Rembrandt

Dutch painter and etcher Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn sadly passed away on 4th October 1669. He was born 15 July 1606. His contributions to art came during a period of great wealth and cultural achievement that historians call the Dutch Golden Age which was very different to the Baroque style that dominated Europe, he was extremely prolific and innovative. As a boy he attended Latin school and was enrolled at the University of Leiden, although according to a contemporary he had a greater inclination towards painting and was soon apprenticed to a Leiden history painter, Jacob van Swanenburgh, with whom he spent three years. After a brief but important apprenticeship of six months with the famous painter Pieter Lastman in Amsterdam, Rembrandt opened a studio in Leiden in 1624 or 1625, which he shared with friend and colleague Jan Lievens. In 1627, Rembrandt began to accept students, among them Gerrit Dou. In 1629, Rembrandt was discovered by the statesman Constantijn Huygens, the father of Dutch mathematician and physicist Christiaan Huygens, who procured commissions from the court of The Hague. As a result of this connection, Prince Frederik Hendrik continued to purchase paintings from Rembrandt until 1646.

In 1631 Rembrandt moved to Amsterdam, then rapidly expanding as the new business capital of the Netherlands, and began work as a professional portrait artist with great success. Throughout his career the themes of portraiture, landscape and narrative painting were his primary subjects and he produced over 600 paintings, nearly 400 etchings and 2,000 drawings including a number of biblical works, including The Raising of the Cross, Joseph Telling His Dreams and The Stoning of Saint Stephen, he was especially praised by his contemporaries, who extolled him as a masterly interpreter of biblical stories for his skill in representing emotions and attention to detail.During Rembrandt’s Leiden period (1625–1631) his Paintings were rather small, but rich in details (for example, in costumes and jewelry). Religious and allegorical themes were favored. In 1626 Rembrandt produced his first etchings, the wide dissemination of which would largely account for his international fame In 1629 he completed Judas Repentant, Returning the Pieces of Silver and The Artist in His Studio, works that evidence his interest in the handling of light and variety of paint application, and constitute the first major progress in his development as a painter.

Between 1632 and 1636 Rembrandt painted dramatic biblical and mythological scenes in high contrast and of large format (The Blinding of Samson, 1636, Belshazzar’s Feast, c. 1635 Danaë, 1636), seeking to emulate the baroque style of Rubens. With the occasional help of assistants in his workshop, he painted numerous portrait commissions both small (Jacob de Gheyn III) and large (Portrait of the Shipbuilder Jan Rijcksen and his Wife, 1633, Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp, By the late 1630s Rembrandt had produced a few paintings and many etchings of landscapes. Often these landscapes highlighted natural drama, featuring uprooted trees and ominous skies (Cottages before a Stormy Sky, and The Three Trees. From 1640 his work became less exuberant and more sober in tone, possibly reflecting personal tragedy. Biblical scenes were now derived more often from the New Testament than the Old Testament, as had been the case before. In 1642 he painted The Night Watch and in the decade following the Night Watch, Rembrandt’s paintings varied greatly in size, subject, and style. The previous tendency to create dramatic effects primarily by strong contrasts of light and shadow gave way to the use of frontal lighting and larger and more saturated areas of color.

However these graphic works of natural drama eventually made way for quiet Dutch rural scenes and by the 1650s, Rembrandt’s style changed again. Colors became richer and brush strokes more pronounced. With these changes, Rembrandt distanced himself from earlier work and current fashion, which increasingly inclined toward fine, detailed works. In later years biblical themes were still depicted often, but emphasis shifted from dramatic group scenes to intimate portrait-like figures (James the Apostle, 1661). In his last years, Rembrandt painted his most deeply reflective self-portraits, and several moving images of both men and women in love, in life, and before God.Although he achieved youthful success as a portrait painter, Rembrandt’s later years were marked by personal tragedy and financial hardships. Yet his etchings and paintings were popular throughout his lifetime, his reputation as an artist remained high, and for twenty years he taught many important Dutch painters. Rembrandt’s greatest creative triumphs are exemplified especially in his portraits of his contemporaries, self-portraits and illustrations of scenes from the Bible. His self-portraits form a unique and intimate biography, in which the artist surveyed himself without vanity and with the utmost sincerity. In his paintings and prints he exhibited knowledge of classical iconography, which he molded to fit the requirements of his own experience; thus, the depiction of a biblical scene was informed by Rembrandt’s knowledge of the specific text, his assimilation of classical composition, and his observations of Amsterdam’s Jewish population, his legacy lives on in the form of many wonderful paintings and because of his empathy for the human condition, he is also sometimes referred to as “one of the great prophets of civilization.”

