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Saturday, April 25, 2015

Benjamin Block


Portrait of Henriette Luise von Wurttemberg
1643
oil on canvas
other detail unknown

Benjamin Block (1631-1690) was a seventeenth-century German - Hungarian Baroque painter. He is known for his portrait paintings. He was born into an artistic family in Lubeck. His father and brothers were also painters. He travelled to Italy in 1659 and was commissioned to paint the Jesuit scholar Athanasius Kircher who later served as intermediary in a deal resulting in an order for a portrait of Pope Alexander VII. After working as a portrait painter in Siena, Florence and Venice, in 1664 he returned to Germany. He made portraits for the military commanders and the Vienna court.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Sandor Bihari


Before the Magistrate (In Front of the Judge)
1886
oil on canvas
111.2 x 167 cm
Hungarian National Gallery, Budapest, Hungary

Sandor Bihari (1855-1906) was one of the greatest Hungarian genre painters. Born to a Jewish family, he spent his childhood in Nagyvarad. Originally, he worked with his father as a decorative painter.

After studying in Vienna and travelling in Paris, he scored the first big success of his life in 1866. The painting "In Front of the Judge" won the grand prize of the Hungarian National Fine Art Society and was purchased by Emperor Franz Joseph. In Paris, he studied at the Academie Julian and improved his technique by copying the Old Masters at the Louvre.

Upon returning to Hungary, he settled in Szolnok, a popular artist Colony at the Great Hungarian Plains. Later in his life, his style changed in the direction of plein-air painting. He continued to travel, making lengthy visits to Italy especially, until his health began to fail in 1893. During his final years, he lived in Budapest but continued to spend his summers in Szolnok. In 1896, he was awarded the Order of Franz Joseph.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Pal Balkay


The Sister and Brother
oil on canvas
143 x 120 cm
private collection
other detain unknown

Pal Balkay (1785-1846) was a Hungarian painter and teacher best known for his portrait of "The Sister and Brother". He was born in Tiszaors. Following his studies in Vienna, he returned in 1808 to Hungary, where he taught art in the town of Eger from 1817. He painted many altar pictures and allegorical compositions on mythological figures and themes.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Pal Bohm


Scene at the Bank of River Tisza
1875
oli on wood
38 x 46.7 cm
Hungarian National Gallery, Budapest, Hungary

Pal (Paul) Bohm (1839-1905) was a Hungarian genre painter. He first studied drawing with his father, who was a maintenance engineer at the bishop's manor. After finishing elementary school, he tried his hand at many crafts, including carpentry, coppersmithing and toy making. He worked as a sign-board and scenery painter, then joined strolling actors.

In 1862, he finally decided to became a painter, eventually travelling to Vienna. In 1865, he returned to his hometown and attempted to make a living by painting portraits and altarpieces. He was sufficiently established to earn a decent living and moved to Budapest, where he exhibited with the National Society of Hungarian Fine Arts. He also briefly operated a painting school. In 1871, he received a scholarshipwhich enabled him to travel to Munich, where he quickly became part of the city's artistic life and associated with a group of Hungarian painters. There, he painted romantic landscapes with figures. In 1875, he settled in Munich permanently.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Janos Thorma


Execution of Hungarian Officers by the Austrians at Arad, Hungary on 6th October 1849, 1893
between 1893 and 1896
oil on canvas
350 x 640 cm
Hungarian National Gallery, Hungary

Janos Thorma (1870-1937) was a Hungarian painter. He was born in Kiskunhalas, Kingdom of Hungary, Austria-Hungary. At the age of 18, he went to Munich, where he studied from 1888 to 1890 under a Hungarian painter. Then he went to Paris, where he studied at the Academie Julian. From 1902 to 27, he was a teacher at the Nagybanya Painters' Association, becoming its president in 1917.


Many of his early works were large canvases on historical themes. His first paintings were naturalistic. As a young man, he felt that naturalism offered him too little to achieve his goals as a painter, and he was inspired by German romanticism and French classicism. After 1900, his work turned toward realism. In 1906-07 he showed influence from Spanish sources. He also was inspired by the French painter, Paul Gauguin. After 1920 he developed his own en plein air style. In the last decade of his life, he painted impressionistic landscapes and portraits.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Martiros Saryan


Egyptian masks
1911
tempera on cardboard
70 x 82 cm
location unknown

Martiros Saryan (1880-1972) was a major Armenian painter, the founder of the Armenian national school of painting. He was born into an Armenian family in Nakhichevan-on-Don. He received training in painting at the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture (1897-1903) and then worked in the studios of noted painters. Soon he became a member of a group of Moscow Symbolist artists, and he began exhibiting his brightly coloured paintings. He was heavily influenced by the work of Paul Gauguin and Henri Matisse.

