Romanticising the city of London may not have been in everyone’s taste. One British water colourist, Samuel Prout, though begged to differ. Not only did he paint elaborate street scenes of the great city but in the process elevated water colour cityscapes to such work of art as comparable to J M W Turner’s landscapes.

Prout’s (September 17, 1783 – February 10, 1852) childhood was spent in Devon. Encouraged by his teacher at school, he used to spend long hours outdoors sketching the rustic surrounding and creating humble paintings of the beautiful landscape. Entering into his twenties, Prout moved to London. He used his artistic skills and created lithographs to earn his living. However, not until his trip to the continent in 1818 did he find his own vocabulary on canvas. He saw the marvels of ancient architecture painted exquisitely on canvas. This stirred his imagination and prompted him to follow the same. His romantic paintings received praise across Europe and back home he was honoured with the title of Painter in Water–Colours in Ordinary by subsequent monarchs. 

Prout’s sentimentalism with ancient and sometimes decaying architectural structures was not vapid. Instead, each of his brushstrokes thrived on the changing imageries of a place in the annals of time. He was a poet with a brush in hand intently listening to the whispers of a civilisation before translating them on to the canvas.


Adelaide Hanscom Leeson was a gifted artist and photographer. She is widely known for her photographic illustrations of The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. Hanscom (November 25, 1875 – November 19, 1931) started picking up the basic skills of painting since her early childhood. After her family’s relocation to Berkeley, California she enrolled herself at the University of California and then at the Mark Hopkins Institute of Art. It is during this time that she started exploring other avenues and became interested in photography.

In 1902, Hanscom established her studio in San Francisco. Soon her vividly expressive pictorial photographs captured the imagination of many. She came to be known as one of the finest pictorialists of the Pacific Coast. She commenced her pioneering project, i.e. creating the photogravure for The Rubaiyat, in 1903. The news of such a project naturally created sensation across North America which was not exposed to such artistry at that point of time. Hanscom herself was deeply influenced by the verses of The Rubaiyat.

As if to stir the drama of her own life fortune intervened with her poor tricks in an effort to spoil Adelaide Hanscom Leeson’s parade of success. A devastating earthquake in San Francisco (1906) completely destroyed her studio and with that the prints of her work for The Rubaiyat. Bemused Hanscom left the city to settle in Seattle with a handful of prints that survived the fated day. She started working with even greater ferocity and produced quite a few portraits of the society ladies and gentlemen in her characteristic style. More importantly, she started creating photo illustrations of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Sonnets from the Portuguese which took many years to complete.

Hanscom’s career in art was briefly interrupted after her marriage in 1908. She could begin her work once again some three years later. The ensuing productive period was intense but brief. The loss of her husband and father in quick succession caused her to plunge into a depressive state. Never did she recover from it and was forced to intermittently spend time in several mental institutions before being killed in a road accident. Aptly did say Khayyam,

The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit,
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.
But helpless pieces in the game He plays,
Upon this chequer-board of Nights and Days,
He hither and thither moves, and checks… and slays,
Then one by one, back in the closet lays.


According to Giorgio Vasari Johan Gregor van der Schardt was a sculptor extraordinaire. Also known as Jan Gregor van der Schardt, the master sculptor produced elaborate bronze sculptures in line to Roman antiquity. The terracotta busts created by van der Schardt continue to enamour everyone more than four hundred years after they have been conceived. He also sculpted one of the first known self–portraits in terracotta for any sculptor.

Johan Gregor van der Schardt (circa 1530) was born in Nijmegen, the Netherlands. He soon travelled to Nuremberg leaving his birthplace behind never to return again. The sculptor entered the court of Emperor Maximilian II. His intricately sculpted pieces were much in demand and he continued moving from one place to another working on commissions. But the defining period of his career came when he visited and eventually settled in Rome for a considerable period of time. En route he went to Venice, Mantua and other places in Italy. However, being in Rome helped him to be in close proximity to the antique statues some of which he copied in miniature forms.

