Thursday, January 19, 2017

Molti Ritratti: Charles X of France

Charles X (Charles Philippe, 1757-1836), the last main-line Bourbon king of France, ruled for almost six years (1824-1830) before abdicating and being succeeded by Louis-Philippe, duc d'Orléans. Two of his brothers, Louis XVI and Louis XVIII, preceded him as king. Louis XVI was beheaded after the Revolution and Louis VIII became king with the post-Bonaparte restoration. Charles' Wikipedia entry is here.

Charles was pre-photography, but barely. However, portraits of him by different artists show striking agreement regarding his appearance while king, so we can be reasonably sure how he looked. In several instances in the images below, he is wearing the same costume (though medals on his chest vary from portrait to portrait).

Note that several portraits have his lips slightly parted. This must have been a strong characteristic and one that Charles apparently didn't mind being displayed.


Charles when Comte d'Artois, by Henri Pierre Danloux - 1798

By François Gérard (and atelier), detail - c.1825

By Georges Rouget

By Thomas Lawrence - 1825

By Robert Lefèvre - 1826

By Léon Cogniet

By Horace Vernet

Monday, January 16, 2017

Horace, the Third-Generation Vernet

Émile Jean-Horace Vernet (1789-1863), who painted using the name Horace Vernet, was the son and grandson of artists, as this Wikipedia entry states. His father was Carle Vernet (1758-1836) and his grandfather was Claude-Joseph Vernet (1714-1789).

Horace was born in the Louvre, where his parents were living at the Revolutionary time. According to his father's sketchy Wikipedia entry, Horace's aunt was a victim of the Terror. However, the rest of the family avoided her fate despite their connections to the Ancien Régime. As for the adult Horace, he made sure to have ties to whatever régime was in power, be it Bourbon, Orléans or Bonaparte. Due to these connections as well as his talent, Vernet had a successful career in those pre-modernist times.

His subject matter was military scenes, Orientalism and portraits. Examples are below.


Statue of Vernet at l'Hôtel de ville de Paris
An indication of regard for Vernet.

Napoleon - 1815
An early work painted the year of Napoleon's return and Waterloo.

Napoleon's Tomb - 1821
Painted the year after Napoleon's death on St. Helena.

Napoleon Bonaparte Leading the Troops Over the bridge of Arcole - 1826
Vernet painted several scenes of Napoleon's battles.

Charles X of France - c.1826

Study of Olympe Pélissier as Judith - 1830
Olympe Pélissier (1799-1878) had an interesting life, as this link indicates.

Portrait of a Lady - 1831

La prise de Constantine - 1837
The French Foreign Legion during the conquest of Algeria.

Self-Portrait - 1835
Note his North African garb here an in the statue in the first image.

Scene from the Mexican Expedition of 1838 - 1841

Arabs Traveling in the Desert - 1843

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Charles Joseph Watelet, a Belgian Who Loved to Paint Women

Charles Joseph Watelet (1867-1954) was a Belgian painter who studied under Alfred Stevens for a while and, like Stevens, usually painted women. About the only biographical information that I could find regarding Watelet on the Internet is here.

Briefly, he rebelled against family tradition and took up painting in his early twenties. For financial reasons he eventually had to leave Paris and return to Belgium where he gradually built his reputation, eventually moving to Brussels and winning awards.

His most interesting period was the 1920s and 30s when he painted women dressed and undressed. Below are examples of his work. In case you are viewing this at the office, be warned that the nudes are at the bottom, so be careful how you scroll down.


Jeune élégante allongée dans un canape

Madame Godart - 1933

Lady in white
From around 1900.

Jeune femme
Watelet could capture personality.

Seated woman in front of mirror
Interesting pose and setting.

Young woman in white - 1924

Girl in satin gown - 1929
The 1920s facial makeup he depicts makes this young lady more artificial looking than the one in the previous image.

Looking in the mirror - 1924
Another interestingly posed subject -- nude, but not obviously so.

