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					Art History

 Museum of Fine Arts Houston
American Art
 A particular strength of American art at the MFAH is 19th-
   century landscape painting, with fine examples by Thomas Cole,
   Frederic Church, and others reflecting the allure of the American

   The post-Civil War period is well represented at the museum,
   with works by John Singer Sargent, William Merritt Chase, and
   Childe Hassam. The holdings in early-20th-century American art
   include wonderful Ashcan School paintings and important early
   abstract works. Paintings by Georgia O´Keeffe and other Taos
   artists are another highlight. The American galleries in the Beck
   Building surround a sculpture court that features works by
   Frederick William MacMonnies and Paul Manship.
John Singer Sargent
 This portrait represents John Singer Sargent´s
  lifelong friend Sarah Sears, a photographer and
  patron of the arts in Boston. Her alert pose, intense
  gaze, and upper-body posture contrast with the
  seemingly relaxed position of her lower body,
  demonstrating how Sargent seemed to capture, as
  one critic wrote, "the nervous tension of the age."
  Sargent´s stunning surface displays of paint
  connoted elegance and dash, and helped make him
  the portraitist of choice for the aristocracy of England
  and America at the turn of the century.
Thomas Cole
 In Indian Pass, Thomas Cole created a primeval
  American past. Deeply concerned about the political
  and economic turbulence of his time, Cole filled his
  landscapes with symbols and moral warnings. The
  blasted trees suggest the inevitable passage of time.
  The Native American figure is a nostalgic element; by
  1847 he would no longer have inhabited the scenic
  wilderness that Cole depicts. Thus, with this dramatic
  and lush setting, Cole offered 19th-century viewers a
  marker by which to measure the nation´s present and
John George Brown
 Among the most popular and prolific artists working in the United States
   in the late nineteenth-century, Brown specialized in genre scenes of
   urban and rural children. While Curling;—a Scottish Game, at Central
   Park is a genre painting—well-dressed figures engage in urban
   leisure—it is also a group portrait, commissioned by Robert Gordon, a
   Scottish businessman and member of the St. Andrews Curling Club in
   New York, in whose family the painting descended. The creation of
   Central Park gave rise to new forms of leisure, including the imported
   game of curling, which gained in popularity in the mid-nineteenth
   Known as a master of figural groupings and facial expressions, Brown
   invites the viewer into the scene through the eyes of the young girl
   seated in the sleigh at far left. Brown captures with brilliant effect the
   hazy light of winter, the reflective surface of the smooth ice, the
   costumes and expressions of the players and observers, the glistening
   surface of the painted stones, and conveys the sheer pleasure of this
   winter outdoor sport.
Mary Cassatt
 Strongly encouraged by her dear friend Edgar Degas, Mary
   Cassatt was one of only two women and the only American to
   join the Impressionists. She focused on the domestic world of
   women and children, rendering them in a straightforward
   manner free from sentimentality. Here, the radical composition
   and the variety of brush strokes—from smooth and exacting to
   sketchy and dynamic—enhance both the intimacy and the
   drama of an everyday scene. Susan Comforting the Baby

 An American-born artist who spent most of her life in France,
   Cassatt (1844—1926) is well known for her images of women
   and children in domestic settings. She revisits that familiar
   theme in Children in the Garden, which she exhibited in the
   eighth Impressionist Exhibition in Paris in 1886. Enclosed in a
   private garden, a nursemaid sits on a bench knitting, while one
   of her charges sleeps in a nearby carriage and the other plays
   at her feet.
Thomas C. Eakins
 Thomas C. Eakins´s late portraits, which include this
  powerful likeness of a Philadelphia banker, are
  among the artist´s most poignant works. Here, the
  artist focuses upon the two elements of portraiture
  traditionally deemed most important: heads and
  hands. The penetrating gaze and the taut, sinewy
  hands of the aging sitter carry the emotional weight of
  the painting and testify to Eakins´s life-long
  commitment to portraying the human condition in all
  its heroism and frailty. Portrait of John B. Gest
George Bellows
 This portrait depicts Florence ("Flossie") Pierce, the
  daughter of a lighthouse keeper who lived on an
  island off the coast of Maine, where George Bellows
  spent several summers. Bellows was associated with
  the Ashcan School, a group of painters in New York
  City who advocated a vigorous painting style that
  suggested the modern pace of city life. Here, the
  artist experiments with bold color arranged in large
  blocks. At the same time, he suggests a complex
  psychological presence conveyed by the brightly lit
  gaze of the sitter.
Frederic Edwin Church

