Tag Archives: Fine Art Friday

#FineArtFriday: Falling Leaves, by Olga Wisinger-Florian (reprise)

Falling Leaves, by Olga Wisinger-Florian, circa 1899, first appeared here in October of 2018.  It is one of my favorite depictions of autumn. The scene could be happening here in my lovely Pacific Northwestern forests. The colors of the leaves, the dirt road–this is very like where I grew up.

The painting depicts a woman and her dog enjoying a quiet walk in the serenity of an autumn day. Using light and shadow, the artist employs an impressionistic style to convey the forest. Nothing is drawn with precision, yet everything is shown in its entirety. The feeling of this pieces is a little dreamlike–she carries an umbrella, so she’s prepared for rain. She is dressed all in black except for her yellow hat. Leaves in all the many shades of green, gold, and red cling to their trees; the damp, aging rails of the wooden fence offers a flimsy barrier to the carriages and motor vehicles that may travel the roadside. Leaves cover the dirt road, and more are falling down, and the dog trots happily along beside her mistress—the story is there for us to see.

About the Artist:

According to Wikipedia, Olga Wisinger-Florian’s early paintings can be assigned to what is known as Austrian Mood Impressionism. In her landscape paintings she adopted Schindler’s sublime approach to nature. The motifs she employed, such as views of tree-lined avenues, gardens and fields, were strongly reminiscent of her teacher’s work. After breaking with Schindler in 1884, however, the artist went her own way. Her conception of landscapes became more realistic. Her late work is notable for a lurid palette, with discernible overtones of Expressionism. With landscape and flower pictures that were already Expressionist in palette by the 1890s, she was years ahead of her time.


Credits and Attributions:

Falling Leaves, by Olga Wisinger-Florian, ca 1899 [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Wikipedia contributors, “Olga Wisinger-Florian,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Olga_Wisinger-Florian&oldid=852607929 (accessed October 11, 2018).

Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:Olga Wisinger-Florian – Falling Leaves.JPG,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Olga_Wisinger-Florian_-_Falling_Leaves.JPG&oldid=273565541 (accessed October 11, 2018).

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#FineArtFriday: Sunny Autumn Day by George Inness, 1892

Sunny Autumn Day, by George Inness

Date: 1892

Medium: oil on canvas

Dimensions: Height: 81 cm (31.8 in); Width: 106 cm (41.7 in)

Collection: Cleveland Museum of Art 


What I love about this painting:

This was painted toward the end of the artist’s life. We are given the impression of a beautiful day in September, with the leaves just beginning to turn color, still clinging to their trees. It’s warm enough to go without a jacket, one of the last good days before the weather turns cold. A dreamlike quality softens the edges, as if it depicts a scene viewed through the mystical glass of memory.

About the Artist, via Wikipedia:

George Inness (May 1, 1825 – August 3, 1894) was a prominent American landscape painter.

One of the most influential American artists of the nineteenth century, Inness was influenced, in turn, by the Old Masters, the Hudson River school, the Barbizon school, and, finally, the theology of Emanuel Swedenborg, whose spiritualism found vivid expression in the work of Inness’s maturity (1879–1894).

A master of light, color, and shadow, he became noted for creating highly ordered and complex scenes that often juxtaposed hazy or blurred elements with sharp and refined details to evoke an interweaving of both the physical and the spiritual nature of experience. In Inness’s words, he attempted through his art to demonstrate the “reality of the unseen” and to connect the “visible upon the invisible.”

After Inness settled in Montclair, New Jersey in 1885, and particularly in the last decade of his life, this mystical component manifested in his art through a more abstracted handling of shapes, softened edges, and saturated color (October, 1886, Los Angeles County Museum of Art), a profound and dramatic juxtaposition of sky and earth (Early Autumn, Montclair, 1888, Montclair Art Museum),  an emphasis on the intimate landscape view (Sunset in the Woods, 1891, Corcoran Gallery of Art), and an increasingly personal, spontaneous, and often violent handling of paint. It is this last quality in particular which distinguishes Inness from those painters of like sympathies who are characterized as Luminists.

