Blossoming Almond Branch in a Glass (1888)

Blossoming Almond Branch in a Glass (1888)
One of my favorite still life subjects of Van Gogh, the cut branch in a glass, I ran across this one with the book behind creating a complicated compositional element. Note also the use of complementary colors, red and green, creating a vibration in the painting.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Jean Picart Le Doux

Happy Birthday Jean Picart Le Doux!! Born today in 1902, this artist was a French carpet designer. He worked in tandem with Jean Lurcat and was one of the most productive tapestry designers of the 20th century. They founded the Association of Tapestry Cartoon-Painters, pioneering the revival of tapestry design and believed tapestries should be original designs and not copies of paintings. The artists designed works meant for hanging on the wall and specific architectural spaces.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Bernardo Bellotto

Happy Birthday Bernardo Bellotto!! Italian born Bellotto was a painter from 1720. His uncle, Antonio Canal, the famed Venetian vedutista was his teacher and he assumed the nickname Canaletto from him leading to some confusion as to who was who…Bellotto was best known for his cold, vitreous light inherent to Northern Italy. As other vedutistes, he may have used a camera obscura in his work. He later became a court painter in Warsaw. Capriccio Padovano is the image below.

Veduta-an early “postcard”, a painting of a place, usually Venice or Rome. Painted for tourists wishing a memento of their journey.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Barnett Newman

Happy Birthday Barnett Newman!! American painter, born in 1905, Newman was an Abstract Expressionist. His parents were Jewish immigrants from Poland and he was born in New York City. He was an art critic and a writer. Following WWII many artists sought to redefine reality. His own art went through many phases, beginning with Expressionism, to Surrealism and finally color field Abstract Expressionism. His work has often been overlooked for artists’ such as Pollock and Mondrian. Considered his “mature style” his color fields are pierced with narrow “zips” of contrasting color. He was interested in depicting a “pure idea” which would address mankind’s tragic condition by creating the sublime. The painting below is titled Onement I.

Friday, January 28, 2011

John Baskerville

Happy Birthday John Baskerville!! He was born in rural Wolverly, England, in 1706. Baskerville is best known for printing and the development of several elegant new fonts. He was the printer for University of Cambridge. Considered a masterpiece, he created a Bible in folio format in 1763, even though he was an atheist. Following his death in 1775, his wife continued to operate the printing press for 2 more years. Some believe that Conan Doyle used his name for the familiar The Hound of the Baskervilles, since they were both living in Birmingham, England.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Samuel Palmer

Happy Birthday Samuel Palmer!! Englishman, born in1805 to a poor bookseller, Samuel Palmer was educated by his father. Initially, he was influenced by William Turner, painting romantic scenes, and exhibited at the Royal Academy and British Institute. Later, Palmer was a disciple of William Blake and began painting idealistic landscapes, little “corners of paradise”.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Kees van Dongen

Happy Birthday Kees van Dongen!! Painter and printmaker van Dongen was born in Holland in 1877, moving to France in his 20’s, becoming a naturalized citizen. Largely self-taught, van Dongen did take some night classes in Rotterdam. Early on he was influenced by Rembrandt, imitating his dark tones, but gradually introduced more and more color into his paintings. Known for his flamboyant and somewhat garish portraits, Kees van Dongen worked in the Fauvist style.

Les Fauves-means “wild beasts” a name the group of artists earned for themselves because of their bright slashes of color, sometimes dominant black outlining, and distorted flat patterns, figures and shapes.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Pompeo Batoni

Happy Birthday Pompeo Batoni!! Italian painter Batoni was born in 1708.Influenced by Raphael, his handling was detailed. He was known for his dramatic portraits in historical settings. His primary clientele being wealthy tourists who wanted their likeness painted in Rome. The painting included here today is of General William Gordon in full Scottish garb, at the Colosseum. Later Batoni won commissions for altarpieces, as well as mythological and historical paintings.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Gillis van Coninxloo

Happy Birthday Gillis van Coninxloo!! Born in Antwerp, Belgium, in 1544, Gillis van Coninxloo was from a family of painters. He apprenticed to an artist in Belgium but then traveled in France, returning to join a guild in Antwerp. Religious strife in the Netherlands forced him to flee to Germany for a time, but he did return to Amsterdam where he lived and worked for the rest of his life. He was expert at forest landscapes, dense rich foliage emphasizing a unity between man and nature.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Francois Mansart

Happy Birthday Francois Mansart!! Born today in 1598, this French architect came from a family of artists. His father was a master carpenter, his grandfather a mason, one uncle a sculptor and the other an architect. Mansart was the apprentice to a master architect at a young age. His architectural career began with designing the fa├žade for a small chapel in Paris in 1623. His work is said to exhibit stately classical intent without being fussy or overdone. The Mansard roof is named after his double sloping design.  The Chateau de Balleroy is the only standing building of his early designs (1631), featuring rough yellowish brown stone with the white corner edging (quoins).