 In this painting, Frederic Edwin Church
  depicts Cotopaxi, an active volcano in the
  Andes mountains of Ecuador. The tiny
  foreground figures suggest the insignificance
  of humankind in comparison with the natural
  wonders that surround them: the volcano, the
  waterfall, and the lush tropical foliage.
John Kensett
 Artists of the Hudson River School often made pencil
  or oil sketches out-of-doors and later used them in
  the studio as a guide to create finished works. Here,
  John Kensett depicted an artist painting a view
  popular with tourists and artists: Mount Mansfield in
  the Green Mountains of Vermont and its pastoral,
  sun-filled valley below. With the invention of the
  steamboat, the expansion of the railway, and
  improved roads, artists and other nature tourists had
  easier access to glorious sites like this one.
 A View of Mansfield Mountain
Thomas Doughty
 This painting depicts the Fairmount Waterworks, the
  pumping station for the water supply of 19th century
  Philadelphia. One of the great technological
  achievements of its day, the Fairmount Waterworks
  represented a successful marriage of scientific
  innovation with the arts and nature. Dams, reservoirs,
  and water wheels were all disguised behind a series
  of classically inspired buildings set within public
  gardens. Here, Thomas Doughty transforms this
  industrial scene into an idyllic landscape bathed in
  golden light in which people are enjoying outdoor
  leisure activities.
 View of the Fairmount Waterworks, Philadelphia,
  from the Opposite Side of the Schuylkill River
Robert S. Duncanson
 A landscape painter in the so-called Hudson River School
   tradition, Robert Scott Duncanson was the first African-
   American artist to gain international recognition. His
   extraordinary achievement is all the more remarkable given his
   success during the height of slavery in antebellum America.
  Like the work of his model, artist Thomas Cole, the painting
  contains deeper meanings. The blasted trees, references to the
  passage of time and America´s primordial past, combined with
  the scene of a clear-cut valley, offer a poignant warning sign of
  man´s encroachment on nature. Beautifully composed and
  painted, A View of Asheville hints at the promise of this
  developing city, juxtaposed with the still-unspoiled mountains
  that hover in the background. This painting is an excellent
  example of one of the most important 19th century American
  landscape artists.
 A View of Asheville, North Carolina
Willard Leroy Metcalf

 America´s first major exhibition of French Impressionist
  paintings was held in New York in 1886 and included works by
  Edgar Degas, Édouard Manet, Claude Monet, and Auguste
  Renoir. Impressionism had been steadily ridiculed in France
  since its emergence in the 1860s, but the exhibition in America
  met with critical and popular acclaim. In fact, some American
  artists had already begun to experiment with the revolutionary
  style. William Metcalf was one of several Americans who,
  beginning in the mid-1880s, made pilgrimages to Monet´s home
  in Giverny, France. Leaning from the master, Metcalf
  abandoned preparatory sketches and began painting
  spontaneously from nature. This small study of brilliant light and
  deep shadow was painted in Giverny.
 Sunlight and Shadow
William Merritt Chase
 This luminous landscape was inspired by the rather
  flat and ordinary countryside of Shinnecock, Long
  Island, where William Merritt Chase taught outdoor
  painting. Sandwiched in between the scraggly clumps
  of grass and sky is a sliver of sea dotted with white
  boats, and pink dunes highlighted by a streak of red.
  Chase’s seemingly simple composition testifies to his
  ability to make the ordinary seem extraordinary.
 Sunlight and Shadow, Shinnecock Hills
Thomas Hart Benton
 In this scene of farmers at work, the rhythmic swirls
  of paint and lyrical movement of the workers make
  farm life appear pastoral. Referred to as a
  Regionalist, Thomas Hart Benton believed that the
  subjects of American artists should come from the
  nation´s heartland. The theme here—man working in
  harmony with nature, and the landscape as a source
  of bounty and sustenance—presents an ideal view of
  the actual hardships that farmers endured during the
  Great Depression of the 1930s.
 Haystack
William Merritt Chase
 In this portrait, William Merritt Chase presents his
  daughter, who holds a coral whistle and looks over
  the shoulder of her mother, dressed in a Japanese-
  inspired costume. The relationship between the black
  tones of the kimono and the background attests to
  Chase’s experiments with delicate tonal harmonies.
  One critic, praising Chase’s painterly effects,
  described “ . . . the tingling pleasure that one receives
  from the one note of vivid scarlet that cuts through
  this quiet harmony like a knife . . .”.

