St. Etienne du Mont

If you have visited Paris, you might have gone to #StEtienneduMont. It is a Catholic Church located near the Pantheon. It is considered as one of the most beautiful churches in Paris. It is known for it’s curved access from the nave to the transept, its’ carved stone rood screen done by Father Baird, Father Bairds’ chair which was designed by Laurent de La Hyre and sculpted by Claude Lestocart. It also boasts the oldest organ casement in all of Paris. The church also contains a shrine which held relics of St Genevieve but they were unceremoniously disposed of into the Paris sewers in 1793. The church also contains the tombs several well known Frenchmen, among them, mathematician/physicist #BlaisePascal and dramatist #JeanRacine.

St Etienne du Mont etching St Etienne du Mont etching

The etching which shows St Etienne du Mont is not of the marvellous rood screen, nor the amazing spiral staircases, nor of the ornate pulpit but the artist gives us a view of the high altar from the east end behind the pillars and beneath an arch.  Using the arch gives us, the viewers, a unique vantage to appreciate the craftsmanship of the architect and builder. The worshippers are dwarfed by the immensity and weight of this place. An atmosphere of awe is created as we look towards the heart of this holy place. This unknown artist has privileged us with a look into awe and holiness through his talents.

Please forgive me but I have of course missed out a renowned personage involved with St Etienne. #MauriceDurufle – organist, improviser, and composer – held the post of Titular Organist at St Etienne du Mont from 1929 to his death in 1986.

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LS Lowry artist

I added a somewhat unique piece to my collection this week. A lithograph by #LSLowry. Over the time I have been collecting art, I have come across a number of prints by Lowry but up till now they have been recent printings. Nice to look at but truly not of much interest. But today, I came across a lithograph created for a 1940’s initiative called “School Prints Series”. David and Brenda Rawnsley wanted to bring contemporary art to young children via their school. Lithographs for the series were commissioned from several of the most important living artists for the scheme and then sold to schools. Some 6000 prints were made and sold at £3 per print. Most have disappeared or been destroyed over time.

The images were to be in no more than six colours and were printed by Baynards Press. Images came from artists like Lowry, Nash, and Moore. The only brief they were given was “I only ask that you create something suitable for children”. IMG_0052Lowry is best known for images of ‘match-stick’ men and animals within the backdrop of industry. Urban landscapes of factory walls, belching chimneys, looming mills, with streets teeming with figures, moving in waves towards, or away from, mill gateways, mines, football matches, and political meetings. This is the classic image of the North of England from years past. Wonderfully executed in stunning colours and an expert hand.

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Miniatures 1

Although I have a number of small artworks, I, for me, like to reserve the term miniature for works 2″ or smaller. This makes their creation very precise work indeed. We begin with an ormolu box with a ladies portrait on the lid. #Ormolu is a technique for applying finely ground high carat gold onto bronze. The process which is not used anymore involved the use of mercury. This usually led to the early death of practitioners of the process. The oblong box was most likely meant to hold trinkets or possibly jewellery. Items like this one often bear the semblance of the recipient. I cannot say who the young lady in the hat is (slight semblance to Marie Antoinette) and the painting is unsigned. The only clue to the maker are the initials ‘AF’ on the inner lip of the lid. The second item today is another trinket box which comes from Germany. It bears the portrait of Napoleon. The mark on the bottom is the St Kilian hallmark. It was used by the Oscar Schlegelmilch factory in Thuringia, Germany. The trinket box dates to the early 1900’s. Here once again one can see the finesse of the artist. The fine brush work and colouring.

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Stipple Engraving

I have been blogging in regards to art for over 5 years and I have done a great amount of research and looked at a huge amount of art over that time. This does not make me an expert but it does mean that I now recognise some artists and their techniques. Such is the case with this chapters work. The engraver, #FrancescoBartolozzi (1727-1815) has featured in a number of my previous posts and this week I acquired an engraving which although is unsigned is certainly by Bartolozzi. He was an Italian engraver whose most productive period occurred during his residence in London. For close to 40 years, he resided in London. During his working life he produced an enormous number of engravings A great number of his works were after fellow artists, especially Cipriani and Angelica Kauffman. At some point in his career, he worked on a series of etchings portraying children playing. I have seen nine different portrayals: swinging, playing at marbles, playing shuttle-cock, playing at hot cockles, playing thread the needle, playing with a mouse, playing trap ball, playing hunt the slipper, and feeding chickens. The engraving I came across is called ‘Seesaw’ (title in pencil on a separate backing sheet of paper). It shows the same set of children from the other engravings enjoying themselves. The engraving is an early pressing for no title nor accreditation to artist has yet been etched onto the plate. A fine example of the masters workmanship.

