Eye Candy for Today: Botticelli’s Venus and Mars

Venus and Mars, Sandro Botticelli
Venus and Mars, Sandro Botticelli

Link is to a high resolution downloadble file on Wikipedia, the original is in the National Gallery, London, which has a zoomable version of the image.

Two of Botticelli’s paintings, La Primavera and The Birth of Venus, are among the most iconic and recognized in the history of art. Other works of his are less well known — and undeservedly so — in particular, Venus and Mars.

The painting is reasonably large at roughly 27 x 68 inches (69 x 174 cm), but not as monumental as the previously mentioned works. It is, nonetheless, striking and beautiful, panted in a combination of egg tempera and oil.

It’s generally assumed Venus and Mars was commissioned to mark the occasion of a wedding, though no specific event or couple can be associated with it; but a general date is presumed to be in the mid 1480’s — later than La Primavera and perhaps around the same time as The Birth of Venus.

Here we are presented with a clothed Venus and a sleeping Mars, so fast asleep that one of the fawns who are apparently making off with his armor and lance, cannot wake him even with a blast on a ram’s horn.

The assumption is that the two have made love and Mars has fallen asleep afterwards, as men are often wont to do. It may be something of a sly poke at the new husband, or it could be part of the interpretation often made of the scene that love conquers war.

The National Gallery site has some background on the painting and interpretations of its meaning, and there is additional information on Wikipedia.

The face of Mars is rendered in a difficult upward foreshortening, lit from below. In the face of Venus, Botticelli has given us another of his entrancingly beautiful women’s faces — perhaps the same face as that seen from another angle in The Birth of Venus.


Hugo Puzzuoli

Hugo Puzzuoli, concept art
Hugo Puzzuoli is a concept artist who is originally from France, and now based in Quebec City, Canada.

His blog features some of his professional work, such as his concepts for Assasin’s Creed Syndicate, and his Artstation portfolio features more of his personal projects.

In his personal work, Puzzuoli often takes bright, appealingly graphic approach in his digital painting, with carefully controlled value relationships and bright punctuations of high-chroma color among more muted passages.

You can also find some digital painting studies of faces and natural settings.

[Via Paolo Rivera]


Eye Candy for Today: Rembrandt lion drawing

Lion Resting, Turned to the Left; Rembrandt van Rijn; ink and wash drawing
Lion Resting, Turned to the Left; Rembrandt van Rijn

Pen and brown ink, brown wash; roughly 5 1/2 x 8 inches (14 x 20cm).

Link is to WikiArt, which has a downloadable file (choose “Original, 1600×1067”); there is also a cropped version on Wikipedia. The original is supposed to be in the Louvre, Paris, but the Louvre website is so terrible, I can’t find it, only a reference to a show in which it was included.

Rembrandt’s drawings are among my favorites in all of art history, and this seemingly simple drawing of a lion is among my favorites of his drawings.

Rembrandt did a number of lion drawings, presumably of the same animal. This one stands out, however.

It has the calligraphic elegance of Chinese ink painting, but over the classical draftsmanship of the premiere Dutch master.

The rough, gestural application of wash succinctly defines the lion’s head and mane, giving them an impression of texture, as well.

I love the implied geometric strength with which he’s noted the lion’s rear leg, suggesting the structural anatomy of the skeleton, the fluid sweep of the tail and the fierce but composed expression of the captive animal.

I’m sure to Rembrandt, this was just a sketch, a visual notation of something he found interesting, but it’s completely satisfying as a finished work of art.


Alois Kalvoda

Alois Kalvoda, paintings of birches and Czech landscapes
Alois Kalvoda was a Czech painter who was active primarily in the early 20th century.

Though he traveled and studied in Paris and Munich, most of his work focused on landscapes of his native country. These were painted in a naturalistic style early in his career, and in an increasingly impressionist approach as his career progressed.

Particularly striking are his numerous paintings of birches and birch groves.


Eye Candy for Today: Young Girl Carrying a Pumpkin, Fausto Zonaro

Young Girl Carrying a Pumpkin, Fausto Zonaro
Young Girl Carrying a Pumpkin, Fausto Zonaro

Link is to zoomable file on Google Art Project; there is also a downloadable version of that file on Wikimedia Commons.

The original is in the Sakıp Sabancı Museum in Istanbul, Turkey. The museum also has a zoomable version of the file, but it looks over-saturated to me. The real appearance of the painting could be somewhere between the two, but given the choice between them, I feel the Google file is likely to be more accurate.

Fausto Zonaro was an Italian painter who spent a good part of his career in Istanbul. In this simple subject, he has contrasted the orange of the pumpkin against the background greens and muted color of the girl’s dress, but kept the contrast in check by adding the green area of the pumpkin and having the girl’s hand and forearm cover a good bit of the surface.

I love Zonaro’s painterly approach to suggesting the texture of the ground and the strewn bits of other plants.


Tom Gauld

Tom Gauld
Tom Gauld is a Scottish cartoonist and illustrator whose deceptively simple style is simply delightful and simply perfect accompaniment to his wry sense of humor.

Gauld is a regular contributor to the (most excellent) British newspaper The Guardian, where his “cultural cartoons” are often literary in subject matter, and New Scientist, where they are obviously science themes, as well as The New York Times.

Gauld’s quirky turns on subjects both historic and contemporary (often mixed) can give you a delightful simultaneous brain tweak and laugh.

His website portfolio is not extensive, you can find more on the Guardian site or on his Instagram, Tumblr or Twitter feeds.

The image above, bottom, is part of this amusement on The Laurence Sterne Trust, in which you can assemble sections of it multiple ways.

Gauld is the author/illustrator of a number of books, including: You’re All Just Jealous of My Jetpack (cartoons), Goliath (graphic novel) and Mooncop (graphic novel).

His latest book of cartoons is Baking With Kafka.

Those in LA, can see Tom Gauld interviewed by Mark Frauenfelder tonight, November 6, 2017 at Skylight Books in Silver Lake at 7:30 pm.