Monday, May 29, 2017

Saul Tepper in Illustration Magazine


Saul Tepper (1899-1987) is one of my favorite illustrators active in the 1920s and 1930s. So I was very pleased to see that Illustration Magazine featured him in this, the issue current when this post was drafted. I wrote about Tepper here, and mentioned him in a few other places. More regarding him can be found here, here, and here.

Tepper's 1920s style was similar to the 1920s work of Dean Cornwell, perhaps in part because they studied under Harvey Dunn. Later on, both Cornwell and Tepper adjusted their styles to new illustration fashions, though Tepper eventually changed his career from being strictly being an illustrator (read the Illustration article for details).

Below are examples of Tepper's work from that era, some also appearing in the magazine article.

Gallery

From a 1933 issue of McCall's magazine.

Detail of illustration for General Electric refrigerators, 1930.

Illustration for a story about football (American).

"The Make-Up Time" story illustration -- 1930s college students.

One of my favorites, this from a Chesterfield Cigarettes advertisement. I like the toned-down colors and the pose of the flapper just off the ship from Europe confronting a U.S. Customs inspector.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Moody World of Henri Le Sidaner

Henri Eugène Augustin Le Sidaner (1862-1939) was a prolific painter despite the fact that he usually painted in a small-stroke divisionist fashion. Even though he is not well known these days, the Athaenium web site has nearly 400 images of his work, far above their typical image count for painters.

Sidaner's English language Wikipedia entry is brief, so consider the more detailed French entry and have it translate the text if you don't read French. A useful article about him from 2014 can be linked here on the (British) Spectator site.

As for his style, Sidaner's divisionism was a treatment he applied much of the time to fairly structured draftsmanship. That is, if you look at the thumbnail images at the Athaenium site above, many seem sharp. It's only when you link through to enlarged versions that the brushwork becomes more dominant.

Gallery

The Return of the Flock - 1889
An example of Sidaner's early style and subject matter.

Portrait of Madame Hemon - 1896
Divisionism is beginning to creep in here in the form of small color areas.  The arms and hands are poorly done.  In any case, he seldom painted people.

Sunday - 1898
A pleasant scene: one of his more interesting works with a Symbolist touch.

A Canal at Bruges - 1898
Le Sidaner avoided Paris, spending time at various places in France and Belgium.  A few of his works deal with the London area.

The Cathedral at Chartres - 1903-04
Note the small, lighted window.  This makes the image less relentless.  Examples of this can be found in a number of his paintings.

Full Moon on the River - 1919
Two lighted windows here (plus one reflected window) in this pleasantly moody painting.

Une petite Table au crépuscule - 1921
He often included tables with a bit of still life as subjects.  Here too is a lighted window.

La Fenêtre du Midi, Villefranche-sur-Mer - 1927
Another Sidaner trait was showing scenes beyond open windows.

La ville haute - 1937
A fairly late painting.  Color areas return, though some divisionism remains.

Evening Celebration - 1939
Painted not long before his death.  Atypical subject matter.  More of a sketch than a finished work (in Le Sidiner's sense).

Monday, May 22, 2017

A Portrait by Henry Brown Fuller

Henry Brown Fuller (1867-1934) was a capable painter who left few works of note, if the number of his paintings found via Google is any criterion. Plus, he had personal problems that might well have been related to this. His brief Wikipedia entry is here.

As for the quality of those few images is concerned, one painting, Illusions, is in the Smithsonian American Art Museum collection. Another, his portrait of Ebba Bohm (c.1905) was on display at San Francisco's De Young when I visited in December.

The Ebba Bohm portrait is interesting in part due to its comparative "flatness" -- not poster-like, but far from the rounded, hard-edge academic style that was prevalent only a few decades before Fuller painted Ebba. This characteristic is not so apparent in the images posted here, but for some reason stood out when I viewed the painting in person. I found it a very satisfying work by a not-well-known painter.

This is an image of the painting found on the Internet.

Here is a photo I took at the museum. For some reason it seems "flatter" than the image above. Perhaps it's because the colors seem less intense -- and those colors in my photo seem closer to what I saw than those in the first image.

A close-up photo. Modeling of the head is much less apparent here than in the Internet image.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

John Singer Sargent Portrait Drawings

I concentrate on paintings here because they interest me more than the other Fine Arts. Drawings are also interesting, and for some reason have tended to be regarded as less important than paintings. Perhaps that's why I unconsciously tend to ignore them in this blog.

Because that's unfair, this post offers some balance in the form of portrait drawings by John Singer Sargent (1856-1925). By the 1900s he had tired of portrait painting and changed much of his emphasis to making watercolors and, eventually, murals. He still painted portraits, but his portrait work was increasingly in the form of drawings, some of which are presented below.

