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.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Ellsworth Kelly

Happy Birthday Ellsworth Kelly!! American painter, born in 1923, he studied at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, the School of Fine Arts in Boston and abroad at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris. Kelly was known for his abstractions using geometric forms. With time his work grew to include architectural installations mounted on the wall, sculptural totems, and series of panels. Musical Color Confetti is the title of the work below. He currently resides in Spencertown, New York.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Alexander Archipenko

Happy Birthday Alexander Archipenko!! Sculptor from Russia, born in 1887, this artist used the Cubist style to construct his figures. He relocated to Paris in 1908. The couple below is titled Conversation.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Hans Makart

Happy Birthday Hans Makart!! Austrian painter born today in 1840, Makart quickly rose in popularity. He studied with Karl von Piloty and was given a studio by the emperor of Austria and it became the popular place to be seen, frequented by politicians, artists and royalty. He painted historical scenes in rich colors, with an etheral quality, creating a dreamy, sensual aura. His nudes were often scandalous for the times. Gustav Klimt claims Makart as an influence. Charlotte Wolter as the Empress Messalina is shown here today.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Louis Jean Desprez

Happy Birthday Louis Jean Desprez!! This artist was a painter and architect from France and born in 1743. He provided an important link between Neoclassicism and the Romantic age in France. His work was influenced by the ruins he visited in Greece and Rome. Many of his projects remained in the design phase, never to be completed. His last twemty years were spent working in Sweden. The Conservatory, pictured here, is located in Uppsala and considered his most significant creation.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Giovanni Antonio Guardi

Happy Birthday Giovanni Antonio Guardi!! Italian painter also known as Gianantonio, born in 1699, Guardi was from a family of painters. His father was a Baroque painter and his younger brother, Francesco, was known perhaps better than Giovanni. He was a founder of the Academy of Painting in Venice. He had his own studio in 1730 in Venice and was known for his religious works and decorative panels for villas and palaces. The Sultan Receives a Delegation is the title of this work by Guardi dated 1742.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Philippe de Champaigne

Happy Birthday Philippe de Champaigne!! Born in Brussels in 1602, Champaigne came from poor beginnings. He was a landscape painter and later became a court painter after marrying Nicholas Duchesne's (his teacher's) daughter. Along with Voulet, Champaigne is said to be the most important artist of the mid 17th century. He  was one of the fourteen founders of the Academy of Painting and Sculpture in Paris. Most of the work he left is religious. I am including his Annunciation (1645), today.


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Carlo Dolci

Happy Birthday Carlo Dolci!! This Italian painter was born in 1616. Again, today, we look at a Baroque artist. Dolci began his study in the studio of Jacopo Vignali at age nine. He was extremely religious and painted many works in that vein. It is said that he worked excruciatingly slow, sometimes spending a week on just a foot! The youthful Christ pictured here is so realistic it is hard to believe it is not a photograph!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Georg Raphael Donner

Happy Birthday Georg Raphael Donner!! This Baroque sculptor was born in Vienna in 1693. Georg Donner has been described as the most productive Austrian sculptor of the 18th century. Much of his work can be seen at the Belvedere Palace, used today as a huge Baroque museum in Vienna. The Pieta is one of his last works and is located in the cathedral in Gurk.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Nicodemus Tessin II

Happy Birthday Nicodemus Tessin II!! Born in Sweden, this artist was a Baroque designer and architect from the Baroque time period. He was part of a family of architects, his father and his son were also in the profession. After studying mathematics and language and making several trips to Europe, he became active in his father's business. Tessin married a woman of high nobility, so had to design a palace suitable for her. Tessin Palace was finished in 1697. He designed several churches, including Holy Trinity Church in Karlskrona, included here today.

