Friday, July 31, 2015

Julio Ruelas

La Domadora
oil on cardboard
15 × 19 cm
other detail unknown

Julio Ruelas (1870-1907) was a Mexican graphic artist, painter, draughtsman and printmaker. He is one of the precursors of modernism in Mexico and the most important representative of symbolism in that country. He was noted for creating etched images depicting his own face, incorporating black, twisted lines to give an impression of being tormented. He was the principal illustrator of the Revista Moderna magazine. This publication was extremely influential in disseminating the aesthetic of Latin American symbolists. A number of his works are on display at the Museum of the City of Mexico and in the Zacatecas museum.

Born in Zacatecas, but he lived in Mexico City from 1876. Around 1892, he departed for Germany, where Romanticism would profoundly influence his drawings and prints, the most important element of his work as an artist. He returned to Mexico in 1895 but spent the last three years of his life in Paris where he died from tuberculosis.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Jose Clemente Orozco

detail of Mural at the Casa de los Azulejos
other details unknown

Jose Clemente Orozco (1883-1949), born in a provincial city in the Mexican coastal state of Jalisco, was a Mexican painter and lithographer, who specialized in bold murals that established the Mexican Mural Renaissance. He is known as one of the "Big Three" muralists along with Diego Rivera and David Alfaro Siqueiros. He was fond of the theme of human suffering, but less realistic and more fascinated by machines than Rivera. He was known for being a politically committed artist. He promoted the political causes of peasants and workers. At the age of 21, he lost his left hand while working with gunpowder to make fireworks.

With Diego Rivera, he was a leader of the artist movement known as Mexican Muralism. An important distinction he had from Rivera was his critical view of the Mexican Revolution. While Rivera was a bold, optimistic figure, touting the glory of the revolution, he was less comfortable with the bloody toll the social movement was taking.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Jorge Figueroa Acosta

The shadow between you and me
acrilic on canvas
private collection
fair use
other detail unknown

Jorge Figueroa Acosta (1942- ), born in Cananea, Sonora, is a Mexican painter and sculptor. He studied at the National School of Plastic Arts Academy of San Carlos, regarded as the best school of arts in Mexico, of the National Autonomous University of Mexico.

Much of the pictorial work of him has been created in the stand and from forms that are generated from the morphological structure of the female body, according to which the overall composition of the pictorial space emanates as an appendix to the form. Using techniques such as oil, acrylic, and watercolor, he addresses several aesthetic categories around the perception of women as a central theme and semantic features that determine its nature. Within these categories, the exaltation of the beauty of the female body is the source to introduce the public to their work in living other qualities such as the sublime, fantastic, and even the enigmatic in the hieratic face of women represented.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Nancy Glenn-Nieto

Purple lady
other details unknown
fair use

Nancy Glenn-Nieto (1944- ) is an Mexican American actress, model, and Fine art painter. Perhaps best known as a model and an actress in Mexico City, however, her art work has become highly collectable. Her major themes are mystical animals, colorful flowers, and powerful saints; she explains “I have developed my own style.”

Born in Oklahoma to an engineer family for Douglas Aircraft Company, she moved with her family to Southern California in childhood. During her girlhood she spent a good deal of time with her maternal grandmother who was born and raised in Chihuahua, Mexico. She became enchanted with her grandmother’s stories that created colorful contrasting views of a country full of culture, music, and art, but politically on the brink of upheaval. Growing up in a family of two cultures, she integrated both with equal value into her personal perspective.

Her interest in art began when she was a little girl. During her High School years, her first job was painting Christmas scenes on the local merchants shop window. While she liked to paint and draw, she also liked the attention she got when she won the Miss Los Angeles beauty contest. That same year at 23 years old she entered the Queen of the Pacific Beauty Pageant held in Melbourne, Australia as the representative from California.

After graduating University of California, Santa Barbara, with a degree in Fine art, her identification with her grandmother motivated her to get to know her grandmother’s Mexican roots. After traveling throughout Mexico, she decided to establish herself in Mexico City.

While visiting an art gallery in Mexico City, a publicity director of the Mexico City office of an international publicity company was impressed with her shapely legs, and she was offered to be a model in commercials for Christian Dior's leg wear. From that national exposure, her modeling career blossomed. Soon she became one of Mexico’s top models. Large international companies used her image to advertise their product. She appeared on billboards, TV commercials, magazines such as Vanity, in major newspapers, and she modeled in Haute couture fashion shows for Catalina Swimwear, Chanel, Dior, and El Palacio de Hierro.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Hermenegildo Bustos

Still life with fruit (with scorpion and frog)
oil on canvas
43.3 x 35.3 cm
Museo Nacional de Arte, Mexico City, Mexico

Jose Hermenegildo de la Luz Bustos Hernandez, better known as Hermenegildo Bustos (1832-1907) was a Mexican painter of mestizo heritage. During his life he worked many odd jobs such as picking fruit, carpentry, painting and sculpture, but it was his unparalleled ability to make altarpieces and votive offerings (retablos and exvotos) which would make him one of the best Mexican artists of the turn of the Century.

