Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Daumier, Part 1 . The Paintings

February 26, 1808. Honoré-Victorin Daumier (February 26, 1808 - February 10, 1879) was a French printmaker, caricaturist, painter, and sculptor, whose many works offer commentary on social and political life in France in the 19th century. In this image: Honore Daumier, Lunch in the Country, c. 1867 - 1868. Oil on panel, 26 x 34 cm. National Museum of Wales, Cardiff. Photo © National Museum of Wales

Hia life and career (1808–79) spanned almost the entire nineteenth century. He was incredibly prolific, producing more than four thousand lithographs, one thousand wood engravings, several hundred drawings and paintings, and numerous sculptures. With humor and with humanism, his art addressed the twists and turns of the tumultuous French political scene as well as many other aspects of life in nineteenth-century France. Although focused on his own era, his images have a universality that allows them to cross cultural and temporal boundaries.

The Uprising

Daumier, Honoré: The Third-Class Carriage
The Third-Class Carriage, oil on canvas by Honoré Daumier, c. 1862–64; in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City.

the Laundress

The Laundress
His life, devoted entirely to his work, was to be divided into two parts: from 1830 to 1847 he was a lithographer, cartoonist, and sculptor; and, beginning in 1848 and lasting until 1871, he was an Impressionist painter whose art was reflected in the lithographs he continued to produce. Constant work was not a burden to him; while producing 4,000 lithographs and 4,000 illustrative drawings, he sang sentimental songs whose foolishness made him laugh, and, “unconcerned with his works, he was always out drinking cheap wine with barge captains.”

Daumier's painting style echoes that of Francisco GoyaEugène Delacroix, and Théodore Géricault with its loose, expressive brushwork. Eschewing the controlled and polished surfaces of Neoclassical painting, he and other Romantic artists imbued their work with emotion - in many cases, high drama. Unlike most Romantic painters, however, his work is devoid of sentimentality but neither did he convey the kind of emotional distance of Realistslike Courbet. Thus, recent day critics and art historians tend to regard his painting style as a sort of precursor to Expressionism

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Roelant Savery

Soldiers plundering a village in the cold winter of 1626, Civilians always suffer in war. 

Aqcuatic creatures, painted by Hans Savery, nephew of Roelant

Roelant Savery - 17th century Dutch or Flemish painter, He specialized in landscape painting, including many intricate paintings of plants and animals in his works. He also painted numerous flower paintings, many of which are regarded as his best work

As a child, Roelandt Savery moved to Haarlem from the southern Netherlands. By 1591 he was probably studying with his brother Jacob and the artist Hans Bol in Amsterdam. For much of his career Savery traveled widely, working for Rudolf II in Prague and then Emperor Matthias, before settling in Utrecht in 1619.  

The nearly ten years Savery worked for Rudolf II, beginning about 1603, were decisive. He traveled in Prague, Bohemia, and to the Tyrol, where he drew mountain scenery. These drawings provided source material for the rest of his career. While Savery's paintings recall Jan Brueghel the Elder's works, Savery's style is more archaic. He also incorporated the exotic animals that he studied closely in Rudolf II's menagerie. He must have even seen a now-extinct dodo bird, for it appears in one of his pictures. 

Savery's works played important roles in the development of several genres: floral still lifes, paintings of cows and other animals, cityscapes, and landscapes. His mountain scenes with precipitous rocks and waterfalls influenced Dutch landscape painters such as Allart van Everdingen, Herman Saftleven the Younger, and Jacob van Ruisdael.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Sunday Line Up: Winslow Homer, Charles Le Brun, Mattia Preti, Richard Hamilton

Equestrian Portrait of Chancellor Séguier (c. 1660–61), Charles Le Brun (detail; c. 1660–61), Charles Le Brun. Musée du Louvre, Paris
Charles Le Brun, Le Brun also spelled Lebrun, (born Feb. 24, 1619, Paris, France—died Feb. 12, 1690, Paris), painter and designer who became the arbiter of artistic production in France during the last half of the 17th century. Possessing both technical facility and the capacity to organize and carry out many vast projects, Le Brun personally created or supervised the production of most of the paintings, sculptures, and decorative objects commissioned by the French government for three decades during the reign of Louis XIV. Under his direction French artists created a homogeneous style that came to be accepted throughout Europe as the paragon of academic and propagandistic art.  

A different side of Le Brun - not just the painter of propaganda for Louis XIV:

Angel blowing a trumpet.
Mattia Preti (February 24, 1613 - Jan 3, 1699) - Italian Baroque Painter Although Mattia Preti spent much of his life elsewhere, he is traditionally associated with the city of Naples. Together with Luca Giordano, Preti extended the reputation of Neapolitan painting throughout Italy and internationally. Originally from Calabria in southern Italy, Preti went to Rome around 1630, sharing a room with his brother Gregorio who had arrived about two years earlier. Gregorio may have been Mattia's principal teacher, although they both also studied at the Accademia di San Luca. 

