Friday, April 29, 2016

Van Dyck: The Anatomy of Portraiture at The Frick Collection

Van Dyck: The Anatomy of Portraiture 

The Frick Collection, New York City

March 2, 2016, through June 5, 2016 

Reviewed by Ed Voves

The list of foreign artists who have found fame and fortune in Great Britain - or refuge, at the very least - is a long one. Hans Holbein, Claude Monet and John Singer Sargent are just a few who achieved success or gained inspiration on British soil.

One artist who "crossed the Channel" made such a mark that it seems incredible that he was not British-born.  Anthony van Dyck (1599-1641) influenced the visual culture of Britain so profoundly that Thomas Gainsborough (1727-1788) invoked his name from his deathbed almost a century and a half later.

"We are all going to heaven," gasped Gainsborough with his dying words, "and van Dyck is of the Company."

Van Dyck: The Anatomy of Portraiture, now on display at the Frick Collection in New York City, demonstrates the exceptional skill and versatility that earned van Dyck this singular acclaim. 

It is highly appropriate that this exhibition is being mounted by the Frick Collection, for it has one of the finest collections of van Dyck's works in the world. 

By a great stroke of fortune - in more ways than one - Henry Frick was able to buy a matched pair of van Dyck portraits, of the painter Frans Snyders and his wife, Margareta de Vos. Unlike so many husband-wife matched portraits from the Old Master era, these two were not separated.  They can be regularly seen together at the Frick and they anchor this special exhibit of van Dyck portraits.

Van Dyck: The Anatomy of Portraiture enables us to see beyond specific masterpieces in order to gain an appreciation of the entire oeuvre of van Dyck's portrait painting. The exhibit cogently integrates van Dyck's preparatory works with his celebrated portraits in oil and less famous etchings. 

Anthony van Dyck, Frans SnydersMargareta de Vos, ca.1620

The portraits of Frans Snyders and Margareta de Vos testify to van Dyck's well-earned place in the grand tradition of Flemish painting.  But the great age of Flanders was nearing its end by the time that van Dyck painted Frans Snyders and Margareta de Vos. It was in the wider arena of Europe that van Dyck made his mark, in Great Britain most of all. 

A youthful Anthony van Dyck first visited Britain for about six months, October 1620 to March 1621. Returning a decade later, he was appointed "principal painter in ordinary to their Majesties" and was knighted by Charles I. 

Anthony van Dyck, Self-Portrait, ca. 1620-21

Accounts of his lifestyle made "Vandyke" - as he anglicized his name - seem more of a nobleman than some of the "milords" he painted. As his numerous self-portraits reveal, van Dyck possessed a highly-developed self-regard.

Van Dyck's rapid rise was founded upon his consummate skill. He masterfully captured the character and individuality of the members of Britain's ruling class and of the Italian nobility during his sojourn there, 1621-1627. 

The salient traits of a van Dyck portrait are not the arrogance or conceit that one might expect of seventeenth century aristocrats. Certainly, there are some portraits proclaiming the inflated dignity of van Dyck's protagonists. But elitism was largely a defense mechanism as royal and aristocratic privilege were threatened on many fronts.

When viewing a van Dyck portrait from his 1630's classic decade, what we see most often is fear, melancholy or blank inscrutability spread across these handsome English and Scottish faces. This was the generation who had been admonished in 1624 by John Donne, "never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee."

Van Dyck, naturally, aspired to a very different tone for his art. He wanted to be the "prince of painters and the painter of princes" as his mentor, Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640), had been. For a brief few years, during the the 1630's, van Dyck seemingly had achieved his goal at the court of Charles I. 

At first glance, the monumental portrait of Queen Henrietta Maria, the French-born wife of Charles I, overwhelms us with a sense of majesty. Van Dyck lavished a huge amount of time and talent on the preparatory sketch, done with chalk on blue paper.

Anthony van Dyck, chalk sketch for Queen Henrietta Maria with Jeffery Hudson, 1633

The fabrics in the sketch glisten and evoke a tactile feel in the same way, if not to the same degree, of the finished work. This is a masterpiece of draftmanship and it is no wonder that this sketch is a prized work in the collection of the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, Paris.

The most telling element of this sketch, however, is the faint, almost invisible, trace of Henrietta Maria's head. Forsaking preparatory drawings, van Dyck reserved the special magic of his painterly technique to achieve a likeness of the queen.

Van Dyck learned his trade from Rubens but the methods they employed in portraiture were vastly different. Rubens made exquisite preliminary sketches, which the Metropolitan Museum displayed in a memorable exhibit during the winter of 2005. Van Dyck, on the other hand, depicted the features of those he painted by intensive scrutiny during sittings. He methodically creating a "living" image through layer after layer of carefully applied color.

The special achievement of the Henrietta Maria portrait is the way it evokes the queen's outward reserve. This magnificent painting does not portray hauteur or conceit. Rather, it is a masterpiece of not showing any emotion. It is a portrait as a mask of concealment. 

Anthony van Dyck, detail of Queen Henrietta Maria with Jeffery Hudson, 1633

Queen Henrietta Maria, as a French woman and a devout Roman Catholic, was placed in an impossible situation following her marriage to Charles I in 1625. She was never actually crowned Queen of England because of her staunch Catholicism. In militantly Protestant England, Henrietta Maria had to watch her every move and work behind the scenes. This she did, using her influence to aid Catholics in Britain. This only inflamed her Protestant opponents all the more.

Van Dyck was also a devoted Roman Catholic, living and working in what was essentially "enemy" territory. While he was in Italy during the 1620's, however, van Dyck may have felt more secure or perhaps his Italian patrons were less threatened by religious conflict. The portraits that van Dyck painted in Italy are generally less marked by the Hamlet-like introspection that is a notable feature of those he did in Britain.

There is one magnificent exception among van Dyck’s Italian portraits that defies easy categorization.  Shortly after arriving in Italy, van Dyck painted the portrait of the Roman Catholic prelate, Cardinal Guido Bentivoglio. For me, this is the most arresting and unforgettable work in the exhibition. 

Anthony van Dyck, Cardinal Guido Bentivoglio, 1623 

I had never seen van Dyck's Cardinal Guido Bentivoglio before. Yet, there is an ineffable "something" in Bentivoglio's expression. If you examined this masterpiece year-after-year, you would be no closer in getting to the emotional core of Cardinal Bentivoglio than after a fleeting glance.

Bentivoglio was a man of contradiction. He was a brilliant scholar and an able diplomat for the Papacy. However, his face as depicted by van Dyck is that of a mystic, not a man of learning or of worldly affairs. 

