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Sir Peter Paul Rubens

Peter Paul Rubens self-portrait, 1623

Peter Paul Rubens is considered one of the most important Flemish painters of the 17th century. His style became an international definition of the animated, exuberantly sensuous aspects of baroque painting. Combining the bold brushwork, luminous color, and shimmering light of the Venetian school with the fervent vigor of Michelangelo’s art and the formal dynamism of Hellenistic sculpture, Rubens created a vibrant art, its pulsating energies emanating from tensions between the intellectual and emotional, the classical and the romantic. For 200 years the vitality and eloquence of his work influenced such artists as Antoine Watteau, in the early 18th century, and Eugène Delacroix and Pierre Auguste Renoir, in the 19th century. 
Rubens’s father, Jan Rubens, was a prominent lawyer and Antwerp alderman. Having converted from Catholicism to Calvinism, Jan Rubens in 1568 fled Flanders with his family because of persecutions against Protestants. In 1577 Peter Paul was born in exile at Siegen, Westphalia (now in Germany), also the birthplace of his brother Philip and his sister Baldina. There, their father had become the adviser and lover of Princess Anna of Saxony, wife of Prince William I of Orange (William the Silent). 
On the death of Jan Rubens in 1587, his widow returned the family to Antwerp, where they again became Catholics. After studying the classics in a Latin school and serving as a court page, Peter Paul decided to become a painter. He apprenticed in turn with Tobias Verhaecht, Adam van Noort, and Otto van Veen, called Vaenius, three minor Flemish painters influenced by 16th-century Mannerist artists of the Florentine-Roman school. The young Rubens was as precocious a painter as he had earlier been a scholar of modern European languages and of classical antiquity. In 1598, at the age of 21, he was accorded the rank of master painter of the Antwerp Guild of St. Luke. 
Following the example of many northern European artists of the period, Rubens felt drawn by necessity to travel to Italy, the center of European art for the previous two centuries. In 1600 he arrived in Venice, where he was particularly inspired by the paintings of Titian, Paolo Veronese, and Tintoretto. Later, while resident in Rome, he was influenced by the works of Michelangelo and Raphael, as well as by ancient Greco-Roman sculpture. 
Vincenzo Gonzaga (reigned 1587-1612), the duke of Mantua, employed Rubens for about nine years. Besides executing original works, Rubens copied Renaissance paintings for the ducal collection, and in 1605 he served as the duke’s emissary to King Philip III of Spain. During his years in Italy, Rubens saw the early baroque works of the contemporary Italian painters Annibale Carracci and Caravaggio, and he associated with some of the leading humanist intellectuals of the day. When Rubens left Italy, he was no longer a bourgeois but a gentleman, and he was not a local artist but one of international style and reputation. 
His mother’s death in 1608 brought Rubens back to Antwerp, where he married Isabella Brant in 1609. Having formulated one of the first innovative expressions of the baroque style while in Italy, Rubens on his return was recognized as the foremost painter of Flanders and, therefore, was immediately employed by the burgomaster of Antwerp. His success was further confirmed in 1609, when he was engaged as court painter to the Austrian archduke Albert and his wife, the Spanish infanta Isabella, who together ruled the Low Countries as viceroys for the king of Spain. The number of pictures requested from Rubens was so large that he established an enormous workshop in which the master did the initial sketch and final touches, while his apprentices completed all the intermediary steps. Besides court commissions from Brussels and abroad, the highly devout Rubens was much in demand by the militant Counter Reformation church of Flanders, which regarded his dramatic, emotionally charged interpretations of religious events—such as the Triptych of the Raising of the Cross (1610-11, Antwerp Cathedral)—as images for spiritual recruitment and renewal. Prosperity allowed Rubens to build an Italianate residence in Antwerp, where he housed his extensive collection of art and antiquities. 
Between 1622 and 1630 Rubens’s value as a diplomat was equal to his importance as a painter. In 1622 he visited Paris, where the French queen Marie de Médicis commissioned him, for the Luxembourg Palace, to depict her life in a series of allegorical paintings (completed 1625). Despite the keen loss Rubens felt after the death of his wife in 1626, he continued to be highly productive. In 1628 he was sent by the Flemish viceroys to Spain. 
While in Madrid he received several commissions from King Philip IV of Spain, who made him secretary of his Privy Council. Rubens also served as a mentor to the young Spanish painter Diego Velázquez. After a delicate diplomatic mission to London in 1629, he was knighted by a grateful King Charles I of England, for whom he executed several paintings. For Charles, Rubens also made the preliminary sketches (finished in Antwerp, 1636) for the ceiling mural in the Whitehall Palace Banqueting Hall. 
From 1630, when he married Hélène Fourment, until his death on May 30, 1640, Rubens remained in Antwerp, living primarily at Castle Steen, his country residence. During this final decade he continued executing commissions for the Habsburg monarchs of Austria and Spain. More and more, he also painted pictures of personal interest, especially of his wife and child and of the Flemish countryside. 
The concerns of Rubens’s late style, and indeed of his whole career, are summarized in The Judgment of Paris (circa 1635-37, National Gallery, London). In this painting voluptuous goddesses are posed against a verdant landscape, goddesses and landscape both symbolizing the richness of creation. Color is luxuriant, light and shade glow, and the brushwork is sensuous. All these elements further the meaning of the narrative, which is Paris’s selection of what is most beautiful—the lifelong concern of Rubens in his art.

