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A blog about about painting, design and other aspects of aesthetics along with a dash of non-art topics. The point-of-view is that modernism in art is an idea that has, after a century or more, been thoroughly tested and found wanting. Not to say that it should be abolished -- just put in its proper, diminished place.

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  • 05/15/17--01:00: Unfinished Le Nain
  • Unfinished paintings interest me because they reveal to some degree how an artist went about his business.

    In December I encountered an interesting example at San Francisco's Legion of Honor museum in an exhibit of paintings by France's Le Nain brothers. The link (available as I write this) to the exhibit is here. The brothers' Wikipedia entry is here.

    And here is what the National Gallery has to say about the painting in question, "Three Men and a Boy" from around 1647-48. It seems it was previously known as "A Trio of Geometers." But a cleaning revealed an unfinished image of three men (some think it's a portrait of the brothers themselves) with an image of a boy made using a different style and a different light source. I wonder what the geometers version looked like -- a quick Google search for it turned up empty -- and why it was so easily revealed by cleaning.

    A further question is which brother was the painter; it seems that they all signed paintings using only "Le Nain." The National Gallery does not designate who did it. The Athenaeum web site has Louis as the artist. Curators of the exhibit believe the painter was Mathieu.

    Gallery

    This image is from London's National Gallery, owner of the painting.

    My establishment photo taken at the exhibit.

    Closer photo of the main unfinished area. Click to enlarge for a better view of the brushwork.

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    I concentrate on paintings here because they interest me more than the other Fine Arts. Drawings are also interesting, and for some reason have tended to be regarded as less important than paintings. Perhaps that's why I unconsciously tend to ignore them in this blog.

    Because that's unfair, this post offers some balance in the form of portrait drawings by John Singer Sargent (1856-1925). By the 1900s he had tired of portrait painting and changed much of his emphasis to making watercolors and, eventually, murals. He still painted portraits, but his portrait work was increasingly in the form of drawings, some of which are presented below.

    Gallery

    Studies of Mme Pierre Gautreau for the "Madame X" painting - c.1883
    Not strictly portraiture, but historically interesting in terms of Sargent's career.

    Edwin Austin Abbey - c.1888-89

    Viola Tree - 1907

    William Butler Yeats - 1908

    Mrs Louis Ormond (Violet Sargent, the artist's sister) 

    Diana Manners

    Lady Elizabeth Bowles-Lyon, later Queen of England - 1923

    The Duke of York, later King George VI - 1923

    Mrs Theordore Frothingham Jr. (neé Eleanor Fabyan) - 1924

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    Henry Brown Fuller (1867-1934) was a capable painter who left few works of note, if the number of his paintings found via Google is any criterion. Plus, he had personal problems that might well have been related to this. His brief Wikipedia entry is here.

    As for the quality of those few images is concerned, one painting, Illusions, is in the Smithsonian American Art Museum collection. Another, his portrait of Ebba Bohm (c.1905) was on display at San Francisco's De Young when I visited in December.

    The Ebba Bohm portrait is interesting in part due to its comparative "flatness" -- not poster-like, but far from the rounded, hard-edge academic style that was prevalent only a few decades before Fuller painted Ebba. This characteristic is not so apparent in the images posted here, but for some reason stood out when I viewed the painting in person. I found it a very satisfying work by a not-well-known painter.

    This is an image of the painting found on the Internet.

    Here is a photo I took at the museum. For some reason it seems "flatter" than the image above. Perhaps it's because the colors seem less intense -- and those colors in my photo seem closer to what I saw than those in the first image.

    A close-up photo. Modeling of the head is much less apparent here than in the Internet image.

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    Henri Eugène Augustin Le Sidaner (1862-1939) was a prolific painter despite the fact that he usually painted in a small-stroke divisionist fashion. Even though he is not well known these days, the Athaenium web site has nearly 400 images of his work, far above their typical image count for painters.

    Sidaner's English language Wikipedia entry is brief, so consider the more detailed French entry and have it translate the text if you don't read French. A useful article about him from 2014 can be linked here on the (British) Spectator site.

    As for his style, Sidaner's divisionism was a treatment he applied much of the time to fairly structured draftsmanship. That is, if you look at the thumbnail images at the Athaenium site above, many seem sharp. It's only when you link through to enlarged versions that the brushwork becomes more dominant.