Although Bentivoglio was one of the last in a long line of Renaissance humanists, he voted against Galileo at his trial. Bentivoglio was a patron of Claude Lorraine and of Girolamo Frescobaldi, one of the most influential musicians and composers of the seventeenth century. Yet, there is not one visual reference to art or to music in this painting.

For all the intricate detail involved in painting Bentivoglio's white linen surplice, I suspect that van Dyck was not much concerned with the external trappings of the Cardinal's life. Rather, he depicted the enigma at the heart of this "prince of the church" - and of all mortal men and women.

There is  perhaps no more intriguing aspect of human existence than the way that children grow into adulthood. Significantly, portraying children was another point at which van Dyck excelled. As Paul Johnson comments in his great study, Art: a New History, "No one ever painted childhood and youth better than this sensitive and engaging Fleming."

Anthony van Dyck, detail of James Stanley, Lord Strange, Later Seventh Earl of Derby, with His Wife, Charlotte, and Their Daughter, ca. 1636

"Sensitive and engaging" are the words to describe the portrait of the daughter of Lord Strange, Earl of Derby. The young girl was most likely Henrietta Stanley (1630-1685). Posing between her parents, she was painted by van Dyck with an astute grasp of character. Looking at her, we realize that van Dyck was well aware that children are not merely adults in embryo but are unique individuals at every stage of their lives. 

This insight into human nature and development is readily apparent in one of van Dyck's supreme achievements, The Five Eldest Children of Charles I, 1637. 

Van Dyke's group portrait is not among the works at the Frick exhibit but rather exerts a virtual presence. This famous work hung above the breakfast table of Charles I at Whitehall and remains one of the most renowned paintings in the Royal Collection. It is chiefly known by the image of the future Charles II resting his arm on the head of a huge mastiff. To the right of the young Charles are two princesses, Elizabeth and Anne. 

On exhibition at the Frick is an oil study of Princess Elizabeth and Princess Anne used by van Dyck to complete The Five Eldest Children of Charles I. Working with very young children, he elected to follow Rubens' example and do preparatory sketches of the facial features of his subjects.

Anthony van Dyck, The Princesses Elizabeth and Anne, Daughters of Charles I, 1637

This is a tremendously compelling work. Tragically, baby Anne died from tuberculosis in 1640. Elizabeth, at age fifteen, succumbed to the same disease ten years later. Queen Henrietta Maria maintained that she died from a broken heart after hearing of the execution of her father on orders of Parliament. 

By the time Charles I was executed in 1649, van Dyck had been dead for almost a decade. Worn out by his staggering work load, the "sensitive and engaging" painter from Flanders died on December 9, 1640. His "grand manner" world was crashing down around him, with the Thirty Years War devastating Europe and civil war erupting in Britain.

Among the unfinished works in van Dyck's studio was an oil painting of a woman whose identity has not come down to us. 

Anthony van Dyck, Portrait of a Woman, c 1640

Once a great beauty, she appears just past her "prime" in this magnificent portrait. Everything about her is starting to diminish or decline. Her hand claws at her heart. The look of wry self-knowledge in her eyes speaks volumes for her, for van Dyck and to us.

In probing the ultimate mystery and majesty of life, van Dyck had no peers and few equals. All the kings and queens, dukes and duchesses, whose portraits grace the galleries of the Frick are long since passed away. But the human soul is immortal. This is what Anthony van Dyck painted to perfection - or as close to it as any artist can go.


Text: copyright of Ed Voves, all rights reserved

Images Courtesy of the Frick Collection, New York City

Introductory image:
Anthony van Dyck (1599–1641) Queen Henrietta Maria with Jeffery Hudson, 1633. Oil on canvas, 219.1 x 134.8 cm (86 1/4 x 53 1/16 in.). National Gallery of Art, Washington; Samuel H. Kress Collection, 1952.5.39. 

Anthony van Dyck (1599–1641), Frans Snyders, ca. 1620. Oil on canvas, 56 1/8 x 41 1/2 in. (142.6 x 105.4 cm) Henry Clay Frick Bequest  Accession #: 1909.1.39 Frick Collection.

Anthony van Dyck (1599–1641), Margareta de Vos, ca.1620. Oil on canvas 51 1/2 x 39 1/8 in. (130.8 x 99.4 cm) Henry Clay Frick Bequest  Accession #: 1909.1.42 Frick Collection.

Anthony van Dyck (1599–1641) Self-Portrait, ca. 1620–21. Oil on canvas, 47 1/8 x 34 5/8 in. (119.7 x 87.9 cm) The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; The Jules Bache Collection, 1949 49.7.25

Anthony van Dyck (1599–1641) Queen Henrietta Maria with Jeffery Hudson, 1633. Black chalk, red and yellow (fabricated?) chalks, heightened with white chalk, on blue paper,
16 1/2 × 10 1/8 in. (41.9 × 25.5 cm) École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, Paris

Anthony van Dyck (1599–1641)  Detail of Queen Henrietta Maria with Jeffery Hudson, 1633. Oil on Canvas. National Gallery of Art, Washington (see above).

Anthony van Dyck (1599–1641), Cardinal Guido Bentivoglio, 1623. Oil on canvas, 76 3/4 × 57 7/8 in. (195 × 147 cm) Galleria Palatina, Palazzo Pitti, Florence 

Anthony van Dyck (1599–1641) Detail of James Stanley, Lord Strange, Later Seventh Earl of Derby, with His Wife, Charlotte, and Their Daughter, ca. 1636. Oil on canvas,
97 x 84 1/8 in. (246.4 x 213.7 cm) Henry Clay Frick Bequest Accession #: 1913.1.40 Frick Collection.

Anthony van Dyck (1599–1641) The Princesses Elizabeth and Anne, Daughters of Charles IOil on canvas, 11 3/4 × 16 1/2 in. (29.8 × 41.8 cm) Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh; purchased with the aid of the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Scottish Office and the Art Fund 1996

Anthony van Dyck (1599–1641) Portrait of a Woman, c 1640. Oil on canvas, 29 7/8 × 23 1/4 in. (75.9 × 59.1 cm) Speed Art Museum, Louisville; Museum Purchase, Preston Pope Satterwhite Fund 

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Pergamon and the Hellenistic Kingdoms of the Ancient World at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Pergamon and the Hellenistic Kingdoms of the Ancient World 

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

April 18–July 17, 2016

Reviewed by Ed Voves

There is an element of mystery to the huge, sadly mutilated marble head which is a highlight of the new exhibition, Pergamon and the Hellenistic Kingdoms of
the Ancient World at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. 