From 1910 to 1913 he traveled extensively in Turkey, Egypt and Iran. These trips inspired a series of large, frescolike works in which he attempted to communicate the sensuousness of the Middle Eastern landscapes. He also incorporated into a number of his paintings the Persian motifs he had seen in the Middle East. In 1921 he moved to Yerevan, where he organized and became director of the museum of archaeology, ethnography, and fine arts now called the National Gallery of Armenia. He thereafter spent most of his career painting scenes, especially landscapes, of his adopted homeland, often employing the Impressionist technique of using vivid, dappled colour to capture the effects of light. He also painted many floral still lifes as well as portraits. He served as a deputy to the second, third, and fourth convocations of the U.S.S.R.’s Supreme Soviet (the country’s highest legislative body). Among his awards were three Orders of Lenin.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Ivan Aivazovsky


The Ninth Wave
1850
0il on canvas
221 × 332 cm
State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia

The title refers to the nautical tradition that waves grow larger and larger in a series up to the largest wave, the ninth wave, at which point the series starts again. It depicts a sea after a night storm and people facing death attempting to save themselves by clinging to debris from a wrecked ship.

Ivan Aivazovsky (1817-1900) was born into a poor Armenian family, in the ancient Crimean town of Feodosiya, where his father, an Armenian by nationality, had settled at the very beginning of the century. His father was a relatively well-educated man who knew several oriental languages, and who, though a trader of small means, played a significant part in the commercial life of the town. Unfortunately the plague epidemic which hit Feodosiya in 1812 wrecked his business, and when the future artist was born, the family had indeed fallen on hard times.

There is some evidence to suggest that poverty obliged him to work in the cosmopolitan coffee-shops of Feodosiya, alive with the chatter of many different tongues: Italian, Greek, Turkish, Armenian and Tartar. His eager mind soaked up all the colourful sights and sounds which Feodosiya with its mixed population had to offer. He also had a keen musical ear and soon learned to play folk melodies on the violin. It was drawing, however, which most seized his imagination: lacking other materials he drew in charcoal on the whitewashed walls of Feodosiya. These drawings attracted the attention of a town-governor, who helped him to enter a high school and in 1833, the St Petersburg Academy of Arts, where he graduated with the Gold Medal.

He developed an interest in landscape painting, concentrating on marine landscapes, and his  numerous paintings of Mediterranean seascapes won him popularity among art collectors, such as the Russian Czars, the Ottoman Sultan, and among the various nobility in many countries. He traveled widely, painting all across Europe. In the latter half of the 19th century, a trend toward realism is evident in his work, though he never completely abandoned his romantic tendencies.

He produced over six thousand paintings over the course of his long life. Most of his works were made on a longstanding commission from the Imperial Russian Navy Headquarters. He became very wealthy and he used that wealth for the foundation of the first School of Arts and the Art Gallery in his home town of Feodosia.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Ion Theodorescu-Sion


Composition with Romanian Motifs
1924
oil on canvas
75.5 x 90 cm
location unknown

Ion Theodorescu-Sion (1882-1939) was a Romanian painter and draftsman, known for his contributions to modern art and especially for his traditionalist, primitivist, handicraft-inspired and Christian painting.

Trained in academic art, initially an Impressionist, he dabbled in various modern styles in the years before World War I. His palette was interchangeably post-Impressionist, Divisionist, Realist, Symbolist, Synthetist, Fauve or Cubist, but his creation had one major ideological focus: depicting peasant life in its natural setting.

In time, he contributed to the generational goal of creating a specifically Romanian modern art, located at the intersection of folk tradition, primitivist tendencies borrowed from the West, and 20th-century agrarian politics. Initially scandalized by his experiments, public opinion accepted his tamer style of the mid to late 1910s. He was commissioned as a war artist, after which his standing increased. His paintings alternated the monumental depictions of harsh rural environments, and their inhabitants, with luminous Balcic seascapes and nostalgic records of suburban life. Their search for visual concreteness was a standard for the anti-Impressionist emancipation of the Romanian artistic scene in the interwar period. By the mid-1920s, his style became a visual component of the neo-traditionalist, "Romanianist".

(mainly excerps from Wikipedia, due could not find other bio in English)

Friday, April 17, 2015

Gheorghe Tattarescu


Nemesis, zeita razbunarii
1853
oil on canvas
152x102 cm
The Bucharest City Museum, Romania

Gheorghe Tattarescu (1818-1894) was a Moldavian-born Romanian painter and a pioneer of neoclassicism in his country's modern painting.

He started out as an apprentice to his uncle, a church painter, and he went on to study at a painting school. An orthodox church bishop helped him obtain a scholarship in Rome. While there, he made copies paintings by Raphael, Bartolome Esteban Murillo, Salvatore Rosa, and Guido Reni.

