Category Archives: #FineArtFriday

#FineArtFriday: Fishermen at Sea by J. M. W. Turner 1796

Joseph_Mallord_William_Turner_-_Fishermen_at_Sea_-_Google_Art_ProjectArtist: J. M. W. Turner (1775–1851)

Title: Fishermen at Sea

Genre: marine art

Depicted place: The Needles, off the Isle of Wight

Date: 1796

Medium: oil on canvas

Dimensions: Height: 914 mm (35.98 in); Width: 1,222 mm (48.11 in)

What I love about this painting:

I love seascapes, in all their many forms. This particular painting is dark in many ways beyond the obvious. It is a night scene, and it tells us a story of the dangers that fishermen face. Fish don’t care about the weather and some fish can only be caught at night.

If you must go out in the stormy dark, sometimes the catch is death.

We see an event unfolding by moonlight, observed by three seagulls sailing on the wind. Two boats, one a small vessel and the other a larger boat, tossing upon the rough sea, both with their sails furled. This tells us they fear being driven onto the rocks known as the Needles.

A line has been cast toward the larger boat, but no one is tending it. Nearly all the art scholars say it is a fishing line, but it seems rather stout for a fishing line, and there is only one line in the water although two ships are braving the storm. Waves threaten to wash everything overboard on both boats.

I’m a storyteller; to my imagination this scene looks less like a fishing expedition and more like a rescue, as if the rope has been cast toward the other vessel to bring it close.

This is the beauty of great art. It inspires the imagination to think beyond the obvious, to look outside the accepted view and to find new ways of looking at things.

The warm glow of lantern in the stern of the smaller boat casts little light and is the only warmth in this scene. The moon has emerged from behind the clouds and illuminates the action.

Whether this is merely a rough night of fishing or a rescue at sea, this a powerful moment of fear and bravery.

About this painting via Wikipedia:

Fishermen at Sea, sometimes known as the Cholmeley Sea Piece, is an early oil painting by English artist J. M. W. Turner. It was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1796 and has been owned by the Tate Gallery since 1972. The painting measures 36 by 48.125 inches (91.44 cm × 122.24 cm). It was the first painting by Turner to be exhibited at the Royal Academy. It was praised by contemporary critics and founded Turner’s reputation, as both an oil painter and a painter of maritime scenes. Art historian Andrew Wilton has commented that the image: “Is a summary of all that had been said about the sea by the artists of the 18th century.”

The painting depicts a moonlit view of fishermen on rough seas near the Needles, of the Isle of Wight. It juxtaposes the fragility of human life, represented by the small boat with its flickering lamp, and the sublime power of nature, represented by the dark clouded sky, the wide sea, and the threatening rocks in the background. The cold light of the Moon at night contrasts with the warmer glow of the fishermen’s lantern. [1]

About the Artist, via Wikipedia:

Joseph Mallord William Turner RA (23 April 1775 – 19 December 1851), known in his time as William Turner,[a] was an English Romantic painter, printmaker and watercolourist. He is known for his expressive colourisations, imaginative landscapes and turbulent, often violent marine paintings. He left behind more than 550 oil paintings, 2,000 watercolours, and 30,000 works on paper. He was championed by the leading English art critic John Ruskin from 1840, and is today regarded as having elevated landscape painting to an eminence rivalling history painting.

Turner was born in Maiden Lane, Covent Garden, London, to a modest lower-middle-class family. He lived in London all his life, retaining his Cockney accent and assiduously avoiding the trappings of success and fame. A child prodigy, Turner studied at the Royal Academy of Arts from 1789, enrolling when he was 14, and exhibited his first work there at 15. During this period, he also served as an architectural draftsman. He earned a steady income from commissions and sales, which due to his troubled, contrary nature, were often begrudgingly accepted. He opened his own gallery in 1804 and became professor of perspective at the academy in 1807, where he lectured until 1828. He travelled to Europe from 1802, typically returning with voluminous sketchbooks.

Intensely private, eccentric and reclusive, Turner was a controversial figure throughout his career. He did not marry, but fathered two daughters, Eveline (1801–1874) and Georgiana (1811–1843), by his housekeeper Sarah Danby. He became more pessimistic and morose as he got older, especially after the death of his father, after which his outlook deteriorated, his gallery fell into disrepair and neglect, and his art intensified. In 1841, Turner rowed a boat into the Thames so he could not be counted as present at any property in that year’s census. He lived in squalor and poor health from 1845, and died in London in 1851 aged 76. Turner is buried in Saint Paul’s Cathedral, London. [2]


Credits and Attributions:

Fishermen at Sea, J. M. W. Turner, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

[1] Wikipedia contributors, “Fishermen at Sea,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Fishermen_at_Sea&oldid=1000617338 (accessed January 21, 2022).

