Tag Archives: 19th century landscape paintings

#FineArtFriday: Winter Landscape Evening Atmosphere by Fanny Churberg 1880 (revisited)

Title:  Winter Landscape, Evening Atmosphere

Artist: Fanny Churberg

Genre: landscape art

Date: 1880

Medium: oil on canvas

Dimensions     Height: 73.5 cm (28.9 in); Width: 105 cm (41.3 in)

Collection: Finnish National Gallery

What I love about this  painting:

Fanny Churberg (12 December 1845 Vaasa – 10 May 1892 Helsinki) was a Finnish painter and one of the great masters of her time. She is one of my favorite landscape artists. In terms of talent and technique, she is on a scale with the most renowned painters of all time in that genre.

She is generally considered by art historians as one of the greatest masters of landscape painting. She is relatively unknown as she only exhibited her work in Finland.

Winter Landscape, Evening Atmosphere is one of the last scenes Fanny Churberg ever painted. The impact of the angry sky is breathtaking. Churberg packs emotion into that sunset.

The snow on the vast Finnish countryside had fallen the day before, so the wind had a chance to sweep the ice clear. She perfectly captured the way snow looks when it’s had a chance to melt a bit and mold itself to the shrubs and grasses.

The winter-barren land reflects the tint of the sky, but the despite the transitory warmth of that rosy light, the world is frozen, shrouded in ice.

Above it all, the sky tells us the day was a brief respite. Dark clouds gather, looming and waiting for their chance to enshroud the world in new snow.

As you might guess, when I view art, I see it through the eyes of a storyteller. In my mind, the painting and the life of the artist are intimately connected. The events and passions of their lives are reflected in their work, in the same way as those of we who write books.

When I look at the emotion, raw and powerful, that has been instilled into this painting, I wonder if the scene is an allegory for her life. For reasons we may never know, Fanny stopped painting soon after this and never lifted a brush again.

Fanny had never married, and I suspect her art was her creative child. Many of the pressures that fell on women’s shoulders in that era must have led to this decision. Whatever her reason was, it must have felt like a deeply personal tragedy at the time.

About the Artist, via Wikipedia:

Fanny Churberg (1845–1892) started her artistic training in Helsinki in 1865 with private lessons from Alexandra Frosterus-SåltinEmma Gyldén, and Berndt Lindholm. Her studies continued in Düsseldorf, Germany, but she always returned to Finland to paint during the summer. She was also one of the first Finnish painters to study in Paris, France. Although Churberg remained to a large extent within the conventions of the Düsseldorf school of painting, she openly expressed her enthusiasm for the countryside and its dramatic situations, relying above all on colour and a fast brush technique to do so. The charged quality of her work differed sharply from that of her contemporaries, as did her subjects, for example the tense atmosphere before a thunderstorm in the open country or the deep, swampy heart of the forest. Churberg founded the Friends of Finnish Handicrafts in 1879. She urged Finnish women to join the Friends’ effort to revive textile practice in Finland.

Fanny Churberg’s career ended suddenly in 1880. Her health was weaker and she took care of her brother Torsten who was suffering from tuberculosis. Torsten’s death in 1882 made her quite lonely and her will to live lessened as did her energy. The other brother Waldemar, to whom she used to be very close, had married in 1877. The reason for ending her career might also have been the harsh criticism she had met before, but she never withdrew completely from the art circles. She did not however paint anymore after 1880, not even for her own amusement, but during her career she had still managed to produce over 300 paintings.

Credits and Attributions:

Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:Fanny Churberg – Talvimaisema, auringon mailleen mentyä – A I 189 – Finnish National Gallery.jpg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Fanny_Churberg_-_Talvimaisema,_auringon_mailleen_menty%C3%A4_-_A_I_189_-_Finnish_National_Gallery.jpg&oldid=468220757 (accessed November 5, 2020).

Wikipedia contributors, “Fanny Churberg,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Fanny_Churberg&oldid=973669647 (accessed November 5, 2020).


