Thursday, November 03, 2005

Rembrandt 400

On 15 July 2006, the world celebrates the 400th birthday of world-famous 17th century painter Rembrandt van Rijn. This is why the greatest Dutch painter of the Golden Age is put into the spotlight throughout the coming year. The master is being honored on this occasion by many special exhibitions and activities taking place in Leiden - the city where Rembrandt was born, Amsterdem and other cities. Never before did you see such an extensive collection of well-known and less known works of Rembrandt. This is your excuse to pack your bags and jet off to Holland. To find out more about the events and exhibitions that are part of Rembrandt 400 celebrations, click here.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

A Night Sky I will Never Forget!

The Starry Night. Saint Rémy, June 1889
Vincent van Gogh, 1853-1890
The Museum of Modern Art, New York
The Starry Night was what Van Gogh saw when he looked at the night sky. His night sky looks so full of the energy of nature that it terrifies me. Below the exploding stars, the village is a place of quiet order. Connecting earth and sky is the flamelike cypress, a tree traditionally associated with graveyards and mourning. Its undoubtably a great painting. But unlike the very happy Sunflower series, this is a very restless and charged painting. The Starry Night was completed near the mental asylum (where he had admitted himself to find a cure for his mental instability) of Saint-Remy, 13 months before Van Gogh's death at the age of 37.
Great Painting, and a night sky I will never forget.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

A painting full of paintings!

Confused? This ten feet long painting, Vedute di Roma Antica, painted by Giovanni Paolo Panini in 1756-57, hangs in the Louvre, Paris. When I saw it first, I was mesmerised by the level of architectural details captured on the canvas! The painting depicts a massive vaulted hall, chockablock with Panini paintings-within-the-painting that show recognizable ancient Roman monuments. Scattered around the gallery, are several visiting art students and connoisseurs, and the painter himself presides in the center of it all. Unbelievably descriptive, the painting brings to life the historical and famous monuments of Rome, including the Colosseum, the Pantheon, the Column of Trajan , various triumphal arches dedicated to rulers of Rome, and other significant ruins of antiquity. The companion piece, Vedute di Roma Moderna(1757), presents a brighter yet equally jam-packed hall, filled wall-to-wall with paintings of noteworthy architectural achievements of the 18th century.

Pannini's paintings catered primarily to the French Aristocracy visiting Rome, who wanted to capture and store the views of Rome that so enthralled them. Many of them liked to return with evocative souvenirs of the classical sites visited during their Grand Tours of Rome.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

A chance to own a Monet!!

The days of dotcom gold are over! ;-) So I am unlikely to bid at the upcoming Impressionist & Modern Art Auction at Christie's on November 1, 2005. :-) But here's a chance for you to bid for a Monet canvas.

Nymphéas, 1907
Claude Monet (1840-1926)
Estimated Value: 10,000,000 - 15,000,000 U.S. dollars

The subject of myriad interpretations by the artist, water lilies, became Monet's favorite motif in his twilight years. The first owner of the present picture was Henri Canonne, a Parisian pharmaceutical tycoon and a leading collector of Impressionist paintings. Canonne owned more than forty paintings by Monet in the course of his career, including seventeen canvases from the Nymphéas series.

Route à Louveciennes, effet de neige, 1869-1870
Claude Monet (1840-1926)
Estimated Value: 4,000,000 - 6,000,000 U.S. dollars

The present canvas is one of five snowscapes that Monet painted during the winter of 1869-1870. The artist and his family had settled earlier in the year at Bougival, a picturesque suburban enclave about twenty kilometers west of Paris. This canvas was painted during a visit that Monet made in December and January to see Pissarro, who was living in the neighboring town of Louveciennes. As soon as the snowstorm subsided, Monet and Pissarro ventured outside and began to paint views of the road where Pissarro lived, the route de versailles.

Les rosiers dans le jardin de Montgeron, 1876
Claude Monet (1840-1926)
Estimated Value: 4,000,000 - 6,000,000 U.S. dollars

This lush and ebullient garden scene is a large-scale oil study for one of four decorative panels that Monet made in 1876 for Ernest Hoschedé, a preeminent early collector of Impressionist art. The paintings were commissioned for the dining room of Hoschedé's sumptuous country house, the Château de Rottenbourg, situated at Montgeron, about twenty kilometers south of Paris. Drawing upon time-honored themes for the decoration of a country house, they each depict some aspect of the grounds of the Château de Rottenbourg.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Another DaVinci Code?

