Tag Archives: Fine Art Friday

#FineArtFriday: The Boating Party, by Mary Cassatt

What I love about The Boating Party by American artist, Mary Cassatt, is impression of movement, of the life of the water. It has a feeling of contentment, of peace. There is a serenity about this painting that evokes wonderful memories of boating and water sports, of the time when my family still lived on a lake. It reminds me of the sheer joy and freedom of being on the water with no purpose other than to enjoy one’s self.

About this painting, from Wikipedia:

Art historian and museum administrator Frederick A. Sweet calls it “One of the most ambitious paintings she (Cassatt) ever attempted.” His 1966 analysis focuses on the balance of the “powerful dark silhouette of the boatman”, the angle between the oar and the arm that “thrusts powerfully into the center of the composition towards the mother and child” and “delicate, feminine ones.”

Cassatt placed the horizon at the top of the frame in Japanese fashion.

  • In 1890 Cassatt visited the great Japanese Print exhibition at the ecole de Beaux-arts in Paris.
  • Mary Cassatt owned Japanese prints by Kitagawa Utamaro (1753–1806).
  • The exhibition at Durand-Ruel of Japanese art proved the most important influence on Cassatt.

(Influence of) Manet

Frederick A. Sweet suggests that Cassatt may have been inspired by Édouard Manet‘s Boating from 1874.

I hadn’t considered that position of the horizon as being a traditional Japanese style until I read that paragraph. Then I realized that most Western artists place it lower on the canvas. In Western art, the sky (an allegory for God) traditionally dominates the work.

This painting has made me aware of  how greatly the ability to travel the world via ocean liners and contact with other cultures changed the way we produce art. Impressionism was new and daring in its time. The eye of the artist was freed from traditional confines of the various schools (Hudson Valley, etc.) by exposure to the simplicity and elegance of the previously unknown tradition of Japanese art.

Every new painting I come across leads me to another, which often leads me to another country and another tradition of style and form.

My life as an admirer of art is one of constantly finding something new about history and the world around me.

About the artist, Via Wikipedia:

Mary Stevenson Cassatt (May 22, 1844 – June 14, 1926) was an American painter and print-maker. She was born in Allegheny City, Pennsylvania (now part of Pittsburgh’s North Side), but lived much of her adult life in France, where she first befriended Edgar Degas and later exhibited among the Impressionists. Cassatt often created images of the social and private lives of women, with particular emphasis on the intimate bonds between mothers and children.

She was described by Gustave Geffroy in 1894 as one of “les trois grandes dames” (the three great ladies) of Impressionism alongside Marie Bracquemond and Berthe Morisot.


Credits and Attributions:

The Boating Party by Mary Cassatt, 1893–94

Wikipedia contributors. “The Boating Party.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 9 Dec. 2018. Web. 8 Mar. 2019.

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#FineArtFriday: The Ghost of Vermeer of Delft Which Can Be Used As a Table by Salvador Dalí, 1934

About the painting, from Wikipedia:

The Ghost of Vermeer of Delft Which Can Be Used As a Table is a small Surrealist oil painting by Salvador Dalí. Its full title is The Ghost of Vermeer of Delft Which Can Be Used as a Table (Phenomenologic Theory of Furniture-Nutrition). It makes reference to The Art of Painting by Johannes Vermeer, a famous seventeenth-century work in which a painter, thought to be a self-portrait of Vermeer, is depicted with his back to us, in distinctive costume. It is one of a number of paintings expressive of Dalí’s enormous admiration for Vermeer.

Vermeer is represented as a dark spindly figure in a kneeling position. The figure’s outstretched leg serves as a table top surface, on which sits a bottle and a small glass. This leg tapers to a baluster-like stub; there is a shoe nearby. The walls and the distant views of the mountains are based on real views near Dalí’s home in Port Lligat. In Vermeer’s painting the artist leans on a maulstick, and his hand is painted with an unusual blurriness, perhaps to indicate movement. In Dalí’s painting Vermeer rests the same arm on a crutch.

What I love about this painting:

I love the composition, the detail Dali puts into Vermeer’s hair and doublet–the attention Vermeer applied to his own work. This speaks to me of the desert, the way the sky looks in the afternoon just as the hottest part of the day slides into a cooler evening. Vermeer, the Master of Light, is enjoying the view. He is shown in a small courtyard, enclosed. Vermeer rarely left his rooms in Delft.

 

It is unsigned and undated but known to have been completed c.1934. It is currently on display at the Salvador Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida, on loan from the E. and A. Reynolds Morse collection.


