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  •   Pieter Bruegel
  •   Albrecht Durer
  •   El Greco
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  •   Raphael Sanzio
  •   Rembrandt
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  •   Titian
  •   Joseph Mallord William Turner
  •   Vincent Van Gogh
  •   Diego Velazquez
  •   Johannes Vermeer
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The Great Artists - Pieter Bruegel

The Great Artists - Pieter Bruegel Genre
Biography
Language English
Country of Origin India
VCDs / DVD

1 DVD

Synopsis

Pieter Bruegel (1525/30-1569)

Very little is known of the life of Pieter Bruegel the Elder whose enigmatic, humorous, sometimes grotesque paintings remain among the most distinctive examples of Netherlandish art.  Though he had travelled to Italy, Bruegel turned his back on the popular Italianate styles of the time and developed  traditional Netherlandish genres of painting. In Bruegel’s fantastical landscapes it was the common peasant folk that took centre stage, often sidelining the saints and members of the holy family, who were the supposed ‘subjects’ of many of his artworks.  His paintings and etchings served as windows into other worlds, illustrating the mountains and rivers of far off lands, a geography that was exotic to the people of the flat Netherlands.  Bruegel lived through a period of immense social and religious upheaval, in which the Catholic Habsburgs were determined to crush the growing ranks of Protestant dissenters in the Netherlands.  The growth in trade and commerce had a similarly monumental, if less bloody, impact on Bruegel as he was among the first artists to paint almost exclusively for the growing class of merchants and intellectuals.  Bruegel’s greatness lies in his ability to combine gritty humour with a unique style of political comment, which has since never been equalled.

Works featured in this programme include

  • The Netherlandish Proverbs (1559, Gemäldegalerie, Berlin)
  • The Triumph Of Death (1562-63, Prado, Madrid)
  • The Hunters In The Snow, Gloomy Day, Return Of The Herd (1565, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna)
  • The Massacre Of The Innocents (1566, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna)
  • The Wedding Feast (1567, Kuntshistorisches Museum, Vienna)
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The Great Artists - Albrecht Durer

The Great Artists - Albrecht Durer Genre
Biography
Language English
Country of Origin India
VCDs / DVD

1 DVD

Synopsis

Albrecht Durer (1471-1528)

Far from the cultural centres of Italy, the German artist Albrecht Dürer established his workshop in the city of Nuremberg, providing a centre for what was to become known as the northern Renaissance. Dürer’s greatness lay in his ability to capture an unparalleled degree of reality in his art. Dürer was not only a master of the woodcut and the etching, with which he created nightmarish visions of the apocalypse, but also became one of the earliest masters of the oil painting.  Among his most accomplished works in oil are a number of beautifully executed self-portraits, which represent the very first individual figure self-portraits in the history of art.  These triumphant depictions of his own image are testament to Dürer’s own confidence in the growing status of the artist within his society.  Like his Italian contemporary Leonardo, Dürer carefully studied the world around him, often with a scientist’s eye, making detailed studies of plants and animals, some of which remain unrivalled to this day.  Though he began life as a lowly craftsman, increasingly Dürer became revered across Europe, employed to paint the portrait of the Holy Roman Emperor, Maximilian I.  Dürer established the artistic traditions of Northern Europe as equal to those of Italy, and for that he remains Germany’s greatest artist.

Works featured in this programme include

  • Self Portrait Holding a Thistle (1493, Louvre, Paris)
  • Book of the Revelation of St John (1498, Durer’s House, Nuremberg)
  • Self Portrait at 28 (1500, Alte Pinakothek, Munich)
  • The Four Apostles (1526, Alte Pinkothek, Munich)
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The Great Artists - El Greco

The Great Artists - El Greco Genre
Biography
Language English
Country of Origin India
VCDs / DVD

1 DVD

Synopsis

El Greco (1541-1614)
The paintings of the artist El Greco are among the most distinctive works of the early modern period.  His paintings marked a radical departure from the naturalism and careful modelling of the Renaissance, and as result were ignored for close to 300 years.  Domenicos Theotocopolous, dubbed by the Spaniards ‘El Greco’, was born in the Greek Island of Crete and was trained to paint in the Byzantine style.  After spending some time in Venice and Rome, El Greco adopted the Spanish city of Toledo as his home.  Throughout the course of his artistic career El Greco’s style varied enormously.  In Italy his paintings reflected the bright colouring and the loose brush strokes of the Venetian masters, such as Tintoretto, whilst in Spain the fervour of religious belief and lingering medieval sensibilities added an emotional intensity and deep sense of almost mystical spiritualism to his work.  The result was a highly individualistic style of painting.  Though criticised by many, El Greco’s dramatic style paved the way for the Baroque and later, in the 20th century, contributed to the development of Expressionism.

