Jean–Marie–Joseph Ingres, a painter, sculptor, stonemason and amateur musician, in 18th century France may be a largely forgotten figure now. But as a father of Jean–Auguste–Dominique Ingres he passed on all his talent in art and music to his son. He even tutored his son in both the subjects. Young Ingres started receiving education from École des Frères de l’Éducation Chrétienne till the upheaval of French Revolution disrupted his studies. He received specialised training in landscape painting, sculpture and neoclassical art.

Though Jean–Auguste–Dominique Ingres’s (August 29, 1780 – January 14, 1867) junior years were marked by several awards and recognitions he did not enjoy the same luck later on. His unusual style and visions depicted on canvas were viciously condemned by established artists as well as critics. Even Jacques–Louis David, in whose studio Ingres spent four years, failed to admire the distinctiveness of his protégé’s work. Time spent in Italy, where the artist migrated in 1806, did not improve the situation and Ingres was forced into abject poverty. His engagement with Julie Forestier, also an artist and musician, was severed due to his refusal to return to Paris.

Ingres believed himself to be a painter of history even though to the world his identity is often associated with his portraits. He consciously shunned depicting battle scenes and violence on canvas. In fact with his brushes too he remained a fervid violinist, lyrical, abstract and enigmatic for his day and age. Aptly did he say, ‘One must keep right on drawing; draw with your eyes when you cannot draw with a pencil.


Motonobu (August 28, 1476 – November 5, 1559) belonged to the famous Kano School of painting. In fact his father and first teacher in art, Masanobu was one of the founders of the Kano School. Motonobu’s prolific career as an artist is defined by his minimalist yet persuasive ink drawings, paintings and calligraphy.

Motonobu received patronage both from local businessmen and aristocratic families. His artwork and collection of fans, when presented to Emperor Go–Nara, fetched him both acclaim and admiration. The projects undertaken for Reiun–in monastery, Kyoto resulting in elaborate painted panels, bear his mastery to this date. His personal differences in belief did not prevent him from decorating Ishiyama Hongan–ji temple in Osaka (1539 – 1553). Besides he was a revered teacher maintaining a large workshop for local talents.

Though the Kano style is based on Chinese ink art Motonobu’s work added flair that is unique to his region. Paintings or more precisely landscapes such as of Mount Fuji are testimony to that. He was showered with honours by subsequent emperors. In the end Motonobu’s art remained an exaltation of the beauty of simplicity.


During one of her many soliloquies Marianne von Werefkin mused, ‘Such is art. It is the product of life and the individual. It is born from their clash, from the received impression.’ The battles she had to undergo, at times willingly, were the motivators behind her articulations on canvas.

Born as Marianna Wladimirowna Werewkina (August 28, 1860) in Tula, Russia, Werefkin had the privilege of receiving guidance from one of the most eminent artists from her country, Ilya Repin. Her tryst with art was interrupted many times, sometimes due o freak accidents and during 1890s due to her relationship with Alexej von Jawlensky. Despite this she continued being an active member of Blauer Reiter forming friendships with Franz Marc, Wassily Kandinsky, August Macke and Gabriele Münter. She already emigrated to Europe in 1892 and settled in Switzerland with the onset of war.  

Though Werefkin experimented with a number of styles she remained devoted to expressionism. The last few years of Werefkin’s life was spent struggling with financial hardships.  However, her creativity as an artist remained undiminished till her death on February 6, 1938 in Ascona. In triumphing over many a struggle Werefkin proved her faithfulness to her belief that said,

‘The artist is the only one who detaches himself from life, opposes his personality against it, he is the only one who orders things as he wishes them to be in place of things as they are. Thus for him life is not a fait accompli, it is something to remake, to do again. He takes possession of his gifts in order to continue, to change, He makes his choice, it is he who creates the conceptions of beautiful and ugly, those are the things to preserve, the things to change.’


Edward Burne–Jones joined the Pre–Raphaelite movement only at its later stage and by the time his talent found full expression he left the brotherhood in search of his own identity as an artist. Yet coming in touch with the Pre – Raphaelites, particularly Dante Gabriel Rossetti, proved to be a pivotal moment in his life. He later reminisced, ‘I was two and twenty, and had never met, or ever seen, a painter in all my life. I knew no-one who had ever seen one or been in a studio, and of all men that lived on earth, the one that I wanted to see was Rossetti.

Edward Burne–Jones (August 28, 1833 – June 17, 1898) thrived in a number of creative activities aside painting, including stained glass art, ceramics, designing tapestries, theatre sets and so on. His association, which quickly grew into friendship, with William Morris started while studying at Oxford. They both shared a passion for poetry, an admiration of Rossetti’s art and appreciation of beauty. In 1859, Burne–Jones undertook a journey to Italy, a pilgrimage for any aspiring artist. Though he was enormously moved by the artworks in exhibition at Florence, Pisa and Venice the decorative brilliance of Sienese School of paintings affected him most.

