Category Archives: #FineArtFriday

#FineArtFriday: Twilight Confidences by Cecilia Beaux 1888

Twilight_Confidences_by_Cecilia_BeauxTwilight Confidences by Cecilia Beaux  (1855–1942)

Date: 1888

Medium:  oil on canvas

Dimensions: 23 1/2 x 28 inches, 59.7 x 71.1 cm

Inscriptions: Signed and dated: Cecilia Beaux

About this painting via Wikimedia Commons:  

Cecilia Beaux was a leading figure and portrait painter and one of the few distinguished and highly recognized women artists of her time in America. Her figures are frequently compared to Sargent’s, but her style relates also to other international leaders of late-19th Century portraiture, including Anders Zorn, Giuseppe Boldini, Carolus-Duran and William Merritt Chase. She was born and lived mostly in Philadelphia, traveling frequently to Europe, especially France from a young age, and exhibited widely in Paris, Philadelphia, New York and elsewhere. Her first acclaimed work, Les Derniers jours d’enfance, a mother and child composition, was exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1887, and Beaux followed it there the next year, spending the summer of 1888 at the art colony at Concarneau in Brittany. Here she painted her remarkable Twilight Confidences of 1888, preceded by numerous studies, which are in the collection of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Lost for many years, this much admired canvas is Beaux’s first major exercise in plein-air painting, in which the figures and the seascape are artfully and exquisitely juxtaposed, and sunlight permeates the whole composition.


Credits and Attributions:

Twilight Confidences, Cecilia Beaux, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:Twilight Confidences by Cecilia Beaux.jpg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Twilight_Confidences_by_Cecilia_Beaux.jpg&oldid=355146645 (accessed April 16, 2021).

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#FineArtFriday: Ploughing in the Nivernais by Rosa Bonheur 1849

Rosa_Bonheur_-_Ploughing_in_Nevers_-_Google_Art_ProjectPloughing in the Nivernais by Rosa Bonheur

Genre: animal art

Date: 1849

Medium: oil on canvas

Dimensions: Height: 1,340 mm (52.75 in); Width: 2,600 mm (102.36 in)

Inscriptions: Signature and date right: Rosa Bonheur 1849

About this painting via Wikipedia:

Oxen ploughing in Nevers or Plowing in Nivernais, is an 1849 painting by French artist Rosa Bonheur. It depicts two teams of oxen ploughing the land, and expresses deep commitment to the land; it may have been inspired by the opening scene of George Sand‘s 1846 novel La Mare au Diable. Commissioned by the government and winner of a First Medal at the Salon in 1849, today it is held in the Musée d’Orsay in Paris.

The Nivernais, the area around Nevers, was known for its Charolais cattle, which were to play an important role in the agricultural revolution that took place in the area in the nineteenth century. Rosa Bonheur gained a reputation painting animals, and Ploughing in the Nivernais features twelve Charolais oxen, in two groups of six. On a sunny autumn day they plough the land; this is the sombrage, the first stage of soil preparation in the fall, which opens up the soil to aeration during the winter. Humans play a minor role in the painting—the farmer is almost completely hidden behind his animals. The freshly-ploughed land is prominent in the foreground, while the landscape behind is basking in sunlight. The painting’s clarity and light resembles that of the Dutch paintings (esp. by Paulus Potter) which Bonheur had studied as part of her education.

According to Albert Boime, the painting should be seen as a glorification of peasant life and its ancient traditions; he places it in the context of the revolutionary year 1848, when cities were the scene of chaos and strife. [1]

About the artist, via Wikipedia:

Bonheur was born on 16 March 1822 in BordeauxGironde, the oldest child in a family of artists. Her mother was Sophie Bonheur (born Marquis), a piano teacher; she died when Rosa Bonheur was eleven. Her father was Oscar-Raymond Bonheur, a landscape and portrait painter who encouraged his daughter’s artistic talents. Though of Jewish origin, the Bonheur family adhered to Saint-Simonianism, a Christiansocialist sect that promoted the education of women alongside men. Bonheur’s siblings included the animal painters Auguste Bonheur and Juliette Bonheur, as well as the animal sculptor Isidore Jules BonheurFrancis Galton used the Bonheurs as an example of “Hereditary Genius” in his 1869 essay of the same title.

