Tag Archives: Fine Art Friday

#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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#FineArtFriday: The Great Fish Market by Jan Brueghel the Elder 1603

Title: Great Fish Market

Artist: Jan Brueghel the Elder  (1568–1625)

Date: 1603

Medium: oil on canvas

Dimensions:  Height: 59 cm (23.2 in); Width: 92 cm (36.2 in)

Collection: Alte Pinakothek  Current location: room 19

Inscriptions: Signature and date, bottom left: BRVEGHEL 1603

What I love about this painting:

Here we see a composite of all the places Jan Brueghel the Elder had visited. The scene is a fusion of his Flemish homeland and impressions of places he’d sketched on his travels.

In the middle of the picture is the Neapolitan Castel dell’ Ovo, on the right, in the distance, is St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. We have a little of Italy thrown in with the Flemish, his effort to create the feeling of a busy, prosperous market. He shows his imaginary city from a high perspective, the god-like view.

In writing, this would be the omniscient point of view.

The elements presented in this painting, the harborscape, the ruins, and even the sections that are simply landscapes are all features that later became genres in their own right.

The scene contains many elements of Mannerist landscape painting. According to the Tate website, mannerist is a sixteenth-century style of art and design characterized by artificiality, elegance, and an aesthetic portrayal of the human figure.

In other words, they painted fantasy. And why not?

Flemish genre painting is strongly tied to the traditions of Pieter Bruegel the Elder. It was a style that continued directly into the 17th century through copies and new compositions made by his sons Pieter Brueghel the Younger and Jan Brueghel the Elder.

In this painting, the story opens with a view across a downward-sloping foreground. It teems with life, hundreds of figures of many races, grouped around the stalls and booths of a fish market. The group at the center of the foreground is thought to be a self-portrait of the artist and his family. It was common for artists to insert self-portraits in their works, and Jan often included his family.

One of Jan Brueghel’s most significant contributions to the craft of painting landscapes was how he depicted perspective. The eye is drawn towards the harbor in the background. We look out across the bay, along the coastline, and see entire towns, with ruins, wharves, and castles. Beyond that, we see distant mountains, painted with a blue that merges with the blue of the sea.

This blending of shape and color into the distance is how a landscape appears in real life.

These painters, and the Brueghel family in particular, were the generation who paved the way for artists like Rembrandt. Their works were the foundation upon which the masterpieces of the middle-to-late 17th century were built.

About the Artist, via Wikipedia:

Jan Brueghel was the son of the eminent Flemish Renaissance painter Pieter Brueghel the Elder.  A close friend and frequent collaborator with Peter Paul Rubens, the two artists were the leading Flemish painters in the first three decades of the 17th century.

He was born in Brussels as the son of Pieter Brueghel the Elder and Maria Coecke van Aelst. His mother was the daughter of the prominent Flemish Renaissance artists Pieter Coecke van Aelst and Mayken Verhulst. His father died about a year after Jan’s birth in 1569. It is believed that after the death of his mother in 1578, Jan, together with his brother Pieter Brueghel the Younger and sister Marie, went to live with their grandmother Mayken Verhulst, who was by then widowed. Mayken Verhulst was an artist in her own right. The early Flemish biographer Karel van Mander wrote in his Schilder-boeck published in 1604 that Mayken was the first art teacher of her two grandsons. She taught them drawing and watercolor painting of miniatures. Jan and his brother may also have trained with local artists in Brussels who were active as tapestry designers.

Jan Brueghel the Elder is regarded as an important innovator of landscape art. By introducing greater naturalism in his Alpine mountain settings, his father had expanded on the world landscape tradition that had been founded mainly by Joachim Patinir. Some of Pieter the Elder’s works also foreshadowed the forest landscape that would start to dominate landscape painting around the turn of the 16th century. Pieter the Elder also developed the village and rural landscape, placing Flemish hamlets and farms in exotic prospects of mountains and river valleys.

