Radiant Oils: Glazing Techniques for Fruit and Flower Paintings That Glow

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Arleta Pech is recognized as a leading painter of still life, enjoying international renown as a top watercolor artist for over thirty years. She has published multiple articles and two North Light books: Painting Fresh Florals in Watercolor , published as a hardcover in and released in paperback in , and Radiant Oils in Visit her website at arletapech.

One of the most effective use of diagonal lines can be found in the Woman Writing a Letter with her Maid. In this picture, a series of three implied diagonal lines superimpose themselves over the rectilinear compositional structure invigorating the narrative tension, wherein the mistress has cast aside a letter she has just received see the letter and red wax seal on the floor in front of the table and hastily writes as her maid patiently waits to deliver the letter as soon as it is finished. Originally, an admirer or lover of the arts, a connoisseur.

Or, a dabbler in an art or a field of knowledge; an amateur. Today, "dilettante" is more likely to be used in the latter sense, and taken by many—by the listener, even if not by the speaker—as an insult. It was more innocent in its original uses, as derived from the Italian word "dilettare," meaning "to delight. Later, the term came to refer to an amateur—someone who cultivates an art as a pastime without pursuing it professionally.

From this meaning developed the pejorative meaning the word carries now: a person who dabbles in an art, but is not truly devoted to it. In Florence, disegno "drawing" or "design" was viewed as the sine qua non of the artistic endeavor, the primary means for making painting approximate nature. Disegno was fundamental for all areas of art in the Renaissance: painting, sculpture and architecture.

Although it is believed that the notion of drawing as the foundation for the art of painting and sculpture had been expressed at least as early as Petrarch, 5 the art historical concept of disegno "originated partly in the workshop of sculptors and had direct reference to the plastic quality of a work. Giorgio Vasari — , the foremost art critic of the Renaissance, gave the concept its universal form by lumping together all the visual arts as arti del disegno and by initiating the foundation of the Academy of Design Accademia del Disegno in Florence in In Vasari's usage disegno points to the regular form or idea of things in artist's mind, that is, disegno is understood primarily as the right proportion of the whole to its parts and of the parts to one another.

On the other hand, in Venice, colorito , "coloring" was not only color but the fundamental means by which painted images could be charged with the look of life. Florentine color was frequently more vivid than the palette used in Venetian paintings; typically Venetian, however, was the process of layering and blending colors to achieve a glowing, natural richness. Rather than beginning with careful drawings where contours are fixed with meticulous certainty, Venetian painters often worked out compositions directly on the canvas, using layered patches of colors and visible brushwork , rather than line, to evoke the sense of space and form.

Venetian painters paid much closer attention to the effects of light than the Florentines and used this knowledge to create both movement and volume in composition. This debate, which raged throughout the Early Renaissance c. The debate between the two positions involved theorists as well as artists and regional rivalries as well as aesthetic concerns.

Roger De Piles — , a French art critic who gave important contribution to aesthetics in his Dialogue sur le coloris "Dialogue on colours" , broke with tradition and argued strenuously that color was not simply accidental ornamentation, but the main condition of an object's visibility. Thus color, to de Piles, was part of the natural order of painting. It is an attempt to assess the achievement of the major artists since Raphael — , De Piles awarded marks out of twenty for each composition, design or drawing, color and expression, De Piles' evaluations have been denigrated after the decline of Classicism, and his ranking is now considered his "most notorious contribution to criticism" even though his "decomposition of the overall quality of the work into four properties was revolutionary and ambitious at the time.

De Piles' table of artists is reported below. Each painter was given marks from "0" to "18" in composition, drawing, color and expression which was intended to provide an overview of aesthetic appreciation that hinges upon the balance between color and design. The highest marks went to Raphael, with a slight bias on color for Rubens, a slight bias on drawing for Raphael.

