23 Oct 2014

The Male Artist and His Female Muse

Mona Lisa was Leonardo’s muse and he kept the portrait with him until his death. The beautiful, semi-nude La Fornarina was Raphael’s. Titian’s muse and Palma Vecchio’s are both called Beautiful or La Bella in Italian. Parmigianino’s is known as Anthea. Today not one of these women has...

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06 Oct 2014 | 1 Comments

Dürer, Titian, Art and Blasphemy


For those who have trouble - I certainly did - understanding how artists like Dürer (top) and Titian (below) could have portrayed themselves as Christ, here is a poem attributed to an 11th-century spiritual master of the Greek Orthodox Church.1 The truth he writes about - that we are...

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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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23 Mar 2013

Drawings as Ideas in the Mind

Concepto, concetto, esemplo, modello. Michael Cole and Mary Pardo, writing about the studio in the Italian Renaissance, have pointed out that the terms artists then used for a working drawing, what we today might call a sketch or study, were the same words used to describe an idea in the mind....

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14 Jun 2012

“Sir, rejoice with me, I have become God.”

The Inner Tradition in Christianity, the idea that Scripture and Christ’s teachings are allegorical in nature, is so little known that art historians who pride themselves on knowing and understanding the historical and cultural context within which art is created, seem unaware of it. They cite...

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02 Apr 2012

Villard de Honnecourt’s Commentary on Life and God

Vassily Kandinsky was not just thinking of his own abstract works when he wrote that: "The greatest mistake one can make is to believe that Art is the reproduction of Nature."1 He was referring to all Art. I agree, as many of you know, but I argue more specifically that most art is a...

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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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03 Mar 2012

How and Why Artists Steal

“It’s not always good to have ideas. Some people have a gift for coming up with ideas. But for those that don’t it is a real struggle. Oddly,” Paul Arden  writes in his latest guide for creative wannabes, “the people who struggle most are often the ones who become the most successful. Having...

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10 Feb 2012

Titian’s Danae..a “new” self-portrait

I've found a clearer image of Titian's own face, a previously unseen self-portrait, made from the clouds in his Prado Danae. You can see the tip of his nose in the center of this image, his far eye quite clearly indicated above it and slightly to the left. The curved bottom to his beard is...

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09 Feb 2012

The Artist as Creative God

The idea within esoteric Christianity that God is our innermost self, the universal self that we all share, has inspired many Western artists over the centuries to depict themselves as God in the process of creation. The ceiling of the Sistine Chapel is the most obvious example and is explained...

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31 Jan 2012

Hollywood and the Man Within My Head

I’m always intrigued on perusing The Times Book Review by how many articles explain the object of their study in terms similar to those used here. It is no coincidence, of course. Every painter paints himself and all it entails is probably the underlying preconception of art in any medium, not...

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30 Nov 2011

The Renaissance Portrait from Donatello to Bellini

On December 21st the Metropolitan Museum, New York, will be opening an exhibition titled The Renaissance Portrait from Donatello to Bellini. As long-time users know, the whole idea behind this site and its blog is that art, especially Renaissance art, depicts the artist’s mind and in portraits...

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17 Oct 2011

Delacroix on Color and Line

Writers on art once believed that Raphael and the School of Rome privileged line and contour whereas Titian and the Venetian School worshipped color, thereby making the overall palette and tonality of Venetian pictures in the Renaissance more significant than their forms. The same argument was...

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30 Jul 2011

Titian is a dog

Some viewers remain convinced that artists subconsciously fused their features into their portraits of other people - as Leonardo misleadingly suggested - even though the evidence is now strong that face fusion was practiced consciously and with meaning. Artists, like writers, composers and...

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27 Apr 2011

Ratatouille and the Great Masters (of all genders)

What do Raphael’s La Fornarina and Ratatouille have in common? Much more than you might think, their superficial differences disguising their fundamental similarity. The idea that significant art depicts a moment of its own making within the mind of the artist is central to this website because...

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