MONA LISA BY LEONARDO DA VINCI
Mona Lisa, also known as La Gioconda, is the wife of
Francesco del Giocondo. This painting is painted as oil on
wood. The original painting size is 77 x 53 cm (30 x 20 7/8
in) and is owned by by the Government of France and is
on the wall in the Louvre in Paris, France.
This figure of a woman, dressed in the Florentine fashion
of her day and seated in a visionary, mountainous
landscape, is a remarkable instance of Leonardo's
sfumato technique of soft, heavily shaded modeling. The
Mona Lisa's enigmatic expression, which seems both
alluring and aloof, has given the portrait universal fame.
10 THINGS YOU MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT THE MONA LISA
1. She lived with Francois I, Louis XIV and Napoleon
Although da Vinci began work on his masterpiece while living in his native Italy, he did not finish it until he
moved to France at King Francois I's request. The French king displayed the painting in his Fontainebleau
palace where it remained for a century. Louis XIV removed it to the grand Palace of Versailles. At the outset of
the 19th century, Napoleon Bonaparte kept the painting in his boudoir.
2. It is a painting but not a canvas.
Da Vinci's famous masterpiece is painted on a poplar plank. Considering he was accustomed to painting larger
works on wet plaster, a wood plank does not seem that outlandish. Canvas was available to artists since the
14th century, but many Renaissance masters preferred wood as a basis for their small artworks.
3. She has her own room in the Louvre Museum in Paris.
After the Louvre launched a four-year, $6.3 million renovation in 2003, the painting now has its own room. A
glass ceiling lets in natural light, a shatter-proof glass display case maintains a controlled temperature of 43
degrees F. and a little spotlight brings out the true colors of da Vinci's original paints.
10 THINGS CONTINUED
4. The eyes have it.
People have come up with all sorts of theories about the painting, some educated and some downright silly. In
2010, members of the Italian National Committee for Cultural Heritage announced that microscopic scrutiny of
the work had revealed new discoveries. In the madonna's right eye, the artist's initials L.V. appear.
5. Jackie Kennedy invited her to visit.
Over the centuries, French officials have only rarely let the painting out of their sight. However, when first lady
Jackie Kennedy asked if the painting could visit the U.S., French President de Gaulle agreed. "Mona Lisa" went
on display at the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. and then at the Metropolitan Museum of the
Arts in New York City.
6. A thief made her famous.
Although in the art world, the painting had always been an acknowledged masterpiece, it wasn't until it was
stolen in the summer of 1911 that it would capture the attention of the general public. Newspapers spread the
story of the crime worldwide. When the painting finally returned to the Louvre two years later, practically the
whole world was cheering.
10 THINGS CONTINUED
7. Picasso was under suspicion for the theft. During the investigation, the gendarmes went so far as to
question known art dissidents such as Pablo Picasso about the theft. They briefly arrested poet Guillaume
Apollinaire, who had once said the painting should be burned. Their suspicions proved to be unfounded.
8. She receives fan mail.
Since the painting first arrived at the Louvre in 1815, "Mona Lisa" has received plenty of love letters and
flowers from admirers. She even has her own mailbox.
9. Not everyone is a fan.
Various vandals have tried to harm da Vinci's famed masterpiece, and 1956 was a particularly bad year. In two
separate attacks, one person threw acid at the painting, and another individual pelted it with a rock. The
damage is faint but still noticeable. The addition of bulletproof glass repelled subsequent attacks with spray
paint in 1974 and a coffee cup in 2009.
10. She cannot be bought or sold.
Truly priceless, the painting cannot be bought or sold according to French heritage law. As part of the Louvre
collection, "Mona Lisa" belongs to the public, and by popular agreement, their hearts belong to her.
THE SCHOOL OF ATHENS BY RAPHAEL
The School of Athens has come to symbolize
the marriage of art, philosophy, and science that
was a hallmark of the Italian Renaissance.
Painted between 1509 and 1511, it is located in
the first of the four rooms designed by Raphael,
the Stanza della Segnatura.