In a published interview, Inness maintained that “The true use of art is, first, to cultivate the artist’s own spiritual nature.” His abiding interest in spiritual and emotional considerations did not preclude Inness from undertaking a scientific study of color, nor a mathematical, structural approach to composition: “The poetic quality is not obtained by eschewing any truths of fact or of Nature…Poetry is the vision of reality.”


Credits and Attributions:

Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:’Sunny Autumn Day’ by George Inness, 1892.JPG,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:%27Sunny_Autumn_Day%27_by_George_Inness,_1892.JPG&oldid=428214252  (accessed October 2, 2020).

Wikipedia contributors, “George Inness,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=George_Inness&oldid=975996784 (accessed October 2, 2020).

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#FineArtFriday: The Great Plague 1665 by Rita Greer 2009

Title: The Great Plague 1665, by Rita Greer 2009

Description (via Wikimedia Commons): Like many who could afford to, Robert Hooke left London for six months during the worst of the bubonic plague. All cats and dogs were destroyed as a preventive measure. This allowed rats to flourish and spread the disease which was carried by their fleas. The image shows a scene of horror. After sunset carts were driven through the streets to collect the dead. They were taken to the nearest graveyard to be buried in plague pits. Fires burned to make smoke. Pipes of tobacco were smoked, posies of herbs worn, and faces covered with masks. This was thought to be protection against contagion. London was overwhelmed with fear, terror and grief. It is thought that as many as 100,000 perished in London alone.

Date: 2009

Source/Photographer: The original is an oil painting on board by Rita Greer, history painter, 2009. This was digitized by Rita and sent via email to the Department of Engineering Science, Oxford University, where it was subsequently uploaded to Wikimedia.

What I love about this painting:

Rita Greer paints history as if she lived it, with meticulous detail. In this street scene, she manages to capture the despair and hopelessness that pervaded London with the advent of the plague. This scene is dark, and filled with emotion. Death walks the smoke-hazed streets, feeding on tragedy. Grief and fear are the driving forces, and no one’s family is spared.

This year, 2020, feels like an apocalypse year, in many ways. It helps to keep in mind that for London and all the great cities of Europe, 1665 was worse.

About the artist:

Rita Greer is a history artist, goldsmith, graphic designer, food scientist and author/writer. On retirement in 2003 Rita began the Robert Hooke project, “to put him back into history.” Much her work is available to be viewed at Wikimedia Commons, Category: Paintings by Rita Greer.


Credits and Attributions:

Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:20 The Great Plague.JPG,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:20_The_Great_Plague.JPG&oldid=450173019 (accessed September 24, 2020).

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#FineArtFriday: The Baker by Job Adriaenszoon Berckheyde, circa 1681

Title: The Baker

Genre: self-portrait

Artist: Job Adriaenszoon Berckheyde

Date: 1681

Medium: oil on canvas

Collection: Worcester Art Museum

What I like about this painting:

Berckheyde painted several pictures of bakery shops. These genre paintings of bakeries were popular as a subject for Dutch artists from around 1650.

When I first saw this image, I wondered why our baker is blowing a horn. I discovered that was how some bakers announced the morning’s freshly baked bread.

Like most merchants in 17th century Holland, bakers often worked out of their own homes. However, their ovens were well-known fire threats. Entire cities would go up in a raging conflagration that no one could out run or stop, often burning for days. For this reason, many neighbors didn’t really want a baker going into business next door to them.

To minimize the fire risk, some towns and cities required bakers to live and do business in stone buildings. This law explains the artist’s rather monumental choice of architecture as the background for The Baker. It looks the the entrance to a cathedral.

Berckheyde chose to make this a self-portrait. I like this decision, for he was honest in how he presented himself, He is not too handsome, but is surrounded by a wide, tempting assortment of goods, including pretzels. The wooden rack they’re displayed on would be at home in any bakery shop today.

I would definitely buy my family’s bread from this baker.


