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Famous Painters Blogroll

Anguissola, Three Sisters Playing Chess and Phillip II of Spain

Bingham, Fur Traders Descending the Missouri

BonheurPlowing in the Nivernais

Bonheur, The Horse Fair

Botticelli Primavera

Caravaggio, Fashion and Art History

CaravaggioConversion of St. Paul

Caravaggio, Young, Sick Bacchus and Basket of Fruit

Caravaggio, Cardsharps and Fortune Teller

Caravaggio, St. Francis of Assisi in Ecstasy

Caravaggio, Taking of Christ (Kiss of Judas)

Caravaggio Paintings at the Villa Borghese

Cave Paintings

Cezanne, Bathers

Cezanne, Card Players

Cezanne, Most Famous Paintings 

Copley, Paul Revere

David, Death of Marat 

David, Death of Socrates

David, Napoleon Crossing the Alps

de Kooning, Retrospective at MoMA (Part I)

de Kooning,Excavation and Painting, 1948 

de KooningWoman I

Delacroix, Liberty Leading the People  

Diebenkorn, The Ocean Park Series

Duncanson, Robert Seldon.  Art History Welcomes Duncanson 

Durer, The Four Apostles

El Greco, Burial of Count Orgaz

FontanaPortrait of a Noblewoman

Frankenthaler, Color Field Painting and Mountains and Sea

Gainsborough, The Blue Boy

Gentileschi, Artemisia.  Judith Beheading Holofernes

Gentileschi, Artemisia.  Self-Portrait as an Allegory of Painting 

Ghent Altarpiece.  

Ghent Altarpiece via zoom

GiorgioneThree Philosophers 

Goya, Family of Charles IV

Goya, The Third of May 1808 

Goya, Duchess of Alba; Saturn Devouring his Son; Two Old Men; Half-Submerged Dog; Black Paintings

Grunewald, Isenheim Altarpiece

Hals, Banquet of the Officers of the St. George Civic Guard

Hals, The Laughing Cavalier

Hals, Regents of St. Elizabeth's Hospital

Hopper, Nighthawks

Ingres, Grande Odalisque and Portrait of Madame Moissetier

Isenheim Altarpiece

Kahlo, Renowned Frida Kahlo Paintings.  

Angelica Kauffmann.  Self-Portrait Torn Between Music and Painting and David Garrick.  

Klimt, The Kiss and Adele Bloch-Bauer

Leonardo, Painter at the Court of Milan, National Gallery, London 

Leonardo, La Bella Principessa 

Leonardo, New Mona Lisa

Leonardo, Benois Madonna and Madonna Litta 

Leonardo, Savior of the World(Salvator Mundi) 

Leonardo, The Virgin and Child with St. Anne

Leyster, Famous Female Painters 

ManetA Bar at the Folies-Bergere

Manet, Luncheon in the Studio

Manet, The Old Musician

Manet, Street Singer

MantegnaDead Christ

Matisse Paintings, In Search of True Painting

Matisse, The DanceThe Music

Matisse, The Cone Collection

Matisse, The Red Studio

Matisse, The Yellow Dress

Michelangelo, Crucifixion with the Madonna

Michelangelo, Famous Paintings

Michelangelo, La Pieta with Two Angels (latest attribution?)

Michelangelo, St. John the Baptist Bearing Witness

Modersohn-Becker, Famous Female Painters

Monet, Waterlilies

Morisot, Famous Paintings

MorisotMore Famous Paintings

Munch, The Scream

O'Keeffe, Jack in the Pulpit

Picasso, Girl Before a Mirror

Picasso, Nude, Green Leaves and Bust

Picasso, Portrait of Gertrude Stein

Picasso, Las Meninas

Piero della Francesca, The Baptism of Christ

Poussin, Assumption of the Virgin

Raphael, Sistine Madonna

Rembrandt, Aristotle with a Bust of Homer 

Rembrandt, Night Watch

Rembrandt paintings at Frick Show

Rembrandt, Self-Portrait at an Early AgeJeremiah Lamenting the Destruction of Jerusalem, The Jewish Bride

Rembrandt, The Syndics of the Amsterdam Drapers' Guild

Rubens, Venus and Adonis

Sanchez Cotan, Spanish Still-life

Sargent, El Jaleo

Sargent, Madame X

Steen, The Christening Feast 

Steen paintings at Frick Show

Tanner, The Banjo Lesson and The Thankful Poor

Titian, Assumption of the Virgin

Titian, Bacchus and Ariadne

Titian, Man with a Glove

Titian, Nymph and Shepherd, Allegory of Prudence, Jacopa Strada, St. Jerome, Slaying of Marysas