Credits and Attributions:

Wikipedia contributors, “The Ghost of Vermeer of Delft Which Can Be Used As a Table,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia,https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=The_Ghost_of_Vermeer_of_Delft_Which_Can_Be_Used_As_a_Table&oldid=861917029 (accessed March 1, 2019).

Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:Johannes Vermeer – The Art of Painting (detail) – WGA24677.jpg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Johannes_Vermeer_-_The_Art_of_Painting_(detail)_-_WGA24677.jpg&oldid=268076769 (accessed March 1, 2019).

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#FineArtFriday: Rembrandt Peale, self-portrait

About the artist via Wikipedia:

Rembrandt Peale (February 22, 1778 – October 3, 1860) was an American artist and museum keeper. A prolific portrait painter, he was especially acclaimed for his likenesses of presidents George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. Peale’s style was influenced by French Neoclassicism after a stay in Paris in his early thirties.

Rembrandt Peale was born the third of six surviving children (11 had died) to his mother, Rachel Brewer, and father, Charles Willson Peale in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, on February 22, 1778. The father, Charles, also a notable artist, named him after the noted 17th-century Dutch painter and engraver Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn. His father also taught all of his children, including Raphaelle PealeRubens Peale and Titian Peale, to paint scenery and portraiture, and tutored Rembrandt in the arts and sciences. Rembrandt began drawing at the age of 8. A year after his mother’s death and the remarriage of his father, Peale left the school of the arts, and completed his first self-portrait at the age of 13. The canvas displays the young artist’s early mastery. The clothes, however, give the notion that Peale exaggerated what a 13-year-old would look like, and Peale’s hair curls like the hair of a Renaissance angel. Later in his life, Peale “often showed this painting to young beginners, to encourage them to go from ‘bad’ to better…”[1]

In July 1787, Charles Willson Peale introduced his son Rembrandt to George Washington, and the young aspirant artist watched his father paint the future president. In 1795, at the age of 17, Rembrandt painted an aging Washington (with whom he shared a birthday), making him appear far more aged than in reality. The portrait was well received, and Rembrandt had made his debut.


Credits and Attributions

Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:Rembrandt Peale self-portrait.jpg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Rembrandt_Peale_self-portrait.jpg&oldid=336752881 (accessed February 22, 2019).

Wikipedia contributors, “Rembrandt Peale,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Rembrandt_Peale&oldid=879098650 (accessed February 22, 2019).

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#FineArtFriday: Portrait of Christian Krohg by Oda Krohg

Today’s image is a portrait of Norwegian artist, Christian Krohg as painted by his wife, Oda Krohg.

What I love about this painting:

We see Christian in his bohemian glory. His lush beard is combed just so; his shoes are shined, and he looks every inch a gentleman of the town, yet he doesn’t look like a dandy. A parade with a brass band is happening in the background, a fanfare for the man himself.

The background details are there in impressionistic strokes, but Christian himself stands out sharply, a man who could never fade into the background. He is good-humored, passionate, a warrior for the underclass–Christian Krohg commands attention.

About the artist, via Wikipedia:

Oda Krohgnée Othilia Pauline Christine Lasson (11 June 1860 – 19 October 1935) was a Norwegian painter, and the wife of her teacher and colleague Christian Krohg. She was the second daughter of public attorney Christian Lasson and Alexandra von Munthe af Morgenstierne. Her maternal grandmother was a Russian princess. She grew up in a liberal-conservative household, along with eight sisters and two brothers. Her brother Per Lasson became a noted composer and her sister Caroline Bokken Lasson a singer and writer.

In 1881 she married the businessman Jørgen Engelhardt (1852–1921), with whom she had two children. She split from Engelhardt in 1883, and divorced him in 1888. In 1885 she became a student of Erik Werenskiold and Christian Krohg, the latter she would marry in October 1888. In 1885, their daughter Nana was born, and in 1889, their son Per, who also would be a notable painter.

Oda was noted for both her talent and her passion for life. She was a champion of social justice and devout bohemian. Her life with Christian was filled with drama, with both having many affairs, but they always returned to each other. The two were reunited in 1909 and remained together until his death in 1925.


Credits and Attributions:

Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:Christian Krohg av Oda Lasson Krohg OB.01508.jpg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Christian_Krohg_av_Oda_Lasson_Krohg_OB.01508.jpg&oldid=336341196 (accessed February 15, 2019).