Painters who scored very badly in anything but color were Giovanni Bellini, Giorgione c. Rembrandt — , who is today considered one of the world's greatest draughtsmen, was given a desultory "6. In optics, a disk of confusion also referred to as halation, blur circle, circle of confusion and circle of indistinctness refers to the effect of non-converging, unfocused light rays that have entered a lens. When light waves don't converge after passing through a lens, they produce a larger optical spot, instead of coming together at a single point, as in the case of a specular highlight.

Under normal conditions disks of confusion are not seen with the human eye because "it quickly shifts focus to the object being momentarily considered, so that most persons are unaware that the If the eye did not shift focus as quickly as it does one might be able to notice circles of confusion forming on the retina, but experimentation shows that the out-of-focus image formed on the retina is useless for picture-making purposes even if one is aware of its existence. Art historians have equated certain globular highlights of light-toned paint found in many of Vermeer's paintings with circles of confusion that the artist presumably have observed through a camera obscura.

It must be assumed that once Vermeer had understood how the disks of confusion are produced by the camera obscura and how to imitate them with paint, he employed them with considerable artistic license in order to enhance the effect of light as it plays upon natural surface. Although Dutch painters experimented with a number of techniques to represent highlights , which are key to creating the illusion of light conditions usually intense , on shiny surface textures , only Vermeer adopted circular highlight in a methodical manner.

Perhaps the only other instance in Dutch painting of such highlights are those on a pair of slippers in the foreground of Gabriel Metsu 's — Woman Reading a Letter , a picture that was likely inspired by Vermeer himself. Both writers experimented with actual camera obscuras focused on mock-Vermeer still lifes in attempts to replicate the effects seen in Vermeer's paintings. In the seventeenth century, Dutch and Flemish artists presented a strange new face to the public in their self portraits. Rather than assuming the traditional guise of the learned gentleman artist that was fostered by renaissance topoi , many painters presented themselves in a more unseemly light.

Dropping the noble robes of the pictor doctus , they smoked, drank and chased women. Dutch and Flemish artists explored a new mode of self-expression in dissolute self-portraits, embracing the many behaviors that art theorists and the culture at large disparaged. Dissolute self portraits stand apart from what was expected of a conventional self portrait , yet they were nonetheless appreciated and valued in Dutch culture and in the art market.

Dissolute self portraits also reflect and respond to a larger trend regarding artistic identity in the seventeenth century, notably, the stereotype "hoe schilder hoe wilder"["the more of a painter, the wilder he is," a reference that reappears throughout the century, both in print and in paint] that posited Dutch and Flemish artists as intrinsically unruly characters prone to prodigality and dissolution.

Artists embraced this special identity, which in turn granted them certain freedoms from social norms and a license to misbehave. In self portraits, artists emphasized their dissolute nature by associating themselves with themes like the Five Senses and the Prodigal Son in the tavern. One of the most effective manners for seventeenth-century Dutch painters for achieving pictorial depth within domestic settings was the so-called doorkijkje , or "see-through" doorway which permits the spectator to view something outside the pictured room, whether it be another room, a series of rooms, a hallway, a street, a canal, a courtyard or a garden.

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The doorkijkje offers the painter an opportunity to create a more complicated architectural space and contemporarily expand narrative. Nicolaes Maes — painted six versions of an idle servant eavesdropping or an encounter between a man and a maidservant glimpsed through an open door.

However, no Dutch artist made use of this device more than Pieter de Hooch — in both interior and exterior scenes.

In the Courtyard of a House in Delft , we see it in the sequence of full light on the foreground bricks, contrasting the quieter shade of the covered tiled passageway, and the open door to the sunlit street beyond. The art historian Martha Hollander found that among more than paintings attributed to De Hooch, only twelve do not exhibit this technique of a doorkijkje revealing secondary and tertiary views to other rooms, courtyards or the street beyond. It has been pointed out that in the twentieth century, the Italian film director Luchino Visconti, somewhat as seventeenth-century Dutch painters were centuries before, was particularly fond of framing his actors through doorways doors in art and film or, on the contrary, by blocking our view onto another character we would like to see; so deliberately withholding information.

