The blog for the uncommon people

segunda-feira, 7 de março de 2011

Narciso Yepes - Concierto de Aranjuez

Luncheon of the Boating Party - Pierre-Auguste Renoir

Its believed that Renoir used just five colors in his palette and his time as a porcelain painter taught him how to combine different colors well. Impressionism was very much defined by its use of light colors and it was a style based on quick brush strokes but a trip to Italy introduced Renoir to the work of the Renaissance artists Raphael, Velazquez, and Rubens and this inspired him to change his technique and experiment with a more decorative and traditional style.

Dead Souls - Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol

At length peasants from a village which happened to be near the scene of the accident tackled the mess; and since a spectacle of that kind is to the Russian muzhik what a newspaper or a club-meeting is to the German, the vehicles soon became the centre of a crowd, and the village denuded even of its old women and children. The traces were disentangled, and a few slaps on the nose forced the skewbald to draw back a little; after which the teams were straightened out and separated. Nevertheless, either sheer obstinacy or vexation at being parted from their new friends caused the strange team absolutely to refuse to move a leg. Their driver laid the whip about them, but still they stood as though rooted to the spot. At length the participatory efforts of the peasants rose to an unprecedented degree of enthusiasm, and they shouted in an intermittent chorus the advice, "Do you, Andrusha, take the head of the trace horse on the right, while Uncle Mitai mounts the shaft horse. Get up, Uncle Mitai." Upon that the lean, long, and red-bearded Uncle Mitai mounted the shaft horse; in which position he looked like a village steeple or the winder which is used to raise water from wells. The coachman whipped up his steeds afresh, but nothing came of it, and Uncle Mitai had proved useless. "Hold on, hold on!" shouted the peasants again. "Do you, Uncle Mitai, mount the trace horse, while Uncle Minai mounts the shaft horse." Whereupon Uncle Minai—a peasant with a pair of broad shoulders, a beard as black as charcoal, and a belly like the huge samovar in which sbiten is brewed for all attending a local market—hastened to seat himself upon the shaft horse, which almost sank to the ground beneath his weight. "NOW they will go all right!" the muzhiks exclaimed. "Lay it on hot, lay it on hot! Give that sorrel horse the whip, and make him squirm like a koramora 22." Nevertheless, the affair in no way progressed; wherefore, seeing that flogging was of no use, Uncles Mitai and Minai BOTH mounted the sorrel, while Andrusha seated himself upon the trace horse. Then the coachman himself lost patience, and sent the two Uncles about their business—and not before it was time, seeing that the horses were steaming in a way that made it clear that, unless they were first winded, they would never reach the next posthouse. So they were given a moment's rest.That done, they moved off of their own accord!

Pierre-Auguste Renoir - The Seine at Asnières

In his early career, Renoir spent a great deal of time sketching on the Seine river banks at Asnières, Argenteuil, and Chatou with his friend and fellow Frenchman Claude Monet. It was during these meetings that the two young artists developed their famous technique and experimented with the bright colors that later became central to Impressionism. It was also during this time of practicing painting light and water in the open air that Renoir and Monet discovered that the color of shadows is not brown or black, but the reflected color of the objects surrounding them.

segunda-feira, 28 de fevereiro de 2011

Beatrice Bulteau -

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Orazio Gentileschi - Young Woman Playing a Violin

Orazio Gentileschi, Italian painter, is generally named Orazio Lomi de' Gentileschi; it appears that De Gentileschi was his correct surname, Lomi being the surname which his mother had borne during her first marriage. He was born at Pisa, and studied under his half-brother Aurelio Lomi, whom in course of time he surpassed. He afterwards went to Rome, and was associated with the landscape-painter Agostino Tasi, executing the figures for the landscape backgrounds of this artist in the Palazzo Rospigliosi, and it is said in the great hall of the Quirinal Palace, although by some authorities the figures in the last-named building are ascribed to Lanfranco. His best works are "Saints Cecilia and Valerian", in the Palazzo Borghese, Rome; "David after the death of Goliath", in the Palazzo Doria, Genoa; and some works in the royal palace, Turin, noticeable for vivid and uncommon coloring. At an advanced age Gentileschi went to England at the invitation of Charles I, and he was employed in the palace at Greenwich. Vandyck included him in his portraits of a hundred illustrious men. His works generally are strong in shadow and positive in color. Gentileschi was greatly influenced by Caravaggio. He died in England in 1646.

