Thursday, May 31, 2018

Details by Detaille

I wrote about French military artist Édouard Detaille -- Jean-Baptiste Édouard Detaille (1848-1912) -- here.

A recent visit to the Musée de l'Armée in Paris brought me back in contact with a painting by him that the museum calls Remise de ses nouveaux drapeaux et étendards à l’Armée Française sur l’Hippodrome de Longchamp, le 14 Juillet 1880 (Web site citation here).

It is a large-scale study for a painting titled La distribution des drapeaux à Longchamp par le président Jules Grévy le 14 Juillet 1880 (link here) that Detaille chose to destroy after it had been exhibited. Apparently it hadn't been well-received, and Detaille also was somewhat dissatisfied with it. Some segments were cut out and later displayed as standalone works.

Readers interested in painters' techniques might wish to examine the photos I took of parts of the study version in the Musée de l'Armée. Detaille included an immense number of figures in the foreground and elsewhere, and readers can see how he indicated these. Click on my photos to considerably enlarge.


Image of the painting from the Musée de l'Armée web site.

Establishment photo I took showing the lighting conditions as my camera chose to depict them.

Detail photo.

Detail photo.

Detail photo.

Fragment of the finished painting.

Fragment of the finished painting.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Ocean Liners: Speed and Style at the V&A

London's Victoria & Albert Museum has an exhibit titled "Ocean Liners: Speed and Style" that will be going on into June. Here is the V&S's web page for it, though it might disappear once the exhibit closes.

It's not a large exhibit, perhaps limited by the space available for such things, so I found it a bit over-priced at 18 pounds. But I found it enjoyable because the 1920s and 1930s have always fascinated me, and most of the items on display are from those times -- especially the 1930s.

Below are some photos I took when I was there in April.


Collection of 1930s ocean liner furniture and décor.
Sadly, I neglected to take a documentation photo, so cannot tell you where the items originated.

Decorative relief, perhaps from the Queen Mary
Very Art Deco, and might have been from almost any new French, Italian or British liner, though the airplane looks like a British de Havilland Rapide (again, I failed to document the source).

Study for Normandie interior

Decorations from the Normandie

Display evocative of mid-1930s fashions for passengers in First Class ship sections. In the background is a repeating sequence from a contemporary movie. I must confess this gives me a strong sense of false-nostalgia.

Deck chair from unidentified (by me) ship

Now comes the Big Surprise -- for me, anyway. It's the model of the 1932 streamlined ocean liner designed by Norman Bel Geddes.

Establishment shot to provide sense of scale

Front quarter view

Rear quarter view

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Austin Cooper: Posters to Abstraction

Austin Cooper (1890-1964) was a Canadian-born British poster artist who, before he died, must have discovered that an automobile (the Austin Mini Cooper) was his namesake. Kidding aside, Cooper was one of a group of illustrators who created travel posters using a similar technique for the London and North Eastern Railway (LNER), especially during the 1930s.

His Wikipedia entry mentions that he moved across the Atlantic a few times but finally settled in England following his service in the Canadian army in the Great War. Besides creating posters, he managed a school of commercial art in the late 1930s, then abandoned illustration in the mid-1940s to pursue fine arts. Some of his abstract paintings are in the Tate collection.


It's not clear to me what this poster was promoting, though the smokestacks are painted Canadian Pacific colors.

One of a series with the same theme and style.

Probably from the late 1920s.

He did a few posters for Indian Railways.

For a 1931 exhibit at the V&A.

This, from 1932.

This is a highly unusual style for a LNER poster. It was done around the mid-1930s, judging by the woman's clothing.

Abstraction 200/62 - 1957-1962

Monday, May 21, 2018

The Reichsluftfahrtministerium's Career (and Mural)

A hazard of travel is getting sick. In April I was flying from London to Seattle, all the while the man in the seat behind me was coughing. Of course, a few days later I came down with a horrific cold followed by a sinus infection. And then I was off to Germany to take a tour that filled in a few gaps from previous visits.

All this is my sorry excuse for not researching something I had planned to do in Berlin, namely track down the Reichsluftfahrtministerium. It was the headquarters of Hermann Göring's Aviation Ministry and for some reason survived Allied bombings and Russian artillery during World War 2. That is, it's the only remaining major Nazi-era building in the city -- a real curiosity. (Background information can be found here.)

I had a free day to rattle around Berlin, visiting places I'd seen before and looking for new buildings, stores and such things that comprise a thriving city. Towards the end of the day I suddenly remembered that it would be nice to track down the Reichsluftfahrtministerium. Except I didn't know where it was other than it probably would have been near the Wilhelm Strasse, the avenue where ministries had tended to be since the Kaiser's day.


I thought this building might be it.  It's on Mohren Strasse just off Friedrich Strasse and a block east of Wilhelm Strasse. It does look the part, having that stripped-down classical style coupled with a kind of functionalism popular in many countries in the 1930s. But it wasn't the Reichsluftfahrtministerium, as I found out once I got home and could do some research. As I write this, I still don't know anything about it. It might be a Nazi-era structure, but in that case it should have been heavily damaged during the war. Perhaps it was a Communist-era building. If any reader knows what it is, let us know in a comment.

As I discovered once I got home, this was the Reichsluftfahrtministerium. The view is of the end facing Leipziger Strasse near the corner of Wilhelm Strasse -- the rest of it takes up most of the rest of the block. As the link above states, during DDR days it was used by several ministries and nowadays is where Germany's Finance Ministry is housed. In the arcade behind the columns is a 18 meter mural on Meissen porcelain tiles created by Max Lingner in the early 1950s. It is a Socialist Realism work of the ilk found in Russia during Josef Stalin's days. Propaganda, in other words. Below are photos I took of it.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Max Slevogt, Secessionist

Max Slevogt (1868-1932) is categorized as an Impressionist, but also did some Symbolist subject paintings and other kinds of works including illustration. He became associated with the Berlin Secession, according to his Wikipedia entry. Another source filled with a confusing mix of facts, and dates is here.

These and other sources state or imply that Slevogt was a very important German painter. That is probably so, though I can't work up much enthusiasm for his manner of sketchy brushwork and therefore don't regard him highly.

Your taste may well vary, so here are images of some of his paintings in approximately chronological order to ponder.


Die blonde Theres - 1896

Totentanz (Death Dance, or Dance with Death) - 1896
The same model seems to be in both paintings.

Autumn Evening Mood, Neukastel - 1897

Feierstunde The Day's Work Done - 1900

The Dancer Marietta di Rigardo - 1904
Around this time, Slevogt's sketchy style kicks in more noticeably.

Dame im weissen Reitkleid zu Pferde (Lady in White Riding Clothes on a Horse) - 1910
This might be his wife, Antonie (Nini) Finkler.

Spring in the Palatinate - 1910

Anna Pavlova
More than a sketch, less than a painting.

Unter den Linden - 1913
Berlin's main street shortly before the Great War.

Portrait of Dancer Antonia Mercé, Called "La Argentina" - 1926

Monday, May 14, 2018

Stanhope Forbes: Cornwall Scenes

A Fish Sale on a Cornish Beach - 1885

Stanhope Alexander Forbes (1857-1947) painted scenes in Brittany and elsewhere in England, but his focus was Cornwall, at Britain's western tip. A fairly lengthy Wikipedia entry for Forbes is here. I wrote about the painting shown above here. It is perhaps his best-known work and the excellent brushwork is best appreciated in person, though you normally need to visit the Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery to view it.

Below are some other Cornish scenes painted by Forbes.


The Health of the Bride - 1889
This indoor Cornish painting was part of the original Tate collection.

A Cornish Village - 1903
More of a sketch than a finished work, thought Forbes signed it.

The Seine Boat - 1904
Forbes did much plein air painting, but this had to be mostly or entirely studio-made.

At the Moorage - 1906

Gala Day at Newlyn, Cornwall - 1907

The Inner Harbour, Abbey Slip - 1921
Not long ago, local folks helped keep this painting from being removed from Cornwall (some details here).

The Fisherman's Expedition - 1923

Causewayhead, Penzance - 1943
A late painting done in wartime: note several British solders along the street.