In a world where gender expression was policed, Rosa Bonheur broke boundaries by deciding to wear pants, shirts and ties. She did not do this because she wanted to be a man, though she occasionally referred to herself as a grandson or brother when talking about her family; rather, Bonheur identified with the power and freedom reserved for men. Wearing men’s clothing gave Bonheur a sense of identity in that it allowed her to openly show that she refused to conform to societies’ construction of the gender binary. It also broadcast her sexuality at a time where the lesbian stereotype consisted of women who cut their hair short, wore pants, and chain-smoked. Rosa Bonheur did all three. Bonheur never explicitly said she was a lesbian, but her lifestyle and the way she talked about her female partners suggests this.

Bonheur, while taking pleasure in activities usually reserved for men (such as hunting and smoking), viewed her womanhood as something far superior to anything a man could offer or experience. She viewed men as stupid and mentioned that the only males she had time or attention for were the bulls she painted.

Having chosen to never become an adjunct or appendage to a man in terms of painting, she decided she would be her own boss and that she would lean on herself and her female partners instead. She had her partners focus on the home life while she took on the role of breadwinner by focusing on her painting. Bonheur’s legacy paved the way for other lesbian artists who didn’t favour the life society had laid out for them.

Bonheur died on 25 May 1899, at the age of 77, at Thomery (By), France. She was buried together with Nathalie Micas (1824 – 24 June 1889), her lifelong companion, at Père Lachaise Cemetery, Paris. Klumpke was Bonheur’s sole heir after her death, and later joined Micas and Bonheur in the same cemetery upon her death. Many of her paintings, which had not previously been shown publicly, were sold at auction in Paris in 1900. [2]


Credits and Attributions:

[1] Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:Rosa Bonheur – Ploughing in Nevers – Google Art Project.jpg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Rosa_Bonheur_-_Ploughing_in_Nevers_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg&oldid=380365743 (accessed April 8, 2021).

[2] Wikipedia contributors, “Ploughing in the Nivernais,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Ploughing_in_the_Nivernais&oldid=975131991 (accessed April 8, 2021).

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#FineArtFriday: Le repos à Pont-Aven (La gardeuse d’Oise) by Émile Bernard

Émile_Bernard_-_Le_repos_à_Pont-Aven

Artist: Émile Bernard  (1868–1941)

Title: Le repos à Pont-Aven (La gardeuse d’Oise) [English: Rest in Pont-Aven (The Keeper of Oise)]

Medium: oil on canvas mounted on cardboard

Dimensions: Height: 85.1 cm (33.5 in); Width: 110 cm (43.3 in)

Inscriptions    Signature bottom right: Emile Bernard

What I love about this painting:

Whoever this woman is, she is determined to enjoy the day. The geese don’t mind, and spring is in full swing. The tree (an apple tree?) leans sharply above as if to shade her. Why shouldn’t a hard-working woman take a well-deserved rest?

The style is intriguing, straight lines of the church against the round lines of the landscape, the woman, and the geese.

About the Artist, Via Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia:

Émile Henri Bernard (28 April 1868 – 16 April 1941) was a French Post-Impressionist painter and writer, who had artistic friendships with Vincent van GoghPaul Gauguin and Eugène Boch, and at a later time, Paul Cézanne. Most of his notable work was accomplished at a young age, in the years 1886 through 1897. He is also associated with Cloisonnism and Synthetism, two late 19th-century art movements. Less known is Bernard’s literary work, comprising plays, poetry, and art criticism as well as art historical statements that contain first-hand information on the crucial period of modern art to which Bernard had contributed.