 Mother and Child (The First Portrait)
William Merritt Chase
 Chase´s fame as a painter of still lifes rests
  on his images of fish. A master of bravura
  technique, Chase elevated this plain subject
  into high art. He once explained: "I enjoy
  painting fishes; in the infinite variety of these
  creatures, the subtle and exquisitely colored
  tones of the flesh fresh from the water, the
  way their surfaces reflect the light, I take the
  greatest pleasure. In painting a good
  composition of fish I am painting for myself."
 Still Life
Elsie Driggs
 In 1928, American artist Elsie Driggs (1898—1992)
  traveled to Detroit to make studies of the Ford Motor
  Company´s River Rouge Plant. She was fascinated
  by the aircraft that took her there, a 1926 Ford Tri-
  Motor plane that became the prototype for future
  airplanes. Here, Driggs depicts this new form of
  transportation as a symbol of modernity and the
  future. Like other Precisionist paintings, Aeroplane is
  a synthesis of realism and abstraction. The tightly
  painted canvas is delineated with diagonal lines,
  creating an abstract, gridlike effect.
 Aero plane
Frederick Frieseke
 Japanese woodcuts flooded the European market in
  the late 19th century, finding an especially
  appreciative audience among French Impressionist
  and Post-Impressionist painters. Many artists
  became collectors, and some even included
  Japanese art in the backgrounds of their own
  paintings, as Frederick Frieseke did here. This
  American Impressionist painter probably first fell
  under the spell of Japanese design while he was
  studying in Paris. The compressed perspective,
  flattened color, and linear embellishment seen in this
  painting are borrowed from Japanese aesthetics.
 Girl Reading
Robert Henri
 Believing that the artist must also be a force for social
  reform, Robert Henri developed a technically
  adventurous style that was nonetheless grounded in
  realism. With bold brushwork and pure color, he
  painted dramatic but unidealized portraits of ordinary
  people. Henri made several trips to Spain and
  became fascinated with bullfighting. This dashing
  portrait depicts the picador Antonio Baños. While the
  matador personifies the glamour and heroism of the
  bullfighting ritual, the picador plays only a supporting
  role: his job is to goad the bull. In choosing this
  subsidiary character as his subject, Henri rejected the
  more elitist traditions of portraiture.
 Antonio Baños
Childe Hassam
 Here, Childe Hassam offers a dazzling and
  mysterious view of an ordinary slice of life—New
  York City at night in the rain. Hassam had admired
  the work of the French Impressionists during his
  studies in Paris in the 1880s. He adopted the
  Impressionists’ flickering brushwork, sparkling light
  effects, and subjects taken from daily life. Upon
  returning to the United States, he settled in New
  York, where he found the bustling streets and grand
  buildings rich subjects to paint.
 Evening in New York
Marsden Hartley
 When Marsden Hartley traveled in 1912 to Paris and
  to Munich, he met some of the champions of
  European Modernism. Before long, he had developed
  his own nonrepresentational style that was indebted
  to Robert Delaunay´s circles of pure color and
  Vassily Kandinsky´s theories of Expressionism.
  Hartley returned to America in 1913 and exhibited his
  geometric abstractions at the Armory Show. With its
  emblematic arrangement of circles and bands and its
  emphasis on pure color relationships, Abstraction is
  typical of Hartley´s work at this time. In 1917 he
  abandoned abstract art to concentrate on landscapes
  and seascapes.
 Abstraction
Henry Ossawa Tanner
 An accomplished painter, illustrator, and
  photographer, Henry Ossawa Tanner struggled for
  acceptance as a black artist in America. He left for
  Europe in 1891, when he was 31, and he soon found
  success in Paris. A bishop´s son, Tanner often
  painted religious scenes that transcend their biblical
  sources. With its themes of persecution, escape, and
  new beginnings, the New Testament story of Mary
  and Joseph´s Flight into Egypt resonated with the
  plight of African-Americans. Tanner painted the
  episode about 15 times, infusing each work with
  mystery and passion.
 Flight into Egypt
John Marin
 The Maine coast was a favorite subject for John Marin, one of
  the great masters of American watercolor painting. Marin
  modified the Cubist technique invented in 1907 by Georges
  Braque and Pablo Picasso to give structural form to his
  reverence for the natural world. In this vibrant watercolor, he
  distills the elements of nature into geometric shapes and bold
  lines. Although Marin presents a multifaceted view of objects
  and forms, the overall effect is one of harmony and not
  fragmentation. The white paper becomes an important
  component of the composition, contributing to the freshness of
  the image.
 The Little Sailboat
E. Martin Hennings
 Passing By shows people of the Taos Pueblo moving
  through a glade of cottonwood trees in the brilliant
  autumn sun. The figures and landscape are as tightly
  and harmoniously interwoven as a fine tapestry. E.
  Martin Hennings was a prominent member of the
