Eye Candy for Today: Carl Thomsen’s Arranging Daffodils

Arranging Daffodils, Carl Thomsen, oil on canvas
Arranging Daffodils, Carl Thomsen, oil on canvas

Arranging Daffodils, Carl Thomsen; oil on canvas, roughly 16 x 12 inches (41 x 32 cm); link is to image file page on Wikimedia Commons, zoomable image on Bonham’s. (My assumption from the auction listing is that the painting is currently in a private collection.)

This 1894 painting by Danish artist Carl Thomsen is a perfect image of bringing spring indoors. The vase of blossoms and the young woman and her white dress are illuminated highlights in the dark room, giving a feeling of the bright promise of spring making an advance into the darkness of fading winter.

Thomsen’s painterly approach makes the bright subjects stand out even more against the almost flat background.

 
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Eye Candy for Today: John Sell Cotman graphite and wash drawing

East End of Saint Jacques at Dieppe, Normandy; John Sell Cotman; graphite and brown wash
East End of Saint Jacques at Dieppe, Normandy (details); John Sell Cotman; graphite and brown wash

East End of Saint Jacques at Dieppe, Normandy; John Sell Cotman; graphite and brown wash; roughly 12 x 9 inches (29 x 22 cm). LInk is to zoomable version on Google Art Project, downloadable file on Wikimedia Commons, original is in the Yale Center for British Art.

English painter, printmaker and illustrator John Sell Cotman, who was active in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, was prolific and left a trove of drawings in addition to his paintings and graphics. Here, he confidently delineates the intricately decorative structure of a large Renaissance church with graphite, augmented with subtle washes.

The drawing exhibits both the substantial accuracy of a careful architectural drawing, and the liveliness of a more casual sketch.

In part, this is likely due to the loosely free rendering of the roof of the lower structure, but I think it’s also due to an approach I have also noticed in the wonderful architectural drawings of Canaletto.

In both cases, lines that over their course are ruler straight, are along the way wavering and often lightly broken. It’s a wonderful technique.

 
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Eye Candy for Today: M.C. Escher lithograph: Reptiles

M.C. Escher, Reptiles, lithograph
M.C. Escher, Reptiles, lithograph (details)

Reptiles, Maurits Cornelis Escher, lithograph, roughly 13 x 15 inches (33 × 38 cm)

Link is to an image sourced from this article on the website of WBUR radio, reviewing a 2018 Escher exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston.

Here, we find the ingenious Dutch printmaker M.C. Escher indulging in a number of his favored themes: tessellated patterns, the relationship between the a two dimensional surface and three dimensional space, a shift between the graphic and the “real”, circular visual logic, geometric solids, and keenly observed still life subjects that may hold symbolic meaning.

This is one of my favorite Escher compositions; it plays with the very nature of illusionistic art — the representation of a three dimensional world on a two dimensional surface.

I see a potential play on words in the title, Reptiles. (Whether this translates into Dutch, or whether Escher spoke English, I don’t know.) The reptiles are represented as elements in a tessellation — as flat, interlocking patterns on the drawing surface. The repeated elements in a tessellated surface are called “tiles”. If you want to carry it further, “Rep” can be short for “repeated”. But then, I’m just projecting into Escher’s work, as its enigmatic nature makes it fun to do.

Also, I love the snort of smoke from the lizard on top of the dodecahedron.

For more, see my previous posts on M.C. Escher.

 
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Eye Candy for Today: Giovanni Boldini pastel portrait

Signorina Concha de Ossa, Giovanni Boldini
Signorina Concha de Ossa, Giovanni Boldini

Signorina Concha de Ossa, Giovanni Boldini; pastel on prepared canvas, roughly 87 x 47 inches (221 x 120 cm). LInk is to Wikimedia Commons, which sourced the image from a past sale of the painting from Christie’s. I don’t know the location of the original, likely a private collection.

Italian painter Giovanni Boldini, who was active in the late 19th and early 20 centuries, shifts here from his usual oils to pastel, but the piece is in keeping with his series of full length portraits of society women in flowing gowns.

 
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Eye Candy for Today: Johan Christian Dahl landscape

View From Stalheim, Johan Christian Dahl, oil on canvas
View From Stalheim, Johan Christian Dahl, oil on canvas

View From Stalheim, Johan Christian Dahl, oil on canvas, 75 x 97 inches (190 x 246 cm).

Link is to zoomable image on Google Art Project; (very) high resolution file on Wikimedia Commons, original is in the National Museum of Art and Design, Oslo.

19th century Norwegian painter Johan Christian Dahl’s large scale view of a mountainous landscape from a village in the western region of the country gives a grand vista, and resolves in closer views to a series of interesting details, obviously designed to please the viewer’s eye at several levels.

Be aware that the high-resolution downloadble file on Wikimedia Commons is quite large at 74MB.

 
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Eye Candy for Today: Tarbell’s Preparing for the Matinee

Preparing for the Matinee, Edmund Charles Tarbell, oil on canvas
Preparing for the Matinee, Edmund Charles Tarbell, oil on canvas

Preparing for the Matinee, Edmund Charles Tarbell; oil on canvas, roughly 45 x 35″ (114 x 89 cm); link is to zoomable version on Google Art Project; downloadable (very) high resolution file on Wikimedia Commons; original is in the Indianapolis Museum of Art, which also has zoomable and downloadable versions.

Like other members of the early 20th century group of painters known as the Boston School, Edmund Charles Tarbell frequently took as his subjects well-to-do young women quietly engaged in everyday activities. Here, a young woman tends to her appearance in a gilt-edged mirror, barely seen to the left of the composition.

Like most of his fellow Boston School painters, Tarbell combined academic refinement with the loose painterly brush work and clear observation of a scene as light and color championed by Monet and the French Impressionists.

A major influence on the Boston School painters, and Tarbell in particular, was 17th century Dutch master Johannes Vermeer, a corner of whose painting Lady at the Virginal with a Gentleman (“The Music Lesson”) is suggested at the upper right, in much the same way Vermeer himself would reference parts of other paintings at the edges of his composition. (See images above, bottom, in which I’ve inset Vermeer’s painting next to Tarbell’s shadowed homage.)

 
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