Tag Archives: painting

 Spanish Still Life @ BOZAR

There is a wonderful exhibition in Brussels right now. Spanish Still Life – Velázquez, Goya, Picasso, Miró has two Cotáns, apart from Zurbarán, the crème de la crème of still life.

Sadly, behind glass, but seeing this is such a blast.

Quince, Cabbage, Melon and Cucumber (1602) by Juan Sánchez Cotán. This is the central piece of the exhibition. Jaw-droppingly beautiful. Below detail of the cucumber.

Still Life with Fruit and Vegetables (c.1600) by Juan Sánchez Cotán. Another Cotan, a little too full to my liking but still a top work.

Still Life With Bream, Oranges, Garlic, Condiments, and Kitchen Utensils (1772) by Luis Egidio Meléndez (detail)

Vanitas (Goya’s Skull) (1849) by Dionisio Fierros. This painting has a nice phrenology story behind it. Kind of similar to what happened to Sade’s skull.

There were two Goya’s: Still Life with Golden Bream and one with a bird (I was  unable to find the title, it’s this one). There were no Zurbaráns. I would have paid the price of the entrance for the two Cotans alone.

Running off to join the circus

A Party of Charlatans in an Italian Landscape (1657) by Karel Dujardin

This painting makes me want to run off and join the circus. Or join this band of quacks. Travelling from village to village, passing these landscapes and ruins.

I’m also fascinated with the Scaramouche man in black, standing on tiptoe and stooping his head. He reminds me — obliquely, always obliquely — of Antoine Watteau’s L’indifférent picture.

The colours are unfortunately not ‘true’. The original is much darker I presume. Perhaps more like this one[1].

Concerning the true color of paintings online. Consider this for example[2]. Notice how the colors vary? It’s impossible to find out the true color of the painting unless you visit the website of the museum where the painting is located.

I wonder if Google Art Project has a policy?

Eerie ears

Ears from Italian Painters

Ears from “Italian Painters”[1]


Clues, Myths, and the Historical Method by Carlo Ginzburg, a text famous for connecting Italian art critic Giovanni Morelli, British fictional character Sherlock Holmes and Austrian psychiatrist Sigmund Freud.

From that text:

“Morelli’s books look different from those of any other writer on art. They are sprinkled with illustrations of fingers and ears, careful records of the characteristic trifles by which an artist gives himself away, as a criminal might be spotted by a fingerprint . . . any art gallery studied by Morelli begins to resemble a rogues’ gallery . . .” (Wind 1963:40-41)

Appearing and disappearing

It’s funny how Venus Rising from the Sea — A Deception (c. 1822, above) by American painter Raphaelle Peale relates to the Veil of Veronica by Francisco de Zurbarán of the previous post.[1]

The Veil of Veronica is about appearing (the face of Jesus in a handkerchief), the Venus deception about hiding and disappearing (Venus hiding from sight).

A double chin, disheveled hair and dirty boots

Napoléon Bonaparte abdicated in Fontainebleau (1845) by Paul Delaroche

Wham. What a painting.

Paul Delaroche often depicts his subject matter with an over-the-top sensationalism, think of his execution of Lady Jane Grey and the Christian female martyr floating down the river with tied hands.

The painting of a despondent Napoleon has a more subdued quality.

The high level of truthfulness does not arise from its photorealism but resides in the double chin, the disheveled hair and the dirty boots.

P.S. The painting is one of my WACs, that is, World Art Classics, an ongoing series of visual art and visual culture classics.