Blossoming Almond Branch in a Glass (1888)

Blossoming Almond Branch in a Glass (1888)
One of my favorite still life subjects of Van Gogh, the cut branch in a glass, I ran across this one with the book behind creating a complicated compositional element. Note also the use of complementary colors, red and green, creating a vibration in the painting.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

John La Farge

Happy Birthday John La Farge!! Born today in 1835, John La Farge was a painter. Although this artist was an American, he was educated in France. He came back to the US and executed a revival of mural painting. With him he also brought French influence in his naturalistic approach and lush color. In addition to murals, La Farge designed stained glass windows with as little lead as possible to emphasize the brilliant, colorful composition.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Francisco Goya

Happy Birthday Francisco Goya!! This painter and lithographer was born in 1746 in Saragossa, Spain. He was a portrait painter as well as the official painter to the king. In 1792 he was quite ill and went deaf, perhaps leading to his extreme introspective paintings to follow. In his work he attacked positions of the church, political uprisings, etc. Although his commentary was often controversial, he did, however, continue to work for the King until his self-inflicted exile to Bordeaux in 1824. In 1817 he experimented with the new printing process: lithography, creating portraits and bullfighting scenes. In an attempt to encourage his countrymen to take a hard look at themselves, Goya produced a series of prints titled Los Caprichos, of which the one I am including today is one: The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters.

I must mention that today is also Vincent van Gogh's birthday...please go to to read my post from last year about him!!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Sir Edwin Landseer Lutyens

Happy Birthday Sir Edwin Landseer Lutyens!! The English born artist from 1869 was knighted in 1918. He was born in London and named after a friend of his father's, painter and sculptor Edwin Landseer. He received his architectural trainng at South Kensington School of Art and opened his own practice in 1888. After many designs in the Arts and Craft and Tudor styles, Lutyens focused on a more Classical style. He designed private country homes, churches, monuments and commercial buildings. Perhaps his most favored design (certainly mine) was the doll house design he supervised for Queen Mary and her husband George V. It is meant to exhibit the superb British craftsmanship of the time as well as represent how the Royal family lived during the period. Queen Mary's Dolls' House was constructed in 1:12 (1 inch=1 foot) scale and is over 3 feet tall. the furnishings, drapes and carpets are all replicas of the "real thing"; the toilets and sinks are plumbed and the light fixtures work! I want to be a kid in the Royal Palace!!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Fra Bartolommeo

Happy Birthday Fra Bartolommeo!! Born today in Florence, Italy, in 1472, this painter studied with Cosimo Rosselli and is said to have been an influence on Raphael. After witnessing a mob scene horror when Savonarola was drug from his convent to prison and then death, Bartolommeo became a monk. From 1500 he practiced his art from the confines of the convent, S Marco. He directed the workshop beginning in 1504, and traveling to Rome and Venice to witness art developments, thus was a major influence in the change in art from the late 15th to the 16th century. He favored a more impressive and generalistic approach to the previous agitated movement and contemporary costume of the 15th century. Fra Bartolommeo is an artist whose religion definitely played a role in the development and creation of his work. I am including a portrait of the monk Girolamo Savonarola, whose life and ultimately death, so influenced Bartolommeo.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe

Happy Birthday Ludwig Mies van der Rohe!! German architect from 1886, this artist came from a family of stone carvers (where he got his start in the artworld). He later became associated with Peter Behren's studio, a fellow designer and architect. Commonly known as Mies, he led the way for architects in the latter 1920's and 1930's. His structures were simple creations from metal and glass. His furniture design was spare “skin and bone”. The Barcelona Pavillion is included here.


Saturday, March 26, 2011

Moreau le Jeune

Happy Birthday Jean-Michel Moreau le Jeune!! Born in Paris, France in 1741 and the son of a wigmaker, le Jeune was best known for his work on costume design. He studied with a painter and engraver but eventually discontinued his painting and concentrated almost solely on drawings for engravings. He also drew portraits using charcoal and chalk.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Jack Youngerman

Happy Birthday Jack Youngerman!! This American artist was born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1926. He later moved with his family to Louisville, Kentucky. He attended University of Missouri and also went to school at the University of North Carolina under a wartime program with the US Navy. Youngerman moved to Paris for a time, where he studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. He was a Minimalist artist, creating works based on repeating geometric forms in various contrasting colors. Some of his images have been recreated into large, flat plate sculptures.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Edward Weston