    Gallery

    The Return of the Flock - 1889
    An example of Sidaner's early style and subject matter.

    Portrait of Madame Hemon - 1896
    Divisionism is beginning to creep in here in the form of small color areas.  The arms and hands are poorly done.  In any case, he seldom painted people.

    Sunday - 1898
    A pleasant scene: one of his more interesting works with a Symbolist touch.

    A Canal at Bruges - 1898
    Le Sidaner avoided Paris, spending time at various places in France and Belgium.  A few of his works deal with the London area.

    The Cathedral at Chartres - 1903-04
    Note the small, lighted window.  This makes the image less relentless.  Examples of this can be found in a number of his paintings.

    Full Moon on the River - 1919
    Two lighted windows here (plus one reflected window) in this pleasantly moody painting.

    Une petite Table au crépuscule - 1921
    He often included tables with a bit of still life as subjects.  Here too is a lighted window.

    La Fenêtre du Midi, Villefranche-sur-Mer - 1927
    Another Sidaner trait was showing scenes beyond open windows.

    La ville haute - 1937
    A fairly late painting.  Color areas return, though some divisionism remains.

    Evening Celebration - 1939
    Painted not long before his death.  Atypical subject matter.  More of a sketch than a finished work (in Le Sidiner's sense).

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    Saul Tepper (1899-1987) is one of my favorite illustrators active in the 1920s and 1930s. So I was very pleased to see that Illustration Magazine featured him in this, the issue current when this post was drafted. I wrote about Tepper here, and mentioned him in a few other places. More regarding him can be found here, here, and here.

    Tepper's 1920s style was similar to the 1920s work of Dean Cornwell, perhaps in part because they studied under Harvey Dunn. Later on, both Cornwell and Tepper adjusted their styles to new illustration fashions, though Tepper eventually changed his career from being strictly being an illustrator (read the Illustration article for details).

    Below are examples of Tepper's work from that era, some also appearing in the magazine article.

    Gallery

    From a 1933 issue of McCall's magazine.

    Detail of illustration for General Electric refrigerators, 1930.

    Illustration for a story about football (American).

    "The Make-Up Time" story illustration -- 1930s college students.

    One of my favorites, this from a Chesterfield Cigarettes advertisement. I like the toned-down colors and the pose of the flapper just off the ship from Europe confronting a U.S. Customs inspector.

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    Not long ago I drove to the other side of Lake Washington to visit the Howard/Mandville Gallery. It was having the opening reception for Wanderlust: Invitational Landscape Exhibition 2017.

    I though most of the paintings on display were pleasant, and a few were very fine. But what struck me was how similar many of them seemed to one another, even allowing for the usual individual artistic personality differences.

    Of course, subject matter can be a strong influence. I've mentioned now and then how similar many paintings of California landscapes can be. Then there is the fashion factor. Like the architecture of houses, it can be fairly easy to assign, within a decade or two, when certain paintings or illustrations were made. What I was viewing seems to be a currently popular approach to painting landscapes in the temperate zone of North America. I don't intend this a criticism. Almost all the works I viewed were pleasing.

    The image at the top of this post is "Winter Silence" by Roger Dale Brown: I'll use it as an example. What is especially clear when seen in person is thinner, more free brushwork for incidental parts of the painting, though "incidental" might actually comprise much of the area of the canvas or panel. Contrasting this are more thickly painted, usually crisply defined details. In the above painting, the metal roof of the barn is an example of this. So are the tree branches shown against the sky -- the effect is wispy yet much of the detailing is sharp.

    Gallery

    "Valley Light" - Brian Blood

    "The Soloist" - Shanna Kunz

    "Road to the Forest" - David Lidbetter

    "Remnants" - David Santillanes

    "Ocher Landscape" - Andrew Skorut

    "Old Barn in Autumn" - Romona Youngquist

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  • 06/05/17--01:00: An Especially Wild Boldini
  • Giovanni Boldini (1842-1931) was a representational painter, yet he painted so freely that many of his images are exaggerated, if not flat-out distorted. His Wikipedia entry is here and includes a number of examples of his work. I have posted about him as well.

    San Francisco's Legion of Honor has Café Scene (c.1887) a small sketch-painting made in Paris. It interests me because, like many unfinished paintings, it offers some insight into how an artist goes about working.

    In Boldini's case, it is sketchy indeed.

