Mughal Paintings

#Mughalpaintings originate in Southern Asia at a time when that area was called Persia. They were generally created as book illustrations or as single works of art to be included into albums and flourished between the 16th and 18th centuries.

Mughal paintings concentrated on realistic portraiture, the depiction of animals, birds and plants as they really appeared. Making them, today, a tremendous source of information – historical, biological etc. The great painters of their day illustrated the Persian literary works but found that the Mughal emperors- wonderful diarists that they were – provided not only opportunity to lavishly decorate text but also illustrate their memoirs via portraits, historical events, courtly life, flora and fauna. Aside from the fact that they were well compensated for their endeavours. It was typical of Persian art to richly decorate the borders framing a central image.

The images of the Myna bird and the pair of Mallard ducks are typical of the style. The decorated border, the gold work all enclosing a central image. Even the great artworks of the time are unsigned for though we can assess who the leading artists were (through historical writings) we cannot attribute individual pieces of art to any one artist. Only a handful are actually signed in any way. There is an inscription on the image with the mallards but you will have to look closely. It resides along the bottom right corner of the central image – which makes it 1mm tall and 25mm long – and unreadable without a magnifying glass and there are two stamps on the verso of the Myna bird. I have contacted a specialist in the hopes of deciphering both inscription and stamp. Next we’ll look at three other Mughal paintings I have.

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Ohara Koson Woodblock Prints

This past week saw me add a couple of #woodblock prints to my collection. The artist is #OharaKoson (1877-1945). Koson’ history is somewhat vague. He was born Ohara Matao in Kanazawa in the province of Ishikawa and is believed to have begun his artistic studies in painting and design at the Ishikawa Prefecture. At some point he studied painting technique under Suzuki Kason. In the late 1890’s, Koson moved to Tokyo.

In Tokyo, Koson worked with a number of publishers. He concentrated on works which portrayed birds and flowers although he did produce works – triptychs- illustrating scenes from the Russo-Japanese war.

It was quite Normal for an artist to use several ‘nom de plume’ and Koson was no different. While working with publishers Akiyama Buemon and Matsuki Heikichi, his works were signed Koson. When he worked with Watanabe Shozaburo (from 1926), he became Shoson and while working with Kawaguchi, he signed as Hoson. It’s no wonder people get confused as to artists when they look at Chinese and Japanese art. It was through his association with Watanabe that Koson became popular internationally, especially in the United States. Koson produced prints until 1935 and he died in 1945 at his home in Tokyo.

The three woodblock prints I have are Crow on Cherry Tree @ 1910, Flowering Plum and Full Moon @ 1910, Badger and Bamboo in Moonlight @ 1910. They are superb examples of his technique even though they are fairly early productions in his artistic life. Koson’s depiction of birds and body details is masterful. Take note of his work on the feathers especially. They are done with meticulous care. Koson’s bird depictions are considered to be among the best in the 20th century.

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Henry Holiday ‘Dante and Beatrice’

I have written in regards to Dante in a couple of other chapters and today we look at an image by artist #HenryGeorgeHoliday (1839-1927). Perhaps Henry Holiday’s best known painting is that of Dante and Beatrice at Ponte Santa Trinitas in Florence. Holiday was a landscape and historical scene painter who also designed and worked in stained glass, sculpture and illustrating. In the timeline of art, he would be considered a Pre-Raphaelite.

The painting #DanteandBeatrice is based on Dante’s work La Vita Nuova. The work describes Dante’s love for Beatrice Portina. Dante tries to conceal his love for Beatrice by pretending to be attracted to other women. But this backfires when Beatrice learns of his affections and his pretence and snubs him by refusing to speak to him. The event is shown as Beatrice and two other women walk past Dante at the Ponte Santa Trinita. Beatrice in the white dress walks beside her friend Monna Vanna, with Beatrice’s maidservant slightly behind. To assure authenticity in regards to the image portrayed, Dante traveled to Florence in 1881 to study buildings and architecture. He even created small clay models of the buildings and persons. Although the pigeons appear here, they were painted by #JohnTrivettNettleship for Dante’s large oil painting created in 1883.

The small watercolour in my collection is unsigned. It appears to be old enough to be by Holiday but it is in rough shape. Woodworm have eaten the backing wooden boards and paper artist board and left even a few holes in the image. This is what happens when art is not cared for. There are a couple of charcoal sketches which Holiday created in study for his large work and maybe this was created for colour reference as well as architectural accuracy.

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Robert Thornton’s ‘Temple of Flora’

Today, I managed to find a plate from one of the finest books ever made. It is the frontispiece to folio size of #TempleofFlora by #Dr.RobertJohnThornton published in 1807. Robert Thornton (1768-1837) was the son of Bonnell Thornton an English poet, essayist, and critic. Robert was studying at Trinity College, Cambridge for ordination into the Church when he was inspired by lectures given by Thomas Murray on botany and the work of Linnaeus. He eventually worked at Guys Hospital in London where he lectured on medical botany. Robert also traveled but settled in London to work. He, after the deaths of his mother and brother, inherited the family fortune.

