Tag Archives: Fine Art Friday

#FineArtFriday: Moon Gate – Chinese Garden in the Hortus Haren by Dominicus Johannes Bergsma

Doorgang_in_muur._Locatie,_Chinese_tuin_Het_Verborgen_Rijk_van_Ming._Locatie._Hortus_Haren_01

Moon Gate, Chinese Garden in the Hortus Haren, The Netherlands

Date: 30 May 2015, 14:31:15

Author: Dominicus Johannes Bergsma

Camera location: 53° 10′ 48.67″ N, 6° 36′ 13.15″ E

About this image, via Wikimedia Commons:

A photograph of the passage in wall known as Moon Gate. Location, Chinese garden, the Hidden Realm of Ming. Location: Hortus Haren, one of the oldest botanical gardens in the Netherlands.

This photograph is a featured picture, which means that members of the community have identified it as one of the finest images on the English Wikipedia, adding significantly to its accompanying article. It was also a finalist in Picture of the Year 2015. [1]

What I love about this photograph:

This is a fairytale image. What magic lies beyond the gate? The composition is perfect. The round gate centered in the ordinary wall, a surprise opening onto a world of color and mystery. I would love to walk in this place.

About Hortus Haren, via Wikipedia:

Hortus Haren is a botanical garden in Haren, Groningen, Netherlands. First created in 1626 by the pharmacist Henricus Munting, it was then situated between Grote Rozenstraat and Grote Kruisstraat in Groningen.  Because of space considerations it relocated to Haren in 1967 and became the largest botanical garden in the country. [2]


Credits and Attributions:

Moon Gate, Chinese Garden in the Hortus Haren, The Netherlands, by Dominicus Johannes Bergsma. Dominicus Johannes Bergsma, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

[1] Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:Doorgang in muur. Locatie, Chinese tuin Het Verborgen Rijk van Ming. Locatie. Hortus Haren 01.jpg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Doorgang_in_muur._Locatie,_Chinese_tuin_Het_Verborgen_Rijk_van_Ming._Locatie._Hortus_Haren_01.jpg&oldid=684921659 (accessed September 29, 2022).

[2] Wikipedia contributors, “Hortus Haren,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Hortus_Haren&oldid=1111475348 (accessed September 29, 2022).

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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: Two Photographs via Wikimedia Commons

Best_Nature_Picture_of_the_dayDescription: Best Nature Picture of the Day, by Guruspsingh

English: This picture for nature and anyone see now and save nature

Date: 1 August 2020

Source: Own work

Author: Guruspsingh

About these images:

I enjoy looking at the various photographs of nature that one can find through Wikimedia Commons. Every day, it’s something new and different. Sometimes I come across an image that should be an award winner, but so far as I know, has gone unnoticed. These are two of those.

The author titled the above photograph “Best Nature Picture of the Day” and I have to agree with her/him, whoever they are. The intensity of color, the serenity of the composition – this image is powerful.

I wish I could find out more about this photographer and their work. The photographer doesn’t have a completed bio on Wikimedia. I could find no information or website for them, so I have no way of directing viewers to their artwork. There are numerous photographers with the last name of Singh. This particular artist has a singular identifiable style of composition and an affinity for intense, saturated colors.

Fortunately, the above photograph can be found on Wikimedia Commons, along with another amazing image by this artist, one of butterflies taken at dusk: Best Butterfly Picture of the Day.

Best_Butterfly_picture_of_the_day 

Description: Best Butterfly Picture of the Day, by Guruspsingh

Date: 1 August 2020

Source: Own work

Author: Guruspsingh

Guruspsingh was kind enough to make their work available for us through Wikimedia Commons, a virtual art gallery where anyone can view the finest art in the world. I hope you enjoy these pictures as much as I do. They express the beauty of nature as seen through the eyes of an extremely talented photographer.


Credits and Attributions:

Best Nature Picture of the Day, by Guruspsingh, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0&gt;, via Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:Best Nature Picture of the day.jpg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Best_Nature_Picture_of_the_day.jpg&oldid=505869626 (accessed August 18, 2022).

