Monday, November 12, 2018

Isaac Israëls' Sketchy Style

Isaac Lazarus Israëls (1865-1934) was a Dutch painter and son of Josef Israëls, an important 19th century artist. His Wikipedia entry is here. He received some training by his father and at an academy, but otherwise was self-taught. From 1905 to 1915 he was in Paris and London, but spent most of his career in the Netherlands.

Israëls shed his academic style before he was 30. Thereafter, from what I can tell from images of his works on the internet, his style became quite sketchy, though he did not distort colors or proportions of his subjects. So he was a modernist to only a limited degree.


Transport of Colonial Soldiers - 1883-84
They were probably headed to the Netherlands East Indies.  This was painted a year or two after Israëls left the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague.

Shop Window - 1894

Woman in front of Van Gogh's Sunflowers - 1917-1918


Two Hirsch Models, Ippy and Gertie Wehmann - c. 1916
Hirsch was a department store found in several European cities, including Amsterdam.

Gertie in a Fur Coat - c. 1917
Gertie, again.

Woman Walking on a Beach
Israëls painted many beach scenes.

Girl Sitting on a Beach
This seems to be from around 1930, judging by the hairdo and costume.

Artist in Atelier - 1918

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Peter Helck, Painter of Ancient Car Races

Actually, Peter Helck (1893-1988) illustrated other topics than early-1900s Vanderbilt Cup races and such, though many of his subjects did involve cars, trucks and other mechanical items. He had a successful career, being well known in his day.

Helck's brief Wikipedia entry is here, a website by his grandson is here, and more detailed information regarding his early-1920s work in Europe can be found here. He was born in New York City, studied at the Art Students League there, and around 1920 worked with and apparently studied under the great Frank Brangwyn. Helck was of military age at the time of the Great War, but I've found no information regarding if he served or was in Europe due in part to that.

Below are examples of his work.


Brooklands racecourse paddock scene - 1920.

Morris Crowley cover advertisement (cropped) on a 1920 issue of the Autocar magazine (British car magazines used to have ads as their cover art). This has a hint of Brangwyn, I think.

Cover art for another British automobile magazine.

Scene from an early race (the Web source did not identify it).

Scene from 1908 Vanderbilt Cup race. In both these illustrations Helck includes the leaning-forward appearance of the featured race cars that was typical of race photographs from the early 20th century.  That distortion had to do with the relationship between a speeding subject and the vertical (low to high) movement of the camera aperture. That is, the lower part of the moving car was captured first, the upper part slightly later after it had moved, and the between part was the transition while the aperture was moving. Helck knew all this, but thought it worth retaining for his portrayals of that era to provide a "period" feeling.

World War 2 vintage Campbell Soup advertising art featuring a Jeep.

Chevrolet truck advertisement art, c. 1950.

Story illustration of an accident while a locomotive was being loaded on a cargo ship.

Story illustration with the caption "For a horrible instant Carter thought the jet was going to crash." - 1955.  Helck had to do some imaginative compositional work to provide drama while fitting the elements into the magazine's illustration hole.  In reality, that sort-of F-94 could not possibly avoid crashing if it were flying that low, that fast, and at that angle of attack.

Example of non-machine subject matter.

"The Old Ashburn Place."

Study of scene from 1933 Tourist Trophy race held on the Isle of Man: Helck often signed his studies.

Three more studies.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Eugène Galien-Laloue's Paris

Eugène Galien-Laloue (1854-1941) was a prolific painter of landscapes and cityscapes, and is best known for his depictions of Paris. A brief Wikipedia entry is here, and from it you can link to a longer French version. But for a richly detailed exposition on him, I strongly suggest this site.

It seems that Galien-Laloue -- Laloue was his actual family name -- was an odd character in several respects. He was something of a loner who focused on his work rather than the socializing that many famous Paris-based artists did. He had three wives, all of them sisters. He used several aliases when signing his paintings, presumably so that he could market them through more than one gallery.

That aside, Laloue's gouache paintings were accurate depictions of Paris architecture as well as his scenes' atmospherics. This makes his works of interest to fans of Paris in the years 1880-1930. Most of the image below seem to have been painted in the early 1900s (he didn't date his works).


Boulevard Saint-Germain

La Bastille

La Madeleine

Madeleine Métro entrance
A 1920s scene

La place Saint-Michel

Les quais de Paris

Notre-Dame sous la neige
Probably painted around 1916 -- the man in brown seems to be a British officer who really should be wearing his greatcoat.

Les Halles
This area was destroyed and replaced by that horrible Centre Pompidou.

Arc de Triomphe (1)

Arc de Triomphe (2)
Both painted from almost the same spot, but in different seasons.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Gottlieb Theodor von Hartenkampf Kempf, Portraitist

Gottlieb Theodor von Hartenkampf Kempf, sometimes rendered Gottlieb Theodor Kempf von Hartenkampf -- I'm not sure which is preferred -- was an Austrian painter and illustrator born in Vienna in 1871 and died in 1964. Unfortunately, there seems to be little to no biographical information about him on the first few pages of Google searches in English and German. One source mentioned that he did some of his study in Paris.

Fortunately, searches do turn up quite a few examples of his work. They indicate that he was good at capturing faces, an important test of artistic skill and training. For example, if you have ever visited museums with collections of portraits by American artists made before the early 1800s, you will notice that most of those works are comparatively crudely done. Moreover, a viewer must do some mental work to try to tease out what the subject looked like in real life. Sometimes one is reduced to mostly learning the subject had brown eyes and a long, somewhat droopy nose.

By the 1930s, many artists and art critics claimed that the quality of a portrait was largely dependent on its presentation of the subject's character or personality. I have no problem with that, provided the subject's portrayal is representationally accurate. I do sometimes have a problem when the artist portrays his feelings about the subject in the portrait: imagine an exhibit of Donald Trump portraits by hostile painters living in Greenwich Village or Berkeley, California.

As for Kempf, he could capture his subjects' physical appearance in a manner that made them believable. Below are a couple of portraits along with other examples of his work.


Porträt Otto Wagner - 1896
Wagner (1841-1918) was an important Viennese architect.

Zigeunerin - Gypsy Woman

Die Andacht - The Devotion

Die Belauschung - Eavesdropping



Jungfrau Maria - Mary as a Young Woman - 1935

Definition here.