    The painting: a cropped photo I took at the Legion of Honor. What was cropped was the frame plus a tiny bit of the painting.

    Detail.

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    Tilla Durieux (née Ottilie Godeffroy - 1880-1971) born in Vienna to a chemist (Richard Godeffroy) and a Hungarian pianist (Adelheid Ottilie Augustine Hrdlicka), was an actress who spent most of her career in Germany, but waited out the Nazi years in Switzerland and Yugoslavia. Her Wikipedia entry is here.

    Like Sarah Bernhardt and Eleonora Duse, Durieux was the subject of a number of portraits by artists even though it was the age of photography. With one noteworthy exception, the images below were created by artists of German and Austrian background.

    Gallery

    Photo of Tilla Durieux

    Tilla as Salome, by Max Slevogt - 1907

    By Oskar Kokoschka - 1910

    By Max Oppenheimer - 1912
    Note the surprisingly similar feeling in the three paintings above done by three different artists.

    Tilla as Circe - by Franz von Stuck - c. 1912-13

    Tilla as Circe - by Franz von Stuck - c. 1912-13

    Tilla as Circe - pastel and pencil - by Franz von Stuck - c. 1912-13

    By Auguste Renoir - 1914
    Here Tilla looks like most other women in Renoir paintings.

    By Emil Orlík - 1922

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    Irving Ramsey Wiles (1861-1948) ... or it it Irving Ramsay Wiles? Go to Google and you will find both spellings.

    In December I came across his painting "The Sonata" (1889) at San Francisco's De Young. The placard next to the painting has it "Ramsey" whereas the De Young's web page for the painting favors "Ramsay."

    A small matter, so far as this post is concerned. My interest here is that painting.

    As for Wiles, his very brief Wikipedia entry is here. I blogged about his depictions of women here.

    In that post I held that Wiles was not a great artist, but a good one who made some fine paintings. "Sonata" is one of those. Note the "X" composition as well as the brushwork in the Up Close photos I took. Click on the images to enlarge.

    Gallery

    This image is from the De Young web site.

    "The Sonata" as seen in its gallery by my camera.

    Detail of the upper part of the painting.

    Detail showing Wiles' treatment of fabrics.

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    Franz von Stuck (1863-1928) was an important Munich artist during the decades surrounding the turn of the 20th century. He was both a rebel of sorts, helping found the Munich Secession, and an establishmentarian as a professor at the Munich Academy. His Wikipedia entry is here. I wrote about Stuck here and here.

    Stuck can fairly be called a Symbolist when he wasn't painting portraits or genre scenes (I'm not aware of Stuck landscapes or still lifes, but there might be a few). His preferred subjects were nude or partly-clothed women, though he did paint some nude males, in more than one painting shown fighting over a nude woman.

    His painting style varied considerably, but not in the form of moving from one style to another as time passed. That is, throughout his career we find fuzzy looking paintings along with crisp works and somewhat poster-like images. I presume Stuck established a set of painting styles during the first part of his career that he then deployed depending upon the subject of a work.

    Gallery

    Sphinx - 1889

    The Guardian of Paradise - 1889
    Two paintings from Stuck's 20s. Both completed the same year, but with different atmospheres. The murky style of Sphinx will reappear later, often with fuzzier brushwork.

    Frau Braun - 1896
    Considerable contrast between the carefully rendered face and the rest of the painting.

    Two Dancers - 1896
    Again, the greatest detail is in the faces, as might be expected. Otherwise, Stuck's anatomical work is still more true to reality than in some of the later paintings shown below.

    Die Wippe - 1898

    Franz and Mary Stuck in the Studio - 1902
    I doubt that Stuck's clothing shown here were his usual painting togs ... but I just might be wrong.

    Portrait of a Lady - 1912
    Again, the contrast between carefully rendered parts and quite loosely done other areas.

    Sounds of Spring - 1912
    By the 1910s Stuck added a style to his repertoire that had a flatter, more illustration-like quality.

    Badende Frauen - c. 1920
    His "Bathing Women" is sketchy across the board. Perhaps this was a study (though it's signed). Or maybe he was reacting to works by younger, post-1900, Modernist painters.

    Phryne - 1918
    An example of his dark, fuzzy style. Only a few details are sharply depicted.

