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.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Richard Morris Hunt

Happy Birthday Richard Morris Hunt!! American architect, born today in 1827, Hunt was the first American architect to study architecture at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. He founded American Institute of Architects. Hunt was a renowned statesman as well, creating the pedestal for the Statue of Liberty and the facade of the Metropolital Museum of Art and many other prominent buildings and homes in New York City. He designed the Biltmore Estate, N. Carolina, the largest private mansion in America. The All Souls Episcopal Cathedral (Asheville, North Carolina)  is one of the last works designed by Richard Morris Hunt.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Andrea Kauffman

Happy Birthday Andrea Kauffman!! This woman was a Swiss Neoclassical painter, born in 1740 and although she was born in Switzerland, she grew up in Austria. Her father was a painter as well and it was he who taught her. He took her to Italy, France and Spain, and she became quite skilled by age 12. She was most adept at classical allegorical and historical painting, and these were exhibited regularly at the Royal Academy. She, with some other painters was commissioned to decorate St. Paul's Cathedral and along with fellow painter Biagio Rebecca was responsible for the Academy's Somerset House lecture room. Her self portrait is below.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Andrei Ryabushkin

Happy Birthday Andrei Ryabushkin!! Russian painter, born in 1861, this artist concentrated on Russian genre scenes. Both his father and brother were painters and when he was orphaned at age 14, he began his artistic study at the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture. Following his training there, he went on to enter the Imperial Academy of Arts, which resulted in a stipend for independent study. Instead of traveling to Rome or Italy, Ryabushkin went to the towns and villages of rural Russia, studying the history and painting the common people in their everyday life. He also painted frescoes and created mosaics for the cathedrals at Novgorod and St, Petersburg. The painting included today is titled A Young Man Breaking into the Girls' Dance. I love the colors and patterning of the peasant girls' dresses and scarves, contrasted with the upstanding posture, plain shirt and traditional Russian fur cap of the boy. 

Friday, October 28, 2011

Andrea della Robbia

Happy Birthday Andrea della Robbia!! This Italian Renaissance sculptor, born in 1423, is one of the only ceramics sculptors (dear to me since this is one of my mediums) I have written about. His uncle was the famed sculptor, Luca della Robbia, and Andrea trained in the family studio, eventually taking it over. His uncle began the use of terra cotta (a low fire red clay), for altar pieces and smaller works since it was much lighter than stone and easier to transport. Andrea went on to become the most important ceramics glaze ("paint" for clay giving it color and shine) sculptor of the 15th century.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Walt Kuhn

Happy Birthday Walt Kuhn!! American painter, born in 1877, Walt Kuhn was interested in art and theater from an early age. He sold his first illustrations to a magazine at age 15. After traveling to Paris and Munich where he studied art, Kuhn returned to New York to begin his career in earnest. Kuhn was one of the artists responsible for initiating the Armory Show of modern art in 1913. He was especially enamored with the bold color and expressive style of the Fauves. His mature style focused on vaudeville, the circus and the colorful figures of that genre: clowns, acrobats, etc. Sadly his personality became more and more bizarre as he grew older and he was institutionalized at the end of his life. The painting The Two Clowns (1940) is an excellent example of his expressionistic style.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Aert de Gelder

Happy Birthday Aert de Gelder!! Born in 1645, Gelder was a Dutch painter. He was one of the last students of Rembrandt, studying with him in his studio in Amsterdam. I was fortunate to visit Rembrandt's house in Amsterdam 5 years ago, and see the studio where these two artists conspired! His painting of King David is displayed at the Rijksmuseum, also in Amsterdam, and considered his most important work. One of the rooms I loved in the house was used for storage of items used in Rembrandt's portraits, such as the turban you see on the King. It was lined with shelves and loaded with hats, stones, shells, pieces of interesting wood, vases, etc. Gelder was the only artist to paint in Rembrandt's distinctive style in the latter part of the 17th century. Please note the use of Rembrandt lighting, a bright illumination of the subject's face (dark behind), guiding the viewer to the center of interest in the picture.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Arshile Gorky

Happy Birthday Arshile Gorky!! Born in Armenia, in 1904, Gorky was an Abstract Expressionist painter influenced by the Surrealist movement. Fleeing Europe prior to WWII, he came to America where he lived for the rest of his life. He became friends with Willem de Kooning, and trained himself by studying the work of other artists, Cubists (compositions) and Surrealists (ideas) in particular, developing his own style by 1940. He believed in an inner vision of artists, guiding their work unconsciously. His work is considered a bridge between European abstractions and American painting of the 40's and 50's. The painting I am including today is titled Enigmatic Combat.

