Saturday 24 December 2011

Advent Calender - Day 24

So today is the final day of Advent! I thought that it was only appropriate that I pick something traditional.

As my masters and indeed my preference goes towards the Florentine Renaissance it was only sensible to pick one of the multitude of paintings from this period and this location. So, after a while, I selected Leonardo's unfinished adoration at the Uffizi. I think that when you look at this work it is evident that it could never have been completed. He has infused the image with so much spatial complexity, and such a variety of scenes, including those in the foreground and the background, that I would suggest to complete it would be unachievable. However I am very grateful that this exquisite underdrawing exists as it allow us an insight into his working practice, showing a variety of ancient sources such as the charging horses in the background on the left, taken from a medal. It made sense to choose a Leonardo image as the artist is forefront in my mind after my visit to the exhibition:

However I could not resist putting in a few more equally incredible nativity scenes so here is an extra arty treat!

Duccio, Nativity, 1308-11

This is the earliest of my nativity selection and still includes the gold background that is more common in this period, It is the only one of my selection to do so. In the flickering candelight of the church this would have given the painting a very other-worldly feeling.

Giotto Nativity from the Scrovegni chapel in Padua

This unlike the previous two images is a fresco (wall-painting) This was the image from my advent calender at home today, which was a nice suprise when I opened it!

Botticelli's Mystical Nativity 1500-1501

To finish, as I could go on for a long time, I have selected a painting which you could see in London's very own National Gallery, this is a truly bizarre nativity image, breaking with many of the previous conventions.

So finally, HAPPY CHRISTMAS!! It has been great to share some of my favourite wintery images with you this advent!

Friday 23 December 2011

Advent Calender - Day 23

I think today's image might just be one of my favourite images of all time, there is something about the atmosphere that is at once inviting and foreboding.It is painted by Monet and is one of his earlier works painted between 1868 and 1869. It is called magpie and is exhibited in the Musee d'Orsay in Paris.

The treatment of the long shadows cast in the snow is exquisite. They include a beautiful range of colours. It is a truly atmospheric work of art I think I could look at if for hours, if I wasn't so busy doing my christmas wrapping!

Thursday 22 December 2011

Advent Calender - Day 22

I'm not sure it gets chillier than this image of the ex fashion designer current artist working in the unforgiving Norwegian landscape.
Ian Garlant Radient Space 2011
His work is born out of this landscape both literally and symbolically. He uses materials that are particularly significant and relevant to the place, such as boat building materials. Arranges these materials then covers them with bitumen and sets fire to them, something you really can't imagine happening in a studio in central London. There is something about the raw beauty of the works that can't help but evoke the Nordic wilderness.

Not to mention their fascinating relationship with ancient runes which I was given an insight into by a tour with Love Art London!

His work was recently shown at an exhibition at the Andipa Gallery on Walton Street. The pieces were incredible to see firsthand as it allowed you to fully appreciate their incredible textures and the way in which they reflect this inhospitable landscape.

Definitely one to watch!

For more information on Andipa Gallery and this intriguing artist go to:

Wednesday 21 December 2011

Advent Calender - Day 21

The only appropriate image for today was this wintery photograph of the bronze Barbara Hepworth sculpture 'Two Form (Divided Circle)' in the snow.

This sculpture was stolen from Dulwich Park (on the night of the 19th December) where it was placed in 1970. It is believed to have been stolen by people wishing to melt it down and sell on the metal.

As I am sure you will all agree it is worth much more than its weight in metal.

Anyone with information please go to:

Tuesday 20 December 2011

Advent Calender - Day 20

We have entered the 20's so I thought we needed an extra special christmas post today! Enjoy!

For today I have chosen the Tate Britain Christmas Tree series, specifically last years offering by Giorgio Sadotti. Every year since 1988 Tate Britain have comissioned a Christmas Tree by a different contemporary artist to sit in the Rotunda. As you can imagine there are a huge range of examples, all with a different take on this traditional icon of christmas. The list of artist is impressive including well known names such as Tracey Emin and Cornelia Parker.

Here are just a couple, I wanted to include all of them but had to restrain myself!

Here again is last years christmas tree by Giorgio Sadotti. The 9 m Norweigen Spruce was left unadorned by the expected tinsel and baubles.

Julian Opie's take on the Christmas Tree brief in 1996, instead of including a real tree he chose to construct a mini-forest.

Catherine Yass chose to suspend her christmas tree between these two neon bars, giving it a very eerie effect

Here is a Video about Tacita Dean's Christmas Tree for the Rotunda in 2009.

