Eye Candy for Today: Whistler’s Weary

Weary, James Abbott McNeill Whistler, drypoint eteching  /><br />
<a href=Weary, James Abbott McNeill Whistler

Link is to zoomable version on Google Art Project; there is also a downloadable version on Wikimedia Commons; the original is in the collection of the Freer/Sackler Galleries, Smithsonian Museums, DC.

Drypoint, third state of six, roughly 8 x 5″ (19 x 13 cm).

This is one of James Whistler’s most famous etchings.

A master etcher, Whistler here used the process of drypoint to portray his lover and frequent model Joanna Hiffernan in a moment of repose.

Drypoint is a printmaking technique similar to etching that involves scratching lines directly into the plate rather then scratching away a lines in a resist that is then carved by immersion in acid. Drypoint leaves an even softer line than etching, and Whistler’s flurry of soft lines give the modeling of the face and hair beautifully soft edges, the printmaking equivalent of a painter’s sfumato technique.

The hatching across the face looks a bit odd in magnified view, but when viewed at normal size resolves into delicate modeling of the facial features.

Despite the obvious attention devoted to the face and upper body, the rest of the composition feels almost casual; the right hand just seems to dissolve into he gesturally indicated folds of the dress, and Whistler hasn’t attempted to fully hide the upside-down face in the lower left — that indicates he originally started a different drawing on this plate. (I’ve turned the face 180° in the images above, bottom.)

Like most etchings and drypoints there are multiple versions of the image pulled from various states of the plate. The Freer/Sackler collection includes two more of the fourth state, here and here. The Metropolitan Museum of Art also has a state 4 pull from the plate. In my brief searching, I’ve found mostly state 4 versions; there is apparently no known existing print from the sixth state of the plate.

Here is a record of the 5 other states on the University of Glasgow’s Whistler etchings catalogue raisonné.

 
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Eye Candy for Today: Silvered Brook by John Fabian Carlson

Silvered Brook by John Fabian Carlson
Silvered Brook, John Fabian Carlson

Link is to file page on Wikimedia Commons; I don’t know the status of the original.

Swedish-American painter John Fabian Carlson was noted for his scenes of winter woods.

I love the way he finds so much variation of color in his tree trunks, while maintaining their coherence as an object with careful control of value.

 
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Eye candy for Today: Edward Redfield’s Winter in the Valley

Winter in the Valley, Edward Willis Redfield
Winter in the Valley, Edward Willis Redfield

Link is to zoomable version on Google Art Project; original is in the Reading Public Museum. There is a downloadable version here, part of this article about a previous traveling show that featured the painting, but it seems overly saturated, I’ve color corrected that image for the images above to be closer to the museum’s version.

Edward Redfield — one of the turn of the century American painters known as the “Pennsylvania Impressionists” — was noted for his winter scenes. He often captured these on location in a single session, sometimes in extreme temperatures and winds that required him to lash his large canvas to a tree to continue painting.

Here, he presents a quiet sunlit winter’s day scene of a farmhouse in the Delaware River valley, with small communities flanking the river seen through the trees.

Redfield’s canvasses are a delight in person, their surfaces so thick with his paint strokes, you wonder how they can hold that much paint.

 
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Eye Candy for Today: Claude Lorrain drawing of an oak tree

Study of an Oak Tree, Claude Lorrai
Study of an Oak Tree, Claude Lorrain

Roughly 13 x 9 inches (33 x 22 cm), pen and brown ink, brown wash, over graphite.

Link is to zoomable version on Google Art Project; downloadable version here, as part of this article on the Claudian Landscape; original is in the British Museum.

17th century French painter Claude Lorrain was one of the most influential landscape painters in Western Art, and his classical landscapes inspired painters for generations after. His influence on John Constable, for example, was considerable, and this drawing may have been direct inspiration for one of Constable’s own location oil sketches (as seen in this post on Constable, in the seventh image down).

Claude composed his large landscape paintings in the studio, but based their naturalistic details on field drawings. This one is perhaps more finished than most, with a beautiful composition of its own, a keen observation of detail and a wonderful sense of atmospheric perspective and distance.

I love how he has “turned” the form of the tree trunk, with the dimly lit ivy on the left edge leading into deeper shadow, through the subdued middle tones and out to the brightly lit bark at the right.

 
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Eye Candy for Today: Frits Thaulow’s Winter

Winter, Frits Thaulow
Winter, Frits Thaulow

Link is to zoomable image on Google Art Project; downloadble high-res file on Wikimedia Commons; original is in The National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design, Norway.

What better way to celebrate the Winter Solstice than with a super high-resolution image of a painting I haven’t see before by one of my favorite painters — Frits Thaulow!

I love the seemingly effortless finesse of his brushy application of paint, the gestural structure of the trees, the brief notation of figures and the marvelous paint textures in the sky and snow.

Happy Winter Solstice everybody!

 
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Eye Candy for Today: James Peale miniature portrait

Elizabeth Oliphant, James Peale, watercolor on ivory
Elizabeth Oliphant, James Peale

Watercolor on ivory, roughly 3 x 2 inches (7 x 5.8 cm ). Link is to Wikimedia Commons, original is in the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

In the late 18th, and through the mid 19th centuries, there was a demand for miniature portraits, both in the U.S. and in Europe. These were usually painted in watercolor or gouache on oval ivory, often in the form of pendants, and were kept as keepsakes.

Ivory seems to lend itself well to this kind of miniature water media painting, and the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington has a nice collection of them, accessed in drawers.

I had a chance to look through some of them on a visit to the museum a couple of years ago and I can see the appeal; many are beautifully painted, often in a delicately applied stipple technique, as is the case in this beautiful example by American artist James Peale.

 
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