Tag Archives: 20th century art

#FineArtFriday: The Bridge of Sighs, John Singer Sargent ca,1905 – 1908

John_Singer_Sargent_-_The_bridge_of_sighsArtist: John Singer Sargent (1856–1925)

Title: The Bridge of Sighs

Date: between 1905 and 1908

Medium: watercolor on paper

Dimensions: height: 25.4 cm (10 in); width: 35.6 cm (14 in)

Collection: Brooklyn Museum

Current location: American Art collection

What I love about this picture:

John Singer Sargent was known for his portraits, but it is his watercolors that fascinate me. This painting of Venice’s Bridge of Sighs is one of his finest. Done in every shade of blue and brown, he conveys the mood of an afternoon. He gives us the bridge as seen from a gondola, and the view of ladies beneath parasols going by, passing us in the opposite direction.

By his choice of colors, Sargent paints the atmosphere of a poignant, tragic place.

About this picture, via Wikipedia:

The Bridge of Sighs (Italian: Ponte dei Sospiri, Venetian: Ponte de i Sospiri) is a bridge in Venice, Italy. The enclosed bridge is made of white limestone, has windows with stone bars, passes over the Rio di Palazzo, and connects the New Prison (Prigioni Nuove) to the interrogation rooms in the Doge’s Palace.

The view from the Bridge of Sighs was the last view of Venice that convicts saw before their imprisonment. The bridge’s English name was bequeathed by Lord Byron in the 19th century as a translation from the Italian “Ponte dei sospiri”, from the suggestion that prisoners would sigh at their final view of beautiful Venice through the window before being taken down to their cells. [1]

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 TyrolCorfu, 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 society artists such as Sargent until the late 20th century.

With his watercolors, Sargent was able to indulge his earliest artistic inclinations for nature, architecture, exotic peoples, and noble mountain landscapes. And it is in some of his late works where one senses Sargent painting most purely for himself. His watercolors were executed with a joyful fluidness. He also painted extensively family, friends, gardens, and fountains. In watercolors, he playfully portrayed his friends and family dressed in Orientalist costume, relaxing in brightly lit landscapes that allowed for a more vivid palette and experimental handling than did his commissions (The Chess Game, 1906). His first major solo exhibit of watercolor works was at the Carfax Gallery in London in 1905. In 1909, he exhibited eighty-six watercolors in New York City, eighty-three of which were bought by the Brooklyn MuseumEvan Charteris wrote in 1927:

To live with Sargent’s water-colours is to live with sunshine captured and held, with the luster of a bright and legible world, ‘the refluent shade’ and ‘the Ambient ardours of the noon.’

Although not generally accorded the critical respect given Winslow Homer, perhaps America’s greatest watercolorist, scholarship has revealed that Sargent was fluent in the entire range of opaque and transparent watercolor technique, including the methods used by Homer. [2]


Credits and Attributions:

[1] Wikipedia contributors, “Bridge of Sighs,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Bridge_of_Sighs&oldid=1096829521 (accessed August 5, 2022).

[2] Wikipedia contributors, “John Singer Sargent,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=John_Singer_Sargent&oldid=1099859237 (accessed August 5, 2022).

[Image] Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:John Singer Sargent – The bridge of sighs.jpg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:John_Singer_Sargent_-_The_bridge_of_sighs.jpg&oldid=660236372 (accessed August 5, 2022).

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#FineArtFriday: Sailboats by Jacoba van Heemskerck

Sailboats by Jacoba van HeemskerckArtist: Jacoba van Heemskerck (1876–1923)

Title: Bild no. 15 (Segelboote) (English: Painting no, 15 – Sailboats)

Date: Circa 1914

Medium: oil on canvas

Dimensions: height: 97.5 cm (38.3 in); width: 113.5 cm (44.6 in)

Collection: Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen

What I love about this painting:

The sharp corners and geometry of this composition raises the viewer’s eye toward the horizon. It feels cubist, is abstract, and reflects a spiritual connection to her subject. I love the symbolism in this image. The sailboats are souls sailing toward the next life across a deep blue sea and beneath a golden sky. The island temple toward which the boats sail is shaped like a pyramid. The elongated sails of the many boats direct the eye up. Everything, including the island temple, points toward heaven.

In this painting, it is easy to see how she would later become involved in creating stained glass—the sharp black outlines and vivid colors of her paintings are perfect for that medium.