Titian, Rape of Europa

Uccello, Battle of San Romano

van der Weyden, St. Luke Drawing the Virgin

Velazquez, Pope Innocent X

Vincent van Gogh paintings up to 1889

Vincent van Gogh paintings, 1888-1890

van Eyck, Arnolfini Portrait

van Eyck, Adoration of the Lamb

van Eyck, Ghent Altarpiece

van Gogh, The Potato Eaters

van GoghMemory of Garden at Etten; Tatched Cottages; White House

van Gogh,  Portrait of Madam Trabuc; Morning: Going Out

van Gogh, Starry Night

Velazquez, Juan de Pareja

Vermeer, Girl with a Pearl Earring

Vermeer, The Kitchen Maid

Vermeer, The Allegory of Painting

VermeerGirl with the Red Hat

Warhol, Campbell's Soup Cans

Warhol, Marilyn Diptych and Gold Marilyn 

Warhol, Mao 

Anders Zorn

Famous Paintings by Art Museums - ebooks

Learn about famous paintings to see in these art museums:

Albright-Knox Art Gallery (Buffalo, NY). One of those intimate, small art museums with a stellar collectionFamous Paintings at Albright-Knox. 

Art Institute of Chicago: Plan to see these famous paintings at the Art Institute -- and download an ebook about them.

Louvre Museum, (Paris): one of the largest art museums in the world! Know which Louvre paintings not to miss in this sortable ebook. 

Mauritshuis Museum: explore works by renowned Dutch painters

Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York City): download the ebook, Famous-Paintings-Metropolitan-Museum, to learn its must-see masterpieces.

National Gallery (London): with 2300 famous paintings alone in its European painting section, discover highlights to see!  Art Paintings to See at the National Gallery.

Rijksmuseum (Amsterdam): 10 famous paintings not to miss

Washington, D.C. Art Museums: Explore forty famous paintings in Washington, DC in this article.

Most Popular Posts

Michelangelo PaintingsThe Torment of Saint Anthony; The Manchester Madonna;Holy Family (Doni Tondo); and Entombment

Cave Paintings: explore this prehistoric art in Spain and France.

Picasso's Las Meninas: 58 Picasso paintings inspired by Velazquez's Las Meninas

Ghent Altarpiece: the van Eyck masterpiece, one of the most famous artworks ever made. 

Survey of Renaissance Paintings: want to know what Renaissance paintings were all about? Start with 20 of its most famous painters in this sweeping survey! 

Discover more of readers' favorite art history blog posts. 

Female Artists

While we long for the time when artists are artists and genderless, that time isn't yet here.

These are a few of the female artists who've left lasting legacies in the history of painting:

Sofonisba AnguissolaThree Sisters Playing ChessPhillip II of Spain

Rosa Bonheur.  Plowing in the Nivernais.  Horse Fair.

Lavinia Fontana. Portrait of a Noblewoman.

Helen Frankenthaler. Color Field Painting and Mountains and Sea. 

Artemisia Gentileschi.  Judith Beheading Holofernes.  Self-Portrait as an Allegory of Painting.

Frida Kahlo.  Frida and Diego Rivera.  The Two Fridas.  The Love Embrace of the Universe. 

Angelica Kauffmann.  Self-Portrait Torn Between Music and Painting.  David Garrick.

Judith Leyster.  Self-Portrait.  The Proposition. 

Paula Modersohn-Becker. Self-Portrait with an Amber Necklace. Still Life with Goldfish. 

Berthe Morisot.  Refuge in Normandy.  The Cradle. 

Georgia O'Keeffe. Jack in the Pulpit Series. 

Survey of Female Artists

Art History Other

Art History Blogs

ArtDaily: daily breaking news about art museums and art history.

Art Blog by Bob: this brilliant art history blogger of Picture This on Big Think.

Art History Resources. Unwieldly but informative.

Marisol Roman.  A Spanish art history blog.

Mother of all Art & Art History Links: extensive list of online art history resources (including images, research resources, and art history depts.)

smARThistory. Think online art history textbook.  Brilliant. 

Art History Beyond Europe

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Medieval Art: Book of Kells

  
  
  

An art history blog post from Famous Paintings Reviewed.

Arguably, the most notable masterpiece of medieval art is the incomparable Book of Kells, a 680 page Latin manuscript of the Four Gospels. While most illuminated manuscripts book of kells detail resized 600were designed for use by missionaries - the shorter text was easier to carry - the Book of Kells was intended for display. And to convert souls into the Christian church.

