(Featured image: Beer and Oysters II by Jacob Collins, Oil on Canvas, 12 x 20″, 2007)
Over the weekend I escaped our soggy Seattle spring to sunny LA where I wore sunglasses and visited the Getty Museum for the first time. I’m on a two week spring during which I took a weeklong alla prima portrait workshop and then went on this short museum trip. Both of these activities had the rejuvenating effect that simply taking a break doesn’t produce. It’s important to go out in the world and enjoy art.
While traveling I read a recently circulated article from the Epoch Times titled “A Resurgence of Art” about our little-known atelier movement in which students learn in the tradition of master artists and are taught in small studios by highly skilled teachers.
The article lists names of artists vital to keeping this tradition alive including my teacher Juliette Aristides. Interestingly, the article outlines a lineage of teachers who have passed on their wisdom through the generations. All names I’m familiar with but I had never quite thought of in chronological order. Seeing them written out like that I wanted to see all their works together and really visualize the lineage.
The list starts with Jacob Collins, a main subject of the article and moves backwards through time, through his teachers and theirs:
Jacob Collins b. 1946. In addition to being a fantastic painter and draftsman, he has taught many wonderful painters including my teacher. Collins runs Grand Central Academy, an atelier in New York City. You may remember I posted about a great New Yorker profile of Collins.
Andrea del Sarto b. 1486. This is where the timeline in the article gets a bit hazy. You can see a few generations of teachers missing in the 262 year gap between the births of del Sarto and David. But you’ll also notice it’s full-blown Renaissance time. During these years we have an explosion of schools and maestros training many fantastic artists all mixing and traveling to learn from one another. The lineage in the article bridges early Renaissance Italian masters to 19th century French teachers, but stepping outside of that scope, the Dutch were having their Golden Age and the Spanish got to celebrate the great Velasquez during this time, both of which had immense influence on the 19th century French painters.
According to the article del Sarto was a contemporary of Michelangelo who was ten years his senior. Del Sarto lived in Umbria and died in Rome but was influenced by Raphael, Da Vinci and especially Michaelangelo, all of whom lived in Florence at one incredible moment in art history.
The illness is named after the 19th-century French author Stendhal (pseudonym of Marie-Henri Beyle), who described his experience with the phenomenon during his 1817 visit to Florence in his book Naples and Florence: A Journey from Milan to Reggio. When he visited the Basilica of Santa Croce, where Niccolò Machiavelli, Michelangelo and Galileo Galilei are buried, he saw Giotto‘s frescoes for the first time and was overcome with emotion.
He wrote: I was in a sort of ecstasy, from the idea of being in Florence, close to the great men whose tombs I had seen. Absorbed in the contemplation of sublime beauty… I reached the point where one encounters celestial sensations… Everything spoke so vividly to my soul. Ah, if I could only forget. I had palpitations of the heart, what in Berlin they call ‘nerves.’ Life was drained from me. I walked with the fear of falling.
The staff at Florence’s Santa Maria Nuova hospital are accustomed to dealing with tourists suffering from dizzy spells and disorientation after admiring the statue of David.
I neither wept nor fainted when I saw David but I can’t deny the air was electric with reverence and awe. This was my first trip abroad and I wondered if any one was drawing, painting, and sculpting like this anymore. They were, at least in this same tradition. I just didn’t know it yet.