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Caravaggio

Italian artist Michelangelo Merisi or Amerighi da Caravaggio was born 29 September 1571 in Milan where his father, Fermo (Fermo Merixio), was a household administrator and architect-decorator to the Marchese of Caravaggio, a town not far from the city of Bergamo.[ His mother, Lucia Aratori (Lutia de Oratoribus), came from a nearby property owning family. In 1576 the family moved to Caravaggio (Caravaggius) to escape a plague that ravaged Milan, of which Caravaggio’s father and grandfather both died in 1577. The artist grew up in Caravaggio, but his family kept up connections with the Sforzas and with the powerful Colonna family, who were allied by marriage with the Sforzas and destined to play a major role later in Caravaggio’s life.

Caravaggio’s mother died in 1584, and following her death he began his four-year apprenticeship to the Milanese painter Simone Peterzano, described in the contract of apprenticeship as a pupil of Titian. Caravaggio stayed in the Milan-Caravaggio area after his apprenticeship ended, and visited Venice where he saw the works of Giorgione, he became familiar with the art treasures of Milan, including Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper, and with the regional Lombard art, Which used simplicity and attention to naturalistic detail and was closer to the naturalism of Germany than to the stylised formality and grandeur of Roman Mannerism. Following his initial training under Simone Peterzano, in 1592 Caravaggio left Milan for Rome, in flight after “certain quarrels” and the wounding of a police officer.

In Rome he forged some extremely important friendships, with the painter Prospero Orsi, the architect Onorio Longhi, and the sixteen-year-old Sicilian artist Mario Minniti. Orsi, established in the profession, introduced him to influential collectors; while Longhi, introduced him to the dubious world of Roman street-brawls. A few months later he was painting for the highly successful Giuseppe Cesari, Pope Clement VIII’s favourite artist, “painting flowers and fruit” and developed a considerable name as an artist, In Rome there was demand for paintings to fill the many huge new churches and palazzos being built at the time. It was also a period when the Church was searching for a stylistic alternative to Mannerism in religious art that was tasked to counter the threat of Protestantism. Caravaggio’s innovation was a radical naturalism that combined close physical observation with a dramatic, even theatrical, use of chiaroscuro that came to be known as tenebrism. Minniti served Caravaggio as a model and, years later, would be instrumental in helping him to obtain important commissions in Sicily. Known works from this period include a small Boy Peeling a Fruit (his earliest known painting), a Boy with a Basket of Fruit, and the Young Sick Bacchus, supposedly a self-portrait done during convalescence from a serious illness that ended his employment with Cesari.

Caravaggio led a tumultuous life and was a violent amd easily provoked individual. He was jailed on several occasions, vandalized his own apartment, and ultimately had a death warrant issued for him by the Pope. He was also notorious for brawling, even in a time and place when such behavior was commonplace, and the transcripts of his police records and trial proceedings fill several pages. In 1606, he killed, possibly unintentionally, a young man named Ranuccio Tomassoni from Terni (Umbria). The circumstances of the brawl and the death of Ranuccio Tomassoni remain mysterious. Several contemporary avvisi referred to a quarrel over a gambling debt and a tennis game. Whatever the details, it was a serious matter. Previously his high-placed patrons had protected him from the consequences of his escapades, but this time they could do nothing. Caravaggio, outlawed, fled from Rome to Naples.

In Naples, outside the jurisdiction of the Roman authorities Caravaggio was protected by the Colonna family. Whose connections led to a stream of important church commissions, including the Madonna of the Rosary, and The Seven Works of Mercy, this painting depicts the seven corporal works of mercy as a set of compassionate acts concerning the material needs of others. The painting is still housed in, the church of Pio Monte della Misericordia in Naples. Caravaggio combined all seven works of mercy in one composition which became the church’s altarpiece. Despite his success in Naples, after only a few months in the city Caravaggio left for Malta, the headquarters of the Knights of Malta, presumably hoping that the patronage of Alof de Wignacourt, Grand Master of the Knights, could help him secure a pardon for Tomassoni’s death. De Wignacourt proved so impressed at having the famous artist as official painter to the Order that he inducted him as a knight, and the early biographer Bellori records that the artist was well pleased with his success. Major works from his Malta period include a huge Beheading of Saint John the Baptist (the only painting to which he put his signature) and a Portrait of Alof de Wignacourt and his Page, as well as portraits of other leading knights. In 1608 he was arrested and imprisoned as the result of yet another brawl, during which the door of a house was battered down and a knight seriously wounded. He was imprisoned by the knights and managed to escape. By December he had been expelled from the Order “as a foul and rotten member.”