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#FineArtFriday: Wanderer in the Storm by Carl Julius von Leypold 1835

Karl_Julius_von_Leypold_-_Wanderer_im_SturmArtist: Carl Julius von Leypold  (1806–1874)

Title: Wanderer in the Storm

Date: 1835

Medium: oil on canvas

Dimensions: height: 42.5 cm (16.7 in); width: 56.5 cm (22.2 in)

Collection: Metropolitan Museum of Art

What I love about this painting:

This painting completely describes the weather we’re experiencing this week in the cold, dark, and stormy Pacific Northwest—wind and rain and rain and wind. Winter is in full swing. Hopefully, we will avoid having more snow and ice, but it’s only January. Anything can be lurking around the corner.

I love the dark and moody sky that von Leypold paints for us. It has movement, a sense of life, of wind and rain gathering momentum, a small pause while it builds toward a tantrum of the wintery kind.

One can almost hear the water lapping at the shore. Beyond the muddy lane, the trees are like me, old but strong, holding their barren branches defiant before the storm. They seem to shout, “We will bend but never break!” and by bending with the winds, those trees will survive to see yet another blossoming of spring.

The ancient stone wall stands firm, still doing its duty despite being long neglected and left to ruin. It refuses to abandon its purpose, although it no longer remembers what that might be.

The man trudges purposefully, despite the wind that whips at his long coat. Does he feel the cold, or is he walking quickly enough that he is warm? And where is he going? Who is he so intent upon seeing that he would brave the storm on foot?

There is a story in this painting.

About the Artist, via Wikipedia:

Carl Julius von Leypold (1806–1874) was a German Romantic landscape painter known for his painting, “Wanderer in the Storm.”

Von Leypold studied landscape painting with Johan Christian Dahl at the Dresden Academy of Fine Arts between 1820 and 1829. From 1826 onwards, Caspar David Friedrich influenced his choice of subjects and painting style. His landscapes are characterized by “a painterly, but at the same time sharp-brushed style, in which high painting culture is combined with Biedermeier objectivity.”

On March 5, 1857, he became an honorary member of the Dresden Art Academy. [1]

Credits and Attributions:

Image: Wanderer in the Storm by Carl Julius von Leypold PD|100. Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:Karl Julius von Leypold – Wanderer im Sturm.jpg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Karl_Julius_von_Leypold_-_Wanderer_im_Sturm.jpg&oldid=675091985 (accessed January 5, 2023).

[1] Wikipedia contributors, “Carl Julius von Leypold,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Carl_Julius_von_Leypold&oldid=1095364695 (accessed January 5, 2023).


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#FineArtFriday: Boulevard de la Madeleine in Paris by Frits Thaulow ca 1897 (revisited)

Frits_Thaulow_-_Boulevard_de_la_Madeleine_à_Paris_(1890s)Title: Boulevard de la Madeleine in Paris by Frits Thaulow

Date: circa 1896-1897

Medium: oil on canvas

Dimensions: Height: 88.2 cm (34.7 in); Width: 66.3 cm (26.1 in)

Collection: Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts

Inscriptions: Signature and date bottom right: Frits Thaulow (date is unclear)

What I like about this painting:

This is a street scene viewed from an angle we rarely see in paintings. The people and vehicles are small, insignificant in comparison with the size and grandeur of the buildings.

While Thaulow didn’t enjoy painting cityscapes, I think Boulevard de la Madeleine in Paris is one of the best of that era.

The soot from the chimneys in the distance, the wet street, the muted, watery colors of a rainy spring day, and the God’s-eye view of the busy street—it all comes together to present a powerful statement.

About the Artist, Via Wikipedia:

Thaulow was one of the earliest artists to paint in Skagen in the north of Jutland, soon to become famous for its Skagen Painters. He arrived there in 1879 with his friend Christian Krohg, who persuaded him to spend the summer and autumn there. They arrived from Norway in Thaulow’s little boat. Thaulow, who had specialized in marine painting, turned to Skagen’s favourite subjects, the fishermen and the boats on the shore.