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Nicholas Pocock marine artist

A small watercolour by artist #NicholasPocock was added to my collection this week but it is the sketch on the verso that is more of interest. Pocock (1740-1821) is known for his detailed paintings of naval battles during the age of sail. Born in Bristol, the son of a seaman, Pocock followed his father and became a seaman. By the age of 26, he was master of a merchant ship. During his time at sea, Pocock became a skilled artist making ink and wash drawings for his log books.Pocock gave up the sea and became a full-time artist in 1778 and within four years he was exhibiting at the Royal Academy. His reputation grew and he moved to London in 1789 where he flourished. Eventually being appointed Marine Painter to King George. Pocock’s naval paintings were extensively researched. He interviewed eyewitnesses about weather and wind conditions, the positions, condition, and appearance of their ships. He then drew detailed plans of the battles and preliminary sketches of individual ships. He was even onboard the frigate HMS Pegasus at the Glorious First of June in 1794.The sketch on the verso is of a naval action. I have not yet tied it to a finished work but am still studying. Being known for his naval works, the verso side of this work is possibly the more interesting although it is less finished than than the face side. And finally the label on the back for the gallery through whose hands this work was sold.

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Meissen Porcelain

This week, I came across a piece of what I believe to be #Meissen porcelain. It is a #tabatiere or #snuffbox. It measures out at 5″ by 3″ by 2″. I know that Meissen porcelain and its mark have been forged quite regularly but after you have seen the images of this snuff box I hope that you will agree with me that it is authentic. I will state from the outset that there is a major crack in the lid but even so it is a lovely piece.

We begin with a top/front view of the box with its’ gold trim. Please be assured that all the decorations and images which are on this tabatiere are hand done. There are four painted images and much gold scroll work on the box. Often with items such as this, one artist would decorate the outside of the piece and another would paint the interior – if it were decorated. The artist doing the interior was always the better artist.

We see images of the top, front, and rear of the box, all showing coastal/nautical scenes. All three done with exquisite finesse. Superb brush work and the colours still so vibrant for I place the making of this piece around 1760. Even the bottom is decorated not with an image as some tabatieres are but with wonderful scroll and line work.The piece also bears the crossed swords mark of the Meissen factory – although somewhat indistinct.

As I stated earlier the interior of a snuff box might be decorated or it might be gilt or even pure white with no adornment. For this box, the fourth image resides on the interior of the lid and more scroll work adorns the inner sides and bottom. When one opens the lid, we are greeted with another nautical/coastal scene. The finest work of the four painted. I believe that the same artist has painted all four scenes on this snuff box but it is possible that a second artist might have performed all the gold scroll and let line work.

A beautiful piece of porcelain as well as art from a factory renowned for both.

Ps. The most expensive snuff box to be auctioned was sold in 2011 and it sold for £870,000 ($1,200,000). That’s right. It sold for far far more than its’ estimate.

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Stybarrow Crag, Ullswater

Having been to the Lake District on vacation, I can attest that it is truly one of those beautiful places which one should not miss. Around every corner traveled lies another vista worth stopping and taking in. Leave your car behind and walk. Follow the land and forest rushing down to the waters edge. Feel the peace, hear the wind in the trees, breathe deep the air filled with scents of moss and musk. Such a place is #StybarrowCrag, Ullswater.

What many people do not realise is that this beauty spot on Ullswater was almost lost to the British public in 1924. The owner had offered this plot of land to the National Trust in 1922 but the Trust passed on purchasing the property even at the reduced price at which it had been offered to them. William Wordsworth walked along this lake and his poem ‘The Daffodils’ was a tribute to these wild flowers (Lenten Lilies) which each spring bloom on the banks of Ullswater. A. W. Wainwright, writer and hill walker, loved to holiday here to walk the lake shore. Other literary greats such as Samuel Coleridge (Rime of the Ancient Mariner) and Sir Walter Scott (Ivanhoe) have ties to Ullswter also.