Monday, October 24, 2011

John Sartain

Happy Birthday John Sartain!! The English painter was born today, in 1808. He was also an engraver who trained in London, in the line style. He immigrated  to the US where he introduced the country to mezzotints, a form of engraving using a drypoint method to create tones with thousand of tiny dots carefully placed. In addition to painting portraits and miniatures on ivory, he also did illustrations for books and magazines and created plates for bank notes. He was a friend and colleague of Edgar Allen Poe.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Ephraim Haines

Happy Birthday Ephraim Haines!! American cabinetmaker, born in 1775, was an apprentice to Daniel Trotter, a cabinetmaker from Philadelphia. Several years later, the two opened up a partnership in the furniture making business. Haines moved into the lumber trade after 1807. He was known for his intricate vine and leaf carvings, in addition to distinctive chair feet, displayed in the mahogany armchair pictured below.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Harry Callahan

Happy Birthday Harry Callahan!! This American artist was a photographer, born in 1912. Self-taught, a talk by Ansel Adams convinced Callahan to seriously pursue photography. He was quite experimental in photographing his life, family and the city around him. He worked with multiple exposures, blurring, distance, and varied formats. Although he shot thousands of photos, he finalized only a few each year. One of the first to be recognized for color as well as black and white, in 1996 he won the National Medal of Arts for his work. The Acme Sign Shop, Providence, 1977, is included today.

Friday, October 21, 2011


Happy Birthday Domenichino!! Born in 1581, in Italy, Domenichino was a Bolognese painter trained by Ludovico in the academy established by Carracci there. His work is sensitive with gentle color and composition, leading him to be considered the most classical of the Bolognese painters of the day. He is credited with being one of the pioneers in landscape painting. His most celebrated work is the church of S. Andrea della Valle, Rome, where he was responsible for the pendentives and choir loft (to his dismay he was not commissioned for the dome).

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Sir Christopher Wren

Happy Birthday Christopher Wren!! The English architect was born in 1632 and knighted in 1673. He earned his degree from Wadham College, Oxford and there helped form an intellectual group: The Royal Society. He initially studied astronomy, but when an uncle requested he design a chapel for pembroke College, Cambridge, he began his work in architecture. He completed seveal commissions and even designed an utopian vision for London after the great fire, which was only partially realized. Today I am including St. Paul's Cathedral (1675-1710), London, a design in the Late Renaissance style. The peak of the dome stands 366 feet above the pavement.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Jean Baptiste Regnault

Happy Birthday Jean Baptiste Regnault!! French painter, born in Paris in 1754, Regnault began his study of painting in Italy at age 15. He is best known for his allegorical paintings as well as some large historical canvases. The subject of his painting the Origin of Painting (below) is a sub-genre popular in the late 18th century. Although it is considered one of his lesser works, I particularly like the casual, off-handed manner of the artist as she leans over to trace the silhouette.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Luca Giordano

Happy Birthday Luca Giordano!! Italian painter, born in 1632, this artist was known as "Luca paint quickly", after is father's urging to be prolific. He was versatile in many styles, beginning in Naples under the tutelage of Ribera, he went on to Rome where he developed a lighter palette. He painted a chapel in Florence, and then was called to Spain by King Charles II to paint another, his masterpiece, the Escorial.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Cristofano Allori

Happy Birthday Cristofano Allori!! Born in Florence in 1577, Allori was a portrait painter who first studied drawing, painting and anatomy with his father. He then worked in the studio of Gregorio Pagani nd developed a more naturalistic style. He was an artist extremely dedicated to detail, limiting the number finished works. His best known work is Judith (1613), depicting Judith with the head of Holofernes, for which he used his mistress as his model, even using his own features in the face of Holofernes.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Arnold Bocklin

Happy Birthday Arnold Bocklin!! Swiss painter Arnold Bocklin was born in 1827 and a symbolist painter. Although his father, a merchant, was opposed to his chosen career, he attended the Dusseldorf Academy of Art. He traveled between Brussels, Antwerp, Switzerland and Paris, settling finally in Rome in 1850, studying the work of masters. It was in Italy that he met his wife and eventually after a period in Switzerland, they settled there for the remainder of their lives. He felt it was the artist's duty to give the viewer food for thought, creating a lasting impression, much the same as a poet's work. His most famed work is perhaps The island of the Dead, included here, depicting a lonesome island set away from the world. He painted several versions of this theme.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