In 1607 Caravaggio made his way from Naples to Sicily To gain a papal pardon for his sentence. In Sicilly met his old friend Mario Minniti, who was now married and living in Syracuse. Together they set off on what amounted to a triumphal tour from Syracuse to Messina and, maybe, on to the island capital, Palermo. In Syracuse and Messina Caravaggio continued to win prestigious and well-paid commissions. Among other works from this period are Burial of St. Lucy, The Raising of Lazarus, and Adoration of the Shepherds. His style continued to evolve, showing now friezes of figures isolated against vast empty backgrounds. “His great Sicilian altarpieces isolate their shadowy, pitifully poor figures in vast areas of darkness; they suggest the desperate fears and frailty of man, and at the same time convey, with a new yet desolate tenderness, the beauty of humility and of the meek, who shall inherit the earth.”.

In 1609 After only nine months in Sicily, an increasingly paranoid Caravaggio returned to Naples. He was being pursued by enemies while in Sicily and felt it safest to place himself under the protection of the Colonnas until he could secure his pardon from the pope (now Paul V) and return to Rome. In Naples he painted The Denial of Saint Peter, a final John the Baptist (Borghese), and his last picture, The Martyrdom of Saint Ursula. In Naples, an attempt was made on his life which seriously disfigured his face. He painted a Salome with the Head of John the Baptist (Madrid), showing his own head on a platter, and sent it to de Wignacourt, he also painted David with the Head of Goliath, which he sent to the art-loving Cardinal Scipione Borghese, nephew of the pope, who had the power to grant or withhold pardons.

Throughout his life Caravaggio displayed bizarre behaviour, and courted controvery. this seems to have increased after Malta and Questions about his mental state arose from his erratic and bizarre behavior. In the summer of 1610 he took a boat northwards to receive the pardon, which seemed imminent thanks to his powerful Roman friends. With him were three last paintings, gifts for Cardinal Scipione.

Caravaggio sadly died 18 July 1610 at the age of 38, under mysterious circumstances in Porto Ercole, while on his way to Rome to receive a pardon. Reports stated that he died of a fever, but suggestions have been made that he was murdered or that he died of lead poisoning. Recent research suggest that the artist died on that day of a fever in Porto Ercole, near Grosseto in Tuscany. Human remains found in a church in Porto Ercole in 2010 are believed to almost certainly belong to Caravaggio. Some argue that Caravaggio was murdered by the same “enemies” that had been pursuing him since he fled Malta, possibly Wignacourt and/or factions in the Order of St. John. During his life, Caravaggio’s innovations inspired many Baroque paintings and his influence on the new Baroque style can be seen in the work of Rubens, Jusepe de Ribera, Bernini, Rembrandt and the “Caravaggisti” or “Caravagesques”, as well as Tenebrists or “Tenebrosi” (“shadowists”) who incorporated the drama of chiaroscuro without the psychological realism.

Edgar Degas

Famous for his work in painting, sculpture, printmaking and regarded as one of the founders of Impressionism, the French artist Edgar Degas sadly died 27 September 1917. he was Born 19th July 1834 in Paris, France. He was the oldest of five children of Célestine Musson De Gas, a Creole from New Orleans, Louisiana, and Augustin De Gas, a banker. His maternal grandfather Germain Musson, was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti of French descent and had settled in New Orleans in 1810.

Degas began his schooling in 1845 enrolling in the Lycée Louis-le-Grand. His mother died when he was thirteen, and his father and grandfather became the main influences on him for the remainder of his youth. Degas began to paint early in life and became a superb draftsman. By the time he graduated from the Lycée with a baccalauréat in literature in 1853, at age 18, he had turned a room in his home into an artist’s studio. Upon graduating, he registered as a copyist in The Louvre Museum, but his father expected him to go to law school. Degas duly enrolled at the Faculty of Law of the University of Paris in November 1853. In 1855 he met Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, whom Degas revered and whose advice he never forgot: “Draw lines, young man, and still more lines, both from life and from memory, and you will become a good artist” in 1855 Degas was admitted to the École des Beaux-Arts. He studied drawing there with Louis Lamothe. Early in his career, he wanted to be a history painter, a calling for which he was well prepared by his rigorous academic training and close study of classic art.

In July 1856, Degas traveled to Italy. In 1858, while staying with his aunt’s family in Naples, he made the first studies for his early masterpiece The Bellelli Family. He also drew and painted numerous copies of works by Michelangelo, Raphael, Titian, and other Renaissance artists. Degas returned to France in 1859, and moved into a large Paris studio And began painting The Bellelli Family, intended for exhibition in the Salon. He also began work on several history paintings: Alexander and Bucephalus and The Daughter of Jephthah, Sémiramis Building Babylon and Young Spartans.

In 1861 Degas visited his childhood friend Paul Valpinçon in Normandy, and made the earliest of his many studies of horses. He exhibited at the Salon for the first time in 1865, exhibiting the painting Scene of War in the Middle Ages and continued to exhibit paintings at the Salon for the next five years including “Steeplechase—The Fallen Jockey”. Degas then abruptly changed subject matter bringing the traditional methods of a history painter to bear on contemporary subject matter, he became a classical painter of modern life. This was inspired in part by Édouard Manet, whom Degas had met in 1864 (while both were copying the same Velázquez portrait in the Louvre.

