Anselm Feuerbach

The Paintings of Anselm Feuerbach

Born in September of 1829 in Speyer, one of Germany’s oldest cities, Anselm Feuerbach was a painter and a leading member of the nineteenth-century German classical school. He was the son of archaeologist Joseph Anselm Feuerbach and the grandson of legal scholar Paul Johann Anselm Ritter von Feuerbach, whose reformation of the Bavarian penal code led to the abolition of torture. 

Anselm Feuerbach studied between 1845 and 1848 at the Düsseldorf Academy under the tutelage of romantic painter Wilhelm von Schadow, landscape painter Johann Wilhelm Schirmer, and Carl Sohn, whose poetic and mythical subjects were executed in the idealistic manner of the Düsseldorf school of painting. Feuerbach studied for a year at the Munich Academy of Art; he however left Munich in 1850 to attend the Academy at Antwerp. There he studied under Belgian painter Gustaaf Wappers, an early exponent of the Romanic movement in Belgium.

Anselm Feuerbach relocated to Paris in 1851 and became a student at the atelier of history and genre painter Thomas Couture. Conture is best known for his 1847 masterpiece “Romans During the Decadence” which was  exhibited at Paris’s Salon a year before the revolution toppled the monarchy. In 1854, Feuerbach received funding from Grand Duke Friedrich of Baden which enabled him to visit Venice, accompanied by his friend, the writer Victor Scheffel. There he was influenced by the technique of layering and blending colors to achieve a glowing richness, a method deemed fundamental to the Venetian Colorist school.

 Feuerbach traveled to Florence and then onto Rome where he would remain until 1873, with only brief trips back to Germany. In 1861, he met Anna Risi who became his mistress and sat as his model for four years, a period during which he painted twenty portraits of her. She was succeeded as a model in 1866 by Lucia Brunacci, an innkeeper’s wife who posed for Feuerbach’s depictions of the Greek sorceress Medea. In 1862, literary and art historian Count Adolf Freidrich von Schack commissioned Feuerbach for several copies of Old Master paintings and introduced him to artists Hans von Marées and Arnold Böcklin. 

Interested in the Persian poet Hafia since his youth, Anselm Feuervach in 1866 painted his “Hafia at the Fountain” which was acquired two years later by art collector Joseph Benzino, Upon Benzino’s death, the painting was bequeathed to  the Kaiserslautern Art Museum. In 1873,  Feuerbach relocated to Vienna and took the position of professor of history painting at the Academy of Fine Arts.  Four years later, he resigned his post and moved back to Venice. where he passed away, at the age of fifty, in January of 1880. 

In remembrance of Feuerbach, his friend Johannes Brahms composed “Nänie (A Funeral Song)”,  a composition for full chorus and orchestra, of which the first sentence states “Even the beautiful must die”. Feuerbach was close to his step-mother Henriette Feuerbach. Throughout his lifetime of travels, he wrote roughly six-hundred letters to his step-mother describing his everyday life and problems, as well as his thoughts on art and his methods of painting. Following Feuerbach’s  death, his step-mother wrote a book entitled “Ein Vermächtnis (A Testament)” which included his autobiographical notes and many of his personal letters. Anselm Feuerbach’s works are housed in collections of the leading public German galleries.

Note: An article written by Candida Syndikus entitled “Far from the Modern World: Anselm Feuerbach’s Idea of Modernity” can be found at:

Top Insert Image: Anselm Feuerbach, Selbetbildnis als Knabe (Self Portrait as a Boy)”, 1845-1846, Oil on Canvas, 15.5 x 12.5 cm, Alte Nationalgalerie

Middle Insert Image: Anselm Feuerbach, “Seated Male Nude”, 1860-1869, Black and white Chalk on Brown Paper, 60.4 x 40 cm, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Bottom Insert Image: Anselm Feuerbach, “Self Portrait”, 1852-1853, Oil on Canvas, 42 x 33 cm, Staatliche Kunsthalle, Karlsruhe, Germany

Alexandre Denis Abel de Pujol

Alexandre-Denis Abel de Pujal, “Ixion Chained in Tartarus”, 1824, Oil on Canvas, 127 x 157 cm, Louvre Museum, Paris

Alexandre-Denis Abel de Pujol, “Sisyphus Eternally Rolling the Rock”, 1819, Oil on Canvas, 130 x 212 cm, Musée Henri Martin, Cahors, France

Born in January of 1785 in Valenciennes, a northern French city bordering Belgium, Alexandre Denis Abel de Pujol was a French painter. He was the illegitimate son and only child of nobleman Alexander-Denis-Joseph Mortry de Pujol, Baron de la Grave, who served as advisor to King Louis XVI Auguste and was the founder of the Académie de Peinture et Sculpture in Valenciennes. From the age of twelve, Abel de Pujol studied at the Academy and completed his training as a student of Neoclassical artist Jacques-Louis David, regarded in his time as the preeminent painter in France. 