Dr. Thornton’s homage to Linnaeus was his publishing of New Illustration of the Sexual System of Carolus Von Linnaeus of which The Temple of Flora was the third and final part. The large folio sized floral prints are considered by many to be the most magnificent such work ever produced. Each print was the result of a mixture of elaborate engraving processes often employing mezzotint, aquatint, etching and line engraving on a single plate. The plates were printed in colour and finished by hand.

One might think that such a work would be successful but it failed to pique public interest. There were to be some 70 plates overall but when support for the work could not be found only around 33 plates were finished. They were collaborations between some of the best artists of the day. Paintings by Reinagle and Henderson were turned into engravings by Thomas Medland and Joseph Stadler as well as others.

The plate, as I said, is the frontispiece for Temple of Flora and shows ‘Cupid Inspiring Plants with Love’. The plant he is shooting at is Strelitzia reginae or ‘Queen plant’. Thomas Burke engraved it after a painting by Philip Reinagle and Thornton published it in 1805. A superb print executed with exquisite skill and artistry.

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Salvador Dali Surrealist

When we think of modern day artists, certainly, #SalvadorDali (1904 – 1989) is a name that comes to mind. Dali was born in Figueres, Catalonia, SpaIn. A talented draftsman, Dali is best known for his imaginatively striking and even bizarre images. He was one of the leading figures in the ‘Surrealist’ genre.

Greatly influenced by the Renaissance masters, he did not restrict himself in the medias in which he worked. A painter, an engraver, a sculptor, a photographer, a film maker – Dali dabbled in many artistic media. He not only dabbled but was efficient and even proficient in whatever media he chose to work in. He worked along side many great artists involved in those various fields.

Dali’s success came early. His works were exhibited in his home in the beginning. Studying first in ‘drawing school’ in Figueres and later in Madrid. His work in the area of ‘Cubism’ brought him notice while at school but his supreme painting skills were evidenced by his realistic work ‘The Basket of Bread‘. His studies finished, Dali visited Paris, where he met Picasso and Miro and many other Surrealist artists who had a great effect upon his work.

Dali created more than 1,500 paintings and numerous drawings, lithographs, etchings, films, books, and sculptures. Dali often used images and symbols which included melting clocks, elephants,eggs, ants, snails, and locusts in his works. Dali was highly imaginative, flamboyant, extravagant, and eccentric not only in his art but also in his person.

The two pieces in my collection are an etching of ‘Don Quixote – El Cid- Cervantes’ and a woodcut ‘The Black Devil – Canto 21 – Hell – The Inferno – The Divine Comedy – Dante’ . Both reveal his uniquely creative and imaginative style.

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Dehua Porcelain

Dehua porcelain is a white porcelain produced at Dehua in the Fujian province of China. The western or European name for it is ‘Blanc de Chine’ (white from China).

#Dehua porcelain has been produced from the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) to the present day. Dehua porcelain concentrated in producing Buddhist and Daoist deities, vases, incense burners, stoves and teapots with reliefs of plum blossoms. By the 18th century, large quantities of Dehua porcelain was being exported to Europe and Japan. Some of these were altered in form and style so to appeal to Western tastes. Dehua porcelain was copied in Europe by porcelain makers such as Meissen and others. Within the porcelain originating in China, Dehua finds itself among the few makers on which potters seals can regularly be found. Dehua porcelain has a fine, grained, vitreous, white body stemming from the use of the local pulverised porcelain stone. It is covered by a thick satiny glaze which may vary in colour from milky white to ivory to a light rosy hue. The real problem with Dehua porcelain is that since traditional techniques were used for extensive periods of time as well as copying of traditional pieces and styles, it is very difficult to date.

The piece I acquired this past week has been greatly restored – as you can see. But since I paid very little for it I felt it a worthwhile purchase. It is of the goddess #Guanyin (Kuan Yin) with a child – she is the goddess of fertility. I believe it to be made in the 17th/18th and the only images I can find of other copies are in a collection of #BlancdeChine at Blenheim Palace (mostly collected in the 17th century).

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Wenceslaus Hollar Etchings

I have mentioned #WenceslausHollar previously as part of an earlier chapter. I acquired another small etching by him this past week but we will begin with a quick recap of the earlier chapter. The etching comes from Hollar’s work illustrating Virgil’s Aeneid. It was translated by John Ogilby and to finance the epic undertaking wealthy patrons were approached for support. In return they would receive an etching with text removed and a commendation to the patron. One hundred and three full-page illustrations were commissioned from a number of the best known artists of the time. They include Francis Cleyn, Wenceslaus (Vacaville) Hollar, Pierre Lombard, Ludwig Richer, and William Faithorne.

