Konstantin Somov

Konstantin Somov, “The Boxer”, Portrait of Mikhailovich Snejkovsky, 1933, Oil on Canvas, 54.8 x 46 cm, Private Collection

Born in Saint Petersburg in November of 1869, Konstantin Andreyevich Somov was a Russian artist and founding member of the artistic movement Mir Iskusstva, World of Art, that became a major influence on Russian artists of the early twentieth-century. Konstantin Somov was the second son of Andrei Somov, an art historian and senior curator at the Hermitage Museum, and Nadezhda Konstantinovna, a talented musician and well-educated daughter of the Lobanovs nobility. 

Konstantin Somov attended the Karl May School in Saint Petersburg where he became close friends with classmates Dmitry Filosofov, later author and literary critic, and Alexandre Benois, future historian and influential designer for the Ballets Russes. At the age of twenty, Somov entered the Imperial Academy of Arts and studied from 1888 to 1897 under Ukrainian-born historical and portrait painter Ilya Repin. While at the academy, he developed lasting friendships with Sergei Diaghilev, the future founder of the Ballets Russes, and Léon Bakst, a painter who became an influential costume designer for Diaghilev’s company.

In the summer of 1895, Somov and Alexandre Benois stayed at a dacha in the village of Martyshkino near the coastal city of Oranienbaum. The landscapes he created and exhibited became his first major success with praise from both critics and artists. Somov graduated from the Academy in 1897 and continued his education at the Académie Colarossiin Paris. From 1897 to 1890, he worked on a portrait of Elizaveta Martynova, clothed in an old-fashioned dress, entitled “Lady in Blue”. Martynova was a painter, a graduate of the Imperial College of the Arts, who died at the age of thirty-six from tuberculosis. In this portrait finished four years before her death, Martynova’s delicate and trembling figure, frail with yellowish skin, stands alone in a park facing spectators with a face full of sorrow.

After the founding of the Mir Iskusstva in 1898, Konstantin Somov served as an editorial board member and contributed illustrations and designs to its magazine edited by Sergei Dlaghilev. During the 1910s, he created a series of harlequin scenes and illustrations for a poetry volume by Alexander Blok. Somov’s work was now exhibited in the United States and Europe, particularly in Germany where a 1909 monograph on his work was published.

In 1910 at the age of forty, Somov met the eighteen-year old Methodiy Lukyanov who became his close longtime companion and part of the Somov family. Lukyanov helped in the household, organized exhibitions and became Somov’s trusted advisor and critic. Somov painted many portraits of Lukyanov, among which is a large 1918 portrait which depicted Lukyanov seated on a sofa in pajamas and robe; this work is now housed in St. Petersburg’s Russian Museum. Somov and Lukyanov’s relationship would continue for twenty-two years until Lukyanov’s death from tuberculosis in April of 1932.

Konstantin Somov had a penchant for drama and was drawn to the elegant but bawdy nature of French erotic writing of the 18th century. From 1907 to 1919, he worked on illustrations, some suggestive and others explicit, for “Le Livre de la Marquise”, an anthology of eighteenth-century erotic French poetry and prose by Lachos, Casanova and Voltaire. Somov’s work became more erotic as time progressed. The most explicit of these was an eight-hundred copy edition published in 1917 at St. Petersburg’s R. Golike & A. Vilborg & Company. 

Although initially greeted with enthusiasm, the Russian Revolution from 1917 to 1923 created a deterioration in living conditions. Shortly after the government nationalized his apartment, Somov was evicted; he did however manage to retain the rights to his own artwork. In December of 1923, Somov became part of the Russian Exhibiton and, as a member of the delagation, traveled to the United States where he represented the city of Petrograd. He never returned to to his homeland. After leaving the United States in 1925,  Somov settled in Paris where he reunited with his old friends Alexandre Benois, Léon Bakst and Benois’ niece, the painter Zinaida Serebryakova. 

Konstantin Somov, in terms of his artistic influences, felt closer to the Old Masters rather than the work of his contemporaries. He was particularly drawn to the work of eighteenth-century Rococo painter François Boucher known for his idyllic pastoral scenes. While in Paris, Somov predominantly painted miniatures and portraits. The still life became one of his favorite subjects and would perform an important role in his portraits as it added additional information on the sitter.

Even though established as a well-known artist, Somov continued to live a reclusive lifestyle. In June of 1930, he met Boris Mikhailovich Snejkovsky. Born in Odessa in July of 1910, Snejkovsky was the son of a captain of the Russian Volunteer Fleet and traveled frequently with his family until they settled in Paris. During the 1930s, Snezhkovsky would model, both clothed and nude, for many of Somov’s works including illustrations for an edition of “Daphnis and Chloe”. In February of 1923, Somov painted a portrait of his model entitled “The Boxer”, a half-length nude oil-portrait with boxing gloves on the wall. Snezhkovsky also served as the model for Somov’s 1937 “Obnazhennyl Iunosha (Nude Youth)” now in the State Russian Museum.

Konstantin Andreyevich Somov died in May of 1939, at the age of sixty-nine, in Paris, France. He is buried in the Sainte-Geneviève-des-Bois Russian Cemetery, south of Paris. In 2016, Russian art historian Pavel Golubev founded the Somov Society to preserve and study the life and works of Konstantin Somov. Goluvev curated the 2019 “Konstantin Somov, Uncensored” at Ukraine’s Odessa Fine Arts Museum and sponsored the 2019 colloquium “The Lady with the Mask: Homosexuality in the Art of Konstantin Somov” at the University of Pennsylvania. 

Top Insert Image: Konstantin Somov, “Self Portrait”, 1921, Pencil Watercolor on Paper, Private Collection

Second Insert Image: Konstantin Somov, “Vladimir Aleksandrovich Somov”, Konstantin Somov’s Nephew, 1925, Oil on Canvas

Third Insert Image: Konstantin Somov, “Lady in Blue”, Portrait of Yelizaveta Martynova, 1897-1900, Oil on Canvas, 103 x 103 cm, Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, Russia

Fourth Insert Image: Konstantin Somov, “Boris Snejkovsky with Cigarette”, 1938, Oil on Canvas, 46.4 x 38 cm, Private Collection

Bottom Insert Image: Konstantin Somov, “Daphnis and Chloe”, 1930, Watercolor Illustration, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, United Kingdom



Paul-Marc-Joseph Chenavard

Paul Chenavard, “Divine Tragedia”, 1865-1869, Oil on Canvas, 400 x 550 cm, Grand Palais (Musée d’Orsay), France

Born in December of 1808 in the city of Lyon, Paul-Marc-Joseph Chenavard was a French painter who believed art’s goal was the advancement of society’s welfare and cultural development. A philosopher as well as a painter, he was well read and traveled. Throughout his life, Chenavard maintained a personal connection with both artistic and missionary groups. 

Chenavard initially entered the Palais Saint-Pierre, now the Museum of Fine Arts in Lyon, where he studied alongside painter Joseph Benoit Gulchard, born in Lyon in November of 1806. Chenavard and Gulchard left the Palais in 1824 and took classes under classical sculptor Jean-François Legendre-Héral.

In 1825, Paul Chenavard entered Paris’s École des Beaux-Arts where he studied in the studio of Neo-classical painter Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, a historical painter best known for his portraits. Gulchard, with the assistance of the painters Paul-Jean and Hippolyte Flandrin, later entered the Paris studio of Ingres in 1827. In that year, Chenavard traveled to Italy where he first encountered the works of Michelangelo and other Renaissance masters. 

Chenavard created a relatively small body of distinctively styled work that reflect the influences he encounterd during his trip to Italy.  In 1888, he produced a charcoal drawing “The Last Judgement”, a densely packed scene of contorted bodies, horn-blowing angels and the crowned Archangel Michael. At the top of the scene is Christ depicted without the traditional halo, a statement of Chenavard’s humanistic beliefs. 

Paul Chenavard also created a large mural design entitled “The Battle Between the Gods of Olympus and the Giants”. The tableau, likely a presentational work, was executed on four sheets with architectural details pasted at the top. Similar in style to “The Last Judgement”, it contains a scene full of figures engaged in battle. Chenavard’s drawings, most likely an allegory of philosophical references, were exhibited at the 1855 Exposition Universelle in Paris and are currently housed in Lyon’s Musée des Beaux-Arts.

After the 1848 Revolution, Charles Blanc, the Director of Fine Arts reporting to the Minister of Public Instruction, commissioned a decoraton from Chenavard for the Paris Pantheon, which was to serve as a temple of humanity. For this project, Chenavard designed a mosaic for the main feature which would present an impartial treatment of all religious traditions. However in December of 1851, Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte returned the Pantheon back to the authority of the Catholic Church, thus the project was abandoned.

For the 1869 Paris Salon, Paul Chenavard returned to the idea of illustrating religion’s history. He created his “Divine Tragedia” as a counterpoint to Dante Alighieri’s 1308-1321 “The Divine Comedy”. Accompanied with a booklet of commentary, Chenavard’s tableau was met with incomprehension from both the public and critics. It was considered too complex and overly filled with references to multiple philosophical ideas. 

Chenavard’s “Divine Tragedia” was purchased by the French government which designated the Musée du Louvre as the responsible organism for the work. Given to the collection of the Musée du Luxembourg, Paris, the tableau was only exhibited for a short time until the museum’s 1974 exhibition. The “Divine Tragedia” was housed at the Louvre from 1974 to 1986, at which time it was added to the collection of the Musée d’Orsay. 

Paul-Marc-Joseph Chenavard died in Paris in 1895 at the age of eighty-seven. His body in interred at the new Cimetière de Loyasee at Lyon. 

Top Insert Image: Portrait of Paul Chenavard from Édouard Baldus’s “Histoire de Artisted Vivants”, 1852, Albumen Print from Wet Collodion Negative, 17.6 x 13.2 cm, Alma Kroeger Fund

William Bruce Ellis Ranken

The Artwork of William Bruce Ellis Ranken

Born in Edinburgh, Scotland in April of 1881, William Bruce Ellis Ranken was a British painter and Edwardian of the English aesthetic movement of the late 19th century. Originated in the 1860s German Romanticism, Aestheticism valued the appearance of music, literature and the arts over their functions. The movement, which included such artists as William Morris and Dante Gabriel Rossetti, challenged Victorian culture by asserting Art did not have any instructive or ethical purpose; rather, the basic factor of art was beauty.

The son of Mary and Robert Burt Ranken, a wealthy and successful lawyer, William Ranken spent his childhood living on vast estates in Scotland and England. He attended Eton College and later the Slade School of Art where he studied under draftsman and painter Henry Tonks, one of the first British artists influenced by the French Impressionists. Among Ranken’s fellow students was Ernest Thesiger, the grandson of the 1st Lord Chelmsford and drama student who became a lifelong friend.

At the age of twenty-three, Ranken had his first exhibition of work at London’s Carfax Gallery which well received by artists and art critics. In his career, he worked in the mediums of watercolors, oils and pastels. In 1907, Ranken moved to the Chelsea area of London where he and his friend Thesiger began to associate with the Edwardian Aesthetes. They moved in London’s artistic, literary, and theatrical circles and became frequent guests at John Singer Sargent’s studio and friends with stage actress Beatrice Tanner, better known by her stage name Mrs. Patrick Campbell. Ranken also became a close friend with photographer Baron Adolph de Meyer, famed for his portraits of Queen Mary, John Barrymore, Lillian Gish and other celebrities.  

After the outbreak of World War I, William Ranken and John Singer Sargent traveled to America. Sargent introduced him to one of America’s leading patron and collector of the arts, Isabella Stewart Gardner, known for her intellectual curiosity and unconventional behavior. Through his connection with Gardner, Ranken received commissions to paint portraits of the wealthy, including the Vanderbilts, the Asters, and the Whitneys. Upon his return to England in the 1920s, he was given commissions from the British royal family and the aristocracy for portraits as well as interior images of their homes.

After the success of his American visit and his commissioned work in England, Ranken purchased Warbrook House, a historical estate built in 1724 by architect John James and located in Eversley, Hampshire. He undertook a considerable amount of repair work on the building; he also created paintings depicting several of its rooms. These works were included in Art Deco architect Basil Ionides’ 1926 “Color and Interior Decoration”. During England’s depression years of the 1930s, Ranken found the maintenance costs too extensive and made the decision to sell the estate in 1935 to Isabella Rosalind Humphreys-Owen, the daughter of Sir Edward Elias Sassoon, 2nd Baronet of Bombay. 

In addition to portraiture, William Ranken painted landscapes and did interior design work for architects. He worked alongside Basil Ionides on the remodeling of the renowned Claridges Restaurant, the height of luxury dining in London. Rankin pursued interests in music, embroidery, antiques and gardening. Among his many friends and patrons were such notables as songwriter Cole Porter; writer Violet Keppel Trefusis,; art collector Henry Davis Sleeper; William Lygon, the 7th Earl Beauchamp; Hugh Patrick Lygon; and American actress and interior designer Elsie de Wolfe. 

In March of 1941, William Bruce Ellis Ranken died suddenly from a cerebral hemorrhage in London. He was buried near his former Warbrook estate at the historic St. Mary’s Church in Eversley, North Hampshire. His sister, Janette Ranken-Thesiger, donated over two-hundred of his works to public galleries and museums in the United Kingdom. Ranken’s other works are in private collections and either damaged or destroyed during the air raids of World War II. His work can be found in the public collections of the National Museums of Northern Ireland, Glasgow Museum, Portsmouth Museum and the Government Art Collection of the United Kingdom, among others. 

Notes: Ernest Thesiger, who was bisexual, married Ranken’s sister, Janette Mary Fernie Ranken in 1917. The next year, Ranken painted Thesiger’s portrait; this painting is now housed in the Manchester City Galleries. Thesiger became a well-known English film and stage actor with appearances in Noël Coward’s 1925 “On with the Dance” and George Bernard Shaw’s 1923 “Saint Joan”. Friends with director James Whale since 1919, Thesiger was cast in Whale’s 1932 “The Old Dark House” and later given the role of Dr. Septimus Pretorius in Whale’s 1935 “Bride of Frankenstein”. 

As a member of the 2nd Battalion of the 9th London Regiment, Queen Victoria’s Rifles, Thesiger was sent to the Western Front in 1914, where he was wounded in the trenches. With his hands damaged, he developed sewing kits for soldiers similarly injured to provide activity and pain relief. In addition to his career as an actor, Thesiger became Vice Patron of the Embroiderers Guild. In 1960, he was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire. In January of the following year, Ernest Thesiger died in his sleep from natural causes and was buried at Brompton Cemetery in London.

Top Insert Image: Adolph De Meyer, “William Bruce Ellis Ranken”, 1903, Vintage Print, Private Collection

Second Insert Image: William Bruce Ellis Ranken, “Battersea Power Station, London”, circa 1940, Oil on Canvas, 68.6 x 56.1 cm, Forens Art Gallery, Hull, England

Third Insert Image: William Bruce Ellis Ranken, “Hibiscus Flower”, 1922, Oil on Canvas, 137.2 x 106.7 cm, Nottingham Castle, England

Bottom Insert Image: Photographer  Unknown, “William Bruce Ellis Ranken”, circa 1900-1910, Gelatin Silver Print, Kirkcudbright Galleries

Ernst Neuschul

Ernst Neuschul, “Messias”, Self-Portrait, 1919, Oil on Canvas, 95.5 x 55.5 cm, Leicester Museum and Art Gallery, East Midlands, England

Born in 1895 in Aussig, North Bohemia now the Czech Republic, Ernst Neuschul was a painter of the German Expressionist movement. He was the eldest of three sons born to ironmonger Josef Neuschul and Jeanette Feldmann, members of the town’s prestigious and influential Jewish community. Neuschul received his primary education at Auseig’s State Gymnasium but left without graduating. 

Neuschul wanted to study at the Academy of Arts in Prague; however, his parents refused to financially support his attendance. He worked in Prague as a painter and attended courses at the Academy as an extern participant. Neuschul then went to Vienna, attended the K.K. Graphische Lehranstalt, and became captivated by the paintings of Austrian artists Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele, as well as those by Oskar Kokoschka whose theories on vision played an important role in the development of Viennese Expressionism. 

At the outbreak of World War I, Ernst Neuschul avoided conscription by relocating to Kraków, Poland in 1916. He continued his studies at Kraków’s Art Academy studying under Art Nouveau artist Józef Mehoffer. In the summer of 1918 Neuschul went to Prague, where he studied at the Academy of Fine Arts under Franz Thiele. In Prague during August of that year, he met Lucie Lindermann, a Dutch-Javanese dancer raised in Berlin who performed under the name Takka-Takka, When the war ended, Neuschul entered Berlin’s Academy of Art where he was awarded the Rome Prize in 1918. 

In July 1919, Neuschul had his first solo exhibition of 39 works at Weinert’s salon in Prague. He and Lindermann took an apartment in Berlin and embarked on a series of trips to Java and the East Indies. Upon his return, Neuschul became involved with East Indian dance, wrote scripts for experimental films based on Asian myths, and designed dance costumes for his wife, who performed with them in theaters in Lucerne and other cities. On the twenty-fourth of July in 1922, Neuschul and Lucie Lindermann were married in Berlin; in the following years she became his most important model.

In 1926, Neuschul became a member of Berlin’s November Group, a collective of expressionist artists and architects who shared socialist values and sought a greater voice in the organization of art schools and new laws surrounding the arts. An important breakthrough came to Neuschul in 1927; for the first time, he was noticed by a broad public in Germany. Neuschul successfully participated in eight exhibitions, six of them in Berlin with his work praised in multiple press articles. In the same year Neuschul received a contract with Berlin’s renowned Neumann-Nierendorf Gallery, which now ensured the artist a regular income. In the following years he also participated in exhibitions in many German cities. 

On November 13, 1928, Ernest Neuschul and Lucie Lindermann divorced. In 1929 he became a member of the Reich Association of Visual Artists in Germany. Two years later, Neuschul took over the chair of drawing and painting at the Charlottenburg Municipal Art School. In 1933, Neuschul became the last chairman of the November Group before it was banned by the Nazis. At his last exhibition in February 1933 at the “Haus der Künstler” on Schöneberger Ufer in Berlin, his works on display were confiscated and many of them destroyed. Immediately after these events, Neuschul fled to Czechoslovakia. Lucie Lindermann and Neuschul’s later second wife Christl Bell saved the works in his Berlin studio and brought them to Aussig.

In mid-1935, Neuschul received an invitation to Moscow from the Moscow Artists’ Union. In September of1935, he and his wife Christl traveled to Moscow with forty works created between 1929 and 1934. The state newspaper Pravda reported very positively on his solo exhibition at the Museum of New Western Art in Moscow; as a result, Neuschul subsequently received a number of commissions. Among others, he was commissioned to paint portraits of Josef Stalin and Georgi Dimitroff. On January 1, 1936 Neuschul became a member of the Moscow Union of Artists and the Union of Soviet Artists. Shortly before the beginning of Stalin’s second purges, Ernst Neuschul received advice from Andrei Bubnov, the People’s Commissar for National Education, to leave Moscow as soon as possible.

In February 1936, Neuschul gave a lecture on the Soviet Union in Aussig. The Prague press’s June 1936 pictorial supplement “Die Welt am Sonntag” reported in detail on Neuschul’s stay in the Soviet Union. In 1937, his last exhibition took place in his hometown of Auseig. In this exhibition two of Neuschul’s works were cut up and smeared with swastikas. On the third of November in 1937, Neuschul left his hometown of Aussig for good and moved with his family to Prague before the Czechoslovak borderlands were annexed by Hitler’s Germany in 1938.

Neuschul became a member of the Oskar Kokoschka Club and gave lectures on Degenerate Art, a category that was given to his own work. In 1938, Neuschul was on the Nazi blacklist and, as a Sudeten German, was threatened with extradition to the Third Reich by the Czech authorities. On March 10, 1939, Neuschul deregistered with the police and continued to live as an “illegal” in Prague. Through a connection to the British Labour Party, he was able to prepare his family’s emigration to England. The German Wehrmacht, not yet connected to the Gestapo, issued the exit permit, and on March 24, 1939, the Neuschul family left for England via Holland. Neuschul’s mother, who stayed in Prague to care for Neuschul’s sick brother, was later murdered in Auschwitz with those family members still in Prague.

On May 19, 1939, Neuschul became a member of the Free German Artists Association in England. As a rejection of the past, he changed his name from Neuschul to Norland. Neuschul lived in the family house in London-Hampstead until the end of his life. On September 11, 1968, Ernest Neuschul died at the age of 73.

At the beginning of Ernst Neuschul’s artistic activity, expressionism was in vogue, with intense colors in abstract forms. For his own work, Neuschul transformed this style into the more concrete style of New Objectivity. Gradually socially critical themes found their way into his range of motifs. Neuschul depicted the fringe groups of society; he painted drunkards, women on the streets, and workers in the fields or at their machines. During his time in Moscow, Neuschul was given to understand that he should paint the workers in the style of Socialist Realism that expressed the ideal state. He rejected this idea and continued to paint what he saw and not what he was supposed to see. After the war, Neuschul continued to abstract his style, but like other émigrés who had left Germany, he was unable to match the success he had enjoyed before he fled. Neuschul was rediscovered in Germany in 2001, when the Kunstforum Ostdeutsche Galerie, in cooperation with the Czech Republic, organized a four-week retrospective of his paintings in Regensburg.

Notes: The University of Birmingham, England, has a short article on Ernst Neuschul’s 1931 painting “Black Mother”, painted at a time in which the Nazi Party was making significant gains in elections. The article can be found at: https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/schools/lcahm/departments/historyofart/research/projects/map/issue3/arts-trail-pages/ernst-neuschul-black-mother.aspx

In 1924, Ernst Neuschul painted his biblical scene “Samson II”. An interesting article on its creation process can be found at Berlin’s Jewish Museum website located at: https://www.jmberlin.de/en/ernest-neuschul-samson-II

Top Insert Image: Helen Craig, “Ernst Neuschul”, circa 1960s, Gelatin Silver Print, Collection of Helen Craig

Second Insert Image: Ernst Neuschul, “Black Mother”, 1931, Oil on Canvas,  100.5 x 65.5 cm, Leicester Museum and Art Gallery, Leicester, England

Third Insert Image: Ernst Neuschul, “Laundress”, Date Unknown, Oil on Canvass, 100.3 x 65.1 cm, Private Collection

Fourth Insert Image: Ernst Neuschul, “Woman ironing”, circa 1930, Oil on Canvas, 65 x 46 cm, Staattiche Museen, Berlin

Bottom Insert Image: Ernst Neuschul, “Meine Drei Frauen”, Date Unknown, Oil on Canvas, 100 x 81 cm, Private Collection 

Antoni Rząsa

The Artwork of Antoni Rząsa

Born in February of 1919 in Futoma, a village located at the foot of the Carpathian Mountains, Antoni Rząsa was a Polish sculptor whose works were inspired by native folk art. He was born in an area where Catholic churches, having been erected since the sixteenth-century, were later  surrounded by Orthodox temples. The art of creating both practical and spiritual objects from wood was a common and flourishing tradition in Poland’s Subcarpathian Voivodeship.

Attracted by the characteristics of wood and its carving, Rząsa carried on local tradition and began combining the religious experience with the folk art of the region. His work presented to the viewer an uncharacteristic understanding of faith, suffering and humor. Rzasa’s figures of weeping Marys and Crucified Christs captivated both priests and atheists with their gestures and openness to more than one interpretation. In addition to his iconic figures, Rząsa also created figures drawn from family experiences and a series of carved chairs and benches with elements of flora and fauna.  

Antino Rząsa graduated from the High School of Fine Arts in Zakopane,  a southern Polish town in the region of Podhale. In 1938, he studied at the city’s School of Wood Industry under Polish sculptor Antoni Kenar, who was reforming the educational system by placing an emphasis on traditional folk art and its connection to contemporary art. In his own work, Kenar combined elements of the Podhale region with influences from Cubism and Art Déco.

In 1939, Rząsa’s studies were suspended with the outbreak of World War II. He joined the local guerrilla group in 1940 within which he served as a messenger runner. During his war service, Rząsa received notice that his mother had died in 1941. He returned to Zakopane in 1948 and resumed his studies under the guidance of Antoni Kenar at the School of Wood Industry. Rząsa graduated in 1952, the same year his father died. Invited by Kenar to teach sculpture at the school, he taught and lectured there until 1973. During his tenure, the school was renamed the Antoni Kenar Art School Complex after Kenar’s death in 1959.

Antoni Rząsa created the majority of his work through the creation of multiple series revolving around themes both secular and religious. His first series was the “Days of War” which covered a two year period from 1956 to 1958. In 1960, Rząsa started the one-year “Saint Annes”cycle and also began a twelve-year cycle entitled “The Pietas”. The most prolific of his series was “The Cycle of Crosses” which include six cycles created over a period of thirteen years from 1962 to 1975. 

Rząsa’s first group showing was the 1952 “Utility in Art” exhibition held in Zakopane. Other group exhibitions followed regularly In Berlin, Geneva, London, Warsaw, Shanghai and Beijing. In 1963, Rząsa had two solo exhibitions: the Artist and Viewer Gallery in Warsaw’s Łazienki Park and Kraków’s PAX Gallery. Other solo presentations included an exhibition at Warsaw’s Gallery of Sculpture in 1966, two shows in Zakopane in 1968 and 1973, and a 1972 solo exhibition in Chester, England. Polish directors Anna Micińska and Grzegorz Dubowski premiered their short 1973 biographical film “Portret Antoniego Rząsy (The Portrait of Antoni Rząsa)” at the Kraków Film Festival where they each were given a bronze award for their directorial work. 

In 1974, Antoni Rząsa with his wife Halina and son Marcin began construction of a home and gallery on Bogdańskiego Street in Zakopane. The next year, he showed his new work at a solo exhibition in Kraków’s Gallery of Contemporary Art. In 1976, Rząsa began his last Cycle of Crosses entitled “The Women of Ravensbrück” in honor of the one hundred and thirty thousand, mostly female, prisoners at that concentration camp. In July of the same year, the newly opened Antoni Rząsa Gallery on Bogdańskiego Street had its first exhibition.

On the twenty-sixth of January in 1980, Antoni Rząsa died and was buried in the Cemetery for People of Merit at the Pęksowy Brzyzk Cemetery in Zakopane. He was survived by his son Marcin and wife Halina Rząsa, who died on the fourteenth of December in the same year. Rząsa’s work is included in the collections of the Polish Army Museum; the National Museums in Warsaw, Kraków, and Poznań; the Reconciliation Chapel of the Ark of the Lord Church in Kraków-Fieńczyce; and in private collections in the United States, Denmark, Belgium, France, Italy and the Vatican. The Antoni Rząsa Gallery is currently managed by Marcin Rząsa and family.

The Antoni Rząsa Gallery website contains images of Rząsa’s work, testimonials from his friends, and contact information. The site address is: https://antonirzasa.pl/en/

Top Insert Image: Krystyna Gorazdowska, “Antoni Rząsa”, Date Unknown, Gelatin Silver Print

Second Insert Image: Antoni Rząsa, “Thoughtful”, 1960, Wood, 67.5 x 29 x 21.5 cm.

Third Insert Image: Antoni Rząsa, “Pieta Tobruku”, 1960, Polychrome Wood, 121 x 81 x 45 cm

Bottom Insert Image: Antoni Rząsa, “Pieta Tobruku”, 1960, Reverse, Polychrome Wood, 121 x 81 x 45 cm

Steve Huston

The Paintings of Steve Huston

Born in 1959 and raised in Alaska, Steve Huston is an American painter, draftsman and educator. He graduated with his Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. Prior to graduation, Huston was creating illustrations for such clients as Metro Goldwyn Mayer, Paramount Pictures, Caesar’s Palace, and Universal Studios. 

As an academic, Huston taught life drawing and painting, as well as, composition and anatomy at the Art Center College of Design. He later taught such classes at Warner Brothers Studios, Disney’s Animation and Gaming Divisions, Blizzard Entertainment, and DreamWorks Studios. In 1995, Huston began a career as a fine artist; he won top prizes for his work at both the 1995 and 1996 California Art Club Gold Medal Exhibitions. 

Passionate about having an artistic life, Steve Huston has created and taught art for the last forty years. He ia a painter of both landscapes and figurative works. Among Huston’s figurative works are scenes of men engaged in activities that require energy and movement, either in labor or sport. He has created an extensive series that depicts the sport of boxing; this Boxer series reveals both the tension and the energy that pervades the sport. Huston’s Worker series presents men intensely engaged in heavy labor work that requires both strength and stamina. These manual workers are depicted in the everyday tasks of carrying wooden beams, lifting large wooden crates, and moving objects.

Among those sources which have influenced Huston’s artwork are the works of Rembrandt and Italian Renaissance painter Titian; the early American Tonalist painters such as George Inness and Charles Eaton; the art projects of the the New Deal’s Works Progress Administration; and the graphic power and heroic character of the American Comic Book form. 

Steve Huston’s work has been featured in American Art Collector, Art News, Southwest Art, Harper’s Bazaar, American Artist and Western Art & Architecture, among other publications. His work has been exhibited at the Academy of Art College of the Carnegie Art Museum, the Pasadena Museum of Contemporary Art, London’s Albemarle Gallery, the Sullivan Goss Gallery in Santa Barbara and the Timothy Yargar Fine Art Gallery in Beverly Hills. Huston was also a frequent exhibitor at New York City’s prestigious Eleanor Ettinger Gallery from 1998 to its closing in 2013.

Steve Huston’s website, which features images of his work, livestream classes and limited edition prints, can be found at: https://stevehustonart.com

Top Insert Image: Photographer Unknown, “Steve Huston”, 2019, Color Print for CGArchives January 2019

Second Insert Image: Steve Huston, Figure Studies from Sketchbook, Brown Ink and Gouache on Paper

Bottom Insert Image: Steve Huston, Title Unknown, (Three Workers), Date Unknown, Worker Series, Oil on Canvas

Gaston Goor

Gaston Goor, “Homere et les Bergers (Homer and the Shepherds)”, 1940, Oil on Panel, 81.3 x 119.4 cm, Private Collection

Born in Lunéville, the capital city of Lorraine in October of 1902, Gaston Goor was a highly accomplished, albeit controversial, French illustrator, painter, muralist and sculptor. He is best known for his illustrations in “Amitiés Particulières (Special Friendships)” and other works by French writer and diplomat Roger Peyrefitte, his primary patron. 

The son of Auguste Léon Goor and Marie Angèle Berthe Becker, Goor entered the École des Beaux-Arts at the age of seventeen. He left his native province in 1925 to travel to Paris where he worked in the studio of painter and writer Amédée Ozenfant. In 1917, Ozenfant and painter Charles-Edouard Jeanneret, known as Le Corbusier, had founded the doctrine of Purism, a style of art in which elements are represented as robust simplified forms with minimal detail. Through his association with Ozenfant and Le Corbusier, Goor was introduced to modern art and prominent artists such as Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse and  Jean Lurçat, best known for his tapestries. 

During his stay in Versailles, Gaston Goor was introduced by poet André Salmon to author André Gide who guided him to the profession of illustrator. Working with Capitole Editions, Gore became a prominent artist and created illustrations for forty volumes under that title. He created illustrations for Léon Daudet’s “Écrivains et Artistes”, Henry de Montherlant’s “L’Etoile du Soir”, Lucien Daudet’s “Le Voyage de Shakespeare”, and François Mauriac’s “Hommes Devant Dieu”. Goor also provided illustrations for both the Horizons de France and the Trianon editions.

In 1929, Goor was commissioned to produce decorative work for the Colonial Exhibition in Paris. After a study trip to Morocco, he returned Versailles where he worked briefly for its Department of Fine Arts before locating to the resort town of Hyères where his family had settled. Goor’s nude studies of the young model Jean Joerimann caught the attention of writer Jean Renaud Icard who gave him an exhibition in his Lyon gallery. After the exhibition, Goor received a commission to illustrate Icard’s latest book “Mon Page”. 

In the 1930s, Gaston Goor received private commissions, both illustrative and decorative, from wealthy clients and art collectors. Among these prominent men was the owner of a large luxury hotel in Hyères, who was the father of Jean Joerimann, the model for the “Mon Page” illustrations and an unreciprocated love interest for Goor. In 1942, he received a commission from architect Maurice Novarina to create murals for the Church of Douvaine in the Auvergne-Rhõne-Alpes regional city of Haute-Savoie.

While in Haute-Savoie, Goor was accused by German police of helping Jewish people to cross the Swiss border; as a result, he was given ‘voluntary worker’ status and sent to the camp near Zittau in Saxony. Noticed for his talents, Goor was employed as an artist; he remained in the camp until February of 1945 when the city of Dresden was destroyed by Allied bombing. After the war, Goor initially returned to Paris before he moved to Cannes for an exhibition of his work. 

There is little information available on the remainder of Gaston Goor’s life. This period was marked by several disappointments, including that his other illustrations for the “Satyricon” were not published. It is known that Goor retired and remained in Hyènes until his death from cancer at the French Riviera city of Toulon on the thirteenth of December in 1977.

Note: Gaston Goor’s illustrations for Volume I and Volume II of Roger Peyrefitte’s
“Les Amitiés Particulières” can be found on E. Neagle’s site “Homo Fabula: At the Intersection of Art & Luterature” located at: https://homofabula.blogspot.com/2017/05/front-free-endpaper-gaston-goor.html

Top Insert Image: Gaston Goor, “Mythological Subject”, 1947, Lead Graphite on Paper, 21 x 27 cm, Catherine Gide Collection

Second Insert Image: Gaston Goor, “The Battle of San Romano after Paulo Ucello”, 1970, Oil and Pastel Highlights on Panel, 94 x 121 cm, Private Collection

Third Insert Image: Gaston Goor, Mougin Vase, “The Fairy of the Water Lilies”, Height 31 cm, Private Collection

Bottom Insert Image: Gaston Goor, “Eros and Hymenaeus”, 1949, Oil on Canvas, 37 x 45 cm, Private Collection

Angus McBean

The Photography of Angus McBean

Born in the Monmouthshire city of Newbridge on the eighth of June in 1904, Angus Rowland McBean was a Welsh photographer and set designer associated with the Surrealist movement. He went through two main creative periods in his forty-year career: pre-World War II in which he experimented successfully with surrealist images and post-war when his portraiture photography became more conventional and focused on theatrical and entertainment artists.

Angus McBean was the eldest and only son of Clement McBean, of Scottish descent, and Irene Sara Thomas, of Welsh descent. His father, after his military career in the South Wale Borderers, became a surveyor in the mining industry which necessitated frequently moving his family. McBean had his primary education at the Monmouth School for Boys and later attended the Newport Technical College where he developed an interest in photography. At the age of fifteen, McBean bought his first camera and created sets, props and costumes for the amateur dramatic productions at Monmouth’s Lyceum Theater.

In 1925, McBean’s father died from tuberculosis which he had contracted while fighting in the trenches during World War I. After his fathers death, McBean relocated to London where he worked in the antiques department of Liberty’s, London’s luxury department store on Regent Street. In his free time, McBean engaged in photographing his friends, making masks, and attending theater performances in the West End. He left Liberty’s in 1931, grew a distinctive beard, and began a career in photography. McBean served as an apprentice at the New Grafton Street Studio owned by photographer Hugh Cecil who taught him photographic techniques. After a year, McBean established his own studio on Belgrave Road in Victoria, London.

The turning point in Angus McBean’s career came in 1935 when Welsh actor and dramatist Ivor Novello asked him to create masks for playwright Clemence Dane’s adaption of author Max Beerbohm’s “The Happy Hypocrite”. Pleased with the masks, Novello commissioned McBean to take portrait photographs for the production. In 1937, McBean received a commission from the British weekly illustrated journal “The Sketch” for a photograph of actress Beatrix Lehmann in Eugene O’Neill’s “Mourning Becomes Electra”. This portrait was inspired by the surrealist art of the era. McBean, in collaboration with artist Roy Hobdell, produced a series of surrealist-styled portraits of leading actresses for a weekly series which ran until the beginning of World War II. 

After the war, McBean established a new studio on Endell Street in London. One of his first commissions was to photograph the American actress Clare Luce who was appearing in “Anthony and Cleopatra” at Stratford-on-Avon’s Shakespeare Memorial Theater. McBean next produced a series of portraits that incorporated notable objects from the lives of his sitters: Ivor Novello is shown with bound editions of his musicals and Cecil Beaton is surrounded by pages from his scrapbooks. In the 1940s and 1950s, he was the most important photographer of theater and dance personalities. Among his many sitters were Audrey Hepburn, Marlene Dietrich, Noel Coward, Mae West, Katharine Hepburn, Margot Forteyn and Robert Helpmann. 

Angus McBean’s career took a new direction in the 1950s and 1960s as he began shooting color photographs for album covers. He photographed Cliff Richard and the Shadows, Shirley Bassey and the Beverley Sisters, and Spike Mulligan for his album “Milligan Preserved”. McBean also was responsible for the 1963 cover art of The Beatles album “Please, Please Me” which showed the group leaning over the balcony at the EMI offices in London. Six years later, he was to recreate the shot for the the proposed “Get Back” album; however, the recreated shot later appeared on the two retrospectives of the group’s work “1962-1966” and “1967-1970”. 

In the 1960s, McBean purchased Flemings Hall in Bedingfield, Suffolk and undertook a major renovation project; this estate would be his home until his death. In this period, he gradually reduced the number of commissions he accepted but continued to work on selected projects. In 1984, McBean appeared as a special guest in musician-composer David Sylvian’s music video “Red Guitar”. Sylvian, who has a strong interest in McBean’s work, was directly inspired by McBean’s 1938 surrealistic portrait of cinema and theatrical actress Flora Robson. 

Over the course of his career, Angus McBean produced two hundred and eighty portrait photographs; he was also produced seventy-nine self portraits. In 1990, McBean fell ill on a holiday in Morocco and, after returning to England, died at Ipswich Heath Road Hospital on the 9th of June in 1990, eighty-six years after his birth. His work is in many private and public collections including London’s National Portrait Gallery, the Mander & Mitchenson Collection at the University of Bristol Theatre Collection, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Royal National Theater Archive, and the Shakespeare Center Library and Archive in Stratford-on-Avon. 

Note: In the spring of 1942, Angus McBean’s career was temporarily ruined when he was arrested in the city of Bath for criminal acts of homosexuality. He was sentenced to four years in prison; however he was released in the autumn of 1944. After the end of the second World War, McBean was able to successfully resume his career. In the late 1940s, he formed a close, yet brief, relationship with male model Sebastian Minton. McBean helped Minton, who had ambitions of becoming an actor, put together a photographic portfolio for studio presentations.

Note: If anyone knows the identity of the actress in the fourth photo of the header photo array, please send me that information via the contact page. Thank you.

Top Insert Image: Angus McBeam, “Self Portrait”, circa 1951, Bromide Print, 29.4 x 26 cm, National Portrait Gallery, London

Second Insert Image: Angus McBean, “Surrealist Beach Scene with a Male Figure”, circa 1949, Hand-Colored Silver Print, 50.5 x 67.0 cm, Private Collection

Third Insert Image: Angus McBean, “Vivien Leigh ‘Twelfth Night’ Old Vic Tour”, 1961, Bromide Print, Private Collection

Fourth Insert Image: Angus McBean, “Choreographer and Dancer Berto Pasuko”, 1947, Gelatin Silver Print, 37.5 x 28.6 cm, Private Collection

Bottom Insert Image: Angus McBean, “Binkie Beaumont, Angela Baddeley and Emlyn Williams”, 1947, Bromide Print, 38 x 29.7 cm, Harvard Theater Collection, Harvard University, National Portrait Gallery

Amalas Rosa

The Artwork of Amalas Rosa

Amalas Rosa is a visual artist known for combining her skills at illustration with story telling. She spent her formative years in Germany where she was exposed to the wide range of European comics, particularly those from France and Belgium: “Tin Tin”, “Lucky Luke”, “Asterix” and “Gaston”. In later years, Amalas discovered the graphic work done in the genre of anime, as well as the illustrative work of manga comics.

Born into a family with strong interest in the arts, Amalas grew up surrounded by artwork and began drawing at an early age, first characters from fairy tales and later the people around her. Through her parents, she was exposed to a wide range of interests: museums, the pleasure of reading, music, photography, and both fine art and illustrations. Although she had an early interest in the field of archaeology, Amalas decided to study for a career as an illustrator, a field which enabled her to use both her writing and drawing talents. 

In her studies, Amalas Rosa studied integrated design, which included fashion and product design, as well as typography and illustration. Drawn with an extensive knowledge of color theory, her illustrations are known for their technical perspective and abundance of small detailed objects carefully placed throughout her scenes. Amalas’s characters also are created with the same amount of attention to detail in their dress, posture and expression. Amalas, a skilled photographer, will often shoot images of interesting objects, scenery and architecture for both inspiration and detailed references for her work. 

Amalas almost always starts an illustration with her characters and their environment. Once the initial idea is formed, she develops her illustrations through a lengthly and technical process. First, a rough sketch of the setting and the characters is drawn; then the lines of both are cleaned up. Perspective lines are place on the sketch to map and solidify the area. Using these lines, Amalas draws the surface areas that surround the characters.

With these areas established, Amalas Rosa slowly adds all the scene’s objects into the drawing; these range from large tables and cabinets to smaller detailed items such as electrical cables and cups. In the next stage, a block of single color is initially used to establish the drawn characters. Once this is accomplished, Amalas chooses a color palette suitable for the mood of the illustration. The colors of this palette are then applied to the work with consideration to both light and shadow. To finish her work, Amalas applies layered tones as a final adjustment.

Amalas was in her mid-teens when she first created a fantasy story line with two male characters: Aran and Tao. Over time, these characters further evolved into persons of specific heritage: Aran became the Syrian son of a single mother and Tao became a member of a large Taiwanese family. Separated for a period when Tao and his family moved away, the close childhood friends were later reunited to share the experiences and emotions of life in the city. Over time, Amalas continued to expand these characters through her own memories, feelings and experiences. In a collaboration with writer Suzanne Samin, both artist and writer are further developing Aran and Tao into an illustrated graphic novel format that would continue their life story.

Amalas Rosa’s social media sites are located at:  https://www.tumblr.com/amalasdraws  and  https://twitter.com/AmalasRosa

For literary and graphic illustrative work, Amalas Rosa can be contacted through her agent at the Azantian Literary Agency. 

Prints of Amalas Rosa’s artwork are available at the online INPRNT gallery located at: https://www.inprnt.com/gallery/amalasrosa/

Second Insert Image: Amalas Rosa, “God’s Bathroom Floor”, 2021, Digital Art, Cover Art for Atmosphere’s 7 Inch Vinyl “God’s Bathroom Floor”, Rhymesayers Entertainment, Art Director Alex Everson

Bottom Inset Image: Amalas Rosa, “Sharing Food is Love”, 2021, Aran and Tao as Adults, Digital Art, 4000 x 5000 Pixels, 600 DPI, Artist Collection

Carlos Farneti

Carlo Farneti, Illustrations from “Les Fleurs du Mal” by French poet Charles  Baudlaire, 1935 Edition, Publisher Gibert Jeune, Paris

Born in Naples in January of 1892, Carlo Farneti was an Italian artist known for his illustrations. He moved to Paris in 1926 where he illustrated works by notable writers from Europe and the United States. It was in Naples, where he lived, that Farneti had his first solo exhibition at the Galleria Corona in 1924; however, he established his career as an illustrator in France. 

Carlo Farneti illustrated a 1927 edition of Edgar Allan Poe’s “Nouvelles Histoires Extraordinaires (Extraordinary Tales)” with one-hundred forty-eight etchings. He next created original illustrations for Émile Zola’s 1928 “La Terra” which was published in a large quarto format with a limited edition of sixty. For the 1935 edition of poet Charles Baudelaire’s 1857 “Les Fleurs du Mal (The Flowers of Evil)”, Farneti created sixteen color plates and one hundred illustrations. Printed on vellum, the volume had a limited edition of three-thousand numbered copies. For a three volume limited edition set of Flaubert’s “Madame Bovary: Moeurs de Province” published by Javal and Bordeaux, Farneti created over one-hundred original drawings for volume three of this work.

During his career, Farneti provided at the request of wealthy amateurs an impressive number of original drawings. He would often add illustrations to already published works, as well as, augmenting literary volumes with larger compositions in accompanying folders.

In 1933 at the request of a patron, Farneti embellished an existing volume of Mirbeau’s 1927 work “The Garden of Supplices” with two-hundred thirty colored pencil drawings, placed in the margins or in the background of the texts. He also included a folio of ten large pastel compositions on gray Casson plates. In that same year, Carlo Farnet illuminated, with one-hundred five drawings, an original edition of novelist Louis-Ferdinand Céline’s 1932 “Voyage au Bout de la Nuit (Travel to the End of the Night)”.

An accomplished illustrator who worked with notable writers, Carlo Farneti’s died on the tenth of November in 1961. 

Bottom Insert Image: Carlo Farneti, Illustration for Théatre du Grand Guignot, “Les Nuits du Bagne”, 1928, Vintage Poster, 58.4 x 38.1 cm, Publisher R. Balestrieri, Paris

Ben Kimura

The Art of Ben Kimura

Born in 1947, Ben Kimura (木村べん) was a Japanese artist known for his gay erotic artwork. As noted by historian and artist Gengoroh Tagame, he and Sadeo Hasogawa were among the central figures in Japan’s resurgence of gay artwork in the 1970s.  

Ben Kimura began his career in 1978 as an illustrator and cover artist for “Barazoku”, Japan’s first commercially circulated gay men’s magazine. The monthly magazine, edited by Bungaku Itō, began publication in July of 1971 and published four-hundred issues, the last being in 2008. Kimura was a regular art contributor until his departure in 1989. During this time, he was also a major contributor for cover and story illustrations for “Sabu”magazine. 

Kimura also contributed illustrations to the early yaoi magazines “June” and “Allan”, both male to male romance-fiction magazines for a female audience. His work for these magazines placed him among the first gay artists to achieve crossover success with a female audience. 

Ben Kimura’s artwork was highly sought after by the Japanese gay publications throughout the 1970s and 1980s. Unique among contemporary Japanese homoerotic artists, his work typically depicted masculine, handsome men rendered in a style that was romantic and sensual rather than explicitly pornographic. Kimura’s fit and stylish young men evoked both familiarity and a sense of nostalgia for life’s past encounters . 

In addition to work done for periodicals, Kimura self-published two collections of his homoerotic illustrations. The first collection was the 1997  “Tan-Pan Body (画集)” which was primarily a collection of cover art done for Sabu magazine prior to 1997. Kimura’s second collection “Go-One Boy (作品集)” was published in 1998. 

Ben Kimura died from a pulmonary embolism at the age of fifty-six on the eighteenth of February in 2003. As a tribute, a second printing of his “Tan-Pan Body” was reissued shortly after his death. Kimura’s collected works are managed by his partner and artistic executor Kihira Kai. 

Johan Rudolf Bonnet

The Artwork of Johan Rudolf Bonnet

Born in March of 1895 in Amsterdam, Johan Rudolf Bonnet was a Dutch artist who immersed himself in the culture and landscape of the Indonesian province of Bali. Particularly interested in the subject of portraiture, he took great care that his subjects were represented to the highest classical standard. Bonnet was keenly aware the colonial Dutch East Indies’ indigenous populations faced a fragile future in the twentieth-century world. 

In the 1920s, Bonnet traveled around Europe and spent a substantial amount of time in Italy, particularly Florence where he learned the art of fresco painting. Inspired by the work of the Italian Renaissance, he sought to capture the emotions and expressions of Balinese life as seen through European eyes that cared deeply for the richness of life the island offered. Bonnet’s body of work draws parallels with the art of Renaissance painter Michelangelo Buonarotti, whom he considered one of his greatest examples, not in the least because they were both trained as mural painters.

Rudolf Bonnet used his draftsman training to create works with a subtle palette and clean lines. His work showed both his keen observation as well as his deep respect for his subjects and their culture. Influenced by the Art Nouveau movement in the early twentieth-century; Bonnet was used to stylizing his model’s faces, often elongating them. Yet, they would never become caricatures; they would always remain dignified and autonomous. It was Bonnet’s way of emphasizing the beauty he perceived.

Born to descendants of a Dutch-Huguenot family, Johan Rudolf Bonnet attended Amsterdam’s State Academy of Fine Arts and its National Arts and Crafts School. In 1920, he traveled to Italy where he produced a collection of drawings depicting village scenes, local people and landscapes. Bonnet rented a studio for several months in Rome and, during his stay in the city, met Dutch painter and printmaker Wijnand Otto Jan Nieuwenkemp. As the first European artist to visit Bali, Nieuwenkemp persuaded Bonnet to explore that country which had so impressed him. Bonnet first traveled to North Africa; the paintings exhibited and sold on this trip enabled him to continue his voyage to Bali.

Rudolf Bonnet arrived in Balit in 1929 and met German artist Walter Spies and the Dutch musicologist Jaap Kunst. With Kunst, he made a trip to the Indonesian island of Nias, which lies off the western shore of Sumatra. Upon his return to Bali in 1930, Bonnet was invited to live in town of Ubud by Cokorda Gde Raka Sukawati, an elected member of the Volksraad, the People’s Council. In 1936, Bonnet, along with Walter Spies, Cokorda Sukawati, and painter and sculptor I Gusti Nyoman Lempad, formed the Pita Maha (Great Spirit, Guiding Inspiration) artist association to select artists whose work could be exhibited and sold throughout the Indies, the Netherlands, and the United States. 

After the outbreak of the war in Europe, Bonnet remained free in Bali until 1942 when the Japanese invaders ordered him sent to the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. He spent the remainder of the war inside internment camps in Bolong, Para-Para and Makassar. Walter Spies was arrested as a German national and was interred by the Dutch authorities in Bali as an enemy alien. In 1942, he and four hundred seventy-seven other German internees were deported by the Dutch to Ceylon. Their ship was bombed by Japanese planes; Spies and most of the other prisoners died at sea. 

In 1947, Rudolf Bonnet returned to Bali where he built a house and studio in the Campaun area of southeastern Bali. Although the Dutch and Indonesian governments were in a period of worsening relations, he was able to reside in Bali due tohis relationship with President Sukarno, who had collected fourteen of Bonnet’s paintings. Bonnet founded the Golongan Pelukis Ubud (Ubud Painters’ Group) and created designs for Bali’s Museum Puri Lukisan, the Royal Museum of Paintings.

In 1957, Bonnet was expelled from Indonesia after he refused to finish President Sukarno’s portrait. He did not return to Bali until 1972, two years after Sukarno’s death. Upon his return, Bonnet assisted in the Royal Museum’s expansion and organized its opening exhibition. He died in Laren, Holland in April of 1978 after a long illness. Johan Rudolf Bonnet was cremated and the ashes brought to Bali. These ashes were combined with the ashes of his long-time friend Cokorda Gde Agung Sukawati, who had died in 1967, and were burnt together in a great cremation ceremony. 

Rudolf Bonnet’s work is housed in many private collections and the collections of the Rijksmuseum Kroller-Muller in Amsterdam, the Neka Art Museum in Bali, and the Singer Museum in Laren, Holland. Founded in 1980 and supported by donations, the Rudolf Bonnet Foundation Netherlands supports Balinese artists and brings their work to the Netherlands for exhibitions. 

Second Insert Image: Johan Rudolf Bonnet, “Self Portrait”, 1927, Pastel on Paper

Third Insert Image: Johan Rudolf Bonnet, “Male Torso”, Date Unknown, Color Pastels and Watercolor on Paper, 63.5 x 50 cm, Private Collection

Bottom Insert Image: Johan Rudolf Bonnet, “Self Portrait”, 1976 , Crayon and Pastel on Paper

Hans Holbein the Younger

Hans Holbein the Younger, “An Unidentified Man”, circa 1535, Black and Colored Chalks, White Gouache, Pen and Ink, Metapoint, Royal Collection Trust, England

Born in 1497 in the city of Augsburg, Hans Holbein the Younger was a German-Swiss portraitist and printmaker who worked in the Northern Renaissance style that occurred in Europe north of the Alps. The culture and influence of the Italian Renaissance was brought to northern Europe’s local art movements by the trade and commerce between Italy and the Low Countries in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Considered one of the greatest sixteenth-century portraitists, Holbein also produced religious art, Reformation propaganda, and book designs.

Hans Holbein the Younger was the second son of painter and draftsman Hans Holbein the Elder. He and his brother, Ambrosius, trained at their father’s Augsburg art and craft workshop until 1515 when they, as journeyman painters, traveled to Basel, the Swiss center of education and the printing trade. Apprenticed to Basel’s leading painter and printmaker Hans Herbster, they found work as designers of metal cuts and woodcuts for the city’s printers. In 1515, the Holbein brothers received a commission from theologian Oswald Myconius to create  margin drawings for that year’s edition of scholar Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam’s Latin essay “In Praise of Folly”.

In 1517, Holbein traveled to Switzerland’s central city of Lucerne where he worked with his father on murals for merchant Jakob von Hertenstein; he also created designs for stained glass works. In the winter of that year, it is suspected Holbein journeyed to northern Italy where he studied the fresco works of Andrea Mantegna, a painter who had experimented in the art of perspective. Holbein, upon his return to Lucerne, painted two panels at Hertenstein’s house with copies of Mantegna’s large egg tempera canvases.

Hans Holbein relocated to Basel in 1519, joined the Painters’Guild, and became a citizen of the city. In this productive period, he created internal murals for the Council Chamber at the Town Hall, a series of religious paintings and designs for stained glass windows. Working in book design through publisher Johann Froben, Holbein created woodcut designs for the “Dance of Death”, a late Middle Age allegory of death; illustrations of the Old Testament; and the title page of Martin Luther’s Bible. He also designed twelve alphabet fonts ornamented with depictions of Greek and Roman gods, and the heads of Caesars, poets and philosophers. 

While in Basel, Holbein painted a series of portraits, among them the portrait of the young scholar Bonifacius Amerbach, son of the printer Johannes Amerbach, and a double portrait of Basel’s Mayor Jakob Meyer and his wife, Dorothea. Sent to the Court of England by Antwerp’s secretary Pieter Gillis, Holbein painted two portraits of Sir Thomas More, one with his family; a portrait of William Warham, Archbishop of Canterbury; the German astronomer and mathematician Nicholas Kratzer, a member of Thomas More’s scientific circle and tutor to More’s children; and courtiers such aa Lady Anne Lovell and Comptroller of the Royal Household Sir Henry Guildford and his wife, Lady Mary. 

In England circa 1536-1537, Hans Holbein officially entered the service of King Henry VIII. One of his first commissions was a 1537 mural for the Palace of Whitehall. It was the first life-size full-length portrait of a monarch to be created in England. A fire in the seventeenth-century destroyed the mural; however several copies of the section depicting Henry VIII survive. Holbein was often sent to Europe to sketch portraits of potential brides for the king due to his skill at rendering faces. A series of his drawings dated between 1526 and 1543 were  bound in a book and are kept within the Royal Collection, a majority of these portraits being housed at Windsor Castle. 

In most of his drawings, Holbein tended to concentrate on the face of the sitter and left more abstract lines to delineate the clothing. Depending on the part of the portrait he was sketching, he would often change mediums. Scholars believe he began his portraits with red chalk and then worked on subtle shading for facial contours. Holbein next applied fine lines of colored chalk for the features and finished with dark black ink for blocks of flat tone on the hats. Due to the darker handling of key facial features, the changing mediums created a more complex rendering of the face. 

Hans Holbein utilized a colored ground in his portrait sketches. He had a range of prepared drawing papers ready for use and selected the tone most apt for the complexion of his sitter. Using this method, Holbein quickly established the color accuracy of his sitter’s face; this also became the established practice later used by watercolorist William Turner for his open-air landscape paintings. Holbein used touches of watercolor or gouache to further extend the value range and to enhance a particular feature, such as the eyes or beard. He also employed a method known as silverpoint, drawing fine lines with a silver stylus on a prepared ground; the effect of which are marks that tarnish into warm brown tones through oxidization over time.

After entering King Henry VIII’s service, Holbein altered his paintings’ portrait style. He focused more intensely on his sitter’s facial features and largely omitted props and settings. Holbein applied this clean technique to the miniature portraits of Princess Christina of Denmark and Jane Pemberton Small, the wife of a London cloth merchant. At Burgau Castle, he later painted the portrait of the prospective bride of King Henry, Anne of Cleves. For this portrait, Holbein decided to paint her full-faced and elaborately attired. Aside from his official duties, Holbein continued to paint many private portrait commissions of merchantmen and courtiers. 

Hans Holbein the Younger died, at the age of forty-five, in London near the end of 1543. Although Flemish art historian Karel van Mander stated in the early 1600s that Holbein died of the plague, it is more likely he died from an infection as friends attended his bedside. Holbein, in October of 1543, had made a signed and witnessed will; however it was not witnessed by a lawyer. John Antwerp, a goldsmith and friend, legally undertook the administrations of Holbein’s last wishes, settled the debts, provided for Holbein’s family, and dispersed his remaining effects. Holbein’s gravesite is unknown. Not one note or letter from his hand survives. 

Top Insert Image: Hans Holbein the Younger, “Portrait of Unidentified Woman”, circa 1532-1543, Black and Colored Chalk, Pen and Ink on Pale Pink Prepared Paper, Royal Collection Trust, England 

Second Insert Image: Hans Holbein the Younger, “An Unidentified Man”, circa 1535, Black and Colored Chalks, Pen and Ink, Brush and Ink on Pink Prepared Paper, 27.2 x 21 cm, Royal Collection Trust, England

Third Insert Image: Hans Holbein, “John More, Son of Thomas More”, circa 1526-1527, Black and Colored Chalks on Prepared Paper, Royal Collection Trust, England

Foourth Insert Image: Hans Holbein the Younger, “Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey”, circa 1532-1533, Black and Colored Chalk with Pen and Ink on Pale Pink Prepared Paper, Royal Collection Trust, England

Bottom Insert Image: Hans Holbein, “Lord Thomas Vaux”, Date Unknown, Detail, Black and Colored Chalk, Pen and Brown Ink, Black Was and White Opaque Watercolor on Pink Prepared Paper, Royal Collection Trust, England

Ross Jones

The Artwork of Ross Jones

Born in 1966 in the small community of Otaki, Ross Jones is a painter from New Zealand whose works are intermixed with elements of surrealism. All of his carefully designed paintings contain hints that lead the viewers to various narratives. Jones combines objects, vintage toys, and personal photographs with his childhood memories to depict worlds of whimsy, remembrance and personal freedom.

Ross Jones spent his early years in Otaki, a town of five-thousand people that remained basically unchanged through the years. He graduated from the School of Design Innovation at the Victoria University of Wellington, previously Wellington’s School of Design. Ross spent the next fifteen years creating commissioned work for private individuals and companies, including New York’s Penguin Books, Bank of America, The Wall Street Journal and Time Incorporated. He currently paints personal work full time from his studio overlooking the Hauraki Gulf north of Aukland.

Over the years, Jones has been inspired by the work of both fine artists and commercial illustrators. Among these artists are Winslow Homer, Howard Pyle, Edward Hopper, David Hockney, the Wyeth family, and Maxfield Parish. Jones was particularly attracted to the composition and unique blending of color in Parish’s work. He was also drawn to the clean lines featured in Art Deco furniture and the seemingly effortless design compositions of vintage French posters. 

An important factor in his choice of painting subjects is Ross Jones’s fascination with everyday objects, those most often taken for granted, as well as those extraordinary occurrences that happens in one’s life. He includes just enough detail in his work to initiate a story; the goal being that the viewer complete the narrative through their own experiences. Working with a carefully researched color palette, Jones uses every opportunity to play with the light in his paintings. He shapes the mood of each painting by his attentive use of multiple light sources, linear and aerial perspectives, and stretched shadows. Jones often distorts both shapes and architecture to increase the drama and compositional dimensions. 

Ross Jones’s work is held in private collections in England, Ireland, North America, Australia and New Zealand. His work has been regularly featured and sold at many New Zealand gallery exhibitions including the Boyd-Dunlop Gallery in Napier; the Parnell Gallery in Parnell, Aukland; the Central Art Gallery in Queenstown; the RedSea Gallery in Brisbane City; and the Flagstaff Gallery in Devonport, Aukland. 

Notes: Ross Jones’s website, which includes exhibitions, contact information, and both original work and limited edition prints for purchase, is located at: https://jonesthepainter.com

The Central Art Gallery has an online article in which Ross Jones discussed his style and techniques, as well as those artists who have inspired and influenced him. This article can be found at: https://centralart.co.nz/collections/ross-jones-1

Top Insert Image: Photographer Unknown, “Ross Jones and 2018 Maiden Voyage”, Color Print

Bottom Insert Image: Ross Jones, “Anonymous Delivery”, 2012, Oil on Linen, 95 x 115 cm, Private Collection

Scipione Pulzone

Scipione Pulzone, “Portrait of Jacopo Boncompagni”, 1574, Oil on Canvas, 121.9 x 99.3 cm, Private Collection

Born in 1544 at the coastal city of Gaeta in the Kingdom of Naples, Scipione Pulzone, also known as Il Gaetano, was a Neapolitan painter of the late Italian Renaissance. He painted many important religious works; however, he excelled in portraiture with exceptionally rendered artistic details. One of the most celebrated artists in Rome, Pulzone was also one of the most original portraitists of the Counter Reformation, that period of Catholic resurgence that was initiated in response to the Protestant Reformation in Europe.

Scipione Pulzone is believed to have been a student of Jacopino del Conte, an Italian Mannerist painter active in both Rome and Florence. His portrait style was influenced by the works of Raphael and the international style of work from the Hapsburg court in Austria, particularly the portraits done by Anthonis Mor. Mor’s formal style of court portraits, with grandiose and self-possessed ostentation, was extremely influential on court painters throughout Europe.

Many of Pulzone’s paintings, particularly his religious scenes, show the strong influence of painter Girolamo Siciolante de Sermoneta’s latter works, which were executed in the reformist naturalist style. Pulzone painted his “Mater Divinae Providentiae”, an image of Mary and the Child Jesus, around 1580. In 1664, the painting became the possession of the Barnabite Fathers who placed the art piece in a small chapel at the rear of Rome’s San Carlo ai Catinari church where it continues to draw many religious followers.

In 1593, Scipione Pulzone finished his 1588 commissioned altarpiece “The Lamentation”  for the Passion chapel on the right side of the Chiesa del Gesù, the mother church of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits). Intended to complement the austere interior space of the church, this painting rejected popular stylistic motifs and avoided narrative anecdotal details to create a meditative, devotional icon. Finely rendered details such as the tears of the Virgin, the crown of thorns held by Saint John, and the pallor of Christ’s body are presented to the viewer for contemplation.

Pulzone worked in both the Florentine and Neapolitan courts, as well as, in Rome, where he was commissioned to paint the portraits of two Popes, Pius V and his successor Gregory XIII known for commissioning the Gregorian calendar. While in Rome, Pulzone painted two major works: the 1585 “Our Lady of the Assumption” for Rome’s church of San Silvestro al Quirinale and “Christ on the Cross” for Rome’s Santa Maria in Vallicella. 

Scipione Pulzone died in Rome on the first of February in 1598 at the age of fifty-four. 

Notes: Scipione Pulzone’s “The Lamentation”, originally at the  Chiesa del Gesù, was anonymously gifted to New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1984 (Accession Number 1984.74). It is currently listed as not on view.

At the online Artsy, there is an article on Scipione Pulzone’s 1574 “Portrait of Jacopo Boncompagni”, which includes the history of the painting and Boncompagni’s life, as well as, the two men’s close personal relationship. Pulzone named his first-born son Giacomo (Jacopo is a variant of the classical name Giacomo) and Boncompagni was selected to became Giacomo’s godfather. This article is located at: https://www.artsy.net/artwork/scipione-pulzone-called-il-gaetano-portrait-of-jacopo-boncompagni-three-quarter-length-in-armor

Top Insert Image: Scipione Pulzone, Portrait of Unidentified Noblewomen, circa 1580-1589, Oil on Canvas, 119 x 91.2 cm, Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, Maryland 

Second Insert Image: Scipione Pulzone, “Self Portrait”, 1564, Oil on Canvas, 43.5 x 34.5 cm, Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo, The Netherlands

Bottom Insert Image: Scipione Pulzone, “Portrait of Urban Vii”, circa 1590, Oil on Canvas, 131 x 99 cm, Private Collection

Curtis Holder

The Artwork of Curtis Holder

Born in 1968, Curtis Holder is an English artist based in London. He works primarily in colored pencil and graphite to create large-scale figurative works and portraits on paper. Raised on an estate in Leicester in the 1980s, Holder majored in Graphic Design at the prestigious Kingston University and completed his postgraduate studies in Character Animation at Central Saint Martins in London.

Curtis Holder’s multi-layered drawings emerge through an unpredictable series of energetic lines that reveal the form, as well as, the emotional state of his subject. He works briskly, layering pencils and graphite for their dynamic effect. Holder does not alter any marks after they are laid on the paper. All pencil marks, including preparatory ones, remain on the paper in the finished work. The complexity of the lines, the pose of the sitter, and the graphic quality of the work combine to form images of great insight.

A prolific artist, Holder has entered his work in many group exhibitions. Among these are the Society of Graphic Fine Art’s 2021 Centenary Exhibition “Unlocked” in London; the 2021 United Kingdom Colored Pencil Society’s 20th Anniversary Gala Exhibition at Oxo Tower Wharf in London; the 2022 Portrait Artist of the Year at Compton Verney, Warwickshire; and the 2023 Royal Society of British Artists Annual Exhibition in London. 

Curtis Holder’s debut solo exhibition “Something Unspoken” was held from November of 2021 through January of 2022 at the 45 Park Lane Gallery in London. His solo exhibition “The Makers: Portraits from Backstage” opened at the National Theater, South Bank, London in January and continues to the 4th of November in 2023. These multilayered pencil portraits depict those valuable theater people who work backstage at the National Theater. In 2022, Holder was awarded the honor of being the National Theater’s first artist in residence.

Holder is a member of the Contemporary British Portrait Painters and an Associate Member of the Society of Graphic Fine Art. His work is held in private and public collections including London’s National Portrait Gallery, the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, the Soho House, and the National Theater in London.

Curtis Holder and his partner, Steve Goggin, a digital content manager for the Historic Royal Palaces, reside in a midcentury house in south London. Holder holds summer drawing classes in the garden for neighbors and also teaches part-time at the local primary school.

“What prevents people from breaking into that (art) world is visibility. If you don’t see yourself represented, you’ll think there’s no way in. I’d like to take my story to as many children as possible and say, you can survive as an artist. It’s like any other job, you have to work hard. But it’s as real as becoming a doctor. I want to show others that art can be a career, and a way of life.”  —Curtis Holder, December 2020, The Guardian, London

Note: Curtis Holder’s website contains information on current exhibitions and the commission of work, as well as, available original drawings and limited edition prints. His site is located at: https://www.curtisholder.co.uk

A podcast interview between Curtis Holder and Alyson Walsh can be heard at Alyson Walsh’s “That’s Not My Age” on Spotify: https://thatsnotmyage.com/age/thats-not-my-age-podcast-portrait-artist-of-the-year-curtis-holder/

Second Insert Image: Curtis Holder, “Gaylene”, 2021, Colored Pencil on Paper, 90 x 66 cm

Bottom Insert Image: Curtis Holder, “One Man and His Dog”, 2022, Colored Pencil and Acrylic Gouache on Paper, 120 x 120 cm

Alejandro Pasquale

The Artwork of Alejandro Pasquale

Born in Buenos Aires in 1984, Alejandro Pasquale is an Argentine painter. In 2002, he entered the Universidad Nacional de les Artes in Buenos Aires to pursue an arts education. Two years later, Pasquale left the university and continued his education under the tutelage of local artists. Among those artists active at this time in Buenos Aires was painter Eduardo Stupia who works almost extensively in black and white with occasional use of color. In both 2013 and 2014, Pasquale participated in Stupia’s workshops at the highly regarded Torcuato Di Tella University in Buenos Aires.

Alejandro Pasquale’s work resides in the art category of magic realism, a realistic portrayal of the world with additional mystical or cryptic elements. His intriguing drawings and paintings, predominately figurative, abound in highly detailed elements. With a background in art based on his love of nature, Pasquale places his figures in lush, natural surroundings; however, he obscures their faces and emotions through masks composed of foliage and flowers. With their sense of sight covered, the figures are removed from the external world and absorbed into a state of internal contemplation.

In 2011, Pasquale was recognized for his drawings in the Salon de Mayo held at the Provincial Museum of Fine Arts “Rosa Galisteo de Rodriguez” in Santa Fe, Argentina. In 2015, he was a finalist at the National Painting Biennial in the city of Rafaela. In the same year, Pasquale won the first award at the National Exhibition of Contemporary Art held at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Junin, a provincial city of Buenos Aires. In 2017, he was awarded a scholarship to participate in the Encontro de Artistas Novos exhibition held at the Santiago de Compostela in Spain. Pasquale also participated in the Salón Nacional de Arts Visuales held in 2021 at Buenos Aires’s Palais de Glace.

Alejandro Pasquale is a regularly appearing artist with the Beinart Gallery in Melbourn, Australia; the Victor Lope Gallery in Barcelona, Spain; the Quimera Gallery in Buenos Aires, Argentina; the Stone Sparrow Gallery in New York City; and the Daniel Raphael Gallery in London. In addition to his many solo and group exhibitions, he continues to exhibit in many international art fairs. Alejandro Pasquale’s work is included in many private collections around the world. 

“The intention of my work is to be a necessary reminder that, even though we often overlook it, we are a horizontal part of the great network of living beings that co-inhabit this earth. We belong, on the day we allow ourselves to recognize this, to this immense and magical nature. We are nature.”  —Alejandro Pasquale

Notes: Images of Alejandro Pasquale’s work and contact information can be found at the artist’s website located at: https://alejandropasquale.com

Alejandro Pasquale’s work can also be seen at Saisho, an online art market site, and at the avante-garde Beinart Gallery where Pasquela has had several solo exhibitions. 

Saisho is located at: https://www.saishoart.com/alejandro-pasquale

Beinart Gallery is located at: https://beinart.org/collections/alejandro-pasquale


Olga Fröbe-Kapteyn

The Meditation Drawing Screenprints of Olga Fröbe-Kapteyn

Born in London in October of 1881, Olga Fröbe-Kapteyn was a Dutch spiritualist, theosophist, scholar and printmaker. Her father was Albertus Kapteyn, an engineer, inventor and the older brother of astronomer Jacobus Kapteyn. After working six years at the London site of the Westinghouse Air Brake Company, he was appointed Director General in 1887. Olga Kapteyn’s mother was Truus Muysken, an activist in social renewal and women’s emancipation. Among her circle of friends were playwright George Bernard Shaw and Russian anarchist Pyotr Alexeyevich Kropotkin. 

Olga Kapteyn’s initial education was at the North London Collegiate School where she became close friends with Marie Stopes who became a leading plant paleobotanist and founder of Britain’s first birth control clinic. Near the turn of the century, the Kapteyn family moved to Zürich, Switzerland where Olga attended the School of Applied Arts. She continued her education with a major in Art History at the University of Zürich. 

In 1909, Olga Kapteyn married Iwan Hermann Fröbe, a Croatian-Austrian conductor and flutist with Zürich’s opera orchestra; his conducting career took the couple first to Munich and later in 1910 to Berlin. At the outset of World War I, Olga and Iwan left Berlin and returned to Zürich. After the birth of twin daughters, tragedy struck the family; Iwan Fröbe perished in a September 1915 plane crash near the city of Vienna. 

Five years later, Olga Fröbe-Kapteyn traveled with her father to the Swiss village of Ascona, home to the Monte Verità Sanatorium. Albertus Kapteyn bought a nearby ancient farmhouse, the Casa Gabriella, which from 1920 onwards became Olga’s home. Fröbe-Kapteyn began to study Vedic philosophy, meditation and theosophy, a philosophical system which draws its teachings predominantly from Russian author and mystic Helena Blavatsky’s writings. Among her friends and influences at this time were Swiss psychologist Carl Jung, German poet Ludwig Derieth, and sinologist and theologian Richard Wilhelm whose translation of the “I Ching” is still regarded as one of the finest.

In 1928, Fröbe-Kapteyn built an informal research center near her home. Religion historian Rudolf Otto suggested a name derived from the ancient Greek for the center, Eranos, which translates as a banquet to which guests bring contributions. Carl Jung suggested its conference room serve as a symposium site for interdisciplinary discussion and research. The annual lecture program, Eranos Tagungen, began in August of 1933. A roster of intellecuals from various disciplines were invited to give lectures on a particular topic; these lectures were then published in the Eranos year book. To illustrate each symposium, Fröbe-Kapteyn devoted her time to finding images and symbols that would best illustrate the topic.

In the 1930s and 1940s, Olga Fröbe-Kapteyn’s research in archetypes took her to major libraries in Europe and America. These included, among others, the British Museum, the Vatican Library, New York City’s Morgan Library and Museum, the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris, and Athen’s Archaeological Museum. Fröbe-Kapteyn created the Archive for Research in Archetypal Symbolism, ARAS, which housed photographs of works of art, ritual images, and artifacts of sacred traditions, as well as, world-wide contemporary art. She amassed a collection of over six-thousand works, many of which were later used to illustrate Carl Jung’s writings. Today the New York-based institution, now under the auspices of the C.G. Jung Foundation, contains more than seventeen thousand images which are currently available online.

Fröbe-Kapteyn was interested in iconography since her childhood, an interest developed as she watched her father create images from photographic film in the darkroom. After following a lengthly series of meticulously drawn experiments in geometric abstraction, she produced a series of elaborate screen-prints between 1927 and 1934. Those prints combined the high energy of the Futurist art movement with her intense study of archetypical signs and symbols. Fröbe-Kapteyn’s prints were directly influenced by the English theosophist Alice Bailey, whom she met in the late 1920s. Bailey had used art as a tool in psychotherapy; through the drawing process, subconscious messages would be placed on paper or canvas. 

Olga Fröbe-Kapteyn’s prints and paintings exhibit great precision in their geometric shapes. They include diagrams of intersecting circles, which serve as an impetus for meditation, as well as, cryptic symbols enhanced with gold leaf and obscure figurative work. Fröbe-Kapteyn used a limited color palette, predominated by blue, red, gold and black. The rigid geometry of the image is reinforced by the choice of mostly cold colors which are opposed by the color black, symbolic of shadow and death, and the color gold, symbolic of light and life. The actual number of the screen-print sets Fröbe-Kapteyn produced is unknown.

A Swiss resident for most of her life, Olga Fröbe-Kapteyn passed away at her Casa Gabriella in 1962 at the age of eighty-one years. The Archive for Research in Archetypal Symbolism is still an active organization today and continues its mission with a new generation of lecturers and researchers.

Notes: A fourteen piece set of Olga Fröbe-Kapteyn’s Meditation Drawing Screenprints, produced in 1930, is housed in the collection of the Art Institute of Chicage. They are available for viewing at: https://www.artic.edu/collection?artist_ids=Olga%20Fröbe-Kapteyn

Olga Fröbe-Kapteyn’s Meditation Drawing Screenprints,  available for sale, can also be found at the online site of Gerrish Fine Art located at: https://gerrishfineart.com/artist/olga-frobe-kapteyn/

The online site of the Archive for Research in Archetypal Symbolism is located at: https://aras.org

Top Insert Image: Photographer Unknown, “Olga Fröbe-Kapteyn, Ascona”, 1933, Gelatin Silver Print, Fondazione Eranos Ascona

Second Insert Image: Olga Fröbe-Kapteyn, “Reincarnation”, 1930, Screenprint, 49.7 x 36 cm Paper Size, Private Collection

Third Insert Image: Olga Fröbe-Kapteyn, “Swastika Meditation Drawing”, Screenprint with Gold Foil, Dimensions Unknown, Private Collection

Bottom Insert Image: Photographer Unknown, “Olga Fröbe-Kapteyn and Guests”, 1958 Eranos Jungian Psychoanalysts’ Conference, Monte Verità, Ascona, Switzerland, Gelatin Silver Print, The Israeli Museum, Jerusalem

Juan Adán Morlán

Juan Adán Morlán, “Luchadores de Florencia (Wrestlers of Florence)”, 1773, Terra Cotta, 36 x 40 x 28 cm, Uffizi Gallery, Florence

Born in March of 1741 in Tarazona, a provincial town of Zaragoza, Juan Adán Morlán was a Spanish painter and sculptor. The son of Juan and Manuela Morlán, he was baptized at the local parish church, Iglesia Parroquial San Pedro Apóstol, located in the town of Buenache de Alarcón. 

Juan Adán moved with his family around 1755 to Zargoza, the provincial capital, where he entered the workshop of Baroque architect and sculptor José Ramírez de Arellano. After being appointed sculptor to King Carlos III in 1740, José Ramírez had been commissioned in 1751 to oversee the work done at the capital’s Cathedral-Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar. Once the works at the Cathedral were finished in 1765, Juan Adán at the age of twenty-four traveled to Rome.

Juan Adán Morlán lived on the resources he had saved from his work at the Basilica until they were exhausted. He then approached Tomas de Azpuru y Jiménez, a native of Zaragoza and the appointed Charge d’Affaires of Spain who oversaw King Carlos III’s business in Rome. Through Jiménez’s assistance, Juan Adán received several commissions for work in Rome. Among these were sculpturing a copy of Camilo Rusconi’s 1718 marble “Saint John the Evangelist” and a drawing that was later presented to Francisco Preciado de la Vega, a scholar elected both prince and secretary of the Academy of Artists, as well as, an Arcade of the College of Roman Arcades.

Juan Adán was granted a pension from the government in October of 1767 and began work on new commissions in Rome. In 1773, he created his terracotta “Luchadores de Florencia (Wrestlers of Florence)” and sent it to the Academic Board in Rome which extended his pension. In the following year, Juan Adán created his “Compassio Mariae”, a terracotta sculpture of the Virgin Mary supporting the body of the dead Christ. This technical exercise was sent that same year to the Academy as a pensioner’s work. 

In January of 1775, Juan Adán Morlán was appointed an Academic of Merit at the Academy of Saint Luke in Rome. He reproduced his “Compassio Mariae” again in 1791 for the church of the Royal College of Pious Schools of San Fernando. For this, Juan Adán was appointed Academic of Merit of Saint Fernando. He returned to Spain in 1776, where the Lérida Cathedral council commissioned him to work in the city until 1782. During Juan Adán’s stay in Lérida, construction work authorized by King Carlos III was still proceeding at the new Cathedral of Lérida that would serve as a  replacement for abandoned Cathedral of St. Mary of la Seu Vella,. 

Juan Adán stayed in the province of Granada from 1783 to 1786, where he worked at a chapel in the city of Cámenes. He returned in 1783 to the king’s court in Madrid where he was appointed lieutenant-director of Sculpture under the directorship of Isidro Carnicero, who rose to his position upon the death of director Roberto Michel. In May of 1793, Juan Adán received the appointment of Chamber Sculptor to King Carlos IV, a honor which became effective in February of 1795. 

In 1795, Juan Adán Morlán sculpted the busts of Carlos IV and his wife Maria Luisa of Parma, the youngest daughter of Philip, Duke of Parma and fourth son of Philip V of Spain. Numerous portrait commissions at this time were made by the nobility; among these was the 1794 portrait of Prime Minister Manuel Godoy y Álvarez de Faria, Duke of Alcudia. In 1807, Juan Adán Morlán made the Relief of San Miguel at his chapel inside the Cathedral of Granada and, in the following year, created the Anteo Fountain in the gardens of Aranjuez. 

Juan Adán was appointed in 1811 the Director of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in San Fernando. In 1815, he became Chamber Sculptor to King Fernando VII who, after the defeat of the French invasion, was again legally recognized by the 1813 Treatry of Valençay as King of Spain.. A year after his royal appointment, Juan Adán Morlán died in Madrid on the 14th of June in 1816. He was buried in the Puerta de Fuencarral Cemetery in Madrid.

Top Insert Image: Juan Adán, “Manuel Godoy y Álvarez de Faria, Duke of Alcudia”, 1794, Marble, 72 x 53 x 35 cm, Real Academia de Belles Artes de San Fernando, Spain

Second Insert Image: Juan Adán Morlán, “Moisés (Moses)“, 1775, Terracotta, 67 x 32 x 30 cm, Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, Madrid

Third Insert Image: Juan Adán, “San Juan Evangelista (St. John the Evangelist)“, 1767, Terracotta, 70 x 40 x 28 cm, Real Academia de San Fernando, Madrid

Bottom Insert Image: Juan Adán Morlán, “Priamo y Hector (Priam and Hector)”, 1770s, Terracotta, Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, Madrid

Oswell Blakeston: “And the Moral Seems to Be. . .”

Photographers Unknown, And the Moral Seems to Be . . .

In winter, Miss Jansson paints in her very comfortable studio in Helsinki; but in summer, she comes to the island and draws Moomin.

Max said, “Don’t you ever feel inspired to paint the Finnish countryside in summer?”

“It’s all so damned green,” she answered.

Then she told us about the squirrel, the one squirrel which has appeared on the island; and it slept under her neck and tried to collect food there. As the relationship between artist and squirrel developed, the squirrel came to expect a game at four o’clock in the morning. Tove Jansson had to get out of bed and pretend to be a tree. The squirrel would run up and down her frozen limbs.

One day, the squirrel disappeared. He may have jumped on a floating plank, for later he was reported to have appeared on another island. It must have been the same squirrel, for he positively forced open the tent of some campers, and—he was not welcome. It was four o’clock in the morning. 

As soon as Miss Jansson learnt of the incident, she immediately rowed to the other island. She called. She stood about the place looking like a tree. But the squirrel never showed a whisker. Perhaps he’d sailed off again on a romantic Odyssey, looking for another squirrel and using his curly tail as a sail. And the moral seems to be that it is not enough to be a tree!

Oswell Blakeston, Sun At Midnight, 1958 Travel Book, The Archipelago, Page 85, Publisher Anthony Blond, London

Born to a family of Austrian origins in May of 1907, Henry Joseph Hasslacher was an English writer, poet, and filmmaker. He used the pseudonym Oswell Blakeston during his career, a reference to his mother’s maiden name and to English poet and essayist Osbert Sitwell.

Oswell Blakeston left his home at the age of sixteen; he subsequently became a stage magician’s assistant, a cinema organist, and an assistant cameraman at Gaumont Studios where he worked alongside the young David Lean. In August of 1927, Blakeston joined the staff of the Pool Group’s magazine “Close Up” as the protégé of the publication’s editor Kenneth Macpherson. He contributed a total of eighty-four articles to all but four of the journal’s issues, more than any other writer. 

While writing for “Close Up”, Blakeston worked in various capacities in the British film industry. In 1929, he first tested his directorial skills with the short film “I Do Like to Be Beside the Seaside”, which was based on the popular British music hall song of the same name. Working alongside American photographer Francis Bruguière, Blakeston directed and produced the short 1930 film “Light Rhythms”. This strictly abstract film, one of the first in England, added new dimensions to Bruguière’s experimental photographic work through the use of moving light sources, superimpositions, and elements of music. The film score was composed by Jack Ellitt and played on piano by Donald Sosin. 

Among Oswell Blakeston’s early literary endeavors was his co-editorship with Herbert Jones of the small magazine “Seed” from 1932 to 1933. Under the pseudonym of Simon, he collaborated with novelist and screenwriter Roger Buford on the writing of four mystery novels: the 1933 “Murder Among Fiends”, “Death on the Swim” in 1934, the 1935 “Cat with a Moustache”, and “The Mystery of the Hypnotic Room” in 1949. Blakeston also wrote novels and story collections, as well as, ten volumes of poetry under his own name. His fifteen books of fiction were wide ranging in scope and included a number of works that mixed gay themes with suspense and detective plots.

Blakeston contributed writings to British writer and poet John Gawsworth’s published short-story anthologies. He also collaborated on works with Matthew Phipps Shiell, also known as M. P. Shiel, a writer of supernatural horror and science fiction whose “The Purple Cloud” remains his best known work. Blakeston is known in the literary world for a number of publication firsts. His 1932 “Magic Aftermath” was the first fiction published with a spiral binding and his 1935 crime novel “The Cat with the Moustache” contained one of the first descriptions of a hallucinatory experience with peyote or mescal.

In the 1950s, Blakeston was a frequent contributor to “ArtReview” and other periodicals including “John O’ London’s Weekly” and “What’s On in London”. In addition to his novels and poetry, Blakeston published cookbooks, travel adventures, works on photography and cinematography, and two books on animals, “Working Cats” and “Zoo Keeps Who?”. Most of his  literary work was produced for publication by small presses and speciality publishers and thus is no longer in print. Recent interest in Blakeston’s writings has resulted in reprints of his more popular works; more obscure volumes appear occasionally at more specialized venues.

Blakeston met painter Max Chapman at the end of the 1920s. Chapman had attended London’s Byam Shaw School of Art where he studied under and became friends with painter Charles Ricketts. Ricketts and his life-time companion Charles Shannon were part of the literary and artistic circle that included Aubrey Beardsley and Oscar Wilde. Blakeston and Chapman became life-long partners and lived together at a residence named “Lobster Pot” in Mousehole, a small fishing village in Cornwall. Through his association with Chapman, Blakeston met and became friends with modernist writer Mary Francis Butts and poet and author Dylan Thomas.

Both Blakeston and Chapman became fixtures of the Cornish artistic scene. Blakeston’s paintings were a mix of abstract and expressionistic imagery executed in a small scale. His 1982 “Adolescence”, though influenced by Chapman’s work, is stylistically closer to the Pop Art movement; it is currently housed in the collection of the Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art. Blakeston exhibited his artwork in over forty solo shows and one-hundred group shows. In 1981, he shared an exhibition with Max Chapman at the Middlesbrough Art Gallery. Blakeston’s paintings are housed in the collections of the Victoria & Albert Museum, Belfast’s Ulster Museum, the Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, and galleries in Poland, Finland and Portugal. 

Blakeston and Chapman’s portraits were drawn by painter and sculptor Sven Berlin, a member of the St. Ives artistic community: Blakeston’s portriat in 1939 and Chapman’s in 1941. These portraits became part of a series entitled “St. Ives Personalities”, that is now held in a private collection. A portrait of Blakeston painted by Max Chapman was part of a 1976 exhibition of portraits held at the Camden Art Centre. Oswell Blakeston died on the 4th of June in 1985. Max Chapman continued to paint until his death, fourteen years later, on the 18th of November in 1999. 

Notes: Although listed at the British Film Institute registry and mentioned in Michael O’Pray’s “The British Avant-Garde Film 1926 to 1995”, Oswell Blakeston’s film “I Do Like to Be Beside the Seaside” seems not available for viewing. His 1930 “Light Rhythms” is however available for viewing at the Light Cone Experimental Film site located at: https://lightcone.org/en/film-5793-light-rhythms 

Since the 1930s, one of Oswell Blakeston’s passions was the history and architecture of follies, costly ornamental buildings with no practical purpose that were usually built in gardens or parks. He amassed a collection of county files, notes and clippings on the subject. A short article on this topic can be found at The Folly Flâneuse’s site located at: https://thefollyflaneuse.com/oswell-blakestons-folly-suitcase/

Additional information on Oswell Blakeston’s life and published works can be found at the Social Networks and Archival Context site located at: https://snaccooperative.org/ark:/99166/w6087wx3#biography-collapse

Top Insert Image: Howard Coster, “Oswell Blakeston”, 1930s, Photo Session, Half-Plate Negative Print, National Portrait Gallery, London

Second Insert Image: Oswell Blakeston, “Pass the Poison Separately”, 1976, Publisher Catalyst, Ontario

Third Insert Image: Oswell Blakeston and Francis Bruguière, “Few Are Chosen, Studies in the Theatrical Lighting of Life’s Theatre”, 1931, First Edition, Scholartis Press, Private Collection

Fourth Insert Image: Oswell Blakeston, “The Night’s Moves”, 1961, First Edition, Publisher Gaberbocchus Press, London

Bottom Insert Image: Howard Coster, “Oswell Blakeston”,  1930s, Photo Session, Half-Plate Film Negative Print, National Portrait Gallery, London