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 has already begun to accumulate a sizeable cache of 1,000-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 think that, for 1,000-word pieces which give a broad and informed introduction to an artist or school, movement or genre, they may 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 in time the cache will gradually expand to cover everything on the A Level syllabus and more.
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!
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 naïve-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.
William Holman Hunt was the principal founder of the Pre-Raphaelite movement that he established when he was just 21 with artist-and-poet Dante Gabriel Rossetti, a movement which was subsequently joined by the likes of John Everett Millais and Thomas Woolner. It was a movement that was mirrored by contemporary writers including the polymaths John Ruskin and Thomas Carlyle, and essentially Holman Hunt and other artists simply sought to depict their take on truth, vividly colouring in a world where every detail could well be symbolic. Fundamentally the Pre-Raphaelite brotherhood harkened back to the religiousness, or at least the spirituality, of the medieval times before the Renaissance supposedly made everything rational and explained (or potentially explicable) by science. So, essentially, Holman Hunt and his fellow Pre-Raphaelites celebrated enduring mystery - seeing God’s hand in every aspect of creation and the world they observed around them. That included nature, beauty and love. But, actually, the artist’s initial fame came when he exhibited religious work.
Bessie Nakamara Sims (an indigenous / aboriginal Australian painter, draughtswoman and printmaker born circa 1932) is credited with the creation of the painting ‘Possum Dreaming’ (or ‘Janganpa Jukurrupa’) which is currently in the keep of Brighton and Hove Museums on the UK’s South coast. This piece should not be confused with another work, ‘Kangaroo, Cabbage, Ceremonial Speer (sic), Possum and Bush Carrot Dreaming’ which she co-created with her husband Paddy Japaljarri Sims (born circa 1916) and which is in the keep of the St Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art, Glasgow on the West coast of Scotland.
Born Vincent Willem van Gogh to a father - Theodorus van Gogh - who was a preacher and a mother - Anna Cornelia Carbentus - from a well-to-do family, Van Gogh has come to personify the archetypal misunderstood and underachieving artist. He had several different career-starts and managed to bungle all of them, wrecked his own health, was rarely happy with anything or anybody, was constantly broke and reliant on his little brother even for his art materials, supposedly only ever sold one painting of the thousands of artworks he created (and even then it was to a pal’s sister), and was so psychotic that he cut off his own ear then shot himself at the age of just 37.
Born Alessandro di Mariano di Vanni Filipepi, Sandro Botticelli was an Italian-born early Renaissance artist who may have acquired his professional surname on account of a flippant association with one of two brothers. One brother (Antonio) was apparently barrel-shaped (in Italian a barrel is a ‘botticello’) and another (Giovanni) was a goldsmith as was their father (in Italian a goldsmith is a ‘battigello’). However it isn’t clear which was the case. Moreover we’re not even sure about when Alessandro (shortened to Sandro, obviously) was born but 1445 seems likely and he had the good fortune to be born in Florence which was, at that time, Europe’s cultural capital (and therefore the world’s cultural capital).