Pomegranates and Other Fruit in a Landscape, Abraham Brueghel
In the Metropolitan Museum of Art; use the download or zoom links under their image.
This 17th century still life is an example of how tenuous the attribution of historic art can be. Over time, it has been ascribed to Diego Velázquez, Giuseppe Ruoppoli, and Giovanni Paolo Spadino.
The current attribution is to Flemish painter Abraham Brueghel (son of Jan Brueghel the Younger, grandson of Jan Brueghel the Elder and great Grandson of Pieter Brueghel the Elder, quite a family heritage).
Still life set against a landscape is not an unusual compositional device in painting, but this one looks wonderfully strange. If you take the background shapes to be mountains, the three fruits in the background are atop and escarpment, and those in the right foreground seem to hang above a waterfall.
Whether still life at a giant scale is actually the artists intention, I don’t know, but I enjoy being able to interpret it that way. I also like the tiny (and/or giant) lizard in the foreground.
Regardless of illusions of scale — intended or imagined on my part — it’s a beautiful still life.
It’s naturalistic at a distance, but I love how brushy and painterly this is in close-up — wonderful for a 17th century still life — the apples, figs and grapes look as though they might have come off the brush of Manet, 200 year later.
One of the falls on the Apsley, Conrad Martens
Watercolor and gouache, 18 x 24 inches (66 x 46 cm); in the collection of the National Gallery of Victoria. Their image is zoomable, even though they don’t give a visible indication to that effect — click on their image to enlarge. There is also a zoomable version on Google Art Project and a downloadable file on Wikimedia Commons.
Though the landscape looks like a cross between Chinese ink paintings of stylized mountains and a fantasy artist’s interpretation of Conan Doyle’s Lost World, this beautiful watercolor by English-Australian painter Conrad Martens is of a real place in New South Wales, Australia.
Reportedly, Martens exaggerated the height a bit for dramatic effect, confronted with the challenge of conveying the feeling of a place like this in an relatively small painting.
Martins has combined transparent and opaque watercolors here to great effect — in particular, using the bold qualities of the former in the foreground, and the delicate atmospheric quality of the latter in the distance.
I love the attention to the texture of the foreground trees, and little touches like the break in the trees at the top left of the middle prominence (images above, third down).
This is one of those dramatic landscape vistas that artists anchor to the foreground with closer details to give them scope and a point of context for the viewer. It’s intersting to compare this to another of Martens’ paintings of the same region, Apsley Falls, in the collection of the Art Gallery of New South Wales.