Receiving little support from his father for his studies, Abel de Pujol earned a pension from the city of Valenciennes which allowed him to continue his studies at David’s studio. He also took classes in perspective, anatomy, and architecture at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. In 1806 at  the age of twenty-one, de Pujol won a first-class medal at the Académie and a second-class medal at the Salon of 1810 for his painting “Jacob Blessing the Children of Joseph”; this painting placed second at the Prix de Rome competition in 1810. 

In 1811, Abel du Pujol won the Prix de Rome with his painting “Lycurgus Presenting the Heir to the Throne to the Lacedaemonians”. Having achieved this award, he was formally recognized by his father and was able to add the name Pujol to his own. Abel de Pujol suffered a period of poor health and depression during his stay in Italy, which allowed him only eight months of study in 1812. Restored to health, he returned to his career in Paris and successfully exhibited mainly history paintings at the Salons.

In 1814, Abel de Pujol won gold medals from both Louis XVIII and Napoleon Bonaparte for his monumental painting “The Death of Britannicus”. A compositional study for the 3.54 x 5.50 meters painting is currently housed in the collection of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. His grisaille (gray-monochrome) painting “The Preaching and Martyrdom of Saint Stephen”, intended for the church of Saint Etienne du Mont, was entered at the 1817 Paris Salon where it won the prize for history painting. These awards established his reputation as a history painter and muralist.

Abel de Pujol received several important official commissions, He executed three paintings and a ceiling mural for the royal palace at Versailles, as well as a large, allegorical ceiling mural, entitled “The Renaissance of the Arts”, for the Louvre’s grand staircase, later destroyed in 1855 during the joining of the Palais du Louvre to the Palais des Tuileries. Abel de Pujol also painted many mural decorations for public buildings, such as the Galerie de Diane at Fontainbeau and the Palais de Luxembourg. For the ceiling of the Bourse, Paris’s stock exchange, he executed a series of large-scale grisaille tromp-l’oeil decorations of architectural features and draped nudes.

Throughout his career, de Pujol produced altar pieces and designs for stained-glass windows for Parisian churches such as Saint-Roch, Saint Sulpice and Saint Thomas d’Acquin and the Madeleine. He also did work for the cathedral at Arras and the church of Saint-Pierre in Douai. Included among Abel de Pojul’s last major works are the 1846 “Valenciennes Encouraging the Arts”, a monumental canvas for the town hall of Valenciennes, and an 1852 mural for the ceiling of the staircase of the School of Mining at the Hôtel de Vendôme in Paris.

A successful teacher and draftsman, Abel de Pujol was a member of the Institut de France, a learned society composed of all the sciences and fine arts, and an Officer of the National Order of the Legion of Honor. Among his students were sculptor Alphonse Lami, painter Alexandre-Gabriel Decamps, and Julien Hudson, an American painter and free man of color, thought to be the first African American by whom a self portrait is known. Abel de Pujol died in Paris, at the age of seventy-six, in September of 1861. 

Top Insert Image: Alexandre-Denis Abel de Pujol, “Self Portrait”, 1806, Oil on Canvas, 71 x 55 cm, Musée de Beaux-Arts, Paris

Middle Insert Image: Abel de Pujol, “La Colère d’Achille (The Fury of Achilles)”, 1810, Oil on Canvas, 112 x 146 cm, Snite Museum of Art, Campus of Notre Dame, Indiana

Bottom Insert Image: Alexandre_Abel_de_Pujol, “Self Portrait”, 1812, Oil on Canvas, 56.2 x 46 cm, Musée des Beaux-Arts

Giulio Monteverde

Funeral Monuments of Giulio Monteverde

Born on October 8th of 1837 in Bistagno, a municipality in the Piedmont region of Italy, Giulio Monteverde was a sculptor and educator. He moved with his family to Genova where he began, at the age of nine, his initial training at the Ligustica Academy of Fine Arts in Genova, under the guidance of sculptor Santo Varni. Monteverde also studied at Rome’s Academy of Fine Arts, where he later obtained the position of Professor.