During the Franco-Prussian War Degas enlisted in the National Guard, where his defense of Paris left him little time for painting. Sadly his eyesight hindered him. In 1872 Degas visited New Orleans, Louisiana, where his brother René and a number of other relatives lived. Staying at the home of his Creole uncle, Michel Musson, on Esplanade Avenue, Degas produced a number of works, including A Cotton Office in New Orleans, many depicted family members.

In 1873 Degas returned to Paris sadly though his father died in 1874. Degas also learned that his brother René had amassed enormous business debts. To preserve his family’s reputation, Degas sold his house and an art collection he had inherited, and used the money to pay off his brother’s debt. In 1874 joined a group of young artists including Monet, who were organizing an independent exhibiting society. The group soon became known as the Impressionists. Between 1874 and 1886 they mounted eight art shows, known as the Impressionist Exhibitions. However Degas deeply disliked being associated with the term “Impressionist”, which the press had coined and popularized, and insisted on including non-Impressionist artists such as Jean-Louis Forain and Jean-François Raffaëlli in the group’s exhibitions and The group was disbanded in 1886. Degas also began collecting works by artists he admired: such as El Greco, Manet, Pissarro, Cézanne, Gauguin, Van Gogh, Édouard Brandon, Ingres, Delacroix, and Daumier. In the late 1880s, Degas also developed a passion for photography. Photographing many of his friends, including Renoir and Mallarmé. He also photographed dancers and nudes, which he used for reference in some of his drawings and paintings.

Much of Degas works depict dancers. These display his mastery in the depiction of movement, as do his racecourse subjects and female nudes. His portraits are notable for their psychological complexity and depiction of human isolation. Some of Degas’s work was controversial, but was generally admired for its draftsmanship. His La Petite Danseuse de Quatorze Ans, or Little Dancer of Fourteen Years, which he displayed at the sixth Impressionist exhibition in 1881, was probably his most controversial piece. The suite of pastels depicting nudes that Degas exhibited in the eighth Impressionist Exhibition in 1886 produced “the most concentrated body of critical writing on the artist during his lifetime however The overall reaction was positive and Degas soon joined forces with the Impressionists, and rejected the rigid rules, judgements, and elitism of the Salon In favour of the the experimentalism of the Impressionists.

Degas held the view that a painter could have no personal life, Consequently Degas became isolated. Then The Dreyfus Affair controversy brought his anti-Semitic leanings to the fore and he broke with all his Jewish friends this together with his argumentative nature alienated him from most of his friends. Between 1907 and 1910 he Continued working in pastel and making Sculptures but he ceased working in 1912, when the impending demolition of his longtime residence on the rue Victor Massé forced him to move to quarters on Boulevard de Cliche. He spent the last years of his life, nearly blind, restlessly wandering the streets of Paris.

During Degas’ life, public reception to his work ranged from admiration to contempt. As a promising artist in the conventional mode, Degas had a number of paintings accepted in the Salon between 1865 and 1870. These works received praise from Pierre Puvis de Chavannes and the critic, Jules-Antoine Castagnary And his dynamic paintings and sketches of everyday life and activities, and his bold color experiments, served to finally tie him to the Impressionist movement as one of its greatest artists and Degas is now considered “one of the founders of Impressionism”. Though his work crossed many stylistic boundaries, his involvement with the other major figures of Impressionism and their exhibitions. His paintings, pastels, drawings, and sculptures are on prominent display in many museums and he also greatly influenced several important painters, most notably Jean-Louis Forain, Mary Cassatt, and Walter Sickert and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.

Henri de Toulouse Lautrec

Post impressionist French painter, printmaker, draughtsman and illustrator Henri Marie Raymond de Toulouse-Lautrec-Monfa Sadly passed away 9 September 1901 at the age of 36 from complications due to alcoholism and syphilis. He was born 24 November 1864. Henri’s parents, the Comte and Comtesse, were first cousins (Henri’s two grandmothers were sisters) and unfortunately Henri suffered from congenital health conditions sometimes attributed to a family history of inbreeding. At the age of 13 Henri fractured his right thigh bone and, at 14, the left. The breaks did not heal properly. Modern physicians attribute this to an unknown genetic disorder, possibly pycnodysostosis (also sometimes known as Toulouse-Lautrec Syndrome), or a variant disorder along the lines of osteopetrosis, achondroplasia, or osteogenesis imperfecta. Rickets aggravated with praecox virilism has also been suggested. His legs ceased to grow, so that as an adult he was extremely short. He had developed an adult-sized torso, while retaining his child-sized legs. He is reported to have had hypertrophied genitals.

