Thursday, March 23, 2017

More Richard E. Miller Paintings

Richard Edward Miller (1875-1943) painted many pictures of pretty young women in casual settings, often in the American Impressionist style. He often reused the same dresses and other costumes for several paintings over several years, as I posted here. Biographical information on Miller is here.

The present post presents a wider variety of his works made from about 1905 to the early 1940s. Not included are some sketches from around 1900 and a few late Moderne style works (that I'm not yet certain are by him).


Café de la Paix - c.1905

The Chinese Statuette - 1910
More plaid dresses can be found below.

Chinese Statuette - 1919
A recycled pose.

From his days in Giverny, Claude Monet's haunts.

The Green Cage - c.1914

Princess in the Land of Sunshine
This might have been done while he was in Pasadena, California.

Afternoon Thoughts
Her costume can be seen on other paintings.

Woman Seated at Dressing Table - c.1925

Girl sleeping (The Plaid Skirt)
No date for this that I've been able to find, but I think it's a late work due its style.

Young Lady Sewing
The lady's hair style suggests late 1930s or early 1940s.

Young Lady Reading
From around the same time as the previous painting.

Monday, March 20, 2017

André Edouard Marty, Pochoir Illustrator and More

André Edouard Marty (1882-1974) was an École des Beaux-Arts graduate best known for fashion illustration. Two brief biographies are here and here. They both note that Marty was one of four artists whose work appeared every year of the existence of leading fashion journal Gazette du Bon Ton (1912 to 1925).

The Bon Ton featured color illustrations produced by the pochoir (stencil) method. A description is here. Below are examples of Marty's work, some in pochoir, others using more conventional, less tedious methods.


Fashion illustration - 1913

Les ailes dans le vent - 1919

À l'Oasis La Jupe Lumineuse - 1919

Escaped bird

From Gazette du Bon Ton

La porte du salon ouvrit

La douce nuit - Gazette du Bon Ton - March, 1920

Le pouf

Vogue cover - 1 April, 1925

Vogue cover - 12 March, 1926

Vogue cover - Late January, 1926

Vogue cover - Late August, c.1925
The covers shown here are from French, British and American editions of Vogue. Haute couture was and is quite international.

London Underground Poster - 1933
Marty did posters for the Underground for a few years in the early 1930s.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Frédéric Bazille's Snuffed-Out Career

Frédéric Bazille (1841-1870) was associated with the French Impressionists during the early stages of the movement. He did not participate in the many later Impressionist showings and activities. That was because he died in battle. Some biographical information about Bazille is here.

His fatal battle was that of Beaune-la-Rolande, fought 28 November 1870. Its site is roughly between Orléans and Montargis, about 50 miles (80 km) to the south of Paris. The French were attempting to relieve the siege of Paris during the late stages of the Franco-Prussian War. Their attack on a much-smaller, but better-trained, Prussian force was a failure. Bazille died while leading a small-unit assault.

His paintings are something of a mixed bag, in my judgment. Much of that has to do with the fact that he didn't begin painting full-time until 1864, though he was taking classes before that, according to the link above. Still, dying at age 28, Bazille was at the point where most artists are still sorting out their craft. There is no way of telling for sure how he would have matured as an artist.

Here is a sampling of his work.


The Pink Dress (cousin Thérèse des Hours) - 1864

The Beach at Saint-Adresse - 1865

The Artist's Family - 1867
One of his best known works.

Auguste Renoir - 1867

View of the Village of Castelnau-le-Lez - 1868

portrait d'un dragon - 1869
This dragoon portrait is more "painterly" than many other Bazille paintings. Might he have pursued this had he lived?

The Fortune Teller - 1869
Here we find simplification and smoother painting: another trial run?

La toilette - 1869-70
Apparently this finished work was an attempt to be accepted in the salon.

Bazille's Studio, 9 rue de la Condamine - 1870
Another well-known work. Scattered composition, distorted perspective -- compare the sizes of the various artists depicted here. Such details might have been considered legitimate in 1350 or 1905, but not when this was painted. A curious effort.

Monday, March 13, 2017

About Blogging

I wrote this for a Facebook posting, and thought I might as well post it here and on my Car Style Crtic blog.

It was almost exactly 12 years ago that I got involved with blogging. Since then I’ve written more than 2000 blog posts.

The first blog for me was the late, lamented (because it was pretty popular) 2Blowhards blog. The guy running it was Ray Sawhill who wrote bylined articles on art and culture for Newsweek magazine in the 1980s and 90s. Ray blogged using the nom-du-blog “Michael Blowhard” in order to maintain separation from his Newsweek day job. The other Blowhard was “Friedrich von Blowhard,” a Princeton buddy of Ray’s based in Los Angeles.

