Artwork of the Week

Artwork of the Week is a series of weekly emails we send of public domain art pieces curated by our team for you. Handpicked by PosterFactory these artworks are specifically chosen to print on our premium papers to produce stunning art prints with exceptional image reproduction.

Taking to the Air and Sea to Study Ocean Eddies - NASA
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Celebrate International Space Exploration Day with this stunning image from NASA. Using scientific instruments aboard a self-propelled ocean glider and several aeroplanes, this NASA mission will deploy a suite of water- and air-borne instruments to show what’s happening just below the ocean’s surface. The full-fledged field campaign will begin in October 2021, with the aircraft based out of NASA’s Ames Research Center.

NASA hopes to learn more about small-scale movements of ocean water, such as eddies. These whirlpools span about 6.2 miles or ten kilometres, slowly moving ocean water in a swirling pattern. Scientists think that these eddies play an essential role in transferring heat from the surface to the ocean layers below and vice versa. The eddies may play a role in the exchange of heat, gases and nutrients between the ocean and Earth’s atmosphere. Understanding these small-scale eddies will help scientists better understand how Earth’s oceans slow down global climate change.

In this image, sub-mesoscale ocean dynamics, like eddies and small currents, are responsible for the swirling pattern of these phytoplankton blooms (shown in green and light blue) in the South Atlantic Ocean on Jan. 5, 2021.

Since the dawn of the Space Age, NASA has produced some of the most iconic images in history. Perhaps the most famous is the one that Bill Anders took of Earthrise over the lunar surface — on Christmas Eve, 1968. While NASA astronauts have a unique opportunity to take literally ‘out of this world’ photographs, the agency’s on-the-ground professional photographers also have contributed to a record of images that never cease to inspire awe and wonder. We will be sharing some more of these with you in the coming weeks and months.

Peter de Wint - A Wooded River Landscape
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Peter de Wint (1784-1849) was devoted to the English countryside and painted landscapes around Lincoln, where his wife’s parents lived. Although known for his broad washes of colour, texture, depth and detail, A Wooded River Landscape is a far more minimalist, tonal painting with sparing use of colour.

We find no blue in the sky and see semi-bare branches (possibly Silver Berch) bent, gnarled, and shaped by the changing seasons, strong winds and harsh winters. But for now, the water is still, reflecting the trees with an almost perfect mirror. There are two cave entrances in the centre — with steps up to each of them — drawing our eyes in and creating a focal point.

Peter de Wint was an English landscape painter. He was the son of an English physician of Dutch descent who had come to England from New York. De Wint painted in oils but is remembered today as one of England’s foremost watercolourists.

De Wint first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1807 and the following year at the Gallery of Associated Artists in Watercolours. He entered the Royal Academy Schools in 1809. He was elected an Associate of the Old Watercolour Society in 1810 and was made a full member the following year.

A Sunday on La Grande Jatte - Georges Seura
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Considered to be Georges Seurat’s most significant work, A Sunday on La Grande Jatte caused a great scandal when first exhibited in Paris. The composition was unlike anything that had come before it. As a study of colour, light and form, it’s regarded as one of the most notable paintings of the nineteenth century.

Inspired by his research into optical and colour theory, Seurat creates texture, shading and contrast with tiny dots and dabs of colour. Take a moment to zoom in on the image in this email and look for yourself at the thousands of tiny dashes of colour that create the soft, almost dream-like shades and shadows. It’s incredible to view up close, then stand back and look once more at the painting in its entirety.

Seurat surrounded the canvas with a frame of painted dashes and dots that created a direct contrast and then placed the painting within a white wooden frame to increase the intensity further.

Georges Seurat was one of the pioneers of Divisionism, or Pointillism. It’s a neo-Impressionist technique approach using a softly flickering surface of small dots or strokes of colour, such as we pointed out in this work.

Seurat became one of the most famous and celebrated artists on the Parisian avant-garde scene. Sadly, his success was short-lived, as he died at just 31 — and after only ten years of professional artistic life. Nevertheless, he is credited with influencing and inspiring artists, including Van Gogh, and movements like the Italian Futurists.

