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The concept of this site grew out of my lack of knowledge in so many areas. I would be party to conversations about topics of which I had either limited, or no knowledge. My children would ask questions where I should have known the answers, and then I found that I did not know how to guide them through the intervention of the internet as I could not distinguish good sites from bad references.

So, the aim of this site is to take you by the hand and walk you through a journey of discovery. You will find lists of top schools or a map of South Africa. Click on Learning Curve to see things you might have missed out on at school like how to identify art and artists or what consists of classic literature or poetry. You will be able to convey the correct greetings for religious festivals – there is a print out calendar with school terms and religious holidays so that you do not slip up. Never again be stuck when interpreting a recipe and being confused between US and UK measurements. There is information about entrepreneurship and funding as well as advice on family matters. You can even plan your activities around sports events that involve certain members of your family preferring being glued to the TV. Quick Reference covers a miscellany of issues – check it out so you know where to go for ease of reference (for next time)!

The site is alive – give us your suggestions of what you would like to see and we will do the research. Identify areas which you would like to know more about or tell us where you have discovered a super link and we will gladly expand the selection. And of course your criticisms will be taken into account – we are happy to accommodate all valid improvements and to correct any inadvertent misinformation.

Explore and we hope you will sufficiently enjoy the experience to tweet about it or to reference it on your Facebook page.

Yours in a brave new world,

Van Eyck

JAN VAN EYCK (1390-1441) Belgium

The Man in a Red Turban: thought to be a self portrait.

Isabella of Portugal

Van Eyck is accredited with developing techniques with the recent innovation of oil paints. For most of his career he was sponsored and is believed to have been secretly sent to Spain to broker the marriage of Philip of Spain to Isabella of Portugal whose portrait he painted. This all took place against the background of exploration when Columbus set out on his voyage of discovery.
It was the fashion for women to scoop up their rather voluminous robes as depicted in this portrait, so the bride is not necessarily pregnant!

The Arnolfini Portrait.

The Ghent Altarpiece

This painting, probably done by both Jan and his brother Hubert, is regarded as being one of the earliest major paintings in oils. Napoleon is reputed to have stolen it, then the Calvinists threatened to burn it and the Nazis coveted it. In 1935 one of the panels was stolen and has yet to be recovered.

Van Dyck



ANTHONY van DYCK (1599, Antwerp – 1641, London)
Van Dyck’s portraits, predominantly of the aristocracy during the time of Charles I, were defined by their elegance and colour and they were in huge demand and he was knighted for his efforts. Neither of these facts are surprising when one reads the following comment on Queen Henrietta Marie . . .

Self Portrait

Queen Henrietta Marie

. . . In 1641, when Sophia, later Electoress of Hanover, initially met Queen Henrietta Maria, in exile in Holland, she wrote: “Van Dyck’s handsome portraits had given me so fine an idea of the beauty of all English ladies, that I was surprised to find that the Queen, who looked so fine in painting, was a small woman raised up on her chair, with long skinny arms and teeth like defence works projecting from her mouth…”
If you are interested in history and want to know more about the aristocracy during the time of
NOTE: When you explore the links related to these artists you will find quite a few mentions in the descriptions of pictures which include the phrase “after the artist”. What this means is that the picture was probably painted by a pupil or contemporary in the style of the artist and is not the actual work of the artist under discussion.


REMBRANDT (1606-1669) Leiden, Netherlands
Man with the Golden Helmet

IMPORTANT FACT: This familiar painting is now considered to NOT be by Rembrandt but by one of his contemporaries. Please check THE OLD MASTERS LINKS FOR DUTCH AND FLEMISH ARTISTS for further information

Self Portrait

Rembrandt van Rijn’s painting of the Night Watch demonstrates why he was considered to be the master of light and shade using the technique known as chiaroscuro. He was also a portrait artist, in addition to which, he painted self-portraits nearly every year of his painting life. However, he seemingly painted more ‘selfies’ than he did of other people and some critics point out that he was not very good at portraiture as he adjusted his work to what he wanted to see which was not necessarily what was in front of him. However, other critics feel he was playing when he portrayed himself with curly hair or with a nose broader than his own. His landscapes include this self-indulgence of painting what he wanted to see. He was a prolific worker producing about 300 paintings, 300 etchings (a lot of himself) and 2000 sketches. During his lifetime Rembrandt’s reputation was built on his etchings not his paintings.

Man with the Golden Helmet

Rembrandt broke the mould of tradition or group portraiture, and this painting was rejected by the group of militia who commissioned it, and it was banished to a storeroom. The title of ‘The Night Watch’ is actually a misnomer. It was applied in the late 1700s because of the perceived darkness of the picture, but on renovation and cleaning, it was found to have been painted showing daylight.

The Night Watch

Many lectures on anatomy for prospective medical students are introduced with this painting “The Anatomy Lesson of Dr Tulp”. In those days, a dissection procedure had great spectator value. Two points of note, apparently Rembrandt got his anatomy a bit wrong in the placement of the arm muscles, and secondly, the valve between the large and small intestines which prevents a backflow, is named the Tulp Valve.

The Anatomy Lesson of Dr Tulp

He did not paint many landscapes of which ‘The Stone Bridge’ is one. The menace of the approaching storm is emphasized by the shaft of sunlight on the tree.

The Stone Bridge

The Three Trees

The Shell

The method Rembrandt employed for his etchings was uniquely his own and has never been used since. Again he used his mastery of chiaroscuro to great effect.

Frans Hals

FRANS HALS (Born in Belgium 1580 – 1666 died in the Netherlands)
Self Portrait The Laughing Cavalier
HALS3 The magic of Hals’ portraiture is that he captures the character of his subjects. He is also noted for the intricate delicacy of the lacework that many of his subjects wore. He followed in Rembrandt’s footsteps with the arrangements of his group portraits.
Banquet of the Officers of the St George Civic Guard
Laughing Boy The Lute Player
Much of the charm of Hals’ formal portraits is that the many of subjects are smiling – a convention sometimes frowned upon by his contemporaries. The “Laughing Boy” epitomises Hals ability to capture character with sensitivity, and while ‘The Lute Player” is one of the many paintings Hals did for pleasure – he painted everybody from the village idiot to boys sneaking a cigarette to fishermen and musicians.
Catharina Hooft with her Nurse Detail from Portrait of a Sixty year old Woman
A trick used by Hals to give the impression of movement is how he posed his subjects. Here it would appear that both the nurse and her charge were distracted as they both look up, their attention taken from the apple the nurse is holding. The details of the brocade gown and the exquisite lacework are almost a trademark of his portraiture as is also depicted in the attention he paid to the careworn hand and delicacy of the cuff in the portrait of a sixty year old woman.