Watch this short video
Fresco (plural frescos or frescoes) is a technique of mural painting executed upon freshly laid, or
wet lime plaster. Water is used as the vehicle for the dry-powder pigment to merge with the plaster, and
with the setting of the plaster, the painting becomes an integral part of the wall. The word fresco
(Italian: affresco) is derived from the Italian adjective fresco meaning "fresh", and may thus be contrasted
with fresco-secco or secco mural painting techniques, which are applied to dried plaster, to supplement
painting in fresco. The fresco technique has been employed since antiquity and is closely associated
with Italian Renaissance painting.[
Michelangelo's fresco painting technique: https://youtu.be/Cej4Ggq5nQI
1. Michelangelo wanted nothing to do with the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling.
In 1508, 33-year-old Michelangelo was hard at work on Pope Julius II’s marble tomb, a relatively
piece now located in Rome’s San Pietro in Vincoli church. When Julius asked the esteemed artist to
switch gears and decorate the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling, Michelangelo balked. For one thing, he
considered himself a sculptor rather than a painter, and he had no experience whatsoever with
He also had his heart set on finishing the tomb, even as funding for the project dwindled.
Michelangelo reluctantly accepted the commission, spending four years of his life perched on
scaffolding with his brush in hand. He would return intermittently to Julius’ monumental tomb over the
next few decades.
2. Contrary to popular belief, Michelangelo painted the Sistine Chapel in a standing position.
When they picture Michelangelo creating his legendary frescoes, most people assume he was lying
down. But in fact, the artist and his assistants used wooden scaffolds that allowed them to stand
and reach above their heads. Michelangelo himself designed the unique system of platforms, which
attached to the walls with brackets. The impression that Michelangelo painted on his back might come
from the 1965 film “The Agony and the Ecstasy,” in which Charlton Heston portrayed the genius
the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling.
3. Working on the Sistine Chapel was so unpleasant that Michelangelo wrote a poem about his
In 1509, an increasingly uncomfortable Michelangelo described the physical strain of the Sistine
project to his friend Giovanni da Pistoia. “I’ve already grown a goiter from this torture,” he wrote in a
poem that was surely somewhat tongue-in-cheek. He went on to complain that his “stomach’s
squashed under my chin,” that his “face makes a fine floor for droppings,” that his “skin hangs loose
below me” and that his “spine’s all knotted from folding myself over.” He ended with an affirmation
that he shouldn’t have changed his day job: “I am not in the right place—I am not a painter.”
4. Michelangelo’s masterpiece has proven highly resilient.
The Sistine Chapel’s frescoed ceiling has held up remarkably well in the five centuries since its
completion. Only one small component is missing: part of the sky in the panel depicting Noah’s
from the great biblical flood. The section of painted plaster fell to the floor and shattered following
explosion at a nearby gunpowder depot in 1797. Despite the ceiling’s apparent hardiness, experts
worry that foot traffic from the millions of people who visit the Sistine Chapel each year continues to
pose a serious threat.
5. Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel art was touched up—and
stripped down—in the 1980s and 1990s.
Between 1980 and 1999, experts restored selected artwork
in the Sistine Chapel, including Michelangelo’s ceiling and
his famed fresco known as “The Last Judgment,” which he
created in his later years. Specialists meticulously dissolved
layers of grime, soot and deposits, substantially
the colors of the centuries-old paintings. The restoration
also undid the work of Pope Pius IV, who ordered the
placement of fig leaves and loincloths on Michelangelo’s
nudes during the 1560s.
6. The Sistine Chapel ceiling’s most famous panel might depict a human brain.
In the section entitled “The Creation of Adam,” figures representing God and Adam reach for each
with their arms outstretched. Their almost-touching fingers are one of the world’s most recognizable
widely replicated images. Some theorists think the scene also contains the unmistakable outline of a
human brain, formed by the angels and robes surrounding God. According to Frank Lynn Meshberger,
doctor who pioneered this hypothesis, Michelangelo meant to evoke God’s bestowal of intelligence on
the first human.
