Showing posts with label Portrait subjects. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Portrait subjects. Show all posts

Monday, June 30, 2014

Up Close: Boldini's Casati with Peacock Feathers

I was in Rome recently and made sure to revisit the Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna (Web site here). It's on the grounds of the Villa Borghese, which puts it slightly off the usual tourist track. Nevertheless, it's worth a visit for those interested in 19th and early 20th century Italian painting.

One of the Galleria's noteworthy items is a portrait of the colorful Marchesa Luisa Casati (1881-1957) who inherited great wealth and spent it away by the 1930s. She was portrayed by many artists, including Giovanni Boldini (1842-1931) who depicted her at least twice.

One of these portraits can be seen in the Galleria, as the images below attest.


La marchesa Luisa Casati con penne di pavone - 1911-13
This is a public domain image of the painting from the Internet.

And this is what my camera captured in the gallery. Outside light was coming from the left, which affects what you see here and below compared to the Internet-sourced image at the top. This supposed defect is actually beneficial, because it captures Boldini's impasto and other brushwork better.

A closer view of the subject.  A bit of the frame was included to allow the camera to get a better focus (many paintings lack crisp edges, and can confuse a camera).

An even tighter shot featuring La Casati's face. Click on images to enlarge.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Up Close: Boldini's Giuseppe Verdi

Fans of late nineteenth century painting who are planning a trip that includes Rome should try to find time to visit the Galleria nazionale d'arte moderna. It's on the grounds of the Villa Borghese, a park located a short ways northeast of the Spanish Steps area, which puts it slightly away from the main Rome tourist track. Also on the grounds is the more famous Galleria Borghese, which contains masterpiece paintings and -- especially -- sculptures by the likes of Bernini and Canova. The two museums are not close to one another, but the walk between them is not too far for most people. Once visited, the Moderna is a fairly short walk from the Piazza del Popolo that, in turn, leads to streets where Rome's fanciest shops are found.

One of the best-known works in the Arte Moderna is the 1888 pastel portrait of Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901) by Giovanni Boldini (1841-1931). Below are two photos I took of it on my last visit.


Ritratto di Giuseppe Verdi - 1888
This is an image found on the Internet.

This is my photo showing the portrait and its frame.

A close-in photo I took. Click on the image to enlarge.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Bastien-Lepage's Three Bernhardts

In a comment (by Hels) on the previous post (3 February 2014), it was asked if Bastien-Lepage painted the portrait of Sarah Bernhardt from life.

Good question, because photography was in full flower by the end of the 1870s, and it might have been possible for him locate some reference photos and go from there.

Fortunately, I happen to have this book by the Musée d'Orsay in my collection. On page 110, it is reported:

Jules Bastien-Lapage éprova, durant ses séjours parisiens et londoniens, une réelle passion pour le théâtre. ....

Ce fut le cas en juin 1879, lorsqu'il se trouva à Londres en même temps que la troupe de la Comédie Français, venue pour donner six semains de représentations. Bastien-Lepage recontra et fréquenta alors plusiers des membres de la troupe: Sophie Croizette, Jeanne Samary, ou Mounet-Sully, mais ce sont surtout ses liens avec Sarah Bernhardt, dont c'était la primiere tournée outre-Manche, qu'a retenu la postérité. Instalée à part du rest de la troupe, Sarah Berhardt logeait dans une maison au 77 Chester Square où elle reçut Bastien-Lepage. Nul doute qu'aparavant il avait visité l'exposition des oeuvres -- peintures et sculptures -- de l'actrice qui se tenait au même moment dans une galerie du 33 Piccadilly, et que tous deux évoquèrent à loisir leur untérêt commun pour le peinture et la sculpture.

[As for the portrait of Bernhardt...] Cet hommage du peintre à la femme, actrice et sculpteur, a été peint durant les derniers mois de l’anée 1878 et au début de 1879. Ce fut d’alleurs un hommage à double sens puisque le modèle accepta de ne pas poser en costume du scène ni avec une de ses propres oeuvres, mais en tenue de ville et avec une statuette modelée par Bastien-Lepage … vers 1876. La tradition veut que les quarante-cinq séances de pose eurent lieu dans l’hôtel particulier de Sarah Berhardt, rue Fortuny, mais peut-être eurent-elles lieu aussi, quelquefois dans l’atelier de l’artiste, au 7 bis, impasse du Maine, où se trouvait le fragile modelage d'Orphée.

Après quelques recherches graphiques et une esquisse très enlevée du seul portrait conservé à Stockholm, ... Bastien-Lepage opte pour une réresentation de profil, de type quattrocentesque "en medaille" (de "camée" diront certains commentateurs) sur un fond neutre, et vêt son modè d'une robe de soie à motifs. ....

La réception du portrait à l'exposition [Salon des Champs-Élysées] fut presque unaniment favorable.