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Leonardo da Vinci: “All our knowledge has its origins in our perceptions”

Self-portrait, circa 1512

Leonardo da Vinci was a Florentine artist, one of the great masters of
the High Renaissance, who was also celebrated as a painter, sculptor,
architect, engineer, and scientist. His profound love of knowledge and
research was the keynote of both his artistic and scientific endeavors.
His innovations in the field of painting influenced the course of
Italian art for more than a century after his death, and his scientific
studies—particularly in the fields of anatomy, optics, and hydraulics—
anticipated many of the developments of modern science.Early Life in Florence
Leonardo was born on April 15, 1452, in the small Tuscan town
of Vinci, near Florence. He was the son of a wealthy Florentine
notary and a peasant woman. In the mid-1460s the family settled in
Florence, where Leonardo was given the best education that Florence,
the intellectual and artistic center of Italy, could offer. He rapidly
advanced socially and intellectually. He was handsome, persuasive
in conversation, and a fine musician and improviser. About 1466 he
was apprenticed as a garzone (studio boy) to Andrea del Verrocchio,
the leading Florentine painter and sculptor of his day. In Verrocchio’s
workshop Leonardo was introduced to many activities, from the
painting of altarpieces and panel pictures to the creation of large
sculptural projects in marble and bronze. In 1472 he was entered in
the painter’s guild of Florence, and in 1476 he is still mentioned as
Verrocchio’s assistant. In Verrocchio’s Baptism of Christ (circa 1470,
Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence), the kneeling angel at the left of the
painting is by Leonardo.
In 1478 Leonardo became an independent master. His first
commission, to paint an altarpiece for the chapel of the Palazzo
Vecchio, the Florentine town hall, was never executed. His first large
painting, The Adoration of the Magi (begun 1481, Galleria degli
Uffizi), left unfinished, was ordered in 1481 for the Monastery of San
Donato a Scopeto, Florence. Other works ascribed to his youth are the
so-called Benois Madonna (c. 1478, Hermitage, Saint Petersburg), the
portrait Ginerva de’ Benci (c. 1474, National Gallery, Washington,
D.C.), and the unfinished Saint Jerome (c. 1481, Pinacoteca, Vatican).


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Max Ernst. (2 April 1891 – 1 April 1976) was a German painter, sculptor, graphic artist, and poet.

Max Ernst, 1942 by Arnold Newman
Max Ernst: “Painting is not for me either decorative amusement, or the plastic invention of felt reality; it must be every time: invention, discovery, revelation.”

Gustav Klimt. Austrian Symbolist painter.

Gustav Klimt (July 14, 1862 – February 6, 1918) was an Austrian Symbolist painter.

Golden phase and critical success.
The Kiss 1907–1908. Oil on canvas. Österreichische Galerie Belvedere.
Klimt’s ‘Golden Phase’ was marked by positive critical reaction and success. Many of his paintings from this period used gold leaf; the prominent use of gold can first be traced back to Pallas Athene (1898) and Judith I (1901), although the works most popularly associated with this period are the Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I (1907) and The Kiss (1907–1908). Klimt travelled little but trips to Venice and Ravenna, both famous for their beautiful mosaics, most likely inspired his gold technique and his Byzantine imagery. In 1904, he collaborated with other artists on the lavish Palais Stoclet, the home of a wealthy Belgian industrialist, which was one of the grandest monuments of the Art Nouveau age. Klimt’s contributions to the dining room, including both Fulfillment and Expectation, were some of his finest decorative work, and as he publicly stated, “probably the ultimate stage of my development of ornament.” Between 1907 and 1909, Klimt painted five canvases of society women wrapped in fur. His apparent love of costume is expressed in the many photographs of Flöge modeling clothing he designed.
As he worked and relaxed in his home, Klimt normally wore sandals and a long robe with no undergarments. His simple life was somewhat cloistered, devoted to his art and family and little else except the Secessionist Movement, and he avoided café society and other artists socially. Klimt’s fame usually brought patrons to his door, and he could afford to be highly selective. His painting method was very deliberate and painstaking at times and he required lengthy sittings by his subjects. Though very active sexually, he kept his affairs discreet and he avoided personal scandal.
Klimt wrote little about his vision or his methods. He wrote mostly postcards to Flöge and kept no diary. In a rare writing called “Commentary on a non-existent self-portrait”, he states “I have never painted a self-portrait. I am less interested in myself as a subject for a painting than I am in other people, above all women…There is nothing special about me. I am a painter who paints day after day from morning to night…Who ever wants to know something about me… ought to look carefully at my pictures.” (read more wikipedia)
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