Eye Candy for Today: Frederic Edwin Church oil sketch

Drawing, in the New England woods, 1855-65; Frederic Edwin Church, oil on paper
Drawing, in the New England woods, 1855-65; Frederic Edwin Church

Oil on paperboard, roughly 13 x 9 inches ( 33 x 23 cm); in the Cooper Hewitt Collection of the Smithsonian Design Museum.

Interestingly, the museum has posted two images of this work, the one above, top, which I’ll call the “cool” version, and the one above, bottom, which I’ll call the “warm” version.

The museum mentions that there are two versions of the image, and provides an essentially identical collection description page for each. Both are also nicely provided with a high-res version of the image.

Here is the cool version (also linked above), with a link to the high-res image for that version.

Here is the warm version, with its corresponding high-res image (actually higher in resolution than the large version of the cool image).

Neither gives an indication of which image is more true to the original painting. The museum used the cooler version in their online listing for a show from 2006 that included the painting.

Though the difference seems striking, this is an example of how easily images of an artwork — even those posted by museums of work in their own collections — can vary from the original. I was able to take each version of the image into Photoshop and quickly reproduce the appearance of the other image with some adjustments to hue and lightness.

It’s interesting to see the details brought out by the color adjustments, the oranges and reds that you see in the “warm” version are actually there in the cooler image, just not as noticeable; I suspect they are partly from an underpainting.


Georges de Feure

Georges de Feure, Art Nouveau
Born Georges Joseph van Sluÿters, to a Dutch father and a Belgian mother, Georges de Feure was a French painter, graphic artist and designer who was active in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Though originally aligned with the Symbolist movement, much of his work was in the style of Art Nouveau — prints, posters, graphics and eventually decorative arts. He also did interior design and theatrical set design, as well as designing costumes, furniture and metalwork.


Eye Candy for Today: Rembrandt portrait etching

Portrait of Abraham Francen, Apothecary, Rembrandt Harmenz. van Rijn, etching and drypoint
Portrait of Abraham Francen, Apothecary; Rembrandt Harmenz. van Rijn

Etching and drypoint; roughly 6 x 8 inches (15 x 20 cm); In the collection of the Rijksmuseum.

Rembrandt was an absolute master of the medium of etching and drypoint — in my opinion, the greatest in the history of art. He is most noted for his etchings of religious scenes and landscapes, but he also did a number of elaborate portraits of patrons and other figures.

Though small, this is a formal portrait etching into which Rembrandt seems to have devoted a good deal of effort, almost as if it were a monochromatic painting.

The subject is described as an apothecary in most versions of the print, but is also is described in at least one as an art dealer. It’s evident that he was at any rate an art collector, as Rembrandt has certainly represented him that way. We see him casting a discerning eye on what appears to be a Chinese ink painting, while surrounded by other paintings and art objects.

The skull may be a memento mori, but the transparency of the small statuette is a bit puzzling to me, given the finished state of the remainder of the etching.

Etchings often exist as prints in several different states, printed at various points in their development.

It’s interesting to compare some of the versions of this portrait. The Rijksmusum itself has at least 12 different versions of the print (note the differences in this one), and you can find others in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, the Harvard Art Museum, the Morgan Library, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Norton Simon Museum, the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco and likely a number of other institutions if you care to keep searching.

I like this particular version of the print, both for it’s clarity and feeling of light, and for the simple but beautiful rendering of the window frame and the landscape beyond.


Eye Candy for Today: Veronese double portrait

Portrait of Countess Livia da Porto Thiene and her Daughter Deidamia, Paolo Veronese
Portrait of Countess Livia da Porto Thiene and her Daughter Deidamia, Paolo Veronese

Link is to a zoomable image on Google Art Project; there is a downloadable file on Wikimedia Commons; the original is in the Walters Art Museum, which also has a zoomable and downloadable version, but not as high resolution.

This full length double portrait was originally paired with another, of the Count and the couple’s son, Adriano, now in the the Uffizi Gallery in Florence.

Full length portraits would become more common in subsequent centuries, they were still a rarity when the young Veronese painted these in the middle of the 16th century.


John Crump

John Crump, New Zealand landscape painter
John Crump is a painter based in western New Zealand whose lively style, rich with the passage of the brush, is ideally suited to his subject matter, whether it be fresh flowers, the weathered texture of ramshackle buildings or the rough character of the dramatic New Zealand mountains or shoreline.

Crump’s website has both a gallery of his current work and an archive of older paintings.

In addition to offering local workshops, Crump offers instructional videos, both as DVDs and as viewable online. His latest, Enjoying Painting 3, was just released in June.


Kadir Nelson

Kadir Nelson, illustration and gallery painting
Kadir Nelson is an illustrator and gallery artist whose style ranges from straightforward to engagingly stylized.

His illustration work includes a number of popular picture books as well as editorial work — including the 90th anniversary cover of The New Yorker. This featured a delightful updating of the magazine’s signature character, Eustace Tilly (images above, top).

Nelson commands a sophisticated, naturalistic rendering technique that he can bring to bear on both his realistic and more exaggerated figures and settings. He sets off his figures with a sense of the texture of their clothing and his use of highlighted planes on faces gives them a strong feeling of dimensionality.

In a number of his paintings, Nelson takes on the challenge of placing his subject dead center of his composition, relying on his skill for visual drama to avoid any sense of the image being static. This approach allows him to confront the viewer with a subject that faces them directly, essentially demanding an interaction and response.

There are prints and lithographs of his work available on his online store, along with a number of the picture books he has illustrated.

[Via Karin Jurick]