Portrait of Hélène Fourment
Peter Paul Rubens
In 1630, four years after the death of his first wife, the 53-year-old painter married 16-year-old Hélène Fourment. The portrait depicts the beauty that Rubens saw in his new wife as he painted what he saw, rather than some imaginary ideal.
James McNeill Whistler
There is a story about the famous painting of 1871 that tells of a great work perhaps never made. Rumor has it that the original model did not show up, so Whistler's mother stepped in. Another story is that Mrs. Whistler asked to sit down because she was tired (she was 67.) Amazing and most likely true.
Lord Frederic Leighton
Though Flaming June is painted in the classic romantic style of the time, 1890, it perhaps would not be the most successful example of that period if not for one thing: Leighton began painting when his exhausted model, Dorothy Dene, decided that she needed to nap.
Here we have a woman in a peaceful slumber.
Portrait of Madame Ginoux
Vincent van Gogh
Why are van Gogh's works considered highly prized and successful? It stems from the truthful and raw emotion of van Gogh's character and situation that seeps into the paintings. This painting was done in a period of melancholy, as van Gogh was mourning his ended relationship with Paul Gauguin. In this state of mind, van Gogh captures a natural serenity in the portrait as Ginoux endures the focus needed to maintain a pose.