About the Artist, via Wikipedia:

Job Berckheyde, baptized 27 January 1630 and died 23 November 1693, was born in Haarlem and was the older brother of the painter Gerrit who he later taught to paint.

He was apprenticed on 2 November 1644 to Jacob Willemszoon de Wet. His master’s influence is apparent in his first dated canvas, “Christ Preaching to the Children” (1661), one of his few biblical scenes.

Golden-age historian Arnold Houbraken claimed that Job had been trained as a bookbinder by his father, and could not discover who taught him to paint.

What is not in doubt is that Gerrit learned from his older brother. Job’s teacher must have been a Haarlem master, and some claim it was Frans Hals, but Houbraken claimed he travelled as a journeyman between Leiden and Utrecht offering his services as a portrait painter and learned by doing.

During the 1650s the two brothers, Job and Gerrit, made an extended trip along the Rhine to Germany, stopping off at Cologne, Bonn, Mannheim and finally Heidelberg, following the example of their fellow guild member Vincent van der Vinne.

The brothers worked in Heidelberg for Charles I Louis, Elector Palatine (with Job producing portraits and hunting scenes, and receiving a gold chain from the Elector in reward) but were ultimately unable to adapt to court life and so returned to Haarlem, where they shared a house and perhaps a studio.

He became a member of the Haarlem rederijkersgilde ‘De Wijngaardranken’ in 1666–1682. He is registered in Amsterdam 1682–1688, where he became a member of the Guild of St Luke there in 1685–1688. Berckheyde was buried in Haarlem.

He could paint landscapes in the same style as his brother, but seems to have preferred interiors and genre works, whereas his brother’s oeuvre consists mostly of outdoor scenes. The Elector’s gold chain may be the one he wears in his early Self-portrait (1655), his only documented work from the 1650s.

Job is better known for his later work, which consists mainly of interior views of the Sint-Bavokerk in Haarlem and simple genre scenes recalling those of his Haarlem contemporaries Adriaen van Ostade and Jan Steen.

Less prolific than his brother, but more varied in his output, Job produced bible and genre scenes as well as cityscapes. Confusion between their works may have resulted from the similarity of their signatures, where Job’s j resembles Gerrit’s g. Job also signed his work with an H (for Hiob or Job) and with the monogram HB.


Credits and Attributions:

Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:Berckheyde, Job – The Baker – 1681.jpg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Berckheyde,_Job_-_The_Baker_-_1681.jpg&oldid=463054921 (accessed September 17, 2020).

Wikipedia contributors, “Job Adriaenszoon Berckheyde,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Job_Adriaenszoon_Berckheyde&oldid=947928424 (accessed September 17, 2020).

Wikipedia contributors, “Gerrit Berckheyde,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Gerrit_Berckheyde&oldid=933563068 (accessed September 17, 2020).

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

Artist: Jan Steen  (1625/1626–1679)

Title: Rhetoricians at a Window

Genre: genre art

Date: c. 1661-66

Medium: oil on canvas

English: Oil on canvas

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

Collection: Philadelphia Museum of Art

What I love about this painting:

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

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

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

About the Artist (Via Wikipedia):

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

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

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

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

About this painting, Via Wikipedia:

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

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

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

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

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


Credits and Attributions:

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

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

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

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#FineArtFriday: The Arnolfini Portrait by Jan van Eyck 1434

Artist: Jan van Eyck  (circa 1390 –1441)

Title: The Arnolfini Portrait

Genre: portrait

Date: 1434

Medium: oil on panel

Dimensions: Height: 82 cm (32.2 in); Width: 59.5 cm (23.4 in)

Collection: National Gallery

About this painting, via Wikipedia:

The Arnolfini Portrait (or The Arnolfini WeddingThe Arnolfini Marriage, the Portrait of Giovanni Arnolfini and his Wife, or other titles) is a 1434 oil painting on oak panel by the Early Netherlandish painter Jan van Eyck. It forms a full-length double portrait, believed to depict the Italian merchant Giovanni di Nicolao Arnolfini and his wife, presumably in their residence at the Flemish city of Bruges.