Wikipedia contributors, “Oda Krohg,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Oda_Krohg&oldid=871328815(accessed February 15, 2019).

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#FineArtFriday: Rallé: Madonna Without a Child (revisited)

Madonna Without a Child; oil on board by Ralle CC-3.0-SSA

Madonna Without a Child; oil on board by Ralle CC-3.0-SSA

Today I am going back to my first #FineArtFriday post, Madonna Without a Child by Rallé. It was with this original post that I first realized that I could study art and art history, even though I am a middle-aged housewife living in a small town two hours away from the nearest art museum. I can go to the internet and through the wonders of Wikimedia Commons, I have thousands of images of the greatest masterpieces at my viewing pleasure.

I can zoom in to examine the smallest details. I can look up information about the picture itself from both Wikipedia and the worlds finest art museums. If anything is known about the artist I can find that information too.

How fortunate I am to live in a time when a thirst for knowledge can be satisfied so easily.

To all the art historians of the world whose research is out there on the internet, I say thank you. I was unable to study this subject in college, but I am neck deep in it now because of your efforts.

And now, my original post.


(Via Wikipedia) Rallé, also known as Master of the Town of Consuls (MTC), is an American artist whose work has most recently been shown in the Meisel Gallery[1][2] and the Bruce R. Lewin Fine Art[3] in New York City. His paintings have accompanied several articles in the magazine Omni, and appeared as covers of several books. Rallé’s work has also been featured in Time Life Books,[4]Esquire, Penthouse, Gulf-Commentator, Toronto Life, Graphics Annual and American Illustration 3.[5]He published an autobiography in 2003, which won the 2004 Sappi European Printer of the Year gold award.

Viewing art inspires my personal creativity as much as listening to music or reading does. The eye of the artist sees things from a different angle, is inspired by things we might at first see as mundane or inconsequential. This is also true about literature, and music.

For me as an author and would-be poet, the world is comprised of myriad different genres, styles, and interpretations of the diverse forms of art. I think this is because all art, whether created of words, paint, images, or sound is filtered through the mind of the artist, photographer, composer, or author and is interpreted by the mind of the beholder.

Inspired by what I behold, I become a creator.

The late Surrealist Artist, René Magritte, said, “The searching intelligence sharpens when it Sees the meaning in poetic images. This meaning goes with the moral certainty that we  belong to the World. And so, this actual belonging becomes a right to belong. The changing content of these poetic images tallies with the richness of our moral certainty. It does not happen at will, it does not obey any system, whether logical or illogical, rigid or fanciful.”


Quote from Literary Hub:  Poetry is a Pipe: Selected Writings of René Magritte ©  René Magritte September 29, 2016

Selected Writings of René Magritte,  Copyright © 2016 by Kathleen Rooney and Eric Plattner, University of Minnesota Press

Quote from Rallé (Artist) Author: Wikipedia contributors / Publisher: Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia.

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#FineArtFriday: The Proposition by Judith Leyster 1631

What I love about this painting is how honest Judith Leyster is when detailing the realities of life in her time and in her city. Here, a young woman is pressured to enter into a relationship with a man she has no interest in. He clearly feels he has the right to compel her to sell her virtue, and she clearly ignores him.

Male artists of the time, Leyster’s husband, Jan Meinse Molenaer included, rarely painted genre pictures of young women other than in taverns or other low-life situations. Commissioned portraits of noble and merchant class women they painted in great abundance, but simple, modest women of good virtue? Rarely.

Leyster, on the other hand, had both the talent and because she was a woman, she had the freedom to paint whatever she wanted. As long as she managed the house and raised the children, she could paint whatever moved her.

The artistic talent of women has been so disregarded historically that, despite her signature, her art and her talent were attributed (after her death) to her husband and to Franz Hals.

About the Painting (Via Wikipedia):

“The Proposition” is a genre painting of 1631 by Judith Leyster, now in the Mauritshuis in The Hague, who title it “Man offering money to a young woman.” It depicts a woman, sewing by candlelight, as a man leans over her, touching her right shoulder with his left hand. He is offering her coins in his right hand, but she is apparently ignoring the offer and concentrating intently upon her sewing.

The man wears dark clothing, and the dark tones, as well as his shadow cast behind him and across his face from the angle of the candlelight, give him a looming appearance. In contrast, the woman is lit fully in the face by the candlelight and wears a white blouse.

It is an early work by Leyster, who was only 22 years old in 1631.