He was born to a fervent Catholic family, descended from Indians who had been attached to the mission. Despite growing up in a small village, his youth was subject to the turmoils of the time, including a cholera epidemic, and the establishment of the Mexican nation. Following in his father's footsteps, he served as a sort of registrar for the village, recording names, dates and events. At various times, he worked as a tinsmith, tailor, carpenter, musician and mason, also displaying an affinity for history and astronomy. He also maintained an orchard for most of his life.

Little is known about his formal education, although his great skill makes evident that he did receive at least some academic training. As an artist, he started working in portraiture and became quite skilled and sought after for it. Aside from portraits, he also made still lifes and religious painting. He decorated the church of the Purisima in his home town with images from the Passion of Christ. He died in the same little town where he was born, the same place he lived and where he had worked all of his life. Following the Mexican Revolution, the nation's cultural heritage was reassessed and his work gained more notice, eventually receiving significant attention.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Juan Cordero

Cristopher Columbus at the Court of the Catholic Monarchs
oil on canvas
180.5 x 251.0 cm
Museo Nacional de Arte, Mexico City, Mexico

Juan Nepomuceno Maria Bernabe del Corazon de Jesus Cordero de Hoyos, better known as Juan Cordero (1822-1884) was a Mexican painter and muralist in the Classical style, who began his career in Rome and Florence.  He is considered a precursor of the movement of the muralists.

His parents originally expected him to join the family business, but eventually recognized his talent and enrolled him at the Academia de San Carlos. By 1844, he was so accomplished that his father gathered together as much money as he could, even selling the family piano, and sent him to study in Rome at the Accademia di San Luca.

Later, his works were noticed by former Mexican President Anastasio Bustamante, who was living in Italy in exile. Back to his country, to which he returned as one of the promises of Mexican art. From 1860 to 1867, he travelled throughout Mexico, painting portraits. He then turned to painting murals. Despite some confrontations, he received commissions for murals in some Mexican churches, as well as pictures of religious, historical topic and some portraits, influencing later artists who participated in the muralist movement.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Abraham Angel

Portrait of Hugo Tilghman (The Tennis Player)
oil on cardboard
136.0 x 120.0 cm
Museo Nacional de Arte, Mexico City, Mexico

Abraham Angel Card Valdes (1905-1924), born in El Oro, was a Mexican artist known under his first names Abraham Angel. His scarce works, numbering around 30 known paintings, are highly appreciated and valued by museums and art collectors.

He was born in El Oro, State of Mexico, being the youngest of five. His father Lewis was a Welsh miner and adventurer, who travelled continuously throughout the country in search of fortune in gold and silver mines. His mother was from Mexico. At just 14, she formed a family with Lewis but Lewis left a few years later, rarely seeing the family again. An older brother became head of the family.

At age 16, he decided to attend art and painting studies at Academia de San Carlos, but the decision met with absolute opposition from his older brother. He refused to comply, so he ended up being expelled from his home, to the astonishment and sadness of his mother and sister. He dropped his surnames after his older brother expelled him from his family home when he was barely 16.

In that difficult moment, in 1921, he had an intense homosexual affair with his tutor who gave lessons in drawing. A couple of years later, his tutor chose another young artist as his protege, and abandoned him. Humiliated and depressed, he was found dead from a lethal cocaine injection in 1924.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Leandro Izaguirre

The Torture of Cuauhtemoc
oil on canvas
294.5 x 454.0 cm
Museo Nacional de Arte, Mexico City, Mexico

Leandro Izaguirre (1867-1941), born in Mexico City, was a Mexican painter, illustrator and teacher. He entered the Academia de San Carlos in Mexico City in 1884.

He devoted himself to painting historical subjects favored by liberal critics in an attempt to create a Mexican school of painting, establishing the Columbus at Rabida and the Founding of Tenochtitlan in Mexico City. His most important painting is one for which he was awarded a medal when it was exhibited in Philadelphia in 1893 (the Torture of Cuauhtemoc). The realist painting depicts the last Aztec emperor Cuauhtemoc.

For some years he was a professor at the Academia. He also worked as an illustrator for the magazine Mundo ilustrado.
He was a teacher and mentor of such greats as Saturnino Herran, Leopoldo Mendez, Roberto Montenegro, Alfredo Zalce and Jose Clemente Orozco.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Jose Salome Pina

Saint Charles Borromeo Handing out Alms to the People
oil on canvas
280 x 215 cm
Museo Nacional de Arte, Mexico city, Mexico

Jose Salome Pina (1830-1909) was a Mexican painter. He was one of the most famous 19th-century Mexican artists.