John Vanderlyn

Happy Birthday John Vanderlyn!! This American born artist from 1775 was an historical and allegorical painter who has the distinction of being the first American painter to study in Paris. Although he did paint portraits, he aspired to a more serious path for his painting. He wished become a significant player in shaping historical and genre painting of early America. After studying for at least 5 years in Paris, he returned to America, only to return to Europe, this time to Rome where he completed his most famous work. Ariadne of Naxos, the painting below, is a magnificent classic, idealized nude languishing in a vast background. Unfortunately America could not offer Vanderlyn the commissions Europe could, so his career came to a standstill.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Alesso Balcovinetti

October 14, 2011

We are camping for the next few I am posting Friday's blog early, enjoy!

Happy Birthday Alesso Baldovinetti!! Florentine artist from 1426, this man was a painter as well as a mosaic and stained glass artist. Though he did paint frescoes, even finishing some begun by Fra Angelica, his expertise lay in his mosaic and stained glass work. The work I am including today is a mosaic in the pediment of San Miniato del Monte in Florence, Italy, depicting Christ with the Virgin Mary and St. Minias. Although I have not seen this one, I have seen others just this past summer in Florence very similar in technique and age and you just cannot imagine the intricate detail and values achieved with the very tiny precisely cut tiles. The background is luminescent gold, alluding to the Holy subject.


Charles Worth

Happy Birthday Charles Worth!! French couturier Charles Worth was born on October 13, 1825, in England and relocated to Paris in 1945. worked as a clerk in the textile industry, leading to his expertise in fabrics and fashion. His fame as a dress designer grew gradually culminating in him becoming the court designer for the wife of Napoleon III, Empress Eugenie. Known best for his attention to fit and elaborate fabrics and trim, he continued to design one of a kind dresses for important clients, leading to his title “Father of Haute-Couture”. The evening dresses included below afford a look at the unsparing decorative aspects of Worth's creations.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Art Clokey

Happy Birthday Art Clokey!! American Art Clokey, born in 1921, was a much loved innovator in film animation. His parents divorced, his father later died and since his mother was remarried and beginning a new life, he was sent to an orphanage. Fortunately he was adopted by a man who nurtured his artistic talents. He loved to play with mud and clay mixture at his grandfather's called gumbo, leading to his well known figure: Gumby. He is said to be the first to create a music video Gumbasia, and has given countless numbers of children fun with his character Gumby. His "claymation" technique introduced the world to clay figures moving in concert with music and even full length films.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

George Ault

Happy Birthday George Ault!! Born in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1891, George Ault studied in London, where he spent most of his childhood. He was a painter associated with the Precisionist group, although his work seems more toward Surrealism to me, and he definitely does not idolize the machine (as other Precisionists might). His work is primarily urban landscapes with a sense of foreboding, reminding me of de Chirico. He is known for his light effects and night scenes seem to be a theme, as well as the barn included here. His adult life was troubled with drinking and his death was a result, when he slipped and drowned in a swollen creek late one night after a drunken binge.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Alberto Giacometti

Happy Birthday Alberto Giacometti!! Swiss born (1901) sculptor Alberto Giacommetti was the son of Neo-Impressionist Giovanni Giacometti. He studied art in Switzerland before going to Paris to continue his study of sculpture with Antoine Bourdelle. He and his brother established a studio in Paris where he worked until the invasion of Paris in 1940. It is reported that he fled Paris on a bicycle! His earlier work has been categorized as Surrealism, but later he was interested in the fleeting existence of humanity (Existentialism) and created thin, spare figures wavering between reality and dream. The relationship of his figures to the space they occupy would become the focus of his sculpture. Balance also comes into play as his creatures defy gravity and manage to stand, as in the sculpture below.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Frank Duveneck

Happy Birthday Frank Duveneck!! Born in 1848, this artist was an American portrait painter from Kentucky. His father (Bernard Decker), a German immigrant, died when he was a baby and his mother remarried Joseph Duveneck. Frank began his study of art at age 15 and eventually went to Germany, becoming known for the development of the "Munich Style", a dark painterly style of vigorous brush strokes pierced with bright colors and bits of light. He was an influence to many artists including those of the Ash Can School. The painting below, Whistling Boy, is an excellent example of his technique.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Max Slevogt

Happy Birthday Max Slevogt!! This German Impressionist painter and illustrator was born in 1868, in Landshut. He studied art at the Munich Academy, painting dark canvases reminiscent of the stormy Munich style at the time. Following a visit to Paris in the late 1880's, he studied at the Academie Julian and his palette brightened; he also began to draw caricatures. He returned to Germany to become one of the country's foremost Impressionist landscape painters. During the war he was an official war painter, conveying the violence of war through paint. The painting I am including today is a touching scene in the mood for autumn, exemplifying his painterly style, Wine Arbour on Neukastel (1917).

