Thursday, 31 May 2012

John White Alexander and The Green Dress

'The Green Dress' (c.1890-99) by John White Alexander; Private Collection

Choosing American painter John White Alexander, born on 7 October 1856 and died on 31 May 1915, for today's post was a very quick decision. Just one glance at the images of his paintings made me decide not to look any further. But then I spent an awful lot of time trying to come up with the best painting for this post. Even though I have picked this one, I'm still not sure because there are so many that I love. So just click here and here and here and here, for example. Well, you probably know by now what I like and these are all beautiful paintings of elegant women in stylish dresses. When seeing these paintings, you wouldn't have thought that Alexander had started his career as a political cartoonist and illustrator for Harper's Weekly. He got his formal art training in Europe. When he got back to New York, he became a highly succesful society portrait painter. I think the painting of today is beautiful. Absolutely love the silky fabric of the dress. Alexander has painted more women in green dresses so go and have a look on the internet if you like this one. 

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Vanessa Bell and Angelica Garnett (née Bell) as Mistress Millament in "The Way of the World"

'Angelica Garnett (née Bell) as Mistress Millament in "The Way of the World" '
(no date found); Government Art Collection

Honestly, I had never heard of painter and interior designer Vanessa Bell, born on 30 May 1879, but I read that she was the sister of Virginia Woolf so I thought it would be interesting to choose her for this post. I had a quick look at the images of her paintings and decided that I like them. Vanessa Bell was born into a well to do family and was educated by her parents at home. Like her sister Virginia, she was encouraged to develop her individual talent. She took drawing lessons and got admitted to the Royal Academy Schools where one of her tutors was John Singer Sargent. After her parents died, she moved with Virginia and their two brothers to Bloomsbury. Here they could entertain their own friends and started the Bloomsbury Group, a group of writers, artists and intellectuals. The portrait I chose is of Angelica Garnett, the daughter of Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant. I love the colours in this painting! Grant was a member of the Bloomsbury Group and a homosexual. Bell had an affair with him and subsequently a child. They pretended that Angela was Clive Bell's child, Vanessa's husband. They got away with the deceit until Angela was 19 years old. It sounds like a soap opera to me but there's more. Angela married David Garnett who was a former lover of her biological father Duncan, a fact that she was unaware of for some time. With so much drama, there's got to be a memoir and there is. It's titled 'Deceived with kindness' by Angela Garnett. 

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

George Washington Thomas Lambert and Miss Helen Beauclerk

'Miss Helen Beauclerk' (1914) by George Washington Thomas Lambert;
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney

I had never heard of the Australian painter George Washington Lambert, born on 13 September 1873 and died on 29 May 1930. In fact, I don't know Australian art at all. Lambert was a portrait painter and became a war artist during the First World War. When I googled the images of his paintings, it was the painting of Miss Helen Beauclerk that stood out for me. Helen de Vere Beauclerk (1892-1969) was a British writer. Lambert captured her face beautifully and emphasized the hands, something that he started to do with all his sitters. In this particular painting he shows Helen putting on her gloves, while stroking with her bare hand the gloved index finger on the other hand. I think it's a beautiful painting.

Monday, 28 May 2012

Kees van Dongen and The Corn Poppy

'The Corn Poppy' (c.1919) by Kees van Dongen; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Today I had a hard time choosing just one painting by Dutch painter Kees van Dongen, born on 26 January 1877 and died on 28 May 1968. Because there are many that I like. Van Dongen was a Fauvist painter and was involved with the German expressionist movement Die Brücke. In his first paintings he used dark tones, influenced by the work of Rembrandt. By the mid-1890s his colour palette changed and he started using brighter colours and his brushstrokes became more animated. In 1897, Van Dongen arrived in Paris where he would share a studio with Picasso. It was here in Paris that he developed into a celebrated artist. He became famous for his numerous colourful portraits of women. Some time ago I visited the wonderful exhibition 'The big eyes of Kees van Dongen' in the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam and it was great to see so many paintings together. I cannot remember whether today's painting was on display but I love it. Stunning red hat and black eyes! To cheat once more, I will show you some more paintings. Because I like this one as well, and this one, and this one, and this one. I could go on and on!

