The English Cemetery; Isle of the Dead

The English Cemetery, Florence. May, 207

The cemetery stands on an island circled with busy roads. It’s said to be the inspiration (or one of the inspirations) for Arnold Böcklin’s painting, “Isle of the Dead” (1880). Isle of the Dead_Basel

Böcklin worked on this piece while he lived in Florence (his studio stood close to the cemetery). Ultimately, he created five versions of this scene; you can view this, the first version, in the Kunstmuseum Basel, Switzerland.


Albright’s Dorian Gray

While at the Art Institute of Chicago, I was jarred, and a bit delighted, to see this macabre thing on the wall facing Hopper’s Nighthawks:

Ivan Albright, “The Picture of Dorian Gray” (1943-45) The Art Institute of Chicago

Ivan Albright was commissioned to paint this for MGM’s production of Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray (released 1945). Apparently, he painted it over the production period in order to reflect the lead character’s changes.

A closer look:


It’s by no means an appealing painting, but I do like that it’s seen as more than a “mere” movie prop–in fact, it has a long history of exhibitions (including stints in Italy and Germany) as representative of American art. As Albright’s Dorian Gray signifies two mediums–painting and film–it certainly fulfills that role.

Virgin & (impatient) Child

Seen in Amsterdam: I enjoy this work deeply. Mary, engrossed in her book, ignores the laughing, squirming baby who seems to all but scream “pay attention to me, mama!”

This terracotta Virgin and Child (c. 1500 -1525) was formerly attributed to the Master of the Unruly Children (what a wonderful title); it’s now attributed to Giovanni Francesco Rustici.

Virgin and Child, Rijksmuseum, 03 May, 2017

From the Rijksmuseum website:

The nude infant Jesus playfully draws his mother’s attention by pulling her bodice open. Mary’s bare breast [behind the book] refers to her role as ‘Virgo lactans’, the suckling virgin. The role of her divine motherhood became popular through Saint Bernard of Clairvaux’s wondrous vision in which he received a drop of milk from the Virgin’s breast.