  Taos Society of Artists, which embraced the peaceful
  Pueblo culture and the dramatic colors and
  topography of the desert Southwest.
 Passing By
Robert Spencer
 Robert Spencer was a member of the colony
  of American Impressionists in New Hope,
  Pennsylvania. Here, Spencer departs from
  the rural landscapes of his New Hope
  contemporaries by painting a bleak scene of
  urban decay. In The Exodus, Spencer
  suggests the plight of refugees by presenting
  them in a contemporary version of the biblical
  story of Exodus.
 The Exodus
Stuart Davis
 Stuart Davis fragments the elements that
  make up this harbor scene in
  Massachusetts—sea, boats, piers, buoys,
  tackle, and flag—and represents them with
  patterns of bright color arranged to convey a
  lively rhythm. Davis, in fact, conceived of
  compositions such as this one in terms of the
  staccato pulse of American jazz.
 Gloucester Harbor
Georgia O´Keeffe
 By magnifying a nautilus shell and juxtaposing it
  dramatically against a distant landscape, Georgia
  O´Keeffe transforms the ordinary into something
  abstract and mysterious. O´Keeffe´s experience living
  in the desert Southwest, first in Texas and then in
  New Mexico, informed her paintings with bold colors
  and stark forms. Her elegant still lifes of simple
  objects were inspired by the objects she collected on
  her walks—clam shells, turkey feathers, bones,
  rocks, fossils, and flowers.
 Red Hills with White Shell
Severin Roesen
 The tradition of painting fruit and flowers dates back to 16th- and
  17th-century Dutch and German artists. By the 18th century,
  still-life painting had fallen from fashion, only to be revived in
  Germany during the 1830s. Severin Roesen was among the
  many German artists who studied the genre before immigrating
  to America. Following James and Raphaelle Peale, these artists
  contributed to the growing popularity of still-life paintings in mid-
  19th-century America. Here, the lush profusion of natural bounty
  seems to suggest the richness of an American Eden and its
  promise of prosperity. With a meticulous attention to detail and
  skillful replication of texture, this painting forms a convincing
  illusion — never mind that the flowers shown blooming together
  here do not do so in nature.
 Victorian Bouquet
Martin Johnson Heade
 Heade (1819—1904) preferred to work on small canvases. In
  his tightly controlled paintings, the artist displays an intensity
  that makes his canvases seem much larger, if not monumental.
  Having essentially discovered the artistic possibilities of the
  humble salt marsh in rural New England, Heade painted them
  for more than 45 years. As he did with magnolias, he depicted
  salt marshes repeatedly. Conceived in series form, Heade´s
  magnolias and, in particular, his salt marshes, are endlessly
  varied and show evidence of the careful changes he made while
  painting. The subtle shifts within his work as a whole account in
  part for Heade´s appeal to modern eyes. His paintings received
  only limited artistic acclaim during his lifetime, but with the
  general revival of interest in American art in the 1940s, attention
  returned to him once again and his reputation was re-
Martin Johnson Heade
 In this acutely observed still life, Martin Johnson
  Heade depicts five magnolias in various stages of
  blossom. Heade had moved in 1883 to Florida, where
  flourishing tropical flowers like magnolias both
  encouraged his interest in natural history and
  appealed to him artistically. The golden glow of the
  background and of the plush velvet sets off the
  various qualities of the flower: the delicate, smooth
  petals in creamy white; the rough stems; and the
  waxy finish of the leaves, one of which has been
  affected by a fungus.
 Magnolias on Gold Velvet Cloth
Masterworks of European Art
 Early Christian art at the MFAH includes an important ivory figure of
   God the Father and a Late Gothic Virgin and Child by the workshop of
   Niclaus Weckman the Elder.
   Thanks largely to the vision and generosity of two great art collectors
   from the first half of the 20th century—Percy S. Straus and Samuel H.
   Kress—the museum´s collection is strong in Renaissance and Baroque
   art. Among the Renaissance highlights are Italian examples by Fra
   Angelico, Giovanni di Paolo, Sebastiano del Piombo, Antico, and
   Scarsellino, as well as Flemish masterpieces by Rogier van der
   Weyden and Hans Memling. Baroque strengths include notable works
   by Orazio Gentileschi, Guido Reni, Philippe de Champaigne, Luca
   Giordano, Frans Hals, and Jan van Huysum.
   The 18th- and 19th-century galleries feature important works by Jean-
   Siméon Chardin, Anton Raphael Mengs, and Canaletto, Jean-Léon
   Gérôme, Francisco de Goya, William Adolphe Bouguereau, Camille
   Corot, and Théodore Rousseau.
Guido Reni
 Guido Reni was one of the most influential of the 17th century
   Italian painters, enjoying the highest reputation during his
   lifetime and remaining one of the great painters of the Catholic
   Counter-Reformation. In his religious paintings he was
   concerned with the expression of intense emotion; his subjects
   often had upraised eyes conveying a state of ecstasy or divine

