Botticelli to Van Gogh

IMG_1843 titian

Titian ‘Noli me tangere’. ( Don’t touch me) 1511-12

When Annette and I received the invitation to catch a bus to our National Capital Canberra, to see an international exhibition of  paintings on loan by The National Gallery , London, we did not hesitate and jumped on cheerfully, together with many other art enthusiasts. The bus was full. We had a coffee break at Lake George which had hardly any water but that was compensated by some home-made cake and a cup of coffee. I had coffee with two sugars. Why not, at my age? Annette had a coffee too. There were about 8 men and well over 50 women. Sad proof that males seem to disappear of late.

The Canberra exhibition offered a rare opportunity to see not only Van Gogh and Botticelli, but also works by Vermeer, Van Dyck, Cezanne, Monet, Titian and many others. The above painting by Titian was one of many that  struck me, especially when the title stated,  ‘Do not touch me’. Titian was about 20 years old when he painted this scene depicting Christ and Magdalene. Looking at it with my twentieth century eyes I can only assume that Magdalene was sorely tempting Christ. Reading up about this painting it deals mainly from a religious point of view with the notion of the rebirth of Christ and the adoration of Magdalene in the presence of her Lord. Nothing inappropriate was intended nor happening in this scene. However, Titian being hardly over his teenage years would have the testosterones that I imagine were just as rife during his time as they are now. Did he really not see a connection between the woman reaching up and the scantily draped man? What I thought so wonderful was the combination of the drama between Christ and Magdalene and the beautiful story of the landscape, the sea and this village perched on top of the hill. It all made for truth and conviction. The art reigned above all else.

IMG_1860 13 Sunflowers

Vincent Van Gogh ’13 Sunflowers’.

With Vincent there can be no guessing. His work was of the most urgency. It was all he could do to stop the daemons in his head. Oh, the poor man, and how the brother Theo played such a pivotal role in at least giving Vincent the support he craved and needed to paint. He often went hungry and mad at the same time. He did not find, could not find peace, and vented his anger and confusion by painting with a mania that must have perhaps given him some degree of relief. One almost feels guilty looking at his work. He never sold a painting. No rich aristocratic benefactor for him, no Royal Court commissions, nothing!. His output was prolific, especially during the last two years of his short life. He could only paint, nothing else would work. And now, we are the benefactors. Apparently there are still over seventy of his works missing, many disappeared during the last war, taken by art looters. The output of art by Vincent was over 2100 works of which 860 were paintings. Vincent was 37 when he suicided by gun. Theo was 33 when he died of sadness and ill health. They are buried together.

How fortunate we are to now look at his work. I hope dear Vincent has found the peace he so craved.

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45 Responses to “Botticelli to Van Gogh”

  1. freefall852 Says:

    Oh, Gerard!…that “Don’t touch me!” was really a sign warning the public not to touch the works…surely?

    Liked by 2 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, Jo, you got a point there.
      I noticed they have the floor taped for viewers to stay behind when looking at the paintings. Guards are watching the feet of the patrons that might step over the tape. It must be hard to be a guard standing there all day watching transgressing feet.

      Like

  2. catterel Says:

    Isn’t it wonderful when you actually see the paintings themselves, that you know so well from photos and reproductions? The brushwork, pigments, vitality that simply can’t be reproduced in a photo no matter how high the resolution. Great opportunity!

    Liked by 2 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, and it is also wonderful to be so close not only to the artwork but to the artist. I know that the artist is not alive but through the work it feels as if he or she still is.
      Especially with the Van Gogh. The paint seems still fresh.

      Like

  3. Therese Trouserzoff Says:

    Thank you for this, Gez. When does the exhibition close ? I’d like to take FM!

    Many Australian children in the 50s and 60s grew up with a print of Van Gogh’s sunflowers on their classroom wall. Impossible to not love or forget.

    There was also an obligatory photograph of Her Majesty in her 1954 Australian visit wattle dress. Same picture in the lab I worked in after Uni. I got into trouble by painting on the glass over her two front teeth with correction fluid.

    That made the teeth look dazzlingly white – and I at least thought she looked hilarious in her regal pose.

    Apparently there were loyalists in the joint who couldn’t see the joke 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      The art show is on till the middle of June. We went on Friday and the gallery was well attended. I think with the ticketing you are asked at what time you will visit. Perhaps they are staggering the numbers. Queues were formed at times but it was orderly and one could get close to the works.

      ‘Blue poles’ by Jackson Pollock on the third floor now has a white low brick cement wall in front to make sure no one gets too close. Even so, a guard kept a close look at us.

