Toyen, a Tale of War and Friendship

“In front of our house in the former Husova třída in Žižkov, usually at the time when workers from the Karlín factories were going home, I often encountered a strange but interesting girl,” recalls Czechoslovak Nobel prize-winner Jaroslav Seifert in his 1982 memoir All the Beauties of the World. At a time when women’s attire…

Tivadar Csontváry Kosztka – Castellammare di Stabia (1902)

Today his name is largely unknown outside of Hungary, but Tivadar Csontváry Kosztka was actually rather good at promoting himself. In fact, if he were still alive today, he’d probably write a self-help book based on his life: “How to be an Artist – the Long and Winding Road”. Here’s the blueprint: ~ Have your…

Samuel van Hoogstraten – Letter Board (1666 – 1678)

Letter Board or Letter Rack with Medal and Own Plays is one such trompe-l’oeil still life, completed between 1666 and 1678. The various objects are seemingly strapped to the board with red leather bands and many of them appear in other paintings as well. For starters, we have the gold medal with the effigy of Emperor Ferdinand III and the chain received as a gift, here adorned with a bow.

Arnold Böcklin – The Isle of the Dead III (1883)

At the beginning of the 20th century you could find a reproduction of The Isle of the Dead in almost every middle class household in Germany. Sigmund Freud certainly had one at his office. Even the Russians weren’t immune. Lenin was fascinated by it. After seeing a black-and-white reproduction of the artwork, Sergei Rachmaninoff composed…

Charles Hermans – Bal Masqué (1880)

Most people thought of Belgian artist Charles Hermans as a one-hit wonder after he took the 1875 Salon de Bruxelles by storm with his masterpiece At Dawn. The grand scale of the painting, traditionally reserved only for historical pieces, coupled with the realism and the social undertones, turned the painting into a huge hit and…