What could have been the purpose of such a colossal portrait head? Measuring over twice the size of a human skull, its purpose is unclear. It was intended to be fixed in another setting - but where? And whose likeness did the portrait head represent?                             

There is no mystery about what this battered survivor of the ancient Greek world means for the twenty-first century. As we watch the cultural heritage of the world being vandalized and plundered, this work of art stands for what has been lost and also for what has been saved.

Civilization has survived, as Kenneth Clark memorably declared, by "the skin of our teeth."

Clark's 1969 Civilization television series documented the rise of art and culture in the West "after the fall."  What fell was not just the Roman Empire in 476 A.D. The cultural matrix of ancient Rome and its dominions was essentially Greek, a legacy of the Hellenistic kingdoms which flourished before the rise of Rome. Along with the pomp and power of the Pax Romana, the heritage of the Hellenistic era was largely lost during the centuries following the collapse of the Roman Empire.

What was lost is now found - or nearly so. The spectacular exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum, Pergamon and the Hellenistic Kingdoms of the Ancient World, provides a detailed overview of the Hellenistic age for the first in the United States. Both the achievements of the Hellenistic Greeks and the cultural transition to upstart Rome are brilliantly treated in the Met's exhibit.

Pergamon, located in present-day Turkey, was one of the Hellenistic kingdoms which rose to power after the death of Alexander the Great in 323 B.C. Founded in 282 B.C., Pergamon was ruled by the Attalid dynasty. Most of the rulers of Pergamon were named Attalus, adding to the difficulties of dating inscriptions by modern-day archaeologists.

Pergamon is one of the most exhaustively studied sites from ancient times. Its recovery is literally a "triumph of German engineering."

During the 1860's, Carl Humann, a German railroad engineer working in Turkey, noticed people in the town of Bergama digging up pieces of ancient statues. These fragments were burned to produce lime. Humann successfully petitioned Turkish leaders to stop the destruction.

On his own initiative, Humann undertook preliminary excavations and passed the reports to German museum authorities. Humann, though not a trained archaeologist, became so accomplished and maintained such a vital network of contacts in Turkey that he was nicknamed the "Viceroy of Asia Minor." 

In 1878, a prolonged archaeological expedition under the leadership of Alexander Conze at Bergama recovered the lost grandeur of Hellenistic Pergamon.

Female Figure in the Archaic Style (The Dancer), 150-125 B.C.

One of the early discoveries was this intriguing statue of dancer. Although dating to late in the Hellenistic era, the figure with its intricate skirt folds was deliberately created in the artistic style of the early city states of mainland Greece. This elegant dancer was intended to evoke the Hellenic spirit, a sense of Greek tradition that was the foundation of the Attalid dynasty and the imposing temples and palaces of Pergamon.

Much of what was excavated was taken back to Berlin, by special agreement with Turkey. This included the west side of the Great Altar of Pergamon which was reconstructed in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin. This great institution is currently being renovated, providing the opportunity to bring many of its treasures to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Friedrich von Thiersch, The Akropolis of Pergamon, 1882

Of the many works of art brought from Berlin surely the most remarkable are the fragmentary marble head, discussed at the beginning of this review, and a towering statue of Athena, modeled after the cult figure of the Parthenon.  Both tell us much about the Hellenistic kingdom of Pergamon.

The shattered head is thought to have decorated the wall of the gymnasium of Pergamon. It is a type of art variously described as a tondo or imago clipeata meaning "portrait on a round shield." The colossal head jutting forward, with parted lips as if to speak, may be Apollo but is more likely to be an idealized portrait of Alexander.

Alexander's presence dominates the exhibit galleries of Pergamon and the Hellenistic Kingdoms of the Ancient World.

Small Statue of Alexander the Great,1st century B.C. copy of original, 320-300 B.C.

There are numerous portraits of Alexander, ranging from a lean-featured warrior to a sensitive, god-like figure. The Hellenistic rulers of Egypt kept a careful guard over the embalmed body of Alexander, so the monstrously large portrait head excavated in Pergamon is likely to have been created as chess move in the cultural "Cold War" waged between the Attalids of Pergamon and their rivals in Egypt.

The statue of Athena, smaller than the one in the Parthenon but still imposing, stood in the Library of Pergamon. The Attalids built a book collection second in size and importance to that of Alexandria in Egypt.

At some point, the flow of Egyptian papyrus for new volumes was halted, reputedly by order of Ptolemy V. The librarians at Pergamon began using cured sheep skins for their books. They were so successful that this form of paper became known as pergamēnē which eventually was translated into English as parchemin or parchment.

Statue of Athena Parthenos, ca. 170 B.C.; copy of original, mid-5th century B.C.

Worship of Athena took on additional meaning in Pergamon as one of its early rulers, Attalus I, assumed the role of the Athenians as the defender of Greece against the "barbarians." But instead of fighting Persian or other Asian enemies as the Athenians had done, Attalus I won a resounding victory in 241 B.C. over invading Celts. These raiders had crossed from Europe over the Hellespont into Asia Minor to attack Pergamon and other Greek states.

The Great Altar at Pergamon was built to celebrate this victory of Attalus I. However, there is very little that is straightforward about the Hellenistic period. In battling against the Celts, Attalus was really fighting against the Hellenistic Greek dynasty in Syria, the Seleucids. These "civilized" rivals paid the "savage" Celts to attack Pergamon several times following the initial victory of Attalus in 241 B.C. 

Just as the one-time allies, Athens and Sparta, had torn each other to pieces in the fifth century B.C., so later did the Hellenistic kingdoms.The Greeks had a cyclical view of history and no wonder! For all their brilliance, they kept fighting and slaughtering each other - over and over again.

Much of the art on display in the Metropolitan exhibit had a propaganda value intended to enhance the status of Hellenistic rulers like Attalus I. Other works testify to the efforts of the Hellenistic monarchies to provide their citizens with recreation and luxuries in order to distract their minds from the endless wars. 

Hair Ornament with Bust of Athena, 2nd century B.C.

The "good life" in Hellenistic Greece included items of magnificent adornment like this golden hairnet, graced with a tondo image of Athena.

Theater flourished during the Hellenistic age, chiefly through the "New Comedy" of Menander (342/41 – c. 290 B.C.). The exhibition includes a sensitive marble portrait of Menander from the Dumbarton Oaks Museum collection, as well as this outstanding mosaic of a scene from one of Menander's comedies, likely Theophoroumene (The Possessed Girl).

Emblèma with Itinerant Musicians, 2nd-1st century B.C. 

