Happy Leyendecker Baby New Year 2017!

Happy Leyendecker Baby New Year 2017!,  J.C. Leyendecker New Year's babies from covers for The Saturday Evening Post
As I’ve done every New Year’s Eve Since 2006, I’ll wish all Lines and Colors readers a Happy New Year with a few more of J.C. Leyendecker’s terrific New Year’s babies.

See that post for background on the origin of the Leyendecker New Years baby covers for the Saturday Evening Post.

Images above are from a three decade run of The Saturday Evening Post covers from the early 20th century. For more, see my previous links, below.

I wish you all a new year filled with beautiful, inspiring art!

Adoration of the Shepherds, Nicolas Maes

Adoration of the Shepherds, Nicolas Maes
Adoration of the Shepherds, Nicolas Maes

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

The Getty’s version of the image looks dark to me, as often seems to be the case with museums’ online representation of their collections. The Google Art Project version, and the Wikimedia Commons file of the same image, seem better.

Interestingly, 17th century painter Nicolaes Maes, a student of Rembrandt, has based his painting almost directly on a 16th century engraving by Albrecht Durer (see my previous post).

Things are arranged a little differently, and Maes has introduced the shepherds of the title, but most of the composition is taken from Durer’s piece — right down to the little bird on the signpost.

Like Durer, Maes has happily indulged in the representation of wood, brick, stone, trees, and the hilly landscape through the arch, as well as the play of light across the scene

The Nativity, Albrecht Durer

The Nativity, Albrecht Durer engraving
The Nativity, Albrecht Durer

Engraving, in the collection of the national Gallery of Art, DC, which has both zoomable and downloadable files. There is also a zoomable file on the Google Art Project and a downloadable file on Wikimedia Commons.

In this beautiful early 16th century engraving by one of the great masters of printmaking, Durer seems more concerned with the setting than the event. Perhaps he was simultaneously indulging his patrons’ preference for religious themed prints and his own preference for exploring the visual world around him.

I love the little bird on the signpost on which Durer has hung a sign with the date and his monogram.

The Nativity; NGA, DC

Another great Haddon Sundblom Santa Claus illustration

Another great Haddon Sundblom Coca-Cola Santa Claus illustration
Even though he is sometimes incorrectly credited with creating the modern visual interpretation of Santa Claus, that doesn’t detract from the beautiful job illustrator Haddon Sundblom did of interpreting the character in his 20th century illustrations for the Coca-Cola Company.

The image above is from an exhibition of Sundblom’s Santa Paintings at the Oglethorpe University Museum of Art in 2013, large version here.

The distinction of fleshing out a visual interpretation of Santa is spread through the history of several illustrators, starting with Thomas Nast, and with most credit for refinement of the image of the Jolly One closest to its current state going to J.C. Leyendecker, in my opinion.

For more, see my 2006 post on Illustrators’ Visions of Santa Claus, and my 2013 follow-up post, Illustrators’ Visions of Santa Claus (update), in which I show the illustrators involved in chronological order, including Sundblom.

See also my previous posts on Haddon Sundblom and Haddon Sundblom Santas, as well as some of the other illustrators who helped frame our modern interpretation, linked below.

Fragonard: Drawing Triumphant

Jean-Honore Fragonard: Drawing Triumphant
18th century French painter Jean-Honoré Fragonard was known for his luxuriously colored and lavishly rendered depictions of frivolity and sensuality, much in keeping with the High-Baroque fascination with those kinds of scenes.

As beautifully painted as they may be, the subject matter of Fragonard’s paintings can leave you with the undeserved impression that his abilities as a painter are likewise somewhat frivolous, and he doesn’t often get his due as a painter.

My introduction to Fragonard was through his drawings, which I encountered early on at shows in New York at the Met and the Morgan Library, both of which have superb examples in their permanent collections.

Fragonard’s drawings, with their remarkable combination of suggested detail and economy of notation, as well as his fluidity in rendering figures — much of which was passed on from his teacher, François Boucher — reveal his exceptional skill more directly than his paintings.

Not only are his drawing abilities impressive, his methods of notation are often unusual, particularly the wonderful way he suggests foliage with those crazy zig-zag lines, as in the image detail above, second down.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art has mounted a new exhibition of Fragonard’s drawings, with over 100 works on paper. As with most works on paper, they are rarely on view because of the fragility and light sensitivity of paper.

Many of those in this show are from private collections and have not been on view previously to the public. Much of the remainder are from the Met’s own collection, and apparently from that of the nearby Morgan Library and Museum.

There is a preview of works on the Met’s web pages for the exhibition, those in their own collections have links to high-res, downloadable images elsewhere on their site (or you can search their collection online for “Fragonard drawings“).

Those from private collections are, unsurprisingly, not presented as large images, however, you can look for those from the Morgan Library’s collection on their site, on which you will also find high-res zoomable and downloadable images.

Fragonard: Drawing Triumphant” is on view at the Met until January 8, 2017.

There is a book accompanying the exhibition, also titled Fragonard: Drawing Triumphant, that is available from the Met’s online store, or through Amazon and other book sources.

I haven’t gotten up to see this show yet, but I have seen a number of these drawings in other shows over the years, and they are just beautiful.

In particular, I love the stunning little gouache painting shown above, bottom: Interior of a Park, The Gardens of the Villa d’Este, which is from the collection of the Morgan Library (high-res version here). Wow.

John P. Lasater

John P. Lasater, landscape and still life painting
John P. Lasater IV is a contemporary American painter based in Arkansas. His paintings include landscape, still life and figurative subjects.

Lasater devotes a good deal of his time to plein air painting, and the freshness and immediacy of that practice carries over into his still life and studio landscape painting.

I particularly enjoy his control of edges and the way he makes what I assume are careful brushstrokes in his studio work look deceptively casual.

Lasater also paints plein air nocturnes, and there is an interview with him on In the Artist Studio in which he describes his equipment and approach.

The images on his website are sometime a little smaller than one might hope, given his interesting approach to paint application, but there are larger images on some of the galeries in which he is represented, like the New Masters Gallery. I’ve listed others below.

Lasater teaches workshops and has a new video: Painting Into Direct Sunlight (trailer here), that is available in both downloadable and DVD versions.