History of Art

Applied in: Winter 2013

University Offers: St Andrews, Bristol, York

It was when I noticed how Filippo Lippi had painted the same female faces on his Madonnas that I was told about the whole story of this adventurous and daring friar. The extreme delicateness, subtleness and refinement of one of the Virgin's face's features had intrigued me. Eventually, I ended up learning about the whole background of a painting and especially of the painter itself! Whether it is questioning rather odd objects at the Kempton antique market, canvasses at the Uffizi or looking into blind ceramic eyes at the Hermitage, art makes me travel through time and space.

Last year, I followed a scientific course and this may seem odd, considering the fact that I want to study Art history, but I was really into conservation a short time ago. Speaking to professionals made me understand that Science and Physics would be of great help to analyse deeply some works of art. However, I realised that my interest for literature, History and Art was growing month by month. This was evident to me when in French, we analysed 'The Floor Scrapers' from Caillebotte and 'The School of Athens' from Raphael and linked them respectively with Zola's novel l' Assommoir and the Renaissance. I was impressed to how many details were related to the painter's intentions: the use of chiaroscuro, the fact that one painted workers and glorified their effort by painting their extreme muscular arms; the fact that another used Plato and Aristotle by making them present their visions of the world by pointing their hands towards the sky or down to earth.

In June 2012, I did a two-week work experience at the 'Julia Nagle Conservation Ltd' studio in North East London. There, I learned to be meticulous and patient and handle canvases with extreme delicateness. I was able to start an overall conservation process of a small painting. It was exciting to touch to its history, question the pigments, the colours, the solvents and the varnish. I went to places that I had never imagined coming to as a simple individual: a warehouse where were stored works of art of up to 3m high! I now have a concise idea of how the restoration and conservation profession works and this was an area that combined my extreme curiosity, drawing, love of art and especially the history of the work of art I had studied and worked on.

This summer, I completed a two week course with AHA (Art History Abroad) in Italy and have learnt so much: now I can wonder around in London and find that they haven't used third fileted fluted Corinthian pilasters to decorate facades in Pall Mall, which means they weren't inspired by the Tuscan Romanesque.

Over the past years, I have had the chance to travel to Barcelona, Rome, New York, Hong Kong and Taipei, Greece and more recently, Saint Petersburg. These trips have allowed me to see the marvels of Asian and European architecture or paintings (such as the Sagrada Familia, The Frick Collection...). The best part in these trips was to juggle the languages, especially Russian. What I love about it is the fact that it sounds so sensual and voluptuous. Reading Russian is like reading feminine, sculptural forms. What particularly attracts me is it's history; it's architecture and the multitude of different cultures that share this immeasurable land. Learning Russian asked me righteousness and rigour, qualities that I have learned throughout my piano lessons and that have lead me to earn my grade 8.

My great great grandmother was a painter and my great grandmother worked in the Louvre's research laboratory. She was in charge of the ceramics and introduced the thermo luminescence dating method. Art and passion for art is transmitted from generation to generation. I would like to take my turn to prove to people that a painting isn't boring and that museums do contain splendours and marvels that have pushed techniques and human knowledge to evolve.

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