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Francis Picabia

Happy Birthday Francis Picabia!! Born in France in 1879, Picabia lost his mother and maternal grandmother at an early age  and turned to art and painting as well as poetry. His father was a Spanish-Cuban and an attache to the Cuban legation so Picabia was financially secure. He studied art under Fernand Cormon at the Ecoles des Arts Decoratifs. His career began with Impressionist influence, then Cubism, but he gradually veered toward Surrealism and Dada. He eventually founded and wrote the well-known 391, a Dada newspaper modeled after Steiglitz' 291

Friday, January 21, 2011

Adriaen van der Werff

Happy Birthday Adriaen van der Werff!! Born in 1659, Dutch painter Adriaen van der Werff was a portrait painter and painter of mythological and religious scenes. He was a pupil of his brother Pieter and also studied at age twelve with Elgon van der Neer, focusing on clothing and drapery. He established his own studio in Rotterdam and eventually became the official court painter. Unfortunately his work went out of favor with the Victorian Age and most of his art was relegated to the Alte Pinakothek (Old Pinakothek) a museum in Munich, Germany, housing many works by the old masters. The self-portrait included here was painted in 1697 and features spectacular handling of the fabric on his tunic.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Hippolyte Bayard

Happy Birthday Hippolyte Bayard!! French photographer, born in 1801, Bayard is considered to be one of the inventors (maybe the first) of photography. He claims to have created it before Louis-Jaques Daguerre or William Talbot, but was persuaded to hold off announcing his discovery, allowing Daguerre to be recognized instead. His process was called ”direct positive printing”, which involved a series of chemical baths resulting in an image that was not reproducible. The exposure was twelve minutes so most of his subjects were still such as buildings, landscape scenes, etc. Bayard was the first in the world to exhibit photography, in 1839. The photo included here is Paris, Montmartre, 1842.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Sophie Taeuber-Arp

Happy Birthday Sophie Taeuber-Arp!! Born in Switzerland in 1889, she studied art in her native Switzerland as well as Germany, later teaching weaving and textile arts in Zurich at the School of Arts and Crafts. After meeting Jean Arp in 1915, they worked in collaboration on many projects, marrying in 1922. She created puppets, costumes, and sets and was quite involved in the Zurich Dada movement. Taeuber-Arp was a colorist and very adept at geometric abstractions in the Modernist style. The weaving included in the blog today is of a “duo-collage” the two artists collaborated on: Symetrie Pathetique.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Kiki Smith

Happy Birthday Kiki Smith!! Kiki Smith was born in 1954, in Nuremberg, Germany, but raised in South Orange, New Jersey. Her father, Tony Smith, was a sculptor and her mother, Jane Lawrence Smith an actress and opera singer. She studied in Connecticut at Hartford School of Art and works in sculpture, mixed media pieces and printmaking. Although sometimes a bit disturbing, her work addresses social and political issues; Kiki is described as a feminist artist. The Brooklyn Museum awarde Smith their Women in the Arts Award in 2009. She continues to live and work in New York. The images I am including today are from her Constellation installation in the "Unnatural Science" exhibition in 2000, at MassMoCA, in North Adams, Massachusetts.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Eugene Carriere

Happy Birthday Eugene Carriere!! The French painter was born in 1849 and considered a symbolist. He studied in Paris at Ecole des Beaux-Arts and later was inspired by Rubens while imprisoned in Dresden during the Franco Prussian War. He was a friend to Rodin and later an influence for Picasso and Matisse. His paintings were hazy monochromatic brown, mostly scenes of his family life. The sensitive handling of light and dark, lending a mysterious air to the work is evident in his painting of Mother's Kiss, below.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Francesco Scavullo

