Peter Gilman and Julia Cassels

For me #PeterGilman (1928-1984) is a local artist.  He was born in Surrey and lived in Bedfordshire.  Peter specialised in marine and landscapes in oil, acrylic, and watercolour.   He loved to paint in situ outdoors enjoying the companionship between painting and nature in all seasons.  He travelled East Anglia, Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and along the Thames finding his inspiration to create his art.

Hertfordshire 'Autumn' oil by Peter Gilman

Hertfordshire ‘Autumn’
oil by Peter Gilman

A warmth emanates from the earthy colours and the broad sky radiates a feeling of wide openness.  To some who come to live in the fens, this breadth of sky provokes a feeling of loneliness and singular smallness.  To other this wideness is exuberance and freedom.

To an artist who works mostly with charcoal, ink, mixed media, watercolour and bronze.  #JuliaCassels brilliantly imbues her subjects with movement, power and character and she has established a reputation as an highly-talented wildlife artist.  While living in Africa, Julia, worked with the Maasai people.  Her love of the African bush, its character and wildlife, is clear in every stroke of her paintings.  Vitality and energy flow from her sketches – a jumble of lines and shading.

Following by Julia Cassels

Following by Julia Cassels

Travels across Africa, Central America, and eastern Asia have shaped the rhythm, shape and rich colour of Julia’s work.  Her subjects are portrayed as if unaware that they are being drawn and painted.

Two artists portrayal of the world around them.  Varied, distinct and beautiful in so many ways.

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John Knapp Fisher

Born in London, #JohnKnappFisher spent much of his youth in the Kentish countryside.  His father was professor of Architecture at the Royal College of Art.  John spent a great deal of time painting and drawing alongside is father.  Studies in graphic design and typography were followed by National Service.  John worked for a time in exhibition design and there followed set design for the Theatre Royal Margate and Castle Theatre Farnham.

All Saint's Church, Ramsholt, Suffolk watercolour by John Knapp Fisher @ 1963

All Saint’s Church, Ramsholt, Suffolk
watercolour by John Knapp Fisher @ 1963

He left the theatre business and went to live with his wife on a boat in East Anglia.  He did this for 5 years and painted full time.  The family then moved to Carmarthenshire in Wales.  John opened his studio gallery in Croesgoch on the St David’s peninsula, Pembrokeshire in 1967.  He is best known for his depictions of the coast of Pembrokeshire, West Wales.

The image to the left is that of All Saint’s Church, #Ramsholt in Suffolk.  It has a unique round tower with buttresses on the north; south and west.  It stands tranquil overlooking the River Deben with it’s beautifully tended churchyard full of flowers in the summer.  Painted in 1963, this would have been created when John lived on his boat in East Anglia.

John painted mostly in watercolour and oils.  He developed a style he called ‘dark and light’ with an eye for simple straight forward presentation of image.  John painted from his sketches and not from photographs and liked to paint every day to keep is eye and hand fresh.

A beautiful painting from a man with a singular eye and a gift of presentation.

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Signature Art

Although I buy pieces of art because I like them, there are items which contain more interest due to the signatures which adorn them.  This week I bought a postcard.  A ‘giant’ postcard from 1900 and although it is of interest as a card, the real interest is the signature which adorns.

Tenterden, Small Hythe Ellen Terry signed postcard @ 1908

Tenterden, Small Hythe
Ellen Terry signed postcard @ 1908

The card is made by Francis Firth & Co. around 1900 and is 220 mm by 290 mm.  The postcard displays the home of actress #EllenTerry (1847-1928), who purchased #SmallhythePlace near #Tenterden in 1899 as a bolt hole from her London life.  The ‘half-timbered’ house was originally called ‘Port House’ and prior to the sea and the River Rother receded it served a thriving shipyard.  Hythe means “landing place” in ‘old english’.  Ellen Terry passed away in the house in 1928.

The house, now owned by the National Trust, contains Ellen Terry’s theatre memorabilia.  The cottage grounds include her rose garden, an orchard, a nuttery and the working Barn Theatre.

