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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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    Roger Broders (1883-1953) was a French poster artist who created around 100 posters for the Paris-Lyon-Méditerranée (Compagnie des Chemins de fer de Paris à Lyon et à la Méditerranée) (PLM) railroad. His English language Wikipedia entry is here.

    I wrote about his Art Deco / Moderne posters here. This post presents some of his work done before his late 1920s transformation to highly simplified illustrations.

    Gallery

    This is an example of Broders' mature work of the late 1920s and the 1930s.

    Before railroad posters, Broders illustrated other subjects.

    This is a totally contrived view of Avignon. He shows the famous pont, but it is a ways upstream from the Papal Palace that, in turn is actually behind a large wall if viewed from the river. Here, the wall might be in scale relative to the houses (assuming they are considerably in its foreground), but the actual palace is greatly enlarged by Broders for promotional effect.

    A more realistic view of Florence. The image is simplified, as most 20th century posters have been, but not nearly so much as in the Moderne style one at the top. Another way to date Broders' posters is to examine his signature: Moderne versions are sans-serif style.

    Menton lies just inside the French-Italian border.


    Two non-Riviera destinations.  The images are not yet as stylized as in his later work.

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    Emilian Lăzărescu (1878-1934) was a versatile painter who spent much of his career in his native Romania. The latter bit of information tells why he is essentially unknown to the art world at large. It's usually the case that artists from out-of-the-way countries are ignored unless they either move to an artistic center such as Paris, London or New York, or they spend considerable time in such places. For example, probably the most famous Romanian artist is the sculptor Constantin Brancusi (1876-1958), who spent more than 50 years of his life in Paris.

    As for Lăzărescu (a contemporary of Brancusi), a casual Google search revealed little of use other than a brief Wikipedia entry in Romanian (you can have Google translate it).

    Below are examples of his work. Most are undated, so I arranged them according to my best guess as to their chronological order. Some were made in Paris where he studied art. Others depict Great War scenes. Most deal with fashionable women and their activities.

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    The Green Shawl - 1910

    Pe cheiul Senei (Quay of the Seine)

    Bal masque

    Pudica (Bashful / Chaste)

    Femeie culcată pe canapea

    Ajunsi in prima linie de foc

    Regruparea

    Marasesti

    Sarja de cavalerie (Cavalry Charge)

    După bal (After the Ball)

    The Green Scarf

    Redhead

    French Evening - 1932

    Cochetărie (Coquetry)

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    The Norton Simon museum in Pasadena, California has one of the many portraits Amadeo Modigliani made of his common-law wife Jeanne Hébuterne during the few years of their relationship before his death and her suicide.

    A lengthy (for Wikipedia) biography of Modigliani (1884-1920) is here, and the entry for Jeanne Hébuterne (1898-1920) is here. A commentary on their relationship is here.

    Below are images of Jeanne.

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    A formal photographic portrait of Jeanne Hébuterne, perhaps taken before she met Modigliani.

    Snapshot of Jeanne Hébuterne, who appears to be pregnant with either her daughter Jeanne or the child never born.

    Portrait of Jeanne Hébuterne by Modigliani, 1918. Well, that's who Wikipedia says it is. But the woman shown here has brown eyes, and Jeanne's were blue or gray. Also, the shape of the bottom of the nose is wrong.

    "Portrait of the Artist's Wife, Jeanne Hébuterne 1918" is the caption of this painting at the Norton Simon.

    Here is the painting as seen by my camera.

    Closeup photo: click on images to enlarge for a better view of brushwork.

    An odd thing about Modigliani's art, at least as a Modernist, is that his female "portrait" subjects are nearly or entirely unrecognizable, and those of men not much better. This Telegraph article mentions that he would paint his subjects indirectly, combining visual memory and his feelings about them.

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    Franklin Booth (1874-1948) was something of a genius as a pen artist. When young, he unconsciously used pen and ink to imitate engraved illustrations he saw in magazines. When he discovered what he was doing, he must have liked the results he was getting, because he used the same general approach for most of the rest of his career. (Apparently some of his later works incorporated scratchboard. And he did do some conventional illustration in color.) More information about his life and career is here.

    Below is a portrait of Theodore Roosevelt by Booth worth careful examination.


