Sunday, March 31, 2019

April Book of Hours

April. Calendar miniature shows no sign at all of the cruelty of this month.April showers, etc..
Grandes Heures d’Anne de Bretagne BNF Latin 9474

Women's History Month

Her story changed history. Our Smithsonian American Women’s History Initiative will tell a more complete American story and empower future generations. This , we'll share stories of the women who changed ours: .

Saturday, March 30, 2019


Woman under a parasol, ignoring her dog because she is too absorbed in a letter. Sad! By Francisco de Goya, 1814.

Little Manuel Osorio Manrique de Zuniga, with his pet birds. Hope they get along with his pet cats! Painted in 1788 

The Naked Maja. What else? 

Having fun! Zancos, or stilt dancers, painted by Francisco Goya

The Third of May

Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes (30 March 1746 - 16 April 1828) was a Spanish romantic painter and printmaker. He is considered the most important Spanish artist of late 18th and early 19th centuries and throughout his long career was a commentator and chronicler of his era. 

From Robert Hughes bio of Goya:  

Goya's career places him firmly and vividly in the struggles of Spanish history and culture. Born Francisco de Goya y Lucientes, in a small village in 1746, he was the son of a master gilder, a craftsman from Zaragoza, but his mother came from the hidalgo class, the minor aristocracy whose poverty-stricken arrogance blighted rural Spain. As a young man he went to Madrid to study with his future brother-in-law, Francisco Bayeu, and after a visit to Italy in 1770 found work with Bayeu designing exuberant cartoons for the tapestries in the royal palaces of Carlos III. 

His themes were the popular entertainments, the street theater, musicians and fairs that he himself loved. Goya adored country life, particularly hunting, a taste he shared with the king, but he also relished the city, with its Francophile fashion victims, the petimetres and their opposites, the sexy, earthy girls known as maja, and their tough majo partners. (In one self-portrait he wears the bullfighter's short majo jacket.)

Goya was on his way. Soon he would paint the king himself, and his family. The Bourbon Carlos III was awkward, despotic, but also -- to a very limited degree -- a ''liberal'' monarch, and Goya's patrons were mostly ilustrados, men and women trying to drag Spain into the new age of the Enlightenment, trying to reform agriculture, to introduce industry, to duck the censorship of the Inquisition by building private libraries, collecting the works of Voltaire and Diderot, and the prints of Hogarth, Rowlandson and Gillray. Through them, Goya's worldview widened. As an artist he learned from the fierce English satirists, but he learned too from the paintings of Velázquez, hanging in the palaces, and from the current court painters, the moralizing, neoclassical Anton Mengs and the elderly, fantastical Tiepolo. Commissions rolled in and his technique developed at headlong speed. Hughes writes wonderfully about the sensual delight of his early portraits and gives swift, sure character sketches of his subjects, like the impressive Duchess of Osuna, unafraid to campaign on issues from women's prisons to children's education and vaccination.

Goya was making money, buying fast carriages, smelling success. But then, in 1792, at the age of 46, he fell ill and fled Madrid for the south. His disease is hard to identify, perhaps polio or meningitis, but for months he was dizzy, feverish and semiblind -- and when he returned he was stone deaf. Until the end of his life he inhabited silence. Darkness reared to the surface in small cabinet pictures of bullfights (a lifelong fascination), bandits, prisons and madmen. Yet he regained his position under the new king, Carlos IV, and his wife, María Luisa, and went on to paint his glowing portraits of the Duchess of Alba. One of these, the Gainsborough-like ''White Duchess,'' with her gauzy dress and little dog, was for public display, but the erotic ''Black Duchess,'' where she points to the phrase ''Sólo Goya'' scrawled at her feet, was indeed for Goya alone. Despite this evidence of obsession, Hughes rejects the idea of an affair, and is adamant that the frank ''Naked Maja'' and demure ''Clothed Maja'' of a few years later merely share a mass of dark ringlets with the potent duchess. Instead, he suggests, the maja is the mistress of the ambitious Manuel de Godoy, first minister and alleged lover of the queen.