What I love about this painting:

The painting is signed, inscribed, and dated on the wall above the mirror: “Johannes de eyck fuit hic 1434” (Jan van Eyck was here 1434).  This signature, made to look as if it were an inscription explaining the mirror over which it is centered, is a shining example of the sharp wit the later Netherlandish painters frequently inserted into their pictures.

I suspect his inclusion of subtle humor in his works gave permission to those painters who followed in his footsteps, such as the great Bruegel dynasty.

The colors of the garments are deep and rich. These were expensive clothes, completely befitting a wealthy merchant and his wife. In regard to the controversy which is explained below – yes, this painting is steeped in allegory and symbolism, down to the clogs in the left hand corner placed as if they are going out of the picture. In some cultures, a pair of shoes placed like that symbolizes an imminent departure, usually death.

All van Eyck’s work was heavily symbolic. But she appears to be in the late stages of a pregnancy. To me, given the societal norms of the Netherlands in the year 1434, this means the picture shows a married couple. If they were not actually married, it seems unlikely they would have commissioned a portrait showing her in that condition. In fact, and this will probably expose my self-taught ignorance of art history, it makes me wonder why there is a controversy about their marital status at all.

And the mirror…oh my. That mirror is brilliant.

The Controversy, via Wikipedia:

In 1934 Erwin Panofsky published an article entitled Jan van Eyck’s ‘Arnolfini’ Portrait in the Burlington Magazine, arguing that the elaborate signature on the back wall, and other factors, showed that it was painted as a legal record of the occasion of the marriage of the couple, complete with witnesses and a witness signature. Panofsky also argues that the many details of domestic items in the painting each have a disguised symbolism attached to their appearance. While Panofsky’s claim that the painting formed a kind of certificate of marriage is not accepted by all art historians, his analysis of the symbolic function of the details is broadly agreed, and has been applied to many other Early Netherlandish paintings, especially a number of depictions of the Annunciation set in richly detailed interiors, a tradition for which the Arnolfini Portrait and the Mérode Altarpiece by Robert Campin represent the start (in terms of surviving works at least).

Since then, there has been considerable scholarly argument among art historians on the occasion represented. Edwin Hall considers that the painting depicts a betrothal, not a marriage. Margaret D. Carroll argues that the painting is a portrait of a married couple that alludes also to the husband’s grant of legal authority to his wife. Carroll also proposes that the portrait was meant to affirm Giovanni Arnolfini’s good character as a merchant and aspiring member of the Burgundian court. She argues that the painting depicts a couple, already married, now formalizing a subsequent legal arrangement, a mandate, by which the husband “hands over” to his wife the legal authority to conduct business on her own or his behalf (similar to a power of attorney). The claim is not that the painting had any legal force, but that van Eyck played upon the imagery of legal contract as a pictorial conceit. While the two figures in the mirror could be thought of as witnesses to the oath-taking, the artist himself provides (witty) authentication with his notarial signature on the wall.


Credits and Attributions:

Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:Van Eyck – Arnolfini Portrait.jpg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Van_Eyck_-_Arnolfini_Portrait.jpg&oldid=446521642 (accessed September 4, 2020).

Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:The Arnolfini Portrait, détail (2).jpg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:The_Arnolfini_Portrait,_d%C3%A9tail_(2).jpg&oldid=428220496 (accessed September 4, 2020).

Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:Arnolfini Portrait 3.jpg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Arnolfini_Portrait_3.jpg&oldid=428554231 (accessed September 4, 2020).

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#FineArtFriday: Spanish Blacksmiths by Ernst Josephson 1882 (revisited)

Spanish Blacksmiths, by Ernst Josephson

  • Date: 1882
  • Medium: oil on canvas
  • Dimensions : width: 107 x height: 128.5 cm

What I love about this image:

This powerful painting is one of my all-time favorites. Josephson captures the boundless self-confidence and personalities of these young men. He has managed to portray their cock-of-the-walk swagger, and he has shown us the truth of their craft: that sparks fly and ruin their clothes; that the work is hard and their muscles strong. These men are full of life.

