Monday, June 24, 2024

Multi Ritratti: Mary Robinson "Perdita"

My "Multi Ritratti" posts that present multiple portraits of the same subject -- usually by more than one artist -- are of people who are well-known.  Well, nearly all were well-known subjects at the time they posed, though some are almost totally obscure nowadays.

That is the case of this post's subject, Mrs. Mary Robinson (1757c. - 1800).  Her life was short and tempestuous.  Her fame was due to being an actress and, for a short while, mistress of England's Prince of Wales (later King George IV).  More detail can be found here on the Wallace Collection website.

That link points out that her portraits date from a limited period in the 1780s when her affair and acting career were flourishing.  Her portraits shown below are by important artists -- Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792) background here, George Romney (1734-1802) here, Thomas Gainsborough (1727-1788) here, and the less-well-known-now John Hoppner (1758-1810) here, who was a fashionable portrait artist at the time.


Attributed to John Hoppner
Hoppner admired the work of Sir Joshua Reynolds, the link above mentioning that his colors tended to be brighter than Reynolds'.  The portrait shown here shows a glamorous lady,  dressed for her part as Perdita in Shakespeare's "The Winter's Tale."  What's remarkable is that the pose and most details are the same as found in the portrait below by Reynolds.  Did Hoppner (or some unknown painter) largely copy Reynold's painting?  What did Reynolds think of this?  I do not know.

By Joshua Reynolds
According to the Wallace link, this is credited as being the best likeness of  Robinson.  Not as attractive as shown in the previous work.

By George Romney
A less dramatic face here.  Similar pose to those shown above, but here she's dressed differently.

By Thomas Gainsborough
Said to be a poor likeness.  Also the head-neck-shoulders relationship strikes me as odd.

By Joshua Reynolds
Another Reynolds.  A bit sketchy.  But probably a decent likeness.

Monday, May 27, 2024

MSC Cruise Ship's Streamlined Front End

I was at Malta's Grand Harbour recently (May, 2024) and noticed a large cruise ship with an unusually-streamlined "G-shape" front end.

That ship was MSC line's World Europa that entered service in December, 2022.  It's large, length = 333.3 m (1,093 ft 6 in), beam = 47 m (154 ft 2 in), passenger capacity of 6,762 passengers and 2,138 crew -- 8,900 people altogether.

By contrast, the ship we were on was older and not quite so large, yet twice as large as we prefer.  (Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Epic that began service in 2010.  Length = 329.45 m (1,081 ft), beam = 40.64 m (133 ft), capacity 4,100 passengers and 1,724 crew.)

Both ships are of the current (since around 1990) state of cruise ship evolution featuring many decks heaving verandas.  Rather than being sleek, such ships tend to have brick-like profiles, aside from a touch of frontal streamlining and topside detailing.

Without getting very technical, in the field of fluid dynamics, there are two main categories of fluids -- compressible (such as air) and non-compressible (such as water).  Below-the-waterline hull shapes have to deal with non-compressible water, and moving through water takes up most of a ship's propulsive energy.  However, some energy needs to be spent on pushing air aside.  In both cases, appropriate design can yield more efficient use of power -- better fuel economy, if you will.

An aerodynamic problem for cruise ship designers is the large amount of frontal area created by all those veranda decks.  Modern cruise ships are far less sleek than, say, pre-1990 cruise ships that tended to lack veranda decks.  Since marketing factors demand large, aerodynamically inefficient frontal areas, all naval architects can do is try to streamline front ends as best they are allowed by engineering and even some marketing (passenger-enjoyment-related) considerations.

I find it interesting to compare the World Europa's frontal design to that of the Norwegian Epic and to pioneer industrial designer Norman Bel Geddes' early 1930s design for a streamlined ocean liner.

Photos below are all mine.  Those of actual ships were taken at the Grand Harbour 15 May 2024.  Those of Geddes' ship model were taken at London's Victoria & Albert Museum 22 May 2018.


World Europa has just cast off.  Those horizontal window bands on the white zone create an attractive, 1930s-like "speed-lines" streamlining effect.

This shows the pleasing frontal shaping to good effect.  The aerodynamic smoothness begins to break down at the bridge that necessarily requires side extensions used for observation while docking.  Its forward projection breaks the airflow pattern, partly negating the otherwise smooth profile curve.  Above the bridge are what appear to be a few luxury suites -- note the baffles separating them.  The top decks contain passenger amenities and aerodynamic efficiency breaks down here despite those swoopy curves.

Geddes' design is essentially an extended teardrop.  Smokestacks are housed in streamlined shells.  The bridge, however, necessarily interrupts the general flow.  The lower hull design looks streamlined, but is inefficient by today's standards that require a bulbous element on the sub-waterline prow that serves to punch aside that non-compressible water.

Its length would have been about 1,088 feet (332 m), almost exactly that same as World Europa.  Capacity would have been 2,000 passengers and 900 crew -- about one-third that of the MSC's ship due to having half the number of decks and a lot less frontal area.  A very pleasing design, though likely impractical in some technical respects.

Prow area of the Norwegian Epic.  The bow is conventional and would disrupt air flow to some degree due to its break for the deck.  I'm not sure if it is high enough to prevent green water splash in a serious storm -- though cruise ships are usually scheduled to avoid seriously bad weather.  The superstructure is slightly curved in plan-view and sloped on the first four decks above the prow, so there is some aerodynamic benefit there.  But from the bridge upward, streamlining is minimal.

World Europa seen from more of a profile perspective.  Impressive.

Monday, April 8, 2024

Some Very Early Jon Whitcomb Illustrations

Jon Whitcomb (1906–1988) was an illustrator best remembered for depictions of glamorous women.  I wrote about him here and here.  Some biogrphiacal information is here.

When writing those earlier posts, my Internet searches turned up nothing of his work prior to the Cadillac advertisements dealt with in the second link above.  I just did another quick search and noticed nothing done earlier that the very late 1930s.  What were his earlier efforts like?

Although I lack examples of Whitcomb illustrations from the first decade or so of his professional career, a reader of this blog, Frank Pauer, kindly provided me with some 1920s illustrations from the Ohio State University humor magazine.


A typical Whitcomb illustration
Later in his career, he experimented with some of the styles trendy in the 1960s.

Himself, earning a few shekels promoting a cigarette brand
Fatima stressed its Turkish tobacco content.

Himself pictured in the Senior class segment of the 1928 Ohio State University yearbook
Delta Tau Delta (the "Delts") was his college fraternity.  Sun Dial was the college humor magazine. Delaware is a small city in Ohio.

March 1928 Sun Dial cover by Whitcomb

Cartoon from the same issue
Note Whitcomb's signature here is similar to the 1920s style of Ralph Barton and Russell Patterson. Compare to his signature in the top image above.  The cartoon style also is very 1920s.

Cartoon from the December 1927 issue
Sigma Nu is a college fraternity. "D.U." refers to another fraternity, Delta Upsilon.  This cartoon shows a touch of glamour that will be the basis for his later career.

Monday, February 19, 2024

More on Vadim Voitekhovitch's Steampunk World

Vadim Voitekhovitch (1963 - ), born in what is now Belarus, moved to Germany in 2004.  He mostly paints Steampunk scenes of apparently fictional Hanseatic area port cities.  Some Steampunk views are of actual inland German cities, but still set in the late 1800s or very early 1900s.  And he sometimes paints such places without Steampunk details.

I previously wrote about him here.

Today, I comment regarding which details of his pure Steampunk paintings are Steampunk, and which are true to the 19th century world used as his setting.  Also noted are a few of his Steampunk shape sources.


Fleet at Sea
The steam-powered airships are pure Steampunk: engineering impossibilities.  The ships, however, are similar to 1890s French armored cruisers.

French Armored Cruiser Bruix
Voitekhovitch borrowed the prow and military masts of this vintage cruiser.

French Battleship Charles Martel
The "tumblehome" side profile is more from this vintage battleship that also has some impressive military (weaponized) masts.

Die Kreuzung der Wege - Intersection
Note the elevated railroad.  The locomotive is derived from mid-1800s Crampton types having huge driving wheels.  The omnibuses on the street are horse-drawn, not Steampunk like the airship.

Great Western Railroad's Iron Duke / Rover Class locomotive
Example of a Crampton type locomotive.

Leipzig Marktplatz
The main Leipzig marketplace as it appeared around 1900, but with the addition of an airship that's apparently not steam-powered.

Der Anlegeturm - The Mooring Tower
The cars appear to be 1915 vintage, but perhaps powered by liquid gas (note the copper tanks at the rear of the car at the right).

Eisener Falke - Iron Falcon
A steam-powered vehicle in the foreground plus the usual airships.

Die Weltlichen Neuheiten - Worldly Novelties
Probably not the best translation.  The tram and cart seem steam-powered, but there's also a horse-drawn carriage at the left.  As is usual in Voitekhovitch's paintings, all this including the airships is normal environment for the people depicted. 

Street scene with steam-powered bus
Everything else seems pure-1890.

Monday, January 1, 2024

Sculpture-Augmented Frescoes at Würzburg Residenz

Last summer (2023) I toured Würzburg's Residenz, the palace of the Prince-Bishop when the area was a unit of the Holy Roman Empire.  Its Wikipedia entry is here.

Its artistic highlights regarding painting are the huge ceiling frescos by the great
Giovani Battista Tiepolo.  The present post features the fresco in the Treppenhaus. This link notes:

"... in the great vaulted ceiling over the Treppenhaus - at 7287 square feet (677 square metres) one of the largest expanses ever to have been covered in fresco - the theme was "Allegory of the Planets and Continents."  This monumental mythological painting, which occasionally encroaches onto architectural elements below, extends over a flattened basket vault that spans a complex arrangement of flights and landings.  It shows the Four Continents beneath a central Heaven presided over by an art-loving Apollo."

It's that encroaching that concerns us today.

Some encroaching items are sculptures that overlap the painting in places, becoming part of it when viewed from below.

Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find the name of the sculptor or names of sculptors who did the work via Google and Bing searches.  Perhaps I didn't dig deeply enough.  As it was, the items searches turned up became increasingly less relevant, so I decided not to turn searching into a death march.

Below are some photos I took.


Treppenhaus staircase and fresco.

Corner detail containing sculptures of two men.

Another corner, two more men.

A third corner.

Segment of the Kaisersaal fresco.  Note the sculpted dog.

A charming sculpture in the Kaisersaal -- French appearing, and likely related to springtime.  I saw the title and sculptor's name is a catalog at the Residenz gift shop, but didn't buy the book.  And now I can't find that information on the Internet.  If you can, help me out in a comment.