Sunday, May 22, 2011


Happy Birthday Marisol!! Born Maria Sol Escobar, to Venezuelan parents in Paris, this sculptor spent most of her life going between Paris and Los Angeles.  Her work, generally considered pop art, is of a rather primitive nature, box-like figures out of wood and other found objects, and usually painted. These figures are regarded as three dimensional portraits, drawing an influence from Pre-Columbian artifacts. Claiming to have been born an artist, she continues to live and work in New York. Women and Dog is shown here today.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Henri Rousseau

Happy Birthday Henri Rousseau!! You will have to excuse my tardiness, but it is the first day of my retirement and I have been taking it EASY...French painter, born in 1844, Rousseau served in the military and then worked in the Paris Custom's Office before retiring to focus full time on his art in 1893. Considered a Post-Impressionist, he painted in a primitive style intriguing to the Surrealists. Rousseau's masterpiece is the Sleeping Gypsy (1897), pictured here. He described it 's subject as a "wandering Negress overcome by fatigue". Fortunately the lion who happens by does not devour her! The crystal sky casts a haunting light over the scene. 

Friday, May 20, 2011

Henri Edmond Cross

Happy Birthday Henri Edmond (Delacroix) Cross!! French pointillist painter, born in 1856, Cross was closely associated with Signac and Seurat. Cross is an English pseudonym used to distinguish himself from artist Henri-Eugene Delacroix. He studied law before devoting himself to art. His colors are clear and bright, his brushstrokes generous and deliberate. In later years his colors became quite bold and he is linked to the Fauvists. View of the Church of Santa Maria Degli Angeli Near Assisi (1909) is shown today for purely selfish reasons. My husband and I will be traveling to and around Assisi in just a couple of weeks! Maybe we will experience this same view...

Pointillism-In painting, the careful placement of dots or points of color, juxtaposing various colors next to each other to encourage an optical blend, rather than actually blending on the palette. The result is a soft glowing effect. George Seurat was the champion of this work.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Gaston Lachaise

Happy Birthday Gaston Lachaise!! Born today in France in 1886, Lachaise was considered a child prodigy and began playing with his father's woodcarving tools before he even started school! His art study was cut short for a time, however, when he fell in love and earned the money to come back to America with Isabel Dutaud Nagle in 1906. He went back and forth from Paris to the US, creating sculpture of women. His wife was his model for the archetypal woman he sought to achieve. He has been called the "greatest American sculptor of all time" by Artnews. I chose to include his Georgia O'Keefe (1927) on my blog this morning.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Stefano della Bella

Happy Birthday Sefano della Bella!! Italian born printmaker from 1610, Bella was known for his engravings of military personnell, but at the incredibly young age of 10, he began studying in the workshop of a goldsmith. Soon after, however, he switched to engraving and then painting. He enjoyed the patronage of the Medici family and was able to study for six years in Rome, creating numerous drawings of vedute and antiquities, later transforming these into engravings. Bella continued to create drawings and prints in Paris and then Florence until a stroke in 1661 curtailed his work. In the latter years of his life he instructed pupils in drawing. He left behind over a thousand prints, several thousand drawings but only one painting. The print included today is the View of the Harbor Livorno andmarks the peak of his career. Note the wash used in the water, a highly technical technique in an etching.

Vedute-sweeping landscape views or vistas that are highly detailed.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Sandro Botticelli

Happy Birthday Sandro Botticelli!! Italian painter from 1444, Botticelli was born in Florence. He worked closely with Filippino Lippi and was a pupil of Lippi's father. There is some confusion as to which paintings belong to whom in some cases since they worked quite similarly. Although he was commissioned to create frescoes for the Sistine Chapel, his best work is the tempera on panel, such as The Birth of Venus and the Mystic Nativity included here. He never did reach the status of contemporaries Raphael, da Vinci or Michelangelo.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Viktor Vasnetsov

Happy Birthday Viktor Vasnetsov!! Born in 1848, Russian artist Viktor Vasnetsov was a painter. He originally planned to become a priest, following in his father's and grandfather's footsteps, but after going to school for theology, changed his mind and went into art. He attended the Imperial Academy of the Arts in St. Petersburg and got his start painting genre scenes of contemporary life in Russia. He eventually began painting Russian historical and mythological subjects. He became a proponent in the Revivalist movement in Russian art. Bogatyrs, the Russian word for “Heroes” is considered Vasnetsov's most important work, depicting 3 notable warriors.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Richard Avedon

