Thursday, November 14, 2019

Robert Brough's Short, Promising Career

Robert Brough (1872-1905) was a Scottish painter whose career was cut short by injuries sustained in a train accident. Some background information is here and here.

He was capable of making fine society portraits in the vein of John Singer Sargent (who was his friend), while also earlier in his career creating boldly painted images where strong brushwork dominated -- perhaps influenced by the Glasgow Boys.

I was unaware of him until I recently encountered two of his works in Venice's Ca' Pesaro museum.

"Twixt Sun and Moon" (1895) as captured by my iPhone. I couldn't find Internet images of this and the following work. Click on this image and the next three to enlarge.

"Twixt Sun and Moon" detail. Note the brushwork.

"St. Anne of Brittany" (1895).

"St. Anne of Brittany" detail.

Now for some images of Robert Brough paintings found on the Internet.


Breton Women - c. 1893
He made a number of sketches such as this during his time studying in France. Doubtless the basis for the paintings featured above.

Sweet Violets
A combination of solid and wispy. Similar in spirit to Giovanni Boldini.

Captain Sir Harry Brooke of Fairley - 1903
Society portrait of a man.

Miss Maude Lawrence - 1898
Society portrait of a woman with a John Singer Sargent touch.

Mrs William Pyper - 1900
Society portrait featuring strong brushwork aside from key features.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Fernand Lungren: Some Eurpean Scenes

Fernand Harvey Lungren (1857-1932) is not well known, but in his day traveled widely and knew many important fellow artists. Places he lived include: New York; Cincinnati, Ohio; London; Santa Fe, New Mexico; California (Los Angeles and Santa Barbara); Paris, and Egypt. For more details, link here.

He worked in oils, gouache, watercolors, pastels and perhaps other media for his illustration work. On the other hand, though his approach was representational, his style varied over time and place, not being recognizably distinctive.

Since his settings were widely spaced -- from Paris cafés to Egyptian pyramids to southwestern American deserts to the California coastline, I limited the images below to scenes he painted in Europe during the first half of his career.


The Café - 1882
Perhaps Lungren's best known work -- highly simplified style for its time.  Had he continued painting something like this, he would be remembered better (though might have had trouble selling his works as art fashions evolved).

In the Café - c.1882
A variation on the first image.

Paris Street Scene - 1882
Watercolor of a rainy day.

The Gardens of Luxembourg - c. 1882-84
John Singer Sargent painted a scene this sort.

Piccadilly Spring Morning - 1899
Piccadilly Street, not Piccadilly Circus.

Liverpool, Docking a Liner - 1899
Another atmospheric scene.  He probably entered England at Liverpool on his return to Europe.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Whitney Darrow, Jr. of the New Yorker

Whitney Darrow, Jr. (1909-1999) was a mainstay cartoonist for the New Yorker magazine in its 1930s heyday and beyond. His Wikipedia entry notes that he was a Princeton University graduate who, unlike most other New Yorker cartoonists, wrote the captions to his work.

James Gurney posted about Darrow's method of producing a cartoon here. Rather than me discussing Darrow's work, do link to Gurney because he offers a lot of important information along with step-by step illustrations.

Examples of Darrow's work are shown below. I have no dates for them, but his style changed little over the years. And I've taken the liberty to explain some of the jokes because many viewers of this blog are not Americans and are likely to miss the humorous points.


"Your father and I are now separated, Robert. After this you will please refer to him as 'that heel.'"

"I don't know what it is, Mr. Mardley, but there's something about this room that gives me the willies."
As an aside, the setting seems vaguely like my apartment.

"The gentleman wants to know if you'd care to join him in a little argument."
Most of Darrow's situations take place indoors, so he was careful to get the perspective and other details right.

"I paint what I see."

"I agree it's a monument to the genius of Frank Lloyd Wright but as a museum..."
This was from about 1959 after Wright's Guggenheim museum in New York opened. Its gallery is a descending spiral while the paintings are hung in true vertical/horizontal fashion. As Darrow points out, viewing is slightly disorienting.

"She's not really mine. I'm just watching her for a friend."

"Notice, class, how Angela circles, always keeping the desk between them..."
The setting is a business school class for secretaries (note the shorthand translations under the English words on the blackboard). The instructor is showing the girls how to avoid an amorous boss.

"And last but not least..."
Here the will of a deceased rich man is being read out: guess who might get the most money.

"What's the use of arguing, dear? Let him punch you in the jaw and get it over with."
New York traffic hasn't improved much since Darrow drew this in the late 1930s.

