Saturday, October 12, 2013

Who Painted This? #48

Who painted this? #48

Back to the whole picture thus week as you struggled with last week's challenge.

You need to tell me - as a comment on this blog - who painted this PLUS all the other things I want to know (see link to rules below).

ALSO Tell me also what you can find out about this artist and/or artwork.

The winner will be the person with the BEST answer rather than the first to respond - so you don't have to rush and have got time to do some research.

For those who've not risen to the challenge before please take a minute to read the rules - click the link/see below.  The questions which need answering don't stop at "Who painted this?"

How to participate in "Who painted this? #47"

PLEASE make sure you read the rules before posting a comment - and ONLY POST ON THIS BLOG what you think is the answer.
READ THE RULES for participating in this challenge (this saves having to copy them out for each post!).

In short:
  • use your brains not software to find the answer
  • search using words only on a database of images
  • leave your answer as a comment on this blog
  • if correct it will not be published until the next post - which provides the answer
  • if wrong it will be published
  • do not leave the answer on Facebook!
the winner - who gets a mention and a link on/from this blog - is NOT THIS WEEK the first person to give me a completely correct answer for ALL the things I want to know. 

It's the person who provides the BEST answer (see above)

Who Painted This #47 - The Answer

Lucia, Minerva and Europa Anguissola Playing Chess by Sofonisba Anguissola
Last week's challenge
But Sofonisba of Cremona, the daughter of Amilcare Anguissola, has worked with deeper study and greater grace than any woman of our times at problems of design, for not only has she learned to draw, paint, and copy from nature, and reproduce most skillfully works by other artists, but she has on her own painted some most rare and beautiful paintings.
(Vasari 343)
What's interesting about this painting is:
  • it's about four sisters - no men in sight!  
  • The fourth sister is the artist!  Sofonisba Anguissola was one of the very first female artists we know about and one of the first to establish an international reputation.  She was considered the best female painter of her time by Vasari.
  • The sisters in the painting are not doing activities normally associated with girls and women - instead they're playing chess!
  • It has a very relaxed feel to it - possibly because the subjects were so well known to the artist?
  • You don't just get very fine portraiture and superb painting of clothing, there's also a fully worked up landscape in miniature in the background!
This is what the Web Gallery of Art has to say about it
That women could be intellectually accomplished and highly rational, even strategic, are the complementary themes of a family portrait showing Anguissola's three sisters playing chess. In this painting, which Vasari saw hanging in the artist's family home in Cremona in 1566, the chivalric game of chess takes place in an idealized landscape familiar in late medieval courtly images of the game and not in a tavern or other questionable locale seen in other contemporary representations of gaming. On the far left Lucia looks out at the viewer, dominating our gaze as her arm and obvious expertise dominate the chess board. She has removed two of Minerva's pieces from the game and the younger sister opens her mouth and raises her hand as if to speak. Their youngest companion, Europa, smiles gleefully at the match, carefully observed by an old maid servant at the far right.

The three Anguissola women are members of a natural nobility capable of entertaining themselves, their status emphasized by the rich surface detail on their brocaded clothes and the fine Turkish carpet set over their table.
Web Gallery of Art - Portrait of the Artist's Sisters Playing Chess 
Here are some more links to information about her

Who guessed correct?

Who painted this #47? - Last week I changed the rules to put the emphasis on the best answer.

Hence although John O'Grady got the first complete answer, he's not the winner this week.

This week the winner is yet again Bernadette O'Madden since my challenge last week was also to provide the best answer in terms of telling me more about the artist.

However I also very much liked Ashley's answer as she also told us more about the painting - hence the change of rules again this week.  In future the best answer will be the one which provides the most informative answer about the artist and/or artwork.

It does however seem as if this last challenge has most of you stumped!  I have a feeling a number will go "I knew that!" once they see the painting above!


  1. Great reading about Sofonisba Anguissola. The clothes the sisters are wearing are stunning.

  2. This neoclassical print had me confused at first because of the gigantic vegetation and tiny figures. I could not read the inscription, so my first thought was that this was perhaps an illustration from some tale from Ovid. But no! It turns out that the vegetation was the key!

