This self-portrait by Anna Bilińska-Bohdanowicz was painted in 1887. I love her soft, brushy paint application and the subdued, but not sombre, use of colour. The way she has caught her posture is very pleasing, situating her somewhere between repose and imminent action.
Born in 1857 in Warsaw, Bilińska travelled to Paris studying at the Académie Julian and participated in the Paris Salons many times.
Bilińska interests me because of the insight she manages to convey in her portraits and also, from a technical perspective, because a number of her painting are not highly finished, which gives a window onto her working technique. I enjoy how personal and sincere her paintings are and the contemplative atmosphere that they often have.
Catalan artist Ramon Casas was particularly known as a portraitist, but he was also an accomplished graphic designer and contributed to the development of modernisme in Barcelona and the wider Catalan region.
Casas's painted portraits are very different from Bilińska's. They are brighter, more joyful and his painting somehow has more self-confidence. I find they lack some of the psychology and depth of Bilińska work.
Casas studied for a short time with Carolus-Duran in Paris. In addition to portraits, he painted crowd scenes ranging from the audience at a bullfight, to the assembly for an execution to rioters in the Barcelona streets. Casas enjoyed considerable international prominence during his own lifetime.
I love this painting by American landscape painter William Wendt. Like all of his paintings, his use of colour here is so striking and luscious. The freshness of his handling, combined with that amazing colour gives an impression of the scene so vibrant that I almost feel I can breathe the air and feel the breeze on my face.
Born in 1865, Wendt was based in California and most of his paintings were mountain scenes, like this one. These often remind me of the views is the English Lake District, which I have great fondness for.
Ben Laughton Smith
Contemporary works of art in the classical tradition.