Menander wrote over one hundred plays, many of them bawdy comedies. He was so famous in antiquity that many lines in his plays became popular proverbs. Even St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:33 quoted Menander, "Bad company corrupts good character." 

Menander, however, is one of the most notable examples of civilization surviving by the "skin of our teeth." Only a few scattered lines from his plays survived until twentieth century discoveries. Papyrus texts, used to line Egyptian mummy cases during the era of the Roman Empire, were found, containing substantial quotations from Menander's plays. Even with these fortunate finds, however, only one (nearly) complete comedy by Menander has been discovered.

The Metropolitan Museum exhibit also displays numerous examples of the Hellenistic taste for sensuality, a theme that was usually expressed with reference to mythology. By the end of the Hellenistic era, many people had begun to question the nature of the gods. But the traditional pantheon of Olympus continued to yield images for popular art.  

Calyx-Krater (The Borghese Krater), 40-30 B.C.

The Borghese Krater, an imposing work in the Louvre collection, beautifully expresses the desire for Arcadian ease and sexual gratification. Sentiments like this are often found in societies sick of war and rumors of war. Here Dionysian figures delight in each other's company on a marble vase made around the time that Octavian Caesar's battle fleet crushed the forces of Antony and Cleopatra at the Battle of Actium, 31 B.C.

The ill-stared alliance and immortal love-match of Antony and Cleopatra brought the Hellenistic era to an unforgettable close. There are several works of art in the Metropolitan exhibit relating to this well-known episode. One of these is a multi-panel bas relief of the Battle of Actium from a private collection in Spain that I had never seen before.

It is a very familiar piece of art, however, which seems to me to be the best evocation of the Hellenistic Age and the passing of its torch to Rome - and to us in modern times.

This is the beautiful Vienna Cameo. Unlike the plays of Menander, this carved-jewel from Ptolemaic Egypt was never lost. It was stolen in 1574, from the cover of a reliquary containing the "bones" of the Three Kings. Some years later, the cameo was purchased by the ruler of Mantua and then found its way to the art collection of the Hapsburg Empire in Vienna.

The Vienna Cameo, 278-270/69 B.C.

The cameo dates from around 278 B.C., early in the Hellenistic era. The elegant couple are King Ptolemy II Philadelphos and Queen Arsinoe II, his sister and his wife! But with the Roman-style helmet worn by Ptolemy and the forceful gaze of Arsinoe, I cannot help but see these two as a fitting stand-in for Antony and Cleopatra.

More to the point, the Vienna Cameo testifies to the resilience of great art and the spirit that motivates its creation. It says a lot that people in the Middle Ages prized the cameo enough to place it on a relic container and that a Renaissance collector would pay a healthy sum to add it to his "cabinet of curiosities."

Now, the Vienna Cameo graces an outstanding art exhibition filled with works that have survived centuries of war, looting and destruction. On view at the Met, these treasures tell of a lost civilization whose remnant has survived by "the skin of our teeth."

Among its many accomplishments, Pergamon and the Hellenistic Kingdoms of
the Ancient World inspires the hope that our civilization, heir to the Hellenistic world, will endure too. 

Text: Copyright of Ed Voves, all rights reserved 

Introductory Image:                                                                                                         Fragmentary colossal marble head of a youth, Greek, Hellenistic period, 2nd century B.C. Discovered at Pergamon, on upper terrace of gymnasium, 1879 Antikensammlung, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin (AvP VII 283) Cat. 58

Archaistic female figure, Greek (Pergamene), Hellenistic period, 150-125 B.C.
Marble H. 47 1⁄4 in. (120 cm) Antikensammlung, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin (AvP VII 43) Image: © SMB/Antikensammlung (photographs by Johannes Laurentius)

The Akropolis of Pergamon. By Friedrich (von) Thiersch, 1882 Pen and ink with watercolor on canvas H. 78 in. (198 cm), W. 11 ft. 53/4 in. (350 cm)
Antikensammlung, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin (Graph 91) Image: © SMB / Antikensammlung

Small Statue of Alexander the Great astride Bucephalos, Roman, Late Republican or Early Imperial period, second half of the 1st century B.C.; copy of a Greek original of ca. 320-300 B.C. Bronze H. 19 1/8 (48.6 cm), L. 18 1⁄2 in. (47 cm) Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Naples (1996)

Statue of Athena Parthenos, Greek, Hellenistic period, ca. 170 B.C.; copy of a mid-5th century B.C.chryselephantine cult statue of Athena Parthenos by Pheidias
Marble H. without base 10 ft. 2 1/4 in. (310.5 cm), W. 46 5/8 in. (118.5 cm), D.
27 1/8 in. (69 cm), H. of base 16 in. (40.5 cm). Antikensammlung, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin (AvP VII 24). Image: © SMB/Antikensammlung

Hair Ornament with Bust of AthenaGreek, Hellenistic period, 2nd century B.C. Gold, red garnets, blue enamel D.11.1 cm.Athens, Benaki Museum (inv. no. 1556)

Emblèma with Itinerant Musicians, Roman, Late Republican period, 2nd-1st century B.C. H. 18 7/8 in. (48 cm), W. 18 1/8 in. (46 cm)Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Naples (inv. no. 9985)

Calyx-Krater (The Borghese Krater) Greek, Late Hellenistic period, 40-30 B.C.
Marble H. 67 3⁄4 in. (172 cm) Musée du Louvre, Paris(Ma 86). Image: © RMN-Grand Palais/Art Resource, NY

The Vienna Cameo, Greek (Ptolemaic), Early Hellenistic period, 278-270/69 B.C.
Ten–layered onyx (Indian sardonyx) H. 41/2 in. (11.5 cm), W. 4 in. (10.2 cm)
Antikensammlung, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna (IXa 81)

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Gods and Mortals at Olympus at the Onassis Cultural Center NY

Gods and Mortals at Olympus:Ancient Dion, City of Zeus

                                                                                                                    Onassis Cultural Center NY

March 24 - June 18, 2016

Reviewed by Ed Voves

The greatest Greek poet of the twentieth century, C.P. Cavafy, wrote poems about gods and men, ancient and modern. Cavafy was a master of insight into the human soul. With a stiletto thrust of irony, Cavafy could skewer the proud and the powerful while investing some long-dead youth from the Hellenistic past with a touch of immortality.

A brilliant exhibition of Greek art, Gods and Mortals at Olympus at the Onassis Cultural Center NY in midtown Manhattan, evokes Cavafy's verse. Here among shattered, headless statutes and chipped memorials to forgotten sages, we see  gods brought down to earth and the human spirit set free. 

