Eye Candy for Today: Menzel’s Flute Concert

Flute Concert with Frederick the Great in Sanssouci, Adolph Menzel
Flute Concert with Frederick the Great in Sanssouci, Adolph Menzel

Link is to zoomable version on Google Art Project; downloadable file on Wikimedia Commons; original is in the Alte Nationalgalerie, National Museums in Berlin.

The ostensible subject, Frederick the Great — about whom Menzel painted a series of works — is almost lost among the other spectators, and overshadowed by the the striking presence of the soloist. [Correction: turns out I jumped to conclusions based on my lack of background knowledge. The flute player is Frederick the Great. See the comment on this post by Levantine.]

The real star of the painting, though, is the resplendent candlelight cascading down from the crystal chandelier — reflected in the ornate mirror and sweeping through the richly textured composition — where it is echoed by the glow of the individual candles amid the ensemble.

A tour-de-force of interior light.

Randy Glass

Randy Glass, pen and ink, stipple, portraits, WSJ hedcuts
Randy Glass is a well-known illustrator who specializes in the pen and ink technique of stipple, in which a multitude of carefully placed dots — sometimes of varying size — coalesce visually to create tone.

It’s a technique adapted to the relatively low resolution of newspaper printing, in which the artist has more control over the final appearance of the illustration than a mechanically generated screen applied to a continuous tone image.

It also has the effect of being visually appealing in its own right, particularly when the dots are large enough to also provide surface texture. It’s especially pleasing to my eye when the dots are arranged in patterns of flow that help define the volume and topology of the face, as in the “hedcut” portraits Glass and a select group of other illustrators draw for the Wall Street Journal (above, middle rows).

Glass also does wonderfully expressive portraits in monochromatic watercolor (above, bottom three).

Grzegorz Wróbel (update)

Grzegorz Wrobel, watercolor architectural rendering
Grzegorz Wróbel is a Polish watercolorist who I first wrote about in 2010.

Wróbel’s background in architectural design gives his cityscapes and street scenes a feeling of effortless strength that belies the complex challenge of perspective and rendering they present.

He deftly steps between detail and suggestion, giving his compositions both a tactile immediacy and and a feeling of loose, painterly handling. Particularly effective is his use of light and shadow amid the architectural forms to give them dimension and presence.

His website is in Polish, but just use the drop-down menu under “Galeria” to browse galleries. Be aware that the Exhibition 2012 gallery has sub-galleries. In addition, there is a section of tutorials.

You can also find his work on his deviantART gallery, including a number of portraits, and on the site of Galeria Sztuki Napora.

For more, see my previous post on Grzegorz Wróbel.


Back in 2012, I wrote about a website called Pigments through the Ages; a resource about the history and nature of artist’s pigments. That site is 10 years old now, and as far as I know, is no longer being actively developed.

However, one of the original authors of that site, Juraj Lipscher, has created a new, more extensive and currently active site on the same subject, titled ColourLex.

The ColourLex site can be explored through multiple paths: by pigments, paintings, artists and periods, each with sub-paths. Pigments, for example, can be explored by type, color or first date of use.

Each pigment is then broken down by properties, sources, identification and history, and a gallery is provided of important paintings in which the pigment was prominently used.

Lipscher’s background is as a PhD in physical chemistry. He brings his experience in teaching and lecturing at the college level to the presentation of his fascination with the history of artists’ pigments.

New material is being added on an ongoing basis; the most recent additions of pigments and paintings are listed on the home page.

In addition, there are resources on paintings, painters, pigments and methods of scientific investigation of pigments used in historic paintings.

ColourLex is a fascinating resource, and a terrific crossover between art and science.

Eye Candy for Today: Girolamo dai Libri’s Madonna and Child with Saints

Madonna and Child with Saints, Girolamo dai Libri
Madonna and Child with Saints, Girolamo dai Libri

Tempera and oil on canvas; 16th century, in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Use the zoom or download icons under the image.

To my mind, this could be titled “Madonna and Child with Laurel Tree“, so striking is the tree’s presence, painstakingly detailed and dominating the composition.

Along with that, the most notable features are the angelic faces of the Madonna and the other women, and the monumental geometric solidity of the Durer-inspired landscape.

The male “saints” look to me like carefully portrayed portraits of patrons or clergy, most interesting for the “painting within a painting” of their decorated robes. The angel trio — in the foreground but smaller than the other figures — seem almost like musical stage accompaniment, as if in an orchestra pit in front of an opera.

The peacock is rendered with Audubon-like accuracy and the distant mountains have the surreal feeling common in early landscapes in which the atmospheric distance is indicated with a distinct shift in color, but without the softening of detail most often present in reality and in later paintings.

Particularly impressive to me is the beatific face of the woman to our right, lovingly rendered and reminiscent of Botticelli’s mythic figures.

Sung Choi

Sung Choi, concept art, digital painting
Sung Choi is a concept artist based in Seattle, working in the gaming and entertainment industry.

His concept work is dramatically atmospheric, with subdued colors and muted values not only creating depth but mood.

Choi has tuned his digital painting tools to create a very brushy, painterly effect, and uses the same characteristics in what I assume are digital plein air paintings.

[Via Concept Art World]