Edouard Monet Boating
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Manet spent his summers at Gennevilliers — often with Monet and Renoir — across the Seine at Argenteuil. It was there, in the summer of 1874, that he painted Boating. The work has a light touch and draws on Japanese influences — particularly in the distinctive, stylised diagonal strokes on the canvas. It is thought to feature Manet’s brother-in-law, Rodolphe Leenhoff, and an unknown woman.

The male boater wears the white top and trousers of the Tony Cercle Nautique boating club, which is based in Asnières. But it’s the complementary colours and textures of the woman’s dress and the water in the foreground that really stand out — showcasing Manet’s mastery of colour and shade to the full.

Edouard Manet was born in France in 1832. He was one of the first artists to paint ‘modern life’ and an influential figure in the artistic shift from realism to impressionism. Manet was brought up in an upper-class household, but led a bohemian life — causing frequent scandals amongst refined French society.

Manet has long been associated with the Impressionists; he was undoubtedly a significant influence on them and learned much from them himself. But recently, critics have acknowledged he also studied and applied techniques from French realism and naturalism as well as 17th-century Spanish painting.

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This image of South Australia was taken from the Space Shuttle on February 15, 2000. The lightest section of the image is Lake Torrens, a large ephemeral salt lake. Notable as an endorheic lake (one that doesn’t normally drain into a sea or ocean), Lake Torrens flows out through the Pirie-Torrens corridor to the Spencer Gulf only after extreme rainfall.

It’s interesting to note that Australia has the largest concentration of endorheic basins and lakes on Earth — and that around 18% of the earth’s land drains to endorheic lakes or sea.

Since the dawn of the Space Age, NASA has produced some of the most iconic images in history. Perhaps the most famous is the one that Bill Anders took of Earthrise over the lunar surface — on Christmas Eve, 1968. While NASA astronauts have a unique opportunity to take literally ‘out of this world’ photographs, the agency’s on-the-ground professional photographers also have contributed to a record of images that never cease to inspire awe and wonder.

We will be sharing some more of these with you in the coming weeks and months.

Water Lily Pond - Claude Monet
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In 1893 Monet bought a plot of land next to his house in Giverny. He wanted to create a water garden ‘both for the pleasure of the eye and for the purpose of having subjects to paint’. Monet enlarged the existing pond, filling it with water lilies, and built a humpback bridge at one end, inspired by Japanese prints. The water garden became the main obsession of Monet’s later career, and the subject of some 250 paintings.

Here, the bridge spans the width of the canvas but is cut off at the edges so that it seems to float unanchored above the water, its shape reflected in a dark arc at the bottom of the picture. The perspective seems to shift; it is as though we are looking up at the bridge but down on the water lilies floating towards the distance.

Claude Monet was the leader of the French Impressionist movement. Interested in painting in the open air and capturing natural light, Monet would later bring the technique to one of its most famous pinnacles with his series of paintings, in which his observations of the same subject, viewed at various times of the day, were captured in numerous sequences.

Masterful as a colourist and painter of light and atmosphere, his later work often achieved a remarkable degree of abstraction. This has recommended him to subsequent generations of abstract painters.

Valley with Fir - Henri-Edmond Cross
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Valley with Fir is an example of Neoimpressionist painting. Neoimpressionism was a very short-lived European art movement that focused on using separate touches of interwoven and contrasting pigments to create vibrant paintings. It was stricter and more formal than impressionism.

Neoimpressionism, with its tiny, thin visible brushstrokes, was championed by French painters including Henri-Edmond Cross, who saw it as a new way of depicting shadow and light — as is the case with Valley with Fir. It’s often referred to — incorrectly — as pointillism and is said by some art historians to be the first true avant-garde painting movement.

Henri-Edmond Cross was one of the most acclaimed Neoimpressionist artists. He was born Henri-Edmond-Joseph Delacroix in France in 1856 and is widely recognised as playing a pivotal role in nearly modernist painting. Cross took Neopressionism in a new direction — encouraging greater colour intensity and more dreamlike, poetic works.

Fishing Boats, Key West - Winslow Homer
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Few of Homer’s watercolour paintings can match this one for its beautiful recreation of shimmering sunlight captured on the water — and the play between sunlight and shadow.

The painting is also remarkable for using pencil lines to create the sails and rigging and to give a sense of their movement in a very gentle sea breeze. Although the figures are not visible or depicted in great detail, you can get the feel of them calling to each other between the boats.