    The Judgement of Paris - 1923
    A poster-like painting. Flat, with some mural-style outlining along with some fuzziness for the women's bodies.

    Marianne Mechler - 1924
    Presumably a commission, because most Stuck effects are absent.

    Pygmalion and Galatea - 1926
    A dark, somewhat fuzzy painting from near the end of his career.

    Wind and Waves (unfinished) - 1928
    What Stuck was doing near the end of his life. Not far from what he'd been painting for many years.

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    The photo above was taken at the Frye meatpacking facility in Seattle's Georgetown neighborhood perhaps sometime around 1940. The reason why all those paintings are there is because they were overflow from the home of Charles Frye and his late wife Emma who had an extensive collection. The painting at the upper left is Dans le bois (also called "The Sisters") a late (1905) work by William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1825-1905) the prolific French painter whose works were not worth much when the photo was taken, but now can be bought at auction for more than a million dollars.

    The packing plant was destroyed in 1943 when one of the three prototype XB-29 bombers experienced an engine fire and crashed into it. The entire crew was killed, including famed test pilot Eddie Allen, and more were killed in the plant. The Bouguereau was not destroyed, and perhaps there were no paintings there at the time. What was lost was documentation for the Frye collection. More about the crash and the Frye collection is here and here. Some background on the Frye Museum, where the collection now resides, is here.

    The two photos above and the one following are excerpts from the Fry Museum web site. This photo shows part of the collection when it was housed in the Frye residence.

    Another Frye residence photo. Here the Bouguereau can be seen in the corner next to a portrait of Mrs. Frye.

    And here is that Bouguereau as captured by my camera June 11th of this year.

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    Beautiful, famous women attracted well-known portrait painters. In some cases, the painters would create multiple versions of their subject. Such was the case of opera star Geraldine Farrar (1882-1967) and Munich-based Friedrich August von Kaulbach (1850-1920). Biogrphical information on Farrar is here, and a brief summary of Kaulbach's career is here.

    I suspect that Kaulbach was fascinated by and infatuated with the 32-years-younger singer. He was probably not alone.

    Gallery

    Photo of Farrar when young, not very far from the time she was in Germany and Kaulbach painted her.

    Farrar shown in a performance setting. This painting is in Seattle's Frye Museum collection.

    Studie zu einem Bildnis der Sängerin Geraldine Farrar (Study for a Portrait of the Singer Geraldine Farrar), a 1906 painting.


    This painting and the one above it portray Farrar wearing essentially the same costume.

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    Edward Arthur Wilson (1886-1970) was a successful illustrator who eventually specialized in illustrating books. But in 1927 and 1928 he illustrated a series of advertisements for General Motors' new LaSalle brand.

    The first LaSalles are noteworthy because their styling was directed by Harley Earl whose work so pleased GM's top management that he was given the opportunity to create a permanent styling group for the corporation, a first for the American automobile industry. Therefore, all future LaSalles (they were produced through the 1940 model year) were designed under Earl.

    It happened that Earl cribbed a good deal of the first LaSalle's appearance from French Hispano-Suizas. Perhaps that was a factor in early LaSalle advertising that featured the cars in European -- especially French -- settings. The French angle provided some prestige to those "companions cars" to Cadillac, because French luxury cars were highly regarded in America during the 1920s, as was French culture.

    Information about Wilson can be found here and, especially, here. The latter link includes the following quotation from Wilson, something of interest to historians of illustration art.

    "What pulled me through the two wars and the well-known depression was my idle time in which I used to fiddle around with new methods of getting a drawing to reproduce as near facsimile as possible. You must remember that printing and photoengraving were rudimentary then compared to what they are today. Whatever style I may have now was brought about by striving to get my drawing printed as nearly as possible to the way I made it."

    Gallery

    La Nouvelle Arrivée
    Toward the left is a woman in regional garb; near the right is a French army officer on the verge of falling over backward.

    Le Liévre et La Tortue
    You can click on most of these images to enlarge. That will allow you to better see that the driver jauntily has a pipe in his mouth.

    Promenade des Anglais: Nice
    At the right, over the sea is the Jetée-Promenade de Nice, a landmark structure destroyed in 1944. The Promenade is still there, and often much more crowded than Wilson's illustration shows.

    No title
    A fishing town. Nothing swanky like Nice's Promenade. But this also might be on the Riviera due to the mountains or very high hills in the background. On the other hand, the rest of the setting seems more like Brittany. Perhaps the background terrain was added for compositional purposes.

