Monday, August 21, 2017

A Large Tiepolo at the Norton Simon

As I've mentioned before, Giovanni Battista Tiepolo (1696-1770) is one of my favorite pre-19th century painters. I posted about his early works here, and about his female faces here. And here is his Wikipedia entry.

The Norton Simon museum in Pasadena, California collection includes a very large Tiepolo, "The Triumph of Virtue and Nobility Over Ignorance" (1740-50, perhaps 1743). Their web site mentions "This painting was designed for a ceiling in the Palazzo Manin in Venice. Virtue is dressed in white with a sun symbol on her breast. Beside her, Nobility holds a statuette of Minerva and a spear. To the left, Fame blows her trumpet. Below, the figure of Ignorance is being vanquished."

Even though it's a ceiling painting, it works fairly well when displayed on a Norton Simon wall. The main ceiling effect is that the depictions are made from a low point of view.

Typical of Tiepolo, Virtue is represented by the pouty blonde model found in many of his works.


A photo I took when visiting the museum in April. The information plaque seen towards the lower right serves as an indication of the scale of the painting.

A cropped image from another photo taken during my visit. Click to enlarge.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

A Pre-Impressionist Renoir Painting

Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919) is known as a French Impressionist, but he wasn't always one. For example, I posted here about a time when he doubted Impressionism. This, and more about him and his art can be found in his Wikipedia entry.

So when I visited the Norton Simon museum in Pasadena, California in April I wasn't surprised by his 1867-68 vintage painting of the Pont des Arts, a footbridge over the Seine connecting the Louvre with the École des Beaux-Arts.

It's a comparatively early Renoir, before French Impressionists such as Claude Monet began using broken (or divisionist) color. The Norton Simon web site's blurb on the painting states; "Planted in the heart of Paris, we stand on the Left Bank of the Seine, looking upstream toward the wrought-iron Pont des Arts... The crisp shadows and liberally applied black are typical of Renoir’s early career, when the artist and his friend Monet set out to document their changing city in a celebrated series of views to which this one belongs."

Monet is mentioned, but there also are hints of Édouard Manet in some of the nearly-flat color areas.


This is "On the Terrace" (1881), the sort of painting most folks associate with Renoir.

Here is Le Pont des Arts, Paris (1867-68), the painting I noticed at the Norton Simon.

What my camera saw: establishment shot.

A detail photo. Click to enlarge and inspect Renoir's brushwork.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Some William James Aylward War Art

William James Aylward (1875-1956) was an illustrator who specialized in maritime subjects. That didn't mean he couldn't do other things, and he was selected to become one of a small group of war artists send to France to depict activities of the AEF (American Expeditionary Force). I wrote about him here, and a link with biographical information and examples of his work is here.

David Apatoff at his Illustration Art blog has a series of posts dealing with a Smithsonian exhibit of work done by those artists, including Aylward (one of these posts is here).

I hopped over to his link to the exhibit (here), and selected some examples of Aylward's 1918 work to show below.


Troops Waiting to Advance at Hattonchâtel - St. Mihiel Drive - 1918
The St. Mihiel Salient was a longstanding German bulge on the Western Front.  Its eradication was one of the more important tasks assigned to the AEF in September, 1918.

On the Trail of the Hun - St. Mihiel Drive - 1918
Note the peaceful French countryside in the background.  It's not clear if this was land behind AEF lines before the attack or some distance north or northeast following the collapse of the salient.

Street Barricade at Château-Thierry - 1918
One of Erich Ludendorff's 1918 offensives thrust the German army across the Marne River at Château-Thierry, a city where a battle was fought. Aylward's illustration was probably made after the Germans were pushed back.

American Troops Supply Train - 1918

Clearing Out the Road through Mont St. Père - 1918
Mont Saint Père is about four miles up the Marne from Château-Thierry, so again this was made after the failure of Ludendorff's offensive. I think it is a very nice work.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

August Macke: Restrained Modernist

August Macke (1887-1914) was a modernist painter and founding member of the short-lived Blue Rider (Der Blaue Reiter) group of painters. His Wikipedia entry is here, and an assessment of his life and work is here.

It is impossible to be sure what stylistic path Macke would have followed had he lived a normal life span, because he died age 27 in combat as the Western Front was forming in the aftermath of Germany's defeat in the Battle of the Marne.

As the title of this post indicates, my take on Macke is that he had too much regard for real world appearances to get fully sucked into the modernist "isms" of the early 20th century. Whether this restraint would have continued beyond 1914 is anyone's guess. My opinion is that he was one of the most likable modernist German painters of his time.


August Macke and Elisabeth Gerhard in Bonn, 1908
Macke appears to be wearing his army uniform, which dates this photo in October 1908 or later, as that was the month he began his required service. Elisabeth, who he married in 1910, is the subject of three images below.

Self-Portrait - 1909

Elisabeth Gerhard - 1909

Portrait with Apples (Elisabeth Gerhard) - 1909

Elisabeth Reading
A more modernist version of Elisabeth but, as usual, a restrained Modernism.

Ansicht vom Tegernsee - 1910
A landscape without Fauvist coloring.

Marienkirche mit Häusern und Schornstein - 1911
A scene in Bonn.

Indians on Horses
A painting from Macke's imagination. Wild West adventure stories were popular in Wilhelmine Germany.

Colored Forms III - 1913
He experimented with Orphist abstractions, a new art fashion at the time.

Lady in Green Jacket - 1913
Colors here are more poster-like than Fauvist.

Großes helles Schaufenster - 1912
"Large, Bright Display Window" is my English title to this watercolor that includes some Cubist elements. The female figure is not Cubist, as Macke seemed reluctant to depart far from that reality.

Hat Shop - 1914
Another in a series showing women shopping for clothing and fashion articles.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Fragonard's "Music"

Jean-Honoré Fragonard (1732-1806) was a leading French Rococo painter who happily painted many risqué scenes pleasing to his Ancien Régime clientele. He painted other subjects as well, including portraits, but scenes featuring partly clad women in upper-class settings are what he is best known for. Some biographical information is here.

The Norton Simon museum has some Fragonards that I saw when I was there in April. One, titled "Music" (ca. 1760-65) interested me because it was less cluttered that his better-known works.


Young Girl Reading - c. 1770
First, a few of Fragonard's characteristic works.

The Swing - c. 1767-69
Perhaps his most famous painting.

The Happy Lovers - c. 1760-65
This also was on display at the Norton Simon.

My photo of "Music." Click this and other images to enlarge.

A closer view.

Closer yet. Fragonard often depicted young women as seen here: from slightly below with their heads tilted and their eyes looking upwards. Note his brushwork and selection of colors.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Franklin Booth's Theodore Roosevelt

Franklin Booth (1874-1948) was something of a genius as a pen artist. When young, he unconsciously used pen and ink to imitate engraved illustrations he saw in magazines. When he discovered what he was doing, he must have liked the results he was getting, because he used the same general approach for most of the rest of his career. (Apparently some of his later works incorporated scratchboard. And he did do some conventional illustration in color.) More information about his life and career is here.

Below is a portrait of Theodore Roosevelt by Booth worth careful examination.

This is a very large image compared to most found on this blog. Even so, it is a cropped version of the original. I kept it large so that you'll be able to see how Booth used various pen strokes and hashing angles to yield a convincing portrait of the president. Click on the image to enlarge it further.