He was schooled in the arts at the Academy of San Carlos in Mexico City. In 1854, he competed for a pension in Rome, which he won. In 1856, he was awarded a grant to study in Paris, joining the studio of Charles Gleyre. After some time in Paris, he moved back to Rome in 1860 to complete his study of the classics. In 1865, he was commissioned to make a painting commemorating the visit to Rome of Archduke Maximilian on a trip to see Pope Pius IX. He was unable to finish this work, though there are sketches of the painting on display at the Museo Nacional de Historia. These sketches support the theory that he conducted his work from photographs. In 1869, he became a professor at the Academy of San Carlos.

At the time of his death in 1909, his works had largely become unpopular with his students as the contemporary Mexican art had trended away from religious art. Both German Gedovius and Diego Rivera studied under Pina. In the modern day, he is remembered as an important art figure in Mexican history.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Felix Parra Hernandez

Solos (alone)
oil on canvas
other details unknown
for more paintings of this artist
art group of Imaginary-Museum  

Felix Parra Hernandez (1845-1919), born in Morelia, was a Mexican painter. He entered the College of San Nicolas historic to study painting at the Academy. He worked as instructor of ornament drawing at the Academy of San Carlos. His works, and particularly his images of Indians, served as inspiration for muralists such as Diego Rivera and Jose Clemente Orozco. He was more inclined to the historical issues. His strokes were loose, giving his works the qualities of texture and gradual contrast in the handling of light.

Monday, July 20, 2015

German Gedovius

Baroque Nude
oil on canvas
116.0 x 206.3 cm
Museo Nacional de Arte,
National Museum of Art, Mexico City, Mexico

German Gedovius (1867-1937), born in Mexico City, was a Mexican painter. At the age of twenty, he was sent by his father to Germany for his studies, and also to receive medical treatment at clinics specializing in the treatment of deafness since birth. He recovered successfully after a year, and he began to speak, learning German. He moved to Munich, where he learned to draw at the Royal Academy and started his painting classes in Germany. He supplemented his learning by visiting several museums in Europe, especially in Germany, Holland, Belgium, France and Italy.

After living in Europe for eleven years, he returned to Mexico in 1893. In 1903 he was awarded a teaching place in the Academy of fine arts and was given the arduous task of make that institution better-known in the Mexican art world. He taught chiaroscuro, color, and composition beginning in the first decade of the 20th century. Among his students are Angel Zarraga, Diego Rivera, Alberto Garduno, and Maria Izquierdo among others. He continued teaching classes, both in the Academy and in a private Studio until shortly before his death.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Joaquin Clausell

Burgeoning Springs in Autumn
c. 1910
oil on canvas
89.5 x 150.8 cm
Museo Nacional de Arte,
National Museum of Art, Mexico City, Mexico

Joaquin Clausell (1866-1935), born in Campeche Mexico to a Mexican mother and a Spanish father, was a Mexican impressionist painter and journalist. He moved to Mexico City when he turned 20 years old and received a Law degree. The great injustice that reigned throughout the country in those years drove him to publicly fight against the tyranny of politicians. In his quest he became an editor and contributor to various newspapers and periodicals. His activism landed him in jail several times and finally in 1892 he was exiled to France where he took residence in Paris for a year.

He became amazed by the romantic lifestyle of Montmartre where artists achieved worldwide recognition for their work. It is here where he learns about impressionism, a style that he was to perfect and make his own during his career in art. He started painting when he was 35 years old. He got in touch with the Impressionism's techniques in Paris, France with Camille Pissarro.
The novel aspect of his works lies not only in his use of a technique with certain Impressionistic associations, but above all in his search for new localities to represent the Mexican landscape. He became the master of impressionist landscapes in Mexico at the turn of the century. The "Museo de la Ciudad de Mexico" keeps his atelier in the roof. He died tragically, when he fell from a rock wall while he was making one of his frequent hikes out in the Mexican outdoors.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Miguel Cabrera

Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, Mexican nun and savante
oil on canvas
other details unknown
for more paintings of this artist
art group of Imaginary-Museum

Miguel Mateo Maldonado y Cabrera (1695-1768) was a painter from the Viceroyalty of New Spain, in today's Mexico.
He was born in Antequera, today's Oaxaca, Oaxaca, of unknown parents, and moved to Mexico City in 1719. He was an abandoned child. He may have studied under the Rodriguez Juarez brothers or Jose de Ibarra. He was a favorite painter of the city's Archbishop and of the Jesuit order, which earned him many commissions. His work was influenced by Bartolome Esteban Murillo and the French painting of his time.

During his lifetime, he was recognized as the greatest painter in all of New Spain. He created religious and secular art for the Catholic Church and wealthy patrons. His casta paintings, depicting interracial marriage among Indians, Spaniards and Africans, are considered the genre's finest. He is considered the foremost representative of eighteenth century colonial art.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Paul Kelpe

Untitled (left panel of a pair), from the Williamsburg Housing Project murals
c. 1938
oil on canvas
249.6 × 227.3 cm   
Brooklyn Museum, New York, USA

Paul Kelpe(1902-1985), born in Minden, Germany, discovered Constructivism and other forms of modernism as an art student in Hanover. By the time he arrived in the United States in 1925, he had developed an abstract geometric style of smooth surfaces and areas of glowing color.

After spending several years in New York and New Jersey, he relocated to Chicago where he studied art at the University of Chicago. From 1935 to 1939, he worked on the Federal Art Project, first in Chicago and then in New York City. One of his most notable projects was a mural for Southern Illinois University, painted in a social realist style. During these years, he maintained his commitment to abstraction in paintings and three-dimensional constructions, despite the fact that his work fell outside the artistic currents predominant in Chicago at that time. In 1935, he returned to New York, where he continued his work as a muralist, creating large-scale abstract compositions for the Williamsburg Housing Project. He was a founding member of the American Abstract Artists group.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

George Catlin

Stu-mick-o-sucks, Buffalo Bull's Back Fat, Head Chief, Blood Tribe
oil on canvas
73.7 × 61 cm
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington D.C., USA
for more paintings of this artist
art group of Imaginary-Museum

"If my life be spared, nothing shall stop me from visiting every nation of Indians on the Continent of North America." (George Catlin)

George Catlin (1796-1872), born in Pennsylvania, was an American self-taught artist and author.
He made the most extensive and important record of life among Native Americans in North America through his drawings, paintings, and writings. He was the first great painter to travel beyond the Mississippi to paint the Indians, and his Indian Gallery, staggering in its ambition and scope, is one of the wonders of the nineteenth century.

He practiced law for a short time as his father was a retired lawyer, but in 1823 turned to portrait painting, in which he was self-taught. After achieving important commissions and critical acclaim, he was elected to the National Academy of Design in 1826.

He had been interested in Native American life from his boyhood, and in 1828, after encountering a delegation of Plains Indians in Philadelphia on their way to Washington, D.C., he became determined to record the Native American heritage before it was destroyed by the onslaught of the advancing American frontier. In 1830 he traveled west to St. Louis, and he began a series of visits to various tribes, chiefly in the Great Plains. He made more than 500 paintings and sketches based on his observations during his travels and exhibited these works in the United States and Europe as the Indian Gallery. In 1841 he published his best-known book, the two-volume Letters and Notes on the Manners, Customs, and Condition of the North American Indians, which was illustrated with many engravings.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Asher Brown Durand

Kindred Spirits
oil on canvas
117 x 92 cm
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas, USA

This painting was commissioned by the merchant-collector Jonathan Sturges as a gift for William Cullen Bryant in gratitude for the nature poet's moving eulogy to Thomas Cole, who had died suddenly in early 1848. It shows Cole, who had been Jonathan Sturges mentor, standing in a gorge in Catskills in company of a mutual friend William Cullen Bryant.

Asher Brown Durand (1796-1886), born in Jefferson Village (now Maplewood), New Jersey, was the American painter, engraver, and illustrator, one of the founders of the Hudson River school of landscape painting. He exemplified the fresh ideal of naturalism for the second-generation painters that came to be called the Hudson River School.

He made seasonal trips in the hills along the Hudson River, to sketch in pencil and oil directly from mostly near-at-hand natural motifs. From these, he fashioned progressively vivid compositions typically of woodland interiors, culminating in masterpieces of organic verisimilitude.

He ardently promoted the practice of painting outdoors from humble natural objects as the route to learning and refining one's art as opposed to learning from other art or artists. He functioned as the personal exemplar to several of the younger painters who gathered about him in a veritable summer sketching colony in the White Mountains. Despite his fervent espousal of naturalism in landscape art, he failed to pursue it consistently, and many of the paintings of his long maturity reflect more conventional landscape modes based on seventeenth- and eighteenth-century French and Dutch antecedents. Critical acclaim declined accordingly, however, even after his retirement in 1869 to his native Maplewood, he was scarcely forgotten. In 2007, the Brooklyn Museum exhibited nearly sixty of Durand's works in the first monographic exhibition devoted to the painter in more than thirty-five years.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Alvan Fisher

A General View of the Falls of Niagara
oil on canvas
87.2 x 122.3 cm
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C., USA
for more paintings of this artist
art group of Imaginary-Museum

Alvan Fisher (1792-1863), born in Massachusetts, was one of the United States's pioneers in landscape painting and genre works.

At the age of 18, he determined to become a painter, learning portrait painting while assisting his teacher in decorating carriages and painting commercial signs. In 1815, at the age of 22, he began his professional career, opening a studio in Boston. During his first 10 years as a painter, he set the tone of his entire career. He traveled extensively painting landscapes, rural scenes, portraits of animals, and portraits of people. The growing popularity of landscape and genre painting coincided with the growing population of the United States and an economically improved middle class. This was the age of democracy and people wanted art that depicted their own contemporary life.

He traveled throughout the northeastern United States searching out sites of landscape beauty. He sketched outdoors and began to compose pastoral scenes in his studio. In 1825, he sailed for Europe. He was the first important American landscapist to make such a tour. He visited England, France, Italy and Switzerland, countries considered important for any artist's professional stature and artistic maturation.

After his return from Europe in 1826, he opened a studio in Boston. In 1827, he was elected into the National Academy of Design as an Honorary Academician. In 1828, the Boston Athenaeum began to purchase paintings for exhibition. Throughout his career he marketed his works in a variety of ways. He had accumulated significant wealth from his artistry and also from his business acumen.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Thomas Doughty

Delaware Water Gap
oil on canvas
59.41 x 82.29 cm
Philadelphia Museum of Art, PA, USA
for more paintings of this artist
art group of Imaginary-Museum
Thomas Doughty (1793-1856), born in Philadelphia, was the first American artist to work exclusively as a landscapist and was successful. He was also an early member of the Hudson River School: a group of painters who painted views of the area around the Catskill Mountains in New York State. His work was lyrical and intimate in feeling, yet retained the sensation of broad space and limitless horizons.
He was trained in leather manufacturing and began a career as a businessman from sixteen years old until twenty-seven. At that age, he decided that the leather business did not suit him and, having taken a few lessons in sepia drawing, started out as an artist. In 1820, he turned to art completely, and by 1822, was exhibiting at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and two years later was elected an academician. In 1827, he was elected an honorary member of the National Academy of Design. He worked mostly in Philadelphia, but also lived and worked in Boston and New York.
He was also a creative lithographer, and from 1830 to 1834, published a monthly journal called Cabinet of Natural History and American Rural Sports. In this publication, birds and animals were drawn precisely with landscape backgrounds by him.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Thomas Sully

Mother and Son (The sitters are the artist's daughter and her son)
oil on canvas
144.8 x 115.3 cm
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY, USA
for more paintings of this artist
art group of Imaginary-Museum

Thomas Sully (1783-1872) was an American portrait painter, who was born in Britain but lived most of his life in Philadelphia. He painted Thomas Jefferson, John Quincy Adams and the Marquis de Lafayette, as well as many leading musicians and composers. His 1824 portraits of John Quincy Adams, who became President within the year, and then the Marquis de Lafayette, appear to have brought him to the forefront of his day. He also painted landscapes and historical pieces, and his work was used on United States coinage. His own index indicates that he produced 2,631 paintings from 1801, most of which are currently in the United States.

He made his first appearance in the arts as a tumbler at the age of 11 in Charleston. After a brief apprenticeship to an insurance broker, who recognized his artistic talent, at about age 12 he began painting. He became a professional painter at age 18 in 1801. He was one of the founding members of The Musical Fund Society where he painted the portraits of many of the musicians and composers. His paintings are elegant and romantically warm, emphasizing an economy of form and of colour, but his later work suffered from the sentimentality of the mid-19th century.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Washington Allston

Italian Landscape
oil on canvas
111.8 x 183.0 cm   
Toledo Museum, Ohio, USA
for more paintings of this artist
art group of Imaginary-Museum

Washington Allston (1779-1843) was an American painter and poet, born in Waccamaw Parish, South Carolina. He was commonly held to be the first important American Romantic painter. He is known for his experiments with dramatic subject matter and his use of light and atmospheric colour. He was sometimes called the "American Titian" because his style resembled the great Venetian Renaissance artists in their display of dramatic color contrasts. His work greatly influenced the development of U.S. landscape painting. Also, the themes of many of his paintings were drawn from literature, especially Biblical stories. His artistic genius was much admired by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and Ralph Waldo Emerson was strongly influenced by his paintings and poems.

Named in honor of the leading American general of the Revolution, he graduated from Harvard University in 1800. He studied in London at the Royal Academy. During this period he became friendly with the writers Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Washington Irving. He spent the years from 1808 to 1811 in Boston. He then spent in London and returned to Boston in 1818, finally settling in Cambridgeport, Mass., in 1830.  He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1826.

Before his final return to the United States, his art was dramatic and large in scale. After his return to Boston in 1818 his art became quieter, striking a new note of reverie and fantasy. He was also a published writer. Some of his poems were popular in his day. His theory of art was posthumously published as Lectures on Art, and Poems (1850).

Friday, July 10, 2015

John Lewis Krimmel

Barroom Dancing
Dance in a country tavern, showing people drinking and dancing while an African American man plays fiddle
20.8 × 27.9 cm
Library of Congress, USA
for more paintings of this artist
art group of Imaginary-Museum

John Lewis Krimmel (1786-1821), born in the small town in Germany, sometimes called "the American Hogarth" was America's first painter of genre scenes. He emigrated to Philadelphia in the US in 1809 and soon became a member of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.

Initially influenced by painters in Scotland and England, he soon turned to direct observation of life for his genre scenes.  Among his still frequently reproduced paintings are Fourth of July, Center Square (1811/12) and Election Day (1815), both filled with lively characterizations of scores of crowd members. He returned to Germany from 1817 to 1818.  Back in Philadelphia in 1819. Early 1821 he was elected president of the Association of American Artists, but in the same year he accidentally drowned in a swimming accident in Pennsylvania and died at the age of 35.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Charles Willson Peale

The Staircase Group (Portrait of Raphaelle Peale and Titian Ramsay Peale)
oil on canvas
226 × 100.5 cm   
Philadelphia Museum, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (for more paintings of this artist) (art group of Imaginary-Museum)

Charles Willson Peale (1741-1827) was an American painter best remembered for his portraits of the leading figures of the American Revolution and as the founder of the first major museum in the United States. In his long life, he painted about 1,100 portraits, including sitters such as George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and John Adams. Crisply outlined and firmly modeled, his portraits reflected the Neoclassical style developed in France by Jacques-Louis David. His sons Raphaelle, Rembrandt, Rubens, and Titian were also painters.

As a young man, he worked as a saddler, watchmaker, and silversmith. His career in art began when he exchanged a saddle for a few painting lessons. In 1766 a group of Maryland patrons sent him to London, where he studied for three years. Upon his return to America, he immediately became the most fashionable portrait painter of the middle colonies. In 1775, he moved to Philadelphia, entered wholeheartedly into the Revolutionary movement, and served with the city militia in the Trenton-Princeton campaign. From 1779 to 1780, he represented the “Furious Whig” party in the Pennsylvania Assembly, an activity that damaged his professional career.

In 1782, he opened a portrait gallery of Revolutionary heroes and in 1786 founded an institution intended for the study of natural law and display of natural history and technological objects. Known as Peale’s Museum (later known as the Philadelphia Museum), it fulfilled his objective to make wide-ranging collections democratically accessible. The museum grew to vast proportions. Located in Independence Hall, the museum was a mixture of Peale’s paintings, curious gadgets, minerals, and stuffed animals. Its most celebrated exhibit was the first complete skeleton of an American mastodon, which was unearthed in 1801 on a New York farm. Peale, who had accompanied the archaeological expedition, chronicled the excavation in his painting. In 1812 the museum was relocated to Baltimore, Maryland, and he relinquished its directorship to his son Rubens. In 1812 Peale wrote “"An Essay to Promote Domestic Happiness,"” a tract that scholars today believe may have influenced many of his portrait compositions, in which family members touch intimately and are posed in a relaxed, informal manner.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Rembrandt Peale

The Sisters (Eleanor and Rosalba Peale)
oil on canvas
Brooklyn Museum, New York, USA
other detail unknown (for more paintings of this artist)

Rembrandt Peale (1778-1860), born in Pennsylvania, shares a birthday with George Washington, was an American painter, writer, and portraitist of prominent figures in Europe and the post-Revolutionary United States.

Since he was a son of famous painter Charles Willson Peale, he began drawing at the age of eight. He created some idealized portraits of mostly famous Americans. In 1795, at the age of 17, Rembrandt painted an aging Washington, making him appear far more aged than in reality. The portrait was well received, and Rembrandt had made his debut.

Throughout his life, he traveled across the Western Hemisphere in search of inspiration and opportunities as an artist. His father helped pay his way to Paris, where he stayed from June to September 1808, and again from October 1809 to November 1810. In Paris, he studied the works of Jacques-Louis David, which influenced him to paint in the Neoclassical style. After his successes in France, he returned to Philadelphia in 1810. In 1812 he established the Peale Museum in Baltimore in an effort to provide public education in the arts. By 1826, he decided to relocate to Boston. A few years later he visited Italy, where he made copies of paintings by Renaissance and Baroque masters. In 1831 he settled in Philadelphia, where he died in 1860. He was a founder of the Pennsylvania School of the Fine Arts and was a president of the Academy of Fine Arts in New York.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Raphaelle Peale

Basket of Peaches
oil on wood
34.9 x 49.8 cm
other details unknown

Raphaelle Peale (1774-1825), born in Annapolis, Maryland, is considered America’s first professional still life painter, imbued his still lifes with religious and political symbolism and structured his compositions with the symmetry and precision of Rational-era painting. Most of his paintings are small in scale, and depict a few objects - usually foodstuffs - arranged on a tabletop before a darkened background. He exhibited frequently at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and elsewhere.

He was the fifth child of a painter, though eldest surviving. He grew up in Philadelphia and was trained by his father as an artist. His first professional exhibition was in 1795 at the age of 21.

By 1806 he had begun to suffer the symptoms of arsenic and mercury poisoning brought on by his work as a taxidermist in his father's museum. In 1809 he was hospitalized with delirium, and for the rest of his life he suffered debilitating attacks almost yearly. By 1813, he was unable to walk without crutches. After the downturn in his health, and after reportedly indulging in a night of heavy drinking, his health destroyed and died at age 51 at his home in Philadelphia.

Monday, July 6, 2015

John Vanderlyn

Landing of Columbus
oil on canvas
365 x 548 cm
U.S. Capitol Rotunda, Washington, D.C., USA

John Vanderlyn (1775-1852), born in Kingston, N.Y., was an American neoclassicist painter. He became an important internationally known artist in the early days of the United States of America. He executed the first large-scale nude in the United States and various history paintings, some showing neoclassic influence.

As a young man he was enrolled as a student of Alexander and Archibald Robertson at the Columbian Academy of Painting in New York City. There he learned the basics of drawing and design and the technique of miniature painting. His painting brought him to the attention of U.S. Senator Aaron Burr who directed and supported the artist’s training over the next twenty years. Burr sent him to Philadelphia to study and then in 1796 sent him to Paris, making him the first American artist to receive formal training in France.

He came back to the United States in 1801 and lived in the home of Burr, then the Vice President. He returned to Paris in 1803 and went on to Rome where he painted his picture of Marius Amid the Ruins of Carthage (1807), which was shown in Paris and won him a Gold Medal from Napoleon and established his prominence in the European art world. In 1815, he returned to America and settled in New York City.

He also pursued entrepreneurial ventures. He erected the New York Rotunda (1818), a classical-style building near City Hall. The National Academy of Design had named him a member in 1826, but he refused the honor. His New York Rotunda project failed and, discouraged and debt-ridden, he retired to Kingston in 1829. Unsuccessful in most of his later enterprises, he returned in 1852 to Kingston where he died in poverty.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

John Trumbull

The Declaration of Independence
oil on canvas
3.7 × 5.5 m
U.S. Capitol, Washington, D.C., USA

John Trumbull (1756-1843), born in Connecticut, was an American artist during the period of the American Revolutionary War and was notable for his historical paintings. His Declaration of Independence (1817) was used on the reverse of the two-dollar bill.

He was the son of the Connecticut governor Jonathan Trumbull. Both sides of his family were descended from early Puritan settlers in the state. A boyhood injury to his left eye made him virtually monocular. After graduating from Harvard College in 1773, he worked as a teacher. During the American Revolution he served as an aide to General George Washington and achieved the rank of colonel.

In 1780 he went to London, but, in reprisal for the hanging of a British agent by the Americans, he was imprisoned there. Once released, he returned home but subsequently went back to London by 1784 to study with the painter Benjamin West. At the suggestion of West and with the encouragement of Thomas Jefferson, he began the celebrated series of historical paintings and engravings that he was to work on sporadically for the remainder of his life. While moving back and forth between England and the United States, in 1817 he was commissioned by the U.S. Congress to paint four large pictures in the rotunda of the Capitol at Washington, D.C.: Washington Resigning His Commission, The Surrender of Cornwallis, The Surrender of Burgoyne, and, best known of all, Declaration of Independence.

In 1831, a professor at Yale, established the Trumbull Gallery at Yale, the first art gallery at an educational institution in America. Trumbull gave his best works to this gallery in exchange for an annuity.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Edward Savage

The Washington Family
from 1789 until 1796
oil on canvas
213.6 x 284.2 mm
National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, USA

Edward Savage (1761-1817), born in Princeton, Mass., was an American portrait painter and engraver.
He is said to have been originally a goldsmith, also practicing engraving. Although seemingly untrained in painting, he came into prominence in 1790 through his portrait of George Washington, intended as a gift to Harvard University.

In 1791 he visited London, where he studied for a time under Benjamin West, and then went to Italy. Upon his return to the United States in 1794, he practiced in Philadelphia and New York City, maintaining for several years a picture gallery and art museum on Water Street in New York.

He is principally known for a large portrait group, "The Washington Family" (begun 1789, completed 1796), portraying President George Washington, First Lady Martha Washington, two of her grandchildren, George Washington Parke Custis and Eleanor Parke Custis. The painting was bought by Andrew Mellon and donated to the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Gilbert Stuart

George Washington
oil on canvas
243.8 × 152.4 cm
US National Portrait Gallery, New York, USA    

Gilbert Charles Stuart (1755-1828) was an American painter from Rhode Island. He is widely considered to be one of America's foremost portraitists. During his career, Stuart painted more than 1,000 portraits, including the first six Presidents of the United States. He set the standard for much of American art to come.

His oil painting is notable for its strong characterization, and fluent brushwork. He imitated none of the Old Masters, preferring to rely on what he saw with his own eyes. He had a great talent for flesh tones, which he obtained by using a wide variety of colours, but he did not mix the pigments: instead he allowed each colour to shine through the subsequent layer, as in a transparent skin. Unusually, he worked without the aid of sketches, drawing directly upon the canvas. His greatest portrait paintings can be seen in the best art museums throughout the United States.

Taught painting by a Scottish painter, he was only 12 years old when he painted the famous portrait of Dr Hunter's Spaniels, which still hangs in the Hunter House Mansion in Newport. By the age of 14 he was regularly accepting commissions. In 1771, he sailed for Scotland, to complete his studies. However, in 1772 his teacher died, leaving Stuart the impossible task of earning a living as a painter in a strange country. The following year he returned to Newport, USA. The outbreak of the American War of Independence prompted him to seek refuge in Britain. After graduating from Glasgow University, he settled in London.

Returning to America in 1793, he quickly established himself as the country's foremost portraitist, with his paintings of rich and successful Americans, including the first six American Presidents. George Washington first posed for Stuart in Philadelphia, in 1794. In addition to George Washington, he also painted the portraits of the next five Presidents including John Adams (2nd), Thomas Jefferson (3rd), James Madison (4th), James Monroe (5th), and John Quincy Adams (6th President). In 1824, he suffered a stroke, which left him partially paralyzed, although he continued to work until his death in Boston, four years later.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Ralph Earl

Portrait of Colonel Benjamin Tallmadge
(an influential member of the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War, with his son William Tallmadge)
oil on canvas
other detail unknown

Ralph Earl (1751-1801), born in Massachusetts, was an American painter known for his portraits. He also painted six landscapes, including a panorama display of Niagara Falls.

By 1774, he was working in New Haven, Connecticut as a portrait painter. Like so many of the colonial craftsmen, he was self-taught, and for many years was an itinerant painter. In 1778, he left behind his wife and daughter and escaped to England by disguising himself as the servant of British army captain John Money.

In London, he entered the studio of Benjamin West, and painted the king and many notables. He continued painting portraits in the town of Norwich. He later married an English woman, despite the fact that he had never ended his marriage in America. By 1786, he returned to the United States with his new wife. After his return to America, he made portraits of prominent men.

He seems to have been a man of unstable temperament. In 1786, while living in New York City, he was imprisoned for failing to pay his personal debts. Even while in jail, he drew portraits of his visitors, friends, and family of the Society for the Relief of Distressed Debtors. He was released in 1788. He died in Bolton, Connecticut in 1801. Alcoholism is believed to be the main cause of death.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

James Peale

Sir Peter Parker's Attack Against Fort Moultrie
oil on canvas
50.8 × 76.2 cm
other detail unknown

James Peale (1749-1831) was an American painter, best known for his miniature and still life paintings, and a younger brother of noted painter Charles Willson Peale (James served as his assistant and learned how to paint).

He was born in Chestertown, Maryland. His father died when he was an infant, and the family moved to Annapolis. In 1762 he began to serve apprenticeships there, first in a saddlery and later in a cabinetmaking shop. In 1776, he accepted a commission in the Continental Army as an ensign in William Smallwood's regiment. Within three months he was promoted to captain, and during the next three years fought in the battles of Long Island, White Plains, Trenton, Brandywine, Germantown, Princeton, and Monmouth. He resigned his army commission in 1779, and moved to Philadelphia.

In 1782 he married a sister of portrait painter, after which he established his own household and artistic career. At the outset of his career he painted portraits and still-life, and by the mid-1780s had established his reputation. Throughout the 1790s and early 19th century Peale devoted himself to miniature painting. Around 1810, as his eyesight began to weaken, he gave up painting miniatures to turn to large portraits and still-life subjects that were greatly admired and widely exhibited in Philadelphia, Boston, and Baltimore. Three of his six children became accomplished painters.