   James the Greater, one of the twelve Apostles and brother of
   John the Evangelist, was among the circle of men closest to
   Christ. Here, the saint is shown as Christ´s Apostle: bearded,
   with his dark hair parted and falling on either side in the manner
   of Christ. Resting in the crook of his arm is the pilgrim´s staff,
   one of his attributes.
Pier Jacopo Alari-Bonacolsi
 In the late 15th century, Isabella d´Este and her
  husband, Gianfrancesco Ganzaga, gathered poets,
  painters, and sculptors at their sophisticated court in
  Mantua to assist with their studies of ancient art. One
  such sculptor was Pier Jacopo Alari-Bonacolsi, who
  earned his nickname, Antico, for the remarkable
  small bronzes he made in the antique style. This
  example, one of the few in the United States, shows
  Hercules as an idealized male nude, just after slaying
  the Nemean lion, the first of his 12 labors.

 Hercules Resting after Slaying the Nemean Lion
Carlo Dolci
 Carlo Dolci was deeply devout even as a child, and intense
   religious feeling was the guiding force behind his art. Many of
   his paintings were inscribed with prayers and intended to inspire
   spiritual fervor in those who beheld them. His great piety is
   illustrated by the fact that during Easter Week, Dolci would paint
   only scenes relating to Christ´s Passion. His painstaking
   technique and the meticulous care with which he rendered every
   detail of his compositions brought him great patronage. Some of
   his works attained the status of venerated images and remain
   among the most popular devotional pictures within Catholicism.