[2] Wikipedia contributors, “J. M. W. Turner,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=J._M._W._Turner&oldid=1062349164 (accessed January 21, 2022).

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#FineArtFriday: Red hollyhocks in the garden of the Ancher family at Markvej in Skagen by Anna Ancher ca. 1916

Anna_Ancher_-_Røde_stokroser_i_haven_ved_Ancher-familiens_hus_på_Markvej_i_SkagenArtist: Anna Ancher  (1859–1935)

Title: English: Red hollyhocks in the garden of the Ancher family at Markvej in Skagen.

Date: circa 1916

Medium: oil on canvas

Dimensions: Height: 63 cm (24.8 in); Width: 47 cm (18.5 in)

Collection: Unknown

Inscriptions: Signature bottom right: A. Ancher

What I love about this painting:

January tends to be dark and rainy here in the Pacific Northwest. We were snowed and iced in for two weeks, and then four inches of rain fell in one day and the floods came—boy, do I need a summer day! So, I found us this one—a perfect day in Skagen a century ago.

She is mostly known for her interiors, but Anna Ancher captured the essence of summer in this painting. Along with foxgloves, hollyhocks are my favorite summer flowers. Hers are beautiful, juxtaposed against the blue sky. Her eye for color was amazing. The yellow and red flowers perfectly complement the color of the building behind the garden.

I feel so much better for having had this glorious day in Anna’s serene garden.

About the Artist via Wikimedia: Anna Ancher preferred to paint interiors and simple themes from the everyday lives of the Skagen people, especially fishermen, women, and children. She was intensely preoccupied with exploring light and color, as in Interior with Clematis (1913). She also created more complex compositions such as A Funeral (1891). Anna Ancher’s works often represented Danish art abroad. Ancher has been known for portraying similar civilians from the Skagen art colony in her works, including an old blind woman.

While she studied drawing for three years at the Vilhelm Kyhn College of Painting in Copenhagen, she developed her own style and was a pioneer in observing the interplay of different colors in natural light. She also studied drawing in Paris at the atelier of Pierre Puvis de Chavannes along with Marie Triepcke, who would marry Peder Severin Krøyer, another Skagen painter.

In 1880 she married fellow painter Michael Ancher, whom she met in Skagen. They had one child, daughter Helga Ancher. Despite pressure from society that married women should devote themselves to household duties, she continued painting after marriage. [1]


Credits and Attributions:

Anna Ancher, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons. Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:Anna Ancher – Røde stokroser i haven ved Ancher-familiens hus på Markvej i Skagen.jpg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Anna_Ancher_-_R%C3%B8de_stokroser_i_haven_ved_Ancher-familiens_hus_p%C3%A5_Markvej_i_Skagen.jpg&oldid=616771666 (accessed January 14, 2022).

[1] Wikipedia contributors, “Anna Ancher,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Anna_Ancher&oldid=1041257716 (accessed January 14, 2022).

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#FineArtFriday: Sunshine in the Blue Room. Helga Ancher Knitting in Grandmother’s Parlour by Anna Ancher 1891

Anna_Ancher_-_Sunlight_in_the_blue_room_-_Google_Art_ProjectArtist: Anna Ancher:

Title: Sunshine in the Blue Room. Helga Ancher Knitting in Grandmother’s Parlour

Alternate TitleSunlight in the Blue Room

Date: 1891

Medium: oil on canvas

Dimensions: w58.8 x h65.2 cm (Without frame)

Collection: Skagens Museum

Inscriptions: A. Ancher 1891

What I love about this painting:

It is a painting that must be viewed from a distance, as only then does it come into focus. I love the way the light falls on the wall, the shadow of a plant silhouetted there. Helga’s golden hair stands out in contrast to the blue of the walls and matching blue of her dress. Who is the woman in the image on the wall? Is it a picture of grandmother?

This is definitely a blue room, a shade of blue with a kind of depth and boldness to it. It must have been a colorful home.

I love all of Anna Ancher’s work. She painted the humanity in the small everyday things, such a daughter sitting near a window, crocheting. She melded art with homemaking, proving that even in an era of oppression women could be artists to be reckoned with.

