Posts Tagged ‘Renaissance painting


Exhibition: ‘Written in Light – The First Photographers’ at Moderna Museet, Stockholm

Exhibition dates: 8th April – 3rd September 2017

Curator: Anna Tellgren



Nils Strindberg. '14/7 1897. The Eagle Balloon after landing' 1897/1930


Nils Strindberg
Örnen efter landningen. Ur serien Ingenjör Andrées luftfärd, 14/7 1897
14/7 1897. The Eagle Balloon after landing

From the series The Flight of the Eagle
Gelatin silver print


Nils Strindberg. '14/7 1897. After the crash' 1897/1930


Nils Strindberg
14/7 1897. After the crash

From the series The Flight of the Eagle
Gelatin silver print
Some rights reserved by Tekniska museet


Nils Strindberg. 'Setting up-camp, raising the Swedish flag' 1897/1930


Nils Strindberg
Setting up-camp, raising the Swedish flag

From the series The Flight of the Eagle
Gelatin silver print
Some rights reserved by Tekniska museet


Nils Strindberg. 'Moving a boat through the icy waters' 1897/1930


Nils Strindberg
Moving a boat through the icy waters

From the series The Flight of the Eagle
Gelatin silver print
Some rights reserved by Tekniska museet



Nils Strindberg (1872-1897)

In July 1897, Salomon August Andrée (1854-1897) embarked on his voyage to the North Pole in the balloon Örnen [The Eagle], accompanied by the engineer Knut Frænkel (1870-1897) and the photographer Nils Strindberg. A few days later, the balloon crashed on the ice, and they were forced to continue their journey on foot. The conditions were severe, and the expedition ended in disaster. After a few months, in October, they made up camp on Kvitøya on Svalbard. This is where their bodies were found thirty years later, along with Strindberg’s camera.
The expedition and the events surrounding it, were widely publicised both at the time of the expedition, and later when they were found. Per Olof Sundman’s book The Flight of the Eagle (1967) was turned into a film by Jan Troell in 1982. Although these photographs were taken as scientific observations, and to document the work of the members of the expedition, they now appear as some of the most remarkable and beautiful photographs in polar history.

John Hertzberg (1871-1935) was a photographer and docent at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology. He was commissioned to develop the exposed films, and managed successfully to process ninety-three of Strindberg’s photo­graphs. He made copies of the negatives, which were used to produce the prints on paper that are now at institutions including Moderna Museet, the National Museum of Science and Technology in Stockholm and Grenna Museum – Polarcenter in Gränna.

The original negatives ended up at the Royal Swedish Acad­emy of Sciences in Stockholm. Hertzberg re-touched some of the pictures, and these are primarily the ones that have been published and embody the public perception of the expedition. Moderna Museet has both sets, and the re-touched photographs are shown above the un-retouched versions in this exhibition.

More fascinating insights into the Flight of the Eagle can be found on James McArdle’s excellent website.


Nils Strindberg. 'At camp' 1897/1930


Nils Strindberg
At camp
From the series The Flight of the Eagle
Gelatin silver print
Some rights reserved by Tekniska museet


Nils Strindberg. 'Camp on White Island' 1897/1930


Nils Strindberg
Camp on White Island
From the series The Flight of the Eagle
Gelatin silver print
Some rights reserved by Tekniska museet



While there are some outstanding photographs in this posting, the selection seems rather ad hoc. It is always good to see the work of Julia Margaret Cameron and other illuminati of late 19 century photography, but the highlight in this posting are the ethereal and tragic photographs from the Eagle polar expedition. We can only be grateful that so many negatives have survived, a testament to both the photographer, the developer and the coldness of the ice, leaving us with such transcendent images of human endurance.


Many thankx to Moderna Museet for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.


William Henry Fox Talbot. 'Four Shelves of Books' 1844


William Henry Fox Talbot
Four Shelves of Books
Salted Paper Print



William Henry Fox Talbot (1800-1877)

The Scientist William Henry Fox Talbot in Britain experimented with various silver salt solutions on paper. In the mid-1830s, he succeeded in producing a negative image on photosensitive paper in a camera and had thus ingeniously invented the negative.

In 1844-46, he published what could be regarded as the first photographically illustrated magazine, The Pencil of Nature, in which he described the technique and how photography could be used in practice. He himself claimed that its most important use was to produce evidence, but he also had artistic ambitions for his photographic images. It was Talbot who eventually launched the term “photography” (writing with light) for his invention. Many different words and metaphors were used to describe this new medium, but photography was soon established as its proper name.


Oscar Gustave Rejlander. 'Lesson' 1860


Oscar Gustave Rejlander
Albumen silver print


Carl Jacob Malmberg. 'The copper quay and the polishing works at Fiskars bruk, Finland' 1872


Carl Jacob Malmberg
The copper quay and the polishing works at Fiskars bruk, Finland
Albumen silver print


Fiskars (Swedish, Finnish: Fiskari) is a village in the town of Raseborg (Raasepori) in western Uusimaa, Finland. The village is the site of the former Fiskars Bruk, which was founded in 1646 and gave rise to the company Fiskars.



The exhibition Written in Light – The First Photographers explores Moderna Museet’s collection of photography from the second half of the 19th century. It includes the Museum’s unique collection of daguerreotypes and works by a few of the world’s most famous photographers: Julia Margaret Cameron, Oscar Gustave Rejlander, and Carleton E. Watkins.

Since its invention, photography has developed, changed, and been used for many different aims and purposes. With the breakthrough of digital images, and their omnipresence in social media, photography is once again in a period of change. This gives all the more reason to look back and consider the impact of its legacy on contemporary photography. This exhibition highlights the Museum’s collection of daguerreotypes, but also gives examples of other early photographic techniques.

Thanks to two significant acquisitions in the mid-1960s, the Helmut Gernsheim Duplicate Collection, and the Helmer Bäckström Photographic Collection, some of the most internationally famous photographers in history are represented at Moderna Museet.


Before and Behind the Lens

Written in Light and Film Inside an Image are part of the photographic project Before and Behind the Lens, which consists of a series of exhibitions, discussions and guided tours. Before and Behind the Lens examines the role of photographic images in art and the transformation of the medium since the early experiments with new technology in the 19th century, to today’s explorations of the potential of the optical lens. Moderna Museet has one of Europe’s finest collections of photography, ranging from pioneers such as Julia Margaret Cameron to many of the most influential contemporary artists who visualise the world for us with the camera lens.

Press release from Moderna Museet


Robert Adamson and David Octavius Hill. 'Misses Grierson' c. 1845


Robert Adamson and David Octavius Hill
Misses Grierson
c. 1845
Salted paper print, calotype



Robert Adamson (1821-1848) and David Octavius Hill (1802-1870)

The first prominent calotype practitioners were active in Scotland, which was exempt from Talbot’s patent restrictions. David Octavius Hill was a portrait painter, and Robert Adamson an engineer. In 1843, they began collaborating as photographers, after Hill had been assigned to portray a group of clergymen and laymen who had left the Church of Scotland and founded the Free Church of Scotland. Hill wanted to use photographs to create individual portraits of the several hundred participants in this assembly.

It took them more than a year to produce a calotype of each member, and the painting took another 20 years for Hill to complete. They continued working together for four years, until Adamson’s premature death, producing nearly 3,000 photo­graphs of architecture, landscapes, but especially portraits, which they always signed together. They also documented working women and men in the fishing village of Newhaven near Edinburgh in a natural and personal style that was unusual for that period.


Salted Paper Print, Calotype

Silver in common salt on/in paper 1839 – c. 1870

A paper is first soaked in a saline solution and then brushed on one side with silver nitrate, forming light-sensitive silver chloride. After allowing the paper to dry in the dark, it is exposed in sunlight for hours, in contact with a negative, until the image appears (printing-out). Excess silver chloride is then subjected to fixation in a strong saline solution or in sodium thiosulphate and is rinsed away in water. Subsequent gold toning (after 1849) lent the picture a richer tonal range and greater permanence. After 1850 they were often waxed and/or sometimes coated with a layer of albumen. Salted paper prints have a matte finish, and the paper fibres of the support are clearly visible in magnification. When fixed in salt, the image tone is reddish brown; in sodium sulphate it is a yellowish orange. Permanence is relatively low, and when faded or discoloured the prints turn to a yellowish brown. This technique was the first used to reproduce an image on paper from a negative. Although the term calotype is sometimes used, a calotype is actually a salted paper negative.


Johan Wilhelm Bergström. 'Self-Portrait' c 1850


Johan Wilhelm Bergström
c 1850



In 1844 Bergström became a photographer, an occupation he would hold for about ten years. As a daguerreotypist he became diligently engaged, and took pictures of the great people of the day. He also took a series of topographic images, which today are of great value. During a visit to Uppsala in 1845, he captured what is today the oldest known photographic image of the city, as well as a stereoscope image.



Amalgam on silver-coated copper 1839 – c. 1865

A copper plate is coated with a thin layer of silver, buffed and treated with iodine vapour in a closed container, transforming the silver to light-sensitive silver iodide. After being exposed in the camera for 10-30 minutes, the image is developed in heated mercury vapour. Silver and mercury form a white amalgam and the image is a reverse, low contrast positive. The picture was initially fixed in a saline bath, later in a bath of sodium sulphite. A subsequent toning in gold solution strengthened the sharpness and stability of the image. To protect the image against chemical and physical damage, the plate was tightly sealed with mats and glass and often enclosed in a case. Daguerreotypes are detailed, neutral in tone, sometimes hand-tinted, and are easily distinguishable by their alternately negative and positive impressions, depending on the angle of the light in which they are viewed.


Marcus Selmer. 'Bride from Birkeland' 1855


Marcus Selmer
Bride from Birkeland
Daguerreotype, hand coloured


Marcus Selmer. 'Bride from Birkeland' 1855 (detail)


Marcus Selmer
Bride from Birkeland (detail)
Daguerreotype, hand coloured



It is not immediately clear what drew Marcus Selmer (1819-1900), a Danish portrait photographer, to spend most of his life working in Norway. He trained as a pharmacist in his native Denmark, and was working in a chemist owned by his uncle when he discovered daguerreotype photography. He experimented with this new technology in his spare time and began sending his pictures in to local exhibitions. In 1852, Selmer travelled to Norway, to visit some of his uncle’s family in the city of Bergen. He never returned.

He soon found work as a photographer in Bergen and, within a year, was able to establish his own studio. This became the first permanent photographic studio in Bergen, as few photographers who visited would stay all year round. Photographers often visited Bergen in the summer, hoping to capture the fjords and mountains that surround the area, but, as they needed good light for their work, the dark and cold weather had driven most of them away by the time winter rolled around. Selmer ingeniously built his studio almost entirely out of glass, allowing enough light into the space, which enabled him to continue working throughout the year.

Selmer’s work quickly became well-known throughout Norway. He sold many books of his photographs, and sold individual images to the press and the burgeoning tourist industry, before eventually being appointed the royal photographer in 1880. Although his career was varied, Selmer is primarily remembered today for his portraits of local people in national folk costume… These photographs depict the customs, traditions and culture of the Norwegian people, and reflect Selmer’s interest in his adopted home.

Anonymous. “Marcus Selmer’s Photographs of 19th-Century Norwegians,” on the The Public Domain Review website [Online] Cited 05/08/2017


Carl Jacob Malmberg. 'Maria Catharina Malmberg with Children' c. 1860


Carl Jacob Malmberg
Maria Catharina Malmberg with Children
c. 1860




Silver in collodion on glass
1854 – c. 1880

A glass plate, coated with silver halogens in collodion, is sensitised with silver nitrate and then exposed wet in the camera. After being developed in iron sulphate – occasionally with the addition of silver nitrate – and fixed in potassium cyanide and washed, the plate is allowed to dry. The picture is then lacquered or protected with a sheet of glass, and the back is coated with black lacquer, textile, or cardboard so that the picture – actually a thin negative – is seen as a positive. It is a direct positive which is often tastefully displayed with mats and under glass in cases. Ambrotypes have a neutral tone, but are sometimes hand-tinted. The surface is characterised by a typical “doubleness”, as high-keys can be seen in the negative on the glass surface and low-keys against the dark background lining.


Oscar Gustave Rejlander. 'No title (Shoeless boy playing whistle)' c. 1860


Oscar Gustave Rejlander
No title (Shoeless boy playing whistle)
c. 1860
Albumen silver print



Oscar Gustave Rejlander (1813-1875)

One of few internationally famous Swedish photographers is Oscar Gustave Rejlander, but little is known of his early life in Sweden. He settled in Britain around 1840, where he worked as a photographer until he died. He had probably studied art and was interested in art history. His works show distinct influences from Italian renaissance, Span­ish baroque, Dutch 17th-century painting and the British Pre-Raphaelites.

In his studio, he would build and photograph a kind of “tableaux vivants”, or staged scenes. Perhaps the most famous of Rejlander’s works is The Two Ways of Life from 1857, a negative montage consisting of some 30 exposures combined into a composition. Rejlander’s oeuvre also includes a series of pictures of poor children and families. Towards the end of his life, Rejlander met Charles Darwin and was commissioned to illustrate his acclaimed book The Expressions of the Emotions in Man and Animals (1872).


