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Great British Artist John Constable

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Johan Constable
John Constable, perhaps the greatest and most original of all British landscape artists, is renowned especially for his views of the Stour Valley in Suffolk, Salisbury Cathedral and Hampstead Heath. He was brought up in the country, and out of his deep love for the English landscape grew a determination to record its beauty: to capture its moistness, light and atmosphere, as well as its shapes and colours.

Today, Constable's genius is acknowledged throughout the world, but during his own lifetime, landscape painting was unfashionable, and the artist was forced to struggle for recognition. He was 39 before he sold his fast landscape. And although his magnificent paintings were acclaimed in France, the Royal Academy in London refused him full membership until 1829 just eight years before his death.

A Countryman in London 
 
When he chose art as a profession, Constable left his Suffolk home to live permanently in London. But his bonds with East Anglia remained strong, and he returned each summer to sketch and paint. 

The artist's mother Ann Constable, the daughter of a London cooper, moved to Suffolk on marriage at the age of 19. A lively, sociable woman, she helped run the family business and gave her son much-needed encouragement in the difficult early years. John Constable was born in East Bergh°lt in Suffolk on 11 June 1776, the fourth of his parents' six children. His father Golding was a prosperous corn merchant who owned wind- and water-mills in East Bergholt and nearby Dedham, together with land in the village and his own small ship, The Telegraph, which he moored at Mistley on the Stour estuary and used to transport corn to London. Constable was brought up with all the advantages of a wealthy, happy home.

Most of his 'careless boyhood', as he called it, was spent in and around the Stour valley. After a brief period at boarding school in Lavenham, where the boys received more beatings than les-sons, he was moved to a day school in Dedham. There the schoolmaster indulged Constable's interest in drawing, which was encouraged in a more practical way by the local plumber and glazier, John Dunthorne, who took him on sketching expeditions. 

The artist's father Golding Constable was a wealthy corn merchant with two water-mills and some 90 acres of farmland. He started training John to be a miller, but when a younger son Abram showed a flair for the business, he gave the artist an allowance to help him live in London. Golding Constable was not enthusiastic about his son's hobby, but gave up the idea of educating him for the church and decided instead to train him as a miller. John spent a year at this work and, though he never took to the family business, he did acquire a thorough knowledge of its technicalities. When his younger brother Abram eventually came to run the business, he often consulted John about repairs to the mill machinery. 

FIRST SIGHT OF A MASTERPIECE 

Constable's passion for art was decisively stimulated by Sir George Beaumont, an amateur painter and art fanatic, whom he met in 1795. Beaumont 


Constable at 24 A pencil self-portrait shows the artist soon after he moved to London as a student at the RA. owned a French masterpiece, Hagar and the Angel, by Claude Lorrain, which he took with him wher-ever he went, packed in a specially-made travel-ling box. The sight of this picture convinced Const-able of his vocation as an artist. Soon afterwards, on a trip to London, he began to take lessons from the painter 'Antiquity Smith', an eccentric charac-ter who gave him sound advice and introduced him to the world of professional painting. 

By 1799 Golding Constable's reluctance to allow his son to pursue his unprofitable and scarcely re-spectable career was tempered by the fact that a younger brother, Abram, was showing promise as a miller and businessman. So Constable was admitted to the Royal Academy Schools and his departure was blessed by his father with a small allowance.

John Fisher of Salisbury Constable's closest friend was the Rev John Fisher who bought several of his paintings, gave him moral support and even officiated at his wedding. Fisher's uncle was the Bishop of Salisbury, and over the years the two men spent several weeks as a guest in his house. Constable painted the Cathedral on at least three occasions.
In London Constable was a hardworking and committed student, who spent his evenings reading and making drawings, but he was homesick for his friends and family in Suffolk, and also for its countryside. For a while he shared rooms with another student, Ramsay Reinagle, who painted his portrait (title page), but Constable became disgusted with his sly copying of Old Masters and his doubtful dealings in the art market. His morale. was not improved by the discovery that landscape and landscape painters were held in very low esteem by the Academy, which only respected history and portrait painting. 

Letters and baskets of food transported by the family ship kept him in constant contact with East Bergholt, and he spent many of his summer holidays there, using a cottage near his parents' house as a studio. He also did some travelling around England. In 1801 he toured the Peak District in Derbyshire and two years later made a short sea voyage from London to Deal in Kent aboard an East Indian man.

A LONG, FRUSTRATING COURTSHIP  

Maria in 1861 just before marrige
During the next seven years the unhappy couple were often parted and sometimes forbidden even to write, but throughout their long, frustrating courtship they remained loyal to each other. Con-stable, who felt badly isolated in London, was sustained by his family, all of whom wished to see him married to Maria, and by the Rev John Fisher, a nephew of the Bishop of Salisbury, one of his earliest patrons. Without a strong vein of obstinacy in his character, Constable would not have survived these difficult years, though they also sharpened his ten-dency to suffer from depression and moodiness. He gained a reputation for being hostile, arrogant and sarcastic in his professional dealings, which did not help to sell his pictures. On the other hand, 

John ConstableeRevd FisheriFitzwilliam Museum with his family and close friends, he was unfailingly generous and affectionate. In fact, his make-up was in many ways contradictory. He was, for example, a die-hard reactionary in his politics, viewing the prospect of Reform with alarm, but in his art he was distinctly radical. 

