Thursday, August 31, 2017

Atypical Winterhalter at the Getty

The subject painting for this post isn't an early one, because Franz Xaver Winterhalter (1805-1873) was about 38 years old when he painted it. But it (and one other of the same subject) has a different feeling that those made before and after.

The painting is "Portrait of Leonilla, Princess of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn" (1843), described here on the J. Gaul Getty Museum web site.

And here is Winterhalter's Wikipedia entry. It mentions that he made a highly successful career as a court portraitist. One result, according to the entry, was that his work is difficult to categorize in terms of the various movements of his day. Another is that he was looked down upon by other artists.

Setting that aside, let's turn to Leonilla's portrait and a few other Winterhalters to provide context. Included are two photos I took in April at the Getty that you might want to click on to enlarge.


Elisabeth, Margravine of Baden - 1831
An early example of Wilterhalter's court paintings.

Queen Victoria - 1842
Painted a year before our subject painting.

Barbe Dmitrievna Mergasov, Madame Rimsky-Korsakov - 1864
One of Winterhalter's best-known works.

Sascha von Metzler - 1872
One of his last paintings.

Leonilla, Princess of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn - 1843
The subject painting as seen by my camera at the Getty.

Closer photo.  Unlike the other examples of Winterhalter's work, this painting is hard-edge with slightly simplified forms hinting at the Art Deco / Moderne style of around 1930. His subject does not quite seem real.

Princess Leonilla of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn - 1840s
I found this image on the Web. It was dated vaguely as being from the 1840s, but appears to have been made about the same time as our subject. It, too, has the same stylistic spirit. However, the Wikipedia entry on Leonilla has it that its date was around 1836 and painted in Italy along with a portrait of her husband (that I could not find via a Google search). I'm doubtful regarding this claim, given the similarity in painting style and her hair style in both paintings, but could easily be mistaken. Also, I could find no photos of her in a brief Google search, so can offer no other evidence of Leonilla's appearance. She lived to be 101, by the way.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Alma-Tadema, Miniaturist

Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema (1836-1912) was both popular and financially successful in his day. Then Victorian-era art went seriously out of fashion after his death. Times change, pendulums swing, and if your grandparents had sprung for one of his paintings in 1945 and willed it to you, it might be worth several -- perhaps even tens of -- millions today. More about him here.

About six years ago I wrote about Alma-Tadema and his 1894 painting "Spring" that is a public favorite at the Getty in Los Angeles. I visited the Getty again in April and took more photos of it and its details.

When seen in art books, his paintings tend to give the impression of being large. Some are, but many are surprisingly small. And some of his larger paintings contain many small elements. Such is the case with Spring. Below are a few detail photos I took. Click on them to enlarge.


This is an image of Spring found on the internet for general reference.

Here is my establishment photo. Spring is by no means Alma-Tadema's largest painting, but it isn't small. You can get a sense of its size by comparing it to the information plaque at the right. What is small are most of the people and related details pictured in the painting.

This segment is near the painting's center. It shows people in the background of the scene.  Many of the heads are about one centimeter high, some even smaller.

The lower part of the painting, edges slightly cropped. Those flowers are a little larger than the letters in the plaque's caption text.

Closer, and slightly to the left of the previous image. On my desktop iMac, what's shown here appears about the same size as in Tadema's painting.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Bernd Steiner, Poster Artist with No Set Style

Bernd Steiner (1884-1933) was an Austrian illustrator and artist best known (though he is far from famous) for his posters. The only biographical information I could find on a quick Google search was this Wikipedia entry in German. The translation feature for once yielded a text that largely made sense in English. Unfortunately, the entry is brief. Basically, Steiner was an officer in the Austro-Hungarian army during the Great War and had his right hand (presumably the one he drew using) badly injured. Regardless, he was able to continue his career, and most of the images of his work on Google are post-war.

By the late 1920s he was living in Bremen, Germany, doing posters for the North German Lloyd steamship company and teaching art. But he returned to Austria, dying in Vienna aged 49.

As the title of this post indicates, Steiner had no recognizable style. On one hand, this meant he could stay current with changing illustration fads and fashions. On the other, this probably contributed to his lack of the fame that the likes of A.M. Cassandre and Ludwig Hohlwein attained in the poster field.


We begin with two examples of Steiner's painting. I don't have information of the first one, but the once immediately above is titled "Oberwölz" (1921).

Here are two posters using the same format from the early 1920s.

Another Vienna poster from the same period. I'm not sure what "Red Monday" refers to other than a name for the event being publicized -- presumably nothing political. The women emerging from a tomato plant is odd, yet interesting.

Postcard illustration.

North German Lloyd poster from around the mid-1920s advertising North Sea destinations.

Nice illustration of elegant first-class passengers heading to South America on Norddeutscher Lloyd steamer Sierra.

Norddeutscher Lloyd announced two very large, fast liners for the North Atlantic run via posters such as this.

Steiner is now using a simplified style fashionable around 1930. This poster advertises three spring sailings to the Mediterranean.

Another North German Lloyd "To South America" poster. This shows Rio in the background.

A polar sailing to Iceland, Spitzbergen and Norway on the "Stuttgart" steamer with two (!!) propellers -- I'm not sure why this fact was featured other than to suggest that the ship had some substance and was less likely to become immobilized if a singe propeller shaft went bad.

This poster is dated 1933, the year of Steiner's death. It features an Austrian lake along with an apparent shift in his style.

Monday, August 21, 2017

A Large Tiepolo at the Norton Simon

As I've mentioned before, Giovanni Battista Tiepolo (1696-1770) is one of my favorite pre-19th century painters. I posted about his early works here, and about his female faces here. And here is his Wikipedia entry.

The Norton Simon museum in Pasadena, California collection includes a very large Tiepolo, "The Triumph of Virtue and Nobility Over Ignorance" (1740-50, perhaps 1743). Their web site mentions "This painting was designed for a ceiling in the Palazzo Manin in Venice. Virtue is dressed in white with a sun symbol on her breast. Beside her, Nobility holds a statuette of Minerva and a spear. To the left, Fame blows her trumpet. Below, the figure of Ignorance is being vanquished."

Even though it's a ceiling painting, it works fairly well when displayed on a Norton Simon wall. The main ceiling effect is that the depictions are made from a low point of view.

Typical of Tiepolo, Virtue is represented by the pouty blonde model found in many of his works.


A photo I took when visiting the museum in April. The information plaque seen towards the lower right serves as an indication of the scale of the painting.

A cropped image from another photo taken during my visit. Click to enlarge.

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.