I just came across this news which I dont know how I missed earlier. In July 2005, London's National Gallery's team of experts used infrared reflectography to find two distinct underdrawings beneath the surface of Leonardo da Vinci's 'Virgin of the Rocks'. Though one drawing corresponds with the final version of the painting, another shows a completely different picture of a kneeling figure. Her downcast gaze and pious gestures suggest that Leonardo's initial idea was to depict the Virgin in Adoration of the Christ Child. There is no sign of the baby Jesus, but this could be because Leonardo abandoned this idea before he came to include him.
'The Virgin of the Rocks' was painted for the Confraternity of the Immaculate Conception in Milan. Leonardo made two versions of the painting: the first (now in the Louvre in Paris) was probably sold in the 1490s to a private client after a financial wrangle with the Confraternity; and a replacement - the painting now hanging in the National Gallery - that was installed in 1508.
So why did Leonardo abandon his first underdrawing to revert to 'The Virgin of the Rocks' as he had already painted it? We will probably never know the answer, but the question will perplex art lovers and historians for many years to come.

The Virgin of the Rocks, 1491-1508
LEONARDO da Vinci, 1452 - 1519
National Gallery, London




Virgin of the Rocks, 1483-86
LEONARDO da Vinci, 1452 - 1519
Musée du Louvre, Paris

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

My son's Absolute Favorite - Sunflowers

On a non-serious note, we have a number of the Baby Einstein videos in our home, but Baby Van Gogh is my son's favourite! This video follows the antics of Vincent Van Goat, the art-loving puppet, as he creates six masterpieces, each dedicated to a particular color. For each color, they have a different painting by Van Gogh (Starry Night for blue, Sunflowers for Orange, and so on). And his absolute favorite is Sunflowers! And Vincent Van Gogh did not paint just one, but he painted a total of twelve of these canvases featuring sunflowers! While Vincent himself never actually stated why he liked the sunflowers in particular, references to them are made in his many letters, which help give us some idea. In a letter to his sister dated 21 August 1888, he talks of his friend Gauguin coming to live with him in Arles. Then goes on to say that he ‘intends to decorate the whole studio with nothing but sunflowers.’ For whatever reason he painted Sunflowers, he certainly left us a series of beautiful paintings to enjoy.

Sunflowers, 1889
VAN GOGH, Vincent, 1853 - 1890
Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam

He painted the series to decorate the room where Paul Gauguin would stay when he arrived in Arles. He chose this subject because his friend had previously admired his paintings of sunflowers run to seed. In the end, Vincent executed four sunflower still lifes; however, he felt only two were good enough to hang in Gauguin’s bedroom. He was later to paint three copies of them, one of which is the version in the Van Gogh Museum.

Sunflowers, 1888
VAN GOGH, Vincent, 1853 - 1890
The National Gallery, London

This is one of four paintings of sunflowers that Van Gogh intended to decorate Gauguin's room with. Van Gogh wrote to his brother Theo in August 1888, 'I am hard at it, painting with the enthusiasm of a Marseillais eating bouillabaisse, which won't surprise you when you know that what I'm at is the painting of some sunflowers. I am working at it every morning from sunrise on, for the flowers fade so quickly. I am now on the fourth picture of sunflowers. This fourth one is a bunch of 14 flowers ... it gives a singular effect.'

Vase with Twelve Sunflowers, 1888
VAN GOGH, Vincent, 1853 - 1890
Neue Pinakothek, Munich, Germany

This is one of four paintings of sunflowers that Van Gogh intended to decorate Gauguin's room with. This is also one of two sunflower paintings with twelve sunflowers, all the others having fifteen.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Renoir's Women

This month belongs to Renoir's Women. It is no secret that women were French painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir's favorite subjects. The Columbus Museum of Art, with the help of corporate and private sponsors, has put together an exhibition featuring more than 30 works of Renoir loaned from renowned museums around the world. On view from September 23, 2005 to January 8, 2006, this exclusive exhibition is the first to focus on Renoir’s representation of women.
Some of the exhibits on display are:

Madame Henriot
circa 1876
National Gallery of Art,
Washington, D.C.

Small Blue Nude

Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo
General Purchase Funds, 1941.