Regency Brighton the Constable family spent several summers in Brighton after Maria developed TB in 1824. The South Coast resort had been made fashionable by the Prince Regent, for whom Nash designed the town intensely and described it as Piccadilly by the sea
While courting Maria, he fell into a regular pattern of work. He would spend the late autumn, winter and early spring in London, working up his sketches from nature and preparing his paintings for the Royal Academy exhibition, which opened each May. Then he would go down to East Bergholt for the summer and early autumn, escaping the city with relief. In 1815 Mrs. Constable died, which was a great blow to him. Not long after, Maria's mother died too. These sad events seem to have strengthened the couple's resolve and by the February of 1816 they had made up their minds to marry in defiance of all opposition. Then in May, Constable's father died, sitting peacefully in his chair. 

A Lifelong Romance 

Joseph turner born the year before constable turner was a boy prodigy whose dramatic seascapes and grand histrocial scences won instant acclian his paintings commanded huge prices and he dominated the art world when constable was finally elected to the RA turner brought him the news in person
Constable's love for Maria Bicknell (right) was a guiding passion in his life. He had known her since childhood, and the sketch below is thought to be a portrait of Maria as a young girl. When they fell in love in 1809, Constable's income was meager, and Maria's family opposed their engagement. The lovers were forced to wait seven years until he could afford to support them both. And while the marriage was happy, it was doomed to be short. At the age of 40, Maria died of TB, leaving a heartbroken husband to bring up their seven young children.

His will, Abram was to take over the firm and pay John his share of some E200 a year. Added to his allowance and his earnings from painting, this made marriage possible at last. 

Constable wrote to Dr Rhudde, seeking his con-sent for the final time. He did not reply, but confined himself to a frosty bow from his coach, which was reinforced by a huge grin of congratulation on the face of his coachman above. At the last moment, Constable astounded Maria by trying to delay the wedding, while he worked on a painting, but on 2 October they were married in St Martin-in-the-Fields by his friend Fisher, now an archdeacon. None of the Bicknell family attended. 

They enjoyed a long and happy honeymoon, returning to London in December. By the spring of the next year Maria was pregnant, having already suffered a miscarriage and Constable arranged for them to move into larger lodgings. He chose a house in Keppel Street in Bloomsbury, which appealed to him because it overlooked fields and ponds. There was even a pig farm near the British Museum to remind them of Suffolk. In these rustic surroundings their first son was born in 1817.

Marriage and fatherhood seemed to release in Constable new powers of creativity, and he was soon at work on his 'six-footers', the large scenes of the River Stour, which were to become his best-loved masterpieces. The family now enjoyed a settled way of life, dominated each spring by the exhibition of these big canvases, which slowly added to the growth of his reputation.

SKETCHES FOR THE HAY WAIN 

In 1820 he began his oil sketch of the picture that was to be The Hay Wain the wain itself gave him much trouble and he finally had to ask Johnny Dunthorne, the son of his old friend, to supply him with an accurate drawing. He finished 

Constable teaching constable election to the RA came too late to influence his career his most creative years had already passed and the death of his wife Maria had plunged him into melancholy but he enjoyed teaching and his news status as an academician gave him the opportunity to champion landscape painting
III the rxhthhon fiercely to have their pictures hung in prominent positions Constable chose the large format of his 'six-foot-', canvases to make paintings stand out aid catch the eye of purchasers. 

it in the April of the following year soon after his second son was born. It has become his most famous picture, though it made little impact in Eng-land at the time of its original exhibition, and was eventually bought by a French dealer. Maria's health had always been delicate and in 1821 Constable settled his family into a house in Hampstead where the air was cleaner.

For his own use, he rented a room and a little shed from the village glazier. Standing some 400 feet above the smoke of London, Hampstead was at that time a farming area, with sand and gravel workings. Along with the Stour valley and Salisbury, it be-came one of the few landscapes Constable responded to creatively. In 1824 the king of France awarded him, in his absence, a gold medal for The Hay Wain. And for the first time his six-footer of the season, The Lock, was bought for the asking price while on exhibition at the Royal Academy.

MARIA'S TRAGIC ILLNESS 

Tragically, just as it looked as if he might be achieving professional independence, the first signs of his wife's fatal illness, pulmonary tuberculosis, showed themselves. To restore her health, he sent her and their young children, now four in number, to Brighton for the summer. Constable joined them for a few weeks and painted a number of marine scenes. The next two years saw the birth of two more children, but no improvement in Maria's health. And the birth, in January 1828, of her seventh child weakened Maria badly.

This girl in a fox fur may be maria aged 12In March her father died, leaving her £20,000 and putting an end at last to their money worries. But Maria's coughing worsened, she grew feverish at nights and throughout the summer she wasted away. Maria died on 23 November and was buried in Hampstead. Constable told his brother Golding, 'I shall never feel again as I have felt, the face of the world
is totally changed to me'. The marriage for which he had waited so long had lasted a mere 12 years.

He slowly picked up the threads of his professional life. Ironically, he was elected a full Academician the next February, though by only one vote. His great rival Turner brought the news, and stayed talking with him late into the night. In time, new projects began to interest him, notably the publication of engravings taken from his paintings and oil sketches.

