Thomas Francis Dicksee (1819–1895, Engand)

Characters from Shakespeare

Thomas Francis Dicksee was an English painter, primarily a portraitist and painter of historical, genre subjects — often from Shakespeare. He exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1841 until the year of his death. His brother John Robert Dicksee was also a painter, and his children, Frank and Margaret likewise became painters. In The Dictionary of Victorian Painters, Herbert Dicksee is given as his son also, but according to the City of London School, where Herbert taught, he was the son of John Robert Dicksee.

Grace Rose (detail)
Frederick Sandys (British; 1829–1904)
Oil on panel
Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, Connecticut

Jugendliches Selbstbildnis = Self-Portrait as a Young Man
Anselm Feuerbach (German; 1829–1880)
Oil on canvas
Staatliche Kunsthalle Karlsruhe, Karlsruhe, Germany
© bpk / Staatliche Kunsthalle Karlsruhe

Friedrich von Amerling: Girl in Oriental Costume Reading

This has long been one of my favorite paintings from the collections of the Cleveland Museum of Art. For a long time, it was something of a secret passion, as the painting was hidden away in one of those dimly-lit side galleries which housed less-well-known works by 19th century artists. Yet even there, the work glowed with a truly marvelous inner-light. More recently, the painting has been brought out of hiding and placed among the other paintings of the period.

It is the light that makes this painting so special… the way it rakes across the book and up the young girl’s sleeves and glowing with a milky light upon her breast casting the most exquisite reflective light upon her face… as she momentarily turns away from her reading… yet appearing still deep in contemplation. The young girl's turban is marvelously back-lit… almost suggesting a halo. Indeed, I would not be surprised if the artist’s intentions were to suggest a young Virgin Mary… looking up from her studies… perhaps even aglow at the moment of the Annunciation. 

I have often expressed my admiration for this painting to others. One friend, unfortunately, has never been able to appreciate the magic of this painting. His response has always been, “Yes, well OK… it’s nice. But it’s not Ingres,” followed by a self-satisfied chuckle that suggests that if you knew Ingres like he knows Ingres, you wouldn’t be so impressed with this painting by a virtually unknown painter.

And he’s right. It’s not Ingres. And yes, Ingres is quite special. But so is this painting… even though it’s not Ingres.


Friedrich von Amerling (14 April 1803 – 14 January 1887) was one of the finest Austrian portrait painter of the 19th century. He was born in Vienna where he studied at the Academy of the Arts before journeying to Prague and further studies. He spent 1827 and 1828 in London, where he was influenced by the portrait painter Sir Thomas Lawrence. Further journeys led him to Paris and Rome. Upon returning to Vienna, he worked for the Austrian court.

As an artist, Amerling was something of a world traveler visiting Italy, the Netherlands, Munich, Spain, England, Greece, Norway, Egypt and Palestine. He was married four times.

In 1878 Amerling was elevated to the nobility and was called Friedrich Ritter von Amerling. As a highly successful portraitist, he was able to acquired the Gumpendorf castle in Vienna and equipped it after his taste with valuable art treasures.

-Girl Reading

-Girl Reading

                -Girl in a Straw Hat

-Girl in a Veil

-Portrait of Elise Kreuzberg

-Portrait of Countess Julie von Woyna

-La Somnolienta

-Self Portrait


What’s the latest in NOW? A new exhibition at London’s National Portrait Gallery makes the intriguing argument that Howard Hodgkin is not only one of the twentieth century’s greatest painters, but specifically that he is one of it’s greatest portraitists. Paul Moorhouse, senior curator at the National Portrait Gallery, guides us through this remarkable exhibition. 


Pierre Auguste Cot (1837–83, France)

Cot was a French Academic painter and Classicist. Known in his time as a portraitist, two of his most celebrated paintings (Springtime, and The Storm) are held in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.


Albert von Keller (1844–1920, Germany)

Figures and scenes

Keller was a German historical and genre painter, popular in his time as a society portraitist. Over his fairly long life, unlike a lot of artists who found their style at odds with modernistic trends, he appears to have adapted quite easily to the altering artistic priorities at the end of the 19th Century. In some of his work can be found elements of symbolism and expressionism.


The artist Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun was one of the best-known and most fashionable portraitists of 18th century France; her clients included the queen Marie Antoinette.

QUOTES “Painting and living have always been one and the same thing for me.”


French artist Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun was born in Paris on April 16, 1755. She achieved early success as an artist; her ability to depict her subjects in a flattering, elegant style made her one of the most popular portraitists in France. Her clientele included aristocracy and royalty, including Marie Antoinette, whose portrait she painted 30 times. After the French Revolution, Vigée Le Brun worked abroad for 12 years. She returned to Paris for her later life and continued to enjoy a degree of fame and success that was very rare for a female artist. She died on March 30, 1842.

Early Life and Artistic Training

Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun was born in Paris on April 16, 1755, to Louis and Jeanne (née Maissin) Vigée. Her father was a successful artist who encouraged her interest in art. She took lessons from Gabriel Briard, and she received encouragement from well-known artists Joseph Vernet, Hubert Robert and Jean-Baptiste Greuze.

