Thursday, April 28, 2011

Spanish painter Joaquim Sorolla

Spanish painter Joaquim Sorolla i Bastida (1863 – 1923) was born in Valencia. He worked in the Impressionist manner, and as much as I generally detest Impressionism I quite like his work.

Sophie Gengembre Anderson

Sophie Gengembre Anderson (1823-1903) was something of a multi-national artist. She was born in France, her mother was English, and the family moved to the United States in the 1840s. She ended her life in England.

Sophie Gengembre Anderson, Elaine, 1870

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Jean-Gabriel Domergue

Jean-Gabriel Domergue (1889-1962) was a painter and designer, and even designed clothes. And he claimed to have invented the pinup.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Robert Burns, art nouveau painter

Robert Burns (1869-1941) was born in Edinburgh and studied in Paris and London. He worked within the art nouveau style. A very obscure artist!

Robert Burns, Diana and her Nymphs, 1926

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Tadeusz Styka, Polish-American artist

Tadeusz Styka (1889 - 1954) was born in Poland and emigrated to the US in 1929. He achieved considerable success with portraits of jazz age celebrities such as the actress Pola Negri.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Alexandre Cabanel, French academic painter

Alexandre Cabanel (1823-1889)was mentioned in passing in our brief discussion on Gaston Bussière, who was one of his pupils. Cabanel was a French academic painter, and he has most of the strengths and weaknesses of that type of painter. Enormously popular during his lifetime, he suffered complete popular and critical eclipse in the 20th century.

He had the distinction of inspiring the single silliest passage in the whole of Bram Dijkstra’s Idols of Perversity, the “nymph with the broken back” passage.

Alexandre Cabanel, Albayde, 1848

Alexandre Cabanel, Cleopatra Testing Poisons on Condemned Prisoners, 1897

Alexandre Cabanel, Phedre

Monday, April 18, 2011

John Atkinson Grimshaw

John Atkinson Grimshaw (1836-93) was born in Leeds and worked for the Great Northern Railway. He pursued an interest in painting despite parental disapproval (his parents were strict Baptists). He’s probably best known for painting night scenes, and for his fairy painting. Like so many 19th century British artists he also found inspiration in Tennyson’s poetry.

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The Lady of Shalott

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Elaine, 1877

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Spirit of the Night, 1879

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Swiss painter François Barraud

Although I'm not a huge fan of 20th century art I do occasionally come across an artist whose work I like, such as this one. Swiss painter François Barraud (1899-1934) was one of four artist brothers although François seems to have been the only one to establish any kind of reputation. He relocated to Paris in the early 1920s where he died of tuberculosis at the age of 35.

François Barraud, La seance de peinture, 1932

François Barraud, Untitled, 1930s

François Barraud, Jeune femme en jaune (Portrait de Mme. S.), 1933

François Barraud, Ste. Nitouche, 1930

François Barraud, La Tailleuse de Soupe, 1933

Emma Sandys

Emma Sandys (1843-1877) apparently achieved some modest success as a painter but unfortunately I’ve not been able to discover anything more about her.

Emma Sandys, Pleasant Dreams, 1876

Emma Sandys, Fiammetta

Emma Sandys, Elaine, 1862-65

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Bruges-la-Morte by Georges Rodenbach

Bruges-la-Morte, published in 1892, is possibly the best known work by the Belgian Symbolist writer Georges Rodenbach. The novella concerns a man, Hugues Viane, who has settled in the city of Bruges after the death of his wife. He intends to devote the remainder of his life to a kind of cult of death centred around his deceased wife, and he finds Bruges, which to him seems like a city of the dead, a congenial place in which to do this.

He identifies himself with the city, and comes to feel that he shares its moods and even its soul. He keeps his dead wife’s possessions, and also a lock of her hair preserved under glass. This existence continues until he encounters a woman in the streets, a woman bearing an uncanny resemblance to his wife. This over-sensitive man is prone to obsession at the best of times, and soon becomes obsessed with this woman. She is an actress. They begin an affair. The more he tries to make her fit his image of his departed wife the more he sees that it isn’t quite working, and to add to his problems his obsession is slowly becoming a scandal. Bruges is a very Catholic city, and he starts to fear that perhaps he really is committing a sin and that as a result he may never be re-united with his bride after death. But he has also fallen in love with the actress, although he is perhaps never quite sure which woman it is he is in love with. Of course this situation is not going to end happily.

Hugues’ difficulty in distinguishing between the real woman he once loved, the woman with whom he is now having a affair and the woman of his imagination who is composed of parts of both women is traced with exquisite sensitivity as is his identification with Bruges which becomes both himself and the thing he loves. In his mind death is possibly more real than life.

A wonderful little book. Highly recommended. There are several English translations available; the edition I read was translated by Philip Mosley and published by the University of Scranton Press. It’s also available from Dedalus Books.

John Riley Wilmer (1905-1926)

John Riley Wilmer (1905-1926), Constance In Captivity, 1928.