Happy Birthday Edward Weston!! American photographer, Edward Weston was born in 1886, in Illinois and spent most of his youth in Chicago. After receiving a camera from his father when he was 16, he began taking photos of the Chicago parks as well as his aunt's farm. Working as a surveyor, he moved to California in 1906, where he met his wife. He met Paul Strand, Alfred Stieglitz, and Georgia O'Keefe, following which he rejected pictorialism and began to focus instead on nudes, compositions of close-up views of fruits, vegetables, and common household items. Parkinson's disease prevented him from continuing with his work in 1948. The Pepper, below was photographed in 1930.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Juan Gris

Happy Birthday Juan Gris!! This artist was a Cubist painter, from Madrid, Spain, born today, in 1887. He started his career by studying mechanical drawing and submitting his work to various newspapers. In 1906, he moved to Paris, becoming friends with other artists such as Henri Matisse, George Braque, and Fernand Leger. His focus became synthetic Cubism, using bright colors rather than the monochromatic palette of traditional Cubism.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

John Frederick Kensett

Happy Birthday John Frederick Kensett!! American painter from 1816, he was trained by his father and an uncle. Kensett began as an apprentice to an engraver, but eventually he turned to painting after traveling to Europe. His work consisted of landscapes with a striking tonal quality exhibiting a quiet peaceful setting. His focus became a subtle, sensitive approach to outdoor light, leading the way for landscape artists to come. Perhaps the best exemplar of his work, Paradise Rock, Newport, is included here.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Claude Nicloas Ledoux

Happy Birthday Claude Nicolas Ledoux!! Born in France in 1736, this Parisian artist was a visionary Neoclassical architect. He began drawing at an early age and pursued a course of study in the Classics at the College de Beauvais. After graduation at 17, Ledoux worked as an engraver for 4 years before studying architecture under Jacques-Francois Blondel. He designed some private homes as well as buildings for the city. His work was extremely expensive and impossible to complete in some cases. One which was never finished was the ambitions Royal Saltworks at Arc-et-Senans (below). This was a grand plan for an ideal city with an elaborate salt extracting plant as its hub. Lack of funding and complications presented with the French Revolution prevented the completion of his scheme. Following his arrest during the French Revolution he ceased practicing architecture.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Jean Antoine Houdon

Happy Birthday Jean-Antoine Houdon!! Neoclassical sculptor, Houdon, was born in Versailles in 1741. He created an anatomical model that has been used by countless artists since. He sculpted portrait busts of important philosophers, politicians and inventors. His portrait of George Washington was commissioned by Benjamin Franklin. It was sculpted by first creating a clay model and a plaster face cast. These were also later used as models for US postage stamps. He was a professor for the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture in Paris. His bust of Washington resides in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Albert Pinkham Ryder

Happy Birthday Albert Pinkham Ryder!! American born painter from 1847, this artist was a Romantic. Largely self-taught, he did study with lesser artist William Edgar Marshall and was eventually admitted to the National Academy of Design. Considered a “visionary painter” he painted subjects from Shakespeare, Poe, Byron, etc. His best known works are those of mystical seas and the forces of nature, an obsession since his birth in a fishing port, created toward the end of his career. Sadly, most of his work has been lost, due to eccentric work using unstable materials. The one I have chosen to post today is Jonah at Sea.

Friday, March 18, 2011

William H. Johnson

Happy Birthday William H. Johnson!! This African American Folk Artist was born in 1901. He trained at the National Academy of Arts under Charles Hawthorne. Following his schooling, he left for Europe to paint and there met his wife, a textile designer. After a time in Paris, Denmark, and later North Africa, Johnson returned to America to paint his impressions of the South. He used his rather primitive style to express various aspects of Southern living such as Going to Church pictured below. His bright colors and simple shapes depicted a simple rural life amidst urban settings, combining the deep South with Harlem of the early 1900s.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Jean Baptiste Oudry

Happy Birthday Jean Baptiste Oudry!! Born in 1686, France, this artist was a Rococo painter who, like Rosa Bonheur from yesterday's blog, specialized in animal paintings. Oudry's father was the director of the Academie de St. Luc Art School, which he attended, graduating at 21, specializing in portraiture. After graduation and becoming a professor at the academie, he painted portraits for a time until he created a tapestry series entitled Pastoral Amusements which launched him into animal painting. He received a commission from the king and painted the Louis XV Hunting a Deer in the Forest of Saint-Germain, furthering his career in animal painting.


