Category Archives: High-res Art Images

Luigi Loir

Luigi Loir, painter of Paris
I’ve written previously about three of the four late 19th and early 20th century painters whose styles are sometimes called “Parisianism”, or more simply “Painters of Paris”, Eugéne Galien Laloue, Edouard-Léon Cortès and Antoine Blanchard.

Never a formal group, these were just painters working in slightly different times, with similar intentions and shared influences. They were noted for their portrayals of the city of light, its boulevards and landmarks, often with the intense yellows and oranges of luminous shop windows set against low chroma backgrounds in complementary blue-grays and earth colors.

(Jean Béraud is often added to that list, but his style was different enough that I don’t generally include him in with the others.)

Though Galien Laloue remains my personal favorite, Luigi Loir is the originator of the characteristic style the others — particularly Cortes and Blanchard — later became known for; he is also arguably the most original and artistically sophisticated of the painters.

Loir sought to capture the streets of Paris in varying conditions of atmosphere and light, but often chose twilight, evening, or overcast days in which the lights of shops and cafes were set aglow against the muted colors of the city’s beautiful monuments and architecture.

Loir and the others populated their streets with throngs of gesturally indicated shoppers, travelers and cafe goers, on foot and in carriages. Though they look romanticized to us (and likely to Cortes and Blanchard), to Loir, these were scenes of contemporary, everyday life — at the time, a novel approach that he shared with the Impressionists.

Loir was also a prolific designer and illustrator, given the distinction of creating official exhibition cover for the 1900 Exposition Universelle (what we now think of as the “Worlds Fair”) in Paris.

Loir was adept with gouache, watercolor and oil, as well as being a pioneer in the use of chromolithography, a process that allowed the wide publication of large scale color images for the first time.

As with Galien Laloue, it is Loir’s gouache paintings that I find most compelling — part painterly, part graphic, alive with vibrant contrasts of chroma, value and delineation.


New online collection from the Indianapolis Museum of Art

New online collection from Indianapolis Museum of Art: William McGregor Paxton, T.C. Steele, Willem Kalf, Robert Henri, Jacob van Ruisdael, Gilbert Stuart, Camille Pissarro, William Merritt Chase, Edmund Charles Tarbell

A number of art museums have been revitalizing their websites as they begin to realize what a powerful tool they are for public relations, as well as for their theoretical mission of education.

Not all can aspire to the gold standard set a few years ago by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, but many museums are doing a creditable job of not only showcasing the museum but making large portions of their collections available online in searchable form.

While many museums are still clueless, going to the trouble to catalog their collections in online databases, and then providing less than useful images at small sizes (likely out or misguided or misinformed notions about copyright), some are doing it right.

As a case in point, Indianapolis Museum of Art — who I applauded in 2011 for presenting their excellent collection in a well organized and attractive website — has just unveiled a new show-them-how-it’s-done online collection search and browsing feature.

The initial page for the collections comes up with a simple search box. My one small complaint is that the page I find most useful to search from doesn’t come up until you’ve done a search, so I like to initially hit the search button with an empty query to get to this page.

From there, you can sort into collections on the left, as well as maker, material, object type and technique. I found the collections of American Painting, European Painting and Prints & Drawings especially fruitful. The museum’s collection is strong in American art in particular.

In Prints & Drawings, you may want to limit by material (e.g. watercolor). In all searches, you may find it helpful to use the “Has Image” filter at the top of the page.

There is also an entry point for browsing the collection.

The images are presented in zoomable versions, which can be viewed fullscreen, making the zoom feature actually useful. Those in the public domain have download arrows. You need to click on one of those silly “use” disclaimers, but I’ve gotten more tolerant of those under the heading of (“if it makes them feel better about putting large versions of public domain images online, fine”).

Many of the images are available in high resolution, allowing you actually appreciate them in a way that the tiny web images offered up by some museums don’t allow. (Most of the detail crops I’ve provided for the example images above are not even at full resolution.)

The Indianapolis Museum of Art has impressed me enough with their online presence that I have added Indianapolis to my list of places I’d like to visit, just to see this collection in person.

(Images above, with details: William McGregor Paxton, T.C. Steele, Willem Kalf, Robert Henri, Jacob van Ruisdael, Gilbert Stuart, Camille Pissarro, William Merritt Chase, Edmund Charles Tarbell)

[Via BibliOdyssey]


Eye Candy for Today: JMW Turner etching and mezzotint

Bridge and Cows (Liber Studiorum, part I, plate 2), Joseph Mallord William Turner
Bridge and Cows (Liber Studiorum, part I, plate 2), Joseph Mallord William Turner

In the Metropolitan Museum of Art; use the zoom or download links under the image.