Credits and Attributions:

Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:Émile Bernard – Le repos à Pont-Aven.jpg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:%C3%89mile_Bernard_-_Le_repos_%C3%A0_Pont-Aven.jpg&oldid=292287019 (accessed April 1, 2021).

Émile Bernard, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Wikipedia contributors, “Émile Bernard,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=%C3%89mile_Bernard&oldid=1014462432 (accessed April 1, 2021).

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#FineArtFriday: Self-Portrait as a Distressed Poet by Augustus Leopold Egg

About the Artist, via Wikipedia:

Leopold Augustus Egg was born to Joseph and Ann Egg, and baptised in St James’s Church, Piccadilly, on 30 May 1816. He had an elder brother, George Hine Egg.

His father Joseph Egg was a wealthy gunsmith from the distinguished gun making family, who immigrated to London from Huningue, Alsace. Egg was educated in the schools of the Royal Academy, beginning in 1836. Egg was a member of The Clique, a group of artists founded by Richard Dadd and others in the late 1830s (c. 1837). Egg sought to combine popularity with moral and social activism, in line with the literary work of his friend Charles Dickens. With Dickens he set up the “Guild of Literature and Art”, a philanthropic organisation intended to provide welfare payments to struggling artists and writers. He acted the lead role in “Not So Bad As We Seem,” a play written by Edward Bulwer-Lytton to raise funds for the organization. His self-portrait in the role is in Hospitalfield House in Arbroath.

Egg’s early paintings were generally illustrations of literary subjects. Like other members of The Clique, he saw himself as a follower of Hogarth. His interest in Hogarthian moral themes is evidenced in his paired paintings The Life and Death of Buckingham, depicting the dissolute life and sordid death of the Restoration rake George Villiers, 2nd Duke of Buckingham. Yet his paintings often took a humorous look at their subjects, as in his Queen Elizabeth Discovers she is no longer Young (1848).

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Credits and Attributions:

Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:Self Portrait as a Distressed Poet Augustus Leopold Egg (1816–1863) Hospitalfield.jpg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Self_Portrait_as_a_Distressed_Poet_Augustus_Leopold_Egg_(1816%E2%80%931863)_Hospitalfield.jpg&oldid=530289957 (accessed March 26, 2021).

Wikipedia contributors, “Augustus Egg,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia,https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Augustus_Egg&oldid=1005078766 (accessed March 26, 2021).

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#FineArtFriday: The Straw Ride – Russley Park Remount Dep’t, Wiltshire by Lucy Kemp-Welch

About this painting, via Wikipedia:

Three women exercising horses in a remount depot. They take their charges through their paces in an indoor straw ride. Each woman rides one horse and leads another.

During World War One women were employed at Army Remount Depots in training and preparing horses for military service. Kemp-Welch was commissioned by the Women’s Work Section of the Imperial War Museum to paint a scene at the largest such depot, one staffed entirely by women, at Russley Park in Wiltshire. The Museum authorities were unhappy with the painting, The Ladies Army Remount Depot, Russley Park, Wiltshire which Kemp-Welch first submitted but were aware of a larger and much better composition on the same subject that she had painted and intended to sell to a private client for £1,000. Kemp-Welch agreed that the second painting, The Straw-Ride- Russley Park, Remount Dep’t Wiltshire was the better of the two and agreed to sell it to the IWM to fulfill her commission. However, she was unable to agree a fee with the Women’s Work Section and after protracted discussions, donated it free of charge to the Museum.

 

About the Artist, via Wikipedia:

Lucy Elizabeth Kemp-Welch (20 June 1869 – 27 November 1958) was a British painter and teacher who specialized in painting working horses. She is best known for the paintings of horses in military service she produced during World War One and for her illustrations to the 1915 edition of Anna Sewell’s Black Beauty.

In 1924, for the Royal Exchange, Kemp-Welch designed and completed a large panel commemorating the work of women during World War One. From 1926 onwards she focussed on depicting scenes of gypsy and circus life and spent several summers following Sanger’s Circus, recording the horses.