Jan developed on the formula he learned from his father of arranging country figures traveling a road, which recedes into the distance. He emphasized the recession into space by carefully diminishing the scale of figures in the foreground, middle-ground, and far distance. To further the sense of atmospheric perspective, he used varying tones of brown, green, and blue progressively to characterize the recession of space. His landscapes with their vast depth are balanced through his attention to the peasant figures and their humble activities in the foreground.

Like his father, Jan Brueghel also painted various village landscapes. He used the surrounding landscapes as the stage for the crowds of anecdotal, colorfully dressed peasants who engage in various activities in the market, the country roads and during the rowdy kermesses. Jan Brueghel’s landscape paintings with their strong narrative elements and attention to detail had a significant influence on Flemish and Dutch landscape artists in the second decade of the 17th century. His river views were certainly known to painters working in Haarlem, including Esaias van de Velde and Willem Buytewech, whom Brueghel may have met there when he accompanied Peter Paul Rubens on a diplomatic mission to the Dutch Republic in 1613.

Jan Brueghel was, along with artists such as Gillis van Coninxloo one of the prime developers of the dense forest landscape in the 17th century. Jan Breughel in fact experimented with such works before Coninxloo’s first dated wooded landscape of 1598. In his forest landscapes Brueghel depicted heavily wooded glades in which he captured the verdant density, and even mystery, of the forest. Although on occasion inhabited by humans and animals, these forest scenes contain dark recesses, virtually no open sky and no outlet for the eye to penetrate beyond the thick trees.


Credits and Attributions:

Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:Jan Brueghel the Elder-Great Fish market.jpg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Jan_Brueghel_the_Elder-Great_Fish_market.jpg&oldid=406069557 (accessed July 9, 2020).

Wikipedia contributors, “Jan Brueghel the Elder,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Jan_Brueghel_the_Elder&oldid=963723468 (accessed July 9, 2020).

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#FineArtFriday: Rembrandt as Shepherd with Staff and Flute, by Govert Flink 1636

About the artist: Born at Kleve, capital of the Duchy of Cleves, which was occupied at the time by the United Provinces, Govert Flinck was apprenticed by his father to a silk merchant, but in 1627 he was sent to Leeuwarden, where he boarded in the house of Lambert Jacobszoon. Jaobszoon was a Mennonite (one of the historic peace churches known for their commitment to pacifism). While Jacobszoon is better known as a preacher, he was a talented painter and an excellent teacher.

While studying there, Flinck met some of Jacobszoon’s neighbors, relatives of Saskia van Uylenburgh, who had married Rembrandt in 1634. That same year he began studying with Rembrandt.

Flinck is acknowledged as one of Rembrandt’s best pupils.

I really enjoy this romantic painting of Rembrandt dressed as a shepherd, holding a flute, and thinking about…what? Rembrandt’s contemplative expression seems peaceful.  The details are wonderful – from the finely worked trim on his garments down to the jewel dangling from his right ear, a gem that softly glows. The grains of the wood in both the flute and staff are subtle and real. The light falls perfectly – Flinck captured the personality of the master as a handsome young man during the happiest time of his life, and it seems as if Rembrandt himself enjoyed posing for it.

For more than a decade, Flinck’s work echoed that of Rembrandt, clearly influenced by the master’s style in the work which he executed between 1636 and 1648. As time passed, he began to desire to be a history painter, a genre in painting that  is defined by its subject matter rather than artistic style, and turned to the work of Peter Paul Rubens. In later years, Flinck had great commercial success, receiving many commissions for official and diplomatic paintings.


Credits and Attributions:

Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:Rembrandt als herder met staf en fluit Rijksmuseum SK-A-3451.jpeg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Rembrandt_als_herder_met_staf_en_fluit_Rijksmuseum_SK-A-3451.jpeg&oldid=225225289 (accessed August 16, 2018).

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#FineArtFriday: The Money Changer and His Wife by Quentin Matsys, 1514

  • Artist: Quentin Matsys  (1456/1466–1530)
  • Title: The Moneylender and his Wife
  • Date: 1514
  • Medium: oil on panel
  • Dimensions: Height: 70.5 cm (27.7 in)
  • Current location: Louvre Museum
  • Inscriptions: Signature and date

The Money Changer and His Wife is a 1514 oil on panel painting by the Flemish renaissance artist Quentin Matsys.