For a list of more examples and to pick your favourites check out:

Let me know which ones you like best!

Monday 19 December 2011

Advent Calender - Day 19

For today's image I have chosen the Skating Minister by Raeburn the Scottish portrait painter. It is a portrait of the Reverend Robert Walker and was painted in the 1790's.

Reverend Robert Walker was minister of the Canongate Kirk and a member of the Edinburgh Skating Society. What is thought to be one of the oldest skating clubs in Britain. They met on Duddingston lake which is were this portrait is believed to be set. The artists evident interest in capturing a figure in movement is unusal for the painters of the time.

This painting is currently in the National Gallery of Scotland and is considered one of the highlights of the collection. There is even a Christmas tree decoration!

For this and more art themed christmas gifts check out:

Sunday 18 December 2011

Advent Calender - Day 18

Today there is a painting of the Adoration of the Shepherds for you by a pupil of Rembrandt.

This can be seen at the National Gallery. It uses Rembrandts distinctive style with an interest in chiaroscuro.

For more information have a look at

Saturday 17 December 2011

Advent Calender - Day 17

Only 8 days to go until Christmas!

Sorry it's a bit late today. Today's offering is Bernini's sculpture in S. Andrea delle Fratte. The angels holds a crown of thorns. The drapery is dramatically sculpted, expressing movement and giving the sculpture an emotional element. This extends to the handling of the clouds on which the Angel stands.

Friday 16 December 2011

Advent Calender - Day 16

A snowy image for what in many parts of England is a snowy day.
The angel of the north stands guarding watch over the snow covered landscape.

Thursday 15 December 2011

Advent Calender - Day 15

Today's offering is a Ruben's Nativity scene. His fleshy figures can also be encountered at the National Gallery which has a large and varied selection of this artist work.

Wednesday 14 December 2011

Advent Calender - Day 14

This is one of Hogarth's 'Four Times of Day' series, namely that of 'Morning' painted in 1736, I selected this one because the cold nature of the scene seems to eminate off the page towards the viewer.

This series is 4 paintings and engravings is the slightly less well known of Hogarth's moralising series which included also the Harlot's progress, the Rake's Progress. They tended to poke fun at London Society. They were also produced as engravings in 1738, which allowed for a wide dissemination of the image throughout the city.

In this image we see a syphilis ridden lady in the courtyard of Covent Garden. A site which now looks like this and has a very different atmosphere!

The lady stands outside a notorious 'coffee-house' which had a reputation for drinking and prostitutes, essentially a far cry from Laudree which now occupies the space. We are shown the revellers from the night before spilling out of the coffee-house having just engaged in a brawl. The day is clearly bitterly cold, we see icicles hanging off the roof, cold figures hudle around a blazing fire while the footboy attending the lady seems to perceptably shiver.

The lady on the other hand stands impassive to both the cold and the lewd behaviour going on behind her eyes. She appears to hold no sympathy for the plight of the frozen begger at her feet.

Here are the rest of the paintings.

Hogarth Four Times of Day:  Noon

 Hogarth Four Times of Day: Evening

Hogarth Four Times of Day: Night

These images collectively give us an interesting image of London's past (all be it a very satirical one).

There is so much more to say and see in the Hogarth Morning image so I encourage you to take a closer look on:

Try and spot the:
  •  The syphilis spots
  •  The wig being thrown from the tavern
  •  The man trying to cop a feel
  •  The carefully placed footprints of the lady
If you cant seem them in the painting (the wig is particularlly tricky) then take a look at the engraving:

Have fun!!!

Tuesday 13 December 2011

Advent Calender - Day 13

This is one of the Andy Goldsworthy Midsummer Snowballs. In this project the sculptor distributed large balls of snow throughout the city of London which melted during the course of the day to reveal the objects within.

In this image childeren wearing their summer clothes interact with the snowballs. This sense of interaction with the work is something that the artist appears to relish in this particular project. Many of the photographs in the fantastically illustrated book on this project demonstrate this interaction by people and animals alike.

These are two further examples of this project.

Snowball next to the old city walls, containing pebbles, thereby echoing the material of the walls by which it stands

This snowball was placed outside old spitalfields market and was constantly moved around by those working there.

Here a buissness-man prods the snowball with his umbrella and you can see the effects of the snow beggining to melt, creating a puddle of water on one side and revealling the objects within.

Snow is a particularly appropriate medium for this artist who works with the transitory and ephemeral elements of nature. This ephemeral nature was brought into sharp focus when set against the pace of London life and within the foreign urban environment.

