Osmar Schindler

Osmar Schindler, “The Victor”, Date Unknown, Oil on Canvas, Dimensions and Location Unknown

Osmar Schindler, “Germanic Warrior with Helmet”, 1902, Oil on Canvas, 99 x 79 cm, Private Collection

Born in the village of Burkhardtsdorf in December of 1867, Osmar Schindler was a German painter whose works were a mixture of Art Nouveau and Impressionism. With the financial support of an uncle, he attended the Dresden Art Academy where he studied under Belgian historical painter Ferdinand Pauwels and German portrait painter Leon Pohle. Among his fellow students were Art Nouveau painter Hans Unger and, sculptor and  painter Sascha Schneider.

Schindler traveled throughout Europe during his early life and, by 1895, had visited Belgium, the Netherlands, France, and Italy. His work in this period displayed his interest in classical forms, the nude, and allegorical scenes. In 1897, Schindler designed  the poster for Dresden’s International Art Exhibition and, in 1900, was appointed a professor at the Dresden Art Academy. There he  taught life modeling and draftsmanship, a position which he held for the remainder of his life. 

At the 1901 Dresden International Art Exhibition, Osmar Schindler exhibited and received a gold medal for his oil painting “Im Kumtlampenschein (Changing the Horse Collar by Lamp Light)”. He received a bronze medal for his mythological painting “Hercules” at the 1904 Dresden exhibition and, in the same year, exhibited his earlier 1888 lithograph “David and Goliath” at the Saint Louis World’s Fair Exposition. Schindler also produced several portraits including those of Christian Otto Mohr, a pioneer in structural engineering, and Herman Prell, a well-admired professor at the Dresden Academy. 

Aware of the artistic styles of his time, Osmar Schindler opened himself to the ornamental design of Art Nouveau and the abstract brushstrokes of the Impressionists. He died on June 19th of 1927 in Dresden, at the age of fifty-nine, and is buried at Loschwitz Cemetery, a burial place of numerous artists of national significance. 

Insert Images:

Osmar Schindler, “Siegfried”, Date Unknown, Oil on Canvas, 138 x 78 cm, Private Collection

Osmar Schindler, Illustration, Dresden 1897 International Art Exhibition, Lithograph, 75 x 94 cm, Private Collection


Audrey Avinoff

Audrey Avinoff, Images from “The Fall of Atlantis” Series

In February of 1884, Andrey Avinoff was born to a wealthy Russian family in the town of Tulchyn, located in the western portion of Ukraine near the border of Moldova. Educated by private tutors on the family estate in the Ukraine, he was trained as a lawyer and diplomat at the University of Moscow, and became a gentlemen-in-waiting to the last tsar. A multi-faceted figure in the tradition of Da Vinci, Avinoff was equally at home in the worlds of art and science, spoke seven languages and read ten more, established an entomological library of seven-thousand volumes, and was an expert of Russian icons, Persian miniatures, and other esoteric subjects.

In his twenties, Avinoff inherited a bachelor uncle’s fortune and, pursuing his entomological interests, financed forty-two butterfly collecting expeditions between 1904 and 1914, including one to western Tibet in 1912. He eventually established himself as one of the world’s greatest butterfly collectors, with an initial collection of approximately eighty-thousand specimens, most of which came from central Asia. This collection was later impounded by the Bolsheviks during the Revolution and is now housed in the Zoological Museum in St. Petersburg. 

Due to his training in law and diplomacy, Audrey Avinoff was chosen by the Kerensky government of Russia to tundertake a purchasing mission in New York. Taking only one volume from his vast library, he left with his sister,  portrait painter Elizabeth Shoumatoff, on the last train out of St. Petersburg before the Revolution. When they arrived in New York several months later, the Russia they knew no longer existed. Avinoff decided to settle in Pittsburgh where, as a gay man, he lived a generally secluded upper-class life in the thriving city’s strongly elitist society.

After a brief career as a commercial artist, where he produced Art Deco advertising including work for Colgate toothpaste and Parliament cigarettes, Audrey Avinoff became an assistant curator of entomology in 1926 at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, under the directorship of William Rolland. Within a year, he became the director of the museum, a position he held until his retirement in 1946. During the 1930s, Avinoff, along with his nephew Nicholas Shoumanoff, made six trips to Jamaica, where he collected fourteen-thousand specimens of the island’s moths and butterflies. Returning home, he established a second entomological library and a three-thousand volumn library on Russian Decorative Art, which Avinoff bestowed to his nephew in his will. 