7. New popes are elected in the Sistine Chapel.
Built in the 1470s under Pope Sixtus IV, from whom it takes its name, the Sistine Chapel is more than
Vatican City’s most popular tourist destination. In fact, it serves a crucial religious function. Beginning in
1492, the simple brick building has hosted numerous papal conclaves, during which cardinals gather
vote on a new pope. A special chimney in the roof of the chapel broadcasts the conclave’s results, with
white smoke indicating the election of a pope and black smoke signaling that no candidate has yet
received a two-thirds majority.
In 1495, Leonardo da Vinci began what would become one of history's most influential works of art -
The Last Supper
The Last Supper is Leonardo's visual interpretation of an event chronicled in all four of the Gospels
(books in the Christian New Testament). The evening before Christ was betrayed by one of his disciples,
he gathered them together to eat, tell them he knew what was coming and wash their feet (a gesture
symbolizing that all were equal under the eyes of the Lord). As they ate and drank together, Christ gave
the disciples explicit instructions on how to eat and drink in the future, in remembrance of him. It was
the first celebration of the Eucharist, a ritual still performed.
Specifically, The Last Supper depicts the
next few seconds in this story after
Christ dropped the bomb shell that one
disciple would betray him before sunrise,
and all twelve have reacted to the news
with different degrees of horror, anger
Video of Last Supper : Click Here
10 FACTS YOU MIGHT NOT KNOW ABOUT THE MASTERPIECE
1. "Last Supper" is a failed experiment.
Unlike traditional frescoes, which Renaissance masters painted on wet plaster walls, da Vinci experimented
with tempura paint on a dry, sealed plaster wall in the Santa Maria delle Grazie monastery in Milan, Italy. The
experiment proved unsuccessful, however, because the paint did not adhere properly and began to flake
away only a few decades after the work was finished.
2. The spilled salt is symbolic.
Speculations about symbolism in the artwork are plentiful. For example, many scholars have discussed the
meaning of the spilled salt container near Judas's elbow. Spilled salt could symbolize bad luck, loss, religion,
or Jesus as salt of the earth.
3. Eel or herring?
Scholars have also remarked on da Vinci's choice of food. They dispute whether the fish on the table is
herring or eel since each carries its own symbolic meaning. In Italian, the word for eel is "aringa." The similar
word, "arringa," means to indoctrinate. In northern Italian dialect, the word for herring is "renga," which also
describes someone who denies religion. This would fit with Jesus' biblical prediction that his apostle Peter
would deny knowing him.
4. Da Vinci used a hammer and nail to help him to achieve the one-point perspective.
What makes the masterpiece so striking is the perspective from which it's painted, which seems to
the viewer to step right into the dramatic scene. To achieve this illusion, da Vinci hammered a nail into
the wall, then tied string to it to make marks that helped guide his hand in creating the painting's
5. The artwork contains a dire warning.
In 2010, Sabrina Sforza Galitzia translated what she saw as mathematical and astrological indicators in
Vinci's work as a message from the artist about the end of the world. According to her interpretation,
artist says the apocalypse will take place in 4006.
6. The existing mural is not da Vinci's work.
At the end of the 20th century, restorer Panin Brambilla Barcilon and his crew relied on microscopic
photographs, core samples, infrared reflectoscopy and sonar to remove the added layers of paint and
restore the original as accurately as possible. Critics maintain that only a fraction of the painting that
exists today is the work of Leonardo da Vinci.
7. Three early copies of the original exist.
Three of da Vinci's students, including Giampietrino, made copies of his painting early in the 16th century.
Giampietrino did a full-scale copy that is now in London's Royal Academy of Arts. This oil painting on canvas
was the primary resource for the latest restoration of the work. The second copy by Andrea Solari is in the
Leonardo da Vinci Museum in Belgium while the third copy by Cesare da Sesto is in the Church of Saint
Ambrogio in Switzerland.
8. The painting is also a musical score.
According to Italian musician Giovanni Maria Pala, da Vinci incorporated musical notes in "The Last Supper."
In 2007, Pala created a 40-second melody from the notes that were allegedly hidden in the scene.
