Eye Candy for Today: Pere Borrell del Caso trompe-lœil

Two Laughing Girls, Pere Borrell del Caso trompe-lœil painting \
Two Laughing Girls, Pere Borrell del Caso trompe-lœil painting

Two Laughing Girls, Pere Borrell del Caso; oil on canvas, roughly 27 x 27 inches (69 x 69 cm); link is to Wikimedia Commons, original is in the Museu del Modernisme Catalá, Barcelona.

Spanish painter Pere Borrell del Caso, who was active in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, is known for his trompe-l’œil paintings, in which the subjects are not only rendered realistically, but come forward with a dimensionality that seems to break the picture plane.

Though not his most dramatic or well known trompe-l’œil painting (which is Escaping Criticism), this one is my favorite, perhaps because it’s more subtle.

The painting of the girl’s faces — one highlighted, the other entirely in shadow, who appear to be looking directly at the viewer — is engaging enough. The relationship of their faces in light and dark already gives the painting depth.

The values of the dark and light faces are emphasized by the tone gradient behind them, light behind dark and dark behind light. The dimensionality is accentuated by the right hand of the girl in shadow, which is reaching forward into the light and pointing out at the viewer.

What kicks it over the top into trompe-l’œi eye candy is the sleeve and elbow of the girl in front.

Although the sleeve is dark compared to the rest of the figure, which keeps us from focusing on it right away, once we notice that it is apparently projecting out of the frame, resting on the edge and casting a shadow on it, we’re pulled into that wonderful uncertainty of what is real and what isn’t, which tickles the brain and is part of the joy of trompe-l’œi.

On closer examination, you can see that the inner ring of the frame, the same color and just as elaborately decorative as the rest of it, is false — part of the painting and not part of the actual frame.

Charles Davis

Charles Harold Davis, landscape paintings
Charles Harold Davis, landscape paintings

The work of Charles Harold Davis, an American painter active in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, shifted in style over the course of his career.

His early work shows his training at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts school, as well as his study in Europe at the Académie Julian (where he studied with Jules Joseph Lefebvre) and his subsequent time painting in the Forest of Fontainebleau.

There he was influenced by the painters of the Barbizon School, and his style shows tonalist leanings and eventually develops into an impressionist character. It is in the latter style that he painted a number of cloudscapes that he became noted for.

Eye Candy for Today: Anders Zorn portrait etching

Gulli II, Anders Zorn, etching
Gulli II, Anders Zorn, etching (details)

Guli II, Anders Zorn, etching, roughly 8 x 5 1/2 inches (20 x 15 cm). Link is to Bukowski’s auctions, which has a large image available from their page. I assume that the original of this particular impression is now in a private collection.

The etching is called Gulli II because the artist did a previous portrait etching of the same young woman, titled Gulli I. (Here is a print of that one in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.)

Anders Zorn, a remarkable Swedish painter who was active in the late 19th and early 20the centuries, is known for his beautiful portraits and genre scenes, as well as for his eponymous limited palette. He is less well known as a printmaker, but unjustly so.

In my opinion, he was among the best etchers in history, wielding his etching and drypoint needles with a simultaneous freedom and accuracy matched by few.

Look at the flurry of lines that make up the shading on the face — seemingly applied with casual abandon, some of their ends hooked with the sweep of the needle — then scroll back to the normal view and see how smoothly they blend into the delicate values of this sensitive portrait.

Even on the cheek on the shadowed side, where it appears that strokes have landed close to others, emphasizing some lines perhaps more definitively than he might have wanted were he trying to smooth out the tone more evenly, he still pulls off a rendering of the form that is believable.

I have to think that his hatching was done with quick strokes, aiming to capture the feeling rather than allowing caution to weigh down the effect of spontaneity.

Notice also, how few lines he has used to create the planes of the lit side of the face, and yet how definite the form is.

Despite the number of etched lines that make up this image, there are few, if any, that can be called outlines — even in the edges of the light and dark sides of the scarf where it meet’s the woman’s forehead.

Look at how the lips are formed. He’s etching like a painter.

For more, see my previous post on Anders Zorn’s etchings, as well as my other posts about Anders Zorn.

Jessica Hayllar

Jessica Hayllar interiors and still life
Jessica Hayllar interiors and still life

Jessica Hayllar, a British painter active in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, focused largely on interiors and domestic scenes, and later in her career, on florals.

Like her four sisters, Hayllar was tought by her father, James Hayllar, who was a painter of portraits, landscape and genre subjects. Jessica took painting to heart with more dedication than her sisters, though her sister Edith also successfully exhibited.

Jessica Hayllar’s work was less academically restrained than that of her father. Her interiors and florals are often bathed in sunlight from windows and doors that open to yards and gardens. Her floral still life subjects usually featured visually appealing pottery and often included more of the room interior than typical still life arrangements.

Eye Candy for Today: John Berkey spacecraft

John Berkley spacecraft illustration
John Berkley spacecraft illustration

Up in Space, John Conrad Berkey

Image is from this article on the always superb One1more2time3’s Weblog (scroll down in the article).

(See my post on production designer Hans Bacher’s amazing blog here. If you have not visited this blog, I will issue a Timesink Warning. It’s amazing.)

This painting is a wonderful example of a spacecraft (that might be best described as a space yacht) by American illustrator and futurist John Berkey. Like futurist designer Syd Mead, Berkey’s concepts remain futuristic well after they were created.

Berkey worked primarily in casein and acrylic. His work appears detailed at first, but in close reveals itself to be loose and gestural, leaving the viewer’s eye to fill in a lot of detail.

For more, see my previous posts on John Berkey.

Jan Bogaerts

Jan Bogaerts still life and landscape paitings
Jan Bogaerts still life and landscape paitings

Every once in a while I come across a painter to whom I have the delightful reaction of “Wow! How did I not know about this one before?”

That was my response when I stumbled across a painting by Johannes Jacobus Maria ‘Jan’ Bogaerts, a Dutch painter active in the early to mid 20th century, whose work carries wonderful echoes of his 17th century predecessors.

In searching for more of his work, I found beautifully subtle and muted landscapes, often cast in low light with subdued value relationships, and, in particular, striking still life paintings that are somehow simultaneously restrained and bold.

I’ve seen plenty of still life that would fit in the category of “realism”, but there is something about the balance of naturalistic representation and painterly effect in Bogaert’s simple arrangements that I find especially appealing.

Part of the appeal, I think, is his choice of still life objects that are chipped or cracked and otherwise show signs of age and wear, as well as background walls and tiles that show something of the same.

The best source I’ve found for images of Bogaert’s work is a Dutch gallery, Simonis & Buunk. Their page includes a bio of the artist as well as links to large images.