Monday, December 30, 2019

Max Beckmann Portrays His Wives

Max Beckmann ( 1884-1950) is usually associated with the post- Great War Neue Sachlichkeit movement in Germany. His Wikipedia entry is here. I wrote about his many self-portraits here.

Besides portraying himself, Beckmann painted his wives -- especially his second wife -- and a number of these paintings are shown below.

His first wife was Minna Beckmann-Tube (1881-1964), Wikipedia entry here, who was about three years older than him, and a fellow art student. He insisted that she abandon art after their marriage, so she took up opera singing. She was mother of his son, and they remained friends after he dumped her.

Minna's replacement was Mathilde (Quappi) Beckmann (1904-1986), German Wikipedia entry here, 20 years younger than Beckmann. Quappi was a daughter of the important Munich painter Friedrich von Kaulbach.

There might have been more complications, but let's turn to the paintings.


Max Beckmann and Minna Beckmann-Tube - 1909

Minna Beckmann-Tube as Venus in Richard Wagner's Tannhäuser, Dessau 1916
Publicity image of Minna.

Minna Beckmann-Tube - 1924
He painted this around the time their marriage ended.

Beckmann and Quappi
Probably taken during the late 1920s.

Quappi - 1925
Beckmann emphasized her nose in his early portraits, then dialed that down by the 1940s.

Quappi - 1926

Quappi - 1931
For some reason the date for this seems wrong. Her hairdo is more appropriate for towards the end of the decade.

Quappi - 1932-34
I think this is Beckmann's best portrait of her.

Quappi - 1936

Quappi - 1937
In the upper-right corner Beckmann notes this was painted in Amsterdam where they lived from 1937 to 1948.

Quappi - 1943
Image slightly cropped at the bottom.

Quappi - 1944

Quappi - 1948
Painted in St. Louis. Like Beckmann, Quappi was a smoker.

Thursday, December 26, 2019

The Really Good but Rather Odd Charles Sims

Charles Henry Sims (1873-1928) killed himself.

His Wikipedia entry states: "In 1928, experiencing hallucinations, paranoia and insomnia, brought about by the horrific scenes he had witnessed as an official war artist and by his son's death [as a soldier in the Great War], Sims committed suicide by drowning himself in the River Tweed near his home in St. Boswells, Scotland."

Up until a few years before, his work was cleanly done with imagination along with the occasional odd twist, as can be seen below in the Gallery.

As for Sims' training, says Wikipedia: "he moved to art in 1890 and enrolled at the South Kensington College of Art, before moving to Paris for two years at the Académie Julian. In the need of bursaries to support himself, he moved back to London and enrolled at the Royal Academy School in 1893. In 1895 he was expelled." Why he was expelled is not stated, but most likely he rebelled against its curriculum, an instructor, or all of that.

The images below trace his career in approximate chronological order.


What are these to me and you who deeply drink of wine - 1895
Painted about the time he was expelled from the Royal Academy school (in 1915 he became a member of the Academy).

The Two Crowns - 1896
Again, from near his student days. An odd scene, but conventionally painted.

Untitled - 1898
An even stranger scene about which I know nothing at present.

The Little Faun - 1905-06
The faun is on the table. If you click to enlarge the image you will better see how sketchily it was painted. Note how bright this is compared to the previous paintings.

The Fountain - 1907-08
Another brightly done scene -- another fantasy.

And another.

Sybil, Countess of Rocksavage (1894–1989) (later Marchioness of Cholmondeley) - c. 1922
This is a study. The hand at the upper left would appear at the lower right in a finished version.

Lady Rocksavage - c. 1923
Another study of the same subject.

King George V - c. 1924

Introduction of Lady Astor as the First Woman Member of Parliament in 1919 - (Lord Balfour at left, David Lloyd George at right)
The subjects are proportioned in the manner of fashion illustrations.

King John Assents to the Magna Carta, 1215 - 1925-27
Intended to hang in Parliament, but found too controversial.

My Pain Beneath Thy Sheltering Hand - 1927
Towards the end of his career as his mind wandered in new directions.

I Am the Abyss and I Am Light - 1928
Painted the year he died.

Monday, December 23, 2019

Eduardo Viana, Early Portuguese Modernist

Eduardo Afonso Viana (1881-1967) seems to have spent most of his career in Lisbon, his home town, though like so many others he did study in Paris. His Wikipedia entry is here, but from there you can link to a much longer entry in Portuguese.

I didn't find definite examples of his early paintings, so the images below include Orphist works in a Synthetic Cubist manner. Later on, he seems to have drifted towards a more conventional approach. But I might be wrong: some cityscapes below might have been pre-Cubist, because I have no dates for them.

What I can definitely state about Viana is that his color work is strikingly bold, yet often pleasing.


Interior - 1914
A blend of representational art (the still life part) with some modernist distortion (the simplified figures).

Duas irmãs - 1914

Retrato de Mily Possoz
A hint of Cubism in the background: I don't have a date for this, but probably around 1914.

A revolta das bonecas (La revuelta de las muñecas) - 1916

K4 Quadrado Azul - 1916
By 1916 he was into his Orphist-Cubist phase.

Maria Pia Bridge, view of the city of Oporto

Ponte Luis
These are difficult to date -- could be either slightly before or after his bout with hard-core Modernism.

Seated woman
Probably not pre- Great War.

Again, probably painted sometime after the war.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

What the Previous Rialto Bridge Looked Like

One of Venice's most famous tourist sites is the Rialto Bridge across the Grand Canal. It is shown above in a fine 1932 story illustration by the great Mead Schaeffer.

And this is how it appeared on a drizzly 29 October 2019.

As the link mentions, it is not the only bridge at that location. A pontoon bridge was first, built in 1181. It was replaced in 1255 by a wooden bridge that was later damaged by fire in 1310 and collapsed in 1444. A rebuilt version again collapsed in 1524. The present stone arch bridge was completed in 1591, nearly 430 years ago.

Any Venice visitors curious about the Rialto's predecessor can view a painting featuring it in the Accademia art museum directly across the Grand Canal's Accademia Bridge from the San Marco side. That painting is Miracolo della reliquia della Croce al ponte di Rialto (1494) by
Vittore Carpaccio, Wikipedia entry here.

Here is a detail view featuring the bridge via my iPhone. Click on the image to enlarge.

Monday, December 16, 2019

François Barraud, From Housepainter to Painter

François Barraud (1899-1934) was born and died in Switzerland, but spent much of his adult life in France where he worked as a housepainter and did other odd jobs while studying art. A brief Wikipedia entry about him is here.

Barraud's career was short, peaking 1928-1933, before he died of tuberculosis. Many of his paintings shown on the Internet depict him and his wife. These seemingly personal projects make me wonder how or whether he was able to make a living as a professional artist.

His style was strongly representational, rather hard-edged, yet with a touch of the Modernist-favored simplification and distortion prevalent at the time.


L'atelier - 1928
Self-portrait of the artist along with his wife who might have been posing for him (note the hole at her elbow).

Le Philateliste (Autoportrait avec Marie) - 1928
Again with his wife.

The Malcontent - 1930
The two of them yet again.

Printemps - 1928-29

Paysage - 1929
The landscape paintings.

Mappemonde et carafe verte - 1933
And a still life.

Autoportrait - 1930

Autoportrait - 1931
Two solo self-portraits.

Woman Cleaning Floor - 1933
This might  be Marie again.

L'Intrigante - 1931
Marie the intriguer sealing an envelope.

Yvonne in a Velvet Dress - 1930
Not Marie.