    L'Opéra
    This is curious because one would think the setting is the Paris Opera (now the Opéra Garnier). But it isn't. Perhaps it's an opera house in another French city. Or maybe Wilson depicted an imaginary opera house. Knowledgeable readers might set us straight in comments.

    Threadneedle Street
    For a change of pace, this is London near the location of the Bank of England. Once again, I cannot identify the building in the background when comparing it to Google street views (as I did researching the previous image). There is no record that Wilson was sent to Europe to seek backgrounds for the various advertisements, so he might have relied on photographs or used his imagination as inspired by photos.

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    Théo van Rysselberghe (1862-1926) was a Post-Impressionist who often painted in a Pointillist style. His Wikipedia entry is here. I wrote about him here, briefly touching on his portrait work.

    It seems that van Rysselberghe really liked Pointillism and the related Divisionism a lot, never totally abandoning (while watering down) the concepts later in his career when many of his paintings were more conventional.

    But he had to earn a living and, as for many painters, that required making portraits. So van Rysselberghe often tried to include as much Pointillism as he could in a number of those portraits. The problem is, Pointillism and portraiture do not mix easily. That's because Pointillism in its pure form cannot handle small details and sharp edges, things that portraits traditionally require.

    So compromises usually had to be made, as the images below indicate. They are presented in roughly chronological order.

    Gallery

    Portrait of Alice Sèthe - 1888
    An early Pointillist portrait.

    Mathilde Vereeken - 1891
    This features many little colored dots on the subject's face, but van Rysselberghe had to use some conventional brushwork on the ear, the lower part of the nose and upper lip, and the eyes.

    Emile Verhaeren - 1892
    A mix of hard edges and dots here.

    Jeune fille en vert - c. 1892
    Pointillism doesn't always work for hair, either.

    Anna Bloch in her Studio - c. 1893
    By the time he did this portrait, Rysselberghe was resorting to conventional painting for faces and hands.

    Maria and Elizabeth van Rysselbergh
    Around 1900,  he was using plenty of sharp lines, leaving Pointillism for flat, plain surfaces.

    Portrait of Mme Demolderlder (detail) - 1902
    Closer view of how he was treating faces.

    Mevrouw Henry van de Velde-Sèthe
    From the same era: a selective mix of forms and dots.

    Woman at Her Toilette - 1905
    Since this wasn't a commissioned portrait, Rysselberghe could enjoy using much pointillism here, though some lines are strategically used.

    André Gide - 1908
    An example of  his brushwork in a more Divisionism mode, though key facial features are drawn, not dabbed.

    Madame von Bedenhausen avec son enfant Luli - 1910
    Pointillism and Divisionism can be seen here, but they are incidental to the depiction.

    Portrait of Margarethe Kühlmann-Stumm - 1913
    This portrait has bright colors, but otherwise is almost conventional.

    Mrs Schlumberger and her Daughter Luli - 1918
    Another near-conventional work, but the coloration gives it an Impressionist feeling even though sharp details are present.

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    Sergei Bongart (1918-1985), emigré Ukrainian painter, had a successful career in America as an artist and teacher. His early training included a sound grounding in traditional painting, but he also was strongly influenced by Russians whose styles were Impressionism-derived. There is not a lot concerning Bongart on the internet, so this post of mine is about as good a place to start as any.

    The present post features a Bongart painting that captured my interest at this exhibit at Seattle's Frye Museum. The exhibit showed a few examples of art acquired for the museum by each its various directors over the years since its establishment in the early 1950s to supplement the founding collection of Charles and Emma Frye. Many examples from the founding collection are always on display in accordance with the Fryes' wishes. The more recent acquisitions are less often seen, and I had never laid eyes on that Bongart.

    The subject of Bongart's portrait is Walser Sly Greathouse who was executor of the Frye estate and when the museum they wished to establish was opened in 1952, Greathouse was its directer, a position he held until his death in 1966. The Bongart painting does not have a precise date, being classified as "circa 1966." So it likely was posthumous with regard to Greathouse. On the other hand, Bongart and the Frye were on very good terms, and 21 of his paintings have entered its collection since 1961. Five of these were acquired before Greathouse died, so Bongart knew him and didn't just create the portrait from photos and nothing else.

