11 Paintings, scenes from the Bible, by The Old Masters, with footnotes # 40

Henry Nelson O’Neil, ARA (British, 1817-1880)

Esther, c. 1850

Oil on canvas

103.5 x 76.5cm (40 3/4 x 30 1/8in)

Private collection 

And glittering in royal robes…she took two maids with her; and upon one of them she leaned

(Esther 15 v.5-6)


Esther. King Ahasuerus, of Persia sought a new queen who was to be the most beautiful woman in the land. A young Jewish orphan, Esther, was chosen.  She kept her Jewish identity secret. Her cousin Mordecai, a servant of the king, overheard a plot and warned his master through Esther.


Mordecai offended a high court official called Haman, who decided to kill not only Mordecai but all the Jews in the Persian empire (the first recorded pogrom against the Jews). Esther turned the tables on Mordecai. She pleaded with the king, and Haman was hanged on the very gibbet he had built for Mordecai; thereby saving  the Jewish people. 

       

There was great rejoicing, and an annual festival was celebrated to commemorate the courage of Esther and the deliverance of the Jews. This festival was called Purim.


The names Esther and Mordecai may be related to stories about the Persian deities Ishtar and Marduk.  Ishtar was the Babylonian goddess of love. Marduk was the principal male god of Babylon. More Esther

Henry Nelson O’Neil, ARA (British, 1817-1880)

The Sultana, c. 1854

Oil on panel

30 x 25cm (11 13/16 x 9 13/16in).

Private collection 

Henry Nelson O’Neil ARA (1817 in Russia – 1880) was an historical genre painter and minor Victorian writer. He worked primarily with historical and literary subjects. He also had popular successes with romantic scenes portraying the deaths of Mozart and Raphael.


O’Neil was a member of The Clique, a group of artists in the 1840s who, like the later Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, met regularly to discuss and criticize one another’s works. 


O’Neil came to England with his family in 1823. He became a student at the Royal Academy Schools in 1836, and sent his first picture to the Royal Academy exhibition in 1838. He  began to pursue modern­life subjects that had a strong emotional componentHis choice of subjects was considered to be striking, but his composition faulty. Although made an A.R.A. in 1860, O’Neil was never elected an R.A., despite exhibiting nearly one hundred works at the Royal Academy. More Henry Nelson O’Neil 

School of Valencia in 1550, Juan workshop JUANES 

Virgin and Child with St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelis

Poplar panel, boards

61.5 x 52.5 cm 

In Valencia the aesthetic of the Renaissance, spread from about 1472-1481 onwards by the Italians (Francesco Pagano, Pablo de San Leocadio), and was adopted about 1505 by Fernando Yanez and Fernando de los Llanos, who visited Florence and perhaps Venice.

This composition is one of the best known of the workshop Juan de Juanes. It is characterized by the landscape that approximates that of the panel of Venerable Agnesio Virgin, preserved in Valencia Museum. 

Juan de Juanes (c.1475-c.1545), was a Spanish painter, the son of the painter Vicente Macip , who had almost certainly studied in Italy, and probably in Venice. Juanes painted ‘ideal’ Counter-Reformation images, based on Leonardo’s Last Supper and Raphael’s Madonnas, but also with some influence from Flanders.

His work is technically less precise than that of his father in the delineation of form; he preferred sfumato effects in modelling, very different from the sharper sculptural outlines of Macip. In colour, Juanes preferred clear, luminous tones with which he achieved a characteristic Mannerist iridescence. His landscapes, too, differ from those of his father, becoming yet another decorative element. They often include classical ruins such as the pyramid of Caius Sextus or Egyptian obelisks, all of which are treated with the same delicacy and grace as his human forms. More Juan de Juanes

Raphael, (1483–1520)

Ezekiel’s Vision, circa 1518

Oil on panel 

45 x 32.5 cm

Palazzo Pitti, Florence

Ezekiel’s Vision is a c. 1518 painting by Raphael showing the prophet Ezekiel’s vision of God in majesty. The work was once considered to be by the hand of Giulio Romano, with Raphael providing only the drawing. However, it has been subsequently assigned to Raphael. More Ezekiel’s Vision

In the Book of Ezekiel God approaches Ezekiel as the divine warrior, riding in his battle chariot. The chariot is drawn by four living creatures, each having four faces (those of a man, a lion, an ox, and an eagle) and four wings. Beside each “living creature” is a “wheel within a wheel”, with “tall and awesome” rims full of eyes all around. 

Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino (April 6 or March 28, 1483 – April 6, 1520), known as Raphael, was an Italian painter and architect of the High Renaissance. His work is admired for its clarity of form, ease of composition, and visual achievement of the Neoplatonic ideal of human grandeur. Together with Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci, he forms the traditional trinity of great masters of that period.

Raphael was enormously productive, running an unusually large workshop and, despite his death at 37, leaving a large body of work. Many of his works are found in the Vatican Palace. The best known work is The School of Athens in the Vatican Stanza della Segnatura. After his early years in Rome much of his work was executed by his workshop from his drawings, with considerable loss of quality. He was extremely influential in his lifetime, though outside Rome his work was mostly known from his collaborative printmaking. More Raffaello

Schiele, Egon (1908)

Mother and Child (also known as Madonna), c. 1908

Sanguine, charcoal and white chalk

60 cm (23.62 in.), 43.5 cm (17.13 in.)