Following a decline in his health during the latter part of his life, Audrey Avinoff moved to New York and resumed his interest in painting. A talented artist since his early years, he worked in a variety of mediums, including pencil, ink, watercolor, and oil paints. Avinoff  produced over his lifetime an impressive number of extraordinary detailed watercolors, mostly of flowers and butterflies, which were scientifically accurate, but often phantasmagorical and mystical in style. Besides still-lifes and landscapes, he  also produced paintings with themes of religious, sexual or apocalyptic nature. 

Avinoff’s most known work is his “The Fall of Atlantis” series, which illustrated George V. Golokhvastoff’s two hundred-fifty page poem of the same name. The series consists of twenty three illustrations, done in black and white chalk with pencil and watercolor, some of which are heightened with body white. The work exemplifies the Art Deco style, which was popular in the 1930s, and incorporates a young male figure of mystical imagery. Published in 1938 as a limited edition and presented in two matching gray cloth drop-back boxes, the set also contained a self-portrait of Audrey Avinoff, done in pencil and initialed. 

Audrey Avinoff was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Science from the University of Pittsburgh and was a member of the Entomological Society of America, having joined in 1939. Among Avinoff’s close friends were the Russian poet and novelist Vladmir Nabokov, author of “Speak, Memory” and “Lolita”, and biologist and sex researcher Alfred Kinsey, both of whom were also interested in entomology. Audrey Avinoff died in July of 1949 at the age of sixty-five. 

Besides his work published in numerous science and botanical publications, Audrey Avinoff’s work is housed in the collections of the Audrey Avinoff Foundation, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University, and the Carnegie Museum of Art, as well as in many private collections.

Kelly Fearing

Kelly Fearing, “The Lifters”, 1944, Etching, 24.3 x 20.9 cm, Blanton Museum of Art, Austin, Texas

Born in Arkansas in 1918, Kelly Fearing was a painter, print maker, and teacher. He studied art at Louisiana Tech University and New York’s Columbia University, where he earned his Master’s Degree in 1950. He relocated to Fort Worth, Texas, in 1943 and joined the Fort Worth Circle, a progressive art colony, mostly young artists, which was active during the 1940s and 1950s.

Though not defined by a specific aesthetic, the Fort Worth Circle was important for moving beyond the realism and agrarian subject matter of American Regionalism, which dominated Texas art in the 1930s and 1940s. Kelly Fearing and his Fort Worth cohorts were the first artists in the state to respond in a significant way to European artists such as Picasso, Braque, Klee, Kandinsky, Modigliani, Ernst, Klee, and Miro.

After teaching from 1945 to 1947 at Texas Wesleyan, Kelly Fearing assumed the Professorship of Art in the Department of Art and Art History at the University of Texas at Austin, where he taught for forty years. A noted art educator, he  co-authored several multi-volume art education textbooks from 1960 through the 1980s. As a pioneer in art education in America, Fearing founded The University of Texas Junior Art Project, the first visual arts outreach program of its kind in Texas. He became Professor Emeritus at the University of Texas in 1987 and, after  his retirement, continued to work as a professional artist. 

Kelly Fearing worked in almost all traditional mediums, with prominence in oil painting and collage work. The work from his Fort Worth years is abstract in form, surrealistic and filled with allegory., characteristics which would remain throughout the body of his work. Fearing’s art has been referred to as magical realist, mystical naturalist and Romantic surrealist.

Kelly Fearing died on March 13, 2011 from congestive heart failure at the age of ninety-two. More than 80 of his prints and drawings are in the Blanton Museum of Art’s permanent collection.

More works by Kelly Fearing can be found at: https://ultrawolvesunderthefullmoon.blog/2015/07/16/six-etchings-by-kelly-fearing-kelly-fearing-was/

Bernard Steffen

The Artwork of Bernard Steffen

Born in Neodesha, Kansas, in 1907, Bernard Steffen was a lithographer and painter noted for his considerable output of work as a participant in the Works Progress Administration’s program for the arts. Besides his lithographic work, he produced many murals, depicting local histories, in United States Post Offices from 1934 to 1941.

Bernard Steffen graduated from Neodesha High School circa 1925; he then attended the Kansas City Art Institute on a scholarship. In 1928 Steffen received a scholarship to the Colorado Springs Art Institute, where he and Thomas Hart Benton roomed together. An early member of the Regionalist art movement. Benton became a lifelong friend and mentor to Steffen, whose style and preference for rural subject matter was influenced by Benton.

Steffen became a member of the American Artist’s Congress, a group established in New York City in 1935 to endorse government support for art unions and to promote a social-realist style in American painting. He worked as a staff artist for the Resettlement Administration, and painted murals for the Works Progress Administration (WPA), including one in 1938 for the US Post Office in Neodesha, Kansas. Steffen was a teacher and treasurer for the National Serigraph Society, and worked comfortably in the varied mediums of oil, tempera, lithography and screen printing.

The strong influence of Thomas Hart Benton’s style is seen in Bernard Steffen’s work. There is a strong contrast in the dark and light tones of his works, and his figures are broad and simplified, intended as representations of types rather than individuals.. Steffen was sympathetically drawn to the rural workers who appear in his prints and paintings of the 1930s; and he frequently emphasized agricultural themes. His subject matter, however, does not derive entirely from Benton’s influence, but also from his own experiences while growing up in Kansas.

Steffen also studied with Stanton McDonald Wright, the American modernist painter, who, along with Morgan Russell and Patrick Henry Bruck, were the only American artists to define a common aesthetic philosophy and issue a manifesto. The influence of Wright’s style can be seen in the emphasis Steffen applied towards underlying compositional structure. Like other artists of the 1930s, Steffen produced works which provided a connection between the artist and  his worker subjects.

After his work with the WPA, Bernard Steffen relocated his residence to Woodstock, New York, where he set up a studio. In 1977 he was diagnosed with ALS; however, he continued to produce art by holding a brush in his stiff hand and stippling the canvas. He married painter Eleanor Lipkins in June of 1978. Two years later, Bernard Steffen passed away, with his wife by his side, on July 10, 1980 at the age of seventy-two. He is buried at the Artists Cemetery in Woodstock, Ulster County, New York. 

His lithography and silk screen prints are in the collections of The Spencer Museum of Art at the University of Kansas, University of Michigan Art Museum, Dallas Museum of Art, and the Block Museum at Northwestern University. Many of his prints are part of the Library of Congress collection.

Note: A devastating fire in 1977 destroyed Bernard Steffen’s Woodstock, New York, home and studio, along with all of his artwork. What survives today are works previously sold or in galleries and museums at that time.

Top Insert Image: Photographer Unknown, Bernard Steffen at Gallery Showing, Date Unknown

Middle Insert Image: Bernard Steffen, “Pulling Corn (Fodder Chopper)”, Date Unknown, Serigraph in Color,, 27.9 x 35.2 cm, Private Collection

Bottom Insert Image: Bernard Steffen, “S Curve”, 1940, Lithograph on Paper, 24.1 x 21 cm, Private Collection

Benoît Audran the Elder

Etchings by Benoît Audran the Elder

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Karl Sterrer

The Artwork of Karl Sterrer

Born on December 4th of 1885 in Vienna, Karl Sterrer was an Austrian engraver and painter. The son of a sculptor, he studied at Vienna’s Academy of Fine Arts and was awarded in 1908 the Academy’s prestigious traveling scholarship, the Rompreis, for his landscapes and portraits. Sterrer traveled to the south of Italy in the years 1910 and 1911 to continue his studies and to paint.

Sterrer was one of the first Austrian artists to be intrigued by the works of the emerging German Expressionist artists. Beginning in 1910-1911, he began to strip his landscape compositions to their essentials, by emphasizing the deep, dark lines of his drypoint technique. Sterrer became a member in 1911 of Vienna’s Künstierhaus, at that time the exhibition and meeting hall of the more traditional Vienna Artists’ Society.  

In November of 1915, at the beginning of World War I, Karl Sterrer joined the Landsturm, a reserve militia force in Austria, and applied to its propaganda service as a war artist. The following year, he was sent to the Russian and Italian theaters of war where he served until the summer of 1918, at which time he was transferred to the Tyrolean front in western Austria at the special request of the Air Force. Working under the command of the Imperial and Royal Air Force of Austria-Hungary, Sterrer drew and painted portraits of aviator pilots, illustrations of aircraft, and produced advertising posters promoting the purchase of war bonds.