She resided in Bushey, Hertfordshire for most of her life and a major collection of her works is in Bushey Museum. They include very large paintings of wild ponies on Exmoor, galloping polo ponies, the last horse-launched lifeboat being pulled into a boiling sea, heavy working horses pulling felled timber and hard-working farm horses trudging home at the end of the day.


Credits and Attributions:

Lucy Kemp-Welch, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:The Straw Ride- Russley Park Remount Dep’t, Wiltshire Art.IWMART3160.jpg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:The_Straw_Ride-_Russley_Park_Remount_Dep%27t,_Wiltshire_Art.IWMART3160.jpg&oldid=262266456 (accessed March 18, 2021).

Wikipedia contributors, “Lucy Kemp-Welch,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Lucy_Kemp-Welch&oldid=996250015 (accessed March 18, 2021).

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#FineArtFriday: Belvedere 1927 Seldon Connor Gile

Title: Belvedere

Artist: Seldon Connor Gile

Medium: Oil on Canvas

Date: 1927

Inscription: signed and dated by Artist: Gile 27


What I love about this painting:

This is a view of San Francisco Bay from a hill in the town of Belvedere, California. Belvedere is located on the San Francisco Bay in Marin CountyCalifornia. Consisting of two islands and a lagoon, it is connected to the Tiburon Peninsula by two causeways.

It is a place the artist clearly loved, and he had his home nearby in Tiburon.

The intensity of color as one looks down the hill toward the shanties lends an atmosphere of purity, of fresh air, and approaching springtime to the painting.

Bold strokes of red and blue convey the atmosphere that is quintessential to Northern California. He offers us a sense of wonder, of peace, of modest post-WWI prosperity in this painting. We are shown the depth of color and vibrancy of a time and sense of place that has long vanished.

This is an era we usually see through old black-and-white photographs and jerky, scratchy newsreels.

Even rundown and undeveloped properties in Tiburon and Belvedere now sell in the high millions. Starving artists and middle-class workers can rarely acquire vacation shanties in that area.

About the Artist, Via Wikipedia:

Selden Connor Gile (20 March 1877 – 8 June 1947) was an American painter who was mainly active in northern California between the early-1910s and the mid-1930s. He was the founder and leader of the Society of Six, a Bay Area group of artists known for their plein-air paintings and rich use of color, a quality that would later figure into the work of Bay Area figurative expressionists.

Though Gile was steadily employed at jobs other than art until the age of 50, his artistic output, primarily from marathon weekends spent painting, was considerable. 1915, the year of the Panama–Pacific International Exposition, marked the beginning of his maturation as an artist, despite that fact that Gile and the Society of Six would not exhibit their art beyond a few occasional paintings until 1923. From their first exhibition at the Oakland Art Gallery on March 11, 1923 to the sixth and final show as a group in 1928, Gile and the Society of Six were generally well received by critics. In the spring of 1927, Gile quit his job as an office manager for Gladding, McBean and Company and moved from his cabin on Chabot Road in Oakland (also known as the “Chow House” where the Society of Six would meet on weekends), into a cottage he had kept since the early 1920s on San Francisco Bay in TiburonMarin County to paint full-time.

Selden Gile continued to paint and exhibited in various group shows every year until 1937. During the 1930s, the number of his oil paintings declined in favor of watercolors. Another change likely brought on by the mood around the Great Depression was to include more people, particularly workers, in his paintings. Despite his discomfort with larger formats, Gile took on the town of Belvedere’s only WPA mural commission, painting a mural for the public library, where he served as a part-time librarian. Towards the end of his life, unable to pay his rent, Gile took on another mural commission, this time for a railroad office in San Francisco. He is remembered from his time in the Tiburon/Belvedere area:

“…as a loner, independent, and very proud. [Gile] enjoyed cordial relationships with some of his neighbors, often chatting with them on the street or in doorways, but he consistently refused their hospitality…In the end Gile was a sick, alcoholic old man surrounded by paintings he never sold, lonely, and not painting. The process of painting and camaraderie that he had enjoyed were past now.”

