Child Wearing a Red Scarf by Edouard Vuillard, c. 1891, The National Gallery of Art (US)

This is one of my favorite Vuillard pieces. It is not very big, but I just love the little girl. She seems so proud to be wearing that "grown-up" scarf  (reminds me of myself as a girl, always wanting to wear something beyond my years). Vuillard was interested in color and he and other like-minded art students (Pierre Bonnard was one) were influenced by Paul Gauguin's use of color and Symbolism and belonged to a group called Les Nabis.

Understanding Symbols

The Hunter (Catalan Landscape) by Joan Miro, 1923-24, MoMA, NYC.

Miro began his work as a painter doing portraits but soon found the work of artists like Picasso and the Surrealists with whom he socialized in Paris, to influence him to try other directions in his paintings. The Spanish Civil War drew his work into a political realm as his countrymen suffered at home. His career lasted well into the later part of the twentieth century, in fact a large tapestry he did for the World Trade Center was one of the most valuable pieces of art work that was destroyed on September 11, 2001. 

Figure 6 by Joan Miro, 1974, The World Trade Center (destroyed 9/11/01).

Hidden Meanings

The Ambassadors by Hans Holbein the Younger, 1533, The National Gallery, London.

Hans Holbein the Younger was born in Germany but spent most of his career in England as the court painter to Henry VIII. His work was strongly influenced by the Northern Renaissance painters like Jan van Eyck and Rogier van der Wyden. Their realistic style rendered in bright jewel tones, was his style, as well. This portrait of two men thought to be ambassadors to the English court from France, is filled with hints and puzzles about the men's lives, and even a message for we viewers. On the bottom of the piece in the center, you see a skull painted in Anamorphic perspective. It is seen only from particular angles and is thought be placed there to remind us all of our mortality.