Goya could still paint happiness, as his rosy, drifting angels in the church of St. Anthony of Padua show, but by now his pessimism was ingrained. We feel it strongly in the ferocious dark prints of the ''Caprichos'' of 1796-97, which slash at hypocritical marriage, at exploitative whores, quack doctors, grim superstition and at the torments of the Inquisition, the ''black legend'' that Goya loathed with the hatred of the ''passionate humanist.'' These great prints did not sell. But at least they were published, unlike the brave, desperate ''Disasters of War'' series. These were made two decades later, after Spain had been devastated first by the Napoleonic invasion and then by the Peninsular War, in which the British under Wellington (his war-weary face hauntingly drawn by Goya) fought alongside the terrifying local guerrillas. Atrocities abounded, on both sides: for Goya, as the ''Disasters'' show, there is no glory in war, only spilled guts, orphans, lynching, rape, pain, blood and despair.

A flash of hope came for Spanish liberals with the Constitution of 1812, which Goya celebrated with a painting of radiant angels. But this too passed. Two years later Fernando VII was back. Partly to quash hints of collaboration, Goya now begged to paint the glorious moment when Madrid rose against the invaders. In ''Third of May 1808,'' the white-shirted man raising his arms and baring his throat to the anonymous firing squad seems to foreshadow all those conflicts to come in which the people will face the mechanized brutality of modern war.
Goya was now almost 70. He retreated first to his farmhouse outside Madrid, covering its walls with the great ''Black Paintings,'' as if he inhabited a world in which demons, howling mobs and fearful cannibal fathers were his true companions. In the end, he retreated still further, leaving his beloved country to cross the border to France, where he died in 1828. But if, as Hughes shows in this meticulous and moving study, Goya was quintessentially Spanish, straddling the line between ''Old Spain'' and its enlightened dreams, his art crosses all borders, of time and place, reason and unreason, joyous life and violent death.

Friday, March 29, 2019

SF March Museum Picks

March Museum Picks

There's plenty to see at San Francisco's must-see museums this month. At the Contemporary Jewish Museum , “Show Me as I Want to Be Seen” continues through July 7. This group show presents the work of 10 contemporary artists whose work examines the empowered representation of identity through paintings, sculptures, 3-D animations, and much more.
Through May 27, 50 original paintings from the final phase of Claude Monet's long career are on display at the de Young Museum

“Kimono Refashioned,” on display through May 9, 2019 at the Asian Art Museum, brings Japanese tradition and fashion together with an impressive collection of designer garments. See the designs from Coco Chanel, Alexander McQueen, Christian Louboutin, and many others and learn how the Japanese kimono transformed the world of fashion.

You have until Mar. 31 to see "Vija Celmins: To Fix the Image in Memory" at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. See Celmins' first retrospective in North America in more than 25 years before it travels to the Art Gallery in Ontario, Canada. “Black Refractions: Highlights from the Studio Museum in Harlem” and "Sadie Barnette: Phone Home" will be on view through Apr. 14 at the Museum of the African Diaspora.

Georges Seurat. Died on this day in 1891

March 29, 1891. Georges-Pierre Seurat (December 1859 - 29 March 1891) was a French post-Impressionist painter and draftsman. He is noted for his innovative use of drawing media and for devising the painting techniques known as chromoluminarism and pointillism. In this image: Georges Seurat (French, Paris 1859-1891 Paris), Pierrot and Colombine Ca. 1886 - 88. Conté crayon on paper, 9 3/4 x 12 3/8 in. (24.8 x 31.2 cm). Kasama Nichido Museum of Art.

Artists birthdays for March 30

Tomorrow's birthdays are two of the most famous artists in the Western canon but I am so far behind...sometimes life intervenes with posts. But I will catch up eventually Francisco Goya, Vincent van Gogh

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Clouet. Another artist with an unknown birthdate. Court painter at the court of Francis 1

Jean Clouet paints a young Francois I before either one of them had figured out how to do the regal look. Or how to delicately downplay the nose.

A lot of effort from a renaissance portrait painter always went into the clothing. Look at all the rich and fabulous fabrics on King Francis - as benefits a Renaissance king. 

Jean Clouet and his talented son François Clouet collaborate on a portrait of François I, looking fully regal in black & white.

Author, patron, & princess: Marguerite de Navarre, sister of Francis I, in 1527. Has an excellent parrot! Painted by Jean Clouet,

All swaddled up: Louis Charles de Bourbon, Comte de Marle

Another cute kiddo at the French court: young Dauphin François,

The future Henri II, loving his puppy as he poses for French court portraitist Jean Clouet. 