    The Greathouse portrait by Bongart was acquired in 1967 in part using funds from friends of Greathouse, so it probably can be regarded as a commissioned work. It was painted on masonite using acrylic paints.

    What caught my interest was the contrast between the sketchy, colorful setting and the subdued, traditionally painted face that, despite all the Bongart pyrotechnics, is the strong focus of the work.


    Let's start with two examples of Bongart's style when painting people. First is the brightly done "Girl with Red Shawl" from around 1975.

    And using a different color scheme is "Man with Turban" c. 1965.

    A photographic portrait of Walser Greathouse made many years before his death. This and the following photo are from the Frye web site.

    Greathouse showing paintings at the Frye Museum, perhaps around the time it was opened.

    Bongart's portrait of Greathouse. The reds of the furniture are more intense than indicated here. Given such shocking brightness, one would expect this to distract from Greathouse. But no: The cool-colored (again coloring a bit distorted by the camera, grays being less obvious) head and face remain the painting's focus. A real tour-de-force by Bongart.

    Detail showing Greathouse's face.  The rest of the painting, aside from his face and hands, is sketchy -- even the attire shown here.  So it is the comparative lack of sketchiness on the face that also attracts our attention.

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    Victor Mikhail Arnautoff (1896-1979) had a career featuring several interesting real or apparent contradictions, as his Wikipedia entry indicates.

    He was born in Russia, fought in the Great War for the Imperial army, served in the anti-Bolshevik White army, and then fled the country for China. He eventually came to the USA, painted murals and canvas-based paintings, and taught art at Stanford University. As part of his mural painting, he worked with Diego Rivera which, perhaps along with other factors, led him to left-wing politics. Following the death of his wife and retirement from Stanford, Arnautoff moved to the Soviet Union, dying in Leningrad.

    So he "progressed" from anti-Bolshevism to leftism, depicting proletarians while teaching at an elite university. I'd call it a nice trick, but aside from the anti-Bolshevik part, the rest isn't uncommon today.

    As for his mural style, Arnautoff was mainstream in his Modernism-lite technique. His approach to subject matter was essentially representational, but tempered by modernist conventions so that picture-plane flatness, considerable simplification, and a little distortion of forms were included. The result has a cartoon-like character to my eyes. But that style was a 1930s artistic fashion.

    His major work was a mural titled "City Life" that was part of the Coit Tower mural set (that was recently restored). It is featured in the images below that include a few other works intended to provide some sense of his artistic range. Click on images to enlarge.

    Gallery

    Here is an image of the entire City Life mural. At the center is an actual door that Arnautoff framed using a news stand.

    A detail from the left-hand panel. Near the news stand is a man being held up at gunpoint. In the upper center area is a dead man in the street being photographed by newsmen. Above it (not seen in this segment) is a street leading up to San Francisco's Legion of Honor art museum that in fact was far across town beyond the Golden Gate.

    Detail from the right-hand panel.

    And a further detail. The tall man in the image is a self-portrait of the artist. The newspaper rack above the boy at the left contains "The Masses," a far-left magazine and the "Daily Worker," the U.S. Communist Party newspaper. Arnautoff took some critical heat from this sly stunt, but it was far less blatantly leftist than what could be seen in other Coit Tower murals. Almost all the murals were politicized to some degree because most of the artists were leftist. But keep in mind that the Great Depression was in full force in 1933 and '34 and that Stalin's show trials and his later deal with Hitler (which gave a number of Communist sympathizers food for thought) were years in the future.

    From a 1932 vintage mural he did for the Palo Alto Medical Center. The bared breasts were controversial.

    Photo of a 1935 mural at the Presidio Chapel -- the Presidio being a military base established by Spaniards and occupied by the U.S. Army at the time the mural was painted.

    Photo of a 1910 mural for the Richmond, California Post Office. It was removed and forgotten for many years, but turned up not long ago.

    Easel oil painting "At Baker Beach" from around 1945. Modernist flatness is gone, but the male at the right has the head of an adult and much of the body of a boy. Makes me wonder what he was teaching Stanford art students at the time.

    "City Hall, San Francisco" from the late 1940s (I'm using the poorly drawn cars to date this). Arnautoff is far from his precise mural style here.

