Jean Alaux

Jean Alaux, “Cadmus in Combat with the Dragon”,  1830, Engraving, 38.6 x 29.5 cm, Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon, France

Born in 1786 in the port city of Bordeaux, Jean Alaux was a French history painter, one of four brothers who all became painters. He received his first art lessons from his father. Alaux’s formal training was under history painter Pierre Lacour and Pierre-Narcisse Guérin, a Parisian painter known for his portraits and melodramatic mythological scenes. In 1807, Alaux was admitted to the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris.

Beginning in 1808, Jean Alaux began entering his work in the Prix de Rome; however, he took a hiatus from his own work to assist his older brother Jean-François Alaux on a large-scale panorama. Subsequently, Alaux entered his “Briseis Weeping Over the Body of Patroclus” in the 1815 Prix de Rome. This work, inspired by Homer’s “Illiad”, was awarded the major prize at the exhibition. Alaux was elected to the French Academy in Rome and, from 1816 to 1820, received an annual pension.

While at the Academy, Jean Alaux became a friend of Neo-classical painter Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres and associated with such artists as painters François-Édouard Picot and Michel Martin Drolling, and sculptors David d’Angers and Jean-Jacques Pradier. Alaux’s first oil painting at the Academy was “Cadmus Killing the Dragon at the Fountains of Dirce”, purchased by the Duke of Orleans and later destroyed in a a fire at the Royal Palace during the 1848 French Revolution. Alaux painted two other mythology-based scenes during his stay at the Academy: “Episode in Combat with the Centaurs and the Lapithes” and “Diamedes Carrying Off the Palladium”. 

Alaux returned to France in 1821 where his reputation grew as his new works were well received. In 1825 he painted the historical work  “The Baptism of Clovis”, which depicted the warlord King Clovis’s baptism by Saint Remigius, the Bishop of Rheims, surrounded by a crowd of spectators. This work was followed by “States General of 1838”, “The Assembly of the Notables at Rouen in 1596”, and “States General of 1814”. 

During the liberal constitutional reign of Louis Philippe I which began in July of 1830, Alaux worked at the Galerie des Batailles under the auspices of the Chàteau de Versailles. He painted three historical works for the gallery: the 1836 “Battle of Villaviciosa”, “The Capture of Valenciennes” in 1837, and the 1839 “The Battle of Denain”. 

In 1846, Jean Alaux was appointed director of the French Academy in Rome. During his directorship, he and his students were forced to temporarily flee to France during the siege of Rome in 1849 when Garibaldi’s defending forces fought the invading French army. Alaux continued his directorship at the Academy until his retirement in 1852. Jean Alaux died twelve years later in Paris on the second of March in 1864. 

Jean Alaux’s work can be found in many private and public collections including the Metropolitan Museum of New York which holds his 1817 “Léon Pallière in His Room at the Villa Medici, Rome”, the British Museum in London which houses a collection of Alaux’s etchings, and the Harvard Art Museum, among others.

Top Insert Image: Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, “Portrait of Jean Alaux”, Date Unknown, Engraving

Middle Insert Image: Jean Alaux, “Narcisse”, 1818, Oil on Canvas, 95.3 x 76 cm, Private Collection

Bottom Insert Image: Jean Alaux, “A Man with Gun Seen from Behind”, Date Unknown, Black and White Chalk on Brown Paper, 57.7 x 39.1 cm, Private Collection

Lucas van Leyden

Lucas van Leyden, “The Standard Bearer”, circa 1510, Engraving, 11.8 x 7 cm, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Lucas van Leyden, “The Pilgrims”, circa 1508, Engraving, 15.1 x 11.9 cm, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Painter and printmaker Lucas van Leyden was born in the city of Leiden in the province of South Holland, the Netherlands. He was among the first Dutch artists of genre painting, an accomplished engraver and woodcut printmaker. 

There is some controversy over the date of his birth as there is no confirming documentary evidence available. Finnish painter and art historian Karel van Mander suggests that Lucas was born in 1494 and was a prodigy having executed, in 1508 at the age of fourteen, his earliest dated engraving “Mohammed and the Monk Sergius”. Other scholars believe it more likely that Lucas was born circa 1489, which would have made him nineteen years old at the execution of the early print.