The influence of Josephson’s having studied Rembrandt’s works closely can be seen here in the style with which he has painted their features. He has painted the men with truth—they are not classically handsome, but they are in the prime of life and have immense charisma. They wear their burned and ragged hats with pride. These men are good at what they do, and they know it. Their eyes dance and flirt outrageously with you across the years—they are full to bursting with machismo, daring you to just try to walk past and not notice them.

About the Artist, Via Wikipedia

(Ernst Josephson) was born to a middle-class family of merchants of Jewish ancestry. His uncle, Ludvig O. Josephson (1832-1899) was a dramatist and his uncle Jacob Axel Josephson (1818-1880) was a composer. When he was ten, his father Ferdinand Semy Ferdinand Josephson (1814-1861) left home and he was raised by his mother, Gustafva Jacobsson (1819-1881) and three older sisters.

At the age of sixteen, he decided to became an artist and, with his family’s support, enrolled at the Royal Swedish Academy of Fine Arts. His primary instructors there were Johan Christoffer Boklund and August Malmström. He was there until 1876, when he received a Royal Medal for painting.

After leaving the Academy, he and his friend and fellow artist Severin Nilsson (1846-1918) visited Italy, Germany and the Netherlands, where they copied the Old Masters. His breakthrough came in Paris, where he was able to study with Jean-Léon Gérôme at the École des Beaux-Arts. He soon began concentrating on portraits, including many of his friends and fellow Swedes in France. For a time, he shared a studio with Hugo Birger (1854–1887). His personal style developed further during a trip to Seville with his friend, Anders Zorn, from 1881 to 1882.

His private life did not go well, however. By his late twenties, he was afflicted with syphilis. His romantic life suffered as a consequence, as he was forced to break off a promising relationship with a young model named Ketty Rindskopf.


Credits and Attributions:

Spanish Blacksmiths by Ernst Josephson 1882 PD|100,  First published on Life in the Realm of Fantasy on August 16, 2019

Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:Ernst Josephson – Spanish Blacksmiths – Google Art Project.jpg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Ernst_Josephson_-_Spanish_Blacksmiths_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg&oldid=354761584 (accessed August 16, 2019).

Wikipedia contributors, “Ernst Josephson,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Ernst_Josephson&oldid=888815743 (accessed August 16, 2019).

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#FineArtFriday: Time, the Pandemic, and the Monarch of the Beach

Today I am revisiting a post from August 2019, and contrasting a beloved holiday retreat with how we must experience this place today.

Last year I offered you two images instead of one, but this year I am giving you five. The first image was found on Wikimedia Commons, taken in 2013 on a spring day in Cannon Beach Oregon. It is a wonderful shot of what I think of as the Monarch of the Beach, the God-Rock dominating the shores of my favorite beach.

The second image is one I shot in 2018, an unusually hot year, when we were plagued with massive wildfires here on the west coast of America. The sunsets that year were unbelievable.

The third image in this post is one I shot in 2019 with my cell-phone, and little did I know that it would be the last image I would ever get of that particular sea-stack. The two final images were also shot on my cell phone.

In the first image, Haystack Rock, shot and uploaded to Wikimedia Commons by Tiger635, the sky is perfect; an amazing shade of blue with stratus clouds overhead and sea below, all converging on Haystack. The photographer did everything right to capture the beauty of this place.

This tiny resort town is home to me, although I only live here one week out of the year.

Before the Pandemic, on Sundays, the streets of Cannon Beach were crowded with cars and throngs of people. The cafes, galleries, trinket shops, bookstores, wine shop, and bodega—all were jammed, alive with a seething mass of humanity.

On Mondays, it became briefly walkable, and that is how it is now, during the pandemic. People wear face-masks in town, and give space to each other while walking on the sidewalk. It’s still a place where temporary neighbors become socially distant friends, glad to know they aren’t alone.