A few months before he died, Selden Gile checked himself into the Marin County Hospital and Farm, where he spent the rest of his life. On June 8, 1947, Gile died of cirrhosis of the liver.


Credits and Attributions:

Belvedere, California 1927 by Selden Connor Gile, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:Selden Connor Gile Belvedere 1927.jpg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Selden_Connor_Gile_Belvedere_1927.jpg&oldid=525009834 (accessed March 11, 2021).

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#FineArtFriday: Self-portrait, Paul Bril ca. 1595-1600

Artist: Paul Bril (circa 1553/1554–1626)

Title: Self-portrait

Genre: self-portrait

Date: between 1595 and 1600

Medium: oil on canvas

Dimensions: Height: 71 cm (27.9 in); Width: 78 cm (30.7 in)

About this painting, via Wikipedia:

The painting portrays the artist, elegantly dressed and holding a lute, sitting before his palette and easel, on which a landscape painting sits.

Bril is seen from the back, and is turning towards the viewer. He grasps the lute firmly, with active and jointed fingers. The landscape painting sitting on the easel is typical of Bril’s early work which is characterized by small figures, deep and shaded foregrounds and masses of silvery foliage, attributes that [Bril] shared with other Flemish painters. This has helped with the dating of the work to ca. 1595 – 1600. [1]

What I love about this image:

In this self-portrait Bril shows the viewer who he is and what he cares about, art and music. He is relaxed, at peace and sharing his two passions with us.


Credits and Attributions:

Paul Brill, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

[1] Wikipedia contributors, “Self-Portrait (Paul Bril),” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Self-Portrait_(Paul_Bril)&oldid=1008810469 (accessed February 26, 2021).

Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:Bril, Paul – Self-Portrait – 1595-1600.jpg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Bril,_Paul_-_Self-Portrait_-_1595-1600.jpg&oldid=527757876 (accessed February 26, 2021).

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#FineArtFriday: Christ in the Storm on the Sea of Galilee by Rembrandt van Rijn, 1633

Today’s image is of a picture that was stolen in 1990 and has never been recovered. I like to bring this picture to the public eye every year, in the hope that one day it will be found safe and will be recovered. 

Christ in the Storm on the Sea of Galilee was painted during one of the happiest years of Rembrandt van Rijn’s turbulent life and depicts the miracle of Jesus calming the storm on the Sea of Galilee. A devout Christian, Rembrandt painted it from the description of the event as reported by the Apostle Mark, in the fourth chapter of his Gospel. As far as is known, it is the only seascape Rembrandt ever painted.

Constantijn Huygens, the father of Dutch mathematician and physicist Christiaan Huygens, had seen Rembrandt’s talent and helped him gain important commissions from the Court of The Hague. Many of his best religious paintings date from the years during which he had the favor of both Huygens and Prince Frederick Hendrick.

At the end of 1631, Rembrandt had moved to Amsterdam. The city was becoming the new business capital of the Netherlands, so there was great opportunity there for artists. In Amsterdam, Rembrandt had begun to paint portraits for the first time, and by 1633, his work was in high demand. His religious paintings and history paintings were also receiving the highest praise.

At first, he lived with an art dealer, Hendrick van Uylenburgh, which was where he met Hendrick’s cousin, Saskia van Uylenburgh. During 1633, the year in which Christ on the Sea of Galilee was painted, he was courting Saskia, hoping to marry her. He was earning a good income as a portraitist, and a bright future loomed. He must have felt in many ways as if he had the world by the tail.

What I love about this painting:

Rembrandt’s colors are vivid, standing out against the darkness of the storm. An entire story is captured in this image. The sea is terrifying, monstrous waves battering the ship, men panicking, trying to gain control. The terror of the event is clearly shown, and you feel fear for the men too. In the midst of chaos, Jesus awakes, calm despite the panic around him. Each face has a different expression, and one, a man holding a rope in one hand and pressing his cap to his head with the other, looks directly at us—Rembrandt himself.