Physically unable to participate in many activities Toulouse-Lautrec immersed himself in art. He became an important Post-Impressionistpainter, art nouveau illustrator, and lithographer, and recorded in his works many details of the late-19th-century bohemian lifestyle in Paris. Toulouse-Lautrec contributed a number of illustrations to the magazine Le Rire during the mid-1890s.After failing college entrance exams, Henri passed at his second attempt and completed his studies. During a stay in Nice his progress in painting and drawing impressed Princeteau, who persuaded his parents to let him return to Paris and study under the acclaimed portrait painter Léon Bonnat. Henri’s mother had high ambitions and, with the aim of Henri becoming a fashionable and respected painter, used the family influence to get him into Bonnat’s studio.Toulouse-Lautrec was drawn to Montmartre, the area of Paris famous for its bohemian lifestyle and the haunt of artists, writers, and philosophers. Studying with Bonnat placed Henri in the heart of Montmartre, an area he rarely left over the next 20 years.

After Bonnat took a new job, Henri moved to the studio of Fernand Cormon in 1882 and studied for a further five years and established the group of friends he kept for the rest of his life. At this time he met Émile Bernard and Van Gogh. Cormon, whose instruction was more relaxed than Bonnat’s, allowed his pupils to roam Paris, looking for subjects to paint. In this period Toulouse-Lautrec had his first encounter with a prostitute (reputedly sponsored by his friends), which led him to paint his first painting of prostitutes in Montmartre, a woman rumoured to be called Marie-Charlotte.La Toilette. in 1887 he participated in an exposition in Toulouse using the pseudonym “Tréclau”, an anagram of the family name ‘Lautrec’. He later exhibited in Paris with Van Gogh and Louis Anquetin. The Belgian critic Octave Maus invited him to present eleven pieces at the Vingt (the Twenties) exhibition in Brussels in February. Vincent van Gogh’s brother, Theo bought ‘Poudre de Riz’ (Rice Powder) for 150 francs for the Goupil & Ciegallery.

From 1889 until 1894, Henri took part in the “Independent Artists’ Salon” on a regular basis. He made several landscapes of Montmartre, painting a series of pleasant plein-air paintings of Carmen Gaudin, the red-head model who appears in The Laundress (1888) in the garden of Monsieur Pere Foret.Toulouse-Lautrec was also commissioned to produce a series of posters for the Moulin Rouge. Other artists looked down on the work, but Henri was so aristocratic he did not care. The cabaret reserved a seat for him and displayed his paintings. Among the well-known works that he painted for the Moulin Rouge and other Parisian nightclubs are depictions of the singer Yvette Guilbert; the dancer Louise Weber, known as the outrageousLa Goulue (“The Glutton”), who created the “French Can-Can”; and the much more subtle dancer Jane Avrill. Toulouse-Lautrec also travelled to London. Making posters in London led him to making the ‘Confetti’ poster, and the bicycle advert ‘La Chaîne Simpson’.While in London he met and befriended Oscar Wilde. When Wilde faced imprisonment in Britain, Henri was a very vocal supporter of Wilde. Toulouse-Lautrec’s portrait of Wilde was painted the same year as Wilde’s trial.

Throughout his career, Toulouse-Lautrec created 737 canvases, 275 watercolours, 363 prints and posters, 5,084 drawings, some ceramic and stained glass work, and an unknown number of lost works. His debt to the Impressionists, in particular the more figurative painters Manet and Degas, is apparent. His style was influenced by the classical Japanese woodprints which became popular in art circles in Paris. In his works can be seen parallels to Manet’s detached barmaid at A Bar at the Folies-Bergère and the behind-the-scenes ballet dancers of Degas. He excelled at capturing people in their working environment, with the colour and the movement of the gaudy night-life present but the glamour stripped away. He was masterly at capturing crowd scenes in which the figures are highly individualized. At the time that they were painted, the individual figures in his larger paintings could be identified by silhouette alone, and the names of many of these characters have been recorded. His treatment of his subject matter, whether as portraits, scenes of Parisian night-life, or intimate studies, has been described as both sympathetic and dispassionate.

Toulouse-Lautrec’s painting style is highly linear and gives great emphasis to contour. He often applied the paint in long, thin brushstrokes which would often leave much of the board on which they are painted showing through. Many of his works may best be described as drawings in coloured paint. Due to his illness Lautrec was rather short and was mocked for his short stature and physical appearance, which led him to drown his sorrows in alcohol.At first this was beer and wine, but his tastes expanded. He was one of the notable Parisians who enjoyed American-style cocktails, France being a nation of wine purists. He had parties at his house on Friday nights and forced his guests to try them. The invention of the cocktail “Earthquake” or Tremblement de Terre is attributed to Toulouse-Lautrec: a potent mixture containing half absinthe and half cognac (in a wine goblet, 3 parts Absinthe and 3 parts Cognac, sometimes served with ice cubes or shaken in a cocktail shaker filled with ice).In 1893 Lautrec’s alcoholism began to take its toll, and as those around him realized the seriousness of his condition there were rumours of a syphilis infection. In 1899 his mother and some concerned friends had him briefly institutionalised. He even had a cane that hid alcohol so that a drink was always available.

