John Everett Millais' Ophelia (1851 – 52) features in Beauty

How many paintings can you name in this video?

Italian director Rino Stefano Tagliafierro brings movement to well-known art works in his new montage Beauty

The Milanese animator and pop-promo director Rino Stefano Tagliafierro, has turned his hand to rather older artforms for his latest creation. Tagliafierro has animated 116 paintings, from Renaissance works through to 19th-century landscapes, in a 9 minute, 49 seconds dash through art history.

The video, called Beauty, isn't a dry academic exercise. While it may lack a storyline, there's a clear emotional arc, with pictures of childlike innocence giving way to more carnal images, before the film finishes with a grotesque run through violent and deathly works.


Judith Beheading Holofernes (1598–1599) by Caravaggio, also featured in Beauty
Judith Beheading Holofernes (1598–1599) by Caravaggio, also featured in Beauty

Only well-versed art historians will be able to name every work featured; for instance there are quite a few paintings by the academic and tradionalist French 19th century painter, William-Adolphe Bouguereau, as well as much better known pieces, such as Caravaggio's Judith Beheading Holofernes and Ophelia by John Everett Millais.


Venus of Urbino (1538) by Titian
Venus of Urbino (1538) by Titian

"Beauty in this interpretation is the silent companion of life, inexorably leading from the smile of the baby, through erotic ecstasies to the grimaces of pain that close a cycle destined to repeat ad infinitum," explains the Florentine writer Giuliano Corti, who helped Tagliafierro select the works. " They are, from the inception of a romantic sunrise in which big black birds fly to the final sunset beyond gothic ruins that complete the piece, a work of fleeting time."

For an assembly of well-known works of art, Beauty doesn't feel especially safe for work. Yet for an audience more used to watching film trailers and YouTube clips, it is, undoubtedly, a good way to unlock the power of painting.


Watch the whole thing above, and learn a bit more about it on Tagliafierro's site. And to see many of these pictures in greater detail, buy a copy of our Art Museum, the greatest works of art ever assembled between two covers.