Thursday, August 13, 2020

Mikhail Vrubel's Demon Series

Mikhail Vrubel (1856-1910) was an interesting Russian painter active in the late 19th century who I wrote about here.  I stated: "[He] began to work on images of a demon based on an epic poem by Mikhail Lermontov.  His first Demon painting in 1890 was noteworthy enough to launch his career."  Vroubel's lengthy Wikipedia entry is here.

The present post presents images from the Demon series that I found on the internet.  Having viewed many of the paintings in Russia several years ago, I can assure you that they are large and quite impressive when seen in person.  That said, some of the images below can be enlarged by clicking on them, though the impact is nothing like that of the real things.


Head of a Demon (drawing) - c. 1890

Head of a Demon - 1890

Head of a Demon - c. 1890
Various Internet sites present this in different color schemes, so I don't know what the original colors were.

Flying Demon - 1899

The Demon Downcast - 1902
Wikipedia link here.

Seated Demon - 1890
Probably Vrubel's most famous Demon painting.  Wikipedia entry here.

Monday, August 10, 2020

Harry Anderson's Illustration Work

Joseph Harry Anderson (1906-1996) was a highly competent illustrator who is not well known despite the high regard he had (and has) among a number of practicing illustrators and illustration fans.

His Wikipedia entry is here, information about his painting technique is here (scroll down), and a website devoted to him is here.

After many years as a commercial illustrator, Harry Anderson largely switched to making large religion-themed paintings for the Seventh-Day Adventist and Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormon) organizations. I focus on his commercial work here.

His illustration style was characterized by smoothly flowing transitions of shapes and colors, though his religious works and some commercial illustrations were more hard-edge. An interesting fact is that he was allergic to oil paints and had to switch to water based alternatives including gouache and casein.


This is perhaps my most favorite Anderson illustration. Note the contre-jour depiction of the girl with its coloring and use of highlighted areas -- impressive.

Off to School
Again, note Anderson's use of highlights on the hair of his three main subjects. The man in the background is washed-out so as not to detract.

Story illustration from source unknown to me. From the early-to-mid 1940s to judge by the women's hairdos. Everything other than the featured couple is casually, sketchily painted. Nice, warm color scheme.

From Cosmopolitan Magazine - 1941
His depiction of light and shaded areas is skillful indeed.

From Good Housekeeping Magazine - 1943

From Ladies' Home Journal - 1950
The composition is in line with emerging American illustration fashion at that time.

Coronado's Men Find the Grand Canyon
Now for a hard-edge scene: I don't know the source.

Esso gasoline illustration - c. 1965
Also more in a hard-edge vein. The setting appears to be the Pebble Beach golf links by Carmel, California in the late 1920s.

Going into the Sun
Finally, Western subject matter. Again, sharper subjects and painterly background.

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Georges Croegaert's Languorous Women and Off-Duty Cardinals

Georges Croegaert (1848-1923) was born in Antwerp and trained in art there. Then he moved to Paris where made his career. His Wikipedia entry is here.

These days his paintings can auction in the $15,000-$40,000 range, and apparently his career was successful. Rather than being avant-garde or painting strictly academic scenes, Croegaert seems to have settled into a groove of painting in genres popular with the art-buying public. In his case, these were images of attractive women in luxurious settings and pictures of Roman Catholic Cardinals in relaxed or informal settings.

Below are some examples of that variety of popular fare in the late 19th century and beyond.


La lecture - 1890
This painting and the next three depict women reading.

A Good Read

Jeune femme lisant dans un intérieur japonisant - 1887

Leisure Hours

Reflections - 1886
Now for two paintings featuring women looking into mirrors.

The Mirror

Dreams of the Orient
A languorous lady in an Orientalist setting (Orientalism was another popular genre).

A Distinguished Visitor
Now a few Cardinals scenes.

A Church Legacy

Après le café

Monday, August 3, 2020

Walter G. Ratterman's Illustrations

Walter G. Ratterman (1887–1944) did some Fine Art painting as well as illustration, but the latter is dealt with here. There seems to be little biographical information about him on the internet: this Wikipedia entry has little to report.

