1909, Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida (Spanish, 1863–1923), oil on canvas about 1632–34 , Frans Hals (Dutch, about 1582–1666), oil on canvas Using digital imaging tools, Museum staff recently identified the sitter in this portrait as Michiel de Wael, a prominent citizen of Haarlem who owned two breweries and served as commissioner of Petty Courts. Hals also painted De Wael in two portraits of civic guard companies— groups originally formed as militia that became primarily social clubs by the 17th century. about 1650, Frans Hals (Dutch, about 1582–1666), oil on canvas Hals is renowned for his fluid brushwork and ability to capture the character of his sitters. This painting depicts the husband of the woman in Hals’ Portrait of a Seated Woman Holding a Fan, also in the Taft collection. One of only two sets of Hals pendant portraits that survive together, these canvases are among Hals’s most engaging. Seated diagonally on chairs, their complementary positions strengthen the sense of substance. The artist’s sedate presentation and sober palette are relieved by the sitters’ brightly lit faces and hands and by the dashing brushwork describing the front of the woman’s dress and lace. about 1865–70, Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot (French, 1796–1875), Oil on canvas about 1650, Frans Hals (Dutch, about 1582–1666), oil on canvas Hals is renowned for his fluid brushwork and ability to capture the character of his sitters. This painting depicts the wife of the gentleman in Hals’ Portrait of a Seated Man Holding a Hat, also in the Taft collection. One of only two sets of Hals pendant portraits that survive together, these canvases are among Hals’s most engaging. Seated diagonally on chairs, their complementary positions strengthen the sense of substance. The artist’s sedate presentation and sober palette are relieved by the sitters’ brightly lit faces and hands and by the dashing brushwork describing the front of the woman’s dress and lace. 1809, Joseph Mallord William Turner (English, 1775–1851), oil on canvas 1863, Charles-François Daubigny (French, 1817–1875), oil on canvas Although he is considered an important member of the Barbizon school, Daubigny seldom went to Barbizon. He lived and worked in Paris and in the village of Auvers northwest of Paris on the Oise River. On a small houseboat that became his floating studio, he cruised the Seine and the Oise in search of motifs. Daubigny’s habit of working outdoors in order to accurately transcribe effects of light and atmosphere heralded the innovations of the Impressionists, particularly Claude Monet, who admired Daubigny. 1904, Henry F. Farny (American, 1847–1916), oil on canvas One of Cincinnati’s most celebrated painters, Farny specialized in depicting American Indians of the Plains region. The Tafts purchased this oil directly from the artist, reflecting their interest in supporting Cincinnati’s artists. Widely reproduced, it was remembered at Farny’s death as his masterpiece. Farny painted it in his studio using a model, sketches, and artifacts collected on trips to the West. Some seemingly authentic touches are less than accurate, such as the buffalo robe, which is a woman’s garment. Nonetheless, Farny’s image speaks eloquently of the conditions of its time, when free-ranging, independent cultures were being crowded into reservations. The Sioux hunter’s bewilderment as he presses his ear to the telegraph pole together with the wintry backdrop of setting sun, buffalo skull, and deer carcass slung across the horse suggest the devastating encroachment of European-American society on indigenous peoples. Joshua Reynolds (English, 1723–1792), oil on canvas Balthasar van der Ast, about 1640–45, oil on panel Van der Ast specialized in still lifes of flowers, fruit, and exotic shells. On this panel, he painted eight kinds of fruit in a Chinese porcelain bowl set in a basket, 32 flower species in a German green glass vase, 11 seashells, two lizards, three insects, two spiders hanging from webs, and a parrot perched on a branch. Many of the flowers originated in the Mediterranean and Asia Minor and were later cultivated in Holland. Dutch collectors avidly acquired shells imported from the East and West Indies. Dutch still lifes often functioned as reminders of mortality. The flowers may be beautiful and vibrant and the fruit fresh and plump, but they will soon succumb to the passage of time. about 1850 The first African American artist to achieve an international reputation, Robert Duncanson moved to Cincinnati after 1840 to embark on an artistic career. Nicholas Longworth (1782–1863), who owned Belmont, now the Taft Museum of Art, from 1829 to 1863, commissioned a suite of eight large landscape paintings from Duncanson to decorate the foyer of his home. The paintings are surrounded by trompe l’oeil (“fool the eye”) frames and accompanied by overdoor decorations of floral bouquets. Painted in the Hudson River School style characterized by Romantic views of virgin landscape, the imagined landscapes in the murals evoke the Ohio River Valley. 