Excerpt from José Ortega y Gasset's "Unity and Diversity of Europe"

Unity and Diversity of Europe

A good part of the disorder of the present is due to the disproportion between the perfection of our ideas on physical phenomena and the scandalous backwardness of the "moral sciences." Most of our statesmen, professors, distinguished physicists, and novelists have opinions on these subjects worthy of a small-town barber. Is it not then quite natural that it should be the small-town barber who sets the tone of the time? But to return to our subject: I wanted to suggest that for a long time the peoples of Europe have actually made up a society, a collectivity, taking these words in the same sense as when applied to the nations separately. This society has all the attributes of any: there are European manners, European customs, European public opinion, European law, and European public power. But all these social phenomena appear in a form appropriate to the stage of evolution reached by European society as a whole, which is obviously less advanced than that of its component parts, the nations.

For example, that form of social pressure which is public power functions in all societies, including primitive ones where there exists no special organ to handle it. If one wants to give the name of "state" to that differentiated organ charged with the exercise of public power, one may say that in certain societies there is no state, but not that there is no public power. Where there exists public opinion, how could there not be public power, if the latter is simply collective violence let loose by opinion? Now it would be hard to deny that for centuries, and with ever-greater intensity, there has been a European public opinion and even a technique of influence over it.

I therefore suggest that the reader spare the malice of a smile when I predict - somewhat boldly, in view of present appearances - a possible, a probable unification of the states of Europe. I do not deny that the United States of Europe is one of the poorest fantasies that has ever existed and I take no responsibility for what others have handed out under these verbal signs. But I do maintain that it is highly improbable that a society, a collectivity as ripe as that now formed by the peoples of Europe, should not move towards the creation of a state apparatus for the exercise of the European public power which already exists. It is not, then, a weakness for fantasy nor a leaning towards "idealism," which I despise and have fought all my life, that has brought me to this conclusion. It is historic realism that has made it clear to me that the unity of Europe as society is not an "ideal" but a very ancient daily fact, and having seen this fact one cannot but confront the probability of a general European state. As for the occasion that will suddenly bring the process to a close, it might be almost anything: a Chinaman's pigtail appearing behind the Urals or a shock from the great Islamic magma.

The shape of this supernational state will, of course, be very different from those to which we are accustomed, just as the national state differed from the city-state of ancient times. All that I have attempted in these pages is to free the mind of the reader so that it may keep faith with the subtle conception of society and state proposed by the European tradition.

Jack Kerouac – “On the Road” (1951 – excerpt)

