Monday, July 31, 2023

Léon Bonnat

Léon Joseph Florentin Bonnat (1833-1921) "was a French painter, Grand Officer of the Légion d'honneur, art collector and professor at the École des Beaux Arts" according to his Wikipedia entry.

Born in Bayonne, France, near the Spanish border, he lived in Madrid aged 13 to 20 where he learned a good deal about Spanish artists and their works.  Perhaps this early familiarity might have led to his use of black and other dark colors in many of his own paintings.

The entry also notes that Bonnat earned a good living painting portraits.  However, in today's post I focus mostly on some of his other subjects.


Fille romaine à la fontaine - 1875
A well-known painting because it's in the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Vues de Rome
He studied in Rome 1858-1860 before moving on to Paris.

Jeune femme faisant la charite a l'entree de la chapelle de l'hopital San Sebastian a Cordoue
He painted many religious subjects.

Un salon de coiffure oriental - 1872
He traveled in northern Africa, so dabbled in Orientalism.  Here, a barber shop scene.

Self-Portrait - 1885

Portrait of a Young Girl - 1889

Standing woman

The Crucifixion (Christ on the Cross)
Convincing stress on agony.

Monday, July 24, 2023

Jean Pagès, fashion Illustrator

Jean Pagès (1903-1976), according to this web site, received architectural training before becoming a fashion illustrator.  Most of his work was for Condé Nast publications.

Like other fashion illustrators, his style was based on what was favored at the time.   In the 1920s, fairly flat, simplified images were preferred.  But as the 1930s rolled along, free-style wash drawings became preferred.

Below are examples of his work from the late 1920s to the mid-1930s showing his stylistic shift.


Vogue illustration - c.1927
Geometric feeling ... perhaps a reflection of his architectural training

Vogue (Germany) cover - 19 December 1928
German Vogue cover illustrations tended to be simpler than those for France, Britain and the USA.

Vogue illustration - April 1929
Tenniswear fashions.

Illustration - 1931
Again, architectural referring training allowed him to convincingly depict shadows and interior structures.

Vogue cover - 1 June 1931
Matelot style costume.

Vogue illustration - 15 April 1933
Pagès' style is becoming more loose.

Vogue (USA) cover - 15 December 1933
Horrors!!  She's smoking!

Vogue (USA) cover - 1 October 1934
No drama in this pose.

Illustration - 1935
His work shows less free brushwork than the fashion illustration norm of the time.

Illustration - 1936
This is more in the new style.  Similar looking fashion illustration was common in the 1950s.

Monday, July 17, 2023

Harry Everett Townsend, War Artist

Harry Everett Townsend (1879–1941) was a painter and illustrator best known today for his work as a war artist in the Great War.  His Wikipedia entry is here, and David Apatoff discusses him here.

I found very few examples of his commercial illustration work on the Internet.  If there were post- World War 1 examples, I missed them.

Townsend had a good eye for details of people in movement as well as of objects such as aircraft and tanks.  This meant he had a sense of structure, how things were formed.  There are artists of the modern variety who have trouble depicting machines convincingly.

I think he was one of the best of the group of artists commissioned to record the war.  The war images below are from 1918 when the U.S. Expeditionary Force was in action.


Photo of Townsend, his cello, and wife
This seems to be from 1910 or so.

The Love Letter
He added a cello in the background for some reason.

Woman Playing a Mandolin - c.1911
Nice composition, coloration, and brushwork.

Lincoln and Harriet Beecher Stowe - 1911
Illustration.  She wrote "Uncle Tom's Cabin" a book that was an important pre- Civil War abolitionist work.

A Quiet Sector in Lorraine, Opposite Domevre
"Tin-hat" British type helmets are not easy for some artists to draw convincingly, but Townsend could do so better, but not always perfectly.

Back from the Fight
Compare this treatment to that of "Woman Playing a Mandolin" above.  The tank is a French-built Renault FT light tank.

On Gas Alert
Both sides used poisonous gas during the Great War.

Soldiers of the Telephone
From around September 1914 until March 1918, front lines were fairly stable.  Much communication was handled by field telephone, with wires strung from the front trench back to headquarters.  An uncle of mine enlisted in the U.S. Army Signal Corps, but the war ended before he left Camp Lewis in Washington state.

Refugees from Château-Thierry Sector
One of Germany's final desperation offensives was aimed at the Château-Thierry area.  Here Townsend shows civilians heading south and an American artillery battery going north.  This was a French army sector, but some American units were called in to assist the defense.

Townsend's first step in creating his war illustrations.

Two Six-Ton Tanks Climbing a Hill
Renault FT light tanks in a training exercise.  George S. Patton commanded a tank brigade before he was wounded.

Monday, July 10, 2023

Queen Elizabeth II: Multi Ritratti by Edward Halliday

Edward Irvine Halliday (1902-1984), biographical information here, is not well-known today, but had a long career as a painter of portraits and murals.

Among his portrait subjects was Queen Elizabeth II.

It seems that many British organizations desired having a portrait of her.  Not just a photograph, but a real painting made with oil paints.  The Queen had many duties, and surely could not find time to pose for every requested portrait.  So Halliday, for example, painted several portraits of her posed the same, but attired differently and with different backgrounds.  I suppose other artists did the same thing, though I wasn't aware of this until I was collecting a set of images of Halliday's works.

Locations noted following Elizabeth's name are organizations that commissioned the paintings or where they are to be found.

Princess Elizabeth - drawing, National Portrait Gallery -  c. 1949
Nice job: note the light, shadows and reflected light.

Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh, Britannia Royal Naval College - 1949
Phillip was only a Royal Navy lieutenant in those days.  Later he became an Admiral of the Fleet.

Elizabeth II, Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool - c. 1955
Her head seems a trifle large compared to her arms and hands.

Elizabeth II, Guildford Guildhall - 1957
Here is an early version of the pose that Halliday kept using.  Possibly this was made during an actual sitting.

Elizabeth II, Guildhall Winchester - 1957
Same costume as in the previous image.  Same pose, of course.

Her Majesty the Queen, Southampton Mayor's Parlour - 1966
Same pose, but the rest differs.  Note that this was painted nine years later.

Elizabeth II with Latimer House in the Background, Defence Academy of the United Kingdom - 1966
Many 1957 portrait details are carried over to this 1966 work.

Monday, July 3, 2023

Maxwell Armfield, Tempera Painter

Maxwell Ashby Armfield (1881-1972) didn't always paint using tempera, but according to his Wikipedia entry, "In 1946 Armfield released the book 'Tempera Painting Today', published by Pentagon Press."  So he knew something about the subject.

The link also notes that Armfield attended the Birmingham School of Art, then a center of the Arts and Crafts Movement.  Which helps to explain his style and perhaps his favored medium.

Below are some examples of his work, the first several dated to provide temporal context, the remainder undated, but their dates might be inferred from the appearance of the dated ones.

I don't find Armfield's paintings very attractive or interesting, but others did, because some are found in important collections.


Self-Portrait - 1901
He was around age 20 when he made this Arts-and-Crafts style painting.

Faustine - 1904
One of his better-known works.  Held by the Musée d'Orsay.

The Tower (Trees, Lucca) - 1905

Central Park New York - 1916
Armfield and his wife were in the USA 1915-1922.

Miss Chaseley on the Undercliff - 1927
The two flapper-style women at the left-center are among the most representational details in this stiff, mannered painting.

Jessie Lemont
I suppose the book cover might be of interest to certain cognoscenti.

Miss Molly Lumley in "Spades are Spades"

Music in New York - Homage to Johann Sebastian Bach
This hints of the Pre-Raphaelites, as do some images above.

Oxford Circus
From around 1910, showing the either the Central Line or Bakerloo Line Underground station.

San Gimignano,Italy
A poetic interpretation of the famous towered town.

The Coming of Spring