Truly, Madly, Deeply

Amedeo Modigliani expired at the rather young indeed age of thirty-five on 24 January 1920. The strong-willed Italian portraitist’s early demise was much more the natural byproduct his personal cosmology than a freakish accident. Revolted by his comfortably stagnant bourgeois upbringing, he convinced himself that only struggling for crusts in nonconformist squalor could produce true art. Toss in…

Horsey Birthday

Happy centuries-belated birthday to my guy George Stubbs. The Liverpudlian Romantic painter was born on 25 August 1724, and went on to acquire a keen eye for the equine physique. He received only the tiniest modicum of formal training,  but Stubbs was able to hack out a living as a provincial portraitist. At the green age…

Toasting Sir Josh

Today marks the 294th birthday of one of my favourite English rococo portraitists supreme, Sir Joshua Reynolds RA FRS FRSA (1723-1792). We’ll leave that Gainsborough character out of this. To celebrate, here’s the rundown on one of his most intriguing depictions of eighteenth-century upper-crustiness. Reynolds’ paint handling here is as flawlessly polished as ever, rendered…

Picasso's People

Barcelona has art history in her DNA, and as many of you know, Pablo Picasso, among many great others, spent a pivotal part of his life in the city. During an already culturally exciting moment, the show Picasso. Retrats has just opened at the Museu Picasso de Barcelona in the El Born neighbourhood. Realised thanks…

On the Small Side

Despite so many colourful and lavish displays of class difference in the golden years of Elizabethan England, the visual experience, in terms of formal portraiture, was largely the same between the highest lords and ladies of the court and Her Majesty’s stooped peasants under their leaky, vermin-infested and flammable thatched roofs. Of course, the well-feasted and velveteen landed…

Carl Grauer, Painter

I last wrote of a long departed painter to remember. Today I turn my attention to a painter, very alive and well, to get to know better. Carl Grauer, American portraitist at large, is proof that excellent art, art full of searching ideas and based in the bedrock of dexterous technique, can trace its roots…