Monday, June 30, 2014

Up Close: Boldini's Casati with Peacock Feathers

I was in Rome recently and made sure to revisit the Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna (Web site here). It's on the grounds of the Villa Borghese, which puts it slightly off the usual tourist track. Nevertheless, it's worth a visit for those interested in 19th and early 20th century Italian painting.

One of the Galleria's noteworthy items is a portrait of the colorful Marchesa Luisa Casati (1881-1957) who inherited great wealth and spent it away by the 1930s. She was portrayed by many artists, including Giovanni Boldini (1842-1931) who depicted her at least twice.

One of these portraits can be seen in the Galleria, as the images below attest.


La marchesa Luisa Casati con penne di pavone - 1911-13
This is a public domain image of the painting from the Internet.

And this is what my camera captured in the gallery. Outside light was coming from the left, which affects what you see here and below compared to the Internet-sourced image at the top. This supposed defect is actually beneficial, because it captures Boldini's impasto and other brushwork better.

A closer view of the subject.  A bit of the frame was included to allow the camera to get a better focus (many paintings lack crisp edges, and can confuse a camera).

An even tighter shot featuring La Casati's face. Click on images to enlarge.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Bradshaw Crandell's Glamour-Face Niche

The time was -- and maybe still is -- that a fairly safe way to build a successful career in art involved being able to paint faces of beautiful women. For illustrators the marketing sweet-spot was magazine covers, be they movie fan magazines, women's magazines or even general-interest magazines.

There were several illustrators whose careers were devoted to that subject, perhaps most notably Harrison Fisher, whose works dominated the covers of Cosmopolitan Magazine for the first three decades of the 20th century.

The present post deals with Bradshaw Crandell (1896-1966), who followed Fisher's footsteps to some degree, including creating cover art for Cosmopolitan. Crandell's Wikipedia entry is here. But artists might find this post on Leif Peng's blog of more interest. The writer, Kent Steine, describes Crandell's pastel layering technique used for much of his work up until the 1940s when he transitioned to oil paints. Pastel was popular for rendering women's faces because it could create a smooth appearance more easily than oil paints and without the fuss and potential for the artificiality of airbrush.

Crandell could and did create full-length illustrations of women and even could paint a man. But his fame was centered on depictions of women, some of which are shown below.


Photo of Crandell and actress Bette Davis and the resulting Cosmopolitan cover
In the photo foreground are what appear to be boxes of pastel sticks.



Ingrid Bergman cover art


Art, perhaps for a Cosmo cover

Saturday Evening Post Cover - 13 April 1935

Saturday Evening Post Cover - 2 June 1934
This actually includes a man.

Full-length drawing - from around 1933
Again, just to show that Crandell could do more than women's faces.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Digital Art: Benjamin Carré

Benjamin Carré (1973 - ) is one of a surprisingly large number of French digital artists who are doing well in the science fiction - fantasy field. (Is there something in the vin ordinaire?)

Charley Parker's January 8th post of this year tipped me off to Carré's work, and I think it's worthwhile to show you what interests us. As Charley mentions, information about Carré is sparse. A French Wikipedia entry is here, but it is brief. Then there's this short interview, also in French. On my computer I see that "translations" are available, but the quality of such mechanical procedures isn't always good.

It seems that, besides SFF book covers, Carré does concept art and comic strip / graphic novel work. From what I can tell according to a Google Images display, a noticeable portion of his work relates to Star Wars, a subject that lost my interest many years ago. For that reason, the Carré images I present below are Star Wars-free.


Monday, June 23, 2014

Up Close: Morelli's Temptation of St. Anthony

A couple of years ago I committed an error in this post when I inserted a photo version of Domenico Morelli's "Temptation of St. Anthony" instead of an image of the actual painting. Now I wish to atone for my sin by posting some photos of the painting that I recently took at Rome's Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna (Web site here).

As his Wikipedia entry) indicates, Morelli (1823-1901) spent most of his career in his native Naples, concentrating on religious subjects. Le Tentazioni di Sant'Antonio (1878) is one of the best known of these. He also painted portraits. As a bonus, I include photos of his Teresa Maglione Oneto (1879) which was also on display at the Arte Moderna. Click on the images to enlarge.


"Establishment shot" of Temptation.

Ritratto di Teresa Maglione Oneto in its setting.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Anders Zorn Watercolor Paintings

I already wrote about Anders Zorn (1860-1920) twice (here and here). But there's seldom enough of a good thing, so I'm posting once more on the Swedish master (Wikipedia entry here and a site with many of his works here).

This time, I focus on his watercolors. Even though I took a watercolor class in art school, I maintain a phobia regarding that medium. Not for decently done watercolor paintings, mind you, but for actually having to paint one of the things. There is little else in art that I find so terrifying.

As it happened, Zorn began his career as a watercolorist, and naturally was excellent at it. Viewing some of his watercolors -- especially in reproduction -- they often look more like oil paintings. Perhaps one reason for this is that he sometimes painted thickly (not using much water) or perhaps did some areas in gouache, a different water-based paint. Other works were entirely in gouache, which handles more like oil paint than ordinary watercolors.

Below are examples of Zorn's water-based work.


Castles in the Air - 1885

Kaijroddare - 1886

The Thorn Bush - 1886

Man and Boy in Algiers - 1887

Vogskvalp (Lapping Waves) - 1887

Reveil, boulevard Clichy - 1892

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Peregrine Heathcote's 1930s Pseudo-Nostalgia

I'm puzzling over how to classify the art of Peregrine Heathcote (1973 - ). On the one hand, he makes part of his living painting portraits, but few of these turn up in Google Images searches. What one does find in proliferation are images of paintings with 1930s settings populated by people dressed fairly recent attire. I deal with the latter in this post.

For some reason, there is little biographical information regarding Heathcote on the Web. Sources with sketchy information are here and here. One site I stumbled across hinted in passing that he attended Harrow, and a partly blocked Times of London piece dealt with Heathcote's renovation of his house in the tony Chelsea (in London) neighborhood. So I must assume that he is doing fine financially, unlike many artists.

Heathcote has a Web site that's worth viewing. This page and subsequent pages feature his paintings, the titles of which are cryptic and that I ignore in the presentation below.

Are his paintings Dieselpunk? Maybe, according to this post on a Dieselpunk site. I'm inclined to think not. That's because most Dieselpunk art alters actual 1920s and 30s objects as if they were in a parallel universe. Heathcote instead takes objects as they were and does his time-warping by the inclusion of non-period (in terms of dress) people.

Like Retro artist Robert LaDuke (see my post here), Heathcote recycles themes, settings and objects. See the images below for examples.


The top painting includes an American 1935 Auburn 851 and a British De Havilland 89 Rapide, the lower one features a De Havilland 86 Express.

The aircraft is a German Junkers G.38.

I'm not sure which tri-motor airliner is included here, though it's most likely a Ford.

Three walking the dock scenes. The flying boat in the middle image is a Short S-23, the one immediately above is a Boeing 314.

Deco train travel. The license plate on the race car in the upper image includes Heathcote's initials.

In case you haven't noticed, Heathcote includes 1930s luggage in many of his paintings. Here the traveler faces an ocean liner.

Phone-call images with New York City at dusk out the window.

For some reason, the sports car in this painting is post-World War 2 and not from the 1930s.

Booking a journey.

These paintings seem to be a take-off on Jack Vettriano, but lack the tension and sense of potential menace often present in his work.

I've never seen a Heathcote painting in person, though I'll be on the lookout when I'm near a gallery that carries his work. This means I must evaluate on the basis of images such as those displayed above.

Despite what I noted in the various comments above, I rather like his painting. Yes, it's more hard-edge than I usually prefer, but the point is to portray 1930s stuff clearly, unambiguously. The people in his paintings are pretty repetitious in terms of pose and costume details, but that's something one notices on a Google Images spread or assembled on a blog page. In isolation, a Heathcote might be quite interesting, especially if juxtaposed to different kinds of paintings or else perhaps placed near a group of Art Deco objects.

I'm not prepared to claim Heathcote's work great any more than I am Vettriano's, though I find both strangely appealing due to their subject matter. In Heathcote's case, I pretty sure it's because I'm a sucker for the elegant aspect of the 1930s, wisps of which persisted into my childhood years.