The Gospel of Mark records the incident:

He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?

Rembrandt was a man of many frailties but was a devout Christian. He lived the story as he painted it, as do all good storytellers.

About the theft, via Wikipedia:

On March 18, 1990, 13 works of art valued at a combined total of $500 million were stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. In the early hours, guards admitted two men posing as police officers responding to a disturbance call. Once inside, the thieves tied up the guards and over the next hour committed the largest-value recorded theft of private property in history. Despite efforts by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and multiple probes around the world, no arrests have been made, and no works have been recovered.

The stolen works had originally been purchased by art collector Isabella Stewart Gardner (1840–1924) and intended to be left on permanent display at the museum with the rest of her collection. Since the collection and its layout are permanent, empty frames remain hanging both in homage to the missing works and as placeholders for their potential return. Experts are puzzled by the choice of paintings that were stolen, especially since more valuable artwork was left untouched. Among the stolen works was The Concert, one of only 34 known works by Vermeer and thought to be the most valuable unrecovered painting, valued at over $200 million.[when?] Also missing is The Storm on the Sea of GalileeRembrandt‘s only known seascape. Other works by Rembrandt, DegasManet, and Flinck were also stolen.

Christ in the Storm on the Sea of Galilee by Rembrandt van Rijn

  • Artist:   Rembrandt  (1606–1669)
  • Genre: religious art
  • Date: 1633
  • Medium: oil on canvas
  • Dimensions: Height: 160 cm (62.9 ″); Width: 128 cm (50.3 ″)
  • Current Location: Unknown

Sources and Attributions:

Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:Rembrandt Christ in the Storm on the Lake of Galilee.jpg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Rembrandt_Christ_in_the_Storm_on_the_Lake_of_Galilee.jpg&oldid=341966464 (accessed April 4, 2019).

Wikipedia contributors, “Calming the storm,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Calming_the_storm&oldid=882782126 (accessed April 4, 2019).

The Isobel Stewart Gardner Museum, CHRIST IN THE STORM ON THE SEA OF GALILEE, 1633, https://www.gardnermuseum.org/experience/collection/10953 (accessed April 4, 2019).

This post first appeared in April of 2019. 

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#FineArtFriday: Winter in Flanders by Valerius de Saedeleer 1927

Artist:   Valerius de Saedeleer  (1867–1941)

Title: Winter in Flanders

Date: 1927

Medium: oil and canvas

Dimensions: Height: 84 cm (33 in) Width: 96 cm (37.7 in)

Collection: Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium

Inscriptions: Signature and date bottom left: Valerius de Saedeleer / 1927

What I like about this painting:

I like the bold color of the houses against the snow. Viewing the farmstead through the zen-like simplicity of the dark trees is soothing. I particularly like way he portrays green-golden sky of an afternoon in a dark northern winter.

This is a pleasant, relaxing painting.

About the artist, via Wikipedia:

Valerius de Saedeleer  (4 August 1867 – 16 September 1941) was a Belgian landscape painter, whose works are informed by a symbolist and mystic-religious sensitivity and the traditions of 16th-century Flemish landscape painting. He was one of the main figures in the so-called first School of Latem which in the first decade of the 20th century introduced modernist trends in Belgian painting and sculpture.

From 1914 de Saedeleer and his family lived in Wales as refugees from the First World War. Together with his family and the family of his friend George Minne he lived a number of years in CwmystwythGustave van de Woestijne and George Minne and their families also resided in Wales during the war. The family de Saedeleer and other Belgian artists were brought to Wales by David, Gwendoline and Margaret Davies. The two Davies sisters were best known for putting together one of the great British art collections of the 20th Century. The initiative of the Davies family in inviting Belgian artists to Wales was prompted by their expectation that these artists would be able to inject local cultural life with their expertise. 

