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Old paintings have their charm, but this one by Cristofano dell’Altissimo is more than just beautiful, imposing or appealing. It is all three, and revolutionary as well, because dell’Altissimo belonged to a time when Ethiopians were regarded to be a little different from humans! Moreover, the Ethiopia of then included other neighboring regions, from where western explorers had brought back stark stories and captivating descriptions of their cross-continental friends and foes. Dell’Altissimo’s work centers around the impression people started having about African kings when the world started its drive into “modern history”. The painter’s contemporaries had a beastly impression of African rulers and their subjects because of their way of life in a drastically different climate and geography. Although Europeans had not been there before, […]

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Swynnerton’s righteousness in fighting for freedom of speech and expression never gets better than it does in the painting of a quietly confident Henry James. He lived during her times, but he was also an elderly person for her times. He died in 1915, when Swynnerton had already gained recognition as a British political activist, painter and intellectual. Until then, James had left a legacy that was unparalleled by any contemporary visionary, thinker or philosopher. Henry James was one of the most forward-thinking visionaries of the 19th Century. His fight for independent expression resounded with feminists and suffragettes of the time. It is no surprise that Swynnerton would take time out to paint a rather confident-looking portrait of Henry James. Although James looks rather worried […]

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Spanish painter and illustrator. He studied at the Real Academia de S Fernando, Madrid, under Juan Antonio Ribera y Fernández and José de Madrazo y Agudo. He worked independently of court circles and achieved some fame but nevertheless died in such poverty that his burial was paid for by friends. He is often described as the last of the followers of Goya, in whose Caprichos and drawings he found inspiration for the genre scenes for which he became best known. Of these scenes of everyday life and customs the more interesting include The Beating (Madrid, Casón Buen Retiro) and Galician with Puppets (c. 1835; Madrid, Casón Buen Retiro). Alenza y Nieto’s numerous drawings include the illustrations for Alain-René Lesage’s Gil Blas (Madrid, 1840), for an […]

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Red Head is Rhoda Yanow’s pastel-on-paper masterpiece. The work is one among many of his illustrations on Americans and their way of life. Since many of Yanow’s works represent the common masses we can never miss seeing every day, they probably have stories talking about similar things. However, Red Head caught my attention, because it is an ingenious ‘objectification of a woman’, although not so much as it is an objectification of American life. These subtleties are important for me when I look at a painting and try to put a value on it. The pastel work has a lilting note to it, and I would personally have it hung in a partially obstructed wall, but which has a specially bright light. Given the regular […]

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Paintings in ink are usually greyish, morose and best used for wintry still life depictions of landscapes and principalities. Portraits are also one of the frequently implemented styles when it comes to the use of ink on paper or an easily absorbing material. Material cost is low as well, and the entire produce of an ink artist is usually brisk. However, that is never the case when one uses ink for depicting something as important as the Triumph of Poverty. Lucas Vorsterman was a man of will-power, elegance and a persevering nature when it came to showing the world that art is a little more than being all about beauty. His style exceeded the apparently modest periphery of ink painting. His times were all about […]

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  Sir Edward Burne-Jones was a man of accomplishment, but stuck to his style in an era when prices of materials kept sliding downwards and machinery was becoming available for everyone. He kept contributing in the fashion he delivered best – painting. Burne-Jones’ has also contributed to his popularity through stained and painted glass, drawings, decorative arts and theatre. Burne Jones took the time and effort to paint a story that arguably has a lot to do with the contemporary emotions. King Cophetua is a wealthy man – although he lived in a time about which little is known. But there is a lot to know from his love for the ‘beggar woman’, a character we have occurring on the streets of England quite frequently […]

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Padua has a very significant place in the scriptures for Jews and Christians. It has also been one of the places related heavily with Biblical stories. Padua is also known to have been a symbolic play in many of Shakespeare’s plays. Although I have been fascinated by the frescoes in the Vatican, Padua remains a place I shall never forget because of its Basilica d’San Antonio. Excellence exemplified! It happens so many times to you – that you miss the bigger diamond while looking for the more hyped one. This fresco of Crucifixion gave me goose bumps, and it still does when I remember the depth – even while looking at it later through the internet. It is a story here, and in fact, I […]

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The beautiful mother-and-son painting in watercolor is hard to decipher in the light of plotting or the story behind its colors, but it stands out in the affluence it exudes, the happiness vibrating within and the subtlety it puts through by presenting itself in a rather prudent painting medium. Moreover, Andreas Zorn is a specialist in royal paintings, making his talent evident quite easily in this masterpiece. One has to believe that the perfection quotient in this painting is quite high, and the expressions, facial features and photographic posturing of the subjects are some of the most appreciable features in this work. It can often be hard to imagine the way this professional evoked the image of a moment – which has only become easy […]

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Hand painted reproductions of this painting on fresco is becoming popular for a reason. Everybody wants a piece of cake of the original work by Paolo Uccelo. Not fakes, but mere reproductions, hand-made, and in oil. It is a public collection, and I hope to add it to mine. The historic painting is one of the oldest among those in Florence, and you may not be able to find it in the most delectable condition – owing to various factors such as weathering and weakening of construction at Green Cloister at Santa Maria Novella in Florence. The fantastic collection of works by Uccelo continues to thrill me – not just because of historic value, but the inherent story about the painter’s background, and how they […]

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