Art Institute of Chicago: My Personal Picks From the Permanent Collection

(All statements made are the writer’s and are of the writer’s own opinion. They do not represent any organization nor are they affiliated with any other groups or persons and only represent the writer.)

I recently took a trip to Chicago to help a friend. As many times as I go to Chicago, I hardly ever get to see the great masters at the Art Institute. This time I made sure to visit the Art Institute with the time I was allowed.

After getting my girlfriend (my partner in museum perusing) to agree to be my personal photographer for the day, we set off to explore the treasures of the museum.

The photographs below are some (I reiterate ‘some’) of the artworks that I enjoyed best:

  • This painting by John Philip Simpson entitled “The Captive Slave” was a moving piece for me. I believe that African Americans are such a big part of history, yet they are so often overlooked. I have also been reading the classic African American literature beginning in the 19th century, and this painting, I believe, presented a visual representation of my then current reading. If my information serves me correct, the man in this painting was a very successful black actor in Europe during a time when Europeans were becoming more and more disgusted with the idea of enslavement.
The Captive Slave

John Philip Simpson
English, 1782–1847
The Captive Slave, 1827

  • I always enjoy seeing a Bouguereau in person. There’s something about his paintings that make you feel beauty. He creates a world that is seemingly perfect and the figures in the painting are always, with their facial expressions or body language, inviting one to join. I think my enjoyment has influenced my girlfriend because she now gets excited when she notices one as well.
The Bathers

William Adolphe Bouguereau
French, 1825-1905
The Bathers, 1884

  • This Japanese wood sculpture was a fantastic piece of art. The details within the piece were intimidating and inspiring at the same time. The sculptor captured the solid strength of the guardian without forsaking its movement. I have been wanting to create a wooden sculpture as a piece in a series of works I would like to do and this piece has set a standard for me to reach.
Eric With Japanese Art

Shukongojin, 12th/14th century

  • I have always thought that the story of the Maitreya Buddha was an interesting one: a Buddha drops to earth to teach the people the Dharma so that peace may reign on earth. Every time I see a representation of the Buddha Maitreya (which one can tell from the seated position instead of full lotus position) I think of this story and hope fills my heart.
Maitreya Buddhia (Mi-le)

Maitreya Buddhia (Mi-le), Tang dynasty (A.D. 618–906), dated 705

  • I had never heard of Sir Edward John Poynter until this trip. This made my trip even more enjoyable because I learned about I knew artist that I think is very skilled.
Left: Sir Edward John PoynterBritish, 1836-1919The Golden Age, 18752002.379Right: Sir Edward John PoynterBritish, 1836-1919The Festival, 18752002.380

Left: Sir Edward John Poynter
British, 1836-1919
The Golden Age, 1875
Right: Sir Edward John Poynter
British, 1836-1919
The Festival, 1875

  • This piece is considered to be one of Manfredi’s best. I’ve seen some of Manfredi’s work before, and was awe-struck when I saw, but when I saw this I immediately thought it was a Caravaggio (I’m still not completely convinced it’s not a Caravaggio). This is a beautiful piece of art. It shines and glistens, the color is vibrant, and the cracking is minor.
Cupid Chastised

Bartolomeo Manfredi
Italian, 1582-1622
Cupid Chastised, 1613

  • I’m not going to lie: sometimes I like Rembrandt, sometimes I don’t. However, this small portrait was lovely. It’s always amazing what he could accomplish with a palette of three or four colors.
Old Man With Gold Chain

Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn
Dutch, 1606–1669
Old Man with a Gold Chain, 1631

  • El Greco’s paintings are usually a miss for me (this goes for the many I’ve seen in books and the few I’ve seen in person). However, this painting I liked. It has brilliant color combined with his quirky drawing style which gives the painting a certain amount of mysticism.
The Feast in the House of Simon

El Greco (Domenikos Theotokopoulos)
Spanish, 1541-1614
The Feast in the House of Simon, 1608/14

  • Though I often would rather not repeatedly see Jesus Christ hanging from a cross, this painting is an amazing painting. Francisco de Zurbaran was another artist about whom I had never heard. The sheer size of the painting is enough to keep one in awe. The technical skill of this painter is of an admirable caliber: this painting of this size had no cracks. It was fresh as if it had only been completed a week ago, and yet it was completed almost four hundred years ago. Oil painting is awesome.
The Crucifixion

Francisco de Zurbarán
Spanish, 1598–1664
The Crucifixion, 1627

  • I finish with the earthenware Guardian Kings of the Tang Dynasty, the golden age of human history. It is a time period I try not to ignore whenever it is available.
Armored Guardian King (Tianwang) Trampling Demon

Armored Guardian King (Tianwang) Trampling Demon, Tang dynasty (618–907 A.D.), first half of 8th century

Thank you for reading,