In 1865, Monteverde won the Pensionato Artistico Triennale, a three-year grant, which allowed him to relocate to Rome and establish his own studio. A neo-classical sculptor, his romantic-realist style achieved rapid success and critical acclaim, particularly in the United States. In 1886, Italian naval officer Enrico Alberto d’Albertis acquired a castle and commissioned a statue of the young Christopher Columbus from Monteverde. The 1870 white Carrara marble sculpture, “Colombo Giovinetto”, modeled from D’Albertis’s nephew Filippo, won a gold medal at an exhibition in Parma, Italy.

In 1873, Giulio Monteverde completed a narrative work, “Edward Jenner Vaccinating His Son Against Smallpox”, a life-sized marble sculpture, which he presented at the Vienna International Exposition. This was shown again at the 1878 Universal Exposition in Paris, and now resides at Rome’s National Gallery of Modern Art. Following his success a the Vienna Exposition, Monteverde, in the following year, sculpted a realistic, intricately detailed marble statue of the Roman water nymph, Egeria.

Most of Monteverde’s talent was dedicated to the execution of  religious sculpture and funerary monuments. The theme of the Angel of Death, or of the Night, was portrayed in a number of variations throughout Italy and Spain. The tomb of the Oneto Family, commissioned by Francesco Oneto, President of the General Bank, is located at the Staglieno Cemetery in Genoa. It portrayed a sensual angel holding the trumpet of Universal Judgement in his right hand, and was replicated many times by Monteverde for other families, an exmaple of which is the more demure angel leaning against the Llambi Campbell family vault in the Recoleta Cemetery of Buenos Aires, Argentina.

As an educator, Giulio Monteverde taught at Rome’s Acadey of Fine Arts; among his students were Argentine sculptor and medalist Victor de Pol and Lola Mora, a Argentine sculptor and a pioneer of women in her field. Monteverde was made an officer in the Legion of Honor in 1878 and, in 1889, became an Italian Senator. He passed away on October 3rd of 1917, at eighty years of age.

Bottom Insert Image: Giulio Monteverde, “Colombo Giovinetto (The Young Columbus)”, 1870, Carrara Marble, Museo della Culture del Mondo, Genoa, Italy

Arcangelo Corelli

Arcangelo Corelli, Concerto in D Major Op. 6 No. 4, 1714, Performed by the Voices of Music Ensemble

Born on February 17, 1653 in Fusignano, Papal States, Italy, Arcangelo Corelli was a violinist and composer of the Italian Baroque era, whose  family were prosperous landowners, but not of the nobility. Known chiefly for his influence on the development of violin style and for his sonatas, Corelli’s “12 Concert Grossi “ established the contrast between a small group of soloists and the full orchestra as a popular compositional medium. 

Historical records of the poet Giovanni Mario Crescimbeni, founder of the celebrated Academy of Arcadians, state Arcangelo Corelli initially studied music under priests, first in the city of Faenza and then in Lugo, before he moved in 1666 to Bologna, a major center of musical culture. Plausible, but largely unconfirmed, historical accounts link his musical education with several master violinists, including Giovanni Benvenuti, Bartolomeo Laurenti, and Giovanni Battista Bassani. 

Although it is unclear exactly when Corelli arrived in Rome, it is known that he was actively engaged as a violinist in 1675. He played as one of the supporting violinists in three Lenten oratorios: one at the church of San Giovanni dei Florentini, one held on August 25th for a celebration at the church San Luigi dei Francesi, and one for the ordination ceremony of a noble Chigi family member held at the church Santi Domenico e Sisto. By February of 1675, Corelli was third violinist in the Chapel of San Luigi dei Francesi’s orchestra in Rome; by the following year Corelli was second violinist.

Corelli rapidly gain a reputation by playing in a number of ensembles sponsored by wealthy patrons at San Marcello al Corso, for whom he played in oratorios during the Lenten seasons from 1671 to 1679. In June of 1677, Corelli completed and sent his first composition “Sonata for Violin and Lute” to Count Fabrizio Laderchi, a noble in Faenza attached to the household of Prince Francesco Maria de Medici. Corelli’s “Twelve  Trio Sonatas (Two Violins and Cello, with Organ Basso Continuo), Opus 1”, dedicated to Queen Christina of Sweden, was published in 1681. 

