Painting no. 1
A) Islanders Fleeing the Wrath of Krakatoa (1771) by Thomas Gainsborough. Kunsthalle, Basel (Basel, Switzerland).
B) Dante’s Seventh Circle of Hell (1684) by Claude Lorrain. The National Gallery (London, UK).
C) End of Days (c. 1650s) by Jacob van Ruisdael. The J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles, CA).
D) Vesuvius in Eruption, with a View over the Islands in the Bay of Naples (c. 1776-1780) by Joseph Wright of Derby. The Tate Britain (London, UK).
Painting no. 2
A) Escape from the Zoo (1752) by Thomas Gainsborough. The Yale Center for British Art (New Haven, CT).
B) Lion on the Hunt (1789) by Hubert Robert. The Louvre (Paris, France).
C) Horse Attacked by a Lion (1764) by George Stubbs. The Tate Britain (London, UK).
D) Lunch (1526) by Titian. The Uffizi (Florence, Italy).
Painting no. 3
A) Village with Copse of Trees (c. 1630s) by Salomon van Ruisdael. The Rijksmuseum (Amsterdam, The Netherlands).
B) A Woody Landscape (c. 1665) by Meindert Hobbema. The National Gallery (London, UK).
C) Cottage in a Wood (1656-1658) by Jacob van Ruisdael. The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, NY).
D) Wooded Road (1756) by Thomas Gainsborough. The Holburne Museum (Bath, UK).
Painting no. 4
A) Journey up the Nile (1800) by Hubert Robert. Museum of Grenoble (Grenoble, France).
B) Capriccio with Pyramid (c. 1780) by Francesco Guardi. Sforza Castle Museum (Milan, Italy).
C) The Pont de Bruchalezzo (1734-1735; 1737) by Canaletto. The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (Boston, MA).
D) Santa Croce Canal (1751) by Giovanni Paolo Panini. Gallerie dell’Accademia (Venice Italy).
Painting no. 5
A) The Foundry (1645) by Georges de La Tour. Kimbell Art Museum (Fort Worth, TX).
B) The Blacksmith’s Shop (1771) by Joseph Wright of Derby. Derby Museum and Art Gallery (Derby, UK).
C) The Swordsmith (1834) by Jean-Léon Gérôme. The Cleveland Museum of Art (Cleveland, OH).
D) Smithy (1765) by Joshua Reynolds. The Royal Collection (Windsor, UK).
Okay, let’s tally up your score:
Painting no. 1: Pre-Romantic Italianate landscape. Dramatic lighting. Volcano. Vesuvius, specifically. The Bay of Naples. A poetic moon. We can comfortably rule out Baroque players Claude Lorrain and Jacob van Ruisdael. And we know Gainsborough painted the English countryside (Suffolk in particular). So who is it? Probably the dude who was obsessed with painting Italian caverns and volcanoes. It’s a Joseph Wright of Derby, y’all!
Painting no. 2: I am not even going to get into why the others are wrong. You know one painter on our list so far is all about animals. This painting is Romantic. It’s British. The animals have an anthropomorphic thing goin’ on. Look at the fear and pain in that horse’s eyes. George Stubbs, come on down!
Painting no. 3: Aerial angle. Linear perspective. Building a couple hundred feet off. Little figures heading down a road. Puffy white clouds. And get a load of that squiggly-as-can-be Lorax tree next to the cottage. Could it be? Yes, it’s our dear friend, Meindert Hobbema!
I know, this one was hard. How can we rule out the other guys? Salomon van Ruisdael wouldn’t have used linear perspective. Jacob would have thrown in some combo of dead, “blasted” trees, some more menacing clouds, and a little more man-against-nature drama. And Gainsborough would have used brighter greens and warmer browns, with thinner paint and broader strokes. Having said all that, the second-best answer would have been an early Gainsborough, as he was certainly inspired by Hobbema. So if you went with D, don’t beat yourself up about it.
Painting no. 4: Okay, this one was a bit of a stretch too, but it is gettable, based on what you know. First of all, this painting is a capriccio. It has Venetian gondoliers navigating their way past a pyramid! You know who didn’t paint capricci? Canaletto! So I don’t care if there’s a gondola in there. Canaletto can get lost! (And the paint style is clear as mud – not Canaletto at all.) What about Panini and Robert? Those guys painted capriccios. Those guys painted sun-drenched ruins. Well, it’s not Panini, because Panini was the Canaletto of Rome. He didn’t go for gondolas! How about Robert? Robert, of all the painters so far, is a reasonable answer. But is this work “about” the architecture? Not really. There are certainly ruins in it, but the gondoliers are given equal weight. And how about that painting style? It is dirty. Lived-in. Robert’s scenes have a gaiety to them. As we’ve discussed, if you “zoom in” on a Robert, you might get the Fête galante of a Fragonard. People strutting around in nice clothes, not usually doin’ a whole lotta work. And again, Robert was trained in Rome, not Venice. So who is it? Well, either you got it, or now you know by process of elimination. It’s Francesco Guardi, whom we know from his affinity for Venice, the lived-in, slightly sketchier/impressionistic nature of his work, his dark colors, and of course, his love of the capriccio.
If the above explanation sounds a little too technical, just try using Occam’s Razor, and don’t worry about all the little details like who trained where first. Just look at the painting and know that it’s of some kind of imaginary Venice. Think about whom we know who is associated with Venice. 1. Canaletto and 2. Guardi. In that order. You know it’s an imaginary Venice, so you go with the latter.
Painting no. 5: This is like painting no. 2. You know there’s one painter who loves painting genre scenes of guys in a dark room doing science-y things lit by a single dramatic artificial light source, often with a pre-Romantic moon seen through a window. You can see the overt use of tenebrism at the darkened edges of the frame. You may remember that Georges de La Tour painted scenes with a single light source sometimes, but those lights were candles. In religious scenes. Nothing like this. So who is it? It’s Joseph Wright of Derby. Again. Because he’s that good, people.
How did you do? If you got more than 3, you get a free toaster!*
* Not a real offer.