Monday, November 4, 2019

Finally!! I Got to See Klimt's Judith II

This was a twenty-year epic struggle for me. Okay, I exaggerate -- but the twenty-year part is true.

Since the late 1990s I've been fortunate enough to view most of the important paintings by Gustav Klimt. But one eluded me. It was the second of his paintings dealing with the Biblical subject Judith beheading Holofernes.

The painting is housed in Venice's Ca' Pesaro museum located on the Grand Canal, but not close to the main tourist zones.

The first time I visited Venice, in the late 1990s, the museum was undergoing renovation and so the painting was inaccessible. My second visit was while on a bus tour with my late wife, and I could not fit visiting it due to all the tour group activities. I was on a cruise the third time I got to Venice. But arrival was delayed until early afternoon due to heavy fog, so I simply hung out in the tourist zone, having limited time available. About a week ago I arrived via another cruise ship and bought a one-day vaporetto pass that made getting to and from Ca' Pesaro easy. And, Happy Day!!, the painting was on display and not off on loan (unlikely, because it is perhaps the museum's most famous possession).

The image at the top of this post and most of those below were taken by me using an iPhone. Click on them to enlarge.


Klimt's 1901 Judith I.

Image of Judith II (1909) found on the Internet.

As seen by my iPhone.

Lower part of painting featuring Holofernes.

Detail of Judith.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Harold Weston, Harvard-Trained Gadabout

Harold Weston (1894-1972) led a binary life of several sorts, as can be gleaned from his Wikipedia entry.

At times he lived in isolation or near-isolation in an Adirondack cabin. Later in the French Pyrenees. And in a slummy spot near New York's Greenwich Village.

On the other hand, he was born in Philadelphia's tony Main Line, attended school in Switzerland, graduated from Harvard, and knew Eleanor Roosevelt.

As an artist, he painted in styles ranging from stark realism to abstract. And when he wasn't doing painting, he was involved with various causes and government initiatives.

The link above states that Weston was prolific. And I state that none of it was particularly appealing, perhaps because it seems derivative and heavy-handed within each genre he pursued.


Weston in the mountains
He had Polio when young and remained partly crippled (note his cane).

Weston painting United Nations construction
Nothing wrong with this project, but I'm sure photographers were hired to do the same thing.

Naqsh-e Rustam, Iran - c. 1919
Weston was attached to the British army in the middle East during the Great War. This is the most conventional painting of his that I could find.

Persian Caravan - Path Near Hamadan - 1919
About that time he shifted to a kind of cloisonné style of Modernism.

March Thaw - 1921
From his Adirondacks days.

Fixing Hair - 1923
His bride, Faith Borton, who attended Vassar College.

Sunrise over Baxter Mountain

Snow Squall - 1935

Self-Portrait - 1939
Here he tries an Expessionist  /  Neue Sachlichkeit style.

In the Studio
A later self-portrait in the same vein.

Building the United Nations #2 Ramp over F.D.R. Drive - 1950
Part of a large series of paintings of various construction stages, all with this general appearance.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Bouguereau's Nymphs and Satyr Up Close

William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1825-1905) was an artist whose technical capabilities I greatly respect. On the other hand, most of his paintings hold little appeal due their subject matter and somewhat static compositions.

A major exception to that criticism is his Nymphs and Satyr (1873) at the Clark art museum in Williamstown in the northwest corner of Massachusetts. If you are interested in late-19th and early 20th century painting, the Clark should be a "Must" destination.

I was last there in September and took some iPhone photos for your viewing pleasure.


Nymphs and Satyr - image from Clark site.

As seen in its gallery. A large painting: note its scale via the size and placement of the plaque as well as the floor.

Detail image.  Click on it to enlarge.  I find the expression on the face of the nymph facing the satyr especially well done.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Up Close: Sargent's Portrait of Carolus-Duran

The reputation of John Singer Sargent (1856-1925) has been on the mend for several decades. I've been noticing that references to him are not apologetic, though they might have been in decades past.

The Clark art museum in Williamstown, Massachusetts had at least four of his works in the gallery reserved for the collection's prime works on my most recent visit. One of these is his 1879 portrait of his teacher Carolus-Duran. The link to the museum's commentary on it is here.

Sargent was only about 23 years old when it was painted, and he clearly must have wanted to make a good impression. But whereas Carolus-Duran tended to include a fair amount of hard-edge detailing in portraits he painted, Sargent's treatment of him is quite soft, as the photos I took indicate. Click on images to enlarge.


Clark image of the painting.

My establishment shot.

Sargent reserved most of the sharp detailing for the face.

And there are a few crisp spots on the hands and cane.