But the period of his greatest achievements was over. In 1835 he painted The Valley Farm, another view of Willie Lott's cottage in Flatford, which appears in the Hay Wain. This was his last major picture of Suffolk. The buyer wanted to know if it had been painted for anyone in particular. 'Yes sir', Constable told him. 'It is painted fore very particular person - the person for whom I have all my life painted.' He died at night on 31 March 1837 and was buried beside Maria in Hampstead.
 
 Writer-Marshall Cavendish

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History of Vincent Van Gogh Artist

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Vincent Van Gogh

Vincent Van GoghOne of the most original artists ever, Vincent van Gogh worked as an evangelist before taking up painting at the age of 27. He was largely self-taught, but absorbed the inspiring lessons of Impressionism during two years in Paris. Then he moved alone to Arles in the south of France, where he painted the landscapes, still-lives and portraits which became his most famous works. 

Vincent Willem van Gogh was born on 30 March 1853 in the small Dutch village of Groot Zundert, near the Belgian frontier. He was the first surviving son of the local pastor, Theodorus van Gogh, and his wife Cornelia, a gentle, artistic woman. By an extraordinary coincidence, the boy was born exactly one year to the day after Cornelia had delivered a stillborn baby, also called Vincent Willem. The grieving parents had placed a gravestone in the village churchyard for their lost infant, so little Vincent grew up with a constant reminder of his dead namesake. He was a difficult child, who spent his time walking alone in the fields, rarely playing even with his younger brother Theo or his three little sisters there is no record of his school career but encouraged by his mother he drew and painted regularly from his early teens.
The artist's parents Theodorus van Gogh, the pastor of Groot Zundert, was a pious man who encouraged his son's religious leanings, but Vincent's passionate evangelism provoked many arguments between them. His wife Anna, a bookbinder's daughter, was related to painters and art dealers. She painted watercolors before her marriage.
Art dealer with a business in  the hague which he had merged with the Paris based internationally frim of goupil & Co. when  Vincent left school at the age of 16, uncle cent found him a job in the hauge of fice and he worked there stedily for four years with a short stint in the Brussels branch but this transferred to London where he fell disastrously in love with his landlady daughter this after affected his ability to work and he was dismissed .in 1876 van goah returned to England as an un paid assistant at a private school in ramsgate

The artist's parents Theodorus van Gogh, the pastor of Groot Zundert, was a pious man who encouraged his son's religious leanings, but Vincent's passionate evangelism provoked many arguments between them. His wife Anna, a bookbinder's daughter, was related to painters and art dealers. She painted watercolors before her marriage. when  Vincent left school at the age of 16, uncle cent found him a job in the hauge of fice and he worked there stedily for four years with a short stint in the Brussels branch but this transferred to London where he fell disastrously in love with his landlady daughter this after affected his ability to work and he was dismissed .in 1876 van goah returned to England as an un paid assistant at a private school in ramsgate.

After a few months the school moved to London, and he was given the job of collecting overdue school fees in some of the city's poorest areas. It was his first real view of urban squalor and what he saw so distressed him that he could not bring him-self to collect a penny. He was dismissed again. But the experience of poverty awakened a religious zeal in Van Gogh, who now followed his father's example by becoming an assistant preacher to a Methodist minister. He enjoyed this work enormously, and after a few months he re-turned to Holland to train formally for the minis-try.

Mission to the miners At the age of 25, Van Gogh went as a missionary to the Borinage district of Belgium. There he made his decision to be an artist.  
Vincent's parents doubted that he had the self-discipline to cope with the rigorous studies required. They were right: he gave up after a year. But his passion was unchecked and at the age of 25 he moved to the Borinage, a grim coal-mining district in southern Belgium, as an evangelist.

A GIFT TO THE POOR  

The poverty Vincent found there was even worse than in London. He threw himself into his work with a selfless fervour, interpreting Christ's message to 'give to the poor' so literally that he even gave his warm clothes away, and ate almost no-thing. His superiors were appalled by his 'excessive' zeal. They were also dismayed by his appearance, which they felt brought disrespect on his calling.

Once again, Vincent was dismissed. Van Gogh remained in the Borinage for two hard years, surviving no-one knew how. And there he went through a profound personal crisis to emerge with a new resolve: to be an artist. He went home to his parents and applied him-self to the task with the same vigor he had 


Vincent's Lost Loves 

The move to Arles Vincent left Paris in 1888 for Arles, near Marseilles. He worked there alone for nine months, before persuading Gauguin to join him. Throughout his life, Van Gogh was plagued by loneliness. He never married, and his few attempts to find happiness with women all ended disastrously. Vincent's first love affair was with his landlady's daughter in England: it disturbed him so much that he lost his job. The second was with Kee Vos, his widowed cousin who was staying with his parents in Holland. Scared by ardent protestations of love for her, she fled to Amsterdam.

He still craved a loving relationship, and when he met a pregnant prostitute called Sien in The Hague, he saw it as his mission to give her love and protection. Vincent lived with Sien and her children, revelled in his 'family life', and planned to marry her. But the unlikely couple parted after a year. 
Brought to evangelism. For months he was hap pier than ever before, and his work improved rapidly. But ominous signs of instability revealed themselves in his stormy behavior. Another abortive love affair shook him badly; then a religious quarrel with his father reached such a pitch that Vincent walked out of the house on Christmas Day 1881, and moved to The Hague.