Great Chicago glowed red before our eyes. We were suddenly on Madison Street among hordes of hobos, some of them sprawled out on the street with their feet on the curb, hundreds of others milling in the doorways of saloons and alleys. “Wup! wup! look sharp for old Dean Moriarty there, he may be in Chicago by accident this year.” We let out the hobos on this street and proceeded to downtown Chicago. Screeching trolleys, newsboys, gals cutting by, the smell of fried food and beer in the air, neons winking–”We’re in the big town, Sal! Whooee!” First thing to do was park the Cadillac in a good dark spot and wash up and dress for the night. Across the street from the YMCA we found a redbrick alley between buildings, where we stashed the Cadillac with her snout pointed to the street and ready to go, then followed the college boys up to the Y, where they got a room and allowed us to use their facilities for an hour. Dean and I shaved and showered, I dropped my wallet in the hall, Dean found it and was about to sneak it in his shirt when he realized it was ours and was right disappointed. Then we said good-by to those boys, who were glad they’d made it in one piece, and took off to eat in a cafeteria. Old brown Chicago with the strange semi-Eastern, semi-Western types going to work and spitting. Dean stood in the cafeteria rubbing his belly and taking it all in. He wanted to talk to a strange middle-aged colored woman who had come into the cafeteria with a story about how she had no money but she had buns with her and would they give her butter. She came in flapping her hips, was turned down, and went out flipping her butt. “Whoo!” said Dean. “Let’s follow her down the street, let’s take her to the ole Cadillac in the alley. We’ll have a ball.” But we forgot that and headed straight for North Clark Street, after a spin in the Loop, to see the hootchy-kootchy joints and hear the bop. And what a night it was. “Oh, man,” said Dean to me as we stood in front of a bar, “dig the street of life, the Chinamen that cut by in Chicago. What a weird town–wow, and that woman in that window up there, just looking down with her big breasts hanging from her nightgown, big wide eyes. Whee. Sal, we gotta go and never stop going till we get there.”
“Where we going, man?”
“I don’t know but we gotta go.” Then here came a gang of young bop musicians carrying their instruments out of cars. They piled right into a saloon and we followed them. They set themselves up and started blowin There we were! The leader was a slender, drooping, curly-haired, pursy-mouthed tenorman, thin of shoulder, draped loose in a sports shirt, cool in the warm night, self-indulgence written in his eyes, who picked up his horn and frowned in it and blew cool and complex and was dainty stamping his foot to catch ideas, and ducked to miss others–and said, “Blow,” very quietly when the other boys took solos. Then there was Prez, a husky, handsome blond like a freckled boxer, meticulously wrapped inside his sharkskin plaid suit with the long drape and the collar falling back and the tie undone for exact sharpness and casualness, sweating and hitching up his horn and writhing into it, and a tone just like Lester Young himself. “You see, man, Prez has the technical anxieties of a money-making musician, he’s the only one who’s well dressed, see him grow worried when he blows a clinker, but the leader, that cool cat, tells him not to worry and just blow and blow–the mere sound and serious exuberance of the music is all he cares about. He’s an artist. He’s teaching young Prez the boxer. Now the others dig!!” The third sax was an alto, eighteen-year-old cool, contemplative young Charlie-Parker-type Negro from high school, with a broadgash mouth, taller than the rest, grave. He raised his horn and blew into it quietly and thoughtfully and elicited birdlike phrases and architectural Miles Davis logics. These were the children of the great bop innovators.
Once there was Louis Armstrong blowing his beautiful top in the muds of New Orleans; before him the mad musicians who had paraded on official days and broke up their Sousa marches into ragtime. Then there was swing, and Roy Eldridge, vigorous and virile, blasting the horn for everything it had in waves of power and logic and subtlety–leaning to it with glittering eyes and a lovely smile and sending it out broadcast to rock the jazz world. Then had come Charlie Parker, a kid in his mother’s woodshed in Kansas City, blowing his taped-up alto among the logs, practicing on rainy days, coming out to watch the old swinging Basie and Benny Moten band that had Hot Lips Page and the rest–Charlie Parker leaving home and coming to Harlem, and meeting mad Thelonius Monk and madder Gillespie–Charlie Parker in his early days when he was flipped and walked around in a circle while playing. Somewhat younger than Lester Young, also from KC, that gloomy, saintly goof in whom the history of jazz was wrapped; for when he held his horn high and horizontal from his mouth he blew the greatest; and as his hair grew longer and he got lazier and stretched-out, his horn came down halfway; till it finally fell all the way and today as he wears his thick-soled shoes so that he can’t feel the sidewalks of life his horn is held weakly against his chest, and he blows cool and easy getout phrases. Here were the children of the American bop night.
Stranger flowers yet–for as the Negro alto mused over everyone’s head with dignity, the young, tall, slender, blond kid from Curtis Street, Denver, jeans and studded belt, sucked on his mouthpiece while waiting for the others to finish; and when they did he started, and you had to look around to see where the solo was coming from, for it came from angelical smiling lips upon the mouthpiece and it was a soft, sweet, fairy-tale solo on an alto. Lonely as America, a throatpierced sound in the night.

Bando Tamasaburo in Kurokami

Kurokami means 'Black Hair', in olden times the symbol of a woman's beauty.

