THE FAMOUS FIVE

Five works of art you should know

December 15, 2017 09:48 AM The Week Bureau


While many paintings are made each day, only some have the power to transcend time and engrave their names in history. And it is interesting to know how these products of human imagination can impact generations to come.

Every month, we bring to you five famous pieces of art that you can enjoy and know a little about as well. These art pieces have numerous interpretations but you don’t have to be an expert to understand them.

Supper at Emmaus by Caravaggio, 1601

This painting is currently placed at National Gallery in London. Caravaggio tried to display the moment when the resurrected but incognito Jesus disclosed himself to his two disciples, Luke and Cleopas in this masterpiece. This painting is unique because it displays life-sized figures in a dark black background that is extremely beautifully. Gospel of Mark states that Jesus revealed himself at Ammus in ‘another form’. That is why Caravaggio may have painted a beard-less Jesus. Many interpreters say that through this painting Caavaggio tries to let the humans know that Jesus can enter and be a part of our daily routine.

Saturn Devouring his Son by Francisco Goya, 1819-1823 

This painting by Goya is based on a Greek myth that believed that Saturn feared he would be overthrown by one of his offspring. Hence, he ate every one of his children immediately after they were born. Many believe that Goya painted this directly on the walls of his house. The painting was then copied to a canvas after the artist’s death. It is now placed in Museo de Prado in Madrid. In this painting, the artist depicts Saturn feasting on one of his sons the child’s head and one of his arms have already been consumed. Saturn looms from the darkness and many say Goya might have been inspired by Peter Paul Ruben’s painting by the same name. This painting belongs to a series of his “black paintings” which also reflected his depression, paranoia and his own approaching death.

Flaming June by Sir Frederic Leighton, 1895 

This painting depicts a woman sleeping which looks inspired by the figures of sleeping nymphs and naiads that Greeks sculpted in those times. This painting is said to have disappeared in the year 1900 and was only found in the 1960s. According to some historians, this painting was modeled on Michelangelo’s famous sculpture statue of night. The beauty of this painting lies in the meticulously painted transparent gown worn by the woman and the rich color of her cloth. The face of model in the painting is assumed to be one of the two favorite models of the artist, Dorothy Dene or Mary Lioyd.

However, the body of this model remains a mystery. This is also one of the widely reproduced paintings of the Victorian era.

Annunciation by Leonardo da Vinci, 1472-1475 

This painting by Vinci is based on Luke 1.26-39 where angel Gabriel was sent by god to Virgin Mary. Gabriel arrived to inform Mary that she would give birth to a son and his name would be Jesus. Her son was going to be the ‘Son of God’ and his reign would never end. This painting is currently kept in the Uffizi gallery of Florence, Italy. In this painting, angel Gabriel holds Madonna lily that is symbolic of Mary’s virginity and the city of Florence. This painting is particularly famous for its light brush strokes and no lead paint used in the background and in the wings of the angel. 

The Night Café by Vincent van Gogh, 1888

The interior depicted in this painting is of the Café de la Gare at Lamartne. The man posing at the center of this painting was the owner of this café, Joseph Ginoux. In this painting, Gogh depicts five customers who appear drunk. His primary motive behind this masterpiece was to represent those men who go and take refuge in a café when they have no money to pay for logging or are too drunk to find shelter at night. It is said that Gogh stayed up for three consecutive nights to paint this picture and slept only during the daytime. This painting is presently displayed at the Yale University Art Gallery in New Haven, Connecticut and is one of Van Gogh’s most famous paintings.

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