On May 24th, 1813, Jane Austen visited a blockbuster art exhibition--the first major retrospective of Sir Joshua Reynolds, the premier English portraitist of the 18th century. Debuting 200 years to the day later, What Jane Saw is a room-by-room virtual recreation of the exhibition, based on the original catalog of the paintings and contemporary depictions of the building where it was held.
Britain's finest Baroque portraitist, on a par with Frans Hals, has been all but forgotten, but a new BBC documentary and associated website seek to address that. William Dobson, 1611-46, was painter to Charles I's court during the English Civil War, and the turmoil of the period meant that much of his biography and even the names of the subjects of his portraits were lost. But many of his portraits have survived, and they're astonishing. [more inside]
Photographs of the dancers, actresses, cafe-life figures and prostitutes who were the subjects of Toulouse Lautrec's paintings, including such luminaries as Sarah Bernhardt, "La Goulue" (Louise Weber; remember this?), and Jane Avril, who was the model for this last, iconic, Lautrec poster. View pages of the art matched up with photos, here, here, and here, and go to this page to rummage around in even more collections that include photos of Lautrec, his friends and family, street and location scenes, and lots of other tidbits. [Spanish language site; NUDITY]
Did you know that some of the most famous paintings by Van Gogh, Gauguin, Degas, and Toulouse Lautrec were based on photographs? While some impressionists and post-impressionists publicly disparaged photography as mechanical, many others were using it as their secret weapon. The relationship between the two arts was complex and intertwined. (And turning the tables, check out this contemporary Russian woman who is recreating several famous paintings in staged photographs.)
20th-century American artist, Alice Neele, "The Auntie Hero": "While Uptowners were making their way downtown to have their portraits painted by Warhol, Downtowners were going up to 107th Street to sit for this bohemian, auntie-like artist." Check out seven decades of raw, sometimes amazing, but always deeply humane portraits of the often larger-than-life figures who peopled the New York art/lit scene and Neel's personal landscape, including such iconic irrepressibles as Joe Gould, Andy Warhol, Annie Sprinkle, and Bella Abzug. (NSFW)
The Queen's latest portrait was bound to cause controversy, what with the artist being Lucien Freud. Today a photograph of it was plastered over the front pages of nearly every major newspaper. The tabloid press are, as ever, 'up in arms' about it. I rather like it, but the palace isn't commenting as yet.