From September 1687 to November 1690, Arcangelo Corelli was musical director at the Palazzo Pamphili, where he performed and conducted important musical events, Including conducting an orchestra of one hundred fifty strings for Queen Christina. A favorite of the great music patron Cardinal Pietro Ottoboni, Corelli in 1690 entered into the Cardinal’s service where he performed in concerts at Ottoboni’s Palazzo della Cancelleria. Joining him at these concerts were the violinist Matteo Fornari, the cellist G. B. Lulier from Spain, and the harpsichordist Bernardo Pasquini, and other orchestral players.

Corelli had first met Matteo Fornari in 1682, and they soon developed an intimate relationship which lasted until Corelli’s death. Socially protected by Ottoboni and living discreetly among male friends, they devoted their time together to the pursuit of their music which included many performances played together. Their relationship became the inspiration for two compositions by their friend Giuseppe Valentini, who dedicated his trio sonatas to both Corelli and Fornari. During this period, Corelli quietly developed his best-known and most influential works, the orchestral “Concerti Grossi”, and also became one of the most renowned violin teachers, who taught such students as Gasparini, Castrucci, and Locatelli.

In 1702, Corelli went to Naples and performed a composition by the Italian composer Alessandro Scarlatti, a performance which was probably performed  in the presence of its regent, King Philip IV.  In 1706, together with composer Bernardo Pasquini and Scarlatti, Corelli was received into the Pontifical Academy of Arcadia in Rome and conducted a concert for the occasion. By 1708 he withdrew from public view and began to revise his compositions. A contemporary of both Lully and Handel, Corelli died in Rome on the 8th of January in 1713. 

Arcangelo Corelli left his large art collection of paintings, all his instruments and music, and all future proceeds from it, to Matteo Fornari who readied Corelli’s unpublished “Op. 6 Concertos” for publication with Estienne Roger of Amsterdam. By special decree from the Pope, Corelli was buried next to Raphael in the section of the Pantheon in Rome that holds the remains of painters and architects.

Arcangelo Corelli’s “Concerto in D Major Op. 6”, was published in 1714 in Amsterdam and dramatically affected the style of the baroque concerto for the next generation of composers. The reception of this collection, considered one of the crown jewels of baroque instrumental music, owes a portion of its success to the music publishing boom which began around 1690. Corelli’s signature violin sonata set, “Opus 5”, also widely published, appeared in at least forty-two editions by 1800. 

Corelli’s concertos are written in an expanded trio sonata style, in which the two solo violins and cello form a small ensemble within the larger tutti framework, which is performed with all instruments together. The fourth concerto, played in the video linked above, is noteworthy for its suave and serene introduction, the gracefulness of the dance movement, the exceptionally well-balanced counterpoint and harmony, and the furious concluding coda which flows out of the second ending of the last movement.

Note: The video is from the Voices of Music Lamentations of Jeremiah concert held in April of 2014. Played with period instruments and practice,, there isn’t any conductor present at the performance. Kati Kyme and Elizabeth Blumenstock play solo baroque violins; Shirley Edith Hunt plays solo baroque cello; Gabrielle Wunsch and Maxine Nemerovski play ripieno baroque violins; Lisa Grodin plays baroque viola; Farley Pearce plays violone; Hanneke van Proosdij plays baroque organ; and David Tayler plays the archlute.

Michelangelo Merisi de Caravaggio

Michelangelo Merisi de Caravaggio, “Saint Francis of Assisi in Ecstasy”, c. 1594-1595, Oil on Canvas, 92.5 x 127.8 cm, Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, Connecticut

While most other Italian artists of his time followed the conventions of late Mannerist painting, Caravaggio painted the Biblical stories as dramas, staging the events of the sacred past as if they were contemporary, often working from live models whom he depicted in starkly modern dress. He also developed a highly original form of chiaroscuro, using extreme contrasts of light and dark to emphasize details of gesture or facial expression, a style that greatly influenced later artists.

“Saint Francis of Assisi in Ecstasy” was the first of Caravaggio’s religious canvasses. Completed between 1594 and 1595, it was presumably painted as a commission from Cardinal Francesco Maria Del Monte, a diplomat and art connoisseur during the reign of Pope Sixtus V, and executed during the time that Caravaggio was living in Palazzo Madama, the home of Cardinal Del Monte.