1858–59, James Abbott McNeill Whistler (American, 1834–1903), oil on canvas The “Piano Picture,” as the artist called this study of his half-sister and niece, is world-renowned as Whistler’s first masterpiece. This experiment in composition and color is held together by a grid of picture frames, moldings, and furniture. With its space curving inward at the edges, two parallel centers are created in the black-robed woman concentrating on her playing while her white-clad daughter gazes outward. An advocate of “art for art’s sake,” Whistler relieved the suggestion of confinement by emphasizing reflections in the glass of the pictures as well as on the piano legs and instrument case. about 1667, Pieter de Hooch (Dutch, 1629–1684), oil on canvas Paris, France, about 1260-80. Ivory with 19th-century silver crown One of the most important surviving medieval ivories, this statue was produced in Paris for the treasury of the Abbey Church of Saint-Denis, the birthplace of Gothic architecture and burial site of French kings. With her right knee bent to support the Christ Child, the Virgin’s pose reflects the shape of the elephant tusk from which it was carved. Originally this elegant sculpture was the centerpiece of a group including two standing angels and a smaller flying one. In 1811 following the French Revolution, this confiscated religious treasure was sold, and the Virgin’s original gold-and-jeweled crown and emerald brooch were lost. 1800, Francisco de Goya y Lucientes (Spanish, 1746–1827), oil on canvas Goya painted this portrait of the Spanish queen from life to use as a model for his famous group portrait The Family of Charles IV, now in the Prado Museum, Madrid. Since this portrait was originally a sketch, Goya painted only the queen and her immediate background and left the rest of the canvas exposed. In 1800 there were sharp distinctions between sketches and finished works of art, and in general sketches were not publicly exhibited. One of Goya’s studio assistants completed this sketch as a finished portrait by painting over the exposed canvas in the background and reworking the arms. Until recently, the painting was attributed to a follower of Goya. New research has confirmed that the painting is by the great master himself. about 1570–80, China, Ming dynasty (1368–1644), molded porcelain with silver-gilt mounts (Nuremberg, Germany, about 1600, with later additions) Rare Chinese porcelains were highly prized by European nobility, who commissioned precious metal mounts to protect their fragile edges. Enameled on fired unglazed clay with soft lead-silicate glazes, the fanciful ewer is molded as the mythical phoenix, an emblem of the Chinese empress and symbol of beauty. The silver-gilt oval foot mount is attributed to Friedrich Hillebrand (German, d. 1608), a prominent goldsmith from Nuremberg. The silver-gilt cover and stopper attached to a chain around the bird’s neck are later additions. 1887, John Singer Sargent (American, 1856–1925), oil on canvas A virtuoso among Edwardian artists, Sargent achieved international success as a painter of grand but provocative, graceful while casual portraits. Among the artist’s most innovative and psychologically insightful works, this somberly painted depiction of Stevenson, Scottish author of Treasure Island and other popular books, is seemingly a portrait without artifice. Sargent portrayed his friend informally and kept the bright colors of the wicker chair and busy texture of the rug away from his focal point to create a serene anchor in the composition. Stevenson holds a glowing cigarette in his brightly lit, expressive fingers that masterfully emphasize his intensity and intellect. Limoges, France, mid-16th century, Léonard Limosin (about 1506–1575/7), painted enamel and gilt on copper. François de Clèves (French, 1516–1562), commanding the German infantry in the service of King Henry II of France, rescued the French army at the 1557 battle of Saint-Quentin. Limosin stands apart among Limoges artists: he was an engraver, painter, and premier enameler. His painting skills are evident in this highly finished portrait. The shadings in the flesh tones, achieved by brushing light glazes over hardened white enamel, and lively ermine trim are masterfully executed. The frame is a 19th-century adaptation of originals found on Limosin’s other portraits. It features copies of grisaille enamel plaques, masks, and coats of