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This page explains some different styles of painting.

Maybe it is useful to read some information about some items. I copied some words so that we can create our own reading room.


'The impressionist style of painting is characterized chiefly by concentration on the general impression produced by a scene or object and the use of unmixed primary colors and small strokes to simulate actual reflected light.'

Impressionism, French Impressionnisme, a major movement, first in painting and later in music, that developed chiefly in France during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Impressionist painting comprises the work produced between about 1867 and 1886 by a group of artists who shared a set of related approaches and techniques. The most conspicuous characteristic of Impressionism was an attempt to accurately and objectively record visual reality in terms of transient effects of light and colour. The principal Impressionist painters were Claude Monet, Pierre Auguste Renoir, Camille Pissarro, Alfred Sisley, Berthe Morisot, Armand Guillaumin, and Frédéric Bazille, who worked together.


Art movement of the late 19th century, based chiefly on the work of the French painter Georges Seurat; also termed pointillism (dots of pigment). The term was coined in 1886 by the art critic Félix Fénéon to describe the style of painting first presented in Seurat's Bathing at Asnières (National Gallery, London), which had been exhibited in 1884 at the Salon des Indépendants in Paris. The goal of neoimpressionism was to develop and systematize a color theory that had been practiced haphazardly and without scientific precision by the impressionists. Using the techniques of pointillism, Seurat applied paint to his canvases in very small dots of pure undiluted pigment; the juxtaposition of dots of strong contrasting colors created a particularly vibrant effect in the eye of the viewer.

Seurat's style also shows an intense concern for design; his insistence that a picture be deliberately planned and composed was a rejection of the impressionist ideal of unstructured objectivity. His huge Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte (1886, Art Institute of Chicago) showed his fully mature style and became the chief attraction at the final impressionist exhibition in 1886. He was the leader of a group that also included Camille Pissarro and Paul Signac (who became a fervent propagandist for the movement). In its stylization of form, neoimpressionism became an important precursor of modern art; a large Seurat retrospective in 1905 was one of the immediate influences on the creation of cubism.


Movement in fine arts that emphasized the expression of inner experience rather than solely realistic portrayal, seeking to depict not objective reality but the subjective emotions and responses that objects and events arouse in the artist. Expressionism, artistic style in which the artist seeks to depict not objective reality but rather the subjective emotions and responses that objects and events arouse in him. He accomplishes his aim through distortion, exaggeration, primitivism, and fantasy and through the vivid, jarring, violent, or dynamic application of formal elements. In a broader sense Expressionism is one of the main currents of art in the later 19th and the 20th centuries, and its qualities of highly subjective, personal, spontaneous self-expression are typical of a wide range of modern artists and art movements.


(1924-1940s) grew directly out of the Dada movement's reaction against Western culture and the symbolism movement's focus on the unconscious. Artists of the surrealist movement believed that the unconscious held the seed of pure artistic creation. Although he was denounced by the group, Spanish painter Salvador Dalí (1904-1989) became the most notorious member of the art movement known as SURREALISM. Following the surrealist ideal of freeing the imagination from the limitations of reason, Dalí painted dreamlike landscapes of everyday objects appearing in unexpected ways. Exemplified in Dalí's work The Persistence of Memory (1931), limply draping watches covered with ants appear to be decaying. Dalí insisted that his painting, sometimes interpreted as an allegory of the end of time, was meant only as a photographic transcription of a dream. With the goal of making the unreal appear real, Dalí painted with precision and detail. While he claimed to despise abstract art, his ideas helped pave the way for abstract expressionism.


The dominant movement in European art and architecture in the late 18th and early 19th cents., characterized by a desire to re-create the heroic spirit as well as the decorative trappings of the art of Greece and Rome. A new and more scientific interest in classical antiquity, greatly stimulated by the discoveries at Pompeii and Herculaneum, was one of the features of the movement, and it is also seen as mounting a reaction against the light-hearted and frivolous Rococo style. The order, clarity, and reason of Greek and Roman art appealed greatly in the Age of Enlightenment, and in France the Neoclassical style held strong moral implications, being associated with a change of social outlook and a desire to restore ancient Roman values into civil life. It is, indeed, in the paintings of David, with their antique grandeur and simplicity of form, and their heroic severity of tone, that Neoclassicism finds its purest expression, but the style was born and had its centre in Rome.

Leonardo da Vinci.

There has never been an artist who was more fittingly, and without qualification, described as a genius. Like Shakespeare, Leonardo came from an insignificant background and rose to universal acclaim. Leonardo was the illegitimate son of a local lawyer in the small town of Vinci in the Tuscan region. His father acknowledged him and paid for his training, but we may wonder whether the strangely self-sufficient tone of Leonardo's mind was not perhaps affected by his early ambiguity of status. The definitive polymath, he had almost too many gifts, including superlative male beauty, a splendid singing voice, magnificent physique, mathematical excellence, scientific daring... the list is endless. This overabundance of talents caused him to treat his artistry lightly, seldom finishing a picture, and sometimes making rash technical experiments. The Last Supper, in the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan, for example, has almost vanished, so inadequate were his innovations in fresco preparation.

Mona Lisa.

Reams have been written about this small masterpiece by Leonardo, and the gentle woman who is its subject has been adapted in turn as an aesthetic, philosophical and advertising symbol, entering eventually into the irreverent parodies of the Dada and Surrealist artists. The history of the panel has been much discussed, although it remains in part uncertain. According to Vasari, the subject is a young Florentine woman, Monna (or Mona) Lisa, who in 1495 married the well-known figure, Francesco del Giocondo, and thus came to be known as ``La Gioconda''. The work should probably be dated during Leonardo's second Florentine period, that is between 1503 and 1505. Leonardo himself loved the portrait, so much so that he always carried it with him until eventually in France it was sold to François I, either by Leonardo or by Melzi.
From the beginning it was greatly admired and much copied, and it came to be considered the prototype of the Renaissance portrait. It became even more famous in 1911, when it was stolen from the Salon Carré in the Louvre, being rediscovered in a hotel in Florence two years later. It is difficult to discuss such a work briefly because of the complex stylistic motifs which are part of it. In the essay ``On the perfect beauty of a woman'', by the 16th-century writer Firenzuola, we learn that the slight opening of the lips at the corners of the mouth was considered in that period a sign of elegance. Thus Mona Lisa has that slight smile which enters into the gentle, delicate atmosphere pervading the whole painting. To achieve this effect, Leonardo uses the sfumato technique, a gradual dissolving of the forms themselves, continuous interaction between light and shade and an uncertain sense of the time of day.

There is another work of Leonardo's which is perhaps even more famous than The Last Supper. It is the portrait of a Florentine lady whose name was Lisa, Mona Lisa. A fame as great as that of Leonardo's Mona Lisa is not an unmixed blessing for a work of art. We become so used to seeing it on picture postcards, and even advertisements, that we find it difficult to see it with fresh eyes as the painting by a real man portraying a real woman of flesh and blood. But it is worth while to forget what we know, or believe we know, about the picture, and to look at it as if we were the first people ever to set eyes on it. What strikes us first is the amazing degree to which Lisa looks alive. She really seems to look at us and to have a mind of her own. Like a living being, she seems to change before our eyes and to look a little different every time we come back to her. Even in photographs of the picture we experience this strange effect, but in front of the original in the Louvre it is almost uncanny. Sometimes she seems to mock at us, and then again we seem to catch something like sadness in her smile. All this sounds rather mysterious, and so it is; that is so often the effect of a great work of art. Nevertheless, Leonardo certainly knew how he achieved this effect, and by what means. That great observer of nature knew more about the way we use our eyes than anybody who had ever lived before him.

