Ours has become a successful company because we manufacture picture frames for lots of great art. And, in the process, we have naturally developed not only a love for the framing process but for the fascinating and well-executed work that customers continually bring to us to frame.
This commercial success means that, as a mature business, we can afford to give a little back to the art-lovers who are the mainstay of our client-base, art-appreciators who share our enthusiasm. No we're not quite as affluent as the Medici family, so we cannot sponsor the 21st century equivalent of Sandro Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni. But we can manage a bit of patronage and philanthropy when it comes to youngsters. So on this site you will find an already-substantial resource, one that grows all the time, which you are welcome to utilise entirely free of charge.
We are well aware that, in recent years, British schools came very close to losing History of Art at A Level from the curriculum. Yet the course and qualification have been salvaged by Pearson Edexcel, the UK's only privately-owned exam board though it is the biggest too. And, anyway, there are lots of universities out there - in the UK and overseas - where undergraduates and even post-graduates are studying the subject or something related to it.
EasyFrame is far from alone in feeling that it would be a sad day indeed if an understanding of what constitutes great art, and how it came into being, was not valued. So, although we were too slow off the mark to join the public campaign to keep the History of Art A Level on the curriculum, we're delighted now to feel that we can do our bit to ensure that it's never threatened again. So our resources are there for students and pupils. Though their teachers and lecturers may well find them invaluable too!
Having said that, it's not just about exams is it? There are many of us with an artistic bent, or just an honest-to-goodness enthusiasm, who simply wish to know more about art because we love it. We want to know the provenance of each piece, what inspired the artist, about the genre, the materials used, the circumstances and the school. We'd like to know about the artist's background, what made them different, in part because we understand that very often the work itself is only a projection of the more complex and quirky creative individual behind it. We can know them, perhaps, through the prism of their work.
That sort of information, and an intelligent interpretation of it, is useful to gallery-owners, curators, critics and art-lovers in the broader sense. Indeed it's useful for anyone who wants to bring themselves up-to-speed on an individual or a movement. Either for a purpose or just for the sheer hell of knowing more!
This website already has a sizeable cache of 1,000-2,500-word articles on fine artists. We've used an experienced academic - Paul Dunwell - who has sourced fascinating detail from a swathe of reliable locations, and then put his own interpretation on that agglomeration of information, so the articles stand up well to scrutiny.
How good are these articles? Well we believe that these are pieces which give a broad and informed introduction to an artist or school, movement or genre, and - for their length - they may well be the very best out there. So we think they're a great go-to resource. The hyperlinks below will take you to just some of our pieces. But there are many more on this site for you to explore. Importantly the cache now covers everything on the A Level syllabus and more (including artists such as Turner and Banksy, Blake and Lowry, Freud and Hockney).
We should also emphasise that, mindful of ethics, EasyFrame is happy for visitors to strip out information, paraphrase and otherwise assimilate our materials when writing pieces. We are similarly happy to waive our copyright protection and intellectual property rights for that purpose. But nobody should copy ad verbum i.e. plagiarise the pieces because we defend academic integrity. It's also worth students and pupils realising that their own teachers and lecturers may well come here too when preparing lessons and notes. So anything that is simply cribbed will probably be spotted!
Hokusai Katsushika's limited-colour woodblock print 'The Great Wave Off Kanaguwa' (also known as 'Under the Wave Off Kanaguwa' and 'Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji - The Great Wave' as well as 'The Great Wave' and simply 'The Wave') is an iconic masterpiece, one of the most famous works ever executed, an impressionist tour-de-force that conveys the menace of a claw-like rogue wave near modern-day Yokohama in Sagami Bay and with Mount Fuji some 50 miles away in the background. Its subject, and the peril to which the three oshiokuri-bune crews are subjected, renders it timeless. Indeed the peak of the mountain is associated with eternal life and that surely contrasts starkly with the life-expectancy of fishermen such as these.
The work 'Wintry Trees' is a colourless 90.5 x 31 cm (35 x i12 inches) ink-on-paper hanging scroll, featuring an idealised and harmonious unpopulated mountain-and-water landscape on an overcast winter's day during the Ming dynasty. (Incidentally 'Ming' means 'bringer of light and certainly these were quite enlightened times.) Yet its execution was very much reminiscent in the style of a predecessor from half a millennium earlier, Li Cheng (919-967) who was an exponent during the so-called 'Later Liang' dynasty.