Jacques Prévert - Déjeuner du matin ; (Paroles, 1946)

Déjeuner du matin

Il a mis le café
Dans la tasse
Il a mis le lait
Dans la tasse de café
Il a mis le sucre
Dans le café au lait
Avec la petite cuiller
Il a tourné
Il a bu le café au lait
Et il a reposé la tasse
Sans me parler

Il a allumé
Une cigarette
Il a fait des ronds
Avec la fumée
Il a mis les cendres
Dans le cendrier
Sans me parler
Sans me regarder

Il s'est levé
Il a mis
Son chapeau sur sa tête
Il a mis son manteau de pluie
Parce qu'il pleuvait
Et il est parti
Sous la pluie
Sans une parole
Sans me regarder

Et moi j'ai pris
Ma tête dans ma main
Et j'ai pleuré

Anna Pavlova

Anna Pavlova was born in St Petersburg in 1881. She studied with the Imperial Ballet School attached to the Mariinsky Theatre. Her main teacher was Marius Petipa. She made her debut at 17, and by 1906 she had become the Mariinsky's principal ballerina. In 1907 she made her first foreign tour, and in 1908, on her second, joined Diaghilev's Ballets Russes.

In 1912 she purchased Ivy House in Hampstead, England, where she established her own school of dance. She made her last appearance in St. Petersburg in 1913 and spent the rest of her career almost constantly on tour, bringing ballet to millions for the first time through the drawing power of her legendary name.

Elihu Vedder - "Roman Model Posing" Click to enlarge

Vedder trained in New York City with Tompkins H. Matteson, then in Paris with François-Édouard Picot. Finally, he completed his studies in Italy - where he was strongly influenced not only by Italian Renaissance work but also by the modern Macchiaioli painters and the living Italian landscape. He first visited Italy from 1858 until 1860, becoming deeply emotionally attached to fellow painter Giovanni Costa.

Guillaume Seignac (1870-1924) La Paresseuse

In addition to his training in the academic style, much of Seignac's work displayed classical themes and style, for example, is use of diaphanous drapery covering a woman's body is reminiscent of classical style, in particular the sculptor Phidias.[3] In 1897, Guillaume Seignac regularly exhibited at the Salon and won several honors, including in 1900 honorable mention and in 1903 a Third Class medal.

Vladimir Kush

Vladimir Kush is a Russian painter who studied at the Moscow Art Institute and is now living in the U.S. He works in a vein of fantastic art obviously influenced by Surrealists like Dali and Magritte, but with a distinctly different emotional context.

His paintings have something of a visionary mystical quality and many of them feature recurrent themes like butterflies, sailing ships, fruits and other natural forms, and visions within cloud formations.

His images often deal with interesting combinations of visual elements. Sailing ships are masted with stalks of gladiolus, their blossoms unfurled as sails. Giant butterflies catch the wind on another ship (above), or form the blades of fantasy windmills. Giant mechanical fish and dragonflies and a monumental rhinoceros undergo maintenance. The rising sun is revealed to be the yolk of a giant egg or the pearl of an oyster. A half pear is envisioned as a lute, and a half apple as a butterfly. Through many of the works, beautifully stylized and textured clouds roil and tumble revealing visions of seas and harbors or taking on forms like hot air balloons.


domingo, 27 de fevereiro de 2011

The Magic Flute at The Royal Opera House Covent Garden, lead by Colin Davis, directed by David McVicar.

Gwendolyn Brooks - The Ballad of Rudolph Reed

The Ballad of Rudolph Reed

Small Mabel whimpered all night long,
For calling herself the cause.
Her oak-eyed mother did no thing
But change the bloody gauze.

Rudolph Reed was oaken.
His wife was oaken too.
And his two good girls and his good little man
Oakened as they grew.

Nary a grin grinned Rudolph Reed,
Nary a curse cursed he,
But moved in his House. With his dark little wife,
And his dark little children three.

The first night, a rock, big as two fists.
The second, a rock big as three.
But nary a curse cursed Rudolph Reed.
(Though oaken as man could be.)

