The Kiss of Judas by Giotto

April 13, 2017 § Leave a comment

On the evening before the crucifixion of Jesus, Good Friday, Jesus celebrated The Last Supper with his Apostles sealing a covenant with God and his fate.  As Jesus had predicted during the meal, Judas betrayed Jesus’ location and then his identity to the Roman soldiers with a kiss.

The image below is part of a fresco cycle by Giotto.  The entire work was completed about 1305 and considered to be an important masterpiece of Western art. Giotto’s fresco cycle focuses on the life of the Virgin Mary and celebrates her role in human salvation. wiki


Giotto has been credited with ushering in The Renaissance.  He introduced a revolutionary artistic style that created a sense of realism seen here with the folding cloth that envelopes bodies, light and shadow, and perspective – depth with elements diminishing in size and detail as they recede back into space.  This style represented a dramatic departure from the visually flat, decorative, and iconographic images of the Middle Ages.

“Judas greets Jesus with a kiss, identifying him for the Romans who have come to arrest him. The look on Jesus’ face speaks volumes – he knows what is happening. The Judas’ kiss became the most poignant symbol of betrayal in the Christian world.”  art Giotto

Cappella degli Scrovegni

The church was dedicated to Santa Maria della Carità at the Feast of the Annunciation, 1303, and consecrated in 1305. Giotto’s fresco cycle focuses on the life of the Virgin Mary and celebrates her role in human salvation. – wiki

Photographs taken of the Cappella degli Scrovegni in Padua Italy.

Interior of the Capella degli Scrovegni, by Massimo Catarinella


Capella degli Scrovegni, by Massimo Catarinella

Sources for images and cited text:


The Kiss of Judas by Giotto was originally published on Field Grass

Frida Kahlo, Animated Portrait

April 24, 2016 § Leave a comment

An inspired animation of Frida Kahlo’s famous portrait that was taken by her father, Guillermo Kahlo, in 1932 .  The animation incorporates key images from her works that also defined her life as she depicted it on canvas.  I had to have it.

Frida Kahlo, animated portrait
Frida Kahlo, animated portrait



Frida Kahlo Bio as Artist

“Mexican fantasy painter known as much for her turbulent personal life as her fanciful self-portraits. Kahlo learned to paint in 1925 after recovering from a debilitating bus accident that left her unable to bear children. The tragedy was often the subject of her paintings and was an integral part of her personal imagery. Her work can be seen as the product of a kind of exorcism by which she projected her anguish on to another Frida, in order to free herself from pain and at the same time maintain a hold of reality. Small in scale, primitive in style, and bold in color, the artist is sometimes shown as an animal, such a deer, which have lead artists and critics alike to label her work Surrealist. The artist eschewed this, maintaining that she painted images from her own life, not dreams. Also the subject of several works was her tumultuous marriage to artist Diego Rivera. One portrait shows the artist as a tiny figure in traditional Mexican dress, dwarfed in size by the large, brooding Rivera. In 1953, Kahlo’s leg was amputated at the knee due to gangrene. She subsequently turned to drugs and alcohol to relieve her suffering. She died almost certainly by suicide in 1954. Her work received notoriety in the 1970’s, becoming popular with feminist art historians and Latin Americans living in the United States” – via MoMA



Frida Kahlo spent the majority of her life confined to a bed and in physical pain.  She painted her small world in graphic and sometimes gruesome detail.  Her work was and still is labeled as Surrealism, which she strongly rejected.  So, I applied another label I found, Magic Realism.  The first painting, below, is her first of many future self-portraits.  The bottom 3 paintings represent some of her greatest works.  All of the images are Courtesy of

Self-Portrait in a Velvet Dress, 1926 by Frida Kahlo. Her first self-portrait. Courtesy of


Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird, 1940 by Frida Kahlo. Courtesy of


Roots, 1943 by Frida Kahlo. Courtesy of


The Broken Column, 1944 by Frida Kahlo. Courtesy of



Frida Kahlo, Animated Portrait was originally published on Field Grass

Free! Download 19th Century Japanese Master Woodprints

February 19, 2016 § Leave a comment



Ukiyo-e, or ukiyo-ye (浮世絵, Japanese: [], “pictures of the floating world”), is a genre of art that flourished in Japan from the 17th through 19th centuries. Its artists produced woodblock prints and paintings of such subjects as female beauties; kabuki actors and sumo wrestlers; scenes from history and folk tales; travel scenes and landscapes; flora and fauna; and erotica. Source: wiki

Exquisite and free. The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam has digitized their collection of 19th Century Japanese woodblock prints.  The artists in the collection were masters in the ukiyo-e tradition during the 19th century in Japan.  Make space on your hard drive!  The images are in high resolution, there are more than 500, and they available for free to download.  Big thanks to Open Culture for the tip.


The prints in this collection specifically represent Japanese art contemporary to period in which Van Gogh worked.  The tradition originated several hundred years earlier as monochromatic text, heavily used for diseminating Buddhist scriptures.  Once color techiques were developed, the genre expanded in subject and flourished as prized decorative art for prosperous individuals – not just for the wealthy and powerful.  I imagine the numbers of pieces produced were countless.  By the late 19th century, prints were reproduced from a woodblock until the woodblock wore down.



