Image trove from the Art Institute of Chicago

Art Institute of Chicago high-res art images, Gustave Caillebotte

Art Institute of Chicago high-res art images, Gustave Caillebotte, Albert Bierstadt, John SInger Sargent, Claude Monet, Diego Velasquez, Alfons Mucha, Charles Gifford Dye

The Art Institute of Chicago, one of the largest art museums in the U.S., has redesigned its website, and in the process, placed online a trove of over 50,000 large scale images of works from the collection.

They have done so under a “CC0” license, meaning public domain or “No Rights Reserved”, so you are free to download, distribute or do with the images as you will.

The collection is broad but seems to be particular strong in areas like French Impressionism and American Art, along with treasures by Rembrandt, Durer and other major figures.

You can search for keywords or artist name, and apply filters for medium, era and so on. Or you might want to get a cross section by using their browse feature, and clicking “Load More” at the bottom of the page as many times as you like. This can be a good way to come across gems that you might not otherwise know to search for.

Once you click through to an image detail page, there are convenient icons under the image for zoom, download and links.

I think this is a brilliant public relations move on the museum’s part. Going through these images, and being able to see them in detail, makes me want to hop on a plane to Chicago just to visit the Art Institute. Museum websites that skimp on the size of images from their collections don’t exert that pull.

As I have just experienced it, I will issue my “Timesink Warning” to those who are inclined to get lost in treasure troves of high resolution art images.


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(Images above, with details: Gustave Caillebotte, Albert Bierstadt, John SInger Sargent, Claude Monet, Diego Velasquez, Alfons Mucha, Charles Gifford Dyer)


Eye Candy for Today: Burne-Jones’s Mirror of Venus

The Mirror of Venus, Edward Burne-Jones

The Mirror of Venus, Edward Burne-Jones

The Mirror of Venus, Edward Burne-Jones

Link is to Wikimedia Commons, original is in the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, Lisbon.

Pre-Raphaelite painter Edward Burne-Jones, who went on to be a major figure in style known as Aestheticism, presents a tableau of female figures, some staring at their reflections in the mirror of a still pond, others looking at the striking figure in blue, whose gaze falls on the pool but not on her own reflection.

The artist has left it to us to interpret the different expressions of the women, perhaps suggesting that each is seeing something unique in the nature of her own reflection, or in the presence of the standing figure.

In a way not possible to viewers of the real painting, we can use the magic of Photoshop to view the reflections of the women in the pool, turned right-side up (image above, bottom) revealing that Burn-Jones has painted them with as much attention and skill as the primary figures.

Not only that, but faces with downcast eyes, in which we cannot see the pupils in the main figures, look different from the upward viewing angle of the reflected faces in the pool.


Baumgartner painting restoration videos

Baumgartner painting restoration videos

Baumgartner painting restoration videos

If, like me, you find the conservation and restoration of historic artworks interesting, you will probably enjoy this series of videos (YouTube link) from Baumgartner Fine Art Restoration, a conservation studio located in Chicago.

In the video from which I’ve shown some example images, above, we see the restoration of a badly torn portrait by William Merritt Chase.

The videos are not meant to be detailed or instructional, they just follow the general process.

I’m not familiar enough with contemporary restoration methods to know if there is anything unorthodox about the procedure, or if this is a standard approach, but the process shown seems reasonable to me. All of the changes are meant to be reversible, and any repainting is restricted to a new replacement surface, inserted only where the original canvas is missing.

There are additional videos on Baumgartner’s YouTube channel that go into other aspects of conservation and restoration. They also have an Instagram feed.

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Eye Candy for today: Ivan Shishkin graphite drawing

Trees by the Stream, Ivan Shishkin, pencil drawing

Trees by the Stream, Ivan Shishkin, pencil drawing

Trees by the Stream, Ivan Shishkin

Link is to the image page on The Athenaeum, direct link to the large image here. Original is in the Museum of the Russian Academy of Arts, St. Petersburg. The drawing is in graphite. I don’t have the dimensions.

Like many of the great landscape painters, 19th century Russian master Ivan Shishkin made lot of drawings of landscape subjects, some presumably just for study, and others in preparation for studio paintings.

I love how the main trees emerge from the background tone and the crisp delineation of the foreground rocks.


Randall Graham

Randall Graham, still life

Randall Graham, still life, landscape, plein air en rain air

Randall Graham is a painter based in southeastern Pennsylvania who isn’t reluctant to experiment with variations in style. His approach ranges from straightforward realism to highly textural surfaces to the semi-abstraction of a series that he calls “en rain air”, plein air paintings done in the rain through the blur of raindrops on the window of his van.

He has been experimenting lately with the highly textural approach made possible by combining oil paint with cold wax medium. There is an article on Artists on Art and a short video on YouTube that go into his process.

Graham leads workshops and classes, both in his studio in West Chester, PA, and on location in plein air.

Randall Graham’s work will be on display in a show that begins tonight, October 25, 2018 and runs to November 17th, at Gallery 222 in Malvern, PA.


Eye Candy for Today: Frencesco Novelli ink and wash drawing

Frencesco Novelli, Diana and Her Hounds, ink and wash drawing

Frencesco Novelli, Diana and Her Hounds, ink and wash drawing (details)

Diana and Her Hounds, Frencesco Novelli

Pen and black ink with brown wash; roughly 5 x 4″ (13 x 10 cm); in the collection of the Morgan Library and Museum.

I don’t know much about Francesco Novelli, who was active in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, but I find this drawing interesting for several reasons.

First, it’s simply a beautifully realized drawing. The basic ink drawing, in black, is composed of broken lines, with spaces open at many points. The brown wash fills in the form and gives the figure dimension and solidity, but the overall effect is a drawing with a loose, open feeling.

Deft value relationships add to the composition and the sensation of grace and motion, particularly in the clothing and drapery. I love the way he has use the brush and brown wash like pen hatching along the curved surfaces of the figure’s arms and legs and the bodies of the dogs.

What I didn’t notice at first — likely because the drawing is so beautifully done — is that to my eye, the proportions of the arms, particularly the figure’s left arm, seem out of proportion to the figure. The arms also look more like they belong to a male figure.

It was not uncommon for artists to employ male models for female figures; it was easier and cheaper to use a male studio assistant as a model than to hire a female model. (I believe most of the female figures of the sibyls on Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling were studied from male models.)

Though it might have been intended as a finished piece, the drawing has the look of a preparatory drawing for a painting or print, but I can’t find much information on Novelli, let alone a specific work that might be sourced from this.