Friday, November 10, 2017

08 Paintings, RELIGIOUS ART - Interpretations of the Bible! by The Old Masters, With Footnotes # 63

School of Sir Anthony van Dyck
Madonna and Child 
Oil on canvas 
34 3/4 x 28 1/2 inches (88.3 x 72.5 cm) 
Private collection

The Nursing Madonna, Virgo Lactans, or Madonna Lactans, is an iconography of the Madonna and Child in which the Virgin Mary is shown breastfeeding the infant Jesus.

The depiction is mentioned by Pope Gregory the Great, and a mosaic depiction probably of the 12th century is on the facade of Santa Maria in Trastevere in Rome, though few other examples survive from before the late Middle Ages. It continued to be found in Orthodox icons, especially in Russia.

In the Middle Ages, the middle and upper classes usually contracted breastfeeding out to wetnurses, and the depiction of the Nursing Madonna was linked with the Madonna of Humility, a depiction that showed the Virgin in more ordinary clothes than the royal robes shown, for instance, in images of the Coronation of the Virgin, and often seated on the ground. The appearance of a large number of such depictions in Tuscany in the early 14th century was something of a visual revolution for the theology of the time, compared to the Queen of Heaven depictions. After the Council of Trent in the mid-16th century, clerical writers discouraged nudity in religious subjects, and the use of the Madonna Lactans iconography began to fade away. More on the nursing Madonna

Sir Anthony van Dyck, ( 22 March 1599 – 9 December 1641) was a Flemish Baroque artist who became the leading court painter in England, after enjoying great success in Italy and Flanders. He is most famous for his portraits of Charles I of England and his family and court, painted with a relaxed elegance that was to be the dominant influence on English portrait-painting for the next 150 years. He also painted biblical and mythological subjects, displayed outstanding facility as a draughtsman, and was an important innovator in watercolour and etching. The Van Dyke beard is named after him. More Sir Anthony van Dyck

William-Adolphe Bouguereau, (1825–1905)
Berceuse (Le coucher), c. 1873
Oil on canvas
112 x 86.5 cm
Private collection

Starting in 1865, Bouguereau became enamored with the theme of mothers and children and began a series of paintings dedicated to this subject matter. 

Berceuse (Le coucher) was painted in the artist's Paris studio in 1873. In the present painting, a young Roman mother holds a naked infant and is gently moving him into his cradle. The central group is framed by the draped cradle to the left of the composition and the large stone fireplace that dominates the background. The figures, clearly a secularized interpretation of a Virgin and ChildMore on this painting

William-Adolphe Bouguereau (November 30, 1825 – August 19, 1905) was a French academic painter and traditionalist. In his realistic genre paintings he used mythological themes, making modern interpretations of classical subjects, with an emphasis on the female human body. During his life he enjoyed significant popularity in France and the United States, was given numerous official honors, and received top prices for his work. As the quintessential salon painter of his generation, he was reviled by the Impressionist avant-garde. By the early twentieth century, Bouguereau and his art fell out of favor with the public, due in part to changing tastes. In the 1980s, a revival of interest in figure painting led to a rediscovery of Bouguereau and his work. Throughout the course of his life, Bouguereau executed 822 known finished paintings, although the whereabouts of many are still unknown. More William-Adolphe Bouguereau

Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida, Valencia, 1863 - Cercedilla, Madrid, 1923
Saint in Prayer, 1888
Oil on canvas
78 x 61 cm
Museo Nacional del Prado

For Sorolla and his wife, the time spent in Italy formed part of the years at the beginning of their relationship when they confronted their first difficulties together. As late as 1915, nearly thirty years after this trip, Sorolla noted in a letter to his wife that he had ‘ordered a little frame for the Virgin you gave me when I left Spain to study in Rome. I think it looks good on it and will make me less likely to lose an object which I keep with me at all times.’ Known as Praying Saint, this picture also bears the evocative title of Figure of an Italian Saint for its obvious connections with that period, and it must have been one of the memories the couple treasured from that time. This would explain why they always kept it in a special place in their house, as revealed by many of the photographs of the artist’s various studios and dwellings. More on this painting

Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida (27 February 1863 – 10 August 1923) was a Spanish painter. Sorolla excelled in the painting of portraits, landscapes, and monumental works of social and historical themes. His most typical works are characterized by a dexterous representation of the people and landscape under the sunlight of his native land. More on Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida

Peter Paul Rubens, (1577–1640)
Daniel in the Lions' Den, between circa 1614 and circa 1616
Oil on canvas
224.2 × 330.5 cm (88.3 × 130.1 in)
National Gallery of Art

The Old Testament recounts how the Persian king Darius I "The Great" (550–486 BC) condemned the devout and steadfast Daniel to spend the night in a lions' den for worshipping God rather than him. The following morning, after the stone sealing the entrance was rolled away, the astonished Persians saw Daniel, very much alive, giving thanks to God for keeping him safe overnight: "Then said Daniel unto the king, O king, live for ever. My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions' mouths, that they have not hurt me: forasmuch as before him innocency was found in me; and also before thee, O king, have I done no hurt." (Daniel 6:21–22) For theologians, Daniel's miraculous survival in the cave symbolized the resurrection of Christ from his tomb, and the promise of God's protection to those of unwavering faith. More on this painting

Flemish School, 17th Century, Follower Peter Paul Rubens
Daniel in the lion’s den
Oak panel
9 5/8 x 12 in
Private collection

Sir Peter Paul Rubens (28 June 1577 – 30 May 1640) was a Flemish Baroque painter. A proponent of an extravagant Baroque style that emphasized movement, colour, and sensuality, Rubens is well known for his Counter-Reformation altarpieces, portraits, landscapes, and history paintings of mythological and allegorical subjects.
In addition to running a large studio in Antwerp that produced paintings popular with nobility and art collectors throughout Europe, Rubens was a classically educated humanist scholar and diplomat who was knighted by both Philip IV of Spain and Charles I of England.  More Sir Peter Paul Rubens

Attributed to Marco Pino Siena, 1521 - Naples, 1583 
Holy Family with St. John the Baptist 
Oil on panel 
h: 65.50 w: 57 cm
Private collection

Marco Pino or Marco da Siena (1521–1583) was an Italian painter of the Renaissance and Mannerist period. Born and first trained in Siena, he later worked in Rome and in Naples, where he died. He was putatively a pupil of the painters Beccafumi and Daniele da Volterra. 

Among his pupils in Messina was his son-in-law, Antonio Spanò . Fabrizio Santafede was his pupil in Naples. More on Marco Pino

Tuscan school of the sixteenth century 
Maria Madgalena, Tuscany, 16th Century 
Oil on panel 
h: 97 w: 71 cm 
Private collection

Mary Magdalene was a Jewish woman who, according to texts included in the New Testament, traveled with Jesus as one of his followers. She is said to have witnessed Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection. Based on texts of the early Christian era in the third century, it seems that her status as an “apostle" rivals even Peter's.

She is most prominent in the narrative of the crucifixion of Jesus, at which she was present. She was also present two days later, either alone or as a member of a group of women, the first to testify to the resurrection of Jesus.

Ideas that go beyond the gospel presentation of Mary Magdalene as a prominent representative of the women who followed Jesus have been put forward over the centuries.

During the Middle Ages, Mary Magdalene was regarded in Western Christianity as a repentant prostitute or promiscuous woman, claims not found in any of the four canonical gospels. More Mary Magdalene

Arts of the late 15th century and early 16th century were dominated by three men. They were Michelangelo, Raphael, and Leonardo da Vinci.