Happy Birthday Richard Avedon!! Top of the line American portrait photographer, Richard Avedon was born today in 1923. A high school dropout, Avedon landed a job as a department store photographer after serving in the Merchant Marines. His reputation quickly grew and he began producing photographs for Harper's Bazaar and Vanity Fair. His work of celebrities became quite sought after, but he also did series of mental patients, carnival workers and working class Americans. Of course I must include his Janis Joplin (1969, Port Arthur Texas), one of my favorites.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Marco Zanuso

Happy Birthday to my Dad, Harry Todd Crittenden and Happy Birthday Marco Zanuso!! Italian born designer from Milan, Zanuso was born in 1916. After graduating with a degree in architecture from the Polytechnic in Milan he went on to become a professor there. In addition to practicing architecture and urban planning, he was one of the foremost designers of post war Italy. His work is described as elegant, but functional. He was editor of a couple of publications, expounding on his theories of the Modern Design movement. He designed several innovative chairs, including the stackable children's chair from plastic and the “Lady's Chair” pictured here. The funny thing about the artist for today sharing a birthday with my dad is that my dad also loved chairs! As long s I can remember we had stacks of chairs in our basement that my dad ws re-finishing and refurbishing! He loved fixing chairs...

Friday, May 13, 2011

Henry Williams Stiegel

 Happy Birthday Henry William Stiegel!! German born American from 1729, Stiegel was an ironmaster and glassmaker. After moving to Philadelphia in 1750, he advanced to a master iron worker by 1760. He turned to glass making soon after, employing glassblowers from Europe. His signature colors were green, blue and purple. The down turn of the economy brought his downfall as well, and he was thrown in prison for debt. When he was released he worked for a time in one of his original plants and then was a preacher, teacher and music tutor. The amethyst pocket bottle from nonlead glass was made by Stiegel c1765-1774.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Happy Birthday Dante Gabriel Rossetti!! Englishman born in 1828, this artist was a painter. He became interested as a young boy in literature and poetry, turning to drawing after studying with John Sell Cotman. Later Rossetti joined with William Holman Hunt and John Everett Millais and reacted to Victorian materialism and conventional painting, founding the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. He was an influence for the Symbolists who came after his work. His art was sensual and thought provoking. Day-Dream, 1880, is pictured here today.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Henri Labrouste

Happy Birthday Henri Labrouste!! French architect Henri Labrouste was born in 1801. He attended the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris and won the Prix de Rome for architecture in 1824. He is most well known for the design of two prominent libraries, both in Paris. Both employ an innovative construction of light cast iron columns supporting an intricate roof structure of laced wires. He summed up his views on design, “In architecture, form must always be appropriate to function...a logical and expressive decoration must derive from the construction itself.”

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Timothy Birdsall

Happy Birthday Timothy Birdsall!! English cartoonist born today in 1936 Birdsall's life ended tragically in 1963 from leukemia. He was born in Cambridge and attended Cambridge University. He appeared on BBC's “That Was The Week That Was” behind a large plate of glass, drawing a pertinent cartoon each week. His satirical political cartoons also appeared in the Sunday Times, Private Eye, and others. His work was insightful, inventive and finely detailed as represented in the cartoon below titled Eating People is Just Wrong.

Monday, May 9, 2011

George Barker

Happy Birthday George Barker!! Landscape painter from Omaha, this artist was born in 1882. He studied with Thomas Eakins and after spending time in Paris he settled in California, becoming known for “plein air” (painting on the spot) landscape work. He married watercolorist Olive Carpenter. He was a teacher of graphic arts at the Polytechnic High School while quietly creating his own art as well. Following the stock market crash in 1929 he quit his job to focus on his art. “Where the Billows Fleecy Surf Looks Soft as Carded Wool” is the descriptive title of his painting below.