Oscar Gustave Rejlander. 'The Two Ways of Life' 1857


Oscar Gustave Rejlander
The Two Ways of Life
Albumen silver print



In 1857 Rejlander made his best-known allegorical work, The Two Ways of Life. This was a seamlessly montaged combination print made of thirty-two images in about six weeks. First exhibited at the Manchester Art Treasures Exhibition of 1857, the work shows two youths being offered guidance by a patriarch. Each youth looks toward a section of a stage-like tableaux vivant – one youth is shown the virtuous pleasures and the other the sinful pleasures. (Wikipedia)


Carleton E. Watkins. 'Down the Valley, Yosemite' 1861


Carleton E. Watkins
Down the Valley, Yosemite
Albumen silver print


Carleton E. Watkins. 'Tutueamela, El Capitan, 3000ft, Yosemite' 1861


Carleton E. Watkins
Tutueamela, El Capitan, 3000ft, Yosemite
Albumen silver print



Carleton E. Watkins (1829-1916)

Voyages of discovery, nature and landscapes were popular motifs for the early photographers. The growing tourism increased demand for pictures from exotic places, making this a source of income for publishers of photographic literature. The Ameri­can West was one such region, and some of the photographers who began working there also documented the American Civil War. One of the most prominent of these was Carleton E. Watkins, who had travelled and photographed the Yosemite Valley on several occasions in the first half of the 1860s.

In his large-format photographs, so-called mammoth prints, he captured the massive mountain formations, dramatic waterfalls and gigantic trees. His heavy equipment was carried by some ten mules, and it is almost a miracle, considering the difficult conditions, that so many of his photographs survived.

A definite advancement in the process of creating negatives was made by the Brit Frederick Scott Archers (1813-1857), who discovered how to use glass sheets for the negative instead of paper. Collodion was used to bind the necessary silver salt to the glass, but it could only be exposed while wet, hence the term wet plate process. The glass negatives gave sharp details, and a large number of paper prints could be made from one negative.


Julia Margaret Cameron. 'The Mother of Salome' 1870


Julia Margaret Cameron
The Mother of Salome
Albumen silver print


Julia Margaret Cameron. 'The Angel at the Tomb' 1870


Julia Margaret Cameron
The Angel at the Tomb
Albumen silver print



Julia Margaret Cameron (1815-1879)

In Victorian Britain, a small group of photographers were the very first to attempt to create and formulate art photography. Julia Margaret Cameron, who belonged to this group, left behind a fantastic collection of intimate portraits of her family and large circle of friends. She was an amateur photographer who was active mainly in the 1860s and 1870s.

Her staged pictures, inspired by myths, biblical stories and English literature, have a characteristically expressive soft focus. Cameron’s photographs are reminiscent of the Pre-Raphaelites and renaissance painting. The Moderna Museet collection of Julia Margaret Cameron includes portraits of Charles Darwin, Henry Taylor and Alfred Tennyson, along with staged tableaux of The Angel at the Grave and the melodramatic Maud from one of Tennyson’s most famous poems. Cameron’s last major photo­graphic project in the UK, before she and her family moved to Ceylon, present Sri Lanka, was to illustrate Tennyson’s work Idylls of the King (1874-75).


Julia Margaret Cameron. 'Maud "There has Fallen a splendid Tear From the Passion Flower at the Gate"' 1875


Julia Margaret Cameron
Maud “There has Fallen a splendid Tear From the Passion Flower at the Gate”
Illustration to Tennyson’s Idylls of the King and Other Poems. Sitter is Mary Ann Hillier
Albumen silver print



Albumen Silver Print

Silver in albumen on paper 1850 – c. 1900

A paper is brushed with a solution of albumen (egg white) and table salt and is allowed to dry. It is then bathed in silver nitrate and again allowed to dry, this time in darkness. Albumen, salt and silver form an emulsion containing light-sensitive silver salts which are exposed in daylight in direct contact with a negative until the desired image appears (printing-out). Residual light-sensitive silver salts are then removed through fixation, and the picture is washed in water. After 1855, most albumen silver photographs were gold-toned, followed by additional fixation and rinsing. Commercially produced albumen silver paper became available in 1863. Albumen silver prints have a thin paper support and are therefore normally mounted. The surface is usually glossy, and the tone may vary from yellow/red/brown to a violet blue, depending on exposure time and toning. Prints commonly change in tone to yellow/yellow-green in high-keys due to deterioration of the albumen. In magnification characteristic cracks can be seen.


Rosalie Sjöman. 'Alma Sjöman' c. 1875


Rosalie Sjöman
Alma Sjöman
c. 1875
Albumen silver print, hand coloured



Rosalie Sjöman (1833-1919)

Rosalie Sjöman was one of many prominent women photographers. She opened a studio in 1864 on Drott-ninggatan 42 in Stockholm, after being widowed with three small children. The photographer Carl Jacob Malmberg had had his studio at this address previously, and there are some indications that Sjöman may have been working for him. Her business prospered, and towards the end of the 1870s Rosalie Sjöman had five female employees, and she seems to have chosen to hire women only. R. Sjöman & Comp. later opened studios on Regeringsgatan 6, and in Kalmar, Halmstad and Vaxholm.

Her oeuvre includes numerous carte-de-visite portraits and larger so-called cabinet cards, with a mixture of classic portraits, various staged scenes, people wear-ing local folk costumes, and mosaics. The expertly hand-tinted photographs are especially eye-catch­ing; several of them portray her daughter Alma Sjöman.

In the 1860s, photography progressed from being an exclusive novelty into a more widespread and popular medium. The popular carte-de-visite were introduced in France in the mid-1850s, but became extremely fashionable when Emperor Napoleon III had his portrait made in the new format (6 x 9 cm). This trend spread rapidly, and portrait studios opened in large cities and smaller towns. This cartomania lasted for a decade, and the market stabilised around the mid-1870s, when the photographic medium entered a calmer phase.


Carl Jacob Malmberg. 'No title' From the series 'Gymnastics' c. 1875


Carl Jacob Malmberg
No title
From the series Gymnastics
c. 1875
Albumen silver print



Carl Jacob Malmberg (1824-1895)

The collection Carl Jacob Malmberg left behind includes most photographic techniques and image types. He is also an example of a photographer’s career development after the first innovative period in the 1840s and up to the 1890s. Malmberg was born in Finland and first studied to be a goldsmith in St Petersburg, where he also learned photography.

He moved to Stockholm, where he opened a studio in 1859 on Drottninggatan 42, and later on Norrtullsgatan 2, and finally on Regeringsgatan 6. Around this period, when cartes-de-visite portraits came into fashion, Malmberg’s practice really took off. On a visit to Finland in 1872, he took a series of photographs at Fiskars iron mill, documenting all the workshops and buildings. A slightly odd portfolio in Malmberg’s collection consists of more than 100 pictures of gymnasts. He had been commissioned by Hjalmar Ling at the Gymnastiska Centralinsti­tutet in Stockholm to take these pictures to illustrate the book Förkortad Öfversikt af allmän Rörelselära (Short Summary of General Exercise Physiology, 1880).


