Stow Wengenroth

Stow Wengenroth, lithograph
Stow Wengenroth, lithographs

In this age where we’re bombarded from all sides by color — often intense and accompanied by motion — it’s easy to become jaded and insensitive to the visual charms of monochromatic images.

Just as we sometimes need to turn off the screens and the fast pace of moden life in order to appreciate the quiet joys of a slower lifestyle, it’s worth taking a step back and looking afresh at the visual charms of images in which the power of composition and value give us a different view of the importance of color.

Stow Wengenroth was an American artist active in the early to mid 20th century who was known promarily for his stone lithography. In ccontrast to the often linear nature of many other printmaking techniques, lithography deals primarily in value — lights and darks — as well as texture.

Wengenroth delves into the realm of value like he was swimming in his natural environment; shadows and light play games of balance and focus, drawing us into his carefully designed compositions. Tone and texture control our gaze, bringing our attention inexorably to the focus he intends.

Take a few minutes to slow down and allow yourself to be enchanted by his monochromatic world. The reproductions of his prints on the National Gallery of Art website are the largest and best reproductions I could find.

[Suggestion courtesy of Geri Huxsoll]

 
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Adoration of the Shepherds, Rembrandt etching

The Adoration of the Shepherds, with the lamp, Rembrandt van Rijn, etching
The Adoration of the Shepherds, with the lamp, Rembrandt van Rijn, etching (details)

The Adoration of the Shepherds, with the lamp, Rembrandt van Rijn; etching, roughly 6 x 7″ (14 x 17 cm); in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The museum’s page indicates this is the first of three states. I looked around a bit but I can’s find a later state, though several major museums have prints of the first state.

It’s interesting, however, to compare this to another etching by Rembrandt of the same biblical event, but handled quite differently.

 
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Eye Candy for Today: Whistler’s Black Lion Wharf

Black Lion Wharf, James McNeill Whistler, etching
Black Lion Wharf, James McNeill Whistler, etching

Black Lion Warf, James McNeill Whistler, etching, roughly 6 x 9 inches (15 x 22 cm); link is to the impression in the collection the National Gallery of Art, DC. Their site has both a zoomable and high resolution downloadable version of the image, as does Wikimedia Commons.

I’ve had the pleasure of seeing in person another impression of this etching from the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. I’ve taken the liberty of adjusting this image a little lighter to be in keeping with the impression I saw.

In my personal pantheon of great masters of etching, Whistler comes in at number two, after Rembrandt and just before Anders Zorn.

Whistler’s etchings of the wharves and warehouses along London’s River Thames just knock me out — so detailed in places, elegantly simplified in others, precise and yet loose and gestural.

The delicacy of line is a characteristic of etching that no other medium can duplicate, and Whistler was a master at it. When looking at the details from the image (like the figures on the balcony in the images above, bottom), keep in mind the size of the original.

 
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Sydney Long

Sydney Long, Australian painter
Sydney Long, Australian painter
Sydney Long was an Australian painter and printmaker whose style was influenced by the Australian Heidelberg school, French Barbizon school plein air, Symbolism and Art Nouveau.

 
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Eye Candy for Today: Claude Mellan single line engraving

Face of Christ on St. Veronica's Cloth, Claude Mellan
Face of Christ on St. Veronica's Cloth (details), Claude Mellan

Face of Christ on St. Veronica’s Cloth (alternately: Sudarium of Saint Veronica), Claude Mellan, engraving on paper, roughly 17 x 13 in. (43 x 31 cm); in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, (click on image to zoom, click small down arrow to download)

This remarkable engraving by 17th century French engraver and painter Claude Mellan consists of a single spiral line!

Beginning on the tip of the nose, the line spirals outward, its passages of increasing or decreasing thickness defining the darks and lights of the image.

To understand how even more remarkable this accomplishment is, see the Met’s page on engraving, and how it’s done.

There is more information on the engraving and the story it illustrates on Google Art Project, and general backstory on the Sudarium on Wikipedia.

 
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Tavík František Šimon

Tavik Frantisek Simon
Tavik Frantisek Simon

Tavík František Šimon was a printmaker and painter from what is now the Czech Republic who was active in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

His etchings, woodcuts, aquatints and mezzotints have a wonderful sense of space and air, and yet often retain the visual charm and wiry strength of line drawings.

 
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