Johan Christian Dahl – View of Dresden by Moonlight (1839)

“Why has looking at the moon become so beneficiary, so soothing and so sublime?”, asked German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer in 1840. “Because the moon remains purely an object for contemplation, not of the will. […] Furthermore, the moon is sublime, and moves us sublimely because it stays aloof from all our earthly activities, it sees…

Charles Rennie Mackintosh – La Rue du Soleil, Port-Vendres (1926)

Impoverished after World War I and lacking commissions, Charles Rennie Mackintosh moved to Port-Vendres – a small port in southern France – to start anew. He had previously achieved success as an architect, even winning the competition to design the new Glasgow School of Art. Versatile in his talents, the Scotsman also designed furniture and…

Ivan Shishkin – Rain in an Oak Forest (1891)

Given the monikers “Forest Tsar”, “Old Pine Tree” and “Lonely Oak” by his contemporaries, Ivan Shishkin enchanted everyone with his meticulous eye for detail and with his extraordinary skill in grasping the beauty and simplicity of nature. His highly realistic landscapes – usually rendering forests – belong to a larger movement at the time, called…

Vincent van Gogh – Green Wheat Fields, Auvers (1890)

After having a severe nervous breakdown during which he cuts his own ear and being institutionalized in an asylum for a year, Dutch artist Vincent van Gogh moves to northern France, to Auvers-sur-Oise, to start afresh. He was hoping that his mental frailty was a consequence of the strong impressions and strident colors of Arles…

József Rippl-Rónai – A Park at Night (1892 – 1895)

After moving to Paris in 1888 and joining Les Nabis, a group of Post-impressionists that included Pierre Bonnard, Maurice Denis and Félix Vallotton, Hungarian painter József Rippl-Rónai’s art took a modern turn. Those years spent in Paris are known as his black period, for he painted numerous women set against dark backgrounds. Dating from his…

Piet Mondrian – Dune Landscape (1911)

By 1908, the Dutch avant-garde was gathering every summer in Domburg, a small resort in Zeeland, on the coast of the North Sea. Delighted to capture the light of the landscape, the young painters enthusiastically experimented with color and form, slowly rejecting realism and turning instead to the limitless potential of modern art. Among the…