting that one of his pictures--Impression: Sunrise (Musée Marmottan, Paris; 1872)--gave the name to the movement. His youth was spent in Le Havre, where he first excelled as a caricaturist but was then converted to landscape painting by his early mentor Boudin, from whom he derived his firm predilection for painting out of doors. In 1859 he studied in Paris at the Atelier Suisse and formed a friendship with Pissarro. After two years' military service in Algiers, he returned to Le Havre and met Jongkind, to whom he said he owed `the definitive education of my eye'. He then, in 1862, entered the studio of Gleyre in Paris and there met Renoir, Sisley, and Bazille, with whom he was to form the nucleus of the Impressionist group. Monet's devotion to painting out of doors is illustrated by the famous story concerning one of his most ambitious early works, Women in the Garden (Musée d'Orsay, Paris; 1866-67). The picture is about 2.5 meters high and to enable him to paint all of it outside he had a trench dug in the garden so that the canvas could be raised or lowered by pulleys to the height he required. Courbet visited him when he was working on it and said Monet would not paint even the leaves in the background unless the lighting conditions were exactly right.

During the Franco-Prussian War (1870-71) he took refuge in England with Pissarro: he studied the work of Constable and Turner, painted the Thames and London parks, and met the dealer Durand-Ruel, who was to become one of the great champions of the Impressionists. From 1871 to 1878 Monet lived at Argenteuil, a village on the Seine near Paris, and here were painted some of the most joyous and famous works of the Impressionist movement, not only by Monet, but by his visitors Manet, Renoir and Sisley. In 1878 he moved to Vétheuil and in 1883 he settled at Giverny, also on the Seine, but about 40 miles from Paris. After having experienced extreme poverty, Monet began to prosper. By 1890 he was successful enough to buy the house at Giverny he had previously rented and in 1892 he married his mistress, with whom he had begun an affair in 1876, three years before the death of his first wife. From 1890 he concentrated on series of pictures in which he painted the same subject at different times of the day in different lights---Haystacks or Grainstacks (1890-91) and Rouen Cathedral (1891-95) are the best known. He continued to travel widely, visiting London and Venice several times (and also Norway as a guest of Queen Christiana), but increasingly his attention was focused on the celebrated water-garden he created at Giverny, which served as the theme for the series of paintings on Water-lilies that began in 1899 and grew to dominate his work completely (in 1914 he had a special studio built in the grounds of his house so he could work on the huge canvases).

In his final years he was troubled by failing eyesight, but he painted until the end. He was enormously prolific and many major galleries have examples of his work.group his name

christmasCarl Larsson was born in Gamla stan, the old quarter of Stockholm, on 28 May 1853. His family was very poor and Carl grew up in dismal circumstances. The only glimmer of hope was his strong artistic talent, which emerged early on in his life. When he was thirteen years old his teacher at the school for the poor persuaded him to apply for a place at Principskolan, the preparatory department of the Art Academy.
During the first years at Principskolan Carl found it difficult to settle in. His sense of social inferiority made him feel like an outsider. But that changed when, at the age of sixteen, he was moved up to the antique school, the lowest department of the Art Academy. He began to feel more confident and it was not long before he became one of the central figures in student circles.

Turning point in Grez
After the Art Academy Carl worked at illustrating books, magazines and daily newspapers. He also spent several years in Paris where he tried to establish himself as an artist, but in spite of all his hard work he never achieved any success.
The turning point came in 1882 when he moved to Grez, a Scandinavian artists’ colony outside Paris. It was there he met his future wife Karin Bergöö and underwent an artistic transformation after abandoning his pretentious oil painting in favor of watercolors - a lucky move that would mean a lot for his artistic development. It was in Grez that he painted some of his most significant pictures.

Family life as a motif and source of inspiration
Carl and Karin were married in 1883 and had eight children. Karin and the children quickly became Carl’s favourite models.
In 1888 Karin’s father, Adolf Bergöö, gave them Lilla Hyttnäs, a small house in Sundborn. Lilla Hyttnäs became Carl och Karin’s mutual art project in which their artistic talents found expression in a very modern and personal architecture, color scheme and interior design.
Carl’s paintings and books have made Lilla Hyttnäs one of the world’s most familiar homes. But not only that. The quality of the light, Karin’s liberated gift for interior design and the lively family life as it is depicted in Carl’s beloved watercolors, has become almost synonymous with our picture of Sweden.
The house still looks the same as it did when Carl and Karin lived there and today’s visitor to Lilla Hyttnäs can almost hear the animated laughter of the children and catch the scent of the artist’s oil paints.

lady of shallowJohn William Waterhouse (1849-1917) This is the first version of the Lady of Shalott painted by Waterhouse. This is the most Pre-Raphaelite of his paintings, set out in the open air with a typically English landscape illuminated by natural early evening light and with close attention to the autumn leaves, the reed choked river's edge and medieval details.