Best Butterfly Picture of the Day, by Guruspsingh, CC BY-SA 4.0

<https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0&gt;, via Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:Best Butterfly picture of the day.jpg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Best_Butterfly_picture_of_the_day.jpg&oldid=627864380 (accessed August

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#FineArtFriday: Dawn In The Hills by Julian Onderdonk 1922 (revisited)

Julian_Onderdonk_(1882-1922)_-_Dawn_In_The_Hills_(1922)

Artist: Julian Onderdonk  (1882–1922)

Title: Dawn In The Hills

Date    1922

Medium: oil on canvas

Dimensions: Height: 76.2 cm (30″); Width: 101.6 cm (40″)

Collection: Private collection

What I love about this painting:

Onderdonk captured the surreal essence of early morning near San Antonio, Texas. The mists are rising in the hills, slowly revealing the riotous splendor of deep blue wildflowers. It is a rolling sea of bluebonnets, with the occasional white of the blackfoot or fleabane daisy mingled in.

The artist perfectly conveyed the mystical quality of that singular moment of the morning when the air is still and golden, and the day ahead is full of possibilities.

I could spend hours in this place.

About this painting:

Art historian Jeffrey Morseburg writes, “In the fall of 1922, as he was just entering his prime, Onderdonk was rushed to the hospital with an intestinal blockage. He failed to recover from the emergency surgery and died on October 27, 1922. His sudden death created an outpouring of emotion for the man who had become “The Dean of Texas Painters.” Just before he died, Onderdonk had finished a beautiful early morning view of a Texas hillside carpeted with Bluebonnets titled ‘Dawn in the Hills’ and another work, a bold fall scene titled ‘Autumn Tapestry.’” [1]

About the Artist, Via Wikipedia:

Julian Onderdonk was born in San Antonio, Texas, to Robert Jenkins Onderdonk, a painter, and Emily Gould Onderdonk. He was raised in South Texas and was an enthusiastic sketcher and painter. As a teenager Onderdonk was influenced and received some training from the prominent Texas artist Verner Moore White who also lived in San Antonio at the time. He attended the West Texas Military Academy, now the Episcopal School of Texas, graduating in 1900. His grandfather Henry Onderdonk was the Headmaster of Saint James School in Maryland, from which Julian’s father Robert graduated.

At 19, with the help of a generous neighbor, Julian left Texas in order to study with the renowned American Impressionist William Merritt Chase. Julian’s father, Robert, had also once studied with Chase. Julian spent the summer of 1901 on Long Island at Chase’s Shinnecock Hills Summer School of Art. He studied with Chase for a couple of years and then moved to New York City to attempt to make a living as an en plein air artist. While in New York he met and married Gertrude Shipman and they soon had a son.

Onderdonk returned to San Antonio in 1909, where he produced his best work. His most popular subjects were bluebonnet landscapes. Onderdonk died on October 27, 1922 in San Antonio.

President George W. Bush decorated the Oval Office with three of Onderdonk’s paintings. The Dallas Museum of Art has several rooms dedicated exclusively to Onderdonk’s work.

His art studio currently resides on the grounds of the Witte Museum.


Credits and Attributions:

[1] Julian Onderdonk, An Illustrated Biography by Jeffrey Morseburg, © 2011 https://julianonderdonk.wordpress.com/tag/julian-onderdonk-biography/  (accessed March 4, 2020).

Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:Julian Onderdonk (1882-1922) – Dawn In The Hills (1922).jpg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Julian_Onderdonk_(1882-1922)_-_Dawn_In_The_Hills_(1922).jpg&oldid=278966540 (accessed March 4, 2020).

Wikipedia contributors, “Julian Onderdonk,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Julian_Onderdonk&oldid=882101452 (accessed March 4, 2020).