He was a participant in the 1848 Revolution in Wallachia. After the revolution, he painted portraits of Romanian revolutionaries in exile. Romantic nationalist ideals were the inspiration for his allegorical compositions with revolutionary and patriotic themes. In 1864, together with painter Theodor Aman, he founded the National School of Fine Arts in Bucharest. He was a professor there for a long time after, and served as the School's headmaster for two years. In 1865, he wrote Useful Principles and Studies on Proportions of the Human Body and Drawing after the Most Famous Painters.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Henric Trenk


Julius Sigerus as a Child
Brukenthal National Museum, Sibiu, Transylvania, Romania
other detail unknown

Henric Trenk (1818-1892) was a Swiss-born Romanian painter and graphic artist, best known for his Romantic landscapes. Born to an ethnic German family, he studied at the Kunstakademie in Dusseldorf, in the Kingdom of Prussia's Rhine Province. He first arrived in the Austrian-ruled region of Transylvania around 1846, and moved to Wallachia in 1851. He remained in Wallachia as it became a constituent part of the Romanian Kingdom, and never again left its territory. Later in life, he was naturalized a Romanian.

He was an official illustrator of the magazines printed by the Romanian Commission of Historical Monuments. He traveled throughout the regions of Muntenia and Oltenia, creating a large number of oil paintings featuring rural scenes, historical relics, and natural scenes. He was also active in research towards improving the paint used in fine arts, publishing in several chemistry journals. His aim was to find a paint which would be durable, but also matte, avoiding distracting reflections on the painting's surface.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Max Hermann Maxy


Electric Madonna
1926
other details unknown

Max Hermann Maxy (1895-1971) was a Romanian painter, set designer, and art professor of German-Jewish descent.

In 1902, following his mother's early death, he and his family moved to Bucharest. Between 1913 and 1916, he studied at the School of Fine Arts. He fought in World War I, an experience which significantly influenced his painting. In 1922 and 1923, he studied in Berlin, Germany, and joined the November Group, a Socialist German cultural organization which promoted expressionist art. Constructivism dominated his early works, but he later began painting in a moderate modernist style (noted for its realism and narrative mode).

He became a set designer for the Jewish theater in Bucharest in 1939. In 1941, when anti-Jewish legislation was passed in Romania, he became the director of this theater. During this time, he also taught students excluded from the Romanian public education system at the private Jewish School of Arts. He became the director of the National Museum of Art of Romania and, in 1949, a university professor at the Nicolae Grigorescu Institute of Arts. Beginning in 1954, he received many awards from the Communist Romanian government.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Theodor Aman


Gipsy Girl
1884
oil on canvas
size unknown
National Gallery, Bucharest, Romania

Theodor Aman (1831-1891) was a Romanian painter, engraver and art professor of Armenian ancestry. He mostly produced genre and history scenes.

His father was a cavalry commander. After displaying an early affinity for art, in 1850, he went to Paris. While there, he became part of the Romanian revolutionary circles. Three years later, he had his first exhibition at the Salon. After that, he went to Istanbul in an effort to sell some paintings to the Sultan and visited Sevastopol during the Crimean War, creating history paintings with themes related to Romania's nationalist aspirations.

In 1855, he presented one of his best-known works, depicting the Battle of Alma, at the Exposition Universelle. When he returned home, he was knighted and presented with a scholarship to continue his studies in Paris, where he came under the influence of the Barbizon school. After a brief stay in Rome, he returned to Bucharest.

In 1864, he and his colleague convinced Romania's ruler to establish the "National School of Fine Arts" (now known as the Bucharest National University of Arts). He was appointed its first Director and held that position until his death. In 1908, his home/workshop became a museum.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Constantin Daniel Rosenthal


Portrait of Maria Rosetti
other details unknown

Constantin Daniel Rosenthal (1820-1851) was a Romanian painter and sculptor, best known for his portraits and his choice of Romanian Romantic nationalist subjects. His work is a sly representation of the idealism and nationalism that presented itself in early 19th century Romania- where the precariousness of the socio-economic situation made people generally uneasy.

Despite his conservative painting style, he was a revolutionary in terms of politics. He advocated and even participated in revolutionary groups in Bucharest, Wallachia in the 1840s, at the time when the European Revolutions were sweeping across Europe. At that time, he was introduced to the liberal-radical circles, becoming very close to Constantin Alexandru Rosetti, a Romanian political leader. Unfortunately he did not meet a peaceful end. He was exiled later by the Ottomans, from where he left to live in Paris. There he found his bitter end at the hands of the despotism of the Second French Republic.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Nicolae Grigorescu


Andreescu at Barbizon
1880
oil on canvas
61.5 x 46 cm
National Art Museum in Bucharest, Romania

Nicolae Grigorescu (1838-1907) is the first of the founders of modern Romanian painting,
who strived to identify and bring to light the profoundly characteristic values of Romanian spirituality. He was also a writer.

