Highlights of the painting articles of 2016

Annie Louisa Swynnerton (1844-1933), The Sense of Sight (1895), oil on canvas, 87.3 x 101 cm, Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, England. Wikimedia Commons.

I have no idea how many painters and paintings I have featured in articles here this year, but I have greatly enjoyed learning about them, and I hope that you have enjoyed them too. Here is a whirlwind tour of the last twelve months, and some of its highlights and surprises.

In January I rediscovered some of the work of ‘vanished’ French Impressionists, who had exhibited in the First Impressionist Exhibition, but who had been largely forgotten since. Among the most famous and successful was Giuseppe (or Joseph) de Nittis who died suddenly at the age of just 38.

Giuseppe De Nittis (1846–1884), Seascape near Naples (1873), oil on wood, 24.5 x 61 cm, Private collection. Wikimedia Commons.
Giuseppe De Nittis (1846–1884), In the Fields around London (date not known), oil on canvas, 45.1 x 54.9 cm, Private collection. Athenaeum.

Index to the series, illustrated

February brought an examination of Winslow Homer’s watercolours painted when he lived in Cullercoats, England – a formative time in his career, and some wonderful and important works.

Winslow Homer (1836–1910), A Fresh Breeze (c 1881), transparent and opaque watercolor over graphite pencil on paper, 35.6 × 50.8 cm, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA. Wikimedia Commons.

Winslow Homer in Cullercoats 1

March included a look at Caspar David Friedrich and his enigmatic paintings, which seem to be telling a story but are not at all easy to read.

Caspar David Friedrich (1774–1840), Die Lebensstufen (Strandbild, Strandszene in Wiek) (The Stages of Life) (1834-5), oil on canvas, 72.5 x 94 cm, Museum der bildenden Künste, Leipzig. Wikimedia Commons.

The Story in Paintings: Caspar David Friedrich’s Stages of Life

I was also generously allowed to show some of the new mythology being painted by modern artist Kirsty Whiten, who has this year enjoyed major success with the publication of her first book.

Kirsty Whiten, Flatfoot Fronting (2015), oil and varnish on canvas, 120 x 150 cm, the artist’s collection. © 2015 Kirsty Whiten.

Kirsty Whiten’s Wronger Rites

In April, I looked at the tragically brief career of Richard Parkes Bonington.

Richard Parkes Bonington (1802–1828), A Fishmarket near Boulogne (1824) (171), oil on canvas, 82 x 122.5 cm, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT. Wikimedia Commons.

Richard Parkes Bonington, part 1

I also looked in detail at the story of Perseus and Andromeda, and Edward Burne-Jones’ grand project to tell it in a series of ten paintings.

Edward Burne-Jones (1833–1898), Perseus and Andromeda (1876), oil on canvas, 152.2 x 229 cm, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia. Wikimedia Commons.

The Story in Paintings: Perseus and Edward Burne-Jones 1

In May, among the beautiful paintings of Harriet Backer, I found this unusual view of a christening.

Harriet Backer (1845–1932), Barnedåp i Tanum Kirke (Christening in Tanum Church) (1892), oil on canvas, 109 x 142 cm, Nasjonalgalleriet, Oslo. Wikimedia Commons.

Harriet Backer, inside and out 1

Staying in the Nordic countries for the moment, I also looked at paintings of the Finnish national epic, the Kalevala, including Akseli Gallen-Kallela’s wonderful Aino triptych.

Akseli Gallen-Kallela (1865–1931), Aino Myth, Triptych (1891), oil on canvas, overall 200 x 413 cm, middle panel 154 x 154 cm, outer panels 154 x 77 cm, Ateneum, Helsinki. Wikimedia Commons.

The Story in Paintings: Kalevala, Finland’s Epic 1

I also looked at Jules Bastien-Lepage’s brief life, and the wonderful paintings which he created during those few years.

Jules Bastien-Lepage (1848–1884), Joan of Arc (1879), oil on canvas, 254 × 279.4 cm, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY. Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, via Wikimedia Commons.

Jules Bastien-Lepage 1

In June, I came across the work of one of Poland’s greatest painters, Jacek Malczewski.

Jacek Malczewski (1854–1929), Death (1902), oil on canvas, 98 × 75 cm, Muzeum Narodowe w Warszawie, Warsaw, Poland. Wikimedia Commons.

The brilliance of Jacek Malczewski

Over the summer, from June to August, I celebrated Bosch’s 500th anniversary in a whole series of articles examining each of the paintings currently believed to have been made by him.

Hieronymus Bosch (c 1450–1516), The Garden of Earthly Delights (centre panel, detail) (c 1495-1505), oil on oak panel, central panel 190 × 175 cm, each wing 187.5 × 76.5 cm, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid. Wikimedia Commons.

Hieronymus Bosch: an Index to articles with illustrations

In July, I came across the Italian history painter Domenico Morelli, who solved the problem of composing the depiction of the conversion of Saint Paul.

