Saturday, February 3, 2018

03 Paintings, Olympian deities, by the Old Masters, with footnotes # 13

George Frederick Watts, 1817 - 1904
Oil on panel
24 1/4 by 23 3/4 in., 61.6 by 60.3 cm
Private collection

Undine is a fairy-tale novella by Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué in which Undine, a water spirit, marries a knight named Huldebrand in order to gain a soul. It is an early German romance, which has been translated into English and other languages.

During the nineteenth century the book was very popular. The story is descended from Melusine, the French folk-tale of a water-sprite who marries a knight on condition that he shall never see her on Saturdays, when she resumes her mermaid shape. It was also inspired by works by the occultist Paracelsus. More on Udine

George Frederic Watts OM RA (London 23 February 1817 – 1 July 1904) was a popular English Victorian painter and sculptor associated with the Symbolist movement. He said "I paint ideas, not things." Watts became famous in his lifetime for his allegorical works, such as Hope and Love and Life. These paintings were intended to form part of an epic symbolic cycle called the "House of Life", in which the emotions and aspirations of life would all be represented in a universal symbolic language. More on George Frederic

Luca Giordano, called Luca Fa Presto
signed on the rock lower center: .LG. (in ligature)
oil on canvas
70 1/8  by 89 7/8  in.; 180 by 228.3 cm.
Private collection

The scene is set in the "underground cavern and galleries leading from [Mount] Etna" on the island of Sicily, the location of Vulcan's forge, as described in the Aeneid (8.370-453). Here, Vulcan-- the god of fire and metalworking—engages in discourse with his wife Venus as he and his workers create what will become arms that she will later give to her mortal son Aeneas. At Venus’ side is Cupid, who clings to her for protection amidst the fire and cacophony of sound.  More on this painting

Luca Giordano (18 October 1634 – 12 January 1705) was an Italian late Baroque painter and printmaker in etching. Fluent and decorative, he worked successfully in Naples and Rome, Florence and Venice, before spending a decade in Spain.

Born in Naples, Giordano was the son of the painter Antonio Giordano. In around 1650 he was apprenticed to Ribera, and his early work was heavily influenced by his teacher. Like Ribera, he painted many half-length figures of philosophers, either imaginary portraits of specific figures, or generic types.

He acquired the nickname Luca fa presto, which translates into "Luca paints quickly." His speed, in design as well as handiwork, and his versatility, which enabled him to imitate other painters deceptively, earned for him two other epithets, "The Thunderbolt" (Fulmine) and "The Proteus" of painting.

Following a period studying in Rome, Parma and Venice, Giordano developed an elaborate Baroque style fusing Venetian and Roman Influences. His mature work combines the ornamental pomp of Paul Veronese with the lively complex schemes, the "grand manner", of Pietro da Cortona. He is also noted for his lively and showy use of colour. More Luca Giordano

Frederic, Lord Leighton, P.R.A., 1830-1896
oil on canvas
58 by 18 3/4 in., 147.3 by 47.6 cm
Private collection

Venus and Love/ Venus and Cupid. Different tales exist about the origin of Venus and Cupid. Some say that Venus, the goddess of love and beauty, had a love affair with Mars, the god of war. Out of this relationship, Cupid was born. 

Cupid has attributes from both of his parents. Like his mother he is considered to be the god of love, or more precisely, the god of falling in love. He is portrayed as an innocent little child with bow and arrows. He shoots arrows to the heart, and awakening a love that you’re powerless to resist.

Venus and Cupid are often shown in intimate poses, reflecting the unique love between mother and child. More Venus and Love

Frederic, Lord Leighton, P.R.A., 1830-1896

Frederic Leighton, 1830–1896, British, English. (Born Scarborough, 3 December 1830; died London, 25 January 1896). English painter, draughtsman, and occasional sculptor, one of the dominant figures of late Victorian art. He travelled widely in Europe as a boy and his artistic education was gained principally in Frankfurt, Rome, and Paris. It was not until 1859 that he settled in England, but he had earlier made his name with Cimabue's Celebrated Madonna is Carried in Procession through the Streets of Florence, which he painted in Rome: it was exhibited at the 1855 Royal Academy exhibition and bought by Queen Victoria (it is now on loan from the Royal Collection to the National Gallery, London).

From the mid-1860s he enjoyed a level of worldly success. He became president of the Royal Academy in 1878, was made a baronet in 1886, and a few days before he died was raised to the peerage, the first (and so far only) British artist to be so honoured. 

He is best known for his paintings of classical Greek subjects, the finest of which are distinguished by magnificently opulent colouring as well as splendid draughtsmanship. As a sculptor his output was small. The finished life-size bronze is in Tate Britain and there are various smaller models and versions, including one in Leighton House, the sumptuously decorated house and studio he built in the fashionable Holland Park area of London, now a museum dedicated to him. More Frederic Leighton

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