The third night, a silvery ring of glass.
Patience arched to endure,
But he looked, and lo! small Mabel's blood
Was staining her gaze so pure.

He ran like a mad thing into the night
And the words in his mouth were stinking.
By the time he had hurt his first white man
He was no longer thinking.

By the time he had hurt his fourth white man
Rudolph Reed was dead.
His neighbors gathered and kicked his corpse.
"Nigger—" his neighbors said.

Small Mabel whimpered all night long,
For calling herself the cause.
Her oak-eyed mother did no thing
But change the bloody gauze.

Anna Moffo

Anna Moffo was born on June 27, 1932, in Wayne, Pennsylvania, the daughter of Nicolas Moffo and his Regina (Cinti) Moffo. She made her public debut at the age of 7 before a school assembly in a rendition of "Mighty Lak' a Rose." Later on she performed at school recitals, weddings, funerals, and in choirs. After graduating from high school, Anna Moffo was offered the chance to appear in Hollywood films, but turned it down because of her intentions to become a nun.
After deciding to devote herself to music, Miss Moffo won a four-year scholarship to the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia after performing the one operatic selection she knew: Un Bel Dí from Puccini's Madama Butterfly. She studied voice and piano at the institute and graduated with honors. Soon after, in 1955, she won the Young Artists Auditions and a Fulbright grant to study at the Accademia di Santa Cecilia in Rome. Some little-known facts about Anna Moffo are that while studying in Italy, she worked as an X-ray technician and also learned to type ninety-seven words a minute.
Anna Moffo made her stage debut in 1955 as Norina in Donizetti's Don Pasquale in Spoleto, Italy. The following year, she appeared in a television production of Madama Butterfly, staged by Mario Lanfranchi, whom she married on December 8, 1957. In 1957, she made her La Scala debut in Falstaff and her American debut as Mimi in Puccini's La Bohème at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.
Anna Moffo made her Metropolitan Opera debut on November 14, 1959, as Violetta in Verdi's La Traviata. She returned to the Met in the 1960-61 season to sing three new roles, Gilda in Verdi's Rigoletto, Adina in Donizetti's L'Elisir d'Amore, and Liù in Turandot with Birgit Nilsson and Franco Corelli. Around this time, Miss Moffo became especially popular in Italy. Not only was she voted one of the ten most beautiful women in Italy, she also hosted "The Anna Moffo Show" from 1960 to 1973.
Miss Moffo divorced Lanfranchi in 1972 and married former RCA chairman Robert Sarnoff in 1974 (unfortunately, Sarnoff died of cancer in February 1997). In the late-seventies, Miss Moffo began singing, along with her signature roles (La Traviata and Lucia di Lammermoor), the heavier Verdi roles, such as Leonora in Il Trovatore and Lina in Stiffelio. Recently, in 1991, she added a new role to her repertoire, that of the title role in Bellini's Norma.
Fortunately for her fans, Anna Moffo has recorded several albums (opera and otherwise), including La Traviata, La Bohème (with Maria Callas), La Rondine, and Madama Butterfly. She has also enjoyed successful film career, not only of operas, but also of strictly dramatic films, including Una storia d'amore, which won the prestigious Griffo d'Argento award. She is as well known for her beauty as for her singing, but it shouldn't be overlooked that she has performed La Traviata more than 900 times, and Lucia di Lammermoor around 500 times.
Recently, Anna Moffo received an honorary doctorate from her alma mater, the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. Recently, on November 14, 1999, the 40th anniversary of her Met debut was celebrated.


Gregório Lopes - "Vasco da Gama" . Click to enlarge

Gregório Lopes (c.1490-1550) was one of the most important Renaissance painters from Portugal.

Gregório Lopes was educated in the workshop of King Manuel I's royal painter, Jorge Afonso. Later he became royal painter of both Manuel I and his successor, John III. In 1514 he married the daughter of Jorge Afonso, and in 1520 was knighted by Prince Jorge de Lencastre and entered the Order of Santiago.

