Eye Candy for Today: Caillebotte’s Yerres, Effect of Rain

erres Effect of Rain, Gustave Caillebotte impressionist painting
erres Effect of Rain, Gustave Caillebotte impressionist painting

Yerres, Effect of Rain, Gustave Caillebotte, oil on canvas, roughly 32 x 23 inches (80x 59 cm).

Link is to page on WikiArt, from which you can click “View All Sizes” to get to a larger image. Original is in the Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art at Indiana University Bloomington.

I had the pleasure of seeing this in person at an exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum of Art in 2009. Most of the images of this painting on the internet, including the museum’s website, are too dark and oversaturated. The one I’m linking to is not bad, though I’ve taken the liberty of lightening is slightly. There is another here on Flickr.

Several of Caillebotte’s works are subtitled with the word “effect” — as in Rooftop View (Effect of snow). Like the other French Impressionists, Caillebotte was concerned with the effects of light and atmosphere under different conditions.

Here, he gives us a perfect evocation of the light and atmosphere of a light rain on a small stream. The Yerres River is a tributary of the Seine, southeast of Paris, near where the artist lived.

 
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Eye Candy for Today: Fragonard’s La Bascule

La Bascule, Jean-Honore Fragonard
La Bascule, Jean-Honore Fragonard (details)

La Bascule (The See-saw), Jean-Honoré Fragonard, oil on canvas, roughly 30 x 39″ (75 x 99 cm), in the collection of the Louvre, currently on display at Musée Fabre, Montpellier. Link is to the Louvre’s page, which has zoomable and downloadable images.

This painting and another by the French Rococo artist were recently acquired by France after having been thought missing for years.

Fragonard is sometimes dissed as frivolous and pandering, but I quite like him — particularly his drawings. Here, though, the elements of his painting style I most admire are present: his soft, atmospheric landscapes, theatrical lighting and playful compositions.

 
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Eye Candy for Today: luminous Howard Pyle painting

Why seek ye the living in a place of the dead?, Howard Pyle, illustration
Why seek ye the living in a place of the dead?, Howard Pyle, illustration (details)

Why seek ye the living in a place of the dead?, Howard Pyle

Source for this version of the image is Fleurdulys Tumblr (large image here); original is in the Kelly Collection of American Illustration Art.

This was an illustration for the April 15, 1905 Easter themed issue of Colliers. Whether it accompanied a particular article or story, I don’t know. It was not the cover, as that was done by Maxfield Parrish.

Pyle has controlled the values brilliantly here (in both senses of the word).

 
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Eye Candy for Today: Hubert von Herkomer’s Miss May Miles

Miss May Miles, Hubert von Herkomer
Miss May Miles, Hubert von Herkomer

Miss May Miles, Hubert von Herkomer

I have not seen the original of this painting, but my experience with comparing art images on the web with their originals — in the case of paintings I have seen in person — gives me the impression that some well-intentioned but misguided individual along the way has increased the saturation of the color, likely thinking this would make the image more appealing. I’ve taken the liberty of color correcting the image back to what I feel would have been the more naturalistic intention of the artist.

This portrait by the late 19th century Bavarian/British painter Hubert von Herkomer seems to me like a pull-out-the-stops example of directing the eye to a single area in a painting.

The darker values at the edges of the painting produce the effect of a vignette; within which the high-chroma/high-value forms of her face, arms and hands stand out from the low-chroma/low value areas of the wall behind her to striking effect. This is accentuated by the dark shape her gown, which is almost zero chroma and zero value.

The woman’s face is close to the horizontal center of the composition; the rest of her figure is not. She looks directly at the viewer with gaze that could be seen as either engaging or confrontational, perhaps both. Her arms point inward in the direction of her neck and face, as do the arm of the chair and the large fold in the cover.

The dark of her dress and the dark of her hair, accented by an extra darkened passage on the wall just behind her, form a kind of dark halo around her face. The flowers above her right hand are echoed by smaller counterparts in her hair, further reinforcing the effect of framing.

The patterns of the wallpaper and the folds of the cover swirl around her, as if caught in a gravitational field.

Amidst it all, the dotted highlights in her pupils shine out like distant beacons. The color of her eyes appears greenish, an intensifying compliment to the ruddy cast of her skin.

How could a viewer standing in front of this painting not be drawn immediately and irresistibly to the woman’s face, and more specifically, to her eyes?

 
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Eye Candy for Today: Homer’s A Basket of Clams

A Basket of Clams, Winslow Homer, watercolor and gouache
A Basket of Clams, Winslow Homer, watercolor and gouache (details)

A Basket of Clams, Winslow Homer, watercolor and gouache, roughly 11 x 10 inches (29 x 25 cm). In the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which has both zoomable and downloadable versions of the image available.

The museum lists the materials of this early watercolor by Homer as simply “watercolor on wove paper”. Why there is no mention of the obvious use of gouache is surprising to me. Usually, museums will indicate the use of gouache with watercolors or drawings, even if it’s just “touches of gouache”.

Here, Homer has used opaque white quite liberally, not just in the obvious highlights on the ship, the ship’s rigging, the children’s clothing and the shark and stones on the beach; I think the pale blue of the vest on the figure at left looks like a scumble of light opaque color over a darker tone.

 
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Eye Candy for the Summer Solstice: Walter Moras, Summer Idyll

Summer Idyll (Sommeridylle), Walter Moras, oil on canvas
Summer Idyll (Sommeridylle), Walter Moras, oil on canvas (details)

Summer Idyll (Sommeridylle), Walter Moras, oil on canvas, roughly 31 x 47 inches (80 x 120 cm)

Link is to a page on Wikimedia Commons that offers a large file; I don’t know the location of the original.

German landscape painter Walter Moras (active n the late 19th and early 20th centuries) gives us a bucolic image of a small stream on a summer day.

Happy Summer Solstice!

 
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