Wife of a rich New York merchant, the Mrs. Richard Yates portrait judges. We can see it in her wise expression. It’s also clear that she cares little about being judged. After all, this portrait shows her with intact flaws as well as perfect eyebrows and luxurious silks
Benjamin West’s The Death of General Wolfe is a near perfect History Painting. Not because it’s accurate. Rather it sets a prime example of West’s reinvented genre.
Grant Wood painted this portrait the way a theater director puts on a show. First he discovered the setting. Wood saw the house, now famous for inspiring American Gothic, in a small Iowa town and knew it had to be in a painting. Then he cast his sister and dentist to play the two roles.
Andrew Wyeth’s The Drifter brings to mind a romantic archetype. A drifter’s that person you can never know. Right when you think you might understand them, they’re gone. Poof. The feelings this brings up make this a romantic painting. That’s why it’s so very unusual. Despite its emotion, this is a remote portrayal.
Rosalba Carriera’s Self Portrait Holding a Portrait of Her Sister fascinates me. In fact, this masterpiece highlights what makes self portraits special. These paintings reveal how artists see themselves. Rosalba Carriera’s frank depiction here sets a stunning example of honest reflection.
The little girl in A Princess of Saxony seems weird at first. She’s got that impossibly high 1500s forehead. The iconic Queen Elizabeth had one too. As did most lady court portraits in those days. That’s because big foreheads were a sign of intelligence and class in the 16th century.
This Portrait of Countess Golovina shows why Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun was a beloved artist. She captured the friendly essence of even the haughtiest aristocrat.
This painting, Young Woman Drawing by Marie-Denise Villers meditates on love versus art. Art wins the contest here. This piece works as a rumination on the self and identity too.
Picasso painted Girl Before a Mirror as a doubled abstract portrait. It portrays his beloved Marie-Thérèse Walter. She was young and it shows in the left side of this work. Her face glows like a radiant sun. Her belly swells in pregnancy.
Hans Holbein’s painting Portrait of the Artist’s Wife with Katherine and Philipp reeks of reality. He used all his artistic magic as Henry VIII’s court painter. That work elevated his status. But it also made him a neglectful father and husband.
Caravaggio tells a compelling story in The Cardsharps painting. Our newbie in the green sleeves at front plays the leading man. He cares the most and this intensity makes us feel for him. This shows Caravaggio’s hand. He’s pulling for the kid.
The painting Head Surrounded by Sides of Beef features one of Bacon’s infamous screaming Popes. This masterpiece explores many dualities, especially Bacon’s obsession with horror. Here he plays with the two sides of terror; power and vulnerability.
America teetered on the edge of revolution in 1768. Paul Revere was an intense and articulate Son of Liberty. But the painter, John Singleton Copley, engaged to a hardcore Tory, wished to abstain from political discourse.
The iconic Las Meninas by Diego Velázquez gives us an intimate perspective on a secret world. This portrait of Spain’s King Philip IV reveals the inner court with resonant details.
Sisters dwell in distinct developmental stages for The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit. This famous John Singer Sargent painting holds viewers rapt in a sisterhood spell.
The painting EOW on Her Blue Eiderdown II presents us with seductive obscurity. Frank Auerbach was a true romantic and it shows here. This painting may seem blunt at first. But the piece demands a deeper look.
Los Angeles painter, Randi Matushevitz reminds us badass babes are ageless. Her Ugly Portraits thrill me in a world buried behind cuteness filters.
Cupid’s off to the side in Alma Tadema’s painting Unconscious Rivals. That’s because love plays a mere supporting role in this portrait. But pay no attention to the title, it’s not about rivalry either. This is a painting about friendship.
Birth of Venus serves up instant recognition. We’re all familiar with Sandro Botticelli’s masterpiece. But have we looked at it? It’s a birth – messy baby business. But this portrait shows neither mess nor baby, only beauty.
Lorenzo Lotto’s lady in an ornate dress refers to the tale of Lucretia from Livy’s History of Rome. Both Lucretias in the painting are bold, though trapped by public opinion.
Death of Marat by Jacques-Louis David proves that Masterpieces have baggage too. This well-known piece speaks to us from the French Revolution. Unfortunately, it doesn’t speak the truth.