Sunday, May 8, 2011


Happy Birthday Baciccia!! Italian born master painter, Bacicia was from Genoa was born in1639.  As a young artist, he was influenced by Rubens, van Dyck, Correggio and later, Baroque painter Pietro da Cortona. It is felt that Baciccia surpassed this artist with his lush color and illusionist depth. The ceiling painting included today is St. Ignatius in Glory, from 1679. The figures in the foreground seem to protrude out toward us, as the Heavens above recede into infinite space.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Germain Boffrand

Happy Birthday Germain Boffrand!! French artist, born in 1667, Boffrand was a Rococo (Louis XV) decorator and architect. It is believed he alone solidified and popularized the interior and architectural style “rococo”. He was the son of an architect but first studied sculpture, later opening a practice in architecture and interior design. His own sons collaborated with him, but sadly both died young, before Boffrand. I am including an interior typical of his Rococo syle.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Lorenzo Lippi

 Happy Birthday Lorenzo Lippi!! Italian, born in Florence, Lorenzo Lippi from 1606 was a painter and poet. He studied with Matteo Rosselli and went on to work with him in partnership. He was married to the daughter of a wealthy sculptor and appointed court painter in Innsbruck. He painted many portraits (such as the one below) and allegorical and Biblical subjects. His work is recognizable by the graceful folds in the drapery and soft facial expressions.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Viktor Hartmann

Happy Birthday Viktor Hartmann!! Russian painter and architect, Hartmann was born in 1834. He was raised by his uncle, an architect, after being orphaned at a young age. Following in his uncle's footsteps, he studied at the Academy of Fine Arts. He worked as an architect and illustrator, also painting in watercolor. He was one of the first to include Russian motifs in his art. Unfortunately, Hartmann died at the early age of 39. The plan here is a design for the city gate for Kiev.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Bartolommeo Cristofori

Happy Birthday Bartolommeo Cristofori!! Italian piano maker, Cristofori was born in 1655. Although it has been speculated that he helped create various instruments such as the cello and the double bass but he has been credited with inventing the piano around 1700. It is said that after being appointed caretaker of the Florentine court's musical instruments he created the first pianoforte (piano). He continued to make revisions and improvements on his instrument. Three of his pianos still survive, one in New York at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, one in Rome and the last in Leipzig.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Jacob Riis

Happy Birthday Jacob Riis!! Danish photographer born in 1849, Riis was one of 15 children and experienced poverty firsthand. He was a carpenter in Copenhagen, Denmark. After emigrating to America in 1870, he eventually became a photographer and exposed the horror of the slums of New York to the public. He was determined to reveal social injustices and found that photography could do that so much better than words. Riis is considered one of the first to use photographs as social documents. He employed the use of flash powder to illuminate his subjects in the dark, gloomy settings he found them. Riis also wrote several books suggesting social change and gave public talks and slide shows of his work. Ultimately he was instrumental in seeing that the police lodging houses for the destitute were torn down and later that parks and public places were created for the tenement neighborhoods.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Peggy Bacon

So sorry these posts are late this time!! We had the extreme pleasure of attending the Carlos Santana concert but then got stranded in Las Vegas for a couple of days after some car trouble...but I am back now!! So first...let's talk about Sunday...

Happy Birthday Jules Breton!! Born on May Day, May 1, 1827, Jules Breton was a French Realist painter. He was brought up by his father, after his mother died when he was young. He studied in Paris, and became acquainted with other Realist painters. His paintings of the French countryside present a sublime, peaceful existence. It is reported that Vincent Van Gogh was so impressed with his work he once walked 85 miles to meet him, but turned away after becoming discouraged by the high wall surrounding Breton's property. He was also a writer, publishing his poems. This painting is called simply, Summer.

Happy Birthday Peggy Bacon!! American printmaker and illustrator, born on May 2, 1895, in Connecticut to parents who were also artists. She lived with her parents in Paris when she was nine until age eleven, educated by private tutors. She trained at the Art Students League in New York, where she met her future husband, just as her parents had met years earlier. She contributed illustrations to the New Yorker and Vanity Fair and also illustrated books. She and her husband had one daughter after moving to London, England. The illustration included here is titled Greed.