April 30, 2011

April 27, 2011

Frank Cadogan Cowper 1877-1958

"All is vanity, nothing is fair." 

"Vanity" 1907
This painting was Cowper's diploma work for the Royal Academy.Sometimes he is referred as the "Last Pre-Raphaelite"
He continued to exhibit right up until his death at the age of 81 in 1958. At his studio sale in Cirencester shortly after his death, canvases were offered 'Suitable for reuse', so unappreciated was his art.
In more recent years, however, Cadogan Cowper's popularity is once again in the ascendant. His diploma work Vanity (1907) recently graced the front cover of the Royal Academy Magazine. The Cathedral scene from “Faust” – Margaret tormented by the evil spirit (1919) sold at auction for over £100,000 in the year 2000.

April 26, 2011

Eleanor Fortescue-Brickdale 1871-1945

The Deceitfulness of Riches 1901

Uninvited Guest
Eleanor Fortescue Brickdale was the daughter of the successful barrister Matthew Inglett Fortescue-Brickdale. Her mother Sarah Anna was the daughter of a judge. As was typical for middle class girls at the time Eleanor was educated at home. 

The Pale Complexion of True Love 1899

She demonstrated a skill for drawing at an early age. She became an admirer and pupil of the famous art critic John Ruskin. At the age of seventeen Fortescue Brickdale decided to become a professional artist and studied at the Crystal Palace School of Art. After three attempts to enter the Royal Academy of Art she finally succeeded in 1897 and won a prize for a mural design. Fortescue Brickdale's success as both an oil painter of history themes and an illustrator of texts such as Tennyson's 'Poems' was more of an exception than the rule for women artists at this time.

Youth and the Lady

Art education for women in the 19th century was still restricted. The Royal Academy, founded in 1768, refused access to women artists until 1860 when Laura Herford became the first woman artist to enter the Academy. Even when women were admitted they were treated unequally to men. It took another thirty years before women were allowed to attend life-drawing classes. Many of the women who succeed as artists were related to male artists. Christina Rossetti, for example, was the sister of Dante Gabriel Rossetti while Henrietta Rae, Marianne Stokes, Sophie Anderson and Elizabeth Forbes were all wives of famous artists. In other cases the reason for women's success was the support and encouragement of male artists, for example Elizabeth Siddall by her lover Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Maria Spartali by Ford Madox Brown. Most of the women artists also came from wealthy and well-educated families.

Vivianne and Merlin

The work of women artists was less favoured than that of men by art critics as well as collectors, with a few exceptions. Women artists were often expected to produce a certain type of work, for example still lifes or watercolours, while criticism of their work reflected stereotypes of women as being sentimental rather than intellectual beings. Despite this overall trend, Eleanor's work was highly praised at the time by both critics and fellow artists. The Victorian artist G. F. Watts admired her paintings so much that he was quoted as saying: "I feel inclined to throw away my palette and brushes. What are my things by the side of such stuff as hers?"

Guinevere in Golden Days


The Rose

April 25, 2011

Owen Jones

The Grammar of Ornament 1856 by Owen Jones
This book was first published in 1856 and is a design classic! Owen Jones was born in 1809 and is a key figure in the history of British design. He was an architect and designer who taught in London during the 1850s. 
He traveled in Europe and the Near East, were he helped to bring back ideas to improve the quality of Western design. 

The first 19 chapters presented key examples of ornament from a number of sources which were diverse both historically and geographically - notably examining the Middle East in the chapters on Arabian, Turkish, Moresque (Alhambra) and Persian ornament. The final chapter, titled ‘Leaves and Flowers from Nature’ acknowledged that “in the best periods of art, all ornament was based upon an observation of the principles which regulate the arrangement of form in nature” and that “true art consists of idealising, and not copying, the forms of nature”.Christopher Dresser, Owen Jones’s most well-known protégé, contributed one of the plates in this final chapter, and he was concurrently presenting theories on natural-form ornament in his famous botanical lectures at the Government School of Design in the mid-1850s.
Jones gathered together these samples of ornament as ‘best’ examples of decoration in an attempt to encourage designers to follow his lead in examining the underlying principles contained within the broad history of ornament and polychromy. The Grammar was hugely influential in design schools in the latter half of the nineteenth century, and is still in print today, maintaining its relevance as a source of inspiration for contemporary designers


Italian ornaments

April 24, 2011

SEM Georges Goursat

Georges Goursat was born in Perigueux on 22 November 1863. Around 1890 Georges Goursat began to use the moniker “Sem” when signing his work.

He was invited to Paris in March 1900 by Jean Lorrain, mainly to work in the studio of Cherat. In Paris, Sem lived on the Rue de Vaugirard and he found his artistic inspiration in visiting the racetracks of Paris, where he watched the members of the Jockey Club at play. Here he put together the album The Turf, which was immediately considered a great success. He also became associated with Parisian society, where he was able to observe the privileged, whether at the Restaurant Maxim’s, at the Opera, at Longchamps, or in the Allée des Acacias .