The painting is based on the story told by Brother Leo, secretary and confessor to Saint Francis of Assisi. In the story, Francis retired in 1224 to the wilderness with a small group of his followers  to contemplate God. At night on the mountainside, Brother Leo saw a winged seraph, one of the higher Orders of angels, come down amidst dazzling light as a fiery figure nailed to a cross of fire.

From the seraph’s wounds in its heart, hands and feet came streams of fire and blood, which pierced the hands and feet of Francis with nails and stabbed his heart with a lance. As Francis shouted, the fiery image merged into his body; Francis sank down unconscious in his blood with the wounds of the Stigmata on his body.

In Caravaggio’s “Saint Francis”, the violent confrontation described by Brother Leo is not depicted. Instead, a gentle angel, larger than the unconscious saint, is shown holding Francis, while Francis’ followers are seen dimly in the darkness of the painting’s mid-ground. 

Caravaggio’s version of this 13th century subject is more intimate than Giotto di Bondone’s 1297 “Stigmatization of Saint Francis” or Giovanni Bellini’s 1480 “Saint Francis in the Desert” with its rocky landscape. Caravaggio’s work shows no sign of blood or the Stigmata, just a wound shown in the Franciscan robe of the saint. Francis rests peacefully in the arms of a boyish figure wearing a white robe and golden wings; both figures lit by Caravaggio through a chiaroscuro effect.

Note: An interesting read is “Caravaggio’s Secrets” by Leo Bersani and Ulysse Dutoit by The Mit Press. An excerpt from the book, Chapter One, “Sexy Secrets”, can be found at:

Jaques Augustin-Catherine Pajou

Jaques Augustin Pajou, Academic Male Study, 1785, Oil on Canvas, 100 x 82 cm, Private Collection

Insert: Jaques Augustin Pajou, “Academic Male Study”, 1787, Oil on Canvas, 100 x 82 cm, Private Collection

The son of famous sculptor Augustin Pajou, Jacques-Augustin-Catherine Pajou was born in August of 1766 in Paris, France. He was a historical and portrait painter in the Classical style, with the emphasis on form, simplicity, proportion and the clarity of formal structure. In 1784, Pajou became a student at Paris’ Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture. 

In 1792, accompanied with painter Louis-François Lejeune and economist Jean-Baptiste Say, Jacques Pajou became a member of the Compagnie des Arts de Paris. This military unit of the French Revolutionary Wars, organized by the Louvre, consisted of students of literature, the arts, and sciences, particularly from the École des Beaux-Arts and the École de Droit. Pajou, during this period, was stationed in Sedan, an administrative district in north-east France.

After demobilization, Jacques Pajou was a member of the General Arts Community of Paris, a revolutionary institution, founded by painters Jacques-Louis David and Jean ll Restout, to replace the Royal Academy. This movement succeeded in abolishing the Academy in September of 1793 during the French Revolution, burning paintings and books. It was later restored as a division of the Institute of France in 1803 by Napoleon Bonaparte.. Jacques Pajou served as Secretary for the General Arts Community’s president, painter Joseph-Marie Vien. 

Under the First French Empire, ruled by Napoleon Bonaparte, Jacques Pajou was commissioned to paint a portrait of Louis-Alexandre Berthier, Marshal and chief of staff to Napoleon, which is now on view at Versailles. In 1812, Pajou was awarded a gold medal for his depiction of Napoleon offering clemency to the Royalists who had taken refuge in Spain. In 1814, he painted three tableaux, displayed at the Paris Salon, which celebrated the Bourbon Restoration, the period in France following the first fall of Napoleon and the restoration of a conservative government under Louis XVII and Charles X.

Citing poor health, Jacques-Augustin-Catherine Pajou resigned in 1823 from most of the associations of which he was a member. After experiencing increasing poor health and a year of continual tremors, Pajou died in November of 1828, while residing in Paris. His body was interred at the Père-Lachaise Cemetery. 

Jean-Auguste Dominique Ingres

Jean-Auguste Dominique Ingres, “The Ambassadors of Agamemnon in the Tent of Achilles”, Detail and Full Canvas, 1801, Oil on Canvas, École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts

The monumental history painter Jean-Auguste Dominique Ingres was born in August of 1780 in the southern French town of Montauban. After receiving early instruction from his artist father, he was enrolled at the Academy of Toulouse, studying under neo-classical painter Guillaume-Joseph Roques. In 1797 Ingres left for Paris to study with Jacques-Louis David, who recognized his talent and allowed Ingres to assist on his “Portrait of Madame Récamier”.

