Friday, December 27, 2013

Cruel Tradition

Druids offering human sacrifices by the French artist Alphonse de Neuville (1835-1885). This book illustration was done for Guizot's History of France. Neuville studied under Eugène Delacroix and was one of the most famous illustrators of his time.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Lost Liberty

Martha the Mayoress by the Russian painter Alexey Kivshenko (1851-1895). Martha the Mayoress, was the widow of Novgorod's mayor. According to legend and historical tradition, she led the republic's struggle against Muscovy between her husband's death and the city's eventual annexation by Ivan III of Russia in 1478. After the defeat Martha was escorted to Moscow with the veche bell the symbol of Novgorod's liberty.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Romantic Death

The Death of Josselin by the Italian painter Massimo Taparelli, marquis d'Azeglio (1798-1866). A legendary crusader is dying in a beautiful exotic land. The landscape is pure fantasy only the palm tree indicates that all this is happening somewhere far far away.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Battle Choreography

The Battle of the Lech in 955 by the German painter Michael Echter (1812-1879). To paint as much brave German warriors as possible and to achieve the popular pyramidal choreography Echter put the foot soldiers ahead of the attacking knights which no partly clever commander would have done.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Spoils of War

Cromwell in the Battle of Naseby in 1645 (1851) by the English painter Charles Landseer (1799-1879). Lanseer depicted here not the battle action but the victors and the spoils. In front there is a dead women a hint to the over 100 women camp-followers the parliamentarian troops also hacked to death believing they were Irish.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

A Wild Bunch

Lisowczycy by the Polish painter Juliusz Fortunat Kossak (1824-1899). The Lisowczycy were a irregular unit of Polish–Lithuanian light cavalry in the 17th-century . The Lisowczycy took part in many battles across Europe and the historical accounts of the period characterized them as extremely agile, warlike, and bloodthirsty. Their numbers varied with time, from a few hundreds to several thousands. The fought first in Polish wars and later as mercenaries in the Thirty Years War.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A Meditative Genius

Michelangelo Visited in His Studio by Pope Julius II (1859) by the French painter Alexandre Cabanel (1823-1889). Here the great genius contemplating his impressive statues visited by the most important patron of arts. What would Cabanel say with that?

Friday, November 15, 2013

Against the Forces of Nature

Snow Storm: Hannibal and His Army Crossing the Alps (1812) by the British painter. Though Turner is mostly considered a landscape painter he did here kind of history painting. At least he mixes both genres. That Hannibal and his army are not simply decoration indicates the date of the painting. Turner saw parallels between Hannibal and Napoleon, and the historic Punic War between Rome and Carthage and the contemporary Napoleonic Wars between Britain and France. So history is important as a looking glass on modern events.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Sugary History

The Landing of William Penn by the American history painter Jean Leon Gerome Ferris (1863-1930). There are a lot of nice (schoolbook) details, all the different costumes, the Native Americans, the trapper, the soldier, dutch settlers etc. There is even the year of the landing on the building.
Though it's sugary, too sweet, more like a costume ball.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Gentlemens Pleasures

Gentlemens pleasures by the French artist Adolphe Alexandre Lesrel (1839-1929). Another of the typical Lesrel genre paintings. Normally settled in the 17th century where men dresses in Rembrandt costumes have even a better time as on Rembrandt's paintings.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Somewhere and Somewhen

This exotic scenery is by the Austrian painter Rudolf Ernst (1854-1932). Ernst was a famous orientalist painters and did here something which looks a little historical. But I think it doesn't matter. He was alsways looking fpr the exotic, the strange. So it's more a kindof pre-fantasy painting.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

A Great Triumph

The disembarkment of Francis I in Valencia by the Spanish painter Ignacio Pinazo y Camarlench (1849-1916). The French king  Francis I was made a Spanish prisoner when he lost the battle of Pavia in 1525. Despite he is received like a king it was one of Spains greatest Triumphs. Maybe the painting  was meant as kindof consolation for all the later defeats.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Victorian Girlie

The Lady of Shalott (1888) by the British painter John William Waterhouse (1849-1917). The Lady of Shalott" is a Victorian ballad by the English poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809–1892) and tells the story of a noble Lady and her tragic love to the Arthurian knight Sir Lancelot.
Like many of these  Arthurian legends the subject was especially popular amongst the Pre-Raphaelites who did various paintings.
Nevertheless I don't understand why Waterhouse is often called himself a Pre-Raphaelite. He had absolutely no relation to them and exploited only the popular subjects in a cheap way.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Cruel Games

At the Colosseum by the British painter Harold Hume Piffard (1895-1938). Piffard depicts here an elegant Roman noblewoman watching comfortly the bloody spectacle below. A well constucted contrast indeed.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

European Art

 Joaquín Crespo at Los Colorados battle (1893) by the Venezuelan painter Arturo Michelena  (1863-1898). With this battle General Crespo decided 1884 a civil war and became president of Venezuela.
Though nothing special, it's interesting to see that these young states in Latin America glorified their presidents and victories in the same way as in old Europe. That's mostly because artists like Michelena learned their trade at the European academies.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Genre Painting