According to the Kunstmuseum Den Haag’s website:

“But whereas Mondrian’s artistic approach eventually became austerely geometrical, Van Heemskerck’s developed as a result of a variety of influences (including anthroposophy) into an open, unconstrained and intuitive style. Throughout her life, she would seek – like Kandinsky – to express spiritual experience. The recurring subjects in her oeuvre are therefore invariably symbolic in nature: sailing ships, bridges and trees, depicted in clear, vibrant colours and with firm outlines. Although she was never to abandon the representation of the real world, Van Heemskerck’s style was eventually so abstract that her subjects became virtually unrecognisable. This approach won her great success, especially in Germany, where she exhibited at the Berlin Expressionist gallery Der Sturm every year from 1913 until her death.” [1]

About the Artist, Via Wikipedia:

Jkvr. Jacoba Berendina van Heemskerck van Beest (1876-1923) was a Dutch painter, stained glass designer and graphic artist who worked in several modern genres. She specialized in landscapes and still-lifes.

Her first contact with Modern art came in Paris, where she took lessons from Eugène Carrière.[2][3] She remained in France until 1904, then went to live with her sister, Lucie, and was introduced to the art collector, Marie Tak van Poortvliet, who became her lifelong friend and later built a studio for her in the garden of her home.[1] After 1906, she spent her Summers in Domburg, where she came into contact with avant-garde painters such as Piet Mondrian[4] and Jan Toorop, who offered her advice. Around 1911, she was briefly interested in Cubism.

Shortly after, she became involved in Anthroposophy, possibly through the influence of her former teacher, Nibbrig, who was a Theosophist. She then became an avid follower of Der Sturm, an avant-garde art magazine founded by Herwarth Walden, and turned increasingly to Abstraction.[1] In 1913, she attended the Erster Deutscher Herbstsalon in Berlin, where she met Walden and started what would be a lifelong correspondence.[3] Thanks to his efforts, her work was popular in Germany, while it remained somewhat ignored in her home country.

After 1916, she developed an interest in stained glass windows, designing them for the naval barracks and the Municipal Health Department building in Amsterdam, as well as private residences.[1] From 1922, she lived in Domburg with her old friend and patron, Tak van Poortvliet.

She died suddenly, from an attack of angina.[3] Both Tak van Poortvliet and Walden mounted exhibitions of her work, in Amsterdam and Berlin respectively. In 2005, a major retrospective was held at the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag. [2]


Credits and Attributions:

[1] Kunstmuseum Den Haag contributors, “Jacoba van Heemskerck,” Jacoba van Heemskerck A REDISCOVERY, Jacoba van Heemskerck | Kunstmuseum Den Haag (accessed March 31, 2022).

[2]Wikipedia contributors, “Jacoba van Heemskerck,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Jacoba_van_Heemskerck&oldid=1078279427 (accessed March 31, 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: 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: Harvesters by Anna Ancher, 1905

Anna_Ancher_-_Harvesters_-_Google_Art_ProjectArtist: Anna Ancher  (1859–1935)

Title: Harvesters

Date: 1905

Medium: oil on canvas

Dimensions: w56.2 x h43.4 cm (Without frame)

Collection: Skagens Museum

What I love about this painting:

While she normally painted interiors, Anna Ancher captured a perfect late summer morning beneath blue skies in this painting. One can almost hear the rustling of ripe grain moving with the breeze.

I like the placement of the three figures, two women and a man. Are they husband, wife, and daughter? There is a sense of movement in this painting. They enter the scene from the right, and you feel sure they will exit to the left, where the field that is to be cut that day is.

The man will scythe, the woman who follows third will rake, and the woman in the middle will stack the sheaves.

These are not poor people. These farmers are dressed modestly in clean work clothes that aren’t tattered and patched. They are doing well; the grain is high, and life is good in these years of plenty before the outbreak of WWI.

About the Artist, via Wikipedia:

Anna Ancher (18 August 1859 – 15 April 1935), born Anna Kirstine Brøndum, was born in Skagen, Denmark, 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.

Anna Ancher was considered to be one of the great Danish pictorial artists by virtue of her abilities as a character painter and colorist. Her art found its expression in Nordic art’s modern breakthrough toward a more truthful depiction of reality, e.g. in Blue Ane (1882) and The Girl in the Kitchen (1883–1886).

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.