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Rosa Bonheur

Happy Birthday Rosa Bonheur!! Realist painter, born in France in 1822, she was educated by her father, who was a minor landscape painter. She loved animals and as a youth was allowed to keep many in her apartment in Paris. Rosa Bonheur became one of the most renowned animal painters in the world. She often dressed as a man while researching her subjects to attract less attention. Although her lifestyle and subject were unconventional, her painting was considered quite conservative. She won several awards from the Salon, exhibiting with them regularly. The Horse Fair, first exhibited in France and then England is now hanging in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Johann Zoffany

Happy Birthday Johann Zoffany!! (originally Zaufallij) Born in 1733, Johann Zoffany was a Neo-classical painter from Germany. He began his career in art first by studying with a sculptor, then worked as a painter for a clockmaker in England, in 1760, where he remained for the rest of his life. Throughout his career he painted portraits of many actors, actresses, and important people as well as group portraits and oversized elaborate scenes with many recognizable people and objets d'art. The portrait I am including here is of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

Neoclassicism is a term given to various forms of visual art, literature, music, etc. that attempts to recreate the ideal form of classical art.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Adolph Gottlieb

Happy Birthday Adolph Gottlieb!! This Abstract Expressionist was born in New York in 1903. He was educated at the Art Students League and traveled to Germany and then France where he studied art in Paris. After returning to New York, he joined with nine fellow artists, forming a group called “The Ten”, and later became know as Abstract Expressionists, showing their work together. Gottlieb lived in Arizona for a few years, painting the cacti and desert landscape. As the years progressed, his work became more and more abstract, reducing his landscapes to a circular sun with ground below. He was also known as one of the first color field painters.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Alexej von Jawlensky

Happy Birthday Alexej von Jawlensky!! Russian born painter who relocated to Germany, this artist was born in 1864. He entered the Moscow military academy when he was 18 and also studied art at the St, Petersburg Academy of Art. In 1986 he moved to Munich and after exploring various styles of painting he found his true calling in brilliantly colored landscapes and human heads. Considered an Expressionist, Jawlensky is considered the only artist to create art with a meditative quality. His mature work featured simple forms; stylized faces, in strong colors such as the one pictured here.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

David d'Angers

Happy Birthday David d'Angers!! The French Romantic sculptor was born in 1768; his father also a sculptor and carver. He studied at the Ecoles des Beaux-Arts in Paris, winning a prize of 600 francs. He traveled to Rome to work for 5 years, securing the “prix de Rome” there (a scholarship for students allowing them to study in Rome).  After returning to France he achieved notoriety in medallions and busts and was able to obtain some monumental commissions as well. Philopoemen, sculpted from marble, is located in the Louvre.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Charles Locke Eastlake

Happy Birthday Charles Locke Eastlake Jr.!! Architect and furniture designer from England, born in 1836, he was trained by architect Phillip Hardwick. Eastlake worked in the Arts and Craft style, furthering the work of William Morris. His efforts triggered a renewed interest in Early English or Modern Gothic furniture designs. Eastlake designed the furniture, while other artisans actually constructed it. He wrote the book, Hints on Household Taste in Furniture, Upholstery, and other Details. The Eastlake Style of furniture is named after him.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Domingos de Sequeira

Happy Birthday Domingos de Sequeira!! Born in 1768, this artist was a painter from Portugal. He began his artistic study in Lisbon and then moved to Rome at age 13 studying under Antonio Cavallucci. He became an official court painter in 1802 in Lisbon where he remained until he returned to Rome.  He employed impressionistic techniques before the Impressionist artists even existed, experimenting with lighting. Adoration of the Magi is an example of his incredible handling of light.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Edgar Scauflaire

Happy Birthday Edgar Scauflaire!! Belgian muralist and decorator, this artist was born today in 1893. After posing for an artist, he became inspired to become an artist at age 11. He studied art at l”Academie des Beaux-Arts, in Liege, Belgium, the city where he was born. The oil painting on panel, Mikado, shows Cubist influences. Although his work became well-known in Belgium and was included in many official showings of Belgian work, I found it extremely difficult to locate biographical information on the artist.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Rosso Fiorentino

Happy Birthday Rosso Fiorentino!! Italian born Mannerist painter from 1494, from Florence, Fiorentino used oil and fresco techniques. His name, Rosso Fiorentino means “Red Florentine” in reference to his red hair.  A pupil of Andrea del Sarto, Fiorentino became a leading figure in Mannerist painting, which was an offshoot of High Renaissance depicting great emotion. The Deposition From the Cross is an altarpiece and generally considered his masterpiece. The emotion of the familiar theme is heightened by the frantic removal of Christ using 3 precarious ladders contrasted by the resigned grief on the faces of the onlookers. Following the sack of Rome, in 1527, he settled in France for the rest of his life .

