Rembrandt van Rijn
Oil, tempera & pastel on cardboard (1893)
National Gallery, Oslo
The Scream (Norwegian: Skrik) is the popular name given to each of four versions of a composition, created as both
paintings and pastels, by Edvard Munch between 1893 and 1910. The German title he gave these works is Der Schrei
der Natur (The Scream of Nature). wikipedia
Beneath a boiling sky, aflame with yellow, orange and red, an androgynous figure stands upon a bridge. Wearing a
sinuous blue coat, which appears to flow, surreally, into a torrent of aqua, indigo and ultramarine behind him, he
holds up two elongated hands on either side of his hairless, skull-like head. His eyes wide with shock, he unleashes a
bloodcurdling shriek. Despite distant vestiges of normality – two figures upon the bridge , a boat on the fjord –
everything is suffused with a sense of primal, overwhelming horror.
This, of course, is The Scream – the second most famous image in art history, after Leonardo’s Mona Lisa. BBC Culture
The Scream is an icon of modern art, a Mona Lisa for our time. As Leonardo da Vinci evoked a Renaissance ideal of
serenity and self-control, Munch defined how we see our own age - wracked with anxiety and uncertainty. His
painting of a sexless, twisted, fetal-faced creature, with mouth and eyes open wide in a shriek of horror, re-created a
vision that had seized him as he walked one evening in his youth with two friends at sunset.
As he later described it, the "air turned to blood" and the "faces of my comrades became a garish yellow-white."
Vibrating in his ears he heard "a huge endless scream course through nature." He made two oil paintings, two pastels
and numerous prints of the image; the two paintings belong to Oslo's National Gallery and to the Munch Museum,
also in Oslo. Both have been stolen in recent years, and the Munch Museum's is still missing. The thefts have only
added posthumous misfortune and notoriety to a life filled with both, and the added attention to the purloined
image has further distorted the artist's reputation. www.edvardmunch.og
In the late 20th century, The Scream was imitated, parodied, and (following its copyright expiration) outright copied,
which led to it acquiring an iconic status in popular culture. It was used on the cover of some editions of Arthur
Janov's book The Primal Scream. In 1983–1984, pop artist Andy Warhol made a series of silk prints copying works by
Munch, including The Scream. His stated intention was to desacralize the painting by making it into a mass-
In 2013, The Scream was one of four paintings that the Norwegian postal service chose for a series of stamps marking
the 150th anniversary of Edvard Munch’s birth. wikipedia
Edvard Munch - The Scream (1893) from Art History Online on YouTube
Sacred and Profane Love
Oil on canvass (c. 1514)
Galleria Borghese, Rome
Sacred and Profane Love, also called Venus and the Bride, is presumed to have been commissioned by Niccolò Aurelio,
a secretary to the Venetian Council of Ten (so identified because his coat of arms appears on the sarcophagus or
fountain in the centre of the image) to celebrate his marriage to a young widow, Laura Bagarotto. It perhaps depicts
the bride dressed in white, sitting beside Cupid and being assisted by Venus in person.
Art critics have made several analyses and interpretations, among them are: Ingenious Love and Satisfied Love;
Prudery and Love; the wise and foolish virgins; the dressed Aphrodite Pandemos opposite the nude Aphrodite
Urania. or that it contains a coded message about Bagarotto's father's innocence. Nadia Gaus notes that while the
title might at first lead one to view the left hand woman as the sacred one, further thought leads to the opposite
interpretation: the well dressed woman is Profane Love while the nude woman is Sacred Love.
While the first record of the work under its popular title is in an inventory of 1693, scholars cannot definitively
discredit the theory that the two female figures are personifications of the Neoplatonic concepts of sacred and
profane love. A more recent hypothesis declares the clothed figure to be Proserpine the consort of Pluto, and the
semi nude her mother Ceres. They are seated on the Fountain Cyane, while the child is Mercury. wikipedia
The painting is the gem of Rome’s Borghese gallery and one of the most famous paintings of Renaissance Italy. It’s so
beloved, in fact, that in 1899, the Rothschild family offered to pay the Borghese Gallery 4 million lira for the piece
even though the gallery’s entire collection, and the grounds, were valued at only 3.6 million lira.