With no money to live on, he was forced to ask Theo for help. His loyal brother sent him a tiny allowance each month from his own small salary in the spirit of self-sacrifice that would endure throughout Vincent's life. Meanwhile the landscape artist Anton Mauve (a relation of Van Gogh's mother) encouraged his painting until a typical outburst brought their friendship to an end. Defiantly, Vincent shared his room with a prostitute and her small child, and even talked of marriage until Theo persuaded him to drop the plan. 

PORTRAITS OF PEASANTS
 
The move to Arles Vincent left Paris in 1888 for Arles, near Marseilles. He worked there alone for nine months, before persuading Gauguin to join him.
Vincent returned home in 1884. His parents had moved to a new church in Nuenen; they welcomed him like a prodigal son. He began to work on portraits of peasants and after yet another emotional disaster he executed his most ambitious picture so far: The Potato Eaters a gloomy painting of peasants at their evening meal. Pastor Theodorus died in 1885, and the same year Van Gogh left Holland, never to return. He went first to Belgium and enrolled at the academy in Antwerp, but failed his first term of study. By the time the results were declared, he had already left for Paris. One day Theo still working for Goupil’s received a brief note urging him to 'come to the Salle Carree (in the Louvre) as soon as possible,' where his brother was waiting.
Vincent moved into Theo's flat in Montmartre and studied for a few months at the studio of an academic painter named Fernand Carmon, along with Emile Bernard and Toulouse-Lautrec. All three soon broke with Carmon, who was hostile to the new Impressionist movement, led by Monet, Renoir and Degas. But Vincent was inspired by the colour of their paintings, and their habit of working in the open air. Through Theo, he met Camille Pissarro, one of the elder Impressionists, and a still more revolutionary figure Paul Gauguin.

DEPARTURE FOR THE SOUTH 

The move to Arles Vincent left Paris in 1888 for Arles, near Marseilles. He worked there alone for nine months, before persuading Gauguin to join him. But while Vincent's art progressed rapidly, he stuck out like a sore thumb among the urbane Parisian artists. He drank very heavily; he had a quick, unpredictable temper; he shouted when excited about something; and was incapable of either hiding his opinions or softening them to avoid arguments. He even managed to alienate Theo, but only for a time. After two years in Paris he declared 'I will take myself off somewhere down south.' In Paris, Vincent had come to like Japanese art and this influenced his choice of where to live.

As Embark on a project he had long desired: the establishment of an artists' colony. He wanted Paul Gauguin to be the first to join, and enlisted Theo to help persuade him. Gauguin - then working in Brittany - was reluctant at first, but when Theo offered to pay his fare, he finally agreed.

GAUGUIN IN ARLES 

The Asylum at st remy van gogh entered the mental asylum at st remy near arles in may 1889 for six months he had suffered recuring bouts of convulsions and hallucinations which terrified him the doctors gave him little treatment other than cold baths but allowed vincent to go out and paint during his periods of calmGauguin arrived at Arles in October 1888 and moved into the Yellow House, but he disliked the town and found Vincent's untidiness irritating. For a short time peace reigned, but within two months the artists were quarrelling fiercely. Cynical and arrogant, Gauguin made a bad match for the passionate, obstinate Dutchman. Van Gogh was soon making excuses to Theo for their lack of concord, predicting sadly that Gauguin would 'definitely go, or else definitely stay' and claiming to await his decision with 'absolute serenity'. But the very night he wrote these words, in Christmas week, 1888, something happened to snap Vincent's self-control. He threw a glass of absinthe at Gauguin, and later threatened him with a razor. Gauguin took shelter in a nearby hotel, leaving

Him to calm down. But during the night Van Gogh cut off the lobe of his right ear, then put it in an envelope and gave it to a prostitute. Gauguin left for Paris by the first available train; Vincent suffering from hallucinations as well as loss of blood - was taken to Arles hospital. He was released after two weeks, but overwork and a terror of madness brought on a relapse. He went back into hospital.


Gauguin comes to Arles In October 1888, Gauguin arrived in Arles for a short-lived, but disastrous collaboration with Van Gogh. The two men argued .fiercely, and Gauguin fled to Paris at Christmas when Vincent threatened to attack him with a razor - which he finally used on himself When he recovered enough to go back to the Yellow House, he was persecuted by the townspeople, 80 of whom signed a petition saying that the 'madman' should be put away. By the spring of 1889, when Vincent had been in Arles for a year, all his hope had gone. The artists’ colony had come to nothing. Gauguin had vanished. His friend Roulin had been transferred to another town.

Vincent dreaded the return of his insanity so much that in May he left Arles and committed himself voluntarily to an asylum in the nearby town of Saint Remy. Slowly he began to come to terms with his illness - perhaps a form of epilepsy, schizophrenia, or the result of brain damage at birth. He received no treatment except cold baths twice a week. Bouts of convulsions and hallucinations recurred in a three-monthly cycle, but he still produced some 200 canvases during his year in the asylum. In the spring of 1890 Theo reported hopeful signs that Vincent's work was at last being recognized. In February, a painting of an Arles vineyard was sold for 400 francs in a Brussels exhibition. It was the only canvas Van Gogh ever sold. 


