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Link is to Wikimedia Commons; they sourced it from a Sotheby’s auction, so I don’t know the current location of the original — perhaps in a private collection.
Corot gives us an idyllic depiction of the gentle beginnings of Spring, in sharp contrast to the snow and forecast nor’easter on the first day of Spring here on the east coast of the U.S.
The painting isn’t dated, but it carries the look of similar landsapes in Corot’s later career, with the early foliage painted as delicate brush marks that in places are barely visible against the gray of the sky.
You can see the naturalism, free brush work and attention to the effects of light that so inspired the Impressionists.
Jean-Charles Cazin was a 19th century French painter who painted primarily landscapes and pastoral scenes, but also cityscapes of Paris and some smaller towns.
When I first saw the painting now titled Paris Scene with Bridge (above, top) at the National Gallery in DC, I was immediately charmed by it. The painting is small, roughly 10 x 13 inches (24 x 21 cm), but striking and remarkably modern looking.
Though Cazin was undoubtedly influenced by the immediacy and painterly approach of the Impressionists and other contemporary painters, he kept to his own more naturalistic sensibilities.
In his later career, his paintings approached a tonalist feeling. Many of them have a striking sense of light and contrast, particularly those depicting scenes at twilight.
Black, red, and white chalk, on gray laid paper; roughly 9 1/2 x 8 inches (240 x 195 cm); in the collection of the Morgan Library and Museum, NY.
Peter Lely, known for his sumptuous and sometimes erotic portraits of royals, nobles and courtiers in the 17th century court of Charles 1, here gives us a sensitively realized portrait drawing in the “trois crayon” method.
This is a method of drawing with three chalks — black, red (sanguine) and white — on toned paper, often cream or buff, but in this case, gray. It’s an approach particularly suited to figure and portrait drawing.
Though it’s difficult to tell if the drawing has faded to any degree since it was done, Lely’s use of white and red chalks are judicious. His application of white is just a hint of tone, subtly raising the value of areas of the face and neck and a few curls of hair.
You can tell he started the drawing of the face with the red chalk, which remains the only outline of the forehead, lower face and nose, though the eyes and brows have been reinforced with black.
I haven’t been through the hundreds of portraits attributed to Lely and his very active workshop in enough detail to know if this was a preliminary for a finished painting, but Lely evidently thought enough of the drawing that he signed it.
Alex Callaway is a UK based artist whose work encompasses pop surrealism, illustration, landscape and portraits. However, on his personal website, Callaway focuses on his still life paintings.
These are of simple, commonplace still life subjects, and are painted with finesse and a sense of keen observation of light and texture, giving them a contemplative quality and inviting the viewer to slow down and appreciate the extraordinary in the ordinary.
Brown ink and wash, roughly 3 1/2 x 7 inches (9 x 18 cm); in the collection of the National Gallery of Art, DC.
Though a number of Rembrandt’s drawings, particularly those of figures or religious scenes, can be identified as preliminary to particular paintings of graphic works, his landscape drawings seem to have been done for their own sake.
No one can say with certainty what Rembrandt’s intention or state of mind was in regard to a particularly drawing, of course, but I can’t look at a drawing like this without thinking that it was done purely for the pleasure of drawing.
This feels to me like the work of someone who could take up pen and paper and let the burdens of the world fade into the distance while focused on the scene in front of him.
There is evidence throughout of keen, clear observation (like the blades of the multiple windmills), yet Rembrandt in his mastery makes the notation seem casual and relaxed.
I love the effect of distance he achieved by using thicker, heavier strokes (perhaps with a different instrument or ink) in the foreground.
Though the term would have been meaningless in Rembrandt’s time, to our modern sensibilities, the aspect ratio of the image could be described as cinematic — capturing a panorama of riverfront structures and activity in addition to the city beyond.
Don’t take my detail crops above be the only view you get of the image at a large size. Go to the Google Art Project or National Gallery page and view the drawing zoomed in at full screen. Perhaps, like me, you can project yourself onto the bank at Rembrandt’s side, and feel the wind push the sails of the ships along the river as his pen captures the moment.
John Byam Liston Shaw, more commonly known as Byam Shaw, was a British painter and illustrator active in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Shaw was influenced by the Pre-Raphaelite painters who preceded him by a generation, and ons one of the last hold-outs to carry their traditions on in the face of waning popularity. Many of his subjects were literary, and some were taken from the poetry of Pre-Raphaelite leader Dante Gabriel Rosetti.
In his later career Shaw turned to teaching, establishing the Byam Shaw and Vicat Cole School of Art with Rex Vicat Cole (later called simply the Byam Shaw School of Art). One of the instructors was Eleanor Fortescue-Brickdale, another Pre-Raphaelite influenced artist and illustrator who had a long association with Shaw.
Watercolor and ink, roughly 10 x 7 inches (25 x 18 cm); in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Use the Download or Enlarge links under the image on their page.
I love this beautiful ink and watercolor rendering, not just for its wonderful combination of precision and sketch-like freedom, but for its unusual view of St. Mark’s Square. There are dozens, if not hundreds of beautifully rendered paintings and drawings of that most famous of Venice’s public squares, but most are from the far end, looking down the full length of the plaza.
Here, Wyld gives us a much more intimate view, the kind you might encounter as you walked about the edges of the square, and with a daring composition as well. The dark, shadowed foreground presents the primary figures almost in silhouette against the lighter base of the campanile.
The differently colored tiles in the paving lead us back to the distant group of figures, and the angled view of the Loggetta brings us back out to more shadowed foreground.
Leonard Campbell Taylor was a British painter active in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He is know for his portraits and in particular for his interiors with figures, many of which are also portraits.
He was a war artist during WWI, and also did some illustration.
Many of his portraits and figures are beautifully refined, some with an academic naturalism, some showing the influence of Impressionism.
Many of his paintings have a compositional device in which the primary image is in a crisp rectangle, created by setting off the image with tape, from which key elements extend outside of that area, often with the addition of drip effects at the bottom.
Spanish painter Ignacio Zuloaga, who was active in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, brings together the traditions of Spanish painting from preceding centuries and the Post-Impressionist flavor of his time in this beautiful reclining portrait of a well known Parisian poet and novelist Anna de Noailles, who was the subject of portraits by a number of other artists.
Zuloaga’s portrait is dramatically theatrical, not just in the curtain-framed setting, but in the striking warm light that sweeps across her face, shoulders and gown. The face is framed by the sitter’s shock of dark hair, which is echoed in the dark tones in the cover of the setee.
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