14 Apr 2011

Is the Mona Lisa Leonardo’s male lover?

“Groundless” grumped Pietro Marani, a Leonardo authority, about a new theory offered from outside his field. He was responding as academics do to the report of an Italian researcher, Silvano Vinceti, on how several of Leonardo’s works, including two paintings of St. John the Baptist, were...

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14 Apr 2011

Beyond Face Fusion

“Face fusion” is not the only way an artist can insert his or her identity into the portrait of someone else. Courbet’s 1846 Portrait of H.J. van Wisselingh (above left) demonstrates another. An art historian, Rae Becker, has shown how Wisselingh’s clothing accords “with contemporary notions of...

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07 Apr 2011

Vinceti’s Bogus Claims

In my last entry here I criticized an Italian art historian’s recent conclusion that Salai, Leonardo da Vinci’s’s young assistant, was the model for several of Leonardo’s paintings, including two of St. John the Baptist. Yesterday I read that the same man, Silvano Vinceti, is planning to dig up...

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18 Mar 2011

Face Fusion is Everywhere

For years I’ve been rattling on about face fusion to demonstrate that portraits by true artists are not what they seem. Many are not accurate depictions but a fusion of features from different faces, often the artist’s own. Salvador Dali, for instance, practiced face fusion but called it...

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25 Feb 2011

The Spell of Gossaert

The Jan Gossaert (c.1478-1532) exhibition that was on at the Met in New York last year has now moved in truncated form to London’s National Gallery. There are  37 of his 63 extant paintings in London. The Met had 50.  Yet there is not only a difference in numbers but name too. The Art Newspaper...

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21 Feb 2011

As Time Goes By

Irina Werning, an Argentine photographer, takes pictures of friends re-enacting photos from their youth and then depicts them side-by-side. I find them fascinating, in part because we all age in slow-motion, in part because the resemblances between the two images are like the comparisons...

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16 Jan 2011

Academics on Portraiture

Want to know what academics think about Renaissance portraiture? One of the most recent attempts to explain the problem is an article in the Oxford Art Journal by Maria Loh entitled:  “Renaissance Faciality.”1 She acknowledges that Renaissance portraits are neither accurate likenesses nor...

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13 Jan 2011

How Swords Become Paintbrushes

Even though artists across the ages have morphed swords into paintbrushes and spears into etching needles, few have ever been recognized. Indeed the use of weapons as visual metaphors for the tools of an artist is so widespread in art generally that it would take a book to prove. The task is ...

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18 Dec 2010

A Visit to the French Ambassador

I’ve just been to see Palazzo Farnese, the great French Embassy in Rome, partly designed by Michelangelo, which is rarely open to the public. They’ve arranged a wonderful exhibition with loans from Naples and Parma to celebrate the Farnese family and the generations that lived in the palace....

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15 Dec 2010

Mona’s Eyes are Lettered

Last week we demonstrated how Nicolas Poussin’s Ordination includes the unseen face of Christ with Poussin’s own initial, N, painted over Christ’s eye. Christ, we explained, is the divine artist in Poussin’s own mind. Now news comes from Italy (via The Daily Telegraph1) that...

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06 Dec 2010

How Mr. and Mrs. Robert Andrews are one and the Same Person

This painting, a British icon, is considered one of the National Gallery's most important masterpieces but, as we show in our most recent entry, it is largely misunderstood especially by the gallery itself. The Gallery and many critics think that the couple's biography is important to the...

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03 Dec 2010

Giacometti in New York

If you are in Manhattan for the Christmas shopping season and need a few minutes' peace, pop on over to the Eykyn Maclean Gallery at East 67th Street where a small but magnificent collection of Giacometti drawings and sculptures are on display. The provenance of the sixty or more items, coming...

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23 Nov 2010

Art and Eckhart

“Knowledge of Meister Eckhart’s work is indispensable to the understanding of medieval art, even though he has been almost totally neglected by those who like to call themselves ‘historians of art.’”

So wrote the Egyptologist and scholar of mystery religions Christian Jacq on the opening page...

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17 Nov 2010

Bronzino’s Mirror

I just discovered a self-portrait of Bronzino that I did not know. According to the catalogue for the current exhibition in Florence and earlier scholars too, Bronzino depicted himself in a religious painting as the poet-king David (above right).1 Given that there are no independent...

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05 Nov 2010

Dante Pops Up Again!

No art historian has yet commented, positively or otherwise, on how the presence of Dante’s profile in Michelangelo’s Last Judgement makes sense within the overall concept that Michelangelo himself pronounced: “every painter paints himself.” Nevertheless, Elizabeth Cropper has recently...

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