While in Rome during the 1630s and 1640s, Preti achieved his first success. His easel paintings, particularly his early ones, are painted in the style of Caravaggio. His mature style, which reached its epitome in Naples from 1653 to 1660, is intensely dramatic, uniting a Caravaggesque realism and expressive chiaroscuro with the grandeur and theatricality of Venetian artists like Paolo Veronese and Tintoretto. In 1661 Preti went to the island of Malta, where he remained for the rest of his life. While receiving most of the island's church commissions, he also worked for patrons from across Europe. Preti's contributions to the late Baroque style in Naples greatly inspired later painters, notably Francesco Solimena.

Winslow Homer ( February 24, 1863-September 29k 1910). Where do you start with one of the most famous and certainly one of the best American artists of the 19th century. His works, particularly those on marine subjects, are among the most powerful and expressive of late 19th-century American art. His mastery of sketchingand watercolour lends to his oil paintings the invigorating spontaneity of direct observation from nature (e.g., in The Gulf Stream, 1899). His subjects, often deceptively simple on the surface, dealt in their most-serious moments with the theme of human struggle within an indifferent universe.

Heilbrun Time line of Art: 

Richard Hamilton, pop artist of the 70's :

Andy Warhol Polaroids at the SFAI's gallery at Ft. Mason.

For the first time since 2009, the San Francisco Art Institute is showing it's treasure trove of Andy Warhol Polaroids. Released from the archives of the library, the work is more than ready for it's close up.  

"From the tower: Andy Warhol" showcases 40 of his Polaroids, each one of an famous personality  = what else, Andy did not make polaroids of the unimportant. All are on view at the each one on view at the Main Gallery at the Art Institute’s sparkling new graduate campus at Fort Mason.

To make the show even more stunning, the SFAI is also showing it's entire Warhol collection of  of seven poster-size screen prints for the first time, including “The Nun, Ingrid Bergman” (1983),  “Sitting Bull” (1986), and a still life “Hammer and Sickle” (1977). There are also five black-and-white gelatin silver prints, documenting Warhol’s adventures visiting John Lennon at the Dakota, and a trip to the beach with movie mogul John Gould.

We don’t take them seriously,” Gordon Knox, President of the SFAI says. “We just treat them as fun objects.” 

“From the Tower: Andy Warhol”: 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday.  Through March 24. Free. San Francisco Art Institute Fort Mason Campus, 2 Marina Blvd., S.F.  415-749-4563.

Monday, February 18, 2019

In honor of President's Day. Washington's letter to the Jews of Newport,,,a statement of religious tolerance

On August 17, 1790, Moses Seixas, the warden of Congregation Kahal Kadosh Yeshuat Israel, better known as the Hebrew Congregation of Newport, Rhode Island, penned an epistle to George Washington, welcoming the newly elected first president of the United States upon his visit to the city. ,,,
Seixas expressed his vision of an American government in terms that have become a part of the national lexicon. He beheld in the United States:
A Government which to bigotry gives no sanction, to persecution no assistance but generously affording to All liberty of conscience, and immunities of citizenship: – deeming every one, of whatever nation, tongue or language equal parts of the great Governmental Machine:–This so ample and extensive federal union whose basis is Philanthropy, mutual confidence, and public virtue, we cannot but acknowledge to be the work of the Great God, who ruleth the Armies of Heaven, and among the Inhabitants of the Earth, doing whatsoever seemeth [to Him] good.
it is Washington’s response, rather than Seixas’s epistle, which is best remembered and most frequently reprinted. Washington began by thanking the congregation for its good wishes and rejoicing that the days of hardship caused by the war were replaced by days of prosperity. Washington then borrowed ideas–and some of the words–directly from Seixas’s letter

The Citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for giving to Mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy: a policy worthy of imitation. All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship. It is now no more that toleration is spoken of, as if it was by the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights.

For happily the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection, should demean themselves as good citizens.

Washington’s concluding paragraph perfectly expresses the ideal relationship among the government, its individual citizens and religious groups:

May the Children of the Stock of Abraham, who dwell in this land, continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other Inhabitants; while everyone shall sit under his own vine and fig tree, and there shall be none to make him afraid.

The president closed with an invocation: “May the father of all mercies scatter light and not darkness in our paths, and make us all in our several vocations useful here, and in his own due time and way everlastingly happy.”

