Thursday, August 17, 2017

A Pre-Impressionist Renoir Painting

Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919) is known as a French Impressionist, but he wasn't always one. For example, I posted here about a time when he doubted Impressionism. This, and more about him and his art can be found in his Wikipedia entry.

So when I visited the Norton Simon museum in Pasadena, California in April I wasn't surprised by his 1867-68 vintage painting of the Pont des Arts, a footbridge over the Seine connecting the Louvre with the École des Beaux-Arts.

It's a comparatively early Renoir, before French Impressionists such as Claude Monet began using broken (or divisionist) color. The Norton Simon web site's blurb on the painting states; "Planted in the heart of Paris, we stand on the Left Bank of the Seine, looking upstream toward the wrought-iron Pont des Arts... The crisp shadows and liberally applied black are typical of Renoir’s early career, when the artist and his friend Monet set out to document their changing city in a celebrated series of views to which this one belongs."

Monet is mentioned, but there also are hints of Édouard Manet in some of the nearly-flat color areas.


This is "On the Terrace" (1881), the sort of painting most folks associate with Renoir.

Here is Le Pont des Arts, Paris (1867-68), the painting I noticed at the Norton Simon.

What my camera saw: establishment shot.

A detail photo. Click to enlarge and inspect Renoir's brushwork.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Some William James Aylward War Art

William James Aylward (1875-1956) was an illustrator who specialized in maritime subjects. That didn't mean he couldn't do other things, and he was selected to become one of a small group of war artists send to France to depict activities of the AEF (American Expeditionary Force). I wrote about him here, and a link with biographical information and examples of his work is here.

David Apatoff at his Illustration Art blog has a series of posts dealing with a Smithsonian exhibit of work done by those artists, including Aylward (one of these posts is here).

I hopped over to his link to the exhibit (here), and selected some examples of Aylward's 1918 work to show below.


Troops Waiting to Advance at Hattonchâtel - St. Mihiel Drive - 1918
The St. Mihiel Salient was a longstanding German bulge on the Western Front.  Its eradication was one of the more important tasks assigned to the AEF in September, 1918.

On the Trail of the Hun - St. Mihiel Drive - 1918
Note the peaceful French countryside in the background.  It's not clear if this was land behind AEF lines before the attack or some distance north or northeast following the collapse of the salient.

Street Barricade at Château-Thierry - 1918
One of Erich Ludendorff's 1918 offensives thrust the German army across the Marne River at Château-Thierry, a city where a battle was fought. Aylward's illustration was probably made after the Germans were pushed back.

American Troops Supply Train - 1918

Clearing Out the Road through Mont St. Père - 1918
Mont Saint Père is about four miles up the Marne from Château-Thierry, so again this was made after the failure of Ludendorff's offensive. I think it is a very nice work.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

August Macke: Restrained Modernist

August Macke (1887-1914) was a modernist painter and founding member of the short-lived Blue Rider (Der Blaue Reiter) group of painters. His Wikipedia entry is here, and an assessment of his life and work is here.

It is impossible to be sure what stylistic path Macke would have followed had he lived a normal life span, because he died age 27 in combat as the Western Front was forming in the aftermath of Germany's defeat in the Battle of the Marne.

As the title of this post indicates, my take on Macke is that he had too much regard for real world appearances to get fully sucked into the modernist "isms" of the early 20th century. Whether this restraint would have continued beyond 1914 is anyone's guess. My opinion is that he was one of the most likable modernist German painters of his time.


August Macke and Elisabeth Gerhard in Bonn, 1908
Macke appears to be wearing his army uniform, which dates this photo in October 1908 or later, as that was the month he began his required service. Elisabeth, who he married in 1910, is the subject of three images below.

Self-Portrait - 1909

Elisabeth Gerhard - 1909

Portrait with Apples (Elisabeth Gerhard) - 1909

Elisabeth Reading
A more modernist version of Elisabeth but, as usual, a restrained Modernism.

Ansicht vom Tegernsee - 1910
A landscape without Fauvist coloring.

Marienkirche mit Häusern und Schornstein - 1911
A scene in Bonn.

Indians on Horses
A painting from Macke's imagination. Wild West adventure stories were popular in Wilhelmine Germany.

Colored Forms III - 1913
He experimented with Orphist abstractions, a new art fashion at the time.

Lady in Green Jacket - 1913
Colors here are more poster-like than Fauvist.

Großes helles Schaufenster - 1912
"Large, Bright Display Window" is my English title to this watercolor that includes some Cubist elements. The female figure is not Cubist, as Macke seemed reluctant to depart far from that reality.

Hat Shop - 1914
Another in a series showing women shopping for clothing and fashion articles.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Fragonard's "Music"

Jean-Honoré Fragonard (1732-1806) was a leading French Rococo painter who happily painted many risqué scenes pleasing to his Ancien Régime clientele. He painted other subjects as well, including portraits, but scenes featuring partly clad women in upper-class settings are what he is best known for. Some biographical information is here.