DEATH IN AUVERS

Vincent's breakdown Overwhelmed with remorse after attacking Gauguin, Van Gogh cut off a piece of his own ear and gave it to a prostitute. The next day he was committed to Arles hospital. The nightmare of insanity, from which he would never fully recover, had begun.
It was time to leave the South. Vincent's old friend Camille Pissarro suggested he move to Auvers, a village northwest of Paris which was popular with artists. So Vincent spent a few days with Theo and his new wife - and their baby son, named Vincent Willem after his uncle then caught the train to Auvers. There he was placed in the care of Dr Cachet, an amiable eccentric.

Vincent painted steadily, and seemed at first to be healthy and in good spirits. He took a small room in a café, and kept regular hours. But early in July a trip to visit Theo in Paris caused him great anxiety. Theo was worried about money and the cost of supporting Vincent was very high.

Writer-Marshall Cavendish
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Albrecht Durer the Great Artist

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Introduction to Albrecht Durer


Albrecht Durer
Albrecht Diirer was the greatest artist of the Northern Renaissance. He experimented in many media, and is as well-known for his delicate watercolors of animal and plant life as for the dramatic woodcuts and exquisite engravings on religious themes which brought him fame in his own time. His art is a blend of Northern and Southern traditions, profoundly influenced by the Venetian painting he saw during his visits to the city. 

Durer was an independent man, proud of his appearance and very sure of his talent. Intelligent and cultured, he mixed with humanists and scholars, while his patrons included the Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I. A religious man throughout his life, in later years he became increasingly preoccupied with the advent of the Lutheran Reformation. He died in 1528 and was buried in his home town of Nuremberg.

Albrecht Durer was born on 21 May 1471, in the south German city of Nuremberg. His father, a goldsmith from Hungary, had married Barbara Holper, his master's daughter, who went on to bear him eighteen children, of which Albrecht was the third.



Self portrait In 1484, Direr looked into a mirror and drew this self portrait in silverpoint  using a silver stylus on specially coated paper. It is his earliest known work, executed at the age of 13, and already displays signs of the prodigious artistic talent which later brought him international renown. As a child, Durer attended a local Latin school, where he first met Willibald Pirckheimer, a young nobleman, who was to become a famous Humanist scholar and Dtirer's lifelong friend and correspondent. For three years after leaving school [hirer followed custom and studied the goldsmith's trade in his father's workshop. Already he displayed signs of his wondrous artistic talent. In the memoir he wrote shortly before his death, Darer recalled: 'My father took special pleasure in me, for he saw that I was eager to know how to do things and so he taught me the goldsmith's trade, and though I could do that work as neatly as you could wish, my heart was more for painting. I raised the whole question with my father, and he was far from happy about it, regretting all the time wasted, but just the same he gave in'. the Nuremberg painter Michael Wolgemut, master of the old late medieval style.

In 1490, at three years in Wolgemut's studio, Dtirer set off the traditional German 'bachelor's year', a pen of wandering from city to city when life could explored before settling down and accepti family responsibilities.

Durer's home town this painting shows Nuremberg in 1516, a prosperous city surrounded by forests. Diirer remained loyal to his birthplace, always returning to the city after his travels.
He travelled through much of what was the Holy Roman Empire, and after two arrived in Colmar in Alsace, now a Germs speaking part of France. There he had hoped meet Martin Schongauer, the greatest Germ engraver of the previous generatic Unfortunately, Schongauer had died only Mont before Durer's arrival. Nonetheless, he stay with the dead master's brother and no dot learned from him some of the technical secrets was later to use in his own work. Darer al worked for publishers in Basel and Strasboui designing woodcut illustrations for Bibles other books.
Centre for books The city of Basel was a European centre for publishing illustrated books. Diirer worked here in 1492 during his 'bachelor's year'.
In 1493, his father arranged a marriage for hi with the daughter of a local coppersmith, a 8 named Agnes Frey. Darer sent home a marvello painted portrait of himself, then aged twenty two which is the first independent self-portrait painted only for the artist's personal satisfaction in the whole of European art. In it he appears a handsome if unusual looking youth, adorned in what today would be called fashionable, flamboyant clothes, proud of his long blond tresses and even prouder of his painterly skill. Darer returned to Nuremberg to be married in the spring of 1494. We know little of his wife's personality, though Pirckheimer complained in later years that she was 'nagging, shrewish, and greedy'.

Within months of his marriage Durer left his wife in Nuremberg and set off on his first journey to Italy, using money borrowed from Pirckheimer's family. 

JOURNEY TO ITALY
  

Albrecht the elder this portrait of Diirer's father shows him saying the rosary. Darer wrote: 'my father was a man of very few words and deeply pious.'
There was plague in Nuremberg at the time and this may have been the young artist's motive for leaving the city. Whatever the reason, there can be little doubt that Durer was powerfully attracted by what he must have heard, during his earlier travels, of the feats of the new Italian masters of painting and drawing. German artists, he said, were 'unconscious as a wild, uncut tree', whereas the Italians had rediscovered two hundred years ago the art revered by the Greeks and Romans'.

There were no carriage facilities for long-distance travel at that time and the journey over the Alps on horseback must have been a perilous one. On his way Durer recorded his impression of the mountain scenery in a series of brilliant watercolors. In Pavia he visited Pirckheimer, who was completing his studies at the great university there, and through him Outer came to know of the work of the Italian Humanists, whose scientific curiosity and independence of mind appealed to him strongly.