What I love about this painting:

The colors are rich and vivid, and the lines sharp and clean. The artist included the smallest details in the prayer book, the pewter plate in the background, and the crystal jar by the man’s right hand, showing a prosperous, well-educated young couple. In some ways, Matsys’ style reminds me of the work of the lesser known Flemish painter, Pieter Brueghel the Younger, who was born long after Matsys’ death, but whose original works also leaned toward caricatures and grotesques.

About this painting, via Wikipedia:

A man, who is weighing the jewels and pieces of gold on the table in front of him, sits next to his wife who is reading a book of devotion with an illustration of the Virgin and Child. The couple is not dressed as members of nobility, but rather as well-to-do burghers of Antwerp, where the painting was made. At the time, Antwerp had grown with the influx of many southern immigrants fleeing the Spanish Inquisition. Among this international community there was a demand for money-changers and money-lenders, as international commerce was increasing in the port city.

About the Artist, via Wikipedia:

Most early accounts of Matsys’ life are composed primarily of legend and very little contemporary accounts exist of the nature of his activities or character. According to J. Molanus’ Historiae Lovaniensium, Matsys is known to be a native of Leuven with humble beginnings as an ironsmith. One of four children, Matsys was born to Joost Matsys (d. 1483) and Catherine van Kincken sometime between 4 April and 10 September 1466. Legend states that Matsys abandoned his career as a blacksmith to woo his wife, who found painting to be a more romantic profession, though Karel van Mander claimed this to be false, and the real reason was a sickness during which he was too weak to work at the smithy and instead decorated prints for the carnival celebrations.

Matsys work is considered to contain strong religious feeling—characteristic of traditional Flemish works—and is accompanied by a realism that often favored the grotesque. Matsys’ firmness of outline, clear modelling and thorough finish of detail stem from Van de Weyden’s influence; from the Van Eycks and Memling by way of Dirck Bouts, the glowing richness of transparent pigments. Matsys’ works generally reflect earnestness in expression, minutely detailed renderings, and subdued effects in light and shade. Like most Flemish artists of the time he paid a great deal of attention to jewelry, edging of garments, and ornamentation in general.


Credits and Attributions:

The Money Changer and His Wife by  Quentin Matsys, 1514 Public domain. The work of art depicted in this image and the reproduction thereof are in the public domain worldwide. The reproduction is part of a collection of reproductions compiled by The Yorck Project. The compilation copyright is held by Zenodot Verlagsgesellschaft mbH and licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.

Wikipedia contributors, “The Money Changer and His Wife,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=The_Money_Changer_and_His_Wife&oldid=937629150 (accessed June 26, 2020).

Wikipedia contributors, “Quentin Matsys,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Quentin_Matsys&oldid=960328863 (accessed June 26, 2020).

 

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#FineArtFriday: Self Portrait, Rembrandt 1659

Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn, commonly known simply as Rembrandt, is considered the finest artist of the 17th century. Some art historians consider him the finest artist in the history of art, and the most important artist in Dutch art history.

Speaking strictly as a Rembrandt fangirl and abject admirer, I consider his self-portraits to be more honest than those of any other artist.

Quote from Wikipedia: His self-portraits form a unique and intimate biography, in which the artist surveyed himself without vanity and with the utmost sincerity.

This honesty comes across in all his works featuring himself as the subject, even those where he portrays himself as a shepherd or the prodigal son. Each portrait shows an aspect of his personality, his sense of humor, his affection for his first wife, Saskia, who was the love of his life, and his wry acceptance of his own human frailties.

Money was a mystery to Rembrandt. He had no understanding of a budget, mishandled his son’s inheritance, spent far more than he earned, and didn’t pay his taxes. In short he was always in trouble with the authorities, always skirting the edges of disaster.

Rembrandt knew he was talented, but didn’t see himself as a creative genius. He was just a man with a passion for art, who lived beyond his means and died a pauper, as did Mozart, and as do most artists and authors.

