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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.

With the end of his brush he pointed to a study of the nude, suspended from the wall near the door. It was really magnificent, full of masterly breadth of colouring. By its side were some other admirable bits, a girl’s feet exquisite in their delicate truthfulness, and a woman’s trunk with quivering satin-like skin. In his rare moments of content he felt proud of those few studies, the only ones which satisfied him, which, as it were, foretold a great painter, admirably gifted, but hampered by sudden and inexplicable fits of impotency.

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.

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