CARAVAGGIO: CONTROVERSIAL NEW WORKS STILL QUESTIONED

CaravaggioJudith

photo by http://www.thepassionforart.com/2013/03/02/art-world-divided-over-caravaggio-100-works-discovery/

Researchers say they are keeping an open mind to the possibility that some of the 100 new works found in a Milanese castle are those of Caravaggio:

http://www.thepassionforart.com/2013/03/02/art-world-divided-over-caravaggio-100-works-discovery/

For back story on the original discovery and the ensuing controversy:

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/art/news/too-good-to-be-true-the-caravaggio-conundrum-7936445.html

Did Caravaggio die of murder, fever, or lead poisoning from ingesting his paint?  DNA researchers have concluded he died in Tuscany of an undetermined illness but we’ll probably never know the answer for sure after 404 years. However, paleomicrobiologists have picked up the search, and as of late June, 2013, have so far discovered this:

http://cenblog.org/artful-science/2013/06/24/figuring-out-what-killed-crazy-caravaggio/

Here is a “what if” story about his probable fate, had he not placed himself in exile from Rome after his murder conviction (later pardoned by the pope):

http://caravaggista.com/2013/07/on-the-403rd-anniversary-of-caravaggios-death-what-if/

Whether researchers determine the newly discovered works are by Caravaggio, his teacher Peterzano, or a mixture of both plus Peterzano’s other students, an inexpensive reference has been published at only $6.50 per volume (not available in Italy) and you can preview it first. To find out more about  either of the two volumes, Young Caravaggio: One-hundred rediscovered works, V I and II (Kindle book only), go to:

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Ddigital-text&field-keywords=young%20caravaggio

The Arizona Renaissance Art Guild does one-week workshop intensives three times per year, and in addition, we get together to paint all day on the third Saturday of every month.  If you are in the Phoenix Metro area and are interested in finding out more or possibly joining our colony, please let me know through this blog.  ~Marsha

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MONA LISA’S SKELETON FOUND?

Leonardo Da Vinci’s model for the Mona Lisa may have been found by a research team in Italy who discovered three skeletons in the basement of a old, now unused convent in Florence last year, where Lisa Gherardini likely spent her final months.

 MonaLisaTomb

Photo by http://www.irishtimes.com/news/world/florence-tomb-opened-in-search-for-mona-lisa-1.1490726

Silvano Vinceti, of Italy’s National Committee for Cultural Heritage, said that another tomb in Florence contains relatives of Lisa Gherardini del Giacondo, probably her son Piero, and that, “Right now we are carrying out carbon-14 tests on three of the eight skeletons found in St. Ursula. The carbon-14 test will tell us which of the three dates back to the 1500s. Only then will we know which skeleton to do the final DNA test on.” After that, they plan to do a digital reconstruction of her face.

For more on this story, go to:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/researchers-open-florence-tomb-in-search-for-identity-of-the-real-mona-lisa-8755463.html

For a picture of the skull:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/archaeology/news/the-dig-that-may-have-unearthed-leonardos-muse-8196544.html

Another version of Mona Lisa discovered:

MonaLisaLouvrePrado

photo by http://www.theartnewspaper.com/articles/Earliest-copy-of-Mona-Lisa-found-in-Prado/25514

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/art/news/so-she-truly-was-leonardos-labour-of-love-7645955.html

The Arizona Renaissance Art Guild does one-week workshop intensives three times per year, and in addition, we get together to paint all day on the third Saturday of every month.  If you are in the Phoenix Metro area and are interested in finding out more or possibly joining our colony, please let me know through this blog.  ~Marsha

FROM THE WORKSHOP OF THE ARIZONA RENAISSANCE ART GUILD

The Taos Society of Artists had about six to ten members, the Hudson River School up to twenty-five.  Our Arizona Renaissance Art Guild is small, with eight to twelve members, so if we’re talking about numbers, the Guild is in good company.  Who knows what history’s retrospective look at us will be….

Anyway, I’m back from the workshop, having had the most grueling week of fun ever!  We literally painted from morning until night, sometimes as late as midnight, only to begin again the next morning around eight a.m.  If we had had some bunk beds and a shower, I think we might have just stayed at the museum. The Gilbert Museum is a wonderful place for us to work and they have been so very gracious to us over the last eight or ten years, especially the museum’s director, who always goes out of her way to make sure the facility is top notch.