Thaulow moved to France in 1892, living there until his death in 1906. He soon discovered that the cityscapes of Paris did not suit him. His best paintings were made in small towns such as Montreuil-sur-Mer (1892–94), Dieppe and surrounding villages (1894–98), Quimperle in Brittany (1901) and Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne in the Corrèze département (1903). One of his most famous works once he moved to france was A village street in France. In Dieppe Thaulow and his wife Alexandra made themselves popular: they were friends with artist Charles Conder, and they met Aubrey Beardsley. [1]

Credits and Attributions:

[1] Wikipedia contributors, “Frits Thaulow,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Frits_Thaulow&oldid=1026282924 (accessed June 10, 2021).

Boulevard de la Madeleine in Paris, ca 1896-97 by  Frits Thaulow, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons. Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:Frits Thaulow – Boulevard de la Madeleine à Paris (1890s).jpg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Frits_Thaulow_-_Boulevard_de_la_Madeleine_%C3%A0_Paris_(1890s).jpg&oldid=566337323 (accessed June 10, 2021).


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#FineArtFriday: On the Saco by Albert Bierstadt

Bierstadt_Albert_On_the_SacoArtist: Albert Bierstadt (1830–1902)

Title: “On the Saco”

Genre: landscape art

Description: Of the Saco River, Maine.

Date: Unknown date (19th century)

Medium: oil painting.

What I love about this image:

Bierstadt understood and respected the power of nature. The way he rendered the sky is wonderful. He captured that brilliant darkness of a distant storm against the bright sunshine of an autumn afternoon. I love contrasts in this painting, the bright foliage in every shade of red and yellow, the serenity of the cattle drinking in the shallows.

The heavy darkness of the storm in the hills seems to be pushed back by the serene glow of fall’s sunlight on the river. Will it rain itself out before it passes over the herd? Possibly.

About the Artist, via Wikipedia:

Albert Bierstadt (January 7, 1830 – February 18, 1902) was a German-American painter best known for his lavish, sweeping landscapes of the American West. He joined several journeys of the Westward Expansion to paint the scenes. He was not the first artist to record the sites, but he was the foremost painter of them for the remainder of the 19th century.

Bierstadt was born in Prussia, but his family moved to the United States when he was one year old. He returned to study painting for several years in Düsseldorf. He became part of the second generation of the Hudson River School in New York, an informal group of like-minded painters who started painting along the Hudson River. Their style was based on carefully detailed paintings with romantic, almost glowing lighting, sometimes called luminism. Bierstadt was an important interpreter of the western landscape, and he is also grouped with the Rocky Mountain School. [1]

Credits and Attributions:

Image: On the Saco by Albert Bierstadt, Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:Bierstadt Albert On the Saco.jpg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Bierstadt_Albert_On_the_Saco.jpg&oldid=618723154 (accessed September 16, 2022).

[1] Wikipedia contributors, “Albert Bierstadt,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Albert_Bierstadt&oldid=1107140650 (accessed September 16, 2022).


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#FineArtFriday: The Sycamores by Alexandre Calame 1854

1175px-'The_Sycamores'_by_Alexandre_Calame,_Cincinnati_Art_MuseumTitle: The Sycamores by Alexandre Calame

Genre: landscape art

Date: 1854

Medium: oil on canvas

Dimensions: height: 54.3 cm (21.3 in)

Collection: Cincinnati Art Museum

What I love about this painting:

These are trees with a presence. They grow on a rocky, sunlit hillside and seem as tough as the boulders surrounding them. Like people, these trees have seen some stuff. No delicate hothouse specimens here – these are hardy peasant trees, able to make do with whatever nature throws at them.

About the Artist, via Wikipedia:

Alexandre Calame (28 May 1810 – 19 March 1864) was a Swiss landscape painter, associated with the Düsseldorf School.

He was born in Arabie at the time belonging to Corsier-sur-Vevey, today a part of Vevey. He was the son of a skillful marble worker in Vevey, but because his father lost the family fortune, Calame could not concentrate on art, but rather he was forced to work in a bank from the age of 15. When his father fell from a building and then died, it was up to the young Calame to provide for his mother.

In his spare time he began to practice drawing small views of Switzerland. In 1829 he met his patron, the banker Diodati, who made it possible for him to study under landscape painter François Diday. After a few months he decided to devote himself fully to art.