Le modele intimide - 1929

Les ballerines
This seems to be one of Watelet's later works where he simplified his subjects faces and other details.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Book About Henry Patrick Raleigh

Henry Patrick Raleigh (1880-1944) was one of those illustrators who both captured and helped to define glamorous aspects of 1920s and early 1930s America.

David Apatoff's take on Raleigh's style is well worth reading. And here is a web site devoted to Raleigh.

His son Christopher did a book on Raleigh a few years ago and provided the text for a new book about the man and his art by Auad Publishing Company (web site here). This book can be ordered via that site or, for those who prefer to use Amazon, the link to it is here.

Christopher Raleigh's account is both interesting and useful. The quality of the reproductions, especially those in color, is uneven. That might have been due the need to scan publications printed 90 or so years ago when printing quality was not nearly as good as now and where the paper the illustrations were printed on has suffered from age. Some or even many of the reproductions might have come from original works in Christopher Raleigh's collection. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to identify reproduction sources other than those from scans of advertisements. Identification of dates and publications of illustrations is sketchy: one "unknown" illustration is shown in a photo of an assemblage of Saturday Evening Post pages on the final page of the book, another's date is fairly clearly seen by Raleigh's signature).  However, most readers can estimate approximate dates by the depicted women's fashions, and few readers would be familiar with the stories and situations Raleigh was illustrating, so precise identification isn't very important in most cases.

Quibbles aside, the book's value lies in the biographical information and, especially, the many wonderful illustrations Henry Raleigh made during his heyday. It's well worth its price.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Up Close: J.W. Alexander's Study in Black and Green

John White Alexander (1856-1915) -- Wikipedia entry here -- painted some interesting stylized pictures featuring women. Like most artists, he also painted many less formal works. A while ago I posted about several paintings he made that featured women clad in outfits featuring the color green.

I was on a rare (for me in recent years) visit to New York City early September and managed to spend an hour or two at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and viewed a few fragments of its huge, world-class collection.

While there, I snapped a few photos of Alexander's circa-1906 Study in Black and Green, more of a sketch than a finished work. The Met has these few words to say about it.

My establishment shot.

Closer in, slightly cropped.

Tighter view of the face and hands.  Alexander seems to have done some underpainting and layering.  Most brush strokes not on the subject's face are obvious.  Alexander's brushwork on the hands and arms follows the paths of the forms rather than including strokes across those paths -- something other artists often do.  This a reason for calling this painting a sketch or study: he seemed to have worked fairly quickly and didn't bother to define the forms' structures in much detail.

Monday, January 2, 2017

To the Far East and Back Via Troopship: 1963-64

This post has nothing whatsoever to do with art. But Bill Shakespeare's plays give me license to change the pace now and then, so here is another post with a dump of old photos I took.

The occasion was my army assignment to Korea back in the days before 1970 or thereabouts when many troops were deployed overseas by ship rather than by air.

Nothing profound here, but I hope a few readers will enjoy seeing how some things were, those many years ago. I sailed from the Oakland Army Terminal in September of 1963, arriving in Korea early that October. I left Korea in August of the following year a few days after the Gulf of Tonkin Incident that set off America's formal involvement in the Vietnam War, arriving in Oakland for my discharge at the start of September. Click on the images to enlarge.


Hawaii: Waikiki as seen from the Punchbowl. That's Diamond Head at the left, and the long, flat structure on the right near the shore is the Ala Moana shopping mall that opened four years earlier. High-rise hotels were starting to sprout, but were still few compared to now.

Here is Kalakaua Avenue, Waikiki's main drag. This was probably taken near the Moana hotel. The tall building in the distance is still there, as can be seen below in the Appendix.

The beach at Waikiki. The pink building is the famous Royal Hawaiian hotel, and the white buildings to the right are the Moana hotel and its Surfrider annex. At the far left the new, tall Ilikai Hotel is rising. Today, the backdrop to this scene is high-rise structures.