Credits and Attributions:

Harvesters, Anna Ancher, Public domain, via Wikimedia CommonsWikimedia Commons contributors, “File:Anna Ancher – Harvesters – Google Art Project.jpg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Anna_Ancher_-_Harvesters_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg&oldid=371900766 (accessed October 14, 2021).

Wikipedia contributors, “Harvesters (Ancher),” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Harvesters_(Ancher)&oldid=1047378795 (accessed October 14, 2021).

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#FineArtFriday: Augustiner Bräu and Mülln Abbey by E. T. Compton

Edward_Theodor_Compton_Augustiner_Bräu_und_Kloster_MüllnPainting: Augustiner Bräu and Mülln Abbey in Salzburg

Artist:  Edward Theodore Compton (1849–1921)

Medium: Watercolor and opaque white on paper, 24,5 x 35,5 cm

Inscription: signed E. T. Compton

Date: by 1921

What I love about this image:

This is a cityscape, a genre which Compton was not famous for painting. The central building is a brewery, and in background rises the steeple of an Augustinian abbey. The day is pleasant, not too bright or warm, but comfortable. People are out without coats, so perhaps it was painted on one of those slightly overcast days in June.

The muted colors and gray skies make this a familiar kind of day to me, as June in the Pacific Northwest is frequently overcast, but pleasant.

Compton is known for his vast mountain-scapes, but this painting shows us that he found the architecture and community of his adopted country interesting too.

Judging by the dress of the walkers, I would say this was painted just after WWI. The skirts are not full and are hemmed well-above the ankle, which was not a pre-WWI style at all. The blouses are simple, with no lace or ruffles; the clothes of women who worked both at home and at jobs. After the war, cloth was expensive, and fashions changed accordingly.

About the Artist, Via Wikipedia:

Edward Theodore Compton, usually referred to as E. T. Compton, (29 July 1849 – 22 March 1921) was an English-born, German artist, illustrator, and mountain climber. He is well known for his paintings and drawings of alpine scenery, and as a mountaineer made 300 major ascents including no fewer than 27 first ascents.

Compton was born in Stoke Newington in London, the son of Theodore Compton, an art-loving insurance agent, and grew up in a deeply religious Quaker household. He attended various art schools, including, for a time, the Royal Academy in London, but otherwise he was mainly self-taught in art.

In 1867, wanting the best education for their artistically-talented son, and due to the high cost of schooling in England, the family decided to emigrate to Germany settling in Darmstadt. The city at that time was the seat of the Grand Duchy of Hesse under Grand Duke Ludwig III, and a community of artists had sprung up there. Entries in Compton’s diary show that both he and his father were art teachers – Alice, the Princess of Hesse numbered amongst Edward’s students.

Initially painting in the English romantic tradition, Compton later developed a more realistic representation of nature, being guided by his true artistic ideas while retaining topographical accuracy. Even his early watercolors show the great importance of brightness and light and his work is also remarkable for its portrayal of the elements such as water and air, including ascending mist and fog. He can be regarded as an impressionist.

Although Compton never had much formal art education and did not found a school, he influenced artists such as Ernst Platz and Karl Arnold as well as his son Edward Harrison Compton and daughter Dora Compton. [1]


Credits and Attributions:

[1] Wikipedia contributors, “Edward Theodore Compton,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Edward_Theodore_Compton&oldid=1021678754 (accessed September 30, 2021).

Image courtesy of: Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:Edward Theodor Compton Augustiner Bräu und Kloster Mülln.jpg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Edward_Theodor_Compton_Augustiner_Br%C3%A4u_und_Kloster_M%C3%BClln.jpg&oldid=331463362 (accessed September 30, 2021).

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#FineArtFriday: Nighthawks by Edward Hopper 1942

Nighthawks_by_Edward_Hopper_1942Artist: Edward Hopper (1882–1967)

Title: Nighthawks

Genre: genre art

Date: 21 January 1942

Medium: oil on canvas

Dimensions: Height: 84.1 cm (33.1 in); Width: 152.4 cm (60 in)

Collection: Art Institute of Chicago

What I love about this painting:

Edward Hopper’s years spent working as an illustrator enabled him to convey mood and emotion with startling clarity. In Nighthawks, the mood is dark and brooding. The emotion is solitariness, the sense of being alone even in the company of others. We (the viewer) stand in the shadows outside the diner, with a cinematic view of the brightly lit interior, its neon cheeriness imposed upon the patrons, who seem oblivious to it. Around us, the street is dark and empty.

