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Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Although it was probably painted in The Hague, this is an outstanding example of the 'tonal phase' of Dutch landscape painting associated with the town of Haarlem. Van Goyen shows a flat landscape, featureless except for the windmill, small figures and distant buildings, as if from the top of a low hill. The sky occupies three-quarters of the picture space in this panoramic view; it is painted in a deliberately restricted palette of grey, brown, black and white enlivened only by a few strokes of yellow and green. The low horizon gives great prominence to the sky and clouds.
Jan Josephsz. van Goyen (1596 - 1656) was one of the main pioneers of naturalistic landscape in early 17th-century Holland. His many drawings show that he travelled extensively in Holland and beyond. In 1634 he is recorded painting in Haarlem, in the house of Isaac, the brother of Salomon van Ruysdael, who was another of the pioneers of realistic landscape painting in the north Netherlands.
[Oil on oak, 29.4 x 36.3 cm]
This picture has been dated to about 1876-77 but it may have been painted as early as the late 1860s. It was exhibited at the third Impressionist exhibition in 1877. It is almost certain that the central group of a young girl and maid was posed in the studio. In treatment the painting is distinct from the 'open-air' beach scenes of the artist's contemporaries, Claude-Oscar Monet and Eugene Boudin.
[Oil (essence) on paper on canvas, 47.5 x 82.9 cm]
Peter Paul Rubens - Portrait of Susanna Lunden (Le Chapeau de Paille) [c.1622-26], a photo by Gandalf's Gallery on Flickr.
The title Le Chapeau de Paille (The Straw Hat) was first used in the 18th century. In fact the hat is not straw; paille may be an error for poil, which is the French word for felt. The hat, which shades the face of the sitter, is the most prominent feature of the painting. The portrait is probably of Susanna Lunden, born Susanna Fourment, third daughter of Daniel Fourment, an Antwerp tapestry and silk merchant. Her younger sister Helena became Rubens's second wife in 1630. Susanna Fourment married her second husband Arnold Lunden in 1622. The portrait probably dates from about that time. The direct glance of the sitter from under the shadow of the hat, together with the ring on her finger, suggests that the painting is a marriage portrait.
Rubens enlarged the painting as the work proceeded, adding a third strip of wood on the right and then enlarging the picture at the base. The additions created a greater expanse of sky, and Rubens added clouds to the right that contrast with the clearer sky to the left, from which the light falls across the body and hands.
[Oil on oak, 79 x 54.6 cm]
Monday, June 11, 2012
Style of Bartolome Esteban Murillo - A Young Man Drinking [1700-50], a photo by Gandalf's Gallery on Flickr.
The genre study shows a youth with vine leaves wrapped around his head clasping a wine bottle and drinking from a glass. This may be a copy of a lost original by Murillo, or an imitation, perhaps by a French painter of the first half of the 18th century.
[Oil on canvas, 62.8 x 47.9 cm]
The title of this piece refers to the Ancient Greek legend of Paris, who was called upon to decide who was more beautiful of the three goddesses Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite. Giersing’s painting is indeed peopled by three women and a man, but it might just as well be viewed as a studio scene where the women are models posing nude for a man, possibly the painter. At the same time, the prominent use of colour and lines direct attention away from the mythological narrative to the artistic devices used in the painting.
The ambiguity of the motif should be regarded as a deliberate strategy on Giersing’s (1881 - 1927) part. His ambition with this picture was to challenge and reinvent classic figure painting. The coarseness, the pared down palette, the indeterminable placement of the figures within the space, and, very significantly, the thick black contours undulating down the picture plane to form ornamental sequences were all fierce attacks against the finely hewn naturalistic norms prevalent at the time.
The picture can be viewed as a proposal for a new, modern vein of figure painting that has the reality of art itself as its true content. The painting attracted a great deal of attention when it was first presented to the public in 1910, and it was instrumental in establishing Giersing’s position as one of the most important artists of the young generation of modernists.