Here is a brief look at this masterpiece of Celtic art.

Book of Kells, detail of Chi-Rho-Iota, folio 34r.  Ink and pigment on vellum, ca. 800 

Materials Used in Illuminated Manuscripts

Before the invention of movable type in the mid 1400s, medieval books were made by hand, typically by monks and nuns working in a scriptorium, or workshop, within their monasteries and convents, respectively.  

Paper didn't come into general use in Europe until the 1400s, so these medieval books were "published" on either:

  • vellum, which was soft and pliable; or on
  • parchment, which was stiffer and shinier.

Both materials were prepared by scraping, cleaning and stretching animal skins.  The hide from one animal sufficed for a double sheet of vellum (1).  Experts contend that the Book of Kells, also known as the Book of Columba, required skins from between 150 calves (2) to 200 calves (3). 

Because vellum and parchment were so costly, artists practiced their designs on wax tablets before poking minute holes into the material to mark final writing and drawing surfaces.  

The pigments used came from diverse local, natural sources such as red lead,

Right, Book of Kells, The Four Evangelists, folio 27v. Ink and pigment on vellum, ca. 800.

chalk and woad, or were imported, like lapis lazuli and kermes, a red pigment produced from a Mediterranean insect. 

History of the Book of Kells

book of kells four evangelistsMost art historians concur that the Book of Kells dates from around 800, and was started in the Scottish island of Iona.  

There, a group of monasteries were dedicated to studying Saint Columba (to whom the Book is dedicated).

Right, Book of Kells, The Four Evangelists, folio 27v. Ink and pigment on vellum, ca. 800.

After numerous Viking raids in the early 9th century, the monks of Iona relocated to the monastery of Kells in County Meath, Ireland. 

Perhaps this sudden exodus explains why this illuminated manuscript was never completed.

The Book of Kells was stolen in 1007 and damaged: its solid gold covers were removed; some of the pages at the front and back were torn out; and all 680 pages were trimmed by about an inch (a paring which remains an art history mystery, as far as I can assess).

Since the 17th century, the book has been uneventfully housed in the library of Trinity College in Dublin.

Composition of the Book of Kells

The 680 pages of the Book are comprised of breath-taking calligraphy, Biblical scenes, and portrayals of the Four Evangelists, who appear often in medieval art in the frontispieces to their respective Gospels.  

Each of the Evangelists has his own symbol derived from Biblical passages (above right):

  • because the Gospel of Mark starts with a voice crying in the wilderness, his symbol is that of a lion, the ruler of the desert;
  • Luke's symbol is of an ox, because his Gospel begins with Zacharias killing one;
  • John's symbol is the eagle, derived from his far-reaching visions; and 
book of kells
  • the symbol of Matthew is the winged angel or man, as his Gospel discusses the birth of Christ.

Book of Kells, Chi-Rho-Iota, folio 34r.  Ink and pigment on vellum, ca. 800

The best known illumination - and the finest, according to many - is Chi-rho-iota, the illumination facing the start of Saint Matthew's Gospel. 

The first three letters of "Christ" in Greek are chi-rho-iota (XPI), which look like the letters "P"; rather like an "R"; and an inverted "L".  Two words - autem, abbreviated as an "h", and generatio - are in the lower right, creating the phrase, "Now this is how the birth of Christ came about."

Look to the left of the Chi's vertical leg to see three angels amid the mazes of curclicues and sweeps.  The letter rho ends with a human head, a decorative flourish common in medieval
art and found on objects like the hilt of a sword or clasp of a brooch.  

book of kells virgin mary resized 600The Christian history and iconography are fascinating - the Book of Kells features the oldest existing image of the Virgin Mary in any Western manuscript - but I'm more intrigued by other aspects of the Book of Kells.

Right.  Book of Kells, Virgin Mary, folio 7v. Ink and pigment on vellum, ca. 800.

It's as if abstract expressionism did a makeover of Biblical imagery and symbols.  Some of the Book's designs, executed most often in sienna, pink, purple, lilac, green, red and yellow, are of such vitality and intensity that they belie the Book's age of 1200 years.

It's rather humbling that some of this famous artwork might pass as modern, isn't it?

 

 

Footnotes:

1. Dorling Kindersley et al., Art: Over 2500 Works From Cave to Contemporary (New York, NY: DK Publishing) 71. 

2.  Marilyn Stokstad.  Art History: Volume 1 (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1995) 486.

3. Dorling Kindersley et al., 71.





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