Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675) “The Girl with the Pearl Earring” provided Vermeer his most lasting legacy. Often referred to as the “Dutch Mona Lisa”—the sitter for this “tronie” still remains something of a mystery. But the most frequently mentioned candidate for the model is Vermeer’s eldest daughter, Maria, who was probably born in 1654. That would have made her about twelve years old by 1665-1667, the dating scholars have assigned to the painting. A second candidate is Magdalena, the only daughter of Vermeer's patron, Pieter Van Ruijven, in part because he owned the painting for a time. Much as we all love a good tale—there is absolutely NO historical evidence to support the fiction that a maid named “Griet" posed for the painting. The film and book also mischaracterize Vermeer’s wife—who indeed modeled for him frequently and avidly supported his artistic efforts.
That Saskia van Uylenburgh fell in love with an artist (Rembrandt - c. 1606-1669) who was socially no match for the daughter of a patrician—and that she pressed for a speedy betrothal against all conventions—certainly shows that she was a very strong and independent woman. Rembrandt outlived Saskia and their children. She hadn’t left him any money in her Will (leaving it to their only living son, Titus, instead) because she knew Rembrandt was terrible with money. He owned a fine art collection and definitely enjoyed the finer things in life—well beyond his means. Sadly, the artist outlived his wife and all of their children. He died in financial hardship--and even ended up selling Saskia’s grave to pay his bills. But she was his muse throughout their life together.
“I am essentially a painter of the kind of still life composition that communicates a sense of tranquillity and privacy, moods which I have always valued above all else.” - Giorgio Morandi
Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni (6 March 1475 – 18 February 1564). When discussing Michelangelo’s “Last Judgment” fresco, the Vatican’s Master of Ceremonies, Biagio da Cesena, said, “it was mostly disgraceful that in so sacred a place there should have been depicted all those nude figures, exposing themselves so shamefully, and that it was no work for a papal chapel but rather for the public baths and taverns.”
Taking his revenge, Michelangelo painted him into the lower right corner of the painting as Minos, the mythological king of Crete who, after death, became one of the three judges of hell, with a snake coiled around him. The artist said,“What spirit is so empty and blind, that it cannot recognize the fact that the foot is more noble than the shoe, and skin more beautiful than the garment with which it is clothed?”
Despite his point of view, however, at Trent, a month before Michelangelo’s death, it was decided that the fresco should be “amended” by Daniele da Volterra, to paint loincloths and veils onto all of the figures in the Last Judgment, earning him the nickname “Il Braghetonne”, literally meaning “the breeches maker”. Some of those have since been removed.