September 26, 2017

This question is often asked but never really answered as I cannot name a single favourite artist. I can’t say I have a favourite artist although I do have a favourite period in art history that is hugely inspirational for me.

English and Dutch 17th century art is currently (you never know what the future might hold) my main source of inspiration.

I love the seeming integrity of the portraits of the early century, the gorgeous mix of realism and painterliness and the richly decorated clothes. The increasing realism in 17th century paintings gives it all an honest feel but yet we are made aware by its staged character and make believe.

Despite its distance in time, 17th century art speaks to me especially because I can see it through my modern nostalgic escapist eyes.

I can interpret the past in any way I like. I can simply enjoy and get lost in its beauty and its humanity.

If you really must know some favourite names, it would be Van Dyck and Rubens for the humanity in their portraits, William Larkin for the sheer brilliance in costume, Johannes Verspronck for its delicate depiction of character and Rembrandt for his painterliness. And I am only talking portraiture here!

You ask for modern contemporary artists? I can only say that many of my (online and offline) artists friends are my inspiration, my support team, my social club, my help desk and my knowledge base. Some inspire through their amazing work, others through their words or actions.

Some faces from over 400 years ago, still full of life and stories:

Peter Paul Rubens, Four Studies of the Head of Man, early 17th Century, Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium
Peter Paul Rubens, Portrait of the Artist, 1623, Royal Collection
Rembrandt van Rijn, Portrait of Margaretha de Geer, 1661, National Gallery, London
Johannes Verspronck, Portrait of Johan van Schoterbosch, 1647. Rijksmuseum Amsterdam
William Larkin, Portrait of Diana Cecil, 1614, Kenwood House, London, English Heritage

Some further reading & suggestions
(hand picked affiliate links)

About the author 


Sophie is an art historian, artist, art tutor, and writer. She writes on art history and painting (oils and pastel). The 17th century is probably her favourite era, although the ancient Romans are currently fighting for the lead spot. She is currently researching lace in Tudor portraiture.

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  1. And who are your favorite female artists for history? SO many have been all but lost. It’s important that we name them as they have been written out of art history. Did you know that as of 1989 the American “Bible” of art, Janson’s, had ZERO women included? None. He didn’t believe that women could be great artists. Here’ a few that should easily come to mind. Artemisia Gentileschi, Sofonisba Anguissola, Lavinia Fontana, Cecilia Beaux and Camille Claudel are all favorites of mine.

    1. hah! Janson was first year uni material – we worked our way through the whole book in a year! And it’s pretty big!
      One of my favourite female artists is Sofonisba Anguissola – her work is so beautiful and full of character.

  2. For me…..Velazquez, Frans Hals, Sorolla, Anders Zorn, Joseph Wright of Derby, Rembrandt, Titian, Chardin just to name a few! Great discussion, Sophie!

  3. Hands down, Norman Rockwell. Oddly enough, he is probably the only deceased artist that I truly admire. I absolutely love and admire a lot of contemporary artist’s work…so many of them. Many are friends, both well known and unknown.

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