Niedersächsisches Landesmuseum  (Germany – Hanover

In 1908 Egon Schiele painted Madonna and Child. While alive in structure and expression, the dark faced Madonna has hands around her child’s head, almost grabbing his neck. She conveys an ominous, frightening, anti-maternal aura. In contrast, her plump light skinned child looks robust if not especially happy to be trapped in the lap of his eerie, death-giving mother. More Madonna and Child

Egon Schiele (German: 12 June 1890 – 31 October 1918) was an Austrian painter. A protégé of Gustav Klimt, Schiele was a major figurative painter of the early 20th century. His work is noted for its intensity and its raw sexuality, and the many self-portraits the artist produced, including naked self-portraits. The twisted body shapes and the expressive line that characterize Schiele’s paintings and drawings mark the artist as an early exponent of Expressionism. More Egon Schiele

James Tissot, (1836–1902)

The Journey of the Magi, c. 1894

Oil on Canvas

Minneapolis Institute

The Magi were, in the Gospel of Matthew and Christian tradition, a group of distinguished foreigners who visited Jesus after his birth, bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. They are regular figures in traditional accounts of the nativity celebrations of Christmas and are an important part of Christian tradition.

According to Matthew, the only one of the four Canonical gospels to mention the Magi, they came “from the east” to worship the “king of the Jews”. Although the account does not mention the number of Magi, the three gifts has led to the widespread assumption that there were three men. In Eastern Christianity, especially the Syriac churches, the Magi often number twelve. More on The Magi 

Jacques Joseph Tissot (15 October 1836 – 8 August 1902), Anglicized as James Tissot, was a French painter and illustrator. He was a successful painter of Paris society before moving to London in 1871. He became famous as a genre painter of fashionably dressed women shown in various scenes of everyday life. He also painted scenes and characters from the Bible. More

Master of Peribleptos church in Mistra

Greco-Byzantine Workshop

 The birth of Christ, circa 1348/80

Frescoes in the Peribleptos church in Mistra

Mystras or Mistras  is a fortified town and a former municipality in Laconia, Peloponnese, Greece. Situated on Mt. Taygetos, near ancient Sparta, it served as the capital of the Byzantine Despotate of the Morea in the 14th and 15th centuries, experiencing a period of prosperity and cultural flowering. The site remained inhabited throughout the Ottoman period, when it was mistaken by Western travellers for ancient Sparta. In the 1830s, it was abandoned and the new town of Sparti was built, approximately eight kilometres to the east. More Mistra

The extensive frescoes covering the interior of Peribleptos Monastery were created from 1350-1375. These works have been connected with the Cretan and Macedonian art schools. Because of the apse and other surfaces that create dramatic spatial surfaces, the artists’ that painted these works had the advantage of displaying New Testament images with a perpetual flow with one fresco leading into another.It unclear who the artists’ were. Dedication to the Virgin Mary has been proven as a prominent iconic focus in the religious art in churches and monasteries in Mystras.In Peribleptos Monastery. More Master of Peribleptos

Saint Luzia 

Painted panel

20 x 44 cm

Private collection

The emblem of eyes on a cup or plate apparently reflects popular devotion to her as protector of sight. Lucia (from the Latin word “lux” which means “light”). In paintings St. Lucy is frequently shown holding her eyes on a golden plate. She also holds the palm branch, symbol of victory over evil. More The emblem of eyes

Saint Lucy, Italian Santa Lucia (died 304, Syracuse, Sicily), virgin and martyr who was one of the earliest Christian saints to achieve popularity, having a widespread following before the 5th century. She is the patron saint of the city of Syracuse (Sicily). Because of various traditions associating her name with light, she came to be thought of as the patron of sight.

Lucy came from a wealthy Sicilian family. Spurning marriage and worldly goods, however, she vowed to remain a virgin in the tradition of St. Agatha. An angry suitor reported her to the local Roman authorities, who sentenced her to be removed to a brothel and forced into prostitution. This order was thwarted, according to legend, by divine intervention; Lucy became immovable and could not be carried away. She was next condemned to death by fire, but she proved impervious to the flames. Finally, her neck was pierced by a sword and she died.

Francesco del Cossa, (1436–1487) 

Saint Lucy, c. after 1470

Oil and tempera on panel

National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., United States

Lucy was a victim of the wave of persecution of Christians that occurred late in the reign of the Roman emperor Diocletian. References to her are found in early Roman sacramentaries and, at Syracuse, in an inscription dating from 400 ce. As evidence of her early fame, two churches are known to have been dedicated to her in Britain before the 8th century, at a time when the land was largely pagan. More Saint Lucy

Francesco del Cossa (c. 1430 – c. 1477) was an Italian Renaissance painter of the School of Ferrara. The son of a stonemason in Ferrara, little is known about his early works, although it is known that he travelled outside of Ferrara in his late twenties or early thirties.

Cossa is best known for his frescoes. One of the first records we have of him is in 1456 when he was an assistant to his father, Cristofano del Cossa, at that time employed in painting the carvings and statues on the high altar in the chapel of the bishop’s palace at Ferrara. More Francesco del Cossa

São João Baptista 

Painted panel

18 x 46 cm

Private collection

John the Baptist (sometimes called John in the Wilderness) was the subject of at least eight paintings by the Italian Baroque artist Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571–1610).

The story of John the Baptist is told in the Gospels. John was the cousin of Jesus, and his calling was to prepare the way for the coming of the Messiah. He lived in the wilderness of Judea between Jerusalem and the Dead Sea, “his raiment of camel’s hair, and a leather girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey.” He baptised Jesus in the Jordan, and was eventually killed by Herod Antipas when he called upon the king to reform his evil ways. More

Angel’s head

Craved and painted wood panel

14 x 43 cm

Private collection


Acknowledgement: Bonhams

Images are copyright of their respective owners, assignees or others

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Author: zaidangallery

I search Art History for Beautiful works that may, or may not, have a secondary or unexpected story to tell. I then write short summaries that grow from my research. Art work is so much more when its secrets are exposed

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