    This is a very large image compared to most found on this blog. Even so, it is a cropped version of the original. I kept it large so that you'll be able to see how Booth used various pen strokes and hashing angles to yield a convincing portrait of the president. Click on the image to enlarge it further.

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  • 08/07/17--01:00: Fragonard's "Music"
  • Jean-Honoré Fragonard (1732-1806) was a leading French Rococo painter who happily painted many risqué scenes pleasing to his Ancien Régime clientele. He painted other subjects as well, including portraits, but scenes featuring partly clad women in upper-class settings are what he is best known for. Some biographical information is here.

    The Norton Simon museum has some Fragonards that I saw when I was there in April. One, titled "Music" (ca. 1760-65) interested me because it was less cluttered that his better-known works.

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    Young Girl Reading - c. 1770
    First, a few of Fragonard's characteristic works.

    The Swing - c. 1767-69
    Perhaps his most famous painting.

    The Happy Lovers - c. 1760-65
    This also was on display at the Norton Simon.

    My photo of "Music." Click this and other images to enlarge.

    A closer view.

    Closer yet. Fragonard often depicted young women as seen here: from slightly below with their heads tilted and their eyes looking upwards. Note his brushwork and selection of colors.

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    August Macke (1887-1914) was a modernist painter and founding member of the short-lived Blue Rider (Der Blaue Reiter) group of painters. His Wikipedia entry is here, and an assessment of his life and work is here.

    It is impossible to be sure what stylistic path Macke would have followed had he lived a normal life span, because he died age 27 in combat as the Western Front was forming in the aftermath of Germany's defeat in the Battle of the Marne.

    As the title of this post indicates, my take on Macke is that he had too much regard for real world appearances to get fully sucked into the modernist "isms" of the early 20th century. Whether this restraint would have continued beyond 1914 is anyone's guess. My opinion is that he was one of the most likable modernist German painters of his time.

    Gallery

    August Macke and Elisabeth Gerhard in Bonn, 1908
    Macke appears to be wearing his army uniform, which dates this photo in October 1908 or later, as that was the month he began his required service. Elisabeth, who he married in 1910, is the subject of three images below.

    Self-Portrait - 1909

    Elisabeth Gerhard - 1909

    Portrait with Apples (Elisabeth Gerhard) - 1909

    Elisabeth Reading
    A more modernist version of Elisabeth but, as usual, a restrained Modernism.

    Ansicht vom Tegernsee - 1910
    A landscape without Fauvist coloring.

    Marienkirche mit Häusern und Schornstein - 1911
    A scene in Bonn.

    Indians on Horses
    A painting from Macke's imagination. Wild West adventure stories were popular in Wilhelmine Germany.

    Colored Forms III - 1913
    He experimented with Orphist abstractions, a new art fashion at the time.

    Lady in Green Jacket - 1913
    Colors here are more poster-like than Fauvist.

    Großes helles Schaufenster - 1912
    "Large, Bright Display Window" is my English title to this watercolor that includes some Cubist elements. The female figure is not Cubist, as Macke seemed reluctant to depart far from that reality.

    Hat Shop - 1914
    Another in a series showing women shopping for clothing and fashion articles.

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    William James Aylward (1875-1956) was an illustrator who specialized in maritime subjects. That didn't mean he couldn't do other things, and he was selected to become one of a small group of war artists send to France to depict activities of the AEF (American Expeditionary Force). I wrote about him here, and a link with biographical information and examples of his work is here.

    David Apatoff at his Illustration Art blog has a series of posts dealing with a Smithsonian exhibit of work done by those artists, including Aylward (one of these posts is here).

    I hopped over to his link to the exhibit (here), and selected some examples of Aylward's 1918 work to show below.

    Gallery

    Troops Waiting to Advance at Hattonchâtel - St. Mihiel Drive - 1918
    The St. Mihiel Salient was a longstanding German bulge on the Western Front.  Its eradication was one of the more important tasks assigned to the AEF in September, 1918.

    On the Trail of the Hun - St. Mihiel Drive - 1918
    Note the peaceful French countryside in the background.  It's not clear if this was land behind AEF lines before the attack or some distance north or northeast following the collapse of the salient.

