Flemish painter Robert Campin was a wealthy and influential man. He also managed a large workshop. Campin could have studied under Jan van Eyck. He was employed by the city to paint a number of church sculptures and of those in municipal buildings. As Campin did not sign and seldom dated his work, there remains controversy as to who the artist was who created some works attributed to him. Robert Campin was previously known as the Master of the Mérode Triptych, prior to the Flémalle paintings being discovered. It is generally accepted, however, that the mysterious Master of Flémalle was Robert Campin.
Flemish painter Jan van Eyck was appointed as court painter to the Duke of Burgundy, Philip III. His association with the Duke resulted in numerous commissions. He had received a level of classical education, as his paintings included Latin, Greek and Hebrew inscriptions. Van Eyck’s work was not limited to religious paintings, he also painted secular subjects. His work encompassed portraits, single panels, as well as diptychs, triptychs and polyptychs. Van Eyck’s formula has still not been deciphered, even with modern-day techniques including x-radiography. His realist skill with regards to light, textures and space has not yet been eclipsed.
Jacopo Tintoretto became known as Il Furioso (The Furious), due to the speed and forcefulness with which he produced his paintings. His style is generally described as Mannerist. Jacopo received almost no formal art training; his father had noticed his son’s penchant for drawing on the walls and sent him to the celebrated artist Titian for training. Jacopo taught himself a method used by Titian, making clay and wax models using casts and bas-reliefs. Tintoretto’s career began with his painting cassoni, where he developed his signature loose style and visible brushwork. This taught Tintoretto how to manage colour mixing peculiar to this art-form.
Gentile Bellini was originally more sought after and respected than Giovanni, but history saw that opinion reversed. Jacopo Bellini was himself an artist, and a pupil of Gentile da Fabriano, after whom he named his son. Gentile and Giovanni were taught by their father, encompassing colour pigments, drawing, tempera and oil painting. It was only in about 1465, when he was in his thirties, that Gentile began working individually. At the time, he was regarded as one of the pre-eminent artists of the day. Gentile Bellini’s students included Titian, Vittore Carpaccio and Bartolomeo Veneto.
Antonio Allegri, known as Correggio, was best known for his composition, perspective and foreshortening skills, as well as being regarded as a master of chiaroscuro. Little is known about his early life. He was known as an introvert with a dark and despondent disposition. Correggio probably received his first art instruction from his uncle, Lorenzo Allegri. Despite his limited formal instruction, Correggio had knowledge of optics, perspective, architecture, sculpture, and anatomy, much of which he probably imbibed by studying the works of da Vinci, Michelangelo and Raphael. One of his most important works is the Assumption of the Virgin, a fresco created for the Cathedral of Parma.
Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni is best known as simply Michelangelo. He is known best for being a sculptor and a painter, but he was also an architect and a poet, and a contemporary of one of the other greatest artists of the time, Leonardo da Vinci. Cardinal Riario invited Michelangelo to Rome in 1496, where he was commissioned to create one of his two greatest pieces, The Pieta. Michelangelo was a private man, preferring solitude to company, and was a staunch Catholic. He continues to be revered today as ‘the father and master of all the arts’.
Hieronymus Bosch was born Jheronimus van Aken. There is negligible information available on his early life. As Bosch only signed some seven of his works and generally did not date his art, only twenty-four paintings and twenty-one drawings have been definitely attributed to him. These can be found in 26 museums and private collections around the world, including many European countries. His work was mostly impasto, leaving visible, textured brush strokes. His most famous work, The Garden of Earthly Delights, was completed during his middle period. It is now housed in the Museo del Prado in Madrid, where it still attracts thousands of visitors.
Piero della Francesca was born Piero di Benedetto de’ Franceschi. His parents were both of noble lineage. His early learning of mathematics would stand him in good stead for his art, notable for his use of geometry and accurate perspective. At the precocious age of twelve, Piero worked as a painting assistant. He was awarded a commission on 27 May 1430 for “painting the poles of the candles”. Completed in 1466, with a break from 1458-1459, The Legend of the True Cross is considered by many to be Piero’s greatest achievement. Another of Piero’s most important works is his Flagellation of Christ, probably executed between 1468-1470.
El Greco, or The Greek, was the nickname adopted by Spanish Renaissance artist Domenikos Theotokopoulos. In 1563, at the age of twenty-two, El Greco had been described as maestro (master) Domenigo and probably ran his own workplace. He would have trained as a painter of icons at the Cretan Renaissance which thrived from the 15th to the 17th century. El Greco is viewed as the most successful graduate to create an art career in Western Europe in the Cretan style. His style is viewed as unique in the art world, with his elongated figures and combination of Byzantine and Western conventions. His work is sometimes described as pre-dating both Expressionism and Cubism.