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Nicolas Colombel and Venus and Cupid with the Three Graces

'Venus and Cupid with the Three Graces' (date unknown) by Nicolas Colombel;
no location found

Another day of poor choice led me to discover French painter Nicolas Colombel, born in 1644 and died on May 27, 1717. He was influenced by Raphael and above all Nicolas Poussin, whose work he copied. I like mythology in art and this painting is a friendly depiction in soft colours and lines. I don't know if you're familiar with Greek mythology but the Three Graces are the three goddesses of joy, charm and beauty. They were daughters of the god Zeus and the nymph Eurynome, and were named Aglaia (Splendor), Euphrosyne (Mirth) and Thalia (Good Cheer). They presided over pleasurable social events like dances and banquets, and brought joy to both mortals and gods. They were also the special attendants of Aphrodite (Venus in Latin) and Eros (Cupid), the divinities of love. I couldn't find what is going on in this painting but it looks like they're having some kind of meeting.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Constance Mayer and The Dream of Happiness

'The Dream of Happiness' (1819) by Constance Mayer; Musée du Louvre, Paris

Today I was struggling to find something to my liking and then stumbled upon French painter Constance Mayer, who was born in 1775 and died on 26 May 1821. Her name is linked to the name of Pierre-Paul Prud'hon, whose pupil she became and with whom she became romantically involved. He was married but his wife was declared insane and committed to an asylum. I just found a recent post on their tragic affair on another blog so if you're interested, please click here. Today's painting of 'The Dream of Happiness' has a romantic mood, which was popular in the early 19th century. I think it's beautiful in colour and lighting. It's painted in a more abstract style, something Mayer started to do after having used the same style as Prud'hon for many years. The painting shows a married couple and their child drifting in a boat down the River of Life. Mayer dreamt of having a family of her own but never had one. When Prud'hon's wife died, he promised her on her deathbed never to remarry. In despair Mayer slit her throat with Prud'hon's razor. Overcome by grief, he sank into a depression and died only two years later. They were buried in the same tomb in Paris. For further reading, click here. I will give you the Wikipedia page on Mayer in German because it's not available in English.

Friday, 25 May 2012

Carlo Dolci and The Angel of Annunciation

'The Angel of Annunciation' (1653-55) by Carlo Dolci; Musée du Louvre, Paris

It didn't take me long to select this painting by Italian artist Carlo Dolci, born on 25 May 1616, for today because I think it's a lovely portrait with very beautiful colours. I love the red hair and the deep blue in the clothing. Dolci was the leading painter in mid-17th century Florence and skilled in portrait painting. His work is characterised by intense religiosity and sophisticated style. By the 1640s, Dolci had gained much popularity and his work was in such demand that he often repeated his compositions. After the late 1640s, his troubled personality became more evident in his work. I want to show you two more examples of his portraits that I find really beautiful. Please click here and here

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Samuel Palmer and The Shearers

'The Shearers' (1833-34) by Samuel Palmer; Private Collection

I had never heard of British visionary landscape painter Samuel Palmer, born on 27 January 1805 and died on 24 May 1881, until today. He was a key figure of English Romantic landscape painting and a pupil and friend of William Blake. He treated his landscapes as visions of paradise (click here to see more of his paintings). After 1835, this visionary quality disappeared and his later paintings were done in a more conventional pastoral mode. Today's painting 'The Shearers' had been in the news in 2009 when the Culture Minister issued an export ban on the painting in a last attempt to raise money to keep the painting in the UK. According to the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest, 'The Shearers' was so closely connected with the history of the UK that it would be considered a great loss if the painting would leave the country. The recommended price for purchase was 3,800,000 pound sterling. Eventually the painting came into possession of private London art dealer and adviser Richard Nathanson. I think the painting is beautiful and everybody can see that the yellow colour and the light is stunning. For further reading on the painting, click here.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

József Rippl-Rónai and Woman in Pink Dress and Black Collar

'Woman in Pink Dress and Black Collar' (1915) by József Rippl-Rónai;
Private Collection

I had never heard of Hungarian painter József Rippl-Rónai, born on May 23, 1861. But I am glad to do a post on him today because there's a lot of his work that I liked instantly. In 1884 he studied art at the Academy in Munich and in 1887 he went to Paris to work in the studio of Mihály Munkácsy. Two years later he distanced himself from the style of Munkácsy and became friendly with Scottish artist James Pitcairn-Knowles. Together they moved to Neuilly near Paris. Between 1889 and 1900, his style was characterised by the reduction of colours. The painting shown here is of a later date when he used bright colours again. I love this portrait and the soft pink. It is pastel on paper and not oil on canvas which is not so difficult to see.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Mary Cassatt and Young Woman Reading

'Young woman reading' (1876) by Mary Cassatt; The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

It's incredible how many paintings exist depicting women reading. Here is another one by Mary Cassatt, born on 22 May 1844. She was an American Impressionist painter who was specialised in painting children. I never liked her paintings very much but I guess I didn't really like the paintings of children. Seeing all the images of her paintings together, there is enough left for me to like. Cassatt became one of the leading American painters at a time that the art world was predominantly male. She studied art both in the States and Europe. In 1871, she spent eight months in Parma, Italy, doing an extensive study on the Italian painter Correggio. I read that the result can be seen in her work, notably in her paintings of children. Apparently they owed much to Correggio's paintings of Madonna and child. I have to tell you that if I wouldn't have known this, I would never have guessed. But still, it makes you look at her paintings of children in a different way. Correggio was not the only painter who had inspired Cassatt. She met Edgar Degas in 1877 and he became the greatest influence on her artistic career. They had a stormy and productive relationship that lasted 40 years but they weren't romantically involved. Although there had been speculations. It was Degas who suggested she'd join the Impressionist exhibition of 1877. By 1880, Cassatt was an acknowledged member of the Impressionist group and exhibited regularly in their shows, the only American painter who succeeded in doing this. Today's painting is one of her many depictions of a woman reading. I love the image and the colours!

Monday, 21 May 2012

Albrecht Dürer and Self-Portrait

'Self portrait' (1500) by Albrecht Dürer; Alte Pinakothek, Munich

German painter Albrecht Dürer, born on 21 May 1471, is amongst others well-known for his lovely depiction of a Young Hare, which I like, but I have decided to post a self-portrait instead. Dürer's early training was in drawing and woodcutting, which he continued to favour over painting throughout his career. He is known for his engravings and for his portraits, the latter mostly commissioned. I chose today's painting (this is a detail, see the full painting here) because I think it's beautiful in detail and it's amazing that this was painted in 1500. I am sort of mesmerised by the beard and the hair!

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Charles Camoin and Lola seated with Big Hat

'Lola seated with big hat' (1920) by Charles Camoin; no location found

When I think of Fauvism, I think of Henri Matisse and his exuberant colours. I'm happy to get to know another Fauvist painter today, Charles Camoin, born on 23 September 1879 and died on 20 May 1965. Camoin lost his father at an early age and his mother enrolled him at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris where he befriended Matisse and Albert Marquet. He got acquainted with the work of Paul Cézanne and set up an active correspondence with the artist. After his meeting with Cézanne, he moderated the use of colour in his paintings. In 1913 he went through a deep artistic crisis which resulted in him destroying about eighty paintings of his work. He regained the joy of painting after a trip with Matisse to Morocco that same year. He developed a more colourful palette after visiting Pierre-Auguste Renoir in Cagnes in 1918. Camoin is well-known for his nudes, interiors and landscapes. I couldn't find the English title for today's painting and translated it from the French one, 'Lola assise au grand chapeau'. Lola was the name for Charlotte Prost whom Camoin married in 1920. I couldn't find a location for the painting either but it sold at Christie's for only $ 9,200 on 18 May 1999. For further reading, click here

Saturday, 19 May 2012

John Thomas Peele and The Song of the Shirt

'The Song of the Shirt' (1847) by John Thomas Peele; Albany Institute of History & Art, Albany

For today I chose the English painter John Thomas Peele, born on 11 April 1822 and died on 19 May 1897. I had never heard of him and I think he must have been a minor artist since he doesn't even have a Wikipedia page. He was a landscape, genre and portrait painter. His genre paintings were mostly of children. For some reason I'm not really into paintings that depict children (although I really like this one by Gainsborough) and I don't particularly like the ones by Peele. But I do like today's painting and its title 'The Song of the Shirt'. I like depictions of solitary activities although the girl here is not being very active while taking a pause and staring dreamy into space. I love the details and the colours, especially the starched white of the shirt. 