19th Century Art, Ukiyo-e, and Japonism

We are very familiar with the style and visually reference it as “Japanese Art”.   The ukiyo-e genre was introduced to the west in the 19th century. Classical and contemporary Japanese art was well-known among artists in salons of Paris and influenced western art movements of the period, especially Art Nouveau.  Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec reflected the ukiyo-e genre heavily in his work, from subjects to composition.  By the turn of the 20th century it was wildly popular in the West, visual aethetics of anything possible incorpoated aspects of ukiyo-e.  Influence of Japanese aesthetics in the 19th century on the West was known as Japonism.

gogh…artists such as Manet, Pierre Bonnard, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Mary Cassatt, Degas, Renoir, James McNeill Whistler, Monet, van Gogh, Camille Pissarro, Paul Gaugin, Aubrey Beardsley and Klimt were all influenced by Japanese art [of the Edo period].”

“Ukiyo-e with it’s lack of perspective, clean lines and flat areas of colour influenced many Western artists. Impressionism, Art Nouveau and Modernism all drew inspiration from traditional Japanese art. The work of artists such as Hokusai and Utamaro were to have a profound and lasting affect upon Western art.”   – Katsushika Hokusai, Ukiyo-e & Edo Period Japan  – hokusaionline

  • Artist: Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890)
  • Title: La Courtisane
  • Date: 1887
  • Media: Oil paint on canvas
  • Notes: van Gogh produced ‘copies’ of works by Hiroshige and Kesai Eisen.
  • Artist: Mary Cassat (1844-1926)
  • Title: Maternal Caress
  • Date: 1891
  • Media: Drypoint and soft-ground etching
  • Notes: Mary Cassat was influenced by Japanese prints she saw in Paris in 1890. Her work clearly shows her interpretation of the line and form so indicative of ukiyo-e prints by artists such as Utamaro
  • Artist: Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901)
  • Title: Divan Japonais
  • Date: 1893
  • Media: Lithographed poster
  • Notes: Toulouse-Lautrec’s appreciation for Japanese prints can clearly be seen in his famous images of the Parisian nightlife. Flat areas of colour and asymmetrical compositions featured strongly in his work.

Historical Context

Edo (modern Tokyo) became the seat of government for the military dictatorship in the early 17th century. The merchant class at the bottom of the social order found themselves the greatest beneficiaries of the city’s rapid economic growth. Many indulged in the entertainments of kabuki theatre, courtesans, and geisha of the pleasure districts. The term ukiyo(“floating world”) came to describe this hedonistic lifestyle. Printed or painted “ukiyo-e” images of this environment emerged in the late 17th century and were popular with the merchant class, who had become wealthy enough to afford to decorate their homes with them.” Source: wiki

Social Context

“During the Edo Period (1615-1868), a uniquely Japanese art from developed known as ukiyo-e, or “pictures of the floating world.”  A Buddhist concept, ukiyo originally suggested the sadness (uki) of life (yo). But during the peace and prosperity of the 17th century, another ideograph, also pronounced uki but meaning “to float,” emerged. Instead of connoting sadness, ukiyo came to be associated with the momentary, worldly pleasures of Japan’s rising middle class. Unable to alter their social standing and regulated in nearly every aspect of their lives, from behavior and dress to the sizes of their houses, wealthy commoners found escape in licensed pleasure quarters and Kabuki theaters. There, they could watch handsome actors performing the latest plays or spend time with beautiful courtesans known for their sparkling wit, musical accomplishments, and poetry.”

“Paintings of people from this world became a specialized type of genre painting in the 17th century. For the first time in Japan’s history, commoners had enough money to commission works that reflected their own interests and activities. They patronized artists who created a new style based on sinuous lines and bright colors that featured subjects wearing the most up-to-date fashions.”

The Prints

“The realization of any print, however, depended on a collaboration: of a publisher, who funded the project; an artist, who designed the image; and block carvers and printers, who produced it. This division of labor, in fact, led to a high degree of technical perfection. While demand for images of beautiful women and dashing Kabuki actors remained strong throughout the 18th century, artists in the 19th century expanded the ukiyo-e repertoire to include landscapes, birds-and-flowers, legendary heroes, [historic scenes] and even ghoulish themes.”

Source: The Art of Asia |MIA

Source of 19th century western art images and captions: hokusaionline

Free! Download 19th Century Japanese Master Woodprints was originally published on Field Grass

Matisse Sketching a Nude

February 3, 2016 § Leave a comment


Brassaï, Matisse designo un nudo 1939


Matisse Sketching a Nude was originally published on Field Grass

Renior in His Studio

February 3, 2016 § Leave a comment


Pierre-Auguste Renior in his studio


Renior in His Studio was originally published on Field Grass

On Images of The Prophet

January 18, 2015 § Leave a comment

The author explores images of the Prophet Muhammad through creating an historical and cultural timeline sourced from Islamic texts, book art, and paintings.  I post this as a point of interest and insight to learn, not for debate.   I am not a Muslim, I am not knowledgeable, I offer no opinion, no answers.  I do have deep respect and…more

Isaiah’s vision of Jesus riding a donkey and Muhammad riding a camel, al-Biruni, al-Athar al-Baqiyya ‘an al-Qurun al-Khaliyya (Chronology of Ancient Nations), Ottoman lands, ca. 1560. Bibliothèque nationale de France

Read On Images of The Prophet originally published on FieldGrass

A Scandalous Makeover at Chartres

January 7, 2015 § 3 Comments

“Carried away by the splendors of the moment, I did not initially realize that something was very wrong. I had noticed the floor-to-ceiling scrim-covered scaffolding near the crossing of the nave and transepts, but had assumed it was routine maintenance. But my more attentive wife, the architectural historian Rosemarie Haag Bletter—who as a Columbia doctoral candidate took courses on Romanesque sculpture with the legendary Meyer Schapiro and Gothic architecture with the great medievalist Robert Branner—immediately noticed that large areas of the sanctuary’s deep gray limestone surface had been painted…”
Read more…

A Scandalous Makeover at Chartres was originally published on FieldGrass

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