I don’t know about you, but sometimes you just have one of those days weeks months years that you could really use some art therapy. Some beauty and inspiration to lift you up! Join me and let’s do a dive through some auction sites and grab some beautiful art to look at!

William Adolphe Bouguereau – Berceuse (Le coucher) – This painting has been really captivating me. I find the imagery beautiful (I’ve never thought that sentimentality was a bad word or simple). I think my favorite part of the painting is the reflected light on the mother’s face. It’s light bouncing off of the baby, back into the face of the woman. It’s so beautifully rendered. It is also tricky too. Rendering form without a direct light hitting part of the subject is very challenging. I hope to paint something, anything, as beautiful as this in my career. If I don’t, that’s okay. Knowing that this painting is out there might be consolation enough.

William Adolphe Bouguereau – Sur le rocher – I love the palette of this painting. It’s no secret that I really love Bouguereau and while this painting isn’t my favorite of his, I do love the subdued colors and their harmony. I also love the shapes he created and the contrasting forms.

William Adolphe Bouguereau – Entre la richesse et l’amour – Another painting from WB that is full of treasure for artists to admire. The subject is a strange one… and a little creepy. The girl is apparently torn between deciding on love from the young man, or riches from the older man.  Let’s not dive too deep into the subject, but admire the wonderful rendering here. You can zoom in and compare the way that B. painted the face of the young woman and the older man. Also, the fabrics of the characters are incredible.

Sir Alfred James Munnings – Study of a Racehorse –  I love studies. We all love studies. As artists, they give us some insights into the process and working mind of our comrades in paint!  How great is the brushwork on this horse?

Newell Convers Wyeth – Enter Madame… – What a masterclass in using light and shadow to compose! This is often a feature of Wyeth’s work and is in line with the teachings of Howard Pyle. It’s a joy to see it done so well here. I also love the silhouette of the man in the doorway and the contrast between the face of the man and the woman holding the baby.

Frank Weston Benson – Mary Sullivan – I love Benson’s work! If you aren’t familiar with his paintings, go jump off a Google cliff and enjoy. I love the subdued palette and values on the skin. I do find the neck of this woman a little odd, but I still love the painting. Expecting perfection, or looking for it all the time can put a veil of dissatisfaction over our eyes and unnecessarily deprive us of some otherwise great works of art!

Archibald Wakley – The Sleeping Beauty – I don’t really know Archibald Wakley’s work, but this painting really stands out to me for the richness and abundance of textures and materials. It’s the kind of painting that rewards a close look!

John Byam Liston Shaw – The Queen of Hearts – It’s always fascinating to see what artists choose to paint, but also to see what they choose not to paint, or how they reduce the information from reality to painting. I think the face of the woman in the center of the painting is quite extraordinary and the strong contrast around her head really pulls you into her face like a well of gravity.

Walter Crane, R.W.S. – The Swan Maidens – Okay, I admit this painting is beautiful but also makes me laugh a little. The swan costumes are a little hilarious. The swan heads look like they are still alive and looking around like life is pretty good! But, I also think the figure in the foreground is beautiful, as is the palette and rendering of the different materials. The subtle shift from warm to cool from the foreground to background is very well done too. I hope this painting inspires and also makes you smile.

Sir Edward John Poynter, P.R.A., R.W.S. – Orpheus and Eurydice – What a fascinating composition! The horizon is pushed up right against the top of the painting and the shapes that Poynter are pretty fantastic.

John William Godward, R.B.A. – Clelia – Godward always brings something beautiful to the table. I don’t always resonate with the whole painting, but there look at the beautiful cloth on this one!

John William Waterhouse, R.A. – Juliet – I love this simple depiction of Juliet by Waterhouse. I find myself drawn to the way that Waterhouse handled the hair. The value shift from the dark to light side, not counting the darkest areas, is really subtle. Maybe a 1/4 value step. It’s mostly distinguished by the increase of chroma in the shadow side. But, it convincingly conveys the wave and curl of her hair. Oustanding. Juliet’s contemplation as she worries her necklace/pendant makes me wonder at what moment in the story this scene is meant to take place. The delicate little gold circlet is beautiful too.

I hope you enjoyed these paintings and that your day is a great one! Go find some beautiful art or make some!