Fra’ Filippo Lippi was sent with one of his brothers to the Carmelite convent at Santa Maria del Carmine. It was here that he was inspired to create art, by watching the artist Masaccio creating frescoes in the convent. Lippo went on to paint his own frescoes in the church and the cloister. Instead of studying, he spent all his time scrawling pictures on his own books and those of others. The priory recognised his talent and allowed him to pursue his artistic interest. He was a rogue, being featured regularly on court rolls for charges including embezzlement and forgery, which he attempted in order to rescue himself from regular financial predicaments.
Pietro Perugino was born Pietro di Cristoforo Vannucci. He came to be known as Il Perugino, the man from Perugia. In 1500, he was known as ‘the best master in Italy’. He was one of the first Italian artists to make use of oils, used in frescoes he created for the convent of the Ingessati. Perugino was also noteworthy for his portraits. His star pupil was Raphael. Their work was very similar, but the student eventually outshone the master. Later in life, Perugino had been laughed out of Florence as his style had become stale and repetitive. He returned to Perugia, where he continued to work. Despite a lifetime of painting religious images, he was a non-believer.
Luca Signorelli, also known as Luca da Cortona, was probably born sometime between 1445-1450. Although little information is available on his private life, he is reputed to have been a family man, living relatively comfortably. Signorelli was renowned for his use of foreshortening and his aptitude as a draughtsman. His nudes and enormous frescoes also set him aside as an artist of great skill. Michelangelo is said to have used some of these figures for his work on the Sistine Chapel wall. His work, the Last Judgement, is considered to be his greatest accomplishment. Its spectacular composition is regarded as being one of the most important of Italian Renaissance art.
Modern art refers to works of art produced roughly from 1850 to 1970. The term is often used ambiguously to refer to artwork created after the said period. After all, the term modern is used to refer to the current time. One could say that modern art is the art of change. It was born in an era that saw the dawn of industrialisation that created a wave of change, affecting everything. Modern artists’ techniques adapted with the changing philosophies and technological advancements that emerged in their time. They focused on and tried to capture what was happening around them, how they saw it, and how it made them feel.
Frida Kahlo is known for many things: her passion, her political activism, her numerous self-portraits, and her turbulent marriage with Diego Rivera, whose fiery temperament rivalled hers. Aside from drawing from her personal experiences, Frida’s paintings were also influenced by her Mexican heritage. Above all, Frida should be remembered for her courage to confront her pain and express it through her art. She painted her struggles in a time when any woman who expressed her pain through her art would be labelled a hysteric or even insane. Through her paintings, Frida may have helped others, artists and non-artists to confront their pain and find the courage to carry on.
Vincent van Gogh was a Dutch painter who was best known for his post-impressionistic style of painting and his use of bold colours and empathic brushwork, a highly innovative art style during his time. He is the personified image of the struggling and tortured artist. He was a relative unknown who couldn’t even sell his paintings during his lifetime. Van Gogh also suffered from mental illness his whole life, which led to his early death at his own hands. Decades after his tragic end, he is now recognised for what he truly was: an artistic genius and perhaps the greatest artist the world has ever known.
Salvador Dali has been more known for his paintings, but he was also a sculptor, filmmaker and writer. Dali experimented with Impressionism and Pointillism when he attended the Fine Arts School in Madrid. On his visit to Picasso’s studio in Paris, Dali was inspired by Cubism. He also became interested in Futurism, as well as studying Freud’s psychoanalytic concepts. Dali explored these concepts and worked to find a way to alter perception and vividly reinterpret reality. His works would feature the strangest of subjects and emotionally charged themes. With his larger-than-life personality and artistic versatility, Dali was among the most famous and prolific artists of the 20th century.
Pablo Picasso remains one of the most influential and prolific artists of the 20th century. At the age of seven, he began learning how to draw and do oil paintings under the tutelage of his father. In his lifetime, Picasso created more than 50,000 pieces of art in various mediums. As his final years approached, Picasso became a dervish of creativity. He took elements from his previous styles and repurposed them into stunning pieces. His art is featured in the world’s top galleries and fetches millions at auction. Picasso had a genius for finding beauty in the most mundane objects, and his style continues to have an impact on the art scene until now.
At his young age, Claude Monet was both an artist and an entrepreneur. He would sell his charcoal drawings for 10 to 20 francs apiece. Monet learned how to use oil paints and outdoor or “en plein air” painting techniques from fellow artist Eugène Boudin. Monet’s works were among those that featured the modernisation of Paris in a unique way, with the essence of spontaneity and intuitive feeling visible on the canvas. Later in life, he focused more on the environment and atmosphere in his works while focusing less on modernity. Monet’s paintings were not only sought for locally but was quite popular in England and the United States as well.