Monday, March 26, 2007


This painting shows the beach at Sainte-Adresse near Claude Monet's (1840-1926) home town of Le Havre, then a fashionable tourist resort. It was painted in 1864. Claude Monet is best known as one of the most outstanding Impressionist painters, however many of his paintings have romantic characteristics.

Late in his career Monet developed cataract disease in both eyes. This disease makes the eyes see colors differently. Whites turn to yellows, blues and purples turn to reds and
oranges and greens turn to yellow-greens.

In 1963 this picture sold for $ 585,000 in London. More recently in June 2008, Le Bassin aux Nymphéa sold for a world record bid of £40.1 million ($ 79,138,799 at today's prices before commission) ; in May 2008, Le Pont du chemin de fer à Argenteuil (1873) was sold for £21.5 million ($41 million) in New York.

Sunday, March 25, 2007


Painted in 1842 by English master Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1857), whose style can be said to have laid the foundation for Impressionism. Turner entered the Royal Academy schools in 1789, when he was only 14 years old, and was accepted into the academy a year later. He is commonly known as "the painter of light".

He died in the house of his mistress Sophia Caroline Booth in Chelsea in 1851. He is said to have uttered the last words "The sun is God" before expiring. At his request he was buried in St Paul's cathedral.

This watercolour is one of three finished drawings of this subject that are regarded as amongst the finest achievements not only of Turner, but also of the watercolour medium. The watercolour was acquired after a successful public appeal by The Art Fund which raised over £550,000 in just over 5 weeks.

It was bought for 80 guineas by Elhanan Bicknell in 1842 ; then it was successively sold at Christie’s in 1863, bought by art dealer Agnew’s for J.E.Taylor ; again sold by Christie’s in 1912 and in 1942. Agnew’s bought it again for a private collection; it was bought in 1959 at Christie's for 32450 Pounds and finally at Christie’s in 2006 for a private collection for £5,832,000 ($11,480,276).

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


George Stubbs (1724-1806) was a British painter, best known for his paintings of horses. The typical Englishman he went to Italy only to convince himself that nature was always more beautiful than art whether Greek or Roman and having convinced himself he came back to his beloved English countryside and started to paint nature until his death.

He developped a new type of animal picture full of feeling for the grandeur of nature. He made a series of drawings for a book of comparative anatomy, his scientific approach related him to Diderot.

Painted in 1781 in enamel on Wedgwood biscuit earthenware, The Labourers belonged to the collection of Sir John Wedgwood, Bt. , British politician and industrialist of John Wedgwood & Sons Ltd fame. It was bought in 1978 by the Tate Gallery for £ 300,000 ($552,000).

Saturday, March 17, 2007


This picture was made by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, born in 1617 in Seville (Spain) who died there in 1682. A Spanish painter, Murillo is one of the most important figures in Baroque painting in Spain. Although he is best known for his religious works, Murillo also produced a considerable number of paintings of contemporary women and children.

Murillo was exceedingly popular. Dutch and Flemish patrons of the arts residing in Seville eagerly bought Murillo’s works. Art lovers in Britain and Germany collected Murillo’s paintings from the early eighteenth century and by the middle of the century he was the best-known Spanish artist in France. This popularity lasted up until the end of the nineteenth century when his work lost favor because of its sweet nature.

This picture was part of the famous
auctioning off of the late Sir George Lindsay Holford's collection in May 1928 and fetched that day 5880 Pounds. It reached 6300 Pounds at the Goldsmith sale some years later and was sold in 1959 to John Carras, a Greek ship owner, for 25,000 Pounds. In 1983 it was sold for £ 378,000 ($582,000).

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


Edgar Degas (1834-1917) had a profund sense of human character. A wealthy aristocrat (de Gas) by birth, he was trained in the tradition of Ingres and when he joined the Impressionists, he did not abandon his allegiance to draftmanship.

After beginning his artistic studies with Louis Lamothes, a pupil of Ingres, he started classes at the Ecole des Beaux Arts but left in 1854 and went to Italy. He stayed there for 5 years, studying Italian art, especially Renaissance works.

Apart from sculptures, Degas worked on a considerable amount of canvasses but about 50% of them were devoted to dance and dancers. This Study of a Nude was part of the important Henri Ford II's collection sold in May 1980. It fetched $ 900,000.

Sunday, March 11, 2007


Duccio di Buoninsegna (1255-1318) was the principal painter in Siena, Florence's major rival at the beginning of the fourteenth century. Duccio's work presents a significant alternative to the style of Giotto. Just as Giotto will dominate the Florentine school for much of the rest of the fourteenth century, Duccio's style will dominate Sienese art. Duccio was a profound innovator and a master of narrative. In Duccio's work, architecture was used to integrate the figure within the drama more tellingly than ever before. For the first time in painting, architecture had a space-creating function.

In 1973 Mary, Countess of Crawford and Balcarres, sold the Crucifixion on auction for 1 million pounds ($ 1,7 million) to an unknown buyer. Duccio whose talent is immense and recognized by all has sometimes been imitated by forgers. The Madonna to the right, painted on a wooden panel ((Tempera and gold on wood, with original, engaged frame; 11 x 8 1/8 in) around the year 1300 was purchased in November 2004 by the Metropolitan in New York for an estimated sum of $ 45 million.

In 2006 James Beck, a scholar at Columbia University, stated that he believes the painting is a nineteenth century forgery; the Metropolitan Museum's curator of European Paintings has disputed Beck's assertion.

Duccio announces Giotto, fifteen years younger, who will be bolder and more dramatic.

Saturday, March 3, 2007


Painted in 1876 by Edgar Degas (1834-1917) , L'Absinthe depicts a woman and a man who sit in the typical Parisian bistro. The man, wearing a hat, looks right, off the canvas, while the woman, dressed formally and also wearing a hat, stares vacantly downward. A glass filled with the titular greenish liquid sits before her.

The painting is a representation of the increasing social isolation in Paris during its stage of rapid growth. Degas denounces the alcoholism of the French society. Nothing has really changed nowadays but nobody is interested any more in painting this sort of scene.

Edgar De Gas -he dropped the particule to adopt a more Republican Degas name- was born in Paris and is famous for his work in painting, sculpture, printmaking and drawing. He is regarded as one of the founders of Impressionism although he rejected the term, and preferred to be called a realist.

In 1892, this picture went at an auction for 150 Pounds in London where it sparks controversy. The persons represented in the painting were considered by English critics to be shockingly degraded and uncouth. Many regarded the painting as a French blow to morality. The Irish novelist George Moore described the woman in the painting as a "whore"!

It is now part of the collection of the Musée d'Orsay in Paris, France.