Check out my other post on Andy Goldsworthy. Two in a week!!:

For the book go to:

Monday 12 December 2011

Advent Calender - Day 12

Not strictly a christmas image today, instead I have chosen a work by the symbolist painter Edvard Munch to celebrate his birthday on this day in 1963.

What painting could be more appropriate for a birthday then 'The Dance of Life' painted in 1900.

Sunday 11 December 2011

Pieter Bruegel the Elder - Treasure in the Attic!

It is a rare day when a museum discovers a work by an old master, especially one of this quality and with a signature to boot. So the staff at the Prado museum Spain must have thought all their Christmas's had come at once when 'The Wine of St Martin's Day' emerged.

Not only does it appear to be authentic, it has also been revealed, after the extensive cleaning work that it has been through since its discovery, to be of high quality and although in areas the paint is flaky and the painting has lost some of its original lustre the details remain fairly clear. When it was discovered it was covered in layers of dirt, this partially explains its relegation to obscurity over the last centuries as it obscured both the intricacy of the work and of course the all important signature.

There are only approximately 40 works surviving by this artist which by no means makes him the rarest artist but neither does it make him the most prolific. Furthermore this is the largest scale canvas known by Bruegel and will no doubt add vastly to the interest and scholarship on this already engaging artist.

The painting is a truly interesting and high quality work with some charming details as we would expect from a painting by Pieter Bruegel the Elder. Here we see the rosy cheeked face of a peasant fighting to fill his pot with the new wine of the season this peasants festival which celebrated the new wine also coincided with St Martin's day, thus giving the work its title.

While here we see a figure suffering the effects of over-indulgence in the wine, while behind him two individuals appear to be fighting, suggesting at the various evils of drink.

Or this detail, where we see a pick pocket taking advantage of the chaotic scene.

The painting is set to go on display at the Prado tomorrow! I only help to be able to go and see it first hand one day in the not too distant future. Until then I will have to content myself with reading about it on the incredible website resource

However there are also some fantastic works by this intriguing artist in London.

For example the very different 'The Adoration of the Kings' in the National Gallery

Or the Escape into Egypt mentioned in a previous post. in the Courtauld Collection, where you could also see Christ and the Woman taken in Adultery

Advent Calender - Day 11

What visual treat lies in store today?

Tissot's The Annuncation 1886-94

Tissot is considered one of the impressionist movement. Towards the end of his life he travelled to the Holy Land where he painted scenes from the old and new testaments, focusing upon the life of Christ. He did these studies in watercolour. This is one of those works and shows the moment where the angel appears unto Mary and informs here that she will give bith to a child and that child would be the son of God.

Notable features are the 'authentic' setting which is given to the scene comparable to works of the Renaissance where Mary is often placed in a very classical context. Such as this Annunciation by Duccio in the National Gallery.

We can see that compared to this work Tissot has dispensed with the more formal symbols of this moment such as the book held in Mary's hand which symbolises the fact she was reading the words of Issiah who prophesised the coming of Christ. Or the dove which symbolises the Holy Spirit shown here:

 Or the Lilies which symbolise the purity of the Virgin Mary.

Instead Tissot has created a more expressive work of art, the sense of the angels arrival is reflected in the dramatisation of the Virgins Clothes which appear to be blown backwards towards her an away from the angel. It is the drapery of the Virgin that reflects much of the drama of the scene.

I thought that an image of the Annunciation was particularlly appropriate for an Advent calender after all this is where it all began!!

Saturday 10 December 2011

Advent Calender - Day 10

This is an Adoration of the Magi painted by the artist Gentile di Fabriano, in his time he was an internationally renowned artist. This was comissioned for the Strozzi Family Chapel in Florence and is painted in Tempra on Wood with a large quantity of gold leaf. This painting is currently in the Uffizi.

To take a look at this incredible image in more detail, which I would thoroughly recommend go to and take a look at the intricate brocading on the costumes of the Magi:

Friday 9 December 2011

Advent Calender - Day 9

Gerhardt Richter's Candle 1982. This is one of a series of images of candles, they are an example of what is described as photorealism. Whereby the artist has used the medium of oil in such a precise manner as to create a photographic effect. They almost seem to flicker before your very eyes and I thought it was an image particularlly appropriate for an advent calender!

For more of these enchanting paintings have a look at:
Gerhardt Richter is quite possibly the most interesting, successful and influential living artist and the Tate Modern are currently running a major retrospective of his work. This runs until the 8th January, so if you are interested go before its gone!

Thursday 8 December 2011

The Maccabees and Andy Goldsworthy, an unlikely pairing!

