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Worth Watching
  • Empires - The Medici: Godfathers of the Renaissance
    Empires - The Medici: Godfathers of the Renaissance
    A fascinating and highly entertaining look at one of the most important families of the Renaissance era--the Medici.
  • Sister Wendy - The Complete Collection (Story of Painting / Grand Tour / Odyssey / Pains of Glass)
    Sister Wendy - The Complete Collection (Story of Painting / Grand Tour / Odyssey / Pains of Glass)

    “Sister Wendy Beckett has transformed public appreciation of art through her astonishing knowledge, insight and passion for painting and painters.” This set includes Sister Wendy's Story of Painting, Sister Wendy's Odyssey, and Sister Wendy's Grand Tour. Simultaneously delightful and scholarly--this is a must have for anyone interested in art history.

  • Exit Through the Gift Shop
    Exit Through the Gift Shop
    When British stencil artist Banksy traveled to Los Angeles to work, he came across obscure French filmmaker Thierry Guetta and his badly organized collection of videotapes involving the activities of graffiti artists. Inspired, Banksy assembled them with new footage to create this talked-about documentary, and the result is a mind-boggling and odd film (so strange as to be thought a hoax by some) about outsider artists and the definition of art itself.
  • The Impressionists
    The Impressionists
    A dramatization of the Impressionist movement as seen through the eyes of Claude Monet. Highly entertaining and informative.
  • The Impressionists: The Other French Revolution
    The Impressionists: The Other French Revolution
    A very personal and revealing look at the personalities that created Impressionism.




Did You Know?

Masonite, a popular oil painting support, was invented in 1924, in Laurel, Mississippi, by William H. Mason. The masonite boards are made using the Mason method: the wood chips are blasted into long fibers with steam and formed into boards.  The boards are then pressed and heated to form finished masonite boards. I use masonite boards a lot in my own work. I get it from the lumber year (1/4”) and have them cut it up into panels for me. I prepare the board with a coat of gesso that I apply using a sponge roller. I also paint the letter “X” on the back of each panel--with gesso. This keeps the masonite from warping.


Lorenzo Monaco: “Laurence the Monk”

Lorenzo Monaco - St Jerome in the Wilderness - n.d. - Tempera on poplar panel, 23x36 cm - Private collection (click photo for larger image)Lorenzo Monaco (c. 1370-c. 1425) was an Italian painter who was probably born in Siena, but seems to have spent all his professional life in Florence. In 1391 he took his vows as a monk of the Camaldolese monastery of Sta Maria degli Angeli. He rose to the rank of deacon, but in 1402 he was enrolled in the painters' guild under his lay name, Piero di Giovanni (Lorenzo Monaco means 'Laurence the Monk'), and was living outside the monastery. The monastery was renowned for its manuscript illuminations and several miniatures in books in the Laurentian Library in Florence have been attributed to him, but he was primarily a painter of altarpieces.

This painting once belonged to a polyptych in the church of Santa Maria del Carmine, Florence. The polyptych was dismembered and its panels are now scattered in various museums. The present panel was part of the predella comprising of five panels.


"Jacopo della Fonte”

Jacopo della Quercia - Acca Larentia - 1414-19 - Marble, height 162 cm - Palazzo Pubblico, Siena (click photo for larger image)Jacopo della Quercia (1374-1448) was one of the most original Italian sculptors of the early 15th century. His best works give a sense of depth and also bear the marks of Hellenistic sculpture. Jacopo was a mysterious and ambivalent artist, but he carried Sienese sculpture to its height and influenced subsequent Sienese painters, as well as the young Michelangelo. 

The figure of Acca Larentia derives from a Roman Venus and has Jacopo's characteristic fleshiness and heavy drapery. The group is psychologically integrated, for as she holds one of the chubby boys who pushes at her breast, the other jumps up to attract her attention. She looks at him with almond-shaped eyes and a smile that suggests life. So successful was the fountain that the sculptor earned the nickname "Jacopo della Fonte".


Quote of the Day

“I dream a lot. I do more painting when I'm not painting. It's in the subconscious.” - Andrew Wyeth


Giovanni Pisano: a Rebirth of Monumentality

Giovanni Pisano - Plato - c. 1280 - Stone - Duomo, Siena (click photo for larger image)Sometimes called the only true Gothic sculptor in Italy - Giovanni Pisano (c. 1250 – after 1314) ultimately is viewed as a proto-Renaissance artist. He began his career under the classicist influence of his father, Nicola, and carried on this tradition after his father's death, continuously reintegrating the antique style into more northerly and contemporary Gothic forms. He would be a great inspiration for later sculptors such as Donatello and Michelangelo. The image here shows the figure of Plato from the west façade of Siena Cathedral. Giovanni did not share his father's taste for decorative grace. In fact, Giovanni appears to have reacted against this, and Tuscan sculpture entered a stylistic phase which was anything but graceful, finished and delicate. It was truly monumental.