In all, Vermeer painted three doorkijkje motifs: the early A Maid Asleep , The Love Letter and lost work described in a auction catalogue as " In which a gentleman is washing his hands in a perspectival room with figures, artful and rare It is generally believed that Vermeer drew directly from doorkijkje paintings of Nicolaes Maes for his A Maid Asleep while the complicated compositional structure of his late Love Letter can be traced to Van Hoogstraten's The Slippers see image above or Pieter de Hooch's Couple with a Parrot.

Although there is obviously no way to envision the lost doorkijkje , after A Maid Asleep Vermeer never again opened a view on another room beyond that in which the scene is set. Doorsien is a Dutch word that literally means "plunge through. Doorsiens not only enhance the sense of depth in a picture but also helped the artist structure complex scenes with large numbers of figures, convincingly situating them on different planes. The Dutch painter and art theorist Karel van Mander — even criticized Michelangelo's Last Judgment in the Sistine Chapel because it was lacking in sufficient depth.

In his influential Schilder-boeck Painter book of , Van Mander wrote:. Our composition should enjoy a fine quality, for the delight of our sense, if we there allow a view [ insien ] or vista [ doorsien ] with small background figures and a distant landscape, into which the eyes can plunge. We should take care sometimes to place our figures in the middle of the foreground, and let one see over them for many miles.

He distinguishes perspecten from the natural opening provided by rocks and trees in landscapes but notes that they have the same effect. In various interiors by Vermeer there is evidence of another optical phenomenon which reveals the artist's keen interest in capturing the activity of light: the so-called double shadow. These complex shadows are cast on back wall by objects close to it and caused by the light which enters simultaneously from two windows. For example, in The Music Lesson the wider shadow to the right of the black-framed mirror is caused by the near raking light entering from the window closest the background wall.

But it is partially weakened—and here the double shadow appears—because light from the second window closer to the spectator enters the room at a less oblique angle and invades the most external part of the wider shadow. In the same picture the lid of the opened virginal also creates a double shadow.

Double shadows are also present in The Concert and A Lady Standing at a Virginal , The Guitar Player and, although more tentatively defined, in some of the artist's earlier interiors. By obscuring one of the two windows all double shadows are avoided. Since the top of the mirror leans a considerable distance out from the wall, the shadows would have been much wider and more angled and would have appeared as they now do only if the mirror had laid flat against the wall.

According to Steadman, the artist evidently wanted to show both the reflection of his own vantage point in the mirror the painter's easel and canvas can be seen in the reflection and have the mirror appear to hang in a more normal, near-vertical position, requirements that are obviously incompatible in reality although they are made to look compatible in the painting. The double shadow which descends downward from the window sill in A Lady Standing at a Virginal, however, is not caused by the light of two different windows. Although difficult to understand, the profile of the outermost shadow may have been caused by a building outside Vermeer's studio which blocked some of the light entering the studio.

The inner most profile is caused by the light of the sky which descends from a higher angle, blocked by the thickness of the wall above the window frame. In Dutch painting double shadows were avoided as much as possible because they tend to create compositions that seem restless and confused. Judging from the paucity of period art treaties and modern art historical literature that address the topic, one would never think that the representation of drapery has been one of the primary preoccupations in Western art from Classical time onward.

In fact, until , it had not been the exclusive subject of any published work. For the painter, the movements of drapery are nearly inexhaustible in their variety and capacity to suggest things other than itself. Drapery can be stretched softly to suggest peace, relaxation or the flow of nature, or taut, to suggest tension or alarm. Folded upon itself, drapery may convey shades of passion, confusion, wealth or sensuality.

