Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Gerard de Lairesse

Cesare Ripa is a fascinating figure: Beyond the fact that he worked as a cook and butler little else is known of his life, and yet he somehow managed to publish a book in the early 17th C. that was a smash hit with writers, poets and artists for two hundred years.

It was called Iconologia, and was "based on Egyptian, Greek and Roman emblematical representations. The book was used by orators, artists and poets to give substance to qualities such as virtues, vices, passions, arts and sciences."

Dutch painter Gerard de Lairesse, like so many of his contemporaries, relied heavily upon Iconologia to develop the visual language for his paintings. Here is a huge file of his splendid trompe l'oeil work titled Allegory of the Sciences.

You're welcome!


  1. Absolutely incredible. I'm so glad he did manage to publish that book since he might otherwise have slipped into obscurity. I shudder to think at the Masters who have without any written record of their work. Thank you for sharing this, Alan!

  2. Indeed fabulous.
    My grisaille "hero" is Jacob de Wit, who was unless de Lairesse, specialised in grisailles. I've seen quite a bit of his works in the Amsterdam canalhouses and institutions and even when very close it is hard to tell the real paintings from plaster ornaments.
    Not much is written about him but Google Images shows quite a few works.

  3. What an absolutely fantastic blog you are doing!!!
    Merci beaucoup for all the great works and ideas you are sharing.

  4. He is a Belgian painter though