Friday, 18 May 2012

Charles Sprague Pearce and The Woodcutter's Daughter

'The Woodcutter's Daughter' (c.1894) by Charles Sprague Pearce; Private Collection

I thought I had never heard of American painter Charles Sprague Pearce, born on October 13, 1851, and died on May 18, 1914. But when I googled his paintings, I recognised two images that I had seen before. Click here and here. Both paintings were featured in the exhibition Illusions of Reality at the Van Gogh Museum some time ago. When you see Pearce's Wikipedia page and scroll down to his work, it doesn't look anything like his peasant paintings. In fact, most of the images shown there are decorative murals for the Thomas Jefferson Building at the Library of Congress at Washington. Pearce was an ambitious painter and a very diverse one because he was interested in many different artistic styles. He experimented with Realism, Orientalism (both modern and biblical), Impressionism, Pointillism, Symbolism and plein-air Naturalism. In 1885 Pearce moved to Auvers-sur-Oise (France) where he stayed for the rest of his life and where he got inspired by the surrounding nature. The painting I chose for today is called 'The Woodcutter's Daughter'. I think it's a beautiful and strong image. I love the detailed wood branches! For more information on the painter (for his Wikipedia page is very poorly), see here and here.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Leonello Spada and Saint Jerome

'Saint Jerome' (1610s) by Leonello Spada; Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica, Rome

To continue my quest for Italian painters unknown to me, for today's post I have chosen the Baroque artist Leonello Spada, born in 1576 and died on 17 May 1622, a follower of Caravaggio. He was specialised in Quadratura painting, a term introduced in the 17th century and associated with Italian ceiling painting. He painted ceilings in Bolognese churches and palaces, but unfortunately most of them are lost. Today's painting is a depiction of Saint Jerome and is very different from his other work. I like it because it reminds me very much of the work of Spanish artist José de Ribera. In fact, this painting was attributed to Ribera until 1997. It entered the National Gallery in 1952 as a work of (the school of) Ribera. This suggested that Spada had met the Spanish artist during his visit to Rome when Ribera was also staying there. But the dates don't match. Spada had been there in 1608 and 1609 whereas Ribera spent time there later, from 1613 onward. This opened a new debate on the chronology of Spada's work. Anyway, I think the anatomical features in this painting are superb.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

John Opie and Amelia Opie

'Amelia Opie' (1798) by John Opie; National Portrait Gallery, London

I think today's portrait by English painter John Opie, born on 16 May 1761, is simply beautiful. Opie was a portrait painter, completely self-taught, and amongst his sitters were many artists and writers. He was most comfortable in depicting unsophisticated subjects, using the technique of chiaroscuro. He was greatly influenced by the works of Rembrandt and Caravaggio. This may be less evident in the painting of today's post, I think, but if you google the images of his paintings, you can see for yourself. Or let me help you, just click here and here. The painting shown here is of Amelia Opie, an author of novels and John Opie's second wife. John portrayed her at the time of their marriage which lasted nine years and was a happy one. I like the simplicity of this portrait, the plain dress and hairdo. Amelia is beautiful in not being quite beautiful, do you know what I mean? The look in her eyes is loving, which is understandable since she married Opie in 1798 and the painting dates from the same year so they must have been newly weds. This painting really gets better the longer you look at it. How I do love portraits! For more information on the painting, click here.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Viktor Vasnetsov and Ivan Tsarevich Riding the Grey Wolf

'Ivan Tsarevich Riding the Grey Wolf' (1889) by Viktor Vasnetsov;
State Tretyakov Museum, Moscow

