Eye Candy for Today: Frederick Sandys’ Medea

Medea, Frederick Sandys
Medea, Frederick Sandys

Link is to zoomable version on the Google Art Project; high-resolution downloadable file on Wikimedia Commons; original is in the Birmingham Museum.

The painting was kept from public view, though accepted to the Royal Academy exhibition of 1868, because it was thought to be unacceptably in bad taste, largely due to the story of the mythical sorceress to which it refers.

It was later accepted for view and considered by many to be Frederick Sandys’ masterpiece.

See the commentary on the Birmingham Museum page for more details on the painting, its background and symbolism.


Andrei Schilder

Andrei Nikolaievich Schilder, Russian landscape painter
Andrei Nikolaievich Schilder, a Russian landscape painter active in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, was a student of landscape master Ivan Shishkin — and it shows.

Like his teacher, Schilder’s dense forests and pastoral fields are rich with texture, and conveyed with a deft handling of value and contrasts of form. Also in common with Shishkin, Schilder often plays with theatrical elements of daylight — late afternoon or early morning sun — that illuminate parts of trees to dramatic effect.

Schilder has a more open and gestural treatment of foliage, however, and often a rougher textural approach to rocks and tree trunks.

Information and sources for Schilder’s work on the internet — at least in English — are still scattered and less common than one might hope for a painter of his abilities, but there are a few sources available.

This piece on Upsala Auctions is very high-resolution (use the zoom and full-screen icons), and shows his technique in detail (image above, bottom with detail).


Eye Candy for Today: Titian pen drawing

Trees Near a Pool of Water,
Trees Near a Pool of Water, Titian (Tiziano Vecellio)

Pen and brown ink, roughly 8×10″ (21x24cm).

Link is to zoomable version on Google Art Project; original is in the Harvard Art Museums, which also has a zoomable image — as well as a version here.

16th century Venetian Master Tiziano Vecellio, commonly known as Titian, gives us a tour-de-force pen study of foliage, reminiscent of Da Vinci’s studies of the natural forms of the world through which he moved.

Titian has artfully suggested the masses of leaves with gestural, directional notations, accented with hatching and contrasted with the more solid forms of the trunks and branches — also defined with directional hatching.

At the edges of the masses, the leaf forms are resolved with more definition. From these clues, our brains fill in the details.


Abbey Ryan (update)

Abbey Ryan, still life
I first wrote about Philadelphia based painter Abbey Ryan back in 2007. She was a early adopter of the “painting-a-day” regimen and the painter/blogger approach to selling directly to individuals and collectors through the internet, bypassing the traditional gallery system.

Ryan studied oil painting with David Leffel at the Art Students League in New York, and studied painting and scientific illustration at Arcadia University. She also studied medical and biological illustration at Johns Hopkins University and painting at Hunter College.

Though she occasionally paints landscapes and also creates non-representational ink paintings, Ryan’s focus is on still life.

“Focus”, I think, is the operative word. Ryan’s approach has always impressed me as contemplative, conveying a quiet sense of devoted attention. Her subjects are traditional — largely fruit, cheese and other small food items, often accompanied by pottery or metalware. These are approached in a manner inspired by 17th century Dutch still life, with objects emerging in deep chiaroscuro from dark backgrounds.

I particularly enjoy those compositions in which she highlights reflective areas in the pottery or in reflective fruits, and then controls the transition between that and the darkness of the background with carefully modulated value relationships.

Ryan’s work has received national attention, including a highlighted article in O, The Oprah Magazine.

Her website has a section devoted to available work as well as a representative selection of paintings. For a broader selection, as well as the latest paintings, her blog is more complete and up to date.

You can also check her eBay page or her portfolio on Daily Paintworks.

Her blog, however, is also the best place to catch notice of upcoming live demos and workshops. There are excerpts from both on YouTube.

Ryan also offers private mentoring in the form of individual private instruction over the internet.

In addition, Ryan has developed an online course in mindfulness and digital detox — developed from her mindful studio practice — called “The Innernet“. (She addresses the apparent contradiction of an online course about going offline. The course embraces the advantages of both in their turn.)

The Innernet” course is taught in one-week sessions, the next one of which starts in two days on January 6, 2016.


Eye Candy for Today: Metsu’s Woman Reading a Letter

Woman Reading a Letter, Gabriel Metsu
Woman Reading a Letter, Gabriel Metsu

Link is to a version on Wikimedia Commons. The original is in the National Gallery of Ireland.

This painting of a woman reading a letter, laced with symbolism and implied narrative, was intended as a “pendant” to Man Writing a Letter (the two paintings were meant to hang together as a pair; my post here).

Metsu was highly regarded and popular during his time and well after. At a time when Vermeer was not well known or valued, the general similarity in subject matter and approach prompted some art dealers to sell Vermeer’s paintings as Metsu’s. (The elevation of Vermeer to his current high place in the history of art took place over the last 150 or so years.)


Eye Candy for Today: Henri Harpignies’ View of Moulins

A View of Moulins, Henri-Joseph Harpignies; watercolor
A View of Moulins, Henri-Joseph Harpignies

In the Metropolitan Museum of Art; use the download or zoom icons under the image on their site.

At once straightforward and poetic, this view of a town in central France by the Barbizon painter is a beautiful example of the evocative power of watercolor. Harpignies combines solid draftsmanship, precise edges and loose, gestural applications of color in perfect balance.

His composition is likewise a subtle balance of horizontal and vertical elements, connected by the thread of the irregular forms of the foliage and clouds.

I particularly love the briefly noted figures at the edge of the water — how simple and yet perfect they are.