Happy Birthday to Louis Comfort Tiffany

February 18, 1848. Louis Comfort Tiffany (February 18, 1848 - January 17, 1933) was an American artist and designer who worked in the decorative arts and is best known for his work in stained glass. He is the American artist most associated with the Art Nouveau and Aesthetic movements. In this image: Tiffany Studios (New York), Dragonfly Library Lamp, ca. 1905 - 10 Leaded glass; cast bronze Gift of Walter P. Chrysler, Jr.

 In 1911 he created one of his major achievements—a gargantuan glass curtain for the Palacio de Bellas Artes, Mexico City. Like his father, Louis was a chevalier of the Legion of Honour; he also became an honorary member of the National Society of Fine Arts (Paris) and of the Imperial Society of Fine Arts (Tokyo). In 1919 he established the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation for Art Students at his luxurious and celebrated Long Island estate (which he had designed in total), which in 1946 was sold to provide scholarship funds.

Digital collection at the Met:

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Pamela Colman-Smith. Artist, activist, Illustrator of the Rider-Waite Tarot deck.

Pamela Colman Smith, circa 1912, via Wikipedia

Cover of “Annancy Stories” by Pamela Colman Smith.(Courtesy of the Library of Stuart R. Kaplan)

Pamela Colman-Smith. Born February 15, 1878 - Died September 18, 1951.  She was born in London but her father traveled for his business and the family lived in Manchester and later, in Jamaica. When she was 15, Smith moved to New York where she studied at the Pratt Institute and became a follower of Arthur Wesley Dow.

Contemporary research indicates (although without definitive proof but via circumstantial evidence*) that she was bi-racial and possibly a lesbian. What we do know is that she never married, or had children. There are no records of her expressing a particular sexuality; however, she lived with her “flatmate” Nora Lake for over twenty years. 

While she is best remembered today for the tarot deck, she also poured her energies into art, theater, the suffragette movement, and supporting the art of other women through her magazine. Her struggles to establish herself as an independent woman and her contribution to the occult movement have been largely ignored by previous writers on The Golden Dawn and the evolution of the Tarot.   

While Smith was in art school, her mother died in Jamaica, in 1896. Smith herself was ill on and off during these years and in the end left Pratt in 1897 without a degree. She became an illustrator; some of her first projects included The Illustrated Verses of William Butler Yeats, a book on the actress Ellen Terry by Bram Stoker, and two of her own books, Widdicombe Fair and Fair Vanity .

In 1899 her father died, leaving her a complete orphan but also independent, a rare situation for a woman at that time. She returned to England, continuing to work as an illustrator and branching into theatrical design. She established a studio in London which became one of the centers of Bohemian London.  

Through this circle, she met William Butler Yeats and it was 

Yeats introduced Smith to the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, which she joined in 1901 and in the process met Waite. When the Golden Dawn splintered due to personality conflicts, Smith moved with Waite to the Independent and Rectified Rite of the Golden Dawn (or Holy Order of the Golden Dawn). In 1909, Waite commissioned Smith to produce a tarot deck with appeal to the world of art, and the result was the unique Waite-Smith tarot deck. Published by William Rider & Son of London, it has endured as the world's most popular 78-card tarot deck. The innovative cards depict full scenes with figures and symbols on all of the cards including the pips, and Smith's distinctive drawings have become the basis for the design of many subsequent packs.

When Smith’s tarot was first published by Rider, in England, in December 1909, it was simply called Tarot Cards and it was accompanied by Arthur Edward Waite’s guide entitled The Key to the Tarot. The following year Waite added Smith’s black-and-white drawings to the book and published it as the Pictorial Key to the Tarot. In 1971, U.S. Games bought the right to publish the deck and published it under the title The Rider Tarot Deck (because of differences in U.S. and U.K. copyright law, the extent of their copyright in the Waite-Smith deck is disputed).[5] In later editions they changed the name to Rider Tarot and then Rider Waite Tarot. Today most scholars, in order to recognize the importance of Smith’s contribution, refer to the deck as the Waite-Smith Tarot.[6]Tarot writers often refer to the deck with the simple abbreviation of RWS, for Rider-Waite-Smith.

It appears that Waite provided detailed instructions mainly or exclusively for the Major Arcana, and simple lists of meanings for the Minor Arcana or 'pip' cards, and thus that the memorable scenes of the Minor Arcana owe largely to Smith's own invention. The Minor Arcana are indeed one of the notable achievements of this deck, as most earlier tarot decks (especially those of the Marseilles type) have extremely simple pip cards. One reason for the enduring success of the Waite-Smith deck may be the richness of symbolic signification that Smith brought to the Minor Arcana.Apparently copyright laws did not give her a percentage of the tarot deck which continues to be the most popular deck, even today. It is only recently that she's received credit for her contributions. 

