Caspar David Friedrich, Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog, 1818, oil on canvas, 94.8 x 74.8 cm, Kunsthalle Hamburg. Source
The painting that defines the art of the German Romanticists, Friedrich’s Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog is a depiction of the artist surveying a mountainous landscape bathed in fog from a rocky vantage point. The viewer is encouraged to immerse themselves in the sublime beauty of nature, just as Friedrich is doing, and to take a step back from the corruption and hollowness of modern society.

Caspar David Friedrich, Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog, 1818, oil on canvas, 94.8 x 74.8 cm, Kunsthalle Hamburg. Source

The painting that defines the art of the German Romanticists, Friedrich’s Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog is a depiction of the artist surveying a mountainous landscape bathed in fog from a rocky vantage point. The viewer is encouraged to immerse themselves in the sublime beauty of nature, just as Friedrich is doing, and to take a step back from the corruption and hollowness of modern society.

Henri Lebasque, Reading in the Park (Two Girls Reading), c.1900, oil on canvas, [no dimensions], Private Collection. Source

Henri Lebasque, Reading in the Park (Two Girls Reading), c.1900, oil on canvas, [no dimensions], Private Collection. Source

Henri Rousseau, La Tour Eiffel, 1898, oil on canvas, [no dimensions], Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Source
The Eiffel Tower was only around nine years old when Rousseau painted this particular study of the structure and its surrounding land. Somebody take me to Paris, please?

Henri Rousseau, La Tour Eiffel, 1898, oil on canvas, [no dimensions], Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Source

The Eiffel Tower was only around nine years old when Rousseau painted this particular study of the structure and its surrounding land. Somebody take me to Paris, please?

Gilbert & George, Fates, 2005, digital print and ink on paper, 426 x 760 cm, Tate Collection. Source
Another striking composition from everyone’s favourite crazy duo. Fates comprises 54 aluminium-framed prints, which are assembled in rows of nine and columns of 6. I love the use of traditional yet garish colours, such as the ultramarine blue, scarlet red and yellowish gold, and combined with the thick black lines of the individual frames and outlined shapes, Fates is reminiscent of an illuminated stained-glass window.

Gilbert & George, Fates, 2005, digital print and ink on paper, 426 x 760 cm, Tate Collection. Source

Another striking composition from everyone’s favourite crazy duo. Fates comprises 54 aluminium-framed prints, which are assembled in rows of nine and columns of 6. I love the use of traditional yet garish colours, such as the ultramarine blue, scarlet red and yellowish gold, and combined with the thick black lines of the individual frames and outlined shapes, Fates is reminiscent of an illuminated stained-glass window.

Jean-Honoré Fragonard, Young Woman Playing with a Dog, 1765-72, oil on canvas, 70 x 87 cm, Fondation Cailleux, Paris. Source
I wish I could play with my dog like this, but unfortunately, she’s a labrador retriever. I’m not sure how that would work.

Jean-Honoré Fragonard, Young Woman Playing with a Dog, 1765-72, oil on canvas, 70 x 87 cm, Fondation Cailleux, Paris. Source

I wish I could play with my dog like this, but unfortunately, she’s a labrador retriever. I’m not sure how that would work.

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John Baldessari, Umbrella (Orange): With Figure and Ball (Blue, Green), 2004, digital print with acrylic paint, 305.8 x 272.7 x 8.89 cm, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. Source

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John Baldessari, Beast (Orange) Being Stared At: With Two Figures (Green, Blue), 2004, digital print with acrylic paint, 305.8 x 354 x 8.9 cm, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. Source

These two works are part of Baldessari’s Somewhere Between Almost Right and Not Quite (With Orange) series of appropriated images, in which the colour orange - a symbol of ‘betweenness’ - takes a forefront position.

John Piper, Covehithe Church, 1983, oil on canvas, 86.3 x 111.8 cm, Tate Collection. Source
St Andrew’s Church in Covehithe, Suffolk, is a part-ruined, Grade I listed building. Piper was 80 years old when he painted this stunning study, which focuses on both the building’s architectural design and the atmospheric conditions that seem to illuminate the shapes within the structure. 

John Piper, Covehithe Church, 1983, oil on canvas, 86.3 x 111.8 cm, Tate Collection. Source

St Andrew’s Church in Covehithe, Suffolk, is a part-ruined, Grade I listed building. Piper was 80 years old when he painted this stunning study, which focuses on both the building’s architectural design and the atmospheric conditions that seem to illuminate the shapes within the structure. 

