Eye Candy for Today: George Inness, Sunset in the Woods

George Inness, Sunset in the Woods, American landscape painting, oil on canvas
Sunset in the Woods, George Inness

The link is to a page on Wikimedia Commons from which you can access a high resolution file; the original is in the National Gallery of Art, DC, which also has a zoomable and downloadable high-res image.

There are paintings that seem to transcend art and move into the realm of ineffable mystery.

Of course, for American landscape master George Inness, transcendence, and the expression of the spiritual nature of the physical world, was his goal.

Don’t take the small image and detail crops I’ve provided above as your only experience of this image. Go to one of the links I’ve provided and fill your largest available screen; relax and enjoy the experience for a few minutes. (The original painting is four feet by six feet, or roughly 122 x 184 cm.)

Don’t look for detail, it’s the absence of detail that’s important here.

With his uncanny control of muted color, carefully finessed values, suggestive texture, and oh-so-subtle edges, Inness leads us into the woods, whispers to us of the sublime within the commonplace, and then steps out of the way to let our own perceptions carry us deeper.

 
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Eye Candy for Today: Frederick Sandys’ Vivien


Vivien, Frederick Sandys

Link is to Wikimedia Commons, original is in the Manchester Art Gallery, which doesn’t seem to have an image online. The Study for Vivien at bottom is in the Norwich Castle collection.

In this striking portrait, Pre-Raphaelite painter Frederick Sandys portrays his companion, Koemi Gray, as the character Vivien from “Idylls of the King”, Tennyson’s series of poems that draw on the King Athur legend.

Vivien is one of the interpretations of “The Lady of the Lake”, who proffers Excalibur to Arthur, and is presented by Tennyson as the temptress who beguiles Merlin. The apple with which Sandys’ portrays her may be a symbol of temptation, carried froward from the story of Adam and Eve.

I admire the way Sandys has used the tilt of the head and the lowered eyelids to give suggestion of the nature of the character, and yet still retains his obvious affection for the beauty of his model. The sensitive depiction of the hands, particularly the delicate sweep of the left wrist, is just wonderful. You can see the attention he has given them in his study.

I also love the distinctive touches of red on the lips, earring, necklace and foreground rose, as well as the touch on the apple, balanced out by the complementary greens throughout.

 
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Eye Candy for Today: View of Naples by Antonino Leto

View of Naples by Antonino Leto
Naples, Antonino Leto

Link is to Wikimedia Commons page that has a link to a large image; original is in a private collection.

Leto’s view of the Bay of Naples and a smoky Mt. Vesuvius is a study in atmospheric effects. I love the difference between the intensity of the color in the foreground water and the soft graduated atmosphere that ranges from the base to the peak of the volcano.

 
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Rembrandt Peale’s portraits of Thomas Jefferson

Prtrait of Thomas Jefferson, Rembrandt Peale
Rembrandt Peale was named by his father, pioneering American artist Charles Wilson Peale, after a famous European artist from the past, like his brothers Raphaelle Peale, Rubens Peale and Titian Peale.

Like his father, Rembrandt Peale painted important figures of the American Revolution, who they associated with at the time, including George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. He painted the portrait of Thomas Jefferson at top here in Philadelphia in 1800, when the city was the temporary capital of the young nation, and Jefferson was Vice President to John Adams.

The second portrait was painted in D.C. at the White House in 1805, at the end of Jefferson’s first term as president.

Both paintings are in the collection of the White House.

There is a high res image of the first on Google Art Project, with a downloadable version on Wikimedia Commons. That image appears overly dark compared to the image on the White House Historical Association; and there is also a somewhat lighter but lower resolution images on Wikimedia. I’ve lightened the large image to be closer to the other.

 
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Eye Candy for Today: Meléndez still life with melon

Still Life with Limes, Oranges, Acerola and Watermelon, Luis Egidio Melendez, 18th century Spanish still life
Still Life with Limes, Oranges, Acerola and Watermelon, Luis Egidio Meléndez

Link is to Wikimedia Commons, original is in the Museo del Prado, Madrid.

Just another amazing still life by 18th century Spanish master Luis Egidio Meléndez. As is often the case, his superb command of value and texture steals the show.

See my previous posts of Meléndez still lifes for more.

 
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Eye Candy for Today: Samuel Palmer ink and watercolor drawing

Oak Tree and Beech, Lullingstone Park, Samuel Palmer, pena nd brown ink drawing with watercolor and gouache
Oak Tree and Beech, Lullingstone Park, Samuel Palmer

Pen and brown ink, with gouache an watercolor on toned paper, roughly 12 x 18 inches (30 x 47 cm); in the collection of the Morgan Library and Museum, NY. Use the “Zoom Image” or “Download Image” links on their page to view larger.

I love the way that Palmer has used a variety of seemingly casual but wonderfully effective marks — squiggles, dots, dashes, calligraphic strokes, blotches, hatching and stipple — to define his textures.

The Morgan’s website indicates that the handling of the background is also quite interesting. The light through the distant trees is indicated with yellow watercolor, painted over an area defined with white qouache and then coated with gum arabic, which would impart a sheen to that area. I assume that this effect would be more noticeable in person, and might resemble the effect of spot varnish as used in modern commercial printing.

 
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