From a folio size etching to a much smaller one (2 3/4 x 5 1/2″ – cut on plate mark). Hollar was in Antwerp, in 1646, where he produced many of his most renowned works. Dutch cityscapes, seascapes, depictions of nature, still-life’s, and his ‘muffs’ and ‘shells’ series. My version (#3) of the run (full number unknown) has the two mishap scratch lines which occurred late in the etching process. A line coming from the top of the mole’s snout (toward top right)and a line coming out of the lower foot can be seen. It is signed by Hollar in the plate as well as the year of creation and there is a small number three in the bottom right corner. .

Hollar produced some 400 illustrations and some 3,000 etchings. A very prolific artist but not a successful one financially for he died a destitute.

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Jean Baptiste Mallet

Today, we visit an artist known for both painting and engraving. #JeanBaptisteMallet (1759 – 1835) is not a well known artist for there is little information to be found on him. A Frenchman born in the city of Grasse in 1759. His studies took him to Toulon to work under Simon Julien and then to Paris to work with Pierre Prud’hom. Mallet was a frequent exhibitor at the Salons of Paris hanging works from 1793 to 1827.

His talent increased as can be seen by the medals he won – a second class medal in 1812 and a first class in 1817. Although he was a capable portrait artist, he preferred interior and genre scenes. He also painted nudes, bathing beauties and mythological scenes.

Mallet was greatly influenced by the Dutch masters before him. His exquisite treatment of curtains and fabric is highly regarded. His brushwork was meticulous and precise. His depiction of interiors is a wealth of information as to the styles of interior design and decoration.

During his lifetime, Mallet had a great deal of success and many of his paintings were copied or made into prints. He himself was a fine engraver employing the stipple method. His talent can be seen in the four stipple engravings displayed today. A set of four depicting the four seasons – printemp, ete, automne, hiver. All are printed in black and brown ink and then other colours are brushed on except for Automne which has black, brown and green ink are used in the printing and then coloured.

The body/skin appears in the reddish brown ink and the rest in black ink but only in L’automne’ do we find brown (skin) and black (all the rest) inks and then a greenish ink for the dress.

Sublime artistry and talent displayed for us by a man we should know more about.

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Marion Rhodes

Today, we consider artist #MarionRhodes (1907 – 1988). Marion was born in the town of Lockwood which is an area of Huddersfield. She studied at Huddersfield School of Art, Leeds College of Art, and finished her studies at the Central School of Arts and Crafts in London. She studied as a painter-print maker. She specialised in landscape and architectural views.
She is best known as an etcher, regularly exhibiting at the Royal Academy, Royal Scottish Academy and Paris Salon. Throughout her career she won several bronze, silver and gold awards at those exhibitions and her work is represented in collections, including the British Museum and the V&A.
Marion's etching from my collection is of the Coronation Procession of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. It is a detailed and intricate work as an etching and was then hand coloured. A little piece of history recorded by an artist.
For my Canadian readers, please look closely at the first sign on the grandstand on the left. This was the placement of the Canadian contingent for the procession.

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Gustave Louis Jaulmes

Today's artist, #GustaveLouisJaulmes (1873-1959) was born in Switzerland and died in Paris.  He was an eclectic artist whose vast range of interests and wonder had him creating monumental frescoes, paintings, posters, illustrations, cartoons for tapestries,  carpets and decorations for objects such as enamels, sets of plates and furniture.  

Jaulmes was a neo-classicist in the Art Deco movement.  His early education was in Paris where he eventually studied to be an architect.  By 1902, Jaulme had quit architectural design for life as a painter.  As a muralist, his approach was that whatever his topic the artwork itself should grow out of the building and space being painted.  Jaulmes became known for his monumental frescos and paintings, his posters and his decorative objects.  He worked with Adrien Karbowsky on frescos for the Villa Kerylos and the Palais de Chaillot in 1902–08.  They decorated the walls of the villa with scenes from Greek mythology as chosen by scholar Théodore Reinach, often copied from Attic pottery (ancient Greek black and red pottery).  The drawing shown may be a sketch for a section of those walls.  He was a member of L'Atalier Français whose goal was the combining traditional and modern ideas to bring clarity, order and aesthetic unity to interior design.  Jaulmes received many public and private commissions to create murals for hotels, casinos, town halls and exhibition rooms.  He contributed decorations to the 1921 International Exposition in Ghent, and for three International Expositions in Paris.

As for my drawing by Jaulmes, I have titled it 'The Lovers' and it's style leads me to believe it comes early in his career.  It may be part of his work done with Karbowsky for the Palais de Chaillot.  Even so, it displays an ease of creation, a deftness of touch, and an eye for colour and space.  It is a lovely work and makes me want to visit to those places where his murals and frescos decorate the walls and ceilings.

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