“For Spain, the loss of The Lock is of a seriousness that is difficult to measure,” wrote Francisco Calvo Serraller, former director of the Prado Museum, in the Spanish daily El País. “Faced by this terrible loss, any art lover will feel not only terrible pain, but also a legitimate rage resulting from the shady, tricky and unexplained way this awful affair has been carried out.”
ohn Constable’s The Lock (1824), one of the English painter’s acknowledged masterpieces, depicts an idyllic and quintessentially English pastoral scene in which the sky and atmosphere are endowed with a vibrancy the Impressionists would later aspire to. In recent years the painting has hung in the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid, placed there on extended loan from the personal collection of the Baroness Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza.
Not anymore. Last summer the baroness abruptly withdrew the painting from the museum to put it up for auction at Christie’s London, where in July it fetched £22.4 million ($35.2 million). The sale provoked anger in Spanish art circles, protest among museum trustees, and public squabbling among members of the Thyssen-Bornemisza family.
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Lear was already drawing “for bread and cheese” by the time he was aged 16 and soon developed into a serious “ornithological draughtsman” employed by the Zoological Society and then from 1832 to 1836 by the Earl of Derby, who had a private menagerie. His first publication, published when he was 19, was Illustrations of the Family of Psittacidae, or Parrots in 1830. His paintings were well received and he was favourably compared with Audubon.
Lear was born into a middle-class family in the village of Holloway, the 21st child of Ann and Jeremiah Lear. He was raised by his eldest sister, also named Ann, 21 years his senior. Ann doted on Lear and continued to mother him until her death, when Lear was almost 50 years of age. Due to the family’s failing financial fortune, at age four he and his sister had to leave the family home and set up house together.
Lear suffered from health problems. From the age of six he suffered frequent grand mal epileptic seizures, and bronchitis, asthma, and in later life, partial blindness. Lear experienced his first seizure at a fair near Highgate with his father. The event scared and embarrassed him. Lear felt lifelong guilt and shame for his epileptic condition. His adult diaries indicate that he always sensed the onset of a seizure in time to remove himself from public view. How Lear was able to anticipate them is not known, but many people with epilepsy report a ringing in their ears (tinnitus) or an aura before the onset of a seizure. In Lear’s time epilepsy was believed to be associated with demonic possession, which contributed to his feelings of guilt and loneliness. When Lear was about seven he began to show signs of depression, possibly due to the constant instability of his childhood. He suffered from periods of severe depression which he referred to as “the Morbids.”
The Mona Lisa is 16th century oil painting created by the renowned Leonardo da Vinci. The work of art depicts an enigmatic woman gazing at the viewer, and it is said that if you move across the room while looking into her eyes, they’ll follow you. It is definitely one of the most popular paintings worldwide and has been the center of many artistic, religious, and theoretical debates. The French government currently owns the Mona Lisa and it is featured at the Musee du Louvre in Paris. The painting can also be referred to as La Gioconda or La Joconde.
The name of the painting stems from the name of the woman in the portrait, Lisa Gherardini, the wife of a wealthy businessman in Florence, Italy named Francesco del Giocondo. Mona means ‘my lady’ or ‘madam’ in modern Italian, so the title is simply Madam Lisa. Art historians agree that Leonardo da Vinci likely began painting the Mona Lisa in 1503, and completed it within 4 years. In 1516 the King of France, King Francois, bought the painting and it is thought that after Leonardo’s death the painting was cut down. Some speculators think that the original had columns on both sides of the lady, whereas other art critics believe that the painting was never cut down in size. It has been suggested that there were 2 versions of the Mona Lisa painting, but many historians reject the second version. The duplicate copy can be found at the Dulwich Picture Gallery. After the French revolution the painting was moved to the Louvre, and Napoleon had it placed in his bedroom for a short time before it was returned to the Louvre. The popularity of the Mona Lisa increased in the mid 19th century because of the Symbolist movement. The painting was thought to encompass a sort of feminine mystique.
In 1911 the Mona Lisa was stolen from the Louvre. The art thief hid in a broom closet until the museum closed, stole the painting, hid it under his jacket and walked out the front door. Eduardo de Valfierno was the mastermind behind the theft and has planned to make copies of the original and sell them as the real thing. Eventually, in 1913, he was caught when trying to sell the original to a Florence art dealer. The Mona Lisa is most famous for her facial expression, her enigmatic smile and da Vinci’s mastering of tone and color in the painting. There is much mythology and interpretations relating to the painting that mystify the world. Many art critics and art history buffs suggest that the Mona Lisa is actually a portrait of da Vinci himself in feminine form. In addition, most viewers see the meaning behind Mona Lisa’s smile very differently.
Impressionism was the first movement in the canon of modern art. Like most revolutionary styles it was gradually absorbed into the mainstream and its limitations became frustrating to the succeeding generation. Artists such as Vincent Van Gogh, Paul Cézanne, Paul Gauguin and Georges Seurat, although steeped in the traditions of Impressionism, pushed the boundaries of the style in different creative directions and in doing so laid the foundations for the art of the 20th century. Their name was derived from the title of the exhibition ‘Manet and the Post-Impressionists’ which was organised in London by the English artist and critic Roger Fry in the winter of 1910-11. For historical convenience these artists have been labeled as Post Impressionists but, apart from their Impressionist influence, they don’t have that much in common.
Gauguin’s work can be split into two phases: an early period spent painting around the rustic town of Port Aven in Brittany; and a later period (post 1891) in search of the primitive lifestyle in Tahiti and the Marquesas Islands in the South Pacific. He fused his symbolic use of colour with images of both environments to create a highly personal and expressive vision that pushed art towards the exhilarating style of Fauvism.