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.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Yumiko Oshima

 Happy Birthday Yumiko Oshima!! Born in 1947, this woman artist from Japan is a Manga artist. She began her work in comics in 1968. She has won various awards for her efforts. Oshima is credited with the development of the “catgirl” character type and influencing Japanese anime, with Chibi-Necko in her comic: A Star Over the Cotton Country.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Jacques Louis David

Happy Birthday Jacques Louis David!! Neoclassical painter from France, David was born in 1748. After his father's death at age 9, he was sent to live with his uncles who were prominent architects. He did not do well in school, but was an incessant drawer. After trying many times he finally did win the Grand Prix, Rome, and went to study in Italy, returned to Paris and achieved fame. He was an important influence in academic Salon painting, with a large number of pupils. His work referenced various ideals including political, cultural, and social. The Oath of Horati, included here, refers to the Enlightenment and Rousseau's social values.

Monday, August 29, 2011


Happy Birthday Giovanni Battista Salvi da Sassoferrato!! (Commonly referred to as just Sassoferrato, the town of his birth) Italian painter from 1609, Sassoferrato was a Baroque painter. His father was a painter and he trained under him as well as other painters of the time. Not much biographical information about him remains, although we do know he produced many devotional paintings for various patrons. This painting is the Madonna in Prayer.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Sir Edward Burne-Jones

Happy Birthday Sir Edward Burne-Jones!! British artist, born in 1933, Burne-Jones was a painter, stained glass artist and he worked in a variety of crafts. He was a 1st Baronet and worked in the Pre-Raphaelite style. The Beguiling of Merlin was finished in 1877 and was commissioned by art collector Frederick Richards Leyland. The painting represents the infatuation of Merlin with the Lady of the Lake, showing Merlin tangled in a bush while Nimue reads from her spell book.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Kurt Wegner

First I have to say Happy Birthday to my grandbaby Isabella Paz Jimenez Frederick!!! She is three years old today!!!

Happy Birthday Kurt Wegner!! German painter, Kurt Wegner was born in 1908, in Koln, Germany. He relocated to Sweden, where he lived until his death in 1985. The portrait included today is an example of his expressive style.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Rufino Tamayo

Happy Birthday Rufino Tamayo!! Mexican painter, born in 1899, Tamayo was orphaned at age 12 and raised by his aunt. He was educated for a time at San Carlos Academy of Fine Arts and then began to study independently. In 1921, he became the head designer of the ethnographic drawings department at the National Museum of Archeology, Mexico City. A contemporary of Diego Rivera, among others, Tamayo was influenced by the pre-Columbian artifacts he worked with and soon became an artist in his own right. He painted murals for various public places, espousing his political views through his images. About Tamayo and the mural included here, Nobel prize winning poet, Octavio Paz, stated "If I could express with a single word what it is that distinguishes Tamayo from other painters, I would say without a moment’s hesitation: Sun. For the sun is in all his pictures, whether we see it or not."

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Jef Diederen

Happy Birthday Jef Diederen!! This painter was born in 1920 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. He was a Lyrical Expressionist and worked with open forms and color. He used other materials with his paint including metallics, plastic film and spray paint. He was inspired by music and nature and used his inspiration to paint the emotions evoked.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Charles McKim

Happy Birthday Charles McKim!! Born in 1947, Charles McKim was an architect from Pennsylvania. He graduated from Harvard and went on to obtain his degree from Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Paris, in architecture. He joined with partners William Mead and Stanford White in 1877 to create their firm. His style put forward the American Renaissance and he was a founder of the American School of Architecture, Rome, and his firm designed the campus buildings. They were also known for their open designs for summer houses. The concourse at Penn Station is an example of his airy, open style. This is so reminiscent of the concourse in Milan, at the great fashion mall: Galleria Vittorio Emanuelle II, where we visited this past June!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Alexander Calder

Happy Birthday Alexander Calder!! American sculptor, born in 1891, Calder was a pioneer in kinetic sculpture. His parents were both artists (mother-painter and father-sculptor) he began creating his own art at age eight. He started his adult career as an engineer and his work is considered the union between art and engineering. He is famous for inventing stabiles and mobiles; Marcel Duchamp is credited with naming the free hanging structures “mobiles”. These were operated by a series of cranks and motors. His work is created in primary colors and black, showing his Mondrian influence.


Monday, August 22, 2011

Henri Cartier-Bresson

Happy Birthday Henri Cartier-Bresson!! This French photographer was born in 1908 and considered the Father of Modern Photojournalism. He was born in France and owned a Brownie box camera as a child. He studied painting in a Parisian studio. He described the camera lens as an “extension of his eye” and his aim to “capture the decisive moment”. He had an eye for composition, as demonstrated in the photo below.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Asher Durand

Happy Birthday Asher Durand!! Another landscape painter, this American, born in 1796, was a painter from the Hudson River School. His father was a watchmaker and silversmith and Durand was apprenticed to an engraver. After a short career as a portrait painter, Durand tried his hand (successfully) at landscape painting. The painting included here today is titled The Trysting Tree, look closely and you can see the couple in question.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Narcisse Diaz de la Pena