    Street Barricade at Château-Thierry - 1918
    One of Erich Ludendorff's 1918 offensives thrust the German army across the Marne River at Château-Thierry, a city where a battle was fought. Aylward's illustration was probably made after the Germans were pushed back.

    American Troops Supply Train - 1918

    Clearing Out the Road through Mont St. Père - 1918
    Mont Saint Père is about four miles up the Marne from Château-Thierry, so again this was made after the failure of Ludendorff's offensive. I think it is a very nice work.

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    Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919) is known as a French Impressionist, but he wasn't always one. For example, I posted here about a time when he doubted Impressionism. This, and more about him and his art can be found in his Wikipedia entry.

    So when I visited the Norton Simon museum in Pasadena, California in April I wasn't surprised by his 1867-68 vintage painting of the Pont des Arts, a footbridge over the Seine connecting the Louvre with the École des Beaux-Arts.

    It's a comparatively early Renoir, before French Impressionists such as Claude Monet began using broken (or divisionist) color. The Norton Simon web site's blurb on the painting states; "Planted in the heart of Paris, we stand on the Left Bank of the Seine, looking upstream toward the wrought-iron Pont des Arts... The crisp shadows and liberally applied black are typical of Renoir’s early career, when the artist and his friend Monet set out to document their changing city in a celebrated series of views to which this one belongs."

    Monet is mentioned, but there also are hints of Édouard Manet in some of the nearly-flat color areas.

    Gallery

    This is "On the Terrace" (1881), the sort of painting most folks associate with Renoir.

    Here is Le Pont des Arts, Paris (1867-68), the painting I noticed at the Norton Simon.

    What my camera saw: establishment shot.

    A detail photo. Click to enlarge and inspect Renoir's brushwork.

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    As I've mentioned before, Giovanni Battista Tiepolo (1696-1770) is one of my favorite pre-19th century painters. I posted about his early works here, and about his female faces here. And here is his Wikipedia entry.

    The Norton Simon museum in Pasadena, California collection includes a very large Tiepolo, "The Triumph of Virtue and Nobility Over Ignorance" (1740-50, perhaps 1743). Their web site mentions "This painting was designed for a ceiling in the Palazzo Manin in Venice. Virtue is dressed in white with a sun symbol on her breast. Beside her, Nobility holds a statuette of Minerva and a spear. To the left, Fame blows her trumpet. Below, the figure of Ignorance is being vanquished."

    Even though it's a ceiling painting, it works fairly well when displayed on a Norton Simon wall. The main ceiling effect is that the depictions are made from a low point of view.

    Typical of Tiepolo, Virtue is represented by the pouty blonde model found in many of his works.

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    A photo I took when visiting the museum in April. The information plaque seen towards the lower right serves as an indication of the scale of the painting.

    A cropped image from another photo taken during my visit. Click to enlarge.

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    Bernd Steiner (1884-1933) was an Austrian illustrator and artist best known (though he is far from famous) for his posters. The only biographical information I could find on a quick Google search was this Wikipedia entry in German. The translation feature for once yielded a text that largely made sense in English. Unfortunately, the entry is brief. Basically, Steiner was an officer in the Austro-Hungarian army during the Great War and had his right hand (presumably the one he drew using) badly injured. Regardless, he was able to continue his career, and most of the images of his work on Google are post-war.

    By the late 1920s he was living in Bremen, Germany, doing posters for the North German Lloyd steamship company and teaching art. But he returned to Austria, dying in Vienna aged 49.

    As the title of this post indicates, Steiner had no recognizable style. On one hand, this meant he could stay current with changing illustration fads and fashions. On the other, this probably contributed to his lack of the fame that the likes of A.M. Cassandre and Ludwig Hohlwein attained in the poster field.

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    We begin with two examples of Steiner's painting. I don't have information of the first one, but the once immediately above is titled "Oberwölz" (1921).


    Here are two posters using the same format from the early 1920s.

    Another Vienna poster from the same period. I'm not sure what "Red Monday" refers to other than a name for the event being publicized -- presumably nothing political. The women emerging from a tomato plant is odd, yet interesting.

    Postcard illustration.

    North German Lloyd poster from around the mid-1920s advertising North Sea destinations.

    Nice illustration of elegant first-class passengers heading to South America on Norddeutscher Lloyd steamer Sierra.

    Norddeutscher Lloyd announced two very large, fast liners for the North Atlantic run via posters such as this.