I decided to choose Russian painter Viktor Vasnetsov, born on 15 May 1848, for today's post after seeing his painting The Flying Carpet. But when I looked again at the images of his other paintings, to see if I had missed a better one, my eyes were drawn to this painting of Ivan Tsarevich and the Grey Wolf. I recognised it instantly as the painting used for the poster and the book cover of the exhibition 'Russian fairy tales, folk tales and legends' at the Groninger Museum, The Netherlands, in 2007/2008. I remember liking the poster (though I didn't know its painter until today) and I wanted to go and see the exhibition but in the end didn't. The exhibition showed paintings by Russian artists of the 19th and 20th centuries who were inspired by their own folk and fairy tales. Vasnetsov was a key figure in the transition of 19th century Russian art from realism to Art Nouveau. If you want to read more about the tale behind today's painting, click here and here. Having done this post, I really regret having missed the exhibition.

Monday, 14 May 2012

Thomas Gainsborough and The Painter's Daughters Chasing a Butterfly

'The Painter's Daughters Chasing a Butterfly' (c.1756) by Thomas Gainsborough; The National Gallery, London

I don't think I've posted a painting with a depiction of children yet (or maybe only as part of a family) but a long time ago I had a postcard of this painting by English artist Thomas Gainsborough, who was baptised on 14 May 1727, and it makes me feel nostalgic. I think this portrait is quite sweet and tender. It shows the artist's two daughters Mary, aged six, and Margaret, aged four or five. This is probably the earliest portrait Gainsborough had made of them. I love the silky dresses, the innocent faces and the sweet holding of hands. Gainsborough is known as a portrait and landscape painter. His art shows influences of the French painter Antoine Watteau, painters of the Dutch school and the Flemish painter Anthony van Dyck. He was the favourite painter of the British aristocracy, gaining wealth by doing numerous commissions for portraits. He was extremely productive, having done more than 500 paintings, of which more than 200 were portraits. Although he was highly succesful with his portraits, he preferred doing landscapes. For further reading on today's painting, click here.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

William McGregor Paxton and The House Maid

'The House Maid' (1910) by William McGregor Paxton; Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

Today is my birthday and I'm happy to share with you this wonderful painting by an artist unknown to me. I found it in an art book and I looked up the dates of birth/death of the artist and guess what? The artist is William McGregor Paxton, born on June 22, 1869, and died on May 13, 1941. Click on the link to the Dutch Wikipedia page because for some reason the English one doesn't give the exact date of death, just the year. Paxton was an American Impressionist painter and let's make it official now: I absolutely love American Impressionist painters! I have come across so many already while doing this blog. I've been wanting to use today's painting ever since I saw it in the art book and fell in love with it. But having seen the images of his other paintings, I simply have to add three more paintings to give you an idea. So please feel free to click here and here and here. Paxton is best known for his portraits and was one of the founding members of The Guild of Boston Artists, together with Edmund C. Tarbell and Frank Weston Benson. The group consisted of Boston painters who all worked in the academic and realist tradition. Paxton painted his women in stylish interiors, like many of his Gilded Age contemporaries. In today's painting the woman depicted is not the mistress of the house though, but the house maid who discovers a book during the course of her duties.  It's not so difficult to see that Paxton was influenced by 17th-century Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer. I love the details and the objects on the table!

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Veronica Veronese

'Veronica Veronese' (1872) by Dante Gabriel Rossetti; Bancroft Collection, Delaware Art Museum, Delaware

What a splash of absolutely gorgeous colours! Sometimes I wish I was a redhead and I would only wear green! Dante Gabriel Rossetti, born on 12 May 1828, was one of the major Pre-Raphaelite painters and co-founder of the brotherhood, together with William Holman Hunt and John Everett Millais. Don't be misled by his Italian sounding name, for Rossetti was an English artist. Although further reading made me discover that his father was an Italian patriot exiled to England. Rossetti was put off by his father's strong political beliefs. He came to believe that literature and art should pursue beauty for the sake of beauty. This was one of of the key elements of Pre-Raphaelite art: embracing art for art's sake. Dante was also a poet and wrote poetry for the group's magazine 'The Germ'.  His personal life and his art were closely related for he had relationships with his models and muses. In 1860, he married his model Elizabeth Siddal. She also modelled for the famous painting 'Ophelia' by John Everett Millais. Their marriage was short-lived. In 1862, Elizabeth died as a result of an overdose of laudanum, leaving Rossetti overcome with grief. For today's painting, 'Veronica Veronese', Rossetti portrayed one of his favourite models Alexa Wilding in a passionate reverie. Rossetti's women were exquisitely beautiful, composed and undisturbed, and very powerful in presence. I love this painting!

