Gerda Taro was among the first of female photojournalists to report from frontline. Born as Gerta Pohorylle on August 1, 1910 in Stuttgart, Taro spent her formative years in a boarding school in Switzerland. By the time she was in her early twenties Taro’s anti–Nazi sentiments forced the family to scatter across central Europe. She never got a chance to meet her family again.

In 1935, Gerda Taro met with young Hungarian photographer Endre Friedmann whom the world knows as Robert Capa. The two formed a close companionship. Taro was working for Alliance Photo as an editor when the planning for travelling to Barcelona was made at the outbreak of Spanish Civil War (1936). Capa and Taro covered the bloodshed and horrors of Aragon and Córdoba together.

When the Battle of Brunete (1937) turned particularly gory with reporters facing censorship imposed by the Republicans, Gerda Taro was almost the lone international figure collecting testimonies from the ground with her camera. The journey became a fateful one for her. On July 25, 1937 she was hit by a rampaging tank to die in a Madrid hospital the next day. Her time on earth was a brief one and her creative career even shorter. Yet, that short span of time acted like a spark of lightning to reveal the murkiness of the dark horizon.

The dreamer sometimes falls into the doldrums, but is said to emerge from them again. And the absent–minded person also makes up for it with bouts of perspicacity. Sometimes he is a person whose right to exist has a justification that is not always immediately obvious to you, or more usually, you may absent–mindedly allow it to slip from your mind. Someone who has been wandering about for a long time, tossed to and fro on a stormy sea, will in the end reach his destination. Someone who has seemed to be good for nothing, unable to fill any job, any appointment, will find one in the end and, energetic and capable, will prove himself quite different from what he seemed at first.
Vincent van Gogh (via itsquoted)

Since Franz Xaver Messerschmidt’s death on August 19, 1783 numerous analysts, historians and scientists tried explaining the inspirations behind the grotesque figure–heads that the sculptor is famous for. Some of these hypotheses are no less bizarre than the sculptures themselves. While sifting through the maze of these interpretations what often gets overlooked are in fact of infinitely greater importance, namely, the skill of the artist and his power of observation.

Messerschmidt was born on February 6, 1736 in Swabia, Germany. Early death of his father left the family in doldrums. The artist had to work as a shepherd boy to earn his living. Even then the sketches he made of the natural beauty around foretold his future. Transplanted to his maternal uncle’s home in Munich, Messerschmidt received early education in creating sculptural pieces from his two uncles Johann Baptist Straub and Philipp Jakob Straub.

The artist was lucky in receiving commissions from Maria Theresa of Austria and Princess of Savoy, courtesy his innate talent and skillful execution. His late baroque style also scaled new heights with his trips to Rome and coming in touch with neoclassicism. But it is the acquaintance with Franz Mesmer and awareness of the latter’s revolutionary ideas that brought definitive touches to Messerschmidt’s art. He started creating busts depicting various facial expressions from about 1770 and continued till the very end. Such is the enduring appeal of his work that some two centuries later his sculptures, grimacing and wincing, continue enthralling us.

Francesco Albani (August, 1578 – October, 1660) joined the Carraccis at a young age to hone his considerable talent as an artist. He was accompanied by his friend Guido Reni who followed him from their earlier workshop of Denis Calvaert. In doing so Albani also stunted his father’s, a prosperous textile merchant, expectation of joining him in the trade.

The Carraccis, particularly Ludovico, established and used to run an academy aimed at advancing the causes of School of Bologna painters. Young Albani was appreciated for his enthusiasm and skills. He also accompanied Annibale Carracci during his many trips. One such trip facilitated him the opportunity of decorating the interior and painting the frescoes of the gallery of the Palazzo Farnese. Albani went to Rome for advancing his studies further.

Francesco Albani’s mannerist style paintings evoke a feeling of conviviality and merriment. The figures set in idyllic landscapes complete with putti and faeries ooze of geniality. The impact of his work was profound even if many critics begged to think otherwise. It is said that his art even stirred the emotions of Nicolas Poussin.

With Annibale and Ludovico, Agostino Carracci (August 16, 1557 – March 22, 1602) formed the famous trio of painters and printmakers who graced 16th century art in Italy. The Carraccis used to work together in almost all of their painting and architectural projects. It is not only difficult but somewhat irrelevant to identify one’s work from the other two considering their collaborative approach.

Agostino Carracci was one of the founders of the Accademia degli Incamminati who helped shape the careers of many a School of Bologna painter. A trained architect, Agostino undertook the decoration of churches and palaces like the Gallery in Palazzo Farnese. He travelled to Venice and Parma, mostly with Annibale, to complete some of the most elaborate Bolognese frescoes.

Agostino’s son Antonio Carracci, himself a noted painter, took over the responsibility of completing his father’s academy. Perhaps the greatest ode to Agostino Carracci was paid by none other than Henri Matisse when he created his painting Le bonheur de vivre based on an engraving done by Agostino Carracci. Ironically, Aogostino’s inspiration for this etching came from a painting of Paolo Fiammingo, titled, Love in the Golden Age.

Francesco Zuccarelli’s (August 15, 1702 – December 30, 1788) dreamy landscapes endeared him to some of the most noted scholars of the day, including Francesco Maria Tassi, the author of Lives of the Painters, Sculptors, and Architects of Bergamo. Some other critics though consider his artworks to be escapist. There is no doubt that Zuccarelli emphasised on the lyrical quality of paintings that he believed to be its essence.

Born in Pitigliano, Tuscany, Zuccarelli relocated to Venice in 1732. He was profoundly touched by the work of Marco Ricci and whole heartedly embraced the Venetian school of art. Some two decades later Zuccarelli travelled to England to work on some of the most diverse set of work ever produced by him. This included designs of tapestries and cameos. He created theatrical illustrations of William Shakespeare’s Macbeth. He was a founding member of Royal Academy of Arts (1768). Zuccarelli returned to Italy three years later and spent his final days in his native Tuscany.