9. The painting has been a victim of neglect and abuse.
In 1652, monastery residents cut a new door in the wall of the deteriorating painting, which removed a
chunk of the artwork showing the feet of Jesus. Late in the 18th century, Napoleon Bonaparte's
turned the area into a stable and further damaged the wall with projectiles. During World War II, the
Nazis bombed the monastery, reducing surrounding walls to rubble.
10. It has been repeatedly restored.
Da Vinci's masterpiece has been subject to numerous restoration attempts. Some of these took place
1726, 1770, 1853, 1903, 1924, 1928 and 1978.
THE BIRTH OF VENUS BY BOTTICELLI (1484-85)
Short film: HERE
How to recognize
Renaissance art: HERE
Botticelli painted the Birth of Venus between 1484-85. It was
commissioned by a member of the Florentine Medici family, most
likely Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco who was a distant cousin of Lorenzo
the Magnificent. He also commissioned the artist to illustrate Dante’s
Divine Comedy and “Allegory of Spring”. The birth of Venus was hung in his
bedroom in the Villa in Castello, near Florence.
This painting is one of the masterpieces of Italian Renaissance and one of
the highlights of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence.
Venus, according to the Greek poet Hesiod who wrote the Theogony, was born out of sea foam.
Ancient mythology is filled with blood and violence and this story is not an exception. The story goes
that the God Uranus had a son named Cronus who overthrew his father, castrating him and throwing
genitals into the sea. This caused the water to be fertilised, and Venus was born.
After her birth she came ashore on a shell, pushed along by the breath of Zephyrus, the god of the
west wind. In the painting we see Zephyrus embracing the nymph Chloris. The girl about to cover
with a flowery mantle is thought to be one of the Hours. They were the mythological handmaidens of
Venus who also had power over the natural cycle of the seasons. The island she arrives at is Cyprus, or
Short Film, WHO WAS THE VENUS? : https://youtu.be/Ng0qn-rsdm4
The breath of Zephyrus was believed
to have the power to fertilise and create
new life. His embrace with the nymph
symbolises the act of love.
SUPPER AT EMMAUS BY CARAVAGGIO (1601)
The painting depicts the moment when the resurrected but
incognito Jesus, reveals himself to two of his disciples
(presumed to be Luke and Cleopas) in the town
of Emmaus, only to soon vanish from their sight (Gospel
of Luke (24: 30–31).
Cleopas wears the scallop shell of a pilgrim. The other
apostle wears torn clothes. Cleopas gesticulates in a
perspectively-challenging extension of arms in and out of
the frame of reference. The standing groom, forehead
smooth and face in darkness, appears oblivious to the
event. The painting is unusual for the life-sized figures, the
dark and blank background. The table lays out a still-life
meal. Like the world these apostles knew, the basket of
food teeters perilously over the edge.
BAROQUE ART (1600-1700)
HOW TO RECOGNIZE BAROQUE ART: HERE ANOTHER SHORT FILM:
The Baroque is a period of artistic style that started around 1600 in Rome , Italy, and spread
throughout the majority of Europe during the 17th and 18th centuries. In informal usage, the
word baroque describes something that is elaborate and highly detailed.
The Baroque style is characterized by exaggerated motion and clear detail used to produce drama,
exuberance, and grandeur in sculpture, painting, architecture, literature, dance, and music. Baroque
iconography was direct, obvious, and dramatic, intending to appeal above all to the senses and the
The use of the chiaroscuro technique is a well known trait of Baroque art. This technique refers to the
interplay between light and dark and is often used in paintings of dimly lit scenes to produce a very
high-contrast, dramatic atmosphere. The chiaroscuro technique is visible in the painting The Massacre of
the Innocents by Peter Paul Rubens. Other important Baroque painters include Caravaggio (who is
thought to be a precursor to the movement and is known for work characterized by close-up action and
strong diagonals) and Rembrandt.
THIS SUPPER AT EMMAUS SHOWS EVERYTHING THAT HAS BECOME KNOWN AS CARAVAGGIOESQUE. THE STRONG
LIGHT WITH DARK SHADOWS HAS BECOME CARAVAGGIO’S LEGACY, BUT HIS INFLUENCE GOES FAR BEYOND THAT.