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    I just got my copy of David Apatoff's long-awaited book about Bernie Fuchs, who many of us consider the greatest illustrator active in the waning days of large-circulation, general-interest magazines. Actually, Fuchs can be ranked as one of the very best American illustrators ever.

    During his brief career-building phase (he rocketed to the top by the time he was in his late 20s) Fuchs spent a few years in Detroit working on advertisement and brochure illustrations for automobiles. He mostly did backgrounds and settings, leaving rendering of the car to a specialist. But Apatoff's book suggests that he might have illustrated cars from time to time: he definitely paid close attention to how that was done.

    Because of that background, he wasn't afraid to include cars in some of his advertising and editorial assignments, and those cars were easy to identify. That is, he didn't invent his own designs for generic cars.

    This is in contrast to the depiction of automobiles on covers of the Saturday Evening Post, the leading American general-interest magazine for most of the first two-thirds of the 20th century. I did a Google search for usable images of Post covers that included automobiles for inclusion in this blog post. I didn't turn up every Post cover from 1945 through 1959 (my target era). All covers can be found on the Post web site, but they are watermarked and therefore not usable here. What I found was that most car designs were totally made up by the illustrator. In a few cases, cars pictured were close to actuality, but partly hidden by other subject matter.

    Why did this happen? The Saturday Evening Post was a favorite "ad buy" for advertising agencies with automotive clients. Every issue could be counted on having a number of car ads. So my guess is that the magazine's editors and art directors instructed illustrators to avoid portraying actual cars, this so that advertisers would not be offended. ("Hey, guys, we spend tons of money on Chevrolet ads and your latest cover featured a Ford!! Are you giving them a free plug or something? We just might switch more of our budget to Life and Collier's.")

    If anyone knows for sure why the Post featured generic cars, please let us know in Comments.

    Gallery

    Fuchs story illustration showing a mid-1950s Volkswagen. Click on the Fuchs images to enlarge.

    At the left is a 1960 DeSoto. Behind it, across the street, is a 1959 Plymouth. I'm not sure why Bernie was featuring Chrysler Corporation products here.

    This Fuchs view of the Brooklyn baseball stadium in the late 1940s might have been painted in the mid-1970s, judging by the style. The blue car at the right is a 1946-48 vintage Chrysler. Note that Fuchs has a blurred image of a man screening part of the sharply-done car. Amazing how he combined the two styles without destroying the car's details. He must have painted the car first and very carefully added the man and his hat. The car behind the Chrysler is a 1946 Buick.

    Here Fuchs fudged things slightly. The car is a 1957 Imperial (yet another Chrysler product).
    But he didn't paint a small point on the chrome strip above the headlights, above which was a small crest. That is, he very thinly disguised the car.

    Saturday Evening Post - 24 March 1945
    This wartime illustration, when no American cars were being built, shows a 1941 Ford. A reference book of mine has a photo of what seems to be this car -- same police sign, same license plate.

    Saturday Evening Post - 22 September 1951
    This police car is a 1949 or 1950 Ford. However, clipping off the front and rear ends and placing the man in front of the car make it hard to identify for many people.

    Saturday Evening Post - 8 September 1956
    One last Post example of an identifiable car. It is a 1954 Mercury with some distinctive side trim abaft of the door missing. Placing all the camping stuff in front of the car also helps to disguise it. The image's watermark is because this is a slightly cleaned-up cover by a poster-selling firm.

    Saturday Evening Post - 3 October 1953
    Now we show what was typical for the Post. The front of the car is somewhat like a 1950 Cadillac, but the rest is nondescript.

    Saturday Evening Post - 4 August 1956
    These cars look vaguely like early '50s General Motors models, but they lack brand identification ornamentation.

    Saturday Evening Post - 8 December 1956
    The cars pictured in this cover are totally contrived (though the side trim on the red car is similar to some 1956 Ford's).

    Saturday Evening Post - 15 November 1958
    The wraparound windshield is similar to 1954-56 General Motors "C" body cars, but the rest of the car illustrated here is imaginary.

    Saturday Evening Post - 21 May 1949
    A totally imaginary design. However, in the background is what looks like a Jeep station wagon.

    Saturday Evening Post - 1 August 1959
    The cars in the foreground are imaginary, but farther away I notice shapes and trim that remind me of mid-50s production cars. But their images are so tiny and partial that it doesn't matter.

