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Entries in 18th Century European Painting (5)


Friedrich: the Spiritual Eye

Caspar David Friedrich - Dolmen in the Snow - 1807 - Oil on canvas, 61,5 x 80 cm - Gemäldegalerie, Dresden (click photo for larger image)Caspar David Friedrich (1774-1840) is considered the greatest German Romantic painter and one of the most original geniuses in the history of landscape painting. He was born on the Baltic coast, and after studying at the Copenhagen Academy from 1794 to 1798, he settled permanently in Dresden. Friedrich pursued a rare and instinctive single-mindedness into the spiritual significance of landscape. He mentally summoned up the images he put on canvas. “Close your bodily eye, so that you may see your picture first with your spiritual eye”, he wrote, “then bring to the light of day that which you have seen in the darkness so that it may react on others from the outside inwards.”

A dolmen is a Neolithic stone formation, consisting of a horizontal stone supported by several vertical stones, and thought to be a tomb. The one portrayed in the work featured here is probably stood near Gützkow (a town in the District of Vorpommern-Greifswald in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany). It was removed between 1825 and 1829. Friedrich made several excursions to prehistoric burial sites.

Search right here on What About Art? to read more about Caspar David Friedrich.


Mimic of a Master

Francesco Albotto - View of Campo Santi Giovanni e Paolo - c. 1745 - Oil on canvas, 61 x 97 cm - Museo Nazionale di Capodimonte, Naples (click photo for larger image)Italian painter from the Venetian school Francesco Albotto (1721-1757) () was virtually unheard of until fairly recently. He was a young assistant to Michele Marieschi at the time of Marieschi's death in 1741—and he married the master’s widow. He was also a painter of views and called himself the "second" Marieschi. He continued to produce pictures for the busy Venetian market, usually of decidedly good quality but rather reminiscent of Marieschi. His pictures are quite rare. His imitations of the master's work have created a good deal of confusion between the two artists—however his work eventually became formulaic.


Marieschi: A Painter of Views

Michele Marieschi - The Grand Canal with the Ca' Rezzonico and the Campo San Samuele - c. 1742 - Oil on canvas, 55 x 84 cm - Staatliche Museen, Berlin (click photo for larger image)Venetian painter Michele Marieschi (1710-1743) is much less well known to the public at large than some of his more famous contemporaries (such as Canaletto and Guardi). This is due, in part, to the fact that the painter died as a young man. Our knowledge of his work is still rather limited. In his best work Marieschi proved himself to be a master with a style all his own, generally characterized by dark tones and loose brushwork. In the painting featured here, the small figures animating the scene (known as the staffage) are ascribed to Giovanni Antonio Guardi.


A Marriage Restored

William Hogarth - William James and Mrs William James, both 1744 (click photo for larger image)William Hogarth (1697-1764) was an important English artist--who was a highly skilled painter, printmaker, pictorial satirist, social critic, and editorial cartoonist. “Although his portraits of the 18th-century English gentleman and his ‘trophy wife have been popular with visitors to the Worcester Art Museum for more than a century, the paintings have remained in a storeroom for the past five years because of conservation issues.”  Find out how these issues have been addressed and who is responsible here.


The Delicate Rococo

Actors from the Comédie Française - Watteau - c. 1720 - Oil on canvas, 57 x 73 cm - Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (click photo for larger image)The Progress of Love: The Pursuit - Fragonard - 1773 - Oil on canvas, 318 x 216 cm - Frick Collection, New York Designations: Rococo and 18th Century European Painting (click photo for larger image)The grandeur and extravagance of the Baroque era was replaced by Rococo Art, in Europe, during the early days of the 18th century. It was most popular in France, and is generally associated with the reign of King Louis XV (1715-1774). The Rococo is a light, elaborate and decorative style of art--and much more intimate in terms of size and subject matter. Two quintessentially Rococo artists are Jean-Antoine Watteau and Jean-Honoré Fragonard.

Jean-Antoine Watteau (1684-1721) was regarded as the greatest French painter of his period and one of the key figures of the Rococo.

Jean-Honoré Fragonard (1732-1806) ( ) developed, from his beginnings as a pupil and follower of François Boucher, into the most brilliant and versatile artist in 18th-century France.