Michelangelo excelled as a painter, architect, and poet. In addition, he has been called the greatest sculptor in history. Raphael's paintings are softer in outline and more poetic than those of Michelangelo. Raphael was skilled in creating perspective and in the delicate use of color. Leonardo da Vinci painted two of the most famous works of Renaissance art, the wallpainting The Last Supper and the portrait Mona Lisa. Due to his inquiring mind, Leonardo has become a symbol of the Renaissance spirit of learning and intellectual curiosity. More on Italian art

Seventeenth century Spanish school 
The martyrdom of San Sebastian 
Oil on canvas 
h: 160 w: 106 cm 
Private collection

Saint Sebastian (died c. 288 AD) was an early Christian saint and martyr. Sebastian had prudently concealed his faith, but in 286 was detected. Diocletian reproached him for his betrayal, and he commanded him to be led to a field and there to be bound to a stake so that archers from Mauritania would shoot arrows at him. "And the archers shot at him till he was as full of arrows as an urchin is full of pricks, and thus left him there for dead." Miraculously, the arrows did not kill him.

Sebastian later stood by a staircase where the emperor was to pass and harangued Diocletian for his cruelties against Christians. This freedom of speech, and from a person whom he supposed to have been dead, greatly astonished the emperor; but, recovering from his surprise, he gave orders for his being seized and beat to death with cudgels, and his body thrown into the common sewer. A pious lady, called Lucina, admonished by the martyr in a vision, got it privately removed, and buried it in the catacombs at the entrance of the cemetery of Calixtus, where now stands the Basilica of St. Sebastian. More St. Sebastian

The Spanish Golden Age is a period of flourishing in arts and literature in Spain, coinciding with the political rise of the Spanish Habsburg dynasty. El Siglo de Oro does not imply precise dates and is usually considered to have lasted longer than an actual century. It begins no earlier than 1492, with the end of the Reconquista (Reconquest), the sea voyages of Christopher Columbus to the New World. Politically, it ends no later than 1659, with the Treaty of the Pyrenees, ratified between France and Habsburg Spain. The last great writer of the period, Pedro Calderón de la Barca, died in 1681, and his death usually is considered the end of El Siglo de Oro in the arts and literature. More on Seventeenth century Spanish school 

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Sunday, November 5, 2017

02 Paintings, RELIGIOUS ART - Interpretations of the Bible! by The Old Masters, With Footnotes # 62

Pellegrino di Mariano, (Siena active circa 1442–1492)
Madonna and Child with Saints 
Tempera on panel, gold ground
61 x 41.8 cm, integral frame 
Private collection

In the present painting, the Madonna and Child are flanked by six figures that seem to form a celestial court round them. The two patron saints of Siena are represented: Saint Catherine and Saint Bernardino, while on the right are Saint Dorothea and Saint Jerome. Representations of Saint Dorothea are rare in Sienese Quattrocento art and her presence in this painting would have had a special meaning. More on the present painting

The Madonna and Child or The Virgin and Child is often the name of a work of art which shows the Virgin Mary and the Child Jesus. The word Madonna means "My Lady" in Italian. Artworks of the Christ Child and his mother Mary are part of the Roman Catholic tradition in many parts of the world. More on The Madonna and Child

Pellegrino di Mariano, (Siena active circa 1442–1492)
Madonna and Child with Saints 
Detail of Saint Catherine

Saint Catherine of Alexandria is, according to tradition, a Christian saint and virgin, who was martyred in the early 4th century at the hands of the pagan emperor Maxentius. According to her hagiography, she was both a princess and a noted scholar, who became a Christian around the age of fourteen, and converted hundreds of people to Christianity. More on Saint Catherine of Alexandria

Pellegrino di Mariano, (Siena active circa 1442–1492)
Madonna and Child with Saints 
Detail of Bernardino of Siena

Bernardino of Siena, (8 September 1380 – 20 May 1444) was an Italian priest and Franciscan missionary. He was a systematizer of Scholastic economics. His popular preaching made him famous during his own lifetime, although it was frequently directed against sorcery, gambling, infanticide, witchcraft, sodomy, Jews, and usury. More on Bernardino

Pellegrino di Mariano, (Siena active circa 1442–1492)
Madonna and Child with Saints 
Detail of Dorothea of Caesarea

