16 Oct 2012

Picasso was Rembrandt

Under the theme 'Artist as Other Artist' I show how many painters and sculptors over the centuries have, in one way or another, adopted the persona of an earlier artist. The mask they then inhabit helps disguise their own role within the scene as an alter ego yet conveys important meaning: that...

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06 Oct 2012 | 1 Comments

How Shakespeare Became a King

I demonstrated several years ago that many of the most iconic portraits of Europe's rulers, including those of many British kings and at least four of her queens, so closely resemble the artist's self-portrait that they are not portraits as we think of them at all; they are fiction, poetry,...

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19 Jul 2012

Susan Sidlauskas and the Many Faces of Hortense Cézanne

In a relatively recent book on Paul Cézanne's portraits of his wife, Hortense, Susan Sidlauskas examines the nearly 30 images he made of her over a fourteen-year period in greater detail than has ever been done before. It is an important subject because, despite the many years in which the...

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11 Jul 2012

Bless you! It’s Art

Keep your eye open for a handkerchief or white cloth. They can be highly significant. My own experience suggests that those who are not painters themselves are relatively unaware that a cloth is almost as important to the craft of painting as a brush or palette. Painters usually keep one nearby...

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23 Jun 2012

Cindy Sherman: Inside and Out

Cindy Sherman stands in an odd position in my pantheon of art. Her portraits, critics repeatedly tell us, are self-portraits but at the same time are not about her. That is my dilemma. The very characteristic that would make Sherman’s work interesting to study is dismissed by critics as...

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31 May 2012

Francis Bacon on Portraits and Crosses

I’ve just been reading a series of essays on Francis Bacon and have come across two quotes that I must pass on. A young doctoral student had some long conversations with Bacon in 1975 in which Bacon was saying that when he looks at a great painting he often thinks about the artist more than...

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18 May 2012

Joseph Leo Koerner and the Artist as Christ

Occasionally I see an image that turns on a light and helps illuminate an artist's way of seeing quite concisely. Fittingly, an illumination is one of them. The best book ever written on self-portraiture is probably Joseph Leo Koerner’s The Moment of Self-portraiture in German Renaissance Art...

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11 May 2012

Face-off. Keep an eye on the details.

I try not to write too much about portraiture because pointing out “face fusion” time and again can become a bit repetitive. Occasionally, though, it is worth reminding readers, especially new ones, that even portraits that do not resemble the artist’s self-portrait can still have been subject...

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08 May 2012

Is Painting Art?

This website, EPPH, is founded on a few principles that bear repeating, especially for new users. One of the most important concerns art’s definition. What is art? We believe that drawing and painting are crafts, not arts. Almost any motivated student properly trained can draw or paint well....

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25 Mar 2012

Quotation of the Week #7

Edward R. Murrow, the famous American radio and TV journalist, did not
have great portraits in mind when he said:

“The obscure we see eventually.The completely obvious,
  it seems, takes longer.”

22 Mar 2012

Johan Zoffany

I just missed, by all accounts, a landmark exhibition at the Yale Center for British Art in New Haven, the first major exhibition devoted to Johan Zoffany (1733-1810). It just moved to the Royal Academy in London where it will stay until June 10th  2012. Try to see it if you can. Zoffany is not...

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13 Mar 2012

Titian as Raphael

I've just added an entry on a little-known but very intriguing portrait by Titian, known simply as Titian's Portrait of a Gentleman. Painted around 1520, it is, I believe, Titian's tribute to the recently-deceased Raphael. Hanging in the Palazzo Pitti in Florence, it should be better known that...

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29 Jan 2012

Leonardo on Creating Art as the Subject of Art

I often argue that the subject of a painting is its own making and have already demonstrated this online in several hundred entries, including examples by Leonardo.1 Evidence in written commentary by artists, though, is much rarer. Nevertheless they exist even if their meaning is often...

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21 Dec 2011

The Renaissance Portrait from Donatello to Bellini #5

Continuing our series in honor of the Metropolitan Museum's current exhibition of Renaissance portraits we have Botticelli's portrait of Michele Marullo Tarcaniota on the left compared to Botticelli's earlier self-portrait on the right. Tarcaniota's portrait is hanging  today in the Met's...

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10 Dec 2011

Portraits: Icons of America

Portraits make popular art exhibitions because we all think we can “read” a face. It’s part of being human. Everyone is his or her own expert on other people’s faces. Besides, portraits help satisfy our natural inquisitiveness about what people in the past looked like. Strangely, though,...

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