01 Aug 2015

Joanna Woodall on Cooking Artists in Dark Rooms

Many are the ways to demonstrate that a given picture represents the artist in his or her mind: resemblance, pose, apparent errors, "nonsensical" shading, tools expressed in metaphor, etc. We have shown you at least thirty different methods, most of them unknown to art historians in...

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10 Jul 2015

Hair, Brushes and Art

In pointing out yesterday that George Romney’s The Clavering Children (above) is more about Romney and his art than his young sitters, I left out a few points. Hair and its resonance.

Hair resembles a paintbrush and is brushed and, like art, is styled. Both have hairlines which is the...

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16 Jan 2015 | 2 Comments

The Centrality of Tools

Art sometimes seems like a meditation on the brush. Certainly visual metaphors for art's tools abound from, say, Edouard Manet’s early Boy with a Sword (in effect he holds a giant paintbrush, see explanation) to Diego Velazquez’s Portrait of the Infanta Margarita in the Louvre whose figure...

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03 Dec 2014

Claws, Paws and Prints

Many animals, like cats, dogs or the mythical griffin, have sharp claws. Let loose in a house, some of these charmers will engrave table legs, floor boards or virtually anything wooden. Artists who naturally have acute visual perception often relate this type of instinctual behavior to their...

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24 Sep 2014 | 2 Comments

Reading Art: Manet, Picasso and Alfonso Ponce de Leon

My vision, like most people’s, is often cloudy which is why when the sun breaks and I gain some understanding, I get excited. You must excuse me. It may sometimes seem as if no-one before me has made similar observations. After all, all my entries on EPPH must include something unknown to...

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20 Aug 2014

The Craftsman’s Christ

This is a scene by an unknown 16th-century artist, probably Flemish, at a time when artisanal effort was admired not just for the perfection of the end-product but for the artisan’s closely-guarded knowledge of materials. Wood, stone, minerals, plant extracts, gold-work, smelting etc. No-one...

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13 Apr 2014

The Artist is Always Present

Very few novels use the first person pronoun, most using an impersonal narrator to describe the scene. The author David Henry Thoreau noted that, with the ‘I’ omitted, the reader forgets that it really remains there because the novelist is confined to his theme by the narrowness of his own...

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03 Mar 2014

The Brush-Sword of Mattia Preti

After the recent post on a new book of cartoons, Daggers Drawn, this one is on the same subject 350 years earlier.

Mattia Preti (1613-1699) was a major Italian artist who is little-known because he spent much of his life on the island of Malta where many of his pictures remain. Here he...

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23 Feb 2014

Daggers Drawn

Daggers Drawn. A new compendium of a political cartoonist’s 35 years in the business and on the cover he stands at his desk, pen drawn, facing the dictators and democrats he has followed, all with daggers drawn too. The conclusion is simple to draw. Daggers, swords and other sharp weapons are...

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12 Feb 2014

Note on Palette Sounds

My recent post on artists using stringed instruments as metaphoric palettes was restricted to guitars so I did not use this image. Perhaps I should have because while musicians may think lutes and guitars are very different, in artworks they are much the same. Johannes Cornelisz van Swieten, a...

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26 Jan 2014 | 1 Comments

Trees as Paintbrushes

Looking out my study window in Italy something struck me that you might only notice in life not paint. Not far from the house, lower down, is a row of cypresses. When the wind blows, the pointed tops move back and forth over the distant landscape which, of course, remains quite still, unmoved....

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26 Nov 2013 | 2 Comments

Tips to Tell Art from Illustration

My definition of art, as I've said before, is not as wide as that used by the public and most scholars. I do not believe, for instance, that children create art nor the vast majority of adult painters. True artists paint themselves; they paint inwards and they paint the wisdom of the ages.  


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20 Nov 2013

Picasso Hid a Sword in Nazi Loot

Sometimes I do no work at all. Things just pop in my face. I suppose I'm so used to looking for certain features that my eyes know what to look for subconsciously. That's what appeared to happen last week as I read the news that the Germans had confiscated a trove of paintings stolen by the...

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28 Sep 2013

How Manet and other artists shoot their paintings

Have you ever shot your mother? Directors shoot movies and nearly everyone has made a snap-shot with a camera but few imagine that artists shoot paintings. In fact they have shot nearly every canvas with a gun in it since the devilish implements were invented. The Irish poet Seamus Heaney...

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21 Sep 2013

Pens, Palettes and their Visual Metaphors

Thoth was an Egyptian god best known in art as having the head of an ibis (above left). He had many functions but was perhaps most celebrated as the scribe of the gods, the inventor of heiroglyphs and writing, and who, when people died, wrote down the weight of each heart as they entered the...

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