Dorothea of Caesarea  (died ca. 311) is a 4th-century virgin martyr who was executed at Caesarea Mazaca. Evidence for her actual historical existence or acta is very sparse. She is called a martyr of the Diocletianic Persecution, although her death occurred after the resignation of Diocletian himself. More on Dorothea of Caesarea

Pellegrino di Mariano, (Siena active circa 1442–1492)
Madonna and Child with Saints 
Detail of Jerome
Jerome (c.  347 – 30 September 420) was a priest, confessor, theologian and historian. He is best known for his translation of most of the Bible into Latin, and his commentaries on the Gospels. His list of writings is extensive. More on Jerome

Pellegrino di Mariano worked for Pope Pius II Piccolomini (1405-1464), as well as important institutions in Siena. He probably received formative training with Giovanni di Paolo (1398–1482) and subsequently he entered the circle of Sano di Pietro (1405–1481), the most popular artist in Sienat. Usually the iconography of his paintings was personalised through the selection of the saints by the patron and the works were conserved in private houses or in the cells of members of religious orders. 

He frequently turned to traditional images as model, but he created his own compositional solutions, which while reusing the same primary cartoon, show significant variations in many examples. More on Pellegrino di Mariano

Master of the Johnson Tabernacle, Florence active in the first half of the 15th C.
Christ as Man of Sorrows with Symbols of the Passion
Tempera and gold on panel
31 x 22.5 cm
Private collection

At the centre of the painting Christ is represented as the Man of Sorrows as he emerges from the marble sarcophagus to reveal the marks of the Crucifixion. In the lower part of the composition, the Virgin, Mary Magdalene and Saint John the Evangelist are shown mourning him.

Master of the Johnson Tabernacle, Florence active in the first half of the 15th C.
Christ as Man of Sorrows with Symbols of the Passion
Upper section

From the upper left down, the mocking of Christ by the soldiers, the column of the Flagellation, the denial of Peter, the spear of Longinus, the cut ear of Malco and, on the extreme left, the ladder used for the Crucifixion and Deposition. Represented respectively on the right are the kiss of Judas, the torch, which alludes to the Capture, the spear with the sponge soaked in vinegar, the thirty gold coins of Judas, an unidentified male figure and the washed hands of Pilate. Seen on the cross are hammers, whips, the crown of thorns as well as the cockerel that alludes to the denial of Peter. More on this painting

This artist whose identity remains unknown is conventionally referred to as the ‘Master of the Johnson Tabernacle’, named after a tabernacle conserved in the Philadelphia Museum of Art

He was active in Florence in the mid-15th Century. More on Master of the Johnson Tabernacle

Acknowledgement: Dorotheum, and others

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Saturday, November 4, 2017

09 Paintings, Olympian deities, by the Old Masters, with footnotes # 10

Peter Paul Rubens, 1577 - 1640
Romolo e Remo/ Romulus and Remus, c. 1615/1616
Oil on Canvas
w2120 x h2130 cm
The Capitoline Museums, Rome, Italy

The canvas painting was created in the middle of the second decade of the seventeenth century in Antwerp, where the artist settled upon his return to Italy. In fact, Rubens was one of the first foreign artist in the seventeenth century that had long, fruitful Italian experience from 1600 to 1608. In the painting, the central group derives from an ancient sculpture of the She-wolf and the twins next to the Tiber River. The artist saw and drew this sculpture group in the Vatican. More on this canvas

In Roman mythology, Romulus and Remus are twin brothers, whose story tells the events that led to the founding of the city of Rome and the Roman Kingdom by Romulus. The killing of Remus by his brother, and other tales from their story, have inspired artists throughout the ages. Since ancient times, the image of the twins being suckled by a she-wolf has been a symbol of the city of Rome and the Roman people. Although the tale takes place before the founding of Rome around 750 BC, the earliest known written account of the myth is from the late 3rd century BC. Whether the twins' myth was an original part of Roman myth or a later development is a subject of ongoing debate. More on Romulus and Remus