It seems that Bastien-Lepage was a theater enthusiast, and Bernhardt liked painting and sculpture, so they hit it off well, the example referring to a time in June, 1879 when they both happened to be in London. But they must have become acquainted before that, because he began work on the portrait in 1878, the work continuing into 1879 with numerous sittings at her place and perhaps some at his. The article on the Bernhardt portrait also notes that copies were made by Bastien-Lepage.

The book had images of three versions of the portrait. They are as follows:

This is a study from 1878 now at the National Museum in Stockholm.

The subject of this post.

This extant copy/version (at a slightly smaller scale) by Bastien-Lepage is held by the Musée Fabre in Montpellier, France.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Up Close: Bastien-Lapage's Sarah Bernhardt

Jules Bastien-Lepage (1848-1884) was short-lived, yet influential in his day and for a few years thereafter. Along with many other talented and inventive painters of the late nineteenth century, he was doomed to decades of obscurity because his style did not fit the revealed historical narrative of Modernism's march to the end-state of painting: abstraction as practiced in New York City in the 1950s.

Bastien-Lepage's Wikipedia entry is here and examples of his work can be found via "Images" on Google or other search sites.

Although he usually featured people as subject matter, he seems to have painted only a few formal portraits. The best-known of these is his Sarah Berhardt of 1879 (for more information on the actress click here). I stumbled across the painting not long ago while at San Francisco's Palace of the Legion of Honor to view an Anders Zorn exhibit that I posted about here. The Bernhardt is not in the museum's permanent collection, being on loan from the Anne and Gordon Getty collection.

Guilty confession: I wrote a Molti Ritratti post on Sarah Berhardt portriats, but somehow failed to include Bastien-Lagage's version of her. I humbly attenpt to atone for this omission below.

This is an image of the full painting that I found on the Internet. Below is a section of it it photographed at the museum.

This isn't much of a close-up because the original painting is fairly small. But it offers better detail than the image of the entire painting. Click on this image to enlarge.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Molti Ritratti: Favorite Pino Models

Pino Danae, born Giuseppi Dangelico (1939-2010), known professionally as Pino, was a successful book cover illustrator who made an equally successful transition to gallery painting. Some biographical information can be found here.

It should be no surprise that many artists have favorite models, people they use again and again, though this is not obvious unless one can view a collection of the artist's works in a book, museum exhibition or on the Internet as an image search results display. A while ago I wrote a post about the Italian master Tiepolo and the similarity of female faces in his paintings.

Pino tended to use the same model for several of his paintings. And if a different model was used, she often had facial characteristics similar to some of his other models, as can be seen below.


These two paintings clearly use the same model, costume and pose, though Pino altered the setting background and tabletop.

The model(s) in these works might be the same as the one above, though the hair is different and the faces are more round.  Modifying hairdos can be chalked up to artistic license, but Pino seems less likely to have changed facial structure.  Nevertheless, the subjects seem quite similar, possibly because he had a preference for a certain appearance and perhaps because he liked to have foreheads unobstructed by hair, heightening potential similarity.

This model seems a bit different from the one(s) above, thanks to the shape of her eyebrows.  Again, I can't rule out the possibility that different (though similar) models were used for this set.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Multi Ritratti: Antonin Proust

Antonin Proust (1835-1905) was a French politician, unrelated to Marcel Proust the writer. As the link above indicates, his career had its ups and downs, ending in his suicide.

Apparently not many portraits of Proust were made, but those that were, were created by the cream of the late 19th century artistic crop. I was made aware of Proust portraits by an article by Oliver Trostmann in this catalog for a recent exhibit at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston.

To set the scene, here is a 1877 photograph of Proust by a photographer known as Franck.

These are (top) a 1877 study by Édouard Manet and (below) a painting from the same year.

Manet painted this more finished portrait of Proust in 1880.

In 1885 the sculptor Auguste Rodin made this etching of Proust.

Anders Zorn painted this portrait of Proust in 1888.

Who did the best job? Not Manet, I'm afraid. And Rodin's etching is more a technical study than a portrait showing character. So in my opinion, Zorn wins, even though his painting was one of the first portraits he made using oil paints. (In his early career, Zorn usually worked in water-based media.)

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Molti Ritratti: Gloria Swanson

Gloria Swanson (1899-1983) was a legendary movie star whose career was at its height during the 1920s and early 30s. An extensive biographical link is here.

Today's Molti Ritratti is another switcheroo in that rather than featuring formal commissioned oil portraits, the images below are cover illustrations for movie fan magazines.

Nowadays fan magazines use photography for cover art. But into the 1930s their covers normally featured illustrations, and those illustration were often done in pastels rather than oil paint, watercolor, gouache and other commonly used illustration media.

Hollywood cranked out a lot of pictures each year, therefore keeping the stars very busy. So I don't know if cover illustrators were able to view their subjects in person or else relied mostly on photos furnished by the studio publicity staffs. I suspect the latter.

In any case, for your viewing enjoyment, below are covers featuring Miss Swanson.


Publicity photo for "The Trespasser" - 1929
Swanson was about 30 year old when this was taken, and it strikes me as a suitable image for comparison with the magazine covers below.

Motion Picture - November 1923
By Hal Phyfe.