Domenico Morelli (1823–1901), The Conversion of Saint Paul (1876), oil on canvas, dimensions not known, Cattedrale di Altamura, Altamura, Italy. Wikimedia Commons.

The Story in Paintings: Domenico Morelli

During August and September, I gave a brief account of the history of oil painting, which featured many superb works, including this by Antonello.

Antonello da Messina (c 1430–1479), Christ at the Column (c 1476), oil on panel, 30 x 21 cm, Musée du Louvre, Paris. Wikimedia Commons.

13 – milestones, an overview

In September, I enjoyed looking at Constant Troyon’s wonderful paintings of domesticated animals.

Constant Troyon (1810–1865), On the Way to Market (1859), oil on canvas, 260.5 x 211 cm, Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg. Wikimedia Commons.

Constant Troyon: landscapes with animals

I also loved working through the Pre-Raphaelite watercolours of Marie Spartali Stillman.

Marie Spartali Stillman (1844–1927), Love’s Messenger (1885), watercolor, tempera and gold paint on paper mounted on wood, 81.3 × 66 cm, Delaware Art Museum, Wilmington, DE. Wikimedia Commons.

The Forgotten Pre-Raphaelite: Marie Spartali Stillman, 1

October brought me to consider the life and work of William Merritt Chase on the occasion of the centenary of his death. This resulted in another substantial series, which included his colleagues and pupils.

William Merritt Chase (1849–1916), Child with Prints (c 1880-1884), pastel on canvas laid down on board, 55.9 x 44.5 cm, Private collection. The Athenaeum.
William Merritt Chase (1849–1916), Landscape: Shinnecock, Long Island (c 1896), oil on wood panel, dimensions not known, Princeton University Art Museum, Princeton, NJ. Wikimedia Commons.

William Merritt Chase, 1849-1916: in memoriam

Also in October, I looked at Pre-Raphaelites and the Aesthetic Movement, featuring among others this exceptional painting by John Roddam Spencer Stanhope.

John Roddam Spencer Stanhope (1829–1908), Robin of Modern Times (1860), oil on canvas, 48.3 x 85.7 cm, Private collection. Wikimedia Commons.

John Roddam Spencer Stanhope: a different Pre-Raphaelite

In November, I moved on to look at Pre-Raphaelite landscape painting, and its greatest exponent, John Brett.

John Brett (1831–1902), Val d’Aosta (1858), oil on canvas, 87.6 x 68 cm, Private collection. Wikimedia Commons.

Pre-Raphaelite Landscapes 1: Emergence

In that context, I came across another Norwegian, Hans Gude, whose paintings I greatly enjoyed.

Adolph Tidemand (1814–1876) & Hans Gude (1825–1903), Brudeferden i Hardanger (Bridal journey in Hardanger) (1848), oil on canvas, 93 × 130 cm, Nasjonalgalleriet, Oslo. Wikimedia Commons.

Hans Gude and the grandeur of Norway

There is also the prolific marine specialist Ivan Aivazovsky, whose Ninth Wave stands out from thousands of his other paintings.

Ivan/Hovhannes Aivazovsky (1817–1900), The Ninth Wave Девятый вал (1850), oil on canvas, 221 x 332 cm, State Russian Museum Государственный Русский музей, Saint Petersburg, Russia. Wikimedia Commons.

Ivan Aivazovsky, Master Mariner

I started my series on the paintings of William Blake, which have long fascinated me. This has enabled me to get to grips with them at last, and I hope has helped your appreciation of his genius. That series is not complete yet.

Pity c.1795 by William Blake 1757-1827
William Blake (1757–1827), Pity (c 1795), colour print, ink and watercolour on paper, 42.5 x 53.9 cm, The Tate Gallery (Presented by W. Graham Robertson 1939), London. © The Tate Gallery and Photographic Rights © Tate (2016), CC-BY-NC-ND 3.0 (Unported), http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/blake-pity-n05062
William Blake (1757–1827), The Circle of the Lustful: Francesca da Rimini (The Whirlwind of Lovers) (c 1824), pen and watercolour over pencil, 36.8 x 52.2 cm, Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery, Birmingham, England. The Athenaeum.

Tyger’s Eye: the paintings of William Blake, 1

Finally, in December I have been working steadily through the paintings of Gustave Moreau, which are equally ‘difficult’ but fascinating.

Gustave Moreau (1826–1898), Oedipus and the Sphinx (1864), oil on canvas, 206.4 x 104.8 cm, The Metropolitan Museum of Art (Bequest of William H. Herriman, 1920), New York, NY. Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, via Wikimedia Commons.

Hesiod’s Brush: the paintings of Gustave Moreau, 1

I am just about to start a series looking at Lovis Corinth, and there are plenty more to come. I hope that you will keep coming back for more.