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.
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).
Raphael (full name: Raffaello Sanzio da Urbin) was a master painter, printmaker and architect of the Italian High Renaissance - really the last notable artist of that era - and a so-called ‘mannerist’ who to this day is renowned for his expansive, calm, harmonious and serene compositions, his religious art, his idealised beauty and his sense of colour. As a Renaissance man he merged art, science, mathematics, biology, philosophy and more. And, in his time, was called ‘The Prince of Painters’.
Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn was a prolific multitalented artist and arguably not just the greatest that the Dutch ever produced (if we dismiss his contemporary Johannes Vermeer, which might be unfair), and quite possibly the greatest 17th century master, but one of the greatest talents that the world ever witnessed.
Henri-Émile-Benoît Matisse was a highly-influential French artist who is often mentioned in the same breath as his contemporary, lifelong friend and rival Pablo Picasso because of the impact that the duo made during the early 20th century.
Jan Van Eyck was an innovator, using oils instead of egg tempera, which until around 1500 was the way in which most artists could create fast-drying and long-lasting paint. So a century ahead of his time he was harnessing a ‘wet-on-wet’ approach with oils, one that was enhanced by multiple thin layers of translucent glaze too, in order to create detailed and realistic depictions in rich and deep colours. There is a myth that Van Eyck invented oil-painting. He didn’t. But he came close.
(Wilhelm Heinrich) Otto Dix was a German printmaker and painter who brutally portrayed Germany and its belligerent heritage during the period of the Weimar Republic. The Weimar Republic was the name adopted by the German state, so called because its constitution was drawn up at Weimar during the period 1918 to 1933. It ran, therefore, from the end of the First World (or ‘Great’) War to when Hitler’s Nazis rose to power and geared up to start the Second World War.
Pablo Picasso was a painter and sculptor, ceramicist and printmaker, set-designer, poet and playwright who is undoubtedly one of the most influential artists of the 20th century. He was responsible for sharing the honours in inventing modern art, cubism, symbolism, surrealism, collage and what is known as ‘constructed sculpture’ or ‘assemblage’. Yet he had exceptional skills as a traditional fine-artist, one who could paint realistically, skills that it is easy to overlook though they underpinned his credentials and inventiveness.
Born Eugène Henri Paul Gauguin in Paris to a relatively-privileged family, the artist was a painter, printmaker and writer who worked in wood, ceramics and stoneware. He travelled widely and painted in what were, in those times (and still are), exotic locations. This is significant in that the first commercial cameras were only sold when he was 40 (by the Eastman company) so he captured an era as nobody else could do. And this travel became part and parcel of his development of what is termed ‘primitivism’, art which accentuates body-parts in a way that is typical of totem-poles and similar in the Americas.
Sir Peter Paul Rubens, who rose to such prominence in his day that both Charles I of England and Philip IV of Spain knighted him although he was effectively German by birth, operated from what is modern-day Belgium.
The Italian genius Giovanni Bellini was recognised, during his lifetime, as one of the greatest artists of the Renaissance and an exponent who was particularly adept at capturing natural illumination by using soft, saturated and sumptuous colours. And, actually, that’s no mean feat to have achieved when one considers that his contemporaries included the likes of Raphael, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Titian and Sandro Botticelli.