David Octavius Hill and Robert Adamson. 'William Etty' 1844/c. 1880


David Octavius Hill and Robert Adamson
William Etty
1844/c. 1880
Carbon Print
Reproduction photo: Prallan Allsten/Moderna Museet



Carbon Print

Charcoal (and colour) pigments and potassium bichromate in gelatin on paper 1864 – c. 1930

An emulsion with pigment and potassium dichromate in gelatin on thin paper is exposed in contact with a negative in daylight. The gelatin is hardened in relation to the amount of light during the exposure. The soaked paper is then turned over and pressed against a new support, coated with insoluble gelatin. The original support comes off in a bath of warm water or may be pulled off, and leaves an image with hardened pigmented gelatin. Any unexposed gelatin can then be washed off. The picture is finally subjected to an alum bath to remove the residual light-sensitive dichromate and to further harden the remaining gelatin. The result is a reversed image. It can be corrected by first reversing the negative or by transferring the image to a new support (Autotype).

Bühler and Höchheimer: A direct process on fabricated papers which were sensitised in alcohol, exposed in contact with a negative and developed in water. Carbon prints have a clear relief character with raised and glossy low-key areas. The tone is usually deep brown or black, but may vary with the choice of pigment. In magnification the emulsion gives a “ragged” impression, especially in high-keys.


Carl Curman. 'Waldemarsudde 1888' 1888


Carl Curman
Waldemarsudde 1888



Carl Curman (1833-1913)

The physician Carl Curman had many interests, and studied both medicine and art as a young man. Eventually, he became a famous balneologist, and initiated the plan for public baths in Stockholm and eventually also the Sturebadet swimming baths.

He built a photographic studio at the Karolinska Institute in the early 1860s, and was a pioneer of medical photography, before being appointed a professor of plastic anatomy at the Royal Acad­emy of Fine Arts in 1869. His lectures have been documented, in pictures showing students gathered around Curman for dissections. These photographic studies of the human anatomy were also used in the emerging field of eugenics – a troubling part of Western history.

Curman was never a professional photographer, but is one of the many practitioners who have made their mark on the history of pho­tography. His more private projects include pictures from Lysekil, where he worked as a balneologist, from Stockholm where he lived, and from various travels abroad, together with his wife Calla Curman, co-founder of the women’s society Nya Idun.



Moderna Museet, Stockholm

Moderna Museet is ten minutes away from Kungsträdgården, and twenty minutes from T-Centralen or Gamla Stan. Walk past Grand Hotel and Nationalmuseum on Blasieholmen, opposite the Royal Palace. After crossing the bridge to Skeppsholmen, continue up the hill. The entrance to Moderna Museet and Arkitekturmuseet is on the left-hand side.

Opening hours:
Tuesday 10-20
Wednesday-Sunday 10-18
Monday closed

Moderna Museet website


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Exhibition: ‘Caravaggio and His Followers in Rome’ at the Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, Texas

Exhibition dates: 16th October 2011 – 8th January 2012


Simon Vouet. 'The Fortune Teller' c. 1620


Simon Vouet (French, 1590-1649)
The Fortune Teller
c. 1620
Oil on canvas
National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa



Observe if you will:

  1. The treatment of the background behind Boy Bitten by a Lizard (1594-96)
  2. The tension of the hands in this painting
  3. The pallor of the skin of Sick Bacchus (1593-94)
  4. The colour of the bunch of grapes in the same painting
  5. The critical distance between the two apricots and the bowed sash resting on the pediment in the same painting
  6. The youthful innocence of the dupe in The Cardsharps (c. 1595)
  7. The deep, foreboding shadows under the eyes of Saint John the Baptist in the Wilderness (1604-5)
  8. The astonishingly beautiful skin tones in Gerrit van Honthorst’s Saint Sebastian (c. 1623) and how the blood from the leg wound at left runs in two directions: one direction when Saint Sebastian was standing up, one when he has slumped down. Inspired.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

Many thankx to the Kimbell Museum of Art for allowing me to publish the artwork in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.



One of the most influential figures in the history of art, Caravaggio (1571-1610) overturned the artistic conventions of the day and created stunningly dramatic paintings, both sacred and secular. This ambitious exhibition explores the profound impact of his work on the wide range of painters of Italian, French, Dutch, Flemish, and Spanish origin who resided in Rome. Arranged by theme, it includes over 50 paintings, with Caravaggio’s compelling images juxtaposed with those he inspired. This is the second largest display of his paintings in North America and only the third Caravaggio exhibition to be held in the United States.


Music and Youth

Many of Caravaggio’s early paintings feature handsome youths, whether singly or in groups. He seems to have used the same favorite models repeatedly – and sometimes his own features, which a contemporary tells us he studied in a mirror. The origins of these novel paintings lay in the types of pictures – portraits, still lifes, and allegories – that were painted in a realistic style in the artist’s native Lombardy, in the north of Italy, although he blurred the boundaries between genres to suggest real-life scenes. Caravaggio’s paintings of musicians would have appealed to Roman collectors who were passionate patrons of music, and likely were created to decorate rooms used for performances. They have a dreamy, slightly melancholy air. If the songs are about love, as we can assume they are, they are surely about the painful side of love rather than its joys. Caravaggio’s early paintings of youths are usually scenes of sensual pleasure but with a built-in warning against indulgence, as when a youth has his finger bitten by a lizard lurking in some fruit. He brings us close to his figures, often having them make eye contact with us, and includes lovingly observed still-life details that enhance the naturalism and immediacy of the scene. Even when there is a visitation from the beyond, like the winged Cupid in The Musicians, he treats this in a matter-of-fact way, attentive always to breaking down the boundaries between the painted world and our own. Caravaggio’s musical paintings caught on throughout Europe in the work of his followers, who brought their own innovations to the genre.


Caravaggio. 'The Musicians' c. 1595


Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (Italian, 1571-1610)
The Musicians
c. 1595
Oil on canvas
36 1/4 x 46 5/8 in (92.1 x 118.4cm)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Rogers Fund, 1952



In this scene, Caravaggio shows some young musicians preparing for a concert. We are brought very close to the figures, as if we share the same space. Caravaggio breaks down the boundaries between art and life, and our reality and the painted world become entwined. The instruments are modern, but the musicians wear antique-inspired dress. The lute player tunes his instrument, and the horn player (possibly a self-portrait) catches our gaze. Another youth studies the musical score; it is no longer legible, but doubtless featured love madrigals. The winged Cupid with a quiver of arrows who is handling some grapes makes explicit the bond between music and love. Wine, like music, makes the spirits light. This painting belonged to Cardinal Francesco Maria del Monte, who hosted concerts at his palace and invited musicians to live in his household, along with artists like Caravaggio.