After having been awarded the 1919 Reichel Artists Prize, Karl Sterrer became a Professor of Fine Arts at the Vienna Academy in 1921, where he would teach such future artists as landscape painter Leopold Hauer who was deeply influenced by Egon Schiele’s work: painter Rudolf Hausner, a surrealist considered to be the first psychoanalytical painter;  expressionist graphic artist and illustrator Hans Fronius; and Max Weiler, who developed his own naturalistic form of abstraction. Dismissed from his academic post at the time of Nazi Germany’s annexation of Austria, Sterrer was reinstated after joining the Nazi Party. However, because of that affiliation, he was again dismissed at the end of World War II; but he was allowed to keep his pension.

After 1946, Karl Sterrer devoted most of his work to religious subjects. In recognition of the scope of his work, he was awarded in 1957 the Austrian State Grand Prize for Fine Art. Karl Sterrer died in June of 1972 at the age of eighty-six and is buried in the Hütteldorfer cemetery in Vienna.

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The success of Karl Sterrer’s exhibition in Maysedergass, Austria, was due in part to the support of his generous benefactor, lawyer and architect Baron Heinrich von Haerdt, who would support Sterrer and his family over the coming years. In the summer of 1913, Sterrer and his family were invited to stay as guests of the Baron at his estate in Styria. Sterrer created several oil and tempera paintings during this stay, of which one was the oil painting “Das Klagelied”.

Dedicated to Baron Heinrich von Haerdtl, the painting is divided horizontally into two parts. In the lower section, a river nymph bends over to kiss a drowned man; the upper section depicts the drowned man’s wife, sitting on the bank of the river Mur and singing a song of grief. These elements formed the basic image of the painting. However, Sterrer transformed and idealized the image by transitioning the river scene into a broad, peaceful lake, plied by sailing boats and overlaid by a blue sky.

The Sterrer family lived close to the bank of the Mur River, which was often a terrifying, loudly rushing body of water. They were acquainted with a woman whose husband, a raftsman, had drowned in the Mur during the early 1910s.

Benton Murdoch Spruance

Lithographs by Benton Murdoch Spruance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Illustrative Posters of Switzerland

Otto Baumberger, “PKZ (Coat)”, 1923, Lithograph, 90 x 128 cm, Private Collection

Situated in the middle of Europe with a culture having three national languages, Switzerland’s graphic arts, particularly in the illustrative poster field, was highly influenced by its neighbors. Two of its most celebrated Art Nouveau poster illustrators started their careers in the 1890s during the Belle Époque in France: Eugène Samuel Grasset, teacher at the École d’Art Graphique and designer of the Grasset typeface, and Théophile Alexandre Steinlen who became known for his bohemian cabaret posters and advertisements, with their black cat image, for the notorious Le Chat Noir Club.

The new century brought forward a first generation of sophisticated Swiss-born and based poster artists who, without exception, had studied abroad in Paris, Munich, and other European cities. Important figures of this generation whose later works would form a major portion of Swiss illustrative posters include: Emil Cardinaux, a painter, who devoted to the poster medium, produced luxury hotel and travel images with the qualities of Japanese woodcuts; Robert Mangold whose work was inspired by Greek mythology and classical allegorical figures; Otto Baumberger whose realistically rendered work formed a synthesis between typeface and image: and Niklaus Stoecklin who brought a clean, precisely detailed, and realistic style to commercial advertising. All of these artist later became leading members of the Early Modernist movement in Switzerland.

The Swiss Werkbund, an association of artists, architects, designers and industrialists, was established in 1913 and provided a major momentum to the development of the Swiss graphic and printing industry, including its design quality and product marketing. In the 1920s, the association promoted functional industrial design and, coordinated with the Zurich School of Arts and Crafts, made contributions to the development of modern Swiss graphic design.

Ernst Keller, one of the co-founders of the Swiss Werkbund, was a professor at the Zurich University of the Arts from 1918 to 1956. He initiated a graphic design and typography course which used simple geometric forms, vibrant colors, and evocative imagery to explain the meaning behind each typographic design. Many of his students gained international acclaim in the design field, including typeface designer Hans Eduard Meier, who designed the Syntax typeface, and the graphic designers Hermann Eidenbenz, who designed the Graphique and Clarendon typefaces, Lora Lamm, a major innovator of graphic fashion advertising. and Richard Paul Lohse, a pioneer in book design and one of the leading members of the Constructive Art movement.