This year I have the view I love most, that of Tillamook Head, as pictured in my photo from 2o18. When the fog that seems eternal this year lifts, we can see  Terrible Tilly, the most notorious lighthouse on the west coast. So far this year, the sunsets have not been quite as spectacular as 2018 was, but I did get one beautiful shot, which is the final image in this post.

I can walk out my front door to the the seawall’s stairs to Ecola Creek, walking out to where it emerges into the Pacific Ocean.

The stairs are precipitous, and as I said last year, they are familiar; old friends greeting me in their sand-encrusted steepness, bidding me, “Welcome back, Pilgrim! Welcome home.”

On sunny days here at the north end of the beach, the sandbar between Ecola Creek estuary and the sea is dotted with people carrying chairs and chasing children. It’s not the throng we had last year, but still a bit of a crowd. While many aren’t wearing masks on the beach, everyone seems willing to maintain respectful distance.

Unaware of COVID-19, excited dogs, all with leashes securely attached to their people, push along toward the waves, dragging tired humans faster than they can comfortably walk.

Most days, when it is cold, foggy, or rainy, we only have to share the beach with the few hardier folks who love the soul of this place as much as they do the sun and sand.

The beach stretches four miles from Ecola Creek to Arch Cape. It’s a sandy shoreline, dotted with sea stacks. Several smaller sea stacks surround the grand master, the Monarch of the Beach who sits near the center, the megalith known as Haystack Rock.

This is the annual Jasperson family pilgrimage to a  place that assumes mythic proportions when we are away from it. The pandemic made its mark this year, with no grandchildren in attendance, no hand-dug sandpits waiting for unwary grandparents to stumble into, and so far no wind for my kite.

But every year is different. Regardless, like the seabirds nesting on the sea stacks, my husband and I return here every year, as do as any family members who can get these few days away from work. We come to regain the internal balance that we gradually lose over the course of the year, seeking connectedness as a family.

The Needles, those acolyte sea stacks gathered around Haystack’s knees are slowly disintegrating. We see them diminished a little more every year, noticed especially when we compare pictures from one year to another. This next image is one I shot on Monday August 5, 2019. The sky that year was a shade of gray that is impossible to describe. I particularly love the way the tidal pools came out in my photo, the green of the sea moss, and the reflection of the spires across the shallow sea.

Last year the most visible change was in this sister-spire of the three Needles—one of the larger ones had been sundered into two spires rising from a common base.

This year, the change is graphic.

Now it is only a low hump, not too different from any other lump of basalt cresting the waves in the shallows. Where once there were three, now there are only two.  In the final two pictures, you can just barely see what is left of the middle sister.

Haystack Rock and the Two Needles, 20 August 2020 © 2020 by Connie J. Jasperson, All Rights Reserved

Time eventually wears everything to sand. All these sea stacks will one day be gone, shattered to rubble, a testimony to the violence of the wild Northeast Pacific winters. That is the way life is, and I find it reflected in myself.

I’m not quite crumbling into the sea, but I’m definitely showing the effects of weathering.

It’s comforting to know that, still standing strong and unchanged, Haystack Rock, the Monarch of the Beach rules. Pelicans, puffins, terns, seagulls, and rare wide-winged wanderers from far out to sea still come to nest on the Monarch of the Beach, Haystack Rock and his attendants.

Tidal pools still shelter starfish, anemones, and a multitude of other small creatures. These tiny water-worlds remind us that we are part of something larger.

The sea is ever-changing. Untamed and dangerous one day, it is calm and serene the next.

The most fundamental thing I’ve learned from my walks among the tide pools at the foot of the Monarch is this: we humans are not islands—we are part of a world that extends below the surface and conceals secrets and lives we surface dwellers can only dimly imagine.

Above the eternal sea, on the strand below the Great Rock, we remember who we are, and we are made stronger.

The bonds my family forges in this hallowed place bind us together. They won’t be broken no matter how far apart we are, or how long we are separated, not even after the Monarch of the Beach crumbles into the sea.