 Virgin and Child with the Infant Saint John the Baptist
Frans Hals
 One of the great 17th-century Dutch artists was Frans Hals, who
  achieved some renown early in his career but died an
  impoverished man. Not until the 19th century, when artists
  began to appreciate his unprecedented manner of applying thick
  paint with spontaneous, free brush strokes, was his reputation
  secured. A wonderful painter of portraits and scenes of
  everyday life, Hals is best remembered for his bravura studies of
  the Dutch bourgeoisie, including a series of nine group portraits
  of Haarlem civic guards. In the 1630´, Hals´s printings became
  more somber as in this penetrating portrait, one half of a
  husband-and-wife pair.

 Portrait of an Elderly Woman
 Painted views of towns and landscapes were
  enormously popular in the 18th century. Travelers to
  Italy eagerly sought accurate and detailed records of
  their visits to Rome, Florence, Venice, and Naples.
  Canaletto was the most famous painter of vedute
  (Italian for "views") at the time. His ability to capture
  the light, the life, the buildings, and the expanse of
  Venice established his reputation as one of the
  greatest topographical painters of all time.

 The Entrance to the Grand Canal, Venice
Pompeo Batoni
 Pompeo Batoni´s paintings were especially popular
  among English visitors to Italy in the 18th century:
  Lady Anna Riggs Miller´s declaration that he was
  "esteemed the best portrait painter in the world" is
  typical of contemporary estimations of his talent. This
  portrait of William Fermor in a red velvet coat lined
  with lynx (a type worn in Italy in the winter by the
  British) demonstrates Batoni´s ability to create a
  striking and memorable likeness.

 William Fermor
Mattia Preti
 Mattia Preti is one of the founders of the Neopolitan Baroque
  style. Born in Calabria in southern Italy, he worked in Rome and
  then moved to Naples in about 1656, at a cosmopolitan period
  in that City´s artistic history. One of a set of three paintings
  commissioned by a Flemish merchant living in Naples, this work
  demonstrates Preti´s powerful style. He depicts the beheading
  of Saint Paul at its most tense moment: the saint bows his head
  just as the executioner begins to unsheathe the sword. The
  close placement of twisted figures in the foreground heightened
  by sharp contrasts of light and shadow, created the scene´s
  dramatic immediacy.
 The Martyrdom of Saint Paul
Ferdinand Bol
 The most likely interpretation of this painting is that
  the handsome woman admiring herself represents a
  personification of the vice of Vanity, or Vanitas. The
  term vanitas (Latin for "emptiness") derives from the
  admonition in the Old Testament book of
  Ecclesiastes: "Vanity of vanities; all is vanity." The
  vanitas theme was a well-known subject in 17th-
  century Dutch art and was intended to symbolize the
  transitory nature of earthly life and the inevitability of
 Woman at Her Dressing Table
The Blaffer Foundation Collection
 The collection of the Sarah
  Campbell Blaffer Foundation was
  originally established by Houston
  art patron Sarah Campbell Blaffer
  (1885—1975). In 1993, the
  foundation agreed to place some
  of its finest works on long-term
  exhibition at the MFAH.
  Five galleries in the Beck Building
  are devoted to presenting this
  outstanding collection of European
  art. The highlights include works by
  Lucas Cranach the Elder, Sandro
  Botticelli, Pietro Longhi, Sir Joshua
  Reynolds, Thomas Gainsborough,
  and Jean-Baptiste Oudry.
Bonaventure de Bar
    The figures are treated in a more robust and realistic manner
    than in the work of other followers of Watteau. Only the woman
    in the center, whose sumptuous silk dress is emphasized by a
    lighting that brings out all its brilliance, wears a costume
    unsuitable for this resolutely rustic site. But at the same time, de
    Bar manages to retain a poetry and a subtlety that bear
    comparison to Watteau´s work. As with Watteau, the
    represented action is not clearly indicated, and the spectator´s
    imagination is free to invent a story for the figures in the picture
    and to be filled with the painting´s sensitive, delicate