Vertical folds may convey strength while horizontal may convey repose and diagonal folds, movement. Sometimes, drapery seems able to move by its own will. The high number of Renaissance and Baroque figure drawings that show the lavish attention bestowed to the actions of drapery but only a scarce few lines to define the anatomical features which emerge from them, attest to the wealth of aesthetic solutions which helped the painter develop narrative and mood.

It is impossible to imagine the splendor of color in European easel painting without drapery.

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The character of painted drapery is strongly linked to both the age in which it is painted and the individual artist who treats it. But one of the main attractions of drapery for the painter was technical. In all but the most meticulous forms or realism, the representation of drapery allows a freedom in paint handling that other motifs do not, and after the High Renaissance drapery is often painted in a looser stylistic register than that of the figure to which it belongs, without, however, disrupting illusionist verisimilitude.

Drapery is, perhaps, more easily imitated with the brush and paint than any other motif. In collaboration with the shape of the brush and the natural flow of paint , the anatomical articulations of the body favor easy, rhythmic back-and-forth movements of the arms and wrist that are particularly adapted for describing the sweeping curves and angular character of drapery's folds and flat planes. For artists who followed Titian's c. Members of the French Academy believed that the depictions of different kind of fabrics could potentially distract from the essence of painting, some praising the sober manner in which Nicolas Poussin — and Charles Le Brun — had depicted drapery.

Velvet, satin or taffeta should be avoided in favor of more generic, non reflective fabrics. Sir Joshua Reynolds — , who continued to defend the "grand style" of history painting well into the eighteenth century, wrote, "as the historical painter never enters into the details of colors, so neither does he debase his conceptions with minute attention to the discriminations of drapery.

It is the inferior style that marks the variety of stuffs. With him the clothing is neither woolen nor linen, nor silk, satin, nor velvet—it is drapery; it is nothing more. Drapery was a fundamental part of Vermeer's art. He employed colorful costumes to create mood and define the social standing of his sitters. He hung tapestries in the foreground to force spatial depth and energize his compositions.

Anonymous tablecloths bridge differently shaped objects and conceal compositional distractions.

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Richly patterned imported carpets were thrown over tables to create compositional structures, sometimes geometrically shaped, but more frequently sculpted by deep valleys and tortuous folds to evoke the psychological states of his sitters. Their rich reds vibrate against the cool grays and pure blues which dominate the artist's palette.

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Marieke de Winkel, an expert in seventeenth-century Dutch fashion, published an interesting study regarding the identity and function of the costumes portrayed in Vermeer's scenes. It has been long debated if the outward flare of the fur-trimmed morning jackets that appear various times in the interiors of Vermeer is the result of pregnancy or fashion because this would have pivotal importance in assigning meaning to the pictures in which they occur. Some critics have described the colors of Vermeer's costumes, especially those painted with natural ultramarine, and a few have noted how the realistic folds of the works of the s gradually succumb to the heavily stylization of the late works.

Pencil, pen, ink, charcoal or other similar mediums on paper or other support, tending toward a linear quality rather than mass, and also with a tendency toward black-and-white, rather than color. It seems somewhat surprising that not even a single preparatory or finished drawing by Vermeer has survived. One would expect that such meticulously balanced compositions and problematic perspectives could be most efficiently resolved through preparatory drawings which would allow the artist to easily correct any errors. There were many ways to transfer drawings efficiently and accurately to canvas.

Only scant traces have remained of the initial drawing methods on Vermeer's canvases although evidence seems to suggest that it was deliberate and controlled. It was once thought that Vermeer revealed some of his own working procedures, including his drawing methods, in The Art of Painting. On a toned canvas the artist represented in Vermeer's picture has laid in the contours of the model in white paint or chalk and has begun to paint in various shades of blue the laurel leaves.

However, there exist many discrepancies between real working habits seen in representations of painters' studios of seventeenth-century and those illustrated in The Art of Painting. While some of the indications given by The Art of Painting of the painter's technique may be factual, others may have a more symbolic function and in any case they do not seem to correspond closely to what were most likely Vermeer's own methods.

