Monday, April 8, 2024

Some Very Early Jon Whitcomb Illustrations

Jon Whitcomb (1906–1988) was an illustrator best remembered for depictions of glamorous women.  I wrote about him here and here.  Some biogrphiacal information is here.

When writing those earlier posts, my Internet searches turned up nothing of his work prior to the Cadillac advertisements dealt with in the second link above.  I just did another quick search and noticed nothing done earlier that the very late 1930s.  What were his earlier efforts like?

Although I lack examples of Whitcomb illustrations from the first decade or so of his professional career, a reader of this blog, Frank Pauer, kindly provided me with some 1920s illustrations from the Ohio State University humor magazine.


A typical Whitcomb illustration
Later in his career, he experimented with some of the styles trendy in the 1960s.

Himself, earning a few shekels promoting a cigarette brand
Fatima stressed its Turkish tobacco content.

Himself pictured in the Senior class segment of the 1928 Ohio State University yearbook
Delta Tau Delta (the "Delts") was his college fraternity.  Sun Dial was the college humor magazine. Delaware is a small city in Ohio.

March 1928 Sun Dial cover by Whitcomb

Cartoon from the same issue
Note Whitcomb's signature here is similar to the 1920s style of Ralph Barton and Russell Patterson. Compare to his signature in the top image above.  The cartoon style also is very 1920s.

Cartoon from the December 1927 issue
Sigma Nu is a college fraternity. "D.U." refers to another fraternity, Delta Upsilon.  This cartoon shows a touch of glamour that will be the basis for his later career.

Monday, February 19, 2024

More on Vadim Voitekhovitch's Steampunk World

Vadim Voitekhovitch (1963 - ), born in what is now Belarus, moved to Germany in 2004.  He mostly paints Steampunk scenes of apparently fictional Hanseatic area port cities.  Some Steampunk views are of actual inland German cities, but still set in the late 1800s or very early 1900s.  And he sometimes paints such places without Steampunk details.

I previously wrote about him here.

Today, I comment regarding which details of his pure Steampunk paintings are Steampunk, and which are true to the 19th century world used as his setting.  Also noted are a few of his Steampunk shape sources.


Fleet at Sea
The steam-powered airships are pure Steampunk: engineering impossibilities.  The ships, however, are similar to 1890s French armored cruisers.

French Armored Cruiser Bruix
Voitekhovitch borrowed the prow and military masts of this vintage cruiser.

French Battleship Charles Martel
The "tumblehome" side profile is more from this vintage battleship that also has some impressive military (weaponized) masts.

Die Kreuzung der Wege - Intersection
Note the elevated railroad.  The locomotive is derived from mid-1800s Crampton types having huge driving wheels.  The omnibuses on the street are horse-drawn, not Steampunk like the airship.

Great Western Railroad's Iron Duke / Rover Class locomotive
Example of a Crampton type locomotive.

Leipzig Marktplatz
The main Leipzig marketplace as it appeared around 1900, but with the addition of an airship that's apparently not steam-powered.

Der Anlegeturm - The Mooring Tower
The cars appear to be 1915 vintage, but perhaps powered by liquid gas (note the copper tanks at the rear of the car at the right).

Eisener Falke - Iron Falcon
A steam-powered vehicle in the foreground plus the usual airships.

Die Weltlichen Neuheiten - Worldly Novelties
Probably not the best translation.  The tram and cart seem steam-powered, but there's also a horse-drawn carriage at the left.  As is usual in Voitekhovitch's paintings, all this including the airships is normal environment for the people depicted. 

Street scene with steam-powered bus
Everything else seems pure-1890.

Monday, January 1, 2024

Sculpture-Augmented Frescoes at Würzburg Residenz

Last summer (2023) I toured Würzburg's Residenz, the palace of the Prince-Bishop when the area was a unit of the Holy Roman Empire.  Its Wikipedia entry is here.

Its artistic highlights regarding painting are the huge ceiling frescos by the great
Giovani Battista Tiepolo.  The present post features the fresco in the Treppenhaus. This link notes:

"... in the great vaulted ceiling over the Treppenhaus - at 7287 square feet (677 square metres) one of the largest expanses ever to have been covered in fresco - the theme was "Allegory of the Planets and Continents."  This monumental mythological painting, which occasionally encroaches onto architectural elements below, extends over a flattened basket vault that spans a complex arrangement of flights and landings.  It shows the Four Continents beneath a central Heaven presided over by an art-loving Apollo."

It's that encroaching that concerns us today.

Some encroaching items are sculptures that overlap the painting in places, becoming part of it when viewed from below.

Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find the name of the sculptor or names of sculptors who did the work via Google and Bing searches.  Perhaps I didn't dig deeply enough.  As it was, the items searches turned up became increasingly less relevant, so I decided not to turn searching into a death march.

Below are some photos I took.


Treppenhaus staircase and fresco.

Corner detail containing sculptures of two men.

Another corner, two more men.

A third corner.

Segment of the Kaisersaal fresco.  Note the sculpted dog.