A life-long friend Dilrer sketched this charcoal portrait of Willibald Pirckheimer, his best friend since childhood, in 1503. The son of wealthy parents Pirckheimer was a humanist and poet who introduced Direr to the Greek and Latin classics.

The highlight of his journey was Venice. With his unquenchable thirst for knowledge and his customary diligence, Durer set himself to learn all that contemporary Italian masters could teach him. He studied the science of perspective and the portrayal of the nude. He copied the works of Mantegna and other engravers, and argued over the various theories of art with the sociable circle of Venetian painters.
When he returned home the following year he brought with him the rudiments of the Italian Renaissance and the ambition to transplant them to his native northern soil. He made a living from his woodcuts and engravings, often single sheet designs which his wife and mother would hawk in the public markets and fairs, and which were carried all over Europe by the town's travelling merchants.


An eye for detail On his first visit to Venice in 1495, Dfirer made this detailed watercolor sketch of a crab he saw in a fish market. He was fascinated by the natural world, and by unusual objects shellfish would not have been a common sight in Nuremberg.
These were tumultuous years in central Europe. Many preachers foretold the world would end in the year 1500. These feelings of doom were brilliantly summed up in Durer's illus-tractions to The Apocalypse of St. John (1498), his first masterwork.

Although they were printed with a text at the famous press of his godfather, Anton Koberger, in Nuremberg, Darer insisted that his own name appear as the publisher. This was part of his lifelong campaign to raise the status of the artist in northern Europe and to secure recognition for his own genius. Two years later he painted another self-portrait, facing the viewer directly in a pose deliberately reminiscent of Christ .

The portrait displays the pride and self-consciousness of a man who was by then well aware of his own unique artistic destiny.

Young wife Agnes Frey was 15 when she married Darer in 1494. Pirckheimer, his friend, did not like her and called her 'nagging, jealous, and shrewish’.
In the years that followed, Diirer slowly digested the lessons of his Italian journey and produced a remarkable variety of work. Some commissions for painting came in from burghers and aristocrats, including the powerful Elector of Saxony, Frederick the Wise. But it was his woodcuts and increasingly his engravings on copperplate which spread his fame and earned him the independence he so desperately craved.


In the late summer of 1505 Darer headed south once again. He had received a commission to paint an altarpiece for the wealthy association of German merchants in Venice. This time he settled in the great island city for more than a year. By then his engravings were well-known in Italy and tributes flowed from other artists as well as from such eminent men as the Doge and Patriarch of Venice, both of whom visited his studio. Durer was determined to show the Venetians that he was not only a clever draughtsman but also a master of colour and paint equal to the enigmatic Giorgione, whose haunting images were then causing a tremendous stir. It was, however, the aged Giovanni Bellini, the grand master of the previous generation, whose work Durer most admired. When the 80-year-old Bellini visited Diirer in his studio and praised his work, it was a proud moment for the young German artist, then 35 years of age.


New Home By 1509 Diier was doing sufficently well to be able to buy this impressive house in numbering siztelgasse he moved with his wife and his mother and stayed there until he died
Darer enjoyed Venetian life, the company of other artists, the food and wine and the beauty of the city. Most of all he enjoyed the respect accorded by the Italians to their artists, in sharp contrast to the penny-pinching ways of the German burghers. 'How I shall shiver for the sun,' he wrote, contemplating his return, 'Here I am a gentleman, at home a parasite'. However, when Venice offered him two hundred ducats to remain in its service for a year, he refused, and returned home in January 1507. 









The Emperor's favor The Holy Roman Emperor, Maximilian I, employed Dilrer from 1512 and in 1515 awarded him a pension of 100 florins a year. This portrait was painted after Maximilian's death in 1519. He holds a pomegranate  his own personal symbol of immortality. Back in Nuremberg, there were only few opportunities for any of the large-scale public commissions with which his Italian rivals made their reputations. Increasingly he abandoned painting and concentrated on graphic work. His popularity grew and in 1509 he was at last able to purchase outright the house his family had rented g for some years. After 1512 he was favored by the Holy Roman 41 Emperor Maximilian I. Darer decorated a prayer book for him, and collaborated on the creation of the Triumphal Arch, an enormous composition in the shape of an arch, made up of hundreds of separate woodcuts. In-1513 Diirer was made an honorary citizen of the Great Council of Nuremberg, an unprecedented honour for an artist working north of the Alps, and in 1515 the Emperor granted him an annuity of one hundred florins for the rest of his life. 
DIFFICULT YEARS  


The city of Aachen Charles V. in the tradition of earlier Holy Roman Emperors, was crowned in the ancient city of Aachen. Darer arrived there in time for the coronation in October 1520, hoping to press his petition after the ceremony. Despite this public success, these were difficult years for Darer. Though his income was relatively high, his expenses quickly offset it. He spent and loaned money freely, filling his house with strange and precious objects of all kinds. His mother's death in 1514 affected him deeply, and he underwent an artistic and spiritual crisis which is reflected in his engraving Melencolia  He was still obsessed with the grandeur of the Italian achievements and in particular with the ideals of beauty and harmony which always seemed to elude him.