This lady is far younger than the Edwardian woman of his later painting. She is no more than a girl with the wistful, tragic quality of so many of Waterhouse's dreamy heroines. The scene shows the doomed Lady of Shalott setting of on her final voyage along the river to Camelot. The tapestry she has spent her life creating, trails behind her in the water and there is a lantern, candles and a crucifix on the prow of the boat, like a small alter. She looks very innocent in her white dress and loose hair, very definitely the cursed princess. The atmosphere is dreamy and magical, thanks to the mist on the water, the darkness of the forest and the approaching dusk, like a scene from a fairytale.

This makes it more difficult to interpret the picture, as the poem has been on occasions, as an allegory of the fallen woman, a young lady led astray to meet a fate worse than death. The Lady of Shalott dies, singing her own song, in the pursuit of love, fading away before she reaches human company. Art was not enough for her, she yearned for life and action, but the curse was that the lady was not permitted to join the world and live a life of action. This is also seen as an allegory of the artist, doomed to watch rather than act,and of a woman's lot in Tennyson's society. No wonder the poem and its many visual representations remained so popular for so long.

The original is in London's Tate Gallery.

 

summer eveningPeder Severin Krøyer (23 July 1851 - 21 November 1909), known as P.S. Krøyer, was a Norwegian-Danish painter. He is one of the best known and beloved, and undeniably the most colorful of the Skagen Painters, a community of Danish and Nordic artists who lived, gathered or worked in Skagen, Denmark, especially during the final decades of the 19th century. Krøyer was the unofficial leader of the group.
Between 1877-1881, Krøyer travelled extensively in Europe, meeting artists, studying art, and developing his skills and outlook. He stayed in Paris and studied under Léon Bonnet, and undoubtedly came under the influence of contemporary impressionists -- Claude Monet, Alfred Sisley, Edgar Degas, Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Edouard Manet.
He continued to travel throughout his life, constantly drawing inspiration from foreign artists and cultures. Hirschsprung provided financial support during the early travels, and Krøyer continued exhibiting in Denmark throughout this period.
In 1882 he returned to Denmark. He spent June–October at Skagen, then a remote fishing village on the northern tip of Denmark, painting themes from local life, as well as depictions of the artistic community there. He would continue to be associated with the developing art and literary scene at Skagen. Other artists at Skagen included writers Holger Drachmann, Georg Brandes, and Henrik Pontoppidan, and artists Michael Ancher and Anna Ancher.
Krøyer divided his time between rented houses in Skagen during the summer, a winter apartment in Copenhagen where he worked on his large commissioned portraits, and travel outside of the country.
On a trip to Paris in 1888 he ran into Marie Martha Mathilde Triepcke, whom he had known in Copenhagen. They fell in love and, after a whirlwind romance, married on 23 July 1889 at her parents' home in Germany. Marie Krøyer, who was also a painter, became associated with the Skagen community, and after their marriage was often featured in Krøyer's paintings. The couple had one child, a daughter named Vibeke, born in January, 1895. They were divorced in 1905 following a prolonged separation.
Krøyer died in 1909 at 58 years of age after years of declining health caused by advanced syphilis. He had also been in and out of hospitals, suffering from bouts of mental illness.
His eyesight failed him gradually over the last ten years of his life until he was totally blind. Ever the optimist, Krøyer painted almost to the end, in spite of health obstacles. In fact, he painted some of his last masterpieces while half-blind, joking that the eyesight in his one working eye had become better with the loss of the other eye.
Works
Krøyer's best known and best-loved work is entitled "Summer Evening on Skagen's Southern Beach with Anna Ancher and Marie Krøyer" (Sommeraften ved Skagen Sønderstrand med Anna Ancher og Marie Krøyer), 1893. He painted many beach scenes featuring both recreation life on the beach (bathers, strollers), and local fishermen.
Another well-loved work is "Saint John's Eve Bonfire on Skagen's Beach" (Sankthansbål på Skagen strand), 1903. This large-scale work features a great crowd of the artistic and influential Skagen community gathered around a large bonfire on the beach on Saint John's Eve (Midsummer Eve).
Both of these works are in the permanent collection of the Skagens Museum which is dedicated to that community of artists, including those who gathered around Krøyer, a great organizer and bon vivant.

landscapeVincent Willem van Gogh (30 March 1853 – 29 July 1890) was a Dutch post-Impressionist painter whose work, notable for its rough beauty, emotional honesty, and bold color, had a far-reaching influence on 20th-century art. After years of painful anxiety and frequent bouts of mental illness, he died at the age of 37 from a gunshot wound, generally accepted to be self-inflicted (although no gun was ever found). His work was then known to only a handful of people and appreciated by fewer still.