. His immersion in the colourful and theatrical life of Paris in the late 1800s yielded a collection of exciting, elegant and provocative images of the modern and sometimes decadent life of those times. Toulouse-Lautrec – along with Cézanne, Van Gogh and Gauguin – is among the most well-known painters of the Post-Impressionist period. In a 2005 auction at Christie’s auction house, a new record was set when La blanchisseuse, an early painting of a young laundress, sold for $22.4 million U.S. Toulouse Lautrec was placed in a sanatorium shortly before his death and died at the family estate in Malromé He is buried in Verdelais, Gironde, a few kilometres from the Château Malromé, where he died. After His death, his mother, the Comtesse Adèle Toulouse-Lautrec, and Maurice Joyant, his art dealer, promoted his art. His mother contributed funds for a museum to be created in Albi, his birthplace, to house his works. The Toulouse-Lautrec Museum owns the world’s largest collection of works by the painter.

Henri Rouseau

French Post-Impressionist painter Henri Julien Félix Rousseau sadly died 2 September 1910 at the hospital Necker in Paris. He was born May 21, 1844 in Laval, France into the family of a plumber; and was forced to work there as a small boy. He attended Laval High School as a day student and then as a boarder, after his father became a debtor and his parents had to leave the town upon the seizure of their house. He was mediocre in some subjects but won prizes for drawing and music. He worked for a lawyer and studied law, but after committing perjury he Joined the army, in 1863 serving for four years. After his father’s death, Rousseau moved to Paris in 1868 to support his widowed mother as a government employee. In 1868, he married Clémence Boitard, his landlord’s 15 year-old daughter, with whom he had six children (only one survived). In 1871, he was appointed as a collector of the octroi of Paris, collecting taxes on goods entering Paris. His wife died in 1888 and he married Josephine Noury in 1898. He started painting seriously in his early forties, and by age 49 he retired from his job to work on his art full-time

His best known paintings depict jungle scenes, even though he never left France or saw a jungle. Stories spread by admirers that his army service included the French expeditionary force to Mexico are unfounded. His inspiration came from illustrated books and the botanical gardens in Paris, as well as tableaux of taxidermied wild animals. He had also met soldiers during his term of service who had survived the French expedition to Mexico, and he listened to their stories of the subtropical country they had encountered. To the critic Arsène Alexandre, he described his frequent visits to the Jardin des Plantes: “When I go into the glass houses and I see the strange plants of exotic lands, it seems to me that I enter into a dream.”Along with his exotic scenes there was a concurrent output of smaller topographical images of the city and its suburbs.He claimed to have invented a new genre of portrait landscape, which he achieved by starting a painting with a view such as a favourite part of the city, and then depicting a person in the foreground.

In 1905, Rousseau’s large jungle scene The Hungry Lion Throws Itself on the Antelope was exhibited at the Salon des Indépendants near works by younger leading avant-garde artists such as Henri Matisse in what is now seen as the first showing of The Fauves. Rousseau’s painting may even have influenced the naming of the Fauves. When Pablo Picasso happened upon a painting by Rousseau being sold on the street as a canvas to be painted over, the younger artist instantly recognised Rousseau’s genius and went to meet him. In 1908 Picasso held a half serious, half burlesque banquet in his studio in Le Bateau-Lavoir in Rousseau’s honour. After Rousseau’s retirement in 1893, he supplemented his small pension with part-time jobs and work such as playing a violin in the streets. He also worked briefly at Le petit journal, where he produced a number of its covers. Rousseau exhibited his final painting, The Dream, at the 1910 Salon des Independantsa few months before his death. At his funeral, seven friends stood at his grave in the Cimetière de Bagneux: the painters Paul Signac and Manuel Ortiz de Zárate, the artist couple Robert Delaunay and Sonia Terk, the sculptor Brâncuşi, Rousseau’s landlord Armand Queval and Guillaume Apollinaire. During his life Rousseau was also known as Le Douanier (the customs officer), a humorous description of his occupation as a toll collector and although he was Ridiculed during his lifetime, he came to be recognized as a self-taught genius whose works are of high artistic quality.