    Saturday Evening Post - 5 January, 1952
    I used this Coby Whitmore cover in another post. Whitmore was a total car guy and knew full well what different brands looked like. But had to come up with his own designs here.

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    Friedrich August von Kaulbach (1850-1920), an important Munich artist in his day, occasionally painted several portraits of one subject. I previously wrote about his multiple portraits of opera singer Geraldine Farrar here. Some background on Kaulbach is here.

    Besides Farrar, Kaulback devoted a fair amount of canvas and oil paint to Hanna Ralph (1888-1978) née Johanna Antonia Adelheid Günther, a stage and screen actress. Her Wikipedia entry is here.

    Gallery

    Photo of Hanna from 1918.

    Kaulbach portrait probably painted around 1915-17.

    This version from Seattle's Frye Museum includes the same hat and pose as in the previous painting.

    Another portrait, this dated c. 1917.  Might have been made around the same time as the others: note the similarity of Hanna's hair styles.

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    Rinaldo Cuneo (1877-1939) was part of a generation of artistic siblings who were born and grew up in San Francisco. His Wikipedia entry states that his paintings were quite popular and that he was dubbed "the Painter of San Francisco" (though it isn't clear who did the dubbing).

    Rinaldo interests me because of his brother Cyrus, who I wrote about here. Cyrus made his comparatively brief career in England and, in turn, mostly interests me because he was the father of the well-known illustrator Terence Cuneo. One of my posts about Terence is here.

    As for Rinaldo, his paintings tended to be solid-appearing, slightly simplified representations of landscape scenes (mostly) and urban setting (less so). Aside from a self-portrait, I didn't notice any significant images by him featuring people.

    Furthermore, Rinaldo is not considered a California Impressionist. Well, none of the reference books in my library dealing with that school mention him at all. So far as I am concerned, his paintings are generally inferior to those of the best California Impressionists. Perhaps this is because the paintings shown below are mostly from the 1920s or 30s, a period when artists were trying to deal with the advent of Modernism, as I described in my ebook Art Adrift. The result was a lot of inferior artistic work for for painters who were influenced by that fad.

    Gallery

    Marin Dairy Farm

    Lover's Point, Pacific Grove
    Pacific Grove in on the Monterey Peninsula, just west of the city of Monterey.

    Sierra Lake
    Stylistically a cross between Edgar Payne and Paul Cézanne.

    Storm Mountains - c. 1930

    Owens Valley

    San Francisco Seascape (Baker Beach) - 1928

    The Embarcadero at Night - c. 1927-28
    The Embarcadero is San Francisco's stretch of waterfront between Market Street and Fisherman's Wharf that was its center for docks and shipping in Rinaldo's day.

    Earth Patterns - c. 1932

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    John Roddam Spencer-Stanhope (1829-1908) painted (in oil and tempera) scenes that were distinctly Pre-Raphaelite, though the Wikipedia entry just linked does not, as of 18 January 2017, include him in its lists of Pre-Raphaelites, associated artists, and "Loosely Associated Artists."

    His Wikipedia entry is here. Art Renewal Center's take on his is here. Clearly, Spencer-Stanhope knew and was influenced by Pre-Raphaelites and their Victorian successors, particularly his friend Edward Burne-Jones. And the renewed interest in that aspect of art history has led to rising prices for his works.

    Below are images of some of his paintings in chronological order by year.

    Gallery

    Thoughts of the Past - 1859
    Although all the details differ, this reminds me of "Mariana," a 1850-51 painting by John Everett Millais.

    Study for "Thoughts of the Past" - c. 1859

    The Robins of Modern Times - 1860
    Any allegorical or symbolic meaning in this painting was more clear to viewers in 1860 than it is to me in 2017.

    Juliet and the Nurse - 1863
    A Shakespearean subject.

    The Wine Press - 1864
    Lacking a 19th century elite British education, the reference of this painting also escapes poor me. However the Tate offers this discussion regarding it.

    The gentle music of bygone days - 1873
    The title is a line from the poem 'The Earthly Paradise' by William Morris.

    Love and the Maiden - 1877

    Eve Tempted - 1877
    Very Burne-Jones- like. Spencer-Stanhope painted several close variations on this, but titles differed.

    The Rescue - 1880

    The Expulsion form Eden - c. 1900
    Note the similar stylized appearance of the males in this image and the one immediately above.

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