Vladimir Borovikovsky (July 24, 1757 – April 6, 1825) excelled in painting portraits in rococo style. His subjects included the members of the royal family and other Russian aristocrats. Besides, he is also known to have created a few paintings based on religious and mythological subjects. Of all the paintings of Borovikovsky survived to this date a portrait of Maria Lopukhina, painted in1797 (pic ii), reveals his artistry the best. The portrayal was so vivid that it induced the following glowing tribute from poet Yakov Polonsky (December 18, 1819 – October 30, 1898).

Long since she passed away: no more those eyes,
No more that smile which tacitly expressed
The suffering of her love and her sad thoughts
But her beauty Borovikovsky has preserved.
Her soul, in part, is therefore with us still
And this her gaze and this her body’s charm
Will fascinate indifferent generation,
teaching the
To love, to suffer, to forgive and to be silent.

Alphonse Mucha believed art as a medium of carrying spiritual messages. He was somewhat ill at ease of the commercial success and attention his designs, complete with characteristic Mucha illustrations, received.

Alfons Maria Mucha or Alphonse Mucha was born in Ivančice, Moravia on July 24, 1860. As a young boy Mucha loved both singing and drawing but was inattentive to his studies and in 1877 he was expelled from the school for poor performance. By then, though, he had already chosen his career path. Two years later Mucha left for Vienna to work as a theatrical scene painter and in another two years he enrolled in the Münich Academy of Arts.

By 1877, Alphonse Mucha moved to Paris and studied in Académie Julian for another couple of years. His work in Paris firmly established him as an artist and illustrator. Mucha was introduced to famous actress and photographer Sarah Bernhardt in 1894. This commenced a very successful period for Mucha when he painted, lithographed posters, designed jewelleries and novelty items for la divine Sarah.

Many people claim Alphonse Mucha’s achievements as a triumph of art nouveau. Though, it could be contended, if his very florid style of paintings is nothing but variations of neoclassicism. He toiled hard for years to complete Slovanská epopej (The Slav Epic) according to his taste. He poured his talent and skills as an artist to create this series containing twenty paintings of huge dimensions. He also carried out the interior decorations of churches and crafted stained glass windows (most notably of St Vitus Cathedral) during his lifetime. Mucha passed away in Prague on July 14, 1939.

Philipp Otto Runge was both a proponent of romanticism in painting and one of the earliest colour theorists. His friendship with Johann Wolfgang von Goethe is part of a legend.

Philip Otto Runge was born on July 23, 1777 to Nicholas Daniel Runge and Magdalena Dorothea Müller. His carefree early years were often interrupted with bouts of illnesses. Elder brother Daniel was young Runge’s first teacher and for a long time, patron. When Runge was twenty four he removed himself to Dresden for continuation of his studies. His time in Dresden was eventful. Here he came to be acquainted with Caspar David Friedrich and befriended his future wife Pauline Bassenge. His interactions with Goethe commenced here before the latter induced him to study further in Weimar.

During his stay in Dresden Runge also became intrigued by the writings of Jakob Böhme, the once native of the city. He started working on his colour theory that kept him busy for the rest of his life. His essay Farben–Kugel had the most fantastic effect on scientists, artists, poets, authors and even laypersons. Henrik Steffens, Clemens Brentano and Goethe himself hailed the young artist’s achievements. Runge himself was most enthusiastic about his work and wrote to Goethe in one of his letters,

I am now very active in finding an apparatus with which one can easily make experiments that might not only confirm my reasoning in a tangible way and vividly demonstrate the matter to the eyes, but would also furnish proof of the statements made and counter–proof of erroneous ones.

The experiments were cruelly cut short by Runge’s severe illness and eventual death on December 2, 1810. Many of his paintings, illustrations and engravings remained unfinished. A series dedicated to The Times of the Day, which was also commercially very successful, remained the highlight of the career.

During the inaugural Photographic Salon of 1893, Henry Peach Robinson’s art photography received universal acclaim. His revolutionary techniques in creating photomontage by combination printing also enhanced his already considerable reputation as one of the finest photographers of the day.

Henry Peach Robinson (July 9, 1830 – February 21, 1901) was a trained artist. At a very young age he apprenticed as a printer to Richard Jones, a local bookseller. He even exhibited his paintings at the Royal Academy in 1852, a year that proved to be a fateful one for him as his love of photography began around the same time. The paintings of J M W Turner and the Pre–Raphaelite movement created deep impressions on him. So when he imbibed the very essence of fine art into his pictorial photographs it did not surprise many. He was privileged to receive the mentorship of noted psychiatrist and photographer Dr Hugh Welch Diamond. Robinson was also an admirer of another famous contemporary photographer, Julia Margaret Cameron.

By 1864 Henry Peach Robinson, then in his mid–thirties, was forced to give up the dark room techniques of creating photomontages that he had pioneered. His health was failing rapidly by being exposed to toxic chemicals in the dark room. A four year’s recess proved to be healing enough to allow him back, though, with a lingering speech impediment that continued bothering him lifelong. He dedicated himself to photography with renewed enthusiasm.

Besides practicing, Robinson indulged in writing extensively on his favourite subject. His essay Pictorial Effect in Photography, Being Hints on Composition and Chiaroscuro for Photographers (1868) is still considered to be an important document on this visual medium. He was a believer of photography’s eligibility as a legitimate art form and advocated the same strongly all his life.

Lovis Corinth’s unconventional brushstrokes traced the serenity of Lake Lucerne and the bloodbath of the interior of a slaughterhouse with equal élan. From mythology to florid landscapes there is not a genre that his artistry did not explore. Similarly he used various techniques, from realism to expressionism, for his visual portrayals on canvas. Not surprisingly then, he found poetry In the Fisherman’s House (1886) as much as On the Balcony in Bordighera (1912).

Lovis Corinth was born on July 21, 1858 in Tapiau, part of historical Prussia. At birth his name was Franz Heinrich Louis. Since he exhibited early signs of his talent in painting, he was sent to academy of Königsberg (1876) and later to the Academy of Fine Art in Munich (1880). Among his tutors Robert Trossin and Otto Edmund Günther left marked impressions on him. His interest in the art of etching and printmaking was further sparked by the presence of the former. His experiences of life could be best summed up by using his own words,

I have been unhappy throughout my life. From the beginning there was the secret war of my stepbrothers against me, a continuous strife and quarrel over the fact that they had received no education. Secretly they even threatened to kill me. The memory of this situation from my childhood has remained with me to this day. I have always felt a certain respect toward the more privileged classes. Yet my disposition did not allow me to love anyone. On the contrary, everyone considered me rather repulsive and crude on account of my ill–bred barbarity. I envied those who possessed a cheerful temperament or greater ability than I. A burning ambition has always tormented me. There has not been a day when I did not curse my life and did not want to terminate it.

Lovis Corinth’s paintings vividly exhibit the emotional strife he had undergone all through his life. His masterful techniques surpassed many of his contemporaries and even his most illustrious teacher William–Adolphe Bouguereau. He joined Munich Secession in 1892 and later succeeded Max Liebermann as the president of Berlin Secession. Corinth suffered a stroke in 1911 which instead of being a setback inspired him to find even newer modes of expression. His frail health though could not withstand the onslaught of an attack of pneumonia to which he succumbed on July 17, 1925.