Friday, November 29, 2013

Stanisław Wyspiański, Polish Polymath

Stanisław Wyspiański (1869-1907) was born in Kraków (then part of the Austro-Hungarian empire) and died there 38 years later of the effects of syphilis. According to this Wikipedia biographical entry, he was given great honors at his funeral and this respect continues in Poland, as confirmed by this page on the National Museum site.

Wyspiański mostly worked in pastels, but used other media at times. Besides art, he also wrote poetry and plays, doing all this at as fast a pace as he could manage in his last years, knowing he was doomed to an early death.


Self-Portrait - 1894
Self-Portrait - 1907
The 1907 drawing was done not long before Wyspiański died.

Jozef Mehoffer - 1898
Mehoffer was another artist with Kraków roots.

Dagny (Juel) Przybyszewska - 1898 or 1899
Juel led a short, wild life, as can be read here.

Eliza Parenska - 1902
Elizy Pareńskiej - 1905
I assume this is the same woman, painted three years apart.

Motherhood - 1902
Motherhood - 1905
Here he elaborates on an earlier drawing.

Władysława Ordon-Sosnowska - 1903
Władysława Ordon-Sosnowska - alternative colors - 1903
Most of the images I found in Google Images have colors as in the first image. But the lower image seems more natural. I suppose numbers prevail, but thought I'd present both points of view.

Caritas - 1904
Cartoon for a proposed stained glass window (never executed).

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Marine Museum and Marin-Marie Too

Paris seems packed full of museums. A tourist who has visited the town a few times is advised (by me) to devote several hours a day to being simply a flâneur, one who strolls the rues and boulevards instead of rushing from museum to famous site to yet another museum. Even so, it can be worthwhile to drop below Paris' layer of world-class museums from time to time. If you happen to be interested in history, naval history or simply ships, a nice place to visit is the Musée National de la Marine, located a few steps from where one views the Eiffel Tower from the Trocadéro area. Its Wikipedia entry is here and its website is here.

A visitor will find decorative bits from old sailing ships, an early diver's suit, paintings dealing with seafaring and naval warfare, plus many, many models of ships. Below are some photos of ship models along with some paintings. These subjects were behind protective screens, so I wasn't able to avoid some reflections appearing.


The models are of French vessels only, as best I could tell.

At the top are models of some of France's last battleships, the Dunkerque and the Jean Bart.

A variety of naval types.

Pre-Great War battleships.

A few displays dealt with old shipyards and ship construction.

Among the artists featured was Marin-Marie, who I wrote about here. The images below are from two paintings dealing with arctic exploration ship Pourquoi-Pas (the "Why Not?"). I have a soft spot for nice brushwork, and Marin-Marie certainly accomplished that in these paintings made during World War 2, long after the Pourquoi-Pas was destroyed in a storm with only one man surviving.

"Le Pourqui-Pas dans le Soresby Sund en 1925" (detail) - 1943

"Le Pourqui-Pas à Jan Mayen en 1926" (detail) - 1943

Monday, November 25, 2013

Short-Lived Henri Evenepoel

I suppose I could have lumped this post into my "In the Beginning" series because all we have of the works of Henri Evenepoel (1872-1899) were painted when he was age 27 or younger. As you can see by his dates, Evenepoel's career ended (by disease) before he had the opportunity to progress beyond the usual "beginning" period for an artist. That's too bad, because the paintings that he did make are interesting, and he clearly had real potential as a representational modernist, had his course continued in that direction.

Evenepoel was a Belgian who spent most of his career in Paris. A short Wikipedia entry about him is here.


Le chapeau blanc (Louise de Mey) - 1897
Photo (by Evenepoel) of Louise de Mey at Wépion - Summer, 1897
It seems that Louise was Evenepoel's cousin and married with two children. That did not prevent them from falling in love and producing a son. This matter and its effect on his art are dealt with here and, especially, here.

L'homme en rouge, ou Portrait du peintre Paul Baignières - 1894

Het Loopmeisje (The Errand Girl)

De Spanja, Francisco Itturino - 1899

Orange Market, Blidah - 1898

Foire aux Invalides - 1897

Friday, November 22, 2013

Signing Paintings a Cute Way

Where does one sign one's painting if it (figuratively) has no right or left edge? That's both a theoretical and practical problem when painting a diorama -- a 360-degree view.

Dioramas were popular in France during the 1870s and 1880s, and a popular diorama subject was battle scenes. One such diorama was the Panorama of Rézonville, painted in the early 1880s by the team of Édouard Detaille (1848-1912), the project leader, and Alphonse de Neuville (1835-1885), two of France's leading painters of military subjects. Events at Rézonville were selected because the French army acquitted itself better there than in most battles of the 1870 Franco-Prussian War.

I consider Neuville the better painter of the two, and wrote about him here. Regardless of their merits, the artists were faced with the task of covering an immense amount of canvas featuring many figures and objects in a limited amount of time. The inevitable result was that everything had to be dashed off with a loss of artistic merit compared to their regular easel paintings.

Once the display period for the diorama ended, parts of it were cut off and preserved. You will find a few segments in the Musée de l'Armée in Paris, near Napoléon's Tomb. Below are some snapshots I took of them while visiting the museum recently.


This depiction, by Detaille, I think, indicates the effect of the haste required to complete the project. Note that the boots seem too small for the rest of the soldier's body and the legs look oddly proportioned.  But I can't rule out the possibility that this was done on purpose because the center of interest of the diorama was several feet above the eye level of the spectators, and this perspective angle might have had to be accounted for.

Detaille's signature can be seen at the lower right. The painters might have placed them randomly or perhaps by a segment that they had done.

This shows the sketchiness of the painting required of the artists.

Here is where the signing gets cute. Detaille put his name on the canteen bag of the musician and Neuville placed his on the silvery object at the side of the wounded soldier (click to enlarge). I have no idea why Neuville would have selected the blessé instead of a hale subject.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Józef Mehoffer, "Young Poland" Symbolist of Sorts

Józef Mehoffer (1869-1946), a Pole, was one of those painters I used to call "peripheral" when blogging on the Two Blowhards blog. Even though some readers questioned my use of the term, I rather like it and really ought to use it more on this blog. It's really a concise, two-edged, pun-like concept, the idea being that many perfectly decent painters are peripheral to standard narratives of art history because, in part, they were from and spent much of their careers in countries not central to the art world.

The Wikipedia entry on Mehoffer is here. A better, more comprehensive account is here in the form of exhibition notes on the Musée d'Orsay site. The latter link notes that he studied in Vienna and Paris as well as Kraków, and later was an active member of avant-garde Young Poland movement of around 1900.

The d'Orsay article's title labels Mehoffer as being a Symbolist, though scanning examples of his work suggests to me that his commitment to Symbolism was inconsistent at best.


Self-Portrait - 1894

Wandy Janakowkiej - 1896

Muse - c.1897

Strange Garden - 1902-03
Okay, this is Symbolist, and some call it pre-Surrealist.

The Artist's Wife - 1904
The Artist's Wife - 1907
The Artist's Wife with Pegasus - 1913
Three paintings featuring the artist's wife, Jawidga.

Europa jubilans - 1905
Jadwiga again?

Róża Saaronu - 1923

Vita somnium breve - stained glass window - 1904
Mehoffer designed a large number of stained glass windows.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Studies Displayed at the Louvre

Paris' Louvre is considered one of the finest of the world's art museums. It is huge, with many hundreds of works on display. Even so, paintings and sculptures made after 1850-70 or thereabouts must be sought elsewhere in Paris. What can be seen in the Louvre includes such famous works as the Venus De Milo, the Winged Victory of Samothrace (currently under restoration), David's monumental painting of Napoléon's coronation, not to mention Da Vinci's Mona Lisa.

A typical first or even second time traveler to Paris is likely to visit the Louvre for a couple of hours and then retreat in physical and mental exhaustion, having seen perhaps half of the galleries. Because I am more interested in post-1850 painting than what the Louvre has to offer, I tend to gravitate to the bookstore rather than stalk the galleries. The last time I was there, my wife had a few paintings that she really wanted to view, but they were in galleries on the top floor in parts of the museum remote from the five-star offerings. Plus, she was having trouble following the map of the place, so I had to take on the guide task.

As a result, I stumbled onto a number of interesting paintings from the first half of the 19th century, including a couple of small-scale studies for the huge paintings over in the Denon wing. These are shown below via images of the final results plus my snapshots of the studies.

First up is The Raft of the Medusa by Théodore Géricault.

Next is Death of Sardanapalus by Eugène Delacroix.

And to wrap this up, here are costume studies by Delacroix.

Friday, November 15, 2013

István Zádor, Obscure Hungarian

The world is and was filled with competent (but not great) artists who never became very well known. To some degree this is a matter of luck. And an important instance when luck runs against the artist is when he happens to have been born in a peripheral (to world art centers) country. Such was the case for István Zádor (1882-1963), Hungarian.  (I write his name in normal Western word order, not in the Hungarian manner.) The typical career path for an artist from an out-of-the-way country was to migrate to Paris, Munich, London or (later) New York and remain there until fame struck; after that they could live pretty much where they pleased.

Hardly any biographical material on Zádor can be found on the Internet. This site seems to be the best bet. It mentions that he spent most of his life in Hungary, but went to Paris and Florence for training and fled to Munich for a while after the post-Great War Hungarian communist regime fell.

To my point of view, Zádor was good, but lacked the magic spark of greatness. So it didn't really matter that he remained mostly in Hungary; at least he had a measure of local fame and respect.


My Wife - 1910
Fairly traditional, but with a whiff of modernist simplification.

View of Buda - 1910
This is the western part of Budapest, an amalgamation of the cities of Buda and Pest. Pest, to the east of the Danube is flat, whereas Buda is hills, as Zádor's etching shows. That's the famous Chain Bridge in the background, but the huge Parliament building lies clipped-off to the right of this view.

Still Life - 1912
This painting has a much different character than the others in this set. But Web sources state it's by Zádor.

Portrait of a woman
Probably done in the 1930s, but I have no date for it. Something about it is odd -- perhaps the background and how it relates to the subject.

Woman with Earrings - 1928
This seems to be one of Zádor's best known works.

Lady in gold colored kimono - 1932
More modernist simplification. A nice period piece, however.