The Norton Simon museum has some Fragonards that I saw when I was there in April. One, titled "Music" (ca. 1760-65) interested me because it was less cluttered that his better-known works.


Young Girl Reading - c. 1770
First, a few of Fragonard's characteristic works.

The Swing - c. 1767-69
Perhaps his most famous painting.

The Happy Lovers - c. 1760-65
This also was on display at the Norton Simon.

My photo of "Music." Click this and other images to enlarge.

A closer view.

Closer yet. Fragonard often depicted young women as seen here: from slightly below with their heads tilted and their eyes looking upwards. Note his brushwork and selection of colors.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Franklin Booth's Theodore Roosevelt

Franklin Booth (1874-1948) was something of a genius as a pen artist. When young, he unconsciously used pen and ink to imitate engraved illustrations he saw in magazines. When he discovered what he was doing, he must have liked the results he was getting, because he used the same general approach for most of the rest of his career. (Apparently some of his later works incorporated scratchboard. And he did do some conventional illustration in color.) More information about his life and career is here.

Below is a portrait of Theodore Roosevelt by Booth worth careful examination.

This is a very large image compared to most found on this blog. Even so, it is a cropped version of the original. I kept it large so that you'll be able to see how Booth used various pen strokes and hashing angles to yield a convincing portrait of the president. Click on the image to enlarge it further.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Modigliani's Wife at the Norton Simon

The Norton Simon museum in Pasadena, California has one of the many portraits Amadeo Modigliani made of his common-law wife Jeanne Hébuterne during the few years of their relationship before his death and her suicide.

A lengthy (for Wikipedia) biography of Modigliani (1884-1920) is here, and the entry for Jeanne Hébuterne (1898-1920) is here. A commentary on their relationship is here.

Below are images of Jeanne.


A formal photographic portrait of Jeanne Hébuterne, perhaps taken before she met Modigliani.

Snapshot of Jeanne Hébuterne, who appears to be pregnant with either her daughter Jeanne or the child never born.

Portrait of Jeanne Hébuterne by Modigliani, 1918. Well, that's who Wikipedia says it is. But the woman shown here has brown eyes, and Jeanne's were blue or gray. Also, the shape of the bottom of the nose is wrong.

"Portrait of the Artist's Wife, Jeanne Hébuterne 1918" is the caption of this painting at the Norton Simon.

Here is the painting as seen by my camera.

Closeup photo: click on images to enlarge for a better view of brushwork.

An odd thing about Modigliani's art, at least as a Modernist, is that his female "portrait" subjects are nearly or entirely unrecognizable, and those of men not much better. This Telegraph article mentions that he would paint his subjects indirectly, combining visual memory and his feelings about them.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Emilian Lăzărescu, Romanian Painter

Emilian Lăzărescu (1878-1934) was a versatile painter who spent much of his career in his native Romania. The latter bit of information tells why he is essentially unknown to the art world at large. It's usually the case that artists from out-of-the-way countries are ignored unless they either move to an artistic center such as Paris, London or New York, or they spend considerable time in such places. For example, probably the most famous Romanian artist is the sculptor Constantin Brancusi (1876-1958), who spent more than 50 years of his life in Paris.

As for Lăzărescu (a contemporary of Brancusi), a casual Google search revealed little of use other than a brief Wikipedia entry in Romanian (you can have Google translate it).

Below are examples of his work. Most are undated, so I arranged them according to my best guess as to their chronological order. Some were made in Paris where he studied art. Others depict Great War scenes. Most deal with fashionable women and their activities.


The Green Shawl - 1910

Pe cheiul Senei (Quay of the Seine)

Bal masque

Pudica (Bashful / Chaste)

Femeie culcată pe canapea

Ajunsi in prima linie de foc



Sarja de cavalerie (Cavalry Charge)

După bal (After the Ball)

The Green Scarf


French Evening - 1932

Cochetărie (Coquetry)

Monday, July 24, 2017

Roger Broders' Earlier Posters

Roger Broders (1883-1953) was a French poster artist who created around 100 posters for the Paris-Lyon-Méditerranée (Compagnie des Chemins de fer de Paris à Lyon et à la Méditerranée) (PLM) railroad. His English language Wikipedia entry is here.

I wrote about his Art Deco / Moderne posters here. This post presents some of his work done before his late 1920s transformation to highly simplified illustrations.


This is an example of Broders' mature work of the late 1920s and the 1930s.

Before railroad posters, Broders illustrated other subjects.

This is a totally contrived view of Avignon. He shows the famous pont, but it is a ways upstream from the Papal Palace that, in turn is actually behind a large wall if viewed from the river. Here, the wall might be in scale relative to the houses (assuming they are considerably in its foreground), but the actual palace is greatly enlarged by Broders for promotional effect.

A more realistic view of Florence. The image is simplified, as most 20th century posters have been, but not nearly so much as in the Moderne style one at the top. Another way to date Broders' posters is to examine his signature: Moderne versions are sans-serif style.

Menton lies just inside the French-Italian border.

Two non-Riviera destinations.  The images are not yet as stylized as in his later work.