Monday, September 25, 2023

Anastasia Vostrezova, Painter of the Ballet

Anastasia Vostrezova, born 1981, is a Russian representational painter known for her depictions of ballet dancers.  A brief biographical note is here, and more information is here.

Vostrezova is skilled, her paintings generally being well composed and pleasingly executed.  That said, she also seems to have an eye on the mid-level art market that likes professionally-done, but not profound paintings featuring people.


Self-Portrait in a Hat

Self-Portrait in a Theater Costume
A pastel work.

Now for a few ballet-related paintings.

The Old Buffet
As best I can tell from images of her paintings found using Internet searches, her subjects are always women.

The Antique Shawl
Note the variation is brushwork between the subject and dress/background.

Monday, September 18, 2023

Bartow Van Voorhis Matteson - 1920s Illustrator

Bartow Van Voorhis Matteson (1894-1984) was an illustrator active in the 1920s who might have transitioned to Fine Arts later during his long life.   I can find virtually no biographical details about him on Google and Bing searches or in my reference library.

Below are some examples of his illustration work, most from the 1920s.  Some are competently done, and appeared in some of the better magazines.  A few others are of lesser quality.


U.S. Army Medical Department poster - c.1918
Matteron signed this as an Army lieutenant.  I don't think this poster is well-done artistically and persuasively.

Vignette format Western romance scene
Matteson did a number of Western romance story illustrations.  This is not his best: note the poor anatomy at the man's neck and shoulder.

Farm scene
Story illustration.

The Courtship
Another Cowboy romance.  Essentially the same costume as seen above.  The girl is nicely depicted.

Under the Moonlight
From the same story as the preceding image?  Costumes are nearly the same.  Or did Matteson simply repeat the same sort of clothing again and again when called to do Western love stories?

Gypsies Paused at the Clearing
This is comparable to 1920s illustrations by better-known artists such as Dean Cornwell.

Heartache at Sea
Another competent work.

Lovers and swans scene - The Country Gentleman magazine - 1926
For reasons of printing economy in those days, many illustrations were created and printed in duotone.

The Proposal - 1930
The lady is poorly drawn: her head is too large for her body.

Monday, September 11, 2023

George Frederic Watts: Some Portraits

George Frederic Watts (1817-1904) was an important 19th century British artist, as is noted here.

Among many other things, that Wikipedia entry mentions: "He was also admired as a portrait painter.  His portraits were of the most important men and women of the day, intended to form a 'House of Fame'.  In his portraits Watts sought to create a tension between disciplined stability and the power of action.  He was also notable for emphasising the signs of strain and wear on his sitter's faces.  Of his British subjects many are now in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery..."

Today's post presents several of those portraits from 1864 through 1871, a period when many of them were painted.

Shown are mostly art- and culture-related personalities, subjects apparently dear to Watts' heart, as he was part of that tribe.  Artistically, they are accurate from a representational standpoint.  They are rather dark, brownish -- an appearance that was fashionable in late-1800s Britain, as a visitor to London's National Portray Gallery will notice.


Giuseppe Garibaldi - 1864
Garibaldi was a political figure thanks to his effort to unity Italy.  But that also made him a figure of popular culture -- there's even a mountain named after him in far-off British Columbia.

Ellen Terry in "Choosing" - 1864
Watts was briefly married to this famous actress.  She ran out on him.

Robert Browning - 1866
The poet.

Algernon Charles Swinburne - 1867
Another poet.

Florence Nightingale - 1868
The famous nurse of the Crimean War.

Daniel Gabriel Rossetti - 1870
Pre-Raphaelite painter.

William Morris - 1870
Arts and Crafts movement personality.

Frederic Leighton - 1871
Famous painter.

Edward Millais - 1871
Pre-Raphaelite painter.

Monday, September 4, 2023

Edwin Lord Weeks, American Orientalist

Edwin Lord Weeks (1849 – 1903) had wealthy parents and so was able to study art and visit exotic places.  His Wikipedia entry notes:

"In 1872 Weeks relocated to Paris, becoming a pupil of Léon Bonnat and Jean-Léon Gérôme.

After his studies in Paris, Weeks emerged as one of America's major painters of Orientalist subjects.  Throughout his adult life he was an inveterate traveler and journeyed to South America (1869), Egypt and Persia (1870), Morocco (frequently between 1872 and 1878), and India (1882–83)."

Orientalism was a fasionalble painting genre in the last three decades of the 1800s.  Typical subject matter was the Middle East, though French orientalists often favored scenes from France's North African empire thanks to its convenience.  Weeks' teacher Gérôme is an important example.

British and the fewer American orientalists often cast a wider geographical net, taking in Turkey and British Empire locations as well are places of British influence such as Egypt and Persia.

So it was with Weeks, as noted above.  Many of the scenes in the Gallery below are set in India, some in Persia, and others in unidentified locations (though a scholar of costumes and architecture could probably make a close guess).

Weeks had a strong representational style and was highly productive over a comparatively short 30-year career.


The Temple and Tank of Walkeschwar, Bombay

Photo: Weeks in his studio
Note the size of some of his works.

Along the Ghats, Mathura

Perfumer's Shop, Bombay

Horses of the Ford - Persia

La princess de Bengale

Persian Café - The Pottery Seller

Street Scene in India

Monday, August 28, 2023

Paul Gerding, Automobile Advertising Illustrator

Paul Gerding (1895-1983) made a number of very nice illustrations for automobile advertisements, especially in the late 1920s to mid-1930s.  He did other work, but I found little of it on Internet searches.  Part of my problem is that illustrators did not always sign their work -- usually due to the ad agency or its client's policy.

Because of all that, I could find little more than Gerding's birth/death years.  So this post simply focuses on the examples of his work I selected.

The image above is cropped from a 1932 Pierce-Arrow advertisement.  Pierce-Arrow was a luxury brand in decline due to the Great Depression and strong competition from the likes of Packard and Cadillac.  I think Gerding did a fine job here, especially the lighting and use of color.  Media were probably watercolor and gouache.


The advertisement source of the image at the top of this post.

Now for three 1927 Pierce-Arrow ads by Gerding.  Here the car is incidental to the people in the foreground.

Gerding painted both the car and the setting.  Often a different artist was used for each type of subject because cars are not easy to render convincingly.  Perhaps the most famous example is the long-running Pontiac series illustrated by Art Fitzpatrick (cars) and Van Kaufman (setting and people).

Again, people in the foreground, car to the rear.

Another 1932 Pierce-Arrow ad.

And another.

This illustration (not signed, but attributed) is of a 1933 DeSoto.

Ultra-luxury Duesenberg cars for 1935 were advertised using black-and-white illustrations by Gerding featuring seriously wealthy looking people, but no cars in sight.

Around the time of World War 2, Gerding pained a number of scenes for Republic Steel advertisements.

Monday, August 21, 2023

Louis Fancher, Illustrator

Louis Fancher (1884-1944), Wikipedia entry here, seems to have experienced a career peak in the 1910s decade if Internet images of his work are any clue.

Of course his career lasted longer, but his approach remained poster-like throughout, because it seems he illustrated many posters and magazine covers and few if any magazine stories.

The early works shown below are flat, simplified representations.  Later, he gradually added modeling.


Scribner's Magazine poster - 1907
He was about 22 years old when he did this.

Pierce-Arrow poster - c.1910
Fancher is perhaps best known for his Pierce-Arrow posters.

Collier's cover - 18 February 1911
Collier's was a major general-interest magazine, ranking not far below the Saturday Evening Post.

Pierce-Arrow poster - 1911

Collier's cover - 26 October 1912
Another poster-style cover illustration.  In one sense, magazine covers are actually sales posters.

Simplex poster - 1916
A Pierce-Arrow competitor.

U.S. Army Air Service poster - c.1918
Fancher was in the Army during the Great War, but still had time to do poster art.

Southern Pacific poster - c.1918
Another patriotic wartime poster, this for a railroad.  Note the German helmet at the lower right.  Many had studs that could support an armor band over the front.  Here Fancher transforms the studs into devil's horns.

Judge Magazine cover - 2 April 1921
Changing style, but still a poster.

Collier's cover 3 August 1929
Flatness is pretty well eliminated here.  Not much like his earlier Pierce-Arrow work.

Collier's cover - 19 May 1934
An example of his later style.