Thursday, April 30, 2020

Harold Sandys Williamson: Hard to Classify

Harold Sandys Williamson (1892-1978) was both a Fine Art painter and a commercial illustrator, but mostly the latter. As best I can tell from the limited number of images on the Web, he had no set, distinctive style. His Wikipedia entry is here.

For many years he was head of the Chelsea School of Art.


Underground poster - 1924
Also something to do with Valentine's Day?

Holdenhurst - 1931

Imperial Airways, Croydon poster - 1934
Perhaps only a segment of a poster.  Croydon, south of London, was the city's main airport for passenger travel to Paris.  The airliner looks curiously toy-like.

Picnic - 1938
Different indeed, this highly-rendered scene.

Spray - 1939
Now for a puzzle.  This strikingly done work is shown in an image submitted by a gallery for the catalog of the 2017 exhibit "True to Life: British Paintings in the 1920s & 1930s" at the National Galleries of Scotland in Edinburgh.

Spray - 1939
Yet elsewhere on the Internet one can find this (slightly cropped) version featuring more natural colors.  I suspect that this is what the painting actually looks like, though the other version is also nice to look at.  Yet I still can wonder if the more naturally colored one might be a Photoshopped alteration of the sepia tinted first image.

Monday, April 27, 2020

Byam Shaw, Whose Career Was Ended by the Spanish Flu

John Byam Liston Shaw (1872-1919), known as Byam Shaw, was one of those competent British artists who I often write about here. According to his Wikipedia entry, his career began to fade by the early 1900s, so he turned to teaching at what became the Byam Shaw School of Art in London.

Besides painting, Shaw also did illustration. He died early in 1919 due to the Spanish Flu epidemic.


Silent Noon - 1894
His early works were Pre-Raphaelite influenced.

Jezebel - 1896

Love's Baubles - 1897
Here his painting becomes slightly more mural-like or even poster-like due to the inclusion of some small areas of flat color.

Truly the Light is Sweet - 1901
Shadow areas seem influenced by French Impressionism.

The Boer War, Last Summer Things Were Greener - 1901
Her man was away in South Africa.

The Fool Who Would Please Every Man - 1903

Margaret Nettlefold before Her Dining Room at Winterbourne - 1904
Like many artists in his day, Shaw painted some portraits to earn money.

The Entrance of Mary I with Princess Elizabeth into London, 1553 - 1910

Britannia with lionesses
I don't have a date for this, but it's probably early Great War vintage showing the Empire coming to Britain's help.

The Call - 1917
An appeal to Canadian patriotism during the war.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Old Road Map Covers

For reasons I'm not sure of, I've always been very interested in the 1920s and 1930s. That definitely applies to commercial art, and I've featured a number of illustrators active in those times.

Now for a slight change of pace. Still 1930s (for the most part) illustration, but not art for advertisements or for stories in major American magazines such as the Saturday Evening Post. Instead, a seemingly trivial advertising medium -- road maps given away by gasoline companies at their service stations.

The heyday of those road maps was roughly from the late 1920s through the 1960s. In recent decades those needing road maps in the USA have to get them from the American Automobile Association or buy them in stores and service stations. In the day, company-sponsored giveaway maps were a form of advertising because the company name and logotype were prominently displayed in several places, especially on the cover area.

Below are some road map covers I scanned from items in my collection. I am not a collector who buys such items. Rather, the oldest maps were laying here and there in the house where I grew up. By the time I was in elementary school I began grabbing them when my dad filled up the car's gas tank. Later on, I did that when I became a driver.

Most of the examples shown below feature an illustration, and in every case but one, no artist's signature can be found. Click on most iamges to enlarge considerably.


Pacific Coast road map from Union Oil Company - 1930
No artist-drawn illustration here, but a photo of what appears to be the Oregon Coast.  I include this because it's my oldest road map.

Washington State road map from Shell Oil Company - 1933
Shell probably used the same artwork for all its state maps, changing the state name as needed.

Seattle street map from Standard Oil of California - c.1934
The same type of usage applied to this illustration of an imaginary city -- I have a Portland, Oregon map with the same cover art.

Washington-Oregan road map for Union Oil Company - c.1936

Western states road map from Richfield Oil Company - 1938
Another happy couple in the open air.

California-Nevada-Arizona road map from Signal Oil Company - 1939
Publicizing the 1939 San Francisco fair.

Oregon road map from Chevron (Standard Oil of California) - 1946
Early postwar example.

Monday, April 20, 2020

John Bulloch Souter, Scottish Painter

I find John Bulloch Souter (1890-1972) hard to pin down artistically, though it can be fairly said that his style was representational and that he was good at likenesses. Some biographical information is here.

Below are examples of his work.


Mrs Ogilvie - 1914
I like this portrait very much: a striking image.

The Birth of Venus
This seems out-of-character. Perhaps it was made early in his career, though one Internet source speculates it might have been painted in 1923. Regardless, it was auctioned by Christie's as one of his works.

Portrait of an Unknown Officer - c.1925

The Yellow Dress
Various titles are assigned to this painting.

Fay Compton (1894–1978) (possibly as Crawford in 'This Woman Business' by Benn W. Levy) - 1927
To me, this is not up to Souter's likeness standards.

A Chelsea Conversation
Different, casually done.

Mrs C. H. Souter (the artist's sister-in-law)
Fashionably Japanese.

Portrait of the Countess of Cranbrook
Again no date, so I'll guess it's from the mid-1930s or the 1950s to judge by her hairdo.

Admiral of the Fleet Sir John H. D. Cunningham (1885–1962), GCB, MVO, First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff (1946–1948) - c.1947
Interesting that this personage is shown holding a cigarette.

Artist's Wife with Lace Collar
I really like this sketch because the facial expression is so life-like. Reminds me of a lady friend of days gone by.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Stanley Cursiter, Painter, Keeper of the National Galleries of Scotland

Stanley Cursiter (1887-1976) was at his best when depicting people, though he dabbled in Modernism early in his career and abstraction towards the end. As this Wikipedia entry mentions, he was born in the Orkney Isles to a well-off family, was an officer during the Great War, and served as Keeper of the National Galleries of Scotland.

I plan to write in more detail about his paintings of women. For now, I offer a sketch of the styles he used. Many of the images are copyrighted by the artist's estate and are shown here to acquaint readers with his work so that they might appreciate his skill.


Tea Room - 1913
We begin with several paintings made in 1913.  This was a time when he did a good deal of stylistic experimentation.  Here he simplifies his subjects while painting with heavy brush strokes.

Rain on Princes Street - 1913
Princes Street is Edinburgh's main shopping street.  This somewhat Cubist work shows umbrellas, faces, the facades of stores on the right and stylized versions of monuments that can be seen nearby.

Regatta - 1913
Not Cubist here, but an exercise in patterns with recognizable people and flag of England.

The Sensation of Crossing the Street – West End, Edinburgh - 1913
Finally, fragmented patterns with an image of a woman's face with stylized coloring.

Twilight - 1914
Yet a year later Cursiter painted this representational scene.

Girl with a Jug - 1921
Representational works continued following the Great War.  Here is a combination of portraiture and still lifes.  This is the style that he did best, in my opinion.

Musicians - 1923
I'm not sure about the date because other paintings from that time resemble the previously shown style.

Margaret Baikie of Tankerness - 1946
A later portrait.

Abstract - c. 1962
Finally, one of the abstractions he painted in the early 1960s.  This sort of image might easily have been made 50 years earlier.

Monday, April 13, 2020

Anatol Kovarsky's Cartoons About Art

Anatol Kovarsky (1919-2016) was born in post-revolutionary Russia, lived in Poland and France until 1941, then was able to escape to the USA. He became a cartoonist for The New Yorker magazine, later concentrating on painting. Some biographical information can be found here, though you will have to scroll down to find it.

Given The New Yorker's method of supplying cartoon ideas to its cartoonists, it can be difficult to be sure which ideas came from the artist and which from others. That said, Kovarsky cartoons had a unique "feel" to them, so I suspect many or even most ideas were his own.

Art was a major subject for him. Below are examples.


Now for two cartoons that might be considered politically questionable nowadays ... enjoy!