arms. about 1855–60, Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot (French, 1796–1875), oil on canvas 1870–73, Jean-François Millet (French, 1814–1875), oil on canvas Millet was admired for his themes of agriculture and daily life among French peasants, rendered with great respect for their human dignity. Finished near the end of his life when Millet was in declining health, this painting is a meditation on his own mortality. He reinterprets the traditional pietà by placing the tightly bound body of the sleeping child on the mother’s lap as if to suggest the body of Christ lying across the Virgin Mary. In the upper left corner is a small household shrine with a crucifix, barely visible in the shadowy gloom. In contrast to the innocent face of her sleeping child, the mother’s unfixed stare is both tender and sorrowful. about 1772–74, Thomas Gainsborough (English, 1727–1788), oil on canvas about 1700, China, Qing dynasty (1644–1911), Kangxi reign (1662–1722), porcelain with famille verte enamels An outstanding object in the Taft collection, this vase is decorated with a scene of a kingfisher perched in a lotus pond executed with hard-edged translucent famille verte enamels. The enameling on this vase, particularly the overlapping layers used to depict the decaying lotus leaf, is technically innovative. Modeling with colored opaque enamels (famille rose) was not introduced until around 1720. Limoges, France, about 1550, Pierre Reymond (about 1513–after 1584), Grisaille enamel on copper and gilded metal This casket, or lockable box, may have been a wedding gift because its decoration symbolizes the purification of lust by marital love. On the front, the goddess Venus, who represents carnal love, and her son, Eros, are carried as prisoners in the virginal Diana’s chariot drawn by stags. The right cover panel depicts Venus naked with Eros between her legs—an erotic scene in contrast to the left one showing Diana with her stag. Because of a mistake in transferring this scene from the print source, Diana reclines along the curved upper edge, requiring that the plaque be mounted upside down. 1905, Lawrence Alma-Tadema (Dutch, 1836–1912), oil on panel about 1846–48, Jean-François Millet (French, 1814–1875), oil on canvas about 1750–95, China, Qing dynasty (1644–1911), Qianlong reign (1736–95), Incised porcelain with kingfisher-blue glaze Faenza, Italy, about 1520–30, Master of the Taft Orpheus (Italian, active about 1520–30), tin-glazed earthenware Limoges, France A bishop may have commissioned this triptych, or three-part devotional altarpiece, for a chapel in Limoges Cathedral. The center depicts Christ on the cross flanked by the crucified thieves. The Virgin Mary, St. John, and Mary Magdalene are in the left foreground. Typical of European religious scenes of this period, the skyline of Jerusalem includes French chateaux, and the figures wear 15th-century costumes. The artist’s nickname, “Monvaerni,” comes from the letters visible on the blade of the sword St. Catherine holds. about 1663, Jan Steen (Dutch, 1625/6–1679), oil on panel Steen was a specialist in genre, or scenes of everyday life. He stands apart from other painters by the satirical nature of his work. Here, a doctor in outdated costume and clumsy pose takes the pulse of a richly dressed young woman. Steen offers the diagnosis in the text on the floor: “No medicine is of use, for it is lovesickness.” Recent scholarship suggests that the young woman is suffering from a “wandering womb,” which could be cured only by sexual activity. With little subtlety, the artist poses the cure in the provocatively pointing bedwarmer at lower left and the bulbous lute hanging on the wall. The pungent odor of the ribbon burning in the brazier on the floor was intended to rouse the patient from her lethargic state. about 1656–57, Gerard ter Borch (Dutch, 1617–1681), oil on canvas about 1663–64, Meyndert Hobbema (Dutch, 1638–1709), oil on canvas 1633, Rembrandt van Rijn (Dutch, 1606–1669), oil on canvas During the 1630s, Rembrandt was the most successful portrait painter in Amsterdam. The subject of this portrait exudes an air of wealth and success. In the unusually active pose, the fashionable gentleman seems to be rising suddenly from his chair in response to a visitor. The animation of the figure is complemented by strong, sensitive modeling and a compelling sense of space. Rembrandt’s remarkable handling of light and shade are evident in the sitter’s lace collar and cuffs, hands, and face. about 1784, Thomas Gainsborough (English, 1727–1788), oil on canvas A master of portraiture, Gainsborough was a founding member of the Royal Academy in London. This double portrait of the Tomkinson cousins at about age 11 epitomizes the artist’s feathery late style. Dressed as refined, civilized young gentlemen, the youths are depicted as if resting during a stroll in the woods—a standard composition for Gainsborough’s outdoor portraits. Although the boys do not share a glance, they are linked compositionally like two branches of the same tree. This ambitious work is probably the picture that led to Gainsborough’s refusal to exhibit at the Royal Academy after his works were not hung to his satisfaction. 