Outside of his existing dated artwork, there is very little historical documentation of Lucas van Leyden’s life. He is first mentioned in a 1514 register as a member of the civil guard in Leiden. In both 1515 and 1519, Lucas’s name appears in a list of crossbowmen for the city of Leiden. It is known that Lucas married Elisabeth van Boschhuysen, the daughter of a Leiden magistrate, sometime around 1515.

There is equally some controversy on the artistic training of Lucas van Leyden as there is very little documentation on his relationship with the two men responsible for his training. It is likely Lucas  received his first instructions in art from his father, Huygh Jacobsz, who is listed in Leyden’s municipal archives as being a painter in the city in 1480. There is evidence that Lucas was in the workshop of Cornelis Engelbrechtsz, who is considered the first important painter from the city of Leyden. 

Several scholars believe that Lucas van Leyden’s early paintings and engravings suggest that he had entered Engebrechtsz’s workshop with an already well-developed personal style, most likely influenced  by the teachings of his father. Lucas was familiar with the numerous works of the engraver Marcantonio Raimondi, whose motifs Lucas reworked in his early paintings and engravings. Raimondi’s studies of nudes inspired Lucas in his later works, particularly in his altarpieces where he was an early adapter of the Italian-style nude figure. 

Lucas was friends with and influenced by both master engraver Albrecht Dürer and Romanist painter Jan Gossaert. Albrecht Dürer’s diary entry and his silverpoint portrait drawing of Lucas, now in the Musée Wicar in Lille, confirm the two artists met each other in Antwerp in 1521. According to Karel van Mander, Lucas made a second journey through the southern Netherlands, circa 1527, at which time  he met Jan Gossaert in the city of Middleburg.

Lucas van Leyden is thought to have developed the technique of etching on copper, instead of iron, plates. The softness of the copper plate made it possible to combine etching and line engraving in the same print. One of the earliest examples of Lucas’s use of this technique is his 1521 portrait of the Holy Roman Emperor Masimilian. Lucas was also among the first engravers to use an aerial perspective in his prints.

Seventeen paintings directly attributed to Lucas van Leyden survive in collections; a further twenty-seven paintings are known through contemporary copies or drawings of them made by printmaker and publisher Jan de Bisschop in the later seventeenth-century. From 1513 to 1517, Lucas created a series of woodcut engravings called “The Power of Women”, a theme which was extremely popular in Renaissance art and literature. Consisting of two large and small sets of prints, the series includes “Samson and Delilah”, “The Fall of Man” depicting Adam and Eve, and “Herod and Herodias”, shown with their daughter holding the head of John the Baptist on a plate.

Lucas van Leyden’s health deteriorated drastically following his trip to southern Netherlands in 1527. Lucas, who thought he had been poisoned by an envious colleague, was often ill and bedridden. He died in the summer of 1533.

Top Insert Image: Lucas van Leyden, “The Apostle Peter”, circa 1510, Engraving, 11.4 x 6.9 cm, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam,

Middle Insert Image: Lucas van Leyden, “Christ Before Annas”, 1521, Engraving, 11.4 x 7.6 cm, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Bottom Insert Image: Lucas van Leyden, “The Beggars (Eulenspiegel)”, 1520, Etching and Engraving, 17.5 x 14.1 cm, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Benoît Audran the Elder

Etchings by Benoît Audran the Elder

Born in Lyons, France, on November 23, 1661. Benoît Audran the Elder, second son of engraver Germain Audran, was an engraver, He received his primary instruction in engraving from his father; Benoît Audran later continued his studies under his uncle, the master engraver  Gérard Audran, who was appointed engraver to King Louis XIV. 

Although he never equalled the style of his uncle’s work, Benoît Audran established his own reputation with his many engravings of historical subjects and portraits. His style was bold and clear, in both the drawing of his figures and the fine expression of his characters. Benoît Audran’s many portraits include those of the French statesman Jean Baptiste Colbert; Joseph Clement of Bavaria, Archbishop of Cologne; and Swiss soldier and politician Samuel Frisching,. 