The beautifully-renovated museum space of the Onassis Cultural Center - located appropriately enough in the Olympic Tower, 5th Ave. and 52nd St. -  is the site of superb exhibits dealing with all aspects and all eras of Greek art. Gods and Mortals at Olympus: Ancient Dion, City of Zeus is but the latest display of treasures from Greek museums on view in this New York City art venue.

Joseph Coscia, Jr, Gallery view of Gods and Mortals at Olympus, Onassis Cultural Center

At the heart of Gods and Mortals at Olympus is a magnificent mosaic, the Epiphany of Dionysus. One can almost feel Cavafy's spirit lingering before this sensational work of art:

... Behold the god                                                                                                             in front,in celestial glory, with steady stride,                                                                   Behind him is Licence, at whose side                                                                                 Intoxication stands, pouring wine for satyrs                                                                       from an amphora twined with ivy...

The Mosaic of the Epiphany of Dionysus shows the Greek god of wine and revelry riding in a chariot pulled by panthers. It is an extraordinary work. Mythology is summoned to life with absolute technical mastery in the placement of the thousands of stone tessarae composing this scene. This exactitude imparts a sense of vitality to this work of art, making the fantastical seem alive and believable. 

This astonishing mosaic, dating to the late 2nd–early 3rd century AD, was excavated in the city of Dion in northern Greece. But give this magnificent work its due and for a few moments, there is indeed an "epiphany" of Dionysus right before you in New York City.

Mosaic of the Epiphany of DionysusLate 2nd–early 3rd century AD 

Dion, located near the base of Mount Olympus, was one of the principal centers of the religious cult of Greece in ancient times. Here Zeus reigned over the brood of jealous gods and goddesses whose vainglorious deeds reflected the lives of the Greeks in the valley below and throughout the Hellenic world.

Archaeologists believe that there was an altar created near the summit of Mount Olympus at a very early date, perhaps the tenth century BC. This was the period after the fall of the Mycenaean palace states, long considered the Greek Dark Age. This era was the time when the Iliad and the Odyssey were being refined in the oral tradition by bards and poets, later to be written down around 750 BC. 

 Spectacle-Shaped Brooch1000–700 BC 

The altar to Zeus, if it existed, is lost to history. A small, spectacle-shaped brooch dating to sometime between 1000-700 BC was discovered in Dion. Created from copper alloy wire with iron fittings, this remarkable piece actually has some strands of fabric still attached. It hardly seems creditable that this brooch, with its striking sinuous design, could have been created during a "Dark Age."

Perhaps the real point of contention is whether there was a Greek Dark Age at all. Also discovered in Dion, a gold bracelet decorated with lion heads looks like it was unearthed from a tomb of a noble from this distant Homeric era. Yet it dates from five hundred or more years later, from the the third century BC. 

Bracelet with Lion’s Head FinialsLate 3rd century BC 

Greek history is full of such surprises.

To a remarkable degree, Gods and Mortals at Olympus surveys the entire history of ancient Greek art. It is true that Dion, located near the border of Thessaly and Macedonia, was a long way from Athens, Corinth and other dynamic centers of Greek culture. Yet, the exhaustive forty-year "dig" at Dion, led by the great scholar Dimitrios Pandermalis, has produced a rich archaeological record of the rise, fall and revival of Hellenic civilization.

Head from a Statue of Demeter325–300 BC

In terms of renewal, there is no more meaningful symbol than that of the goddess Demeter. During the excavations at Dion, a battered head of this goddess of the harvest was uncovered. It was originally part of statue dating to the late fourth century BC. This was the era of Alexander the Great who lavished funds on temple building at Dion, which had become the principal religious center of Macedon.

Demeter's head, however, testifies to violence, as much as to piety. It was discovered at a level marked by destruction and debris. 

After Alexander's early death in 323 BC, his empire imploded and a recurrent round of civil wars undermined the strength of the Greek world. In 219 BC, troops from the Aetolian League, fighting against Macedon, sacked and burned Dion. This decapitated head of Demeter is likely a survivor from this grim period of Greek history.

Demeter, the nurturing goddess of agriculture and fertility, appears in another guise among the treasures on view at the Onassis Center. The ancient Greeks ventured to Egypt as merchants and mercenary soldiers centuries before Alexander reached there in 332 BC. They quickly saw parallels between Demeter and the the Egyptian goddess, Isis.

Demeter was the distraught mother of the abducted Persephone, while Isis was the grieving sister/wife of the murdered Osiris. Each goddess challenged the power of death on behalf of their loved one. To the peoples of Greece and Egypt, the seasonal release of Persephone from Hades and the reviving of the body of Osiris came to symbolize the return of spring and the promise of eternal life for the soul. From these similarities emerged one of earliest "global" religious cults of ancient times.

"Demeter is Isis," Herodotus declared in Book II of The Histories, written during the fifth century BC.

At Dion, excavators found a marble bas relief, dating to a century after Alexander, 
depicting Isis as Demeter. 

Relief Stele Depicting Isis as DemeterSecond half of 3rd–early 2nd century BC 

This is a fascinating piece showing the two-way current of exchange between Greece and Egypt. It was not a case of a conquered or a co-opted divinity being taken back to Greece. There was a sanctuary built to Isis in Dion, not far from the sanctuary to Demeter. Given the fact that these sanctuaries co-existed in Dion, the bas relief reveals an open-minded religious plurality that enabled people to draw inspiration from many sources. 

What was true for Demeter and Isis eventually influenced how mighty Zeus was envisioned as well. Zeus on his mountain-top throne was originally worshiped  as father of the Greek gods.  Greek culture went global under Alexander and  religious worship followed suit. Alexander, following his mystical experience at the oasis shrine of Siwa, equated Zeus directly with Amun-Ra, the patron god of the Egyptian city of Thebes whom the warlike pharaohs of the 18th Dynasty had promoted to lordship over the Egyptian pantheon.  

After Alexander, Zeus no longer was identified exclusively with Mount Olympus. Rather, he was restyled as Zeus Hypsistos - the Highest - whose domain extended everywhere. Naturally, the folks back at Dion were unwilling to lose their connection with the father of the gods. An imposing statue of Zeus Hypsistos was unearthed during the excavations at Dion, minus its head.

 Cult Statue of Zeus Hypsistos2nd century AD 

This statue of Zeus Hypsistos dates from the second century AD. Greece had been "liberated" by  the Romans back in 146 BC. The Greek city-states had lost every shred of power, except for some very local autonomy. They lost vast amounts of their greatest art treasures to Roman greed, as well. In 148 BC, the Roman commander, Quintus Caecilius Metellus, made off with a number of Dion's most honored sculptures, created by the fabled Lysippus.  