Theodoor Rombouts. 'A Lute Player' c. 1620


Theodoor Rombouts (Flemish, 1597-1637)
A Lute Player
c. 1620
Oil on canvas
43 7/8 x 39 1/4 in (111.1 x 99.7cm)
Philadelphia Museum of Art. John G. Johnson Collection, 1917



Caravaggio’s paintings of musicians inspired Rombouts’s depiction of a musician tuning his lute. His intense expression suggests that he is both listening to the sound and sizing up the viewer, his audience. The vividly described carpet and still-life objects on the table recall Caravaggio’s similar close-up presentations. However, the colourful treatment of the costume and the robust delineation of the objects place Rombouts’s work within traditions of Flemish and Dutch painting. The still life, like ephemeral music, serves to remind us of the pleasures of life, but also that pleasure is fleeting. The artist also alludes to the five senses: hearing (the lute), taste (the tankard), smell (the pipe), sight (the musical scores), and touch (the knife).


Caravaggio. 'Boy Bitten by a Lizard' 1594–96


Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (Italian, 1571-1610)
Boy Bitten by a Lizard
Oil on canvas
25 5/8 x 20 1/2 in (65 x 52cm)
Fondazione di Studi di Storia dell’Arte Roberto Longhi, Florence



One of Caravaggio’s biographers wrote that “he also painted a boy bitten by a lizard emerging from flowers and fruits; you could almost hear the boy scream, and it was done meticulously.” The picture has suggested various interpretations. As an allegory of touch, it provides the basis for a study of how emotion is expressed physically, and arguably Caravaggio alludes to all the five senses (flowers as smell and so on). With the still life of fruits and roses, common emblems of love, he invokes age-old adages – pain can follow pleasure, and love is a rose with thorns that prick. Poets from Petrarch onward played on the similarity of the Italian words for “love” and “bitter” – amore and amaro – to which Caravaggio adds ramarro (lizard), ingeniously enlarging the joke.


Caravaggio. 'Sick Bacchus' 1593–94


Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (Italian, 1571-1610)
Sick Bacchus
Oil on canvas
Galleria Borghese, Rome



Cardsharps and Fortune Tellers

The young Caravaggio introduced another new kind of painting to the Roman art world with his scenes from the seamy side of life, its frauds and ruses. He painted these works on a large scale with half-length figures, and they were among his most widely imitated creations. His followers played countless variations on the same themes, trying various levels of subtlety and buffoonery in the humour and facial expressions. These highly animated compositions conjure up an underworld of wily cardsharps, soldiers of fortune, foolish dupes, sensuous and deceitful gypsy women, pickpockets, and thugs. They are based partly on everyday observations in the streets, partly on the stock characters and improvised comedies of the commedia dell’arte, partly on sheer fantasy. In such works, Caravaggio and his followers developed ingenious ways of involving us in the action. We read these amusingly moralising pictures through gestures and expressions – but to unravel the trickery takes time. Despite being frozen in a static image, the story seems to unfold before our eyes like one of the popular plays that were its inspiration. The artist extends the theme of deception by painting his subjects with such a high level of naturalism that the viewer is duped and astounded by his artistry.


Caravaggio. 'The Cardsharps' c. 1595


Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (Italian, 1571-1610)
The Cardsharps
c. 1595
Oil on canvas
37 1/8 x 51 5/8 in (94.2 x 130.9cm)
Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth



The players are engaged in a game of primero, a forerunner of poker. Engrossed in his cards, the dupe is unaware that the older cardsharp signals his accomplice, who reaches to pull a hidden card from his breeches. The fingertips of the cheat’s gloved hand are exposed to better feel marked cards. According to an early biographer, Cardinal Francesco Maria del Monte, a great patron of the arts, took the young Caravaggio into his household soon after purchasing this picture. It hung along with The Gypsy Fortune Teller in his palace. Together they would surely have reminded the cardinal and his guests of the story of the prodigal son, warning about the perils of greed and fraud. Caravaggio has treated this subject not as a caricature of vice but in a fresh way, in which the interaction of gesture and glance evokes the drama of deception and lost innocence in the most human of terms. He structures the picture to allow us to witness everything, implicating us in the trickery.



Caravaggio grounded his saints in everyday reality, indicating their spiritual states by means of natural phenomena, especially light. In his early painting of Saint Francis, he shows the saint’s ecstasy – his mystic identification with Christ – by directing a strong light upon his figure and the consoling angel. God’s grace is signalled by light in other images of the saints, such as the scene of Mary Magdalene’s conversion from her former life of sin. In paintings of Saints Matthew and Jerome in their studies, much emulated in Caravaggio’s circle, light is a metaphor of divine inspiration. Generally the saints seem to be emerging from darkness into light, which adds drama, symbolism, and also a sense of mass – as if they were sculpted, not merely painted. In a break from Roman and Florentine traditions, Caravaggio rejected the practice of refining his composition through drawings before he began to paint and instead worked directly from a live model in the studio, preserving that model’s particular appearance, never making the features or body conform to an ideal of beauty. The effect, central to Caravaggio’s art and that of many of his followers, was startling. At this time, many people believed that the painting of sacred personages such as saints called for a special, elevated style that set them apart from the mundane reality of the here and now. Caravaggio’s radical departure from this principle brought him much harsh criticism. He was accused of merely copying and so failing to capture a higher truth. But others recognised in his work a new kind of religious art that directly engaged the faithful and made old subjects new and alive.


Caravaggio. 'Saint John the Baptist in the Wilderness' 1604


Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (Italian, 1571-1610)
Saint John the Baptist in the Wilderness
Oil on canvas
68 x 52 in (172.7 x 132.1cm)
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri. Purchase William Rockhill Nelson Trust



Caravaggio’s practice of painting a live model in his studio brings this young, brooding saint to life – as if his image were inhabited by the model’s being. Ottavio Costa, a Roman banker, commissioned this painting for a chapel on a pilgrimage route in the countryside outside of Genoa, where his family had its origins. We can imagine what a powerful experience it would have been to encounter the image of the scarlet-robed saint there, dramatically emerging from the shadows into a strong light. When Caravaggio delivered the painting, Costa decided to keep it and placed a copy in the chapel. But even the copy proved inspiring. An early guide described how it “moves not only the members of the brotherhood but also visitors to penitence.”


