Anne Vallayer-Coster (1744-1818) was an 18th-century French artist who specialized in still life painting. She was so good at it that she became official painter to Marie-Antoinette.
I recently enjoyed an art exhibition at my local library. I saw many wonderful works there, but I noticed that the majority of the pieces I was drawn to were still lives. So I started to think about why that is. Back in the days of the European and American artistic academies, still life was considered the least prestigious of the painting genres, but it's one of my personal favorites.
When Leonardo da Vinci painted his famous The Last Supper for the Santa Maria delle Grazie monastery in Milan, he used some cool tricks to make the painting seem to be part of the room itself. Leonardo da Vinci, The Last Supper, 1490s. Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milan. [Public Domain] via Wikimedia Commons. The Last… Continue reading A Matter of Perspective (a fun fact)
I just finished reading a book that told a wild, but true story about a work of art. Laura Cumming's The Vanishing Velasquez: A 19th-Century Bookseller's Obsession with a Lost Masterpiece tells the story of an English bookseller who believed that he owned a lost masterpiece by Spanish artist Diego Velasquez. It ends with a huge, still-unsolved mystery.
Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens in Washington D.C. was the home of Marjorie Merriweather Post. She was a great hostess, philanthropist, and art collector. Her home is gorgeous and filled with treasures.
Unlike his father, George Vanderbilt wasn't a huge art collector. He collected prints, but beyond that, he generally preferred to spend his money on his home and lands rather than paintings and sculptures. However, he still managed to acquire quite a few notable works of art that are now on display at Biltmore. Here are some of my favorites.
If you enjoy the works of J.M.W. Turner (as I do) and want to know more about him, I suggest reading Franny Moyle's Turner: The Extraordinary Life & Momentous Times of J.M.W. Turner (New York: Penguin Press, 2016). It's a detailed and comprehensive book about Turner's life, art, personality, and career. This post is about some of the things I learned from the book.
The Frick is one of my favorite museums. It’s a small, world-class museum with collections and scholarship of the highest international importance. It's also a calm oasis in the middle of New York City.
Before synthetic colors, it was important to choose your paints wisely. Some artists, like J.M.W. Turner, didn't always do this, and their paintings discolored quickly.
History painting was an important genre in 18th and 19th-century European art. The term is used all the time, but doesn't simply refer to paintings of history. Learn about the characteristics of a history paint and why all the most ambitious artists wanted to pursue it.