His sketches and studies are wonderfully painterly, but was he painting what he saw, or what he envisaged?
His vegetable-rich portraits are unique in painting. Were they just jokes and whimsies, or is there something more substantial to them?
His rough and gestural style turned his dark tales into the stuff of nightmares.
We still associate brushmarks with sketchiness, speed of painting, spontaneity, bravura, and panache – and smooth paint surfaces, assembled from multiple layers and glazes, as being heartless mechanical essays in technique.
Portraits by Reynolds, Gainsborough, Kauffmann, and others show extensive brushstrokes.
Was painterly style a Venetian phenomenon, or was it more widespread in the early sixteenth century?
We should add these Masters to the growing list of those with ‘painterly’ style, and consider whether Impressionism was a development of Venetian ‘colorito’ painting?
This extended essay is likely to change much of our thinking about painting, perhaps art in general. It may be the most important book about art of this decade.
An innovator with his painterly style, some have suggested that he was even Impressionist – a whole century before Monet.
Marks made by the brush and knife serve different purposes from the late nineteenth century. They also beg some fascinating questions.