Thursday, June 29, 2017

Théo van Rysselberghe's Pointellist Portraits

Théo van Rysselberghe (1862-1926) was a Post-Impressionist who often painted in a Pointillist style. His Wikipedia entry is here. I wrote about him here, briefly touching on his portrait work.

It seems that van Rysselberghe really liked Pointillism and the related Divisionism a lot, never totally abandoning (while watering down) the concepts later in his career when many of his paintings were more conventional.

But he had to earn a living and, as for many painters, that required making portraits. So van Rysselberghe often tried to include as much Pointillism as he could in a number of those portraits. The problem is, Pointillism and portraiture do not mix easily. That's because Pointillism in its pure form cannot handle small details and sharp edges, things that portraits traditionally require.

So compromises usually had to be made, as the images below indicate. They are presented in roughly chronological order.


Portrait of Alice Sèthe - 1888
An early Pointillist portrait.

Mathilde Vereeken - 1891
This features many little colored dots on the subject's face, but van Rysselberghe had to use some conventional brushwork on the ear, the lower part of the nose and upper lip, and the eyes.

Emile Verhaeren - 1892
A mix of hard edges and dots here.

Jeune fille en vert - c. 1892
Pointillism doesn't always work for hair, either.

Anna Bloch in her Studio - c. 1893
By the time he did this portrait, Rysselberghe was resorting to conventional painting for faces and hands.

Maria and Elizabeth van Rysselbergh
Around 1900,  he was using plenty of sharp lines, leaving Pointillism for flat, plain surfaces.

Portrait of Mme Demolderlder (detail) - 1902
Closer view of how he was treating faces.

Mevrouw Henry van de Velde-Sèthe
From the same era: a selective mix of forms and dots.

Woman at Her Toilette - 1905
Since this wasn't a commissioned portrait, Rysselberghe could enjoy using much pointillism here, though some lines are strategically used.

André Gide - 1908
An example of  his brushwork in a more Divisionism mode, though key facial features are drawn, not dabbed.

Madame von Bedenhausen avec son enfant Luli - 1910
Pointillism and Divisionism can be seen here, but they are incidental to the depiction.

Portrait of Margarethe Kühlmann-Stumm - 1913
This portrait has bright colors, but otherwise is almost conventional.

Mrs Schlumberger and her Daughter Luli - 1918
Another near-conventional work, but the coloration gives it an Impressionist feeling even though sharp details are present.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Edward A. Wilson's Automobile Advertising Illustrations

Edward Arthur Wilson (1886-1970) was a successful illustrator who eventually specialized in illustrating books. But in 1927 and 1928 he illustrated a series of advertisements for General Motors' new LaSalle brand.

The first LaSalles are noteworthy because their styling was directed by Harley Earl whose work so pleased GM's top management that he was given the opportunity to create a permanent styling group for the corporation, a first for the American automobile industry. Therefore, all future LaSalles (they were produced through the 1940 model year) were designed under Earl.

It happened that Earl cribbed a good deal of the first LaSalle's appearance from French Hispano-Suizas. Perhaps that was a factor in early LaSalle advertising that featured the cars in European -- especially French -- settings. The French angle provided some prestige to those "companions cars" to Cadillac, because French luxury cars were highly regarded in America during the 1920s, as was French culture.

Information about Wilson can be found here and, especially, here. The latter link includes the following quotation from Wilson, something of interest to historians of illustration art.

"What pulled me through the two wars and the well-known depression was my idle time in which I used to fiddle around with new methods of getting a drawing to reproduce as near facsimile as possible. You must remember that printing and photoengraving were rudimentary then compared to what they are today. Whatever style I may have now was brought about by striving to get my drawing printed as nearly as possible to the way I made it."


La Nouvelle Arrivée
Toward the left is a woman in regional garb; near the right is a French army officer on the verge of falling over backward.

Le Liévre et La Tortue
You can click on most of these images to enlarge. That will allow you to better see that the driver jauntily has a pipe in his mouth.

Promenade des Anglais: Nice
At the right, over the sea is the Jetée-Promenade de Nice, a landmark structure destroyed in 1944. The Promenade is still there, and often much more crowded than Wilson's illustration shows.

No title
A fishing town. Nothing swanky like Nice's Promenade. But this also might be on the Riviera due to the mountains or very high hills in the background. On the other hand, the rest of the setting seems more like Brittany. Perhaps the background terrain was added for compositional purposes.

This is curious because one would think the setting is the Paris Opera (now the Opéra Garnier). But it isn't. Perhaps it's an opera house in another French city. Or maybe Wilson depicted an imaginary opera house. Knowledgeable readers might set us straight in comments.

Threadneedle Street
For a change of pace, this is London near the location of the Bank of England. Once again, I cannot identify the building in the background when comparing it to Google street views (as I did researching the previous image). There is no record that Wilson was sent to Europe to seek backgrounds for the various advertisements, so he might have relied on photographs or used his imagination as inspired by photos.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Friedrich von Kaulbach Paints Geraldine Farrar

Beautiful, famous women attracted well-known portrait painters. In some cases, the painters would create multiple versions of their subject. Such was the case of opera star Geraldine Farrar (1882-1967) and Munich-based Friedrich August von Kaulbach (1850-1920). Biogrphical information on Farrar is here, and a brief summary of Kaulbach's career is here.

I suspect that Kaulbach was fascinated by and infatuated with the 32-years-younger singer. He was probably not alone.


Photo of Farrar when young, not very far from the time she was in Germany and Kaulbach painted her.

Farrar shown in a performance setting. This painting is in Seattle's Frye Museum collection.

Studie zu einem Bildnis der Sängerin Geraldine Farrar (Study for a Portrait of the Singer Geraldine Farrar), a 1906 painting.

This painting and the one above it portray Farrar wearing essentially the same costume.

Monday, June 19, 2017

A Bouguereau at the Meat Packers

The photo above was taken at the Frye meatpacking facility in Seattle's Georgetown neighborhood perhaps sometime around 1940. The reason why all those paintings are there is because they were overflow from the home of Charles Frye and his late wife Emma who had an extensive collection. The painting at the upper left is Dans le bois (also called "The Sisters") a late (1905) work by William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1825-1905) the prolific French painter whose works were not worth much when the photo was taken, but now can be bought at auction for more than a million dollars.

The packing plant was destroyed in 1943 when one of the three prototype XB-29 bombers experienced an engine fire and crashed into it. The entire crew was killed, including famed test pilot Eddie Allen, and more were killed in the plant. The Bouguereau was not destroyed, and perhaps there were no paintings there at the time. What was lost was documentation for the Frye collection. More about the crash and the Frye collection is here and here. Some background on the Frye Museum, where the collection now resides, is here.

The two photos above and the one following are excerpts from the Fry Museum web site. This photo shows part of the collection when it was housed in the Frye residence.

Another Frye residence photo. Here the Bouguereau can be seen in the corner next to a portrait of Mrs. Frye.

And here is that Bouguereau as captured by my camera June 11th of this year.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Did Franz Stuck Ever Settle on a Style?

Franz von Stuck (1863-1928) was an important Munich artist during the decades surrounding the turn of the 20th century. He was both a rebel of sorts, helping found the Munich Secession, and an establishmentarian as a professor at the Munich Academy. His Wikipedia entry is here. I wrote about Stuck here and here.

Stuck can fairly be called a Symbolist when he wasn't painting portraits or genre scenes (I'm not aware of Stuck landscapes or still lifes, but there might be a few). His preferred subjects were nude or partly-clothed women, though he did paint some nude males, in more than one painting shown fighting over a nude woman.

His painting style varied considerably, but not in the form of moving from one style to another as time passed. That is, throughout his career we find fuzzy looking paintings along with crisp works and somewhat poster-like images. I presume Stuck established a set of painting styles during the first part of his career that he then deployed depending upon the subject of a work.


Sphinx - 1889

The Guardian of Paradise - 1889
Two paintings from Stuck's 20s. Both completed the same year, but with different atmospheres. The murky style of Sphinx will reappear later, often with fuzzier brushwork.

Frau Braun - 1896
Considerable contrast between the carefully rendered face and the rest of the painting.

Two Dancers - 1896
Again, the greatest detail is in the faces, as might be expected. Otherwise, Stuck's anatomical work is still more true to reality than in some of the later paintings shown below.

Die Wippe - 1898

Franz and Mary Stuck in the Studio - 1902
I doubt that Stuck's clothing shown here were his usual painting togs ... but I just might be wrong.

Portrait of a Lady - 1912
Again, the contrast between carefully rendered parts and quite loosely done other areas.

Sounds of Spring - 1912
By the 1910s Stuck added a style to his repertoire that had a flatter, more illustration-like quality.

Badende Frauen - c. 1920
His "Bathing Women" is sketchy across the board. Perhaps this was a study (though it's signed). Or maybe he was reacting to works by younger, post-1900, Modernist painters.

Phryne - 1918
An example of his dark, fuzzy style. Only a few details are sharply depicted.

The Judgement of Paris - 1923
A poster-like painting. Flat, with some mural-style outlining along with some fuzziness for the women's bodies.

Marianne Mechler - 1924
Presumably a commission, because most Stuck effects are absent.

Pygmalion and Galatea - 1926
A dark, somewhat fuzzy painting from near the end of his career.

Wind and Waves (unfinished) - 1928
What Stuck was doing near the end of his life. Not far from what he'd been painting for many years.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Up Close: "Sonata" by Irving Ramsey Wiles

Irving Ramsey Wiles (1861-1948) ... or it it Irving Ramsay Wiles? Go to Google and you will find both spellings.

In December I came across his painting "The Sonata" (1889) at San Francisco's De Young. The placard next to the painting has it "Ramsey" whereas the De Young's web page for the painting favors "Ramsay."

A small matter, so far as this post is concerned. My interest here is that painting.

As for Wiles, his very brief Wikipedia entry is here. I blogged about his depictions of women here.

In that post I held that Wiles was not a great artist, but a good one who made some fine paintings. "Sonata" is one of those. Note the "X" composition as well as the brushwork in the Up Close photos I took. Click on the images to enlarge.


This image is from the De Young web site.

"The Sonata" as seen in its gallery by my camera.

Detail of the upper part of the painting.

Detail showing Wiles' treatment of fabrics.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Motli Ritratti: Tilla Durieux

Tilla Durieux (née Ottilie Godeffroy - 1880-1971) born in Vienna to a chemist (Richard Godeffroy) and a Hungarian pianist (Adelheid Ottilie Augustine Hrdlicka), was an actress who spent most of her career in Germany, but waited out the Nazi years in Switzerland and Yugoslavia. Her Wikipedia entry is here.

Like Sarah Bernhardt and Eleonora Duse, Durieux was the subject of a number of portraits by artists even though it was the age of photography. With one noteworthy exception, the images below were created by artists of German and Austrian background.


Photo of Tilla Durieux

Tilla as Salome, by Max Slevogt - 1907

By Oskar Kokoschka - 1910

By Max Oppenheimer - 1912
Note the surprisingly similar feeling in the three paintings above done by three different artists.

Tilla as Circe - by Franz von Stuck - c. 1912-13

Tilla as Circe - by Franz von Stuck - c. 1912-13

Tilla as Circe - pastel and pencil - by Franz von Stuck - c. 1912-13

By Auguste Renoir - 1914
Here Tilla looks like most other women in Renoir paintings.

By Emil Orlík - 1922