Expert's View

7 April 2014

El Greco: 400 Years On

Today, April the 7th, marks the 400th anniversary of the death of one of Europe’s most famous painters: El Greco.

Born on the island of Crete around 1541, El Greco came to be one of the most famous exponents of the Spanish Renaissance. After training with the Cretan school, El Greco established himself as a master painter in the early 1560s.

24 February 2014

The Joker

Harlequin, the French name of the Commedia dell’ arte character Arlecchino, the Joker figure of the cards that inspired the archenemy of Batman, originates back to the devilish character found in medieval passion playsJane Lewis depicts him in The Harlequin’s catas the light-hearted young manfirst introduced in the Italian theatre, but with the chequered costume that he acquired from 17th century Parisian fashion.

16 February 2014

Pierrot le Fou

It is interesting how Commedia dell’ arte, a form of theater that dates back to the 16th century, still inspires artists and all sorts of creatives in the visual arts field, with a famous modern example being Pierrot le Fou (1965),the movie by Jean-Luc Goddard.

22 January 2014


Flowers and plants have always been one of the most favourite and commonly depicted themes by artists either forming the subject of the artwork itself or serving as a decorative element. Some flowers however have been more extensively used through time, such as the sunflowers. The use of sunflower as a theme dates back to the Greek mythology, where according to the myth the nymph Clytia was transformed by Apollo into a sunflower.

Paul Cézanne is generally acclaimed as the father of modern art because of the substantial use of color and geometrical treatment of the subject matter in his paintings. What really distinguishes him though among his contemporaries is his effort to capture and put on the canvas the true essence of each subject, a great example of which is Still Life with Apples and Peaches (1905) executed a year before his death.

13 January 2014


Throughout the centuries a recurrent theme in art is the depiction of bathers, nude men or women relaxing at the banks of a river or lake. Of course, in the Renaissance and Early Modern period nudity was forbidden unless it was presented in the context of a religious or mythological subject matter. But ever since the Industrial Revolution when tastes changed along with the buying audience, artists could paint realistic nudes, which were often placed in the natural environment, thus depicting the romantic notion of utopia.

There are very few female artists from before the 20th century that have survived in books of art and Mary Cassatt is one of them. Since women were not accepted at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris at the time, she took private lessons and later exhibited with the Impressionists, to whom she was introduced by her friend Edgar Degas.

1 January 2014

Santa baby

It is the most wonderful time of the year: cities wear their festive attire to celebrate Christmas and welcome the New Year, a transition that brings joy to most people and inspiration to artists.

Who said that art can’t be fun? Certainly not David Barton! With his work he is not making fun of works by ‘old masters’ but rather gives a new life and meaning to them by using contemporary icons, widely recognisable by anyone. In this way he actually makes art more approachable to the wider audience; rather than hailing the ‘iconic paintings’, the ‘masterpieces’ - terms widely used when referring to the work of Van Gogh, Seurat and Monet among others - he takes a brave step by actually using this much celebrated paintings and recontextualising them in modern day society.

Elisabetta Trevisan, inspired by the Renaissance and the Pre-Raphaeliteswith their infamous depiction of female figures in interior and exterior environments, has created a stunning oeuvre dominated by women with beautiful hair styles and flowing fabrics. Paying attention to detail, her figures are engaged with their surrounding environment and in some cases they even become an integral part of it.