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Category Archives: Art

Traveling Companions

    IN 1862, the British painter Augustus Leopold Egg painted this wonderful and humorous picture of two girls in a train traveling through Europe, with the Italian coastline in the background. It’s called Travelling Companions. In his book Victorian Painting, Christopher Wood wrote, “It is difficult for us now to appreciate how ugly the Victorians thought […]

The Skies and Fields of Constable

  STEVE KOGAN writes: Among the pleasures I experienced in reading the recent post “Gainsborough’s Children” and seeing the portraits was the quote from John Constable on Gainsborough’s works: “On looking at them, we find tears in our eyes and know not what brings them.” Although this moving comment was new to me, I could […]

More on Carl Larsson

  MEREDITH writes: It pained me to read that some of the Swedish painter Carl Larsson’s critics questioned the happiness of that family, and called him a hypocrite.  What rot!  And how wonderful that he had such a family and a haven to retreat to, as all men should.  It allowed him to go on, and continue to paint, […]

The Home of Carl and Karin Larsson

  THE SWEDISH PAINTER Carl Larsson created one of the Europe’s most beloved visions of domestic harmony. Dozens of Larsson’s watercolors and paintings featured his immediate surroundings: his wife, Karin; their children, their house and the countryside near Sundborn, the village where they lived in the late nineteenth century. A son confined to a chair in punishment, the children diving into the river, two daughters getting dressed with […]

Father and Daughter

    INGRES, as we have discussed before, was famous for his portraits, including official portraits of Napoleon and idealistic renderings of nineteenth-century European artistocrats. While living in Rome, he also executed many drawings of wealthy tourists, usually family portraits full of character and charm. Here is his drawing of Charles Hayard and his daughter, Marguerite, a work which captures the subtle […]

Madame Reiset

WE DISCUSSED (here and here) one of the stunning female portraits of Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres  — the portrait of the Comtesse D’Haussonville. Here is another captivating face, that of Madame Frederic Reiset. The oil painting was completed in 1846. Notice its conscious resemblance to the early form of photography, the daguerreotype, which would have been […]

The Woman at the Museum

  SIGRID writes: I am a regular but silent reader. Your passing reference to the cult of ugliness struck a chord today. As it happened, I read the post just after returning from a docent-led tour at the Corcoran Gallery. The docent was an delightful older woman (probably well into her 70s) who skillfully mixed “textbook” […]

The War on Women


Whistler’s Unfortunate Mother

    AS YOU take stock this Mother’s Day, be glad you were not Whistler’s mother. This famous painting of Anna McNeill Whistler by her brilliant son, James, came to symbolize motherhood in the early twentieth century, especially when the U.S. Post Office placed it on a stamp in 1934. But, really, would you want to be remembered by […]

The Red Book


Book and Bow

  VICTORIAN artists painted an extraordinary number of portraits of women reading books.  Despite what feminists say, women were frequently seen in the act of contemplation in the nineteenth century. And painters found it inspiring. They saw something important in the act of feminine contemplation, as if it nourished them. Virginia Woolf claimed intelligent women would never be anything short of […]

The House of Commons, 1924

  THIS painting by the Irish-born artist John Lavery is a study for his work “The House of Commons – Ramsay McDonald Addressing the House” of 1924. (Thank you to the website, Victorian/Edwardian Paintings.) Leaving aside its historical meaning, I find it interesting as a painting of politicans, a subject matter rarely chosen by twentieth century artists. Although it […]

Compulsory Education

  BRITON RIVIÉRE painted this scene, Compulsory Education, in 1887. Here is an interesting description of the painter’s portraits of animals from the website, Victorian/Edwardian Painting.  Phillip Brown writes: Regarded as the most able successor to the great painter of animals Sir Edwin Landseer, Briton Riviére’s art was highly popular in the later nineteenth century when he exhibited sensitive […]

A Shepherd Resting

  SEE more Victorian and Edwardian British paintings here.

Mass Media and the Eucharist

  HERE is a brilliant essay by the Catholic artist Daniel Mitsui on mass media and Catholic liturgy. He writes: I have heard many times the claim that the Catholic Church should have great success in her New Evangelization, because Catholicism is a visual religion and contemporary society is also visual. But to call Catholicism a visual […]