Friday, 26 April 2013

The best three artists (painters)

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I love portraits best, so:

1. Rembrandt

He seems to me the deepest painter/ portraitist that ever lived.  In general, I don't find paintings to be deep - Rembrandt is the exception.

(The same applies, more strongly, for sculpture. I find good sculpture decorative rather than deep with a single exception: Rodin.)


2. 18th century British Portraitists whose names mostly begin with R

Raeburn, Ramsay, Reynolds, Romney, Gainsborough, Kneller...

I'm not sure why I like these so much, but I do!


3.  John Singer Sargent

Pure joy, entrancing delight - astonishing virtuosity.

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10 comments:

  1. Rembrandt - spot on.

    As for Raeburn and Reynolds, we once walked into a room at the NPG which was dominated by the quality of two portraits, one by each. On inspection they turned out to be self-portraits, which is when the penny dropped for me. A self-portrait is an advertising flyer that says "Just look what I can do". And, by golly, they were persuasive.

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  2. The two paintings that really stunned me in the Boston Museum are a small portrait by Rembrandt and a life-size one picturing a British gentleman in red, probably made by one of the painters you named. I felt the subjects were about to walk out of the frame and speak. On the other hand, I was not moved the smallest bit at the sight of the Van Goghs.

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  3. Best portraitist:Velazquez,but he wasn't as prolific as Rembrandt.

    History painting:Caravaggio,Repin
    Landscape painting:Shishkin,Levitan,Monet,Friedrich,Canaletto

    I particularly like painters that emphasize domestic life,the subtle stuff that we don't usually notice,the choice between vice and virtue at every small moment of daily life,Vermeer being the most famous of all.

    In general 19th century and early 20th century photography look so beautiful that many even look like paintings.

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  4. Rembrandt is the best of the best. No one else even comes close.

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  5. I have little time for painters, or paintings, so I must defer judgement to those very few paintings which have ever inspired/moved me.
    That being so, then Turner gets my vote, especially since I seem rather tribal, and he, as I, am of the same tribe.
    The Fighting Temeraire seems to me a poignant masterpiece, summing-up the passing nature of all man-made things.
    I once sat upon a bench, made from the timbers of the Temeraire. What divine sadness and pathos it inspired in me. Rather like listening to Elgar's Nimrod.

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  6. great lists, I would add in Bellini and Rublev

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  7. If you like the copiers, then you will love the original: Pompeo Batoni.

    And if you like Sargent, what then of de Laszlo, whose virtuosity was even greater.

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  8. Interesting side note on painting.Like music, it is one area where the Anglo world is markedly second tier. Rather odd, how the Anglos can produce top flight authors (Milton, Shakespeare, Wordsworth,Austen, Melville, Faulkner, etc), scientists (Newton, John Hunt Morgan, Rutherford, etc), and philosophers (Hume, Locke, Berkeley, Hobbes, Russell, James, etc) but not manage to produce painters who can equal the best of the Italians,Dutch, French...


    syon

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  9. @syon - It is true, but I don't see it as odd.

    There are some reasonable explanations for genius, and sometimes for genius in certain areas - but no group produces geniuses all around the full range of human accomplishment.

    BTW - Another Anglo gap in top flight achievement is classical music. In the era of Byrd, Tallis, Gibbons, Dowland etc. England was probably supreme in Europe - but probably none of these would be regarded as in the absolutely top tier with Bach, Handel, Mozart, Beethoven.

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  10. Bruce Charlton:'It is true, but I don't see it as odd.

    There are some reasonable explanations for genius, and sometimes for genius in certain areas - but no group produces geniuses all around the full range of human accomplishment.'

    Yes, "odd" was probably the wrong word."Striking" or "notable" might have been better.



    Bruce Charlton:"BTW - Another Anglo gap in top flight achievement is classical music. In the era of Byrd, Tallis, Gibbons, Dowland etc. England was probably supreme in Europe - but probably none of these would be regarded as in the absolutely top tier with Bach, Handel, Mozart, Beethoven."

    Oh, yes, music is definitely the other big gap in Anglo culture, as evidenced by the top ten figures in Murray's HUMAN ACCOMPLISHMENT:

    1. Beethoven

    2. Mozart

    3. J.S. Bach

    4. Wagner

    5. Haydn

    6. Handel

    7. Stravinsky

    8. Debussy

    9. Liszt

    10. Schubert

    Can't say that I like all of these figures, but one can't deny the striking lack of Anglo representation.The major Anglo composer can't even crack the top 20.

    BTW, in my previous post, that should be Thomas Hunt Morgan (the great biologist)and not John hunt Morgan (the American Civil general).

    syon

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