Category Archives: art history

Commissions you never get anymore

As the nation argues about super-delegates, it’s worth remembering that the powerful have never ceded power voluntarily. From Charlemagne to the Reformation, the primus inter pares of the European nobility was the Holy Roman Emperor, securely Catholic and crowned by the Pope. Along came Martin Luther and his pesky ideas, which percolated among the German nobility […]

The Census at Bethlehem

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town […]

Painter of hard work

Jules Bastien-Lepage came from a little village in the Meuse, which is why he understood the work of the French peasantry so completely. He is widely known in the United States for his stunning Jeanne d’Arc (in the Metropolitan Museum in New York), but the main body of his work was rooted in the Naturalism movement of […]

History mystery

A joke from my youth: “Did you hear what happened when they removed all of Tammy Faye Bakker’s makeup? They found Jimmy Hoffa.” I was reminded of this after the announcement by French scientist Pascal Cotte that there is a painting of a different woman underneath the surface of Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. “We can now analyze exactly […]

Pinkie and Bluey

  When my daughters were babies I would occasionally dress them in matching outfits in different colors. That inevitably meant that one wore pink and the other blue. My uncle regaled me with stories about a set of twins whose mother used their clothes to tell them apart. They were named Pinkie and Bluey. Pantone’s […]

Better late than never

I grew up in Buffalo almost literally in the shadow of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. Its mission throughout the 20th century was “enhancing the understanding and appreciation of contemporary and modern art.” Meanwhile, one of the great 20th century art movements was blooming just across the Niagara River in Ontario. Seymour Knox and his curators […]

A Romantic at heart

Whenever I’m in the Farnsworth, I stop to visit George Bellows’ “Romance of Autumn.” It fascinates me because it is so different from his urban work I know and love. Bellows was always an exuberant painter, but in his New York paintings he was also a careful chromatist whose work was unified by its paint handling. […]