Perhaps the painting is so famous simply because of its beauty and because it’s a masterpiece by the Renaissance great
Titian. Or perhaps people have fallen in love with it because of its hidden secrets and symbolism much of which art
historians still don’t completely understand. Walks of Italy
Sacred and Profane Love: A Visual Analysis by Paul Doughton
Girl with a Pearl Earring
Oil on canvass (c. 1665)
Maritshuis, The Hague
The Girl with a Pearl Earring is a tronie, the Dutch 17th-century description of a 'head' that was not meant to be a
portrait. It depicts a European girl wearing an exotic dress, an oriental turban, and an improbably large pearl
earring. In 2014, Dutch astrophysicist Vincent Icke raised doubts about the material of the earring and argued that it
looks more like polished tin than pearl on the grounds of the specular reflection, the pear shape and the large size of
the earring. wikipedia
The composition of the Girl with a Pearl Earring, nicknamed the "Mona Lisa of the North" is delightfully simple. Unlike
most of the other paintings by the Delft master, the subject here is only a simple head of a girl looking over her
shoulder at the viewer. No hint of a setting is provided, other than its atmospherically dark tone. The unusually direct
contact between subject and spectator, and the slightly parted position of the lips, presents a sense of immediacy so great
as to imply significant intimacy.
The girl is wearing a simple brownish-yellow top, which contrasts strongly with her bright white collar. A further
contrast is offered by her blue and yellow or turban which gives the picture a distinctly exotic effect. Turbans were a
relatively common accessory in Europe from the 15th century.
The final but most noticeable feature of this picture is the girl's enormous, tear-shaped pearl earring. This pearl
earring, possibly along with the girl's turban, may unlock the meaning of the painting.
It seems that the message of the painting derives from ideas expressed by the mystic St. Francis De Sales (1567-1622) in the
Introduction to the Devout Life (1608), published in Holland in 1616. In a nutshell, De Sales wrote that women should
protect their ears from unclean words, and that they should allow them to hear only chaste words - the "oriental
pearls of the gospel." Using this text as a reference, it seems that the pearl earring in Vermeer's painting represents
chastity, while the "oriental" element mentioned is illustrated by the girl's turban. Art Encyclopedia
Johannes Vermeer - Girl with a Pearl Earring from Art History Online on YouTube
Andy Warhol created thee Marilyn Monroe screen print portfolio in 1967, a few years after the actress passed away in
1962. The portfolio of 10 screen prints was one of the first prints Warhol printed and distributed through Factory
Additions, New York. The name of this company references to Warhol’s studio known as "The Factory".
For Warhol, Marilyn was already a familiar subject. He initially began depicting the actress in the Marilyn Diptych,
1962, shortly after her death. The Marilyn Diptych is a silkscreen painting which contains fifty images of the actress, all
taken from the 1953 film Niagara. Warhol explained "In August 1962: "I started doing silkscreens. I wanted something
stronger that gave more of an assembly line effect. With silkscreening you pick a photograph, blow it up, transfer it in
glue onto silk, and then roll ink across it so the ink goes through the silk but not through the glue. That way you get
the same image, slightly different each time. It was all so simple quick and chancy. I was thrilled with it. When Marilyn
Monroe happened to die that month, I got the idea to make screens of her beautiful face the first Marilyns."
Half of the diptych was heavily pigmented while the other half was colored in black and white. Overall, the work was a
commentary on the relation between Monroe’s life and death.
Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe, 1967 portfolio is seen as an extension of the initial silkscreen painting. Each image from the
portfolio is sized 36 x 36”, considerably large and a closer crop of Monroe’s face. Each print is vibrantly colored to
reflect her vivacious personality. In many of the prints, her iconic lips are boldly colored a deep red. Many of the prints
also emphasize her platinum blonde hair by adding variants of yellow. In one of the prints, the actress is colored in
silver and black, a stark departure from its vivid counterparts. This brings to mind the effect of watching the actress on
the cinema screen in black and white. The dark colors are also a somber reminder of the actress’s passing. The colors
ultimately bring to life Marilyn Monroe’s iconic status and celebrity glamor. By creating repetitive imagery, Warhol
evokes her ubiquitous celebrity status. Masterworks Fine Art
Andy Warhol, Marilyn Monroe, 1967 from Peter Harrington on YouTube
Oil & gold leaf on canvass (1907-08)
Osterreichische Galerie Belvedere, Vienna
The Kiss (Lovers) was the highpoint of Gustav Klimt's "Golden Period", when he painted a number of works in a similar
gilded style. A perfect square, the canvas depicts a couple embracing, their bodies entwined in elaborate robes decorated
in a style influenced by both linear constructs of the contemporary Art Nouveau style and the organic forms of the
earlier Arts and Crafts movement. The work is composed of oil paint with applied layers of gold leaf, an aspect that
gives it its strikingly modern, yet evocative appearance. The painting is widely considered a masterpiece of the early
modern period. It is a symbol of Vienna Jugendstil—Viennese Art Nouveau—and is considered Klimt's most popular work.
The Kiss was painted soon after Klimt's three-part Vienna Ceiling series which created a scandal and were criticized as
both 'pornography' and evidence of 'perverted excess'. The works had recast the artist as an enfant terrible for his anti-
authoritarian and anti-popularist views on art. He wrote, "If you can not please everyone with your deeds and your art,
please a few". By contrast, The Kiss was enthusiastically received.
Klimt depicts the couple locked in intimacy, while the rest of the painting dissolves into shimmering, extravagant flat
pattern. The patterning suggests the style of Art Nouveau and the organic forms of the Arts and Crafts movement. At
the same time the background evokes the conflict between two- and three-dimensionality intrinsic to the work of the
modernists. Paintings such as The Kiss were visual manifestations of fin-de-siecle spirit because they capture a decadence
conveyed by opulent and sensuous images.
The use of gold leaf recalls medieval "gold-ground" paintings and illuminated manuscripts, and earlier mosaics, and the
spiral patterns in the clothes recall Bronze Age art and the decorative tendrils seen in Western art since before
The man's head ends very close to the top of the canvas, a departure from traditional Western canons that reflects the
influence of Japanese prints, as does the very simplified composition. The two figures are situated at the edge of a patch
of flowery meadow. The man wears a robe with black and white rectangles irregularly placed on gold leaf decorated
with spirals. He wears a crown of vines while the woman is shown in a tight-fitting dress with flower-like round or
oval motifs on a background of parallel wavy lines. Her hair is sprinkled with flowers and is worn in a fashionable
upsweep; it forms a halo-like circle that highlights her face, and is continued under her chin by what seems to be a
necklace of flowers.
It has been argued that in this picture Klimt represented the moment Apollo kisses Daphne, following the
metamorphosis of Ovid narrative.
Syrian artist Tammam Azzam superimposed an image of the famous painting atop a bombed building in Syria, in a work
called Freedom Graffiti, to call attention to the plight of war in his country. wikipedia
The Last Supper
Tempera on gesso, pitch & mastic (1495-98)
Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milan
The Last Supper is one of the world's most famous paintings. It was commissioned as part of a plan of renovation to the
church Leonardo's patron Ludovico Sforza, Duke of Milan. The painting represents the scene of The Last Supper of
Jesus with his disciples, as it is told in the Gospel of John, 13:21. Leonardo has depicted the consternation that occurred
among the Twelve Disciples when Jesus announced that one of them would betray him. wikipedia
"Leonardo imagined, and has succeeded in expressing, the desire that has entered the minds of the apostles to know
who is betraying their Master. So in the face of each one may be seen love, fear, indignation, or grief at not being able
to understand the meaning of Christ; and this excites no less astonishment than the obstinate hatred and treachery
to be seen in Judas." (Georgio Vasari, Lives of the Artists, 1568; translated by George Bull)
The subject of the Last Supper is Christ’s final meal with his apostles before Judas identifies Christ to the authorities
who arrest him. It is remembered for two events.
Christ says to his apostles “One of you will betray me,” and the apostles react, each according to his own personality.
Referring to the Gospels, Leonardo depicts Philip asking “Lord, is it I?” Christ replies, “He that dippeth his hand with
me in the dish, the same shall betray me” (Matthew 26). We see Christ and Judas simultaneously reaching toward a
plate that lies between them, even as Judas defensively backs away.