In 1835 he began exhibiting his Swiss-Alps and forest paintings in Paris and Berlin. He became quite well known, especially in Germany, although Calame was more a drawer than an illustrator. He is associated with the Düsseldorf school of painting. In 1842 he went to Paris and displayed his works Mont Blanc, the Jungfrau, the Brienzersee, the Monte Rosa and Mont Cervin.

Credits and Attributions:

Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:’The Sycamores’ by Alexandre Calame, Cincinnati Art Museum.JPG,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:%27The_Sycamores%27_by_Alexandre_Calame,_Cincinnati_Art_Museum.JPG&oldid=618822225 (accessed July 15, 2022).

Wikipedia contributors, “Alexandre Calame,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Alexandre_Calame&oldid=1088977147 (accessed July 15, 2022).


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#FineArtFriday: Summer, Lake Ontario by Jasper Francis Cropsey 1857

Cropsey,_Jasper_Francis_-_Summer,_Lake_Ontario_-_Google_Art_ProjectTitle: Summer, Lake Ontario by Jasper Francis Cropsey (1823–1900)

Genre: landscape art

Date: 1857

Medium: oil on canvas

Collection: Indianapolis Museum of Art

What I love about this painting:

Cropsey paints a summer evening in New York State, along the shore of one of Lake Ontario’s bays. Near the bottom center, a pair of fishers are placed on the wooden bridge over a creek. This image has a fantasy quality, as if it depicts a dream or a fond memory.

Our point of view is from a hill, looking down to the creek, the bridge, and the bay shore, and then across low hills to the great lake beyond. Cropsey gives equal importance to the earth below and sky above.

Cropsey’s signature deep colors are featured in this panoramic view of a summer evening. Warm reds, browns, yellows, and dark greens are lightened by wispy mists rising in the early evening air, lit by the setting sun.

About the Artist, via Wikipedia:

Jasper Francis Cropsey (February 18, 1823 – June 22, 1900) was an important American landscape artist of the Hudson River School.

Cropsey was born on his father Jacob Rezeau Cropsey’s farm in Rossville on Staten Island, New York, the oldest of eight children. As a young boy, Cropsey had recurring periods of poor health. While absent from school, Cropsey taught himself to draw. His early drawings included architectural sketches and landscapes drawn on notepads and in the margins of his schoolbooks.

Trained as an architect, he set up his own office in 1843. Cropsey studied watercolor and life drawing at the National Academy of Design under the instruction of Edward Maury and first exhibited there in 1844. A year later he was elected an associate member and turned exclusively to landscape painting; shortly after he was featured in an exhibition entitled “Italian Compositions.”

Cropsey traveled in Europe from 1847–1849, visiting England, France, Switzerland, and Italy. He was elected a full member of the Academy in 1851. Cropsey was a personal friend of Henry Tappan, the president of the University of Michigan from 1852 to 1863. At Tappan’s invitation, he traveled to Ann Arbor in 1855 and produced two paintings, one of the Detroit Observatory, and a landscape of the campus. He went abroad again in 1856, and resided seven years in London, sending his pictures to the Royal Academy and to the International exhibition of 1862.

Returning home, he opened a studio in New York and specialized in autumnal landscape paintings of the northeastern United States, often idealized and with vivid colors. Cropsey co-founded, with ten fellow artists, the American Society of Painters in Watercolors in 1866. He also made the architectural designs for the stations of the elevated railways in New York. [1]

Credits and Attributions:

Image: Summer, Lake Ontario by Jasper Francis Cropsey 1857. Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:Cropsey, Jasper Francis – Summer, Lake Ontario – Google Art Project.jpg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Cropsey,_Jasper_Francis_-_Summer,_Lake_Ontario_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg&oldid=618625179 (accessed June 30, 2022).

[1] Wikipedia contributors, “Jasper Francis Cropsey,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Jasper_Francis_Cropsey&oldid=1093620569 (accessed June 30, 2022).


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#FineArtFriday: Sheep Grazing in the Dunes on an Italian Coast by Edith Corbet

Edith_Corbet_Sheep_Grazing_in_the_Dunes,_on_an_Italian_CoastTitle: Sheep Grazing in the Dunes, on an Italian Coast

Artist: Edith Corbet (1846 – 1920),

Description: Landscape Art

Medium: oil on canvas

Dimensions: 83.5 x 203 cm. (33 x 80 in.)