Although a nice piece as a postcard, it is the signature of Ellen Terry and the salutation which add interest because Ms. Terry was a stage actress.  By 1878 she had joined Henry Irving’s company as his leading lady.  For more than twenty years she was considered the leading Shakespearean and comic actress in Britain.  She and Irving toured with great success in America and Britain.  Her artistic career covered stage acting, lecturing, theatre management, and film.  Over sixty years in the entertainment business.

The card contains not only her signature and the date but also a dedication.  This is to a person called Montague.  This might be #MontagueSummers author.  He could use a chapter of his own, really. but not today.

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Unless you have been to Bali or Indonesia one most likely has not come across a #lontar.  A lontar is made of palm leaves which have been dried and smoked.  Due to dampness, insect activity, mould, and fragility lontars needed to be copied and replaced quite regularly.

Lontar Case with ancient Chinese coins

Lontar Case with ancient Chinese coins

Most lontars come with an outer case which is made of ornamentally carved bamboo.  A string runs through a central hole in the casing and the leaves.  The leaves after being prepared are etched with text and images.  The grooves are then filled with ink to make the text and images visible.  In the case of my lontar a coin is tied at each end of the string.  The coins are Sinkiang Qing dynasty Redcash Dao Guang Tong Bao Aksu which were minted between 1821 and 1850.

Lontar - ritual book from Lombok, Indonesia

Lontar – ritual book from Lombok, Indonesia

Firstly, I apologise if I have mistakenly turned the leaves so that the story is actually backwards.  The lontar which is pictured to the right is a #WektuTelu ritual book and originates with the #Sasak people of Lombok, Indonesia.  The Wektu Telu religion is a blending of Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism as well as other ancient beliefs and traditions.  Lontar contained writings from religious rituals and law, astronomy and astrology, homoeopathy and healing, stories and epics, history and genealogy, performing arts, and illustrated stories.  There remain a few Hindus in Bali who can still read the old scripts found on lontars.  Although lontars have been copied for many centuries some are now unreadable due to the loss of the ability to read the language.  In the case with the Wektu Telu lontar pictured, no translation of the script or interpretation of the illustrations has been found.

Lontar 'Wektu Telu' ritual book from Lombok, Indonesia

Lontar ‘Wektu Telu’ ritual book from Lombok, Indonesia

Lontar 'Wektu Telu' ritual book from Lombok, Indonesia

Lontar ‘Wektu Telu’ ritual book from Lombok, Indonesia

Only in Bali will you find those who still practice the old skill of lontar writing – some for preservation sake and others for the tourism trade.  A lontar can take over a month to copy – not counting the time it takes to prepare the leaves.

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King’s College, Cambridge

Just down the road is one of the most prestigious colleges in the world.  King’s College, Cambridge has for centuries had a reputation for excellence.  It is, also, due to it’s architecture and chapel, a favourite with artists of all mediums.  Three ink and wash drawings of King’s are this chapters topic with a small twist too.

King's College Gatehouse by Night ink and wash drawing

King’s College Gatehouse by Night ink and wash drawing

An atmospheric drawing of the Gatehouse of #King’sCollege,Cambridge.  The signature of thee artist appears to be Jack ____ Kennedy but I’m not sure about this.  Done on a modern day sketchbook page the artist has achieved a stillness of place which could only be achieved in the wee hours of the morn before the tourists and students rise to their learning.  King’s Parade as one rarely gets to enjoy.

King's College pen and wash drawing by Deirdre James

King’s College pen and wash drawing by Deirdre James

To a view of #King’sCollegeChapel from the back.  This line and wash by Deirdre James is nicely accurate architecturally and yet loose enough to allow the wash to augment it’s depiction.  I am not sure of the age of this work – I will return to this idea later and I don’t know why the ducks appear but this was a work sheet to the artist.

