Category Archives: Gallery and Museum Art

Eye Candy for Today: Christian Schussele illustration of sea life

Ocean Life, Christian Schussele, watercolor and gouache
Ocean Life, Christian Schussele

Watercolor and gouache, roughly 19 x 28 inches (48 x 70 cm), in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

This illustration was painted by 19th century painter Schussele for inclusion in a scientific pamphlet, and likely under the guidance of the pamphlet’s author, James M. Sommerville, an amateur naturalist.

Sommerville was also an artist and was a trustee of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, where Schussele was a professor in drawing and painting.

Schussele’s sensitive but bold rendering of the strange undersea life makes for a lively tableaux of complex and colorful forms.


Hector Caffieri

Hector Caffieri, 19th century painter in oils and watercolors
Hector Caffieri was a British painter active in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Though adept at both oil and watercolor, he is known primarily as a watercolorist.

His refined, academic style is sometimes tinged with hints of Impressionist color, but his approach is largely straightforward. His subjects included still life and interiors, but most frequently were of figures in landscapes.

I particularly like his handling of the textures of woodland scenes.


Eye Candy for Today: Shitao (Zhu Ruoji) ink painting

Bamboo in Wind and Rain, Shitao (Zhu Ruoji), hanging scroll, ink on paper, Chinese ink painting
Bamboo in Wind and Rain, Shitao (Zhu Ruoji)

Hanging scroll, ink on paper, roughly 88 x 30 inches (223 x 76 cm). In the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY.

Shitao, who was active in what Europeans would call the 17th century, was known for his paintings of bamboo, and his style was influential on other painters.

It is in exquisitely beautiful and deceptively simple ink paintings like this one that we can see the use of value as a kind of color. Monochromatic ink paintings of this type are sometimes referred to as having “colors”, meaning the tones of the ink.

Each leaf has been painted with exacting care and superb confidence. I love the almost drybrush effects at the base of the culms, and the wonderful shapes of the new shoots behind them.


Eye Candy for Today: Homer’s Girl in a Hammock

Girl in a Hammock, Winslow Homer
Girl in a Hammock, Winslow Homer

Link is to a page from which you can access a large image on Wikimedia Commons. Original is in the collection of the Colby Museum of Art, which also has a zoomable version.

I haven’t had the pleasure of seeing the original. The Wikimedia version may be a bit light, but my instincts tell me that the museum’s version is too dark, as are many images that museums post of works in their own collections.

While not the subjects for which Homer is best known, his relaxed, seemingly casual observations of everyday life are often among my favorites.

I love the way he has used halos of light here; not only the light green of the sunlit grass against the dark of the figure and the hammock, but within that, the brighter halo of the almost white dress as it hangs off the edge of the hammock and catches the sun.


Marie-François Firmin-Girard

Marie-Francçois Firmin-Girard
Marie-François Firmin-Girard (or perhaps more correctly, François-Marie Firmin-Girard) was a French painter active in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

He studied for a time with Charles Gleyre (in whose Paris studio three of the founding Impressionists would later meet), and then with academic mainstay Jean-Léon Gérôme.

After a successful debut at the Paris Salon, Firmin-Girard quickly achieved success, though his later career was impacted by the events of the Franco-Prussian war and the political turmoil that followed.

Firmin-Girard doesn’t appear to have been influenced by the Impressionist move to broken color and overt brush marks, but he did take inspiration in the influence Japanese art was having on the artists in Paris in the latter part of the 19th century.


Eye Candy for Today: Chardin’s The Scullery Maid

The Scullery Maid, Jean-Siméon Chardin
The Scullery Maid, Jean-Simeon Chardin

In the collection of the National Gallery of Art, DC. Use the Zoom or Download links to the right of the image on their page.

18th century French painter Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin was noted for his wonderful still life paintings (that I think magically hold time still in a way comparable to Vermeer), but he also painted a series of domestic interiors.

Some of these are as much still life as they are a room interior or genre piece. A case in point it this beautiful and deceptively simple scene of a maid washing kitchen utensils. For me, the copper pot — radiant with subtle reflected colors — steals the show, but the pottery piece and barrel are not far behind.

The figure, like those of De Hooch, seems more an object in the room than a person with whom we are meant to connect. As such, she is rendered with the same volumetric and textural presence as the other objects, defining space as well as existing in it.

I love the textural application of paint in her face and cap in particular, and in her clothing in general.

The control of edges throughout, as in all of Chardin’s paintings, is remarkable. Look at the softness of the edges of the barrel hoop (images above, second from bottom), and the way the edges of the crock disappear into the floor and background (images above, bottom).