I am quite fascinated by the number of women in Dutch paintings of the mid-1600s that are either reading or writing a letter. It is of course one of the many consequences of the Dutch Golden maritime age that the men and women were separated for long periods of time, and this was how they kept in touch. What is interesting however is how many of the artists picked up the same subject.
I think the Dutch artists of the same era liked to present the same content – it seems to be the same pattern with still life paintings, oranges and lemons in paintings, followed by swirly peels of oranges and lemons in paintings – perhaps the patrons all wanted the same content in their paintings.
Apparently, it’s not just us curious to know what gossip was being shared in those handwritten letters – there were others who tried to peek into the letters.
I started looking for paintings of people sitting at their desks and reading or studying because it’s finals week and that’s what I should be doing – then I decided to find women (instead of men) at desks when I discovered how many Dutch 17th Century Dutch paintings showed women reading and writing letters!! Quite a circuitous route – but still interesting to think of all those women sitting at home writing letters, sending all sorts of family and local gossip to their husbands and boyfriends while they were away exploring the world for months on end.
I should be focused like her and study for my exams!!
(Images Courtesy: Google Arts and Culture, Rijksmuseum, The Frick Collection, The Wallace Collection, Dresden Art Museum, essentialvermeer.org, MET Museum)
I first noticed the beauty of blue and yellow paintings in Dutch artist Willian van Aelst’s Still Life with Flowers (1664) with striking yellow lemons against the intense and deep blues of the tablecloth. I was so intrigued by the gorgeousness of these two colors together that I thought I would find some more – and as it turns out there are many striking blue and yellow paintings.
Apparently other people too like the blue and yellow combination – the untitled blue and yellow modern art by Mark Rothko sold for $46.5 million in 2015 (left). Mark Rothko is one of the most prominent American artists of the 20th Century who created “a new and impssioned form of abstract painting” (nga.gov). Two other 20th century artists with blue and yellow paintings are Dutch artist Piet Mondrian (center) and Russian artist and pioneer of abstract art Wassily Kandinski.
And coincindentally here are a blue and yellow cow and milkmaid by Warhol and Vermeer!!
Another stunning blue and yellow work is this painting by Henri Matisse.
And of course, no discussion on blue and yellow can be complete without Vincent Van Gogh – Wheatfield with Crows (1890), Irises in a Vase (1890), and Cafe Terrace at Night (1888).
(Images courtesy Van Gogh Museuem, Met, MOMA, NGA, Toledo Museum, and Google Arts and Culture).