Eye Candy for Today: Meléndez Melon and Pears

Still life with Melon and Pears, Luis Egidio Melendez
Still life with Melon and Pears, Luis Egidio Melendez

Still life with Melon and Pears, Luis Egidio Meléndez, oil on canvas, roughly 25 x 33 inches (63 x 85 cm). Link is to zoomable image on Google Art Project; downloadable version on Wikimedia Commons, original is in the Museum of Fine Arts Boston..

A wonderfully tactile and sensual still life by the 18th century Spanish master. His command of texture, use of naturalistic color, and remarkable control of value allow us to mentally feel the objects his paintings.

 
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Adoration of the Shepherds, Matthias Stom

Adoration of the Shepherds, Matthias Stom (Stomer)
Adoration of the Shepherds (details), Matthias Stom (Stomer)

The Adoration of the Shepherds, Matthias Stom (also called Stomer); oil on canvas, I don’t have size information; link is to zoomable image on Google Art Project, high-res downloadable file on Wikimedia Commons; original is in the Palazzo Madama, Turin.

Stom was a 17th century Dutch (or Flemish) painter known for his paintings done in Italy, where he became influenced by the work of Caravaggio and his followers.

He did at least three different versions of this scene. In all of them, the child is the source of light, throwing the other figures into high relief against the dark background with a dramatic chiaroscuro characteristic of Caravaggio.

I like this one in particular, with the interesting and strongly rendered faces of the shepherds, and the beautiful modeling of their hands.

 
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Eye Candy for Today: Peder Mønsted’s Sunlit Winter Landscape

Sunlit Winter Landscape, Peder Mork Monsted
Sunlit Winter Landscape, Peder Mork Monsted (details)

Sunlit Winter Landscape, Peder Mørk Mønsted, oil on canvas, 28 x 39 inches (72 x 98 cm); Link is to Bukowski’s auctions, large version can be found here.

Another beautiful winter scene Danish painter Peder Mørk Mønsted, who I count as one of my favorite landscape painters.

I love the suggestion of a delicate tracery in the tops of the bare trees Mønsted has created with careful control of color and value and a delicate touch with the brush.

 
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Eye Candy for Today: Klimt’s Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer

Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer, Gustav Klimt
Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer (detaile), Gustav Klimt

Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I (also sometimes called “Woman in Gold” or “Lady in Gold”), Gustav Klimt; gold leaf, silver leaf, and oil on canvas; 55 x 55 inches (140 x 140 cm); in the collection of the Neue Galerie, New York.

Link is to the file page for the Neue Galerie version of the image on Wikimedia Commons.

This and The Kiss are the most widely recognized works by 19th century Austrian symbolist painter Gustav Klimt.

Both paintings are from Klimt’s “Golden Phase”, in which — inspired by the use of gold leaf in Byzantine mosaics in Venice and Ravenna — he began to incorporate gold leaf into his paintings. This is the most elaborate of his works from the period, incorporating not only the metal leaf, but bas-relief created with dimensional applications of gesso.

It is titled “Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I” because Klimt painted a second, much less complex and dramatic portrait of her.

There is a Wikipedia page devoted to the painting that goes into more detail, including the sexual subtext of its imagery and the story of its disposition and seizure by the Nazi regime.

You will find many images of this work that are much brighter, more saturated and shifted in hue — even on the Wikipedia article about the painting.

However, if you follow that link to Wikimedia Commons, as I did, you will find a very different, darker and considerably more subdued version of the image as supplied by the Neue Galerie. The Wikimedia editors indicate the Neue Galerie image has superseded the brighter version as the recommended version of the image.

The bright version looks to me like it suffers — as do so many online art images — from someone throwing the image into Photoshop and cranking up the brightness and saturation because the more faithful image isn’t “pretty” enough.

However, at the risk of being hoist on my own petard, I have slightly increased the exposure on the version of the Neue Galerie’s image that I’m showing here.

it has been my experience in regard to images with which I’m personally familiar, that many museums and galleries post images of works in their collections that are darker than the real object. (Why this is so still eludes me.)

I have not had the pleasure of seeing this painting in person, but my guess is that the appearance of the real work is somewhere between the two versions, and closer to the Neue Galerie version. If someone who has seen the work in person can correct me, please do. I’ve based my adjustment on images of other works by Klimt from the same time period.

 
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Eye Candy for Today: Robert Spear Dunning still life

Still life with Orange and Plum, Robert Spear Dunning
Still life with Orange and Plum, Robert Spear Dunning (details)

Still life with Orange and Plum, Robert Spear Dunning; oil on canvas, roughly 8 x 10″ (20 x 25 cm); link is to image file page on Wikimedia Commons; as far as I know, the original is in a private collection.

19th century American painter Robert Spear Dunning gives us an elegantly simple painting of an orange and a plum. His exposure of the interior of the orange, and his meticulous eye for texture and color, lend the painting a feeling of complexity comparable to a more elaborate composition.

Though he also painted landscapes, Dunning’s primary subjects were arrangements of fruits or vegetables, occasionally augmented with dishware.

Dunning was sometimes criticized for continuing traditions from the middle of the century into a later period when they had fallen out of favor, a characteristic for which I admire him.

 
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Eye Candy for Today: Alma-Tadema’s Pheidias and the Frieze of the Parthenon

Pheidias and the Frieze of the Parthenon, Lawrence Alma-Tadema
Pheidias and the Frieze of the Parthenon, Lawrence Alma-Tadema

Pheidias and the Frieze of the Parthenon, Lawrence Alma-Tadema; oil on wood panel, roughly 28 x 44 inches (72 x 110 cm); link is to the file page on Wikimedia Commons; original is in the collection of Birmingham Museums, UK.

Also known as Phidias Showing the Frieze of the Parthenon to his Friends, Alma-Tadema’s painting shows the great Greek sculptor and architect showing off his frieze in the Parthenon, the temple in Athens dedicated to the goddess Athena, of whom Phidias also created the
monumental statures known as the Athena Parthenos and the Athena Promachos, inside and outside the temple.

Historians have identified some of the figures in the painting as Pericles, Socrates and other known individuals of the time.

I love the way Alma-Tadema has lifted us up on the scaffolding near the ceiling with Pheidias and his guests, and heightened the drama with contrast between the darkness in the rear portion of the scaffolding and uplighting from the chamber below.

Watch your step!

 
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