About this painting, via Wikipedia:

As indicated by its full title: Sunshine in the Blue Room. Helga Ancher Knitting in Grandmother’s Parlour (Solskin i den blå stue. Helga Ancher ved strikketøjet i bedstemoders stue), the painting depicts Anna’s daughter Helga knitting in her grandmother’s room. With her back to the observer, the child is busy crocheting. Despite its everyday subject, the painting is one of Anna Ancher’s most captivating masterpieces with its many shades of blue and the sense of tranquility it conveys. Devoid of action, the theme is essentially the play of light in the room. The only indication of the outside world is the light streaming through the window. Mette Bøgh Jensen, curator of Skagens Museum, explains that Anna Ancher’s interior paintings are “more about the colour and light than anything else”. The artist’s main interest is “not in replicating the reality of the room or wall, or even the light, but rather what is left when these things are stripped away and all that remains are colour and form”. Bøgh Jensen continues, “Anna Ancher’s art is unlike that of anyone else. In its essence it is tied to the special world of motifs in Skagen: the fishermen’s families, the harvesters, the heathers, the special colours, and the brilliant summer light.”

In her Concise Dictionary of Women Artists, Delia Gaze assesses Anna Ancher’s achievements as remarkable “in the modernity of her idiom, with its reduced, abstracting forms and bold expressive colours, singling her out as one of the most innovative painters of her generation, exceeding most of her male colleagues, including her husband” [1]

About the artist, via Wikipedia:

Anna Ancher (18 August 1859 – 15 April 1935) was a Danish artist associated with the Skagen Painters, an artist colony on the northern point of Jylland, Denmark. She is considered to be one of Denmark’s greatest visual artists.

Anna Kirstine Brøndum was born in Skagen, Denmark, the daughter of Ane Hedvig Møller (1826–1916) and Erik Andersen Brøndum (1820–1890). She was the only one of the Skagen Painters who was born and grew up in Skagen, where her father owned the Brøndums Hotel. The artistic talent of Anna Ancher became obvious at an early age and she became acquainted with pictorial art via the many artists who settled to paint in Skagen, in the north of Jylland.

While she studied drawing for three years at the Vilhelm Kyhn College of Painting in Copenhagen, she developed her own style and was a pioneer in observing the interplay of different colors in natural light. She also studied drawing in Paris at the atelier of Pierre Puvis de Chavannes along with Marie Triepcke, who would marry Peder Severin Krøyer, another Skagen painter.

In 1880 she married fellow painter Michael Ancher, whom she met in Skagen. They had one child, daughter Helga Ancher. Despite pressure from society that married women should devote themselves to household duties, she continued painting after marriage. [2]


Credits and Attributions:

Image: Sunlight in the Blue Room by Anna Ancher, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

[1] Wikipedia contributors, “Sunlight in the Blue Room,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Sunlight_in_the_Blue_Room&oldid=1047381792 (accessed January 6, 2022).

[2] Wikipedia contributors, “Anna Ancher,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Anna_Ancher&oldid=1041257716 (accessed January 6, 2022).

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#FineArtFriday: Han van Meegeren: The Men at Emmaus

The Men at EmausVanMeegeren1937

Han van Meegeren: The Men at Emmaus

Genre: religious art

Date: 1937

Medium: oil on canvas

Dimensions: Height: 118 cm (46.4 in) Width: 130.5 cm (51.3 in)

Collection: Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen

Normally, I begin the Fine Art Friday articles by discussing what I love about a particular painting. Today, I want to begin with the artist, Han van Meegeren  (1889–1947), also known as Henricus Antonius van Meegeren. He was a 20th-century Dutch painter, drawer, aquarellist, and (most importantly) a forger. Van Meegeren’s story is complex and dramatic.

Wikipedia tells us:

In this Dutch name, the surname is van Meegeren, not Meegeren.

Henricus Antonius “Han” van Meegeren (Dutch pronunciation: [ɦɛnˈrikʏs ɑnˈtoːnijəs ˈɦɑɱ vɑˈmeːɣərə(n)]; 10 October 1889 – 30 December 1947) was a Dutch painter and portraitist, considered one of the most ingenious art forgers of the 20th century. Van Meegeren became a national hero after World War II when it was revealed that he had sold a forged painting to Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands.[3]

As a child, Van Meegeren developed an enthusiasm for the paintings of the Dutch Golden Age, and he set out to become an artist. Art critics, however, decried his work as tired and derivative, and Van Meegeren felt that they had destroyed his career. He decided to prove his talent by forging paintings by 17th-century artists including Frans HalsPieter de HoochGerard ter Borch and Johannes Vermeer. The best art critics and experts of the time accepted the paintings as genuine and sometimes exquisite. His most successful forgery was Supper at Emmaus, created in 1937 while he was living in the south of France; the painting was hailed as a real Vermeer by leading experts of the day such as Dr. Abraham Bredius.

