Eye Candy for Today: Friederich von Amerling portrait


The Young Eastern Woman, Friedrich von Amerling

Link is to Wikimedia Commons, which has a nicely high-resolution version of the image; original is in the Cleveland Museum of Art.

19th century Austrian painter Friederich von Amerling was known for his refined portraits, which many compare to those of Ingres. In this example, likely intended as a genre painting, it’s easy to see why.

I love the way the softly under-lit face is essentially in shadow, its subtle values and restrained color made the center of interest by the corona of light surrounding the headdress.

 
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Eye Candy for Today: George Inness, Sunrise

Sunrise, George Inness
Sunrise, George Inness

In the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Use the Download or Enlarge links under the image. Don’t take my limited detail crops above as your only view of the painting; go the Met’s site and view the image full screen.

There are lots of paintings that shout at the viewer, and many that speak directly, but in works like this, pioneering Tonalist George Inness whispers to us about the poetic spirituality underlying the natural world.

Virtually all of his later works are masterful examples of the use of soft edges, and their power to evoke mystery. Though his painting process was reportedly animated and forceful, Inness suggests his forms with delicate wisps of color that appear to be breathed onto the canvas.

 
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Eye Candy for Today: Frederic Leighton’s Invocation

Invocation, oil painting by Frederic Leighton
Invocation, Frederic Leighton

Link is to Wikimedia Commons, original is in a private collection.

Like the remarkable figure of Perseus in his interpretation of the mythological story of Perseus and Andromeda, Leighton here manages to render the figure as both solid and etherial.

This is partly accomplished with solid draftsmanship, and partly with his superb command of value and edges. I’m struck in particular by the way he has handled the subtle shift in value on the arms, in which the tonal transitions are so delicate as to be almost imperceptible.

The diaphanous gown defines the underlying figure with precision and grace, again by subtle control of value and the draftsmanship in the sweeping folds of fabric.

The small bit of still life adds weight at the bottom of the composition and ties it to the hints of architectural elements that form the background.

 
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Eye Candy for Today: Carl Wihelm Kolbe etching

Dead Oak Tree, Carl Wihelm Kolbe, etching
A Dead Oak Tree, Carl Wihelm Kolbe

Etching on laid paper, roughly 14 x 20 inches (37 x 52 cm),

Link is to zoomable version on Google Art Project; original is in the collection of the National Gallery of Art, DC, which has a downloadable high-res version of the image.

Kolbe was noted for his intricately detailed portrayals of natural forms, both real and fantastical. What I admire most about this drawing (an etching is essentially a drawing), is the wonderful control of value.

Kolbe has used hatching and stipple to render the foreground form with visceral texture and contrast, but is still able to give the background elements a similar feeling of tactile detail while pushing them back with atmospheric perspective.

 
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Eye Candy for Today: Alfons Mucha portrait drawing

Jaroslava Mucha, pencil portrait drawing by Alfons Mucha
Jaroslava Mucha, Alfons Mucha

Link is to Wikimedia Commons. Pencil and white (presumably gouache) on toned paper, roughly 13 x 10 inches (33 x 25 cm).

This lively and sensitive drawing by Czech painter, poster artist and decorative designer Alfons (Alphonse) Mucha is a portrait of his daughter, Jaroslava.

The high resolution version available from the Wikimedia Commons page gives us a nice view of his drawing technique. Some of the drawing seems almost casual, but there is wonderful finesse in the delicate lost and found lines with which he’s indicated the nose, the sharply defined eyelids, and the tonal rendering of the lips, hair and garment.

The Wikimedia image is sourced from a Dorotheum auction listing (which no longer appears to be available), so my assumption is that the drawing is currently in a private collection.

 
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Eye Candy for Today: Bartolomeo Montagna Renaissance portrait

Saint Justina of Padua, Bartolomeo Montagna (Bartolomeo Cincani)
Saint Justina of Padua, Bartolomeo Montagna (Bartolomeo Cincani)

In the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Use the “download or Enlarge links under the image on their site.

Though this is technically a religious work, not a portrait, I think the beautifully drawn and delicately rendered face has the look of a real person, not an imagined ideal.

I like the wonderful detail in the texture of the iris of the eyes, and the highlight in the eye (which, for reasons beyond me, some artists in later centuries would leave out).

The values in which the face is modeled are subtle but the face feels well defined and geometrically strong.

Montagna’s style shows the influence of Venetian Renaissance master Giovanni Bellini, and it’s speculated that he may have been a student or apprentice of Bellini at some point.

 
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