Elisabetta Sirani

Elisabetta Sirani (8 January 1638 – 25 August 1665) was an Italian Baroque painter whose father was the painter Giovanni Andrea Sirani of the School of Bologna. She was born in Bologna. By age 17 she was a full-fledged engraver and painter and had completed over ninety works. By the time she died at the young…

El Greco

The National Gallery’s once-in-a-lifetime El Greco exhibition closes next Sunday, so this week’s picture is one of the star attractions of the show: Laocoon, which was painted by the artist towards the end of life, in the early 1610s. Like last week’s painting of St Lucy by Francesco del Cossa, this work was once owned…

Edvard Munch

“An anxiety haunts the work of Edvard Munch, [that] is expressed with a formal inventiveness that impinges upon the emotions before we are even aware of the subject; the deeper regions of the psyche are accessible only through the potent agency of rhythm and color. “… When Munch began studying art in Christiania (now Oslo),…

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

“The young Rossetti was encouraged by his cosmopolitan parents to use his vivid imagination to develop his passionate interests of drawing and writing. All his life Rossetti was torn between his twin loves of poetry and painting – to such an extent that he regarded the two disciplines as inseparable. Arguably, with his facility and…

Carlo Crivelli

Carlo Crivelli was born around 1430–35 in Venice to a family of painters, and received his artistic formation there and in Padua. After a century’s work in Italian archives, the details of Crivelli’s career are still sparse: the only dates that can with certainty be given about his life as a painter are his first appearance, already a…

Caravaggio

Michelangelo Merisi, known as Caravaggio (1571-1610) achieved one of the most important revolutions in the history of painting. He inherited a world where the classical idealism of Michelangelo was still normative, especially in the depiction of the human body, and where the eccentricities of his successors, who did not paint from life at all, distorted…

Austin Osman Spare

Spare’s work is remarkable for its variety, including paintings, a vast number of drawings, work with pastel, a few etchings, published books combining text with imagery, and even bizarre bookplates. He was productive from his earliest years until his death. According to Haydn Mackay, “rhythmic ornament grew from his hand seemingly without conscious effort.” Spare…

Aubrey Beardsley

One of the most famous figures of the 1890s, Beardsley was born at Brighton and attended the local Grammar School, where he already showed signs of precocity. On leaving, he took a job as a clerk with the Guardian Life Insurance Co. in London, meanwhile attending classes at the Westminster School of Art under Frederick…

Asher Brown Durand

Asher Brown Durand was born in Jefferson Village (now Maplewood), New Jersey, the eighth of eleven children. His frail health exempted him from working on the family farm; instead, he helped his father, a watchmaker and silversmith. Following an apprenticeship to engraver Peter Maverick from 1812 to 1817, Durand entered into full partnership with Maverick…

Arnold Bocklin

The Island of the Dead, by Arnold Bocklin The Swiss painter Arnold Bocklin died on this day in 1901, so today’s choice of painting is his masterpiece The Island of the Dead. Bocklin painted it in 1880, while convalescing on the island of Ischia after having caught the flu on a sketching trip to Naples.…