The Maccabees have chosen a dramatic Andy Goldsworthy work for the front cover of their third album 'Given to the Wild', which will go on sale on the 9th January.

Andy Goldsworthy is an artist that the band say they admire and this is why they have selected his work for the front of their new album. Also the celebration of 'the wild' within his work seems appropriate for the title of the album.
The Maccabees new album 'Given to the Wild' 

Andy Goldsworthy is an incredible sculptor who creates works within the environment, forming part of the 'Land Art' movement, a movement which has it's roots in America.

This is one of the tracks from the albumn called Pelican which will be released on January 2nd, it has been set to a different picture of the same Andy Goldsworthy sculpture which will act as the Pelican single cover, I think that the pairing is a very effective one.

This is not the first time that the band have paried up with a British artist in fact their Wall of Arms album cover is the work of Boo Ritson. Who painted the band and then photographed the painting.

The Maccabees Wall of Arms album cover
Album Covers are a fasinating new type of art work, so next time you buy an albumn take a close look at the cover first you may find something interesting!

Advent Calender - Day 8

Van Gogh painting, 'Couple in a park with a fir tree' 1888.

A christmas tree in the making, just add tinsel.

Wednesday 7 December 2011

Advent Calender - Day 7

Another day another advent post!

This Mulberry advert epitomises autumn and winter in my opinion. It is one of my favourite adverts this season.

If you fancy indulging in a bit of fantasy shopping, (with a christmassy feel) head to

Tuesday 6 December 2011

Faking it!

Fascinating experiment carried out using brain scanning technology to gauge people's reaction to fake paintings!

People appear to get more aesthetic pleasure from the painting that they are told is real than when they are told the same painting is fake.

This suggests that the experience of viewing a work of art does not merely rely upon the appearance but upon the attending history of the image.

Check it out at:

This is just another way in which technology has been used to create a better understanding of Art and Art History.

Advent Calender - Day 6

This is a detail of Benozzo Gozzoli's Magnificent frescoed (wall-painting) chapel for the Medici Palace in Florence painted between 1459-62. It is one of the few parts of the Palace interior that is still in it's original state. The image shows a group of angels kneeling in worship. Their halos read different variations of 'We worship thee, we glorify thee'.

Monday 5 December 2011

Advent Calender - Day 5

Rollover to reveal image!!

This is a wine Cooler made by the workshop of Flaminio Fontana, thought to have been made for Cosimo I de'Medici.
It is made of tin-glazed pottery otherwise known as Maiolica.

Imagine serving the wine on Christmas day out of this!!

Sunday 4 December 2011

Tatlin's Tower

Pop in to see the Large Model of The Monument, to the Third International otherwise known as Tatlin's Tower, in the courtyard of The Royal Academy of Arts. It is exhibited there as part of the Building the Revolution: Soviet Art and Architecture 1915-1935 exhibition.

This model represents a small scale example of a work of architecture envisaged by Vladimir Tatlin but never completed. It is an incredible work of fantasy expressing the avant-garde context in which it was created. It comprises an intertwined metal framework with three rotating geometric forms, the lowest one being a cube which would have been used for a variety of events and would have completed a single rotation over the period of a year.

This structure would probabaly have been for all intents and purposes unbuildable as well as totally impractical but the opportunity to see the model at least gives us a framework with which to imagine how incredible it would have looked! Especially when you consider that it would have been 400 metres tall making it over twice the height of the Gherkin in London!

As the Tower is in the courtyard of the Royal Academy it is open to the public for free and is worth having a nosy at.

Also bear in mind that the Degas Exhibition ends on the 11th, if you want to go and see this exhibition it might be worth booking as the show has been very popular!

For a review of the Building the Revolution: Soviet Art and Architecture 1915-1935 exhibition visit:

Advent Calender - Day 4

Day 4!!

The Seasons 'Winter' By Jasper John
This is an etching and acquatint on paper. This is in the Tate Britain Prints and Drawings room.
I particularly love the little snowman outline in the image.

Saturday 3 December 2011

Advent Calender - Day 3

Day 3
What lies beneath?

Today's painting is Snow Storm - Steam Boat off a Harbour's Mouth, exhibited in 1842
This exquisite painting can be found in the Tate Britain alongside the rest of the Turner Bequest given to the gallery in 1856.

The myth behind this image is that Turner painted it while attatched to the mast of a ship.

For More details look at the the Tate Website.

Friday 2 December 2011

Advent Calender - Day 2

Second installment of the advent calender!

Camille Pissarro, The Louvre painted under Snow, 1902
This painting can be seen in the National Gallery.