Art Credits

Portraits at the Stock Exchange

Edgar Degas (French, 1834–1917) Pastel on paper, pieced and laid down on canvas, ca. 1878–79 This study for an oil painting (Musée d’Orsay, Paris) depicts the financier Ernest May, a collector of Degas’s work, under the portico of the Paris stock exchange. May was thirty-three in 1878, when Degas began the pastel.

28 3/8 x 22 7/8 in. (72.1 x 58.1 cm). Signed (lower right): Degas. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Gift of Janice H. Levin, 1991 (1991.277.1)

Source and description courtesy of: Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. (December 2008).

Jar, Ming dynasty

Porcelain painted in underglaze blue Xuande mark and period (1426–1435), China The porcelains of the Ming dynasty have attained such recognition in the West that "Ming" has become almost generic for anything ceramic fabricated in China before the twentieth century. While, unhappily, many of the pieces called Ming have no possible claim to that attribution, the porcelains that were produced during the period are among the most beautiful and exciting to emerge from China's kilns. In many respects, the blue and white porcelains of the early fifteenth century exemplify these wares at their apogee. They combine the freedom and energy of a newly ripened art form with the sophistication of concept and mastery of execution that come with maturity. The highest traditions of early Ming-dynasty brushwork are represented in the bristling dragon on this marvelous jar. His dorsal fins are like the teeth of a buzz saw, his claws have a strong bone structure, and he moves around the jar with total power yet consummate grace. Flanked by the heads of fearsome monsters is an inscription with the reign title of the incumbent emperor, Xuande. Reign marks became popular during the Xuande era (1426–35) and were used continuously after that time.

H. 19 in. (48.3 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Source and description courtesy of: Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. (October 2006)

Still Life with Open Drawer

Paul Cézanne (French, 1839–1906) Oil on canvas, ca. 1877–79 Cézanne can be said to form the bridge between late 19th century Impressionism and the early 20th century's new line of artistic enquiry, Cubism. His still-lifes, in their simplicity and delicate tonal harmony, are a typical work and thus ideal for an understanding of Cézanne's. These works were done in the studio, with simple props; a cloth, some apples, a vase or bowl and, later in his career, plaster sculptures. Cézanne's still lifes are both traditional and modern. The fruits and objects are readily identifiable, but they have no aroma, no sensual or tactile appeal and no other function other than as passive decorative objects coexisting in the same flat space. They bear no relation to the colorful vegetables of Provence — gorgeous red tomatoes, purple aubergines, and bright green courgettes. In his still-life paintings from the mid-1870s, Cézanne abandoned his thickly encrusted surfaces and began to address technical problems of form and color by experimenting with subtly gradated tonal variations, or "constructive brushstrokes," to create dimension in his objects. His often repetitive, sensitive and exploratory brushstrokes are highly characteristic and clearly recognizable. He used planes of color and small brushstrokes that build up to form complex fields, at once both a direct expression of the sensations of the observing eye and an abstraction from observed nature. The paintings convey Cézanne's intense study of his subjects, a searching gaze and a dogged struggle to deal with the complexity of human visual perception.

13 x 16 1/8 in. (33 x 41 cm). Private collection.

Source: The Yorck Project: 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei. DVD-ROM, 2002. ISBN 3936122202. Distributed by DIRECTMEDIA Publishing GmbH.  Description courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (Thematic Essay), Wikipedia and Web Museum, Paris.

Man with a Hat and a Violin

Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881–1973) Cut and pasted newspaper, and charcoal, on two joined sheets of paper, 1912 This work, created in Paris, belongs to a group of about seventeen other papiers collés by Picasso composed solely from newspaper articles. Here, he arranged cuttings from Le Journal of December 3 and 9, 1912 , on a sort of scaffolding of straight and slightly curved charcoal lines. The various texts refer to the Balkan Wars, to the unrest of miners in the Nord and Pas-de-Calais départements, to critical issues debated in Parliament and in the Chambers, and to local announcements and advertisements.

49 x 18 7/8 in. (124.5 x 47.9 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection, 1998 (1999.363.64). © 2010 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Source and description courtesy of: Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. (March 2010)

The Starry Night

Vincent van Gogh (Dutch, 1853–1890) Oil on canvas, 1889 This work depicts the view outside van Gogh’s sanatorium room window at night, although it was painted from memory during the day. Reproduced often, the painting is widely hailed as his “magnum opus.” The painting has been compared to an astronomical photograph of a star named V838 Monocerotis, taken by the Hubble in 2004. The clouds of gas surrounding the star resemble the swirling patterns van Gogh used in this painting. Simon Singh, in his book Big Bang, says that The Starry Night has striking similarities to a sketch of the Whirlpool Galaxy, drawn by Lord Rosse 44 years before van Gogh's work. Van Gogh’s night sky is a field of roiling energy. Below the exploding stars, the village is a place of quiet order. Connecting earth and sky is the flamelike cypress, a tree traditionally associated with graveyards and mourning. But death was not ominous for van Gogh. “Looking at the stars always makes me dream,” he said, “Why, I ask myself, shouldn”t the shining dots of the sky be as accessible as the black dots on the map of France? Just as we take the train to get to Tarascon or Rouen, we take death to reach a star.” The artist wrote of his experience to his brother Theo: “This morning I saw the country from my window a long time before sunrise, with nothing but the morning star, which looked very big.” This morning star, or Venus, may be the large white star just left of center in The Starry Night. The hamlet, on the other hand, is invented, and the church spire evokes van Gogh’s native land, the Netherlands. The painting, like its daytime companion, The Olive Trees, is rooted in imagination and memory.

29 x 36¼ in. (73.7 x 92.1 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Lillie P. Bliss bequest.

Source: The English Wikipedia.  Description courtesy of The Museum of Modern Art, New York & Wikipedia

Feline head bottle

Peru; Tembladera Ceramic, 9th–5th century B.C. Ceramic vessels, often in the form of bottles of different spout shape and decorated with religious imagery, were important mortuary offerings in ancient Peru for thousands of years. Early northern coast vessels are fired to muted tones of gray, black, and tan and have well-finished surfaces that could be highly polished or textured or a combination of both, as is the case here. This impressive, tall bottle with its well-preserved surface paint is said to have come from Tembladera, an ancient burial site in the Jequetepeque Valley on Peru’s north coast. On its front, a large incised and modeled feline head in profile looks upward; its long, stylized snout is studded with teeth and ends in a curled nose. The looped tongue projects from the mouth and extends beyond the shoulder of the chamber. A half-closed eye appears under the bulging brow. A smaller fanged profile head opposite may be that of a snake, its scaly body shown as a series of adjoining hook shapes along the sides and bottom of the vessel; similar shapes appear on the back of the vessel. Circular pelt markings suggest that a jaguar is depicted.

H. 6 5/8 in. (16.8 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Gift of Nelson A. Rockefeller, 1978. (1978.412.203)

Source and description courtesy of: Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. (October 2006)

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