Nobody has ever loved and looted Greece like the Romans. Yet, to their credit, the Romans eventually accorded Greece a "favored province" status. Many of the objects on view in Gods and Mortals at Olympus date to the more benevolent era of Roman rule, the second and third centuries AD. These includes the headless Zeus Hypsistos and a statue of an eagle from the sanctuary of Zeus at Dion. 

Statue of an Eagle2nd century AD

The eagle was the sacred bird of Zeus, but this marble raptor displays a distinctly Roman ardor. This proud, powerful bird shares a kinship with the gilded eagles on the standards of the Roman legions who had carried away Dion's treasures in a less happy age.

Dion prospered under Rome by virtue of a past which could not be looted. During the heyday of the Pax Romana, the ruling class of Rome was drawn to Greece to enjoy Hellenic culture and myth which we, even now so many centuries later, still appreciate. 

 Oil Lamp Decorated with a Panther Protome1st–2nd century AD 

Talismans of the fabled past were everywhere at Dion. Metallic lamps graced with the heads of Dionysus' panthers and mosaic depictions of theatrical masks appeared at every turn.

The mosaic mask of Silenus, companion of Dionysus, bears witness to why this mythic past could not endure for long. This melancholy, wistful face serves as the introductory image of this review. Silenus, in this mosaic, looks like Zeus in retirement. His face bears the knowing countenance of an individual - or of a society - growing old gracefully, relentlessly.

As Rome declined, Dion's Indian Summer faded. Dion's harbor filled-up with silt. Earthquakes toppled its temples and Christianity undermined belief in Zeus and Demeter.

Nothing lasts forever. Yet, Gods and Mortals at Olympus at the Onassis Center testifies to the undying human quest for transcendence. Such is the spirit which builds temples and resurrects  their ruins. Sometimes this is done by the sweat and toil of archaeologists, sometimes with immortal verse such as C.P. Cavafy's poem, "Ionic".

Although we've broken their statues,                                                                                 although we've driven them from their temples,                                                               the gods have not perished from this, not at all.                                                               Land of Ionia, it is you they love still,                                                                               it is you their souls remember.

Text: Copyright of Ed Voves, all rights reserved 

Images Courtesy of the Onassis Cultural Center NY

Excerpts from the poems by C.P. Cavafy, "The Procession of Dionysus" and "Ionic", are quoted from C.P. Cavafy: Selected Poems, translated by Avi Sharon, Penguin Classics, 2008.

Introductory Image: 
Mosaic Panel with Theatrical Mask of SilenusLate 2nd–early 3rd century AD, Stone tesserae. H. 28.7 in; W. 28.7 in (H. 73 cm; W. 73 cm) From Dion. Villa of Dionysus, Symposium Hall Archaeological Museum of Dion, Photo © Archaeological Excavations at Dion, Greece. Courtesy Onassis Cultural Center NY. 

Installation view of Gods and Mortals at Olympus: Ancient Dion, City of Zeus, on view at the Onassis Cultural Center NY; photograph by Joseph Coscia, Jr.

Mosaic of the Epiphany of Dionysus, Late 2nd–early 3rd century AD, Stone tesserae,
H. 59 in; W. 86.6 in (H. 150 cm; W. 220 cm) From Dion. Villa of Dionysus, Symposium Hall
Archaeological Museum of Dion, Photo © Archaeological Excavations at Dion, Greece. Courtesy Onassis Cultural Center NY.

Spectacle-Shaped Brooch with Fabric Remains, Early Iron Age (1000–700 BC), Copper alloy, iron, and textile. L. 5.9 in; Diam. coils 2.4 in, 2.6 in (L. 15 cm; Diam. coils 6 cm, 6.5 cm)
From Olympus. Tumulus cemetery of Mesonisi, Tumulus 2, grave D. Archaeological Museum of Dion, ΜΔ 8905 Photo © Archaeological Excavations at Dion, Greece. Courtesy Onassis Cultural Center NY

Bracelet with Lion’s Head Finials, Late 3rd century BC, Gold. Circum. 5.5 in; Diam. 2 in (Circum. 14 cm; Diam. 5 cm) Karitsa. Macedonian Tomb IV, Cist grave ΙΙ. Archaeological Museum of Dion, ΜΔ 2036 Photo © Archaeological Excavations at Dion, Greece. Courtesy Onassis Cultural Center NY.

Head from a Statue of Demeter. 325–300 BC, Marble. H. 9.4 in; D. 7.5 in (H. 24 cm; D. 19 cm) From Dion. Sanctuary of Demeter, South Hellenistic Temple Archaeological Museum of Dion, ΜΔ 200. Photo © Archaeological Excavations at Dion, Greece. Courtesy Onassis Cultural Center NY.

Relief Stele Depicting Isis as Demeter with Dedicatory Inscription. Second half of 3rd–early 2nd century BC, Marble. H. 12.2 in; W. 13.4 in; D. 3.1 in (H. 31 cm; W. 34 cm; D. 8 cm) From Dion. Sanctuary of Isis, Courtyard of the temple of Isis Lochia. Archaeological Museum of Dion, ΜΔ 410. Photo © Archaeological Excavations at Dion, Greece. Courtesy Onassis Cultural Center NY.

Cult Statue of Zeus Hypsistos. 2nd century AD, Marble. H. 33.7 in; W. 18.1 in; D. 25 in (H. 85.5 cm; W. 46 cm; D. 63.5 cm)From Dion. Sanctuary of Zeus Hypsistos, Cella Archaeological Museum of Dion, ΜΔ 7815.Photo © Archaeological Excavations at Dion, Greece. Courtesy Onassis Cultural Center NY.

Statue of an Eagle. 2nd century AD, Marble, H. 25 in; W. 13.6 in; D. 5.9 in (H. 63.5 cm; W. 34.5 cm; D. 15 cm) From Dion. Sanctuary of Zeus Hypsistos, Cella Archaeological Museum of Dion, ΜΔ 7816 Photo © Archaeological Excavations at Dion, Greece. Courtesy Onassis Cultural Center NY

Oil Lamp Decorated with a Panther Protome. 1st–2nd century AD, Copper alloy.
H. 14.6 in; W.Copper alloy. H. 14.6 in; W. 13 in; D. 13 in (H. 37 cm; W. 33 cm; D. 33 cm)
From Dion. Water organ sector. Archaeological Museum of Dion, ΜΔ 8908. Photo © Archaeological Excavations at Dion, Greece. Courtesy Onassis Cultural Center NY.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Pastures Green and Dark Satanic Mills at the Princeton University Art Museum

Pastures Green and Dark Satanic Mills: 

The British Passion for Landscape

Princeton University Art Museum 
January 23 - April 24, 2016

Reviewed by Ed Voves

The British are an inventive people. Many of modern times's great innovations are products of British ingenuity: steam engines, the postage stamp, the chocolate bar, the miniskirt ... and many, many more.