He was born in Pitaru village, Wallachia, as sixth child. In 1843, when his father died, the family moved to Bucharest, in an aunt's house. After an early apprenticeship (1848-1850) in a workshop of a Czech miniaturist and church painter, he painted icons for church and monastery.

In 1861, as he received a scholarship to study in France , he left for Paris, where he studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. He also attended a workshop, where he had as a colleague Pierre-Auguste Renoir. However, he soon left this workshop and, attracted by the artistic concepts of the Barbizon school, he left Paris for that village, where he became the associate of artists such as Jean-Francois Millet, Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Gustave Courbet and Theodore Rousseau. Under the influence of the movement, he looked for new means of expression and followed the trend of en plein air painting, which was also important in Impressionism. As part of the Universal Exposition of Paris in 1867, he contributed seven works.

He returned to Romania a few times and starting in 1870 he participated in the exhibits of living artists and those organized by the Society of the Friends of the Belle-Arts. In 1877 he was called to accompany the Romanian Army as a frontline painter in the Romanian War of Independence.

From 1879 to 1890 he worked in France, especially in Vitre, Brittany, and in his workshop in Paris. In 1889 he was named honorary member of the Romanian Academy, and his work was featured in the Universal Exhibition in Paris and at the Romanian Atheneum. In 1890, he settled down in  Campina, Romania and devoted his work mainly to rustic themes, in an endless variation of motif, painting peasant women's faces, carts pulled by oxen along dusty country roads and numerous landscapes with a Romanian specific. In 1899, he was elected member of the Romanian Academy, being the first plastic artist to whom this honour had been granted.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Alexandru Darida


Thoughts Of An Angel
2013
oil on canvas
other details unknown
fair use

Alexandru Darida was born in 1955 in Transylvania, one of the most fascinating parts of Romania. He grew up in the picturesque and breathtakingly beautiful countryside surrounded by the legend of Dracula's castle. The foundation of Darida's accomplishments and international recognition was established at the Ecole de Belle Art in Romania. He expanded the dimensions of his artistic expression through further study at the Benadetti Liberal Academy of Art in Rome and the American Academy of Art in Chicago. Through his extensive travel, Darida has studied the art of the great Masters from Botticelli to Picasso at many of the art museums of Europe. His work has been featured at the Young Images Gallery in Rome, Municipal Comment across Romania, Tribune Gallery, Dales Gallery and the National Museum of Art in Bucharest, Romania. Additionally, his paintings were featured at a 1999 exhibit in Washington, D.C. sponsored by the Smithsonian Institution and Romanian Embassy. He is the recipient of numerous awards including the Formello-Roma International Prize for Painting. Darida’s ability to stay in touch with his childhood allows him to translate his vision into chromatics of rich glowing colors with an inner luminosity reminiscent of another world. His paintings emerge from his passion for music and philosophy, and a restless temperament craving to discover an ideal of purity, which is vanishing in our century. Darida’s magnificent paintings speak to our better nature, pointing the path to a brighter world just over the horizon, a world of universal love, peace and understanding.
(by the Lavon Art Gallery)

Friday, April 10, 2015

Ion Andreescu


Winter at Barbizon
1881
oil on canvas
54 x 65 cm
Muzeul K.H. Zambaccian, Bucharest, Romania

Ion Andreescu (1850-1882), born in Bucharest, was a Romanian painter of great renown. He was the son of a brandy merchant and graduated from the Bucharest Art College. In 1872 he became a teacher of drawing and calligraphy in a provincial grammar school in Buzau.

In 1879, having been awarded a travel scholarship to France, he set off for Paris where he spent two years at the Academie Julian in Paris. He also attended the Barbizon school named after the village it was situated in, a short distance from the Fontainebleau Forest, a favourite spot where artists gathered. He painted portraits, lyrical national landscapes, and scenes of peasant life that are noted for their soft spectrum and subtle gradations of colour. His work was exhibited alongside the works of the great Impressionist painters Manet, Monet and Renoir.

He had been suffering from tuberculosis when he went to Paris and sadly a year after his return to his homeland he died of the disease at the young age of 32. In 1948, he was posthumously elected an honorary member of the Academy of the Socialist Republic of Rumania.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Nina Arbore


Still life with the queen of the night
oil on board
68 x 47 cm
other detail unknown
fair use

Tamara Nina Arbore (1889-1942) was a Romanian painter and illustrator, known for her still-lifes.
Her father and older sister were both well-known political activists. In 1906, she enrolled at the Academy of Fine Arts, Munich. After completing her studies, she went to Paris, where she found a position in the studio of Henri Matisse.

