Historic paintings and drawings of Notre-Dame de Paris

Notre-Dame de Paris, Edward Deakin

When my wife and I first arrived in Paris in 2002, evening was descending as we checked into our B&B and it was dark when we went out for our first stoll in Paris. We were staying in the area of the Botanical Gardens, and it was a short walk down to the quay by that part of the Seine.

As we rounded a corner where the river bends, we were astonished and delighted with the magnificent sight of the Cathedral of Notre-Dame across the river, brightly lit against the dark of the September Paris sky.

It was a moment as indelible in my memory as any can be, tucked away for safekeeping in my mental file of “most treasured memories”.

All over the world — and of course, especially in Paris —, others are taking out similar memories of that most beautiful and iconic of Parisian structures, holding them in their mind’s eye and sadly reflecting on the loss of yesterday’s fire.

While other structures may come to mind as iconic representations of tourist Paris, it is the cathedral of Notre-Dame that is the architectural heart of that city, both figuratively and quite literally. The city was founded on the island in the middle of the Seine on which the cathedral stands.

It is a building so beautiful in its design and execution that is is without doubt a sculpture; and like all great sculpture, it modifies and enriches the experience of the space around it.

Notre-Dame de Paris, and views of it from various angles and sections of the city, have been an inspiration for generations of artists. I’ve selected a few of them to view here, — as a reminder the building in its proper glory and hopefully a glimpse of its eventual restoration. You can find more on the Google Art Project.

(Images above: Edward Deakin, Luigi Loir, Amrita Sher-Gil, Charles Meryon, Frederick Childe Hassam, Jean Francois Raffaelli, Maximilien Luce, Eugene Galien-Laloue, Edouard Cortes, Marie-Francois Firmin-Girard, Henri Le Riche)

 
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Paulo J. Mendes

Paulo J. Mendes, urban sketching

Paulo J. Mendes, urban sketching

Paulo J. Mendes is an avid urban sketcher based in Matosinhos, Portugal.

His blog and Instagram feed have a subheading of “Stealing landscapes with a sketchbook”. I’m not sure if that’s intentional or an algorithmic translation for something more like “capturing landscapes”. (The original Portuguese reads: “A roubar paisagens com um caderno”.) [Addendum: a Portugese speaking reader has informed me that “Stealing landscapes with a sketchbook” is, in fact the title.]

He is also a member of Urban Sketchers, and was a correspondent for the 2018 symposium, USk Porto.

Mendes sketches in pen and watercolor, with a confidently loose line that rests on a foundation on solid draftsmanship, and a deft touch with watercolor.

He takes on a variety of subjects, and renders his view as he sees it — complete with grafitti on walls.

I enjoy his expressions of sunlight and shadow, and his seemingly casual depictions of complex architectural elements.

 
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Eye Candy for Today: Martin Johnson Heade – Magnolias on Gold Velvet Cloth

Magnolias on Gold Velvet Cloth, Martin Johnson Heade

Magnolias on Gold Velvet Cloth, Martin Johnson Heade (details)

Magnolias on Gold Velvet Cloth, Martin Johnson Heade

Oil on canvas, roughy 15 x 24 inches (54 x 77 cm)

Link is to Wikimedia Commons page with access to high a resolution image. There is also a zoomable version on the Google Art Project. The original is in the collection of The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

Though he also painted landscapes, seascapes and a variety of still life subjects, 19th century American painter Martin Johnson Heade was known in particular for his paintings of birds and flowers.

Head did a number of close up, carefully observed paintings of magnolia blossoms, of which this painting is a beautiful example.

 
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Johannes Helgeson

Johannes Helgeson, concept art

Johannes Helgeson, concept art

Originally from Sweden and now based in Copenhagen, Denmark, Johannes Helgeson is a concept artist and illustrator workin in the gaming industry.

in his online presence, Helgeson emphasiszes character and costume design. His style can be springy and cartoon-like, brushy and textural or highly rendered — sometimes all at once.

Many of the images on his Artstation site are accompanied by their preliminary drawings.

I particularly like his homage to one of J.C. Leyendecker’s most famous Arrow Shirt advertising illustrations (images above, bottom two).

 
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Aaron Douglas

Aaron Douglas, African American artist, painter, illustrator and muralist

Aaron Douglas, African American artist, painter, illustrator and muralist

Aaron Douglas was an American painter, illustrator and muralist active in the early to mid 20th century. He was a notable artist among the group collectively identified as the Harlem Renaissance. Much of his work centered on social issues affecting African Americans and often utilized African motifs, as well as Jazz-age imagery and Cubist and Art Deco elements.

What I find particularly fascinating about his work is his use of somewhat Cubist geometric forms within his composition. He has nuanced these in value and chroma to give the appearance of overlapping translucent layers. He utilizes them to suggest beams of light, circles of radiance, stars and other patterns that fit into his narrative.

[Via Dan Dos Santos on Muddy Colors]

 
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Eye Candy for Today: Alma Tadema’s In a Rose Garden

In a Rose Garden, Lawrence Alma Tadema

In a Rose Garden, Lawrence Alma Tadema

In a Rose Garden, Lawrence Alma Tadema

Oil on panel; roughly 15 x 20 inches (37 x 50 cm). Link is to Wikimedia Commons page from which you can access a larger image. This was sold through Christies in 2012, so I assume it’s currently in a private collection.

The painter reveled in flowers and flower petals, drapery and stone in this idyllic fantasy scene. It features one of Alma Tadema’s characteristic extremely high horizons, practically at the top edge of the composition. There is just enough indication of a land form, and what appear to be tiny suggestions of ships, to break up the straight line of the sea.

 
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