Eye Candy for Today: Rembrandt riverfront drawing

View over the Amstel from the Rampart,  Rembrandt van Rijn, ink and wash drawing
View over the Amstel from the Rampart, Rembrandt van Rijn

Brown ink and wash, roughly 3 1/2 x 7 inches (9 x 18 cm); in the collection of the National Gallery of Art, DC.

Though a number of Rembrandt’s drawings, particularly those of figures or religious scenes, can be identified as preliminary to particular paintings of graphic works, his landscape drawings seem to have been done for their own sake.

No one can say with certainty what Rembrandt’s intention or state of mind was in regard to a particularly drawing, of course, but I can’t look at a drawing like this without thinking that it was done purely for the pleasure of drawing.

This feels to me like the work of someone who could take up pen and paper and let the burdens of the world fade into the distance while focused on the scene in front of him.

There is evidence throughout of keen, clear observation (like the blades of the multiple windmills), yet Rembrandt in his mastery makes the notation seem casual and relaxed.

I love the effect of distance he achieved by using thicker, heavier strokes (perhaps with a different instrument or ink) in the foreground.

Though the term would have been meaningless in Rembrandt’s time, to our modern sensibilities, the aspect ratio of the image could be described as cinematic — capturing a panorama of riverfront structures and activity in addition to the city beyond.

Don’t take my detail crops above be the only view you get of the image at a large size. Go to the Google Art Project or National Gallery page and view the drawing zoomed in at full screen. Perhaps, like me, you can project yourself onto the bank at Rembrandt’s side, and feel the wind push the sails of the ships along the river as his pen captures the moment.

 
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedin

Eye Candy for Today: William Wyld watercolor

St. Mark's Square, Venice, with Loggetta, William Wyld, ink and watercolor
St. Mark’s Square, Venice, with Loggetta; William Wyld

Watercolor and ink, roughly 10 x 7 inches (25 x 18 cm); in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Use the Download or Enlarge links under the image on their page.

I love this beautiful ink and watercolor rendering, not just for its wonderful combination of precision and sketch-like freedom, but for its unusual view of St. Mark’s Square. There are dozens, if not hundreds of beautifully rendered paintings and drawings of that most famous of Venice’s public squares, but most are from the far end, looking down the full length of the plaza.

Here, Wyld gives us a much more intimate view, the kind you might encounter as you walked about the edges of the square, and with a daring composition as well. The dark, shadowed foreground presents the primary figures almost in silhouette against the lighter base of the campanile.

The differently colored tiles in the paving lead us back to the distant group of figures, and the angled view of the Loggetta brings us back out to more shadowed foreground.

 
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedin

Eye Candy for Today: Claude Lorrain drawing of an oak tree

Study of an Oak Tree, Claude Lorrai
Study of an Oak Tree, Claude Lorrain

Roughly 13 x 9 inches (33 x 22 cm), pen and brown ink, brown wash, over graphite.

Link is to zoomable version on Google Art Project; downloadable version here, as part of this article on the Claudian Landscape; original is in the British Museum.

17th century French painter Claude Lorrain was one of the most influential landscape painters in Western Art, and his classical landscapes inspired painters for generations after. His influence on John Constable, for example, was considerable, and this drawing may have been direct inspiration for one of Constable’s own location oil sketches (as seen in this post on Constable, in the seventh image down).

Claude composed his large landscape paintings in the studio, but based their naturalistic details on field drawings. This one is perhaps more finished than most, with a beautiful composition of its own, a keen observation of detail and a wonderful sense of atmospheric perspective and distance.

I love how he has “turned” the form of the tree trunk, with the dimly lit ivy on the left edge leading into deeper shadow, through the subdued middle tones and out to the brightly lit bark at the right.

 
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedin

Eye Candy for Today: Van Gogh cottage drawing

Two Cottages at Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, Vincent van Gogh, ink drawing
Two Cottages at Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, Vincent van Gogh

Reed pen and brown ink over pencil, roughly 12 x 18 inches (315 x 473 cm); in the collection of the Morgan Library and Museum, which has both a zoomable and downloadable version of the image.

There is also a zoomable version on the Google Art Project and a downloadable file on Wikimedia Commons.

The attention given to the brilliantly colorful paintings of his later career often obscure the beauty and charm of Van Gogh’s drawings.

His drawings are wonderfully textural; his use of lines, dots and patterns of ink marks of varying weights give them a remarkable feeling of color, beyond his use of brown inks.

In this drawing of cottages in a Mediterranean fishing village where Van Gogh went specifically to draw in the the summer of 1888, he uses a variety of line weights, types of marks, and indications of texture to capture the cottages and their surrounding vegetation.

He has suggested bright sunlight with the shadows of the extended roof beams on the face of the cottage at right, and noted incidental details like the simple broom leaning against the wall next to the door. Quick strokes of lighter ink convey the lay of the land.

It’s interesting to compare Van Gogh’s drawing to this Rembrandt drawing of a cottage, which also uses a variety of line weights, but employs wash rather than linear or dotted textures to describe the forms.

 
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedin

Eye Candy for Today: Rembrandt lion drawing

Lion Resting, Turned to the Left; Rembrandt van Rijn; ink and wash drawing
Lion Resting, Turned to the Left; Rembrandt van Rijn

Pen and brown ink, brown wash; roughly 5 1/2 x 8 inches (14 x 20cm).

Link is to WikiArt, which has a downloadable file (choose “Original, 1600×1067”); there is also a cropped version on Wikipedia. The original is supposed to be in the Louvre, Paris, but the Louvre website is so terrible, I can’t find it, only a reference to a show in which it was included.

Rembrandt’s drawings are among my favorites in all of art history, and this seemingly simple drawing of a lion is among my favorites of his drawings.

Rembrandt did a number of lion drawings, presumably of the same animal. This one stands out, however.

It has the calligraphic elegance of Chinese ink painting, but over the classical draftsmanship of the premiere Dutch master.

The rough, gestural application of wash succinctly defines the lion’s head and mane, giving them an impression of texture, as well.

I love the implied geometric strength with which he’s noted the lion’s rear leg, suggesting the structural anatomy of the skeleton, the fluid sweep of the tail and the fierce but composed expression of the captive animal.

I’m sure to Rembrandt, this was just a sketch, a visual notation of something he found interesting, but it’s completely satisfying as a finished work of art.

 
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedin

Mark Reep (update)

Mark Reep, imaginary landscape drawings in pencil ink and charcoal
Mark Reep is an artist based near Pittsburgh who I first profiled back in 2006. His dreamlike, enigmatic imaginary landscapes are rendered monochromatically in graphite, charcoal and ink.

His monochromatic approach seems to heighten the sense of mystery, as textural rock faces, towers and islands emerge from mist and fog, their exact boundaries obscured.

His isolated towers of rock, jutting up from valleys lost in mist, predate similar imagery from the movie Avatar by many years.

I particularly admire the geometric strength of his compositions, in which negative space often plays a prominent role.

There is an interview with Reep in the Strathmore Artist Papers site from February.

Reep’s blog, which he titles dreams in black and white, sometimes has larger reproductions of his drawings than his website.

Thare are prints and other items featuring Reep’s drawings and photographs on Fine Art America and RedBubble, and originals on West End Gallery.

 
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedin