|Anyone care to hazard a guess what this is all about. Sir Joshua Reynolds, 1787|
|It must have been a wild party, Luca Giordano, c. 1680|
Aside from portraits and some of the minor exceptions I mentioned above, to have been a fine artist before the late 19th century (the Modern Art era), I would have been forced to have immersed myself in three major sources of art content--history, the Bible, and Greek mythology. It's startling to realize that today, not one artist in ten would be sufficiently conversant in any of these areas as to allow him or her to paint them intelligently. Most artists today wouldn't even have the technical skills to try. Granted, we all know something about history (that of recent and local vintage anyway) and most of us have a layman's knowledge of the Bible, but could we--or would we--paint anything more than trite iconography from either source? I don't think so. And as for Greek mythology...well, most of us today wouldn't know a Perseus from a Phineas.
|Jean Auguste Ingres, c. 1820|
Top image: The Infant Hercules Strangling Serpents in his Cradle, Reynolds, 1787
Second image: Judith Displaying the Head of Holofernes, Luca Giordano, 1680
Third image: Jason and Medea, Gustave Moreau, 1865
Fourth image: Oedipus and the Sphinx, Jean Auguste, Ingres, c. 1820
Not Shown: David having slain Goliath (not enough information to locate image).