Happy Birthday Narcisse Diaz de la Pena!! Another French painter, but born in 1807, Pena was a landscape painter and founder of the Barbizon School. A victim of a hard life, he was orphaned at age 10 and by 15 had lost a leg to blood poisoning and was a painter for a porcelain studio. It did not take him long to develop a mature style and begin painting oils. He studied the masters at the Louvre as well as his peers Delacroix and Rousseau. He applied colorful paint quite thickly with texture and was known to be a free spirit.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Gustave Caillebotte

Happy Birthday Gustave Caillebotte!! Born today, French painter from 1848, Caillebotte came from a wealthy family and he used that wealth to help support his Impressionist friends. He had an extensive collection of Impressionist paintings. His interest was in capturing industrial Paris. In subject matter his work was rather like that of the Realists. His first painting, The Floor Scrapers was rejected by the Salon but then exhibited in the second Impressionist show in 1876. He exhibited with the Impressionists for most of their subsequent shows. His will left his remaining work and his collection to the state of France with the stipulation that it be shown first in Luxemboug and then the Louvre, rather than be locked up in some museum of antiquities.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Josef Danhauser

 First a shout out to one of my favorite actors...Patrick Swayze was born today in 1952...still missing you!

Happy Birthday Josef Danhauser!! Austrian painter, Josef Danhauser was born in 1805 and started as a "drawer" in his father's furniture factory after his father's death. A student of Peter Krafft, he studied at the Wiener Academy. He was inspired by the English painters of the mid 1800's and became a well known genre painter. He became a professor for the Academy in Vienna. He created a painting of Beethoven on his deathbed and I am including the oil sketch of Beethoven's hands, the day after his death.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Larry Rivers

Happy Birthday Larry Rivers!! American born painter with Russian-Jewish parents, from 1923, Rivers was also a musician and film maker. He studied music at Juilliard with Miles Davis who was to become a lifelong friend. He lived at the Hotel Chelsea in New York City with artists and followers of Andy Warhol in the 60's. His work was realistically drawn images against painted abstract  backgrounds, appearing to be collages, really. The History of the Russian Revolution, the final work for a retrospective in 5 American museums in 1965 is below.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Vincenzo Coronelli

Happy Birthday Vincenzo Coronelli!! This artist was a cartographer, born in Italy in 1650. He was a Franciscan monk, studying both theology and astronomy. Royal Cartographer to King Louis XIV and in this capacity created several hundred maps and globe gores. He was undoubtedly the most important geographical world historian of the late 1600's. The globes included here, today, are the pair created for King Louis XIV, leading to Coronelli's appointment to Royal Cartographer. Constructed of wood with a layer of plaster and fabric, then painted; they measure approximately 12 feet in diameter and weigh 2 tons! The globes are located in Paris at the Grand Palais.

Globe gores-Flattened sections of the globe which can be cut out and fashioned back into spherical shape.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Francesco Zuccarelli

Happy Birthday Francesco Zuccarelli!! Landscape painter in the Rococo style, Zuccarelli was born in Italy in 1702. After living in Tuscany and working in Rome and Florence, Zuccarelli first settled in Venice and then traveled to England where he lived off and on. His colors were light and mellow compared to traditional Venetian painters and he became well-loved as a landscape painter. His name means Little Pumpkin, leading him to “sign” his paintings with a small pumpkin. He was a founder of the Royal Academy of Arts.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Ernest T. Seton

Happy Birthday Ernest T Seton!! Born in 1860 in England (Scottish descent) and then immigrating to Canada with his family in 1860, Seton became a US citizen in the late 1800's. Wildlife artist, author naturalist and quite an outdoorsman. Seton was also a founder of the Boy Scouts of America. He studied art in England at the Royal Academy and later in Paris. He was commissioned in 1885 to do 1000 mammal drawings for a dictionary. His painting Triumph of the Wolves is included below.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

George Luks

Happy Birthday George Luks!! Another American painter from 1867 was George Luks, a member of the group of New York painters called “The Eight”. He studied art at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art, beginning at age 17. He painted humans in settings reflecting their personalities. He had a flair for dramatic, dark qualities in his paint which superseded his use of color.  In the painting below, notice the small bits of color in the simple brushstrokes, defining the women's clothing and faces, as they congregate in the park with their charges tucked safely away, in the carriages. The scene is set against a value painting in greys and blue.