Upon her return to Bucharest, she held her first personal exhibition there. Together with her friends, she formed what was known as the Group of Three Ladies. In 1916, her group became the founders of the Association of Female Sculptors and Painters, which was sponsored by the Romanian royal family.

Many of her paintings were bought by a noted critic, poet and art collector, who wrote extensively about her work, comparing it to classical Byzantine art and the works of the Quattrocento. She was awarded a first-class prize at the 1929 Barcelona International Exposition. Her reputation was enhanced by a series of social-awareness themed engravings and illustrations done for the magazine Cuvantul Liber during the thirties. In addition to her canvases, she provided decorations for churches.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Gudmundur Thorsteinsson


Seventh Day in Paradise
1920
collage
National Gallery of Iceland
other detail unknown

Gudmundur Petursson Thorsteinsson, better known as Muggur (1891-1924) was an Icelandic artist and film actor. He made alot of his works with oil, coloured pencils, coal and clip-arts. Among his best-known works are the collage Seventh Day in Paradise and the children's book Dimmalimm.

He studied at the Royal Painting Academy in Copenhagen. He worked with watercolours, oil, charcoal and collages. His works are characterized by a dreamlike and playful quality. The influence of impressionism - such artists as Toulouse-Lautrec and, later, Picasso - can be seen in his work. He also put his art on icelandic cards which was really popular by the people. He got one of the main-roles in the movie "Story of the Borgar-family" which was produced in 1919 in Iceland. He was young when he died of tuberculosis, cancer.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Louisa Matthiasdottir


Reykjavik Harbour
1981
oil on canvas
86.5 x 122 cm
location unknown
fair use

Louisa Matthiasdottir (1917-2000), born in Reykjavik, Iceland, she was known for her Icelandic landscapes, still lifes, interiors, portraits and self portraits, all distinguished by their simple, geometric shapes and flat planes of crisp color, bold color.

She showed artistic skills in early age and as a young woman she studied art in Denmark. After that period, she moved to Paris and stayed there for about one year, where she had the chance to improve her skills. From the late 1930s she became at once one of the most important figures of Icelandic avant-garde. In these paintings subjects are painted with a broad brush. This feature aimed to emphasize geometrical forms and soon became typical of her style.

She came to New York in 1942 and had her first solo show in 1948 which established her as an artist in New York’s art scene. While her work of the 1950s saw her introducing elements of expressionism, from the 1960s until the end of her life she developed and refined the idiom of forthright color, uncluttered composition and brisk execution for which she is best known.

She was always in a close relationship with her land of origin, in fact she was to remain an Icelandic citizen all her life and she used to go back to Iceland very often. Moreover the paintings of her final three decades include Icelandic landscapes, a series of self-portraits, and tabletop still-life arrangements. The landscapes often include charmingly stylized depictions of Icelandic horses and sheep. She began to gain more notoriety in the 1960′s as an important representational painter. In 1996, she was awarded the American-Scandinavian Foundation’s Cultural Award, and in 1998 became a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. The poet John Ashbery described the result of her latter creative efforts as “flavor, both mellow and astringent, which no other painter gives us”.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Torarinn Torlaksson


Tingvellir
(National park of Iceland. A place in southwestern Iceland, near the Reykjanes peninsula and the Hengill volcanic area)
1900
other detail unknown

Torarinn Benedikt Torlaksson (1867-1924) was one of Iceland's first contemporary painters, the first Icelander to exhibit paintings in Iceland, and recipient of the first public grant that country made to a painter.

He was the 13th of 14 children of a clergyman father, who died when he was just five years old. Originally trained and working as a bookbinder, he studied painting. In 1900 he was awarded a grant by the Icelandic Parliament to study art in Denmark, and he trained there from 1895 to 1899. Returning to Iceland, he held an exhibition of his works at a place in Reykjavik, in the summer of 1900, the first exhibition of Icelandic painting in Iceland.

His principal interest was landscape painting, and perhaps fittingly a dominant subject in this first exhibition of works was Tingvellir, a site of enormous historical significance to Icelanders as the site of their parliaments (which dated back to 930 AD). He continued to paint, holding regular exhibitions until 1911.

In 1913, he was appointed by Prime Minister as one of the five people on the committee that designed the Flag of Iceland. He taught drawing at the Technical College and other institutions in Reykjavik, and was principal of that college from 1916 to 1922. He also ran a shop selling art materials, journals and books until his death. Throughout his life he continued to paint, particularly in the countryside during the summers. He portrayed the landscape of their country on its terms and through Icelandic eyes.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Felix Labisse


Le grand depayseur
1964
other details unknown
(fair use)

Felix Labisse (1905-1982) was a French Surrealist painter, illustrator, and stage designer. He was born in Marchiennes, France. He was of Flemish and Polish descent and worked in both France and Belgium. His paintings depict fantastical hybrid creatures, and are often erotic. He sought to render both his own poetic reveries and the preoccupations of modern life through a technique of smoothly painted and strongly outlined violent colours. He specialized in images of a particular type of woman, at once strangely sensual and cold, whom he painted in blue and other exaggerated hues and who haunted his pictures like a mythical goddess.

