Botticelli to Van Gogh

Masterpieces from the National Gallery, London

LOOKING AT ART * THINKING ABOUT ART * TALKING ABOUT ART

St Mark’s Basilica, Venice, 12th Century ceiling mosaic

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GIOTTO c. 1297-1330 Basilica of St Francis, Assisi – IN-BETWEEN – EARLY RENAISSANCE QUALITIES

ITALIAN RENAISSANCE

Perspective * realistic figures * landscape * light * frescoes + altar pieces * religious, civic and royal commissions

Botticelli c. 1500 Florence ‘Early Life of St Zenobius’, tempera on wood

These (two) panels come from a series of four that were made by Botticelli late in his career, and which celebrate the life of Saint Zenobius, the patron saint of Florence who lived in the fifth century. The panels have the shape of paintings known as spalliere after the Italian word for shoulder: spalla. Paintings like this were usually hung at shoulder height, often in bedrooms…

Duccio c. 1307 ‘The Healing of the Blind Man’ Siena Cathedral (National Gallery London 1883)

…It shows Jesus healing a blind man, an episode told in John’s Gospel. Jesus is shown wiping a mixture – made from mud and his own spit – over the man’s eyes. The man carries a stick to guide his steps; when he, shown again at the far right of the picture, washes his face in the nearby pool, he drops his stick and looks up, cured… (National Gallery website)

Extract from Hisham Matar ‘A Month in Siena’ p.6

Titian, c. 1511-14, ‘Noli me tangere’ oil on canvas (influenced by Raphael and Michelangelo)

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In 1942, when the contents of the National Gallery had been evacuated to a Welsh slate mine to protect them from bombing, a letter to The Times expressed a sense of deprivation with the collection inaccessible to the public, and a longing for the consolations of art. The writer claimed that, with the face of London ‘scarred’ and unlovely, ‘we need more than ever to see beautiful things’, and requested that individual paintings be brought back and exhibited. In response, the gallery began its still ongoing practice of nominating a ‘picture of the month’. The first to be returned from exile in the mines was Titian’s Noli Me Tangere (c. 1514): tens of thousands of people came to view it…Kathryn Murphy: https://www.apollo-magazine.com/noli-me-tangere-depictions-touch-distance/

Seventh Art DVDTITIAN early career in Venice (12-15mins)

TITIAN ‘Charles V’ c.1548 oil on canvas (abdicated 1556 in favour of his son, Philip II and his brother Ferdinand I))

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TITIAN ‘Venus of Urbino’ c.1538 oil on canvas (influenced Rembrandt, Velazquez, Rubens, Goya, Manet…)

colour * flesh * symbolism

DUTCH GOLDEN AGENON-RELIGIOUS * LANDSCAPE * PORTRAITURE * SELF-PORTRAITS * GENRE/STILL LIFE * COLOUR * INTENSE LIGHT & SHADE

REMBRANDT, ‘Self Portrait at 34’, c.1640 (1861) oil on canvas

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https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/rembrandt-self-portrait-at-the-age-of-34

VERMEER – DOMESTIC INTERIORS * MIDDLE CLASS SUBJECTS/MUSIC * SERENE MOOD * LIGHT & SHADE *

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VERMEER at The Frick, New York

Seventh Art DVD – Vermeer Exhibition at the National Gallery (Scene 1, 5 mins; Scene IV 5 mins)

BRITISH PORTRAITURE Van DYCKCharles I’ c.1633 – Titian style (Charles executed 1649)

https://www.kanopy.com/product/frederick-wisemans-national-gallery

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SPANISH ART FROM 17TH CENTURY – Golden Age of Spanish Art (18th C British acquisitions) * dramatic grandeur * intense realism * light and shade * Italian colour * Flemish sensuality * fusion of styles * counter-reformation religious commissions

VELAZQUEZ – ‘Philip IV in Brown and Silver’ c.1631 (1882) oil on canvas

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EL GRECO – ‘Christ driving the Traders from the Temple’ c.1600 oil on canvas

GRAND TOUR (17th – 18th Centuries) Decorative * mythological * history * Venetian scenes * French countryside * portraits of foreign visitors

VERNET, (French) ‘A Sea-Shore’ (Italian) c. 1776 oil on copper (in the style of Claude Lorraine)

LANDSCAPE AND THE PICTURESQUE Ideal landscapes * calm scenes with touch of wildness * historical references * sublime natural beauty * colour * light

CLAUDE Lorraine ‘A Seaport’ c.1644 oil on canvas (French references and Roman architecture)

JMW TURNER ‘Ulysses deriding Polyphemus – Homer’s Odyssey’ 1829 oil on canvas (In 1856, the English art critic John Ruskin declared this to be ‘the central picture of Turner’s career’.)

MODERNISM – 1860-1970 * break with tradition/history/narrative * of the moment/now * capturing of light * en-plein air painting * heading towards abstraction/reduction of form * individualism * urban and pleasurable subjects * influence of non-European & “primitive” artforms eg Japanese woodblocks, African masks * WWI – more pessimistic outlook

Looking East: Youtube: Influence of Japanonisme

CEZANNE – ‘Hillside in Provence’ c.1890 oil on canvas

MONET – ‘The Water-Lily Pond’ 1899 oil on canvas

David Hockney and Van Gogh: Youtube 8 mins

David Jones, ‘Noli me tangere’ 1922 Wood engraving

Noli Me Tangere/Soldiers at the Tomb (1922), David Jones.

Touching distance – the fine art of keeping apart