Works featured in this programme include

  • The Purification of the Temple (1568-1570, National Gallery of Art, Washington)
  • The Disrobing of Christ (1577-79, Toledo Cathedral), Martyrdom of St Maurice (1580-82, Nuevos Museos, El Escorial)
  • The Burial of Count Orgaz (1586-88, San Tomé, Toledo)
  • Laocoon (1610-14, National Gallery, Washington)
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The Great Artists - Giotto Di Bondone

The Great Artists - Giotto Di Bondone Genre
Biography
Language English
Country of Origin India
VCDs / DVD

1 DVD

Synopsis

Giotto Di Bondone (1266?-1337)

The son of a Tuscan shepherd, Giotto di Bondone rose to become the most important artist of his age, kick starting the Renaissance with his naturalistic and emotive treatment of medieval Christian iconography.  Giotto enjoyed fame never before known to an artist, receiving commissions from princes, kings and Popes, and in doing so raised the status of the artist from that of a mere craftsman to that of a poet or philosopher.  Through his immense talent with a brush and his visionary artistic style, Giotto made the vital departure from the Byzantine style of painting that had dominated Christian iconography for close to a thousand years.  Instead of following his artistic predecessors, Giotto took nature as his teacher and narrative as his guide, creating a precedent that would be followed by the leading artists of the high Renaissance. For the first time an artist had developed an individual style, something which would come to epitomise the spirit of artistic endeavour in the centuries to come.  Giotto is truly the first great artist in the history of Western art.

Works featured in this programme include

  • The frescoes of the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua (1304-1306)
  • The Church of St Francis in Assisi (1295-1300)
  • The Bardi and Peruzzi chapels (1320s) in Santa Croce in Florence
  • The Ognissanti Madonna and Child Altarpiece (1305-1310) in the Uffizi Gallery, Florence
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The Great Artists - Leonardo Da Vinci

The Great Artists - Leonardo Da Vinci Genre
Biography
Language English
Country of Origin India
VCDs / DVD

1 DVD

Synopsis

Leonardo DA VINCI  (1452-1519)

Leonardo da Vinci’s great masterpiece the Mona Lisa is undoubtedly the most famous painting in the history of art.  Yet as is often remarked Leonardo was much more than an artist.  He was a scientist, engineer and inventor, a man who drew plans of flying machines and made accurate studies of human anatomy.  Yet the ten or more paintings he completed and the many more left unfinished were enough to establish him as one of the towering figures of the Italian Renaissance, alongside his younger contemporaries Michelangelo and Raphael.  As well as painting startlingly emotive and intimate religious scenes, Leonardo led the way in two new genres of painting, that of portraiture and history painting. In his methodical approach to art Leonardo developed several significant painting techniques. Leonardo’s genius, not just in art but in science and elsewhere, meant that his was a truly unique contribution to the development of art in Europe.

Works featured in this programme include

  • The Mona Lisa (1503-05, Louvre, Paris)
  • The Last Supper  (1495-1498, Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milan)
  • The Annuciation (1472-1475, Uffizi Gallery, Florence)
  • Portrait of Ginevra de’Benci (1474-76, National Gallery of Art, Washington)
  • The Virgin of the Rocks (1482-1486, Louvre, Paris)
  • St. John the Baptist (1513-16, Louvre, Paris)
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The Great Artists - Michelangelo

The Great Artists - Michelangelo Genre
Biography
Language English
Country of Origin India
VCDs / DVD

1 DVD

Synopsis

Michelangelo (1475-1564)
Of all the great artists that left their mark on the story of art, Michelangelo Buonarroti stands alone, so great were his achievements.  His career as an artist spanned almost seven decades, during which time he was instrumental in the development of a style of art that has come represent the pinnacle of the Italian High Renaissance.  The unprecedented fame that he enjoyed in his lifetime endured and increased in the centuries that followed his death, as a succession of artists and art historians paid homage to his talent.  His unrivalled genius, violent temper and singular determination to pursue his art meant that he often worked alone, undertaking great feats of physical and intellectual endurance.  Michelangelo is the archetypal brooding artist, the romantic symbol of the creative spirit tortured by his own internal demons and antagonised by his influential patrons.  As an architect he designed the dome of St. Peter’s in the Vatican, the single most important church in the whole of Christendom.  As a sculptor he produced figures of unimaginable quality, such as his iconic statue of David.  As a painter he single-handedly undertook the decoration of the ceiling of the Sistine chapel, regarded as one of the finest achievements in the history of art. For many, Michelangelo is the greatest artist.

