"La Gioconda was painted by a pupil or follower of the artist at the same time as the original. The importance of this discovery, which was made during the study and restoration of the painting at the Prado for its inclusion in the exhibition at the Louvre on Leonardo that opens on 29 March, lies in the fact that as a contemporary and perfectly preserved copy, it contributes important information on both the landscape background and on numerous details of the mysterious sitter. The latter include the shape of the chair, the ornamentation of the cloth covering her breast and the semi-transparent veil around her shoulders."
"Xu Jiang was born in Fujian province in 1955. [...] Since 2003, Xu Jiang's woks has focused on sunflowers. They relate to his experience living in the countryside of Fujian province as a middle school teacher. Xu Jiang once said sunflowers are not always facing the sun, but 'stands to one direction, where the sun rises.'"
"The town of Ascoli was under papal rule and in 1482 Pope Sixtus IV granted it a degree of self-government. [...] News of Ascoli's new status reached the town on the feast of the Annunciation on 25 March, which then became a special feast day when the town celebrated its liberty."
The crisp detail in this work makes it just pop. There is so much going on that the eye is constantly pulled away from the Annunciation scene, or more specifically, Mary. Her room tucked away in the corner is like a hidden treat to be discovered and rediscovered as you look at the painting.
Mary is calmly reading, so the scene would seem to occur in the instants before she addressed by Gabriel. It is interesting to think that we are seeing her right before her life changes forever.
(I love the National Gallery's website. I'm constantly discovering new treats. This page has audio of a historian talking about the food shown in the painting.)
Hiemstra's work is a treat for the eyes and the mind. I own the Marie print shown and never tire of gazing at it.
Her use of found objects to paint on is particularly fascinating to me. The idea of making something old (more) beautiful opens my eyes to a world of possibility everytime I visit a thrift shop or garage sale.
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