Chichester Market Cross pen and wash drawing by Deirdre James

Chichester Market Cross pen and wash drawing by Deirdre James

The second pen and wash by #DeirdreJames is one that I have yet to place.  I feel I know this place but I have yet to come up with the answer.  It is quite similar to the domed top of the Gatehouse of King’s College but it is different.  The present gatehouse was finished in 1828 from a design by William Wilkens.

I return now to the age of the two draws signed by Deirdre James.  The only artist by that name I have found worked for Foley Fine Bone China in Fenton.  I believe she worked for the company around 1950.

Strasbourg Lily watermark (partial)

Strasbourg Lily watermark (partial) – possibly C & I Honig @ 1770

The twist here is in the watermark found on the paper of the chapel drawing.  The paper itself is a laid paper.  We find we have the upper half of the watermark called #StrasburgLily.  The mark is a fleur-de-lis in a shield beneath a crown.  It was used by different makers in one form or another across Europe.  The mark appears on paper from the 17th to the 19th centuries.  Usually at the bottom of the watermark there would appear the initials of the individual paper maker.  Artists from Rembrandt to James Whistler have used Strasburg Lily watermarked paper. So if these are modern drawings – where did the artist come up with the paper?  Old or modern?  Mystery indeed.

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Byron Harmon Photographer

I came across two pieces of Canadiana this past week which hve travelled 7000 km (4400 mi), around 80 years, and is in part about a man with an almost impossible goal.  A man who had a huge effect on photography in western Canada.  His name #ByronHarmon.

Three Sisters photograph by Byron Harmon

Three Sisters photograph by Byron Harmon

Byron Harmon’s desire was to photograph all the peaks in the Rockies.  A man with an adventurous spirit who in working on his dream was a charter member of the Alpine Club of Canada.  The ACC explored the remote regions of the Rockies and Selkirks.  They surveyed, performed glacial studies, and have a number of first ascents to their name.  A perfect situation for Harmon and his cameras.

Stoney Creek Bridge photograph by Byron Harmon

Stoney Creek Bridge photograph by Byron Harmon

They travelled by foot, packtrain, dogteam, snowshoe carrying teepees or tents.  A man who captured not only a time and place but a spirit as well.

I came across Set I of ‘Selected Real Photographs’ – Canadian Pacific Rockies – 20 for 50c.  Small 3 3/4 x 2 3/4 – black and white images in their original packaging .  Published 1925-30?

Fraser Canyon sceneograph by The Gowah Sutton Company

Fraser Canyon sceneograph by The Gowah Sutton Company

The second item comes from #TheGowenSuttonCo.Ltd. A package of 10 #SceneOgraph real photos of Fraser Canyon – 10 for 25c.  Photos uncredited but once again from around 1935-ish.  The Gowen Sutton Co. was established by Vancouver postcard photographer Frank Gowan (1878-1946).

Cisco Bridge sceneograph by Gowen Sutton Co.

Cisco Bridge sceneograph by Gowen Sutton Co.


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Edith E. Strutton

I am always pleased when I find pieces which have been created by female artists for I know that in years past those artists might possibly not have received the deserved credit or accolades for their work.  So to slightly tip the scale, this weeks chapter is about #EdithEmmaStrutton.

Ibrahim Rauza, Bijapur watercolour by Edith E. Strutton @ 1913

Ibrahim Rauza, Bijapur
watercolour by Edith E. Strutton @ 1913

Born #EdithEmmaMunnings in Christchurch, New Zealand, 1867, she studied at the Canterbury School of Art.  After graduating she taught at the school and was a successful teacher as well as artist.  In 1900 she married the Reverend H. Strutton and with him moved to India as missionaries.  They lived and worked in Baramati, Sholapur (Criminal Tribes Settlement), and Lonavala where Edith died  in April of 1939.

The image on the left is of the #IbrahimRauza.  It was erected in 1627  as a mausoleum and memorial for queen Taj Sultana wife of king Ibrahim II but the king also lies there.  It is proposed that this rauza was the inspiration for the wonderful Taj Mahal.  Arches, delicate carvings, geometric and calligraphic designs abound.

Gol Gumbaz, Bijapur watercolour by Edith E Strutton @ 1913

Gol Gumbaz, Bijapur watercolour by Edith E Strutton @ 1913

The #GolGumbaz is also in Bijapur and was built as the mausoleum for Mohammed Adil Shah, Sultan of Bijapur.  It was built to dwarf the Ibrahim Rauza which was erected by his father.  It was completed in 1656 and is of impressively simple design.  In the centre of the floor beneath the dome lies a cenotaph slab which marks the grave below it.  This is the only instance of this practice to be found in the architecture of the Adhil Shahi dynasty.  Like other great domed buildings, the Gol Gumbaz has a “whispering gallery”.  The pantheon in Rome has an area covered without supports of 15, 833 sq ft while the Gol Gumbaz has an area 18, 109 sq ft.  Simple – yes.  Impressive – very.

Two beautiful paintings by Edith Strutton which display the great talent which she was blessed with.

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Claus Hoie

#ClausHoie (1911-2007) was born in Stavanger, Norway and emigrated to the United States with his family when he was 12 years old.  Coming from a family of seafarers, the sea was also in Claus’s blood and he went to sea for two years with the Merchant Marine.  This love and respect of the sea influenced and inspired an enduring theme in his work: the picturesque adventure of seafaring.

Wading Bird ink and watercolour by Claus Hoie @ 1980

Wading Bird
ink and watercolour by Claus Hoie @ 1980

Settling in Brooklyn, New York, Claus spent four years in the army after which he continued his studies in Paris.  His imaginative and intricate renderings of plants, insects, fish, birds, still-life , and landscape draw the viewer in with charm and a welcoming warmth.  Hoie is possibly best known for his depiction of the whaling world in his illustrated book ‘The Log of the Whaler Helena’ in 1994.  Both words and images are Hoie’s creation – filled with the haunted tracings of seamen’s lives, and of the whales they hunted. Here word and image combine to show us much more.  Light and shadow, sibilance, visage’s gaunt and dogged, the utter strength and power of it all strive together.  In the end, ‘The Log of the Whaler Helena’ is a work of forthright truth and muscular beauty.

Images powerful and awesome, charming and familiar were his milieu.  Art displaying life, the love of it and the adventures in it – both simple and intense.

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John Ewbank and Edward Badham

The artists #JohnWilsonEwbank (1799-1847) and #EdwardLeslieBadham (1873-1944) are this weeks artists.  I acquired graphite drawings created by both of these artists, recently.

Perth and the River Tay pencil sketch by John Wilson Ewbank @ 1825

Perth and the River Tay
pencil sketch by John Wilson Ewbank @ 1825

This serene view by John Wilson Ewbank is of the city of Perth and the River Tay in 1825.  Ewbank was the son of an poor innkeeper.  He was adopted by a wealthy uncle who lived in Wycliffe on the banks of the River Tees.  It was intended that John enter the priesthood and was educated to that end but he rebelled and ran away.  He apprenticed with Thomas Coulson as an ornamental painter in Newcastle and then Edinburgh.  He also studied under Alexander Nasmyth.  He was a successful painter and teacher.  His sketches from nature were admired greatly as well as were his coastal and marine scenes.  Late in his life he altered his style and painted great events coming from history such as ‘The Visit of George IV to Edinburgh’ and ‘Hannibal Crossing the Alps’.

Edward Leslie Badham studied at the Clapham School of Art and The Slade. He lived and worked in London for a number of years before moving down to St. Leonards on Sea and eventually to Hastings.

Barkers Creek, Harcourt pencil sketch by Edward Leslie Badham @ 1903

Barkers Creek, Harcourt pencil sketch by Edward Leslie Badham @ 1903

Badham exhibited often and was well respected.  This picturesque scene drawn in 1903 and done only in graphite displays superb finesse and an eye for accuracy.  Drawn in the month of August, one can feel the turn of the year veering into fall.  I love the ancient tree on the far bank – broken yet still striving upward – and the old rail fence.