Sir Peter Paul Rubens (28 June 1577 – 30 May 1640) was a Flemish Baroque painter. A proponent of an extravagant Baroque style that emphasized movement, colour, and sensuality, Rubens is well known for his Counter-Reformation altarpieces, portraits, landscapes, and history paintings of mythological and allegorical subjects.
In addition to running a large studio in Antwerp that produced paintings popular with nobility and art collectors throughout Europe, Rubens was a classically educated humanist scholar and diplomat who was knighted by both Philip IV of Spain and Charles I of England.  More Sir Peter Paul Rubens

Jules-Élie Delaunay, (1828-1891)
Ixion precipitated in Hell, c. 1876
Musée des Beaux-Arts de Nantes

Punishment of Ixion. Ixion married Dia, a daughter of Deioneus and promised his father-in-law a valuable present. However, he did not pay the bride price, so Deioneus stole some of Ixion's horses in retaliation. Ixion concealed his resentment and invited his father-in-law to a feast at Larissa. When Deioneus arrived, Ixion pushed him into a bed of burning coals and wood. 

Ixion went mad, defiled by his act and thereafter, Ixion lived as an outlaw and was shunned. By killing his father-in-law, Ixion was reckoned the first man guilty of kin-slaying in Greek mythology. That alone would warrant him a terrible punishment.

However, Zeus had pity on Ixion and brought him to Olympus and introduced him at the table of the gods. Instead of being grateful, Ixion grew lustful for Hera, Zeus's wife. Zeus found out about his intentions and made a cloud in the shape of Hera, and tricked Ixion into coupling with it. From the union of Ixion and the false-Hera cloud came Centauros, engendering the race of Centaurs.

Ixion was expelled from Olympus and blasted with a thunderbolt. Zeus ordered Hermes to bind Ixion to a winged fiery wheel that was always spinning. Therefore, Ixion is bound to a burning solar wheel for all eternity, at first spinning across the heavens, but in later myth transferred to Tartarus. More on Punishment of Ixion

Jules-Élie Delaunay (June 13, 1828 – September 5, 1891) was a French academic painter. He was born at Nantes in the Loire-Atlantique département of France. Delaunay studied under Flandrin, and at the École des Beaux Arts in Paris under Lamothe. He worked in the classicist manner of Ingres until, after winning the Prix de Rome, he went to Italy; in 1856, and abandoned the ideal of Raphaelesque perfection for the sincerity and severity of the quattrocentists.

After his return from Rome he was entrusted with many important commissions for decorative paintings, such as the frescoes in the church of St Nicholas at Nantes; the three panels of Apollo, Orpheus and Amphion at the Paris Opera house; and twelve paintings for the great hall of the council of state in the Palais Royal.

In the last decade of his life he achieved great popularity as a portrait painter. He was awarded a first-class medal at the Paris Exposition of 1878, and the medal of honor in 1889. In 1878 he became an officer of the Legion of Honor, and the following year was made a member of the Institute.  More on Jules-Élie Delaunay

Isaac Moillon, PARIS 1614 - 1673
Oil on canvas
141,5 x 109 cm ; 55 3/4  by 43 in
Private collection

In Greek mythology, Helen of Troy, also known as Helen of Sparta, or simply Helen, was the daughter of Zeus and Leda, and was a sister of Clytemnestra, Castor and Pollux. In Greek myths, she was considered the most beautiful woman in the world.

Two Athenians, Theseus and Pirithous, thought that since they were both sons of gods, both of them should have divine wives; they thus pledged to help each other abduct two daughters of Zeus. Theseus chose Helen, and Pirithous vowed to marry Persephone, the wife of Hades. Theseus took Helen and left her with his mother Aethra. More on the rape of Helen

Isaac Moillon, (1614-1673), was one of the Louis XIV's painters - 'Peintre du roi'- and produced a number of cartoons for the tapestry industry in Aubusson, which was under Royal patronage. They included the suite of tapestries of a series of more than eight tapestries telling the Story of Paris and Helen, executed before 1654. Several of these suites still exist and are conserved in the Swedish Royal collection, the Hospices de Beaune in France, the chateaux of Barbentane and of Villemonteix and in the museum of Aubusson. More on Isaac Millon

François Perrier, PONTARLIER, 1594 - 1649 PARIS
Oil on canvas
160 x 96 cm ; 63 by 37 3/4  in
Private collection

Semele was a priestess of JUPITER /Zeus, and on one occasion was observed by Zeus as she slaughtered a bull at his altar and afterwards swam in the river Asopus to cleanse herself of the blood. Flying over the scene in the guise of an eagle, Zeus fell in love with Semele and repeatedly visited her secretly.