Some of us copied the Old Masters, and some did original works.  And speaking of retrospectives, I will be providing individual pictorial ones on some of our artists at a later date, but I just want to give you a photographic overview of the work we did this past week, and the environment we work in.  Some of the unusual colors you may see are underpaintings designed for specific effects later on.  Also, keep in mind these photos are just snapshots.  We all know what a picture is worth, so here it goes:

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In related news, I got a new easel. I used a French easel until I wore it out, so I bought a new, more robust travel easel.  After much research, I settled on the “Belmont” by Jack Richeson.  It can support the larger size boards I often work on, can tilt forward for pastels, and lay flat for oil glazing or watercolor. Yes, other easels can do all this as well, but this one is special in important respects: it is made of renewable lyptus wood AND it’s on wheels so I can use it for a sort of hand truck when loading my supplies after a workshop (Of course, never put heavier things on it–it’s not really a hand truck, after all :-)).  I got it from Madison Art Supply who had the best price at the time.  They provided quick delivery, too.

What sold me on this particular easel is that another of our members had one, and one day, he showed me how easy and FAST it was to set up and take down.  I was amazed and “sold” at the same time.  The fact that it was from Richeson was a plus, because their company is at the top when it comes to customer service.  They will make sure you are happy with your purchase, especially if you have a problem.  And in this case, I did have a problem: the bottom tray didn’t grip well enough and wanted to drift downward (over the course of hours of painting) and I had to readjust it periodically.  It wasn’t an urgent problem, but I called them about it anyway.  They sent me another tray and made sure it got to me by the second day of the workshop!  These people are incredible so consider Jack Richeson brand the next time you need art supplies.

The Arizona Renaissance Art Guild does one-week workshop intensives three times per year, and in addition, we get together to paint all day on the third Saturday of every month.  If you are in the Phoenix Metro area and are interested in finding out more or possibly joining our colony, please let me know through this blog.  ~Marsha

FINISHING UP THE DUTCH/FLEMISH PHOTOS

Today, I am posting a lot of photos I took of Dutch/Flemish works that were on exhibit at the de Young and the Getty museums, beginning with Frans van Mieris the Elder (Dutch, 1635-1681). The first is Pictura (Allegory of Painting), 1661, oil on copper. This one was behind glass so please excuse the reflection.

The caption reads, “The allegorical figure shown here represents the art of painting. She holds a palette,, brushes, and a small plaster sculpture. The mask on a chain may refer to art’s deceptive illusions. Instead of being hung on a wall, a painting of this size, like a precious object, would have been kept in a cabinet for close examination. ”

FransVanMierisOilCopperPicturaAllegoryOfPainting

FransVanMierisTheDoctor'sVisit

The Doctor’s Visit, 1667, oil on panel

“Van Mieris was well known for his finely painted works. Here a young woman faints as a doctor examines a vial of her urine. The ostentatious doctor, whose extravagant clothes suggest that he is a quack, was a stock figure in contemporary theater. The erotic painting over the fireplace hints that the woman suffers from lovesickness, while the burning ribbon held by the crying girl was seen at the time as a sign of pregnancy.”

FransVanMierisAYoungWomanFeedingAParrot

A Young Woman Feeding a Parrot, 1663, oil on panel

Painted in the same year as Vermeer‘s “A Woman Holding a Balance,” Van Mieris’ elegant scene was one of the most celebrated and most copied compositions of the time.

The following two Frans Hals paintings are quite large–larger than life.

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Lucas de Clercq, Dutch, about 1635, Frans Hals, oil on canvas, 49 13/16 x 36 5/8

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Feyna van Steenkiste, Dutch, about 1635, Frans Hals, oil on canvas, 48 7/16 x 36 5/8

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Closeup of Feyna’s hands

These two paintings came to the Getty as part of the conservation partnership program. For information on the restoration and removal of old varnish on these two paintings as well as stories about Lucas and Feyna’s lives and additional insights into Hals’ working methods, go to http://www.getty.edu/museum/conservation/partnerships/rijksmuseum_hals/index.html

This painting by Anthony van Dyke was huge. I include the first photo to give you an idea of just how large it was:

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Portrait of Agostino Pallavicini, About 1621, oil on canvas, Anthony van Dyck, Flemish, 1599-1641

“This portrait commemorates the sitter’s service as ambassador of the Republic of Genoa to the newly elected Pope Gregory XV. The artist depicted Agostino Pallavicini, the future head of the state of Genoa, in his sumptuous robes of office, seated before a billowing curtain that bears his family’s coat of arms. The elegant formality of the image exemplifies van Dyck’s highly influential approach to portraiture.”

Note: All text in quotes is taken from the Getty or de Young museum placards posted beside paintings.