Gerrit van Honthorst. 'Saint Sebastian' c. 1623


Gerrit van Honthorst (Dutch, 1592-1656)
Saint Sebastian
c. 1623
Oil on canvas
The National Gallery, London



The Sacred Narrative

Caravaggio was a masterful storyteller who could bring home the drama and significance of a biblical event with tremendous power. In his scenes from the Old and New Testaments, he created a new kind of painting – dramatic, even theatrical, yet grounded in the observation of ordinary reality – and it proved infectious among his contemporaries in Rome. His approach was to make the scene clear and simple, with the main actors in the drama seen close-up and caught in mid-action at a decisive moment, embodying the whole meaning of the event. He played down the setting, sometimes to the point that it is a mere pool of darkness from which the figures emerge. It was the actions and states of mind of the characters in the story that counted, and Caravaggio presented these with sometimes shocking directness and intensity, breaking all the rules of decorum that restrained more conventional painters. He mastered the art of concealing art, re-creating a scene with such a flavour of reality that it comes across as an eyewitness account. It was his power to draw viewers into the emotion and importance of a scene that made his work an essential object of study, even for such an independent genius as the great Peter Paul Rubens.


Caravaggio. 'Martha and Mary Magdalene' c. 1598


Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (Italian, 1571-1610)
Martha and Mary Magdalene
c. 1598
Oil and tempera on canvas
38 1/2 x 52 1/4 in (97.8 x 132.7cm)
Detroit Institute of Arts. Gift of the Kresge Foundation and Mrs. Edsel B. Ford



Martha’s expressive hands, intensely illuminated, underscore her attempt to convert her sister Mary Magdalene from a life of worldly pleasures to one of spirituality. Several details recall Mary’s life of indulgence: the elegant dress, the ivory comb, the alabaster cosmetic jar. The mirror, a powerful symbol of vanity, becomes here an instrument reflecting the divine light that is penetrating Mary’s soul. Martha’s words seem to have been convincing, and her open mouth signals her amazement as she witnesses Mary’s transformation. The orange blossom in Mary’s right hand and the ring on her left indicate her new status as the blessed bride of Christ.


Caravaggio. 'Sacrifice of Isaac' 1602–3


Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (Italian, 1571-1610)
Sacrifice of Isaac
Oil on canvas
41 x 53 1/8 in (104 x 135cm)
Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence



Kimbell Art Museum
3333 Camp Bowie Boulevard,
Fort Worth, TX 76107

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Sunday 10am – 5pm
Closed Mondays

Kimbell Art Museum website


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Exhibition: ‘Renaissance Faces. Masterpieces of Italian Portraiture’
 at the 
Bode Museum, Berlin

Exhibition dates: 25th August – 20th November 2011



Filippo Lippi (Italian, 1406-1469)
Portrait of a Man and a Woman at a Casement
c. 1440
New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art
© Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York



The Legend of the Surface, the Facies


Facies simultaneously signifies the singular air of a face, the particularity of its aspect, as well as the genre or species under which this aspect should be subsumed. The facies would thus be a face fixed to a synthetic combination of the universal and the singular: the visage fixed to the regime of representation, in a Helgian sense.

Why the face? – Because in the face the corporeal surface makes visible something of the movements of the soul, ideally.”

Georges Didi-Huberman1


Dr Marcus Bunyan

Many thankx to the Bode Museum for allowing me to publish the artwork in the posting. Please click on the images for a larger version.



  1. Didi-Huberman, Georges. Invention of Hysteria: Charcot and the Photographic Iconography of the Salpetriere (trans. Alisa Hartz). Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2003, p. 49



Antonio del Pollaiuolo (Italian, 1429-1498)
Portrait of a Young Lady
c. 1465
Berlin, National Museums in Berlin, Gemäldegalerie
© National Museums in Berlin, Jörg P. Anders



Antonio del Pollaiuolo (Italian, 1429-1498)
Portrait of a Young Woman
c. 1465-1470
© Museo Poldi Pezzoli, Milan



Sandro Botticelli (Italian, 1445-1520)
Profile Portrait of a Young Lady (Simonetta Vespucci?)
c. 1476
Berlin, National Museums in Berlin, Gemäldegalerie
© National Museums in Berlin, Jörg P. Anders



Alessandro di Mariano di Vanni Filipepi (c.  1445 – May 17, 1510), known as Sandro Botticelli, was an Italian painter of the Early Renaissance. He belonged to the Florentine School under the patronage of Lorenzo de’ Medici, a movement that Giorgio Vasari would characterise less than a hundred years later in his Vita of Botticelli as a “golden age”. Botticelli’s posthumous reputation suffered until the late 19th century; since then, his work has been seen to represent the linear grace of Early Renaissance painting.



Leonardo da Vinci (Italian, 1452-1519)
Lady with an Ermine (portrait of Cecilia Gallerani)
Kraków, owned by Princes Czartoryski Foundation, at the National Museum
© bpk / Scala



Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci,known as Leonardo da Vinci , was an Italian polymath of the Renaissance whose areas of interest included invention, drawing, painting, sculpture, architecture, science, music, mathematics, engineering, literature, anatomy, geology, astronomy, botany, paleontology, and cartography. He has been variously called the father of palaeontology, ichnology, and architecture, and is widely considered one of the greatest painters of all time (despite perhaps only 15 of his paintings having survived).



The Gemäldegalerie – National Museums in Berlin and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, have joined forces in organising a major exhibition on the genesis of the Italian portrait. For Berlin, the Bode Museum presents itself as the ideal location to hold such an exhibition: on its opening in 1904, it was conceived by its founder, Wilhelm von Bode, as a ‘Renaissance Museum’ on the Museum Island. The Bode Museum will host the first stage of the exhibition, running from 25 August to 20 November 2011, before it subsequently goes on show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, from 19 December 2011 to 18 March 2012.

More than 150 key works, including paintings, drawings, medals and busts, are about to go on display for the first time together. The more than 50 lenders include the Uffizi in Florence, the Louvre in Paris and the National Gallery in London. Among the exhibition’s many highlights is Leonardo da Vinci’s Lady with an Ermine from the Czartoryski Collection, Cracow.

The exhibition highlights depictions of the appearance and personality of real people. Portraits of feminine beauty vie with portraits of generals, princes and humanists, offering us a fascinating insight into the age of the early Renaissance.

At the heart of the exhibition stands the Italian Renaissance portrait. The Italian art of portraiture evolved under the influence of antique models. However, it was equally shaped by the innovations of the great Netherlandish painters. The history of the art of portraiture, from Pisanello up to Verrocchio, Botticelli, Bellini and Leonardo, is retold in a selection of magnificent and sensational key works, including paintings, sculptures, medals and drawings. The exhibition focuses both on the art produced at the Italian courts, as well as the development of the portrait in Florence and Venice.

A unique architectural and lighting concept, especially designed for the exhibition, takes into account the individual qualities of each exhibit in its presentation. Of crucial importance here is the aesthetic experience, both of the quality of the artworks and of the materials used in creating them.