Friday, 11 May 2012

Alfred Stevens and A Young Woman Reading

'Young Woman Reading' (1856) by Alfred Stevens; no location found

I could have chosen many other paintings by the Belgian artist Alfred Stevens, born on May 11, 1823, but since this painting of a woman reading is my profile picture, it would be nice to post it here for you and link it to its painter. I got to know him when visiting an exhibition at the Van Gogh Museum a couple of years ago and fell in love with his paintings. Stevens studied art in Brussels and went to Paris to join his brother who was already there. He studied the works of Dutch painters such as Gerard ter Borch and Gabriel Metsu. Paintings from his realist period illustrate the life of the lower classes but he became well-known for his paintings of elegant women. Stevens didn't portray them as mythological or historical figures but as modern women, from the Parisian bourgeoisie. They're fashionably dressed in silk and lace fabrics, and set in stylish interiors with detail to objects, especially oriental ones. The painting of today was not on display at the exhibition though. I love this image. Imagine sitting and reading like that, your book resting in your lap of soft layers of skirt. You can almost hear it rustling with every single movement you make. Your foot rests comfortably on the velvet pillow in front of you. Beautiful colours and details! I couldn't find the painting's location, but a lot of Stevens' work is in private collections so I assume this one might be as well. So thank God for oeuvre exhibitions! These exhibitions allow the public to view wonderful art which otherwise would have remained hidden to us.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Julio Romero de Torres and The Alluring Young Girl

'The Alluring Young Girl' (1930) by Julio Romero de Torres; Museo Julio Romero de Torres, Córdoba

Finally I get to post one of my favourite paintings. The English title 'The Alluring Young Girl' of this painting by Julio Romero de Torres, born on November 9, 1874, and died on May 10, 1930, sounds strange to me because I know this painting by its Spanish title 'La Chiquita Piconera'. In Dutch, it's known as 'De Kleine Kolenbrandster' (which means 'The Little Coal Girl') and this is a much more faithful translation of the Spanish title. 'Picón' in Spanish means 'fine coal'. The website of the Museum Julio Romero de Torres actually names the painting 'The Little Coal Girl'. I had found an image of this painting a long time ago in a book on art and architecture in Andalucía. So when I travelled through Andalucía in 2002, I had to see this painting in real life. It didn't disappoint. It is beautiful and captivating and though I like the other paintings by Romero de Torres too, I wandered through the museum and kept coming back to this one numerous times. It's both his most famous painting (it had actually adorned a postage stamp of 5 pesetas) and his last one. In 1930, while travelling abroad, the artist fell ill and returned to Córdoba to recover. Here he painted 'La Chiquita Piconera', a few months before he died at the age of 55. The girl who modelled for this painting was María Teresa López. She became the artist's muse at a young age and modelled for him for many years, culminating in 'La Chiquita Piconera' (she was 16 years at the time of this painting). María and Romero de Torres were never lovers, even though he had tried to seduce her. After a bad marriage of two years, she never got married again and said that men only wanted her because of the fame she had acquired with posing for Romero de Torres. If you are interested in reading about the woman behind the painting and you read Spanish, click here. The image of the young girl in the painting is realistic as well as idealised. With her typical Andalucían features she exemplifies the sexuality of the Andalucían woman. Wearing silk stockings, she's stirring the embers in a copper brazier. She's looking straight at the spectator and her serious gaze might reflect the feelings and fears of the painter whose death was near. Through a window, we see a dark sunset on the river Guadalquivir as if the painter wanted to establish a parallelism with the end of his life. This painting holds all the key elements to the art of Romero de Torres: Córdoba wrapped in fogs, always distant and close; beauty as an ideal, reflected in women; a mixture of burning and coldness; sweetness and disappointment; archaism and modernity; nostalgia and presence.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Cornelis de Vos and Two Sisters