During World War II, Göring traded 137 paintings for one of Van Meegeren’s false Vermeers, and it became one of his most prized possessions. Following the war, Van Meegeren was arrested, as officials believed that he had sold Dutch cultural property to the Nazis. Facing a possible death penalty, Van Meegeren confessed to the less serious charge of forgery. He was convicted on falsification and fraud charges on 12 November 1947, after a brief but highly publicised trial, and was sentenced to one year in prison. He did not serve out his sentence, however; he died 30 December 1947 in the Valerius Clinic in Amsterdam, after two heart attacks. It is estimated that Van Meegeren duped buyers out of the equivalent of more than US$30 million in 1967’s money, including the government of the Netherlands. [1]

What I love about today’s painting: This image has the feel and flair of a masterpiece created during the height of the Dutch Golden Age. It is easy to see why the experts were duped. Despite van Meegeren’s duplicity, he was a master.

Van Meegeren educated himself before he began working on a painting. This diligence shows in the finished product. The picture’s subject is precisely the kind that renaissance artists of all levels of skill painted. The genre of religious paintings earned them the most coins.

We know that Vermeer was influenced by Caravaggio’s treatment of light in his paintings, so it seems logical that, as a young artist just learning the craft, he would attempt a fanfiction to learn and practice the master’s techniques.

The painting depicts the moment when the resurrected but incognito Jesus reveals himself to two of his disciples (presumed to be Luke and Cleopas) in the town of Emmaus. He will soon vanish from their sight, according to the Gospel of Luke 24: 30–31.

Both men are dressed as pilgrims, and the rough seams of their garments are a well-researched detail. Van Meegeren was meticulous in his research of an entire painting, from authentic pigments to handmade brushes, to historical consistency in depicting garments. The woman in the background is not mentioned in the Gospel, but in Caravaggio’s second composition of the Supper at Emmaus, she is assumed to be the innkeeper’s wife.

The muted colors, the way the hands and garments are portrayed, and the soft light entering from the window—van Meegeren knew his craft.

It’s too bad that he could only see his way to fame by cheating us. A true Vermeer is priceless as much because of the man who painted it as it is for its craftsmanship. Learning a piece is a forgery stabs the art lover in the heart.

Van Meegeren was exceptionally talented. It’s too bad that he stooped to forgery, believing it was the only way his skills could be recognized. The quest for validation took him down some dark paths.


Credits and Attributions:

Today’s image: The Men at Emmaus, by Han van Meegeren. Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:EmmausgangersVanMeegeren1937.jpg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:EmmausgangersVanMeegeren1937.jpg&oldid=605192378 (accessed December 29, 2021).

[1] Wikipedia contributors, “Han van Meegeren,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Han_van_Meegeren&oldid=1061907711 (accessed December 29, 2021).

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#FineArtFriday: Christmas Eve, Chromolithograph by Joseph C. Hoover & Sons

No_Known_Restrictions_Christmas_Eve_by_J._Hoover,_no_date_LOC_2122063062

Description: Christmas Eve, chromolithograph by J. C. Hoover and Sons

Date: 1880

About the publisher, via Art and Antiques Gallery’s website:

Hoover & Sons issued popular prints for the masses in the last decade of the 19th century and the first decade of the 20th century. This was a business much like Currier & Ives, though Hoover & Sons issued chromolithographs. Joseph Hoover was one of the few native-born Americans who achieved success with chromolithography. Hoover started by making elaborate wood frames in Philadelphia in 1856, but within a decade or so he began to produce popular prints. Initially he mostly worked for other publishers, including Duval & Hunter, and he worked with noted Philadelphia artist James F. Queen. He also issued a few hand-colored, popular prints of considerable charm. During the Centennial, Hoover won a medal for excellence for his chromolithographs after Queens renderings.

In the 1880s, Hoover began to print chromolithographs, installing a complete printing plant by 1885. By the end of the century, his firm was one of the largest print publishers in the county, with an average annual production of between 600,000 to 700,000 pictures. Using chromolithography, Hoover was able to produce attractive, colorful prints that were still affordable for anyone to use as decoration for home and office. The audience for Hoover’s prints was quite wide, extending throughout the United States, and overseas to Canada, Mexico, England and Germany. The subjects issued by the firm are extensive, including genre scenes, still life images, views of American locations, and generic landscapes, including a series of charming winter scenes. [1]

About Chromolithography, via Wikipedia:

Chromolithography is a chemical process. The process is based on the rejection of water by grease. The image is applied to stone, grained zinc or aluminium surfaces, with a grease-based crayon or ink. Limestone and zinc are two commonly used materials in the production of chromolithographs, as aluminium corrodes easily. After the image is drawn onto one of these surfaces, the image is gummed-up with a gum arabic solution and weak nitric acid to desensitize the surface. Before printing, the image is proofed before finally inking up the image with oil-based transfer or printing ink. In the direct form of printing, the inked image is transferred under pressure onto a sheet of paper using a flat-bed press. The offset indirect method uses a rubber-covered cylinder that transfers the image from the printing surface to the paper.