Both Zurich and the city of Basel were the home bases for design schools, printers, and publishers in the 1930s. Switzerland became an important focus for graphic designers from many countries, due to imposed artistic restrictions and political pressures of the rising National Socialist Party. In the 1930s, a major breakthrough in posters occurred with the work of Swiss photographer Herbert Matter, who had studied and worked with French painters Fernand Léger and Adolphe Mouron Cassandre in Paris. He pioneered the use of photomontage combined with typeface in commercial art. Photomontage was an effect where multiple photo images would be edited into a seamless image for poster use. In 1932 Matter’s  series of posters for Swiss resorts and the Swiss National Tourist Office achieved international acclaim.

The “PKZ (Coat)” , one of the most famous Swiss illustrative object posters, is a testament to the graphic skill of Otto Baumberger as well as to the lithographic and publishing skills of J. E. Wolfsenberger, Zurich’s renowned art graphics company. This advertising poster for the clothing line, Paul Kehl of Zurich, was the first object poster by Otto Baumberger in which he omitted all unnecessary text from its design. The advertiser is identified solely through the label on the coat. This poster was also an advertising first in the dramatic use of hyper-realism, as seen in the highly detailed rendering of the coat’s wool fibers.

Insert Top Image: Artist Unknown, “Lotschberg Tunnel, Loetschberg Railway”, 1912, Lithograph, Hubacher and Company Publisher, Bern, Private Collection

Insert Bottom Image:  Burkhard Mangold, “Fabbrica di Automobili”, 1907, Lithograph, 84 x114 cm,  J. E. Wolfsenberger Publishers, Zurich, Private Collection

Émile Fabry

Émile Fabry, “Portrait de Suzanne (Fabry) et de Barthélémy”, 1920, Lithograph Colored with Gouache on Wove Paper, 37.5 x 46 cm, Private Collection, Belgium

Born in Verviers, Belgium in 1865, Émile Fabry was an artist who studied under portrait and landscape painter Jean-François Portaels, who is regarded as the founder of the Belgian Orientalist school. An influential artist of the Symbolist movement in Belgium, Fabry was a member of prominent artist groups such as Pour L’Art (Art for Art’s Sake) and La Rose+Croix, a series of Symbolist art salons hosted in Paris in the 1890s.

With the advent of World War One in continental Europe, Émile Fabry sought refuge in St. Ives, England. The issues of war and peace became recurrent themes in his work, continuing even after the battles had ended. In 1919, Fabry, along with Jean Delville, Albert Ciamberlani and Constant Montald, founded L’Art Monumental, an idealistic artist group which evolved from the Symbolist movement. Using classical forms and iconographic traditions, the group desired to elevate the spirit of the people by a shared sense of beauty in the construction of new monuments and public buildings.

Émile Fabry’s 1920 hand-colored lithograph “Portrait of Suzanne (Fabry) and Barthélémy” is an overlay image of two profiles, one of his son Barthélémy and one of his daughter Suzanne. Illustrative of his creative process, the soldier and young woman are depicted in an idealized way, with the stoic, long gaze reminiscent of the rigidity of a sculpture. Fabry  used a indistinct, dotted technique of coloring, combining elements of Pointillism and Symbolism, to give the figures a sense of liveliness.

Émile Fabry regularly used his family members as models for his work. There is an existing photo of Suzanne Fabry posing for this work which shows how Fabry focused his composition on her profile. Drawn to the subject of the war on several occasions, Fabry used his own children as models for this work to create a more personal portrayal of the war.

In addition to his paintings, Émile Fabry did the decorative mosaic work in pavilions of the 1880 National Exhibition at the Cinquanteniare of Brussels and, with Belgian architect Victor Horta, the decorations in the large Art Nouveau townhouse, the Hotel Solvay. In 1932, Émile Fabry was made a Commander in the Order of Leopold, the oldest and highest order in Belgium, founded by King Leopold in 1832. He died in 1966 at the age of one hundred and one years old. 

