Creator of Lucky Compiler (, featuring interviews with eminent artists and photographers from across the world; It’s Quoted (, a tumblr blog dedicated exclusively to celebrate the power of words; Digital Filbert (, devoted to my musings about the world of web and beyond.


Anne Vallayer–Coster was one of rococo era’s most prominent artists who enjoyed patronage from French aristocratic families, including, the monarchy. She painted both portraits and genre scenes. However, she is most eulogised for her still life paintings. Sadly, her being a still life painter, howsoever noteworthy, caused many to disregard her art for a long period of time.

Anne Vallayer–Coster was born on December 21, 1744 in Bièvre into a family of goldsmiths. She took early training in art from a number of artists and her father. By the age of twenty six she was already a part of Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture. Anne lost her father at a young age and, together with her mother, worked hard to support her family. For a brief while she enjoyed the patronage of Marie Antoinette and was elevated to the rank of nobility through her marriage.

As the Reign of Terror ensued women’s role in society was dwarfed. Artists like Anne Vallayer–Coster were forced to put their career on the back burner due to lack of support. About a decade later, when she was sixty years old, Empress Josephine procured two works of art from Anne. But it came too late to be of any assistance to revive her career before her death on February 28, 1818.


Romanticising the city of London may not have been in everyone’s taste. One British water colourist, Samuel Prout, though begged to differ. Not only did he paint elaborate street scenes of the great city but in the process elevated water colour cityscapes to such work of art as comparable to J M W Turner’s landscapes.

Prout’s (September 17, 1783 – February 10, 1852) childhood was spent in Devon. Encouraged by his teacher at school, he used to spend long hours outdoors sketching the rustic surrounding and creating humble paintings of the beautiful landscape. Entering into his twenties, Prout moved to London. He used his artistic skills and created lithographs to earn his living. However, not until his trip to the continent in 1818 did he find his own vocabulary on canvas. He saw the marvels of ancient architecture painted exquisitely on canvas. This stirred his imagination and prompted him to follow the same. His romantic paintings received praise across Europe and back home he was honoured with the title of Painter in Water–Colours in Ordinary by subsequent monarchs. 

Prout’s sentimentalism with ancient and sometimes decaying architectural structures was not vapid. Instead, each of his brushstrokes thrived on the changing imageries of a place in the annals of time. He was a poet with a brush in hand intently listening to the whispers of a civilisation before translating them on to the canvas.

Now all the truth is out,
Be secret and take defeat
From any brazen throat,
For how can you compete,
Being honour bred, with one
Who, were it proved he lies,
Were neither shamed in his own
Nor in his neighbours’ eyes?
Bred to a harder thing
Than triumph, turn away
And like a laughing string
Whereon mad fingers play
Amid a place of stone,
Be secret and exult,
Because of all things known
That is most difficult.
William Butler Yeats (via itsquoted)


According to Giorgio Vasari Johan Gregor van der Schardt was a sculptor extraordinaire. Also known as Jan Gregor van der Schardt, the master sculptor produced elaborate bronze sculptures in line to Roman antiquity. The terracotta busts created by van der Schardt continue to enamour everyone more than four hundred years after they have been conceived. He also sculpted one of the first known self–portraits in terracotta for any sculptor.

Johan Gregor van der Schardt (circa 1530) was born in Nijmegen, the Netherlands. He soon travelled to Nuremberg leaving his birthplace behind never to return again. The sculptor entered the court of Emperor Maximilian II. His intricately sculpted pieces were much in demand and he continued moving from one place to another working on commissions. But the defining period of his career came when he visited and eventually settled in Rome for a considerable period of time. En route he went to Venice, Mantua and other places in Italy. However, being in Rome helped him to be in close proximity to the antique statues some of which he copied in miniature forms.

Beside Vasari other contemporary artists of van der Schardt were also unanimous in his praise. One of them was Daniele Barbaro, the famous architect, mathematician, philosopher and translator of Vitruvius’s treatise. In 1576, Johan Gregor van der Schardt moved to the royal court of Denmark. He continued working there and for a brief while in Nuremberg relentlessly till his death in circa 1591.