    Steiner is now using a simplified style fashionable around 1930. This poster advertises three spring sailings to the Mediterranean.

    Another North German Lloyd "To South America" poster. This shows Rio in the background.

    A polar sailing to Iceland, Spitzbergen and Norway on the "Stuttgart" steamer with two (!!) propellers -- I'm not sure why this fact was featured other than to suggest that the ship had some substance and was less likely to become immobilized if a singe propeller shaft went bad.

    This poster is dated 1933, the year of Steiner's death. It features an Austrian lake along with an apparent shift in his style.

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  • 08/28/17--01:00: Alma-Tadema, Miniaturist
  • Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema (1836-1912) was both popular and financially successful in his day. Then Victorian-era art went seriously out of fashion after his death. Times change, pendulums swing, and if your grandparents had sprung for one of his paintings in 1945 and willed it to you, it might be worth several -- perhaps even tens of -- millions today. More about him here.

    About six years ago I wrote about Alma-Tadema and his 1894 painting "Spring" that is a public favorite at the Getty in Los Angeles. I visited the Getty again in April and took more photos of it and its details.

    When seen in art books, his paintings tend to give the impression of being large. Some are, but many are surprisingly small. And some of his larger paintings contain many small elements. Such is the case with Spring. Below are a few detail photos I took. Click on them to enlarge.

    Gallery

    This is an image of Spring found on the internet for general reference.

    Here is my establishment photo. Spring is by no means Alma-Tadema's largest painting, but it isn't small. You can get a sense of its size by comparing it to the information plaque at the right. What is small are most of the people and related details pictured in the painting.

    This segment is near the painting's center. It shows people in the background of the scene.  Many of the heads are about one centimeter high, some even smaller.

    The lower part of the painting, edges slightly cropped. Those flowers are a little larger than the letters in the plaque's caption text.

    Closer, and slightly to the left of the previous image. On my desktop iMac, what's shown here appears about the same size as in Tadema's painting.

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    The subject painting for this post isn't an early one, because Franz Xaver Winterhalter (1805-1873) was about 38 years old when he painted it. But it (and one other of the same subject) has a different feeling that those made before and after.

    The painting is "Portrait of Leonilla, Princess of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn" (1843), described here on the J. Gaul Getty Museum web site.

    And here is Winterhalter's Wikipedia entry. It mentions that he made a highly successful career as a court portraitist. One result, according to the entry, was that his work is difficult to categorize in terms of the various movements of his day. Another is that he was looked down upon by other artists.

    Setting that aside, let's turn to Leonilla's portrait and a few other Winterhalters to provide context. Included are two photos I took in April at the Getty that you might want to click on to enlarge.

    Gallery

    Elisabeth, Margravine of Baden - 1831
    An early example of Wilterhalter's court paintings.

    Queen Victoria - 1842
    Painted a year before our subject painting.

    Barbe Dmitrievna Mergasov, Madame Rimsky-Korsakov - 1864
    One of Winterhalter's best-known works.

    Sascha von Metzler - 1872
    One of his last paintings.

    Leonilla, Princess of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn - 1843
    The subject painting as seen by my camera at the Getty.

    Closer photo.  Unlike the other examples of Winterhalter's work, this painting is hard-edge with slightly simplified forms hinting at the Art Deco / Moderne style of around 1930. His subject does not quite seem real.

    Princess Leonilla of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn - 1840s
    I found this image on the Web. It was dated vaguely as being from the 1840s, but appears to have been made about the same time as our subject. It, too, has the same stylistic spirit. However, the Wikipedia entry on Leonilla has it that its date was around 1836 and painted in Italy along with a portrait of her husband (that I could not find via a Google search). I'm doubtful regarding this claim, given the similarity in painting style and her hair style in both paintings, but could easily be mistaken. Also, I could find no photos of her in a brief Google search, so can offer no other evidence of Leonilla's appearance. She lived to be 101, by the way.

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  • 09/04/17--01:00: Some Frans Hals Brushwork
  • This post is mostly intended for readers who paint or are interested in technique. The subject is a work by Frans Hals (c.1582-1666) -- extensive Wikipedia entry here -- titled "Saint John the Evangelist" (1625-28).