RUBENS AND BRUGEHEL COLLABORATE

I had an impossible time photographing this painting due to the skylight reflections, a problem I’ve mentioned previously.  I took a general one (had to get my picture beside it :-)), and then I took a few closeups. Here is the painting and the information posted alongside:

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The Return from War: Mars Disarmed by Venus, 1610-12, Peter Paul Rubens, Flemish, 1577-1640; Jan Brueghel the Elder, Flemish, 1568-1625, Oil on panel

“In a secluded corner of Vulcan’s forge, Venus disarms her lover Mars, the god of war, with the playful help of her cupids. Love’s victory over Strife was understood in this period as an allegory of peace, and the subject may reflect contemporary hope for concord following the signing of the Twelve-Year Truce that ended the decades-long conflict in the Netherlands. The harmonious combination of reflective armor and creamy flesh resulted from the collaboration of Brueghel, who painted the setting and armaments, and Rubens, who painted the figures.”

Here are some closeups:

RubensBrueghelTheReturnFromWarCloseup

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The Calydonian Boar Hunt, about 1611-12, Peter Paul Rubens, oil on panel

“This recently discovered painting is Ruben’s earliest hunt scene. In the early 1610s Rubens devised new and highly influential imagery of great physicality and emotional intensity–heroic combats between man and beast that transformed Baroque art.”

“The hunt of the Calydonian boar, a terrifying beast sent by the goddess Diana to punish King Oeneus, was a rare subject in painting. Rubens depicts the climax of the myth, when Meleager delivers the mortal thrust of the spear into the boar’s shoulder. The robust figures recall the classical sculpture from which he drew his inspiration. Rubens’ energetic and varied brushwork relates both to his brilliant oil sketches and to his polished cabinet paintings. He may have kept this work in his studio as a source of inspiration.”

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A second take:

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And some closeups:

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And lastly for today, a Rubens’ sketch:

The Meeting of King Ferdinand of Hungary and the Cardinal-Infante Ferdinand of Spain at Nordlingen, 1635, Peter Paul Rubens

“This sketch was made for a monumental canvas that decorated a triumphal arch erected for the ceremonial entry into Antwerp by the Cardinal-Infante Ferdinand of Spain. It celebrates an alliance between Catholic rulers shortly before their combined armies scored a victory over Protestant forces in 1634. Rubens’ oil sketches are admired for the spirit and economy with which they present the main elements of his grand compositions.”

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Note: All text in quotes is taken from the Getty or de Young museum placards posted beside paintings.

VERMEER AT THE GETTY

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Woman in Blue Reading a Letter, about 1663–64, Johannes Vermeer (Dutch, 1632–1675)

Oil on canvas (18 5/16 x 15 3/8 in.), Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. On loan from the City of Amsterdam (A. van der Hoop Bequest).

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Woman in Blue Reading a Letter,  before restoration.

Information from the Getty Museum, Los Angeles:

http://news.getty.edu/press-materials/press-releases/vermeer-masterpiece-woman-in-blue-reading-a-letter.htm

One of Johannes Vermeer’s most celebrated masterpieces, Woman in Blue Reading a Letter, “comes to the Getty on special loan from the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, which is completing ten years of extensive renovations this year. Since October 2012, Vermeer’s masterpiece has traveled the world as an “ambassador” for the Rijksmuseum’s remarkable collection of Dutch paintings. Following presentations in Shanghai and São Paulo, Los Angeles is the last and only North American stop on the painting’s tour, after which it will return to Amsterdam in time for the Rijksmuseum’s much-anticipated opening on April 13, 2013.”

“’This truly represents an extraordinary opportunity for Southern California,” explains Timothy Potts, director of the J. Paul Getty Museum. “Vermeer’s Woman in Blue is one of his greatest and most famous masterpieces. It has very rarely traveled outside of Amsterdam and this is the painting’s first visit to the West Coast. Vermeer’s paintings of women reading letters and engaged in other private, domestic activities have a unique intimacy and reality to them that can only be fully appreciated in the flesh. His finest works, like the Woman in Blue, have a magical immediacy that has never been rivaled.’”

“Praised as one of Vermeer’s most beautiful paintings, Woman in Blue Reading a Letter demonstrates the artist’s exceptional command of color, light, and perspective. Portraying a young woman absorbed in a letter, it exemplifies the artist’s ability to create innovative scenes of everyday life imbued with great emotional intensity.  The mystery of the painting makes it even more compelling— although it is most likely a love letter, we do not know who the letter is from, what it is about, or why the painting’s subject is so engrossed by the correspondence.”

“’This small but powerful painting is exquisitely nuanced, with a marvelously balanced composition and refined use of light that creates a soft, diffuse atmosphere,” suggests Anne Woollett, curator of paintings at the Getty Museum. “Vermeer’s extraordinary command of color is apparent here and visitors will surely be taken with the varied hues of blue that he used throughout the painting.’”

“Woman in Blue Reading a Letter was recently cleaned and studied in Amsterdam by the Rijksmuseum’s restoration department. Past treatments were rectified and the yellowed varnish was removed, reestablishing the legibility of the composition. Significantly, the treatment revealed Vermeer’s brilliant range of blue hues, visible in their remarkable intensity for the first time in generations, along with a subtle palette of taupes, yellows, ochres, and whites, which themselves have a bluish tint.”

