Sean Thackrey :: Wine Maker

Sean Thackrey :: Wine Maker

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Work, of Art

I had no idea, until last year, that so many museums now allow us to photograph works of art without interference, as long as there's no noise and no flash; discovering this, I went into overdrive at the Met and Philadelphia during my last visit; and have gone on from there. So this is an album devoted purely to iPhone snapshots of works of art that I've seen that I think should be seen, and talked about as to what the work of art - that is, art's work - really is; which is the only reason I'm posting them here.

William Blake (1757-1827), The Nativity, Tempera on copper, 
ca.1800, 27.3x38.3cm., Philidelphia Museum of Art.
An astonishingly wonderful little painting by William Blake, at Philadelphia, which I had never seen nor even seen reproduced; and it's really hard to imagine a more enlightened understanding of the virgin birth of the Christ Child, surely one of the most vexed points of Christian dogma. Here it seems beautiful and credible, somehow; Joseph isn't a doddering old fool, but a passionate and powerful participant; and the child is a spiritual emanation perhaps from Mary's DNA, but not from some idiot notion of God somehow having immaculate sex with her. And the absolute beauty of Ste. Anne on the right, so passionately welcoming the newborn spiritual child...!

Close up of the Child, so beautiful, and being so beautifully welcomed...

click to zoom
[Cézanne quince] Artist, title of work here, date here,
medium and support here, size here, collection and whereabouts here.

What a pleasure to be able to study painting so closely, as in this magnificent Cézanne quince at Philadelphia, and then to be able to preserve so simply an image of how it truly looks in the flesh of its actual paint, not in the ruinous flat lighting of art book reproductions!

Paint as seen in the flesh, 2: 
Van Gogh's shoes, at the Met

Paint as seen in the flesh, 3: 
detail of poppies in a field of wheat: 
Van Gogh, at the  Met.

Paint, as seen in the flesh, 4: 
Van Gogh, Roses, at the Met.

Sunday, March 3, 2013


I've already posted one of my favorite paintings in the world, which is the Madonna del Parto of Piero della Francesca, in Monterchi. Despite a lifelong passion for Italian painting of the Quattrocento, I'd actually never known there were other representations of this same theme - of the Virgin Mary contemplating her own pregnancy and its implications.

For Piero, whose work - along with Giovanni Bellini's - is the very definition of what "gravitas" even means, such a representation could hardly have been a more serious issue, as he, and therefore she - the Virgin he painted & therefore we can actually see - shows us.

So now I'm posting another image, from a snapshot taken in the Accademia, where another Madonna del Parto is right up there larger than life, or at least delighted to be its source.

Maestro della Madonna del Parto angeli e donatori, tavola, 188x138cm,   fifteenth century.

The painter of the Accademia panel - identified on the tag only as the "Maestro della Madonna del Parto", which is not terribly helpful, since we knew that much already - has an entirely different understanding than Piero.

For that painter, the Virgin is pretty much as is the other gal, also in the Accademia, I posted earlier: an obviously nice and affectionate Italian mother completely delighted to be the literal matrix of the Virgin Birth of the Son of God and the Second Person of the Holy Trinity.

She's Italian: it's family.