Monday, March 7, 2011

Milton Avery

Happy Birthday Milton Avery!! Born in 1893, American painter Milton Avery was the son of a tanner who worked at menial jobs before finally supporting himself with his art. His wife was an illustrator and her income helped allow Avery to pursue his interests. His work was often overlooked as being too abstract to be considered representational, but at the same time not abstract expressionistic since it was representational! Nevertheless, he did become a well known modern painter of colorful, novel abstract landscapes, often called the “American Matisse”. The painting I am including today is called Gaspe Landscape, painted in Neuberger, Maine, in 1943.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Will Eisner

Today is Michelangelo's birthday, however I wrote about him last year...check my blog from last year:

Happy Birthday Will Eisner!! The American illustrator and cartoonist was born today, in 1917 and died in 2005. He was born to Jewish immigrants' his father an artist from Vienna. After high school Eisner had success selling his comic strips to Wow! What a Magazine, a new comic book edited by Jerry Iger. The two formed a lucrative business relationship that lasted several years. His early life growing up in New York tenements became the basis for his comics. Eisner was a master at what he termed “sequential” comics or the "new" comic strip. He is considered the most influential comic artist and the prestigious Eisner Award (similar to the Oscar in the comic world) is named after him. He created Uncle Sam, The Spirit, Lady Luck, etc., representing New York City in his tales.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Giovanni Battista Tiepolo

Happy Birthday Giovanni Battista Tiepolo!! This Rococo painter was born in Venice in 1696, the youngest of 6 children. He started painting at a young age, completing his first large commission at age 19. After painting 3 frescoes of battle scenes for a reception room on the Grand Canal in Venice he gained prestige and was kept quite busy with commissions thereafter. Known as a gifted storyteller with an imagination, Tiepolo enchanted the viewer with his dramatic effect. Incredibly prolific, he created 800 paintings, 2400 drawings and many frescoes before his death at age 74. The fresco I am including here is the Blessed Virgin Mary, painted in 1767-69.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Kano Tanyu

Happy Birthday Kano Tanyu!! Born in Japan in 1602, this painter was considered the most prominent painter of the Kano School. He was originally called Morinobu; Tanyu was his artist name. His father and grandfather were also painters. At age 15 he became an official painter for the Tokugawa Shogunate. He was commissioned to create many large-scale screens and panels on various landscape themes including tigers, birds, etc. Tanyu was also expert at monochromatic ink painting narrating the lives of shoguns and various figures from Japanese history.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Arnold Newman

Happy Birthday Arnold Newman!! American photographer, born in 1918, known for his black and white photographs, Newman got his start in photography by making 49 cent studio portraits in Philadelphia. He became famous for creating portraits of people in their own environments, photographing them in their comfortable surroundings, bringing his equipment and gear to them. It was important for him to consider composition and the things important to his subjects. The picture of Igor Stravinsky with his grand piano is his signature photograph.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Albert Herter

Happy Birthday Albert Herter!! Born in New York City, New York, in 1871, this artist was a painter specializing in murals and tapestry design. His father was an interior designer with a furnishing company. Albert studied in Paris and then at the Art Students League in New York, and owned a tapestry weaving operation. He became a collector and art connoisseur along with his wife Adele, and created an incredible collection housed at the family estate in El Mirasol, California often referred to as the House of Herter Art. The mural I am including here today still hangs in the Supreme Court Room in Madison, Wisconsin, depicting the Signing of the American Constitution, with George Washington sitting in the center in the “rising sun” chair. To his right is Benjamin Franklin and to his left, James Madison with his coat on his arm and talking to Alexander Hamilton, finally, at the desk on his left is James Wilson. Unknown is why Herter chose to include only 19 of the 39 original signers.  

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Oskar Kokoschka

Happy Birthday Oskar Kokoschka!! Austrian painter born in 1886, Expressionist Oskar Kokoschka provided a clear link between Symbolism and Expressionism. He began as a draughtsman and worked at Der Sturm, an Expressionist magazine for which Kokoschka provided an artistic portfolio. He was influenced by the Brucke (a group of German Expressionists) and taught for a time at the Dresden Academy. He painted primarily portraits and landscapes from a bird’s eye view. Kokoschka was forced to flee Austria to Prague after the Nazis determined he was a threat and then left there for England. He eventually settled in Switzerland for the rest of his life, but he remained deeply affected by the war.