Alois Senefelder, the inventor of lithography, introduced the subject of colored lithography in his 1818 Vollstaendiges Lehrbuch der Steindruckerey (A Complete Course of Lithography), where he told of his plans to print using colour and explained the colours he wished to be able to print someday. Although Senefelder recorded plans for chromolithography, printers in other countries, such as France and England, were also trying to find a new way to print in colour. Godefroy Engelmann of Mulhouse in France was awarded a patent on chromolithography in July 1837, but there are disputes over whether chromolithography was already in use before this date, as some sources say, pointing to areas of printing such as the production of playing cards. [2]


Credits and Attributions:

[1] Quote from Art and Antiques Gallery https://www.pbase.com/artandantiquesgallery/joseph_hoover_and_sons_prints (accessed December 24, 2021).

[2] Wikipedia contributors, “Chromolithography,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Chromolithography&oldid=1058870233 (accessed December 24, 2021).

Image Credit: Public Domain. Library of Congress via pingnews. Additional information from source: TITLE: Christmas Eve CALL NUMBER: PGA – Hoover, J.–Christmas Eve (D size) [P&P] REPRODUCTION NUMBER: LC-DIG-01601 (digital file from original print) LC-USZ62-49683 (b&w film copy neg.) RIGHTS INFORMATION: No known restrictions on publication. MEDIUM: 1 print. CREATED/PUBLISHED: [no date recorded on shelflist card]

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#FineArtFriday: After the Hurricane, Bahamas by Winslow Homer, reprise

Artist: Winslow Homer (1836–1910)

Title: After the Hurricane

Date: 1899

Medium: Transparent watercolor, with touches of opaque watercolor, rewetting, blotting and scraping, over graphite, on moderately thick, moderately textured (twill texture on verso), ivory wove paper.

Dimensions: Height: 38 cm (14.9 in); Width: 54.3 cm (21.3 in)

Inscriptions: Signature and date bottom left: Homer 99

Current Location: Art Institute of Chicago, not on view

What I love about this painting:

After the Hurricane, Bahamas is a watercolor painting by the American artist, Winslow Homer. It shows a man washed up on the beach after a storm, surrounded by the fragments of his shattered boat. The wreckage of the boat gives evidence of the severity of the powerful hurricane, which is retreating. Black clouds still billow but recede into the distance, and sunlight has begun to filter through the clouds.

The man may have lost his boat, but he has survived.

I love the way the whitecaps are depicted, and the colors of the sea are true to the way the ocean looks after a severe storm. Winslow Homer’s watercolor seascapes are especially intriguing to me as they are extremely dramatic and forceful expressions of nature’s power. The beauty and intensity of Homer’s vision of “ocean” are unmatched—in my opinion his seascapes are alive in a way few other artists can match.

This painting was done in 1899 and marked the end of Homer’s watercolor series depicting man against nature. That series was begun with Shark Fishing in 1885, the year he first visited the Caribbean and is comprised of at least six known paintings. The most famous of these watercolor paintings is The Gulf Stream, which was also painted in 1899. After the Hurricane, Bahamas is the last of the series.

About the artist, via Wikipedia

Winslow Homer (February 24, 1836 – September 29, 1910) was an American landscape painter and printmaker, best known for his marine subjects. He is considered one of the foremost painters in 19th-century America and a preeminent figure in American art.

Homer started painting with watercolors on a regular basis in 1873 during a summer stay in Gloucester, Massachusetts. From the beginning, his technique was natural, fluid and confident, demonstrating his innate talent for a difficult medium. His impact would be revolutionary. [1]


Credits and Attributions:

After the Hurricane, Bahamas by Winslow Homer, [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

[1] Wikipedia contributors, “Winslow Homer,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Winslow_Homer&oldid=1055649094 (accessed December 9, 2021).

Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:Winslow Homer – After the Hurricane, Bahamas.jpg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Winslow_Homer_-_After_the_Hurricane,_Bahamas.jpg&oldid=428549979 (accessed December 9, 2021).

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#FineArtFriday: Puget Sound on the Pacific Coast by Albert Bierstadt 1870 (reprise)

What I love about this painting:

I live on Puget Sound, and while the exact beach this image depicts likely does not exist, the cliffs are pretty accurate. I have seen many, many places here like it. The waters of the sound can get quite rough during storms, as this video shot three years ago by a storm chaser during a December storm shows: Wild Ferry Ride Across Puget Sound Dec. 16 2018.

Anyone who lives here will tell you, the view of the Olympic Mountains from over the sound is unparalleled.