      Yes, Therese. During the fifties the Queen was still saluted at the beginning of each day in the school yards. In cinemas, one had to stand up and listen to God Save The Queen, belted out on the Hammond Organ, before Quo Vadis would open up to the curtains.
      It’s odd that to become a naturalized Australian today, one still has to swear allegiance to the Queen of England.

      Liked by 1 person

      • freefall852 Says:

        Yes…”God save the Queen”…..I remember a salacious rumour went about in the fifties when the royals were out here on a visit to chivvy the colony along a tad and on a tour of the bush somewhere, Prince Phillip was caught short for an ablution, and rather than embarass the royal party, Prime Minister Menzies, seated in the car with the Royal couple, volunteered forward as wanting to relieve himself so as to allow Phillip to also join him behind the royal “Roller”….and the rumour goes that upon sighting the “Royal Consort’s” extrordinary male “gland”, Bob Menzies started to hum “God save the Queen” and it became the ritual thereon for people to stand to attention and sing most boisterously the then national anthem…anyway..that’s the way I heard it.

        Liked by 1 person

      • gerard oosterman Says:

        Yes, often those sorts of tales carry some truth. We will never know as both Bob Menzies and Prince Phillip are in the land of the dearly departed.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. leggypeggy Says:

    Many thanks. You have inspired me to go to the exhibit. It’s open until the middle of June.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. gerard oosterman Says:

    Well worth seeing, Peggy, especially living in the Heart of Art city.
    Glad to see you have climbed back in your pen and writing your blog.
    https://leggypeggy.com/

    Liked by 1 person

  6. doesitevenmatter3 Says:

    What a wonderful outing! I love art galleries, museums, etc. 🙂
    Mr. vanGogh’s paintings are some of my faves. I, too, hope he found peace.
    I’ve stood before some of my fave paintings of fave painters and had tears come to my eyes. I’m so honored to see them up close. 🙂
    (((HUGS)))

    Liked by 1 person

  7. freefall852 Says:

    I’ve wondered why Van Gogh didn’t sell more paintings than he did..he was contemporary with Gaugain and Monet etc…and Vincent’s works were not “lesser” pieces that any of theirs…so I wonder if it is the personality of the artist that “sells” his works even above the critiqued style or compositions?
    The same could be said for writing…why do some be more accepted above others…perhaps many readers like to feel association by a vicarious connection to the artist’s personality through their works rather than an appreciation of their skills…just a quick thought.

    Liked by 2 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, that is the question. It is not unusual for artist not to be successful during their lifetime. Mozart died penniless!
      There must be many a manuscript gathering dust in drawers only to be discovered when the estate is up for disposal by a descendent.
      Recognition and fame is a funny thing. It needs the right combination of many things to succeed of which enduring quality is the main ingredient.
      I am not sure if the art from Monet, Gauguin were anymore sold during their lifetimes, than Van Gogh’s.
      The main thing that drives those that want to create is in the ‘doing’, above all else.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Curt Mekemson Says:

    I always enjoy visits to art galleries and museums, Gerard. I tend to wander around in awe. So whenever I get near a major museum, I try to work in a visit. Thanks for sharing. I really enjoyed your commentary. –Curt

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Glad you enjoyed the article and that you also love to visit galleries.
      I was fortunate to have visited the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam when we were living there.
      Always looking forward in reading your pieces too, Curt. Especially when you dip back in your earlier days.

      Like

  9. rangewriter Says:

    What a wonderful outing, and a great personal interpretation of Titian’s work. We are so very human, after all.

    It sounds like life is getting back to normal in Australia? Has the vaccination process gone well? We have some real knuckleheads here and it is predicted that “herd immunity” may never happen in America. And if not here, will it happen anywhere? I’m personally past caring. If, by chance, I should pass something off my vaccinated being to some vulnerable anti-vaxxer, so be it. I, frankly, don’t give a damn.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, Australia has done the right thing but at cost of closeness and interactions. Everything is now based on keeping distance. Floors are now littered with steps so that even shoppers are urged to stay away from each other. Stern warnings on counters not to lean on and Perspex barriers between cashiers and shoppers.
      A single case of Covid and the country is again back to masks and no dancing.
      Suicide rates are sky rocketing and sharks are doing the rounds at sea. Life has become a bit hazardous.

      Like

  10. Charlotte Hoather Says:

    Thank you for this information about Van Gogh. I wonder if much has changed in the art world now in respect of artists with patronage and those without.

    Liked by 1 person

    • freefall852 Says:

      I wonder if in the post 1st WW period of inventive creration with the arts, there was a shift from creative works as a cultural thing over to creative works as a commercial thing…ie; the awakening of a commercial value and investment opportunity for art…hence the up-surge of “abstract”, “surreal” and “modernism” movements…more the decorative pieces to hand upon corporate walls than in galleries of fine art…after all, it could be asked as to what cultural influence can “Blue Poles” be traced back to? (Mind you..I have nothing against those forms of art, just raising the point).