Cornelius von Haarlem

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

La Culture Physique Magazine

La Culture Physique Magazine

In 1885. French physiologist and physician Professor Edmond Desbonnet developed his Physical Culture theory and practice, which became popular in many European countries. His method was a reaction against the decadence he saw in the Belle Epoque era, and an emphasis on the premise that a healthy body was equally as important as a healthy mind. Before the first World War, fitness rooms were mostly  frequented by the French societal elite; following the war, the working classes gained access to the Physical Culture movement and its facilities. 

At the height of Desbonnet’s popularity, more than two hundred fitness centers espousing his method existed across Europe. Famous body builders, adepts of Desbonnet’s method, were often depicted in the various magazines and books that Desbonnet published. These photographs were offered for sale, often with a hand-held stereo viewer, through advertisements in his magazines. 

Professor Desbonnet published five magazines on the practice of physical culture, in which his theories were explained and illustrated by famous athletes’ photographs, such as Apolion the Mighty, with the form of an ancient Roman gladiator, and Eugene Sandow, who organized the world’s first major body building competition.

Among Desbonnet’s many publications, one of the two most popular magazines was the French “La Culture Physique”. It was an illustrated bimonthly magazine created in Paris by both Desbonnet and author-publisher Albert Surier. Published between 1904 and 1967, except for the war periods between 1914 to 1925 and September of 1943 to December of 1946, the magazine promoted bodybuilding and the benefits of an active lifestyle for all. 

During the rise of the gay consumer culture from 1945 to 1969, physique magazines, paperback novels, and other items became available through gay-oriented mail catalogues. This contributed to the sense of being in a larger community, validating one’s gay identity, and establishing models for what it meant to be gay. The legal struggles of the physique magazine publishers, in their fight against censorship laws, led to the first gay victories on the legal front, establishing the right to market these items, and became a catalyst for the rise of America’s gay movement.

For a more thorough study of the physique magazine and its contribution to the then-emerging gay rights movement, the article “Physique Pioneers: The Politics of 1960s Gay Consumer Culture” by University of Florida Professor David K. Johnson is a must read. The study was published by the Journal of Social History through Oxford University Press.

Available to read and download free through your school or library at:  https://www.jstor.org/stable/40802009?seq=1

A full version of Professor Johnson’s study can also be found at: http://history.usf.edu/faculty/data/johnsonarticle.pdf

Henri Marias


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

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

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

Thomas Banks

Thomas Banks, “The Falling Titan”, 1795, Etching, 26 x 35.7 cm, Published by Richard Morton Paye, Royal Academy of Arts, London

Thomas Banks, “The Falling Titan”, 1786, Marble, 85 x 90 x 58 cm, Royal Academy of Arts, London

Born in 1735 in London, Thomas Banks was educated in Ross-on Wye, a small market town on the River Wye in Herefordshire. He was apprenticed to woodcarver William Barlow in London from 1750 to 1756, during which time he also studied at the studio of Flemish classical sculptor Peter Scheemakers. Banks also enrolled in the St. Martin’s Lane Academy and exhibited several works at the Free Society of Artists during the 1760s. 

Banks was admitted to the Royal Academy Schools in 1769, and had his first exhibition at the Royal Academy in 1770. In 1772, he became the first sculptor to receive the Academy’s traveling scholarship, which enabled him to travel to Rome. Banks lived in Rome between 1772 and 1779, when due to illness and financial disappointments, he returned to England. After two years in England, his desire to accomplish larger-scaled works took him to St. Petersburg in 1981 where he received commissions from Catherine the Great. who purchased his Neo-Classical “Cupid”. 

On his return to England, Thomas Banks received a number of commissions for church memorials, which included the monuments to Sir Eyre Coote and Sir Clifton Wintringham in Westminster Abbey, and monuments to Captain George Westcott and Captain Richard Burgess in St. Paul’s Cathedral. Bank’s best known work is perhaps the colossal sculptural group “Shakespeare Attended by Painting and Poetry”, commissioned in 1788 for the upper facade of the new Shakespeare Gallery in Pall Mall in Central London. It remained there until 1869, when upon the building’s demolishment, it was moved to New Place, the site of Shakespeare’s final residence.

Thomas Banks was elected in 1784 as an associate of the Royal Academy. In recognition of the support he had been given by the Academy earlier in his career, Banks presented “The Falling Titan” to the Royal Academy as his Diploma work after he was elected as a full member Academician in 1786. In comparison with the Diploma Works deposited by the earlier Academician sculptors Edward Burch, Joseph Nollekens and John Bacon, “The Falling Titan” was an extremely prestigious work to present.

