Monday, January 30, 2017

Lucien Labaudt, Depression-Era Muralist

Lucien Labaudt (1880-1943), born in France, was largely self-taught, and spent most of his career in San Francisco where he is best known for murals he created at Coit Tower and, around 1936-37, for the Beach Chalet. Biographical information is skimpy on the Internet, but one snippet is here. Labaudt was a war artist when he died in a plane crash in India.

His usual mural style was the 1930s-fashionable, simplified and slightly cartoonishly distorted way of depicting people and settings. Unlike many other San Francisco mural painters in the 1930s, Labaudt minimized political commentary in his pictures.

Below are images of some of his murals along with two earlier easel paintings. Click on them to enlarge.

Mural of Baker Beach in the Beach Chalet.

Mural of Golden Gate Park in the Beach Chalet.

Beach Chalet mural with Fisherman's Wharf scene.

Beach Chalet mural featuring Golden Gate area.

Detail of Beach Chalet mural of San Fancisco's waterfront. Labaudt usually included family members and friends in his murals. The man shown here is Harry Bridges, boss of the longshoremen's union that kept West Coast ports disrupted due to strikes for decades.

"L'Atelier" (Workshop), a 1931 painting.

"Composition" from 1927. Note how it differs from the Social Realist style of his later works.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Larry Stults' Hupmobile Illustrations

Elwin Martin (Larry) Stults, Jr. (1899-1996) was a commercial artist active from the 1920s into the 1940s and perhaps for a while beyond. The Stults website has some biographical information here. It seems he spent part of his career working in Haddon Sundblom's shop (I wrote about Sundblom here).

Stults is perhaps best-known for his illustrations for Hupmobile cars that appeared in 1926 and 1927. He invariably included an attractive young woman in his illustrations; men were optional. I like these ads because they are so very-1920s, a time that has interested me for most of my life.


That sort of dog is also seen in 1920s and 30s Art Deco designs.

The woman is very nicely done, -- the car, not so much.

Here Stults tries a flatter, more diagram-like approach.

The car's perspective is incorrect, but the lady is just fine aside from exaggerated proportions.

This last illustration might not have made its way into an advertisement.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Up Close: Robert Lewis Reid's Fleur de Lys

While dashing through New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art early in September, I came across Fleur de Lis (c. 1895-1900) by Robert Lewis Reed (1862-1929). His Wikipedia entry is here, and I wrote about him here. The Met's website page on the painting is here.

At the time the painting was made, Reid was practicing the American version of Impressionism where broken color and visible brush strokes were combined with greater attention to drawing than in classical French Impressionism, and where key areas such as faces were painted more traditionally. Fleur de Lis has a similar feeling to some of paintings of women by Frederick Frieseke and Richard E. Miller.

Image of Fleur de Lis from the Met's web site.

My establishment / aide-memoir photo.  Note the difference in color due to artificial lighting in the museum and perhaps sensors in my camera.

Close-in photo. This is slightly cropped, and I also played around with the color which is still slightly more in the red direction than the colors in the museum's image above. Reid painted fairly thinly here, though parts of flowers and the subject's clothing show stronger brushwork. Note the blueish background color touches on the subject's face, hair and hands. Also bits of her hair color spotted elsewhere. This helps to unify the painting.

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.