Motion Picture - November 1926
The cover artist is Marland Stone.

Photoplay - September 1928
By Charles Sheldon.

Screen Book - December 1929
The artist's signature reads as John Clarke, best I can tell.

New Movie Magazine - September 1930
I cannot see an artist signature.

Motion Picture - February 1931
Another cover by Marland Stone.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Alcuni Ritratti : Toto Koopman

Note that instead of the usual Molti Ritratti, this post has the ritratti count as Alcuni. That's because the star of this post, Catherina "Toto" Koopman (1908-1991), deserved to be depicted a lot, but wasn't, aside from photographically in her fashion modeling career.

I can't find much biographical information about her on the Internet. But you might try this Financial Times article about early professional fashion photography models; scroll down to locate the part about Koopman. (For American English speakers, her Dutch last name would be pronounced something like COPE-man.)

In summary, she was part Dutch and part Javanese/Chinese, was pursued by rich, powerful men, imprisoned by the Germans during World War 2 and lived the rest of her life with a female art dealer. If this interests you, this biography will be published in September. And if you can read French, that version has been available for a while.

Here is what the fuss was about:


Frontal view of face

Profile view of face

By Joseph Oppenheimer

By Joseph Oppenheimer
This image his credited on some Web sites as being of Koopman, but I'm not sure. For instance, the eyes and eyebrows seem wrong.

By George Hoyningen-Heune - 1933

By George Hoyningen-Heune - June, 1933 Vogue magazine

By George Hoyningen-Heune - September, 1934 Vogue magazine

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Molti Ritratti: Mrs. Musters

Where I live, the main art museum exhibits run the gamut from ghastly (a recent showing of feminist art from Paris) to mediocre to good. Those are my opinions, anyway.

Happily for me, the Seattle Art Museum is one of four U.S. sites for an exhibit of paintings from London's Kenwood House. Kenwood is undergoing restoration, so the artworks assembled by Edward Cecil Guinness, first Earl of Iveagh (1847-1927), he of the Dublin brewery family, had to be vacated to storage or the road. Guinness was extremely rich and astute enough to beat even more wealthy American art collectors to the punch during the late 1800s rush to acquire masterpieces.

The exhibit's title features the names of Rembrandt, Van Dyck and Gainsborough to attract visitors. But for me, the most interesting works were by British portrait painters active roughly 1750-1830. These included Joshua Reynolds, Thomas Lawrence, George Romney and Henry Raeburn, among others. Also on view was a very nice non-portrait chiaroscuro by Joseph Wright of Derby, a dramatic hawking scene by Edwin Landseer and the excellent Pieter van den Broeke by Frans Hals.

Whether by accident or design, on adjoining walls were hung portraits of the same subject by two different artists. That subject was Sophia Heywood, the Mrs. John Musters (1758-1819), a well-known at the time, socially prominent beauty of the late 1700s. The dirt on Mrs. Musters can be found here, and another piece that strikes me as being less well researched is here.

Here are the paintings I saw:

By Joshua Reynolds - "Mrs. Musters as 'Hebe'" - 1782

By George Romney - 1779-80

Glancing back and forth between the two works, I was struck that two highly competent portrait painters created images that, at a glance, didn't quite seem to be the same woman. Closer comparison reveals many similarities, however; what threw me off briefly were the darker, heavier eyebrows in the Reynolds painting and the darker hair.

By Joshua Reynolds - no date
Reynolds painted Mrs. Musters more than once. This is a formal portrait comparable to that by Romney. Again, the artists differ as to hair coloring. But they agree that she had a long nose, a small mouth and chin, and that her eyes had prominent lids.

By George Stubbs - "John and Sophia Musters Riding at Colwick Hall" - 1777
Famed painter of horses George Stubbs also painted Mrs. Musters as part of an equestrian scene that included her husband and his estate.

Detail of Stubbs painting

This is a detail of the Stubbs painting that someone was kind enough to leave on the Web. Mrs. Musters' image is probably tiny in the original, so it's hard to realistically compare Stubbs' version of her to those of Reynolds and Romney. Stubbs does give her a more seductive expression, however.

What I find puzzling is why so many men were attracted to Mrs. Musters. By my lights, if the portraits are accurate, she had fairly average looks. I suspect that her coloring, personality and the way she carried herself created her attraction. Sort of like people we've known who are attractive yet don't photograph well.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Multi Ritratti: Lady Hamilton

Lady Emma Hamilton (1765-1815) came from humble origins but, thanks to her beauty, soon entranced men of status and power including most notably Lord Nelson, England's greatest fighting admiral. Her life is reported in considerable detail here.

Among those struck by her looks was the painter George Romney who produced a large number of portraits of her striking various poses, usually of classical or literary characters. These are the best-known images of her.

She was painted by other artists, the most competent being Élisabeth Vigée-LeBrun. An excerpt from Vigée-LeBrun's memoirs dealing with Lady Hamilton is here.


The paintings above are by Romney.

These last three are by Vigée-LeBrun.