Thursday, November 29, 2018

Edwin Davenport: An Illustrator Whose Career Seemed to Peak Around 1927

Biographical information for the illustrator Edmund Davenport must be someplace, but I can't seem to find it by Googling. Nor can I find it in my personal collection of books about illustration.

All I know for sure at this point is that most of the internet images of his work date from 1925-1928. These works include some Saturday Evening Post covers, so Davenport briefly was hitting the big time.

Besides the Post, he did covers for other magazines and advertising art for Stutz automobiles and Syracuse China (the latter not shown below).

Here are most of the examples of his work that I could find.


Saturday Evening Post cover - 13 June 1925
New graduate literally "on top of the world."

Holland's Magazine cover - May 1926

The Elks Magazine cover - February 1926
The Elks are an American fraternal organization.

American Magazine cover - November 1928

Stutz advertisement - 1927
This advertisement and the ones below feature simplified backgrounds and contra-jour shading that serve to set off the images of the cars.

Stutz advertisement - 1927
Stutz is best remembered for its Stutz Bearcat sports cars from the 1910s.

Stutz advertisement - 1927

Stutz advertisement - 1927

Stutz advertisement - 1927
A black & white ad, but the artwork might have been done in color like the ones shown above (though the contra-jour is missing, suggesting it was done in b&w) .

Monday, November 26, 2018

Lionel-Noël Royer, French Painter of History

Lionel-Noël Royer (1852-1926), according to his English language Wikipedia entry, is best known for his large paintings of the life of Joan of Arc located in the Basilica of Bois-Chenu in Domrémy, her home town. His French Wikipedia entry also notes that he is known "ainsi que du tableau Vercingétorix jette ses armes aux pieds de Jules César." The latter ("Vercingétorix Throwing his Weapons at the Feet of Caesar" - 1899) is probably better known outside France because it has been used as book cover art. It's the image at the top of this post (click on it to enlarge).

Royer fought in one Franco-Prussian War battle, so was qualified to paint battle scenes even though he followed convention and overly dramatized the action.  Following the war he studied art at l'École des beaux-arts de Paris under Alexandre Cabanel and William Bouguereau.

Royer painted simple subjects, but excelled in dealing with complex scenes with casts worthy of a Cecil B. DeMille Biblical movie. Well, fewer people than in film crowd scenes, but plenty on artists' canvases.

Below are more examples of his work. But I have to say that I like the Julis Caesar painting best, even though the French link above states "Les historiens soulignent notamment le fait que Vercingétorix ne s'est certainement pas présenté en armes devant César au moment de sa reddition (il aurait été massacré par la garde romaine). Le cheval est à l'époque une monture romaine, les Gaulois utilisant plutôt des poneys (plus petits). Le tableau traduit surtout une volonté d'héroïser le personnage de Vercingétorix." That is, what Royer painted probably did not actually happen the way he depicted the surrender.


Joan of Arc at the coronation of Charles VII at Reims
Click on the image to enlarge.

Bataille d'Auvour
Also known as the Battle of Mans, fought 10-12 January 1871.  A large but rag-tag French army was defeated by the Prussians. This battle, along with the end of the Siege of Paris a few days later, marked the end of the main military phase of the Franco-Prussian War

Le Lieutenant-Colonel Athanase de Charrette à la tête des Zouaves Pontificaux – Bataille de Mentana - 3 Novembre, 1867
This battle was between Garibaldi's Italians and an army comprised of the French and Papal Zouave troops. The Italians were defeated.

Marchande de Fleurs - The Flower Seller
The flower seller is at the lower right corner with her push-cart. At the lower left is a red automobile that dates the painting as from a few years around 1905. The large building is the Hôtel de Ville, Paris' city hall, and the tall structure at the right is the Notre-Dame.

The Muses Garden
The opposite of Royer's war paintings.

Allegory of Summer
Confirmation that he studied under Bouguereau.

Étude pour la figure de l'amour

Thursday, November 22, 2018

University of Bristol's Mills Tower

Most tours of England's West Country take in the city of Bath, that once was a Roman site and for many is a Jane Austen mecca. But not far down the road to the west is Bristol, which also is worth a visit, though its character is different.

Architecturally, and due to its siting, the Bristol building that interests me the most is the Wills Tower on the Wills Memorial Building. It sits on one of Bristol's hills as part of Bristol University, a "red brick" institution that received its royal charter in 1909.

The tower's construction was begun in 1915, but completion was delayed until 1925 due to the Great War. Its architect was Sir George Herbert Oatley (1863–1950) who was the university's architect for a number of years. It is a tall (215 foot, 65.5 meter) structure nicely composed using plain and highly decorated areas that play off one another.


The tower as seen looking up Park Street in 1939 where it serves as a focus.

Park Street is just off to the right of this view that I took the last time I was in town. This street is Queens Road that becomes Park Row and heads downhill as it bends left beyond the edge of the photo. The building at the left is the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery that has some interesting paintings in its collection.

The massive corners have little decoration and the rest of the tower is quite Gothic.

Street level view.  A nice touch is the shields placed above the tall windows.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Pierre-Georges Jeanniot: From War to Salons

Pierre-Georges Jeanniot (1848–1934) fought in the Franco-Prussian war, later rising to the rank of Major. When offered promotion to commandant (lieutenant colonel), he resigned to become a full-time artist. From this Wikipedia entry, it isn't clear where he received artistic training, though the French version states it was from his father who for many years was director of l'École des Beaux-Arts of Dijon.

The entry also mentions that Jeanniot became friends with some of the French Impressionists, especially Edgar Degas. And in 1906 he became a chevalier (knight) of the Légion d'Honneur, then officier par décret in 1929. Clearly, he was well-regarded in his day, though not widely known today, at least here in the USA.

Besides painting, Jeanniot was an engraver and illustrator of books.

As can be seen in the images below, he was highly skilled, though his works were not distinctive enough (in my judgement) to be instantly identifiable as done by him.


La Ligne de feu, épisode de la bataille du 16 Août 1870 - Firing Line, an Episode During the Battle of Mars-la-Tour, 16 August, 1870 - c. 1881

Réservistes de 1870 - Reservists During the Franco-Prussian War - 1882

Elèves caporaux sur l'esplanade des Invalides à Paris - Group of Trainees on the Esplanade of the Invalides, Paris - 1883

Une Élégante au Café - Elegant Woman in a Café - 1883 (pastel)

The Pink Camelia - 1897


Une chanson de Gibert dans le salon de madame Madeleine Lemaire - A Song by Gibert in the Salon of Madame Madelaine Lemaire - 1891

Élégante au salon - Elegant Lady at a Salon - 1905

Woman in Café - 1910

Portrait de Henriette assise avec un châle - Henriette Seated with a Shawl - 1926

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Albert Beck Wenzell's Upper-Crust Illustration Subjects

Albert Beck Wenzell (1864-1917) isn't widely known today, even by illustration buffs such as me. That might be because most of his work was done during what some call the Golden Age of Illustration. My bias is that the gold happened mostly between 1915 and 1960. Judgment calls all around.

Still, Wenzell was posthumously inducted into the Society of Illustrators' Hall of Fame as recently as 2005. Here is the Society's web page about him.

Wenzell was very good at his tasks. His style was not the stiff, wooden sort of thing often found during his era. Instead, it edged towards the free and sketchy, though this varied by topic and perhaps the tastes of various magazine art directors he had to deal with.

His subject matter seems to have largely been upper-class society folks. Such were the subjects of the fiction pieces he was hired to illustrate. And those subjects remained popular for decades following his death. Today's "sophisticates" -- especially of the academic variety -- are likely to view that in horror: How dare those propagandist magazine toadies glamorize those blood-sucking parasites!! Because readers of middle and even lower class origins liked to find how the upper class lived, dressed, and practiced manners. America has never been an India with a caste system.  Upward mobility has always been a possibility for most people. Those magazine stories with their Wenzell illustrations served as instruction manuals for achieving greater social polish.

Most Wenzell illustrations found on the Internet lack dates. Research into contents of such old magazine copies that still exist might clear some of this up, but I think few people would be eager to take on such a task. Sometimes fairly close guesses can be made by observing the style of clothing of his female subjects.


A Captive Audience

Breakfast table scene

Viennese Embassy Ball


Woman with Putti (also known as Victorian Virgin with Cherubs)

The Marriage Proposal

Confrontation scene

The Argument

Three is a Crowd

Idle Conversation

The Couple

Where Did I Put the Tickets?

Rose in Garden

Monday, November 12, 2018

Isaac Israëls' Sketchy Style

Isaac Lazarus Israëls (1865-1934) was a Dutch painter and son of Josef Israëls, an important 19th century artist. His Wikipedia entry is here. He received some training by his father and at an academy, but otherwise was self-taught. From 1905 to 1915 he was in Paris and London, but spent most of his career in the Netherlands.

Israëls shed his academic style before he was 30. Thereafter, from what I can tell from images of his works on the internet, his style became quite sketchy, though he did not distort colors or proportions of his subjects. So he was a modernist to only a limited degree.


Transport of Colonial Soldiers - 1883-84
They were probably headed to the Netherlands East Indies.  This was painted a year or two after Israëls left the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague.

Shop Window - 1894

Woman in front of Van Gogh's Sunflowers - 1917-1918


Two Hirsch Models, Ippy and Gertie Wehmann - c. 1916
Hirsch was a department store found in several European cities, including Amsterdam.

Gertie in a Fur Coat - c. 1917
Gertie, again.

Woman Walking on a Beach
Israëls painted many beach scenes.

Girl Sitting on a Beach
This seems to be from around 1930, judging by the hairdo and costume.

Artist in Atelier - 1918