When she was still a teenager, Vigée Le Brun had already begun to attract wealthy clients who wanted to have their portraits painted, and in 1774 she was accepted into the painters’ guild of the Académie de Saint-Luc, which increased her professional exposure. In 1776 she married Jean-Baptiste Le Brun, an artist and art dealer, with whom she had one daughter, Jeanne-Julie-Louise.

Career and Success in Paris

Vigée Le Brun soon became a popular portraitist among the French aristocracy, who appreciated her artistic style. Using loose brushwork and fresh, bright colors, she always depicted her sitters in a flattering manner, posed gracefully and wearing their most stylish clothing.

In 1779, Vigée Le Brun went to the royal residence at Versailles to paint her first portrait of Marie Antoinette. She became the queen’s favorite portraitist and painted her a total of 30 times over the next decade; for one portrait, dated 1787, Marie Antoinette posed with her three children. The queen took an interest in Vigée Le Brun’s career and smoothed the way for her 1783 acceptance into the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture, France’s most prestigious professional association for artists, which accepted very few female artists.

Throughout the 1780s Vigée Le Brun created portraits of members of the French royal court and aristocracy, including the Duchesse de Polignac and Madame du Barry. She also painted several informal and sensitive self-portraits, including one of herself with her daughter. Although she was best known for her work in portraiture, she also executed occasional mythological and allegorical scenes, such as “Peace Bringing Back Abundance” (1780) and “Bacchante” (1785).

Travels After the Revolution

In 1789, sensing the coming of the revolution that would overthrow the royal family and the aristocracy, Vigée Le Brun left France with her daughter. She traveled through first Italy, and then Austria, Czechoslovakia and Germany, finding herself warmly received by the foreign nobilities, who knew her artistic and social reputation. She spent six years in Russia, where she met Empress Catherine II. She worked consistently throughout this time, producing portraits of royalty and aristocrats in her signature style.

Vigée Le Brun returned briefly to Paris in 1802. Finding France much changed since her departure, she chose to live and work in London from 1803–1805, and then she came home permanently in 1805.

Later Life

Vigée Le Brun’s French citizenship had been revoked when she left the country during the Revolution, and her husband was forced to divorce her on grounds of desertion. When she returned permanently to Paris, some of her fellow artists petitioned to have her citizenship renewed, and she reunited with her husband, without the official status of marriage. Her husband died in 1813, and her daughter died in 1819.

After her return to France, Vigée Le Brun spent much of her time at her country house in Louveciennes, near Paris. Her later work included some mythological scenes and many portraits of notable individuals, including the Prince of Wales (later George IV of England), Napoleon’s sister Caroline Murat and woman of letters Germaine de Staël.

Vigée Le Brun published her memoirs, titled Souvenirs, in three volumes between 1835 and 1837. She died at her Paris residence on March 30, 1842.


Gentile Bellini died on this day in 1507 in Venice. Eldest son of Jacopo and brother of Giovanni, Gentile was active as a painter and diplomat for the Venetian republic. In 1479, the government sent him to Constantinople to work for Sultan Muhammad II as a portraitist (National Gallery, London). In addition to portraits, Gentile is known for large-scale, “eye-witness” narrative paintings set in Renaissance Venice.

Reference: Peter Humfrey, et al. “Bellini.” Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online. Oxford University Press.<http://www.oxfordartonline.com/subscriber/article/grove/art/T007643pg2>.

Mehmet II, 1480, oil on canvas, National Gallery, London

The Healing of Pietro dei Ludovici, c. 1501, tempera on canvas, Gallerie dell'Accademia, Venice

Procession in Piazza San Marco, 1496, tempera and oil on canvas, Gallerie dell'Accademia, Venice

Clarence Barker
Anders Zorn (Swedish; 1860–1920)
Private Collection


Jean-François Millet - Portrait of Louise-Antoinette Feuardent [1841] by Gandalf
Via Flickr:
Before Jean-François Millet (1814 - 1875) achieved international success as a painter of peasant life, he earned his early living as a portraitist. Here, he depicted Louise-Antoinette Feuardent, the wife of his lifelong friend Félix-Bienaimé Feuardent, a clerk in the library at Cherbourg. In this portrait painted shortly after her marriage, Louise-Antoinette prominently displays her wedding band on her left hand. In a style reminiscent of seventeenth-century Dutch painters, Millet painted the modestly dressed sitter against a plain background using a limited palette. Louise-Antoinette looks out of the picture, her brown eyes calmly assessing the viewer. Through a tightly controlled composition and a careful balance of monochromatic tones, Millet captured Louise-Antoinette’s self-containment, reserve, and poised composure.

[Getty Centre, Los Angeles - Oil on canvas, 73.3 x 60 cm]


George Romney - Portrait of Lady Caroline Price [1774] by Gandalf
Via Flickr:
Along with Sir Joshua Reynolds, George Romney was one of the most prominent portraitists of the eighteenth century. His paintings such as the present work are characterised by fashionable costume, beautiful colour, and graceful brushwork. Sitting with a sense of poise befitting her stature, Lady Price modestly averts her gaze to her right. Her white ruffled bodice is quickly and expertly described with masterful brushstrokes. Light pours into the space, playing off of the rich texture of the lady’s plumed, blue ribbon hat.

[Heritage Auctions - Oil on canvas, 74.9 x 62.2 cm]