Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Subjects and Portraits: Ottoline Morrell

Not long ago I wrote a post speculating what French empress Josephine might have looked like, based on evidence from paintings and sculptures. Josephine lived before photography, so we have no evidence from that source.

Let's look at the matter of painted likenesses from another perspective. In an occasional series of posts, I'll present both photos and paintings (along with drawings where paintings are scarce) and we can have fun comparing them. I won't be giving out points for accuracy, however. That's because post-Daguerre artists have more freedom to interpret their subjects than might have been the case in the days where portraits were intended as documentation.

My first subject is Lady Ottoline Morrell, a colorful character, as this Wikipedia link indicates. There are a fair number of photos of Ottoline, but virtually no portraits by artists. A Google search turned up only three -- two of which (by Lamb and John) were done by artists who also were among her lovers.

This photo was taken about 1900 when she was in her late 20s.

This circa-1911 photo shows her with her daughter Julian.

By Simon Bussy, c.1920.

Drawing by Henry Lamb, c.1912.

By Augustus John, 1919.

The pictorial evidence suggests that Ottoline was hardly a "flash" female. But she had gobs of aristocratic family connections and might well have had a compelling personality; the link above mentions Bertrand Russell as one of those lovers, so she clearly was able to distract him from philosophy and mathematics.

Lamb's drawing was made when she was nearly 40 and strikes me as being being affectionate and perhaps a bit flattering. The paintings depict her in her late 40s and seem not at all flattering. Perhaps some day I'll get around to reading a biography of John where I might find out whether the portrait was painted before, during or after his fling with Ottoline.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Baseball Cap Etiquette and Fashion Notes

I wore baseball caps when I was a kid. In those days, all you could buy were sized -- none of this Velcro strap at the back business. By the time I became a teenager, I stopped wearing hats of any kind except when it got really cold outside. In the Army, we had to wear hats or helmets when outdoors, the hat style depending on the uniform of the day and perhaps the wishes of the post or unit commander. On returning to civilian life, I again stopped wearing hats until around six years ago when I finally bought another baseball cap. With a Velcro strap.

(Actually, that's not quite true. After moving to Albany, New York I did buy a Navy watch cap for cold weather use. And once when I had a consulting project that involved a trip to Death Valley, California I bought a brimmed hat for sun protection.)

Back to baseball caps. After a while, the things became somewhat addictive. I'd buy them as souveniers or sometimes as personal statements. But for some reason I don't like to wear a cap that I don't relate to in any meaningful way. For example, I never attended Yale University, though I've visited Yale several times over the years. But to me, visiting is not sufficient association for buying a Yale cap. On the other hand, I bought a cap commemorating the Royal 22ieme Régiment Canadien Français because I witnessed their flag-changing ceremony at Québec's Citadel (a ceremony performed once every few years). Clearly, I'm not rock-solidly consistent with respect to degree of association and caps.

Once nice thing about baseball caps is that they are pretty inexpensive souvenirs (current prices range around $10-$30, though couturier caps can set you back more than $200). Moreover they are useful, unlike other souvenirs that collect in corners of dresser drawers. My problem is that I now have lots and lots of caps, even after having weeded some out from time to time; how do I select a cap from my over-sized collection when I'm on my way out the door?

One selection criterion is the weather. I recently bought an Eddie Bauer cap that's been wax-treated, making it somewhat waterproof. So I'll probably be wearing it when it's raining. Another factor is what I'm wearing. I usually select a cap whose main color suits -- or at least doesn't clash with -- the rest of my wardrobe. That's one reason for having so many caps: I wanted a decent color selection to choose from.

Finally, there's the matter of the symbol on the cap; most baseball caps nowadays symbolize something or other. I do have a couple of caps bearing no logotype or slogan, so I can always wear one of these if I want to be truly neutral. Otherwise, it depends on my mood.

Since I live in Seattle, I occasionally feel like grossing out the locals by wearing a camo-pattern cap with the word ARMY on it. And if I'm near the University of Washington I sometimes get all snooty and wear one of my Penn caps. Other times I show solidarity: In Dukes's restaurant in Honolulu I might wear my yellow Duke's cap. Sometimes there are instances where I don't want to be misidentified. For example, I have a couple of caps with symbols relating to British Colombia and they also spot tiny Canadian flags on one side. Since I don't feel a need to apologize for being an American, I don't wear the Canadian caps overseas and run the risk of having people thinking I'm ashamed of my heritage and resorting to camouflage.

Clearly baseball cap wearing is a complicated subject. I'm interested to find out how cap-wearing readers cope.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Norman Rockwell and Glamour

Several years ago on the 2Blowhards blog I wrote about illustrators and the subject of glamourous women. At one point I opined that famed illustrator Norman Rockwell couldn't really do glamour. One commenter wrote that I was wrong about that.

Recently I came to the conclusion that I was indeed wrong -- this after stumbling across some Rockwell illustrations that incorporated fine looking females.

Rockwell was, from a technical standpoint, a hugely talented artist. He could produce images of reality that were true to life and contained many nice painterly touches that are best appreciated viewing the original paintings rather than printed reproductions.

He also had limitations, and was aware of some or most of them. For one thing, he admitted to being uncomfortable about deviating from what he was able to observe. And, as someone noted (I forget who), the lighting of his subjects tended to be from the direction of the viewer. In other words, usually flat -- no chiaroscuro effects. He also tended to avoid indistinct edges, shadows that merged subjects into backgrounds and strong focal points. Focal points were more compositional than attained by painterly effects; his paintings were relatively uniform across the surface in terms of edging and detail treatment.

What I'm beginning to see as I come across more of Rockwell's work is that the characteristics just noted are found mostly in his covers for the Saturday Evening Post magazine, the vehicle for his fame. His story illustrations for other magazines and some of his advertising illustrations deviated in varying degree from the Post formulas he followed. It is here where one can find a less-familiar Rockwell.

Let's look:

No, this isn't by Rockwell. The artist is Jon Whitcomb who was 12 years younger and one of the most famous "glamour girl" illustrators of his time (in-depth information on Whitcomb can be found here). I include this as a yardstick for evaluating the glamour quotient of the Rockwell illustrations that follow.

This is from the Ladies' Home Journal issue of July, 1929. Click to get an enlarged view and note Rockwell's treatment of the woman.

Here is another story illustration, this from the April, 1935 issue of American Magazine. The woman is attractive and the painting style noticeably different from his Saturday Evening Post practice.

Now for some Post covers. This was painted for the 21 October 1933 issue.

And here's Rockwell's cover painting for 26 July 1941.

Rockwell goes Hollywood for the 7 September 1937 issue. In each of these illustrations, he goes beyond the "conventionally pretty girl next door" depiction most people associate with his work. The illustration below is conventional Rockwell.

For Saturday Evening Post, 19 November 1938.

Finally, Rockwell really goes Hollywood in this 1965 illustration of Ann-Margaret as she appears in the remake of the movie Stagecoach.

As you (and now I) can see, Norman Rockwell could indeed do "glam" when he put his mind and paintbrushes to it. Even though it wasn't often.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Buffalo Before the Bust

A while ago I posted here about Detroit skyscrapers built in the Art Deco era before the automobile industry and, as a consequence, city growth hit the proverbial wall when the Great Depression struck.

Another hard-luck city is Buffalo, New York. Buffalo was home to Pierce-Arrow, a builder of low-production luxury cars, as well as auto industry-related factories. But Buffalo, an important city in 1930, wasn't so strongly tied to one industry. Its main reason for being was that it was located at a major transportation-break point. (That's geographer-speak for a place where goods are transferred from one mode of transport to another.) Such transfers require infrastructure, personnel and a number of support organizations -- in other words, a town will develop there and grow into a city should the volume of transferring cargo become large.

In Buffalo's case, the eastern point of unfettered Great Lakes inter-lake navigation is in the general area of Buffalo. After Buffalo, Great Lakes water plunges over Niagara Falls. (This claim no longer holds thanks to construction, starting in the 1820s, of the Welland Canal through Canadian soil. The canal originally was sketchy and went through two upgrades before the present canal was opened in 1932. Ships can steam from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario via the canal and its system of locks. But before the canal, Buffalo was as far as ships could shuffle off to.)

So Buffalo developed a harbor for Great Lakes ships. On the land side of the equation, the Erie Canal (later the New York State Barge Canal) was opened in 1825 followed by railroads a few decades later. Great Lakes cargo would move from ship to barge or rail car -- or vice-versa -- and Buffalo thrived. Over time, other industries developed; for instance, besides automobiles, by the 1930s Buffalo was an important builder of aircraft (Consolidated, Curtiss and Bell were based there at various times).

What finally brought Buffalo to its economic knees was the opening of the Saint Lawrence Seaway in 1959 that, at a stroke, drastically reduced transportation-break volumes. Subsequent attempts to turn the regional economy around didn't meet with much success and the city drifted from being a headquarters to a branch-plant town.

So much for background. Below are four important Deco-era structures of architectural interest that you can witness if you find yourself within striking distance of central Buffalo.

Postcard of Rand Building - 1929
The Rand Building is the least of the lot from a design standpoint. But it's tall and contributes to the city's character.

New York Central Terminal Complex - 1929
In the late 1920s the New York Central Railroad decided to rationalize its Buffalo facilities and created a major terminal not far to the east of downtown; other railroads also used it. The problem was that it was too large. I suppose the folks at New York Central extrapolated rail traffic and urban growth trends to support the case for such a large station. However, setting aside the Depression, rail passenger traffic had begun to peak as potential passengers shifted to cars, intercity buses and, later, aircraft to get around. After World War 2, traffic fell off alarmingly and the terminal complex became increasingly irrelevant.

Terminal Complex, aerial view

Liberty Building - 1925 - as viewed from the Rand Building
Those short towers (do they really qualify as towers?) are the most distinctive architectural features. Atop each is a small version of the Statue of Liberty. The scene in the picture is of interest because the relationship of downtown Buffalo to Lake Erie can be seen. Also, note the large structure between the Liberty Building and the lake: it is ...

Buffalo City Hall - 1931
I find Buffalo City Hall to be a truly impressive example of Deco-era skyscraper architecture; it generated a real "wow" reaction when I drove by it last year.

City Hall tower detail
The whole building is interesting, but the hard-to-see-from-the-ground top is a nice touch indeed.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Observe! You Budding Artists

At the art school at the University of Washington I was exposed to a number of training practices that, in retrospect, weren't very useful. Check that: even at the time I had my doubts, but was too naïve and trusting to fully realize that I was being shortchanged.

I'll provide more details in future posts, but for now will deal with the matter of viewing subjects. When presented with a still life setup or human model or whatever, an instructor would often tell us to "observe" or "see."

Just what we were supposed to observe was seldom made clear. They did teach us to hold a paintbrush handle between us and the subject, arm stiff, to measure or compare dimensions of what we were painting. And that's about all the "observing" I could manage given my state of ignorance.

The problem that cropped up again and again in many of my art school classes was that the faculty was collectively afraid to actually teach us much of anything in fear of destroying our precious creativity. Or maybe it was art school policy. I don't know for sure, but those were the vibrations I absorbed; lord knows we got little actual instruction.

Many years later, I'm beginning to understand what they were talking about -- at least in the case of drawing or painting a human likeness. Provided an artist knows the shapes and proportions for the expected or average case, then, when he studies a subject, he can compare what he sees with the norm. That is, he might notice that the distance from the bottom of the nose to the chin tends large or small and the eyes are narrower or wider-set than expected.

Clearly such observations can be made by fledgling, under-trained art students such as I was. But the process of observing becomes faster and more sure when looking for variations about a norm rather than trying to figure things out from scratch.

Another example might be rules-of-thumb dealing with light and shade. These hold that, in most cases, warm light results in a cool (blue tinted) shadow and cool light produces warm (i.e., with touches of brown, purple, etc.) shadows. I was never taught these rules. If I had, then I might have been better able to "observe" my subject and decide whether or not the rules held in that instance. Put another way, why were we supposed to discover such things on our own? I didn't "discover" this information until I read in in books -- and might never have.

What, then, was the point of having an art faculty to "teach" us if they would not teach?

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Incredible Shrinking Magazines

Time to add a few more points to the declining media curve.

Today's Sunday newspaper insert, Parade magazine, struck me as being a fragment of its former self. Years ago, if memory serves, its dimensions were someplace between those of a news magazine and a tabloid paper, edging in the direction of the former. I don't recall how many pages an issue typically boasted, but it had at least a little heft -- call it 36-48.

The latest Parade measures 9.5 inches high by nine inches wide when closed. The page count?: 16.

Meanwhile, over at a newsstand, I did something I almost never do any more: I examined Time and Newsweek. Their 23 August editions each had only 64 pages, which felt pretty thin. I grabbed three copies of 1955-56 Newsweek from my archive and their page counts ranged from 92 to 114. (Those issues had cover stories about cars. I'll probably get around to posting about what was written.)

I wonder why they bother to keep Parade alive when it contains so little in its page-deficient, small format. And if Newsweek was sold for $1 (yes, the buyer assumed debt), then what might Time be worth?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Analysis: Jaguar Styling Trends

I think it's good policy for an automobile make to stick with design themes. Exception: when the brand has a bad reputation and there's the need to divorce new, presumably improved, models from previous parking lot trash.

Examples of styling cue continuity are the Rolls-Royce radiator grille (only recently modified, but still recognizable), Cadillac's egg-crate grille theme (initiated for the 1941 model year) and Packard's red hexagon wheel decorations, grille-top design and pen-nib upper body trim strip.

Other makes don't bother much with theme maintenance. And I'll admit that sales results aren't always bad: consider Toyota which doesn't seem to have any consistent cue other than the crossed-oval "T" symbol on most grilles.

Jaguar management decided a few years ago to drop their policy of theme-continuation in favor of establishing new themes. At first, this was not evident, but enough new models have appeared that the themes are becoming somewhat clear.

Let's begin by reviewing examples of Jaguar styling since World War 2.

XK-120 - 1948-54

2.4 - 1955-59

S-Type - 1999-2008

The XK-120 created a sensation when introduced: sleek style, good performance and a comparatively low price for what the buyer was getting. Styling cues include: the vertically positioned oval grille; inset, faired headlights; and curvacious fenders and general profile. These were carried over to the 2.4 sedan. Details changed, but the styling sense was similar. The S-Type was a vintage-2000 Ford platform with retro detailing that evoked the 2.4 and its successor, the 3.4. To me, these cars scream Jaguar.

XK-E - 1961-75

XK - recent

After the XK-120, -140, -150 string ran out, Jaguar introduced the thematically different XK-E (or E-Type) whose styling reflected racing models such as the C-Type and D-Type that ran at Le Mans. The current sports model, the XK, isn't as tubular in proportions as the E, but its horizontally-aligned oval grille echoes that of the E.

Mark VII - 1951-57

XJ6 - 1968-87

XJ - pre-2009

Jaguar's larger Mark VII sedans carried over a pre-war grille design, mating it to the postwar swept-through fender treatment that was a stamp of modernity at the time. The XJ6 and related models up to the mid-2000-10 decade XJs featured a grille that was essentially a flattened version of that of the Mark VII.

To summarize, Jaguar styling from 1948 until 2009 (that's 60 years!) featured three themes exemplified by grille treatment (though other cues were present). One was an oval grille oriented vertically. Another was an oval grille (actually, more of an opening for radiator air) that was horizontal. The one reserved for larger sedans (plus the 2001-09 X-Type small sedan -- not pictured) was a series of variations on a prewar design.

Below are photos of two models that represent what may be assumed to be Jaguar styling themes for the foreseeable future.

XF - 2008

XJ - 2010

The XF medium-size sedan and the new, large XJ have a similar front treatment. Grilles are roughly rectangular but with strongly radiused corners. The headlamp treatment of the XF hints at the inset headlights of the XK-120, but this becomes simply a wisp on the XJ. Both models feature a jaguar-head medallion placed in the grille.

XF - 2008

XJ - 2010

Aside from the front, the XF's styling is generic-sleek, the only Jaguar element being an image of the animal tacked on the rear. From the side, the car could easily be mistaken for a Lexus. The XJ has the potential to be more distinctive in the form of the window pattern and the vertical tail lights. In any case, the car cannot be mistaken for a Lexus. I've yet to see an XJ where I live, but saw several in London recently and can attest to its distinctiveness.

Now that the new front theme is on two models -- and not simply on the XF -- the potential exists that it can become a Jaguar styling signature, through force of repetition, if nothing else. Nevertheless, side and rear treatments don't offer many clues for the future, the XJ being a successful first step and the XF less so.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Bumper Sticker Tracking: Year 3

When I was blogging at the late, lamented 2Blowhards site I'd occasionally post about political bumper stickers. One subject was a Prius in northeast Seattle that had its rear pretty well covered. Because I drive past its home fairly often and kept seeing it, the idea finally flashed that it might be interesting to photograph the car once a year to show if there were any additions or deletions inspired by changing political winds.

Carrying on the tradition, herewith is the 2010 Prius bumper sticker update.

15 June 2008

24 June 2009

17 August 2010

Seattle is a solidly liberal town, so most cars I see with political stickers display messages from that part of the spectrum. The images are a little fuzzy, but they can be enlarged enough to read most of the print by clicking on them (this works with my iMac, anyway).

There was minimal change between presidential election year 2008 and off-year 2009. A European Union sticker was added to the right of the license plate and one for the Democrat running for Congress in district WA-8 toward the lower edge of the bumper; this probably was affixed in the fall of 2008 before the election (she lost).

New for this summer are a sticker for the NPR radio station (to the left of the license plate) and the blue one at the lower right with the word IRV (I'm not sure what it's about). The "Outsource Bush" sticker in the lower center of the bumper has been replaced by one stating "My America Doesn't Tourture."

My take is that the owner isn't nearly as agitated as he was when the car was newer and most of the stickers appeared. Apparently he's content with Democrat control of the White House and dominance in both houses of Congress -- expected sentiments. I do find the anti-torture sticker a little puzzling because that issue faded with the election of Obama.

I will continue to monitor the Prius and report any startling changes.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Grumpy About Wagner

Yesterday I sat through the Seattle Opera's production of Richard Wagner's Tristn und Isolde (hereafter, T&I). And boy did it make me grumpy.

I suppose some of this is because I'm not a strong music fan in the first place and attend opera only because my wife would be very disappointed if I didn't accompany her to one.

The Wikipedia link above goes into a good deal of detail regarding T&I's background, plot and reactions to it over time. Apparently a number of well-known composers were enthralled by it and historians of music say the it was an influential work. Of course one can point to the artists who regarded Paul Cézanne highly and how influential his work was. That doesn't mean one absolutely must like T&I or Cézanne's paintings. I don't like either one.

My first problem with T&I was its length; with intermissions it ran four hours and 40 minutes. Three hours would be much more tolerable.

Secondly, the plot had very little action. Many important events were manifested in the form of characters singing about what had happened someplace or other off-stage: why couldn't those events have been dramatized?

Instead (point three), I had to suffer through a 40-minute stretch of the second act where Isolde and the love-potioned Tristan went through what I took to be a bunch of two-bit philosophizing and analogy-making about love. I quickly reached the point where I stopped reading the captions and gave serious thought to falling asleep, my time being cruelly wasted by matters that could have been disposed of in five or ten minutes.

T&I is a sung-through opera with no set-piece arias. No memorable melodies either, at least none that I caught. I also didn't pick up on leitmotifs that were supposedly there. So the music (which tended to underline sung thoughts or emotions) was lush, but to a large extent nondescript to my unmusical ears.

So for me T&I was basically a waste of time and money.

Many will disagree, and that's fine. I'm just venting here and don't expect to convert anyone to my point of view. Moreover I find that most operas are tedious, chewing up plenty of time where nothing much happens. And the songs about love strike the 2010 me as insipid even though they must have great appeal to 1880 others.

T&I was my third Wagner opera (after Der fliegende Holländer and Die Walküre), so three strikes and he's out, so far as I'm concerned.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

What did Josephine Look Like?

What did certain people who lived before the age of photography really look like?

In many cases, we can't be sure even where portraits are available. That's because some painters lacked the skill to render a good likeness. Other painters might have produced flattering images of their subjects.

One possible solution to this problem is to assemble a set of images by different artists and compare them. Where they tend to agree, it's fairly likely that is how the subject actually appeared.

As a test, let's look at a collection of images of Napoleon's first wife, the Empress Josephine. Several of the images shown are unfamiliar to me, so it's possible that I wasn't wise to rely on identifications provided by the Web sites I used as sources. I also wasn't able to identify the artist in some cases because no identification was provided. Cautionary notes aside, the focus should be on what the images tell us.


Josephine as Empress (December, 1804 - January, 1810) -- artist not identified.