Happy Birthday Francesco Scavullo!! American photographer, born in New York City, Francesco Scavullo was a well-known photographer for Cosmopolitan magazine. As a young boy, he practiced his art on his sisters, styling their hair and posing them for his pictures. Although his father wanted him to go into the family’s restaurant business, he relented when Francesco had success with a photo of Lauren Bacall in 1943 and several other magazine jobs including one for the cover of Seventeen. He bought him a house in New York to live in and use as a studio. His innovative lighting techniques earned him notoriety and success and he was the major photographer for Cosmopolitan for 30 years.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Frances B. Johnston

Happy Birthday Frances B. Johnston!! American photographer born in 1864, Frances Johnston moved to Washington D.C. when she was young. She studied art at the Academie Julian in Paris. She is known to be a pioneer in photography and a champion for women's rights and advancement. She photographed thousands of well known people, events and architecture and was a prolific writer as well. She traveled extensively, her photographs providing an important record available even today. The picture here is of Quentin Roosevelt and his playmate Roswell Newcomb Pinckney, 1902.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Berthe Morisot

Happy Birthday Berthe Morisot!! One of the few women Impressionist painters, Berthe Morisot was born today in 1841 in France. She and her sister were students of Camille Corot. Married to Edouard Manet's younger brother, Morisot was a great influence on Manet and even persuaded him to adopt some of the Impressionistic style. This association allowed her to gain some notoriety as a woman artist, which was (and still is) difficult. Her work is painterly with the delicate quality of light inherent in much of Impressionist work. The painting included it titled Child Among Staked Roses, or sometimes referred to as hollyhocks.

Thursday, January 13, 2011


Happy Birthday, first to my close friend Maryjane Cline!! And then to Gavarni…French printmaker from 1804. He was originally named Sulpice Guillaume Chevalier, but took Paul Gavarni as his artist name from the location where he first published a sketch. He began as an engineer draftsman but then became a caricaturist. Gavarni came from a poor family in Paris and attended the free school of drawing. His cartoons often poked fun at French society and various classes. He quickly became popular among publishers, illustrating several books including an edition of Balzac’s works. Toward the end of his life he became quite interested in scientific pursuits and experiments, especially aerial navigation. The Pot and Pan Peddler, printed in England, is included here.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Jusepe Ribera

Happy Birthday Jusepe Ribera!! Spanish Tenebrist painter born in 1588 near Valencia, Ribera traveled to Italy, becoming a member of Accademia di St. Luca in Rome. Caravaggio was a great influence on Ribera, although Ribera’s style gradually softened from his original forceful approach. He painted religious as well as mythological themes. Spanish influence is obviously apparent in his work, as evidenced in the depiction of the figures below: The Holy Family with Saints Anne and Catherine of Alexandria.
 Tenebrist-Style of painting employing the use of chiaroscuro to create dramatic contrasts of dark and light. Tenebrist actually means "shadow painting", normally including deep, inky blackness. Caravaggio has been usually associated with establishing with this style.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


Happy Birthday Parmigianino!! Italian Mannerist painter, born in 1503, his real name was Francesco Mazzola. He came from a family of less important painters. Correggio and later Raphael influenced his work. The figures in Parmigianino’s frescoes had long necks and hands and seem to swoon in their ecstasy. He was one of the first to use etchings, engravings and woodcuts in his work. Although he was quite elegant and sensitive in his painting style, personally he was said to be neurotic and rather mad at the end of his short life 1503-1540).  The detail of Cupid’s head is from Parmigianino’s Cupid Shaping His Bow.


Monday, January 10, 2011

John Held

Happy Birthday John Held Jr.!! Born on this day in 1889, Held was an American magazine illustrator of the 1920s, the flapper era. He began selling his designs at a very early age, the first at age 15 to Life magazine. He went on to illustrate for Vanity Fair, Redbook, and Harper’s Bazaar. His drawings were very fine lines with inky black. e HHHe designed the cover included here for an F. Scott Fitzgerald collection. Even after the flapper went out of style his drawings came back in favor as nostalgic relics such as Teaching an Old Dogs New Tricks (1952) below. Held died in 1958 of throat cancer.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Nicolas Coustou

Happy Birthday Nicolas Coustou!! The French sculptor was born in 1658 to a woodcarver father who gave him his first lessons in the art of sculpture. He studied at the Academie Royale in Paris under his uncle (mother’s brother). While there he won the honorable award to study at the French Academy at Rome. Following this study Coustou became sculptor for the palaces Versailles and Marly. Influenced by Michelangelo, his sculptures were carved in the academic style but unfortunately many were destroyed in the French Revolution. One of his most famous is in the Louvre, pictured below: Louis the XV. Certainly the handling of the fabric is reminiscent of Michelangelo.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Jaques Francois Blondel

Happy Birthday Jacques Francois Blondel!! This French architect was born in 1705 and studied with his uncle the architect of Rouen. He began as an engraver of architectural designs, but eventually became an architect in his own right. He was recognized by the French Academy as a founder of the school of architecture in France. His aim was to transfer the classical approach from civil buildings to domestic structures as well. Blondel designed this building on town square in Metz.

