Eye Candy for Today: Horace Vernet landscape

Departure for the Hunt in the Pontine Marshes, Horace Vernet, oil on canvas, 1833

Departure for the Hunt in the Pontine Marshes, Horace Vernet, oil on canvas, 1833  (details)

Departure for the Hunt in the Pontine Marshes, Horace Vernet

Oil on canvas, roughly 40 x 60 inches ( 100 x 150 cm); in the collection of the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC.

Vernet was a French painter active in the early 19th century, and his subjects included battles and historic events, portraits and Orientalist themes.

Here, he is fascinated with the landscape, even if the subject is ostensibly the hunters depicted as small figures in the shadows at middle right, behind the second foreground tree.

When I first visited the National Gallery, years ago — even among the stunning masterpieces in the collection — this and another Vernet painting of a similar subject caught my attention.

In this painting, it’s his use of value relationships that make the painting so striking for me — the contrast of the layers of dark and light, foreground to middle ground to background.

Another element of contrast is the wonderful difference in the texture of the three primary trees, two standing and one fallern.

I also love the dark mass of trees, punctuated with light, to the right of the composition, that lead our eye back into the painting.

 
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedin

Eye Candy for Today: Charles Gifford Dyer still life

Seventeenth-Century Interior, Charles Gifford Dyer

Seventeenth-Century Interior, Charles Gifford Dyer (details)

Seventeenth-Century Interior, Charles Gifford Dyer

Oil on canvas, roughly 37 x 28 inches (94 x 71 cm), in the collection of the Art Institute Chicago

This is a nineteenth century American artist painting a still life in the manner of seventeenth century Dutch still life — and doing a bang up job of it.

 
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedin

Eye Candy for Today: Nicolas Delaunay engraving after Fragonard

The Happy Accident of the Swing, Nicolas Delaunay, engraving after Fragonard

The Happy Accident of the Swing, Nicolas Delaunay, engraving after Fragonard (details)

The Happy Accident of the Swing, Nicolas Delaunay

Engraving, roughly 20 x 16″ (51 x 42 cm); in the collection of the Art Institute Chicago

This wonderfully lush and textural engraving by Nicolas Delaunay is a copy of a famous painting by Jean-Honoré Fragonard. It was not uncommon for painters to have printmakers create copies of their most popular works, if they weren’t inclined to do it themselves.

Here the image (reversed, of course, because it’s a print) becomes a fascinating study in controlling value relationships with deeply textural line and hatching. Look at the range of values, from the dark leaves and branches to the delicate rendering of the tree in the distance to the bright sheen of the dress.

 
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedin

Eye Candy for Today: Burne-Jones’s Mirror of Venus

The Mirror of Venus, Edward Burne-Jones

The Mirror of Venus, Edward Burne-Jones

The Mirror of Venus, Edward Burne-Jones

Link is to Wikimedia Commons, original is in the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, Lisbon.

Pre-Raphaelite painter Edward Burne-Jones, who went on to be a major figure in style known as Aestheticism, presents a tableau of female figures, some staring at their reflections in the mirror of a still pond, others looking at the striking figure in blue, whose gaze falls on the pool but not on her own reflection.

The artist has left it to us to interpret the different expressions of the women, perhaps suggesting that each is seeing something unique in the nature of her own reflection, or in the presence of the standing figure.

In a way not possible to viewers of the real painting, we can use the magic of Photoshop to view the reflections of the women in the pool, turned right-side up (image above, bottom) revealing that Burn-Jones has painted them with as much attention and skill as the primary figures.

Not only that, but faces with downcast eyes, in which we cannot see the pupils in the main figures, look different from the upward viewing angle of the reflected faces in the pool.

 
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedin

Eye Candy for today: Ivan Shishkin graphite drawing

Trees by the Stream, Ivan Shishkin, pencil drawing

Trees by the Stream, Ivan Shishkin, pencil drawing

Trees by the Stream, Ivan Shishkin

Link is to the image page on The Athenaeum, direct link to the large image here. Original is in the Museum of the Russian Academy of Arts, St. Petersburg. The drawing is in graphite. I don’t have the dimensions.

Like many of the great landscape painters, 19th century Russian master Ivan Shishkin made lot of drawings of landscape subjects, some presumably just for study, and others in preparation for studio paintings.

I love how the main trees emerge from the background tone and the crisp delineation of the foreground rocks.

 
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedin

Eye Candy for Today: Frencesco Novelli ink and wash drawing

Frencesco Novelli, Diana and Her Hounds, ink and wash drawing

Frencesco Novelli, Diana and Her Hounds, ink and wash drawing (details)

Diana and Her Hounds, Frencesco Novelli

Pen and black ink with brown wash; roughly 5 x 4″ (13 x 10 cm); in the collection of the Morgan Library and Museum.

I don’t know much about Francesco Novelli, who was active in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, but I find this drawing interesting for several reasons.

First, it’s simply a beautifully realized drawing. The basic ink drawing, in black, is composed of broken lines, with spaces open at many points. The brown wash fills in the form and gives the figure dimension and solidity, but the overall effect is a drawing with a loose, open feeling.

Deft value relationships add to the composition and the sensation of grace and motion, particularly in the clothing and drapery. I love the way he has use the brush and brown wash like pen hatching along the curved surfaces of the figure’s arms and legs and the bodies of the dogs.

What I didn’t notice at first — likely because the drawing is so beautifully done — is that to my eye, the proportions of the arms, particularly the figure’s left arm, seem out of proportion to the figure. The arms also look more like they belong to a male figure.

It was not uncommon for artists to employ male models for female figures; it was easier and cheaper to use a male studio assistant as a model than to hire a female model. (I believe most of the female figures of the sibyls on Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling were studied from male models.)

Though it might have been intended as a finished piece, the drawing has the look of a preparatory drawing for a painting or print, but I can’t find much information on Novelli, let alone a specific work that might be sourced from this.

 
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedin