Monday, November 19, 2018

Pierre-Georges Jeanniot: From War to Salons

Pierre-Georges Jeanniot (1848–1934) fought in the Franco-Prussian war, later rising to the rank of Major. When offered promotion to commandant (lieutenant colonel), he resigned to become a full-time artist. From this Wikipedia entry, it isn't clear where he received artistic training, though the French version states it was from his father who for many years was director of l'École des Beaux-Arts of Dijon.

The entry also mentions that Jeanniot became friends with some of the French Impressionists, especially Edgar Degas. And in 1906 he became a chevalier (knight) of the Légion d'Honneur, then officier par décret in 1929. Clearly, he was well-regarded in his day, though not widely known today, at least here in the USA.

Besides painting, Jeanniot was an engraver and illustrator of books.

As can be seen in the images below, he was highly skilled, though his works were not distinctive enough (in my judgement) to be instantly identifiable as done by him.


La Ligne de feu, épisode de la bataille du 16 Août 1870 - Firing Line, an Episode During the Battle of Mars-la-Tour, 16 August, 1870 - c. 1881

Réservistes de 1870 - Reservists During the Franco-Prussian War - 1882

Elèves caporaux sur l'esplanade des Invalides à Paris - Group of Trainees on the Esplanade of the Invalides, Paris - 1883

Une Élégante au Café - Elegant Woman in a Café - 1883 (pastel)

The Pink Camelia - 1897


Une chanson de Gibert dans le salon de madame Madeleine Lemaire - A Song by Gibert in the Salon of Madame Madelaine Lemaire - 1891

Élégante au salon - Elegant Lady at a Salon - 1905

Woman in Café - 1910

Portrait de Henriette assise avec un châle - Henriette Seated with a Shawl - 1926

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Albert Beck Wenzell's Upper-Crust Illustration Subjects

Albert Beck Wenzell (1864-1917) isn't widely known today, even by illustration buffs such as me. That might be because most of his work was done during what some call the Golden Age of Illustration. My bias is that the gold happened mostly between 1915 and 1960. Judgment calls all around.

Still, Wenzell was posthumously inducted into the Society of Illustrators' Hall of Fame as recently as 2005. Here is the Society's web page about him.

Wenzell was very good at his tasks. His style was not the stiff, wooden sort of thing often found during his era. Instead, it edged towards the free and sketchy, though this varied by topic and perhaps the tastes of various magazine art directors he had to deal with.

His subject matter seems to have largely been upper-class society folks. Such were the subjects of the fiction pieces he was hired to illustrate. And those subjects remained popular for decades following his death. Today's "sophisticates" -- especially of the academic variety -- are likely to view that in horror: How dare those propagandist magazine toadies glamorize those blood-sucking parasites!! Because readers of middle and even lower class origins liked to find how the upper class lived, dressed, and practiced manners. America has never been an India with a caste system.  Upward mobility has always been a possibility for most people. Those magazine stories with their Wenzell illustrations served as instruction manuals for achieving greater social polish.

Most Wenzell illustrations found on the Internet lack dates. Research into contents of such old magazine copies that still exist might clear some of this up, but I think few people would be eager to take on such a task. Sometimes fairly close guesses can be made by observing the style of clothing of his female subjects.


A Captive Audience

Breakfast table scene

Viennese Embassy Ball


Woman with Putti (also known as Victorian Virgin with Cherubs)

The Marriage Proposal

Confrontation scene

The Argument

Three is a Crowd

Idle Conversation

The Couple

Where Did I Put the Tickets?

Rose in Garden

Monday, November 12, 2018

Isaac Israëls' Sketchy Style

Isaac Lazarus Israëls (1865-1934) was a Dutch painter and son of Josef Israëls, an important 19th century artist. His Wikipedia entry is here. He received some training by his father and at an academy, but otherwise was self-taught. From 1905 to 1915 he was in Paris and London, but spent most of his career in the Netherlands.

Israëls shed his academic style before he was 30. Thereafter, from what I can tell from images of his works on the internet, his style became quite sketchy, though he did not distort colors or proportions of his subjects. So he was a modernist to only a limited degree.


Transport of Colonial Soldiers - 1883-84
They were probably headed to the Netherlands East Indies.  This was painted a year or two after Israëls left the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague.

Shop Window - 1894

Woman in front of Van Gogh's Sunflowers - 1917-1918


Two Hirsch Models, Ippy and Gertie Wehmann - c. 1916
Hirsch was a department store found in several European cities, including Amsterdam.

Gertie in a Fur Coat - c. 1917
Gertie, again.

Woman Walking on a Beach
Israëls painted many beach scenes.

Girl Sitting on a Beach
This seems to be from around 1930, judging by the hairdo and costume.

Artist in Atelier - 1918

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Peter Helck, Painter of Ancient Car Races

Actually, Peter Helck (1893-1988) illustrated other topics than early-1900s Vanderbilt Cup races and such, though many of his subjects did involve cars, trucks and other mechanical items. He had a successful career, being well known in his day.

Helck's brief Wikipedia entry is here, a website by his grandson is here, and more detailed information regarding his early-1920s work in Europe can be found here. He was born in New York City, studied at the Art Students League there, and around 1920 worked with and apparently studied under the great Frank Brangwyn. Helck was of military age at the time of the Great War, but I've found no information regarding if he served or was in Europe due in part to that.

Below are examples of his work.


Brooklands racecourse paddock scene - 1920.

Morris Crowley cover advertisement (cropped) on a 1920 issue of the Autocar magazine (British car magazines used to have ads as their cover art). This has a hint of Brangwyn, I think.

Cover art for another British automobile magazine.

Scene from an early race (the Web source did not identify it).

Scene from 1908 Vanderbilt Cup race. In both these illustrations Helck includes the leaning-forward appearance of the featured race cars that was typical of race photographs from the early 20th century.  That distortion had to do with the relationship between a speeding subject and the vertical (low to high) movement of the camera aperture. That is, the lower part of the moving car was captured first, the upper part slightly later after it had moved, and the between part was the transition while the aperture was moving. Helck knew all this, but thought it worth retaining for his portrayals of that era to provide a "period" feeling.

World War 2 vintage Campbell Soup advertising art featuring a Jeep.

Chevrolet truck advertisement art, c. 1950.

Story illustration of an accident while a locomotive was being loaded on a cargo ship.

Story illustration with the caption "For a horrible instant Carter thought the jet was going to crash." - 1955.  Helck had to do some imaginative compositional work to provide drama while fitting the elements into the magazine's illustration hole.  In reality, that sort-of F-94 could not possibly avoid crashing if it were flying that low, that fast, and at that angle of attack.

Example of non-machine subject matter.

"The Old Ashburn Place."

Study of scene from 1933 Tourist Trophy race held on the Isle of Man: Helck often signed his studies.

Three more studies.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Eugène Galien-Laloue's Paris

Eugène Galien-Laloue (1854-1941) was a prolific painter of landscapes and cityscapes, and is best known for his depictions of Paris. A brief Wikipedia entry is here, and from it you can link to a longer French version. But for a richly detailed exposition on him, I strongly suggest this site.

It seems that Galien-Laloue -- Laloue was his actual family name -- was an odd character in several respects. He was something of a loner who focused on his work rather than the socializing that many famous Paris-based artists did. He had three wives, all of them sisters. He used several aliases when signing his paintings, presumably so that he could market them through more than one gallery.

That aside, Laloue's gouache paintings were accurate depictions of Paris architecture as well as his scenes' atmospherics. This makes his works of interest to fans of Paris in the years 1880-1930. Most of the image below seem to have been painted in the early 1900s (he didn't date his works).


Boulevard Saint-Germain

La Bastille

La Madeleine

Madeleine Métro entrance
A 1920s scene

La place Saint-Michel

Les quais de Paris

Notre-Dame sous la neige
Probably painted around 1916 -- the man in brown seems to be a British officer who really should be wearing his greatcoat.

Les Halles
This area was destroyed and replaced by that horrible Centre Pompidou.

Arc de Triomphe (1)

Arc de Triomphe (2)
Both painted from almost the same spot, but in different seasons.