The artistic diversity evident in these early portraits, the various roles the images served and their historical contexts all resonate with suspense. The Gemäldegalerie – National Museums in Berlin and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York embarked on an intense collaboration to present this to the general public. Masterpieces from New York and the rich collections of the National Museums in Berlin, not just from the Gemäldegalerie itself but also from the Sculpture Collection, Kupferstichkabinett and Numismatic Collection, offer visitors an unprecedented insight into this epoch. Furthermore, for the first time the show in the Bode Museum also encompasses all media of Italian Renaissance portraiture – medals, drawings, sculptures and panel paintings.

Portraits – either in the form of a painting, photograph and less often a medal – have become commonplace today, but between the 5th and 15th century independent portraits of individual people were rare and the exclusive reserve of rulers and historic figures. Only in the 15th century did it again become customary for artists on both sides of the Alps to produce independent portraits of men and women. Today’s exhibition Renaissance Faces pays homage to Italy’s contribution to this first great age of European portraiture and conveys a sense of the innovative ways in which artists responded to the challenge of creating individual portraits and how they explored questions of identity that arose as a result.

When selecting the exhibits, the organisers’ chief aim was to highlight the prevailing conventions and decisive innovations in a period spanning more than eight decades. Set against the backdrop of Italy’s geographical, political and cultural complexities in the 15th century, the exhibition is divided into three clearly outlined thematic sections. The first of these is Florence, as it was here that the independent portrait first appeared on a significant scale. The visitor’s gaze is then directed to the courts of Ferrara, Mantua, Bologna, Milan, Urbino, Naples and finally papal Rome. The circle is then completed in Venice, where a portrait tradition only established itself remarkably late in the century. In each section, works in all media are juxtaposed with each other to give visitors the chance to see for themselves how the various art forms mutually influenced each other with their own unique qualities.

In a society dominated by family descent and social hierarchies, conventions were binding. And it is precisely these conventions that are depicted in profile portraits from 15th-century Italy. Profile portraits were equally popular as reliefs or paintings. Compared with the far more naturalistic art produced north of the Alps, which people in 15th-century Italy were definitely familiar with, this form of portrait seems at first a little surprising, as the Italian artists present the sitters in a soft light and at a slight angle to the picture plane. The sitters are seen standing either at a window or behind a parapet and gaze at the viewer. Sometimes a hand is seen resting on the edge of the painted frame. When looking at these images, it is clear that Italian portraits are not primarily concerned with achieving an accurate likeness, at least not in the conventional sense. Italian portraits do not so much reveal personality, rather convey social conventions and cultural identity.

The profile portrait was frequently given such exceptional importance in Italy, because it largely drew from Roman coins and reliefs for inspiration. But the profile portrait has always been the most elementary form of capturing someone’s likeness. Informal, direct and frontal views have become so familiar to us in portraits today thanks to photography that we first have to be resensitised to the unique possibilities inherent in the profile portrait. For one, it makes it possible to objectify a person’s outer appearance and allows physiognomies to convey cultural meaning. The pleasing aspect of a high forehead, the refinement or contemptuousness expressed in a raised brow, the aristocratic curve of a nose and the severity or gentleness of a chin and jawline – all these are physiognomical characteristics that come to stand as emblems for beauty, rank and power.

Press release from the Bode Museum website quoting the exhibition catalogue



Pisanello (Antonio Pisano) (Italian, 1395-1455)
Portrait of Leonello d’Este
c. 1444
Bergamo, Accademia Carrara
© Accademia Carrara, Bergamo



Pisanello (c. 1395 – c. 1455), known professionally as Antonio di Puccio Pisano or Antonio di Puccio da Cereto, also erroneously called Vittore Pisano by Giorgio Vasari, was one of the most distinguished painters of the early Italian Renaissance and Quattrocento. He was acclaimed by poets such as Guarino da Verona and praised by humanists of his time, who compared him to such illustrious names as Cimabue, Phidias and Praxiteles.



Sandro Botticelli (Italian, 1445-1520)
Portrait of Giuliano de’ Medici
c. 1478
Washington, National Gallery of Art
© Art Resource, New York



Andrea Mantegna (Italian, 1431-1506)
Portrait of Cardinal Ludovico Trevisano
c. 1459
Berlin, National Museums in Berlin, Gemäldegalerie
© National Museums in Berlin, Jörg P. Anders



Andrea Mantegna (c.  1431 – September 13, 1506) was an Italian painter, a student of Roman archeology, and son-in-law of Jacopo Bellini. Like other artists of the time, Mantegna experimented with perspective, e.g. by lowering the horizon in order to create a sense of greater monumentality. His flinty, metallic landscapes and somewhat stony figures give evidence of a fundamentally sculptural approach to painting. He also led a workshop that was the leading producer of prints in Venice before 1500.



Antonello da Messina (Italian, 1430-1479)
Portrait of a Young Man
Berlin, National Museums in Berlin, Gemäldegalerie
© National Museums in Berlin, Jörg P. Anders



Antonello da Messina, properly Antonello di Giovanni di Antonio, but also called Antonello degli Antoni and Anglicised as Anthony of Messina (c. 1430 – February 1479), was an Italian painter from Messina, Sicily, active during the Early Italian Renaissance. His work shows strong influences from Early Netherlandish painting although there is no documentary evidence that he ever travelled beyond Italy. Giorgio Vasari credited him with the introduction of oil painting into Italy. Unusually for a south Italian artist of the Renaissance, his work proved influential on painters in northern Italy, especially in Venice.



Bode Museum
Museum Island Berlin,
Am Kupfergraben 1, 10117 Berlin

Opening hours:
Monday closed
Tuesday – Sunday 10.00am – 6.00pm

Bode Museum website


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Exhibition: ‘Twombly and Poussin: Arcadian Painters’ at the Dulwich Picture Gallery, London

Exhibition dates: 29th June – 25th September 2011

Curator: Dr. Nicholas Cullinan, Curator of International Modern Art at Tate Modern.


Many thankx to the Dulwich Picture Gallery for allowing me to publish the images in the posting. Please click on them for a larger version of the image.



Robert Rauschenberg. 'Cy and Relics' 1952


Robert Rauschenberg (American, 1925-2008)
Cy and Relics
© The Rauschenberg Foundation


Nicolas Poussin. 'The Triumph of Pan' c. 1636


Nicolas Poussin (French, 1594-1665)
The Triumph of Pan
c. 1636
Pen and ink with wash over stylus and black chalk
581 x 410 x 29 mm
Lent by Her Majesty the Queen. The Royal Collection
© 2011 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II



Cy Twombly (American, 1928-2011)
Bacchanalia-Fall (5 Days in November) Blatt 4, InvNr. UAB 457
Collage, oil, chalk, gouache, on fabriano paper, graph paper
101.2 x 150.5cm
Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen – Museum Brandhorst, München
Leihgeber: Udo Brandhorst
© Cy Twombly


Cy Twombly. 'Pan' 1975


Cy Twombly (American, 1928-2011)
148 x 100cm
Private Collection
© Cy Twombly, Courtesy: Cy Twombly Archive


Nicolas Poussin. 'The Triumph of David' 1628-1631


Nicolas Poussin (French, 1594-1665)
The Triumph of David
© By permission of the Trustees of Dulwich Picture Gallery


Cy Twombly. 'Hero and Leandro' 1985


Cy Twombly (American, 1928-2011)
Hero and Leandro
202 x 254cm
Private Collection, Courtesy Thomas Ammann Fine Art AG, Zurich
© Cy Twombly



“I would’ve liked to have been Poussin, if I’d had a choice, in another time.”