Friday, October 7, 2011

Sohrab Sepehri

Happy Birthday Sohrab Sepehri!! Born in 1928, in Iran, this Persian artist was a painter as well as a renowned poet. Sepehri was a naturalist and advocated for pure water and birds to fly freely. He hated war and wanted everyone to love one another and show compassion. He studied painting at the fine arts university in Tehran and went on to paint, experiment in woodcuts and lithography, as well as write poetry. His poems have been likened to e. e. cummings.

Never have I seen two poplar trees at war
Never have I seen a willow selling its shade to the ground The elm tree offers its branches to the crows gratis
Wherever there is a leaf, my passion blossoms...   (an excerpt)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Frank M. Sutcliffe

Happy Birthday Frank M. Sutcliffe!! British artist, born in 1853, Sutcliffe was the son of a famed Victorian painter. His medium was said to be light, which, with his expert skill he was able to capture and use in the most beautiful, ethereal ways. He was rather unsuccessful with glamourous, highly lit portraits and eventually became the curator for a museum in Whitby. His success at photography was the rustic fishing folk of  Whitby, a small fishing village, where his work titled Sea Urchins was created.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Robert Adams

Happy Birthday Robert Adams!! British born sculptor Robert Adams was born in 1917. He was able to pursue his art career following WWII, becoming a leading figure of the British avant-garde as well as a teacher. Two of his early influences are (written about on this blog 7/30/2010 and 1/10/2010) Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth. He began with carving but moved to large projects of welded steel, bronze and poured concrete. He ended his career by returning to his original focus, carving and creating bronze castings.
The piece I am including today was created in copper, titled Three Forms (1951) 12" . I love the feeling of the work perched on three points.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Jean Francois Millet

Happy Birthday Jean Francois Millet!! This French painter from 1814 was founder of the Barbizon school and a well loved precursor to Impressionism. His work differed from his Impressionist contemporaries, however, in that he was more interested in social realities rather than atmospheric reflection on the pictorial elements. His paintings explored life and death, marriage and social status. He fell out of favor with the rise of Impressionism and has never truly regained his rightful status. Millet was an influence on artists such as Van Gogh, Monet and Seurat. I include, today, perhaps his most well known work The Gleaners, please note the similarities to Van Gogh, who was to come later. Follow the repetitive curve of the women's bowed backs sillouetted against a glowing backdrop of sunset as they tackle the age old task of scraping up food for a meal.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Henry Lerolle

Happy Birthday Henry Lerolle!!  Born in 1848, Lerolle was a French painter as well as a patron (to Degas and Renoir among others) and collector. He studied at the Swiss Academy and his work was accepted in the Paris Salon, beginning in 1868. He painted murals in addition to his easel paintings on canvas. His sister-in-law was married to a composer and the artists home was frequented by many artists and musicians. He painted genre scenes, portraits as well as plein-air landscapes. He carefully considered his compositions, favoring an off center, or asymmetrical arrangement.

plein-air Painting outdoors on location

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Martha Brookes Hutcheson

Happy Birthday Martha Brookes Hutcheson!! The American artist, born in 1871 was a landscape architect. She was educated at the New York School of Applied Design for Women and then toured gardens of France and Italy.  Her love of nature ultimately led to education at MIT in the newly formed degree opportunity landscape architecture and a career in the field she so loved. Hutcheson went on to design the grounds for large estates as well as a few public spaces before marrying and retiring from commercial practice. She did, however, continue with her own property and created the Bamboo Brook Educational Estate, a 5 acre garden with Italian features. It has recently undergone a massive restoration project in an attempt to restore it to the state Martha would have approved.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Larry Poons

Happy Birthday Lawrence (Larry) Poons!! Born in Tokyo Japan today in 1937, Poons started out studying classical music at the New England Conservatory of Music, but switched to visual art in 1959. He grew up near New York City. He is an abstract painter of color fields with contrasting dots or small figures, termed Op Art. He also experiments with paint throwing similar to the technique developed by Jackson Pollock.The painting included today is titled Wisemen and was painted in 1975. Larry Poons currently lives in New York.