Two fine drawings from an art that is undervalued these days – the art of the pencil.

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Wilhelm Hass Mapmaker

#WilhelmHass (1698-1764) was a map-maker from Nuremberg.  He furthered the work of #AugustGottliebPreuschen (1734-1803) who developed the printing method called typometry.  #Typometry is a relief printing method using movable type.  The technique was inflexible and the maps looked quite schematic in style.  Everything—text, borders, and topographic features—are set by hand using a variety of text fonts as well as a specially designed cartographic font.  Due to these limitations the technique did not catch on.

 Until the later 18th century, maps were printed in one of two ways: either from a relief block (typically a woodcut where all non-printing areas cut away from the block’s top surface); or from an intaglio plate (typically an engraving, with the map’s lines cut into the surface of a copper plate).
Rempublicam Basileensem typometric map by Wilhelm Haas @ 1776

Rempublicam Basileensem typometric map by Wilhelm Haas @ 1776

In the early 1770s, August Gottlieb Preuschen of Karlsruhe, Germany, invented an alternative to the printing of maps : a 21-character cartographic type font. Preuschen’s idea was realized through the technical skill of Wilhelm Haas, a typefounder in Basel, Switzerland, who perfected and cast the cartographic font and, in 1776, published the first map composed entirely from movable types. Over the next two decades, Haas continued to refine and expand his cartographic font until it contained at least 139 different characters, or “sorts.” These were special symbols, not letters, including 24 designed for depicting streams and rivers, 17 for borders, 14 for roads, 31 for charting military movements, 15 for human habitations, 6 for mountains and forests, and 32 for coastlines. All told, Haas employed his proprietary font to publish approximately two dozen typographic maps.

In setting these maps, Haas’s compositors worked from manuscript maps drawn on gridded paper. By breaking the complex cartographic image into small units, the compositors were better able to translate the image into small blocks of type metal. In doing so they faced two principal problems. First, the twists and turns of rivers and roads could be approximated but not rendered exactly, as could be done through engraving. Second, great care was needed to “lock up” these disparate assemblages of movable types so that they would not shift during printing.

Rempublicam Basileensem typometric map by Wilhelm Haas @ 1776

Rempublicam Basileensem typometric map by Wilhelm Haas @ 1776

Type fonts are designed so that each sort has the same height, or “body size.” As long as each horizontal row of movable type contains sorts of the same height, a page consisting of several thousand small rectangles of metal type will “lock up” easily. Because Haas’s cartographic font contained sorts with a range of body sizes, which could not be arranged into uniform rows, it was necessary to painstakingly add filler material to the irregular gaps between types. In essence, the process was more like assembling a mosaic than setting type.

Haas’s cartographic font could claim several advantages over copperplate engraving: maps could be prepared more quickly, revision was easier, and unlimited impressions could be taken. But decided disadvantages remained for the prospective map publisher: only a limited level of accuracy could be achieved, and a large initial investment would be necessary to purchase the requisite types. Soon, however, the invention of lithography (and later, wax engraving) gave cartographers a far easier method for reproducing maps accurately, and Haas’s font was never adopted by other map publishers.

Rempublicam Basileensem typometric map by Wilhelm Hass @ 1776

Rempublicam Basileensem typometric map by Wilhelm Hass @ 1776

The map that I acquired has two other marks which should be mentioned.  A close inspection of the paper reveals that it is a ‘laid’ paper upon which there are two watermarks.  These marks are created by weaving or sewing a wire into the paper mould in the appropriate shape.  Watermarks are still used today to identify paper-makers.  On the left we see a #Bishop’sCrozier – the watermark for the Swiss canton paper-makers of Basel (Basle).  On the right is the watermark of the #Gallizianis family of paper-makers from Basel.  A fine map with an interesting heritage and rare if my research is correct.


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