    Carl Wilhelm Kolbe
    Auch ich war in Arkadien
    British Museum

    Kolbe came to be an artist rather late in life - didn't make it to art school until his late twenties. He was a self taught etcher, inspired by the dutch landscape etchers of the 17th c., and became a very fine etcher indeed.
    He also seems to have been a bit of a nature nut, obsessed with vegetation, leading him create plants the size of trees in his etchings. This Et in Arcadia Ego etching is one of 28 that the British Museum site describes as "highly personal" etchings- which I guess is polite parlance for "quirky"- all of which feature figures dwarfed by vegetation. Too bad he never saw the nettles in my garden. Kolbe would have been very inspired!

  3. Good choice Katherine, this "who painted this" exercised areas of grey matter that I didn't know still existed. Anyway to cut to the chase.

    The Artist: Carl Wilhelm Kolbe
    Title: I too was in Arcadia
    Media: Engraving
    Created: 1801
    Residing: Museum of Fine Arts Houston

    I tried to find this image using various searches. I thought it looked around 18c.
    My path was rather convoluted, God and Goddess in nature.
    Elysium fields with figures.

    Even Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden. That was a bit doubtful.

    I then tried Etchings of Arcadia with figures and it came up.

    This history is somewhat abridged version of what transpired.

    Carl Wilhelm Kolbe (1759- 1835) was part of the German romantic tradition, defining nationhood amongst other things through landscape, nature and mythology. Beethoven's pastoral symphony was completed only 7 years later and I think has a similar love of his land and nature in this work. Kolbe attended the Berlin academy of Art and later taught himself printmaking and became the pre eminent etcher of his time specialising in idyllic landscapes that are highly detailed in appreciation of foliage.

    The Artwork: "I too was in Arcadia" shows two figures that are idealised in the landscape staring at the Momento Mori on a tomb that reminds us and them of our mortality. The foliage and vegetation are treated in a naturalised way that has a love of detail which Durer I think would have appreciated. This is one of twenty eight etchings completed by Kolbe that shows a fecund land, where the plants grow higher than the human inhabitants. Arcadia is a region in ancient Greece that symbolises a pastoral paradise where people lived a simple and untroubled life unhindered by greed and avarice

  4. Artist...Carl Wilhelm Kolbe
    Title..Et in Arcadia Ego / Auch ich war in Arkadien
    Date ...1801
    Where it is .. Copies in the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston./ The British Museum / Harvard Art Museum / Private Collections and Others.
    How I found it...I googled Adam and Eve, garden, lovers, jungle and many more words without success. I then took a closer look at the image, could see some letters on the stone object behind the figures, thought the sentence might be Et in Arcadia Ego which would fit , found the image and eventually all the details.
    About the picture:
    In some ways the financial situation of German artists in the early 19th century paralleled that of artists today. The Napoleonic wars had destroyed both the economy and the medieval structure of the Holy Roman Empire. The art market had crashed and artists had to find a new way of making a living ; prints were a way of making cheaper art works which could sell to a wider market.Some learnt how to make prints themselves, others employed Master printers to interpret their paintings in print form. Born in 1759, Carl Wilhelm Kolbe was a painter and writer, who taught himself printmaking and was regarded as the finest German etcher of his time. He trained in the Berlin Academy of Art where he was a pupil of Asmus Carstens, Johann Meil and Daniel Chodowiecki. He also had a degree in Philosophy, which goes a long way to explain the kind of work he made. The subject of a Paradise that cannot last is not uncommon in all the arts. ( Tom Stoppard`s play Arcadia comes to mind) Et in Arcadia Ego -Even in Arcadia there am I- the I referring to Death and Arcadia being a utopian land, is the subject of quite a number of art works. Kolbe`s etching shows a pair of lovers gently walking past a tomb with the words of the title carved into it, ( which Kolbe translated as" I too lived in Arcadia.") .The two figures are quietly absorbed in each other but are surrounded by giant plants which looks like they might overwhelm them at any moment . a visual reminder that none of us can escape Death.This visual symbol features in a lot of Kolbe`s work, often small beautifully drawn animals are almost hidden by the foliage all around them.
    Kolbe will feature in an exhibition entitled" Idyllic Arcadia, Landscape etchings by Carl Wilhelm Kolbe (1759-1835)' in the Kunsthalle, Bremen from the 14 Nov 2013 to 23 Feb 2014 and in "The Enchanted World of German Romantic Prints" in the Philadelphia Museum of Art now until Dec 15th 2013. He died in 1835, just when technical advances were making the printing of larger editions possible.


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