By Andrea Appiani (according to the source site), before her marriage to Napoleon.

By Antoine-Jean Gros, an important painter in those times.

By unidentified artist.

By Jean-Baptiste Isabey, 1808.

Profile by Isabey.

Ivory miniature credited to Ferdinand Quaglia, 1814 -- the year of her death.

By Francois Gérard, 1801.

By Pierre-Paul Prud'hon, 1805.

Drawing (study for the painting above?) by Prud'hon.

I suspect that sculptors tend to do more realistic images than painters, though they too might be tempted to flatter their subjects.

Bust by Joseph Chinard, c.1805-06.

Another bust by Chinard. I saw this version at Canada's National Gallery in Ottawa.

None of the images shows an open mouth -- but few if any portraits before 1900 showed teeth anyway. What we do see is a small, slightly pinched mouth in nearly every image. Why? This source states that "her blackened and rotting teeth were a direct result of the sugar saturated cuisine consumed during her childhood" in Martinique.

The 1814 painting and perhaps the one by Gérard suggest a fuller face than the rest, which indicate more of a V-shape. The Appiani painting is the only one that doesn't clearly show brown eyes.

Otherwise, there seems to be agreement that she had hooded eyelids, the tops of which sit under a strong ridge further defined by eyebrows that are fairly thick where they meet the nose. She also had strong cheekbones and a generally straight nose with a relatively flat underside. Her hair appears to be dark brown, and she favored wearing it with bangs in the front and upswept or collected at the back.

The most attractive depictions, I think, are the busts by Chinard and the sketch by Prud'hon -- which agree in most details. I would like to think this was how she really looked, even though a fuller face might have been the reality.

Too bad Daguerre didn't invent photography 30 years earlier (sigh).

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Painter Who Filled Sargent's Shoes

This summer London's National Portrait Gallery has been hosting a small exhibit of portraits by Philip Alexius de László (1869-1937), who in 1907 took over the role of Britain's top society portraitist after John Singer Sargent proclaimed that he was fed up with all that.

The de László Wikipedia entry is here and the artist's Web site is here.

De László was born in the Pest side of Budapest and received training in Hungary, Munich and Paris. He led a cosmopolitan existence as he gained fame and wealth painting portraits, but maintained an imposing home/studio in Budapest until his Irish wife persuaded him to move to London in 1907. Aside from a rough patch (house arrest) during the later part of the Great War, he thrived in England while sallying to the continent and America from time to time to execute other commissions.


HRH Prince Andrew of Greece - 1913

General John J. Pershing - 1921

László was skilled at painting men and children, but he is best known for portraits of women.

Elinor Glyn - 1914
This was commissioned by Lord Curzon who was the notorious novelist's lover at the time (just before she was jilted).

The actress Gwen Ffrangcon-Davies - 1933
This painting was done as a demonstration: details here.

Princess Andrew of Greece - 1907

Mrs Edmund Buchanan, née Doreen Bury - 1929

Queen Marie of Romania - 1924

Viscountess Chaplin, née Hon Gwladys Wilson - 1915

HM Queen Elizabeth when Dutchess of York - 1925
Yes, it's the "Queen Mum" and this painting, on loan from HM Queen Elizabeth II, was one of the highlights of the NPG show.

Winifred, Duchess of Portland - 1912
Rivaling the Queen Elizabeth portrait at the small NPG exhibit is this one of the Duchess of Portland when she was nearing 50.

Like many other representational artists his his era and earlier, de László's reputation collapsed following his death. While Sargent, Anders Zorn, Joaquin Sorolla and Giovanni Boldini have been rehabilitated to some degree, de László remains something of an unknown. Reasons advanced for this include: (1) he was too facile, able to complete paintings in six or fewer sittings, (2) he painted aristocracy, a no-no in an era where egalitarianism dominated lip-service; and (3) the fact that most of his paintings remain in private collections rather than being "visible" in museums. This last problem was slightly mitigated by a 2004 Christie's exhibit in London and the current NPG exhibit mentioned above.

My take? I like de László's portraits a lot. They're unlike Sargent's in that he tended to paint "thinner" -- not so much paint on the brush. This makes his portraits slightly less dramatic. But he created good likenesses that are interesting to view even where we don't know what the subject looked like. He was hugely in demand for excellent reasons.