Sunset Haystack Rock, with the two remaining needles. Author’s own work.


Credits and Attributions:

Haystack Rock, by Tiger635 [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)]

Tillamook Head at Sunset © Connie J. Jasperson 2018 All Rights Reserved

Sentinel, 05 August 2019 (One of the Needles, Cannon Beach) © 2019 by Connie J. Jasperson, All Rights Reserved (author’s own work).

Haystack Rock and the Two Needles, 20 August 2020 © 2020 by Connie J. Jasperson, All Rights Reserved (author’s own work).

Sunset at Haystack, 19 August 2020 © 2020 by Connie J. Jasperson, All Rights Reserved (author’s own work).

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#FineArtFriday: The Gleaners by Jean-François Millet 1857

Title: The Gleaners by Jean-François Millet  (1814–1875)

Genre: genre art

Date: 1857

Medium: oil on canvas

Dimensions: Height: 83.5 cm (32.8 in); Width: 110 cm (43.3 in)

***

Wikipedia says: Gleaning is the act of collecting leftover crops from farmers’ fields after they have been commercially harvested or on fields where it is not economically profitable to harvest.

In nearly all paintings showing this labor, artists painted poor women doing the work of gleaning. Historically, the majority of impoverished families were headed by single, usually widowed, working women, who had few opportunities for employment and were paid less for their labor than men. This trend of lower pay for women overall continues, with the US Census reporting on Sep 10, 2019 that the median income for households maintained by single women  was $45,128,  as compared to households maintained by single men, who had a median income of $61,518 in 2018.

***

About the Artist: 

Jean-François Millet (October 4, 1814 – January 20, 1875) was a French artist and one of the founders of the Barbizon school in rural France. Millet is noted for his paintings of peasant farmers and can be categorized as part of the Realism art movement. Toward the end of his career he became increasingly interested in painting pure landscapes. He is known best for his oil paintings but is also noted for his pastels, conte crayon drawings, and etchings.

About The Gleaners (1857) via Wikipedia:

This is one of the most well known of Millet’s paintings. While Millet was walking the fields around Barbizon, one theme returned to his pencil and brush for seven years—gleaning—the centuries-old right of poor women and children to remove the bits of grain left in the fields following the harvest. He found the theme an eternal one, linked to stories from the Old Testament. In 1857, he submitted the painting The Gleaners to the Salon to an unenthusiastic, even hostile, public.

(Earlier versions include a vertical composition painted in 1854, an etching of 1855–56 which directly presaged the horizontal format of the painting now in the Musée d’Orsay.)

A warm golden light suggests something sacred and eternal in this daily scene where the struggle to survive takes place. During his years of preparatory studies, Millet contemplated how best to convey the sense of repetition and fatigue in the peasants’ daily lives. Lines traced over each woman’s back lead to the ground and then back up in a repetitive motion identical to their unending, backbreaking labor. Along the horizon, the setting sun silhouettes the farm with its abundant stacks of grain, in contrast to the large shadowy figures in the foreground. The dark homespun dresses of the gleaners cut robust forms against the golden field, giving each woman a noble, monumental strength.


Credits and Attributions:

The Gleaners, by Jean-François Millet / Public domain. Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:Jean-François Millet – Gleaners – Google Art Project 2.jpg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Jean-Fran%C3%A7ois_Millet_-_Gleaners_-_Google_Art_Project_2.jpg&oldid=371550893 (accessed July 31, 2020).

Wikipedia contributors, “Gleaning,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Gleaning&oldid=952834082 (accessed July 31, 2020).

Wikipedia contributors, “Jean-François Millet,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia,  https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Jean-Fran%C3%A7ois_Millet&oldid=956877005 (accessed July 31, 2020).

