Thomas Gainsborough, Portrait of a Lady in Blue, c. 1770Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg
a collection of art
Les Pommiers by Louis Valtat, 1894
Sir Joshua Reynolds, Lady Elizabeth Keppel, 1761
(b. 1625, Enkhuizen, d. 1654, Amsterdam)
The Spotted Horse
Oil on wood, 30 x 41 cm
Musée du Louvre, Paris
Two Nudes in the Forest by Frida Kahlo, 1939
The thing I love about Kahlo’s work is the numerous ways each piece can be interpreted. This painting of two nude women resting on the forest ground seems like a direct reference to Kahlo’s sexuality: she was known to have relationships with both men and women. But the two figures could also indicate her identity struggle with her Mexican and European backgrounds.
John Singleton Copley, Self-Portrait (1780-84)
National Portrait Gallery, Washington
John Singleton Copley (1738 – 1815) was an American painter, born presumably in Boston, Massachusetts, and a son of Richard and Mary Singleton Copley, both Irish. He is famous for his portrait paintings of important figures in colonial New England, depicting in particular middle-class subjects. His paintings were innovative in their tendency to depict artifacts relating to these individuals’ lives.
With many letters of introduction, all of which are published in the Copley-Pelham correspondence, Copley sailed from Boston in June 1774, leaving his mother, wife, and children in Henry Pelham’s charge. He wrote on July 11 from London “after a most easy and safe passage.” An early call was upon West, to “find in him those amiable qualitys that makes his friendship boath desireable as an artist and as a Gentleman.” “In England, what [Benjamin] West and Copley did together was to create a new kind of history painting, one with modern, topical subjects, chiefly death scenes of heroes, in a historic manner, but with scrupulous attention to contemporary detail” (Johnson 441) The American was duly introduced to Sir Joshua Reynolds and was taken to “the Royal Accademy where the Students had a naked model from which they were Drawing.” In London Copley took no sitters at this time though urged to do so. Shortly before leaving for Italy he “dined with Gov’r Hutchinson, and I think there was 12 of us altogether, and all Bostonians, and we had Choice Salt Fish for Dinner.”
In his last fifteen years, though painting persistently, Copley experienced much depression and disappointment. The Napoleonic Wars brought hard times. The household at 25 George St. was expensive to maintain. The education of a talented son was costly. It grieved the father that after the young barrister began to earn his way it became necessary to accept his help in supporting the home. Lord Campbell quotes the jurist as saying that “his father, having lived rather expensively, accumulated little for him.” Mrs. Amory makes out a case for Mrs. Copley’s admirable management, but it appears that a standard of living difficult to maintain in the changed circumstances made much borrowing inevitable. Copley was chagrined by the failure of his Equestrian Portrait of the Prince Regent to “bring a financial return.” Cunningham says, “No customer made his appearance for Charles and the impeached members.” Other canvases involving years of labor were unsold. Troubles with engravers were many, whether the fault was theirs or the painter’s. Copley’s letters to his son-in-law in Boston usually concerned loans made to him and frequently extended.