In 1517 Martin Luther made his first great attack on corruption in the Church, thus beginning the upheaval in European religious life that came to be known as the Reformation. Diirer read avidly Luther's writings which were passed to him by Reformers such as Philip Melanchthon, a Humanist scholar who, like Diirer himself, tried to bridge the gap between the new learning from Italy and the new piety from Germany. Luther's teachings appear to have brought Durer some relief from his inner turmoil.


When Emperor Maximilian I died in 1519, the Nuremberg Council stopped Diirer's life pension, prompting his lengthy journey to the Netherlands to meet the new Emperor and petition for the renewal of his annuity. He left Nuremberg in 1520, accompanied by his wife and maidservant. With him he took engravings and woodcuts, with which he was able to pay his way throughout his trip. He kept a detailed journal in which he recorded all his expenses and everything he saw or heard, as well as sketchbooks which he filled with drawings. Everywhere he was received by the rich and mighty and feted as the greatest German artist of his time. For Darer it was the fulfillment of his longstanding dream of raising the public status of the artist.

Along his route Direr made it his business to see the notable works of art and the important artists in each town. He made a difficult excursion to Zeeland in the wild north of the country to see and draw a whale that had been beached there, but by the time he arrived the creature had already returned to the sea. While in Zeeland, he caught some kind of fever which was to weaken him for much of the rest of his life. In Aachen he witnessed the coronation of the new Emperor, Charles V, and when the court moved to Köln his annuity was confirmed. He painted many portraits and sold many prints but so indulged his love of collecting  including such objects as tortoise-shells, parrots, coral, conch shells and ivory - that overall he made a financial loss on the trip.


Darer was in Antwerp when news arrived of Luther's arrest. He and his wife hurried home, possibly in fear of attack by pro-Catholic elements in Antwerp. They arrived in Nuremberg in August 1521, to find the city in turmoil. Friends and pupils of Darer's had been banished for heretical ideas. In the surrounding countryside discontent was mounting which would eventually explode in the Peasants' War of 1525. Darer, though careful to remain on the right side of the authorities, nonetheless expressed some sympathy for the new movements. 


In his last great painting, The Four Apostles, his deep religious feeling was perfectly combined with his love of Venetian art. He made a gift of the painting to the Council of Nuremberg in 1526, carefully inscribing it with this warning: 'All worldly rulers in these dangerous times should pay heed lest they follow' human misguidance instead of the word of God. For God will have nothing added to his word nor taken away from it.'

A TIME FOR WRITING  


The coronation Charles' coronation was a splendid affair, described by Darer as 'more magnificent than anything that those who live in our parts have ever seen' too magnificent, in fact, for Darer to have his petition heard.
Darer concentrated much of his strength in his last years on his writings. He published works on proportion, perspective, and fortification and composed his family chronicle and his memoirs. He also started, but did not live to finish, a work of advice for young artists. His old friend Pirckheimer lamented his deteriorating condition: 'He was withered like a bundle of straw and could never be a happy man or mingle with people'. On 6 April 1528, at the age of 57, in his home city of Nuremberg, Darer died of the fever he had first contracted in Zeeland. He was mourned by Melanchthon who described him as a 'wise man whose artistic talents, eminent as they were, were still.

Writer-Marshall Cavendish
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Traditional art with Modernism by Modigliani

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Tradition with Modernism 

The young artist Modigliani was enrolled at art school in Livorno at the age of 14. This charcoal sketch, prominently signed by him, could be a self-portrait. But in any case it is a wonderfully sensitive drawing showing the artist's remarkable talent.  
Despite his limited subject matter of portraits and nudes, Modigliani's work was unique in its combination of traditional form with new painting techniques.

Portraits and nudes established themselves as Modigliani's subjects from the beginning, (he painted only a handful of landscapes).

He was not concerned with portraying realistic appearances, but expressing the feeling and mood of his models, especially in relation to himself. Most often, in the early part of his career, tension and anxiety were the recurring motifs, probably echoing those features in his own life at the time.

Living as a poverty-stricken foreigner in Paris brought its own insecurities compounded by his feeling of alienation from the avant-garde artists. His lack of money meant shortage of materials, so his paint was spread thinly and he had to use both sides of the canvas. Nonetheless, certain characteristics emerge as trademarks of his style as early as 1908, fixing his own personal identity as an artist, and these are refined into the elegance and poise of his last pictures. In his portraits sloping shoulders and slender necks support gently tilting heads in which small mouths, long noses and dark, introspective eyes are caught in a hypnotic expression.

Seated Nude (1916) this is one of the artist's earliest nudes. Her torso is drawn naturalistically — only her face is painted in Modigliani's mannered style. Warm red or brown tones usually surround his nudes, but here the predominant color is a cool blue.

From Italy, Modigliani carried with him the influences of Symbolism and Stile Liberty (Art Nouveau) and his early works reflect this in mood and in their linear pattern.

But in Paris, Modigliani discovered Cezanne at his retrospective exhibition in 1907, and his debt to Cezanne is revealed in the construction of his compositions in the arrangement of forms and isolation of planes through color as well as his choppy brushstrokes. Although Cezanne had opened a new direction in art leading to Cubism, he had never lost respect for the integrity of the human form, which became central for Modigliani. 