As best I can tell, Ratterman was a skilled illustrator, but not quite the equal of top-rank contemporary 1920s and early 1930s practitioners such as Dean Cornwell and Mead Schaeffer.

Examples of his work are lacking on the Internet, but some are displayed below.


A Conversation - 1929
Story illustration typical of the kind seen in those days -- nothing special about it.

Madeline's Return - 1922
On the other hand, this earlier work has some merit, though it too is not unusual or exceptional.

Artist and models
Probably from the early-mid 1930s: the women are nicely depicted.

Party scene
From about the same time as the previous image. Something seems wrong about the area of the featured woman's hips. Otherwise, a competently done illustration.

Officer and Lady
I like this one, and wish it were available in larger size.

Procter & Gamble soap advertisement - 1925
An example of the then-popular vignette style, but here for an advertisement rather than as a story illustration.

From around 1936. More vignette, but I don't know if it was a commercial work or a painting done for Ratterman's use or for a friend.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Maynard Dixon, Painter and Illustrator of the Southwest

Maynard Dixon (1875-1946), illustrator and painter of Southwestern United States subjects, is probably less known to the general public than Dorothea Lange (1895-1965), his second wife. She is famous for her photographs of 1930s scenes of people affected by the Great Depression. Some background on Dixon is here.

During the early part of his career Dixon made illustrations, but by the 1920s he was able to shift to painting landscapes and people in the general area of New Mexico, Utah, Nevada and Arizona.

His style was representational, though by the 1920s he followed the fashion of simplification of forms to a slight degree.


Enchanted Night - 1896
An early illustration.

Cowboy illustration - 1911
He was a competent illustrator, though the style of this example is not as distinctive as that of Frederic Remington or N.C. Wyeth.

Corral Dust - 1915
Perhaps influenced by Wyeth, Dixon used Impressionist elements in this work.

Night Ride, Sandhill Camp - 1921
This is suggestive of Remington's night scenes.

Tradition - 1922
Here Dixon adds a touch of Modernist simplification, something that often works well when painting Southwestern scenes.

Yonder the Navajos - 1921
A landscape from about the same time as the two images above.

Watchers from the Housetop - 1931
Possibly a view of the Pueblo near Taos, New Mexico.

Shapes of Fear - 1932
This is almost sculptural.

Forgotten Man - 1934
Perhaps influenced by Lange, Dixon painted some Depression-era political works.

Horse and wagon, Utah - 1946
This might be one of his last paintings -- not very different from what he was doing 25 years earlier.

Monday, July 27, 2020

Harold Anderson, Prolific Yet Pedestrian Illustrator

Harold N. Anderson (1894–1973) had a successful career as an illustrator from the 1920s well into the 1940s. An examination of images by him on Google turned up little or nothing by him for the 1950s. A further problem is that his Wikipedia entry is brief, not very informative.

As suggested in this post's title, his illustrations do not interest me, let alone excite my imagination. They are hard-edge, have detailed depictions of subjects and settings, but lack a distinctive personal style. Competent, generic illustrations typical of their period.

Take a look at some examples:


Peace on Earth
From the early-to-mid 1930s. The woman is interesting, the man in the background isn't, so far as I am concerned.

Hockey player - 1935
Nice pose, but I doubt that he will lower his stick in time to strike the puck.

Woman resting - 1935
Her arms seem too small, or maybe her head is too large.

Beer advertisement illustration
Stroh's was a Detroit-based beer.

Doctor's house call

The Nurse's Escorts
A World War 2 image showing a nurse with enlisted men from the navy and army. The swabby has higher rank for some reason.  (I'm an ex-Army E-5, so I note such details.)

Home from the Army
One web site says this was a 1951 illustration, but the uniform seems to be from the very early 1940s.

Home from the War
The young man was a tech sergeant in the 5th Army that fought in North Africa and Italy.

Recital scene
This apparently early illustration is the most interesting one I that I could find. I like the composition and brushwork (aside from the rough treatment of the faces and arms).