The work of Gregório Lopes mainly consists of painted religious altarpieces for various churches and monasteries in central Portugal. Between 1520 and 1525 he worked (together with Jorge Leal) in painting altarpieces for the Saint Francis Convent of Lisbon. Also in the 1520s he painted panels for the Church of Paraíso (Paradise), also in Lisbon. In his first fase, Gregório Lopes also worked in Sesimbra, Setúbal and in the Monastery of Ferreirim, in this latter case together with Cristovao de Figueiredo and Garcia Fernandes.

The painter moved in the 1530s to the city of Tomar, where he painted various panels for the Round Church of the Convent of Christ (1536-1539) and the main altarpiece of the Church of Saint John the Baptist (1538-1539). His last known works include altarpieces for the Convent of Santos-o-Novo in Lisbon (1540) and the Valverde Convent, near Évora (1545).

Many of Gregório Lopes' works can be seen in the National Museum of Ancient Art, in Lisbon. His son, Cristóvão Lopes (1516-1594), was also an artist and worked as a portrait painter for the Portuguese royal family.

Van Gogh - "blossoming almond tree " Click to enlarge

Peter Paul Rubens- "Samson & Delilah " Click to enlarge

Victor Vasnetsov "Foreign Lang" Oil on canvas. Click to enlarge

While in Moscow (1877-1884)

In the late 1870s Vasnetsov concentrated on illustrating Russian fairy tales and bylinas, executing some of his best known pieces: Knight at the Crossroads (1878), Prince Igor's Battlefield (1878), Three tsarevnas of the Underground Kingdom (1879–1881), The Magic Carpet (1880), and Alionushka (1881).

Alexey Tyranov - "Studio of the Artists N. and G. Tchernetsovs". 1828 Click to enlarge

Shishkin - "Expanse" 1883 Oil on canvas. Click to enlarge

Eugene de Blaas - "The Seamstress" Oil on canvas. Click to enlarge

It was in Venice that Eugene de Blaas established himself as the leading painter of Venetian genre. Venice had been an essential stop on the Grand Tour since the early eighteenth century, past visitors had returned home with views and portraits, the late nineteenth century visitor wanted more. The affluent Venetian visitor wanted human interest, a sense of life by the canals and campos of the city, as a result of which a school of artists developed to supply this market.

Jan Vermeer "The Guitar Player " Click to enlarge

The Guitar Player is one of the most beautiful examples of Vermeer’s late style.
I’ve chosen this picture as I find the concept of the presence of music in painting amazing. To my mind Jan Vermeer managed to achieve complete synthesis of these two types of art and as a result, the composition turned out to be full of inspiration and harmony.
It is not easy to understand the space that the young girl inhabits but she appears to be quite far from the background wall even though the golden frame seems to bind her closely to it. We might assume that the hidden window to the far right was similar in structure to other windows found in Vermeer’s interiors with two lower and two upper casements. The upper casements had shutters that could be closed from the inside while the lower shutters were on the exterior of the house. Thus, the curtains such as the one seen in this painting were used to shield incoming light and indiscreet eyes. It would seem that the light which floods the girl comes from a second window nearer to the artist.
According to art historian Elise Goodman, Vermeer’s Guitar Player belongs to a construct that may be called the “lady and the landscape” which was a popular, international convention for glorifying female beauty in the 17th-century painting, prints and literature. A typical example of this convention is Palma Vecchio’s Lady with a Lute which represents a female musician in front of an idyllic landscape.

