Eye Candy for Today: Frencesco Novelli ink and wash drawing

Frencesco Novelli, Diana and Her Hounds, ink and wash drawing

Frencesco Novelli, Diana and Her Hounds, ink and wash drawing (details)

Diana and Her Hounds, Frencesco Novelli

Pen and black ink with brown wash; roughly 5 x 4″ (13 x 10 cm); in the collection of the Morgan Library and Museum.

I don’t know much about Francesco Novelli, who was active in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, but I find this drawing interesting for several reasons.

First, it’s simply a beautifully realized drawing. The basic ink drawing, in black, is composed of broken lines, with spaces open at many points. The brown wash fills in the form and gives the figure dimension and solidity, but the overall effect is a drawing with a loose, open feeling.

Deft value relationships add to the composition and the sensation of grace and motion, particularly in the clothing and drapery. I love the way he has use the brush and brown wash like pen hatching along the curved surfaces of the figure’s arms and legs and the bodies of the dogs.

What I didn’t notice at first — likely because the drawing is so beautifully done — is that to my eye, the proportions of the arms, particularly the figure’s left arm, seem out of proportion to the figure. The arms also look more like they belong to a male figure.

It was not uncommon for artists to employ male models for female figures; it was easier and cheaper to use a male studio assistant as a model than to hire a female model. (I believe most of the female figures of the sibyls on Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling were studied from male models.)

Though it might have been intended as a finished piece, the drawing has the look of a preparatory drawing for a painting or print, but I can’t find much information on Novelli, let alone a specific work that might be sourced from this.

 
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Edward Julius Detmold

Edward Julius Detmold, classic illustration, animal illustration

Edward Julius Detmold, classic illustration, animal illustration

Edward Julius Detmold and his twin brother Charles Maurice Detmold were book illustrators active in the “Golden Age” of illustration in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Both were interested in natural history and animals, and even in their illustrations for books like Kipling’s The Jungle Book and The Fables of Aesop, their images were more likely to feature animals than people.

Both worked in watercolor and ink and were influenced by Japanese Prints, Art Nouveau and the Pre-Raphaelite painters as well as their contemporary illustrators.

I can’t find as much information about Charles, so I’ve focused here on Edward Detmold, and the images shown are (as far as I can determine) by Edward.

 
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Eye Candy for Today: John Carlin watercolor portrait miniature

Portrait of a Lady, John Carlin; watercolor on ivory

Portrait of a Lady, John Carlin; watercolor on ivory (detail)

Portrait of a Lady, John Carlin

Watercolor on ivory, roughly 4 x 3 inches (9 x 7 cm); in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

It’s possible that this is a grayscale image of a more colorful painting — the Met’s website pages doesn’t comment — but my guess is that it was painted monochromatically.

The portrait is obviously of a real and not idealized person, and sensitively painted in that wonderful drybrush/stipple watercolor technique that was prevalent in the mid to late 19th century.

At that time, it was commonplace to paint small portraits in watercolor on ivory, often in an oval as part of a broach. In this case, the painting is rectangular, but not much larger than an oval might have been.

I find it interesting that the artist has balanced with composition with the edge of a chair and the suggestion of a room corner behind the sitter.

 
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Eye Candy for Today: William Holman Hunt watercolor still life

Still Life with Plums, William Holman Hunt, watercolor

Still Life with Plums, William Holman Hunt, watercolor (details)

Still Life with Plums, William Holman Hunt

Watercolor on paper, roughly 12 x 14 inches (30 x 37 cm); in the collection of the Morgan Library and Museum. (Zoomable and downloadable versions of the image are available on the site.)

A beautiful and sensitively observed still life by the Pre-Raphaelite master. It appears to be done in a watercolor technique that combines the intricate application of drybrush and stipple.

It’s interesting to compare this to the similarly rendered watercolor still life paintings of William Henry Hunt. (As far as I know, the two Victorian painters just have similar names and are not related.)

 
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Eye Candy for Today: Andrew Wyeth drybrush & watercolor

Flat Boat, Andrew Wyeth, watercolor and drybrush

Flat Boat, Andrew Wyeth, watercolor and drybrush, details

Flat Boat, Andrew Wyeth

Watercolor and drybrush, roughly 22 x 29 inches (56 x 74 cm). Image and link is from a 2013 Christie’s auction sale.

While I don’t always respond as strongly to his more formal and conceptual works, I very much like Andrew Wyeth’s watercolors and drybrush watercolors, in which he is just directly observing from nature and interpreting what he sees in simple, often spare compositions.

This is a combination of both traditional fluid transparent watercolor, and drybrush, in which passages — particularly those involving texture — are built up with short multiple strokes applied with most of the paint wiped from the brush before application.

 
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Andrew Davidson

Andrew Davidson, illustration

Andrew Davidson, illustration

in an age of digital illustration, Andrew Davidson is a UK illustrator who uses some of the most traditional illustration techniques from previous centuries, wood engraving, color woodcuts and gouache painting.

The result is a delightful blend of traditional and contemporary sensibilities. Some of his wood engravings, in particular, have a great feeling of illustration history, but applied to such modern titles as the Harry Potter series.

There is a variety of illustrations in each of his mediums on Davidson’s website. You can find some larger reproductions on the sites of his artists’ representatives, The Artworks Illustration and Mendola Associates.

There is also a brief video of Davidson on Vimeo, in which he discusses and demonstrates some of his process.

 
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