'Two Sisters' (c.1615) by Cornelis de Vos; Sinebrychoff Art Museum, Helsinki

Most of the paintings by the Flemish painter Cornelis de Vos, born in 1584 and died on 9 May 1651, I don't really like, but the one shown here today gets more beautiful and captivating the longer you look at it. I think it's captivating because the girls do look alike, like sisters, but at the same time have different faces. You look at them and you can even decide which of the two you find prettier (I think I find the girl on the right prettier). Vos worked closely with the famous painter Peter Paul Rubens although his style is more similar to Anthony van Dyck than Rubens. He was a portrait painter in Antwerp society and of family groups and among his best works are the paintings of children. It is in his close observation of character that his portraits resemble those of Van Dyck. I love today's portrait! It's rich in detail. Look at the fine and dramatic lace collars and notice the shadows under the eyes of the girl on the right. 

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

John Seymour Lucas and The Interval

'The Interval' (1905) by John Seymour Lucas; no location found

Today I struggled again with finding a painter and painting that I like. I chose English artist John Seymour Lucas, born on 21 December 1849 and died on 8 May 1923. I couldn't find many paintings by this artist that I liked but this painting immediately stood out. Simply because of the colours and the intimate scene. Lucas was trained as a woodcarver but soon learned to paint. His father tutored him first and then he started to study at St. Martin's Lane Art School and the Royal Academy Schools. He worked for the most part in London but also travelled to Spain where he studied the techniques of the Spanish masters. I couldn't find much information on the painting shown here, not even its location. There is some mention of it being put up for auction so it is very likely that it is in private hands.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Caspar David Friedrich and Easter Morning

'Easter Morning' (1833) by Caspar David Friedrich;
Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid

It must be evident just by scrolling down the pages of my blog that I prefer portraits over landscapes and still lifes. But I love the work of the German landscape painter Caspar David Friedrich, born on September 5, 1774, and died on May 7, 1840. I do like his paintings of landscapes with solitary figures in them better than the paintings of just landscapes but even the latter ones are stunning. His landscapes are desolate and seem to tell a story. I have been to Die Alte Nationalgalerie in Berlin some years ago and they have a room dedicated to Friedrich. Upon entering it, you get immediately drawn in by the light in his dark paintings. In 2008, I saw a small Friedrich exhibition in the Hermitage, Amsterdam, and I experienced the same. Friedrich was one of the greatest Romantic painters of the symbolic landscape. He studied in Copenhagen and settled in Dresden afterwards. His paintings are beautiful observations of nature based entirely on landscapes in northern Germany. He used people in his paintings to emphasize nature's vastness and they appear with their backs to the viewer, lost in contemplation. He also wanted to show man at the mercy of the elements. It could be that his dark paintings reflect a tragedy from his childhood. When he was 13 years old, he fell through the surface of a frozen lake and was almost killed. His brother drowned in the effort to save his life. 

Sunday, 6 May 2012

'When Apples were Golden and Songs were Sweet' by John Melhuish Strudwick

'When Apples were Golden and Songs were Sweet' (c.1906) by John Melhuish
Strudwick; Manchester Art Gallery, Manchester

Today I discovered another Pre-Raphaelite painter unknown to me, John Melhuish Strudwick, born on 6 May 1849. In the 1870s, he worked as a studio assistant to Edward Burne-Jones and this is reflected in his art style. His paintings are a mixture of Renaissance and medieval styles and show precise attention to detail, especially in his treatment of fabrics and accessories. His use of deep colours is inspired by the Pre-Raphaelites and Burne-Jones. Some of his paintings wear beautiful poetic titles like 'Thy Music, faintly falling, dies away, Thy dear eyes dream that Love will live for aye', or like the full title of today's painting 'When Apples were Golden and Songs were Sweet, but Summer had Passed Away'.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Charles Robert Leslie and Dulcinea del Toboso

'Dulcinea del Toboso' (1839) by Charles Robert Leslie;
Victoria & Albert Museum, London

I couldn't find a nice painter for today so I'm going to cheat a little bit. Because I have already done a post on Charles Robert Leslie, born on 19 October 1794 and died on 5 May 1859. Actually, it was not a post on the English painter himself, but a post on a historical event that was portrayed by Leslie. So I'm not cheating completely here. Fortunately, there is enough of Leslie's work to choose from for another post. The title of the painting I chose, 'Dulcinea del Toboso', comes from Cervantes' comic novel 'Don Quixote' (1605). Dulcinea is a fictional character in the novel, although she's only referred to but doesn't appear in the story. The aristocratic name of Dulcinea del Toboso was given by Don Quixote to a pretty peasant woman. She was unaware that he had fantasies about her. If you want to know more about her character, click on the link or consult the internet.

Friday, 4 May 2012

Thomas Wilmer Dewing and Lady with a Lute

'Lady with a Lute' (1886) by Thomas Dewing; National Gallery of Art,
Washington D.C.

I had never heard of American painter Thomas Dewing, born on the 4th of May, 1851. When you google the images of his paintings, you see this lovely palette of pastels and muted darker colours. The paintings have a dream-like quality. Then I looked up his biography and it is for these elegant depictions of women, set in poetic landscapes and sparse interiors, that Dewing is best known. With painters unknown to me, I never know whether they were great painters known to a larger public, just not to me. Apparently, Dewing was one of the most important artists of the American turn-of-the-century Gilded Age. I just read on his Wikipedia page that he is best known for his Tonalist paintings, paintings that were characterised by an overall tone of coloured atmosphere and dark, neutral hues. I could have chosen many paintings for today, because I liked more than one. I chose this painting of a woman with a lute because I think it's beautiful in composition and colour.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

William Frederick Yeames and Visit to the Haunted Chamber

'Visit to the haunted chamber' (1869) by William Frederick Yeames;
Private Collection

One thing immediately becomes clear when you google the paintings of English artist William Frederick Yeames, born on 18 December 1835 and died on 3 May 1918. His paintings tell a little story. When I looked up his page on Wikipedia, I read that the group of artists known as St John's Wood Clique, of which Yeames was a member, concentrated 'on subjects of a historical nature and narrative paintings in which the story was revealed by close study of the actions and expressions of the subjects'. Yeames took this even further and worked in the genre known as Problem Picture. This is a genre in the late Victorian era that was characterised by a narrative that could be interpreted in different ways and often represented an unresolved dilemma. I love today's painting because of the colours and the depicted scene. The two women seem to be brave and a little frightened at the same time. I couldn't find anything on the story of the painting but just look at all the details and make up your own story!

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Evelyn De Morgan and The Prisoner

'The Prisoner' (1907) by Evelyn De Morgan; De Morgan Centre, London

I like discovering Pre-Raphaelite painters unknown to me and so far I hadn't come across a female one. But today I discovered Evelyn De Morgan, born on 30 August 1855 and died on 2 May 1919. De Morgan was part of the circle of Pre-Raphaelites that included Edward Burne-Jones and it is evident that she was influenced by his work. But in addition to the themes and subjects that the Pre-Raphaelites are known for, De Morgan focused more on allegorical and symbolic themes and subjects. The painting shown here of a woman imprisoned, is a sharp commentary on the position of women during the Victorian and Edwardian eras.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Jules Breton and End of the Working Day

'End of the working day' (1887) by Jules Breton; Brooklyn Museum, New York

I've grown to like Realist painters who depict scenes of work in the fields and the hardships of everyday life. The French painter Jules Breton, born on the 1st of May, 1827, is one of them. Breton left the village Courrières, where he was born, to study art at the Academy of Fine Arts in Ghent and later on at the École des Beaux Arts. At first he painted historical subjects in the traditional academic style, but then his style evolved and he tried other subjects. He painted scenes reminiscent of his childhood in Courrières. These scenes from the peasant lifestyle and work ethic brought him fame. In today's painting you see three women at the end of a hard working day. I think it's a very strong image. You almost feel the air getting cooler now the sun has set and you feel yourself looking in the same direction as the woman in the middle, wondering if there is anything more to be done. With this painting Breton expressed his appreciation for pastoral beauty and he gives his peasant women almost a heroic and noble standing against their lower working class standing.
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