Cy Twombly



Dulwich Picture Gallery is proud to announce a revelatory exhibition of the work of Cy Twombly and Nicolas Poussin. Organised to celebrate the Bicentenary of the Gallery, this major show will explore, for the first time, the unexpected yet numerous parallels and affinities between the two artists. The exhibition will draw upon the world-class permanent collection of works at Dulwich Picture Gallery by Nicolas Poussin, alongside other works from major collections around the world by both Poussin and Twombly.

In 1624 and 1957, the two artists, aged around thirty, moved to Rome. Nicolas Poussin and Cy Twombly subsequently spent the majority of their lives in the Eternal City, and went on to become the pre-eminent painters of their day. Rather than recent exhibitions that have sought to compare and contrast old masters with contemporary artists through superficial visual appearances, this groundbreaking show will instead juxtapose works which may seem radically disparate in terms of style, yet ones that share deep and timeless interests. Both Poussin and Twombly were artists of prodigious talent who found in the classical heritage of Rome a life-long subject. Both spent their lives studying, revivifying and making newly relevant for their own eras antiquity, ancient history, classical mythology, Renaissance painting, poetry and the imaginary, idealised realm of Arcadia.

Curated by Dr. Nicholas Cullinan, Curator of International Modern Art at Tate Modern, the exhibition examines how Twombly and Poussin, although separated by three centuries, nonetheless engaged with the same sources and will explore the overlapping subjects that the two artists have shared. It will consist of around thirty carefully-chosen paintings, drawings and sculptures, structured thematically around six sections devoted to key shared themes, from both artists’ early fascinations with Arcadia and the pastoral when they first moved to Rome, Venus and Eros, Anxiety and Theatricality, Apollo, Parnassus and Poetry, Pan and the Bacchanalia, through to the theme of The Four Seasons.

The exhibition will be accompanied by the British premiere of Tacita Dean’s new 16mm film portrait of Cy Twombly, Edwin Parker (2011). The film documents Twombly in his studio in Lexington, Virginia, and follows on from Dean’s series of filmed depictions of subjects such as the choreographer Merce Cunningham, the poet Michael Hamburger and the artist Mario Merz, where the inner life of the sitter is implied through their physical demeanour and surroundings. A series of talks will also accompany the exhibition, including Sir Nicholas Serota, Director of Tate, in conversation with Dr. Nicholas Cullinan on the topic of curating Twombly, and Malcolm Bull (Ruskin School of Drawing, University of Oxford) and T. J. Clark (Professor Emeritus of Modern Art at the University of California, Berkeley; and Visiting Professor, University of York) who will discuss the work of Poussin and Twombly and the themes raised by the exhibition.

Ian Dejardin, Director of Dulwich Picture Gallery explains that the exhibition “fits in with a philosophy I have pursued here – that exhibitions can conduct a dialogue with the permanent collection. In the past Howard Hodgkin, Lucian Freud and Paula Rego have all hung their paintings within the collection, so Poussin and Twombly seemed like a natural extension of those experiments.”

The exhibition has received enthusiastic support and loans from major private and public collections around the world, including The National Gallery and Tate in London; The Royal Collection; The Duke of Devonshire; The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge; Museo del Prado, Madrid; The Brandhorst Museum, Munich and The Art Institute of Chicago. The exhibition has been developed in close collaboration with Cy Twombly himself, and will include works that have never been exhibited before.

Press release from the Dulwich Picture Gallery


Nicolas Poussin. 'Rinaldo and Armida' c. 1630


Nicolas Poussin (French, 1594-1665)
Rinaldo and Armida
c. 1630
© By permission of the Trustees of Dulwich Picture Gallery


Nicolas Poussin. 'The Nurture of Jupiter' mid 1630s


Nicolas Poussin (French, 1594-1665)
The Nurture of Jupiter
mid 1630s
© By permission of the Trustees of Dulwich Picture Gallery


Cy Twombly. 'Quattro Stagioni: Primavera' 1993-5


Cy Twombly (American, 1928-2011)
Quattro Stagioni: Primavera
Acrylic, oil, crayon and pencil on canvas
3230 x 1996 x 67 mm
Tate: Purchased with assistance from the American Fund for the Tate Gallery and Tate Members 2002
© Tate, London, 2010, © Cy Twombly


Cy Twombly. 'Quattro Stagioni: Estate' 1993-5


Cy Twombly (American, 1928-2011)
Quattro Stagioni: Estate
Acrylic and pencil on canvas
3241 x 2250 x 67 mm
Tate: Purchased with assistance from the American Fund for the Tate Gallery and Tate Members 2002
© Tate, London, 2010, © Cy Twombly


Nicolas Poussin. 'Venus and Mercury' c. 1627/1629


Nicolas Poussin (French, 1594-1665)
Venus and Mercury
c. 1627/1629
© By permission of the Trustees of Dulwich Picture Gallery


Cy Twombly. 'Quattro Stagioni: Autunno' 1993-5


Cy Twombly (American, 1928-2011)
Quattro Stagioni: Autunno
Acrylic, oil, crayon and pencil on canvas
3230 x 2254 x 67 mm
Tate: Purchased with assistance from the American Fund for the Tate Gallery and Tate Members 2002
© Tate, London, 2010, © Cy Twombly


Cy Twombly (American, 1928-2011) 'Quattro Stagioni: Inverno' 1993-5


Cy Twombly (American, 1928-2011)
Quattro Stagioni: Inverno
Acrylic, oil and pencil on canvas
3229 x 2300 x 67mm
Tate: Purchased with assistance from the American Fund for the Tate Gallery and Tate Members 2002
© Tate, London, 2010, © Cy Twombly



Dulwich Picture Gallery
Gallery Road, London, SE21 7AD

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Sunday, 10am – 5pm
Closed Mondays except Bank Holidays

Dulwich Picture Gallery website


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Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His art work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes Art Blart, an art and cultural memory archive, which posts mainly photography exhibitions from around the world. He holds a Doctor of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne, a Master of Arts (Fine Art Photography) from RMIT University, and a Master of Art Curatorship from the University of Melbourne.

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