He made art personable. He
took biblical figures, long gone
and distant, and brought them
close, familiar and human.
Short film: HERE
GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING BY VERMEER (1665)
Nicknamed the "Mona Lisa of the North", this beautiful painting -
one of the most famous Baroque portraits - shows that, in addition
to his mastery of Dutch Realist genre painting, Vermeer was also a
master portraitist. His skill in painting the heads of young women is well
known from works like Head of a Girl (1672, Metropolitan Museum), The
Milkmaid (1658, Rijksmuseum), Lady Writing a Letter (c.1665-70) and Girl
with a Red Hat (1666) both in the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC.,
but for sheer impact Girl with a Pearl Earring ranks alongside works by
the best portrait artists in Holland such as Rembrandt (1606-69) and Van
Dyck (1599-1641). In fact, technically speaking, this well known picture -
known also as Head of a Girl with a Turban - is not a portrait but a study of
a girl's head, known in Vermeer's day as a "tronie". Partly because of this,
the work cannot be distinguished from several other "heads", and thus its
provenance can only be traced back as far as 1882, when it was acquired
by the art collection of Dutchman A. A. des Tombe. In 1903 it was donated
to the Mauritshuis museum in The Hague.
THE MEANING OF THE GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING
The final but most noticeable feature of this picture is the girl's enormous, tear-shaped pearl
earring. A similar item of jewelry can be seen in A Woman Brought a Letter by a Maid (aka Lady
with Her Maidservant) (c.1667, Frick Collection, New York). This pearl earring, possibly along
with the girl's turban, may unlock the meaning of the painting.
It seems that the message of the painting derives from ideas expressed by the mystic St Francis
De Sales (1567-1622) in the Introduction to the Devout Life (1608), published in Holland in
1616. In a nutshell, De Sales wrote that women should protect their ears from unclean words,
and that they should allow them to hear only chaste words - the "oriental pearls of the gospel."
Using this text as a reference, it seems that the pearl earring in Vermeer's painting represents
chastity, while the "oriental" element mentioned is illustrated by the girl's turban. (For a
painting promoting virtue and industry, see The Lacemaker (c.1669, Louvre, Paris.)
Vermeer documentary: HERE
Another Great film is: Tim’s Vermeer. This can be purchased online. It tells the story of
one man’s quest to recreate Vermeer’s painting techniques and discover the mystery
behind his methods. It is a great film, but
REMBRANDT SELF PORTRAIT BY REMBRANDT 1669
The dozens of self-portraits by Rembrandt were an
important part of his oeuvre. Rembrandt created
approaching one hundred self-portraits including over forty
paintings, thirty-one etchings and about seven drawings;
some remain uncertain as to the identity of either the
subject (mostly etchings) or the artist (mostly paintings), or
the definition of a portrait.
Self-Portrait at the Age of 63 is a self-portrait by the
Dutch artist Rembrandt. One of three dating to 1669, it
was one of the last in his series of around 80 self-portraits,
painted in the months before his death in October 1669.
Despite the closeness of his death, and the concentration
on his aging face, Rembrandt makes an impression of a
self-assured and confident artist. It was bought by
the National Gallery, London in 1851.
THE GREAT WAVE, FROM THE SERIES THIRTY-SIX VIEWS OF
MOUNT FUJI (FUGAKU SANJŪROKKEI) CA. 1830–32
1. Though it’s named for a wave, it’s also hiding a mountain.
Look just right of center. What you might have mistaken for another cresting wave is actually snow-capped
Mount Fuji, the highest peak in Japan.
2. It's a print series, not a painting.
Though Hokusai was also a painter, the Edo period (1603-1868 in Japan) artist was best known for his
woodblock prints. The Great Wave off Kanagawa has become the most famous of his series Thirty-six
Views of Mount Fuji. Full of vibrant color and compelling use of space, each of these prints depicts the
towering peak from a different angle and environment.