A charming sculpture in the Kaisersaal -- French appearing, and likely related to springtime.  I saw the title and sculptor's name is a catalog at the Residenz gift shop, but didn't buy the book.  And now I can't find that information on the Internet.  If you can, help me out in a comment.

Monday, November 13, 2023

Louis Buisseret, 1920s Belgian Realist

Louis Buisseret (1888 - 1956), Wikipedia entry here, was not a major artist, being employed for 20 years as a provincial  art academy administrator.

The peak of his career seems to have been in the 1920s.  He depicted in representational style, though there was some of the simplification fashionable at the time.

Images below are in approximate chronological order.


Self-Portrait - 1917
Painted during the Great War when Belgium was mostly occupied by Germany.

Portrait de femme - 1918
Another wartime painting.

Selence - 1919

Lady with a Parrot - 1923
Mannered, the setting harking to early paintings using one-point perspective.

Lady with a Red Scarf - 1923

In the Artist's Studio - 1928
Now we see a whiff of modernist simplification on the woman, but not the others.

Mary Louise McBride (Mrs Homer Saint-Gaudens) - 1929
Slight simplification here.

Water Carrier, Portugal - c.1943
The date was what was shown on the website.  Not impossible, but I think it unlikely that an ordinary Belgian could easily travel from German-occupied Belgium to neutral Portugal during World War 2.  1930s seems more reasonable, but admittedly that's only a guess.

Woman Reading
No date for this. Perhaps 1930s, maybe post-war.

Monday, October 16, 2023

Blogging Notice

Note to regular readers:

I have written more than 1,500 Art Contrarian posts since 2010.  I am about to turn 84 years old, and no longer follow the art world except casually.  That means I'm finding it difficult to come up with topics for posts.  Besides, I've said most of what I want to say on the subject.

So, rather than posting to a fixed schedule, I've decided to post whenever I feel the need to do so, much like David Apatoff does for his excellent Illustration Art blog.

Besides the occasional blogging here, I'll continue to post regularly on my Car Style Critic blog that deals with automobile styling and history, subjects I follow closely.

Thank you for your interest in Art Contrarian.

Monday, October 9, 2023

More Konstantin Korovin Paintings

I last wrote about Konstantin Alekseyevich Korovin (1861-1939) here.  His Wikipedia entry is here.

He painted in a painterly (visible brushstroke), Impressionist style both in the Russian phase of his career and later in France.

As I mentioned in the earlier post, he carries this further that I prefer.  This is best for landscapes, but the first portrait shown below works well when not seen enlarged (as you can do by clicking on it if you're viewing this on a desktop computer or possibly on a laptop).

All that said, Korovin's works were often pleasing and interesting.


Portrait of Mariinsky Theatre singer Vera Aleekseevna Dorofeeva - 1920
It isn't easy to do a convincing portrait of a young woman using strong brushwork, but Korovin succeeded here.

Z. Pertseva - 1921
Perhaps due to it being nearly a full-figure work, his sketchy approach is less effective on Pertseva.

Gourzouf - 1914
Russian Empire resort town.

Gurzuf - 1915
Different transliterations from the Cyrillic, same place in Crimea the following summer.

Moscow - 1914
The Kremlin is at the left, St. Basil's Cathedral is above the streetcar on the bridge over the Moskva River.

French Port in Summer
Another summer resort painting in the 1920s or 1930s.

Monday, October 2, 2023

Didier Graffet, French Steampunk Illustrator

Didier Graffet, born 1970, is a French painter/illustrator specializing in Steampunk and fantasy subjects.   Some background regarding him is here.

As best I can tell, most artists of that genre nowadays produce digital images.  Graffet, however, seems to have mostly or entirely painted using acrylics.  That is more laborious than digital, given the amount and type of detail he uses.  But the result is something tangible that can be sold for a good price, if auction values for some of his works are any clue.

Below are examples of his paintings found on the Internet.


Angel City
First, to place Graffet's work in context, a fine example of digital Steampunk art by the well-known Stephan Martinière.

A New York City fantasy by Graffet.  He compresses Broadway, showing the 23rd Street's Flatiron Building (slightly altered) in the middle ground and Times Square closer in.

Detail of the previous image.  The Paramount Theatre at the right is in the same spirit as the actual Paramount of the late 1920s.  The nearest southbound car is a Jaray-type streamlined Maybach of 1935.  Other cars seem to be Graffet's inventions, as is the double deck bus at the left. 

A country scene with castles in the background and Viking-type ships approaching us.

Graffet used that vehicle's shape in several of his paintings.

Here one is at a loading platform.  The people on the balcony are dressed in circa-1920 fashion.

Trafalgar Celebration
Trafalgar Square, London.  HMS Victory sits by Nelson's monument while a huge dirigible loiters overhead.  The people are dressed as in the 1890s.

Métro Gare du Nord
The train station for points north of Paris.  The façade is there, but far, far above street level.  The sign fragment at the upper left advertises trains for London.

Le Tour
Eiffel Tower as seen from across the Seine.  Some of the airships are steam powered, highly unlikely in reality, but found in Steampunk illustrations by other artists.