Zeus' wife, Hera, a goddess jealous of usurpers, discovered his affair with Semele when she later became pregnant. Appearing as an old crone, Hera befriended Semele, who confided in her that her lover was actually Zeus. Hera pretended not to believe her, and planted seeds of doubt in Semele's mind. Curious, Semele asked Zeus to grant her a boon. Zeus, eager to please his beloved, promised on the River Styx to grant her anything she wanted. She then demanded that Zeus reveal himself in all his glory as proof of his divinity. Though Zeus begged her not to ask this, she persisted and he was forced by his oath to comply. Zeus tried to spare her by showing her the smallest of his bolts and the sparsest thunderstorm clouds he could find. Mortals, however, cannot look upon the gods without incinerating, and she perished, consumed in lightning-ignited flame. More on Semele

Zeus rescued the fetal Dionysus, however, by sewing him into his thigh. A few months later, Dionysus was born. This leads to his being called "the twice-born".

When he grew up, Dionysus rescued his mother from Hades, and she became a goddess on Mount Olympus, with the new name Thyone, presiding over the frenzy inspired by her son Dionysus. More on Semele

François Perrier (1590–1650) was a French painter, draftsman, and printmaker. Perrier was instrumental in introducing into France the grand style of the decorative painters of the Roman Baroque. 

During the years 1620–1625, he resided in Rome, where he took as his model the practitioner of academic Baroque classicism, Giovanni Lanfranco. when he was employed on the fresco decoration of the dome of S Andrea della Valle, one of the earliest examples of Roman Baroque ceiling decoration.

On his return to France, following a brief stay in Lyon he settled in Paris in 1630. Here he worked in the classsicising circle of Simon Vouet. In 1632–1634.

Perrier returned to Rome in 1635, remaining there for the next decade. During this period he created decorations for palazzo Peretti and saw to the publication in Paris of his great repertory of images. In 1645, once again in Paris he painted the ceiling of the gallery of the Hôtel de La Vrillière, now the seat of the Banque de France, and worked with Eustache Le Sueur on the cabinet de l’amour in the Hôtel Lambert. In 1648, he was one of the twelve founders of the Académie royale de peinture et de sculpture. He died in Paris. More on François Perrier

Jules Joseph Lefebvre, 1834 - 1912
Diana surprised
Oil on canvas
National Museum of Fine Arts in Buenos Aires

The myth of Diana and Actaeon can be found within Ovid’s Metamorphoses. The tale recounts the unfortunate fate of a young hunter named Actaeon, and his encounter with chaste Artemis, known to the Romans as Diana, goddess of the hunt. The latter is nude and enjoying a bath in a spring with help from her escort of nymphs when the mortal man unwittingly stumbles upon the scene. The nymphs scream in surprise and attempt to cover Diana, who, in a fit of embarrassed fury, splashes water upon Actaeon. He is transformed into a deer with a dappled hide and long antlers, robbed of his ability to speak, and thereafter promptly flees in fear. It is not long, however, before his own hounds track him down and kill him, failing to recognize their master. More on the myth of Diana and Actaeon

Jules Joseph Lefebvre (14 March 1834 – 24 February 1912) was a French figure painter, educator and theorist. Lefebvre was born in Tournan-en-Brie, Seine-et-Marne, on 14 March 1834. He entered the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts in 1852 and was a pupil of Léon Cogniet.,He won the prestigious Prix de Rome in 1861. Between 1855 and 1898, he exhibited 72 portraits in the Paris Salon. In 1891, he became a member of the French Académie des Beaux-Arts.