    I came across it when visiting the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles in April. The Getty's Web site deals with the painting here.

    It was painted long after St. John's time, so Hals either created an imaginary image or, more likely, got someone to pose and represent the Evangelist. What interest me most about the painting is how Hals treated the hands. Click on that photo to enlarge.

    Gallery

    An image of the painting via the Getty Web site. I brightened it slightly.

    Establishment view from my camera of the painting as displayed.

    Closeup view of the part of the painting that interested me the most, the treatment of the hand holding the pen.

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    Georges-Pierre Seurat (1859-1891) was a founder of the color-dot technique of Pointillism and is best known for his paintings in that style. As this mentions, he had a few years of formal art training before his military service, and then went on to his brief career as a painter.

    Also mentioned is that Seurat did a good deal of preparation before making his large, Pointillist paintings -- understandable, given their subject matter, composition and coloring. Part of this preparation involved smaller studies. And before that phase of his career he did paint many small works that had an impressionist feeling.

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    Un dimanche après-midi à l'île de la Grande Jatte - 1884-86
    This is the painting Seurat is most famous for.

    Head of a Girl - 1879
    Here is the earliest Seurat that I could locate. Done while attending the École des Beaux-Arts.

    Sunset - c. 1881
    An early post-Army painting. Wispy and not nearly as solidly conceived as most of this later works, but at this point, he was probably just experimenting with Impressionist ideas.

    Banlieue - 1881-82
    A mix of a few well-defined and ill-defined forms. Brushwork is nondescript.

    Landscape in the Ile-de-France - 1882
    Brush strokes here are more obvious.

    Fishing in the Seine - 1883
    Stronger brushwork for the riverbank, similar to what is found in the following images.

    Man Painting a Boat - c. 1883
    A good deal of hatching brushwork in the vegetation.

    The Stone Breakers, Le Raincy (c. 1882)
    I found this at the Norton Simon in Pasadena. It's a small study (compare its size to the information plaque). The museum's web site deals with it here.

    Detail photo. Again we see short, strong brush strokes at different angles. An exception is the human figures who are rendered in a different manner. Note that on the stone pile, Seurat was careful to paint thick-over-thin, a concept he surely learned at the Beaux-Arts if not before. Click on the image to enlarge.

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    People with only a casual exposure to art history -- perhaps an introductory college class on the subject -- might think that painters used tight brushwork and hard edges up to the time of the French Impressionists. They would be largely correct. Mediaeval, Renaissance and Academic paintings are mostly rather solid-looking affairs.

    And yes, they might be aware of a few exceptions such as Frans Hals. But they might not realize that, by the late 1700s, several important painters were not making totally solid paintings. That was because subjects of portraits looked crisp and carefully done (this is what viewers mostly focused on -- faces, etc.). What tends to be ignored are other parts of the same painting that were not painted with the same exactitude.

    This post considers Thomas Gainsborough (1727-1788) and his painting Portrait of Anne, Countess of Chesterfield (1777–1778) that resides in the Getty in Los Angeles.

    Biographical information on Gainsborough can be found here, and the Getty's web page on the painting is here.

    Let's take a look.

    Gallery

    First, another Gainsborough portrait, The Blue Boy (1770), found across town at the Huntington in Pasadena. Note how sketchy the background is.

    Here is the Getty web site's image of the Countess that I brightened somewhat to set the stage for the following photos I took in April (click on them to enlarge).

    An establishment shot showing the scale of the painting: compare it to the information plaque to the right. Lighting in the galley partly washes out the upper part of the painting, but that's the way it often is when you photograph paintings in such settings.

    Here is Gainsborough's treatment of Anne's costume. Plenty of visible brushwork here. Note the lack of detail for her hand and how the arm is outlined. Far from Academic painting, but then, Gainsborough never attended an academy school.

    And here is some of Anne's setting.  Gainsborough began his career as a landscape painter, yet even here his treatment isn't detailed. At this late date it's hard to tell if he sketched in the background for aesthetic reasons or because additional care would have taken so much extra time that the effort wouldn't have been commensurate with the fee he charged. There also is the possibility that details such as the treatment of costume and setting was stipulated in his contract or agreement before work was started.