Roger Dean

Known primarily for the dreamy, other-worldly fantasy scenes created for various bands including Yes, Asia and Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe, the English fantasy artist, designer, and publisher William Roger Dean was born on 31 August 1944 in Ashford, Kent. His mother studied dress design at Canterbury School of Art before her marriage and his father was an engineer in the British Army. He has three siblings, brother Martyn and sisters Penny and Philippa. Much of Dean’s childhood was spent in Greece, Cyprus, and, from age 12 to 15, Hong Kong, so his father could carry out army duties. Dean was very keen on natural history as a child, and Chinese landscape art and feng shui became particular influences on him during his time in Hong Kong. He has cited landscape, “and the pathways through it”, as his greatest influence and source of inspiration for his exotic, fantasy landscapes.

In 1959, the family returned to England, Dean attended Ashford Grammar School followed by his entry in 1961 to Canterbury School of Art studying silversmithing and furniture design and graduated with a National Diploma in Design. He also began studying industrial design. As the school was trying to become accredited in the subject, Dean bypassed its foundation level course but disliked the way the subject was taught and questioned the teachers as to why people had to live in “boxes” and their response in that “form follows function”. in 1965 Dean enrolled at the Royal College of Art in London. to study furniture design and became a student of Professor David Pye. Among his research was the “psychology of architecture” and what made people feel comfortable in buildings.He did a thesis about “producing a sense of tranquillity in domestic architecture”. He graduated from the college in 1968 with a masters with first degree honours, and won a silver medal for “work of special distinction”. He was inspired Rick Griffin’s artwork for Aoxomoxoa (1969) by The Grateful Dead as his “first big visual shock” and bought the album prior to owning a record player.

Yes -Fly From Here

Among Dean’s first successes was his sea urchin chair which compresses and fully adapts to the shape and size of the user. This was inspired by research at the Royal College is a predecessor to the bean bag. Dean was one of the few students picked from the Royal College to design and make objects in famed designer Cherrill Scheer’s factory. The chair remains one of Cherrill’s favourite pieces. It is now a part of the permanent collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum. In 1968, during his third year at the Royal College, Dean helped design a contemporary landscape seating area at the upstairs disco at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club in Soho. This led to the design of his first album cover, The Gun (1968) by rock band The Gun for which owner Ronnie Scott asked him to adapt a demonic-themed design that Dean originally made in his sketchbook for his thesis, for the album’s cover. He then decided to start producing album cover art design. He first began producing covers for various jazz artists for Vertigo Records. Dean also wanted to publish a book on architecture.

In 1970 Dean designed the logo to the independent label Fly Records and also worked on artwork for Marc Bolan. This involved typesetting the liner notes and lyrics by hand with the assistance of a graphic designer. Following this Dean also began handwriting the text for further Bolan singles. Dean also completed a design for Clear Blue Sky (1970) by Clear Blue Sky, involving a painting without typesetting.Following this Dean produced more handwriting, logo, and graphic work for rock bands. He also held a small exhibition of his work in Florence. Dean did the artwork for the cover of Osibisa (1971) by Afro-pop band Osibisa which Dean described as “credible African fairytale imagery” and features “flying elephants”. This was turned into a popular poster by the Big ‘O’ poster company.

Dean sent a portfolio to numerous executives including Phil Carson, the European General Manager of Atlantic Records who decided to use Dean’s artwork for rock acts like, Led Zeppelin and Yes, and hired Dean for the cover of Yes’s fourth album, Fragile. This features a planet which is breaking up, so the inhabitants build a space ark to find another planet to live on while towing the remains of the planet with them”. In 1972, he designed the band’s logo which he came up with during a journey on the Brighton Belle train. Yes guitarist Steve Howe stated, “There is a pretty tight bond between our sound and Roger’s art”. Dean also contributed to Martyn Dean’s stage set designs for the band. During his work for Yessongs (1973), Dean and his printers Tinsley Robor secured a patent for “a way of going from gatefold to any number of pages, folded out of one piece of card” For Yes’s album Relayer (1974), he painted the sleeve in pencil and coloured it with dirty water. Characteristic landscapes show graceful stone arches or floating islands, while many paintings portray organic-seeming habitats, with ornate calligraphic work, logos and titles to go with his paintings.

Dean had an idea for Living in the Third Millennium, a television show about the designs of the future. In 1981, Dean and his brother Martyn had their collaborative design, the Tectonic House, a futuristic and economic home built to last, displayed at the annual International Ideal Home Exhibition in Birmingham. The idea spawned from two ideas: Dean’s earlier designs for a bed and bedroom intended for the safety of children, and Martyn’s “retreat pod” from 1970 that was featured in the Stanley Kubrick film A Clockwork Orange. Dean also collaborated with comic artist Michael Kaluta for the video game The Black Onyx by Henk Rogers for which they produced an estimated 4,000 drawings including ideas for animation, story, music, and motion capture.