This is Leonardo's famous invention which the Italians call sfumato- the blurred outline and mellowed colors that allow one form to merge with another and always leave something to our imagination. If we now return to the Mona Lisa, we may understand something of its mysterious effect. We see that Leonardo has used the means of his 'sfumato' with the utmost deliberation. Everyone who has ever tried to draw or scribble a face knows that what we call its expression rests mainly in two features: the corners of the mouth, and the corners of the eyes. Now it is precisely these parts which Leonardo has left deliberately indistinct, by letting them merge into a soft shadow. That is why we are never quite certain in what mood Mona Lisa is really looking at us. Her expression always seems just to elude us. It is not only vagueness, of course, which produces this effect. There is much more behind it. Leonardo has done a very daring thing, which perhaps only a painter of his consummate mastery could risk. If we look carefully at the picture, we see that the two sides do not quite match. This is most obvious in the fantastic dream landscape in the background. The horizon on the left side seems to lie much lower than the one on the right. Consequently, when we focus on the left side of the picture, the woman looks somehow taller or more erect than if we focus on the right side. And her face, too, seems to change with this change of position, because, even here, the two sides do not quite match. But with all these sophisticated tricks, Leonardo might have produced a clever piece of jugglery rather than a great work of art, had he not known exactly how far he could go, and had he not counterbalanced his daring deviation from nature by an almost miraculous rendering of the living flesh. Look at the way in which he modelled the hand, or the sleeves with their minute folds. Leonardo could be as painstaking as any of his forerunners in the patient observation of nature. Only he was no longer merely the faithful servant of nature. Long ago, in the distant past, people had looked at portraits with awe, because they had thought that in preserving the likeness the artist could somehow preserve the soul of the person he portrayed. Now the great scientist, Leonardo, had made some of the dreams and fears of these first image-makers come true. He knew the spell which would infuse life into the colors spread by his magic brush.

Hopper, Edward (1882-1967). American painter, active mainly in New York.

He trained under Robert Henri, 1900-06, and between 1906 and 1910 made three trips to Europe, though these had little influence on his style. Hopper exhibited at the Armoury Show in 1913, but from then until 1923 he abandoned painting, earning his living by commercial illustration. Thereafter, however, he gained widespread recognition as a central exponent of American Scene painting, expressing the loneliness, vacuity, and stagnation of town life. Yet Hopper remained always an individualist: `I don't think I ever tried to paint the American scene; I'm trying to paint myself.'

1942 (120 Kb); Oil on canvas, 30 x 60 in; The Art Institute of Chicago

Paintings such as Nighthawks (Art Institute of Chicago, 1942) convey a mood of loneliness and desolation by their emptiness or by the presence of anonymous, non-communicating figures. But of this picture Hopper said: `I didn't see it as particularly lonely... Unconsciously, probably, I was painting the loneliness of a large city.' Deliberately so or not, in his still, reserved, and blandly handled paintings Hopper often exerts a powerful psychological impact -- distantly akin to that made by the Metaphysical painter de Chirico; but while de Chirico's effect was obtained by making the unreal seem real, Hopper's was rooted in the presentation of the familiar and concrete.

American scene painting Edward Hopper painted American landscapes and cityscapes with a disturbing truth, expressing the world around him as a chilling, alienating, and often vacuous place. Everybody in a Hopper picture appears terribly alone. Hopper soon gained a widespread reputation as the artist who gave visual form to the loneliness and boredom of life in the big city. This was something new in art, perhaps an expression of the sense of human hopelessness that characterized the Great Depression of the 1930s. Edward Hopper has something of the lonely gravity peculiar to Thomas Eakins, a courageous fidelity to life as he feels it to be. He also shares Winslow Homer's power to recall the feel of things. For Hopper, this feel is insistently low-key and ruminative. He shows the modern world unflinchingly; even its gaieties are gently mournful, echoing the disillusionment that swept across the country after the start of the Great Depression in 1929. Cape Cod Evening (1939; 77 x 102 cm (30 1/4 x 40 in)) should be idyllic, and in a way it is. The couple enjoy the evening sunshine outside their home, yet they are a couple only technically and the enjoyment is wholly passive as both are isolated and introspective in their reveries. Their house is closed to intimacy, the door firmly shut and the windows covered. The dog is the only alert creature, but even it turns away from the house. The thick, sinister trees tap on the window panes, but there will be no answer.

The Girl with a Pearl Earring
The Hague, Mauritshuis, 47x40 1665

This beautiful girl has turned her head and the veil hanging from her turban is not yet at equilibrium but seems to be still moving. Her gaze is alert and keen, her lips are parted and she seems about to speak. It has been thought that this is a painting of one of Vermeer's daughters, but the eldest, Maria, was only 11 in 1665.

The background is very dark, to emphasize the three-dimensionality and contrast. The jacket is in yellow ocher with a bright white collar as a contrast. The blue turban and yellow veil complete the simple, yet subtle, palette. A turban was an exotic costume in the 1660's, worn by those from remote places, the "clothing of the enemy" in the wars against the Ottoman Empire.

The painting is not made with lines but with color; there is an almost impressionistic softness about the painting, in contrast to the microscopic detail often seen in the paintings of Vermeer's contemporaries.