This is one of the major cracks in the paint layer. Also called "alligatoring. A drying oil is an oil that hardens to a tough, solid film after a period of exposure to air. The oil hardens through a chemical reaction in which the components crosslink and hence, polymerize by the action of oxygen not through the evaporation of water, turpentine or other solvents. Drying oils are a key component of oil paint and some varnishes.

The more drying oil is introduced into paint , the more the paint becomes transparent and glossy. Some commonly used drying oils include linseed oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, poppy seed oil and walnut oil. Each oil has distinct mixing and drying properties and each creates a different type of film when it dries. The use of drying oils has somewhat declined over the past several decades, as they have been replaced by alkyd resins.

Radiant Oils: Glazing Techniques for Fruit and Flower Paintings That Glow

Nondrying oils are mineral oils and vegetable oils, such as peanut oil and cottonseed oil, that resemble animal fats and, because they do not oxidize naturally and harden, are unsuitable as a binder for paint. Dummy boards the actual term is a nineteenth-century invention are life-size flat figures painted on wooden panels and shaped in outline to resemble figures of servants, soldiers, children and animals.

On the other side, dummy boards are fitted with a wooden support that allows them to stand upright in corners, doorways and on stairways to surprise visitors.

Dummy boards continued to be produced well into the nineteenth century. Many later dummy boards were made by professional sign painters. A number or artists tried their hands at these "eye foolers" oogenbedriegers , and their works were also in great demand abroad. Cornelius Gijsbrechts c. In he probably resided in Breslau presently Wroclaw in Poland. The painter and art writer Samuel van Hoogstraten — is noted to have kept many such eye foolers strewn around his house. According to Arnold Houbraken — , another Dutch art writer, one could find them practicall trompe-l'oeil y every where one looked: Here an apple, pear or lemon in a dish rack, three a slipper in the corner of the room or under a chair.

There were also dried, salted fish on a nail behind the door, and these were so deceptively painted that one could easily mistake them for the actual dried plaice. Houbraken credited Cornelius Bisschop — with being "the first, if not the best, to paint all manners of images on wood in life-like colors and then cut them out so that they would be placed in a corner or doorway.

Houbraken though that Bisschop's were "the most natural and witty and inventive examples" and he claims to have "seen some that, when in position, deceive the eye and cause people to greet them as though they were real. Dynamic range describes the ratio between the maximum and minimum measurable light intensities white and black, respectively. In the real world, one never encounters true white or black—only varying degrees of light source intensity and subject reflectivity.

But we can interpret dynamic range as the measurement between the whitest whites and the blackest blacks of an image as captured by a camera, a scanner, a print, a computer display, a painting or the subject itself. Any image created by a device can only record so much detail between the darkest shadows of a scene and the brightest highlights, and eventually will render tones at the end of this scale as an effective black or white simply because there is not enough detail available.

Each medium has its own dynamic range, and often the goal is to extend the range of tones in between the maximum and minimum values to create a more full-feeling image, similar to the gradient that runs from pure black to pure white. What is important to know, however, is that with each added f-stop the amount of light which passes through the aperture into the camera is doubled, and with each subtracted f-stop, it is halved.

The human sense of sight is incredibly sensitive to light. Some sources claim that the overall range of brightness that the human eye can see static range is equivalent to 20 f-stops while others 24 or even 30, the brightness ratio being roughly 1,, In any case, the eyes cannot perform this feat of perception at both extremes of the scale at the same time.

They must constantly adapt to higher and lower lighting conditions, altering their sensitivity in order to be responsive at different levels of illumination. The range of brightness that the eye can see in a given moment and circumstance is called the dynamic range because, unlike the static range, it is always changing. This adaptation, which is highly localized, is so efficient and so rapid that we are rarely aware of it. One of the most important factors in the process of adaption is the pupil, which regulates the amount of light that enters the eye by widening its diameter to let more light in or narrowing it to protect the eye from too much light.