Thomas Banks died in London on February 2, 1805, and became the first sculptor to have a tablet erected in his name in Westminster Abbey. He is buried in Paddington Churchyard. 

Note: Thomas Banks’ Neo-cCassical “Cupid”, purchased by Catherine the Great, was a marble statue on a pedestal. In order to save the work from the advancing German troops in World War II, the curator of the Pavlovsk Palace buried the statue next to its pedestal. Upon his return in 1944, no trace of the statue could be found; excavations for the work during a restoration garden project in the 1980s proved fruitless. More complete information on the statue’s history can be found at: https://www.thefreelibrary.com/Thomas+Banks%27s+missing+%27Cupid%27%3A+the+sculptor+Thomas+Banks+is…-a0128792200

Macrocosm of London

Rudolph Ackermann, William Henry Pyne, “Fire in London (Albion Mills, Blackfriars Bridge)”, 1808-1810, Colored Etching, Plate 35, Illustration from “Macrocosm of London”, British Library

The “Macrocosm of London”, published in three volumes between 1808 and 1810, was the result of an ongoing collaboration between publisher Rudolph Ackermann; cartoonist and illustrator Thomas Rowlandson; architectural draughtsman Auguste Charles Pugin; engravers John Bluck, Joseph Constantine Stadler, Thomas Sunderland, John Hill and Richard Bankes Harraden; authors William Henry Pyne and William Combe; and anonymous hand-colorists.

This publication “Macrocosm of London” tapped into the demand for highly-colored prints of real-life subjects that proved something of a publishing sensation during the Regency period in England. Its prints stand as a fascinating historical record of London life in the early years of the 19th century. Auguste Pugin’s fine architectural drawings captured the size and shape of the capital’s principal buildings, both externally and from within. The keenly observed figures drawn by Thomas Rowlandson depicted the vitality and color of both the rich and the poor in late Georgian society.

The Albion flour mill opened at the southern foot of Blackfriars Bridge in London in 1786 and became one of the most visible symbols of Britain’s industrial progress during the late 18th century. Designed in a Neo-Classical style by architect and proprietor James Wyatt, the building contained revolutionary steam engines engineered to the designs of James Watt and his partner Matthew Boulton. 

The sheer power of the engines, which drove twenty pairs of mills stones, promised staggering levels of output in the milling of corn for flour, which was needed for the seemingly endless demand for bread by London’s rapidly growing population. As such, the Albion mill was widely resented by existing millers in London who were still reliant on water or wind power, and who saw the arrival of steam as a death sentence for their trade.

On the 2 March 1791, the Albion mill was totally destroyed by fire, an event that caused much rejoicing in some quarters and some rumors of arson. Though poor maintenance was probably to blame, the burning of the mill was nevertheless the cause of a popular sensation in London which drew crowds of onlookers to the site for weeks afterwards. 

The catastrophe of the mill burning also stood as a useful literary metaphor for the potential harm caused by industrial progress. Most famously it is thought that poet William Blake was inspired by the burnt-shell of the building to portray his vision of ‘dark satanic mills’, contained in the preface poem “And Did Those Feet in Ancient Times” for his 1804 epic work “Milton: A Poem in Two Books”.

Takato Yamamoto

Takato Yamamoto, “Saint Sebastian (聖セバスチャン)”, 2005, Woodblock Print

Takao Yamamoto is a japanese artist born in 1960 and who experimented with the Ukiyo-e Pop style and further refined and developed that style in order to create what he calls the  Heisei estheticism style.

Ukiyo-e is a genre of Japanese woodblock prints and paintings produced between the 17th and the 20th centuries, featuring motifs and landscapes, tales from history, the theatre and pleasure quarters. It is the main artistic genre of woodblock printing in Japan.

Yamamoto usually portrays famous occidental myths, such as Salome or Saint Sebastian. His graphic depictions of sex and death remind the work of the most controversial artist of the Art Nouveau era and of Symbolist painters such as Gustave Moreau or Aubrey Beardsley.

Oldřich Kulhánek

Lithographs by Oldřich Kulhánek

Born  in Prague, Czechoslovakia in 1940, Oldřich Kulhánek was a graphic designer, painter, illustrator, and stage designer. He graduated in 1964 from the Prague Academy of Applied Arts, in the atelier of graphic artist and muralist Karel Svolinský.  At the time of his graduation, he had produced a series of illustrations to Vladimir Holan’s poetic work “Dreams” and poet Christian Morgenstern’s “The Gallows Songs”.  

Kulhánek had his first solo exhibition in Prague in 1968. He captured the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia in that year in a series of allegorical drawings, which included pictures of Stalin and other communist dignitaries. These twelve prints made their way to the West, and were exhibited at the 1970 World’s Fair in Osaka, Japan.

Kulhánek’s prominence among the dissidents in the Communist Era led to his arrest in 1971 by the State Security Police. His allegorical images of Stalin, Mao Zedong, andKhrushchev were judged slanderous and led to charges of ‘slandering a fraternal Soviet State’..  The images,, which included a distorted portrait of Stalin,  were deemed ideologically dangerous and destroyed. After a month in prison,  Kulhánek was banned from exhibiting his work in his home country and interrogated regularly for two years.

“I remember one interrogation by the secret police, when one idiot kept screaming at me. He wanted to know who Hieronymus Bosch was,  where he worked and how I had met him. Even though I knew that he wanted to throw me in jail and was screaming at me, I said to myself ‘I must be dreaming’.  When I told him that [Bosch] died 500 years ago, he told me to drop the intellectual mockery.” – Oldřich Kulhánek

In the 1980s, Oldřich Kulhánek created many lithographs based on the development of the human body.  In 1982 he was awarded the silver medal for his illustrations of Faust at the International Exhibit of Book Art in Leipzig. With the occurrence of the 1989 Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia and its resulting transition of political power, Kulhánek was able to travel to the United States and attend the Lithographic Workshop in Los Angeles. Later he was invited to give a series of workshops at universities, including the University of Houston. Kulhánek also traveled to Belgium during this period  to study the classical works in its museums.

Oldřich Kulhánek was one of the more visible artists of the Czech Republic. He was the president of the Society of Czech Graphic Artists founded in 1917, the President of the State Jury of Postage Stamp Design,  and the designer of all currency now in circulation in the Czech Republic.  Kulhánek also became one of the principle designers of Czech postage stamps, many bearing his images of important Czech personalities. He passed away suddenly in Prague on January 28th of 2013 at the age of seventy-two.

Paul Cadmus

Paul Cadmus, “Nude #1”, Nude #2, and “Nude #3”, Etchings, 1984

After traveling to Italy in the early 1930s, American artist Paul Cadmus became fascinated with Renaissance art, particularly the works of painters Luca Signorelli, known for his structure of the nude, and Andrea Mantegna, known for his strongly marked forms of design and the parallel hatching used to portray shadow.  Cadmus adopted certain Renaissance drawing techniques, especially when rendering male nudes.

Cadmus placed nudes like these in tight boxes, focusing on how the tension of the body conveys physical and emotional struggle. The lines in the background  imply a shifting momentum from left and right toward the center. Like Michelangelo, he rendered his nudes sculpturally, employing finely hatched lines to define their musculature and to create the effect of light reflecting on marble.

André Castiagne

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

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

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

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

Alfred-Ernest Robaut

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

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

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

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

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


Martin Lewis

Martin Lewis, “Bredford Street Gang”, 1935, Drypoint and Sandpaper Ground Printed in Black Ink on Wove Paper, Plate Size: 22.5 x 36.2 cm, Detroit Instute of Arts

Martin Lewis is considered one of the greatest American printmakers of the first half of the twentieth century.  He used his superb sense of composition and his technical skill as a master printmaker to create images of New York City and rural Connecticut that are as captivating today as they were in the late 1920’s when he was first recognized as an important artist.

Lewis, a maker of archetypal American art, was an immigrant, born and educated in Australia, who came to this country in 1900. He had become by 1915 a skilled printmaker who shared his knowledge of etching with his friend, Edward Hopper. Lewis was one of the first printmakers to sell out an edition of a print during an exhibition, and many of his etchings and drypoints sold out in a few months. After the artist’s death in 1962, print collectors continued to appreciate his sensuous works of art, which have remained relatively unknown to the general public.

Martin Lewis spent most of his life living in New York City after arriving from Australia.  However, he did travel to Europe and lived briefly in Japan and rural Connecticut. After the artist’s death in 1962, print collectors continued to appreciate his sensuous works of art, which have remained relatively unknown to the general public.