Some have ascribed the dark atmosphere of this piece to the fact that Pearl Harbor had just been attacked, and that may have played a role in Hopper’s personal mood as he developed the painting. However, Hopper himself later said, “Nighthawks has more to do with the possibility of predators in the night than with loneliness.” [1]

We who observe through the window are voyeurs, observers only, watching the people who pass the lonely night in the café.

About this painting, via Wikipedia:

Nighthawks is a 1942 oil on canvas painting by Edward Hopper that portrays four people in a downtown diner late at night as viewed through the diner’s large glass window. The light coming from the diner illuminates a darkened and deserted urban streetscape.

It has been described as Hopper’s best-known work and is one of the most recognizable paintings in American art. Within months of its completion, it was sold to the Art Institute of Chicago on May 13, 1942, for $3,000, equivalent to $47,520 in 2020.

It has been suggested that Hopper was inspired by a short story of Ernest Hemingway‘s, either “The Killers.” which Hopper greatly admired, or from the more philosophical “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place.” In response to a query on loneliness and emptiness in the painting, Hopper outlined that he “didn’t see it as particularly lonely.” He said, “Unconsciously, probably, I was painting the loneliness of a large city.” [2]

About the Artist, via Wikipedia:

Always reluctant to discuss himself and his art, Hopper simply said, “The whole answer is there on the canvas.” Hopper was stoic and fatalistic—a quiet introverted man with a gentle sense of humor and a frank manner. Hopper was someone drawn to an emblematic, anti-narrative symbolism,  who painted short, isolated moments of configuration, saturated with suggestion. His silent spaces and uneasy encounters touch us where we are most vulnerable and have a suggestion of melancholy, that melancholy being enacted. His sense of color revealed him as a pure painter as he turned the Puritan into the purist, in his quiet canvasses where blemishes and blessings balance. According to critic Lloyd Goodrich, he was “an eminently native painter, who more than any other was getting more of the quality of America into his canvases.”

Conservative in politics and social matters (Hopper asserted for example that “artists’ lives should be written by people very close to them”), he accepted things as they were and displayed a lack of idealism. Cultured and sophisticated, he was well-read, and many of his paintings show figures reading. He was generally good company and unperturbed by silences, though sometimes taciturn, grumpy, or detached. He was always serious about his art and the art of others, and when asked would return frank opinions.

Though Hopper claimed that he didn’t consciously embed psychological meaning in his paintings, he was deeply interested in Freud and the power of the subconscious mind. He wrote in 1939, “So much of every art is an expression of the subconscious that it seems to me most of all the important qualities are put there unconsciously, and little of importance by the conscious intellect.”


Credits and Attributions:

[1] Wikipedia contributors, “Edward Hopper,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Edward_Hopper&oldid=1038646946 (accessed September 9, 2021).

[2] Wikipedia contributors, “Nighthawks (painting),” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Nighthawks_(painting)&oldid=1042829601 (accessed September 9, 2021).

Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:Nighthawks by Edward Hopper 1942.jpg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Nighthawks_by_Edward_Hopper_1942.jpg&oldid=469227621 (accessed September 9, 2021).

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#FineArtFriday: Autumn by František Michl 1949

1949-Autumn

Artist: František Michl

Title:  Autumn, 1949.

Medium: oil on canavas (private collection)

 

What I love about this painting:

This is a powerful, moody piece. It conveys the chill and dampness of a day in late autumn, contrasted against the brilliant blue of the skies between rain squalls. Some trees cling to their leaves, defying the cold breeze while others are bare, mingled among the tall evergreens. The grass is brown, and a solitary hiker takes advantage of the sunshine, making their way over the ridge in solitary peace.

One feels that soon this hillside will be covered with snow.

About the Artist, via Wikipedia:

[1] František Michl (20 November 1901, – 4 June 1977), Czech academic painter, graphic artist, and original designer of the Škoda Works emblem, the “Winged Arrow”. He was imprisoned in Pankrac Prison, and the concentration camps Terezin and Flossenbürg after his arrest by Nazis for an anti-fascist demonstration at Domažlice. After the war he was arrested in the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic for listening to the anticommunist Radio Liberty.