Sem’s success was not only limited to Parisian high society but also to the masses. He worked regularly on many periodicals, both humorous and serious, including Le Figaro. He also made many trips to the coast of Normandy, where he painted the sailing vessels of Deauville and where he put together his albums Paris – Trouville and Tangoville-sur-Mer. He also visited the Cote d’Azur, where he worked on his albums Monte Carlo and Sem á la Mer Bleue.

Sem’s unique talent made his work very identifiable, particularly because of the essential sobriety of his composition, in which his characters usually emerge from a white or plain background rather than being more obvious caricatures. His work is particularly associated with the Belle Epoque and, during this period, he wrote numerous articles chronicling theatre shows, fashion, travel and artistic reviews. He also created a number of very beautiful posters illustrating subjects like the clowns Footit and Chocolat, the tourist towns of Deauville, Cannes and Monte Carlo, and also a number of businesses including Benedictine.

Sem died peacefully on 26 November 1934, in his armchair with a book in his hand. He drew in a personal way, with great success, and was rewarded during his lifetime with both fame and fortune.

April 22, 2011

Francisco Pons Arnau 1886-1953

Francisco Pons Arnau was a Spanish Academic painter active in the mid 19th Century [Correction: late 19th, early 20th Centuries]. He became a follower of Joaquín Sorolla (see my recent post on Sorolla), and was influenced by Art Nouveau.

April 20, 2011

Takahashi Shotei & Shin hanga

The Shin Hanga ("new prints": 新版画) movement extolled the virtues of the traditional ukiyo-e studio system, the so-called "ukiyo-e quartet" involving the artist, carver, printer, and publisher. Its philosophy was at odds with thesôsaku hanga ("creative print") movement, which avidly supported the direct involvement of the artists in designing, engraving, and printing their own works.

At the center of the shin hanga movement was the publisher Watanabe Shôzaburô (1885-1962). Watanabe believed that shin hanga were not fukusei hanga ("reproduction prints": 復製版画) as charged by the sôsaku hanga advocates, and that such prints were certainly "creative" as long as the artist could achieve the results he wanted with the assistance of craftsmen.

In such a collaborative system the artist could benefit from the skills of the artisans in producing works of art in a medium he could not otherwise use so skillfully on his own. Artistic expression was therefore supported, not violated. In response to criticism, Watanabe began using the termshinsaku hanga ("newly created prints") in 1921 to emphasize the creative aspects of the shin hanga method

The shin hanga movement flourished from around 1915 to 1942, though it resumed briefly from 1946 through the 1950s. Watanabe and other shin hangapublishers produced the works of both native Japanese artists and Western artists who created images in the Japanese manner. Their studios issued designs recalling the themes of traditional ukiyo-efiltered through a modern sensibility, with subjects such as landscapes and cityscapes, beautiful women, actor portraits, and nature prints. link

other Shin Hanga artists

Takahashi Shotei

Lights of Shotei 1871-1945
Takahashi Shotei was born in January 1871 in the Asakusa section of Tokyo. His given name was Takahashi Katsutaro. Starting at the age of nine, he studied drawing with his uncle, the Japanese-style painter Matsumoto Fuko. As a young man, Takahashi worked for the Imperial Household Department of Foreign Affairs copying ceremonial designs. He also illustrated magazines, textbooks, and scientific articles. In 1891, he organized the Japan Youth Painting Society with fellow artist Terazaki Kogyo.

A turning point in Takahashi's career came in 1907, when he began to design woodblock prints for the Watanabe publishing company. His early prints were signed 'Shotei', the art name he took around 1902. Around 1921, Takahashi changed his artist's name to 'Hiroaki', occasionally using the name 'Komei'. His prints have a great variety of seals and signatures, which sometimes makes identification difficult.

Unfortunately in 1923, Watanabe's business was devastated by the Kanto earthquake which hit Tokyo. Takahashi had designed around 500 prints for Watanabe before the earthquake, and the blocks for these were destroyed in the resulting fire. Over the following years, Takahashi continued to work for Watanabe, creating between 150 and 250 new designs. These prints included a variety of greeting cards and small landscapes remarkably similar to his earlier designs. However, Takahashi did create many striking prints in a more modern style, such as the lovely Fuji River, published around 1926.

During the 1930's, Takahashi began working with Fusui Gabo, a lesser known Tokyo publisher. It is speculated that this relationship allowed Takahashi more freedom, as Watanabe's business was limited by conservative Western tastes. Takahashi designed several seductive bijin-ga prints for Gabo, and he continued to focus on Mount Fuji in his landscape prints. Several sources report that he was killed by the atomic bomb in August 1945 while visiting his daughter in Hiroshima

However, Watanabe's 1962 catalogue indicates that he died in Hiroshima in April 1945. Perhaps because his designs vary so widely in their style and originality, Takahashi Shotei remains one of the most under-appreciated shin hanga artists.