Eye Candy for Today; Rembrandt landscape etching of trees, houses and tower

View of some houses with trees and a tower, etching and drypoint, Rembrandt van Rijn

View of some houses with trees and a tower, etching and drypoint (details) Rembrandt van Rijn

View of some houses with trees and a tower, Rembrandt van Rijn

Etching and drypoint, roughly 5 x 12 inches (12 x 32 cm); in the collection of the Rijksmuseum, which has a zoomable image on the website (also downloadble if you sign up for a free Rijksstudio account).

This is one of my favorite landscape etchings by Rembrandt, which, for me, is saying something, because I love them all. This one is just so astonishingly beautiful it boggles my mind.

First, there is the composition, the way your eye is unerringly pulled into the scene and then led through it, delighted with linear and textural effects along the way. Then there is the drama of the values, the dense dark of the trees to the left, balanced by the darks in the primary house, the lighter touches on the path in the foreground and the house to the right, and the echo of darker values on the tower in the background.

Such a feeling of space, texture, time and presence.

An etching, for all of the wonderful characteristics inherent in that medium, is still, first and foremost, a drawing. Unlike Rembrandt’s landscape pen and wash drawings — which as far as can be determined, were done for his own pleasure or practice — his etchings were more formal, intended for multiple reproductions, presumably for sale or at least as gifts for valued patrons.

At their best, Rembrandt’s landscape drawings give me an uncanny feeling of being there — of sitting next to him as he sees and draws his subject — focused, aware and contemplative.

Don’t just take my detail crops as an indication of how wonderful this drawing is, do yourself the favor of going to the Rijksmuseum’s page and zooming in at full screen.

 
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Eye Candy for Today: Willem Kalf Still Life with Ewer and Basin, Fruit, Nautilus Cup and other Objects

Willem Kalf, Still Life with Ewer and Basin, Fruit, Nautilus Cup and other Objects

Willem Kalf, Still Life with Ewer and Basin, Fruit, Nautilus Cup and other Objects (details)

Still Life with Ewer and Basin, Fruit, Nautilus Cup and other Objects, Willem Kalf

Oil on canvas, roughly 44 x 33 inches (111 x 84 cm); in the collection of the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museo Nacional, Madrid, which has zoomable and downloadable versions of the image on their site.

This is another stunning gem by 17th century Dutch still life master Willem Kalf in the manner known as a “pronk” (ornate or ostentatious) still life — finely crafted objects even more finely painted.

The ewer (a decorative pitcher or jug) and basin are supposedly the focus of the composition; as beautiful as they are, my eye goes quickly to the cup made form the shell of a chambered nautilus, even though it’s in shadow. It’s interesting to compare it with the one in this painting.

The glasses of wine in the background behind the nautilus cup — one red, one white — are just barely discernible in the reproduction.

Not having had the pleasure of seeing the original, I don’t know if the painting is actually that dark. (I’ve noticed that many reproductions of paintings presented by museums on their websites are darker than the actual paintings, for reasons I have yet to understand.)

The museum’s page goes into some interesting background about both the painting and the objects that are its subject.

 
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Ferdinand Knab

Ferdinand Knab, 19th century romanticised paintings of classical ruins in landscape

Ferdinand Knab, 19th century romanticised paintings of classical ruins in landscape

Ferdinand Knab was a German painter active in the latter half of the 19th century.

He trained as an architect, but after working in the field for two years, he left to devote himself to architectural painting. Aside from that, I can find little information and only a few image resources.

Knab frequently focused on romanticized visions of classical buildings or ruins in landscape, often framed with dramatic sunsets.

 
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Eye Candy for Today: Sargent charcoal portrait drawing

Portrait of Ernest Schelling. John Singer Sargent, charcoal on paper

Portrait of Ernest Schelling. John Singer Sargent, charcoal on paper (details)

Portrait of Ernest Schelling, John Singer Sargent

Charcoal on paper, roughly 24 x 18 inches (62 x 47 cm); in the collection of the Morgan Library and Museum, NY (use zoom or download links above and below image on their page).

Many people are aware of Sargent’s stunning society portraits and his brilliant personal watercolors, but less well known are the hundreds of charcoal portrait drawings.

Sargent’s charcoal portraits are marvels of economy an draftsmanship.

The Morgan Library in New York is having a show devoted to them in October of this year. In the meanwhile, here is one from their collection.

 
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Michal Orlowski

Michal Orlowski, watercolor

Michal Orlowski, watercolors

Michal Orlowski is a Polish watercolor painter who is the founder of the Creosfera atelier and one of the cofounders of the Polish Watercolor Association.

Orlowski’s training as an architect shows in his solid draftsmanship and handling of perspective, along with is general fondness for architectural subjects. His confident, almost casual rendering gives his cityscape compositions a light, airy touch.

I particularly admire his handling of stone and block buildings, and the play of light and shadow in his portrayal of small angular European streets.

On his website you will find galleries of watercolors, drawings and architectural renderings. However, I found the image viewer on his site to be problematic (at least in Chrome and Safari for Mac); if you have similar display problems, it may be easier to browse through examples of his work on his deviantART gallery.

You can also see some examples of Orlowski’s work on Vexels blog and Art of Day.

In the “Lessons” section of Orlowski’s website, you will find some video tutorials and time lapse drawing process examples. There is a more extensive selsection on his creosfera YouTube channel.

 
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Louise Moillon

Louise Moillon, Baroque still life painting

Louise Moillon, Baroque still life painting

Louise Moillon was a French still life painter active in the 17th century. Though she lived in Paris, where still life painting had yet to become accepted as a respected genre, she painted in the Flemish Baroque style of still life that was becoming popular in the Netherlands.

Her work includedd elements of trompe l’oeil along with arrangements that sometimes feel stylized and artificial; that, combined with her superb feeling for the texture and color of fruits and leaves, often gives her paintings something of a magic realist quality.

I particularly admire her renderings of plums, in which the sheen of the skin and the dimensionality of the forms show her skill at its best.

 
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