Benoît Audran the Elder also produced  several hundred engravings based on the works of various master artists. These include: “The Baptism of Jesus Christ” after the work of Italian Baroque painter Albani; “The Savior with Martha and Mary” and “St. Paul Preaching at Ephesus”, both after the neoclassical painter Eustache Le Suerur; and “The Accouchement of Marie de Medicis”, after Flemish artist Paul Rubens. Among Audran the Elder’s best works are the two engravings:, “The Seven Sacraments”, after the paintings of Nicolas Poussin, and “The Bronze Serpent”, after Charles Le Brun’s 1649 painting of the same name.

Benoît Audran engraved two plates, one in 1716 and one in 1717, which depicted David in his struggles with Goliath. Both of these works are ascribed as being based on the work of Mannerist Italian painter Daniele de Volterra, who is remembered for his association with Michelangelo.

Benoît Audran the Elder became a member of the Académie des Beaux-Arts in 1709 and was appointed engraver to King Louis XIV, a post which included a pension. Audran died in 1721 in the village of Ouzouer, near Sens in north-central France. 

Note: Inscription content on “David and Goliath” engravings: Lettered with dedication to the Prince de Chelamar, with his titles, followed by ‘Benoit Audran, graveur ordin. du Roy, dedie cette copie d’une des deux peintures de Michel Ange Buonarotta qu’occupent les surfaces d’une grande pierre, representant le même sujet du combat de David et de Goliath en deux differentes attitudes, laquelle a été présenté par son Ex. a Louis le Grand à Marly le 25 Juillet de l’année 1715 au nom de Monseign. Judice son frère, Grand Maître du Palais Apostolique.’ With date ‘A Paris le 31 Decembre 1716’

Top Insert Image: Benoît Audran the Elder, “Portrait of Jean-Baptiste Colbert”, 1676, Engraving, Palace of Versailles Research Center

Bottom Insert Image: Benoit Audran the Elder,, “George Monck, First Duke of Albemarle”, 1707, Engraving After Adriaen van der Werff, After Frabcis Barlow, Private Collection

Benton Murdoch Spruance

Lithographs by Benton Murdoch Spruance

Born in June of 1904 in Philadelphia, American artist Benton Murdoch Spruance was a painter. educator, and lithographer. Growing up in an affluent suburb, he worked as an architectural assistant after graduating from high school. Spruance studied at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Architecture, and also attended etching and drawing classes at the Graphic Sketch Club, a free art school. 

After working in a logging camp for several months in 1924-1925, Benton Spruance enrolled in the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, whose 1928 Cresson scholarship enabled him to study overseas in France. He studied at the Académie Montparnasse under cubist painter André Lhote, and later was introduced to lithography at the acclaimed Paris print workshop of Edmond Desjobert, with whom Spruance would later work producing many of his lithographs. 

After returning to Philadelphia, Spruance began working for an interior design firm and taught part-time at Arcadia College. After receiving a second Cresson scholarship, he traveled to Paris to continue his painting studies with André Lhote. In 1933, Spruance had his first solo show at New York City’s Weyhe Gallery, a print and drawing gallery established in 1919. He was also appointed that same year as professor of the Department of Art at the Pennsylvania Academy. 

Although Benton Spruance continued to paint after his return from Paris, he was most active as a printmaker. His art in the 1920s and 1930s portrayed the life of ordinary men and women at both work and play. During this period Spruance’s style varied from naturalistic portraits to a precisionist approach of flattened and layered forms. It was these boldblack and white lithographic compositions with their wide tonal ranges and gradations which established Spruance’s reputation as a lithographer. During this period with the aid of two Guggenheim fellowships, he sketched landscapes throughout Europe and the United States.. 

During the period of the Works Progress Administration, from the late 1930s to the mid-1940s, a deliberate socially conscious agenda characterized Spruance’s lithographs. He began to work in a more highly charged expressionistic style and turned to wartime subjects as a prominent theme. Spruance also began producing psychologically charged portraits of women, which was followed later by themes based on biblical narratives and mythology. At the 1936 Summer Olympics in Germany, Spruance’s work was among the six hundred works of art at the competition held inside the Berlin Exhibition

From the early 1950s Spruance participated in the urban regeneration of the city of Philadelphia and, in 1953, was appointed to the Philadelphia Art Commission. One of his achievements was the passing of a 1959 law where one percent of the budget for every new building in Philadelphia had to be spent upon public art. Avid about the lithographic process, Spruance pioneered many innovations and techniques for the use of color in print making. During the 1960s he produced many color lithographs, which were mostly literary or symbolic in theme.

Despite the demand for his lithographic work, Benton Spruance continued his role as an educator. He started “Prints in Progress”, a program to teach printmaking, through demonstration and participation, to public school students. Spruance was both the chair of the art department at Arcadia University and held the chairmanship at the printing department of the Philadelphia College of Art. 

A prolific printmaker with over five hundred editions during his lifetime, Benton Spruance died in Philadelphia on the 6th of December in 1967. In 1968, Barre Publishers, Massachusetts, posthumously published Benton Spruance’s project “Moby Dick: The Passion of Ahab”, a portfolio which illustrated Lawrence Melville’s novel and contained twenty-six color lithographs that were finished in the years just before Spruance’s death.

Top Insert Image: Benton Murdoch Spruance, “Subway Shift, The Second Front”, 1943 Lithograph, 36.8 x 48.6 cm, Private Collection

Middle Insert Image: Benton Murdoch Spruance, Approach to the Station, 1932, Lithograph on Japon Paper, 27.9 x 35.3 cm, Private Collection

Bottom Insert Image: Benton Murdoch Spruance, Nero, 1944, Lithograph Edition of 30, 36.8 x 39.7 cm, Private Collection 

Cornelius von Haarlem

Cornelius van Haarlem, “The Fight Between Ulysses and Irus”, 1590, Engraving, 42.8 x 33.2 cm, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Insert: Cornelius von Haarlem, Cain Killing Abel, 1591, Engraving, 33.3 x 41.5 cm, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Dutch Mannerist painter Cornelius Comelisz, known as Cornelius van Haarlem, was born the son of wealthy parents in 1562 in Haarlem, the Netherlands. He first studied with Renaissance painter Pieter Pietersz the Elder in Haarlem. Later between 1580 and 1581, van Haarlem travelled to Rouen, France, and then to Antwerp, where he became a pupil of Flemish Renaissance painter Gillis Coignet for a year. 

Cornelius van Haarlem painted mainly portraits as well as mythological and Biblical subjects. Initially he painted large-size, highly stylized works with Italianate nudes in twisted poses with a grotesque, unnatural anatomy. Later, van Haarlem’s style changed to one based on the realist tradition of the Netherlands.

In 1581, van Haarlem settled in Haarlem, becoming a respected member of the community, and received his first official commission in 1583. The resulting militia company portrait of the Haarlem Civic Guard, a milestone in Dutch group depictions with its liveliness, earned him the position of official city painter and many future commissions.

Along with Karel van Mander, printmaker Hendrick Golzius and other Northern Mannerist artists, Cornelius van Haarlem established the Haarlem Academy which provided artists the opportunity to draw from models and plaster casts. Before this time, no Dutch artists studied the nude human figure, which was the principal motif of van Haarlem’s drawings and paintings. 

Between 1590 and 1593, van Haarlem worked on a large commission for four large paintings to decorate the Prinsenhof, part of the municipal complex in Haarlem. Following its completion, he received numerous major commissions from: the Civic Guard in 1599, the Commanders of the Order of Saint John in 1617 and 1624, the Court of the Stadholder in the Hague in 1622, and the hospital of the Helige Geesthuis in 1633. 

Cornelius van Haarlem served from 1613 to 1619 as a regent of the Old Men’s Home in Haarlem. From 1626 to 1629, he was a member of the Catholic Saint Jacob’s Guild and, in 1630, along with other artists, was involved in the formulation of new regulations for the Saint Luke’s Guild in Haarlem, a guild for painters and both gold- and silversmiths. Cornelius van Haarlem died on the 11th of November in 1638.

Works by Cornelius van Haarlem are on display at the Frans Hals Museum in Haarlem, the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, the Louvre in Paris, the National Gallery in London, the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, and other museums. 

Henri Marias

 

Henri Marais, “The Genius of the Arts”, 1789, Engraving on Paper, 31,6 x 22.3 cm, Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Born in 1768, Henri Marais was a French engraver and printmaker, who often used the name of J. B. Marais.  He studied under engraver Jean  Massard who, due to his knowledge of engraving and scrupulous accuracy in his work,  was received in the Royal Academy in 1785 . Several of Marais’s engraved works are in The Victoria and Albert Museum including  “Venus et l’Amour”, “L’Hermite”, a portrait engraving of Frederick the Great, and “The Genius of the Arts”, shown above. Marais died in the 1830s, actual date unknown.

“The Genius of the Arts” was the frontispiece for “Tableaux, Statues et Bas-Relief et Camèes de la Galerie du Florence et du Palais Pitti” with prints after painter Jian-Baptiste Wicar and published by Etienne Lacombe. The allegorical figure is shown in neoclassical surroundings, with a column and a shield. It is apparently an idealized portrait of the neo-classical sculptor Jean-Guillaume Moitte. He is shown holding a laurel crown, which in portraiture suggests that the subject is a literary or artistic figure.

André Castiagne

André Castaigne, “The Killing of Cleitus by Alexander”, 1898-1899, Engraving, The Century Magazine

Jean Alexandre Michel André was a French artist, engraver and book illustrator. He became an important artist in the Golden Age of Illustration in the United States, producing paintings and literary illustrations in both France and America. As a youth, Castaigne read prodigiously and studied classic Greek, Latin, French, and German literature. At the École des Beaux-Arts, Paris, under Alexandre Cabanel and Jean-Léon Gérôme, he trained to become a painter in the Salon tradition. 

Castaigne’s interest in visually interpreting history led him to become an illustrator as well as a portrait painter. His first of many illustrations appeared in “The Century” magazine around 1891, followed by over 160 illustrations before the end of 1895. Castaigne created more than thirty-six engravings about Alexander the Great for the 1898 to 1899 twelve-part series of “The Century” magazine. 

André Castaigne’s engraving entitled “The Killing of Cleitus” shows the killing of Cleitus the Black, an officer of the Macedonian army led by Alexander the Great. At the Battle of the Granicus in 334 BC, Cleitus saved Alexander, who was under attack by the Persian commander Spithridates, by severing Spithridates’ hammer arm before he could strike the fatal blow. On the eve of the day he was to take possession of the Macedonian government, Alexander organized a banquet in the palace at Samarkand. During the drunken banquet, Cleitus, hearing he was to be posted in the steppes of Central Asia, uttered many grievances against Alexander and his royal legitimacy. This led to Alexander in anger throwing a javelin through Cleitus’ heart. In all four known texts of this story, it is shown that Alexander grieved for the death of Cleitus.

Alfred-Ernest Robaut

Alfred-Ernest Robaut, “The Education of Achilles”, 1879, Lithograph on Heavy Wove Paper, Image 37 x 46 cm , Private Collection

This lithograph engraved by Alfred-Ernest Robaut was printed in 1879 in Paris by the Lemercier and Cie company, after the 1862 pastel drawing by Eugène Delacroix now in the Paul Getty Museum collection. The subject, the centaur Chiron teaching the young Achilles how to hunt, was also painted by Delacroix on a pendentive supporting the cupola dedicated to Poetry in the library of the Chamber des Députés at the Assemblée Nationale in Paris.

Born in Douai, France, in 1830, Alfred-Ernest Robaut was a French designer and engraver. He is best known as the author of the first catalog of works by painters Eugéne Delacroix and Jean-Baptiste Corot, whom he greatly admired.

After brief studies, Robaut enter his father’s printing press in Douai, taking it over in 1853 and marrying the daughter of Constant Dutilleux, a painter and long-time friend of both Delacroix and Corot. As a draftsman and engraver, Robaut devotes himself mainly to reproduction engraving but also publishes numerous art history articles of his own writings.

From the 1860s, Alfred Robaut devoted himself to the reproductions of drawings and autographs by Delacroix and Corot, collecting testimonies, photographs, and documents on their lives. He died in Fonternay-sous-Bois, France, in April of 1909.

 

Anne Louis Girodet de Roussy Trioson

Anne -Louis Girodet de Roussy Trioson, Engraving, “Aeneas’ Sacrifice”, 1827

Anne-Louis Girodet was a French painter, born in 1767, whose works eemplified the first phase of Romanticism in French art. He began to study drawing in 1773, later becoming a student of the Neoclassical architect Étienne-Louis Boullée. With Boullée’s encouragement, Girodet joined in late 1783 the studio of Jacques-Louis David, a celebrated painter of the neo-classical and realistic style.

In 1789 Girodet won the Prix de rome for his painting “Joseph Recognized by His Brothers”, which showed David’s neo-classical influence. For Napoleon’s residence Malmaison, Girodtet painted in 1801 the composition “Ossian and the French Generals’, which melded images of legendary Irish heroes with images of the spirits of the generals who died during the French Revolution of 1789.

Girodet’s literary interests greatly influence his subject choices for his artwork. In 1808 he painted “The Entombment of Atala”. Girodet used a traditional composition of Christian iconography, The Entombment, for this canvas. Yet, in the manner of his master, David, his figures are aligned in a frieze-like manner and his drawing is precise. The dead Atala is somewhat unrealistically portrayed as an ideal beauty, and Girodet reuses the chiaroscuro effect of his earlier work “The Sleep of Endymion”: the light caresses Chactas’ back and Atala’s bust and lips. The picture, foreshadowing romanticism, is steeped in sensuality, emotion and religiosity, and the scene’s exotic setting and vegetation are a far cry from David’s austere decors.

Translation of Latin  text on engraving: “How acceptable was the long column of cups. The serpent tasted the food which was interposed between the bowls and polished cups, then turned and went beneath the tomb, leaving the altars where he fed.”

The Tempest

Benjamin Smith, “Act One, Scene One of the Tempest by William Shakespeare”, Untinted Engraving based on the Original Painting by George Romney, September 29, 1797, Published by J & J Boydell at the Shakespeare Gallery, Pall Mall, London

This engraving depicts the destruction of King Alonso’s ship caused by the tempest conjured by Prospero, seen on the right, who sent spirits to create the storm. Prospero caused the tempest in an act of revenge against his brother Antonio, one of the ship’s passengers, who had ursurped Propero’s position as Duke of Milan. Prospero’s daughter Miranda clings to him, begging for the lives of those on the ship. Prospero assured his daughter that he used his magic to prevent anyone from dying.

Benjamin Smith was a British engraver, publisher and print seller who was born in 1754 in London. He studied the art of stippling engraving under Francesco Bartolozzi,  one of the most famous engravers of the 1700s. During his career from 1786 to 1833, Smith engraved many plates from designs by William Hogarth, William Beechley, and George Romney. He also created portraits of the aristocracy such as the Marquis Cornwallis and King George III.

Employed for many years by J & J Boydell Publishing, Benjamin Smith was commissioned to engrave many plates for the Shakespeare Gallery and for the poetical works of John Milton in the years between 1794  and 1797. These are considered his best works and included the image above based on the painting by George Romney. Smith continued his engraving work until five years before his death in 1833, producing many works now in the collections of the British Museum and National Portrait Gallery.

Bernard Buffet

Bernard Buffet, Illustration for “Les Chants de Maldoror”, 1952, Drypoint Etching, Edition of 125

“Les Chants de Maldoror” was published by Les Dix of Paris and was printed by Atelier Daragnes in 1952. It was presented in-folio with leaves loose in two black cases with a limited edition of 125 copies. The 125 original etchings enclosed, each in a 12 x 16 inch format, were by Bernard Buffet. “Les Chants de Maldoror” was Buffet’s first illustrated book.

Gustave Doré

Gustave Doré, “Death of Eleazer”,1866, Engraving for the La Sainte Bible

According tothe Bible, during the Battle of Beit Zechariah, Eleazar identified a war elephant that he believed to carry the Seleucid King Antiochus V, due to the special armor the elephant wore. He decided to endanger his life by attacking the elephant and thrusting a spear into its belly. The dead elephant then collapsed upon Eleazar, killing him as well.

Eleazar’s death was a popular subject for art in the Middle Ages, where it was given significance as prefiguring Christ’s sacrifice of himself for mankind. This illustration by Gustave Doré is from the 1866 La Sainte Bible.

William Blake

William Blake, “God Judging Adam”, 1795, Copper Etching, 42.5 x 52.7 cm, Tate Museum

A nude and aged Adam, newly aware of his own nakedness and mortality, hangs his head before a fiery chariot bearing the divine maker whom he resembles exactly. For many years, this image was thought to represent Elijah in the fiery chariot. Recently, it has been connected to a passage in Genesis 3:17-19 in which God condemns Adam for tasting the forbidden fruit.

The print was made using a unique method of Blake’s invention. A plate etched in relief was used to print the design; then colors were painted onto millboard, or a similar surface, and printed onto the sheet like a monotype. Finally, Blake enhanced the print by hand with watercolor and ink.

Sonia Gechtoff

Sonia Gechtoff, Top Image: “Children of Frejus”, 1959, Oil on Canvas, Denver Art Museum    Bottom Image: “Tropics”, 1983, Color Etching with Embrossing, Edition of 50, Antique-White German Etchng Wove

Sonia Gechtoff was a prominent Abstract Expressionist painter who experimented with styles and materials throughout her life. She was born in 1926 in Philadelphia, into a family with art it its genes. Her father was a painter and her mother was a gallery owner. Gechtoff received her BA in Fine Arts from the Philadelphia Museum School of Art in 1950. At that time she abandoned figurative art in favor of the abstract.

Sonia Gechtoff also at this time started working with a palette knife to apply her paint on canvas rather than the traditional brush. Sonia refined her palette knife technique, and by the late 1950s, the slashing marks, often applied in a vortexlike way, were a hallmark of her work. In the 1980s, she expanded that technique with increasingly larger and less-controlled acrylic paintings that had elements of realism, architectural and landscape images. She continued to experiment and produce new work in a range of media throughout her life.

Sonia Gectoff, a mainstay of the New York art scene, passed away in February, 2018, at a hospice center in Bronx, New York at the age of 91.

Calendar

A Year: Day to Day Men: 28th of April, Solar Year 2018

A Road Well Traveled

April 28, 1879 was the birthdate of Edgard Tytgat, the Flemish painter and etcher.

Edgard Tytgat was a Belgium based artist: a painter, author, and engraver.  He studied at the Brussels Academy of Fine Arts where he discovered the new movements of symbolism and  post-impressionism. It was artists like Cezanne and Bonnard that influenced his work.

One of the publications with woodcuts that he produced in 1917 after the death of his friend, Wouters, is the volume “Quelques Images de la Vie d’un Artiste” (Some Images of an Artists’ Life), of which he singlehandedly printed forty numbered copies. By every one of the sixteen intentionally naïve prints Tytgat wrote a short text about the life of Rik and Nel Wouters, whom he knew so well.

Tytgat’s style evolved from local Fauvism to a wayward Expressionism with a popular and naïve character. During his career Edgard Tytgat painted nearly five hundred canvases and made countless watercolors, woodcuts, etchings and drawings. Even though he belonged to the group of artists associated with the journal Sélection, his work cannot be placed in any one particular camp. It is difficult to divide his work into well-defined periods, and it lacks clear chronological development. His earliest works are considered impressionistic, while later works can be described as expressionistic or naive.

Tytgat’s world was bittersweet. He was thoroughly familiar with art history and often drew inspiration from classic themes. His works are often bathed in an atmosphere of lost innocence or youth, fantasies, and eroticism. Everyday life and incidents from his own environment were also a great source of inspiration. However, Tytgat’s real strength was his virtuoso manner of storytelling. He invested images that at first glance seem naive, childlike and cheerful with a dark side. In this way he was able to create a complex web of meanings. A multitude of scenarios play out within a single image.