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#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: Tanguar Haor by Abdul Momin, 2017

Tanguar_haor,_Bangladesh_01Photograph: Tanguar Haor by Abdul Momin

Date: 2 November 2017 [1]

What I love about this image:

Today I’m detouring briefly from Renaissance art and delving into modern photographic art with a wonderful image by a brilliant young photographer, Abdul Momin. A photograph has to be uniquely special if it is to be selected as a Wikimedia Commons Picture of the Day. This image more than deserved that honor.

As a lover of fantasy art, I feel it was shot at the perfect time of evening.

The artist’s eye comes into play in how the picture was framed. The skill and craft of the photographer comes across in his choice of filters, shutter speed, and how the image was digitally processed to become what we see depicted here.

The scene is simple, only black juxtaposed against shades of gray and orange. Yet there is a surreal quality to this landscape. The silhouettes of the birds and people against the evening sky, with the tree centered and anchoring the scene is magical.

The photographer’s eye and artistic ability gives us a beautiful moment in time, a windless moment of peace and serenity, of humankind coexisting with nature.

About this image, via Wikimedia Commons:

This image was selected as picture of the day on Wikimedia Commons for 4 July 2022. Tanguar Haor is a unique wetland ecosystem of national importance and has come into international focus. The area of Tanguar haor including 46 villages within the haor is about 100 square kilometres. It is the source of livelihood for more than 40,000 people.

Bangladesh declared it an Ecologically Critical Area in 1999 considering its critical condition as a result of overexploitation of its natural resources.

Every winter the haor is home to about 200 types of migratory birds. In 1999–2000, the government earned 7,073,184 takas as revenue just from fisheries of the haor. There are more than 140 species of freshwater fish in the haor. The more predominant among them are: ayirCatfishbaim, tara, gutum, gulsha, tengra, titna, garia, beti, kakia. Gulli, balua, ban tulsinalkhagra and other freshwater wetland trees are in this haor. [2]

About the photographer, via Wikimedia Commons:

Born and raised in Bangladesh, Abdul Momin has earned his name as an emerging photographer with works that are recognized by the global community. He started photography in his college days. Since then, his work has been published in The Guardian, The Times, National Geographic, The Mail, The Mirror, The Telegraph and many more platforms around the world. He has earned various awards from different parts of the globe for his photography works. He says that for him, “Photography changed my life totally. I would have been a typical office going guy, but photography made me see more, to see deeply into the lives of people. It also made me to love nature. The best part of being a photographer is having the ability, the power to show others exactly how you see the world around you.” [1]


Credits and Attributions:

[1] Image: Tanguar Haor by Abdul Momin and licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license. Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:Tanguar haor, Bangladesh 01.jpg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Tanguar_haor,_Bangladesh_01.jpg&oldid=675047221 (accessed July 29, 2022).

[2] Wikipedia contributors, “Tanguar Haor,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Tanguar_Haor&oldid=1095980778 (accessed July 29, 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: The Parable of the Rich Fool by Rembrandt ca. 1627 (revisited)

  • By Rembrandt (1606–1669)
  • Title: The Parable of the Rich Fool
  • Genre: religious art
  • Date: 1627 Monogram and date bottom left: RH. 1627.
  • Medium: oil on oak panel
  • Dimensions: Height: 31.9 cm (12.5 ″); Width: 42.5 cm (16.7 ″)

Rembrandt’s early career focused on religious paintings, which were well received by influential patrons. Today’s featured painting, The Parable of the Rich Fool, is one of his early works, from the time when he shared a studio with Jan Lievens.

About this parable, via Wikipedia:

The rich farmer in this parable is portrayed negatively, as an example of greed.  By replacing his existing barn, he avoids using agricultural land for storage purposes, thus maximizing his income, as well as allowing him to wait for a price increase before selling. St. Augustine comments that the farmer was “planning to fill his soul with excessive and unnecessary feasting and was proudly disregarding all those empty bellies of the poor. He did not realize that the bellies of the poor were much safer storerooms than his barns.”