      Liked by 1 person

      • gerard oosterman Says:

        The creative arts move on, Jo.
        Blue Poles is just as artistic as a Rembrandt but done now. Things move on. Phillip Glass is as valid a composer as Mozart was.
        Isn’t it wonderful that we can listen and look at art so generously bestowed by the creator both of the past and the present?

        Like

      • Charlotte Hoather Says:

        Interesting, wasn’t the WW a time of extra taxation to pay for the war, so perhaps the old patrons had their extra money channeled to that. I shall investigate further. The UK classical musicians used to go to Europe to train so to do that must have had connections to patrons or through the church and then institutions like the Royal College of Music where I did my Masters was created in the UK and trained people from all over the world.

        Liked by 1 person

      • gerard oosterman Says:

        Yes, in the past royalty and church were major supporters and employers of artists. Now, with luck, lovers of art,private enterprise and art supportive governments have taken that place.
        How fantastic you got your Masters, Charlotte.

        I have always stood in awe of musicians either voice or instrument. Even reading and interpreting piano music, two lines at once! Amazing.

        I had two years of lessons as an adult and was the despair of my teacher. It was not to be. I am tone deaf but still love hearing music.

        Like

    • freefall852 Says:

      I suppose in your art of singing too, Charlotte…where many a well-trained voice is overlooked for that “of the moment” pop-singer who croaks out a lucky multi-million dollar “hit-single” must be frustrating after years of voice training…

      Liked by 1 person

      • Charlotte Hoather Says:

        I’m pragmatic about it, it is what it is. As a youngster I loved Disney and it’s a bit like Cinderella, the Prince was only shown the selected daughters and didn’t know of the one locked in the basement but sometimes with a bit of magic, perseverance and luck you can find your way up to the ball 😊 well I hope that is the case in real life anyway 💫 there are a lot of well-trained voices that don’t get their opportunity to shine unfortunately. My Dad told me I have to make my own luck and not to wait for the ‘Prince’ to come.

        Liked by 1 person

      • gerard oosterman Says:

        Yes Charlotte. I have looked and listened to your singing on your blog and I love it. You sure have a great voice and work so hard on it, you gave it all when UK was in lock-down and you sang from your balcony. How lovely was that?
        You are so right. Creative people just keep on doing. It is the only way.

        Like

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      It is always the case of following our creativity, Charlotte.

      I have painted, printed and written all my life. While it would have been nice to get more recognition, my enjoyments, pleasure and many pains have always been derived from doing it. To combine family and art is not easy when money needs to be earned to pay the bills
      I would not change a thing. It has been a blessing to have that freedom.

      Liked by 1 person

    • freefall852 Says:

      I listened to you singing that sample of “O mio babbino caro”, Charlotte..very nice..one of my favourite songs..I have a copy of Yvonne Kenny singing it too…another nice rendition..I had to go to you tube to find you singing the entire song with orchestra…it is a song that almost bring a sob to one’s throat..if I can say it like that…

      Liked by 1 person

      • Charlotte Hoather Says:

        Thank you. The video with the brass brand? I hadn’t realised that was there it was seven years ago that concert, the time has flown by. I’ve been working on the song again this month out of the blue so quite a coincidence.
        Best wishes
        Charlotte

        Liked by 1 person

      • freefall852 Says:

        Yes!…it was a brass band!…I didn’t realise it from watching YOU sing…well…those brass bands in England are much more refined from the Salvation Army one that used to come regularly to play in the rotunda in our country town….My Cornish grandfather, being a Methodist and obstrepolous, despised the Salvo’s and when the band set up to play in the rotunda, he’d every time seat himself right in front of the trumpet player with the inevitable brown paper-bag on his lap..and as the man started to prepare to play, my grandfather would go through the same ritual every time…He’d take a lemon out of the bag, open his pocket knife, cut the lemon into quarters (all the while staring dead-pan at the trumpet player) and then commence to suck noisily and wincingly on the lemon…his twisted facial features throwing the trumpet player “off his mark” and making him blow “raspberries”….every time…garroulous old Cornishman.

        Like

  11. freefall852 Says:

    Actually..you’ve touched upon a very interesting subject with this art thingo, Gerard..and Charlotte has targetted a touchy subject with those with patronage as against those without….I would suppose patronage would come mainly from that class of people with the wealth to be so generous…and of course such patronage would be conditional upon sympathetic representation of the Patron’s status or class….THAT would rule out many lower-class artists whose works may be disparaging of such high-status persons.

    We see many art competitions promoted by basically middle-class institutions, but rarely any from representatives of the working-classes, like unions or political parties…I wonder why?