What I love about this painting:

There is a softness to this image, and yet it feels as if we are there, viewing the beach and the sheep. We know it was painted in late spring, as the sheep have just been shorn, and a few lambs can be seen with their mothers. To the right of the scene, the sky has darkened, and a storm is moving in.

The beach grass, the color of the dunes, and the shades of the water reflecting the ever-changing colors of the sky feel real, perfectly recreated for us by the artist’s hands. She gives us a peaceful serene moment, a chance to just breathe deeply and let go of the stress of our modern lives.

This kind of day is familiar to me, a scene that could be found on many beaches here in my Northwestern part of the world. I love it when a brief storm moves in over the dunes, stirring the waters, and showing how the sky is the most important part of the scene. It’s as if the sky says to the sea, “You may be big and important, but I am larger and more powerful.”

Little is known about Edith’s life. She travelled a great deal and loved Italy. I suspect her first marriage, to illustrator Arthur Murch, was difficult, as he was in poor health much of the time. It has been said that while he was talented, he rarely finished a project. His reputation was based on the two illustrations he produced for Dalziels’ Bible Gallery, while Edith’s landscapes had begun to bring her some fame. Murch died in Germany, and most of Edith’s life at that time was in Italy.

By the time she painted this scene, in 1897, Edith and her second husband, Matthew Ridley Corbet, may have been living in England for at least part of the year.

About the Artist, via Wikipedia:

Edith Corbet née Edenborough (28 December 1846 – 1920) was a Victorian landscape painter, having close associations with the Macchiaioli group (also known as the Tuscans or Etruscans), who, in a break with tradition, painted outdoors in order to capture natural light effects and favoured a panoramic format for their paintings.

She married the Victorian painter and illustrator Arthur Murch and moved to Rome, where she painted with Giovanni Costa, leader of the Macchiaioli group. In 1876 they both stayed in Venice. Olivia Rossetti Agresti wrote: Costa had a very high opinion of this artist’s gifts and used to remember with pleasure how on that occasion they used to go out together to paint from nature at Fusino (Agresti, 1904).

She frequently exhibited from 1880 to 1890 at the Grosvenor Gallery and the New Gallery. In 1891, after the death of her first husband, she married Matthew Ridley Corbet, one of the Macchiaioli group’s leading members, after which she exhibited mainly at the Royal Academy, visiting Italy and living in London for the remainder of her life. Corbet exhibited her work at the Palace of Fine Arts at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Illinois. She died in Hampstead, north London, in 1920. [1]

Credits and Attributions:

Image: Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:Edith Corbet Sheep Grazing in the Dunes, on an Italian Coast.jpg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Edith_Corbet_Sheep_Grazing_in_the_Dunes,_on_an_Italian_Coast.jpg&oldid=617254333 (accessed June 2, 2022).

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#FineArtFriday: Boston Common at Twilight by Childe Hassam ca. 1885


Title: At Dusk (Boston Common at Twilight) by Childe Hassam

Date: between 1885 and 1886

Medium: oil on canvas

Dimensions: height: 42 in (106.6 cm); width: 60 in (152.4 cm)

Collection: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston Massachusetts

What I love about this painting:

Childe Hassam was known for his bold landscapes but by the mid-1880s, Hassam began painting cityscapes. This painting, Boston Common at Twilight was of his first cityscapes.

I particularly like the way he used a dark palette of blacks and browns, colors rarely used with such abandon by strict Impressionists (such as his contemporary, Claude Monet). The dark of the buildings and the clothes of the people are contrasted with many shades of white. The dirty snow trodden on the sidewalk shows us the truth of winter in an urban setting.

The contrasting of darkness against lightness on the land below forces the viewer’s eye upward to the dusky-blue sky and the rosy glow of sunset peeking from behind the trees, to the twilight mist forming in the chill evening air.

Two small girls use these last moments of light to play, perhaps to make snowballs under the eye of their mother or governess.

