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" Every day we should hear at least one good song , read one good poem , see one exquisite picture , and , if possible , speak a few sensible words . " Johann Wolfgang von Goethe "

Saturday, 28 September 2013

' Lady Louisa Grey ' ( 1771-1830) Andrew Plimer (English 1763-1837) Watercolour on Ivory , circa around 1800. Private Collection.

'Lady Louisa Grey' (1771-1830), wearing a white dress and matching bandau in her long powdered hair. Andrew Plimer ( English 1763-1837) Watercolour on ivory , circa around 1800 . Private Collection

Andrew Plimer (1763-1837) was one of the most distinctive miniaturists of the 18th century. He was a prolific artist and much copied both during and after his lifetime. Andrew and his brother Nataniel were the sons of a Shropshire clockmaker. Having rejected their father's trade , they ran away to London where in 1781 Andrew became a servant to Richard Cosway. Plimer assisted Cosway in his studio with the preparation of materials, and it is thought that Cosway recognised Plimer's artistic potential and gave him lessons. In 1785 Plimer left Cosway to set up on his own and quickly established himself. He exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1786 -1830 and built up some close connections with some of the leading miniaturists of the day.

Lady Louisa Grey was born in St James, London, and was the daughter of George Harry Grey 5th Earl of Stamford , 1st Earl of Warrington and Henrietta Cavendish Bentnck,  daughter of the 2nd Duke of Portland.

Not much can be gleaned of the life of Louisa although it appears, through her presence in numerous court circular columns in The Times newspaper ,she was a well-known and popular lady of title.

' St Albert tied to a Tree 'José de Ribera (Spanish 1591-1652) Red chalk on paper, circa 1626. The British Museum, London


The expatriated José de Ribera (1591-1652) was known in Italy as "Lo Spagnoletto" (or the 'little Spaniard') De Ribera enjoyed the luxury of international patronage , from Spanish Royalty to the Roman Catholic Church. Throughout his career he was commended for his ability to depict mental and physical suffering , with sensitivity for line and light .

' Four Generations ' Thomas Rowlandson (English 1756-1827) Ink and watercolour on paper , circa unknown, Tate Gallery, London.

' Four Generations ' Thomas Rowalandson ( English 1756-1827) Ink and watercolour on paper. Circa unknown , Tate Gallery London

Thomas Rowlandson (1756-1827) English caricaturist , watercolourist , draughtsman and engraver.Although he is commonly thought of as a satirist , most of his drawings are gently humorous , and in some cases , objective, records of urban and rustic life.

Gautier Capuçon and Frank Braley - Fauré Après un rêve

' Allegory of The Arts ' Francesco de Mura (Italian 1696-1782) Oil on canvas , citca 1747-50. Musée du Louvre, Paris.

' Allegory of The Arts' Francesco de Mura ( Italian 1696-1782) Oil on canvas , circa 1747-50. Louvre

Francesco de Mura ( 1696-1782)  is considered to be the greatest artist of the late Baroque in Naples. Admired particularly for his superb draughtsmanship and luminous colours in harmonious compositions.

See ' Allegory of Love' for biography .

' A Philosopher Lecturing on The Orrery ' Joseph Wright of Derby ( English 1734-1797) Oil on canvas, circa 1766. Derby Museum and Art Gallery , Derby , England.


In this picture showing a lecture centered on an Orrery, Joseph Wright of Derby uses the light of a candle in the place of the sun in the orrery to show the wonder on the watchers faces.

 During the 18th century Enlightenment period philosophers had begun to understand the world and our place in it. During public lectures all over the country this understanding was passed to many people . Joseph Wright captures perfectly how enthralling such lectures must have been .

The effects of light fascinated Joesph Wright of Derby . An attorneys son , he trained as a portrait painter in London , but he returned to Derby , the first major English painter to build his career outside the capital . With scientific experiments a source of general fascination , his meticulously painted figure groups in dark interiors illuminated by candles or lamps carried his reputation to London . His dramatic contrasts showed the influence of artists such as Gerrit van Honthorst and Rembrandt van Rijn , but Wright invented the scientific Enlightenment subject : scenes of experiments , new machinery and the leaders of the Industrial Revolution.  

' The Fortune Teller ' Simon Vouet (French 1590-1649) Oil on canvas, circa 1620. National Gallery of Canada , Ottawa.

The Fortune Teller' Simon Vout ( French 1590-1649) Oil on canvas , circa 1620. National Gallery of Canada , Ottawa

This painting is Vout's response to Caravaggio's 'Gypsy Fortune Teller' and is altogether more theatrical . The woman on the left smiles , pulling us into the picture . A contrived show of gesturing hands and conspiratorial glances tells the story : the gypsy fortune teller , a stock character assumed to cheat her clients , is herself being robbed . Vouet offers a farce , full of vivid observations , in place of Caravaggio's  more universal tale of the perils of human desire.

Simon Vouet (1590-1649) was a leading French baroque painter and an arbiter of taste for almost 20 years . The son of an artist, he settled in Italy in 1630 , living chiefly in Rome . His style shows an individual talent and a profound study of Italian painters especially Veronese . Vouet soon enjoyed high favour , including the patronage of Pope Urban V111. In 1627 he was invited back to France , where he became first painter, a position challenged only once , in 1640-42 , when he was brought into an artificial rivalry with Poussin.