I feel I know this man, more so than I do the person he was in his earlier self-portraits. He’s matured, lost some of the brashness of his youth. When I observe the man in this self-portrait, painted ten years before his death, I see a good-humored man just trying to live a frequently difficult life as well as he can. His face is lined and blemished, not as handsome as he once was. But his eyes seem both kind and familiar, filled with the understanding that comes from living with all one’s heart and experiencing both great joy and deep sorrow.

The art of Rembrandt van Rijn shows us his world as he saw it. Others may disagree with me, but I feel his greatest gift was the ability to convey personality with each portrait. This gift allowed him to portray every person he painted as they really were, blemished and yet beautiful. This is a gift he taught his students, and they were able to copy his style quite effectively, making discerning his true work difficult even for the experts.


Credits and Attributions:

Wikipedia contributors, “Rembrandt,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Rembrandt&oldid=844357531(accessed June 8, 2018).

Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:Rembrandt van Rijn – Self-Portrait – Google Art Project.jpg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Rembrandt_van_Rijn_-_Self-Portrait_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg&oldid=292800848 (accessed June 8, 2018).

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#FineArtFriday: Off the Coast of Cornwall by William Trost Richards 1904

Artist: William Trost Richards  (1833–1905)

Title: Off the Coast of Cornwall

  • Genre: landscape art
  • Date: 1904
  • Medium: oil on canvas
  • Dimensions : Height: 55.9 cm (22 in); Width: 91.4 cm (35.9 in)
  • Collection   Private collection
  • Inscriptions: Signature and date bottom left: W.T. Richards.04.

What I love about this painting:

It is a blustery day, along a rugged seacoast. Intermittent rain squalls blow through, and when one passes the sun peeps out, the bright lull between storms. The sea is that dark greenish color reflecting the sky, a quality stormy waters here in the North Pacific coast often have. It is of a shore in Cornwall, England, but it feels as familiar as if it were the coast of my home, Washington State.

What I love most about how Richards depicted the water is the milk-glass opaqueness of the green water and the way the light seems to shine through the waves.

About the Artist via Wikipedia:

William Trost Richards  rejected the romanticized and stylized approach of other Hudson River painters and instead insisted on meticulous factual renderings. His views of the White Mountains are almost photographic in their realism. In later years, Richards painted almost exclusively marine watercolors.

In the summer of 1874 Richards visited Newport, Rhode Island, and became enthralled with the area’s sublime coastline. He purchased his first of several Newport area homes in 1875 and continued to paint there for the rest of his life, dividing time between Newport and Chester County, Pennsylvania, where he purchased a farm near the Brandywine in 1884. Richards made many excursions to Europe, especially Britain and Ireland, where he produced an important body of work.

He was married to the the poet and playwright Anna Matlack, with whom he had eight children, only five of whom lived past infancy. Matlack educated the children at home to a pre-college level in the arts and sciences. One of their sons, Theodore William Richards, would later win the 1914 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Anna Richards Brewster, their sixth child, went on to become an important painter in her own right, having received an early arts education from her father as well.

Richards was one of the few 19th century American landscape artists who was equally skilled as a watercolorist and a painter in oils. His drawings are considered among the finest of his generation. Many of his drawing still survive.

Today, Richards is highly regarded for the luminist seascapes, images imbued with light and atmosphere, that he created along the Rhode Island, New Jersey and British coasts. Luminist landscapes emphasize tranquility, and often depict calm, reflective water and a soft, hazy sky.


Credits and Attributions:

Off the Coast of Cornwall, by William Trost Richards / Public domain

Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:William Trost Richards – Off the Coast of Cornwall.jpg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:William_Trost_Richards_-_Off_the_Coast_of_Cornwall.jpg&oldid=288660467 (accessed June 4, 2020).

Wikipedia contributors, “William Trost Richards,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=William_Trost_Richards&oldid=939570835 (accessed June 4, 2020).