Also, From Wikipedia:

(The painting’s) most distinctive feature is how different it is to other contemporary Dutch and Flemmish “sexual proposition” paintings, many falling into the Merry company genre. The convention for the genre, a common one at the time, was for the characters to be bawdy, and clearly both interested in sex, for money. The dress would be provocative, the facial expressions suggestive, and sometimes there would be a third figure of an older woman acting as a procuress. Indeed, in The Procuress by Dirck van Baburen, an example of the genre, that is exactly the case.

In contrast, in The Proposition the woman is depicted not as a whore but as an ordinary housewife, engaged in a simple everyday domestic chore. She isn’t dressed provocatively. She does not display her bosom (but rather her blouse covers her all of the way to her neck). No ankles are visible. And she displays no interest in sex or even in the man at all. Contemporary Dutch literature stated the sort of activity in which she is engaged to be the proper behaviour for virtuous women in idle moments.[2] Kirstin Olsen observed that male art critics “so completely missed the point” that the woman is, in contrast to other works, not welcoming the man’s proposition that they mistakenly named the painting The Tempting Offer.

The foot warmer, whose glowing coals are visible beneath the hem of the woman’s skirt, was a pictorial code of the time, and represented the woman’s marital status. A foot warmer wholly under the skirt indicated a married woman who was unavailable, as it does in The Proposition. A foot warmer projecting halfway out from under the skirt with the woman’s foot visible on it indicated one who might be receptive to a male suitor. And, a foot warmer that is not under the woman at all, and empty of coals, indicated a single woman. This code can also be seen in Vermeer’s The Milkmaid and Dou’s The Young Mother.

About the Artist:

Judith Jans Leyster (also Leijster) (c. July 28, 1609[1]– February 10, 1660) was a Dutch Golden Age painter. She painted genre works, portraits, and still lifes. Her entire oeuvre was attributed to Frans Hals or to her husband, Jan Miense Molenaer, until 1893 when Hofstede de Groot first attributed seven paintings to her, six of which are signed with her distinctive monogram ‘JL*’. Misattribution of her works to Molenaer may have been because after her death many of her paintings were inventoried as “the wife of Molenaer”, not as Judith Leyster.

She signed her works with a monogram of her initials “JL” with a star attached: JL* This was a play on words; “Leister” meant “Lead star” in Dutch and was for Dutch mariners of the time the common name for the North Star. The Leistar was the name of her father’s brewery in Haarlem.

(Only occasionally did she sign her works with her full name.)

She specialized in portrait-like genre scenes of, typically, one to three figures, who generally exude good cheer, and are shown against a plain background. Many are children; others men with drink. Leyster was particularly innovative in her domestic genre scenes. These are quiet scenes of women at home, often with candle- or lamplight, particularly from a woman’s point of view


Sources and Attributions:

Wikipedia contributors, “The Proposition (painting),” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=The_Proposition_(painting)&oldid=851982429 (accessed February 1, 2019).

Wikipedia contributors, “Judith Leyster,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Judith_Leyster&oldid=820769951(accessed February 1, 2019).

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#FineArtFriday: Three Fisher Girls, Tynemouth by Winslow Homer

In Three Fisher Girls, Tynemouth,  Winslow Homer captures the personalities and the youth of the girls who comb the cold beach for shellfish. The viewer wonders, are they good friends, or perhaps sisters? Rain has darkened the day and scarves protect their ears from the wind, yet they’ve rolled their sleeves up and fish in their ordinary work dresses. These hardy young women feed their family, and perhaps they gather enough extra to sell.

About this Image, Via Wikipedia:

Homer spent two years (1881–1882) in the English coastal village of CullercoatsTyne and Wear. Many of the paintings at Cullercoats took as their subjects working men and women and their daily heroism, imbued with a solidity and sobriety which was new to Homer’s art, presaging the direction of his future work. He wrote, “The women are the working bees. Stout hardy creatures.” His works from this period are almost exclusively watercolors. His palette became constrained and sober; his paintings larger, more ambitious, and more deliberately conceived and executed. His subjects more universal and less nationalistic, more heroic by virtue of his unsentimental rendering. Although he moved away from the spontaneity and bright innocence of the American paintings of the 1860s and 1870s, Homer found a new style and vision which carried his talent into new realms.

