Whistler: Symphony White Barber

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J. A. M. Whistler Symphony in White, No.III, 1865-67, Birmingham, Barber Institute of Fine Arts Two women, one in white the other in a light cream dress, seem to be consumed by introspection – ennui pervades their listless postures. To the left the young woman with red hair subsides onto one elbow and stares out […]

Watts: Hope

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G. F. Watts Hope, 1885-86, London, Tate Britain Hope is one of the Theological Virtues (Faith, Hope and Charity) traditionally represented as women. In 1886 George Frederick Watts completed two versions of his take on one of the Virtues, the subject of many images since antiquity and the Renaissance. He sold the original version and […]

Previati: Dance of the Hours

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Gaetano Previati Dance of the Hours, 1899, Milan, Fondazione-Cariplo The immediate inspiration for the painting was a short ballet The Dance of the Hours which appeared at the end of the third act of the opera La Gioconda, composed by Amilcare Ponchielli. It was first performed in Milan in 1876. But the iconography hails from […]

Moreau Jupiter and Semele

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Gustav Moreau Jupiter and Semele, 1895, Musée Gustave Moreau, Paris This work assaults the eye with myriad forms constructed from a kaleidoscope of colour. The heavily impastoed surface builds, in places, to further enhance the jewelled surface – every inch is encrusted with detail. As one peers more closely, various vegetative and animate forms detach […]

Friedrich Wanderer

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Casper David Friedrich The Wanderer, Kunsthalle, Hamburg The Napoleonic Wars had devastated much of central Europe and Caspar David Friedrich’s homeland, the Baltic state of Pomerania, had suffered its share of devastation between the terrible years 1806 – 1814. After the defeat of Napoleon at the Battle of Liepzig in 1814 and the convening of […]

Jozsef Rippl-Ronai Birdcage

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József Rippl-Rónai Woman with a Birdcage Rippl-Rónai was born in Kaposvar in Hungary in 1861. This enchanting painting is one of the highlights of the National Gallery in Budapest. A woman stands in a room which is furnished and decorated in tones of blue-green. She wears a full-length brown dress and a small black hat […]