George Hendrik Breitner

George Hendrik Breitner
Dutch painter George Hendrik Breitner, who was active in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, was noted for his rough, brushy, textural approach and his subject matter of city streets, working people, military horsemen and figures.

In particular he is famous for his recurrent subject of young women in kimonos, their bright colors a sharp contrast to his otherwise subdued, earth color palette.

Many of his pieces are so rough and sketchy as to look unfinished, a criticism that was leveled at him during his career by those who favored more traditionally finished styles.

The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, which has a key collection of Breitner’s work, has mounted an exhibition bringing together all 14 of his versions of Girl in a Kimono compositions, along with preparatory drawings and the artist’s reference photographs.

Breitner: Girl in Kimono” is on view at the Rijksmuseum until 22 May 2016.

See also my previous post: Eye Candy: Breitner’s Girl in a Whte Kimono.


Eye Candy for Today: David Roberts’ Edinburgh

Edinburgh from the Calton Hill, David Roberts
Edinburgh from the Calton Hill, David Roberts

The link is to a zoomable version on The Google Art Project; there is a downloadable file on Wikimedia Commons; the original is in the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Australia.

Mid-19th century painter David Roberts was known primarily for his views of exotic locations and landmarks in Egypt and the eastern Mediterranean, but he also painted his native Scotland.

Here he makes Edinburgh look almost like a view of Rome. I love the way shadows fall dramatically across the landscape, highlighting some areas and concealing others, with subtle mini-compositions of groups of figures in many of the dark foreground areas.

The painting has enormous depth, extending from the immediate foreground of the activity on the hill to our right back into the distance over the tops of the city’s buildings. Roberts’ use of atmospheric perspective is subtle, without the sharp contrasts in definition found in some paintings of great distance.

The overall sensation is one of inviting the viewer’s gaze into the painting at several entry points, with multiple areas of interest and visual pleasure over which to linger.

For more, see my previous post on David Roberts.


Fian Arroyo

Fian Arroyo, illustration and character design
Fian Arroyo is an illustrator and character designer based in North Carolina whose clients include The Los Angeles Times, U.S. News and World Report, Houghton Mifflin, Scholastic, Disney, General Motors and The U.S. Postal Service.

In the portfolios on his website and Behance pages you’ll find work in a variety of genres, done in a lively outline and color style in both digital and traditional media.

What really stand out, though, are his wonderfully loopy and over-the-top monsters and creatures. These are done with a cartoony verve and wry humor that makes them a particular delight.

There is an interview with Arroyo on StudioVox.

[Via The iSpot]


Eye Candy for Today: Botticelli’s Birth of Venus

The birth of Venus, Sandro Botticelli
The birth of Venus, Sandro Botticelli

The link is to a zoomable version on The Google Art Project; the original is in the Uffizi Gallery; there is a very hi-resolution downloadable file on Wikimedia Commons (Note that the full-resolution file on Wikimedia Commons is one of the largest I’ve seen on the web, over 200MB, and may choke your browser. You may want to download the file from the link rather than viewing it in a browser window.)

When I had the pleasure of visiting the city of Florence on a trip to Italy a few years ago, there were two paintings at the top of my “must see” list. Both were in the Uffiz Gallery — arguably the finest collection of Italian art anywhere — both were in the same room, and both were by the same artist, Renaissance master Sandro Bottecelli.

One was La Primavera, which I have written about previously, the other was The birth of Venus.

Like Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, The birth of Venus is such a cultural icon, so famous and familiar and set in our mental map of the world that it’s difficult to see it as a painting.

The name was assigned after the fact by artist/historian Giorgio Vasari, and the painting might more properly be called “The arrival of Venus”, as it depicts the Roman goddess of love and beauty (and mother to Cupid) arriving at the shore, propelled by the breath of Zephyrus, the West Wind, and his companion Chloris, a nymph (minor deity). Waiting to cloak her in floral raiment is one of the Horae, or goddesses of seasons and nature. This one may be Flora, Goddess of Spring, and the subject of La Primavera, but all interpretation here is speculative.

This painting and La Primavera are often thought of as companion pieces. They have many similarities — both were likely commissioned by the Medici, both are of mythological subjects, laced with symbolism and meaning, and both are strikingly large and totally captivating when you stand in front of them.

The feeling and approach of The birth of Venus is quite different from La Primavera, which predates it by three or four years.

The dark, mysterious woods and more naturalistic figures of the latter are replaced by figures set in a soft, ethereal light, cast across the flat, calligraphically indicated surface of the sea.

The birth of Venus is roughly 6×9 feet (173×279 cm); and as much as I also was impressed with La Primavera (not to mention the other Botticelli works in the gallery, the rest of the museum’s astonishing collection), I found The birth of Venus entrancing as few paintings I’ve ever seen.

To someone familiar with the humanistic naturalism of the later Renaissance and subsequent centuries of painting, the painting is both wrong and completely right. The lovingly rendered figures are so stylized as to be anatomically impossible; allegory and iconography have swept away realism, and we are transported to the realm of the fantastic.

The beauty of Chloris and Venus is idealized, portrayed as otherworldly perfection. The face of the Hora, however — shown in striking profile — is another kind of perfection, having to my eye the hallmarks of a carefully studied portrait of a real individual.

It has been suggested that this figure (or even that of Venus) could be a likeness of Simonetta Vespucci, a Florentine noblewoman renowned for her beauty, and supposedly the subject of unrequited love on the part of Botticelli. There is little to substantiate this, but it makes for interesting speculation.

In the very high resolution images on Wikimedia Commons and the Google Art project, you can see the sensitive drawing-like characteristics of Botticelli’s painstaking application of egg tempera, particularly evident in the hands and the (sometimes oddly shaped) feet. What isn’t discernible in photographs, even those as high in resolution as this, is the captivating translucency and delicate textural qualities of the painted surface.

Unfortunately, I believe that the color in the high-resolution images is a bit over saturated, as often seems to be the case in art images posted to the web. I’ve taken the liberty of adjusting the color somewhat in the images above, based on my memory of the painting, and on other Botticelli paintings I have seen.

The birth of Venus was a landmark work, even in its own time. It was one of the first large scale works painted in Florence, and one of the earliest painted on canvas rather than wood panel. The painting deserves its reputation for beauty, and has earned its place in popular culture.


Albert Goodwin

Albert Goodwin, English painter oil and watercolor
Albert Goodwin was an English painter active in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Goodwin started his artist career early, coming under the tutelage or Pre-Raphaelite painters Arthur Hughes and Ford Madox Brown at an early age, and exhibiting at the Royal Academy at the age of 15.

I his later career he was very influenced by JMW Turner, and his watercolors reflected a similar fascination with atmosphere and light as a subject in itself.


Minh Dam

Minh Dam, watercolor cityscapes
Originally from Hanoi, Vietnam, Minh Dam is an architect and watercolor painter based in Poland. He is the founder of Lineare Art Studio in Warsaw, and a co-founder of the Polish Watercolor Society.

Minh Dam’s primary focus in his paintings is cityscape. He take as his subjects cities in Poland and other parts of Europe, portraying their plazas, buildings, trolleys and street life with a lose, gestural approach.

There is an underpinning of traditional draftsmanship, on which his sketch-like rendering finds a solid base.

On his website, which has an English version, you’ll find his paintings arranged by most recent and currently available, as well as by subject. In addition, he has a blog which, though in Polish only, has additional images of paintings and work in progress.

He also has a portfolio on and a deviantART gallery.