Category Archives: Gallery and Museum Art

Adoration of the Shepherds, Nicolas Maes

Adoration of the Shepherds, Nicolas Maes
Adoration of the Shepherds, Nicolas Maes

Link is to zoomable version on Google Art Project; downloadable file on Wikimedia Commons; original is in the Getty Museum.

The Getty’s version of the image looks dark to me, as often seems to be the case with museums’ online representation of their collections. The Google Art Project version, and the Wikimedia Commons file of the same image, seem better.

Interestingly, 17th century painter Nicolaes Maes, a student of Rembrandt, has based his painting almost directly on a 16th century engraving by Albrecht Durer (see my previous post).

Things are arranged a little differently, and Maes has introduced the shepherds of the title, but most of the composition is taken from Durer’s piece — right down to the little bird on the signpost.

Like Durer, Maes has happily indulged in the representation of wood, brick, stone, trees, and the hilly landscape through the arch, as well as the play of light across the scene


The Nativity, Albrecht Durer

The Nativity, Albrecht Durer engraving
The Nativity, Albrecht Durer

Engraving, in the collection of the national Gallery of Art, DC, which has both zoomable and downloadable files. There is also a zoomable file on the Google Art Project and a downloadable file on Wikimedia Commons.

In this beautiful early 16th century engraving by one of the great masters of printmaking, Durer seems more concerned with the setting than the event. Perhaps he was simultaneously indulging his patrons’ preference for religious themed prints and his own preference for exploring the visual world around him.

I love the little bird on the signpost on which Durer has hung a sign with the date and his monogram.

The Nativity; NGA, DC


Fragonard: Drawing Triumphant

Jean-Honore Fragonard: Drawing Triumphant
18th century French painter Jean-Honoré Fragonard was known for his luxuriously colored and lavishly rendered depictions of frivolity and sensuality, much in keeping with the High-Baroque fascination with those kinds of scenes.

As beautifully painted as they may be, the subject matter of Fragonard’s paintings can leave you with the undeserved impression that his abilities as a painter are likewise somewhat frivolous, and he doesn’t often get his due as a painter.

My introduction to Fragonard was through his drawings, which I encountered early on at shows in New York at the Met and the Morgan Library, both of which have superb examples in their permanent collections.

Fragonard’s drawings, with their remarkable combination of suggested detail and economy of notation, as well as his fluidity in rendering figures — much of which was passed on from his teacher, François Boucher — reveal his exceptional skill more directly than his paintings.

Not only are his drawing abilities impressive, his methods of notation are often unusual, particularly the wonderful way he suggests foliage with those crazy zig-zag lines, as in the image detail above, second down.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art has mounted a new exhibition of Fragonard’s drawings, with over 100 works on paper. As with most works on paper, they are rarely on view because of the fragility and light sensitivity of paper.

Many of those in this show are from private collections and have not been on view previously to the public. Much of the remainder are from the Met’s own collection, and apparently from that of the nearby Morgan Library and Museum.

There is a preview of works on the Met’s web pages for the exhibition, those in their own collections have links to high-res, downloadable images elsewhere on their site (or you can search their collection online for “Fragonard drawings“).

Those from private collections are, unsurprisingly, not presented as large images, however, you can look for those from the Morgan Library’s collection on their site, on which you will also find high-res zoomable and downloadable images.

Fragonard: Drawing Triumphant” is on view at the Met until January 8, 2017.

There is a book accompanying the exhibition, also titled Fragonard: Drawing Triumphant, that is available from the Met’s online store, or through Amazon and other book sources.

I haven’t gotten up to see this show yet, but I have seen a number of these drawings in other shows over the years, and they are just beautiful.

In particular, I love the stunning little gouache painting shown above, bottom: Interior of a Park, The Gardens of the Villa d’Este, which is from the collection of the Morgan Library (high-res version here). Wow.


John P. Lasater

John P. Lasater, landscape and still life painting
John P. Lasater IV is a contemporary American painter based in Arkansas. His paintings include landscape, still life and figurative subjects.

Lasater devotes a good deal of his time to plein air painting, and the freshness and immediacy of that practice carries over into his still life and studio landscape painting.

I particularly enjoy his control of edges and the way he makes what I assume are careful brushstrokes in his studio work look deceptively casual.

Lasater also paints plein air nocturnes, and there is an interview with him on In the Artist Studio in which he describes his equipment and approach.

The images on his website are sometime a little smaller than one might hope, given his interesting approach to paint application, but there are larger images on some of the galeries in which he is represented, like the New Masters Gallery. I’ve listed others below.

Lasater teaches workshops and has a new video: Painting Into Direct Sunlight (trailer here), that is available in both downloadable and DVD versions.


Eye Candy for Today: Andrew Way still life

Bunch of Grapes, Andrew Way still life painting
Bunch of Grapes, Andrew Way

In the Walters Art Museum. Use “Explore Object” line in upper left of image for zoomable version, or Download link to right. Image can also be viewed in a zoomable version on Google Art Project.

I haven’t seen the original, but my instincts tell me this image may be overly dark (as many museum website photos of artwork seem to be). I’ve taken the liberty of lightening the images above a bit to bring out the underlying red color of the grapes, which is not obvious in the museum’s version of the image.

Way was a Baltimore native who switched his specialty from portraiture to still life. Many of his subjects were of grapes, rendered faithfully as recognizable varieties — in a way, “portraits” of grapes.

I love his sensitive rendering of the grape leaves, especially the one turning brown, and the subtle edges of the shadow that it so integral to his composition.

See my previous Eye Candy post on another still life of grapes in the collection of the Walters Museum.


Matteo Massagrande

Matteo Massagrande, paintings of decaying architectural interiors
Italian painter Matteo Massagrande finds fascination in the colors and textures of worn, apparently abandoned architectural interiors. These often open to glimpses of landscapes or seascapes beyond, and his secondary subject appears to be trees that are as contorted as the deliberately askew perspective in many of his rooms.

In some of his interior compositions, there is a suggestion of a collision of worlds, as though the room in the foreground and that seen through a door are in different colliding realities. Massagrande often takes on complex patterns of floor tiling or even faded ornate wallpapers.

Though his work appears photorealistic, in some of the larger images on the website of his gallery representatives, Shine Artists, London, you can see suggestions of more painterly handling, particularly in the presentation of trees and foliage. (Click on the main images in his gallery to pop up larger versions in an overlay.)

Some of the paintings are smaller than you might think; the one shown above, bottom (with detail) is only 9 x 13 inches (23 x 33 cm), though most are larger than that.

I’m not certain, but I believe Massagrande’s portfolio on Artsy is his primary web presence.