A retreat of Edward III, a muse for John Constable, a local ruin for inspiration…
Hadleigh castle is a place that I absolutely love to visit, it’s a 15 minute drive from home and is situated both strategically and beautifully nestled in the countryside of Essex, overlooking the Thames estuary.
For this post I won’t be going into the details of the castle’s history as this is merely a blog post to show an oil sketch that I have recently created and not a finished painting; that will come in the future.
As the summer draws closer I am making plans to spend a good bit of time around these ruins, sketching on site and hopefully doing a bit of plein air painting, working towards a definitive oil painting showing the ruins and the surrounding landscape in all their glory.
The part of the ruins shown in this sketch however, I intend to incorporate into a fantasy artwork, either as the main focal point, or a background piece depending on where the mood and composition takes me at that stage
The Farewell Speech!
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This week I decided to step away from Norse/Viking themes for a moment and work on something else for the sketches and so I decided to do something that I’ve been meaning to do for a while; Master Studies.
I didn’t spend a great deal of time on these small sketches as they are just that; sketches. They are more a means of learning more about some of the great artists of history than creating rendered drawings.
Anyway, here they are –
Sketching these works of past masters has been a very enjoyable experience and it’s something I’ll definitely be continuing with in the future; there is so much information to be gleaned from studying the works of other artists and studying them.
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I had never before heard of this artist and so it was a pleasant introduction to him through his work, before jumping into the artwork let’s take a look at the man himself.
Fray Juan Bautista Maíno
Maíno was born in 1581 in a Spanish town named Pastrana which is about 80km from Madrid, where it is thought he underwent his artistic training. Like all the great artists of the age he traveled to Italy in his younger years and seemingly learned a lot about his trade in the process; he is recorded as living in Rome between 1609-10 and although it is unknown when he arrived in the city, it is known he was there by at least 1604.
Maíno returned to Spain in 1611 and continued working and receiving commissions and then at around 1616 he moved to Madrid and became master of painting to Prince Philip; who later became King Philip IV.
Maíno had a long and very successful career but in spite of that there are few of his works that are known; his paintings express the knowledge that he had of the stylistic tendencies prevalent in early 17th century Rome. His work also shows that he was inspired and influenced by artits such as Caravaggio, Gentileschi, Carracci and Reni.
Maíno died in 1649 in the College of Santo Tomas of Madrid.
These two paintings measure over three metres in height and were orignally part of a ‘retablo’ (altarpiece) for the high altar of the Dominican church of San Pedro Mártir in Toledo between 1612-14.
They both sh0w the deep impression that had been left on Maíno by Caravaggio’s works which he would have seen whilst in Rome; the chiaroscuro lighting and the naturalistic approach to painting are clearly evident.
Another note of importance on these two paintings is that as well as being the greatest works created by Maíno, ‘the two adorations are also among the earliest Spanish paintings to have been executed in a Caravaggesque style’. This is also evidence of the far reaching influence of Caravaggio across Europe in the early 17th century.
My personal favourite of the two paintings is the Adoration of the Shepherds; the muted pallete works so well for the scene and although the composition is probably stronger in the Kings, in the Shepherds it works well enough to keep me captivated and engaged. I also find that the Shepherds painting shows a strong sense of humility on behalf of both the artist and the subject.
Maíno included a self portrait in the Adoration of the Kings, he is posed as a pilgrim on the left of the scene pointing towards the infant Christ. There is also an array of expensive and luxurious drapery which showcases Maíno’s knowledge and skill in the area, a lot of which was possibly influenced my his father who had been a cloth merchant.
All in all, this exhibition was well worth seeing and I’m glad that I have been introduced and made aware of another incredible artist from the past; being one that had been inspired by Caravaggio who is one of my favourites makes it even better.
Yesterday I decided to take the day out and head into London city and visit the National Gallery for some inspiration and downtime. Other than the commute (which is an absolute nightmare between rail strikes, xmas shoppers and general city hustle and bustle) it was a very worthwhile trip and extremely inspiring.
The main reason I went was to go and see the ‘Beyond Caravaggio’ exhibition currently being held there which I’ll write up in a separate post later in the week.
I’ve visited numerous galleries and museums in London and some of them several times, including the National Gallery, but this was the first time I got up close and personal to every artwork that caught my eye; I was scrutinizing every brushstroke and mark in as great detail as possible with the naked eye.
Here is a selection of some of my favourites from yesterday’s visit –
Dante Gabriel Rossetti; a translator, illustrator, poet and most importantly for this post, an incredible artist. As one of the founding fathers of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, he inspired and influenced an entire generation of artists and writers both contemporaries and successive to himself. Dante was born on the 12th May 1828 and he died on the 9th April 1882, leaving behind a wealth of work and a strong legacy that would live on long beyond his own lifetime.
Dante Gabriel Rossetti spent a lot of time working on English translations of Italian poetry and found himself strongly influenced by the famous Italian poet, Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) with whom he strongly identified. It was Rossetti’s identification to Dante Alighieri that inspired the painting which is the subject of this post.
With that said we’re going to be looking at one piece of work in particular; a painting full of meaning and symbolism, painted in Rossetti’s signature style and telling a powerful story rife with emotion and feeling.
For this post, we will have a look at the traditional art of an independent and usually reclusive artist named Francis Towne.
In 1780-81, Towne went on the dangerous journey to the heart of the Ancient Empire of Rome and in doing so created some of the most beautiful watercolour paintings I’ve ever seen; using his incredible aptitude with a brush he brought out the elegance of the ruins of the old Empire and romanticized them poetically.
When I think about what is probably my favourite era of history; the Renaissance period, aside from the superhuman skills and mastery of most of the artists alive in that era, one of the things that I find the most inspiring is the concept of La Bottega, or the workshop.
The Renaissance was undoubtedly one of the most profound moments of enlightenment, discovery and achievement in human history and a big part of me thinks that something that helped enhance the creativity of this period was the workshops.