Friday, January 7, 2011

P. A. J. Dagnan Bouveret

Happy Birthday P. A. J. Dagnan-Bouveret!! French painter born in 1852, Dagnan-Bouveret was a Realist painter of the academic school. His grandfather raised him after his father relocated to Brazil. After meeting fellow artist Gustave Claude Etienne Courtois at Ecole des Beaux-Arts (French school for the arts) they shared studio space in Paris. Courtois introduced Dagnan-Bouveret to his future wife Anne Marie Walter (pictured below). He painted peasant and religious scenes as well as portraits for wealthy people. He was one of the pioneers in using the camera to help with his realism. 

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Jean Ipousteguy

Happy Birthday Jean Ipousteguy!! Born in 1920, Frenchman Jean Ipousteguy was originally named Jean Robert, later taking his mother’s maiden name, Ipousteguy. He took art lessons in Paris. Following World War II, he painted and worked in stained glass for a time but in 1949 changed his name moved to Choisy-le-Roi and focused on sculpture. The patinaed bronze head below seems to emerge from a wall.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Yves Tanguy

Happy Birthday Yves Tanguy!! Painter born in France in 1900, Yves Tanguy was a Surrealist. He traveled extensively for a time while he was in the merchant marines. When he returned to Paris he had a wealth of images from far off places on which he based his fantastical paintings. Andre Breton, fellow Surrealist was his mentor and he was largely self-taught. In 1939 Tanguy moved to the US where he met and married his wife, a fellow artist. His paintings are eerie, stark landscapes with usually overcast skies with strange forms and figures placed throughout.

Surrealism-art of the dream, distant memory or insane delusion. Andre Breton founded the group with some remaining artists of Dada. The aim was for artists to free themselves and let their subconscious thoughts dictate their art expression.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Wilhelm Lehmbruck

Happy Birthday Wilhelm Lehmbruck!! The German sculptor was born in 1881 is considered a German Expressionist tied also to Naturalism. He attended the Academy of Arts in Dusseldorf and then lived in Paris, associating with artists Modigliani, Brancusi, and Archipenko. His work focused on the human body, much of which was quite somber, with some exhibiting elongated limbs and figures. After serving in World War I as a paramedic he suffered from depression and ultimately committed suicide in 1919. The Inclined Head of a Woman below is based on a larger full sized sculpture of the artist’s wife, Anita.

Monday, January 3, 2011

August Macke

Happy Birthday August Macke!! German born painter, from 1887, August Macke was greatly influenced by the French painters. He worked with bright colors in a Cubist related style. He was a member of Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider) a group of German Expressionists. His work was more realistic than his influences. Sadly his life was cut short when he was killed in World War I in 1914. His last painting, appropriately titled Farewell, is pictured below.

The Blue Rider-a group of German Expressionist artists considered forerunners to Modern Art. Wassily Kandinsky was an important founder.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Charles Howard

Happy Birthday Charles Howard!! Born in 1899 in New York City, Howard was a modern artist working in Abstract-Surrealism. He came from an artistic family, his father an architect. He graduated from University of California at Berkeley and did graduate work at Harvard and Columbia Universities in English. During a trip abroad, Howard met Grant Wood who encouraged him to pursue painting. He returned to New York City and worked as a painter in a decorating firm, allowing him the free time to sketch. After his marriage to an Englishwoman and their subsequent move to England, Howard was able to surround himself with fellow artists and inspiration. His work was avant-garde for the time, as Surrealism did not really “hit” America until the mid 30’s. He has been described to seek a balance between the intangible “surrealist” world and more traditional painting. The image I am including today is titled The Factory (1934).

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Paul Revere

Happy Birthday Paul Revere!! Born on New Year's Day, in 1735, American patriot (and messenger) Paul Revere was also a silversmith and accomplished engraver. He was the third of twelve children and as the eldest son he inherited his family's silver shop in Boston an the age of 20. Unlike most silversmiths of the day, he was able to create silver work in entirety, including castings as well as decorative engraving. Paul Revere created political engravings and was also a dentist!