The Labisse family was originally from Douai, in northern France, but after I World War they moved to Ostend, Belgium. He was self-taught. He made his debut as a painter in 1922, under the wing of James Ensor, the lifelong friend who influenced his work. In 1927 he set up his studio in Ostend, where he was associated not only with Ensor but also with poets and film maker. From 1932, he settled in Paris. In 1935 approaches the Surrealist group and knows Paul Delvaux, Max Ernst, Andre Masson and Rene Magritte. Mobilized in 1939, at the outbreak of II World War, he returned to Paris from the front in 1940 and became one of the leading artists of the young French painters. From 1943 he devoted himself entirely to painting and stage design.

He was the subject of a film by Alain Resnais, Visite a Felix Labisse (1947). In 1966 he was elected to the Academie des Beaux-Arts. In 1966 he was elected to the Academie des Beaux-Arts. He died in Neuilly-sur-Seine in 1982.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Felix Ziem


Stamboul
year unknown
oil on canvas
70 × 30 cm   
Musee des Beaux-Arts de Dijon, France

The city of Istanbul has been known through the ages under a number of different names. The most notable names besides the modern Turkish name are Byzantium, Constantinople and Stamboul. Different names are associated with different phases of its history and with different languages.

Felix Ziem (1821-1911) is an artist of the pre-impressionist generation who has a style all his own. He will forever be connected to the immortal city-state of Venice. His view paintings of Venice were very successful amongst the collectors of the time and remain sought after icons of 19th century travel painting today. He once wrote that he never felt compelled to paint to please anyone but himself. His artistic output contains a breadth of technical and aesthetic elements, partially due to this personal philosophy. He excelled in inspired use of color, in a style very much his own, and the emotional presentation always as important as his factual content. His contemporaries; Theophile Gautier, Theodore Rousseau and Chopin all held him in great esteem.

Originally an architect student at the “Academie d’architecture” in Dijon, he was excluded from a scholarship there, and he decided to leave for Rome, on foot, exchanging sketches for food along the way. After a long stay in Nice, he finally arrived in Rome. He was disappointed by the city, so he continued on to Naples and finally Venice. There, his amazement and wonder at the otherworldly city never ceased. In 1845, he returned again to Venice for a three year stay. He rented a flat-bottom boat that he transformed into his atelier. He accumulated a multitude of sketches, drawing evening festivals, the quiet of early morning, and the historical monuments that made up the city. He returned to Paris and successfully exhibited his view paintings of Venice at the Salon of 1849. From 1860 he lived in Montmartre in the winter and in Nice in the summer, and in 1864 Princess (later Queen) Victoria was his pupil. He also was a visitor to Barbizon where he purchased the house that had once belonged to the Barbizon school painter Charles Jacque. Close to other landscape painters of his generation, he painted there. The naturalist approach of the Barbizon School influenced his later paintings and he became a renowned and successful artist. He won many medals for his oil paintings and was created Chevalier of the Legion of Honour in 1857, ascending to an Officer in 1878.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Paul Trouillebert


Femme Sur Un Chemin (Woman on a Path)
oil on canvas
private collection
other detail unknown

Paul Desire Trouillebert (1829-1900) was born in Paris, France.  He is considered a portrait, genre and landscape painter from the French Barbizon School.

He made his debut at the Salon of 1865, exhibiting a portrait. He produced genre scenes and portraits paintings before turning to landscapes. Then, he produced many landscapes. His later works were strongly influenced by the tonal paintings of Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot. He painted on the banks of the Oise, Vienne, and Loire rivers in France, continuing the traditions of the Barbizon landscape painters. He was also interested in the orientalism and produced paintings of nudes.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Claude Lorrain


Sunrise
c.1647
oil on canvas
102.9 x 134 cm
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY, USA

The painting is divided into three principal planes. In the foreground, three people are crossing a river accompanied by a group of animals. Behind them, hidden among the vegetation, we can see the silhouette of a castle. And in the background there is an undefined landscape, illuminated by the light of sunrise. The whole scene conveys a classical serenity. Although the foreground and middle ground have darkened, the horizon preserves its characteristic luminosity. Once again Claude used the countryside around Rome - the Campagna - as his direct source of inspiration for the poetic landscape depicted in this canvas. 

Claude Lorrain (c.1604-1682), byname of Claude Gellee, born in France and raised in Italy, was a French artist of the Baroque era whose special contribution was the poetic rendering of light, best known for, and one of the greatest masters of, ideal-landscape painting, an art form that seeks to present a view of nature more beautiful and harmonious than nature itself. The secret of the special effect of depth in his paintings lies in his perfection of proportions and perspective. Not even his most talented imitators, of whom there would be myriads in Europe and America in the centuries to come, were able to match it.

His works are classical landscapes, idealized visions of a lost past, evoking praises of an ancient perfection. He was not interested in an accurate representation of a specific place, but in praising the beauty of nature and the grandeur of the ancient world. In his works is quite usual the presence of human figures, they are insignificant when compared to the natural surroundings.

His style inspired -directly or indirectly- many other later painters, such as Van Goyen and Van Ruysdael in the Netherlands, Corot and Rousseau in France, Turner and Constable in England, or even the first painters of the Hudson River School in America.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Edouard Vuillard


Public Gardens
1894
oil on canvas
213 x 308 cm
Musee d'Orsay, Paris, France

Edouard Vuillard (1868-1940), in full Jean-Edouard Vuillard was a French painter, printmaker, and decorator who was a member of the Nabis group of painters in the 1890s. He is particularly known for his depictions of intimate interior scenes.

He studied art at the Academie Julian and the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. In 1889 he joined a group of art students that included Maurice Denis and Pierre Bonnard. In 1890, they called themselves the Nabis (Hebrew for “Prophets”), and they drew their inspiration from the Synthetist paintings of Paul Gauguin’s Pont-Aven period. Like Gauguin, the Nabis advocated a symbolic, rather than a naturalistic, approach to colour, and they usually applied their paint in ways that emphasized the flat surface of the canvas. Their admiration of Japanese woodcuts, which were then in vogue in Europe, inspired them to use simplified shapes and strong contours. With a new concept of image space, they attain a decorative flatness and pattern-like order of what is depicted. The image's colors do not primarily consider the exact reproduction of the object, but follow esthetic aspects.

In addition to painting, Vuillard, like most of the other Nabis, was involved in book illustration, poster design, and designs for the theatre. He designed stage sets and illustrated programs. In 1940 he left Paris to flee the approaching troops. He died a little later in La Baule on the Atlantic coast in the same year.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Carolus-Duran


Les Baigneuses de Fontainebleau (The Bathers Fontainebleau)
1899
oil on canvas
71.5 x 98.5 cm
Private collection

Charles Auguste Emile Durand (1837-1917), known as Carolus-Duran, was a French painter and art instructor. He is noted for his stylish depictions of members of high society in Third Republic France.

He came from a humble background and, by the age of 11, he was taking lessons at the Academie in Lille from a sculptor who taught him to sketch. In 1853 he moved to Paris. He copied in the Louvre. He exhibited at the Salon for the first time in 1859. His first period in Paris shows the influence of Gustave Courbet. He soon befriended Courbet, Manet and the Realist artists, painting their portraits with a serious Realism full of concentrated energy. In 1861, he traveled to Italy and Spain for further study, especially devoting himself to the pictures of Velazquez.

He became best known as a portrait painter, and, as the head of one of the principal ateliers in Paris, a teacher of some of the most brilliant artists of the next generation who were his pupils. Among his pupils were John Singer Sargent. In 1889, he was made a commander of the Legion of Honour. In 1890, he participated in the creation of the Societe Nationale des Beaux Arts. He became a member of the Academie des Beaux-Arts in 1904, and in the next year, was appointed director of the French Academy in Rome.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Watteau, Jean-Antoine


Italian Comedians
circa 1720
oil on canvas
64 × 76 cm
National Gallery of Art,  Washington, D.C., USA

Jean-Antoine Watteau (1684-1721) was a French painter whose brief career spurred the revival of interest in colour and movement (in the tradition of Correggio and Rubens). He revitalized the waning Baroque style, and indeed moved it to the less severe, more naturalistic, less formally classical Rococo. He had an impact on the development of Rococo art in France and throughout Europe lasting well beyond his lifetime.

Living only thirty-six years, and plagued by frequent illness, Watteau nonetheless rose from an obscure provincial background to achieve fame in the French capital during the Regency of the duc d'Orleans. His paintings feature figures in aristocratic and theatrical dress in lush imaginary landscapes. Their amorous and wistful encounters create a mood but do not employ narrative in the traditional sense. During Watteau's lifetime, a new term, fete galante, was coined to describe them. Watteau was also a gifted draftsman whose sparkling chalk sheets capture subtle nuances of deportment and expression.