About the Artist, via Wikipedia:

Frederick Childe Hassam was known to all as “Childe” (pronounced like child), a name taken from an uncle. Hassam was born in the family home on Olney Street on Meeting House Hill in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston, on October 17, 1859. His father, Frederick Fitch Hassam (1825–1880), was a moderately successful cutlery businessman with a large collection of art and antiques. He descended from a long line of New Englanders. His mother, Rosa Delia Hawthorne (1832–1880), a native of Maine, shared an ancestor with American novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne.

His father claimed descent from a seventeenth-century English immigrant whose name, Horsham, had been corrupted over time to Hassam. With his dark complexion and heavily lidded eyes, many took Childe Hassam to be of Middle Eastern descent—speculation which he enjoyed stoking. In the mid-1880s, he took to painting an Islamic-appearing crescent moon (which eventually degenerated into only a slash) next to his signature, and he adopted the nickname “Muley” (from the Arabic “Mawla”, Lord or Master), invoking Muley Abul Hassan, a fifteenth-century ruler of Granada whose life was fictionalized in Washington Irving‘s novel Tales of the Alhambra.

In 1882, Hassam became a free-lance illustrator (known as a “black-and-white man” in the trade) and established his first studio. He specialized in illustrating children’s stories for magazines such as Harper’s WeeklyScribner’s Monthly, and The Century. He continued to develop his technique while attending drawing classes at the Lowell Institute and at the Boston Art Club, where he took life painting classes.

Having had relatively little formal art training, Hassam was advised by his friend and fellow Boston Art Club member Edmund H. Garrett to join him on a two-month “study trip” to Europe during the summer of 1883. They traveled throughout the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, France, Italy, Switzerland, and Spain, studying the Old Masters together and creating watercolors of the European countryside. Hassam was particularly impressed with the watercolors of J. M. W. Turner. Sixty-seven of the watercolors that Hassam painted on this trip formed the basis of his second exhibition in 1884. During this period, Hassam taught at the Cowles Art School. He also joined the “Paint and Clay Club”, expanding his contacts in the art community, which included prominent critics and “the readiest and smartest of our younger generation of artists, illustrators, sculptors, and decorators—the nearest thing to Bohemia that Boston can boast.” Friends found him to be energetic, robust, outgoing, and unassuming, capable of self-mockery and considerate acts, but he could be argumentative and wickedly witty against those in the art community who opposed him. Hassam was particularly influenced by the circle of William Morris Hunt, who like the great French landscape painter Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, emphasized the Barbizon tradition of working directly from nature. He absorbed their credo that “atmosphere and light are the great things to work for in landscape painting.” [1]

Credits and Attributions:

[Image] Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:Childe Hassam, ‘Boston Common at Twilight’, 1885–86.jpg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Childe_Hassam,_%27Boston_Common_at_Twilight%27,_1885%E2%80%9386.jpg&oldid=618750219 (accessed May 26, 2022).

[1] Wikipedia contributors, “Childe Hassam,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Childe_Hassam&oldid=1087821182 (accessed May 26, 2022).


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#FineArtFriday: Street Scene in Montmartre Vincent van Gogh 1887

Scène_de_Rue_à_MontmartreArtist: Vincent van Gogh (1853–1890)

Title: Street Scene in Montmartre

Genre: landscape art

Date: 1887

Medium: oil on canvas

Dimensions: height: 46.1 cm (18.1 in); width: 61.3 cm (24.1 in)

Collection: Private collection

What I love about this painting:

Street Scene in Montmartre is a relatively unknown painting by Vincent van Gogh, unknown because it has been held in private collections and not exhibited to the public. It was auctioned by Sotheby’s in 2021, and the image was posted to Wikimedia Commons courtesy of that auction.

The scene feels like an afternoon scene in winter, with a man and woman walking, and two children playing.

Vincent paid particular attention to the visual construction and texture of the fence, and also to the tangle of garden behind. This is the smaller of two windmills featured in several more well-known paintings in the subset of paintings from Van Gogh’s Montmartre series.

While there are people walking down the dirt lane in this scene, they aren’t the focus. Instead, our eye is directed to the way the windmill rises over the ramshackle fence, neglected garden, and above it all, the flag bravely flying.