Leonardo also simultaneously depicts Christ blessing the bread and saying to the apostles “Take, eat; this is my body”
and blessing the wine and saying “Drink from it all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out
for the forgiveness of sins” (Matthew 26). These words are the founding moment of the sacrament of the Eucharist
(the miraculous transformation of the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ).
Leonardo’s Last Supper is dense with symbolic references. Attributes identify each apostle. For example, Judas
Iscariot is recognized both as he reaches toward a plate beside Christ and because he clutches a purse containing his
reward for identifying Christ to the authorities the following day. Peter, who sits beside Judas, holds a knife in his
right hand, foreshadowing that Peter will sever the ear of a soldier as he attempts to protect Christ from arrest.
The balanced composition is anchored by an equilateral triangle formed by Christ’s body. He sits below an arching
pediment that if completed, traces a circle. These ideal geometric forms refer to the renaissance interest in Neo-
Platonism (an element of the humanist revival that reconciles aspects of Greek philosophy with Christian theology).
Geometry, used by the Greeks to express heavenly perfection, has been used by Leonardo to celebrate Christ as the
embodiment of heaven on earth.
Leonardo rendered a verdant landscape beyond the windows. Often interpreted as paradise, it has been suggested
that this heavenly sanctuary can only be reached through Christ.
The twelve apostles are arranged as four groups of three and there are also three windows. The number three is
often a reference to the Holy Trinity in Catholic art. In contrast, the number four is important in the classical
tradition (e.g. Plato’s four virtues). Khan Academy
Does The Last Supper really have a hidden meaning? Video from Smithsonian Channel on YouTube
The Storm on the Sea of Galilee
Rembrandt van Rijn
Oil on canvass (1633)
Whereabouts unknown since the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum theft in 1990
The Storm on the Sea of Galilee is a painting by Rembrandt van Rijn that was in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
of Boston, Massachusetts prior to being stolen in 1990. The painting depicts the miracle of Jesus calming the storm on the
Sea of Galilee, as depicted in the fourth chapter of the Gospel of Mark in the New Testament of the Christian Bible. It is
Rembrandt's only seascape. wikipedia
Rembrandt’s most striking narrative painting in America, Christ in the Storm on the Sea of Galilee, is also his only
painted seascape. Dated 1633, it was made shortly after Rembrandt moved to Amsterdam from his native Leiden, when he
was establishing himself as the city’s leading painter of portraits and historical subjects. The detailed rendering of the
scene, the figures’ varied expressions, the relatively polished brushwork, and the bright coloring are characteristic of
Rembrandt’s early style. Eighteenth-century critics often preferred this early period to Rembrandt’s later, broader,
and less descriptive manner.
The biblical scene pitches nature against human frailty – both physical and spiritual. The panic-stricken disciples
struggle against a sudden storm, and fight to regain control of their fishing boat as a huge wave crashes over its bow,
ripping the sail and drawing the craft perilously close to the rocks in the left foreground. One of the disciples succumbs
to the sea’s violence by vomiting over the side. Amidst this chaos, only Christ, at the right, remains calm, like the eye of
the storm. Awakened by the disciples’ desperate pleas for help, he rebukes them: “Why are ye fearful, O ye of little
faith?” and then rises to calm the fury of wind and waves. Nature’s upheaval is both cause and metaphor for the terror
that grips the disciples, magnifying the emotional turbulence and thus the image’s dramatic impact.
The painting showcases the young Rembrandt’s ability not only to represent a sacred history, but also to seize our
attention and immerse us in an unfolding pictorial drama. For greatest immediacy, he depicted the event as if it were a
contemporary scene of a fishing boat menaced by a storm. The spectacle of darkness and light formed by the churning
seas and blackening sky immediately attracts our attention. We then become caught up in the disciples’ terrified
responses, each meticulously characterized to encourage and sustain prolonged, empathetic looking. Only one figure
looks directly out at us as he steadies himself by grasping a rope and holds onto his cap. His face seems familiar from
Rembrandt’s self-portraits, and as his gaze fixes on ours we recognize that we have become imaginative participants in the
painter’s vivid dramatization of a disaster Christ is about to avert. Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
The Storm on the Sea of Galilee by Rembrandt van Rijn from WBUR on YouTube