He was professor at the Académie Julian in Paris. Lefebvre is chiefly important as an excellent and sympathetic teacher who numbered many Americans among his 1500 or more pupils. Among his famous students were Fernand Khnopff, Kenyon Cox, Félix Vallotton, Ernst Friedrich von Liphart, Georges Rochegrosse, the Scottish-born landscape painter William Hart, Walter Lofthouse Dean, and Edmund C. Tarbell, who became an American Impressionist painter.

Lefebvre died in Paris on 24 February 1912. More on Jules Joseph Lefebvre

Dante Gabriel Rossetti,  (1828–1882)
Venus Verticordia, c. 1864-1868
Oil on canvas
81.3 × 68 cm (32 × 26.8 in)
Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum

Venus Verticordia ("the changer of hearts") was an epithet of the Roman goddess Venus, alluding to the goddess' ability to change hearts from lust to chastity.

In the year 114 BC, three Vestal Virgins were condemned to death for transgressing with Roman knights the rigid law against sexual intercourse. To atone for their misdeeds, a shrine was dedicated to Venus Verticordia in the hope that she would turn the hearts of women and girls against licentiousness and towards chastity. Hence her name Verticordia, which means 'turner of hearts'. Under this title she was especially worshipped by married women, and on 1 April the Veneralia festival was celebrated in her honor. More on Venus Verticordia

In the 1860s, the Pre-Raphaelite movement splintered, with some of its adherents abandoning strict realism in favour of poetry and attractiveness. This move became explicit in Venus Verticordia (above), by Rossetti. Surrounding Venus, roses represent love, honeysuckle represents lust, and the bird represents the shortness of human life. She holds the Golden Apple of Discord and Cupid's arrow, thought to be a reference to the Trojan War and the destructiveness of love.

John Ruskin disliked the painting intensely. While it is now thought that his dislike of the painting was due to a dislike of the representation of the naked female form. Ruskin's hostility towards the painting led to a quarrel between Ruskin and Rossetti, and Rossetti drifted away from Pre-Raphaelite thinkings and towards the new doctrine of art for art's sake expounded by Algernon Charles Swinburne. More on this painting

Dante Gabriel Rossetti (12 May 1828 – 9 April 1882) was an English poet, illustrator, painter and translator. He founded the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood in 1848 with William Holman Hunt and John Everett Millais. Rossetti was later to be the main inspiration for a second generation of artists and writers influenced by the movement. His work also influenced the European Symbolists and was a major precursor of the Aesthetic movement.

Rossetti's personal life was closely linked to his work, especially his relationships with his models and muses Elizabeth Siddal, Fanny Cornforth and Jane Morris. More on Dante Gabriel Rossetti

William Edward Frost, SURREY 1810 - 1877 LONDRES, ÉCOLE ANGLAISE
Oil on canvas
70 x 86 cm ; 27 1/2 by 37 3/4 in.
Private collection

In Roman mythology, Flora was a Sabine-derived goddess of flowers and of the season of spring – a symbol for nature and flowers (especially the may-flower). While she was otherwise a relatively minor figure in Roman mythology, being one among several fertility goddesses, her association with the spring gave her particular importance at the coming of springtime, as did her role as goddess of youth. Her Greek counterpart was Chloris. More on Flora

William Edward Frost (September 1810 – 4 June 1877) was an English painter of the Victorian era. Virtually alone among English artists in the middle Victorian period, he devoted his practice to the portrayal of the female nude.

Frost was educated in the schools of the Royal Academy, beginning in 1829; he established a reputation as a portrait painter before branching into historical and mythological subjects, including the subgenre of fairy painting that was characteristic of Victorian art. In 1839 he won the Royal Academy's gold medal for his Prometheus Bound, and in 1843 he won a prize in the Westminster Hall competition for his Una Alarmed by Fauns (a subject from Spenser's The Faerie Queene). He was elected an associate member of the Royal Academy in 1846, and a full member in 1870.