Stybarrow Crag’s beauty is captured here by artist J. Rigg. There is a Jack Rigg, a marine painter, from Farley, West Yorkshire and this painting may be by his hand. It is undated but has great semblance to post cards from the late 1800’s and very early 1900’s. This would mean that the present day Jack Rigg painted this from another image since he was born in 1927. No matter. A fine image of a place worth seeing.

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Chinese Porcelain

I certainly am not knowledgable enough in the area of Chinese porcelain and it is not something that I regularly collect but every once in a while I come across a piece that catches my eye. Such is the case with this piece of Kangxi (1662 – 1722) porcelain – I think. The blue colour is derived from cobalt oxide which is then painted onto a white clay. It then is covered by a clear glaze and baked in a kiln oven at very high temperatures. Blue and white porcelain wares appear to have their beginning in the Tang dynasty (618-907). The quality of both porcelain and artwork improved and some believe peaked during the Yuan dynasty (1271-1368). During the 14th century this blue and white porcelain began to be mass produced with quality being carefully monitored.

The blue and white pottery industry became more important during the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties. It was at this time that it became a commodity on the international trade market and expanding to become a worldwide commodity. Blue and white wares are common to this day in daily life in forms ranging from dinner sets to vases.

And to finish a small piece made with a yellow and brown glaze with a favourite dragon image.

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Robert Scott engraver

Today, a friend from Church gave me an old bible. It was the second volume out of a set. Covers intact but some water damage had occurred to the pages. Printed in 1815 (New Testament) and 1817 for the minor prophets section from the Old Testament. This printing introduced me to #RobertScott the engraver.

Robert Scott was born in Lanark, Scotland in 1777. At the age of ten, he was articled to Andrew Robertson, an engraver in Edinburgh. His career began with book illustrations but Scott soon found his niche. Scott decided early in his career to focus on engraving because it was a more economically profitable career. Scott’s most significant works were landscapes. He engraved the illustrations to George Barrie’s History of the Orkney Islands, 1805, and to Scenery of Allan Ramsay’s Gentle Shepherd, 1808. He also for many years contributed plates to the Scots Magazine and worked with artist John Bell providing the landscape backgrounds for Bell’s Poets of Great Britain. Scott ran his own business in Edinburgh and employed numerous assistants. His publishing house was equipped for copperplate engraving, etching, mezzotinting, aquatinting, and lithography. Scott introduced the art of steel engraving to Edinburgh. He died early in 1841.

The etchings displayed here are fine examples of his artistry.

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Albert Edward, Prince of Wales

I bought a picture at a charity shop in town this week past. Nothing new there. It was old, stained, and mediocrely framed. Due to its’ condition most people would pass it by but that is just not me. So, for only a few pounds, it was mine.And now the fun begins. The shop likely did as I in looking for information on the picture. I entered the name at the bottom of the picture into the web but nothing comes up in regards to this name. It is now time to study the picture and gain clues. The first thing I discover is that what I took in the shop to be a lithographic print was actually a drawing done in charcoal with added body colour (white) and other light touches of colour.

So, discovery number one. It is an artist rendering. Next, the boy has a falcon. Falconry was an aristocratic sport when this picture was done, 1862. We might deduce from that that the young man is an aristocrat. The young man is wearing Scottish garb. Thusly either Scottish or British royalty. The tam which adorns his head is a #Balmoral ribboned and the tartan we wears could be a royal tartan although without colours I am not sure. Now, if we do suggest that the young man is a royal and possibly at Balmoral, who might he be. In 1862 that royal would have to be Albert Edward, Prince of Wales. Later to be #KingEdwardVII. He is grandfather to our present queen. I have looked at images of Albert Edward and am convinced I am correct in naming the young man pictured as #AlbertEdward,PrinceofWales. There is also a clue in the picture which may mean nothing but I think it a cheeky clue to insert. The chain which is tethering the falcon is an ‘albert’ chain.

I hope you enjoy this image and I wish I could tell you more in regards to the artist for it is a fine likeness even though stained. It has live and will continue to live a well loved life.

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