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      I am not sure about that, Jo. I would be skating on thin ice if different classes are evoked in this subject of art verses the commercial rewards of artists.

      Many local councils, shires and other Governmental bodies regular hold competitions in visual arts, writing, literature, music etc.

      I only know of The Netherlands who pay artists a salary in exchange of what the artists produces. Those works are then shown in public buildings such as, schools, hospitals, jails etc.
      They also have a law which compels developers of public buildings to include a percentage of the development cost in the acquisition of works of art.

      But, what do you expect of a country that includes Rembrandt, Vermeer but also a Karel Appel?

      Like

  12. freefall852 Says:

    ” Many local councils, shires and other Governmental bodies regular hold competitions in visual arts, writing, literature, music etc.”
    I know..I live in one…but many such councils are run on the “Toady System” and one has to be “in the cabal” to get favourable consideration in such things…and it could also be noted that the organisers of such “competitions” are also members of a certain “consciousness of kind” clique…
    I have and still do “circle” on the perimiter of such a local govt’ cabal, and believe me..it can be very exclusive..I wrote of it a while back..a short piece called “The Cabal of Complicity”..
    But the worst of such status considerations, is the silence…there is a practice used by that certain class when wanting to rid oneself of a “nusiance”…it is a barricade of silence and dissmissive ignoring of the subject until they “do the honourable thing”, take the hint and disappear….after all..it’s all so damn English…doncha know?

    Like

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      I don’t know about that, Jo.
      I haven’t experienced that and years ago always entered art competitions and was never rejected. In fact I am proud to say I had one of paintings accepted and hung in the NSW State Gallery in 1972.

      https://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/prizes/wynne/1972/24292/

      How good was that?

      Like

      • freefall852 Says:

        Yes, congratulations, Gerard…a worthy contender…
        But of course, there never was going to be a rejection of an entry for most of these competitions, THAT would be bad PR. for any council pro-mo…but we do recall the socio/political rejection for art-works like Bill Henson’s photos and the “Piss Christ” outrage!…but there are considerations made in such competitions as to WHAT subject will be considered most worthy for the glittering prize…and while the entry topics may be broad and wide, it CAN befall a small group of judges who have and will give preference to certain artistic genres over others..so it may be a lost cause if..sat..a surrealist innocently enters their work under the judgement of people who are more looking for landscape paintings…that sort of thing..but then ..it is a subject that demands a wider range of discussion than can or ought to be made on here….

        Liked by 1 person

  13. Forestwood Says:

    Vincent is such a tragic figure but what a legacy he has left behind. I never knew he had so many works.
    He will never be forgotten.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      I wasn’t aware either that he did so much work in so few years. Now a days he would possibly be diagnosed as Asperger or autistic and ‘çured’ by medication with the possibility his creative side suppressed. Who knows?

      Like

  14. shoreacres Says:

    I’m so glad you were able to attend the exhibit, and I’m especially glad it was focused in part on one of my favorites: Van Gogh. You may not remember the post, but I once showed a painting that I found under a concrete bridge in the Texas hill country, outside Medina. I think you’re recognize the painting. I wonder what Van Gogh would think of his starry night still being honored in such a way? I suspect he’d like it.

    There’s a very interesting story behind the sunflowers in a vase you included in this post. I may run that post again, just because it’s so very interesting — at least, to me. Those pouffy sunflowers may not have been entirely the product of the artist’s imagination!

    Of course, those other artists would have been well worth seeing, too. Titian et. al. aren’t appealing to me in the same way as the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists, but their history is fascinating, and their role in the transmission of culture is important.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. gerard oosterman Says:

    Yes, indeed. I can’t remember reading you story about the painting under the bridge and I am intrigued. Vincent’s work has such a sense of urgency. I doubt he ever worked over it or went back to try and ‘improve’.

    I too prefer more modern works but can certainly appreciate the skill involved in the pre- cameras days.

    I remember our three children in Amsterdam going to both the Amsterdam Rijks museum and the Van Gogh museum.
    They much more preferred the Van Gogh’s museum which had a lot of modern art by different painters as well as Van Gogh’s.

    Like

  16. petspeopleandlife Says:

    How fortunate that you and Annette were able to view such great works of art. And coffee to boot. I imagine the drive back home was still filled with excitement after viewing all those very famous painting. I would have been thrilled. The Titian painting has always intrigued me as it looks as if the woman is reaching for the drape around Christ. But then that is just my little opinion.

    Like

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Ye, it was a good day. When we lived in Sydney and in our younger days we often visited art galleries. I never felt my back then. Now, after a while I look for a seat to rest on. Yes, the Titan painting is ambiguous.
      Your interpretation would be the majority I think. The religious one is amongst a few, but mainly tells us it is a re-birth of Christ.

      Liked by 1 person

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