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#FineArtFriday: Kidd’s Omnibus outside the Angel Inn, Brentford, c. 1840, by James Pollard

Title: Kidd’s Omnibus Outside the Angel Inn, Brentford

Artist: James Pollard

Genre: Genre Calendar Illustrations

Medium: Aquatint

Date: circa 1840 [1]

Today’s Fine Art Friday offering is Genre Art, a scene originally published in a calendar. In most working class homes, the only secular art that was hung on the walls were prints, many of which originated in calendars, as most people couldn’t afford to buy original art.

Since the mid-1700s, printed wall calendars have historically been a good source of advertising for small to large businesses. To this day, many supermarkets and hardware companies give illustrated wall calendars away for free to customers as promotional merchandise.

About the Artist, via artnet and Wikipedia:

James Pollard was a British painter best known for his depictions of horse-drawn carriages, fox hunting, and other equestrian scenes. Born in 1792 in Islington, United Kingdom to the painter and publisher Robert Pollard the Elder, he went on to work for his father’s firm as a draftsman and engraver. While working for his father, he was commissioned by a print seller named Edward Orme to paint an inn’s signboard, which would depict a mail-coach with horses and passengers. This commission launched the artist’s career, for the signpost was seen by many prospective patrons. Pollard went on to exhibit his work at the Royal Academy and the British Institution in London. Today, his works are in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., the Tate Gallery in London, and the Denver Art Museum, among others. Pollard died in 1867 in London, United Kingdom. [2]

Between 1821 and 1839, James Pollard exhibited at the Royal Academy. He exhibited at the British Institution in 1824 and 1844. During his career, he also worked with John Frederick Herring, Sr. on several horse racing paintings in which he painted the backgrounds and spectators while Herring painted the horses. [3]

What I like about this image:

This painting of Kidd’s Omnibus was created for a circa 1840 calendar by James Pollard, who was considered an adequate draftsman and illustrator in his day. It was most likely printed in his father, painter and publisher, Robert Pollard’s, printshop, as he was his father’s primary illustrator. [4]

In this illustration, we see the historical origination of urban public transportation – the Horsebus, or Omnibus. We have shortened the term to just ‘bus’ in the context of public transportation. Most  omnibuses were like cabs, in that they were owned by the drivers. However, since the drivers plied their trade on a regular route, they could carry more people. They could charge a lesser fare that the working class could afford, and still make a living.

According to Wikipedia:

horse-bus or horse-drawn omnibus was a large, enclosed and sprung horse-drawn vehicle used for passenger transport before the introduction of motor vehicles. It was mainly used in the late 19th century in both the United States and Europe and was one of the most common means of transportation in cities. In a typical arrangement, two wooden benches along the sides of the passenger cabin held several sitting passengers facing each other. The driver sat on a separate, front-facing bench, typically in an elevated position outside the passengers’ enclosed cabin. In the main age of horse buses, many of them were double-decker buses. On the upper deck, which was uncovered, the longitudinal benches were arranged back to back. [5]


Credits and Attributions

[1] Kidd’s Omnibus outside the Angel Inn, Brentford, c. 1840, by James Pollard, via Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:Kidd’s Omnibus outside the Angel Inn, Brentford, c. 1840, by James Pollard.jpg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Kidd%27s_Omnibus_outside_the_Angel_Inn,_Brentford,_c._1840,_by_James_Pollard.jpg&oldid=195379488 (accessed July 23, 2020).

James Pollard (Life time: (1792–1867) – Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons. (Original text: Original publication: UK Immediate source: Sammlung Fane de Salis: ephemera, from an old calendar.) This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published (or registered with the U.S. Copyright Office) before January 1, 1925.

[2] James Pollard, Biography, artnet contributor, via artnet: http://www.artnet.com/artists/james-pollard/ accessed 23 July 2020.

[3] James Pollard, Wikipedia contributors, “James Pollard,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=James_Pollard&oldid=838787787 (accessed July 23, 2020).

[4] Wikipedia contributors, “Robert Pollard (engraver),” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Robert_Pollard_(engraver)&oldid=918903796 (accessed July 23, 2020).

[5] Wikipedia contributors, “Horsebus,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Horsebus&oldid=956355839 (accessed July 23, 2020).

 

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