William P. W. Dana, Heart’s Ease, 1863, oil on canvas, 95.3 x 121.3 cm, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Source
The Met online doesn’t provide any information on this particular painting, which is a shame because it looks to be a depiction of a child on his or her deathbed, so it would be nice to know something of their identity. If anyone has a printed source that might be of some help, then please let me know!

William P. W. Dana, Heart’s Ease, 1863, oil on canvas, 95.3 x 121.3 cm, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Source

The Met online doesn’t provide any information on this particular painting, which is a shame because it looks to be a depiction of a child on his or her deathbed, so it would be nice to know something of their identity. If anyone has a printed source that might be of some help, then please let me know!

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Edvard Munch, The Artist’s Retina: Optical Illusion from the Eye Disease, 1930, watercolour and pencil on paper, 49.7 x 47.1 cm, The Munch Museum, Oslo. Source

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Edvard Munch, Disturbed Vision, 1930, oil on canvas, 80 x 64 cm, The Munch Museum, Oslo. Source

Both of these works were executed whilst Munch’s vision was being dramatically affected by an intraocular haemorrhage in his right eye. According to Michael F. Marmor, the condition meant that the artist’s eyesight was tainted by ‘spots and smudges’ for several months when he was 66 years old. Munch documented the various stages of the haemorrhage in his paintings.

Paris Bordone, The Venetian Lovers, 1525-30, oil on canvas, 81 x 86 cm, Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan. Source
Who’s the creeper in the background, you ask? Well he’s either a kind of procurer, meaning that the foreground couple are likely to be a prostitute and patron. Or he was included by Bordone as a self-portrait. Either way, the figure looks pretty dark and sinister sneaking around back there!

Paris Bordone, The Venetian Lovers, 1525-30, oil on canvas, 81 x 86 cm, Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan. Source

Who’s the creeper in the background, you ask? Well he’s either a kind of procurer, meaning that the foreground couple are likely to be a prostitute and patron. Or he was included by Bordone as a self-portrait. Either way, the figure looks pretty dark and sinister sneaking around back there!

Virginia Woolf: Art, Life and Vision

National Portrait Gallery, London - 10th July to 26th October 2014

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George Charles Beresford, Virginia Woolf, 1902, platinum print, 15.2 x 10.8 cm, National Portrait Gallery, London. Source

As an art historian, I’ve been familiar with the lives of Duncan Grant, Vanessa Bell and Roger Fry for quite sometime. The other members of the Bloomsbury Group are a bit of a mystery to me, however. Obviously I know the basics of Virginia Woolf’s life - sister of Vanessa, River Ouse suicide etc - but I’m less aware of the details surrounding her work and inspirations. The National Portrait Gallery’s latest exhibition therefore seemed like an unmissable opportunity to find out more about the elegant but troubled author.

Beginning with George Charles Beresford’s portraits of Woolf, taken when she was just 20 years old, the exhibition guides the viewer from the writer’s youth to old age, addressing both her public persona and private life with her friends and family. Visual material is rife in quantity and variety, with portraiture - painted and photographic - sculpture, books, letters, diary entries, leaflets and exhibition catalogues being used to illustrate the highs and lows of Woolf’s life. Visitors are completely immersed in her vision, style and state of mind, and it’s a beautiful thing. Her tragic death is handled well, and the exhibition ends on a high with a look at Woolf’s later curatorial work and her overall legacy. Seeing someone’s entire life condensed into a few small rooms is quite a sad concept when you really think about it, but putting these fantastic objects together in one place is inspiring. It makes me want to watch The Hours again!

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Monday or Tuesday by Virginia Woolf, cover by Vanessa Bell, published by Hogarth Press, 1921. Source

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Roger Fry, Virginia Woolf, 1911-12, oil on board, [no dimensions], Private Collection. Source

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Duncan Grant, Virginia Woolf, 1911, oil on masonite, 55.9 x 40.6 cm, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Source

Edward Hopper, Nighthawks, 1942, oil on canvas, 84.1 × 152.4 cm, Art Institute of Chicago. Source
Hopper’s most famous piece is supposedly based on a diner in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village, though this is still disputed today. The work has remained in the Art Institute of Chicago since it was first sold, and has become an icon of American art.

Edward Hopper, Nighthawks, 1942, oil on canvas, 84.1 × 152.4 cm, Art Institute of Chicago. Source

Hopper’s most famous piece is supposedly based on a diner in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village, though this is still disputed today. The work has remained in the Art Institute of Chicago since it was first sold, and has become an icon of American art.