Gallery

Studies of Mme Pierre Gautreau for the "Madame X" painting - c.1883
Not strictly portraiture, but historically interesting in terms of Sargent's career.

Edwin Austin Abbey - c.1888-89

Viola Tree - 1907

William Butler Yeats - 1908

Mrs Louis Ormond (Violet Sargent, the artist's sister) 

Diana Manners

Lady Elizabeth Bowles-Lyon, later Queen of England - 1923

The Duke of York, later King George VI - 1923

Mrs Theordore Frothingham Jr. (neé Eleanor Fabyan) - 1924

Monday, May 15, 2017

Unfinished Le Nain

Unfinished paintings interest me because they reveal to some degree how an artist went about his business.

In December I encountered an interesting example at San Francisco's Legion of Honor museum in an exhibit of paintings by France's Le Nain brothers. The link (available as I write this) to the exhibit is here. The brothers' Wikipedia entry is here.

And here is what the National Gallery has to say about the painting in question, "Three Men and a Boy" from around 1647-48. It seems it was previously known as "A Trio of Geometers." But a cleaning revealed an unfinished image of three men (some think it's a portrait of the brothers themselves) with an image of a boy made using a different style and a different light source. I wonder what the geometers version looked like -- a quick Google search for it turned up empty -- and why it was so easily revealed by cleaning.

A further question is which brother was the painter; it seems that they all signed paintings using only "Le Nain." The National Gallery does not designate who did it. The Athenaeum web site has Louis as the artist. Curators of the exhibit believe the painter was Mathieu.

Gallery

This image is from London's National Gallery, owner of the painting.

My establishment photo taken at the exhibit.

Closer photo of the main unfinished area. Click to enlarge for a better view of the brushwork.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Towards the End: Jacques-Louis David

Jacques-Louis David (1748-1825) is one of the most famous French painters of Revolutionary and Napoleonic times. Many of his works were directly or indirectly political, and he was personally involved in political matters during the heyday of the Revolution. A fairly lengthy Wikipedia entry on David is here.

David's basic style was what has been derisively termed "Pompier" in reference to the Greek-style helmets worn by Parisian firefighters. This had to do with subject matter and the idealized depictions done in a highly "finished," hard-edge manner. More regarding his evolution can be found at the above link.

Given his political stances, David was reluctant to work in France following the Bourbon restoration. Having fled to what is now Belgium after Napoleon's fall, he remained in Brussels for the last years of his life.

Although David remained capable of making Pompier works during this time, some casual paintings of a greatly different character survive. I found two examples in December at San Francisco's Legion of Honor museum.

Gallery

Mars desarme par Venus - 1824
According to Wikipedia, this is David's last Pompier painting.

Laure-Emilie-Felicité David, La Baronne Meunier - 1812
A portrait of one of his twin daughters. Napoleon was still in power and David was still in Paris. But at age 64 this can be considered a late work.

Laure-Emilie-Felicité David, La Baronne Meunier - 1812
Close-up view. This seems to be little more that a sketch or study. Or might have David anticipated artistic trends 50 years in the future? Probably not, but I don't know enough to be categorical about this.

La bonne aventure (The Fortune Teller) - 1824
This was painted the same year as the Mars and Venus painting, within two years of David's death. Again, the style is casual and sketchy. Could this have been a study for a more finished work that was never made? Again, I don't know.

La bonne aventure (The Fortune Teller) - 1824
A slightly closer view.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Dalí Paints a Sugar-Daddy's Daughter

Salvador Dalí (1904-1989: biography here), like many other painters resorted to making portraits from time to time in order to help earn a living.

One example is that of Dorothy Spreckels (brief obituary here), daughter of sugar magnate Adolph Spreckels and former artists' model Alma Spreckels (who according to the link referred to Adolph as her "sugar daddy"). The Spreckels donated the San Francisco Legion of Honor to the city in 1924.

Their youngest daughter, Dorothy, was also interested in art and was painted by Dalí in 1942. This portrait is in the Legion of Honor, but not always on display. The museum's link to it is here. And here is an account of Dalí's doings in the Bay Area in 1941-42.

I visited the Legion of Honor in December 2016, but didn't notice Dorothy's portrait. But I did see and photograph it three years earlier.

Gallery

Alma Spreckels in 1904.

Dalí and Dorothy at Monterey's Hotel Del Monte, 28 August 1941.

The portrait -- museum site image.

As it appeared on my camera.

Close-up of Dorothy. Not shown here are some Surrealist bits to the right.