Her later years were difficult ones, both financially and emotionally. She left the Order of the Golden Dawn, converted to Catholicism and died penniless in 1951. After her death. all of her belongings were sold at auction to pay her debts. (From American Women in the Arts) 

*Demystifying Coleman-Smith: 

Pamela-Colman-Smith. The forgotten woman behind the creation of the most popular tarot deck:


  1. Pyne, Kathleen (2007). Modernism and the feminine voice: O'Keeffe and the women of the Stieglitz circle. Berkeley: University of California Press. p. 59. ISBN 9780520241909. She worked for the Red Cross during World War I, again contributing poster designs and toys she made herself for children's aid.
  2. O'Connor, Elizabeth Foley (2016). ""We disgruntled devils don't please anybody": Pamela Colman Smith, The Green Sheaf, and Female Literary Networks" (PDF). The South Carolina Review. v. 48, no. 2: 73–89 – via Clemson University.
  3. Norfleet, Phil. "Alfred Stieglitz and Pamela Colman Smith: Biography of Pamela Colman Smith"
  4. Jensen, K. Frank (2006) The Story of the Waite-Smith Tarot, Croydon Hills, Australia ISBN 0-9757122-1-7.
  5. "The Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot Card Copyright FAQ". Retrieved 2012-03-31.
  6. Jensen, K. Frank (July 2005). "The Early Waite-Smith Tarot Editions"(PDF). The Playing Card: Journal of the International Playing Card Society. 34 (1). Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 July 2006. Retrieved 31 March 2012.
  7. Waite, Arthur Edward. Shadow of Life and Thought. Kessinger Publishing, page 184 ISBN 1-56459-242-1
  8. Place, Robert M. (2005) The Tarot: History, Symbolism, and Divination, Tarcher/Penguin, New York, 2005, pages 177-186 ISBN 1-58542-349-1
  9. Jensen, Frank K. The Early Waite-Smith Tarot Editions, p. 31.
  10. Kaplan, Stuart R.. The Encyclopedia of Tarot Volume III, U.S. Games Inc., Stanford, CT, 1990, p. 30 ISBN 0-88079-122-5
  11. "Georgia O'Keeffe and the Women of the Stieglitz Circle". Retrieved 2017-02-09.
  12. Pyne, Kathleen (2007). "The Photo-Secession and the Death of the Mother: Gertrude Kasebier and Pamela Colman Smith". Modernism and the Feminine Voice: O'Keeffe and the Women of the Stieglitz Circle. Berkeley: University of California Press. pp. 1–61. ISBN 9780520241909.
External links

Friday, February 15, 2019

Charles-André van Loo. Born February 15, 1705

Perseus and Andromeda.

River God

Jupiter and Antiope
Madame de Pompadour.
February 15, 1705. Carle or Charles-André van Loo (15 February 1705 - 15 July 1765) was a French subject painter, son of the painter Louis-Abraham van Loo, a younger brother of Jean-Baptiste van Loo and grandson of Jacob van Loo. He was the most famous member of a successful dynasty of painters of Dutch origin. His oeuvre includes every category: religion, history painting, mythology, portraiture, allegory, and genre scenes. 

Today some art critics think that he was overrated but he managed a successful career in the hot house atmosphere of the French court and his paintings can still charm us. 

18th century French Art

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Grant Wood. Born on this day in 1891. Beyond American Gothic

February 13, 1891. Grant DeVolson Wood (February 13, 1891 - February 12, 1942) was an American painter best known for his paintings depicting the rural American Midwest, particularly American Gothic, an iconic painting of the 20th century. In this image: Grant Wood (1891?1942), American Gothic, 1930. Oil on composition board, 30 3/4 x 25 3/4 in. (78 x 65.3 cm). Art Institute of Chicago; Friends of American Art Collection 1930.934. © Figge Art Museum, successors to the Estate of Nan Wood Graham/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. Photograph courtesy Art Institute of Chicago/Art Resource, NY.

Wood was trained as a craftsman and designer as well as a painter. After spending a year (1923) at the Académie Julian in Paris, he returned to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where in 1927 he was commissioned to do a stained-glass window. Knowing little about stained glass, he went to Germany to seek craftsmen to assist him. While there he was deeply influenced by the sharply detailed paintings of various German and Flemish masters of the 16th century. Wood subsequently abandoned his Impressioniststyle and began to paint in the sharply detailed, realistic manner by which he is now known.

Barbara Haskell, who organized the Wood show at the Whitney wrote. “That conflict between his simultaneous desire to celebrate something and his distance from that thing he was trying to celebrate seeps into the work,” Haskell explains. “His paintings have an eerie sort of silence and a frozen, airless quality, as if they are chillingly make-believe.”

Beyond American Gothic: