Monday, February 18, 2019

Daphne du Maurier's Sister Jeanne's Paintings

Jeanne du Maurier (1911-1996) was an artist, a painter. But she is probably best-known as being the younger sister of the writer Daphne du Maurier. Jeanne and Daphne were daughters of the well-known (in his day) actor Sir Gerald du Maurier and actress Muriel Beaumont. Their grandfather was George du Maurier who worked at Punch magazine and wrote the novel "Trilby" that had the character Svengali.

Although there are printed biographies dealing with the three du Maurier sisters (the oldest was Angela, who also wrote), the main Internet source dealing with Jeanne is here. It states:

"She studied at the Central School of Art in Southampton Row, and was in the life class under Bernard MENINSKY. She also studied drypoint and etching there. After she attended the St. John's Wood School of Art (studying painting under P F Millard) her first studio was in Hampstead, and she began exhibiting in 1938 with the RBA [Royal Society of British Artists] and SWA [Society of Women Artists]. ...

"Her next exhibition [after World War 2] was with STISA [St Ives Society of Artists] in the Autumn of 1945, opened by her mother Lady du Maurier. She took a studio in St Ives and again exhibited in 1946 where she met Dod PROCTER who asked her if she could paint her portrait. The two became close friends, spending three winters together, two in Tenerife and one in Africa. By the time she exhibited at the RA [Royal Academy] in the 1950s, Jeanne had moved to Manaton in Devon. She painted mostly still life, flowers, landscapes and the occasional portrait. Among her works exhibited at the RA were flower paintings."

Hardly any images of her paintings can be found on the Internet, nearly all held by the Royal West of England Academy in Bristol. Worse, none are dated. This means I cannot place them in context of 20th century painting trends and fashions. I'll guess that the images below are of paintings made between 1950 and 1970. If any reader has better information, please post a comment.


Birds and Flowers
This, and the painting below feature mirrors.

Reflections I

Repetition II

The Bird Cage

The House Next Door
Her treatment of foliage seems inspired by Cézanne.

House in Madeira

Your tastes might well differ from mine. And tiny images seen on computer screens seldom capture what one experiences when viewing paintings in person. That said, from my perspective Jeanne du Maurier was not a good artist. The paintings shown here (aside from The Bird Cage and The House in Madera) tend to be wispy and unfocused. Bird Cage seems unresolved, incomplete. The Madeira house painting is the most solid, yet it has those three blue patches representing upper-story windows and the roof without the correct shadow pattern that distract from the rest of the work. Based on these few examples, it puzzles me how she ever got paintings accepted by the Royal Academy. Could it have been her family connections?

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Admirals Descended from Artists

Back in 2012 I posted about the interesting (to me) case of a famous artist's son who became an admiral and the son of an important admiral who became a painter. I wrote:

"Let's start with Augustus John (1878-1961), best known as a portraitist who sired children by his wife and other women. His second son (by his wife) was Caspar John (1903-1984), who went on to become First Sea Lord (1960-63), attaining the rank of Admiral of the Fleet in 1962. In the Royal Navy, First Sea Lord [was] the highest position that an officer can attain."

Caspar John's Wikipedia entry is here.

Recently I became aware that the grandson of Sir John Everett Millais, 1st Baronet (1829-1896) also became a Royal Navy Admiral. Millais was one of the original members of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and later went on the become a successful portrait painter and, not long before his death, president of the Royal Academy.

"Bubbles," a 1886 painting of a young boy, became famous because it was controversially for Millais used for many years in advertising material by England's Pears Soap company (more information about it here).

The boy in the painting was Millais' grandson William Milbourne James (1881-1973) who later rose to the rank of Admiral in the Royal Navy.

Sir William had to bear the cross of the painting in the form of having the nickname "Bubbles" during his naval career. He was a prolific author during and after his time in the navy. In the early years of the Great War he was executive officer of the battlecruiser Queen Mary, serving under Sir William Reginald "Blinker" Hall who later was in charge of the famous Room 40 decoding center where James also served. Both Hall and James transferred from Queen Mary before the Battle of Jutland where the ship was destroyed when a magazine exploded: only 20 men survived of a complement of 1,286.


Caspar John by Augustus John - c. 1920

Admiral of the Fleet Sir Caspar John in 1963
When he was First Sea Lord.

"Bubbles" by John Everett Millais - 1886

Admiral Sir William Milbourne James

Monday, February 11, 2019

A Posthumous Tribute to Sergei Kirov

Sergei Kirov (1886-1934) met a curious end, as explained in this Wikipedia entry. He was a prominent Bolshevik, First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Azerbaijani Communist Party and at the time of his assassination head of the Leningrad branch of the Communist Party. Following his death he was treated as something of a martyr to the Communist cause. In post-Stalin USSR a major warship was named after him.

Yet, as Wikipedia indicates, for many years there have been strong suspicions that Kirov had been killed by order of Josef Stalin and the assassination was covered up in part by the posthumous honors. A few years later in his great purges, Stalin simply had people snuffed out on the pretext they were traitors. No posthumous honors. Perhaps Stalin had learned something from the Kirov experience or maybe the sheer logistics and justifications of the purges eliminated such honors.

When I was in Málaga, Spain in November I visited a branch of Saint Petersburg's excellent Russian Museum. It was holding a year-long (ending February 2019) exhibit titled "The Radiant Future: Socialist Realism in Art." A fine exhibit. Plenty of examples, some of which I even knew about before I visited. Of course I took lots of snapshots.

One painting I photographed was "Sergei Kirov Reviews the Athletic Parade" completed in 1935, a year following the assassination, and clearly part of the honors heaped on him. The artist is Alexander Nikolayevich Samokhvalov (1894-1971), Wikipedia entry here, a prominent member of what is called the Leningrad School who tended to specialize in athletic subjects.

I am not impressed by Samokhvalov paintings that I know of, and the tribute to Kirov strikes me the same way. I include it as an example of one kind of Socialist Realism and for its historical as well as political overtones. I doubt that Samokhvalov at the time of his work was aware of any controversy regarding Kirov's death.

Click on the images below to enlarge.


Image of the painting found on the Internet.

Snapshot of the painting that I took. The painting is huge. Note the relationship of the floor and the plaque at the left: these indicate the foreground subjects are not much smaller than life-size.

Detail.  Several of the athletes depicted have curiously large whites of their eyes for some reason.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Stanhope Forbes, Revisited

Ever since I viewed the painting "A Fish Sale on a Cornish Beach" by Stanhope Forbes (1857-1947) at an exhibit in San Francisco a dozen or more years ago, I've wanted to see it again. (I posted twice regarding Forbes -- here on 14 May 2018 and here on 13 June 2011.)

The painting is based at the Plymouth Museum and Art Gallery, not very far from Newlyn in Cornwall, where it was painted. I was on a bus tour of England's West Country recently, and hoped to track it down while passing through Plymouth. Alas, the tour provided no time for that. Not that it mattered, because Plymouth is in the process of consolidated several museums into one structure, and all are closed during the construction.

That afternoon the tour bus dropped us off at St. Ives, a flashier arty spot on the north shore than Newlyn on the south shore of the peninsula, about ten miles away by road. I never quite got to Newlyn, but took photos in St. Ives, one of which gives us idea as to how well Forbes captured Cornwall beaches at low tide. Click on the images to enlarge.


A Fish Sale on a Cornish Beach - 1884-85
The painting's Wikipedia entry is here.

My photo of the beach at St. Ives, 9 October 2018.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Painting Shiny Metal: Rembrandt and Wootton

I recently wrote here about British artist/illustrator Frank Wootton (1914-1998) who was skilled at depicting light, shade and reflections on shiny metallic surfaces. Doing this convincingly requires skill and especially experience.

Just for fun, below I present some images by Wootton along with a few by Rembrandt who also was no slouch when it came to metal.

The Wootton images are photos of details of paintings I saw in the Royal Air Force Museum at Hendon, just north of London. Lighting conditions were poor, and protective material affected color and allowed reflections, so keep in mind that what you're viewing is an approximation.


Man with the Golden Helmet - c.1650 (detail)
Note how Rembrandt deals with the effect of light on warm gold and cool steel.

Man in Armor - 1655
Here he deals with steel.  I'm not sure if the painting has been cleaned and colors are original or if the yellow hue is due to old varnish.

Old Man in Military Costume - 1630-31
An earlier painting, but one I find particularly impressive because he depicts brushed steel convincingly.

April Morning, France, 1918 - 1982 (detail)
This is a tiny part of a much larger Wootton painting and might be close to actual size when viewed on a desktop computer screen.  The aircraft is a Sopwith Camel with metal at the forward part of the fuselage.  Note how he shows reflections.  Also the effect of light on the gunsight in front of the cockpit windscreen.

Harts Over the Himalayas - c. 1967 (detail)
The darker zone is actually a shadow of Yr. Loyal Blogger on the protective glass or plastic.  The forward metaled area reflects the sky, the upper wing and the mountainous terrain below.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Hugh Goldwin Rivière, Mid-Lever British Portraitist

Hugh Goldwin Riviere (1869–1956) lived a long life and made a living as a portrait painter in the United Kingdom. The most detail I could find about him during a short Google search is
here -- almost nothing there, as you can see.

Nevertheless, he painted many portraits, a number of which can be seen here. Note that nearly all are of persons of local or middling national interest. There are no royalty, top-level nobility or senior military leaders shown. Nor are there subjects from the entertainment world.

That said, Rivière (of Huguenot descent) was competent in his work and also painted subjects besides portraits on occasion. Despite his competence, as readers of this blog might be aware by now, he had a great number of British competitors who were equally good, and a few who were much better.

In the Gallery below, a few portraits are presented, then three other works. The latter pre-date the portraits, so I'll conjecture that he tried other subjects before settling on portraiture as a career.


Henry Solomon Wellcome - 1906
Perhaps his most famous subject: Information regarding Wellcome is here.

Lady Monica Bullough - 1909

Mary Scharlieb, Royal Free Hospital
I find her pose unusual, but interesting and probably characteristic of her.

Miss Peggy Wood

Rosalind Monica Wagner - 1931
At this point in his career Rivière introduces a whiff of fashionable modernist simplification.

Jimmie - 1935
Another variation in style.

The Lonely Life - 1899
More a commentary than the portrait this might seem to be.

The Garden of Eden - 1901
Perhaps his best known painting.

A Libation to Olympus - 1904
Another interesting work, but apparently wasn't enough to propel Rivière's career.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Konstantin Korovin: Sketchy Paintings

Konstantin Alekseyevich Korovin (1861-1939) was a Russian painter with a free, sketchy technique influenced by Impressionism, though his style apparently was always somewhat loose before he first visited Paris in 1885. He was well-connected, knowing many of the important artists and patrons in Czar Nicholas II's day. Not long after the Revolution he moved to Paris, where he lived the rest of his life. Biographical information can be found here.

Korovin's stylistic sketchiness seemed to kick into a higher gear following his move to France in 1923. Perhaps this had to do with the need to quickly produce paintings to bring in money. Or maybe it had to do with Paris being an avant-garde artistic place (though the same might be said for Russia, especially in the early post-Revolution years). Or it could have been that this was his natural artistic trajectory as he continued to gain maturity and experience. And, possibly, this looser style was what the Paris art market wanted, so he supplied it.

Below are examples of Korovin's work. I essentially skipped over his earlier landscape paintings, but they and others can be found by Googling.


At the Window - 1893

Arkhangelsk - 1894
Russia's main White Sea port.

On the Balcony, Spanish Women Leonora and Ampara - 1897–98

Portrait of Ivan Morosov - 1903
Morosov was an art collector.

Portrait of Fyodor Chaliapin - 1911
The famed opera singer.

A Ballerina in Her Boudoir -1923

At the Window - 1923

By the Window

A Night in Paris

Café de la Paix - 1920s

Paris scene - c. 1930