The dirt lane, the fence, the winter-barren garden, and the windmill falling to ruin beneath the cold sky offer us a glimpse into Vincent’s mood. He finds beauty in the textures of life, both visual and metaphysical – in the cycle of growth aging to ruin. The flag flying in the breeze and the children playing offer us the hope of brighter days and new possibilities.

About this painting, via Wikipedia:

The Montmartre paintings are a group of works that Vincent van Gogh created in 1886 and 1887 of the Paris district of Montmartre while living there, at 54 Rue Lepic, with his brother Theo. Rather than capture urban settings in Paris, van Gogh preferred pastoral scenes, such as Montmartre and Asnières in the northwest suburbs. Of the two years in Paris, the work from 1886 often has the dark, somber tones of his early works from the Netherlands and Brussels. By the spring of 1887, van Gogh embraced use of color and light and created his own brushstroke techniques based upon Impressionism and Pointillism. The works in the series provide examples of his work during that period of time and the progression he made as an artist.

In van Gogh’s first year in Paris he painted rural areas around Montmartre, such as the butte and its windmills. The colors are somber and evoke a sense of his anxiety and loneliness.

The landscape and windmills around Montmartre were the source of inspiration for a number of van Gogh’s paintings. The Moulin de la Galette, still standing, is located near the apartment he shared with his brother. Built in 1622, it was originally called Blute-Fin and belonged to the Debray family in the 19th century. Van Gogh met artists such as Toulouse-Lautrec, Paul Signac and Paul Gauguin who inspired him to incorporate Impressionism into his artwork resulting in lighter, more colorful paintings.

Windmills also featured in some of van Gogh’s landscape paintings of Montmartre.

Montmartre, sitting on a butte overlooking Paris, was known for its bars, cafes, and dance-hall. It was also located on the edge of countryside that afforded Van Gogh the opportunity to work on paintings of rural settings while living in Paris.

When Van Gogh painted he intended not just to capture the subject, but to express a message or meaning. It was through his paintings of nature that he was most successful at accomplishing his goal. It also created a great challenge: how to portray the subject and create a work that would resonate with the audience. [1]

About the Artist, via Wikipedia:

Vincent Willem van Gogh, 30 March 1853 – 29 July 1890) was a Dutch Post-Impressionist painter who posthumously became one of the most famous and influential figures in Western art history. In a decade, he created about 2,100 artworks, including around 860 oil paintings, most of which date from the last two years of his life. They include landscapes, still lifes, portraits, and self-portraits, and are characterised by bold colours and dramatic, impulsive and expressive brushwork that contributed to the foundations of modern art. He was not commercially successful, struggled with severe depression and poverty, and committed suicide at the age of 37.

Van Gogh was born into an upper-middle-class family, While a child he drew and was serious, quiet and thoughtful. As a young man he worked as an art dealer, often traveling, but became depressed after he was transferred to London. He turned to religion and spent time as a Protestant missionary in southern Belgium. He drifted in ill health and solitude before taking up painting in 1881, having moved back home with his parents. His younger brother Theo supported him financially; the two kept a long correspondence by letter. His early works, mostly still lifes and depictions of peasant labourers, contain few signs of the vivid colour that distinguished his later work. In 1886, he moved to Paris, where he met members of the avant-garde, including Émile Bernard and Paul Gauguin, who were reacting against the Impressionist sensibility. As his work developed he created a new approach to still lifes and local landscapes. His paintings grew brighter as he developed a style that became fully realised during his stay in Arles in the South of France in 1888. During this period he broadened his subject matter to include series of olive trees, wheat fields and sunflowers.

Van Gogh suffered from psychotic episodes and delusions, and though he worried about his mental stability, he often neglected his physical health, did not eat properly and drank heavily. His friendship with Gauguin ended after a confrontation between the two when, in a rage, Van Gogh severed a part of his own left ear with a razor. He spent time in psychiatric hospitals, including a period at Saint-Rémy. After he discharged himself and moved to the Auberge Ravoux in Auvers-sur-Oise near Paris, he came under the care of the homeopathic doctor Paul Gachet. His depression persisted, and on 27 July 1890, Van Gogh is believed to have shot himself in the chest with a revolver, dying from his injuries two days later. [2]

Credits and Attributions:

Image: Scène de Rue à Montmartre, Vincent van Gogh PD|100, Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:Scène de Rue à Montmartre.jpg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Sc%C3%A8ne_de_Rue_%C3%A0_Montmartre.jpg&oldid=617922499 (accessed May 19, 2022).