A Duel by the Italian painter Ludovico Marchetti (1853-1909). This well done genre painting is obviously strongly influenced by  "The Duel After the Masquerade" by  French grandmaster Gerome.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Incredible Treasures

Atahuallpa the imprisoned  emperor of the Incas promised Pizarro and his conquistadors to fill the whole room with gold. An illustration for the book "The Men Who Found America" (1909) by the American artist Herbert Moore. The desperate emperor is here effectively confronted with the sinister, greedy Spanish. Interesting are also the symbolic colors: the golden light and the blood red trousers.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Well armed Pilgrims

Pilgrims Going To Church (1867) by the Anglo-American painter George Henry Boughton (1834-1905). Boughton painted here the famous Pilgrim Fathers in their best clothes but also well armed indicating that they were well aware of living in a dangerous new world.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Hanseatic Art

Victory of the Hansa fleet over the Danes in 1234 by the German marine painter Alexander Kircher (1867-1939). Kirchner was very popular for his patriotic paintings. Many were used to illustrade schoolbooks and town halls and offices of shipping companies.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Harem Exploitation

Before the Punishment by the Hungarian painter Franz Eisenhut (1857-1903). Eisenhut is considered one of Austria-Hungary's greatest academic painters in the second half of the 19th century an specialized in Orientalist subjects.
Here he did a really spectacular piece. Two disobedient harem slaves are awaiting their punishment stretching their erotic bodies  for all the onlookers of the painting.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

An Artist at Work

The Portrait of a Sergeant (1874) by the French military painter Jean-Louis-Ernest Meissonier (1815–1891). Apart from the fact that it is a very well done painting it is full of small "unheroic" details normally not worth to be noticed by a military painter.

Friday, August 16, 2013

The Joust

Before the Joust by the Italian painter Cesare Auguste Detti (1847-1914). As historical genre painter Detti  specialized more in scenes settled in the 17th or 18th century, but here he was attracted by a medieval subject. The result is a genre painting anyway.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

A National Martyr

The execution of Matija Gubec in front of St. Mark's Church in Zagreb (1905) by the Croatian painter Oton Iveković (1869-1939). Matija Gubec was a leader of the Croatian-Slovenian peasant revolt 1573 and became later a symbol for the indepence movement in Croatia.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Voluptuous Prisoners

Captured (1938) by the great Australian artist Norman Lindsay (1879-1969). Lindsay who is probably best known for his erotic artwork shows here a bunch of pirates with their prisoners: two voluptous women who didn't look afraid at all. History serves here more as a costume.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Emperor Maximilian

Emperor Maximilian mustering his troops by the Austrian artist Maximilian Liebenwein (1869-1926). Despite beeing a typical Art Nouveau painting the influence of the Renaissance engravings by Dürer or Holbein is obvious.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Dramatic Death

The Death of Gian Maria Visconti by the Italian painter  Ludovico Pogliaghi (1857-1950). Pogliaghi depicted here an episode of the local history of Milan, where the young Duke was murdered in front of a church in 1412. The cruel intrigues and fights for power in Renaissance Italy are converted to a kind of romantic Romeo and Juliet scenery.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Claiming of a Hero

The surrender of Prince Guatemozin to Hernando Cortes by the  American painter Peter Frederick Rothermel (1817-1895). Rothermel shows here the last decisive vivtory of the Spanish conquistador and claims him as a predecessor of US-American history.
Cortez appears as a merciful forgiving victor. Maybe it should therfore be mentioned that Guatemozin was later tortured and executed.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

More a Scientific Expedition

Bonaparte at the Pyramides by the French painter Maurice Orange (1867-1916). It's interesting that Orange didn't chose here the heroic military aspect of Napoleon's campaign to Egypt but the scientific exotic one.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Kindof Pin-Up

Plated by the Italian comic book writer and artist Milo Manara (born 1945). He shows here Joan of Arc the legendary The Maid of Orléans as kindof medieval pin-up.
Before someone argues against the decline of history painting he should perharps consider that many aknowledged 19th century painters did more or less the same.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

History Lesson

The Moscow Kremlin by the Russian artist Apollinary Mikhaylovich Vasnetsov (1856-1933). Apollinary was the younger brother to the more famous Viktor Vasnetsov.  He specialized more in historical precise illustrations like this one showing the Kremlin in the 16th century.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Well Done Kitsch

Pompeian Lady by the British painter John William Godward (1861 –1922). The painting ist well done and reflects the newest historical knowledge about Roman architecture and clothing. Though it's above all a Victorian lady in a  well painted  Roman costume.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

American Myth

The Nation Makers by the great American artist Howard Pyle (1853-1911). This cover illustration was done for the edition of Collier's Weekly June 2, 1906. It shows the battle torn American levies advancing bravely upon their British oppressors.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Painful Homecoming

Where is the lord, my king (1888) by the British painter Herbert Gustave Carmichael Schmalz (1856-1935). Schmalz depicts here a band of celtic warriors returning from a raid where they lost their king.  They have to answer to his widow who is effectively waiting with her two children.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Sweet Lady Godiva

Another interpretation of the popular legend of Lady Godiva by the British painter John Collier (1850-1934).

Saturday, May 25, 2013

A Glorious Day

The Poles surrender the Moscow Kremlin to Prince Pozharsky in 1612 by the Russian painter Ernst-Johann Nicholas Ernestovich Lissner (1874-1941). The destructions give evidence about the heavy fighting as well as the numerous Polish soldiers now leaving Russia defeated.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Cheesy Middle Ages

The Hostage by the English painter Edmund Blair-Leighton (1853-1922). Blair-Leighton was famous for these cheesy scenes, still popular today.

Friday, May 10, 2013

A Severe Walk

Mary Stewart on the way to her execution by the British military painter Laslett John Pott (1837-1898). Pott shows a queen calmly facing death.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

A Macabre Episode

The Cadaver Synod (1870) by the French painter Jean-Paul Laurens (1838-1921). Laurens shows here one of the most bizarre episodes  of the medieval history. In 897 a  posthumos trial was conducted against the dead Pope Formosus therefore removed from his tomb.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Hard Slave Labour

Israel in Egypt (1867) by the  English painter Edward Poynter (1836-1919). Despite showing the hard slave labour of the people of Israel the artist is much more fascinated by the monumental Egyptian architecture which he evidently knew by the prints of David Roberts.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A Christian Past

Håkon the Good (1860) by the Norwegian painter Peter Nicolai Arbo (1831-1892). Arbo depicts here the christian king Håkon the Good attacked by a pagan priest.

Monday, April 15, 2013

People's Army

Tyrolean Militia (1883) by the Austrian artist Franz von Defregger (1835-1921). Defregger did mostly genre and history paintings. Here he combined both showing the departure of the Tyrolean Militia during the uprising against the Napoleonic suppression. It's the people going to war, strong and proud, an appeal to nationalism.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Spectacular Death

A Christian Dirce (1897) by the Polish painter Henryk Hector Siemiradzki (1843-1902). Siemiradzki depicted here how a christian martyr is killed in the circus in a kind of re-enactment of the myth of Dirce who was killed by being tied to the horns of a bull. It's a very spectacular scenery from the apex of history painting, a pale beautiful body, a fat decadent Nero, gladiators and exotic Nubian slaves. Much too nice to frighten.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Nothing Changes

Fight between two men in the Neolithic by the French painter Georges-Antoine Rochegrosse (1859-1938). Without any doubt a nice ironic piece of work. Above the two quarreling cavemen sits a nude woman as the prize for the winner. So the painting suggests, nothings has changed, maybe only the methods a little.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Constructing Imperial History

Founding of an African Colony by Prussian ships by the German military painter Richard Knötel (1857-1914). Knötel was probably the most popular illustrator of Prussian military history in the late 19th century. Here he depicted a nearly forgotten episode of Prussian history, but his real intention was to provide the in his time current German imperialism with a historical tradition.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Historical Genre Painting

Proclamation of an Edikt in Venice (1891) by the French artist Jacques Clement Wagrez (1846-1908). Wagrez specialized in historical genre paintings mostly settled in the Italian renaissance. They are well done, but mostly without any further intention that to be a nice piece of decoration.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

A National Saint

Joan of Arc's Death at the Stake (1843) by the German Romantic painter Hermann Anton Stilke (1803-1860). Stilke was a member of the very religious Nazarene movement and depicted here Joan of Arc in the style of a religious saint painting. To emphasize this intention the painting was part of a bigger Joan of Arc Triptych.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

A Dark Hour

The Execution of Torrijos and his companions at Málaga Beach (1888) by the Spanish painter Antonio Gisbert Pérez (1835-1902). Gisbert Pérez was a convinced liberal and depicted here the tragical end of a liberal revolution in 1831. Another forfeited chance to modernize his country.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

The War Is Over

Order of release 1746 (1853) by the English painterJohn Everett Millais (1829–1896). Millais depicts here the wife of a rebel Scottish soldier arriving with an order of release for her husband who has been imprisoned after the Jacobite rising of 1745. Finally the war is over. It's kind of typical for Millais that heroism is much more with the civilians, the non-combatants.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Good Old West

Attack on a Wagon Train (1902) by the American painter Charles Marion Russell (1864-1926) also known as C. M. Russell. Russel did more than 2,000 paintings of cowboys, Indians, and landscapes of the old west.

Friday, February 15, 2013

A Legendary Desaster

The destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem (1867) by the Italian painter Francesco Hayez (1791-1882). Hayez depicts here the sack of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 CE. It's no glorious event at all, but a bloody massacre where even the angels are horrified flying away.