Easily told in words, stories are harder to paint. Here are five main methods used, explained and shown in examples from the masters.
New genres in literature gave the public a taste for different forms of narrative. Here’s a short account of the response in ‘problem pictures’ from Hunt to Collier.
Two paintings from Edgar Degas have still, 150 years later, defied all attempts to resolve their narratives. Another from Britain, and one from the American Eastman Johnson.
In the 19th century, readers enjoyed detective and ‘mystery’ novels. From 1850, artists like William Holman Hunt and Berthold Woltze tried the same in paint.
David and Bathsheba, Romeo and Juliet – balconies are a useful device for painter, and not just to tell stories. Goya, Manet, and beyond.
The Circe of Arthurian legend, for much of the time she battles with King Arthur. But when he is mortally wounded in battle, they are reconciled. Stories in paintings.
He specialised in history paintings of the Tudor and Stuart period, and later painted problem pictures to puzzle the viewer. He died 100 years ago today.
Many of the great painters have been migrants. Here are examples from Canaletto to Sargent. Suppress migration, and art will be stifled.
Several Pre-Raphaelites painted this character from a Shakespeare comedy, but as a symbol of despondent isolation. Why?
Towards the end of his career, he campaigned for students at the Royal Academy Schools to have proper life classes with nude models. And a nude got him into trouble.