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At the most basic level, the painting Las Meninas by Diego Velázquez is a group portrait of the five-year-old infanta Margarita, her ladies-in-waiting, and other members of the court, the King and Queen of Spain, and Velázquez himself. At the same time, it is essentially about the relationship between reality and illusion, life and art, a consuming preoccupation during the Spanish Baroque. Also, it might be seen as a summary of Velázquez's life and art up to that point. It contains his only known self-portrait surrounded by royalty, courtiers, and objects that represent him and his milieu.

Las Meninas was among Diego Velázquez's, the leading artist of the Spanish Golden Age, final works and speaks to the fact that he was no ordinary court painter. Most scholars continue to date the painting to 1656. Although it was originally described as a painting of Philip IV's family, in 1843, the work was dubbed Las Meninas in an effort to acknowledge its status as far more than a traditional family portrait. This group portrait perhaps most fully summarizes the pinnacle of Diego Velázquez's art. It was kept in the royal palace until 1819 when it was moved to the Prado Museum in Madrid.

Many eighteenth-century artists, French Rococo painter Jean-Honoré Fragonard among them, sought ways to depict artistic inspiration. The painting Inspiration, from 1769, in popular Rococo style, differs from many of his other paintings, especially the portraits painted during his early years, in that it is warmer and more longing than the others. This portrait, likely of Louis François Prault, a publisher in Paris, is one of a series that is now known as the Fantasy Figures. The painting Inspiration is today in the Louvre Museum in Paris.

Nedelja, 12 Septembar 2021 11:04

Émile Zola and Impressionists

Famous French writer Émile Zola was a close friend of many young Impressionists artists during the early stages of his career. He spent much time with them in the cafes and bars of Paris, visited them in their studios, watched them in work, and, when needed, posed for them. Also further organized evening gatherings at his large country home from 1866 onwards. By 1868, as the critic and novelist, Émile Zola wrote in defense of the young Impressionists. In appreciation for Zola's support, Édouard Manet devoted a portrait to the writer in 1868, one of his most beautiful ever painted.

By 1874 the group of younger artists called the Anonymous Society of Painters, Sculptors, Printmakers that would become known as the Impressionists had been trying to achieve recognition by submitting their works to the annual Salon (exhibition) held by the Academy des Beaux-Arts for over a decade in an old studio that belonged to the famous photographer Nadar. Its founding members included Claude Monet, Alfred Sisley, Edgar Degas, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Berthe Morisot and Camille Pissarro, among others. But the exhibition was a bit of a bust although 3,500 people came, most attended to sneer and scoff at the works on display. Art critics did not take it seriously, and the newspaper critics were remarkably hostile.

Nedelja, 05 Septembar 2021 11:10

Impressionism: Bright and joyful painting

Impressionism is an artistic direction that emerged in French painting between 1860 and 1870 as a reaction to realism. It was set in motion with Claude Monet's painting Impression, Sunrise. This painting was first shown alongside over two hundred works by thirty artists, including Edgar Degas, Camille Pissaro, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and Alfred Sisley at what would become known as the Exhibition of the Impressionists in Paris in April 1874. However, of all of the pieces displayed there, Impression, Sunrise became the most famous due to the criticism it attracted, which gave rise to the name of the Impressionism movement.

In 1872, Claude Monet visited Le Havre, his hometown. During this holiday, he completed a series of six paintings featuring the harbor at Le Havre "during dawn, day, dusk, and dark and from varying viewpoints, some from the water itself and others from a hotel room looking down over the harbor." Impression: Sunrise resonated more strongly than other works in this series. Two years after completing this painting, Monet exhibited it in the First Impressionist Exhibition, an independent show hosted by Paris' avant-garde artists. Despite its hostile contemporary reception, the painting sold instantly and was later gifted to the Musée Marmottan in Paris where it currently resides.

The very individual style of the German-Swiss painter Paul Klee was influenced by movements in art that included expressionism, cubism, and surrealism. His artworks are often full of allusions to dreams, music, poetry. Burg und Sonne was the original title of his 1928 painting, which translates directly as Castle and Sun, capturing the main focal points of this painting. Whilst conforming to abstraction, it could be argued that Castle and Sun fits into any or all of Expressionism, Cubism, and Surrealism. Klee himself produced several of these intricate tiled scenes and this artwork becomes amongst the most reproduced of all his artworks. Today, this painting is in a private collection.

The Russian painter Mikhail Vrubel sought inspiration in literature and usually presented tragic situations or dark sides of the figures in the paintings. He painted The Swan Princess at the farm of his parents in Chernihiv province, in present-day Ukraine, in the summer of 1900. It is believed that the painting was inspired by the opera The Tale of Tsar Saltan by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov which was based on the fairytale of the same name by Alexander Pushkin. Vrubel designed the decor and costumes for this opera and his wife, opera singer Nadezhda Zabela-Vrubel, sang in the role of The Swan Princess. However, he said that he set the character of Tatiana from the poem by Eugene Onegin by Pushkin. The painting The Swan Princess is in The State Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow.

Symbolist poetry of French poet and critic Stéphane Mallarmé anticipated and inspired artistic schools of the early 20th century like Cubism, Surrealism, Futurism, and Dadaism. The idea of poetry as evocative, derived from the world of ideas, philosophy, and arguably, from the poets own drive to create something original from the depth of their being. Stéphane Mallarmé said: “The art of evoking an object little by little so as to reveal a mood or, conversely, the art of choosing an object and extracting from it an ‘etat dame’” -- a state of the soul.

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