De Saedeleer’s daughters studied weaving, binding and tapestry at Aberystwyth. The second daughter Elisabeth became acquainted with William Morris‘ daughter Mary from whom she learned tapestry weaving. The family became so accomplished at weaving that they even started giving courses in the craft themselves. De Saedeleer may have undertaken some conservation work on items from the Aberystwyth University Collection. He also exhibited his paintings of local views in the University’s Alexandra Hall and was able to earn a living from his art. 

De Saedeleer remained in Wales until 1920, when he moved to Etikhove. In 1933 he became an honorary citizen of the city of Aalst. In 1937 he moved to Leupegem.  The work of de Saedeleer became gradually more decorative and he developed a luxuriant and whimsical calligraphy. His compositions often included a row of trees in the foreground, a Japanese-style effect with which he had already experimented before the war. This device is clear in the composition Winter in Flanders. He was also an accomplished colourist.  


Credits and Attributions:

Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:Valerius De Saedeleer – Winter in Flanders.jpg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Valerius_De_Saedeleer_-_Winter_in_Flanders.jpg&oldid=402112537 (accessed February 12, 2021).

Wikipedia contributors, “Valerius de Saedeleer,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Valerius_de_Saedeleer&oldid=1005028837 (accessed February 12, 2021).

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#FineArtFriday: Bringing down marble from the quarries to Carrara, Sargent 1911

Artist: John Singer Sargent  (1856–1925)

Title: Bringing down marble from the quarries to Carrara

Date: 1911

Medium: oil on canvas

Dimensions: Height: 71.4 cm (28.1 in); Width: 91.8 cm (36.1 in)

Collection: Metropolitan Museum of Art

Inscriptions: Signature bottom left: John S. Sargent

What I love about this painting:

This picture details the relentless heat of the day, the back-breaking labor of men cutting marble. This is how quarrying was done prior to World War I, with steam-donkeys and great physical peril. The ropes are huge and heavy, and these men secure the dangerous load with practiced ease.

Carrara Italy is an important center for the extraction and processing of marble. The famous stone is white and exceedingly valuable.

One of Sargent’s great skills was the ability to convey the sensory impressions of an environment, depicting his characters outdoors in all the seasons.

About the Artist, via Wikipedia:

John Singer Sargent, January 12, 1856 – April 14, 1925) was an American expatriate artist, considered the “leading portrait painter of his generation” for his evocations of Edwardian-era luxury. He created roughly 900 oil paintings and more than 2,000 watercolors, as well as countless sketches and charcoal drawings. His oeuvre documents worldwide travel, from Venice to the Tyrol, Corfu, the Middle East, Montana, Maine, and Florida.

Born in Florence to American parents, he was trained in Paris before moving to London, living most of his life in Europe. He enjoyed international acclaim as a portrait painter. An early submission to the Paris Salon in the 1880s, his Portrait of Madame X, was intended to consolidate his position as a society painter in Paris, but instead resulted in scandal. During the next year following the scandal, Sargent departed for England where he continued a successful career as a portrait artist.

From the beginning, Sargent’s work is characterized by remarkable technical facility, particularly in his ability to draw with a brush, which in later years inspired admiration as well as criticism for a supposed superficiality. His commissioned works were consistent with the grand manner of portraiture, while his informal studies and landscape paintings displayed a familiarity with Impressionism. In later life Sargent expressed ambivalence about the restrictions of formal portrait work, and devoted much of his energy to mural painting and working en plein air. Art historians generally ignored artists who painted Royalty and “Society” – such as Sargent – until the late 20th century.


Credits and Attributions

John Singer Sargent, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

“Carrara.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 16, 2021, 12:36 utc. 29 Jan 2021, 03:23 <//en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Carrara&oldid=118022943>.

“File:John Singer Sargent – Bringing Down Marble from the Quarries to Carrara (1911).jpg.” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository. 15 Jun 2019, 13:13 UTC. 29 Jan 2021, 03:24 <https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:John_Singer_Sargent_-_Bringing_Down_Marble_from_the_Quarries_to_Carrara_(1911).jpg&oldid=354733943>.

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