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    George Spencer Watson (1869-1934) is yet another Royal Academy painter active early in the last century who was competent, made a decent living, and is now largely forgotten. He mostly made portraits, but also turned out some very nice paintings of nudes, and painted some landscapes and religious scenes. A brief Wikipedia entry on him is here.

    This post mostly deals with his portraits. Stylistically, he was not influenced by Modernism until perhaps near the very end of his career. Some unfinished works are shown that might interest readers who paint and others interested in how artists go about their business.

    Office viewing warning: The nudes are at the bottom of the image stack, so scroll carefully.

    Gallery

    Lady in White (unfinished)
    This probably dates from around 1900. I failed to notice any earlier works by Watson via Googling.

    Hilda and Maggie - 1911
    A portrait of Watson's wife in the Tate collection.

    A Lady in Black - 1922
    Also in the Tate collection.

    Portrait of a Lady (unfinished)
    I'll guess that this was painted after 1920, possibly not long before he died. If the subject's costume were more finished and the hair style more visible, dating would be easier.

    The Orange Dress
    This might be Mary, the artist's daughter.

    The Cottage Garden - 1928
    An example of Watson's landscape work.

    Miss Beaton - 1934
    This too is probably unfinished: note the date and the sketchy brushwork in the lower part of the painting. The subject is Barbara Beaton, a sister of Cecil Beaton, the famous photographer (though before finding a detailed caption, I was guessing that she was Nancy Beaton, her more famous sister).

    Nude - 1927
    I find the unconventional pose interesting.

    Sunlight Nude
    I like this painting a lot, partly because of the (again) slightly different-from-the-usual pose and setting. But the best part, to my way of thinking is Watson's treatment of color. This was probably painted in the mid-to-late 1920s, before high-quality color photography was available. So he had to do this without that kind of photographic reference.

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    I previously wrote about J. Allen St. John (1875-1957) here, mostly dealing with his color illustrations for books by Edgar Rice Burroughs (1875-1950). Background information on St. John can be found here and here.

    St. John is considered by many to be highly influential to later generations of illustrators dealing in Science Fiction and, especially, Fantasy art. That is probably more to do with establishing certain conventions than his abilities as an illustrator. In the post cited above I mentioned "reproductions of his paintings often strike me as having too-fussy brushwork." I think this tendency carries over to his monochrome illustrations, especially those rendered in pen-and-ink.

    To demonstrate my point about St. John's dithering penwork, compare those illustrations to that of master pen-artists Franklin Booth (1874-1948) and Joseph Clement Coll (1881-1921). Some of the difference might be chalked up to the quality of paper used for printing their works. Book illustrations on the same kind of paper as the text couldn't support fine penwork. On the other hand, some books from the early decades of the 20th century had glossy paper tip-ins that allowed for much more detail and subtlety in the artwork. In such instances St. John would abandon pen-and-ink for charcoal or wash drawings.

    Interesting fact: All the men mentioned above were near-contemporaries.

    Gallery

    From Tarzan and the Golden Lion
    Here St. John does a better job on the lion than he does with Tarzan.

    From Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar
    Some illustrations from another Tarzan book.

    From Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar

    From Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar
    Here the depiction of Tarzan's body comes off fussier than that of the foliage.

    From Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar
    This seems to have some wash or diluted ink work. Still, the pen strokes are largely haphazard, resulting in lack of clarity for the scene depicted.

    From Mastermind of Mars
    Illustration for one of the John Carter of Mars novels. The background shading blends too closely to the definition of the subjects, reducing clarity.

    From Swords of Mars
    This illustration was intended for slick paper, but St. John's use of shadows again hurts the composition.

    From Tarzan the Terrible
    All the images thus far, including this one, are probably scans from old books. This one seems to be from a slick tip-in, but it's hard to be certain what medium St, John used.

    From Tarzan the Terrible
    My previous St. John post included a reproduction of this image from a book, whereas what we see here looks like a scan of the original artwork. So far as I am concerned this wash drawing is his most successful illustration ever. The fussiness seen in the other images is absent. Why? I have no idea.

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    The title of this post might cause a sharp reaction for many American readers. That's because John Quincy Adams (1767-1848) was the sixth president of the Untied States, and not at all an Österreicher, let alone a portrait painter.

