Thursday, January 31, 2008


This picture by Dutch painter Gérard David (1460-1523 ), not to be confused with French Jacques Louis David ( 1748-1825 ) was an early Netherlandish painter and manuscript illuminator known for his brilliant use of color (see picture below).

David had been completely forgotten when in the early 1860s he was rescued from oblivion by William Henry James Weale, whose researches in the archives of Bruges brought to light the main facts of the painter's life and led to the reconstruction of David's artistic personality, beginning with the recognition of David's only documented work, the
Virgin Among Virgins at Rouen.

Born in Oudewater, he was admitted to the painter's guild in Bruges in 1484. His works are mostly religious subjects, imbued with a gentle piety showing the influence of the earlier Netherlandish masters, such as Jan van Eyck and Hugo van der Goes. In 1494 David became Bruges' leading painter, after Memling died. In the 1970s this picture was found with a lot of bric-à-brac in the vestry of All Hallows Berkyngechurch-by-the-Tower, the oldest church in the city of London.

It had originally been given to the Rev. Clayton, vicar of All Hallows fron 1922 to 1963. When it came up for sale in 1973, it made
160,000 Gns. ($ 420,000).

Tuesday, January 8, 2008


Millais : The Proscribed royalist
In the last half of the 19th century there were literally scores of great art ateliers and academies turning out thousands of highly trained and accomplished artists, painting in dozens of different styles and on countless different subjects. The best of the best of these were clearly amongst the greatest geniuses in western civilization. It is an incredible irony that this greatest of all periods should have become the most denigrated.

en like William Adolphe Bouguereau, Jean-Léon Gérôme, Jules Breton, Jules Bastien-Lepage, Jean Francois Millet, Jehan Georges Vibert, Edward Burne Jones, Fredrick Lord Leighton, Edward Poynter, Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, John William Waterhouse, Leon L'hermitte, Sir Frank Dicksee, Sir John Everett Millais, Alexander Cabanel and Jules Lefebvre. These names, many of which may be new to you, were as well known by the cogniscenti in the 1890's as Cézanne, Picasso, Matisse, DeKooning, Jackson Pollock, and Andy Warhol are known today.

They were household names. People would line up sometimes for blocks to see exhibitions of their works. The rich, and the poor, the humble and the famous alike adored their work.

Men like Henry James, Frederic Chopin and Charles Dickens idolized these academic masters. Could such men that we all agree were beyond question great artistic geniuses themselves have had such bad taste so as to idolize art that today's ideologues would have us believe was so bad?