After Watteau’s death, his art fell out of fashion. During the French Revolution, some eighty years after the work was painted, his depictions of lavishly set pastoral escapades were associated with the old days of the monarchy and a frivolous aristocracy. In the early 19th century the curator at the Louvre was forced to place it in storage. It was not until the 1830s that Watteau and the Rococo returned into fashion. His influence on the arts (not only painting, but the decorative arts, costume, film, poetry, music) was more extensive than that of almost any other 18th-century artist. According to the 1911 Britannica, "in his treatment of the landscape background and of the atmospheric surroundings of the figures can be found the germs of Impressionism".

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Claude-Joseph Vernet


Seaport by Moonlight
1771
oil on canvas
98 × 164 cm
Louvre Museum, Paris, France

Claude-Joseph Vernet (1714-1789), born in Avignon as a son of a decorative painter, was a French landscape and marine painter whose works constitute a remarkable record of 18th-century life.

In 1734, he left for Rome to study landscape designers and maritime painters, where we find the styles and subjects of his paintings. After returning to Paris he became a member of the French Royal Academy and was commissioned by King Louis XV to paint the port series.

He catered to a new taste for idealized, somewhat sentimentalized landscapes. His shipwrecks, sunsets, and conflagrations reveal an unusually subtle observation of light and atmosphere.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Nicolas Vleughels


The Holy Family
1729
oil on panel
36 x 27 cm
The Hermitage, St. Petersburg, Russia

Nicolas Vleughels (1668-1737), born in Paris, is a French painter of Flemish origin. He was a painter, draughtsman, pastellist of portraits, genre scenes, religious and mythological compositions and nudes in the Baroque and Neoclassical style.

He trained with his father, a Flemish painter who had moved to Paris in 1642. In 1694 he came second in the Prix de Rome competition, despite repeated attempts, he failed to win the first prize. He became a close friend of Watteau and was, like him, greatly influenced by Flemish painting, notably that of Rubens. In 1704 he travelled to Italy. From his base in Rome he made trips to Venice and Modena, and was much influenced by the work of the Venetian colourists, particularly Veronese, whose works he copied. In 1716, back in Paris, he was approved by the Academie Royale. The influence of Veronese can be seen in the preparatory studies in oil and pastel for his paintings of this period. From 1724 until his death in Rome he was director of the French Academy in Rome.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Jehan Georges Vibert


The Fortune Teller
year unknown
Oil on canvas
68.58 x 101.6 cm
Private collection

Jehan Georges Vibert (1840-1902), French painter, a native of Paris, was a witty man of many talents, and interests. His paintings in oils and watercolors made him a much-admired artist in his native France, as well as in America. He dared to use his knowledge of colors, medium, styles, and subject matter to differentiate himself from other artists of his time. His humorous attacks were viewed however, as a part of the growing democratization of Europe, and made him most famous. In addition to his art, he had a long and active association with the stage and all aspects of theatrical life in Paris. He was also a published author, writing for Century Magazine as well as plays for the Palais Royale, Varietes and the Vaudeville. He wrote several comedies, many of which were successfully produced at Paris theaters.

He entered the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in 1857 at the age of sixteen and by 1864 had already won a medal at the Salon . In 1866, the young Vibert exhibited at the Salon a work done in collaboration with Spanish-born artists. He had met the Spanish artist in 1860 and perhaps under their influence traveled several times to Spain. From that point on he became a genre painter. He became a master of the small-scale amusing anecdotal scenes, which had wide appeal among the sophisticated art patrons of Paris.

In 1870, while Paris was under siege to the Prussians, he fought and was wounded at the battle of Malmaison. His courage, though, earned him the honor of being made a Knight of the Legion of Honor. In 1882, he was promoted to Officer of the Legion of Honor, for his painting this time. This growing reputation made him one the the most sought after atelier masters at the Ecole des Beaux Arts. This lead him to being one of the seven most influential artists of his time.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Alexis Simon Belle


Portrait of Louis XV of France
1723
oil on canvas
226 × 18 cm
Palace of Versailles, Paris, France

Alexis Simon Belle (1674-1734), part of a French family of painters, born in Paris, was a fashionable portrait painter of the early 18th century.

In 1670 he won the Prix de Rome of the Academie Royale, but he turned down the opportunity to complete his education at the Academie de France in Rome, preferring to build up a clientele in Paris.

He became a pupil in the early 1690s of Francois de Troy, one of the painters at the exiled court of James II at St Germain-en-Laye. Troy, at the time the only painter working for James II, was commissioned to produce more portraits than he could manage and he enlisted Belle, his most able pupil, to collaborate.

He painted numerous portraits of members of the French court and associated notables, among them those of Louis XV and of his one-time fiancee Maria Anna Victoria, Infanta of Spain, as well as those of Louis's wife Marie Leczinska and her father Stanislav I Leszczynski, King of Poland.