Thursday, July 2, 2020

Toby Rosenthal, American Expatriate

Toby Edward Rosenthal (1848-1917) was born in Connecticut, spent his youth in San Francisco, and then moved to Germany around age 17 where he apparently spent much of the rest of his life. Or so claims his Wikipedia entry.

His painting style was conventionally representational. Moreover, he was skilled at portraying settings -- details, lighting, coloring and the rest. Subject matter varied. Some scenes were serious while some others were humorous.

In sum, I find Rosenthal highly competent, yet hard to pin down compared to contemporaries whose individuality was stronger and more consistent over their careers.


Woman with Parasol
I can't quite read the writing at the lower right, so will assume for now that this was from early in his career.

The Beautiful Elaine - 1874
Apparently this painting was well-received when it traveled to America.

He Who Laughs Last - 1876
The left half of a diptych, the other titled "Who Laughs Last" showing the young man at the right sprawled after slipping.

Nude Seen from Rear - c. 1880

Sleeping Cardinal (The Cardinal's Portrait) - 1896
An amusing scene. Note the skillful depiction of the setting's details.

View Through a Window, Landsberg, Germany - c. 1900
Not that it matters here, but the prison in Landsberg was where Hitler was jailed following the Munich "Beer Hall Putsch" and wrote "Main Kampf."

His Madonna - 1916
A late painting, still done in conventional style. Apparently Rosenthal was able to ignore Impressionism and all the modernist "isms" of the early 20th century.

Monday, June 29, 2020

Alaska Lithographs of Rie Muñoz

Rie Muñoz, née Marie Mounier (1921-2015) is known for lithographs of scenes from the Alaska Panhandle -- the part of the state's coastline the extends south with Canada's British Columbia province to its east. There are essentially no roads leading to Canada and the interior due to a large chain of mountains blocking the way. And there are few cities and towns there, Juneau, Ketchikan and Sita being the best known. The only means of getting from one to another is by boat or airplane.

Her brief Wikipedia entry is here and information on a web site devoted to her is here.

I'm now located near the cutesy-poo arty town of La Conner, Washington where one gallery features her lithographs. They are usually charming and nicely composed, though not being an Alaska fan, I am not tempted to buy one. (I grew up in Washington state back when its population was about a quarter of its now nearly eight million. In those days, even between larger cites such as Seattle, Tacoma and Everett there were plenty of forests and such. Western Washington is not as rugged as the Alaska Panhandle, but the same kind of elements were there. So Alaska is no big deal to me, and I've only been there once.)

The images below are copyrighted. However, they are much smaller than the original prints and only serve to acquaint readers with the artist's work -- examples of which can be purchased in galleries or online.


Late Boat

Northern Lights, Juneau - 1992

Russians were the first Europeans to colonize Alaska, and remnants of that time (pre-1867) remain, such as this church.

Fish Buyer
People are nearly always depicted as being chunky.  To some degree this is because of the kinds of clothing Alaskans need to wear.  But those solid shapes also help in terms of a scene's composition and coloring.

Sorting Crabs

A town wedged against the mountains.

Probably the Juneau airport with people waiting for an Alaska Airlines flight to Seattle and points south.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Jon Whitcomb's Cadillac Advertisement Illustrations

Jon Whitcomb (1906–1988) was famous for portraying beautiful, glamorous women in story illustrations and advertisements. Some background can be found here and here.

But for a few years in the late 1930s he had the plum assignment of illustrating Cadillac advertisements, a subject far from his signature work. Clearly, Whitcomb was more than a one-act-pony when it came to illustration.

Some of his Cadillac advertisements are shown below. Given that they include his signature, I have to conclude that he illustrated the cars as well as backgrounds, people and other details. However, I need to note that many automobile advertising images were produced by two artists, one specializing in rendering cars, the other depicting the setting. A well-known example is the series of Pontiac illustrations where Van Kaufman did the settings and Art Fitzpatrick the cars. On the other hand, Bernie Fuchs was able to deal with the whole package, as presumably Whitcomb did. (Let me know if I'm mistake regarding Whitcomb.)

Click on the images to enlarge.


The kind of illustration Whitcomb was famous for.

1940 Cadillac Sixty Special
Compare the car in this illustration to that in the photo below.

1938 Cadillac Sixty Special - Auctions America photo
This is what Sixty Specials looked like -- a classical-yet-sporty and distinctive body for its time.

1938 Cadillac Sixty Special
Most of the advertisements included here posed the cars in futuristic settings. Here the car's perspective is distorted and the passengers are shrunken so as to suggest that the car is huge. This was standard advertising practice from the late 1930s through the 1950s and perhaps beyond.

1938 Cadillac Sixty Special
Not a very futuristic background here.  The airplane seems to be a Pan American Airways Sikorsky S-42 that entered service back in 1934. On the other hand, the airbrush-like background offers a futuristic industrial design feeling.

1938 Cadillac Sixty Special
The shapes in the background hint at the Trylon and Perisphere theme structures of the forthcoming 1939 New York World's Fair.

1939 Cadillac Sixty-Two
Here we finally find some glamorous women that became Whitcomb's specialty.

1939 Cadillac Sixty Special
Another seaplane passenger liner in the background, but this one is an imaginary design.

1939 Cadillac Sixty Special
A domestic, yet Moderne setting. The man seems almost in proper scale (he is a door-width away from the car), but the woman is too small.

1939 Cadillac Sixty Special
Here Whitcomb loses his touch, seriously distorting the car's proportions.

1939 Cadillac Sixty Special
This Sixty Special is too short and the background isn't futuristic -- but more believable.

Monday, June 22, 2020

More Franz Bischoff Paintings

Nine years ago I wrote about Franz Bischoff (1864-1929), Wikipedia entry here.

As the links indicate, Austrian Empire born Bischoff did not start his career painting California scenes. Rather, he was originally best known as a porcelain decorator in the Midwestern USA before he moved to the Pacific Coast.

I selected what I considered the best examples of his work for the previous post. However, the images here are of interest.


At Sunset
Bischoff did paint people, but apparently not often enough to become really good at it.

Arroyo Seco Bridge - c. 1915
This is a Pasadena, California scene not far from where the famous Rose Bowl football stadium was built.

Emerald Cove, Carmel
California's Carmel-by-the-Sea was an artist colony town even in the early 1900s.  Bischoff made many paintings of the area even though he lived near Los Angeles.

Picking Poppies - c. 1910
This is a more successful work that includes women.  That's because the brushwork he used for them is similar to that used in the rest of the painting, creating a more unified feeling.

Three Women at the Seashore
Something is wrong about the central woman's right arm.

The Watchman, Zion National Park - c. 1925
One of his later nature paintings -- strongly done.

Villa on the Monterey Coast
The colors here are unusual for Bischoff, though that might have been dictated by the subject.  For what it's worth, I don't notice his signature.

Canyon Green
A more typical Bischoff landscape.

Highland Drive, Monterey Coast
Another Carmel area scene, but south of town.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Artists' Most Famous Paintings - Part 2

This post and a previous one deal with the most famous paintings by well-known artists who painted many fine works.

By "most famous," these are judgment calls by Your Faithful Blogger, though I imagine that readers might agree with many of my choices.

Featured below are paintings by Joaquín Sorolla (1863-1923), Gilbert Stuart (1755-1828), Mikhail Vrubel (1856-1910), James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903) and Andrew Wyeth (1917-2009).


Paseo a orills del mar (Walk on the Beach) - 1909 by Sorolla
This is my favorite Sorolla painting. It has appeared on the cover of a book about the artist, so I suspect others agree with my opinion. It can be seen in the Madrid museum devoted to him. What attracted me to this work is the depiction of face of his daughter, shown on the right.

Unfinished Portrait of George Washington - 1796 by Stuart
For some reason, for many, many decades this portrait of Washington has been considered the standard depiction of the USA's first president. A version of this pose is on the state seal and state flag of Washington State, where I live. It seems to be a case of being famous because it was always famous.

Seated Demon - 1910 by Vrubel
Vrubel is well-known in Russia. I'm note sure this is his most famous painting, but it is part of a series he made with the demon as the subject, and that series is probably what he is known for.

Whistler's Mother (Arrangement in Grey and Black No. 1) - 1871 by Whistler
Another instance of a painting famous because it has always been famous. What is not clear to me is why it became famous in the first place.

Christina's World - 1948 by Wyeth
I think most people would agree that this is Wyeth's most famous painting. I believe it has to do with the mood it evokes via its composition (the subject is a comparatively small element in a relatively featureless background) and its ambiguous psychology (one might wonder what the story here is).

Monday, June 15, 2020

Some Alphonse Mucha Drawings

Alphonse Maria Mucha (1860-1939) is best known for his Art Nouveau era posters. He also made historical paintings, the series of huge Slav Epic works. In addition, he designed objects of various kinds. For me, almost everything he did is interesting.

His lengthy Wikipedia entry is here.

I mostly show paintings in this blog. But for a slight change of pace, the present post features a variety of Mucha's Art Nouveau period drawings.


A this 'n' that page.

Metal décor designs.

More designs.

A very preliminary layout study.

"Decorative Figures"

Many of his posters featured a circle as part of the design. This drawing includes a circle to aid in the composition aspect of the proposed work.

Study for Medea poster.

Medea poster.

An elaborate drawing.

Finally, a color drawing -- something apparently rare unless he was working out that aspect of a poster design (which this freestanding figure is not).