1821, Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (French, 1780–1867), oil on canvas The most important exponent of the neoclassical style in 19th-century French painting, Ingres spent 18 years abroad in Rome and Florence, Italy, where this demure, intimate half-length portrait of a young Swiss Calvinist woman was painted. This painting may have been commissioned to celebrate her engagement. The sitter is conservatively dressed, wearing fewer jewels and a less revealing costume than most of the other women painted by the artist. A close friend of the engaged couple’s families, Ingres was esteemed for his masterful draftsmanship and elegant lines, as seen in his treatment of her prominent crossed hands, gold chain, and white lace collar. 1877, Frank Duveneck (American, 1848–1919), oil on canvas One of the most important American realists of the 19th century, Duveneck was also an influential art teacher. Born in Covington, Kentucky, he studied in Munich, Germany, where he developed a bold, unpretentious style based on quick brushwork, strong light and dark contrasts, and raw yet picturesque subjects. This signature canvas is among his most accomplished Munich paintings. Duveneck has placed his liquid, energetic brushwork on a level of importance equal to his sympathetic portrayal of the subject. The boy’s dirty fingernails and the ash of his cigar are masterfully emphasized with bright, hard highlights. about 1865–70, Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot (French, 1796–1875), oil on canvas Living nearly 80 years, Corot was a central figure of 19th-century French landscape painting. Nonetheless, the Italian countryside was a motif that he returned to throughout his career. This view of Lake Garda near Riva is not a truthful depiction of the scene but the result of the artist’s imagination. While the Italian Alps are visible on the horizon, the focus of the composition is on the patterns of grizzled oak trees reflected with harmonious tones in the water. Corot distilled his sketches of this tranquil setting from the previous 30 years to create this scene of silent reverie. about 1840–50, Joseph Mallord William Turner (English, 1775–1851), oil on canvas Turner was the most renowned British 19th-century landscape painter. As his style matured, colored light and atmospheric movement became the true subjects of his paintings. Here, a story from Greek mythology is described with swaths of color suggesting land, sea, air, and figures. Zeus, who transformed himself into a white bull to seduce the princess Europa, is described by only a few strokes of the artist’s brush—a white blur carrying a vaguely defined figure out to sea. This canvas is almost certainly unfinished. Turner often took such sketchy pictures to the Royal Academy on the day before the opening of the annual exhibition and completed them there, transforming indefinite masses into more specific compositions. 1826, Richard Parkes Bonington (English, 1802–1828), oil on canvas Bonington can be considered a French as well as English artist. Although he was born and died in England, he trained in France. Rarely found in American museums, his paintings are esteemed for their soft brushstrokes, moist atmospheres, and muted colors. Small figures lead into this peaceful river scene set against a low horizon. The towers in the background may be those of the church of Notre Dame in Mantes-La-Jolie, a small city on the Seine between Rouen and Paris. This painting reflects early 19th-century nostalgia for the monuments of the medieval world and a taste for hushed rural scenery. France, about 1555, Design attributed to Philibert de l’Orme (French, 1505/10–1570), Execution attributed to Bernard Palissy (French, about 1510–about 1590), Inlaid and glazed white pottery This rare saltcellar probably was designed in Paris by Philibert de l’Orme, architect to King Henry II, who sent models to the potter Bernard Palissy in the small town of Saint-Porchaire in Poitou. The design combines classical, medieval, Renaissance, and Eastern motifs. The round receptacle on top is modeled on a Roman altar; the pedestal is decorated with Gothic windows; the boyish busts are typical of French Renaissance design; and the inlaid patterns of black clay come from Eastern designs found on book bindings.