Portrait of Marie d'Assigny, Madame de Canaples, 1525

Portrait of Claude de Lorraine, Duc de Guise, painted in 1525 by Jean Clouet. Today is his day.

young Charlotte of France, in 1522.

Eleanor of Austria, Queen of France, in 1530. Jean Clouet brilliantly downplays her Hapsburg nose and chin. He was a master of flattering his wealthy and noble clients. 

Miniature portrait of the handsome Charles de Cossé, comte de Brissac, painted in 1535

François Clouet, (born c. 1515, /20, Tours, Fr.—died 1572, Paris), French painter who immortalized in his portraits the society of the court of the royal house of Valois.
The son of Jean Clouet, he was known also under his father’s byname, Janet, a circumstance that created a persistent confusion between the works of these two painters. François worked with Jean possibly as early as 1536 and replaced him in 1540 as official painter to Francis I. He continued in this office, serving under Henry II, Francis II, and Charles IX. He directed a large workshop in which miniaturists, enamel designers, and decorators carried out his projects. In addition to making portraits, he painted genre subjects, including nude figures (e.g., “Diane de Poitiers”) and theatrical scenes—the latter attested by an engraving, as well as by a picture entitled “Scene of the Commedia dell’Arte.” He also supervised the decorations for funeral ceremonies and for the triumphal entries of the French kings.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Jacob Vrel. Dutch Golden Age Painter

Detail of child/spirit at Jacob Vrel's window. So unsettling! Not your normal Dutch Golden Age moment. Not your normal Dutch Golden Age painter, either. A painter about whom almost nothing is known.

From the Getty Web Site: Signatures on paintings are the only surviving documents of Jacobus Vrel's life. His seemingly naïve style and his pictures' rarity even have prompted speculation that he was an amateur. Scholars most often link Vrel's manner to Delft artists such as Johannes Vermeer and Pieter de Hooch, but elements in his street scenes may indicate connections to Haarlem, Friesland, Flanders, or the lower Rhineland. Scholars have attributed thirty-eight paintings depicting domestic interiors, courtyards, street scenes, and church interiors to Vrel. His only dated painting, from 1654, suggests that, rather than following, Vrel anticipated Delft artists' interest in domestic themes and light effects. 

Vrel rejected Dutch artists' traditional approach of describing surfaces in great detail. Instead, he created lofty spaces, often conveying an eerie feeling of emptiness. His interiors, with their curiously stunted furniture, frequently display a single woman, usually viewed from behind or in profile. His street scenes are unusual in their anonymity, showing unremarkable back streets and ordinary people. Vrel's painting technique--a straightforward manner without glazes or other refinements--complemented his unpretentious subjects.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Weekend Pick: Hilma af Klint

WAF’s Weekend Pick: abstract : .
In 1900's she created radically abstract work which she kept private w the conviction that the world was not yet ready to understand her work & ordered not to be shown for 20 years after her death.

The Skate Girls of Kabul' by Jessica Fulford-Dobson

'The Skate Girls of Kabul' photographic series by Jessica Fulford-Dobson featuring girls from the Afghan capital who are not allowed to ride bikes, so have got together to learn to skateboard instead, overriding their gendered restrictions

The Skate Girls of Kabul' photographic series by Jessica Fulford-Dobson featuring girls from the Afghan capital who are not allowed to ride bikes, so have got together to learn to skateboard instead, overriding their gendered restrictions

Friday, March 15, 2019

Jan Fyt of Antwerp

Fruit, exotic porcelain, and a parrot. Delightful spectacle from 1645 by Jan Fyt of Antwerp. Apprenticed to a painter when scarcely more than 10 years old, Fyt was accepted into the Guild of St. Luke as a master at age 20 and over the next 30 years produced a vast number of pictures with facility and power. His forte was the depiction of animal life in its most varied forms; but for human figures and architectural backgrounds he often relied on collaborators. 

Christ could be saying to Martha and Mary, “have you two considered a vegetarian diet?” Lot of dead animals by Jan Fyt (born OTD 1611) in this kitchen.

A profusion of flowers and fruits promises (to visiting parrot) that spring really will arrive.

A very well fed little boy with dogs