 Fête Champêtre
Sir Anthony van Dyck
 By the 17th century, portraits were in great demand
  among Europe´s merchant and militia classes as well
  as its nobility. Born in Flanders, Sir Anthony van Dyck
  was one of the leading portraitists of the time, famous
  for creating flattering but incisive character studies.
  Imbuing his subjects with dignity and refinement, van
  Dyck became particularly popular among aristocrats
  during his sojourns in England in the 1630s. His
  grand style influenced English portrait painting for two
  centuries. This sympathetic work depicts Antoine
  Triest, a bishop of Ghent who was also an art
  collector. The bold brushwork in indebted to Rubens,
  with whom van Dyck worked as a young man, while
  the pose and color derive from the Italian painter
Sandro Botticelli
 Sandro Botticelli oversaw an active workshop, producing
  hundreds of paintings, especially devotional images of the Virgin
  and Child, over the course of his career. Very few of Botticelli´s
  paintings are signed or dated, and it is often difficult to
  determine his authorship. This painting belongs to his late
  period, which is particularly enigmatic. Some scholars attribute
  this work entirely to Botticelli, but it may also have been
  executed in part by his assistants. The round painting, or tondo,
  shows the Virgin Mary adoring the infant Jesus, while Saint
  Joseph sleeps. On the right are the devoted shepherds, and in
  the background, on the left, the Holy Family flees into Egypt.
 Adoration of the Christ Child
Hieronymus Bosch
 The patron saint of travelers, Christopher was one of
    the most popular figures in the late Middle Ages.
    According to legend, this giant figure, guided by a
    hermit (here visible on the bank, holding his lantern),
    served Christ by carrying travelers across a river.
    One night Christopher carried the Christ Child himself
    and struggled under the weight of the world. The
    artist has elaborated the story with nightmarish
    symbols of a sinful world.
    Saint Christopher Carrying the Christ Child through a
    Sinful World
Melchior d´Hondecoeter
 Melchior d´Hondecoeter specialized in paintings of
  animals and birds. It is unusual for animal paintings
  to have literary references, but this work illustrates an
  ancient Greek fable. Zeus planned to choose the
  most handsome bird to be king over the others. The
  crow, or jackdaw, realizing how plain he was,
  fastened feathers molted by other birds all over his
  body. Zeus was about to award him the throne
  because of his splendid appearance when the other
  birds, indignant at the deception, plucked all the
  borrowed plumes from the pretender, returning him to
  his natural, unimpressive state.
 The Crow Exposed
Alessandro Magnasco
 The works of Genoese artist Alessandro Magnasco are marked
  by a bravura painting technique scarcely matched in his time.
  Forms are suggested rather than defined, and drips and flicks of
  paint attest to the energy with which he created his paintings.
  Magnasco´s subject matter is also unusual: the paintings are
  peopled by elongated figures, often monks, pilgrims, and
  peasants, engaged in sometimes enigmatic activities. Here,
  peasants led by a monk or hermit kneel around a strange altar,
  upon which rest a skull, two candles, and a column topped by a
  cross. The group gathers at water´s edge in a wild and
  mountainous setting.

 Worshippers at a Shrine in a Mountainous Landscape
Lucas Cranach
 Lucas Cranach and his workshop painted dozens of
  versions of the story of Lucretia, the ancient Roman
  heroine who took her own life after being raped. This
  painting was probably one of the primary versions of
  the subject because inscribed on the ledge behind
  the figure of Lucretia is Cranach´s monogram, and,
  most unusual, the date of the painting´s execution.
  Cranach was an enormously successful artist who
  worked for the Saxon princes and courtiers in
  Wittenberg, Germany. His paintings of subjects from
  Roman mythology and classical history that featured
  nude women were particularly popular.
 Suicide of Lucretia

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