Works featured in this programme include

  • David (1501-04, Galleria dell' Accademia, Florence)
  • Frescoes, Sistine Chapel (1508-12, Vatican, Rome)
  • Bacchus (1496-97, Museo Nazionale del Bargello, Florence)
  • Pieta (1499, St. Peter's, Vatican, Rome)
  • Dying and Rebellious Slaves (1513-16, Louvre, Paris)
  • The Last Judgement (1534-41, Sistine Chapel, Vatican, Rome)
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The Great Artists - Raphael Sanzio

The Great Artists - Raphael Sanzio Genre
Biography
Language English
Country of Origin India
VCDs / DVD

1 DVD

Synopsis

Raphael Sanzio (1483-1520)

Any young artist who had risen to artistic maturity overshadowed by the towering reputations of Leonardo and Michelangelo could easily have been discouraged.  Not so Raffaello Santi, of Urbino, the young pretender to the mantle of Renaissance greatness, whose moderate temper, hard work and unique talent earned him a level of admiration equal to that of his older contemporaries.  Raphael is renowned for the beauty of his portraits and the perfectly balanced composition of his larger historical paintings.  His works are sensual and measured studies of the human form.  Known for his numerous paintings of the Madonna and Child, Raphael became a favourite of the papal court, undertaking commissions from popes Julius II and Leo X.  Unlike many of his contemporaries, Raphael did not simply copy from nature but formed a certain idealised concept of beauty.  In his short life Raphael achieved an unprecedented level of artistic maturity and such was the admiration for his idealised forms that they were adopted by artists and art academies as the model of beauty until the end of the 19th Century.

Works featured in this programme include

  • La Belle Jardiniere (1507 or 1508, Louvre, Paris)
  • The Niccolini-Cowper Madonna (1508, National Gallery of Art, Washington)
  • The School of Athens, Stanza della Segnatura (1509-11, Vatican)
  • Portrait of Pope Julius II (1512, National Gallery, London)
  • Portrait of Baldassare Castiglione (1514-16, Louvre, Paris)
  • Portrait of Pope Leo X with Cardinals Giulio de' Medici Luigi de' Rossi (1513-19, Palazzo Pitti, Galleria Palatina, Florence)
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The Great Artists - Rembrandt

The Great Artists - Rembrandt Genre
Biography
Language English
Country of Origin India
VCDs / DVD

1 DVD

Synopsis

Rembrandt (1606-1669)

Two eyes peer out of the gloom, they are the eyes of Rembrandt van Rijn, a man whose name is synonymous with the Dutch Golden Age and the city of Amsterdam.  Although he was not man of letters, Rembrandt left posterity a comprehensive autobiography; his self-portraits.  Rembrandt drew, etched and painted his own likeness over a hundred times resulting in a unique record of not only his changing physical appearance, but the development of his artistic career.   In his portraiture, Rembrandt was able to render a sense of the interior lives of his subjects, providing an insight into the self. Yet not only did he depict wealthy patrons but also the poor that he encountered throughout his life, painting them with immense empathy.  Yet to limit Rembrandt’s reputation to portraiture is to underestimate his achievements.  He painted religious, historical and contemporary scenes, as well as landscapes and animals.  Such scenes are full of dramatic intensity, without being over theatrical.  Like the Venetian master, Titian, Rembrandt’s brushstrokes became bolder as he grew older, his later paintings displaying rough and thickly applied paint.  Rembrandt is the pre-eminent master of Dutch painting and for many, Holland’s greatest artist.

Works featured in this programme include

  • Self-Portrait (1629, Alte Pinakothek, Munich)
  • The Anatomy Lesson of Doctor Nicolaes Tulp (1632, Mauritshuis Museum, The Hague)
  • The Descent from the Cross (1633, Alte Pinakothek, Munich)
  • Self-Portrait  (1640, National Gallery, London)
  • The Night Watch (1642, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam)
  • Hendrickje Bathing in a River (1654, National Gallery, London)

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The Great Artists - Peter Paul Rubens

The Great Artists - Peter Paul Rubens Genre
Biography
Language English
Country of Origin India
VCDs / DVD

1 DVD

Synopsis

Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640)
The life of Peter Paul Rubens was perhaps the most active and eventful of any artist in history.  He is regarded as the chief exponent of the Baroque style, merging the grace of the Italian High Renaissance with the realism and landscapes genres of the northern tradition.  His career mirrors rapidly developing politics of an emergent Europe, as not only did he paint for the Italian nobility, but for the Spanish, French and English courts.  Born a Protestant and raised as a Catholic in Antwerp, Rubens found himself on the front line of the Counter Reformation, both as a painter and a diplomat.  A highly versatile artist, Rubens was equally at home painting altarpieces, history and mythological scenes, portraits and landscapes.  He is perhaps best known for the voluptuous female nudes, which are often found in his large-scale mythological allegories.  In Antwerp Rubens ran a highly successful studio, employing many apprentices including Anthony van Dyck, who went on to become court painter to Charles I of England and Scotland.  Rubens was the most celebrated painter of the early 17th century, one of the most prolific in history and an artist who did much to develop different genres of painting.