For example, when one looks at a bright sky the pupil becomes very small but it instantaneously opens as we shift our gaze down to a group of shadowed trees below allowing us to make out details of contrast in both points of the view. However, to adapt from complete darkness to the very strongest light it takes considerable time for the eyes to adjust, as we all know when we are suddenly woken up after a night's sleep to an open window on a sunny morning. Although the eye can accommodate about 24 f-stops of light over all, it can accommodate only a range of about 1, at any given moment i.

This range can be calculated when one looks at only one region within a field of view, letting the eyes adjust and not looking anywhere else so that the opening of the eye's pupil remains unchanged. A typical compact digital camera has a dynamic range of about 5 to 7 f-stops while a high-end DSLR camera Nikon D has a dynamic range of about Any amateur photographer who has looked at his vacation shots as photographs rather than souvenirs is very familiar with the issue of dynamic range.

He finds that in most his snapshots taken in strong light either the shadowed areas are legible and the lights look washed out, or the contrary, the lights are properly detailed and the shadows are disappointing black splotches. It is usually only by chance the all the objects in his pictures are uniformly detailed in both the lights and shadows. This is not the amateur's fault, it's the camera's. For while the eyes constantly adapt and so give the viewer the experience of being able to perceive a nature's full range of brightness, the camera can bracket only much smaller range of brightness at one maoment, that is, its dynamic range.

To get a photograph to look approximately like the scene that the photographer actually perceived, he would either have to purchase a sturdy tripod and HDRI software, or become a very good painter. For example, the Italianate Landscape — by Nicolaes Beechen — exhibits tonal variety detail in both the lights and the shadows even though the outdoors scene must have had an enormous large range of brightness. Everything looks utterly natural, as if we were standing next to the painter immersed in the deep shade of the soaring hillside looking out towards the distant horizon and a wondrously luminous blue sky tainted only with a few fluffy clouds.

In any case, one can easily intuit the difficulties faced by a painter who wishes to accommodate the range of natural luminosity in his painting when we think that the dynamic range of a room like that in Vermeer's Music Lesson may be approximately 12 f-stops while that of his paints are only about 5 f-stops. Notwithstanding the limits of their "poor" paints, artists have been able to produce convincing illusions of almost any light found in nature, except for the sun. Earth colors are pigments that are obtained by mining; usually metal oxides. Earth colors do not show up on the color wheel.

Some earth colors can be created by mixing two complementary colors or combining a pure color with white, black, or gray, but natural occurring earth pigments produce paints that have specific, highly desirable handling and coloring characteristics that mixtures of bright colors do not. Earth colors are also easy to come by, relatively easy to prepare and thus, inexpensive. Earth colors include yellow ochre, raw sienna, raw umber, green earth, Cassel earth, Van Dyck brown, various shades of black and even blue ochre Vivianite. When some earth colors are heated appropriately they produce different and highly useful and unmixable colors such as burnt, sienna, burnt umber and red ochre.


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While most earth colors can be produced synthetically, naturally occurring iron oxide pigments generally preferred by artists because they are inherently more translucent and offer some warm, rich qualities. Because they are natural they are variable in composition and physical properties, which can result in significant color variances. While this natural modulation is of great allure to artists, natural variability can cause paint makers some concern.

An easel is an upright frame for displaying or supporting a canvas while the painter is at work. Easels are made of wood and have various designs. The most common in Vermeer's time was the tripod easel which had three legs. Variations include crossbars to make the easel more stable. The height of the movable front cross bar could be adjusted by means of pegs inserted in regularly staggered hole along the two front legs. This feature allowed the painter to work comfortable with both small and large canvases while seated or standing.