At certain times of the year, rain sweeps in like a dark beast. I have often seen the sky as black and heavy as it is depicted in this painting. Shafts of sun between heavy rain squalls are frequent companions here. When the sun shines through the heavy clouds, the light looks very much the way he shows it.

A sky that looks like the one in this painting heralds a serious storm. If you are driving anywhere during this kind of weather, you are in for a slow, miserable trip.

Quote from http://www.SeattleArtMuseum.org, regarding Puget Sound on the Pacific Coast, 1870, which is now in their possession.

 “Bierstadt had likely not yet traveled to the Washington Territory in 1870. The painting was possibly a commission from a New York shipping magnate who had made his enormous fortune on the Pacific coast. Enterprising artist that he was, Bierstadt did not shy away from the challenge of painting a place he had not yet seen.”

I love that Bierstadt was a story teller as much as an entrepreneur in regard to his art. All the great artists were.

It has been suggested he put this picture together by piecing together places he had visited on the Lower Columbia River. Indeed, the trees and landscape there is much like that of Puget Sound, so it is possible. However, it would have been easy for him to have traveled north to the sound if he was on the  Lower Columbia—a matter of only eighty miles, so a week of travel for him by horse.

He was a man who traveled all over the west and painted what he felt as much as what he saw.

Wikipedia has this to say about Albert Bierstadt:

In 1867, Bierstadt traveled to London, where he exhibited two landscape paintings in a private reception with Queen Victoria. He traveled through Europe for two years, cultivating social and business contacts to sustain the market for his work overseas. His exhibition pieces were brilliant images, which glorified the American West as a land of promise and “fueled European emigration.” He painted Among the Sierra Nevada, California in his Rome studio, for example, showed it in Berlin and London before shipping it to the U.S. As a result of the publicity generated by his Yosemite Valley paintings in 1868, Bierstadt’s presence was requested by every explorer considering a westward expedition, and he was commissioned by the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad to visit the Grand Canyon for further subject matter.

Bierstadt’s choice of grandiose subjects was matched by his entrepreneurial flair. His exhibitions of individual works were accompanied by promotion, ticket sales, and, in the words of one critic, a “vast machinery of advertisement and puffery.”

Bierstadt was highly successful in his day, which the more refined critics despised. Everything the critics mocked about his work are the aspects I love. The high contrasts of light and shadow, sweeping epic themes, and overblown romanticism—those are what I love about all his work.

In all his works, Bierstadt created an emotional landscape as much as a physical one.

Puget Sound on the Pacific Coast by Albert Bierstadt

  • Genre: landscape art
  • Date: 1870
  • Medium: oil on canvas
  • Dimensions: Height: 52.5 ″ (133.3 cm); Width: 82 ″ (208.2 cm)
  • Collection: Seattle Art Museum
  • Current location: Seattle Art Museum Downtown, Gallery Level 3, American Art

Credits and Attributions:

Puget Sound on the Pacific Coast, by Albert Bierstadt, signed and dated 1870 [Public domain]

Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:Albert Bierstadt – Puget Sound on the Pacific Coast (1870).jpg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Albert_Bierstadt_-_Puget_Sound_on_the_Pacific_Coast_(1870).jpg&oldid=344396079 (accessed April 26, 2019).

Quote from the article: Puget Sound on the Pacific Coast, Seattle Art Museum website contributors, (accessed April 25, 2019).

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#FineArtFriday: Romantic Winter Landscape with Ice Skaters by a Castle, by Albert Bredow (reprise)

I love the dreamscape quality of this painting – it’s practically a Christmas card. Peasants, ordinary people living in the shadow of the ruined castle, freely enjoying the day. To look at this picture is to see a fairy tale that wants to be told. Who are these people and why do they live there? What is their connection to the ruined castle? And what is their connection to each other?

The trees, the ice, the snow–the detail is all there, even the warmth of the peasant’s hut. It’s a comforting picture, a moment of contentment.

About the Artist:

Little is known of Albert Bredow’s life. Born Apr 23, 1828 in Germany, and died May 5, 1899 in Moscow, he was well known as a landscape painter, lithographer and stage designer.

From this painting, which is dated near the end of his life, we know he was a romantic, fond of fantasy and fairy tales.

His birthplace in Germany and where he first studied art and set design are unknown. Records do show that he lived and worked in Riga as a stage designer from around 1852 and then in Tallinn. In 1856 he went to Moscow at the invitation of the Directorate of the Imperial Theater. He worked from 1856 to 1862 as a set designer for the Moscow Theater and from 1862 to 1871 the Petersburg Theater.

He is known for his ethereal landscape paintings, which may have been a hobby he pursued more intently later in life since he was actively employed in the theater during his working years. His style of landscape painting must have produced some amazing backdrops for the sets he designed.

