Leonard Davis

I became aware of the pantheon of painting when, as a boy, I was first captivated by the Italian Renaissance masterworks of Perugino and Raphael, of Michelangelo and Leonardo and of Titian. At the same time, my interest in the history of my country during the Revolution and the Civil War combined with interest in history painting by Copley and Trumbell or West, or even later in the works of Winslow Homer. Presently, and for the past several years, I have been absorbed in the histories of the tragic fall of the Christian monarchies of France in 1789 and Russia in 1917 and am engaged in an effort to translate them pictorially.

And so my life as a painter is inseparable from my continuing fascination with history, proceeding throughout childhood, youth, and my college years at Brown University, where I was a history major who painted. There, knowledge of historical method and the accumulation of learned facts and themes were combined with practice in drawing and painting in a fine arts tradition. For it theme is established in the pursuit of history, the material aspects of painting must be found in an on-going search for one’s pictorial eyes, especially in light of so many years of painting history. My concern these days is in searching for ways to address history in large paintings that could be an appropriate gauge of things that are being felt and thought today. How can history be painted in a continuation of history painting?