Frost is widely recognized as a follower of William Etty, who preceded him as the primary British painter of nudes in the second quarter of the nineteenth century. Despite the prudishness of the Victorian era, Frost's relatively chaste nudes were popular, and his career was financially successful. More on William Edward Frost

Alexandre Cabanel, (French, 1823-1889)
The birth of Venus 
signed 'ALEX.CABANEL' (lower right)
oil on board
35 x 27cm (13 3/4 x 10 5/8in)
Private collection

The Birth of Venus. In Roman mythology, Venus was the goddess of love, sex, beauty, and fertility. She was the Roman counterpart to the Greek Aphrodite. However, Roman Venus had many abilities beyond the Greek Aphrodite; she was a goddess of victory, fertility, and even prostitution. According to Hesiod's Theogony, Aphrodite was born of the foam from the sea after Saturn (Greek Cronus) castrated his father Uranus (Ouranus) and his blood fell to the sea. This latter explanation appears to be more a popular theory due to the countless artworks depicting Venus rising from the sea in a clam. More The Birth of Venus

Alexandre Cabanel (28 September 1823 – 23 January 1889) was a French painter born in Montpellier, Hérault. He painted historical, classical and religious subjects in the academic style. He was also well known as a portrait painter. According to Diccionario Enciclopedico Salvat, Cabanel is the best representative of the L'art pompier and Napoleon III's preferred painter.

Cabanel entered the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris at the age of seventeen, and studied with François-Édouard Picot. He exhibited at the Paris Salon for the first time in 1844, and won the Prix de Rome scholarship in 1845 at the age of 22. Cabanel was elected a member of the Institute in 1863. He was appointed professor at the École des Beaux-Arts in 1864 and taught there until his death.

He was closely connected to the Paris Salon: "He was elected regularly to the Salon jury and his pupils could be counted by the hundred. Through them, Cabanel did more than any other artist of his generation to form the character of belle époque French painting". His refusal together with William-Adolphe Bouguereau to allow the impressionist painter Édouard Manet and many other painters to exhibit their work in the Salon of 1863 led to the establishment of the Salon des Refusés by the French government. Cabanel won the Grande Médaille d'Honneur at the Salons of 1865, 1867, and 1878. More on Alexandre Cabanel

Iva Troj, United Kingdom
Swan Daughter
Acrylic on canvas
15.7 H x 15.7 W x 0.4 in

Leda, in Greek legend, usually believed to be the daughter of Thestius, king of Aetolia, and wife of Tyndareus, king of Lacedaemon. She was also believed to have been the mother (by Zeus, who had approached and seduced her in the form of a swan) of the other twin, Pollux, and of Helen, both of whom hatched from eggs. Variant legends gave divine parentage to both the twins and possibly also to Clytemnestra, with all three of them having hatched from the eggs of Leda, while yet other legends say that Leda bore the twins to her mortal husband, Tyndareus. Still other variants say that Leda may have hatched out Helen from an egg laid by the goddess Nemesis, who was similarly approached by Zeus in the form of a swan.The divine swan’s encounter with Leda was a subject depicted by both ancient Greek and Italian Renaissance artists; Leonardo da Vinci undertook a painting (now lost) of the theme, and Correggio’s Leda (c. 1530s) is a well-known treatment of the subject. More Leda and The Swan

Iva Troj seamlessly incorporates her vast experience of traditional painting techniques with postmodern elements to create engaging Renaissance-style works that challenge the notion of societal conformity. Born in Bulgaria, based in Scandinavia and the UK, Troj creates work originating fundamentally in the crossing of two realities: the one she grew up in and the one she has embraced. 

“I’ve been told I have artistic talents since I was a little girl. The problem was I spent most of my time worrying about the meaning of it all. I grew up in a rough neighborhood, in the outskirts of Plovdiv. At times it felt like the whole place was full of violent men. My family was very strict, loving and protective of me so I managed to keep my head above water. More on Iva Troj

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