One of the most recognisable and iconic fashion statements of the 17th century surely is the cartwheel ruff. The fancier and bigger the better. I love the sculptural and slightly crazy qualities of a ruff. Here are ten of them, the maddest and craziests ones I could find.
There are thousands of blogs these days, many of which deal with art or the history of art. It is one of the reasons I probably spend too much time online. But a lot of blogs are really interesting, informative and entertaining. Of course there are many, many artists blogs out there as well. Artists often write about their own work and influences. Although I do read artists blogs, I kept these blogs out the Top Ten below - for now - as there are just too many to mention. There are also great art business blogs, collectors blogs, blogging blogs and the list goes on. Below I am sharing my TOP TEN (as far as I can think of right now) of art (history) blogs. I hope that you will find some of them new and interesting. Please do share your favourite art (history) blogs in the comments below! I look forward to reading your suggestions.
Soft and lush, rich and deep colours; velvet is and always has been one of the most gorgeous and tactile fabrics around. It has been used for drapery, table covers and clothing for centuries and hence we can find it in portraits and paintings throughout art history. As I am currently painting (or trying to at least!) velvet I thought I give myself some inspiration and seek out the best velvet in my image collection of 16th and 17th century art. Here’s my top twelve!
The history of Welbeck Abbey goes back to the 12th century when a monastery was built on the site where there is now a vast country house. After the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII, the estate was sold to one of his courtiers, who then sold it to Sir Charles Cavendish, son of the great Bess of Hardwick. He hired the architect Robert Smythson, who had worked for his mother at Hardwick Hall, to come up with a new design for Welbeck Abbey. This was the beginning of the story of Welbeck Abbey as a home, a story that would last 4 centuries.
Hardwick Hall, the home of the fabulous Bess of Hardwick, is a Tudor gem of a house. It was built between 1590 and 1597 to create a house fit for a lady of her wealth and status. Bess started building the house right next to the Old Hall, where she was born and raised. Parts of the Old Hall still stand today and Bess used both houses at the same time for many years. When her fourth and final husband died in 1590 she was one of the richest widows in the country and in charge of a young girl with a genuine claim to the throne. Her house would reflect her status and power.
I visited Hardwick Hall today, a spectacular Tudor mansion, commissioned and lived in by one of the most illustrious ladies of Tudor England: Bess of Hardwick. The House sits on top of a hill and oversees the land like it is supposed to, leading by example. The turrets and roof decoration can be recognized from afar, the huge windows reflecting its surroundings on a sunny day. What a treat. The drive towards it was long - raising my expectations very highly indeed.
I am indulging myself in going slightly dog mad these days. Ever since our beloved English Springer Spaniel died last year at the age of 12 we have missed not only her but also the walks and the games. So it was pretty easy to decide, as a family, to have another dog. The whole family cannot wait for our puppy (A Welsh Springer this time) to arrive in about 5 weeks time. In the mean time we indulge in everything dog!
What better way to look forward to my new studio addition than to browse some historic dog art? Dogs feature in art history endlessly. There are hundreds of paintings which feature man’s best friend. Here are a few of my favourites (ordered chronologically). It is all slightly Spaniel biased, sorry....
Although Jean-Étienne Liotard (Swiss, 1702 – 1789) is not very well-known (and I must admit I know very little about him) it was wonderful to go and see an exhibition without the usual array of oil paintings but one of historic pastel paintings!
The Queen’s Gallery in London has a new exhibition which opened last Friday called Masters of the Everyday. Dutch Artists in the Age of Vermeer. It is a celebration of Dutch 17th century painting, in particular famous old masters like Rembrandt, Gerrit Dou and Vermeer. All of the works are from the Royal Collection itself, except one exquisite Dou painting, which is on loan from the Mauritshuis in The Netherlands. This morning I went for a visit.
Jacobean embroidered jackets are a very common sight within the portraiture of the early 17th century. The scrolling patterns with flowers and fruit, birds and bees have become very famous. Many painted portraits of women wearing jackets with the pattern are known, as well as many actual jackets, gloves and night caps (worn during the day). They are fascinating and beautiful things. One of the most famous jackets is the Layton jacket at the V&A Museum in London, as it has always been kept with a portrait of Lady Margaret Layton actually wearing it. Although many museums have examples of this type of embroidery they are all of a different design. (All, except a piece in the Burrell Collection in Glasgow and one in the Fashion Museum in Bath; they are identical in design.)
A Portrait by William Larkin?
I recently came across this portrait at Bristol Museum (above left) and found it immediately interesting. Of course ever since my BP Travel Award project I have a slight soft spot for portrait artist William Larkin (1580-1619) and this was labelled as ‘School of William Larkin’.
Who are the best lace painters in history? I am not sure I can answer that question but I do look into art history to find inspiration for my own work. When I focus on painted lace I automatically end up in the 17th century (that might just be me). That is the first century in which lace was hugely popular and so was a realistic style of portrait painting.
Ever since Barack Obama made his negative remark about the usefulness of Art History, art historians have been falling over themselves to prove the point of their profession. But is there really anybody out there who doubts the value of art history? Unfortunately art historians have felt the need to justify their field and have been writing about the rather hard to define but definitely real worthiness of their subject ever since.
When I first saw the Maiden in Contemplation online I was really taken by its softness and stillness. I did not know anything about the artist, Gaston la Touche (1854 - 1913) and must admit I still don’t. Sometimes I don’t feel the need to dive into research. Sometimes a picture is more than enough.
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Hi, welcome to my blog!
On this blog I write about my inspiration, exhibitions, painting techniques and much more.
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How to Care for your Oil Painting 8 Tips to keep your art work in good shape
In Defence of Working from Photos Read my hugely popular and slightly controversial blog post
The Top 10 Best Lace Paintings Who could paint lace to perfection?
Busting the Myths of Oil Painting: Supports From Canvas to linen to aluminium
Busting the Myths of Oil Painting: Toxicity in Oil Painting is oil painting really toxic?
A Treasure Trove in Nottinghamshire Welbeck Abbey and its secrets
The World of Easels My hunt for the perfect easel
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