Eye Candy for Today: Lars Hertervig landscape

The Tarn, Lars Hertervig, oil on canvas, roughly 25 x 18 inches (63 x 46 cm); link is to zoomable image on Google Art Project; downloadable file on Wikimedia Commons, original is in the National Museum, Oslo.

19th century Norwegian painter Lars Hertervig portrays the landscape surrouding a “tarn” (a glacially formed lake) in a manner somewhere between realism and fantastical art.

His spooky, atmospheric presentation of the landscape makes it look almost primordial.


Artists’ views of Venice #2

JWM Turner Venice

Artists views of Venice: Turner, Sargent, Anna Richards Brewster, Whistler, William Merritt Chase, Thomas Moran

This is a follow up to my previous article on Artists’ views of Venice, just to add more artists without an ungainly long string of images. It could have been five times as long.

[Images above (links to my articles): JMW Turner (with detail), John Singer Sargent, Anna Richards Brewster, James Whistler, William Merritt Chase, Thomas Moran (with detail)]


Artists’ views of Venice

Artists views of Veince, Canaletto

Artists views of Veince, Canaletto,Eugenio Lucas Velazquez, Martin Rico, Monet, Richard Parkes Bonington

Venice is a city from another time, and perhaps even from another world. Seeming to exist in sheer defiance of the intrusion of rising sea levels, sinking pilings, floods of tourists and the looming mountains of monstrous cruise ships, Venice is a shimmering mirage of transcendent beauty, an example of what’s possible when a city is built with as much of an eye to beauty as to commerce.

Unsurprisingly, artists have for centuries been drawn to this island realm of visual delights, entranced by the vision of its builders, and steeping themselves in the triumphs of the great Venetian painters of the Renaissance.

In the 19th century, in particular — a time when European and American artists traveled more broadly than ever before — Venice became a not to be missed destination for artists, who strove to capture its magic in paint, ink, pastel and other mediums.

In my own brief experience in Venice — my wife and I spent a scant three days there before going on to Florence — it’s easy to see why artists were not only drawn there, but often stayed for a considerable time, or returned again and again to bask in the inspiration and challenge of the city’s rare beauty.

In an attempt to put together a few of the many examples of artists’ interpretations of Venice, I found myself overwhelmed by too many beautiful works. I’ve selected a few that I hope represent some of the variety of approaches and crammed them into a couple of posts.

[Images above (links to my articles): Canaletto (with detail), Eugenio Lucas Velázquez, Martin Rico (with detail), Claude Monet, Richard Parkes Bonington (with detail)]


R. Kikuo Johnson

R. Kikuo Johnson

R. Kikuo Johnson

Originally from Hawaii, R. Kikuo Johnson is an illustrator and comics artist based in Brooklyn, New York.

His illustration clients include Apple, Random House, Penguin Books, Marvel Comics, The Atlantic, The Guardian, The Wall Street Journal and the New York times, among others.

Johnson maybe best known for his wonderful covers for The New Yorker. The image above, top is an example. I don’t know about you, but it took me a second glance to catch the point of the illustration; I love that.

He studied at the Rhode Island School of Design, and has returned to teach there.

Johnson’s work ranges from dramatic to subtle, and often has something of a feeling of the ligne claire style of European comics — little variation in line width, flat color, but within those constraints producing a naturalistic feeling of time and place.


Eye Candy for Today: Waterhouse’s Mariana in the South

Mariana in the South, John William Waterhouse

Mariana in the South (details), John William Waterhouse

Mariana in the South, John William Waterhouse; oil on canvas, roughly 45 x 29 inches (114 x 74 cm); link is to Wikimedia Commons, original is in a private collection.

John William Waterhouse — who is often described as a Pre-Raphaelite painter, but might be more accurately, if awkwardly, classified as a Post Pre-Raphaelite — depicts a scene from the poem “Mariana” by Alfred Tennyson.

The Pre-Raphaelites and others in their circle often took scenes from literature as their subjects. This one, showing a despondent Mariana wishing for the return of a lover who has rejected her affection, can be contrasted with this interpretation of Mariana from Pre-Raphaelite painter John Everett Millais.

On the surface, Waterhouse appears to share the Pre-Raphaelites’ fascination with truth to the appearance of nature, but on closer inspection, his handling is broader and more painterly.

Here, he makes a striking contrast in the brighter values of the young woman’s face, hands and gown with the dimness of the hall behind her, set off with the light through the door at its end. This effect is carried back to the reflection of the door’s window in the upper part of the mirror.

In a closer look, the splashes of high-chroma red in her lips and in the flower in her bodice as seen in the mirror capture our eye. Again, there is an echo of this, a slight indication of both her red lips and an edge of the flower can be seen in the main figure. There is also a touch of red in the letter on the floor by her knees.

Waterhouse has not taken the easy way out in representing the perspective of the tiles the hall, turning them at an angle oblique to that of the walls of the hall.


Birge Harrison

Lowell Birge Harrison

Lowell Birge Harrison

Lowell Birge Harrison was an American landscape painter, active the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He was associated with the Tonalist school and was noted for the play of light in his winter landscapes and atmospheric cityscapes.

He studied initially at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, while Thomas Eakins was teaching there, and later in Europe with Sargent’s teacher Carolus-Duran and at the École des Beaux-Arts.

He wrote and lectured on art, and a series of his lectures to the Art Students League were collected into a book titled simply Landscape Painting. There is an edition that combines this book with one from Hudson River School painter Asher Durand into a single volume, also titled Landscape Painting (Bookshop.org linkAmazon.com link)