Beside Vasari other contemporary artists of van der Schardt were also unanimous in his praise. One of them was Daniele Barbaro, the famous architect, mathematician, philosopher and translator of Vitruvius’s treatise. In 1576, Johan Gregor van der Schardt moved to the royal court of Denmark. He continued working there and for a brief while in Nuremberg relentlessly till his death in circa 1591.

George Sewell (via itsquoted)
O, reputation! dearer far than life,
Thou precious balsam, lovely, sweet of smell,
Whose cordial drops once spilt by some rash hand,
Not all the owner’s care, nor the repenting toil
Of the rude spiller, ever can collect
To its first purity and native sweetness.


The symbolism of Fernand Khnopff’s painting only gained in mystique with the passage of time. Born into a family of notable lawyers, Fernand Khnopff (September 12, 1858 – November 12, 1921) was but an accidental artist. He even joined a law school to satisfy his family’s whims but eventually dropped out due to lack of interest in the subject. His mind was steeped in the childhood memories of Bruges where he used to spend time sketching the city. Introduction to Xavier Mellery’s studio helped him in shaping his dreams.

As his prominence grew, Khnopff became acquainted with many contemporary artists. His trips to Paris helped him see the beauty of the works of the masters like Eugène Delacroix, Ingres and Gustave Moreau. The Paris World Fair (1878) and subsequent foray into the art market of England afforded him the friendships of Edward Burne–Jones and Dante Gabriel Rossetti. His artworks, exhibited in the Vienna Secession (1898), drew massive cheers from the audience. His talent also pervaded into the other closely related domains, such as, interior decoration, set and costume designs of Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie in Brussels, Deutsches Theater Berlin etc. After Secession, the acquaintance with Gustav Klimt and mutual interest in each other’s work was inevitable.

Khnopff became a cult figure during his lifetime. The artist was also an amateur photographer. He poured his frank sentiments about his art on the pages of diary when he said, ‘It’s strange. When I put something incomprehensible into a picture, it’s usually because the form and colour interest me and because it just happens to fit in. Then my friends come along, ‘what is that suppose to mean?’ And they rack their brains for an interpretation, finding so many ingenious explanations that I feel quite proud of all the unarticulated ideas concealed in my pictures.’


George Hendrik Breitner was an influential figure both in the world of Dutch impressionism and photography. Unlike many other impressionists of the era, Breitner specialised in painting bustling street scenes, something his photography also thrived on. Breitner (September 12, 1857 – June 5, 1923) attended the Art Academy in The Hague, spent some time learning the craft from landscape painter Willem Meris and became a member of Pulchri Studio. 

In 1882, Breitner came in touch with Vincent van Gogh through a meeting facilitated by the latter’s brother, Theo. They used to frequent different parts of The Hague for sketching the parts of the city as well as common folks at work. Breitner was influenced by the writings of Émile Zola and drew van Gogh’s attention towards Zola’s books. But the relationship soon soured and eventually ended in complete misunderstanding of each other’s works. While van Gogh thought Breitner’s paintings resembled ‘mouldy wallpaper’, Breitner paid the regards back branding van Gogh’s art as, ‘coarse and distasteful.’

Since 1889, Breitner started using photography both for the novelty of this new medium and as points of reference for his artworks. The rain soaked city often found its way to the photographic plates as much as on his canvas. His figurative paintings, particularly the ultra realistic female nudes, found due recognition only years after his death. Though he remained unaffected by the subsequent art movements, he was intrigued by Japonisme and practiced it briefly both through his paintings and photography.


In one of his letters Anselm Feuerbach wrote, ‘Thank God! I have a pair of bright eyes in the head, leading directly to the heart, and so my impressions are as armed men directed by my heart…’. The leading classicist painter of 19th century Germany could not have been more honest. Feuerbach was born on September 12, 1829 in Speyer, one of the significant centres of culture and history on the Upper Rhine. He was the grandson of Paul Johann Anselm Ritter von Feuerbach, a renowned legal scholar and reformer of penal code system in Bavaria, son of classical scholar, philosopher and archaeologist Joseph Anselm Feuerbach and nephew of noted mathematician Karl Wilhelm Feuerbach. Feuerbach lost his mother before his first birthday and was brought up by his sister Emily and step–mother Henriette Feuerbach. Henriette Feuerbach was a talented musician and perhaps more importantly a lifelong promoter of Anselm Feuerbach’s work. Through her, Feuerbach came in close contact with Clara Schumann and Johannes Brahms

Feuerbach had the privilege of receiving art education from such artists as Wilhelm von Schadow, Carl Friedrich Lessing and Thomas Couture. His fondness of historical and mythical paintings also grew with his trips to Venice and Rome. Between 1860 and 1874, Feuerbach dedicated himself in painting several portraits following a classical style. The series titled Nanna, dedicated to his muse Anna Risi, was completed during this time. 

The artist split last few years of his life between Venice, Nuremberg and Vienna. He became critically ill after contacting pneumonia. This and a general lack of understanding of his contemplative paintings with grey undertones made him miserable. Sometime before his death on January 4, 1880 in Venice he wrote in a despondent tone, ‘I have become wiser and can see through a lot of illusions I had before. Neither can I convince the world in this short lifetime, nor can I be subservient to it.’ Brahms composed Nänie, a piece dedicated to Feuerbach’s memory. Henriette Feuerbach’s efforts, particularly, her book based on his letters and autobiographical notes made sure his legacy remain intact in people’s memory.


Henry B Goodwin (February 20, 1878 – September 11, 1931) was a noted scholar and linguist who acquired thorough knowledge of many Nordic languages including some obscure ones. But it is by demystifying the languages of subtle human emotions and capturing the beauty of mute flora with his camera he became famous.

Born as Heinrich Karl Hugo Bürgel in Germany, Goodwin moved to Sweden at the age of twenty five after the death of his father and landscape artist Hugo Bürgel. He took a position at the Uppsala University and changed his name to Henry Buergel Goodwin. A decade later as his academic career started stagnating, he decided to fully devote himself in exploring the possibilities of the world of photography. He started with learning the craft from Nicola Perscheid, the master portraist, before setting up his own studio in Sweden.

Though Henry B Goodwin is known more for his portrait and figure studies but he was an avid plant photographer, something not so common in those days. His vividly expressive photographs of gardens and flora not only provided a welcome change of subjects but were refreshing to even glance at any time of the day. His trips to Germany often afforded him new sources of inspirations and acquaintance with latest technologies. His ‘camera art’ created quite a stir in Sweden. Goodwin became one of the forerunners of pictorialism in Sweden and, before his life was cruelly cut short, rose to international prominence for his fine art photography. He believed that, ‘the picture should be a function of spiritual activity’, something he strove living up to through his art.


Romeyn de Hooghe was a gifted painter, sculptor, caricaturist and even more prolific engraver of Dutch Golden Age. He incessantly worked on etching, sculpting and painting historical, allegorical or mythical figures which resulted in the production of greater than 5000 pieces of exquisite artworks.

Romeyn de Hooghe (circa 1645 – 1708) was born in Amsterdam and shared his time between studios at Amsterdam and Haarlem. A set of six etchings of the Year of the Disaster featuring William III, Louis XIV, Charles II, Christoph Bernard van Galen (the bishop of Munster), Maximilian Henry of Bavaria (the bishop of Cologne) and Johan and Cornelis de Witt showcase the artist’s ingenuity and skills to the fullest extent. The portrayal of Johan and Cornelis de Witt, complete with a fox and a wolf, is an example of political satire that often found its way in de Hooghe’s artwork. Despite his versatility and elaborate artworks not many seem to remember de Hooghe’s contribution to Golden Age painting. The audience’s indifference to graphical representations in art and lack of knowledge about the early process of printmaking hinder them to appreciate such unique work to the fullest extent.

John Greenleaf Whittier (via itsquoted)
Life’s sunniest hours are not without
The shadow of some lingering doubt–
Amid its brightest joys will steal
Spectres of evil yet to feel–
Its warmest love is blent with fears,
Its confidence a trembling one–
Its smile the harbinger of tears–
Its hope – the change of April’s sun!
A weary lot – in mercy given,
To fit the chastened soul for heaven.