Monday, May 4, 2015

The Gottlieb - Raeburn Connection

Adrian Gottlieb (b. 1975) is one of the most skilled portrait artists at work in America. The biographical note on his website is here, though as of the time I'm drafting this post (early April), it looks like it needs some updating.

My most recent encounter with his work was this March at the S.R. Brennen Fine Arts gallery in Palm Desert, California (web site here). One Gottlieb painting caught my eye to the degree that I pulled a scrap of paper from my pocket and wrote a note to myself.

What struck me was that it was done in the spirit of a Sir Henry Raeburn portrait that I am familiar with. I do not know if Gottlieb was aware of that particular Raeburn work, so what I show below might be simple coincidence. And if Gottlieb did know the Raeburn painting, it was an excellent source of inspiration.

Gallery

A Long Life
This is the Adrian Gottlieb painting I saw at Brennen's.

James Watt (cropped image) - 1815
This painting can be found at the Huntington Library in San Marino, California. I wrote about it here.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Christopher Nevinson's Urban Paintings

Christopher Richard Wynne (C.R.W.) Nevinson (1889-1946) was part of the first generation of strongly modernist British painters, befriending and later feuding with, for example, Wyndham Lewis. Nevinson was influenced early in his career by Futurism and Cubism, though he seldom plunged very deeply into their desiderata. Perhaps innate English conservatism and practicality held him back more than he thought or wished.

A fairly long Wikipedia biography is here, and I wrote about his Great War paintings here.

This post features his depictions of various cities. As is often the case for artists of his time, he never really settled into a signature style. Actually, he did have a style used during the first two or three years of the Great War that he is best known for. But he didn't stick with it. The images below are arranged in approximately chronological order.

Gallery

The Railway Bridge, Charenton - 1911-12

Le vieux port - 1913

Bravo! - 1913

Paris Fortifications - 1913

Temples of New York - drypoint etching, 1919

Soul of the Soulless City (New York, an Abstraction) - 1920

New York by Night - ca. 1920

Quartier Latin ca. 1920

La Corniche - 1920

Victoria Embankment, London - 1924

Notre Dame de Paris from Quai des Grandes Augustins - 1920s

London, Winter - 1928

The Strand by Night - ca. 1937

Thameside - 1941

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

David Curtis, Contre-Jour Painter

David J. Curtis (1948- ) is an English painter adept both in watercolor and oil. His background is unusual in that he led an engineering team at Hawker-Siddeley till 1988 when he began painting full-time. (Another engineer-artist that comes to mind is R.G. Smith, who painted aviation scenes with impressive atmospheric environments.) Curtis' Web site is here, and the Royal Institute of Oil Painters page dealing with him is here.

A good many works by Curtis are of the contre-jour kind, where the light source (the sun, in Curtis' images) is behind the subject. Normally, artists have the light source behind the painter or towards one side or another, illuminating the subject directly or from an angle. James Gurney discusses contre-jour painting here.

Needless to say, to be an effective contre-jour painter, one must have a very good color sense. This Curtis has. He also has a feeling for making strong, interesting compositions.

Gallery

Moorings on the Chesterfield Canal

Fine Autumn Day, Clayworth Wharf

Mooring at Hayton-Chesterfield Canal

Pembrokeshire Sea Cliffs, Port St. Justinian

Rocky Cove, Lleyn Peninsula

Vintage Car Workshop

Monday, April 27, 2015

George Henry: The "Glasgow Boy" Years

George Henry (1858–1943) was a prominent member of a group of Scottish painters known as the Glasgow Boys. The "Boys" were strongly influenced by the French painter Jules Bastien-Lepage whose works were exhibited in London 1878-82. Glasgow Boys paintings tended to be toned-down, featuring earth colors such as browns, ochres, faded greens and such -- in line with what northern Europe offered in dreary terms of light and foliage for a good part of the year.

Not much biographical information on Henry was on the Internet when I drafted this post, so make do with this brief Wikipedia entry. More can be found in Roger Billcliffe's book about the Glasgow Boys.

I find Henry and most other "Boys" interesting because their works show us that there was a lot more going on in the art world of the 1880s than the Impressionism and post-impressionism in France that histories of art still focus on.

Gallery

Brig o' Turk - 1882

Eyemouth - 1883
Two fairly early landscapes.

Noon - 1885
One of Henry's best-known paintings.

The Hedgecutter - 1886

Autumn - 1888
The brushwork, color usage and clutter suggests the influence of E.A. Hornell, a fellow Glasgow Boy. They spent a year and a half in Japan around 1894 and jointly painted "The Druids" (see below).

Galloway Landscape - 1889
This somewhat distorted and decorative painting is considered significant by art historians and critics because of its use of modernist elements.

