Like Us!

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.

Entries in English Painting (6)


Van Dyck: Formality and Casualness in Perfect Harmony

Sir Anthony van Dyck - Entry of Christ into Jerusalem - c. 1617 - Oil on canvas, 151 x 229 cm - Museum of Art, Indianapolis (click photo for larger image)Sir Anthony van Dyck (1599-1641) was a Flemish Baroque painter who was one of the most important and prolific portraitists of the 17th century. He is also considered to be one of the most brilliant colorists in the history of art. He set a new style for Flemish art and founded the English school of painting; the portraitists Sir Joshua Reynold and Thomas Gainsborough (both discussed elsewhere on What About Art?) of that school were his artistic heirs.

The work featured here is a youthful painting of the artist, created when he was a member of Peter Paul Rubens's workshop. (Rubens is discussed elsewhere on What About Art?) The picture was executed in the style of Rubens.

The subject matter is the first episode in what is known in Christianity as Passion Week (or Holy Week). It begins with Palm Sunday, when Christ entered Jerusalem. Over the course of the following week, he would be arrested, tortured and crucified—and then rise again from the dead on Easter Sunday.


Classicism: Art Inspired by History and Tradition

Lord Frederic Leighton - Cimabue’s Celebrated Madonna - 1853-55 - Oil on canvas - 222 cm × 521 cm (87 in × 205 in) - National Gallery, London (click photo for larger image)Victorian Classicism was a British form of historical painting that developed during hte mid-to-late nineteenth century. It was largely inspired by the art and architecture of Classical Greece and Rome.

In the 1800s, an increasing number of Western Europeans made the "Grand Tour" to the Mediterranean. There was a great popular interest in the region's lost civilizations and exotic cultures, and this interest fueled the rise of Classicism in Britain.

The Classicists were closely associated with the Pre-Raphaelites, and many artists of the day were influenced by both styles, to some degree. Both movements were highly romantic and both were inspired by similar historical and mythological themes. A key distinction, however, is that the Classicists epitomized the rigid Academic standards of painting, while the Pre-Raphaelites were initially formed as a rebellion against those same standards.

English painter and sculptor Lord Frederic Leighton (1830-1896) was one of the major Classicists—a painter who enjoyed immense prestige during his life. After an education in many European cities, he went to Rome in 1852, where his social talents won him the friendship of a number of celebrated artists. His painting featured here, Cimabue’s Madonna, was exhibited at the Royal Academy’s exhibition in 1855, and was purchased by Queen Victoria. It marked the entry into England a new cosmopolitan and academic manner. The grandeur of scale and forms of classical Greek and High Renaissance extraction were used to embody subject matter of an anecdotal and superficial nature. Leighton came to London in 1858 to enjoy this triumph but did not settle there until 1860.

In 1869 he was made a member of the Royal Academy and became the academy’s president in 1878, During that same year he was knighted. In 1886 he was made a baronet, and, on the day before he died, he became a baron, being the first English painter to be so honored. Since he never married, the titles became extinct upon his death.


Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones: English Painter and Decorative Painter

Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones - The Golden Stairs - 1876-80 - Oil on canvas, 277 x 117 cm - Tate Gallery, London (click photo for larger image)Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones (1833-1898) was an English painter and decorative artist. He was the leading figure in the second phase of the Pre-Raphaelite movement, and he was influenced by the art of Dante Gabriel Rossetti. His paintings of subjects from medieval legend and Classical mythology and his designs for stained glass, tapestry and many other media played an important part in the Aesthetic Movement and the history of international Symbolism.


“Other-Wordly Beauty”

Samuel Palmer - Harvesting - c. 1851 - Oil on canvas - Private collection (click photo for larger image)English artist Samuel Palmer (1805-1881) was primarily a landscape painter and etcher. Early on, he showed a precocious talent and exhibited landscape drawings at the Royal Academy when he was only 14-years old. In 1826 he moved to Kent, where he was the central figure of a group of artists known as “the Ancients.” This is where he created his most famous works, landscapes charged with “a sense of pantheistic fecundity and other-worldly beauty.”


The Cats’ Meow!

Six studies of a cat - 1765-70 - Black and white chalk on grey paper, 310 x 447 mm - Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam (click photo for larger image)Here we see we see extremely lifelike images of a cat in typically feline poses—masterfully rendered by the great English painter Thomas Gainsborough (1727-1788). Considered the most versatile painter of the 18th century—and best known for his portraits and landscapes, this chalk drawing is unusual for the artist. He seldom portrayed animals. Tradition holds that the artist produced this drawing as a gift to his hostess while staying at her home. Gainsborough did not typically sign his drawings, but he signed this one, which probably confirms it as a gift.