The blogging software they used was primitive by today’s standards — an important defect being that post drafts couldn’t be stockpiled for later publication scheduling. That meant each post had to go live shortly after it was written. That put strain on the bloggers who wanted content flowing at the rate of one or two posts per day in order to keep readers interested and returning to see what was new.

So for some reason Ray pulled me from the commenter ranks to full-time 2Blowhards blogger to ease the load on the original 2. Except that I posted using my actual name.

At first, I was worried that I could maintain a reasonably high rate of posting. I knew I had perhaps a dozen really nice items that I could write up, but after that? You see, I recalled what happened when old vaudeville stars such as Eddie Cantor first appeared in TV “specials.” They used the good stuff that they’d honed over decades on stage, so their first show would be a wowser. After that, in future specials, their material wasn’t nearly as good due to lack of testing.

So I resolved to hold back on my so-called good stuff and write what came to mind each day. And it worked. As far as I recall, I never used up the “good stuff.”

Here’s the deal. Be sure to blog on topics you know something about. Then you must stay alert and notice things related to those subjects that might serve as hooks for posts. It’s even better if you can relate whatever it might be to similar or opposite examples, because that can make for a deeper, more interesting post. Apparently, it’s a special skill set: Ray Sawhill once told me that he thought I was “a natural blogger.”

Eventually, after his Newsweek buyout, Sawhill tired of 2Blowhards and turned it over to me. I carried on for a few months and finally decided to strike out on my own. My first blog, Art Contrarian, debuted in 2010. It is based on the idea that modernism in art was an experiment that largely failed. More interesting work had been done by more traditional painters in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Illustration, architecture and industrial design are other subjects I treat.

I’ve always been interested in automobile styling, so in 2013 I started Car Style Critic blog. I post two articles per week on each blog and maintain a backlog of two or three months’ worth of post drafts. Readership for each blog is several hundred page views daily, which is good enough for me.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Léon Benigni: 'Tween-Wars Fashion Illustrator

Léon Benigni (1892-1948) was one of several fashion-related illustrators whose similar styles helped to visually define the years between the two world wars.

Unfortunately, aside from his dates and the names of many of his clients, there seems to be next to no biographical information about him on the Internet. One example of this paucity is here.

Here are some images of Benigni's work for clients in France and elsewhere.


This seems to be considered his most famous poster design.

Some fashion illustrations, some perhaps for magazine covers.

No signature, by credited to Benigni on the Web.

A 1936 illustration showing a style adjustment to keep up with illustration fashions of the 30s.

From 1935, a minimalist fashion illustration.

Below are four examples of illustrations Benigni made for 1931 Cadillacs and LaSalles. Click on them to enlarge.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Stanley Cursiter Portrays Poppy Low

The image above is of the painting "A Summer Night" (1923) by Stanley Cursiter (1887-1976) featuring Poppy Low. Cursiter was from the Orkneys, but spent most of his career in Edinburgh where, among other things, he was Director of the National Galleries of Scotland. During the Great War he devised a new means of interpreting aerial reconnaissance photographs. He was also a champion of modernist art and some of his paintings were in that mode both early and late in his career, though they were not very good in my judgment.

Biographical information on Cursiter can be found here, here, and here, but some important details vary.

Beside dabbling in modernism, Cursiter also painted landscapes, particularly of Orkney scenes. Where he excelled was portraiture. Besides the usual mix of politicians and military officers, he painted some interesting works featuring family and friends. One of those friends was Poppy Low, who seemed to be somewhere around 16-22 years old when Cursiter was using her as a favorite model. Several of those paintings were group portraits that included his attractive wife Phyllis and his sister.

The images below are copyrighted by his estate, but I hope the estate will not mind the publicity this post will provide Cursiter. Not every painting featuring Poppy is presented here. And it's possible that some of the young women who I thought were Poppy were actually someone else. (For instance, there's a portrait of "Roberta" that looks like Poppy. But might Poppy's actual name have been Roberta?) I should add that so far I have found no details regarding her life.


Poppy and Phyllis at the Window
That would be Poppy on the right.

Black and White and Silver - 1921
An early paining featuring Poppy.

Girl with a Jug - 1921

Poppy Low - 1922

The Seamstress - 1923

Summer Afternoon
I think that's Poppy in the background.

House of Cards - 1924
I'm not so sure about this, though one source I skimmed stated the she was used for this painting.

Chez Nous: Artist, Self Portrait, Director of the National Galleries of Scotland, with his wife Phyllis Eda Hourston, and his model Poppy Low - 1925