Saturday, December 20, 2014

Théodore Rousseau

Theodore Rousseau
Étienne Pierre Théodore Rousseau was one of the first of the French painters to be attracted to the gnarled trees, bolder-strewn hillsides and deep forests of Fontainebleau, and after visiting frequently, one of the first to move to the small nearby village of Barbizon, where he became one of the premiere painters of the Barbizon School.

After early acceptance at the critical Salon, Rousseau’s predilection for Romanticism ran afoul of the Classicists in control of the Salon at the time, and kept him from acceptance for a number of years, earning him the unenviable nickname of “le grand refusé”.

He managed to impress patrons sufficiently to carry on, however, and eventually regained acceptance, though he was consistently denied the kind of official recognition due a painter of his ability.

As a leader of the Barbizon School, his often dark and moody canvases with their roughly scumbled surfaces and open brushwork, contrasted with those in which he applied sensitive glazes, helped usher in modern styles of painting.

It would be a stretch to think of Rousseau as an actual Tonalist, but the Barbizon painters exerted considerable influence on the American painters of that style, and I see in Rousseau’s compositions — particularly those of illuminated skies seen through the framing of dark masses of foreground trees — many of the compositional conventions taken on by painters like George Inness.

Unfortunately, reproductions of Rousseau’s work on the web seem to suffer more than some of his contemporaries. The widest selection is probably at WikiArt, though the images are not large, and The Athenaeum has a decent selection. The best reproductions are probably those of the excellent collection of Rousseau’s work at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the National Gallery, London.

You can also go to Artcyclopedia and search through the links to individual museums.

There is currently an exhibition of Rousseau’s work at the Morgan Library and Museum in NY, the first of its kind in the US. Titled “The Untamed Landscape: Théodore Rousseau and the Path to Barbizon“, it concentrates on his drawings and plein air oil sketches, forms at which Rousseau, much like Constable, excelled. The exhibition runs until January 18, 2015.

If you visit, and come out wanting to see Rousseau’s more finished work, the Met is just a cab ride away.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Charlotte Mann

Charlotte Mann, wall drawings in marker
I would venture a guess that most artists, at some point in their childhood, drew on walls in their house. (For my own experience, see my post about Crockett Johnson’s Harold and the Purple Crayon.)

Charlotte Mann is a British artist who draws on walls as an adult — and gets paid for it!

Mann specializes in wall drawings and drawn room installations, created with bold black markers on a white ground. The delightful effect is essentially one of being inside a large pen and ink drawing.

Her website has examples of her walls, as well as prints.

[Via Escape Into Life]

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Eye Candy for Today: Caravaggio’s basket of fruit

Basket of Fruit, Caravaggio (Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio)
Basket of Fruit, Caravaggio (Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio)

Image on Wikimedia Commons, with an article about the painting on Wikipedia. The original is in the Biblioteca Pinacoteca Academia Ambrosiana, Milan (not much in the way of info or images).

This striking still life by the 16th century Italian master is in contention for being the first “pure” still iife, in the sense of the subject having been painted for its own sake, rather than as religious allegory.

Whether that’s the case or not, it’s a striking example of still life, stunning to this day, with its odd composition, appealing color and masterful rendering by an artist we usually think of as a painter of the human face and figure.

It’s interesting to compare this with Caravaggio’s other famous, but more elaborate still life: Still Life With Fruit, for which I’ve been unable to find a large image.

For more, see my post on Caravaggio.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Adrienne Stein

Adrienne Stein
Adrienne Stein is a painter living outside of Lancaster PA, whose recent works are primarily figurative, though you will also find still life and landscape in her website galleries.

Many of her figures and portraits incorporate floral, still life or other elements, arranged decoratively, but rendered with an eye to traditional realism. Some of her models have a touch of modern gothic style (in the fashion sense, Stein’s work has more of a 19th century sensibility). Her figurative paintings often suggest a narrative undercurrent.

I particularly enjoy her compositions that explore soft light, muted color and restrained value relationships.

[Via American Art Collector]

Eye Candy for Today: Hubert Robert architectural fantasy

The Bathing Pool, Hubert Robert
The Bathing Pool, Hubert Robert

In the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Another bit of 18th century idealized landscape and architectural fantasy from Hubert Robert.

Ready to trade in your gym membership?

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Frank Duveneck

Frank Duveneck
While other late 19th century American painters were flocking to Paris for their training, returning with the influences of the Impressionists burning bright on their palettes, Kentucky-born Frank Duveneck, the son of a German Immigrant, studied at the Royal Academy of Munich, where he learned and equally new and painterly, but darker toned style of realism.

Many of his portraits were focused on bravura brushwork, with their backgrounds left rough and unfinished.

Duveneck’s work eventually attracted the attention of both patrons and prospective students, and he returned to Europe and established a school in Munich. He also traveled in Italy, painting particularly striking views of Venice, as well as creating a series of etchings, somewhat in the vein of Whistler’s. In italy, he brightened his palette, but restrained his bravura brushwork.

He was an influential teacher, whose students included John Henry Twachtman and John White Alexander. Duveneck was an associate and informal student of William Merritt Chase. and he associated with other well known artists of the time, painting portraits of several.

After the death of his wife, he returned to the U.S. where he taught at the Art Academy of Cincinnati. His legacy as both a painter and a teacher is still influential on numerous contemporary artists.