In one of his letters Anselm Feuerbach wrote, ‘Thank God! I have a pair of bright eyes in the head, leading directly to the heart, and so my impressions are as armed men directed by my heart…’. The leading classicist painter of 19th century Germany could not have been more honest. Feuerbach was born on September 12, 1829 in Speyer, one of the significant centres of culture and history on the Upper Rhine. He was the grandson of Paul Johann Anselm Ritter von Feuerbach, a renowned legal scholar and reformer of penal code system in Bavaria, son of classical scholar, philosopher and archaeologist Joseph Anselm Feuerbach and nephew of noted mathematician Karl Wilhelm Feuerbach. Feuerbach lost his mother before his first birthday and was brought up by his sister Emily and step–mother Henriette Feuerbach. Henriette Feuerbach was a talented musician and perhaps more importantly a lifelong promoter of Anselm Feuerbach’s work. Through her, Feuerbach came in close contact with Clara Schumann and Johannes Brahms

Feuerbach had the privilege of receiving art education from such artists as Wilhelm von Schadow, Carl Friedrich Lessing and Thomas Couture. His fondness of historical and mythical paintings also grew with his trips to Venice and Rome. Between 1860 and 1874, Feuerbach dedicated himself in painting several portraits following a classical style. The series titled Nanna, dedicated to his muse Anna Risi, was completed during this time. 

The artist split last few years of his life between Venice, Nuremberg and Vienna. He became critically ill after contacting pneumonia. This and a general lack of understanding of his contemplative paintings with grey undertones made him miserable. Sometime before his death on January 4, 1880 in Venice he wrote in a despondent tone, ‘I have become wiser and can see through a lot of illusions I had before. Neither can I convince the world in this short lifetime, nor can I be subservient to it.’ Brahms composed Nänie, a piece dedicated to Feuerbach’s memory. Henriette Feuerbach’s efforts, particularly, her book based on his letters and autobiographical notes made sure his legacy remain intact in people’s memory.


Henry B Goodwin (February 20, 1878 – September 11, 1931) was a noted scholar and linguist who acquired thorough knowledge of many Nordic languages including some obscure ones. But it is by demystifying the languages of subtle human emotions and capturing the beauty of mute flora with his camera he became famous.

Born as Heinrich Karl Hugo Bürgel in Germany, Goodwin moved to Sweden at the age of twenty five after the death of his father and landscape artist Hugo Bürgel. He took a position at the Uppsala University and changed his name to Henry Buergel Goodwin. A decade later as his academic career started stagnating, he decided to fully devote himself in exploring the possibilities of the world of photography. He started with learning the craft from Nicola Perscheid, the master portraist, before setting up his own studio in Sweden.

Though Henry B Goodwin is known more for his portrait and figure studies but he was an avid plant photographer, something not so common in those days. His vividly expressive photographs of gardens and flora not only provided a welcome change of subjects but were refreshing to even glance at any time of the day. His trips to Germany often afforded him new sources of inspirations and acquaintance with latest technologies. His ‘camera art’ created quite a stir in Sweden. Goodwin became one of the forerunners of pictorialism in Sweden and, before his life was cruelly cut short, rose to international prominence for his fine art photography. He believed that, ‘the picture should be a function of spiritual activity’, something he strove living up to through his art.

Spend few precious minutes with typographer and book designer Bram de Does.


The vividly expressive portraits that she relentlessly painted nearly all through her life earned Thérèse Schwartze much acclaim. Schwartze honed her skills at her father Johan Georg Schwartze’s studio since an early age. Though taught in a traditional Dutch school her paintings bear little trace of the conventionalities of the Low Countries. For, much of her time was spent in learning the nuances of French art on the advice of his dear friend and later husband Anton van Duyl.

Thérèse Schwartze (December 20, 1851 – December 23, 1918) spent most of her time in Amsterdam. She was supported by her sister Georgine, cousins and niece Lizzy Ansingh at her studio. The depth and vigour of her paintings not only earned her plaudits but she also became the first woman to receive the Order of Orange–Nassau. Besides, she became a regular portrait painter for the members of the royal family. King William III of the Netherlands awarded her the Great Gold Medal. Her popularity did not go down well with some and a handful of her colleagues were quite vicious in critiquing her work. This, however, had little or no impact on her reputation.

The death of her husband and mentor in 1918 was a severe blow to her. Her own health was showing signs of failing at the time. Deprived of the mental support and encouragement she was so in habit of receiving from van Duyl she succumbed to death only six months later. Lizzy Ansingh, an influential post–impressionist painter herself, became a flag bearer of her aunt’s legacy, Thérèse Schwartze. Ansingh co–established Thérèse Schwartze – Duyl foundation to support the needy artists of the region and also to keep the memories of her famous aunt alive.