In 1985 Dean created cover artwork for some Psygnosis games, including Shadow of the Beast and Obliterator and did the cover art for Tetris Worlds as well as a redesign of the Tetris logo. In 2002 Dean received an honorary doctorate from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco and received an honorary fellowship from the Arts University Bournemouth in 2009. In 2004, Dean started his “Homes for Life” architectural idea, designing affordable futuristic homes that can be mass produced in factories and customised to the user’s tastes. The design is curved based and without right angles. In 2013, Dean filed a legal action in U.S. District Court New York claiming that film director James Cameron was inspired by 14 of his original images in the making the 2009 blockbuster film Avatar. Dean sought damages of $50m. The filmmakers admitted in court to being influenced by the artist’s work, and Dean’s case was dismissed in 2014. In 2013, Dean received a Gold Badge of Merit from the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors.

William Blake

English painter, poet and printmaker William Blake sadly died 12 August 1827. He was born 28 November 1757 at 28 Broad Street (now Broadwick St.) in Soho, London. He attended school only long enough to learn reading and writing, leaving at the age of ten, and was otherwise educated at home by his mother Catherine Wright Armitage Blake. He was baptised on 11 December at St James’s Church, Piccadilly, London. Blake started engraving copies of drawings of Greek antiquities purchased for him by his father, a practice that was preferred to actual drawing. Within these drawings Blake found his first exposure to classical forms through the work of Raphael, Michelangelo, Maarten van Heemskerck and Albrecht Dürer. When William was ten years old, he was enrolled in drawing classes at Pars’s drawing school in the Strand. He read avidly on subjects of his own choosing. During this period, Blake made explorations into poetry; his early work displays knowledge of Ben Jonson, Edmund Spenser, and the Psalms. In 1772, Blake was apprenticed to engraver James Basire of Great Queen Street, at the sum of £52.10, for a term of seven years. At the end of the term, aged 21, he became a professional engraver.

On 8 October 1779, Blake became a student at the Royal Academy in Old Somerset House, near the Strand Where he became a friend of John Flaxman, Thomas Stothard and George Cumberland and shared radical views, with Stothard and Cumberland joining the Society for Constitutional Information. In 1782 Blake met his future wife Catherine Boucher and married her on 18 August 1782 in St Mary’s Church, Battersea. Blake’s first collection of poems, Poetical Sketches, was printed around 1783.After his father’s death, Blake and former fellow apprentice James Parker opened a print shop in 1784, and began working with radical publisher Joseph Johnson, whose house was a meeting-place for some leading English intellectual dissidents of the time: theologian and scientist Joseph Priestley, philosopher Richard Price, artist John Henry Fuseli, early feminist Mary Wollstonecraft and Anglo-American revolutionary Thomas Paine. Along with William Wordsworth and William Godwin. In 1784 Blake composed his unfinished manuscript An Island in the Moon.Blake illustrated Original Stories from Real Life (1788; 1791) by Mary Wollstonecraft and in 1793’s Visions of the Daughters of Albion, Blake condemned the cruel absurdity of enforced chastity and marriage without love and defended the right of women to complete self-fulfilmenti

In 1788, aged 31, Blake experimented with relief etching, a method he used to produce most of his books, paintings, pamphlets and Blake used this process for most of his well-known works, including Songs of Innocence and of Experience, The Book of Thel, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell and Jerusalem. Although Blake has become most famous for his relief etching, his commercial work largely consisted of intaglio engraving, the standard process of engraving in the 18th century in which the artist incised an image into the copper plate, a complex and laborious process.examples of Blake’s intaglio engraving include illustrations of the Book of Job.In 1800, Blake moved to a cottage at Felpham, in Sussex (now West Sussex), to take up a job illustrating the works of William Hayley, a minor poet. It was in this cottage that Blake began work on Milton. Blake had trouble with authority which came to a head in August 1803, when he was involved in a physical altercation with a soldier, John Schofield and was charged not only with assault, but with uttering seditious and treasonable expressions against the king. Blake returned to London in 1804 and began to write and illustrate Jerusalem (1804–20), his most ambitious work. Having conceived the idea of portraying the characters in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. In 1818 he was introduced to a group of artists who called themselves the Shoreham Ancients. The group shared Blake’s rejection of modern trends and his belief in a spiritual and artistic New Age.

Aged 65, Blake’s last years were spent at Fountain Court off the Strand where he began work on illustrations for the Book of Job and was then commissioned to do a series of engravings to illustrate Dante’s Divine Comedy in 1826. Despite being Largely unrecognised during his lifetime and considered mad by his contempories for his idiosyncratic views, Blake is now considered a seminal figure in the history of the poetry and visual arts of the Romantic Age. His paintings and poetry have been characterised as part of the Romantic movement and “Pre-Romantic” and he was placed at number 38 in the BBC’s poll of the 100 Greatest Britons.