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The painting Girl with a Pearl Earring (1665) is one of Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer's masterworks and, as the name implies, uses a pearl earring for a focal point. Today the painting is kept in the Mauritshuis gallery in The Hague. It is sometimes referred to as "the Mona Lisa of the North" or "the Dutch Mona Lisa".
- Las Meninas (Spanish for The Maids of Honour) is a 1656 painting by Diego Velázquez, the leading artist of the Spanish Golden Age, in the Museo del Prado in Madrid.
- The work's complex and enigmatic composition raises questions about reality and illusion, and creates an uncertain relationship between the viewer and the figures depicted. Because of these complexities, Las Meninas has been one of the most widely analyzed works in Western painting.
- The painting shows a large room in the Madrid palace of King Philip IV of Spain,and presents several figures, most identifiable from the Spanish court,captured, according to some commentators, in a particular moment as if in a snapshot. Some look out of the canvas towards the viewer, while others interact among themselves. The young Infanta Margaret Theresa is surrounded by her entourage of maids of honour, chaperone, bodyguard, two dwarfs and a dog. Just behind them, Velázquez portrays
- himself working at a large canvas. Velázquez looks outwards, beyond the
- pictorial space to where a viewer of the painting would stand.
- In the background there is a mirror that reflects the upper bodies of the king and queen. They appear to be placed outside the picture space in a position similar to that of the viewer, although some scholars have speculated that their image is a reflection from the painting Velázquez is shown working on.
- Las Meninas has long been recognised as one of the most important paintings in Western art history. The Baroque painter Luca Giordano said that it represents the "theology of painting", while in the 19th century Sir Thomas Lawrence called the work "the philosophy of art". More recently, it has been described as "Velázquez's supreme achievement, a highly self-conscious, calculated demonstration of what painting could achieve, and perhaps themost searching comment ever made on the possibilities of the easel painting".
The Calling of Saint Matthew is a masterpiece by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, depicting the moment at which Jesus Christ inspires Matthew to follow him. It was completed in 1599-1600 for the Contarelli Chapel in the church of the French congregation, San Luigi dei Francesi in Rome, where it remains today. It hangs alongside two other paintings of Matthew by Caravaggio, The Martyrdom of Saint Matthew (painted around the same time as the Calling) and The Inspiration of Saint Matthew (1602).
- Grande Odalisque, also known as Une Odalisque or La Grande Odalisque, is an oil painting of 1814 by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres depicting an odalisque, or concubine. Ingres' contemporaries considered the work to signify Ingres' break from Neoclassicism, indicating a shift toward exotic Romanticism.
- Grande Odalisque attracted wide criticism when it was first shown. It has been especially noted for the elongated proportions and lack of anatomical realism. The work is housed in the Louvre, Paris.
- Ophelia is a painting by British artist Sir John Everett Millais, completed between 1851 and 1852. Currently held in the Tate Britain in London, it depicts Ophelia, a character from Shakespeare's play Hamlet, singing before she drowns in a river in Denmark.
- The work was not widely regarded when first exhibited at the Royal Academy, but has since come to be admired for its beauty and its accurate depiction of a natural landscape. Ophelia has been estimated to have a market value of around £30 million.
Claude Monet - Springtime (1872)
- Bal du moulin de la Galette (commonly known as Dance at Le moulin de la Galette) is an 1876 painting by French artist Pierre-Auguste Renoir. It is housed at the Musée d'Orsay in Paris and is one of Impressionism's most celebrated masterpieces. The painting depicts a typical Sunday afternoon at Moulin de la Galette in the district of Montmartre in Paris. In the late 19th century, working class Parisians would dress up and spend time there dancing, drinking, and eating galettes into the evening.
- Like other works of Renoir's early maturity, Bal du moulin de la Galette is a typically Impressionist snapshot of real life. It shows a richnessof form, a fluidity of brush stroke, and a flickering light.
- From 1879 to 1894 the painting was in the collection of the French painter Gustave Caillebotte; when he died it became the property of the French Republic as payment for death duties. From 1896 to 1929 the painting hung in the Musée du Luxembourg in Paris. From 1929 it hung in the Musée du Louvre until it was transferred to the Musée d'Orsay in 1986.
Vincent van Gogh - The Sower (1888)
- Le bonheur de vivre (The joy of Life), is a painting by Henri Matisse. In the central background of the piece is a group of figures that is similar to the group depicted in his painting The Dance (second version). In the picture, there are different nude bodies of both women and men.
- According to Hilton Kramer "Le bonheur de vivre owing to its long sequestration in the collection of the Barnes Foundation,which never permitted its reproduction in color, is the least familiar of modern masterpieces. Yet this painting was Matisse's own response to the hostility his work had met with in the Salon d'Automne of 1905, a response that entrenched his art even more deeply in the esthetic principles that had governed his Fauvist paintings which had caused a furor and which did so on a far grander scale, too."
Wassily Kandinsky - Composition VI (1913)
- During the studies Kandinsky made in preparation for Composition IV,
- he became exhausted while working on a painting and went for a walk.
- While he was out, Gabriele Münter tidied his studio and inadvertently
- turned his canvas on its side. Upon returning and seeing the canvas (but
- not yet recognizing it) Kandinsky fell to his knees and wept, saying it
- was the most beautiful painting he had ever seen. He had been liberated
- from attachment to an object. As when he first viewed Monet's Haystacks, the experience would change his life.
- In another episode with Münter during the Bavarian abstract expressionist years, Kandinsky was working on his Composition VI.
- From nearly six months of study and preparation, he had intended the
- work to evoke a flood, baptism, destruction, and rebirth simultaneously.
- After outlining the work on a mural-sized wood panel, he became blocked
- and could not go on. Münter told him that he was trapped in his
- intellect and not reaching the true subject of the picture. She
- suggested he simply repeat the word uberflut ("deluge" or
- "flood") and focus on its sound rather than its meaning. Repeating this
- word like a mantra, Kandinsky painted and completed the monumental work
- in a three-day span.
Wassily Kandinsky - On White
Gustav Klimt - The Kiss (1907)
Gino Severini - The Boulevard (1910)
Umberto Boccioni The City Rises (La città che sale) (1910)
Max Ernst - The Robing of the Bride (1940)
Rene Magritte - Black Magic (1945)
Pablo Picasso - La Vie (1903)