Jan van Scorel (1495 –1562) is mostly known today for advancing the cause of high Italian renaissance art in the Netherlands. He was born in Schoorl, North Holland and is considered to have received tutelage from the Masters of Alkmaar – Jacob Cornelisz, Jan Gossaert and Pieter Gerritsz. Maarten van Heemskerck. During his stay in Haarlem, Scorel collaborated with his contemporary Pieter Gerritsz. Pieter Gerritsz is renowned for his paintings of the Wonders of the World among his other paintings, engravings and illustrations.

Scorel started travelling in different parts of Europe since his early twenties. In the Austrian village of Obervellach he completed his first representative work for St Martin’s Church in 1520. With his arrival at Venice a few months later his career really began flourishing. A visit to Rome in 1521 helped him receive the blessings of Pope Adrian VI as well as a position of painter to Vatican. Scorel succeeded Raphael as the keeper of Cortile del Belvedere.

On his return to Utrecht, the Netherlands, Scorel established himself firmly as an artist. He was a multi linguist besides being a trained engineer and architect. He was revered in Utrecht as a teacher. A Romanist, Jan van Scorel left behind a wealth of artworks for his students, followers and admirers.

During his lifetime Giorgio Vasari produced an enormous volume of artwork. The majesty of his brushwork is evident in the paintings he created based on the biblical stories and mythological themes in mannerist style. He was an enormously successful architect and many consider his architecture and urban planning even more substantial than his paintings. Rather surprisingly though, it is not his paintings or sculptures that are considered to be his greatest contribution to art but his book, Le Vite de’ più Eccelenti Architetti, Pittori, et Scultori Italiani (Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors and Architects).

Giorgio Vasari was born on July 30, 1511 in the city of Arezzo, Tuscany. His father was a ceramicist. He was a precocious child and his talent earned the patronage of Cardinal Silvio Passerini quite early in his life. His education, sponsored by Cardinal Passerini, in Florence helped him to be acquainted with Michelangelo. To say, Vasari was mesmerised by Michelangelo’s genius and remained so his entire life would not be sufficient to describe his admiration for this great master.   

About this time Vasari became closely associated with the Medicis, a relationship that proved to be very fruitful for him all his life. Powered by this benefaction and his own qualities as an artist, Vasari started receiving large amount of commissions, the steady flow of which never seem to have ceased. Behind the ornate façades of many a Florentine palaces and beyond was the clever handiwork of Giorgio Vasari. This included Façade of the Palazzo delle Loggein Florence, Palazzo dei Cavalieri in Pisa, the huge building now housing Uffizi Gallery and the famous Studiolo of Francesco I. His many frescoes and paintings graced the walls of even greater number of palaces and churches. Artworks like the Allegory of the Immaculate Conception (1541), The Prophet Elisha (1566), Vulcan’s Forge (1567 – ’68) and historically significant Portrait of Duke Alessandro de’ Medici (1534) still bear the signatures of his mastery.

Vasari received the directives of working on the Lives… from Cosimo I de’ Medici, the Grand Duke of Tuscany. It was a revolutionary piece of work. That many secrets of renaissance Florence were lost in time is courtesy Giorgio Vasari. To him owe the scores of art historians who followed his footsteps. Vasari passed away on June 27, 1574. But every time we consult a page of his famous book we speak to the man himself.

Leonard Misonne intended to incorporate the unique visual angles of impressionism into his photography. Such was the success of his endeavour that people named him the ‘Corot of Photography’.

Leonard Missonne (July 1, 1870 – September 14, 1943) was born to Louis and Adele Missonne in Charleroi, Belgium. His father was a reputed lawyer and industrialist. Young Missonne studied mining engineering. But his heart was not in practising engineering. He was too entranced by the charm of music and painting. By the time he was twenty one he already started perfecting his skills in photography. At twenty six, Missonne completely devoted himself to his craft.

Missonne travelled widely. The sceneries he observed in Switzerland, Germany, the Netherlands and France were etched firmly in his mind and persuaded him to develop a timeless style. In 1910, he studied with French master photographer Constant Puyo. Missonne became a prominent figure among the avant–garde and pictorialists. The atmospheric landscapes and street scenes he captured with his camera moved his audience deeply.

Truly said Missonne when he commented, the most important thing I have learned is to observe the beautiful effects of atmosphere and light. The blurred magnetism of his fine art photography continues igniting the ardour of the viewers instead of dimming it in anyway even today.

Napoleon Sarony photographed Oscar Wilde much before the latter’s ascension to fame. One of his photographs of Oscar Wilde, taken in 1882, became the centre of a lawsuit two years later. Sarony, claiming a copyright infringement, won the case and earned $610 as compensation in the process.

Napoleon Sarony (1821 – 1896) was one of the most celebrated photographers of 19th century. He was born in Quebec but relocated to New York when he was fifteen. From behind the camera lenses he captured everlasting images of many a famous faces of the day. He photographed Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) many times during his career. Memorable portraits of Nikola Tesla, Walt Whitman, Winslow Homer and Wendell Phillips still stare back from the pages of Sarony’s illustrious albums.

Sarony paid a hefty $1500 to famous actress Sarah Bernhardt so that he can capture the beauty of her ethereal face and delicate features on the photographic plates. He was also a talented lithographer, a craft he learned from his father who was a lithographer by profession. Despite his mastery, Napoleon Sarony shared a love hate relationship with the art of photography. In an interview with Wilson’s Photographic Magazine, January 1893, he commented,

I burn, I ache, I die, for something that is truly art. All my art in the photograph, I value as nothing. I want to make pictures out of myself, to group a thousand shapes that crowd my imagination. This relieves me, the other oppresses me …

Peder Severin Krøyer’s precocious talent somehow managed to indulge in the romanticism of the Summer Evening on Skagen’s Beach (1899) without ignoring the poignancy of the reality as presented by the Italian Village Workers Making Hats (1880). He was part of the Skagen Painters and received a cult status in Denmark. Despite an illustrious career, Peder Severin Krøyer could not avoid the censorship of some critics who accused him of trying to please Parisian tastes instead of being truthful to his native land, Denmark.

Krøyer (July 23, 1851 – November 21, 1909) started receiving art education from a tender age at the home of his foster parents in Copenhagen. By his early twenties his skills were so developed that he drew the attention of businessman and art connoisseur Heinrich Hirschsprung. Hirschsprung remained the artist’s lifelong patron. He also sponsored Krøyer’s many trips across Europe which was instrumental in the development of his artistry.

Krøyer studied under Léon Bonnat briefy between 1887 and 1891. He met with Édouard Manet, Alfred Sisley, Edgar Degas, Claude Monet and Pierre–Auguste Renoir among others during this period. His art duly evolved imbibing the light and techniques of impressionism.

The last decade of Peder Severin Krøyer’s life was marred by health concerns. Despite being a near blind he continued painting almost till the very end. He eventually succumbed to a mental illness that also plagued his mother during his infancy. Perhaps the courage he derived for fighting with the perils of his own existence was nothing but an undying love of art which is summed up in the following words of him,

When the soft moonlight shines over the beach, I am there – immediately – with my sketchbook …