[1] Wikipedia contributors, “Montmartre (Van Gogh series),” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Montmartre_(Van_Gogh_series)&oldid=1086671125 (accessed May 19, 2022).

[2] Wikipedia contributors, “Vincent van Gogh,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Vincent_van_Gogh&oldid=1087073450 (accessed May 19, 2022).


Filed under #FineArtFriday, writing

#FineArtFriday: Undergrowth with Two Figures, Vincent van Gogh 1890

Vincent_van_Gogh_-_Undergrowth_with_Two_Figures_(F773)Artist: Vincent van Gogh (1853–1890)

Title: Undergrowth with Two Figures

Date: late June 1890

Medium: oil on canvas

Dimensions: height: 50 cm (19.6 in); width: 100.5 cm (39.5 in)

Collection: Cincinnati Art Museum

Today, Thursday, I was privileged to attend an immersive exhibit of Vincent van Gogh’s life through his work. I had hoped to write a post on my impressions of that exhibit when I arrived home, but frankly, words fail me, and so I hope you will forgive my settling for one of my favorites of his paintings.

We were inside an everchanging exhibit that flowed through many of his most famous works and zoomed in on bits one wouldn’t ordinarily notice. I managed a few shots with my cell phone that offer some idea of the exhibition, and here is the one that best shows what we experienced:

Van Gogh immersive 1 connie j jasperson LIRF04072022

The exhibit was such a moving, emotional experience. It brings you into touch with the man as well as his art.

We were in, above, and surrounded by his work. The powerful soundtrack of classical music was paired perfectly to the images, complementing them like fine wine does good food.

The link to that exhibit is here: Van Gogh, The Immersive Experience.

What I love about Undergrowth with Two Figures:

This very late work was painted at the end of June 1890, a few weeks before Van Gogh’s death. It was one of several paintings in Auvers-sur-Oise, a commune on the northwestern outskirts of Paris, France. This was also the place where Vincent van Gogh died from injuries suffered in an attempted suicide.

This painting is one of several he made in the last weeks of his life, in an unusually elongated double-square format. The double-square painting is a painting made on uncommonly large canvases, which have one dimension that is twice the size of the other. His need to express his art couldn’t be contained on an ordinary canvas—he saw the world with a panoramic view.

One of the things I love about this painting is the use of violet and blue in the trunks of the poplars. They are tall, immense, like bars in a window framing the courting pair. The trees stand out against the black backdrop. They have power and are the soul of the painting, even more so than the flowers and undergrowth through which the couple walks.

It is a pleasing composition, with strong brush strokes and deep, dark colors. He saw the beauty in life and painted it.

[1] About this painting, via Google Arts and Culture:

In a letter to his younger brother, Theo, dated June 30, 1890, van Gogh explained the structure and brilliant colors of “Undergrowth with Two Figures”: “The trunks of the violet poplars cross the landscape perpendicularly like columns,” adding “the depth of Sous Bois is blue, and under the big trunks the grass blooms with flowers in white, rose, yellow, and green.”

“Undergrowth with Two Figures” has a silvery tonality characteristic of van Gogh’s works from Auvers. His brushwork may be swift and visceral, his colors strong and biting, his emotion raw and visible, but the composition reveals no hint of psychological torment.

It is painted on a double square canvas, twice as wide as it is high. Van Gogh explored the artistic possibilities of this panoramic format in several of his last paintings. [1]

Credits and Attributions:

[1] Google Arts and Culture Contributors, Undergrowth with two Figures, Vincent van Gogh 1890, Accessed April 7, 2022.

Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:Vincent van Gogh – Undergrowth with Two Figures (F773).jpg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Vincent_van_Gogh_-_Undergrowth_with_Two_Figures_(F773).jpg&oldid=618842665 (accessed April 8, 2022).

View of Vincent’s Starry Night, © 2022 Connie J. Jasperson, own work,


Filed under #FineArtFriday