Yokohama harbor, our first Far East stop.

On deck at sea aboard the General Hugh J. Gaffey.

Sergeants and other E-4 and higher ranks debarking at Naha, Okinawa.

The Gaffey docked at Naha. The 1944-vintage ship was 608 feet long (slightly less than 200 meters) and was designed to hold 5,200 troops. When I sailed, there might have been 1,500 aboard.

The port area at Inchon, Korea and Wolmi-Do island is at the right. On the far side of it is where on 15 September 1950 MacArthur's troops landed far behind the North Korean lines to turn the tide during the first phase of the Korean War. The Gaffey is in the distance at the left behind the masts of the landing barge. Tides at Inchon are extreme, so a ship as large as the Gaffey could not approach the shoreline and we had to use the barges to come ashore.  The army trucks by the barges will be taking us to Ascom City for processing and assignment to our units.

The plaza across from the Seoul, Korea main railroad station from where this picture was taken. The vehicles include Japanese-made sedans, hopsung vans and busses built on army truck chassis. I was on my way south to Taegu for duty at the headquarters of the 7th Logistical Command.

Approaching San Francisco on my way home aboard the General J.C. Breckenridge, the same class of ship as the Gaffey.

Still offshore. The Golden Gate Bridge, Fort Point and Alcatraz are in the background. Many of the soldiers about to be discharged tore their rank insignia from their sleeves for some reason. I did not, for some reason.


I visited Honolulu recently and took some photos in an attempt to do a "Then and Now" for some of the images shown above.

I couldn't duplicate the point-of-view of the Kalakaua Avenue scene due to the presence of more recent buildings, so this was taken from the opposite direction. The "tall" drum-shaped building in the 1963 photo can be found near the center of the image, above the cars.

A December 2016 view of the Waikiki beach area from a slightly different angle and closer. The Moana is at the right and the Royal is at the center.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Alexandre Cabanel, One of the Last Great Academicians

Alexandre Cabanel (1823-1889) was an important member of the French academic art establishment during the second half of the 19th century. Although he placed second in the 1845 Prix de Rome competition, a bureaucratic quirk allowed him funding to study in Rome 1846-1850. In 1855 he was appointed Knight of the Legion of Honor, and he became an Officer in 1863. He opened his own studio in the École des Beaux-Arts that same year. He was a member of the Salon jury in the 1860s. In 1870 he became a Salon vice-president. And in 1875 he became chairman of the Salon's paintings jury. Cabanel's health declined in the late 1880s and he died in January 1889.

His fairly brief Wikipedia entry is here. Perhaps the most interesting information there is a list of his Beaux-Arts pupils. They include Jean-Joseph Benjamin-Constant, Eugène Carrière, Pierre-August Cot, Jules Bastien-Lepage, Henri Gervex, Aristide Maillol, Henri Regnault, Solomon J. Solomon and Adolphe Willette.

As for his art, Cabanel was not a pure pompier school academician, though did produce works of that kind.

Below are examples of Cabanel's paintings in chronological order.


Albaydé - 1848
Painted while studying in Rome.

Death of Moses - Musée Fabre version - 1850
Displayed on his return from Rome.

The Glorification of St. Louis - c.1854

The Birth of Venus - 1863
Probably Cabanel's most famous painting. It can be found in Paris' Musée d'Orsay.

Emperor Napoléon III - 1865

The Druidess - 1868

Christina Nilsson as Pandora - 1873

The Nymph Echo - 1874
Note the loosely painted setting.

Phaedra - 1880
Here everything is hard-edge.

Mary Victoria Leiter, later Lady Curzon - 1887

Olivia Peyton Murray Cutting - 1887
Compare the poses and settings of these ladies painted the same year. Was Cabanel "mailing it in" as his health declined?

Cleopatra Testing Poisons on Condemned Prisoners - 1887
Perhaps his last "pompier" work.