In 1863, illustrations of his stage sets for Glinka’s opera “A Life for the Tsar” were considered worthy enough to be published as an album. In 1868 he began his studies at the Petersburg Imperial Art Academy. At the Academy’s art exhibitions, he exhibited his landscapes from Germany and Russia.

The designs of Albert Bredow’s stage sets are in the collection of the Moscow Bachruschin Theater Museum.


Credits and Attributions

Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:Albert Bredow – Romantic Winter Landscape with Ice Skaters by a Castle.jpg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Albert_Bredow_-_Romantic_Winter_Landscape_with_Ice_Skaters_by_a_Castle.jpg&oldid=282656583 (accessed December 7, 2018).

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#FineArtFriday: Rhetoricians at a Window by Jan Steen ca. 1666 (reprise)

Artist: Jan Steen  (1625/1626–1679)

Title: Rhetoricians at a Window

Genre: genre art

Date: c. 1661-66

Medium: oil on canvas

English: Oil on canvas

Dimensions: Height: 759.46 mm (29.90 in); Width: 586.23 mm (23.07 in)

Collection: Philadelphia Museum of Art

What I love about this painting:

This is one of my all time favorite paintings. It has inspired some the characters who pass through my stories, people my protagonists meet along the way. These jolly rogues have such vivid personalities that the viewer immediately feels a kinship to them.

The reading of a poem or play was clearly the opportunity for the performers to have a good time. From the drinker in the shadows of the background, to the grapevines growing around the window, Steen tells us that wine and rhetoric are clearly entwined.

I love the inclusion of both “the critic” who leans his head on his hand and listens analytically, and the man behind him, who is clearly “a little over the limit,” and supports himself by grasping the window frame and heartily agreeing with some point.

The reader is clearly enjoying himself, as are the others.

About the Artist (Via Wikipedia):

Jan Havickszoon Steen (c. 1626 – buried 3 February 1679) was a Dutch Golden Age painter, one of the leading genre painters of the 17th century. His works are known for their psychological insight, sense of humour and abundance of colour.

Daily life was Jan Steen’s main pictorial theme. Many of the genre scenes he portrayed, as in The Feast of Saint Nicholas, are lively to the point of chaos and lustfulness, even so much that “a Jan Steen household”, meaning a messy scene, became a Dutch proverb (een huishouden van Jan Steen). Subtle hints in his paintings seem to suggest that Steen meant to warn the viewer rather than invite him to copy this behaviour. Many of Steen’s paintings bear references to old Dutch proverbs or literature. He often used members of his family as models, and painted quite a few self-portraits in which he showed no tendency of vanity.

Steen did not shy from other themes: he painted historical, mythological and religious scenes, portraits, still lifes and natural scenes. His portraits of children are famous. He is also well known for his mastery of light and attention to detail, most notably in Persian rugs and other textiles.

Steen was prolific, producing about 800 paintings, of which roughly 350 survive. His work was valued much by contemporaries and as a result he was reasonably well paid for his work. He did not have many students—only Richard Brakenburgh is recorded—but his work proved a source of inspiration for many painters. [2]

About this painting, Via Wikipedia:

Chambers of rhetoric (Dutch: rederijkerskamers) were dramatic societies in the Low Countries. Their members were called Rederijkers (singular Rederijker), from the French word ‘rhétoricien’, and during the 15th and 16th centuries were mainly interested in dramas and lyrics. These societies were closely connected with local civic leaders and their public plays were a form of early public relations for the city. [1]

In 1945, Sturla Gudlaugsson, a specialist in Dutch seventeenth-century painting and iconography and Director of the Netherlands Institute for Art History and the Mauritshuis in The Hague, wrote The Comedians in the work of Jan Steen and his Contemporaries, which revealed that a major influence on Jan Steen’s work was the guild of the Rhetoricians or Rederijkers and their theatrical endeavors.

It is often suggested that Jan Steen’s paintings are a realistic portrayal of Dutch 17th-century life. However, not everything he did was a purely realistic representation of his day-to-day environment. Many of his scenes contain idyllic and bucolic fantasies and a declamatory emphasis redolent of theater.

Jan Steen’s connection to theater is easily verifiable through his connection to the Rederijkers. There are two kinds of evidence for this connection. First, Jan Steen Steen’s uncle belonged to the Rhetoricians in Leiden, where Steen was born and lived a substantial part of his life. Second, Jan Steen portrayed many scenes from the lives of the Rederijkers, an example being the painting Rhetoricians at a Window of 1658–65. The piece is currently held in the Philadelphia Museum of Art which was established in February 1876. The humanity, humor and optimism of the figures suggest that Jan Steen knew these men well and wanted to portray them positively.

