William Degouve de Nuncques

William Degouve de Nuncques [sometimes Nunques] (28 February 1867 - 1 March 1935) was a Belgian painter. He was born at Monthermé, the Ardennes, France, of an old aristocratic family, After the Franco-Prussian war (1870–71), his parents settled in Belgium, and he taught himself to paint. In 1894 he married fellow artist Juliette Massin, who introduced him to the circle of Symbolist poets, who had a considerable influence on his style. He belonged to the avant-garde group Les XX and later exhibited at La Libre Esthétique. He travelled widely and painted views of Italy, Austria and France, often of parks at night. His best-known pictures, Pink House (1892), The Angels (1894), and Peacocks (1896), demonstrate the magical quality of his work. Pink House is thought to have been a major influence on Surrealism, especially the paintings of Rene Magritte. He is supposed to have said "To make a painting, all you need to do is to take some paints, draw some lines, and fill the rest up with feelings." A regular exhibitor in Paris, he was championed by Puvis de Chavannes and Maurice Denis.

From 1900 to 1902 he and his wife lived in the Balearic Islands, where he painted the rugged coastline and the orange groves. After suffering a religious crisis around 1910, he painted pictures that revealed his tormented state of mind, and during World War I, while a refugee in the Netherlands, he produced only minor works. In 1919 he was overwhelmed by the death of his wife and lost the use of one hand. In 1930 he married the woman who had helped him through the crisis. They settled in Stavelot, where he spent his last few years painting snow-covered landscapes. The best collection of his paintings is in the Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo.

  • Category: Masters

William Bouguereau

William Bouguereau b La Rochelle, 30 Nov 1825; d La Rochelle, 19 Aug 1905). French painter. From 1838 to 1841 he took drawing lessons from Louis Sage, a pupil of Ingres, while attending the coll?ge at Pons. In 1841 the family moved to Bordeaux where in 1842 his father allowed him to attend the Ecole Municipale de Dessin et de Peinture part-time, under Jean-Paul Alaux. In 1844 he won the first prize for figure painting, which confirmed his desire to become a painter. As there were insufficient family funds to send him straight to Paris he painted portraits of the local gentry from 1845 to 1846 to earn money. In 1846 he enrolled at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Paris, in the studio of Fran?ois-Edouard Picot. This was the beginning of the standard academic training of which he became so ardent a defender later in life. Such early works as Equality (1848; priv. col., see 1984-5 exh. cat., p. 141) reveal the technical proficiency he had attained even while still training. In 1850 he was awarded one of the two Premier Grand Prix de Rome for Zenobia Discovered by Shepherds on the Bank of the River Araxes (1850; Paris, Ecole N. Sup. B.-A.). In December 1850 he left for Rome where he remained at the Villa Medici until 1854, working under Victor Schnetz and Jean Alaux (1786-1864). During this period he made an extensive study of Giotto's work at Assisi and Padua and was also impressed by the works of other Renaissance masters and by Classical art. On his return to France he exhibited the Triumph of the Martyr (1853; Lun?ville, Mus. Lun?ville; see fig. 1) at the Salon of 1854. It depicted St Cecilia's body being carried to the catacombs, and its high finish, restrained colour and classical poses were to be constant features of his painting thereafter. All his works were executed in several stages involving an initial oil sketch followed by numerous pencil drawings taken from life. Though he generally restricted himself to classical, religious and genre subjects, he was commissioned by the state to paint Napoleon III Visiting the Flood Victims of Tarascon in 1856 (1856; Tarascon, H?tel de Ville), so applying his style to a contemporary historical scene. In 1859 he provided some of the decorations for the chapel of St Louis at Ste Clothilde church, Paris (in situ), where he worked under the supervision of Picot. The austere style of the scenes from the life of St Louis reflect Bouguereau's knowledge of early Italian Renaissance art.

