Eye Candy for Today: Thomas Cole’s Architect’s Dream

Architect's Dream, Thomas Cole
Architect’s Dream, Thomas Cole

Link is to zoomable image on Google Art Project; downloadable file on Wikimedia Commons, original is in the Toledo (Ohio) Museum of Art, which also has an interactive feature on the work.

This fantastical combination of Egyptian, Greek, Roman and Gothic architectural styles — in the midst of which we find the dreaming architect, surrounded by plans and oversize books atop a gigantic column — was painted for New York architect Ithiel Town.

Town had commissioned a view of Athens, and was taken aback by the finished work which was, to say the least, not quite what he was expecting. He rejected it.

The painting has the painted inscription: “Painted by T. Cole / For I. Town Archt.”, and it stayed in Cole’s possession, and that of his family, until purchased by the Toledo Museum.

I like the contrast between the dark, shadowed Gothic spire in the foreground and the almost etherial Egyptian temple and obelisks in the distance. I particularly like the fact that he has portrayed his Egyptian pyramid in the original finished form — covered in polished white limestone.


Eoghan Kerrigan

Eoghan Kerrigan, fantasy illustration
With a name that sounds ideally suited to the genre, Eoghan Kerrigan is an Irish illustrator who focuses on fantasy subjects.

His trolls, adventurers, dragons and other characters and mythical creatures are nicely imaginative and wonderfully rendered.

He often works in pen and ink with color fill, or pencil with color over. A number of his pieces just have touches of color — perhaps from an initial sketch phase — creating a kind of duotone effect with the shading in the drawing.

Kerrigan appears to be at an early point in his career, though he has one book series to his credit — two volumes so far of the Zaria Fierce Trilogy, written by Keira Gillett: Zaria Fierce and the Secret of Gloomwood Forest and Zaria Fierce and the Enchanted Drakeland Sword.

Gillet has a three-part interview with Kerrigan that carries over her own blog and two others: part one, two and three.

There is another interview with both writer and artist on Live, Love, Read.

[Via Eric Orchard]


Tissot’s Adoration of the Shepherds

The Adoration of the Shepherds, James Tissot, gouache
The Adoration of the Shepherds, James Tissot

This is one of a remarkable series of 350 paintings — done primarily in gouache — in which Tissot depicted events in the New Testament of the Bible relevant to the life of Christ (see my pervious post on James Tissot’s series, “The Life of Christ”).

At the suggestion of John Singer Sargent, the entire series was acquired by the Brooklyn Museum in 1900. They selected some for an exhibition in 2009, and have the entire series online, along with other works by the artist.


Thomas Nast’s Santa Claus illustrations

Thomas Nast's Santa Claus illustrations
Pioneering American political cartoonist and illustrator Thomas Nast — who was active during the mid to late 19th century, and particularly during the period of the American Civil War — was instrumental in the creation of the contemporary image of Santa Claus.

Though I often credit the later illustrations of J.C. Leyendecker with fully fleshing out the modern version of the character as we now know him (prior to similar interpretations by Norman Rockwell, N.C. Wyeth and Haddon Sundblom), Nast pretty well established the general characteristics we associate with the Jolly One, down to the fur-trimmed suit, belt, boots, cap and sack of toys.

These were based largely on descriptions in the poem A Visit from St. Nicholas — published anonymously in 1923, later attributed to Clement Clarke Moore — better known as “The Night Before Christmas”.

Nast portrayed Santa Claus in a number of illustrations, many of which appeared in the pages of Harper’s Weekly. The image above, top, is well known and widely reproduced; others are less frequently seen. As far as I know, these were all in black and white, and any color versions of them were applied by later hands.

Nast’s Santa — developed at a time when Christmas was celebrated in the US, but was not yet a national holiday — is a bit less innocently jolly than current interpretations, slightly odd and even a bit devilish and creepy at times.


Eye Candy for Today: Chardin’s Still Life with Fish, Vegetables, Gougéres, Pots, and Cruets on a Table

Still Life with Fish, Vegetables, Gougeres, Pots, and Cruets on a Table, Jean-Simeon Chardin
Still Life with Fish, Vegetables, Gougéres, Pots, and Cruets on a Table, Jean-Siméon Chardin

The original is in the collection of the Getty Museum, which has both a zoomable image, and a large (21MB) downloadable file available on their website. There is also a zoomable file on Google Art Project, and a downloadable version of that somewhat smaller file on Wikikedia Commons.

Though there are other still life painters that I admire greatly (Luis Meléndez springs to mind), there is something special for me in the still life paintings of 18th century French master Jean-Siméon Chardin.

Part of it is his mastery of painting, his subtle, harmonious compositions, brilliant command of edges and tactile surface qualities, but part of his appeal is ineffable — a rare sense of the suspension of time, and an almost magical suggestion that the ordinary is, in fact, extraordinary, if only we would slow down and look.

In a season frequently and too loudly declared to be “magical”, but often represented instead by the flashy special effects of billboard consumerism, perhaps there is still magic to be found in quiet moments with family and friends, and the simple pleasures of food.


David Tutwiler

David Tutwiler, trains, landscape paintings
Though he paints landscapes and a variety of other subjects, Michigan based painter David Tutwiler has a particular focus on portraying classic steam trains.

These are shown in the context of landscapes, in historical scenes, in snow and fog, winter and summer.

In other hands, this might become a tired formula, but Tutwiler approaches it with such painterly verve and obvious love for his subjects that the results are fresh, lively and visually appealing.

At times, his paintings of trains, particularly in the contest of industrial settings, take on some of the delightful quality of classic mid-20th century magazine illustration.

David Tutwiler is married to painter Line’ Tutwiler, and they share a website. The site also features David Tutwiler’s Disney related paintings, as well as work of his that is in the Skywalker Ranch collection of George Lucas.