Saturday, 17 December 2011

Advent Calender - Day 17

Only 8 days to go until Christmas!

Sorry it's a bit late today. Today's offering is Bernini's sculpture in S. Andrea delle Fratte. The angels holds a crown of thorns. The drapery is dramatically sculpted, expressing movement and giving the sculpture an emotional element. This extends to the handling of the clouds on which the Angel stands.

Friday, 16 December 2011

Advent Calender - Day 16

A snowy image for what in many parts of England is a snowy day.
The angel of the north stands guarding watch over the snow covered landscape.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Advent Calender - Day 15

Today's offering is a Ruben's Nativity scene. His fleshy figures can also be encountered at the National Gallery which has a large and varied selection of this artist work.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Advent Calender - Day 14

This is one of Hogarth's 'Four Times of Day' series, namely that of 'Morning' painted in 1736, I selected this one because the cold nature of the scene seems to eminate off the page towards the viewer.

This series is 4 paintings and engravings is the slightly less well known of Hogarth's moralising series which included also the Harlot's progress, the Rake's Progress. They tended to poke fun at London Society. They were also produced as engravings in 1738, which allowed for a wide dissemination of the image throughout the city.

In this image we see a syphilis ridden lady in the courtyard of Covent Garden. A site which now looks like this and has a very different atmosphere!

The lady stands outside a notorious 'coffee-house' which had a reputation for drinking and prostitutes, essentially a far cry from Laudree which now occupies the space. We are shown the revellers from the night before spilling out of the coffee-house having just engaged in a brawl. The day is clearly bitterly cold, we see icicles hanging off the roof, cold figures hudle around a blazing fire while the footboy attending the lady seems to perceptably shiver.

The lady on the other hand stands impassive to both the cold and the lewd behaviour going on behind her eyes. She appears to hold no sympathy for the plight of the frozen begger at her feet.

Here are the rest of the paintings.

Hogarth Four Times of Day:  Noon

 Hogarth Four Times of Day: Evening

Hogarth Four Times of Day: Night

These images collectively give us an interesting image of London's past (all be it a very satirical one).

There is so much more to say and see in the Hogarth Morning image so I encourage you to take a closer look on:

Try and spot the:
  •  The syphilis spots
  •  The wig being thrown from the tavern
  •  The man trying to cop a feel
  •  The carefully placed footprints of the lady
If you cant seem them in the painting (the wig is particularlly tricky) then take a look at the engraving:

Have fun!!!

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Advent Calender - Day 13

This is one of the Andy Goldsworthy Midsummer Snowballs. In this project the sculptor distributed large balls of snow throughout the city of London which melted during the course of the day to reveal the objects within.

In this image childeren wearing their summer clothes interact with the snowballs. This sense of interaction with the work is something that the artist appears to relish in this particular project. Many of the photographs in the fantastically illustrated book on this project demonstrate this interaction by people and animals alike.

These are two further examples of this project.

Snowball next to the old city walls, containing pebbles, thereby echoing the material of the walls by which it stands

This snowball was placed outside old spitalfields market and was constantly moved around by those working there.

Here a buissness-man prods the snowball with his umbrella and you can see the effects of the snow beggining to melt, creating a puddle of water on one side and revealling the objects within.

Snow is a particularly appropriate medium for this artist who works with the transitory and ephemeral elements of nature. This ephemeral nature was brought into sharp focus when set against the pace of London life and within the foreign urban environment.

Check out my other post on Andy Goldsworthy. Two in a week!!:

For the book go to:

Monday, 12 December 2011

Advent Calender - Day 12

Not strictly a christmas image today, instead I have chosen a work by the symbolist painter Edvard Munch to celebrate his birthday on this day in 1963.

What painting could be more appropriate for a birthday then 'The Dance of Life' painted in 1900.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Pieter Bruegel the Elder - Treasure in the Attic!

It is a rare day when a museum discovers a work by an old master, especially one of this quality and with a signature to boot. So the staff at the Prado museum Spain must have thought all their Christmas's had come at once when 'The Wine of St Martin's Day' emerged.

Not only does it appear to be authentic, it has also been revealed, after the extensive cleaning work that it has been through since its discovery, to be of high quality and although in areas the paint is flaky and the painting has lost some of its original lustre the details remain fairly clear. When it was discovered it was covered in layers of dirt, this partially explains its relegation to obscurity over the last centuries as it obscured both the intricacy of the work and of course the all important signature.

There are only approximately 40 works surviving by this artist which by no means makes him the rarest artist but neither does it make him the most prolific. Furthermore this is the largest scale canvas known by Bruegel and will no doubt add vastly to the interest and scholarship on this already engaging artist.

The painting is a truly interesting and high quality work with some charming details as we would expect from a painting by Pieter Bruegel the Elder. Here we see the rosy cheeked face of a peasant fighting to fill his pot with the new wine of the season this peasants festival which celebrated the new wine also coincided with St Martin's day, thus giving the work its title.

While here we see a figure suffering the effects of over-indulgence in the wine, while behind him two individuals appear to be fighting, suggesting at the various evils of drink.

Or this detail, where we see a pick pocket taking advantage of the chaotic scene.

The painting is set to go on display at the Prado tomorrow! I only help to be able to go and see it first hand one day in the not too distant future. Until then I will have to content myself with reading about it on the incredible website resource

However there are also some fantastic works by this intriguing artist in London.

For example the very different 'The Adoration of the Kings' in the National Gallery

Or the Escape into Egypt mentioned in a previous post. in the Courtauld Collection, where you could also see Christ and the Woman taken in Adultery

Advent Calender - Day 11

What visual treat lies in store today?

Tissot's The Annuncation 1886-94

Tissot is considered one of the impressionist movement. Towards the end of his life he travelled to the Holy Land where he painted scenes from the old and new testaments, focusing upon the life of Christ. He did these studies in watercolour. This is one of those works and shows the moment where the angel appears unto Mary and informs here that she will give bith to a child and that child would be the son of God.

Notable features are the 'authentic' setting which is given to the scene comparable to works of the Renaissance where Mary is often placed in a very classical context. Such as this Annunciation by Duccio in the National Gallery.

We can see that compared to this work Tissot has dispensed with the more formal symbols of this moment such as the book held in Mary's hand which symbolises the fact she was reading the words of Issiah who prophesised the coming of Christ. Or the dove which symbolises the Holy Spirit shown here:

 Or the Lilies which symbolise the purity of the Virgin Mary.

Instead Tissot has created a more expressive work of art, the sense of the angels arrival is reflected in the dramatisation of the Virgins Clothes which appear to be blown backwards towards her an away from the angel. It is the drapery of the Virgin that reflects much of the drama of the scene.

I thought that an image of the Annunciation was particularlly appropriate for an Advent calender after all this is where it all began!!