3. Making this series was a savvy business move.
Mount Fuji is considered sacred by many and has inspired a literal cult following. So a series of portrait
prints, easily mass-produced and sold at cheap prices, was a no-brainer. But when tourism to Japan later
blossomed, the prints enjoyed a resurgence as part of a booming industry for souvenirs, especially if they
depicted its magnificent mountain.
THE GREAT WAVE OF KANAGAWA BY HOKUSAI 1830-32
4. Hokusai had been painting for 60 years before creating this Wave.
His exact age has been difficult to pin down at the time of The Great Wave off Kanagawa's making. However, it's commonly believed
he was in his seventies. Hokusai began painting at age 6, and at 14, he served as an apprentice to a wood-carver. By 18, Hokusai was
taking lessons from ukiyo-e style printmaker Katsukawa Shunshō. Unbeknownst to the young aspiring artist, this path would lead to
Japan's most iconic work of art.
5. The Great Wave off Kanagawa can be seen in museums all around the world.
Because it is a woodblock print, there are lots of Great Waves to go around. The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, the
British Museum of London, the Art Institute of Chicago, LACMA of Los Angeles, Melbourne's National Gallery of Victoria, and Claude
Monet's oft-portrayed home and garden all boast a print in their public displays.
6. Japan delayed this Wave from catching on worldwide.
The Great Wave off Kanagawa was likely printed between 1829 and 1832, but at the time, Japan was not engaging culturally with
other nations except for trade with China and Korea, which was strictly controlled, and the Dutch, who were only allowed to operate in
Nagasaki. Nearly 30 years would pass before political pressure pushed Japan to open up its ports and exports to foreign nations. In
1859, a wave of Japanese prints flowed across Europe, winning adoration from the likes of Vincent Van Gogh, James Abbott McNeill
Whistler, and Claude Monet.
7. Japanese politicians and art historians didn’t view it as real art.
The Great Wave off Kanagawa rose to such fame that it became a definitive representation of Japanese art and culture to most of the
world. But as art historian Christine Guth of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London explains, "Within Japan,
woodblock prints weren’t seen as art, they were seen as a popular form of expression and commercial printing." Once used for
Buddhist text, woodblock prints had become synonymous with illustrations for poems and romance novels. So, Japan's government
officials and art historians were less than thrilled that such a seemingly lowbrow art form had come to define them.
THE THINKER BY RODIN (1880) BRONZE
The Thinker was initially named The Poet and was
part of a large commission begun in 1880 for a
doorway surround called The Gates of Hell.
Rodin based this on The Divine
Comedy of Dante Alighieri.
There are about 28 full-sized castings, in which
the figure is about 186 cm high, though not all
were made during Rodin's lifetime and under his
Some people believe the thinker is
Dante, other believe it is Rodin himself.
THE GATES OF HELL BY RODIN
The sculpture was commissioned by
the Directorate of Fine Arts in 1880
and was meant to be delivered in 1885.
Rodin would continue to work on and
off on this project for 37 years, until his
death in 1917.
“What makes my Thinker think is
that he thinks not only with his
brain, with his knitted brow, his
distended nostrils and compressed
lips, but with every muscle of his
arms, back, and legs, with his
clenched fist and gripping toes” –
CLAUDE MONET, REFLECTIONS OF CLOUDS ON THE WATER-LILY POND,
(78.74 × 502.36 IN), MUSEUM OF MODERN ART, NEW YORK CITY
CLAUDE MONET (1840-1926) FRENCH
Oscar-Claude Monet (UK: /ˈmɒneɪ/, US: /moʊˈneɪ/, French: [klod mɔnɛ]; 14 November 1840 – 5 December 1926)
Monet is considered the father
of the French painting
movement known as
Impressionism challenged the
conventions of the time by focusing on
painting the outdoors in one sitting. It
emphasized the light and the moment
and depicted everyday life in France.
DANCE A LE MOULIN DE LA GOLLETTE BY RENOIR (1876)
Dance at Le moulin de la Galette is an 1876
painting by French artist Pierre-Auguste Renoir. It is
housed at the Musée d'Orsay in Paris and is one
of Impressionism’s most celebrated masterpieces.