About the Artist, via Wikipedia

Winslow Homer never taught in a school or privately, as did Thomas Eakins, but his works strongly influenced succeeding generations of American painters for their direct and energetic interpretation of man’s stoic relationship to an often neutral and sometimes harsh wilderness. Robert Henri called Homer’s work an “integrity of nature”.American illustrator and teacher Howard Pyle revered Homer and encouraged his students to study him. His student and fellow illustrator, N. C. Wyeth (and through him Andrew Wyeth and Jamie Wyeth), shared the influence and appreciation, even following Homer to Maine for inspiration.  The elder Wyeth’s respect for his antecedent was “intense and absolute” and can be observed in his early work Mowing (1907). Perhaps Homer’s austere individualism is best captured in his admonition to artists: “Look at nature, work independently, and solve your own problems.”


Credits and Attributions:

Three Fisher Girls, Tynemouth, by Winslow Homer 1881 [Public domain] watercolor over graphite on wove paper, via Wikimedia Commons (accessed January 25, 2019).

Wikipedia contributors, “Winslow Homer,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Winslow_Homer&oldid=877771053 (accessed January 25, 2019).

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#FineArtFriday: Saint George and the Dragon by Paolo Uccello 1470

The above painting by Paolo Uccello, from around 1470,  is a surreal, stylized retelling of the legend of Saint George and the Dragon. The legend tells of the knight slaying a dragon that demanded human sacrifices. With the slaying of the dragon, the hero has saved the princess who was chosen to be the next offering.

Nothing looks real except the dragon. I love how hyper-heroic Uccello portrayed horses. The people are pallid, with no personality to their features. The dragon and the horse are alive, as if the scene is about them only. All the passion of the moment converges in the dragon and the horse.

Done in oil on canvas, the painting was one of the last of Uccello’s creations.

According to Wikipedia, the Fount of All Knowledge: The narrative (of Saint George) has pre-Christian origins (Jason and MedeaPerseus and AndromedaTyphon, etc.),[1] and is recorded in various saints’ lives prior to its attribution to St George specifically. It was particularly attributed to Saint Theodore Tiro in the 9th and 10th centuries, and was first transferred to Saint George in the 11th century. The earliest narrative record of Saint George slaying a dragon is found in a Georgian text of the 11th century.

About the Artist (via Wikipedia)

Born Paolo di Dono, his nickname, Uccello (of the birds), came from his fondness for painting birds. He worked in the Late Gothic tradition, emphasizing colour and pageantry rather than the classical realism that other artists were pioneering. His style is best described as idiosyncratic (eccentric or unique), and he left no school of followers.

With his precise and analytical mind, Paolo Uccello tried to apply a scientific method to depict objects in three-dimensional space. In particular, some of his studies of the perspective foreshortening of the torus are preserved, and one standard display of drawing skill was his depiction of the mazzocchio.[10]

In the words of G. C. Argan: “Paolo’s rigour is similar to the rigour of Cubists in the early 20th century, whose images were more true when they were less true to life. Paolo constructs space through perspective, and historic event through the structure of space; if the resulting image is unnatural and unrealistic, so much the worse for nature and history.”[11]

The perspective in his paintings has influenced many famous painters, such as Piero della FrancescaAlbrecht Dürer and Leonardo da Vinci, to name a few.


Credits and Attributions:

Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:Paolo Uccello 047.jpg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Paolo_Uccello_047.jpg&oldid=308602797  (accessed January 18, 2019).

Wikipedia contributors, “Paolo Uccello,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Paolo_Uccello&oldid=873078862  (accessed January 18, 2019).

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#FineArtFriday: A Sunday on La Grande Jatte by Georges Seurat circa 1884

A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte by Georges Seurat (1884–1886) is a landmark painting. Art historians agree that with this image, Seurat changed the direction of modern art and began the era of Neo-impressionism. It is one of the most recognizable of late 19th-century paintings.

About this painting from Wikipedia: In summer 1884, Seurat began work on A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.

The painting shows members of each of the social classes participating in various park activities. The tiny juxtaposed dots of multi-colored paint allow the viewer’s eye to blend colors optically, rather than having the colors physically blended on the canvas. It took Seurat two years to complete this 10-foot-wide (3.0 m) painting, much of which he spent in the park sketching in preparation for the work (there are about 60 studies). It is now in the permanent collection of the Art Institute of Chicago.

What I love about this painting is the preciseness of each component. This painting proudly declares it is not “real”—it is instead an impression of a moment in time, a summer day spent on the River Seine. It is both sharply delineated and dreamlike. That is a neat trick.