The British did not invent landscape painting.  After viewing the Pastures Green & Dark Satanic Mills exhibit, however, a visitor to the Princeton University Art Museum might well credit landscape art as another British "first."

The rise of landscape painting in the West is a complex story. The Dutch during the seventeenth century were the real pioneers of the genre. 

The British, as the subtitle of this wide-ranging exhibit rightly proclaims, do have a "passion for landscape." This emotion-driven response to the natural environment is not a matter of pure sentiment. It is actually a consequence of the "conquest" of nature. 

Tim Barringer, one of the curators of Pastures Green & Dark Satanic Mills, writes that "visions of nature are at their most intense when the viewer inhabits an urban, industrial world..."

Evelyn Mary Dunbar, Baling Hay, 1940

Humans, of course, have been shaping nature to suit our needs for thousands of years. But a staggering manipulation of forest, field and stream began in Great Britain during the 1700's. Nature was altered to an unprecedented degree - first in Britain and then worldwide.

Pastures Green & Dark Satanic Mills is an exhibit of 80 paintings and a selection of photographs which document the artistic response to the Agricultural and Industrial Revolutions in Great Britain. Along with British masters of landscape painting like J.M.W. Turner and John Constable, the exhibit includes paintings by artists from other nations who lived or worked in Britain such as Claude Monet and Oskar Kokoschka. 

All of the works in this special exhibition come from one institution: the Amgueddfa Cymru–National Museum Wales. Welsh artists and art collectors have played a decisive role in the evolution of British art as this exhibit continually - and correctly - affirms.

The Welsh are the descendants of the Celtic peoples who were driven into the mountainous extremities of Britain by the onslaught of the Anglo-Saxon invaders during the early Middle Ages. Wales preserved its independence until a new set of aggressors in the thirteenth century, the Normans under Edward I, seized control. 

Wales languished as a political fiefdom of England and a cultural backwater until the mid-1700's.  A talented Welsh artist, Richard Wilson (1714-82) then sparked a century-long renaissance of British art that was to culminate in the mighty landscape paintings of J.M.W. Turner.

Richard Wilson, Dover Castle, ca. 1746–47

Initially a portrait painter, Wilson took to portraying "topography," especially landmarks like Dover Castle. In this striking early work, Wilson brilliantly included small human figures - including himself, painting en plein air - to give an indication of scale, of insignificant man in relation to mighty nature. 

Wilson's success promoted a sense of the awesome expanse and dramatic effect of nature. A few years after Wilson painted Dover Castle, Edmund Burke wrote his influential treatise on perception, A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful.

In 1750, Wilson went to Italy, joining the cultural pilgrimage known as the Grand Tour. There he discovered the works of the French classicist, Claude Lorraine (1604-1682). 

Wilson was greatly taken by the lengths to which Claude went to evoke light on his canvases. He was also impressed by the way that Claude created landscapes that recalled the hallowed realm of Arcadia, the idyllic abode of gods and heroes.

Claude Lorrain, Landscape with St. Philip Baptizing the Eunuch, 1678

These two states of mind, the Sublime and the Arcadian, entered into the lifeblood of British art thanks to Wilson. Many British painters followed his lead but unexpected political events also contributed to the growing cult of nature and landscape art in the British Isles.

France went to war with Britain in 1778, in support of the American Revolution. The Grand Tour hit a roadblock. Things got even worse in 1789 when the French Revolution engulfed nearly all of Europe. Travel to Italy became difficult and dangerous.

Prevented by the French wars from visiting Italy, the British "milords" sought the Sublime and Beautiful closer to home. Unable to reach Italy, the British went to Wales.

The change of scenery was not as surprising as one might think. The late eighteenth century witnessed a revival of interest in the folklore, legends and poetry of the ancient peoples of Europe, notably the Celts. These tribesmen, once deemed as barbarians, were placed on a pedestal previously reserved for Greeks and Romans.

In 1757, the English poet, Thomas Gray, published The Bard: a Pindaric Ode recalling the heart-rending purge of Welsh poets by the blood-thirsty Edward I. Tourists flocked to visit the locations mentioned in Gray's tragic verse. 

Thomas Jones, The Bard, 1774

A Welsh painter, Thomas Jones, created a visual epic to match Gray's poem, depicting the last of these bards, about to hurl himself from a cliff rather than surrender to Edward I.

British landscape painting took many forms in what is now regarded as the "golden age" of British art, roughly from 1768 to 1851. Almost all of the British artists of this amazing era followed the lead of Wilson, but their emulation took a variety of forms. There was little of the "sublime" in the works of Thomas Gainsborough (1727-1788) or of John Constable (1776-1837). 

Both Gainsborough and Constable were born in East Anglia, a region much influenced by Dutch art. Gainsborough, sick of pleasing lords and ladies as a society portraitist, painted landscapes to please himself. Constable so loved his boyhood home that he was unmoved by other regions of Britain with more spectacular scenery, even the fabled Lake District.

Thomas Gainsborough, Rocky Wooded Landscape with Lovers, Herdsman, and Cows, 1771-1774

Constable's technique in painting out-of-doors and his "everyday" subject matter were anything but conventional. Constable, a "quiet revolutionary" in his art, set the stage for Impressionism in France. Yet, there was an ironical undercurrent in Constable's art which would flow through British art to its disadvantage.

A devoted family man and generous friend, Constable was also a right wing reactionary. As Britain came dangerously close to revolution in 1830, Constable rejected even the slightest political reforms to prevent social dissent. 

Even though his paintings won widespread acclaim in France during his lifetime, Constable never crossed the Channel to collect the gold medal awarded him in 1824. Remaining a "Little England" man, Constable helped create an invisible barrier to a wider role for British art in the modern world.

Constable did praise his colleague, J. M.W. Turner for having a "wonderful range of mind." The Princeton exhibit certainly bears this out with a superb selection of Turner's works on view, including water colors made during visits to Wales early in his life and a brace of major works from his later "soap suds and whitewash" period.