Works featured in this programme include

  • Samson and Delilah (1609, National Gallery, London)
  • Self Portrait with Isabella Brant (1609-10, Alte Pinakothek, Munich)
  • The Descent from the Cross (1611-14, Antwerp Cathedral, Antwerp)
  • The Life of Marie de'Medici (1621-25, Louvre, Paris)
  • Peace and War (1630, National Gallery, London)
  • Het Pelsken (The Little Fur) (c.1635-40, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna)
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The Great Artists - Titian

The Great Artists - Titian Genre
Biography
Language English
Country of Origin India
VCDs / DVD

1 DVD

Synopsis

Titian (1485?-1576)
After the triumph of Renaissance art in Florence and Rome, the movement found a new centre, the city of Venice, and a new master, Tiziano Vecellio, known to English speakers as Titian.  Titian did more to establish the principles of modern painting than any of his Florentine contemporaries.  Unlike the Italian masters that had preceded him, Titian painted for the most part in oil, the medium came to dominate the production of art from then on.  His radical approach to light, colour and composition set him apart from those around him and his free brush strokes are more expressive than anything that had come before.  His enormous talent was recognised across Europe, and he received commissions to paint portraits of some the most powerful people of the age, including Pope Paul III and the Holy Roman Emperor, the King of Spain, Charles V.  Titian’s fame spread far and wide, making him perhaps the first truly international artist. 

Works featured in this programme include

  • The Assumption of the Virgin (1516-18, Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, Venice)
  • The Pesaro Altarpiece (1519-26, Santa Maria Gloriosa  dei Frari, Venice)
  • Bacchus and Ariadne (1523, The National Gallery, London)
  • Portrait of Charles V with Hound (1533, Prado, Madrid)
  • The Venus of Urbino (1538, Uffizi Gallery, Florence)
  • Diana and Callisto (1556-59, National Gallery, Edinburgh)
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The Great Artists - Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Great Artists - Joseph Mallord William Turner Genre
Biography
Language English
Country of Origin India
VCDs / DVD

1 DVD

Synopsis

Turner (1775-1851)
The most famous of all British painters, J. M. W. Turner was a visionary and a maverick, whose landscape paintings both astounded and antagonised those that saw them.  From humble beginnings Turner rose to become the dominant force in British landscape painting and a towering figure of Romanticism.  A member of the Royal Academy in London, Turner was nevertheless fiercely attacked by critics for his radical approach to painting, one remarking that he painted with ‘soaps suds and white wash’.  Turner’s paintings reflect his varying responses to the world around him, a world that was rapidly changing as the industrial revolution propelled society forward.  As well as depicting steamships and steam railways, Turner’s paintings recall the ancient world, echoing neo-classical landscapes of the French painter Claude Lorrain.  But Turner’s true muse was nature itself.  Nowhere is the power and majesty of nature so emphatically depicted as in the landscapes of Turner.  Rain, snow and sea engulf great ships and conquering armies, as humanity is utterly dwarfed by the awesome forces of nature.  Turner painted nature as he understood it and not as saw it, and in this way he is often seen as anticipating Impressionism.  His handling of paint at times teetered on the brink of abstraction.  Turner was a radical force in his time and for that he is remembered as great artist.

Works featured in this programme include

  • Fishermen at Sea (1796, Tate Gallery, London)
  • The Shipwreck  (1805, Tate Gallery, London)
  • Snow Storm: Hannibal and His Army Crossing the Alps  (1812, Tate Gallery, London)
  • Dido Building Carthage (1815, The National Gallery, London)
  • Snow Storm - Steam-Boat off a Harbour's Mouth (1842, Tate Gallery, London)
  • Rain, Steam and Speed - The Great Western Railway (1844, The National Gallery, London)
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The Great Artists - Vincent Van Gogh

The Great Artists - Vincent Van Gogh Genre
Biography
Language English
Country of Origin India
VCDs / DVD

1 DVD

Synopsis

Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890)