“Technical studies of the painting, also done at the Rijksmuseum, have revealed that Vermeer made important adjustments to the composition while working on the painting. For example, he extended the left vertical edge of the map on the wall behind the woman toward the window, narrowing the field of white created by the wall. He also eliminated the flared shape of the back of the woman’s blue jacket, emphasizing her vertical presence. Both changes serve to focus the viewer’s attention on the female subject and her thoughts.”

I feel so fortunate to have seen this painting. It is a work of fine, delicate beauty that one must really see to fully appreciate.

Note: All text in quotes is taken from the Getty or de Young museum placards posted beside paintings.

REMBRANDT AT THE MUSEUM–NOT AN ALL FOOLS’ DAY JOKE

Here are more museum postings, which I will continue to do in order to give you the flavor of all we saw. Please keep in mind that there were many unavoidable light reflections, not only from the skylights and track lighting, but also from the surprising fact that many of the works were covered with glass; and no matter how good the museum quality of that glass, there were still added light aberrations in a few of the photos.

Today is Rembrandt’s day:

An Old Man in Military Costume, About 1630-31, Rembrandt Harmensz, van Rijn, Dutch, 1606-1669, Oil on panel

“This fantasy portrait belongs to the type known as a tronie, or a character study of a head. These pictures were created for sale on the open art market in Holland. Rembrandt frequently dressed the models for such portraits in fanciful costumes, as in the case of this man in military garb. The attire probably symbolizes Dutch fortitude and patriotism during the struggle for independence from Spain.”

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The Abduction of Europa, 1632, Rembrandt Harmensz, van Rijn, Dutch, 1606-1669, Oil on panel (2 photos)

From the Getty:  “In the Metamorphoses , the ancient Roman poet Ovid told a story about the god Jupiter, who disguised himself as a white bull in order to seduce the princess Europa away from her companions and carry her across the sea to the distant land that would bear her name.

During his long career Rembrandt rarely painted mythological subjects. Here he conveys a narrative story through dramatic gesture and visual effects. Bewildered, Europa grasps the bull’s horn, digs her fingers into his neck, and turns back to look at her companions on the water’s edge. One young woman falls to the ground and raises her arms in alarm, dropping the flower garland intended for the bull’s neck into her lap, while her friend clasps her hands in consternation and watches helplessly. The carriage driver above rises to his feet and stares at the departing princess in horror. In the background, a city shrouded in mist extends along the horizon, perhaps serving as an allusion to the ancient city of Tyre as well as to contemporary Amsterdam.The dark thicket of trees to the right contrasts with the pink and blue regions of the sea and sky. Sunlight breaks through the clouds and reflects off the water, but the sky behind the trees is dark and foreboding.

A master of visual effects, Rembrandt took pleasure in describing the varied textures of sumptuous costumes and glittering gold highlights on the carriage and dresses.”

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A Portrait of a Rabbi, About 1640-45, Rembrandt Harmensz, van Rijn, Dutch, 1606-1669, Oil on panel

“Rembrandt painted and drew numerous elderly male subjects in contemplation throughout his career. Here, strong light illuminates the man’s chest and face, which is energetically modeled with fine, textured brushstrokes. In contrast, the heavy folds of his gown and soft material of his hat are more loosely executed. Rembrandt was sensitive to Jewish tradition, and sought to capture its character through the representation of physical appearance and an internal spiritual state.”

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Portrait of a Girl Wearing a Gold Trimmed Cloak, 1632, Rembrandt Harmensz, van Rijn, Dutch, 1606-1669, Oil on panel

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And from the Getty http://www.getty.edu/art/installation_highlights/rembrandt.html:

Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn‘s Portrait of a Girl Wearing a Gold-Trimmed Cloak is on temporary view at the J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center. The work, which has not been on public view since the 1970s, is on loan from a private collection in New York.

The sitter, an unknown woman, is richly dressed in the fanciful costume Rembrandt favored for biblical and mythological paintings. He scratched in the thick, wet paint to create the pleats of the subject’s white shirt, and rendered gold embroidery on her black gown with almost an abstract series of daubs. Light from the painting’s upper left creates atmosphere behind the sitter and strongly illuminates one side of her rounded face, along with the strand of pearls in her hair and one of her large pearl earrings.

Portrait of a Girl Wearing a Gold-Trimmed Cloak inspired the facial types of many of Rembrandt’s heroines in the early 1630s.

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We’re off on a three-day job, so more photos in a few days….

Note: All text in quotes is taken from the Getty or de Young museum placards posted beside paintings.