Richard Hamilton

Richard Hamilton, “He Foresaw His Pale Body”, 1990, Photo Etching, Aquatint and Engraving on Paper, 51.8 x 37.5 cm, Tate Museum

Richard Hamilton’s project to illustrate “Ulysses” began in the late 1940′s and to date comprises seven etchings and a digital print “The Heaventree of Stars”. In 1981 he made the decision to create one illustration for each of the novel’s eighteen chapters and a nineteenth image of Leopold Bloom destined as a frontispiece.

In this version, which was to form the basis for the final heliogravure print owned by the Tate Museum, the Richard Hamilton inverted and foreshortened Bloom’s body in a pose reminiscent of Andrea Mantegna’s famous image of the “Dead Christ” painted in 1480. As Hamilton explained: ‘The key word “foresaw” demands an interior perspective, foreshortened as though seen from an inner eye’.

‘He foresaw his pale body reclined in it at full, naked, in a womb of warmth, oiled by scented melting soap, softly laved’ -Joyce, “Ulusses”

The image shows a bath viewed from above and behind, so that the taps are at the top of the page, partially cropped out of the image. Bloom lies in the bath, his naked body extending down the page from his feet, just below the taps, to his upper body and shoulders filling the bath at the bottom of the picture, crowned by an aerial view of his bald head. The area around the bath is dark and empty; the colour is all in the flesh tones of Bloom’s body and the brass yellow of the taps. A round yellow object, half concealed under Bloom’s right knee, recalls the yellow flower with no scent that Bloom receives in the letter from his erotic correspondent Martha Clifford, as described in the ‘Lotus Eaters’ episode of Joyce’s novel.

For this etching, a few adjustments were made to the original composition: a greater part of Bloom’s right hand was raised out of the water; the alignment of the bath taps was reversed and the chain of the bathplug was lengthened so that a section appears to sit on the floor of the bath. By cropping the top of the taps, Hamilton creates a sense of the intimacy of internal contemplation; at the same time the viewer looks down at Bloom’s body from an external position, evoking an out-of-body experience.

Raphael Sadeler II

Raphael Sadeler II , “Saint Michael the Archangel”, Engraving, 1604

The Sadeler family were  the largest, and probably the most successful of the dynasties of Flemish engravers that were dominant in Northern European printmaking in the later 16th and 17th centuries, as both artists and publishers. As with other dynasties such as the Wierixes and Van de Passe family, the style of family members is very similar, and their work often hard to tell apart in the absence of a signature or date, or evidence of location. Altogether at least ten Sadelers worked as engravers, in the Spanish Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Bohemia and Austria.

Reginald Marsh

Reginald Marsh, “Flying Concellos” , Etching and Engraving, Date of Plate 1936, Edition of 100, 8 x 10 in. Collection of the Art Students League of New York

Reginald Marsh is one of the best known chroniclers of 1930s and 40s New York. It has been said that Marsh was to New York what Daumier was to Paris and Hogarth was to London. His paintings, drawings, and prints capture the aura and pace of the ever-changing city at a particularly exciting time in its history.

Marsh was fascinated with the seedier aspects of New York, and he was an obsessive explorer of the great metropolis. It was in places such as Coney Island, the burlesque parlors and dance halls of Fourteenth Street, the Bowery, the streets, and the subway that the Yale educated, financially comfortable Marsh found the subjects he was looking for – Bowery bums, burlesque queens, musclemen, bathing beauties, and streetwalkers. Marsh returned repeatedly to his favorite locations, usually working on the spot with sketchbooks and taking photographs that were used as the source material for completed works back in his Fourteenth Street studio.

Dan Hiller

Engravings by Dan Hillier

Dan Hillier is a professional artist based in Stoke Newington, England. He produces his own pictures as well as making commissioned artworks for various clients including Neil Gaiman. Most of his work is made from collaging found Victoriana with his own ink drawing, as well as producing original ink drawings using dip-nib pen and ink.

Dan is acclaimed for his black line engravings that embody the ‘Steampunk’ aesthetic, combining Victorian sensibilities with a fascination for animal attributes. His work is characterized by depictions of fantastical human/animal hybrids, spliced together from late-1800s imagery. These beautiful, classically rooted images find their power in their unsettling effect, as they seamlessly blur distinctions normally implied by reality.

Visit his site if you get a chance: http://www.danhillier.com