Vincent van Gogh was one of the true pioneers of modern painting.  He is perhaps the most mythologised artist in the history of art and his tragic life is ingrained in the popular imagination.  Active as an artist for only ten years he completed 1250 paintings, before succumbing to mental illness and taking his own life in July of 1890.  Son of a Dutch Protestant pastor, Van Gogh was a deeply spiritual man and began painting after witnessing the desperate poverty of the agricultural communities of Holland and Belgium.  Buoyed up by the unquestioning support and encouragement of his younger brother Theo, Van Gogh developed a highly individualistic visual style, typified by bold forms and short brushstrokes of pure colour.  Influenced in part by the Impressionists, Van Gogh strived to develop an expressive language more direct than that of his artistic predecessors in an effort to communicate the almost religious fervour with which he perceived and interpreted the world.  Although he sold only one painting during his lifetime, his enormous rise to fame after his death means that today his are among the most cherished paintings of all the great artists.

Works featured in this programme include

  • The Potato-Eaters (1885, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam)
  • Sunflowers (1889, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam)
  • Vincent's House in Arles (The Yellow House) (1888, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam)
  • Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear (1889, Courtauld Institute Galleries, London)
  • The Starry Night. Saint-Rémy (1889, The Museum of Modern Art, New York)
  • Wheat Field with Crows (1890, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam)
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The Great Artists - Diego Velazquez

The Great Artists - Diego Velazquez Genre
Biography
Language English
Country of Origin India
VCDs / DVD

1 DVD

Synopsis

Diego Velazquez (1599-1640)
In a Spain dominated by a fervent religiosity, the painter Diego de Silva y Velàzquez emerged as a master practitioner of a secular form of art.  His masterpiece, Las Meninas, is a painting full of mystery and intrigue, a work of startling intellectual and artistic complexity and the culmination of a unique relationship between Velàzquez and his patron, King Philip IV of Spain.  From 1623, Velàzquez was employed to paint the family and court of Philip IV.  His paintings remain as an enormously insightful record of the development of the royal family and, in many ways, the decline of the most powerful court in Europe. Under the watchful eye of Philip’s first minister, Count-Duke Olivares, Velàzquez single-handedly redefined the image of the Spanish monarchy, in manner akin to a modern-day public relations campaign. Whilst Velàzquez’s output was dominated by royal portraiture, he also produced psychologically insightful studies of people at the margins of society, such as the buffoons of the royal court or the poor of Seville.  Velàzquez’s unique painting style, which combined at one time or another dramatic lighting, intense colouring and ever more loose brushstrokes, was dominated by a single preoccupation – to capture a degree of naturalism hitherto unachieved in the history of art.  His work came to be admired by many in the centuries to come and as the French painter Edouard Manet remarked, ‘He is the painter of painters’. 

Works featured in this programme include

  • The Waterseller of Seville (1620, Wellington Museum, London),
  • The Forge of Vulcan (1630, Prado, Madrid),
  • The Surrender of Breda (1635, Prado, Madrid),
  • Juan De Pareja  (1650, Metropolitan Museum Of Art, New York)
  • Las Meninas (1656, Prado, Madrid).
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The Great Artists - Diego Velazquez

The Great Artists - Diego Velazquez Genre
Biography
Language English
Country of Origin India
VCDs / DVD

1 DVD

Synopsis

Johannes Vermeer  (1632-1672)

In the three hundred years since his death, the name Johannes Vermeer languished in the backwaters of art history.  Yet in recent times his status as a great artist has been assured and his paintings are more popular today than ever before.  Vermeer, the pre-eminent Dutch genre painter, lived and worked in the town of Delft.  Little is known of his life other than he painted very few paintings and that he died penniless.  A master of light and colour, Vermeer excelled in creating the illusion of reality in his paintings, the result of a meticulous painting method often employing camera obscura.  Most of Vermeer’s work follows a similar theme, often featuring a single female figure standing or sitting in a domestic setting engaged in a simple everyday activity such as reading a letter or playing a musical instrument.  There is no incident or drama here, yet Vermeer’s genius is his ability to transform a placid everyday event into an episode littered with mystery and intrigue.  This deliberate ambiguity leaves the mind racing to fill in the gaps of an otherwise unassuming scene.  In their combination of exquisite brushwork and quietly enigmatic subjects Vermeer’s paintings are among the greatest masterpieces of Western art.

Works featured in this programme include

  • View of Delft (1660-1661, Mauritshuis, the Hague)
  • Street in Delft (1657-1658, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam)
  • The Milkmaid (1658-1660, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam)
  • Girl Asleep at a Table (1657, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York)
  • Girl with a Pearl Earring (1665,  Mauritshuis, the Hague)
  • The Art of Painting (1666-1673, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna)
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