Eye Candy for Today: Anders Zorn portrait of Freida Schiff

Portrait of Frieda Schiff, Anders Zorn
Frieda Schiff, Anders Zorn

In the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Given the relatively weak greens in the curtain and background, I suppose it’s possible this was painted with Zorn’s famously eponymous palette.

The “Zorn Palette”, with which the Swedish artist is presumed to have painted many (though certainly not all) of his paintings, consisted of Ivory Black, Vermillion, Flake White and Yellow Ochre. It is essentially a portrait palette, and Zorn’s effective use of it is a testament to the power of a limited palette.

The seemingly casual but astonishingly effective brush strokes in the dress are indicative of Zorn’s position as one of the “masters of the loaded brush”, a short list that also includes John Singer Sargent and Joaquín Sorolla (I would personally add Cecilia Beaux to that list, but hey, that’s just me).

 
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Eye Candy for Today: Carlo Crivelli’s Mary Magdalene

Mary Magdalene, Carlo Crivelli, Tempera on panel, 60 x 19 inches (152 x 49 cm), in the collection of the Rijksmuseum, 1480
Mary Magdalene, Carlo Crivelli

Tempera on panel, 60 x 19 inches (152 x 49 cm), in the collection of the Rijksmuseum.

This beautifully realized late Gothic work (painted in 1480) is as much decorative object as it is representational image.

I love how stylized it is, from the intricately rendered strands of hair to the expressive, heavy-lidded eyes, to the hands for which gesture and expression outweigh any concern for realistic proportions.

 
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Eye Candy for Today: Turner’s Bridge in Middle Distance

The Bridge in Middle Distance, Charles Mallord William Turner and Charles Turner
The Bridge in Middle Distance, Charles Mallord William Turner and Charles Turner

Etching, aquatint and mezzotint, roughly 7 x 11 inches (18 x 28 cm).

Link is to zoomable version on the Google Art Project; original is in the National Gallery of Art, DC, which has both zoomable and downloadable versions.

As he frequently did, British artist Joseph Mallord William Turner worked with master printmaker Charles Turner (no relation) to produce this beautiful lanscape print.

In this case, JMW Turner designed the image did the primary etching, calling on Charles Turner to apply the tones under his direction using the processes of aquatint and mezzotint.

Aquatint involves coating part of the plate in particles of resin, leaving a granular halftone when the plate is etched in acid. Mezzotint is a process in which the plate, or parts of it, are roughened with a special textured “rocker”, leaving a surface that will print as tones that can be burnished to produce variations.

Like most prints, there are multiple impressions of this one; there is another in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

This was one of seventy plus images for which Turner made prints as part of a collection called “Liber Studiorum” (Book of Studies), intended to demonstrate examples of his ideas about landscape. For another beautiful print from that series, see my previous post: Eye Candy for Today: JMW Turner etching and mezzotint.

 
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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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