Constable's homebody attitude, more than Turner's embrace of new ideas, came to characterize British art in the Victorian era. A change of attitude toward landscape art had earlier begun to emerge in reaction to the Industrial Revolution - as William Blake poignantly expressed:

And did the Countenance Divine,                                                                                       Shine forth upon our clouded hills?                                                                                   
And was Jerusalem builded here,  
Among these dark Satanic Mills?

The Princeton exhibit includes some early depictions of industrial sites that were neither dark nor satanic. But by the time Turner died in 1851, steam engines and engineers no longer appealed to the British imagination as heroic or sublime. In a reaction to urban squalor and  harsh working conditions, most Victorian painters banished the Industrial Revolution from their canvases.

In an amazing twist of fate, foreign artists refocused the artistic dialog in Britain back on the "real" world of the nineteenth century. Claude Monet painted the reality of London with its "pea souper" fogs  and the open sewer of the Thames. Monet, in keeping with the Impressionist credo of "the heroism of modern life," exulted in scenes that native British artists preferred to ignore.

Claude Monet, Charing Cross Bridge, 1902

"Without the fog London wouldn't be a beautiful city," Monet proclaimed. "It is the fog that gives it its magnificent breadth." 
There is beauty - of a type - in the flame-tinged sky above the Dowlais steelworks in Cardiff, Wales, as captured in the stunning oil painting by the American-born Lionel Walden (1861-1933). Steelworks, Cardiff, at Night, 1895–97, is a huge, brilliant work, the center piece of the Pastures Green & Dark Satanic Mills exhibit. 

Walden cast an infernal pall over what was the world's biggest, most modern steel mill when the painting was created. But one should not focus on the brilliant color effects at the expense of Walden's skillful design. The exhibit also displays a small oil sketch which Walden used to prepare this finished painting. In the preparatory work, the curve of the train tracks is less pronounced and less effective than in the final version.

Lionel Walden, Steelworks, Cardiff, at Night, 1895–97

Steelworks, Cardiff, at Night is truly a stunning work of art. It took my eyes a short time to adjust while studying it, as if I was actually focusing on a harsh light while standing in shadow. It was some minutes before I realized that there is a solitary, shadowy figure standing mid-canvas, holding a dimly glowing lantern in his hand.

Works by foreign-born painters like Monet and Walden gave some impetus to the British art establishment to move in the direction of Modernism by 1900. But what really created the decisive breakthrough was the London exhibition staged by Roger Fry in 1910, Manet and the Post-Impressionists. Fry was no great admirer of Monet and Renoir but had come to regard Cezanne as a "kind of hidden oracle of ultra-impressionism."

Cezanne exercised a major influence on British art in the twentieth century as can be seen in very different works in the exhibit such as Stanley Spencer's Snowdon from Llanfrothen, 1938, and Graham Sutherland's Road at Porthclais with Setting Sun, 1975. 

Graham Sutherland, Road at Porthclais with Setting Sun, 1975

The really notable point in Fry's estimate of Cezanne, however, is his figure of speech: a "kind of hidden oracle." 

The British passion for landscape derives from the conviction that are indeed "oracles," underlying strata of meaning, deep integral truths, to be found in these depictions of the natural world. 

Perhaps this search for meaning can be traced to the ancient Celtic bards. Even if it is a more modern sensibility, dating to the 1700's and Burke's theories of the sublime, landscape painting in Britain represents a sustained commitment to the vital, living spirit of the natural world.

Blake's vision of building "Jerusalem in England's green and pleasant land" may be a long time coming. But the theme of Pastures Green & Dark Satanic Mills is not easily dismissed. This provocative exhibit, on view for one more month at the Princeton University Art Museum, reminds us that the landscape painter's credo of "truth to nature" is a lot more than a figure of speech.  

Text: Copyright of Ed Voves, all rights reserved 

Images courtesy of the Princeton University Art Museum 

Introductory Image: 
John Constable, A Cottage in a Cornfield, 1817. Oil on canvas. Size: 31.5 x 26.3 cm Amgueddfa Cymru–National Museum Wales. Accession Number: NMW A 486 Purchased with the assistance of the Art Fund, 1978. Courtesy American Federation of Arts

Evelyn Mary Dunbar, Baling Hay, 1940. Oil on canvas. Size: 45.8 x 61 cm. Amgueddfa Cymru–National Museum Wales. Accession Number: NMW A 29396 Given by the War Artists Advisory. ©National Museum Wales Collection / Courtesy American Federation of Arts.

Richard Wilson, Dover Castle, ca. 1746–47. Oil on canvas. Size: 90.5 x 116.8 cm Amgueddfa Cymru–National Museum Wales. Accession Number: NMW A 66  Purchased with the support of subscribers, 1928. Courtesy American Federation of Arts.
Claude Lorrain, Landscape with St. Philip Baptizing the Eunuch, 1678. Oil on canvas. Size: 88.0 x 142.2 cm Amgueddfa Cymru–National Museum Wales. Accession Number: NMW A 4
Purchased with the assistance of the Art Fund, 1982. Courtesy American Federation of Arts.

Thomas Jones, The Bard, 1774. Oil on canvas. Size: 114.5 x 168.0 cm Amgueddfa Cymru–National Museum Wales. Accession Number: NMW A 85 Purchased, 1965. Courtesy American Federation of Arts.

Thomas Gainsborough, Rocky Wooded Landscape with Rustic Lovers, Herdsman, and Cows, 1771–74. Oil on canvas. Size: 147.0 x 175.0 cm Accepted by HM Government in lieu of inheritance tax and allocated to Amgueddfa Cymru–National Museum Wales, 2001. Accession Number: NMW A 22780 Courtesy American Federation of Arts.

Claude Monet, Charing Cross Bridge, 1902. Oil on canvas. Size: 65.4 x 81.3 cm Amgueddfa Cymru–National Museum Wales. Accession Number: NMW A 2483 Bequeathed by Margaret Davies, 1963. Courtesy American Federation of Arts.

Lionel Walden, Steelworks, Cardiff, at Night, 1895–97. Oil on canvas. Size: 150.8 x 200.4 cm Amgueddfa Cymru–National Museum Wales.  Accession Number: NMW A 2245 Given by the artist, 1917. Courtesy American Federation of Arts.

Graham Vivian Sutherland, Road at Porthclais with Setting Sun, 1975. Oil on canvas. Size: 52.7 x 50.4 cm Amgueddfa Cymru–National Museum Wales. Accession Number: NMW A 2267 Transferred by the Graham and Kathleen Sutherland Foundation, 1989. © Estate of Graham Sutherland