Admitted to the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Ingres won the Rome Prize in 1801 with his first major work, “The Ambassadors of Agamemnon in the Tent of Achilles”. Living in Paris and studying medieval church sculptures and the works of early Italians and Flemings at the Louvre, Ingress drifted away from the classicism he studied under Roques and David. He developed a new style, intricately designed with nearly shadowless figures, formed of distinct areas of color. Ingress exhibited four works at the Salon of 1806; though three were ignored by the critics, his “Napoleon on the Imperial Throne”,with its hard Gothic-styled artificiality and symmetry, scandalized them.

Between 1806 and 1814, Ingress spent his time painting in Italy, surviving on a four year stipend from the French Academy of Rome, painting portraits, before receiving patronage from, among others, Caroline Murat, sister of Emperor Napoleon and Queen of Naples. His works during this time includes “Oedipus and the Sphinx” and the “Valpincon Bather”, both executed in 1808 and now in the Louvre. Ingres was also among the painters charged with decorations for the Quirinale Palace, the residence of Napoleon’s infant son, king of Rome, producing two large paintings: the romantic 1813 “The Dream of Ossian” and the 1812 tempera painting “Romulus Victorious over Acron”.

Ingres received his first major commission from the Restorative government for two major works: an altar piece for the church of Santa Trinita dei Monti in Rome and, for the cathedral of Montauban, a painting to depict King Louis XIII’s vow to consecrate his kingdom to the Virgin Mary in Her Assumption. “The Vow of Louis XIII” achieved critical success at the Paris Salon of 1824, establishing Ingres’s reputation as the main classical artist. He was awarded the Legion of Honor and elected to the Royal Academy, staying in France and opening a teaching studio in 1825.

After the Revolution of 1830, Ingres received honors but little work from the liberal monarchy of Louis-Philippe. He labored for ten years on a commission for the Autun Cathedral entitled “Martydom of Saint Symphorian”, only to find dismissal from the critics at the 1834 Salon as outmoded in subject matter and style. Ingress departed for Rome, staying for six years, returning only after the popular success of his 1840 “Antiochus and Stratonice”, painted for the Duke of Orlénas, the king’s eldest son.  

In the 1840s and 1850s, despite spending much of his energy on large mural works, Ingress achieved his honors from his portraits of society women, including the portraits of “Baroness Rothschild” in 1948,;“Madame Moitessier” in 1851 and now in the National Gallery of Art; and “Princess de Broglie” in 1853. For the government of Napoleon III, he painted “Apotheosis of Napoleon I” and was honored with a retrospective exhibition at the Universal Exposition of 1855.

Ingress finished his painting “Turkish Bath” in 1862 at the age of eighty-two; in the same year, he was appointed to the French Senate. He died, after a brief illness, in January of 1867, of natural causes at the age of eighty-seven. His daring individual style, often criticized, was dedicated to an idea of beauty based on the relationship between forms, and harmonies in the use of line and color.

Bertel Thorvaldsen

Bertel Thorvaldsen, “Jason and the Golden Fleece”, 1828, Marble, Thorvaldsen Museum, Copenhagen, Denmark

Bertel Thorvaldsen created a life-size clay version of this statue in 1803 for the Copenhagen Academy to demonstrate his progress at sculpture. It is considered to be his first great work. This marble version of “Jason and the Golden Fleece” was commissioned by Thomas Hope, a wealthy English art patron. The marble statue, at a height of ninety five inches, was completed in 1828.

Expressing both physical and mental calm, Jason is the prototype of the classical hero. The sculpture is fully balanced: no matter where your eyes fall, you can find a corresponding element. For example, the lance is reflected in the chest strap, the fleece in tree stump. and the curled tip of the helmet in the horns of the ram.

In 1917, Thomas Hope’s  heirs dispersed the holding of his estate at Deepdene, Surrey. “Jason and the Golden Fleece” was acquired by Copenhagen’s Thorvaldsen Museum at the auction.


Pieces of the Classics

Photographers Unknown, Pieces of the Classics

“The science, the art, the jurisprudence, the chief political and social theories, of the modern world have grown out of Greece and Rome—not by favour of, but in the teeth of, the fundamental teachings of early Christianity, to which science, art, and any serious occupation with the things of this world were alike despicable.”