The painting depicts a typical Sunday afternoon at
the original Moulin de la Galette in the district
of Montmartre in Paris. In the late 19th century,
working class Parisians would dress up and spend
time there dancing, drinking, and eating into the
Like other works of Renoir's early maturity, Bal du
moulin de la Galette is a typically Impressionist
snapshot of real life. It shows a richness of form, a
fluidity of brush stroke, and a flickering, sun-
1. Renoir could’ve pursued other ambitions instead of being a painter.
He had a much greater talent for singing, but had to stop taking lessons with the
church choir-master due to family financial problems.
Renoir then got an apprenticeship at a porcelain factory, where the owner noticed
talent. The apprenticeship ended when the factory began using machines.
2. Renoir would often visit the Louvre as a young man, as it was situated
near the porcelain factory.
He taught himself to paint by copying the great works of art hanging
The Louvre eventually purchased one of Auguste Renoir’s paintings
Apart from being an Impressionist master, Pierre-Auguste
Renoir is a shining example of how far grit and
determination will take one who truly aspires to be an
artist. His work went on to inspire the artists of the Fauvist
and Cubist movements. Today, his warmly colored but
accurate impressions continue to inspire. Do you like
Renoir’s paintings? Let us know in the comments section!
BASKET OF APPLES BY CEZANNE (1895)
Art, Paul Cézanne once claimed, is "a harmony running parallel to
nature," not an imitation of nature.
In his quest for underlying structure and composition, he
recognized that the artist is not bound to represent real
objects in real space. Thus, The Basket of Apples contains
one of his signature tilted tables, an impossible rectangle
with no right angles. On it, a basket of apples pitches
forward from a slab-like base, seemingly balanced by the
bottle and the tablecloth’s thick, sculptural folds. The heavy
modeling, solid brushstrokes, and glowing colors give the
composition a density and dynamism that a more realistic
still life could never possess. This painting was part of an
important exhibition urged on the artist by the Parisian art
dealer Ambroise Vollard in 1895. Since Cézanne had spent
the majority of his career painting in isolation in his native
Provence, this was the first opportunity in nearly twenty
years for the public to see the work of the artist who is now
hailed as the father of modern painting.
STARRY NIGHT BY VINCENT VAN GOGH (1889)
The Starry Night is an oil on canvas by the
Dutch post-impressionist painter Vincent van Gogh.
Painted in June 1889, it describes the view from the
east-facing window of his asylum room at Saint-
Rémy-de-Provence, just before sunrise, with the
addition of an ideal village.
1. It Depicts Van Gogh’s view from an asylum.
After experiencing a mental breakdown in the winter of 1888, van Gogh checked himself in to the Saint-Paul-de-
near Saint-Rémy-de-Provence. The view became the basis of his most iconic work. Of his inspiration, van Gogh wrote in one
his many letters to his brother Theo, "This morning I saw the country from my window a long time before sunrise, with
but the morning star, which looked very big."
2. He left out the iron bars.
Art historians have determined that van Gogh took some liberties with the view from his second story bedroom window, a
supported by the fact that the studio in which he painted was on the building's first floor. He also left out the window's less-
than-welcoming bars, a detail he included in another letter to Theo. In May of 1889, he wrote, "Through the iron-barred
I can see an enclosed square of wheat ... above which, in the morning, I watch the sun rise in all its glory."
3. The village was more creative license than reality.
From his window, van Gogh wouldn't have been able to see Saint-Rémy. However, art historians differ on whether the village
presented in The Starry Night is pulled from one of van Gogh's charcoal sketches of the French town or if it is actually
his homeland, the Netherlands.
4. The Starry Night may be about mortality.
The dark spires in the foreground are cypress trees, plants most often associated with cemeteries and death. This connection
gives a special significance to this van Gogh quote, "Looking at the stars always makes me dream. Why, I ask myself, shouldn't
the shining dots of the sky be as accessible as the black dots on the map of France? Just as we take the train to get to
or Rouen, we take death to reach a star."
Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte
Georges-Pierre Seurat was a
French post-Impressionist artist.