Michl, being a free-minded and anticommunist spirit, was imprisoned in Plzeň Prison in 1961. The trial was based on the accusation that Michl listened to Radio Liberty, which was considered by the totalitarian regime as treason. His name was blacklisted and his family persecuted.

The diminished political pressure in 1967 opened new prospects for Michl’s art in Czechoslovakia and abroad. In March 1968 his paintings were exhibited in Montreal. The Rullos Gallery in New York bought 165 paintings in November 1968. Unfortunately, preparation of Michl’s exhibition in the London National Gallery was interrupted by the Soviet invasion in August 1968.

The time of normalization brought back the ban on Michl’s name. Michl was not allowed to publicly display his art (though several illegal exhibitions, organized by his friends, took place, camouflaged under fake titles, for example “Successes of building socialism”). After his first brain stroke in 1972, which left half of his body paralyzed, Michl kept painting. It was only after his sixth stroke that Michl remained permanently bedridden until his death on June 4, 1977.

In 1991, František Michl’s name was fully politically rehabilitated, and his contribution to the anti-fascist and anticommunist resistance was recognized. Michl’s work, however, is still awaiting public recognition. [1]


Credits and Attributions:

Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:1949-stromy.jpg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:1949-stromy.jpg&oldid=423191687 (accessed August 13, 2021).

[1] Wikipedia contributors, “František Michl,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Franti%C5%A1ek_Michl&oldid=1002262176 (accessed August 13, 2021).

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#FineArtFriday: Corporal J.D.M Pearson GC (WAAF) by Dame Laura Knight 1940

Corporal_J.D.M_Pearson,_GC,_WAAF_(1940)_(Art._IWM_ART_LD_626)About this image via Wikipedia:

A three- quarters length portrait of Corporal J. D. M. Pearson, GC, WAAF (1940) – shows Corporal Daphne Pearson of the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force, WAAF, a recipient of the Empire Gallantry Medal, later exchanged for the George Cross. Although Pearson, at Knight’s insistence, sat for the portrait holding a rifle, the finished painting shows her holding a respirator. As WAAF personal were not allowed to carry arms on duty, Knight had to paint over the rifle. [1]

Joan Daphne Mary PearsonGC (25 May 1911 – 25 July 2000) was a Women’s Auxiliary Air Force officer during the Second World War and one of only thirteen women recipients of the George Cross, the highest decoration for gallantry not in the face of an enemy that can, or could, be awarded to a citizen of the United Kingdom or commonwealth.

Pearson joined the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) as a medical orderly shortly after the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939.

In the early hours of the morning on 31 May 1940, Avro Anson bomber R3389 of No. 500 Squadron RAF undershot on approach to an airstrip near the WAAF quarters in DetlingKent, crashing into a field. Upon landing, a bomb exploded, killing the navigator instantly, and leaving the pilot seriously injured. Corporal Pearson entered the burning fuselage, released the pilot from his harness and removed him from the immediate area around the aircraft. After she was 27 metres (30 yards) from the aircraft, a bomb exploded. She flung herself on top of the pilot to protect him. After medical staff had removed the pilot, she went back to the plane to look for the fourth crew member, the radio operator. She found him dead. For her deeds, Pearson was awarded the Empire Gallantry Medal (EGM). [2]

About the Artist, via Wikipedia:

Dame Laura Knight, (née Johnson), DBE RA RWS (4 August 1877 – 7 July 1970) was an English artist who worked in oils, watercolors, etching, engraving and drypoint. Knight was a painter in the figurative, realist tradition, who embraced English Impressionism. In her long career, Knight was among the most successful and popular painters in Britain. Her success in the male-dominated British art establishment paved the way for greater status and recognition for women artists.

In 1929 she was created a Dame, and in 1936 became the first woman elected to full membership of the Royal Academy. Her large retrospective exhibition at the Royal Academy in 1965 was the first for a woman. Knight was known for painting amidst the world of the theatre and ballet in London, and for being a war artist during the Second World War. She was also greatly interested in, and inspired by, marginalized communities and individuals, including Gypsies and circus performers. [1]


Credits and Attributions:

File:Corporal J.D.M Pearson, GC, WAAF (1940) (Art. IWM ART LD 626).jpg|

[1] Wikipedia contributors, “Laura Knight,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Laura_Knight&oldid=1019091508 (accessed April 29, 2021).

[2] Wikipedia contributors, “Daphne Pearson,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Daphne_Pearson&oldid=1000936279 (accessed April 29, 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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