    Of course we are dealing here with another John Quincy Adams. This one was a descendent of the President and lived 1874-1933. He became an Austrian because he was born in Vienna (and died there), the son of a Boston-born opera singer. He did spend time in the USA at various points in his life, but considered himself Austrian. His career is sketched here, but it's in German and you might have to have your computer translate.

    There aren't many images of Adams' work on the Internet. A large share of them are in black and white -- presumably photos of paintings that were lost due to World War 2 or are otherwise untraceable. The images I selected for presentation are all in color.

    One image I would love to have included is a fine portrait of Sara Sherman Wiborg, later the wife of businessman and artist Gerald Murphy, both famed for their 1920s French Riviera lifestyle (Wikipedia entry here). But so far as I know, it hasn't yet turned up on the Web.

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    Dame mit Schwartzem Kleid und Hut (Alice Hauser) - 1901
    In English, "Woman with Black Clothes and Hat."

    Portrait einer jungen Dame - 1908

    Kaiser Franz Joseph I. in der Dienstuniform eines österreichischen Feldmarschalls - 1914
    That's "Emperor Franz Joseph I in the service uniform of an Austrian field marshal."

    Kitty Baronin Rothschild - 1916

    Countess Michael Karoly - 1918

    Girl with Flower Branch

    Luise Eisner, later Princess Odescalchi - 1926

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  • 09/25/17--01:00: Some Hard Female Faces
  • Part of what keeps this blog chugging along (we're now at more that 1,000 posts) is that I seem to have a modest knack for finding associations, for making comparisons. One of those occasions happened a few weeks ago while visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. I viewed two paintings that I was already familiar with with, noticed a similarity, then recalled a photograph that struck me in the same way.

    The painters were Thomas Anshutz, who I wrote about here, Thomas Hart Benton, whose early career I covered here, and the was photographer Walker Evans, Wikipedia entry here.

    The nature of the subject matter is young women with "hard" expressions on their faces. They are surprisingly similar.

    Gallery

    A Rose (detail) - 1907 - Thomas Anshutz
    The subject is Rebecca H. Whelen, daughter of a Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts board member. Anshutz taught there for many years. This is an unusual pose for that time and place: a more tranquil expression would have been expected.

    City Activities with Dance Hall (detail) - 1930 - Thomas Hart Benton
    From a panel of Benton's America Today mural, now prominently displayed at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art. The subject is Elizabeth England, future wife of Charles Pollock, older brother of the more famous painter Jackson Pollock. The Pollock brothers studied under Benton, hence the connection.

    Girl in Fulton Street (cropped) - 1929 - Walker Evans
    From one of Evans' New York street scene photos of the late 1920s.

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    When I was in New York City last year, my visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art was rather hurried, so I didn't have time to track down Thomas Hart Benton's "America Today" mural, installed at the Met in 2014. This month, I had more time and found it.

    The Met's website discusses America Today here, and here is a link to their publication dealing with the mural: very useful. I discussed Benton's early career here.

    The mural was commissioned for the board room of The New School for Social Research's 1931 building designed by Joseph Urban. It was later purchased by Equitable, an insurance company in New York and displayed in linear fashion along a hallway. Then it was donated to the Met which restored it (with some difficulty: read the publication noted above) and displayed in a setting corresponding to the space of the New School boardroom where it initially appeared.

    Below are a few photos I took, giving you an impression of how the mural is displayed at the Met. Not all panels are shown -- you can find plenty of images on the Internet. My purpose here is to remind you that the mural is there to be enjoyed when vising New York and the Met.

    Gallery

    When entering the gallery where America Today is housed, the panel Instruments of Power confronts you.

    Panning to the right, we find Changing West.

    Continuing to the right past Changing West are Midwest, Deep South, and City Activities with Subway.

    Here is the door to enter the display.  At the left is City Activities with Subway.  Above the door is Outreaching Hands, and to the right is City Activities with Dance Hall.  To my mind, the City Activities panels are the most interesting of the lot.

    Continuing the pan to the right, we have City Activities with Dance Hall, City Building, and Steel.  Farther to the right and not shown is Coal.

    City Building, and Steel.

    At detail from City Activities with Dance Hall. The woman with the red hat is Elizabeth England, Jackson Pollack's future sister-in-law. The woman at the lower left is Benton's wife Rita. Benton includes himself at the far right.

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