Van Gogh began to draw as a child, and he continued to draw throughout the years that led up to his decision to become an artist. He did not begin painting until his late twenties, completing many of his best-known works during the last two years of his life. In just over a decade, he produced more than 2,100 artworks, consisting of 860 oil paintings and more than 1,300 watercolors, drawings, sketches and prints. His work included self portraits, landscapes, still lives of flowers, portraits and paintings of cypresses, wheat fields and sunflowers.

Van Gogh spent his early adulthood working for a firm of art dealers, traveling between The Hague, London and Paris, after which he taught for a time in England. One of his early aspirations was to become a pastor and from 1879 he worked as a missionary in a mining region in Belgium where he began to sketch people from the local community. In 1885, he painted his first major work The Potato Eaters. His palette at the time consisted mainly of somber earth tones and showed no sign of the vivid coloration that distinguished his later work. In March 1886, he moved to Paris and discovered the French Impressionists. Later, he moved to the south of France and was impacted by the strong sunlight he found there. His work grew brighter in color, and he developed the unique and highly recognizable style that became fully realized during his stay in Arles in 1888.

The extent to which his mental health affected his painting has been a subject of speculation since his death. Despite a widespread tendency to romanticize his ill health, modern critics see an artist deeply frustrated by the inactivity and incoherence brought about by his bouts of illness. According to art critic Robert Hughes, van Gogh's late works show an artist at the height of his ability, completely in control and "longing for concision and grace".

midsummer danseAnders Leonard Zorn (February 18, 1860 – August 22, 1920) was one of Sweden’s foremost artists who obtained international success as a painter, sculptor and printmaker in etching
Zorn was born in Yvraden, a hamlet in the village of Utmeland in the parish of Mora, Dalarna, and was raised on his grandparents' farm in Yvraden. He studied at the age of twelve in the school at Mora Strand before progressing during the autumn of 1872 to a secondary grammar school in Enköping.
From 1875–1880 Zorn studied at Royal Swedish Academy of Arts in Stockholm, Sweden. He traveled extensively to London, Paris, the Balkans, Spain, Italy and the United States, becoming an international success as one of the most acclaimed painters of his era. While his early works were often brilliant, luminous watercolors, by 1887 he had switched firmly to oils. Zorn painted portraits, scenes depicting rustic life and customs. Zorn is also famous for his nude paintings and realistic depictions of water.
It was primarily his skill as a portrait painter that gained Zorn international acclaim based principally upon his incisive ability to depict the individual character of his model. His subjects included three American Presidents, one of whom was Grover Cleveland in 1899. At 29, he was made Chevalier of the Légion d'honneur at the Exposition Universelle 1889 Paris World Fair.[1]

His art made him wealthy and he was thus able to build up a considerable collection of art. The objects were not only bought in his native country but also during the many travels he made abroad. In their joint will, Anders and Emma Zorn donated their entire holdings to the Swedish State.
Some of his most important works can be seen at the National Museum of Fine Arts (Swedish:Nationalmuseum) in Stockholm. Among them is Midsummer Dance (1897), a depiction of dancers in the evening light of a rural Midsummer Eve celebration. Other museums holding major works by Zorn include the Musée d'Orsay in Paris, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. The Zorn Collections (Swedish:Zornsamlingarna) located in Mora, is a museum dedicated to the works of Anders Zorn. It was designed by Ragnar Östberg and opened in 1939.
In 1886, Anders Zorn and his wife Emma, had bought land close to Mora church and here they moved a cottage from his maternal grandfather's farm. When Anders and Emma Zorn decided to return to Sweden after several years abroad, they began to enlarge the cottage. Zorngården was completed in 1910.
Zorngården remains today much as it was at the time of Emma Zorn's death in 1942. It is a fine example of an artist's home from the turn of the century. With inspiration from English and Swedish architecture, it is today an excellent example of the architectural freedom that characterizes the years around 1900.
The main part of Zorngården consists of Zorn's home and a museum with his art, but there are two other museums that also are part of the Zorn Collection. Gammelgården is in the southern part of Mora and consists of 40-something timber houses that Zorn bought to make sure that the old art of building such houses would not be forgotten. Gopsmor, Zorn's refuge when under stress, is in the municipality of Älvdalen and is only open for visitors in July.

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