Monday, May 22, 2017

A Portrait by Henry Brown Fuller

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.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

John Singer Sargent Portrait Drawings

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

Monday, May 15, 2017

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.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Towards the End: Jacques-Louis David

Jacques-Louis David (1748-1825) is one of the most famous French painters of Revolutionary and Napoleonic times. Many of his works were directly or indirectly political, and he was personally involved in political matters during the heyday of the Revolution. A fairly lengthy Wikipedia entry on David is here.

David's basic style was what has been derisively termed "Pompier" in reference to the Greek-style helmets worn by Parisian firefighters. This had to do with subject matter and the idealized depictions done in a highly "finished," hard-edge manner. More regarding his evolution can be found at the above link.

Given his political stances, David was reluctant to work in France following the Bourbon restoration. Having fled to what is now Belgium after Napoleon's fall, he remained in Brussels for the last years of his life.

Although David remained capable of making Pompier works during this time, some casual paintings of a greatly different character survive. I found two examples in December at San Francisco's Legion of Honor museum.

Gallery

Mars desarme par Venus - 1824
According to Wikipedia, this is David's last Pompier painting.

Laure-Emilie-Felicité David, La Baronne Meunier - 1812
A portrait of one of his twin daughters. Napoleon was still in power and David was still in Paris. But at age 64 this can be considered a late work.

Laure-Emilie-Felicité David, La Baronne Meunier - 1812
Close-up view. This seems to be little more that a sketch or study. Or might have David anticipated artistic trends 50 years in the future? Probably not, but I don't know enough to be categorical about this.

La bonne aventure (The Fortune Teller) - 1824
This was painted the same year as the Mars and Venus painting, within two years of David's death. Again, the style is casual and sketchy. Could this have been a study for a more finished work that was never made? Again, I don't know.

La bonne aventure (The Fortune Teller) - 1824
A slightly closer view.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Dalí Paints a Sugar-Daddy's Daughter

Salvador Dalí (1904-1989: biography here), like many other painters resorted to making portraits from time to time in order to help earn a living.

One example is that of Dorothy Spreckels (brief obituary here), daughter of sugar magnate Adolph Spreckels and former artists' model Alma Spreckels (who according to the link referred to Adolph as her "sugar daddy"). The Spreckels donated the San Francisco Legion of Honor to the city in 1924.

Their youngest daughter, Dorothy, was also interested in art and was painted by Dalí in 1942. This portrait is in the Legion of Honor, but not always on display. The museum's link to it is here. And here is an account of Dalí's doings in the Bay Area in 1941-42.

I visited the Legion of Honor in December 2016, but didn't notice Dorothy's portrait. But I did see and photograph it three years earlier.

Gallery

Alma Spreckels in 1904.

Dalí and Dorothy at Monterey's Hotel Del Monte, 28 August 1941.

The portrait -- museum site image.

As it appeared on my camera.

Close-up of Dorothy. Not shown here are some Surrealist bits to the right.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Up Close: Edmund Tarbell's "The Blue Veil"

Edmund Charles Tarbell (1862-1938) was one of those "Ten" group Boston area painters who did a lot of interesting work during the decades around the year 1900. As his Wikipedia entry notes, he might be classified as an American Impressionist -- interested in French Impressionist coloring while giving more respect than Monet or Pissarro, say, to accurate drawing.

One of his most intriguing paintings can be found in San Francisco's de Young museum. It's titled "The Blue Veil," painted in 1898.

I viewed it (again!) in December 2016 and took some close-up photos showing Tarbell's brushwork in the hope that you, too, might be interested. Click on the images below to enlarge.

Gallery

The painting as seen on the Internet -- perhaps from the museum's web site.

My establishment shot, showing how my camera captured the painting in the gallery lighting conditions.

Note the contrast in brushwork. Thinner paint on the face and veil, impasto on the hat and some of the background.

Close-up of the subject's face The violet of the veil is duplicated in the facial shadows and the face's outline.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Roger Broders Poster Art

Roger Broders (1883-1953) is best known for his Art Deco / Moderne style travel posters for French railroads, though he is far less known in the USA than the artist called A.M. Cassandre, whose posters also were both Moderne and more strikingly designed. Broders' short Wikipedia entry is here.

Some examples of his posters from the late 1920s and the 1930s are below. I will present some of his earlier work in another post.

Gallery


These two and around 100 others were made for the Paris-Lyon-Méditeranée (Compagnie des Chemins de fer de Paris à Lyon et à la Méditerranée) railroad.

That railroad went other places than the Riviera.

This is for another railroad, publicizing a destination nowadays better known as a place to escape via.

Grasse in a few miles inland from Cannes, up in the hills, and still known for perfumes.

Another destination not on the Côte d'Azur, but well worth the side-trip.

More in a Cassandre vein with all those stylized ships, yet not quite in the same league.

Nice poster of an off-the-mainline destination.

Not all Boders posters were for French railroads.