Most paintings which represent artists in their studios show them working while seated. In an early painting by Rembrandt — of an artist at work, perhaps a self portrait, the lower, fixed support bar bears two indentations where the artist presumably rest his feet while working. Typically, the tripod easel is fully adjustable to accommodate for different angles. Furthermore, when they are collapsed, this type of easel becomes very slim and can be fit in small spaces around the studio. It is only around that the Dutch word ezel , meaning donkey, begins to appear in written sources used in the secondary sense of a stand for supporting paintings.

By mid-century, English and German had adopted this use of the Dutch word as well, and the easel painting was well on its way to becoming the quintessential modern work of art. An easel painting is a painting which is small enough to be comfortably executed on an easel. Easel painting became pre-eminent in the sixteenth century and has remained so. It is likely that easel paintings were known to the ancient Egyptians, and the first-century-AD Roman scholar Pliny the Elder refers to a large panel placed on an easel; it was not until the thirteenth century, however, that easel paintings became relatively common, finally superseding in popularity the mural, or wall painting.

The term implies not only physical aspects but also inherent concepts that are very different from those associated with wall paintings or those intended for a fixed position or an architectural scheme. Easel painting is therefore associated with the increased secular use of art from the sixteenth century and with the identification of paintings as objects of worth in their own right. The rise of easel painting involved a subtle assertion of the independence of the art of painting and the profession of painter. The status afforded to painting in the writings of, for example, Leonardo da Vinci — and Giorgio Vasari — reflects these developments and anticipates the increased social and intellectual status of the individual artist.

Being highly transportable, easel paintings were easy to buy and sell, easel painting facilitated the growth of the art market. As far as those inventories are concerned, one painting is pretty much like the next and one painting's front is pretty much like its back. That is to say, in the inventories of all but the wealthiest seventeenth-century Dutch collectors, paintings are usually listed without reference even to subject matter—simply as 'a panel', 'a painting', 'two paintings with ebony frames', as if the notary were looking at them from behind.

Sometimes minimal indications of genre are given, such as 'a portrait', 'a landscape', or 'a pot of flowers', but attributions to specific artists are very rare. And many of these inventoried paintings were indeed sold by the dozen, i. Called ekphrasis , it was created by the Greeks. The goal of this literary form is to make the reader envision the thing described as if it were physically present.

In many cases, however, the subject never actually existed, making the ekphrastic description a demonstration of both the creative imagination and the skill of the writer. For most readers of famous Greek and Latin texts, it did not matter whether the subject was actual or imagined. The texts were studied to form habits of thinking and writing, not as art historical evidence. Travelers and would-be travelers provided a growing public eager for vivid descriptions of works of art.

Without any way of publishing accurate reproductions, appearances had to be conveyed through words alone. William Hazlitt, John Ruskin, and Walter Pater, to name three great nineteenth-century writers in English, published grand set-pieces of ekphrasis about older as well as contemporary art.

For them, the fact that the object existed mattered a great deal. The goal of these Victorian writers was to make the reader feel like a participant in the visual experience. The more convincingly this was done, the more effective the writing was judged to be. The length represented by the Dutch ell was the distance of the inside of the arm i.

The Dutch "ell," which varied from town to town 55—75 cm. A section of measurements is given below:. In the Hague ell was fixed as the national standard for tax purposes and from to , the word el was used in the Netherlands to refer to the metre. In the word meter was adopted and the el , disappeared, both as a word and as a unit of measurement. A picture associated with a motto, usually moralizing in tone. An example is a popular print showing King Midas, unable to eat because his touch turns everything to gold, accompanied by the words "both rich and poor.

The first emblems were published in Italy in the early sixteenth century. Their composition was a literary genre among humanists: by finding apt combinations of image and text they could show off their metaphorical inventiveness and wit. The genre spread quickly and became immensely popular. In Holland it was soon employed by Calvinist moralists like Johan de Brune who realized the didactic value of a concrete image explained by concise text.

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