When you sit and watch the sea — particularly when there’s a light wind — the patterns and reflections change so quickly and in a seemingly random way. Homer captures these fleeting moments, like staccato notes in a score, with an effortless ease that belies his incredible skill.

Winslow Homer was an American landscape painter and printmaker, best known for his marine subjects. He is considered one of the foremost painters in 19th-century America and a preeminent figure in American art.

Largely self-taught, Homer began his career working as a commercial illustrator. He subsequently took up oil painting and produced major studio works characterised by the weight and density he exploited from the medium.

Still Life - Ben Benn
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Still Life paintings have been consistently popular since the 16th Century. They’ve held our interest for so long as they make us look at everyday objects in new ways — and find new meaning in them. They’re also an excellent way to learn about the culture, morality, material wealth and artistic movements that have defined society through history.

As a painter in the Cubist tradition, Ben Benn creates a wonderful geometric study of the fruit, jug, glass and cloth. Take a moment to look at the clever shading and reflections on the table, the red chair with a checked tea towel and the window that gives us a glance into a world beyond the room.

Ben Benn was Russian-born American still life and landscape painter. He was part of the first generation of American artists to be inspired and influenced by Cubism. Throughout his career, Benn fluctuated between abstract and figuration — never settling on one or the other. His approach was highly influenced by Cezanne and Cubism, but his composition was always guided by a love of the world around him and an intuitive feeling for geometry and colour.

Mont Sainte-Victoire and the Viaduct of the Arc River Valley
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Cézanne loved his hometown of Aix in Provence, France, and would have known Mont Saint-Victoire and the Arc River valley from his earliest childhood.

He brings the scene to life with subtle tones and shades that lead our eyes far into the distance and towards the skyline — almost in the tradition of romantic paintings. Yet the patchwork of fields, the road and the viaduct add an almost geometric quality and add a touch of realism. They cut across what would otherwise be a pastoral scene — reminding us of nearly a century of industrialisation that preceded this painting and the in-roads it had made even to rural regions of South-East France.

Porch of Madonna - Joseph Mallord William Turner
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Turner’s painting is a romance — in the truest sense of the word. It’s not an accurate depiction of Venice (although he had the skills to paint it exactly to proportion if he’d chosen to do so). It’s an impression of a city that he loved and returned to three times during his life.

Venice from the Porch of Madonna della Salute shows Turner’s skills as a maritime artist, and his ability to blend, shade, and unite water and sky. If you look towards the horizon, you’ll see the green shades of the lagoon give way to the same blues in the sky — just as you might in the real world. It’s this detail, precision and understanding of nature that makes Turner one of our most beloved and accessible artists.

JMW Turner was an English romantic painter who created an immense body of work. A child prodigy, during his life Turner completed 550 oil paintings, 200 watercolours, and 30,000 works on paper. Turner was an incredibly private person who never lost his cockney accent and did his best to avoid publicity.

Still Life with Teapot and Fruit - Paul Gauguin
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A post-impressionist, Gauguin loved Cézanne’s work. One of his most treasured possessions was Cézanne’s painting of the same name, from which he draws inspiration for this work. Gauguin switched out lemons for mangos (perhaps alluding to his trips to Tahiti) and added a figure in the background — plus a distant view behind them too.

Maybe the addition of yellow flowers also symbolises his friendship with Van Gogh? These extra dimensions invite us to look beyond the table of fruit and consider how the painting (and the artist) interacts with the outside world.

Gauguin was a French Post-Impressionist. He achieved fame after his death, and his art is known for its experimental colours. Gaugin’s work influenced artists including Picasso and Matisse, and he was also an important figure in the symbolist movement — not just as a painter, but a sculptor, ceramist and writer. Gauguin also influenced the primitive and pastoral movements.

Allée of Chestnut Trees - Alfred Sisley
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Allée of Chestnut Trees captures a peaceful summer’s afternoon in France — the shadows are short, there’s blossom in the trees, and calm in the air. Maybe you can hear the slow click of the horse’s hooves or soft the rattle of the carriage on the riverside path?

Sisely’s ability to add great detail to the very closest trees and then gradually soften the background creates a wonderful depth — and we almost squint to see the distant bridge. Allée of Chestnut Trees also reveals the influence that painters Monet, Pissarro and Renoir had on Sisley — and confirms his place as one of the masters of the impressionist movement.