With his lavish and moralising style, it is logical that Steen would employ the stratagems from theater for his purposes. There is conclusive evidence that the characters in Steen’s paintings are predominantly theatrical characters and not ones from reality. [2]


Credits and Attributions:

This post first appeared here on Life in the Realm of Fantasy  in September of 2020.

[1] Wikipedia contributors, “Jan Steen,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Jan_Steen&oldid=950709901 (accessed September 10, 2020).

[2] Wikipedia contributors, “Chamber of rhetoric,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Chamber_of_rhetoric&oldid=975283829 (accessed September 10, 2020).

Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:Jan Steen, Dutch (active Leiden, Haarlem, and The Hague) – Rhetoricians at a Window – Google Art Project.jpg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Jan_Steen,_Dutch_(active_Leiden,_Haarlem,_and_The_Hague)_-_Rhetoricians_at_a_Window_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg&oldid=355150081 (accessed September 10, 2020).

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#FineArtFriday: Dort or Dordrecht: The Dort packet-boat from Rotterdam becalmed by J. M. W. Turner 1818

B1977.14.77

Artist: J. M. W. Turner (1775–1851)

Title: Dort or Dordrecht: The Dort packet-boat from Rotterdam becalmed

Genre: marine art

Date: 1818

Medium: oil on canvas

Dimensions: Height: 157.5 cm (62 in); Width: 233.7 cm (92 in)

Collection: Yale Center for British Art

What I love about this painting:

The colors show us a windless evening in summer or fall, a time of day when the smoke from factories and chimneys lingers and turns the sky brown and gold, reflected on the waters.

This is a glimpse into the history of how we once moved goods and mail across long distances. Some packet boats were medium-sized ships, able to navigate shallow rivers and canals. Others were ocean-going vessels. Some were steam driven, but the one we see in this painting is an early ship, powered by the wind.

The wind has failed, and so the crew is being ferried off the ship via a smaller row-boat.

About this painting via Wikipedia:

The Dort, or Dort or Dordrecht: The Dort packet-boat from Rotterdam becalmed is an 1818 painting by J. M. W. Turner, based on drawings made by him in mid-September 1817.  It shows a view of the harbour of Dordrecht. It is the finest example of the influence of Dutch marine painting on Turner’s work.

It was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1818, where it was described by The Morning Chronicle as “one of the most magnificent pictures ever exhibited, and does honour to the age”. In 1832, John Constable wrote of the picture, “I remember most of Turner’s early works; amongst them one of singular intricacy and beauty; it was a canal with numerous boats making thousands of beautiful shapes, and I think the most complete work of a genius I ever saw”.

It was purchased by Walter Fawkes for 500 guineas at the request of his son, and hung in the drawing room at Farnley Hall until it was bought by Paul Mellon in 1966. It was then donated to the Yale Center for British Art upon the founding of the centre. [1]

About the Artist, via Wikipedia:

Joseph Mallard William Turner was born in Maiden Lane, Covent Garden, London, to a modest lower-middle-class family. He lived in London all his life, retaining his Cockney accent and assiduously avoiding the trappings of success and fame. A child prodigy, Turner studied at the Royal Academy of Arts from 1789, enrolling when he was 14, and exhibited his first work there at 15. During this period, he also served as an architectural draftsman. He earned a steady income from commissions and sales, which due to his troubled, contrary nature, were often begrudgingly accepted. He opened his own gallery in 1804 and became professor of perspective at the academy in 1807, where he lectured until 1828. He travelled to Europe from 1802, typically returning with voluminous sketchbooks.

Intensely private, eccentric and reclusive, Turner was a controversial figure throughout his career. He did not marry, but fathered two daughters, Eveline (1801–1874) and Georgiana (1811–1843), by his housekeeper Sarah Danby. He became more pessimistic and morose as he got older, especially after the death of his father, after which his outlook deteriorated, his gallery fell into disrepair and neglect, and his art intensified. In 1841, Turner rowed a boat into the Thames so he could not be counted as present at any property in that year’s census. He lived in squalor and poor health from 1845, and died in London in 1851 aged 76. Turner is buried in Saint Paul’s Cathedral, London. [2]


Credits and Attributions:

Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:DortorDordrecht.jpg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:DortorDordrecht.jpg&oldid=554289467 (accessed October 28, 2021).

[1] Wikipedia contributors, “Dort or Dordrecht: The Dort packet-boat from Rotterdam becalmed,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Dort_or_Dordrecht:_The_Dort_packet-boat_from_Rotterdam_becalmed&oldid=1000618596 (accessed October 28, 2021).

[2] Wikipedia contributors, “J. M. W. Turner,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=J._M._W._Turner&oldid=1050867512 (accessed October 28, 2021).

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