Barr, Ayreshire - 1891
Another painting with more modernist influence than usual for Henry. By the early 1900s he reverted to a more traditional painting style, even eliminating Glasgow Boys elements.

Poppies - 1891

Rowans - 1895
Henry and Hornell made paintings featuring young girls. Henry did this for a comparatively short time, but the latter part of Hornell's career was largely based on such subject matter.

The Druids: Bringing in the Mistletoe - 1890
A work jointly painted with Hornell. This painting has always fascinated me, so I visit it whenever I'm in Glasgow.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Walter Schofield: Structural Impressionist

Walter Elmer Schofield (1867-1944) was a Philadelphian with English roots that were deepened by his marriage to an Englishwoman. Background regarding him can be found here and here.

Regarding his training and practice, this link states: "Born in Philadelphia, Schofield attended the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, where he studied with Thomas Anshutz, and the Académie Julian in Paris, where his teachers included William-Adolphe Bouguereau. He built lasting friendships with Ashcan School painters Robert Henri, William Glackens, and John Sloan. In 1901 he and his young family moved to England; thereafter, he spent summers in Cornwall and fall through spring in the United States." The last years of his life were spent in England, probably due to the war.

Images of Schofield paintings I found on the Internet dating from his early 40s onward strike me as being impressionistic with regard to use of color, and somewhat inconsistently at that. One image below of a painting done in his late 30s is more purely Impressionist in its colors and brushwork. From around 1910 onwards, Schofield retained a rough brushing style, but made his images more structural by adding outlining and more clearly defined color areas. The result was a solid appearance that I happen to prefer to classic Impressionism of the Monet-Passarro variety.

Gallery

Sand Dunes Near Lelant, Cornwall, England - 1905

French Village - ca. 1910

Morning Tide, Coast of Cornwall - ca. 1922

The Harbor, Sunday - ca. 1929

Village in Devon - ca. 1933

Autumn in Cornwall

Godolphin Pond in the Snow - 1940

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Walter Dean Goldbeck, Who Could Have Been Really Good


The image above is called Light of New York, painted by Walter Dean Goldbeck (1882 - 1925) around 1911 for a General Electric advertisement and later used as the 1 August 1914 cover illustration for Judge magazine and later as a sheet music cover illustration. A good deal of information on it can be found here, along with a few scraps of biographical information.

Goldbeck, born in St. Louis and died at age 43 in New York City, apparently did portraiture along with commercial art and flirted with Modernism in some of his Fine Art paintings. So far, not much of his work can be found via a Google search.

The illustrations by Goldbeck that I did find varied in quality from mediocre to interestingly well-done. Too bad he died at a comparatively young age.

Gallery

From "Shogan's Daughter"

Judge cover art, 8 May 1915

"Pippins" - Puck cover art - 31 October 1914

Monday, April 20, 2015

In The Beginning: John Sloan

John Sloan (1871-1951), one of the so-called "Ashcan School" painters, began his artistic career as a newspaper illustrator in Philadelphia and continued that trade in New York City as he pursued his goal to be a painter. (Biographical information on Sloan can be found here.) Even though he eventually mostly painted, he continued to sustain himself economically by illustrating, making etchings and teaching.

When I began planning this post, I had hoped to find examples of his early newspaper work on the Internet. But the best I could manage was to find works from 1900-10 when his newspaper career was largely winding down. I previously wrote about Sloan here, dealing with an odd style he practiced late in his career.

All artists are not entirely consistent with regard to the quality of their work. Sloan strikes me as being more hit-and-miss than most -- mostly on the miss side. In fact, I find it puzzling that he is regarded as favorably as he seems to be. Some of that might be due to the fact that he was associated with a group of (better) artists active at a pivotal point in American art history. Perhaps his political views appeal to a number of art critics and scholars who therefore might be inclined to give his work the benefit of the doubt.

In any case, my take on Sloan is that some of his better work was done as a newspaper illustrator based on examples I've seen in print, but not on the Internet. For what it's worth, below are examples of Sloan's monochrome work from the 1900-10 decade along with a color illustration and one painting.

Gallery


This is from the Society of Illustrators site that includes a good discussion of Sloan as an illustrator. It's not monochrome like the ones below. Moreover, I think it's a pretty nice example of Art Nouveau illustration. In fact, although I trust the Society of Illustrators, I somehow can't quite believe Sloan actually did this.

Drawing (crayon) - 1903

"Fun, One Cent" - 1905
I find Sloan's illustrations lacking class warfare content most interesting and perhaps even better done; those others take on the feel of political cartoons.

"Memory" - etching - 1906
Sloan and his wife Dolly at at the right.

"Sleepwalker and Hypnotist" - magazine illustration? - 1903
Looks like he dashed this one off.

Election Night - 1907
A sketch of a painting, though one of his better ones from around the same time as the illustration above.