Monday, July 19, 2021

Molti Ritratti: Juliette Récamier

Jeanne Françoise Julie "Juliette" Adélaïde Récamier (1777-1849) according to this Wikipedia entry "was a French socialite, whose salon drew Parisians from the leading literary and political circles of the early 19th century.  As an icon of neoclassicism, Récamier cultivated a public persona of herself as a great beauty and her fame quickly spread across Europe.  She befriended many intellectuals, sat for the finest artists of the age, and spurned an offer of marriage from Prince Augustus of Prussia"

The entry also mentions that her background and personal life were not as tranquil or conventional as her reportedly quiet, charming personality might have suggested.

Although she lived into the age of photography, I noted no photos of her in Google and Bing image searches.  In any case, any such photos would have been taken after her beauty had faded due to age.

Contemporary images of her in essentially chronological order are below.


By Eulalie Morin - c.1789
Mme Récamier's face seems to have been characterized by hooded eyelids and a slightly long nose.

By Jacques-Louis David - 1800
This is the most famous portrait of her.

By Joseph Chinard - c.1802 - Via Getty
Going back to Classical times, I tend to regard sculpted portraits as being more accurate than drawings or paintings.  Here we find those hooded eyelids.  But her nose seems a bit shorter than in most painted portraits.  Even sculptors can choose to flatter their subjects.

By François Gérard - 1805
The other famous portrait of her.  Her hair seems darker than in the two paintings above.

By Frimm Massot - 1807
She would have been nearly 30 when this was painted, but seems younger.

By Antoine-Jean Gros - 1825
Mme Récamier when nearing 50.

Portrait de Madame Récamier assise, vue de dos, dessin au crayon noir, lavis gris et rehauts d'aquarelle, par François Gérard - 1829
She would have been about 51, according to the date.  But Gérard has her looking younger: note the chin and neck.  He nose is more turned down than portrayed in the sculpture, but consistent with the Gros painting.  It's possible that this drawing was made before 1829 or that Gérard made the drawing from his memories of her.

Monday, July 12, 2021

Philip de László's Casual Portraits

Philip Alexius de László (1869-1937) was a leading portrait painter in England during the first third of the 20th century.  His Wikipedia entry is here.  I wrote about him here in 2010 and, more recenty, here.

Quite a few of his portraits are not "finished" in that they seem incomplete or sketchy.  Some indeed might have been literally unfinished.  But others might have intentionally appeared like that because they are signed.  Which is why I titled this post László's Casual Portraits.

Some of such works are presented below.


Arthur James Balfour, 1st Earl of Balfour
Former British Prime Minister.

Countess Beatty, née Ethel Field - wife of Admiral David Beatty - 1911
She was very rich and he became famous for his battlecruiser service during the Great War.

Ivy Gordon-Lennox, later Duchess of Portland - 1915
This might be unfinished because I don't notice his signature.

Duchess of York - sketch
Later she became the Queen Mum.

Edwina Mountbatten - 1924

Elinor Glyn - 1927

Gwen Ffrangcon-Davies - 1933
An actress who posed for this painting-demonstration portrait.

Marie of Romania

Prince Louis of Battenberg - c.1913
First Sea Lord before the Great War.

Princess Marina of Greece - 1934

Princess Ruspoli, Duchess de Gramont - 1922

Viscountess Chaplin, née Hon. Gwladys Wilson - 1915

Thursday, July 8, 2021

N.C. Wyeth at the Farnsworth

Newell Convers (N.C.) Wyeth (1882-1945), Wikipedia entry here, was one of the leading American illustrators during the first decades of the Twentieth Century.  As Wikipedia mentions, his non-illustration paintings were often explorations into various fashionable Fine Art styles.  From the David Michaelis' biography I gleaned that N.C. felt illustration was lesser than Fine Art and hoped to establish a good reputation in that field as well.

I wrote about that here, featuring one of his Fine Art attempts I'd seen at the Branywine River Museum in Pennsylvania a few years ago.

It happens that more such works can be seen at the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland, Maine (museum site here, Wikipedia entry here).  The Wyeth family spent many summers in Maine and Betsy James Wyeth (1921-2020), Andrew Wyeth's widow, donated a number of works by N.C., Andrew and Jamie to the Farnsworth.

Below are iPhone photos I took when visiting the Farnsworth around the 10th of June of this year.  Images of entire works are uncropped and include the nearby information plaques to provide a sense of the paintings' sizes.

Raw images are larger than usual here, so feel free to click on them for significant enlargement.


"Westward Ho" endpapers illustration - 1920
This was the only example of N.C.'s illustration work on display.  Its composition is influenced by the endpaper vertical fold line running down the center.

"Westward Ho" detail
Wyeth's illustrations were usually quite "solid" in their treatment of people and key objects.  His Fine Art works varied from this to one degree or another.

The Harbor at Herring Gut - 1925
Here Wyeth seems to be trying out "naïve" (untrained) art: note the unrealistic sizes of some of the subjects.

Lobsterman - 1927
This is the most abstract of the paintings I saw.  Very large, rather interesting.  But he seems not to have pursued this approach further.

Cleaning Fish - 1933
Solid details, but twisted perspective and other wisps of Expressionism.

Untitled - Port Clyde Harbor scene - 1933
Unfinished painting left at the charcoal-on-canvas stage.

Untitled, detail
This probably reflects N.C.'s illustration procedure.

Fisherman's Family - c. 1933-34
Again, a little Expressionism, but coupled with 1930s modernist simplification.

Fisherman's Family study
Apparently Wyeth was dissatisfied with the composition.  One eliminated detail is the boy at the left.

The Morris House, Poert Clyde - c. 1937
The latest of the paintings I saw.  It vaguely reminds me of Edward Hopper paintings of buildings.  Could N.C. have been influenced by Hopper here?

Monday, June 28, 2021

Frank Schoonover Canoe Scenes

Frank Earle Schoonover (1877-1972) was a prominent early 20th century American illustrator.  He was one of the Brandywine School group trained by Howard Pyle.  In many respects his work was similar to that of the better-known Brandywine artist N.C. Wyeth, but Schoonover was not quite Wyeth's equal.

I wote about Schoonover here and here.  His Wikipedia entry is here.

Schoonover is best known for his outdoors scenes. The present post presents some of his illustrations that incorporate canoes -- light, rather fragile, somewhat unstable boats developed by American Indians, among others.


Wa-Gush - 1906

Jean Lafitte - 1912
The French pirate/privateer who worked the Caribbean in the early 1800s.  Not a quite a canoe, but nevertheless a fine illustration.

The Water Lilly - 1916

A Northern Mist - 1916

The Last of the Mohicans - 1922
Similar to the previous image.  Illustrators often take advantage of production shortcuts.

Ojibway Indian Spearing the Pike - 1923

As the Canoe Swept By - 1950
Schoonover's style remained essentially in place over much of his career, as this late work indicates.

Monday, June 21, 2021

Glen Orbik's Drawings of Heads

Glen Orbik (1963-2015) is perhaps best known for his "noir" style book cover art.  Besides having a good sense of staging, he handled lighting very well.  Perhaps the most important factor in his success was his skill at depicting people.

Along that line, I posted here about figure drawings he made.  In today's post are some Orbik drawings featuring heads.




Now for examples of finished art heads: first, "The Flash" comic book hero.

Detail of "Joyland" book cover.

Monday, June 14, 2021

Ilya Repin Panoramas

Ilya Yefimovich Repin (1844-1930) was one of the greatest Russian painters of the late 19th century.  His Wikipedia entry is here.

Perhaps his strongest field was portrait painting, though he also created historical, mythological and genre scenes.  In this post I dealt with a set of sketch portraits he made while working on a huge painting of the "Ceremonial Session of the State Council, May 7, 1901."  That painting was a panorama, a format he occasionally used.  The present post presents several other such works.


Barge Haulers on the Volga - 1870-73
Painted while in his late 20s, this is a well-known work.

Parisian Café - 1875
Quite different due to its hard-edge detail.  Essentially a set of character studies.  Although he spent some time in France and Italy, the Wikipedia link does not mention that he studied there.  In any case, he was around 30 years old and his career was already well-launched.

Krestny Khod (Religious Procession) in Kursk Gubernia - 1881-82
Another well-known painting.  Click on the image to enlarge.

Reply of the Zaporozhian Cossacks to Sultan Mehmed IV of the Ottoman Empire - 1880-91
Another opportunity for character  studies.

Ceremonial Session of the State Council, May 7, 1901 - 1903
This was the subject of my post linked above.

The Last Supper - 1903
More a sketch than a finished work.

Demonstration on October 17, 1905 - 1907-11
Discontent with the regime following Russia's defeat by Japan and other problems.  Repin's style is softer here, though that might have been due to the foggy/smoky atmosphere being depicted.