SCULPTURE OUT OF STONE
 
On his return from summer in Livorno in 1909, Modigliani had decided to realize his deep-seated ambition to become a sculptor. This is how he had introduced himself on his arrival in Paris three years earlier. Between 1909 and 1914 he produced barely twenty pictures. Inspired by the Rumanian sculptor, Brancusi, whom he met in 1909 and next to whom he had a studio for a couple of years, Modigliani was at work during these years on the remarkable heads that integrate the concern for mass, volume and form that had initially attracted him to Cezanne. The force of these mysterious faces lies in their inscrutable expressions, and in their monumentality: one never forgets the rough-hewn limestone block from which they have emerged. They also show a preoccupation with the primitive sculptures of Africa and Oceania which Modigliani shared with his contemporaries.

Caryatid (c.1913) Modigliani planned a sculpture of a crouching caryatid and did a series of watercolor sketches in preparation. They were ideas rather than actual designs, for, like this one, they could not be translated into stone without collapsing.
Modigliani had always considered himself a painter-sculptor, having made his first sculpture at Carrara in 1902, symbolically close to the quarries that had provided Michelangelo with stone. In Paris, he carved the blocks that had been begged or stolen from building sites. But he had never received any training in sculpture and possessed neither the discipline nor the strength (the dust irritated his lungs) to complete his ambitious project to construct a temple to humanity adorned with pillars in the form of caryatids. Unable to find materials in wartime, he ceased sculpting in 1914. The experience inevitably fed his art, giving him a sure sense of form. In fact, his painting began to take on the characteristics of his sculpture,


Especially the modelled faces of his last portraits. The regret at this failure must have cut deep. For in the combination of aggression and finesse that carving demands, Modigliani may have found the best vehicle for his art of personal feeling.
Landscape at Cagnes Modigliani's rare landscapes were done in the South of France. Working with Sou tine, Modigliani may have been affected by the other's passion for landscape.
In his portraits Modigliani showed keen insight into the character of the sitter, a reflection of his own personal opinion. But his approach to nudes was different he rarely painted lovers naked. Instead he used unprofessional models, preferably servant girls. Interestingly, he always painted nudes in series, showing he was working on them exclusively over a period of time. His nudes are blatantly sensual and self confident and stand in the tradition of the genre, alongside those of Titian, Goya and Renoir. Warm colors enhance the sensuous undulating line that encloses the female form, buffeted by animated brushstrokes. Unlike his portraits, their facial expressions seem all to be the same.

Fernand Khnopff (1858-1921) According to Symbolist tradition, 7 it'omen are mysterious and predatory. Here, the Belgian painter Khnopff expresses this through the mmiatt's Sphinx-like enigmatic iiiileand her hypnotic- gaze. The paleness of her face and her fixed stare are reminiscent of death which, in Symbolist imagery, is linked with woman and love. His confident use of line marks out the countless drawings Modigliani made through his career. They were aide-ntemoires in which interesting compositions were stored to be reused sometimes years later, although he never dispensed with a model. Drawing was primarily the preliminary to painting. Jacques Lipchitz recalled Modigliani making lots of drawings rapidly, seldom stopping 'to correct or ponder'.

He would familiarize himself with his sitter in this way, and gradually decide on a pose. When he subsequently turned to the canvas, he worked quickly, 'interrupting only now and then to drink from a bottle standing nearby'. His friend Lunia Czechowska noted that he worked best in a rage, stoked by cheap brandy or rough red wine. The act of painting required an immense emotional investment from the painter, who would move about, sigh deeply and cry out in frustration. He worked intensively in order to complete the picture at only one sitting.


Parmigianino (1503-40) Madonna with the Long that) In this religious painting, theirtist through I to portray refinement through the elongation of his figures, softened by a serpentine curve.
A year before he died, Modigliani went to the South of France. As models he used local people and it may be that his impending paternity moved him to use children as subjects. Here, too, he painted his rare landscapes. All of them feature houses and trees he seemed to shy away from untouched nature. Despite his dislike of the Mediterranean outdoors, his paintings during this period have the airy luminosity of the south. 

Modigliani's contribution to modern art lies in his individuality. Unlike the artists of the avant-garde, for example Picasso, he was not concerned with fragmenting form but in the integrity of form in keeping with the tradition of the past. Yet his modernity is reflected in his use of compositional devices which make his portraits appear new and unique after all, it is impossible to confuse his work with any other artists. Having no school, Modigliani has no successors. 

THE MAKING OF A MASTERPIECE

Portrait of Jacques Lipchitz and his Wife

Both Lipchitz and Modigliani were Jewish, middle class and sculptors, but they do not appear to have been close friends which the portrait seems to reflect in the formality of its composition.

In 1916, Lipchitz commissioned a portrait of himself and his new wife, Berthe, from Modigliani, who informed him, 'My price is ten francs a sitting and a little alcohol'. To familiarize himself with his sitters, Modigliani made numerous drawings and the next day, set to work on an old, primed, canvas. Working intensely, he had finished by the end of the afternoon. Lipchitz wanted to pay him more, and so asked him to paint more 'substance'. 'If you want me to spoil it,' came the reply, 'I can continue'. Modigliani gave another fortnight to the picture.

Lipchitz did not like his portrait and kept it in a closet until, in 1920, soon after Modigliani's death, he exchanged it for some of his own earlier sculptures.

Writer-Marshall Cavendish


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