He is best known for devising the
painting techniques known as
His large-scale work, A Sunday
Afternoon on the Island of La
Grande Jatte, altered the direction
of modern art by initiating Neo-
impressionism, and is one of the
icons of late 19th-century painting.
Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte
1. A Sunday on La Grande Jatte —1884 is made up of millions of dots.
Forging the new style with this first-of-its-kind painting, Seurat became the father of Pointillism and of Neo-Impressionism. However,
he preferred to call his technique "chromo-luminarism," a term he felt better stressed its focus on color and light.
2. It took Seurat more than two years to complete.
This complicated masterpiece of Pointillism began in 1884 with a series of almost 60 sketches Seurat made while people watching at
the Paris park. Next he started painting, using small horizontal brush strokes. After this initial work, he began the labor-intensive
realization of his vision with tiny dots of paint—a process that would not be completed until the spring of 1886.
3. Science was Seurat’s major muse for color choices.
"Some say they see poetry in my paintings," Seurat said. "I see only science." The artist was fascinated by the color theories of
scientists Michel Eugène Chevreul and Ogden Rood, and he explored Divisionism in A Sunday on La Grande Jatte —1884. This
painting method utilizes colors in patches that essentially trick the human eye into blending them, creating luminance and shape.
4. Ancient Egyptian, Greek, and Phoenician art inspired the Parisian scene.
Seurat sought to capture the people of his Paris just as these eras immortalized their citizens. Or as he once put it to French poet
Gustave Kahn, "The Panathenaeans of Phidias formed a procession. I want to make modern people, in their essential traits, move
about as they do on those friezes, and place them on canvases organized by harmonies of color."
5. Critics initially hated it.
Seurat's groundbreaking techniques were a major turnoff for some critics at the Impressionist exhibit where A Sunday on La Grande
Jatte —1884 debuted in 1886. Other observers sneered at the rigid profiles of Seurat’s subjects. Meant to recall Egyptian
hieroglyphics, these poses were negatively compared to tin soldiers.
THE SCREAM BY EDVARD MUNCH 1893
The agonized face in the painting has become one of
the most iconic images of art, seen as symbolizing the
anxiety of the human condition.
Munch recalled that he had been out for a
walk at sunset when suddenly the setting
sunlight turned the clouds "a blood red". He
sensed an ‘infinite scream passing through
Scholars have located the spot to a fjord overlooking Oslo,
and have suggested other explanations for the unnaturally
orange sky, ranging from the effects of a volcanic eruption
to a psychological reaction by Munch to his sister’s
commitment at a nearby mental health asylum.
Wassily Kandinsky's first abstract watercolor, Untitled (Study for Composition VII, Première
abstraction), painted in 1913 is one of the first artworks to emerge from the representational tradition
of Western European painting entirely, shedding references to well known forms, conventions of material
representation and all narrative allusions. The watercolor is the first extant entry in Wassily Kandinsky's
parallel series of abstract "Compositions" and "Improvisations" that began to emerge during his Blue
AMERICAN GOTHIC BY GRANT WOOD 1930
American Gothic is a 1930 painting by Grant
Wood in the collection of the Art Institute of
Chicago. Wood was inspired to paint what is
now known as the American Gothic House in
Eldon, Iowa, along with "the kind of people I
fancied should live in that house". It depicts a
farmer standing beside his daughter – often
mistakenly assumed to be his wife
BLUE AND GREEN MUSIC BY GEORGIA O’KEEFFE 1921
Painted in her New York years upon the idea that
music could be translated into something for the
eye, Blue and Green Music is a work of rhythm,
movement, color, depth, and form. It is also one of
the paintings that was expressed by her feelings.
COW’S SKULL RED WHITE AND BLUE BY GEORGIA O’KEEFFE 1931
THE FLOWER CARRIER BY DIEGO RIVERA 1935
Known in its native tongue as
"Cargador de Flores," The Flower
Carrier was painted by Diego
Rivera in 1935. Widely considered
to be the greatest Mexican
painter of the twentieth century,
Rivera was known for his simple
paintings dominated by their
bright colors and The Flower
Carrier is no exception.