Category Archives: Eye Candy for Today

Eye Candy for Today: Pissarro’s Boulevard Montmartre, Spring

Boulevard Montmartre, Spring; Camille Pissarro
Boulevard Montmartre, Spring; Camille Pissarro

Link is to a zoomable version on the Google Art Project; there is a downloadablve version on Wikimedia Commons. Google’s listing indicates the original is in the collection of The Israel Museum, Jerusalem; but I can’t find it in their online database.

This is one of the remarkable series of paintings of Pissarro’s views of the boulevard Montmartre from a room he rented in Paris in the fall of 1896 and Spring of 1897.

In it, as well as in the other paintings in the series, Pissarro explored the same subject in a variety of seasons, times of day, light and weather conditions, and continued the practice by the Impressionist painters of painting scenes of everyday life. In itself, the latter practice, following the lead of Gustave Courbet, was as radical at the time as the Impressionist’s approach to brushwork and color.

In this painting in particular, I love the colors in the shadows (don’t let anyone tell you the French Impressionists didn’t use grays), and the wonderful textural quality of the paint evident in the large reproductions.

 
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Eye Candy for Today: CC Curran’s Lady with a Bouquet

Lady with a Bouquet, (Snowballs), Charles Courtney Curran
Lady with a Bouquet, (Snowballs), Charles Courtney Curran

Link is to zoomable version on Google Art Project; downloadable file on Wikimedia Commons; original is in the Birmingham Museum of Art (AL) which also has a zoomable version. Oil on panel, roughly 12 x 8 in (31 x 22 cm).

American painter Charles Courtney Curran was known for his genre paintings, often of well dressed young women in idyllic surroundings.

In this small painting, Curran’s wife poses for a delicately sensitive portrait in which her shadowed face is in the same value range as the foremost of the flowers in the bouquet she examines, both illuminated from behind by gentle sunlight from a window outside our view.

I particularly admire the rather daring way Curran has silhouetted her profile against the bright passage of one of the sunlit groups of blossoms, using the value contrast to advantage as the focus of composition, while taking the risk that it might overwhelm the delicate modeling of her face.

Throughout, the brushy paint application is so loose and confident as to appear almost casual, though Curran’s superb draftsmanship and the powerful naturalism of the scene indicate that his approach was anything but casual.

 
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Eye Candy for Today: Jan Brueghel the Elder River Landscape

River Landscape, Jan Brueghel the Elder
River Landscape, Jan Brueghel the Elder

In the collection of the National Gallery of Art, DC, which has both zoomable and downloadable versions on their site (larger of the two downloadable versions requires a free account). There is also a zoomable version on Google Art Project and a downloadable version on Wikimedia Commons.

This work by a member of the artistic Brueghel family noted for his intricately detailed landscapes is smaller than it may seem from the reproduction — roughly 8 x 12 inches ( 21 x 32 cm) — and the character of his brushwork at this scale lends interesting textural qualities to the rendering.

Dramatic, low angled daylight cuts across the composition, revealing multiple planes of scenes in light and dark passages. The distant parts of the town and the ships far back on the river take on a ghostly, skeletal quality.

 
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Eye Candy for Today: Le Sidaner view of London

St. Paul’s from the River: Morning Sun in Winter, Henri Le Sidaner
St. Paul’s from the River: Morning Sun in Winter, Henri Le Sidaner

Link is to zoomable version on Google Art Project; downloadable version on Wikimedia Commons. Google lists the original as in the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, but I can’t find an image on their site.

Le Sidaner shows the influence of Monet, and I think Pissarro, in this view of London in which the intense winter sunlight simultaneously reveals and almost obscures the buildings across the river. The brilliant dots of color are so small as to suggest an approach bordering on pointillism.

 
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Eye Candy for Today: Rembrandt etching of farm scene with a man sketching

Cottages and Farm Building with a Man Sketching, Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn, etching
Cottages and Farm Building with a Man Sketching, Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn

Etching, roughly 5 x 8 in. (13 x 21 cm); in the collection of the Morgan Library and Museum, which has both a zoomable and downloadable version of the image on their site.

Remarkable though they may be, Rembrandt’s etchings of Biblical scenes are somewhat formal and tightly composed. Sale of those etchings was an important part of Rembrandt’s stock in trade an an artist.

His etchings of landscapes, however, seem an extension of his apparent love of sketching on location; they carry much of the relaxed and confident charm of his landscape drawings.

In these etchings, like his reed pen landscape drawings, I get a sense of pleasure in the act of drawing — the fun of hatching in the dark tones, the joy of his needle scratching across the plate, searching out the gestural shapes of the tree and the animals, and the quiet satisfaction of spending time out sketching the countryside with another artist.

 
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