The fun is in the details

The Old Masters may be all divine symbolism and biblical images, but who said they couldn’t have fun?

Detail #1: apparently, keeping squirrels as pets is not a new idea.

Detail #2: the ”Oh, man…” look on the Demon’s face.

(Suzanne, a married woman, sends her maids away while is she is taking a bath. Once alone, two elders who secretly desire her, make advances. Suzanne refuses, but is later accused of adultery by the very men she refused. She is found guilty and condemned to death).

Detail #3: Carnival costume inspiration.

Detail #4: the Younger having fun copying the Elder but, in a bout of originality, appropriates a barrel to sign his work.

Detail #5: the original. As in most of the Elder’s paintings, there’s so much going on here, you’re bound to discover something new every time you look. This time, the eye lingers over the warm red sun setting far at the background, beyond the dark bare branches of the tree.

Detail #6: Going commando in the 17th century was the norm, apparently.

Detail #7: so much to see, so little time… *yawn*

Detail #8: what did you see first?

Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium [Musée Oldmasters Museum], Brussels

October 19th, 2019

Master Drawings @ The Morgan Library

We were back at The Morgan to see the magnificent Old Masters’ drawings from the Thaw Collection, that were displayed at the time.

These are some highlights, which I hope you’ll enjoy.

Odalisque with Slave, 1839
Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (1780-1867) and Jean-Charles Thévenin (1819-1869)
Black chalk and graphite, black and brown wash with white and grey opaque watercolour


Reading, ca. 1860
Honoré Daumier (1808-1879)
Pen and black ink and grey wash with black fabricated chalk over charcoal


Woman Churning Butter, ca. 1855-58
Jean-François Millet (1814-1875)
Black Conté crayon


Leave It All to Providence, from the Black Border Album, 1816-20
Francisco de Goya (1746-1828)
Black ink and grey wash


Portrait of Arthur Rimbaud, 1872
Henri Fantin-Latour (1836-1904)
Watercolour and white opaque watercolour over black chalk on light brown paperboard


The Spider, 1902
Odilon Redon (1840-1916)
Charcoal and black pastel


The Fool, 1877
Odilon Redon (1840-1916)
Charcoal with black chalk and fixative on light brown paper


Artist in the making


Nurse with a Child’s Carriage
Georges Seurat(1859–1891)
Conté crayon on Ingres paper


Vincent van Gogh
Letter to Émile Bernard, 7 June 1888

Energized by his visit to the seaside town of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, van Gogh wrote enthusiastically to Bernard about his explorations of complementary colours (“No blue without yellow and without orange“) and his consideration of black and white as colours. He included several sketches to explain his ideas and enclosed a sheet containing drawings of canvasses in progress.


Vincent van Gogh
Letter to Paul Gauguin, 17 October 1888

Writing to Gauguin, who was to arrive later that month, van Gogh extolled the attractions of Arles and chronicled his progress on one of his masterpieces from the period, Bedroom at Arles (1888; Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam), even including a sketch.


Portrait of Marie-Thérèse Walter, 1936
Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)
Pen and black ink and wash


Caricature of a Sleeping Man, ca. 1755-60
Giovanni Battista Tiepolo (1696-1770)
Pen and black ink and wash


Young Woman Wearing a Chemise, ca. 1718
Antoine Watteau (1684-1721)
Black, red and white chalk


Interior of a Library, ca. 1780-85
Étienne-Louis Boullée (1728-1799)
Pen and black and brown ink and washes over graphite with black chalk


November 18th, 2017