Eye Candy for Today: William Trost Richards’ October

October, William Trost Richards
October, William Trost Richards

In the collection of the National Gallery of Art, DC. There are zoomable and downloadable versions of the image available on their website.

This painting by the 19th century American artist William Trost Richards reflects a shift in his approach to landscape, and painting in general, when he became influenced by the dedication to representing nature faithfully — and resplendent in botanical detail — exemplified by the british Pre-Raphaelite painters.

There is also a pencil drawing by Richards of essentially the same scene, with some variation, in the National Gallery’s collection, that was likely a study for this painting.

It’s interesting in particular to compare the this painting and the pencil drawing to Sir John Everett Millais’ painting of Ophelia, and the mezzotint after that by James Stephenson.

Eye Candy for Today: William Trost Richards pencil landscape

Landscape pencil drawing, William Trost Richards
Landscape, William Trost Richards

Graphite on paper, roughly 9 x 6 inches (21 x 16 cm). In the collection of the National Gallery of Art, DC. There is both a zoomable and downloadable version available from their site.

This remarkable drawing from 1862 was likely a study for Richards’ 1863 painting, October.

Both were done while Richards was in a phase in his career when he was inspired by the extraordinarily detailed and true to nature work of the British Pre-Raphaeilte painters.

I find it interesting in particular to compare the October painting and this drawing to Sir John Everett Millais’ painting of Ophelia, and the mezzotint after that by James Stephenson.

Anton Pieck (update)

Anton Pieck illustrations
Anton Pieck was Dutch illustrator, printmaker and gallery artist active in the early to mid 20th century. I first wrote about him on Lines and Colors in 2010; since then new online sources for his images have come to light — in particular, a dedicated Anton Pieck website.

The site is in Dutch, but you can find his work easily under the menus at top for “Zijn werk“.

Pieck worked in an illustration style more in keeping with the “Golden Age” illustrators who preceded him, giving his work a nostalgic visual charm. I particularly enjoy his handling of architectural elements and natural forms like bare winter trees.

For more, see my previous post on Anton Pieck.

[Via One1more2time3’s Weblog]

Illustrators’ drawing tables on Frizzi Frizzi

Drawing Tables: Desks of Illustrators on Frizzi Frizzi
I love to see other artists’ workspaces. This is part curiosity, part searching for useful storage ideas and part reassurance that my floor-to-ceiling amalgam of papers, pens, brushes, jars, containers, books, magazines, computer screens, tablets, disks, trays, pans, tubes, racks, bric-a-brac and dinosaur models is not an aberration.

The italian site Frizzi Frizzi has an article reposting photos of a number of illustrators’ workspaces as collected by Davide Cali.

Some are full of the stuff of traditional media, some are all-digital, many are set up to accommodate both. Some are remarkably spare, others crammed with materials, most are somewhere in between.

These are primarily European illustrators, but the article also serves as a nice jumping off point to explore their work, as a link is provided to the work of each illustrator under the photo of their workspace.

For more, see my previous articles about artists’ workspaces linked below.

[Via Mattias Adolfsson]

Charles-François Daubigny

Contrary to the notion you might get from some sources, French Impressionism did not spring full-blown from the brushes of Monet, Renoir, Sisley and Bazille the moment they met in Charles Gleyre’s atelier in the 1860’s.

Not only did the fully realized style we know as Impressionism take time to develop among the artists themselves, the fundamentals on which it is based can be traced back through a logical progression from preceding artists and movements.

Chief among them were the painters of the Barbizon School, French painters who were inspired by the true-to-nature location painting of John Constable in the early 19th century, the Realism of Gustave Courbet and the direct observation and rendering of Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, and who came to Barbizon and the neighboring Forest of Fontainebleau to paint in the 1820s.

You can see in the work of all of these painters, as well as in the paintings of Manet, Boudin and others, the elements that would make up the techniques of Impressionism — painting from nature, the pursuit of the effects of light, the short, separate, painterly brush marks, wet on wet paint application and the direct approach to painting, rather than the careful layers of glazing favored by academic painting of the time.

A new exhibition organized by the Taft Museum of Art in Cincinnati, the National Galleries of Scotland and the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam attempts to bring one Barbizon painter forward in particular as a progenitor of Impressionism.

Daubigny, Monet, Van Gogh: Impressions of Landscape is an exhibition currently at the Van Gogh museum — after a run at the other two — that focuses on the influence of French painter Charles-François Daubigny on Monet and the other Impressionists, as well as on Post-Impressionists like Van Gogh.

There is a nice article on The Culture Trip that describes the exhibition and gives some background on the painters and their relationships.

Daubigny (pronounced “doh-bee-nee”) trained at the French Academy and initially painted in the formal style favored by that influential institution, using location sketches for reference to compose idealized studio works. In the early 1840s he moved to Barbizon in the French countryside and began to paint directly from nature.

I’m not certain how the influences moved between Daubigny and the other Barbizon painters like Théodore Rousseau and Jean-François Millet, but I know that Daubigny became an influential member of the circle, even though he was younger than most of the other painters there.

Following paths blazed by role models and mentors like Constable, Corot and Courbet, the painters in Barbizon took landscape painting a long way from the formalism of the Academy to the fresh, lively, painted-from-nature works that would so influence the Impressionists.

The Daubigny painting above, top (with detail) was painted in 1857, a year before the earliest known painting by Monet (which was much more traditional in approach than his later Impressionist work).

Daubigny met Monet in London in the mid-1860s, and they painted together in the Netherlands. Monet even started painting from a boat, a practice that Daubigny had initiated during his time in Barbizon.

The exhibition, and the book that accompanies it, Inspiring Impressionism: Daubigny, Monet, Van Gogh, go on to explore further Daubigny’s influence on the development of Impressionism, and on the course of landscape painting in general.

In the meanwhile, I’ve gathered some links and resources to explore Daubigny’s work.

Writer Émile Zola, in his comments on Daubigny’s paintings on display at the Paris World’s Fair in 1878, wrote: “Look at any landscape by Daubigny: it is the very soul of nature that speaks to you.”

Eye Candy for Today: Franz Xaver Winterhalter’s portrait of Maria Beck

Portrait of Countess Alexander Nikolaevitch Lamsdorff (Maria Ivanovna Beck), Franz Xaver Winterhalter
Countess Alexander Nikolaevitch Lamsdorff (Maria Ivanovna Beck), Franz Xaver Winterhalter

In the Metropolitan Museum of Art; use the download or enlarge links under their image.

Winterhalter’s portrait makes nice use of variation in edges; compare the sharp edges of the cuffs and collar of the dress to the softness at the edges of the hands.

The face and hands are sensitively realized, while the folds in the fabric are wonderfully bold and painterly. I particularly enjoy the way the tree and foliage behind the subject resolve into seemingly casual smudges and smears on close inspection.

The bright red of the cushions to our left, though somewhat balanced by reds in the foliage and the cover of the book, is an interesting standout from the rest of the composition.

It’s also notable how Winterhalter has thrown a shadow across the bottom of the dress in the form of a gentle curve, complementing the curved form of the tree branch above and giving the composition a powerful but naturalistic focus on the subject.