Happy Leyendecker Baby New Year 2011!

J.C. Leyendecker New Year's babies, Saturday Evening Post covers
In spite of the fact that I’ve featured him twice just in the past two weeks, I’ll continue my tradition of ringing out the old year and bringing in the new with a couple of New Year’s babies from J.C. Leyendecker, the American illustrator who started the practice of representing the new year as a baby (or, initially in his case, as a winged cherub) on the covers of the Saturday Evening Post.

I don’t have an enlargement of the New Year 1911 SEP cover (December 1910, above, top left), in which the baby new year greets not the old year, but Father Time.

However, courtesy of Scott Anderson and his generous post here, we have a nice set of images of the original art from Leyendecker’s SEP cover ushering in 1926 (a year in which tax laws were changed and some tax rates reduced).

Another good excuse to display more of Leyendecker’s bravura brushwork.

Here is the Saturday Evening Post’s collection of their Leyendecker baby covers, and page 2.

For more on Leyendecker starting the tradition of representing the new year as a baby, see my post from 2006. I’ve listed links to my other Leyendecker posts, many of which have additional links and resources, below.

I hope you all have a terrific new year, filled with great art, old and new!



Hendrick Avercamp and the “Little Ice Age”

Hendrick Avercamp and the
So what to you do in the winter when the ground is covered in snow and the rivers are frozen over? Get out and enjoy of course.

Though we have other, more familiar names associated with 17th Century scenes of gatherings on the ice of frozen rivers and streams in Dutch towns (notably Bruegel), Avercamp was the first to specialize in the subject, effectively making it into a genre.

Avercamp was born in Amsterdam but grew up in Kampen, on the river IJssel. He returned to Amsterdam to study and apprentice to the portrait painter Pieter Isacqs. He also apparently absorbed influence from Flemish landscape painters who were present in Amsterdam at the time, but overall his style was unique and somewhat idiosyncratic.

Historical records indicate that Avercamp was deaf and could not speak. After his time in Amsterdam he returned to Kampen and specialized in his winter ice scenes.

This was at a time, sometimes dubbed the “Little Ice Age” when the winters were so severe that the creeks, canals and even rivers in Europe and North America froze solidly enough to support walking, skating and winter festivals. The waterways became, in effect, a different kind of town square.

I love these scenes, they seem to give us a glimpse of everyday life and people from the time. Avercamp made a point of portraying the mix of classes and levels of society that mingled on the ice, with their accordingly different modes of dress, parading in their finery, skating, working or indulging in winter sports.

In the painting above, bottom, with detail (larger version here), he has emphasized the difference between the upperclass gentleman playing colf, a predecessor of golf in which the object was to hit a ball to a pole in as few strokes as possible, and a fisherman and (presumably) his son, who look on with interest.

This was pointed out in an excellent online feature from the National Gallery in Washington, which had a show of Avercamp’s work titled Hendrick Avercamp: The Little Ice Age, back in the summer of this year (sorry I missed it) and at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam before that. The online features are still accessible, however.

There are other sources for Avercamp’s work. notably Wikimedia Commons, which has reproductions large enough to see some of the fascinating details Avercamp has worked into his scenes.

His renditions of the towns buildings and bridges, sometimes specific, sometimes imaginary, are also interesting, as is his atmospheric evocation of the winter season in the “Little Ice Age”.


Illustration Magazine Archives, Online Free in Fullscreen

Illustration Magazine, Online Free in Fullscreen

I’ve raved before about Dan Zimmer’s beautifully edited, produced and printed Illustration Magazine.

Devoted to classic illustration, this magazine is, in a way, more like a series of short books, with in-depth, profusely illustrated articles about great illustrators.

While most magazines are stingy about putting their precious content online, Zimmer has made every issue of the 31 printed so far available in their entirety, online, to be read for free in full-screen.

Go to the archives, select an issue, and you’re presented with an illustrated table of contents for that issue. Click on the cover of the issue in the grey box at the bottom of the page and the magazine is displayed for you in the Issu online magazine reader, with page thumbnails at the bottom, and even the ability to zoom in to an extent (the row of dots below the thumbnails leads to additional thumbnails, the issues are long).

First I will give my Major Time Sink Warning, this is a dazzling array of great illustrators, and the articles are well worth reading; they are in-depth, well researched and well written.

Secondly, I will again point out that even the relatively high (for on-screen) resolution here does not really do these images justice compared to the way they look printed at genuine high resolution in the magazine. If you pick up an issue or two you’ll see what I mean. The current issue features J. Frederick Smith, John Fleming Gould and Clark Hulings (see my post on Clark Hulings).

But still,… wow.

[Via Dave Gibbons]


Wil Freeborn

Wil Freeborn
Wil Freeborn is an illustrator and graphic designer based in Glasgow, Scotland.

Though his professional portfolio focuses on his (quite nice) graphic design rather than illustration, his blog features a number of wonderful sketches.

These are of a variety of subjects — cafe and store interiors, schoolrooms, townscapes, landscapes and a particularly nice series of people working on a steam locomotive (also here). There are also life drawings and pantings and a few other projects mixed in.

Most of his sketches appear to be in pencil and watercolor in the pages of Moleskine sketchbooks. They combine the informal, loose qualities of travel sketches with clear observation and occasionally more elaborate rendering in watercolor.


Jake Baddeley

Jake Baddeley
Jake Baddeley gives little information about himself on his website, save to call himself a symbolist painter and artist.

Looking through his work, I see classical training, influences from the Surrealists and Magic Realists, and a fascination with the art and invention of the Renaissance.

He uses a muted, controlled palette, with passages of restrained but rich color, and his compositions often have feeling of deliberately arranged tableaux, with questions posed and hints of meaning scattered through the subjects. Often there are objects floating, either in frozen motion or defiance of gravity, and repeated themes of masks, blindfolds and curtains, suggesting subliminal meaning.

The paintings on his website are arranged by year, the sections for which provide a click-through navigation of Next and Previous, though there are no thumbnails. In addition there is a gallery of drawings in the “Other work” section.

You can also find a selection of his paintings on the Ten Dreams Gallery in an arrangement that more readily gives an overview of his work. There are also galleries of his paintings on the beinArt Surreal Art Collective and the imaginary realism art print site.

Prints of his work are also available directly through his web shop. Editions of a book called Dreamscapes, that feature a number of artists, including Baddeley in the 2009 and 2010 volumes, are available from both his shop and the imaginary realism site.


Winter snows from George Gardner Symons

George Gardner Symons
For those in the U.S. and Europe digging out, or still being covered in the titanium whites and cobalt blues of winter precipitation, I’ll relay a gentle reminder from American artist George Gardner Symons, noted for his beautiful winter scenes, that yes, snow can be beautiful, and yes, it eventually melts, and yes, Spring will indeed come back some day.

For more, including links to image resources, see my previous post on George Gardner Symons.