The Eight or The Ashcan School-A group led by Robert Henri, who challenged the guidelines of the dominant school, articulating a belief that painters should represent “life rather than style”.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Abott Thayer

Happy Birthday Abbott Thayer!! American painter, born in 1849 and studied in Paris. He was an expert at portraying idealized female forms. Called the “Father of Camouflage” Thayer experimented with coloration and countershading to create protection in nature. Although somewhat eccentric, he was quite a popular portrait painter and had many commissions.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Martin J. Heade

Happy Birthday Martin J Heade!! Also from Pennsylvania, born in 1819, Heade was a landscape painter concentrating mostly on scenes from New Jersey. His favored settings were early morning, evening or an impending storm. He was gifted at depicting the dusky, almost eery, light relevant to his scenes. Storm Approaching Narragansett Bay is a great example of his skill at creating the ominous feel of an oncoming storm.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

William M. Harnett

Happy Birthday William M Harnett!! Today I will begin a stretch of 5 American painters' birthdays in a row. William Harnett was born in Ireland, in 1848, but grew up in Philadelphia. He is considered the most important still life painter of the late 1800's. After the Hunt, 1885, is an example of his mature style. The story-telling aspects of the painting are exhibited in large scale, this painting measures 4'X6'!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

George Cullen

Happy Birthday Gordon Cullen!! Like yesterday, today we again have an architect, with a birthday, this time from England, born in 1914. Although he studied architecture he never really practiced it, but acted as a consultant and adviser. Primarily an urban designer, he was a major proponent of the Townscape Movement, publishing The Concise Townscape, in 1961.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Charles Bulfinch

Happy Birthday Charles Bulfinch!! American architect, born in 1763, Charles Bulfinch was from Boston, and educated at Harvard. He is thought to be the first American born citizen to become an architect. After a tour of Europe he was influenced by the architecture in Italy. Returning to the US, his career began and he began to design primarily civic buildings in Boston. However his most important commission was that of the Capitol in Washington, DC after a section of it was burned. In this capacity he designed the wings, central section, portico and re-designed the wooden dome.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Albert Kotin

Happy Birthday Albert Kotin!! Russian born American artist from 1907, Albert Kotin immigrated to the US with his family when he was only a year old. He studied at the National Academy of Design, Academie Julian, and The Art Student League. He was a member of the New York School of Abstract Expressionists, with artists such as Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollock and Francis Kline. The painting Whispering Rain, 1957, is below.

Abstract Expressionism-A mix of Abstract Art with Expressionism, this movement rose to important status following WWII. Artists adhering to this style have been described as “allowing the subconscious to express itself by the creation of involuntary shapes and dribbles of paint." Jackson Pollock is perhaps the best known figure of the movement.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Jess Collins

Happy Birthday Jess Collins!! American painter and collage artist, Jess Collins (known just as “Jess”) was born in 1923. After dreaming the world would come to an end in 1975 from a nuclear holocaust, Jess turned from a career as a radio-chemist to that as an artist, using art as a vehicle for exploring spiritual and intellectual themes. His paintings borrowed ideas from children's books and science theories. His collages were complicated “paste-ups” of bits and pieces of images. He was an important figure in the art scene of San Francisco. The painting below, titled Will Wonders Never Cease, Translation #21, was created in 1969.

Friday, August 5, 2011

George Tooker

Happy Birthday George Tooker!! American born artist from 1920, Tooker was a contemporary painter. Although a representational painter, his images were spookily surreal. Commentary on mechanisms of a modern world were his focus. After studying English Literature and serving in the US military, Tooker was educated at the Arts Students League in New York City. He worked in soft tones of egg tempera on wood panel. Later his work became more personal and emotionally reflective.  The painting I am including today is indicative of his early work, The Subway, 1950. Compositionally complex, the space is fractured with geometric shapes, lending to the haunting theme.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Pieter Coeke van Aelst

Happy Birthday Pieter Coeke van Aelst!! Flemish painter and tapestry designer, van Aelst was born in 1502. He lived in Italy for a time before moving back to Brussels. At his studio in Brussels, he instilled the theories of Italian Renaissance in his many students.  His most famous painting is his Last Supper, sold at auction in 1985 for $56,250.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

James Wyatt

Happy Birthday James Wyatt!! English artist, born in 1746, James Wyatt studied in Italy, returning to England to begin his career as an architect. He designed the Pantheon in London which opened in 1772. The interior was quite spectacular, with a great dome, sided with gallery aisles. He was an immediate success and the design was featured at the Royal Academy. He was best known for reviving his country's Gothic architecture, creating a bridge between Rococo Gothic and Medieval design.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Arthur Dove

Happy Birthday Arthur Dove!! American painter born in 1880, Dove traveled to Paris, returning in 1907. Interested in painting moods and emotions, Dove was one of the first to totally eliminate representational elements from his paintings. For this we can think of him as a precursor of Abstract Expressionism of the fifties. The portrait of his Grandmother, below, represents one of the first collages to be created in America. It includes a portion of her needlepoint, a page from her Bible, and some pressed flowers. The work is mounted on a wood shingle.

Picasso was the first to create collage, coining the term collage, meaning to paste in French.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Jan van Scorel

Happy Birthday Jan van Scorel!! Born in 1495, the same year that Leonardo painted the Last Supper, van Scorel was a Dutch painter, born in the village Schoorl (hence his name Scorel). He was apprenticed to a painter as a child and was one of the first Dutch artists to travel to Italy. In fact introducing the High Renaissance to the Netherlands is attributed to him. While in Italy he was made curator of antiquities for the Vatican. When he returned to the Netherlands he was appointed an official of the Catholic Church of Utrecht, where he also established a workshop and continued to paint mostly altarpieces and portraits with the help of his assistants. Today I am including a unique portrait of Mary Magdalene.