Wikipedia contributors, “Anna Matlack Richards,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Anna_Matlack_Richards&oldid=933481876 (accessed June 4, 2020).

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#FineArtFriday: Silver Lake at Dusk, by Diego Delso

Silver Lake during dusk, Wrangell–St. Elias National Park and PreserveAlaska, United States, Photographed by Diego Delso on 23 August 2017. This image was selected as picture of the day on Wikimedia Commons for .

About the Photographer:

Diego Delso roams the world photographing nature and contributes his work to Wikimedia Commons. He is a free content and knowledge supporter, whose photographs are regularly featured as the Image of the Day, and several of his images have been selected as finalists for Image of the Year.

I love the mood and serenity of today’s image. The clarity and depth of both the water and the sky makes one feel as if we know this place.


Credits and Attributions

Silver Lake at Dusk, Diego Delso / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)

Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:Lago Plateado, Parque nacional y reserva Wrangell-San Elías, Alaska, Estados Unidos, 2017-08-22, DD 135.jpg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Lago_Plateado,_Parque_nacional_y_reserva_Wrangell-San_El%C3%ADas,_Alaska,_Estados_Unidos,_2017-08-22,_DD_135.jpg&oldid=419215168 (accessed May 29, 2020)

 

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#FineArtFriday: Landscape with a Watermill – Le Tresor des Histoires (15th C) The Cotton Library

Description: Landscape with a Watermill

Date: 15th century

Collection: British Library

Accession number: Cotton Augustus V, f.345v

Source/Photographer: Image taken from Le Tresor des Histoires: a universal history from the Creation to the time of Pope Clement VI.

Originally published/produced in 15th century.

Held and digitised by the British Library

About the Cotton Library, via Wikipedia:

The Cottonian Library was the richest private collection of manuscripts ever amassed. Of secular libraries it outranked the Royal Library, the collections of the Inns of Court and the College of Arms. Cotton’s collection even included the original codex bound manuscript of Beowulf, written around the year 1000. Cotton’s house near the Palace of Westminster became the meeting-place of the Society of Antiquaries of London and of all the eminent scholars of England. the Library was eventually donated to the nation by Cotton’s grandson and is now housed in the British Library.

Robert Bruce Cotton organized his library in a room 26 feet (7.9 m) long by six feet wide filled with bookpresses, each with the bust of a figure from classical antiquity on top. Counterclockwise, these were:

This is an incomplete list of some of the manuscripts from the Cotton library that today form the Cotton collection of the British Library. Some manuscripts were destroyed or damaged in a fire at Ashburnham House in 1731, and a few are kept in other libraries and collections.

In each press, each shelf was assigned a letter; manuscripts were identified by the bust over the press, the shelf letter, and the position of the manuscript (in Roman numerals) counting from the left side of the shelf. Thus, the Lindisfarne Gospels, Nero B.iv, was the fourth manuscript from the left on the second shelf (shelf B) of the press under the bust of Nero. For Domitian and Augustus, which had only one shelf each, the shelf letter was left out of the press-mark.

The British Museum retained Cotton’s press-marks when the Cotton collection became one of the foundational collections of its library, so manuscripts are still designated by library, bookpress, shelf, and number (even though they are no longer stored in that fashion). For example, the manuscript of Beowulf is designated Cotton MS Vitellius A.xv, and the manuscript of Pearl is Cotton MS Nero A.x.

Today’s image is a gorgeous, highly detailed illustration from the 15th century book,  Le Tresor des Histoires. Universal history, from the Creation to Pope Clement VI (died 1342). 15th century copy. Lavishly illuminated, the beautiful art was most likely done by an unknown artist in either a monastery or nunnery, as both priests and nuns were known to work at copying and illustrating books. In fact, nuns were as likely to be found working as scribes as monks, friars, and priests were.