From: Oxford Grove Art

  • Category: Masters

Willem van de Velde the Younger

Willem van de Velde was baptised on 18 December 1633 in Leiden, Holland, Dutch Republic. A son of Willem van de Velde the Elder, also a painter of sea-pieces, Willem van de Velde, the younger, was instructed by his father, and afterwards by Simon de Vlieger, a marine painter of repute at the time, and had achieved great celebrity by his art before he came to London. By 1673 he had moved to England, where he was engaged by Charles II, at a salary of £100, to aid his father in "taking and making draughts of sea-fights", his part of the work being to reproduce in color the drawings of the elder van de Velde. He was also patronized by the Duke of York and by various members of the nobility. He died on 6 April 1707 in London, England and was buried at St. James's Church. Most of Van de Velde's finest works represent views off the coast of Holland, with Dutch shipping. His best productions are delicate, spirited and finished in handling, and correct in the drawing of the vessels and their rigging. The numerous figures are tellingly introduced, and the artist is successful in his renderings of sea, whether in calm or storm. The ships are portrayed with almost photographic accuracy, and are the most precise guides available to the appearance of 17th-century ships. There are a number of van de Velde's marine paintings in the Wallace Collection, London, including "The Embarkation of King Charles II at Scheveningen, 1660".

  • Category: Masters

William Blake

William Blake (born Nov. 28, 1757, London, Eng.died Aug. 12, 1827, London) English poet, painter, engraver, and visionary. He was trained as an engraver by James Basire and afterward attended classes at the Royal Academy. Blake married in 1782, and in 1784 he opened a print shop in London. He developed an innovative technique for producing coloured engravings and began producing his own illustrated books of poetryincluding Songs of Innocence (1789), The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (1790?), and Songs of Experience (1794)with his new method of Illuminated Printing. Jerusalem (1804[20?]), an epic treating the fall and redemption of humanity, is his most richly decorated book. His other major works include Vala; or, The Four Zoas (manuscript 1796?1807?) and Milton (1804[11?]). A late series of 22 watercolours inspired by the Book of Job includes some of his best-known pictures. He was called mad because he was single-minded and unworldly; he lived on the edge of poverty and died in neglect. His books form one of the most strikingly original and independent bodies of work in the Western cultural tradition. Ignored by the public of his day, he is now regarded as one of the earliest and greatest figures of Romanticism.
For more information on William Blake, visit Britannica.com.

  • Category: Masters

Theodore Gericault

A number of painters in the Romantic period, and some before it, believed imagery should present situations, states of suffering, and outrage in forms that were extreme and compelling in themselves. These images, they thought, would stimulate the sympathy and satisfaction that were regarded as salutary and sublime - indeed they envisaged a situation in which agony as such would create a demand for experience that would in other contexts be intolerable. Among these uncommon spirits the painter Géricault was quite exceptional. He generated images of physical grandeur, brushing light into dark with an impulsive bluntness, which was a direct manifestation of natural force. He portrayed, for example, triumphant heroism, valiant defeat, splendid savagery, and animal magnificence, all of them with irresistible nobility and pathos. In the last years of Napoleon's rule Géricault painted the military myth on a grand scale and interested David. With the Restoration, he was painting subjects of barbaric violence and accumulating studies of injuries and executions when history provided him with the shipwreck of an ill fated expedition and the desperate suffering of the survivors. Within a year he had painted The Raft of the Medusa, a picture of pathos and protest outstanding in the history of art. It equipped romantic realism with a terrific commitment to humanity and an equally terrific style, in which the ruthlessness of the square brushed modeling and the livid light were unforgettably compelling. Five years later, after extending his repertory of extreme situations to the pathos of the insane, he died in a fall from a horse. Once he was dead, the regime which his great picture had arraigned found no difficulty in buying it. The most sincere protests have a way of turning into sensational aesthetic entertainments. It is apparently the nobility and insight in themselves that fulfill the deeper needs. The loss of Géricault depleted the French reserves of seriousness through the half century to come, sadly but not fatally.

From: Sir Lawrence Gowing, Paintings in the Louvre

  • Category: Masters

August Bromse

August Brömse, who was born in Frantiskovy Làzne and attended the Akademischen Hochschule fur bildende Kunste in Berlin, was one of many Czech artists influenced by contemporary German art and culture, especially by the graphic work of Max Klinger. According to Otto M. Urban.

The series The Girl and-Death, which originated in Berlin in 1901-1902, echoes the relationship of August Bromse with the concert singer Eisa Schünemann (they had known each other since 1902 but did not marry until 1910 when he was already living in Prague and heading the print studio at the Prague Academy), as does the later Nietzsche series "The Whole Being is Burning Sorrow" (1903, awarded a prize 1905 at the Paris exhibition). "The Girl and Death" is a modern variant of the Dance of Death. 

From: Urban, Otto M. In Morbid Colors: Art and the Idea of Decadence in the Bphemian Lands, 1880-1914. Prague: Municipal House and Arbor Vitae Press, 2006. Plate 254.

  • Category: Masters