Credits and Attributions:

Wikipedia contributors, “Parable of the Rich Fool,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Parable_of_the_Rich_Fool&oldid=912095443

(accessed September 27, 2019).

Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:Rembrandt – The Parable of the Rich Fool.jpg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Rembrandt_-_The_Parable_of_the_Rich_Fool.jpg&oldid=354111849

(accessed September 27, 2019).

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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: Barge Haulers on the Volga by Ilya Repin, 1870 (revisited)

Barge Haulers on the Volga by Ilya Repin  (1844–1930)

  • Date: 1870
  • Medium: oil on canvas
  • Dimensions: Height: 131.5 cm (51.7 ″); Width: 281 cm (110.6 ″)
  • Current location: Ж-4056 (Russian Museum)
  • Inscriptions: Signature and date: И. Репин / 1870-73

What I love about this painting:

A burlak was a person who hauled barges and other vessels upstream from the 17th to 20th centuries in the Russian Empire. Most burlaks were landless or poor peasants.

These men are shown working, painted with brutal truth. They are beyond exhausted. Their skin is darkened and weathered from years of work in the unremitting sun, except for the young man in the middle. One day he will be like the older men, hardened to the misery and enduring his lot in life.

Each face is filled with emotion, with a story of their own. Who knows what tragedies brought them to agree to this terrible existence, this seasonal slavery of physically towing boats upriver?

For the women and men who towed the barges, winter was even worse, because once the river froze over these burlaki were unemployed. Their life was a constant circle of starvation and hellish labor under the harshest conditions.

This post first appeared in November of 2019. Each time I view this painting, I am moved by the unwritten stories, the tragedies that led these people to the life of a burlak, and the hardship shown so clearly here.

About this Painting (via Wikipedia)

Barge Haulers on the Volga or Burlaki (Russian: Burlaki na Volge, Бурлаки на Волге) is an 1870–73 oil-on-canvas painting by artist Ilya Repin. It depicts 11 men physically dragging a barge on the banks of the Volga River. They are at the point of collapse from exhaustion, oppressed by heavy, hot weather.[1][2]

The work is a condemnation of profit from inhumane labor.[3] Although they are presented as stoical and accepting, the men are defeated; only one stands out: in the center of both the row and canvas, a brightly colored youth fights against his leather binds and takes on a heroic pose.

Repin conceived the painting during his travels through Russia as a young man and depicts actual characters he encountered. It drew international praise for its realistic portrayal of the hardships of working men, and launched his career.[4] Soon after its completion, the painting was purchased by Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovich and exhibited widely throughout Europe as a landmark of Russian realist painting. Barge Haulers on the Volga has been described as “perhaps the most famous painting of the Peredvizhniki movement [for]….its unflinching portrayal of backbreaking labor”.[5]

The characters are based on actual people Repin came to know while preparing for the work. He had had difficulty finding subjects to pose for him, even for a fee, because of a folklorish belief that a subject’s soul would leave his possession once his image was put down on paper.[8] The subjects include a former soldier, a former priest, and a painter.[9] Although he depicted eleven men, women also performed the work and there were normally many more people in a barge-hauling gang; Repin selected these figures as representative of a broad swathe of the working classes of Russian society. That some had once held relatively high social positions dismayed the young artist, who had initially planned to produce a far more superficial work contrasting exuberant day-trippers (which he himself had been) with the careworn burlaks. Repin found a particular empathy with Kanin, the defrocked priest, who is portrayed as the lead hauler and looks outwards towards the viewer.[10] The artist wrote,

“There was something eastern about it, the face of a Scyth…and what eyes! What depth of vision!…And his brow, so large and wise…He seemed to me a colossal mystery, and for that reason I loved him. Kanin, with a rag around his head, his head in patches made by himself and then worn out, appeared none the less as a man of dignity; he was like a saint.”[11]


Credits and Attributions:

Wikipedia contributors, “Barge Haulers on the Volga,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Barge_Haulers_on_the_Volga&oldid=918607811 (accessed November 1, 2019).

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