The idea that a lady was a “masterpiece of nature” to be admired, appeared in countless poems, songs and tracts on women in the 17th century.Vermeer recalls the dangling curls of the young girl’s hair in the hanging branches of the idyllic landscape directly behind her head.
Assuming the date generally assigned to that picture (1671-1672) John M . Montias, expert of Vermeer’s life and extended family, considers that  the young girl could be Maria, Vermeer’s eldest daughter, at the age of seventeen or eighteen. But Vermeer’s paintings were not intended as biographical statements. Even though they do represent contemporary settings and modes, they were not meant to reflect the conditions of his personal life.
Vermeer  built this composition on a different principle. As he drew the focus of his composition away from the center of the painting. The girl is placed so far to the left that her arm is cut by the edge. Light falls to the left and a landscape hangs behind the girl on the back wall. The off-center composition is further emphasized by the direction of the girl’s glance. Vermeer probably was reacting against the balanced, contained quality of his earlier work. Arthur K. Wheelock pointed out the uniqueness of this atypical composition.
It’s important to pay attention to the rare canvanas of the picture. Canvas relining of paintings is normally required every few generations as the fibers of linen weaken. The Guitar Player represents an exception in 17th-century painting in that it has not been relined and is still attached to its original strainer. This gives the picture a freshness and vibrancy often lost when canvasses have been relined by the application of heavy irons and heat.
The radiant joy of the Guitar Player is perplexing in the light of Vermeer’s private life. In the years when this picture was painted, the artist faced grave financial difficulties brought on by an ever-growing family which was eventually exacerbated by an economic collapse. Whether the unusual compositional formula and abbreviated technique of the Guitar Player was fruit of an artistic collaboration with a client or the artist’s attempt to overcome his stinging personal hardships, it remains, nonetheless, the happiest of his works.


Johannes Vermeer - "Study of a Young Woman" 1665–67 (?) oil on canvas . Click to enlarge

This painting dates from about 1665–67, a period in which Vermeer painted two similar works: "Girl with a Red Hat" (National Gallery of Art, Washington) and "Girl with a Pearl Earring" (Mauritshuis, The Hague). The latter is on canvas and is nearly identical in size .

Until 2001, the canvas was called "Portrait of a Young Woman". However, it is certain that Vermeer's bust-length pictures of young women were not intended as portraits, even if a live model was employed. In contemporary inventories, including that of Vermeer's estate, paintings of this type were called "tronies", a now defunct term that could be translated as heads, faces, or expressions. Depicting intriguing character types and exotic or imaginary costumes, tronies were made as collectors' items; the materials depicted—such as the blue silk draped around the model's shoulders in this painting—were not secondary but essential motifs intended for the connoisseur's eye, showing the artist's powers of invention and execution.

This may be one of three paintings by Vermeer described as "Een Tronie in Antique Klederen, ongemeen konstig" (A tronie in antique dress, uncommonly artful) in the 1696 Amsterdam auction of paintings owned by Jacob Dissius, the son-in-law and heir of the artist's Delft patron Pieter Claesz van Ruijven (1624–1674). In lighting and palette, it is very different from the Mauritshuis canvas, which employs primary colors in discreet passages and a more emphatic contrast of light and shadow. However, the similar subjects and sizes of the two works along with their complementary formal qualities may indicate that they were meant as a pair.

Frederic Leighton "Flaming June" 1895 oil on canvas. Click to enlarge

Flaming June is a painting by Lord Frederic Leighton, produced in 1895. Painted with oil paints on a 47" x 47" square canvas, it is widely considered to be Leighton's magnum opus, showing his classicist nature. It is thought that the woman portrayed alludes to the figures of sleeping nymphs and naiads the Greeks often sculpted. The (toxic) Oleander branch in the top right, symbolises the fragile link between sleep and death.

Eugen von Blaas - "Die Wassertragerin" 1908 Oil on Canvas. Click to enlarge

Eugene de Blaas, also known as Eugene von Blaas or Eugenio de Blaas (24 July 1843 - 10 February 1932) was an Italian painter in the school known as Academic Classicism. He was born at Albano, near Rome, to Austrian parents. His father Karl, a Jew and also a painter, was his teacher. The family moved to Venice when Karl became Professor at the Academy in Venice. He often painted scenes in Venice. He became professor in the Academy of Venice.

Christoffer Wilhelm Eckersberg - "Woman Standing in Front of a Mirror" 1841 Oil on canvas, Click to enlarge

Using the mirror as a tool to practice concealment and revelation, Eckersberg taught students painting the model, Florentine, to create a classical pose rather than mere life drawing classes.

Sull'aria Che soave zeffiretto Mozart and paintings by Polenov