September 5, 1774: Caspar David Friedrich is born.Here is a man who has discovered the tragedy of landscape.
June 28, 1577: Peter Paul Rubens is born.
My passion comes from the heavens, not from earthly musings.
June 12, 1890: Egon Schiele is born.
I must see new things and investigate them. I want to taste dark water and see crackling trees and wild winds.
June 10, 1819: Gustave Courbet is born.
Beauty, like truth, is relative to the time when one lives and to the individual who can grasp it.
June 7, 1848: Paul Gauguin is born.
This colorful (with regards to both his art and personality) French post-Impressionist was born in Paris, but he spent much of his early childhood in Lima, Peru, which undoubtedly influenced his later art. In 1888, he spent several months painting in Arles alongside Vincent Van Gogh, with whom he shared a volatile relationship. Like Van Gogh, he suffered from bouts of depression, and Gauguin’s domineering, arrogant personality contributed greatly to Van Gogh’s eventual mental deterioration. Van Gogh’s famous ear-cutting incident occurred after a desperate quarrel with Gauguin, and some even allege that Gauguin himself did the deed; despite this, Gauguin remained in contact with Vincent after leaving Arles. In the 1890s, Gauguin traveled (and eventually settled in) French Polynesia, and the philandering Frenchman found the local women to be worthy painting subjects (as well as worthy subjects for other activities).
In the early years of his career, Gauguin painted with Pissarro and Cézanne and participated in Impressionist exhibitions, but his later works were also highly influential to artists like Matisse, Picasso, and Derain, and the artistic movements to which they belonged. He differed from Van Gogh in one particular (and vital) aspect - whereas Van Gogh’s great muse was nature and his surroundings, Gauguin believed that the artist “should not copy nature too much… Art is an abstraction.”
May 22, 1844: Mary Cassatt is born.
Born in Pennsylvania, this ”grande dame” of Impressionism moved to Paris in her early twenties to hone her artistic talents. In the 1870s, she was invited by Edgar Degas to display her works at an Impressionist exhibition. In joining this group, she befriended Degas himself, as well as Berthe Morisot, another prominent female Impressionist. She ultimately participated in four Impressionist exhibitions, although her paintings differed from those of many of her colleagues in subject matter. Many of her paintings were portraits, especially of women and their children. By the mid-1880s, Cassatt had begun to drift away from strict Impressionism (which itself was overshadowed by the dawn of the 20th century by other more avant-garde movements like Cubism). While she was not well-known in her native country, France did not forget her artistic contributions - she was awarded the Legion d’honneur in 1904.
May 15, 1848: Viktor Vasnetsov is born.
Viktor Vasnetsov was a Russian artist, primarily known for his paintings of historical figures, religious subjects, and perhaps most of all, his depictions of the folklore and mythology of Russia. It was not until Vasnetsov moved to Paris from Saint Petersburg, however, that he developed a fascination with these subjects. He was also a member of the Peredvizhniki (Передви́жники), a group of realist artists who favored reform and realistic portrayals of the common Russian people - although Vasnetsov himself was criticized for “undermining” their principles. But even if he did not adhere entirely to the agenda of these “Wanderers”, Vasnetsov developed his own distinct style that bridged the gap between the rich culture of Russia’s past and the changing landscape of its present and future.
April 6, 1483: Raphael is born in Urbino.
The son of a court painter, Raffaello Sanzio was one of the “Big Three” of the High Renaissance, but between Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and Raphael, our man Rafa was probably the most productive. He eventually accumulated a strikingly high number of pupils and assistants in his workshop (around fifty), and he reportedly was a talented administrator, or at least, better at dealing with his underlings than Michelangelo.
Unfortunately, he died at age thirty-seven, after he had begun planning the construction of St. Peter’s Basilica. The honor of building Christendom’s “greatest church” went to Raphael’s rival of sorts, Michelangelo (although probably not the case, I like to think that Michelangelo relished this fact). In many respects, he was overshadowed by Michelangelo and Leonardo in later years, although he is still certainly acknowledged as one of the greatest of the Old Masters.