Seurat used individual dots of only primary colors (Red, green, yellow, blue) but the way he places them, they seem muted and blended into shades of rose and purple, and even pale pink. I’m captivated by a technicality – obsessed by the way the primary colors of each dot are juxtaposed with other primary colors, tricking the eye into believing it sees light and dark, and all shades between.

About the Artist, via Wikipedia: (Seurat) is noted for his innovative use of drawing media and for devising the painting techniques known as chromoluminarism and pointillism. Seurat’s artistic personality was compounded of qualities which are usually supposed to be opposed and incompatible: on the one hand, his extreme and delicate sensibility; on the other, a passion for logical abstraction and an almost mathematical precision of mind.

This technique is one I hadn’t given much thought to until I ran across a postcard with this image on it. Other notable artists who explored this method were Paul Signac and Vincent van Gogh.

For me, studying these images of masterpieces for the Friday posts on art teaches me how to be creative with my words. Artists both push the limits of their color palettes and yet force external constraints on themselves to create images that fool the eye.

Authors must do the same with how we shape our words.

About the Pointillist technique of painting, from Wikipedia: If red, blue, and green light (the additive primaries) are mixed, the result is something close to white light. Painting is inherently subtractive, but Pointillist colors often seem brighter than typical mixed subtractive colors. This may be partly because subtractive mixing of the pigments is avoided, and partly because some of the white canvas may be showing between the applied dots.

The painting technique used for Pointillist color mixing is at the expense of the traditional brushwork used to delineate texture.

The majority of Pointillism is done in oil paint. Anything may be used in its place, but oils are preferred for their thickness and tendency not to run or bleed.


Sources and Attributions:

Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:Georges Seurat – A Sunday on La Grande Jatte — 1884 – Google Art Project.jpg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Georges_Seurat_-_A_Sunday_on_La_Grande_Jatte_–_1884_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg&oldid=90112845 (accessed January 10, 2019).

Wikipedia contributors, “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia,https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=A_Sunday_Afternoon_on_the_Island_of_La_Grande_Jatte&oldid=875941354 (accessed January 10, 2019).

Wikipedia contributors, “Georges Seurat,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Georges_Seurat&oldid=877532379 (accessed January 10, 2019).

Wikipedia contributors, “Pointillism,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Pointillism&oldid=874469961(accessed January 10, 2019).

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#FineArtFriday: A Guardroom by Abraham Teniers

I have often said that to write about medieval and pre-industrial revolution societies, you must go to art to get the facts. This painting, attributed to Abraham Teniers, is a symbolic piece showing the transience of life and the certainty of death.

He shows us a guardroom. Abraham Teniers served as a captain of the local civil militia of Antwerp and was fond of painting guardroom scenes.

This particular scene is intriguing to me, because of the way the jumble of disjointed metal armor completely dominates the painting. In the foreground, in the light, we see flintlock pistols, muskets, breast plates, leg guards, vambraces, a drum, swords and other steel weaponry, and several helmets—all cast into a corner.

Almost unnoticed in the background, peasant soldiers are shown smoking and drinking before a fireplace. They are deliberately kept in the background of the picture, an allegory for the fleetingness of life.

The armor depicted in the picture was of a style no longer in use at the time it was painted. Metal armor was falling out of use by the time Abraham Teniers was born. Plate had lost its effectiveness as guns became the weaponry of choice. It is the allegory representing death.

Abraham is not the most famous of the Teniers family, but he was a talented and skilled painter. In this scene, he makes good use of chiaroscuro, strong contrasts between light and dark.

About the artist (from Wikipedia):

Abraham Teniers (1 March 1629 – 26 September 1670) was a Flemish painter and engraver who specialized in genre paintings of villages, inns and monkey scenes. He was a member of artist family Teniers which came to prominence in the 17th century. He was also active as a publisher. He was responsible for the publication of the Theatrum Pictorium (‘Theatre of Paintings’), the project initiated by his brother David to make a set of engravings of the entire art collection of Archduke Leopold Wilhelm.

Like his brother David before him, Abraham found appreciation at the court in Brussels and the art-loving Archduke Leopold Wilhelm of Austria – then the governor of the Southern Netherlands and a resident of Brussels – appointed him as court painter.


Credits and Attributions:

Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:Abraham Teniers – Een wachtlokaal, 1 (Prado).jpg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Abraham_Teniers_-_Een_wachtlokaal,_1_(Prado).jpg&oldid=267098550 (accessed January 3, 2019).

Wikipedia contributors, “Abraham Teniers,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Abraham_Teniers&oldid=871305163 (accessed January 3, 2019).

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