Eye Candy for Today: Osman Bey still life

Flowers in a White Vase, Osman Hamdi Bey
Flowers in a White Vase, Osman Hamdi Bey

Link is to zoomable version on Google Art Project; downloadable file on Wikimedia Commons; original is in the Sakıp Sabancı Museum.

European-trained Turkish painter Osman Hamdi Bey — who was active in the late 19th and early 20th century — gives us a delicately realized still life in a classical, almost Baroque manner, but with the direct brushwork evident among the painterly European styles of the time.


Rudy Siswanto

Rudy Siswanto, concept art, illustration
Rudy Siswanto is a concept artist, character designer and illustrator based in Surabaya, Indonesia.

Many of his illustrations and character designs feature animals, some anthropomorphized, many variations of real animals and many others from the realm of pure fantasy.

I enjoy his feeling for texture, and the use of strategic lighting to emphasize the textural elements.


Adolph Menzel: Drawings and Paintings

Adolph Menzel: Drawings and Paintings
Though I had seen a few reproductions of his work in books, I first really took notice of German artist Adolph Menzel quite a few years ago, when I encountered some of his original drawings in shows of 19th century master drawings at the Morgan Library in New York and the National Gallery in D.C.

Even amid drawings by the likes of Ingres and Degas, I found Menzel’s drawings compelling. There is a kind power in his drawings that comes from honest, direct observation, and the artist’s intention to unflinchingly study and understand what is before him. In this respect (though not particularly in style or execution), Menzel’s drawings remind me of Rembrandt’s clear, economical observations of the streets, people and landscapes in his immediate surroundings.

Menzel quickly went onto my list of favorites, a position that has been solidified in recent years as I’ve become more fascinated with gouache, a medium of which Menzel was a master.

I quickly found that books on Menzel were far too rare and difficult to find — an unfortunate state that persists to this day — which is why I was delighted to receive a review copy of a new book, Adolph Menzel: Drawings and Paintings, co-edited by Christian Schlierkamp and the indefatigable James Gurney, who also contributed the introduction and the selection of the images.

The book is nicely balanced between showcasing Menzel’s too rarely seen drawings, and 32 color plates of both drawings in color and his gouache paintings. The latter include a wonderful selection of images of his paintings for The Festival of the White Rose, a set in which he rendered not only detailed scenes of the events, but set them in intricate trompe l’oeil frames — all painted in gouache.

The book also includes a selection of Menzel’s etchings. All are presented in a 116 page volume from Dover Books. This volume continues their line of high-quality art books presented at remarkably reasonable prices, in this case, $27.95 USD.

The book will not be released to bookstores or online sources until August 17, 2016; but is currently available direct from James Gurney’s website, signed by Gurney (orders within the US only).

Like most of Gurney’s books and videos, this one is augmented by posts on Gurney’s website; to date, one on Menzel’s technique, his use of photography, Menzel the Sketcher and his philosophy of drawing everything. There are also older posts on Menzel, not directly related to the book. I would not be surprised if additional posts are added at some point.

Menzel’s studies, sketches, finished drawings and gouache paintings are both a visual treat and a valuable source of study for artists. Menzel drew incessantly and took whatever was around him as his subjects.

Adolph Menzel’s drawings are a prime example of an artist’s devotion to drawing as a tool, craft, art and source of understanding and inspiration. His beautiful gouache pantings are a testament to that devotion as a source for richly realized finished works. Adolph Menzel: Drawings and Paintings provides a valuable showcase for both.

For those unfamiliar with Menzel’s work, the book is a terrific introduction, particularly because of the emphasis on his brilliant drawings. For those like myself who are already admirers of Menzel, the volume is a long overdue treat.


Eye Candy for Today: Albert Bierstadt genre painting

Roman Fish Market. Arch of Octavius, Albert Bierstadt
Roman Fish Market. Arch of Octavius, Albert Bierstadt

Link is to zoomable version on Google Art Project; downloadable file on Wikimedia Commons, original is in the de Young Museum.

Though known primarily for his dramatic landscapes of the American west, 19th century painter Albert Bierstadt also painted other subjects, particularly early in his career.

Here he demonstrates his painting skills with deft renderings of the sights and textures of a fish market in contemporary Rome, complete with American tourists carrying their guidebook.


Josep M Solà

Josep M Sola, landscape paintings
Josep Maria Solà is a painter who lives and works in the Catalan region within Spain. His richly hued, often intricately detailed compositions emphasize the textural qualities of woods, fields, mountains and rocky gorges.

His points of view vary from intimate small scale views of creeks and glens to broad vistas of mountain ranges and open land.

On his website, you can view his gallery of images by topic, or view all. The site initially opens in Catalan, but can be switched to English, Castilian or French with links at the top.

In the Multimedia section, you can also find images of some of his painting materials and locations, as well as a few videos of his process.

I have not found any high-resolution images or Solà’s work, or had the pleasure of seeing any of his paintings in person, but I get the impression that the relatively small images on his website do not do them justice.

[Addendum: Damian Johnston has provided a link to a gallery site with larger images here, and joninfrance, having see some of Solà’s paintings in person, points out that though attention grabbing, they are not particularly large. See this post’s comments.]


Eye Candy for Today: George Moreland night portrait

Portrait of a Girl in a Garden, George Moreland
Portrait of a Girl in a Garden, George Moreland

Link is to the Yale Center for British Art, which has the original in its collection. Their page for the painting offers both zoomable and downloadable versions. There is also a zoomable version on Google Art Project, and a downloadable one on Wikimedia Commons.

I’m not sure this is an actual portrait; the economically noted face looks idealized to me; but it’s a beautifully handled piece — from the unerring way in which Moreland controls your gaze with light and dark passages, to the wonderfully bold handling of the woman’s sleeve and the top of her dress.

The background holds just enough detail to create the presence of an environment, without intentionally drawing your eye there. A delicate suggestion of moonlight pervades the composition, giving it a romantic, somewhat mysterious air.

I particularly like the way the light that illuminates the soft white folds in the dress is echoed in the feathered decoration on her hat, and the woman’s face recedes somewhat between them, inviting the viewer in to more intimate relationship with the subject.

You will find reproductions of this painting on sites that want to sell you “pretty pictures” in which they have uncaringly amped up the brightness and saturation to the point where it’s impossible to tell it is a night scene.