This one is for all you romantics out there … Caspar David Friedrich is one of the greatest Romanticists of the entire movement. He was born in Greifswald, Germany and grew up with nine siblings, before beginning his artistic studies in 1790. The majority of his career was spent in Dresden where he painted some of his most famous pieces. Working near the end of the Romanticist era in Germany, Friedrich’s work eventually became somewhat old-fashioned, though his influence on later generations of artists is undeniable.
Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog 1818
Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog features elements of the sublime in the natural phenomena of the billowing sea waves. Friedrich’s work often featured references to life and death and this can be arguably shown here in the gentleman facing away from us, as if contemplating his own uncertain future. Friedrich also painted pure, figure-less landscapes exampled here with Seashore by Moonlight (I apologise for the terrible quality image: try and imagine it without a turquoise sheen!) There is a delicate use of light and yet the atmosphere is thick and heavy with vast masses of clouds and sea.
This classic Shakespearean romantic pairing doesn’t really need an introduction. There are so many visual versions of the most famous scenes from this tragic love story, (mainly the infamous balcony meeting and the devastating death scene at the end of the play). These are some of my favourite depictions of both Romeo and Juliet, (there are some lovely paintings of Juliet on her own which I will try and post shortly).
Top to bottom: Sir Frank Dicksee, 1884; Joseph Wright of Derby, c.1790; Ilyas Phaizulline, 2007; Ford Madox Brown, n.d; Konstantin Makovsky, c.1890s
Diego Velazquez was a Spanish painter of the Baroque era, specialising in portraits of the royal and affluent. He worked during the Spanish Golden Age of the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, along with Caravaggio and El Greco, (who although born in Greece worked primarily in Spain). Velazquez was born in Seville and worked in Madrid, but he also spent time in Italy visiting Naples and Genoa. One of the paintings suggested to be painted during one of these visits is the Rokeby Venus, which I recently saw at the National Gallery in London. It is the only surviving female nude by Velazquez and its beauty is absolutely breathtaking in a gallery setting.
Rokeby Venus 1647-51
Las Meninas is probably Velazquez’s most famous piece. It is a painting showing members of King Philip IV’s Spanish court and the carers of the young princess Margarita Theresa (centre). The composition of the piece is very unusual: Velazquez is shown to the left of the foreground group in front of his wooden easel, of which we can only see the back. This bares the question of our placement in the scene and why Margarita Theresa stares back at us, despite the artist being behind her.