About Sir Robert Cotton, 1st Baronet – via Wikipedia:

Sir Robert Cotton began developing the works and manuscripts into a collection for his Library shortly after the birth of his son in 1594. From the period 1609 to 1614 the deaths of various people (including Lord Lumley, Earl of Salisbury, Prince Henry, William Dethick and Northampton) all contributed to Sir Robert Cotton’s purchase of works for his library. Sir Robert Cotton resided in London, while his wife and son remained in the country. During his father’s absence Thomas Cotton studied to eventually receive his BA on 24 October 1616 from Broadgates Hall—the very same year that Sir Robert Cotton returned to his wife Elizabeth and family (a result of a hiccup with the law involving the death of earl of Somerset). At that point, Sir Thomas Cotton had taken the responsibilities of the home and the library into his own hands.

(c) Trinity College, University of Cambridge; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

In 1620, Thomas Cotton married Margaret Howard with whom he had his first son, Sir John Cotton, just one year later in 1621. Sir Thomas Cotton’s marriage with Margaret Howard ended in 1622, which had been the year that Thomas Cotton’s father, Sir Robert Cotton, permanently moved residence to The Cotton House, along with the library which remained in the Cotton House until Sir Robert Cotton’s death nine years later in 1631. The relocation of the library and residence to the Cotton House gave members of Parliament and government workers better access to the matter within the library to be used as resources for their work.

The Cotton Library offered important and valuable sources of reference and knowledge to many people, such as John Selden, “a frequent borrower from the library, and probably its protector during the civil wars” as stated in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Selden, in 1623 said of Cotton: “his kindness and willingness to make them [his collection of books and manuscripts] available to students of good literature and affairs of state”. In keeping with the notion that John Selden was a common presence in the Cotton library, The British Library holds a list of thirteen works, and the locations of those volumes today, that had been lent to Seldon by Sir Robert Cotton.

After another hiccup with the government, Sir Robert Cotton was forced to close the library by Charles I because the content within the library was believed to be harmful to the interests of the Royalists in 1629. In September 1630 Sir Robert Cotton and Sir Thomas Cotton, together, petitioned for renewed access to their library. One year later, in 1631, Sir Robert Cotton died without knowing what the future held for his library, but wrote in his will that the library be left to his son Thomas Cotton and that it be passed down accordingly. After the death of his father, Sir Thomas Cotton married his second wife, Alice Constable, in 1640 with whom they had their son Robert Cotton in 1644. Sir Thomas Cotton’s “ownership access to the Cotton library was more limited than under his father” according to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, and Thomas Cotton maintained his ability to “protect,” “improve” and “maximize the profits” received during the civil war, as he had earlier on in his life as a result of his father’s absence. Upon the death of Sir Robert Cotton on 13 May 1662, Sir Thomas Cotton obeyed the will of his father and passed down the library to his eldest son from his first marriage, Sir John Cotton.

On 12 September 1702, Sir John Cotton died. Prior to his death, Sir John Cotton had arranged for the Cotton Library to be bought for the nation of England through acts of Parliament. If the library had not been sold to the nation, despite the wish of his grandfather Sir Robert Cotton, the library would have been taken over and inherited by John Cotton’s two grandsons, who, unlike the rest of the college-educated Cotton family, had been illiterate and put the Cotton Library at risk of potentially getting broken up and sold to different divisions within the family.


Credits and Attributions:

Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:Landscape with a watermill – Le Tresor des Histoires (15th C), f.345v – BL Cotton MS Augustus V.jpg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Landscape_with_a_watermill_-_Le_Tresor_des_Histoires_(15th_C),_f.345v_-_BL_Cotton_MS_Augustus_V.jpg&oldid=295714857 (accessed May 14, 2020).

Wikipedia contributors, “List of manuscripts in the Cotton library,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=List_of_manuscripts_in_the_Cotton_library&oldid=919448324 (accessed May 14, 2020).

Wikipedia contributors, “Sir Robert Cotton, 1st Baronet, of Connington,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Sir_Robert_Cotton,_1st_Baronet,_of_Connington&oldid=948522337 (accessed May 14, 2020).

Portrait of Sir Robert Bruce Cotton, 1st Baronet, by Cornelis Janson van Ceulen Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:Robert Cotton.jpg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Robert_Cotton.jpg&oldid=369753711 (accessed May 14, 2020).

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