By 1860s Burnes–Jones dedicated himself to symbolism. His symbolist paintings inspired Algernon Charles Swinburne to write and dedicate Poems & Ballads (1886) in his name. His personal life was torrid, torn between affairs with his models and the divided attention he received from his wife Georgiana. Lifelong he remained devoted to his muse art and found solace in his unceasing admiration of aestheticism,

Only this is true, that beauty is very beautiful, and softens, and inspires, and rouses, and lifts up, and never fails.


Gian Carlo Menotti, famous 20th Italian – American composer, once said, ‘Art is the unceasing effort to compete with the beauty of flowers – and never succeeding.’ Though, on the canvases of Maria van Oosterwijck flowers and art did not contest but made their presence felt in a stunning and harmonious way.

Even if primarily known as a flower painter Maria van Oosterwijck’s (1630 – 1693) artworks were widely acknowledged for their creative brilliance. Following a trompe-l’œil tradition she painted bouquets, vases, vanitas, bees and butterflies vividly. The dark background that she was accustomed in depicting used to give the paintings a greater depth. She was undoubtedly one of the most talked about artists of Dutch Golden Age.

Maria van Oosterwijck was active in Delft and Utrecht. So devoted was Maria to art that she decided to remain single, in the process refusing fellow artist Willem van Aelst’s hands. She however acted as a foster parent to her young orphan nephew. Maria was also known to have acute business sense. She employed agents to market her work in the German speaking regions of Europe where her paintings were greatly coveted. She had collectors among the royal families of Europe. Her helping hand at the studio, Geertgen Wyntges, later became a noted artist as well.

* Portrait of Maria van Oosterwijck was painted by Wallerant Vaillant


In his lifetime Nicaise de Keyser produced many elegantly styled portraits, historical paintings and romantic genre scenes. In fact he belonged to the pioneering group of Belgian romantic painters when such a style became fashionable.

Born in Zandvliet, Antwerp district, Nicaise de Keyser (August 26, 1813 – July 17, 1887) showed early inclination of studying art. He was duly enrolled at the Antwerp Academy of Fine Arts and received tutelage from such masters as Mattheus Ignatius van Bree, one of the founders of Belgian school of historical art. The many journeys he took to England, Scotland, Paris, Italy and Germany availed him much worldly knowledge. His work became so popular in German speaking part of Europe that he was awarded Pour le Mérite in Prussia. Keyser married Isabella Telghuys, a talented genre painter.

The breakthrough that came with the Battle of the Golden Spurs continued unabated throughout Keyser’s life. The painting even inspired Hendrik Conscience to write a book titled, De Leeuw van Vlaanderen. Zestful and fervent with colour Keyser’s paintings were much sought after even in Paris before romanticism in art was swept away under the influence of later art movements.


Fred Holland Day worked with symbolism and pictorialist techniques in photography. His photographs, often depicting male nudes, were subject to much controversy and discussions about his personal life were rife at the time. His name was somewhat eclipsed by the fame of his contemporary visual artist Alfred Stieglitz. Fred Holland Day’s personality, though, explored many avenues of life and was not limited to the exploitation of his talent in photography.

An avid bibliophile, Fred Holland Day’s (July 8, 1864 – November 12, 1933) love of literary works inspired him to set up the self – financed publishing house, Copeland and Day. Among hundreds of titles, the firm was the American publisher of Oscar Wilde’s Salomé. Day amassed a rich collection of John Keats’ poetry. He travelled widely and visited Algiers inspired by the writings of Oscar Wilde and André Gide. Most notably, Day helped 13 – year old Lebanese immigrant Kahlil Gibran to nourish his literary ambitions.

In 1900, Day organised an exhibition at the Royal Photographic Society which is generally considered the epoch of his career as a photographer. However many failed to see the inherent aestheticism of his art and considered his photographs a result ‘of a diseased imagination’. The negative comments never seemed to have affected Day’s creative brilliance. He always trusted on the platinum process to develop his photographs. This process was hampered with the onset of Russian revolution that made platinum difficult to obtain. Subsequently, he ceased to create eloquent and often thought provoking visual narratives.

Johann Gottfried Herder (via itsquoted)
Calmly take what ill betideth;
Patience wins the crown at length:
Rich repayment him abideth
Who endures in quiet strength.
Brave the tamer of the lion;
Brave whom conquered kingdoms praise;
Bravest he who rules his passions,
Who his own impatience sways.