Part of a series of etchings Turner produced, categorized to illustrate the various kinds of landscape (in this case “P” for “Pastoral”), this beautiful etching and mezzotint was, like the others in the series, derived from preliminary drawings Turner did in brown watercolor, and is printed in brown ink, carrying forward that wonderful quality that such drawings can have.

The byline indicates “Designed and etched by Joseph Mallord William Turner”, but as the Met’s page points out, the mezzotint was applied to the plate by engraver Charles Turner (no relation), with whom JMW Turner frequently collaborated.

(For a bit more on mezzotint, see my Eye Candy post on James Stephenson’s mezzotint version of Millais’ Ophelia.)

I love Turner’s loose, gestural line, the delicacy of the clouds, and the wonderfully textural quality and moody darks of the tree trunks and bridge.


Eye Candy for Today: Rembrandt self-portrait at the age of 53

Rembrandt self-portrait from 1659 at the age of 53
Self-portrait, Rembrandt van Rijn

Rembrandt painted this remarkable self-portrait in 1659, after he had suffered frorm personal financial collapse.

Much can be read into his expression, but the painting itself is a triumph.

As he had done on other occasions, Rembrandt posed himself in the manner of a work by a previous master, in this case, Raphael’s Portrait of Baldassare Castiglione (also here), which had been on display at auction in Amsterdam some years earlier.

There is a very high resolution image of this painting on the Google Art Project. There is also a downloadable version on Wikimedia Commons, but be aware that the full-size image linked from that page is 80mb.

In an image of this level of detail, Rembrandt’s deft, textural paint handling is revealed to be astonishingly bold and modern; his mixture of colors in modeling the face, masterful; and his penetration into his own state of being, and perhaps that of humanity in general, compelling.

It’s interesting to compare this to Rembrandt’s self portrait as the Apostle Paul from a few years later, which is equally amazing.

The original is in the collection of the National Gallery of Art in DC, but is currently on loan to the National Gallery of Art, London as part of a landmark exhibition, “Rembrandt: The Late Works”.


Eye Candy for Today: Courbet flowers

Bouquet of Flowers in a Vase, Gustave Courbet
Bouquet of Flowers in a Vase, Gustave Courbet

On Google Art Project. Original is in the Getty Museum, which offers a 13mb high-resolution file.

The version of the Google Art Project file available on Wikimedia Commons is almost absurdly gigantic, at 7,000×9,500 pixels and 30mb in file size — just in case you want to examine every brush stroke (above, bottom detail).

It is worth studying how Courbet manages to create convincing realism out of what are largely flat areas of carefully chosen color with little modeling. You can see where Manet got some of his chops, as well as inspiration for still life paintings by Monet and Fantin-Latour.

The Google Art/Wikimedia files are a bit brighter then the Getty file, and I think, in this case, likely truer to Courbet’s original intentions. The Getty page has good information on Courbet’s period of painting floral still life subjects.


Artists and Amateurs: Etching in Eighteenth-Century France

Artists and Amateurs: Etching in Eighteenth-Century France: Joseph Marie Vien, Louis Jean Desprez, Jean Honore Fragonard, Jean Etienne Liotard
The Metropolitan Museum of Art in new York has a wonderful practice of periodically assembling small, non-blockbuster exhibitions of works on paper from their enormously deep collections.

These often go unnoticed in the press, but can surprise and delight visitors to the museum who come across them on their way to something else in the museum. Personally, I tend to seek them out, as I particularly love master drawings and the related practices of etching, drypoint and aquatint.

There is a gallery on the Met’s website that features a number of pieces from the show, and — in another wonderful practice — the Met provides easily accessible high-resolution images of works like these from their permanent collection.

(Click on “Fullscreen” under the images and then choose to zoom or use the download arrow at lower right of the zoomable image.)

I’ve provided a detail crop of each of the images above, but the high-res versions are available in even greater detail.

Artists and Amateurs: Etching in Eighteenth-Century France” runs until January 5, 2014.

There is also a catalog accompanying the exhibition.

(Images above, each with detail crop: Joseph Marie Vien, Louis Jean Desprez, Jean Honoré Fragonard, Jean Étienne Liotard)