Death and the Maiden. From Schubert to Schiele

“I feel myself the most unhappy and wretched man in the world,” confided Austrian composer Franz Schubert to his friend, artist Leopold Kupelwieser, in a letter dated March 31, 1824, as he was struggling with poor health, financial woes and lack of recognition. “Think of a man whose health can never be restored, and who…

Gyula Benczúr – Narcissus (1881)

We all know the story by now. Narcissus, a beautiful youth, sees his reflection in a pond and falls in love with his image. Yearning to touch the handsome face staring back at him, but realizing that he cannot, Narcissus pines away and dies. After death, in his place sprouts a flower bearing his name….

Of Chess and Art

Chess is a beautiful game. Like artists painting their worlds within the confines of a canvas, so do chess players build their vision within the square-format of their board.

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…

Julio Romero de Torres – Mystical and Profane Love (1908)

Part of the reason why art can often be so intimidating is the constant name-dropping and the unrelenting attempts to place each and every artwork within a given temporal, spatial and cultural framework. People should be able to enjoy art without thinking of the movement it belongs to, the various influences exerted over the artist…

Carpaccio – Preparation of Christ’s Tomb (1505)

Chances are you’ve probably heard of carpaccio – the Italian appetizer which consists of thinly sliced raw meat – but you might not know that the name was inspired by the Renaissance painter Vittore Carpaccio. According to anecdotes, when Giuseppe Cipriani – the owner of the renowned Venetian restaurant Harry’s Bar, frequented among others by…