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Bassano 101
Smoosh
catundra
I was looking up a Bronzino painting to show my father the other night and was reminded of one of my all time favourite artists Jacopo Bassano, a 16th century Italian artist during my quest.  I am not so fond of his paintings, they are pretty typical religious scenes on the whole and not that brilliantly executed comparatively speaking but I love his style.  Artists tend to have a signature by which their paintings can be identified and followers and members of their school tend to pick up on this too, making their influence obvious.  Usually it is a technique to depict flesh like Rubens, the use of colour like Constable or anatomy like Stubbs. 

In the case of Bassano it is this.  Bottoms.  Bassano was affectionately called "Butts Bassano" by my esteemed tutor at Sotheby's and for good reason.  Take a look at any of his works and you can see a full on bum or butt cheek facing you.  Human, horse, whatever, he wasn't fussy.  It was like he was taking a really badly laid out snapshot except of course he wasn't.  I sometimes wonder what kind of contemporary photographer he would have made.  Not a great one I bet.  Even better was that like all great artists his followers did exactly the same thing.  Nobody questioned his aesthetic judgement in showing so many rear views in a painting.  What a legacy.

So there you go, now you know how to spot a genuine Bassano painting or the work of one of his followers.  Just don't give away the trade secret when your audience is impressed. : )




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What about all those photos of you I've taken that you complained about? I now know that I can just point out that I'm a photographer in the Bassano School...

Mark Twain, in 'A Tramp Abroad' does a marvellous and lengthy critique of one of Bassano's paintings, describing how the painting's composition is obviously designed to draw the eye's attention to the luggage depicted in one corner of the work. But I don't recollect whether his commentary mentioned buttocks, so maybe it's not a Bassano original that he's describing.

Maybe he was just being polite. : ) Any idea which painting it was?

Twain refers to it as "Bassano's immortal 'Hair Trunk'," but later concedes that the title is actually 'Pope Alexander III, and the Doge Ziani, the Conqueror of the Emperor Frederick Barbarossa'. If you're curious, the relevant chapter can be found in its entirety by googling the phrase "Bassano's immortal Hair Trunk". He gives a very dry tongue-in-cheek description of the painting, which he reckons to be redeemed essentially by its depiction of the Trunk.

Just did a bit of research - this one is by Leandro Bassano who was working in the 17th century. This painting certainly contains no bottoms from the image I found. :) Not sure if they are related, possibly not as Bassano is a place in Italy and as you are probably aware many people were named after their place of birth. Well done on the association though!

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