Many critics consider Sisley to be unequalled amongst impressionists for his depiction of dramatic and impressive skylines. He is also one of the few artists within the movement to paint outdoors rather than in a studio.

Irisies (Original) - Vincent van Gogh
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Those Who Go captures the rush of urban life. Created in the Futurist style, it forces us to confront a new century filled with heavy industry and seemingly unstoppable energy.

Futurists were obsessed with leaving the past behind, so a railway station — packed with fast, powerful steam trains and people in transit — is the perfect metaphor.

Boccioni would go on to create a colour version in oil. But we love this earlier monochrome concept; those powerful sweeping lines conveying the confusion felt by everyone on the platform — passengers in every sense of the word — as they hurtle towards an unrecognisable future.

Irisies (Restored) - Vincent van Gogh
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The Street Pavers - Umberto Boccioni
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Those Who Go captures the rush of urban life. Created in the Futurist style, it forces us to confront a new century filled with heavy industry and seemingly unstoppable energy.

Futurists were obsessed with leaving the past behind, so a railway station — packed with fast, powerful steam trains and people in transit — is the perfect metaphor.

Boccioni would go on to create a colour version in oil. But we love this earlier monochrome concept; those powerful sweeping lines conveying the confusion felt by everyone on the platform — passengers in every sense of the word — as they hurtle towards an unrecognisable future.

Early Morning near Loch Katrine in the Trossachs, Scotland - John Glover
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Those Who Go captures the rush of urban life. Created in the Futurist style, it forces us to confront a new century filled with heavy industry and seemingly unstoppable energy.

Futurists were obsessed with leaving the past behind, so a railway station — packed with fast, powerful steam trains and people in transit — is the perfect metaphor.

Boccioni would go on to create a colour version in oil. But we love this earlier monochrome concept; those powerful sweeping lines conveying the confusion felt by everyone on the platform — passengers in every sense of the word — as they hurtle towards an unrecognisable future.

States of Mind: Those Who Go - Umberto Boccioni
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Those Who Go captures the rush of urban life. Created in the Futurist style, it forces us to confront a new century filled with heavy industry and seemingly unstoppable energy.

Futurists were obsessed with leaving the past behind, so a railway station — packed with fast, powerful steam trains and people in transit — is the perfect metaphor.

Boccioni would go on to create a colour version in oil. But we love this earlier monochrome concept; those powerful sweeping lines conveying the confusion felt by everyone on the platform — passengers in every sense of the word — as they hurtle towards an unrecognisable future.

Mäda Primavesi - Gustav Klimt
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Mäda Primavesi was immortalised in this portrait when she was just nine years old. Wearing white, Klimt deliberately draws you to her confident gaze — Mäda demands to be noticed and heard.

Mäda Primavesi is painted at an interesting time — artistically and historically. 1912 puts this painting at the crossroads between Art Nouveau and Art Deco, and in the last few years of peace before WWI.

Looking back, perhaps we see that soon-to-vanish innocence in Mäda’s eyes too — made more poignant as we now know the dark days of war that were just around the corner. For all these reasons, Mäda Primavesi is a beautiful and accomplished study of the last days of childhood and a requiem to a world that would soon vanish.

Gustav Klimt, an Austrian, was one of the most famous members of the Vienna Secession movement. He was often influenced by Japanese art, which you can see in the colours and setting of Mäda Primavesi. Klimt is best known for The Kiss and his mural on the ceiling of Vienna University.

Ocean Life - James M Sommerville
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Ocean Life is one of the earliest examples of an American underwater illustration. It was originally created as a scientific study. But the beautiful colours, exotic plants and animals, and astonishing detail make Ocean Life an enduring work of art that’s loved and appreciated far beyond the scientific community.

Take a moment to zoom in on the detail, and you’ll see how much thought, research, and time went into the drawing’s creation. In many ways, Ocean Life is a part of the Renaissance tradition — crossing the boundaries between science and art to create something beautiful and lasting that also contributes to our understanding of the world around us.

James M. Sommerville was a physician, amateur naturalist, member of the Academy of Natural Sciences.Christian Schussele was the first professor of drawing and painting at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. He’s also widely credited with designing the American Medal of Honor.

Christian Schussele was the first professor of drawing and painting at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. He’s also widely credited with designing the American Medal of Honor.

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