The work 'Night Attack on the Sanjo Palace' is a massive 45.9 x 774.5 cm (16 inches x 22 feet) Japanese handscroll (or 'emaki') created with ink and colour on paper. It's an action-packed and arguably-pornographic narration of a complex series of events that is designed to be viewed from right to left. But ordinarily one would look at just one section of a handscroll at a time, not all of it. The artist is unknown.
The work 'Akarbarnama: Mines Exploding During the Siege of Chitor' is a 1009mm x 4150mm watercolour painting executed within the Indian subcontinent (so in modern-day Pakistan and India) during the Akbar period of the Mogul Empire by the artist Sarwan though the composition is attributed to Miskina. Although it was apparently created in the early 1590s, it depicts an imagined aerial or bird's-eye view of an event that had actually occurred a quarter of a century earlier in 1567. Be aware that this work is often confused with a corresponding work of the same dimensions that depicts the work of military engineers during the same siege. They were on opposite pages. Sometimes they are collectively viewed as being the same piece.
The work 'Fire' is the 2nd panel of 15 so-called 'Hiroshima Panels' created between 1948 and 1982 by husband-and-wife team Iri (a Chinese-ink painter) and Toshi (an oil-painter) Maruki, after they'd witnessed the aftermath of the atomic blast at Hiroshima in 1945.
The work 'Zebra' was painted in opaque watercolour and gold on paper in 1621 during the Mogul Empire. It is a miniature, being just 18.3cm x 24cm, and may well have been the last miniature that the artist executed. It is attributed to Ustad Mansur, with 'Ustad' being a complimentary title meaning 'Master' and acknowledging his status. But it didn't stop there because such was the artist's eminence that Mansur was accorded, during his lifetime, the title 'Nadir al-'Asr' or 'Wonder of the Age'. Today that would be the equivalent of calling him 'a national treasure'.
The work 'Chairman Mao en route to Anyuan' was painted in oils on canvas by Lui Chunhia (please note that he is also known as Liu Chenghua, Chunhua and Cunhia), a youthful member of the radically communist Red Guard, more than half a century after Mao Zedong (the founder of the Chinese Communist Party, also known as Mao Tse-tung) led a peaceful miner's and railway worker's strike during 1922 in the Anyuan region (in the South of China, a little North of Hong Kong). Ultimately many of those workers joined his Red Army and set up the state we know in 1949
The work 'Self Portrait Along the Borderline Between Mexico and the USA', by a largely-self-taught naive-folk-art-cum-surrealist painter who was in every sense unconventional, features the artist at 25 as she straddles the threshold betwixt two contrasting worlds (that of the agrarian Mexico from which she came and the industrial North America on which she felt her commercial career depended).
'The Inevitable' is a 9-part ink drawing that was described by the Tate Modern, when it mounted an exhibition of Ibrahim el-Salahi's work back in 2013 as the first ever retrospective of any African artist, as being evidence of 'a new Sudanese visual vocabulary, which arose from his own pioneering integration of Islamic, African, Arab and Western artistic traditions'. But the hyperbole apart, the story of how Ibrahim el-Salahi came to develop his unique contribution to art is truly fascinating on a human level because the horrendous circumstances in which he conceived this work explain both the subject-matter and the style-of-execution he employed.
'Shah-Jahan receives his three eldest sons and Asaf Khan during his accession ceremonies on 8th March 1628' is a 30.6 x 21.3 cm illustration within a 58.4 x 37.0 cm page for the 'Padshahnama' (or 'Book of Emperors') which was commissioned by the Mogul Emperor Shah-Jahan as a piece of propaganda to celebrate his reign (over what is the modern-day Indian subcontinent and beyond) as it drew to a close. This initial panel, which now hangs in Windsor Castle's Royal Library, was painted in 1656 to 1657 by Bichtr. We'll examine the illustration, drawing on what The Royal Collection Trust tells us about what it depicts. Yet we will do so in the broader context of its execution and, in doing so, complement the information which is readily had from the owners and exhibitors.