Thomas H. Huxley, Agnosticism and Christianity and Other Essays

Salvatore Albano

Salvatore Albano, “The Fallen Angels or The Rebel Angels”, Marble, Dark Stone, Bronze, 1893, Height of Marble Group, 154.9 x 147.3 cm, Brooklyn Museum, New York

Born in the southern commune of Oppido Mamertina in May of 1841, Salvatore Albano was Italian sculptor. He was known for his elegant conceptualization of form and his expertise in its execution. 

Albano’s career began at an early age in the Calabria region, where he carved wooden Nativity scenes. Impressed with his talent, he was given a stipend by the regional government in 1860 to study in Naples. Albano initially studied at sculptor Sorbille’s studio in Naples, and then at Naples’s  Academy of Fine Art under its director, the sculptor Tito Angelini.    

As a young man, Albano earned considerable success in 1864 with his marble group, entitled “Conte Ugolino”, which was purchased by the marquis Agostino Sergio. In 1865, the region of Calabria extended his annual stipend of sixty lire for another three years. That same year, Albano won first prize at the Academy of Fine Art in Naples for his “Christ nell’Orto (Christ on the Mount of Olives)”. 

Salvatore Albano submitted two works, “The Resurrection of Lazarus” and “Cain”, to a exposition in Rome in 1867. He had completed by 1869 two more works, a figure of Eve and a bust of the Italian composer Gioachino Antonio Rossini. Albano also relocated to Florence in that year, where he would spend the remainder of his career. While in Florence, he completed several more works in marble, including the “Venere Mendicante”, and two plaster-cast statues, “Mephistopheles” and “Marguerite”, which were exhibited in Paris at the Salon of 1881. 

Albano’s last work was the figurative composition “Fallen Angels”, set on a marble, dark stone, and bronze base. The marble figures of the angels was finished in 1893; the dark stone carved base, which measures 40 x 57 inches, was finished in 1883. Salvador Albano died in Florence in October of 1893 at the age of fifty-two.

Note: In the National de Arta al României (Simu Museum) in Bucharest, there is a statue entitled “Slave” which is attributed to Salvador Albano. 


Annibale Carracci

Annibale Carracci, “Pieta”, Detail, 1600, Oil on Canvas, National Museum of Capodimonte in Naples, Italy

The “Pieta” by Bolognese artist Annibale Carracci is the earliest surviving work by him on the subject. It was commissioned by Italian nobleman Odoardo Farnese, who became a Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church in 1591. The painting moved from Rome to Parma and then to Naples as part of the Farnese collection.

Painter and instructor Annibale Carracci was active in Bologna and later in Rome. Along with his brothers, Carracci was one of the founders of a leadiing faction of the Baroque style. Based  on the masterful frescoes by Carracci in Bologna, he was recommended by the Duke of Parma to Cardinal Odoardo Farnese, who wished to decorate the Roman Palazzo Farnese.

Carracci led a team of artists to paint frescoes on the ceiling of the grand salon, based upon hundreds of preparatory sketches by him for the major work.. Entitled “The Loves of the Gods”, the frescoes rich with illusionistic elements would later inspire a host of artists. Throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, the Farnese Ceiling was considered the unrivaled masterpiece of fresco painting for the age.

Xu Zhen

Xu Zhen, “European Thousand-Hand Classical Sculpture” and “Eternity—The Soldier of Marathon Announcing Victory, A Wounded Galatian”, Solo Show at the Long Museum, West Bund Branch, Germany, 2015

With his characteristic humor, Xu Zhen intervenes in all manners of subject matter concerning global culture. With a taut expressiveness, he ingeniously integrates a Western spirit with Eastern culture—a new culture which transcends traditional schemas is hereby born. The all-new creation “European Thousand-Hand Classical Sculpture” assembles 19 different Western classical sculptures of various forms; borrowing from the shape of the Thousand-Hand Guanyin (Bodhisattva) in Buddhist iconography, the work deals with both the sense of form and spirituality, thereby manifesting a vigorous vitality which dumbfounds the audience’s visual perception.  “Eternity—The Soldier of Marathon Announcing Victory, A Wounded Galatian” joins two Western sculptural works; its absurd and yet stunning visual effect perfectly showcases the balance of force and belief.