A Japanese Woman, c. 1891-1892 pastel on brown paperboard, 35.6 x 24.8 private collection. The American artist Robert Frederick Blum visited Japan in 1890. During his stay of slightly more that two years, Blum worked in a variety of media creating several of his most ambitious and exotic oil paintings and a small group of sensual and evocative pastel portraits of women. In his Japanese pictures, Blum sought to express the customs, fashions and architecture of the Japanese, glorifying native workers and the beauty of Japanese women. James Abbott McNeill Whistler was an American-born, British-based artist. Averse to sentimentality and moral allusion in painting, he was a leading proponent of the credo for art sake the idea that his paintings should have any meaning beyond what could be seen on the canvas. The model for this painting was Whistler's mistress, Joanna Hiffernan, called Jo. For a few years, this beautiful, red-haired Irishwoman managed Whistler's affairs, keeping his house and assisting him with the sale of his work. To give herself respectability, she called herself Mrs. Abbott; her drunken father also referred to Whistler as 'my son-in-law'. She sat for many of his pictures. The Earring, 1893, oil on canvas, 83.5 × 57 Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, Netherlands. In the second half of the 19th century there was a growing interest in Japanese art in Europe. Japanese art objects were shown at the various Worlds Fairs and exhibitions of Japanese prints were organised. Artists such as Monet, Manet and Van Gogh were inspired by Japanese art. George Hendrik Breitner painted a large series of paintings of young women wearing kimonos, and this is one of them. A slender woman stands before a mirror and puts on an earring. This is Breitner favourite model: the young hat salesgirl Geesje Kwak. We see her from behind, but her concentrated expression can be seen in the mirror. She is wearing a blue kimono with a flower pattern with a white sash around her waist. Heavy Clouds, Christiania Fjord, 1893, oil on canvas, 50.8 x 63 Indianapolis Museum of Art, IN. Théo van Rysselberghe was a Belgian neo-impressionist painter who played a very important role in the European art scene at the turn of the century. He was one of the prominent co-founders of the Belgian artistic circle Les XX in 1883 - a circle of young radical artists. He discovered the pointillist technique when he saw Georges Seurat La Grande Jatte at an exhibition in Paris, and it shook him up completely. He this style to Belgium not long after, abandoned realism and became an adept of pointillism. At the end of his career Théo van Rysselberghe slowly abandoned the use of dots in his portraits and landscapes and began applying somewhat broader and longer strokes, used more often vivid colours and more intense contrasts. Head and Shoulders of a Young Woman, oil on canvas. Greuze was a French painter and draughtsman noted for paintings that include genre scenes, portraits and studies of expressive heads. Throughout the 1760s he won acclaim with sentimental works. Hoping to gain admission to the academy as a history painter, he submitted a large historical work; when it was rejected, he refused to exhibit anywhere but his own studio for 30 years. He earned a living with morality pictures and images of young women in innocent disarray, but in time his popularity waned. The reaction against his sentimental genre paintings resulted in critical neglect of his drawings and portraits, which display great technical gifts. Orphan Girl at the Cemetery, c. 1823-1824, oil on canvas, 66 × 54 Musée du Louvre, Paris. Orphan Girl at the Cemetery is a masterpiece by the leader of the French Romantic school. An air of sorrow and fearfulness emanates from the painting, and tears well from the eyes of the grief-stricken girl as she looks upward. The background depicts her melancholy; in the dimness of the sky and the abandoned ground. The girl body language and clothing evoke tragedy and vulnerability: the dress drooping down from her shoulder, a hand laid weakly on her thigh, the shadows above the nape of her neck, the darkness at her left side, and the cold and pale coloring of her attire. All these are combined to emphasize a sense of loss, of unreachable hope, her isolation, and the absence of any means of help, as she is also looking on toward an unseen and unknown spectacle. Ember Glow, embellished giclee, 36 x 24 inches, private collection. The luminescent beauty and lyrical quality of Richard S Johnson work is what captivates collectors today. Old Masters technical virtuosity, pre-Raphael romanticism, and contemporary expressionism and abstraction all combine to create his unique works of touching depth and artistry. Johnson sure brush strokes, bold use of color and impasto, and delicate rendering of the human face and form all work together in harmony to create Poetic Intimacy.