Herculaneum

Just watching a fascinating programme on BBC 4 about ‘The Other Pompeii: Life and Death Herculaneum. Early in this module I did research on how Greek and Roman statues would have been coloured and not the plain white marble that we are so used to seeing. When they cleaned the ash from a head of a woman they found the original colours on the hair, eyes and lashes.

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Impressionism

The last exercise was to annotate and analyse an Impressionist Landscape or paint your own version. I chose Monet’s ‘Landscape with Thunderstorm’, this is my pastel version.

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The Impressionist movement in painting originated in France in the 1860’s and had an enormous influence on European and North American painting in the late 19th century. The Impressionists wanted to depict real life, to paint straight from nature and to capture the changing effect of light. The term was first used derisively to describe Claude Monet’s painting Impression, Sunrise (1872). Other leading Impressionists included Paul Cezanne, Edgar Degas, Edouard Manet, Camille Pissaro and Pierre-Auguste Renoir but only Monet remained devoted to Impressionist ideas throughout his career.

One of the hallmarks if Impressionism is painting in the open air (en plain air). Monet, Renoir and Alfred Sisley who met as students and enjoyed painting this way were committed to painting nature. Their styles were diverse, but all they all experimented with the effects of light and movement created with distinct brushstrokes and fragments of colour that were placed side by side on the canvas instead of being mixed on a palette.

Manet emerged as the leader of the early Impressionists but it was Monet and his followers who laid the theoretical foundations of the movement. They avoided using browns, blacks and ochre’s only using pure colours of the spectrum with the addition of white.

Although the movement had run its course by the late 1880’s there were various developments out of it from 1880to 1905, Post Impressionism and Neo Impressionism. Impressionism also had a major influence on British avant-garde painting in the late 19th century and early 20th century.

Van Dyk portrait

A few months ago on the Antiques Roadshow Father Jamie MacLeod, who runs a retreat house in north Derbyshire brought a painting that he had paid £400 for. Philip Mould the expert thought it may have been by Anthony Van Dyk but some restoration work and research needed to be done on it.

On tonight’s programme they unveiled it and gave the decision of Dr Christopher Brown, one of the world authorities on Van Dyke on whether it is or isn’t by him. They kept us on tenterhooks until the end of the programme but I had already read on BBC’s red button the outcome. It is a portrait of a Brussels merchant by Van Dyke and is valued at £4000,000

Father MacLeod plans to sell the painting and use the money to buy church bells to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the outbreak of World War One. I hope it stays in this country as well when it does go to auction.

You can read more about it here

Degas monotypes

I’ve never really thought of Degas being associated with any other type of art form besides pastels. I read somewhere recently that he had also done mono prints or monotypes so looked onlinefor more info about them.

A brief definition can be read here

After reading about how he would take two prints, one strong that he kept as the original and one weak which he would use to work on further with pastel or gouache. I remember that I had heard of this on a tv programme but forgotten about.

I also found this interesting PDF about Degas art on the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York

Stolen Paintings

Watched a fascinating programmes presented by Alistair Sooke about the worlds most expensive stolen paintings. Most people think these high profile thefts are like Hollywood movies such as The Thomas Crown Affair in which rich art lovers steal art works so they can sit and gloat over them. The reality is that most are stolen by organised/career criminals and are used as credit between gangs or ransomed back to the gallery/muse. You can read the full story here.

Chrome yellow

I came across this article about the chrome yellow that Impressionist artists especially Van Gogh used in their paintings. The colour was not only toxic put when exposed to ultraviolet light world darken overtime which explains why some of the Sunflowers by Van Gogh have turned brown. Although in the late 19th century more colours became available to artists the scientists who developed them had not undertaken exhaustive tests as they would today to ensure that they where safe to use and would be lightfast over time.

Ancient Egypt

I have always had an interest in history perhaps it is in my genes because I can remember my Mum saying my Dad liked watching history programmes on TV. This was back in the 1960’s, he passed away in 1969 but he would have loved all the programmes you can watch today. The other day I caught a programme about the Sphinx and was surprised to discover that like the Ancient Greek statues I researched early in this module that experts now think that the Sphinx would also have been painted.

This article tells more about ‘Uncovering Secrets of the Sphinx’

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