A technique not always associated with painting but it has been used by some fine artists. One might not even realise that one is looking at this technique. #Sgraffito is the scratching away of one layer to reveal another. In painting, one coat of paint is applied and left to dry. When dry a second layer of a varying colour is applied. The artist then uses a palette knife or a scraping tool ( even the non-bristled end of the paint brush) to scrape away the top coat to reveal an image displayed in the original colour. The piece displayed here is one I picked up a few days ago. It does not use multiple layers of paint. It begins with a layer of grey watercolour on artist paper. The artist has then rubbed and etched/cut into the paper (thus allowing shadows to appear in the deeper cuts) to reveal the scene he has chosen. Here a ship is seen floundering close to a pier and the sgraffito is well used in the portrayal of the waves and the outlining of the ship and pier.

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Henry Perronet Briggs portraitist

As I acquire pieces for my collection, I find myself leaning towards original works. Even works from artists that I may not have heard of. Certainly, #HenryPerronetBriggs (1793-1844) was one of those artists. Briggs was born in the town of Walworth, County Durham. He exhibited talent early on and by 1811 he was a student at the Royal Academy in London. He exhibited at the Academy in 1814 and every year after till his death as well as at the British Institution. Briggs was elected a member of the Royal Academician (RA) in 1832. From this point on he devoted his artistic life to portraiture even though his historical scenes were quite fine.

I acquired a small graphite sketch showing a woman’s portrait. It still amazes me that through so little so much can be expressed. I think he captures something in her face. The eyes and lips – finely done – with a bit of high-light on the nose and there is beauty shown. The capturing of an essence and displaying it with such ease. He certainly was a talented man.

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John Clare poet

One might consider a chapter on a poet to be out of place in a blog about collecting art I have a previous chapter on Robert Bloomfield (rural bard). So when I came across a hand written edition of ‘The Wren’, I thought John Clare would be a fine literary artist to share with people.

#JohnClare (1793-1864) was born in Helpston, near Peterborough. He was the son of a farm labourer. Clare’s writings celebrate the English countryside and his dismay at its’ disruption. His poems are poignant and reminiscent of his rural upbringing. Powerful portrayals of nature in its’ rawest form. Clare spent a number of years in his later life in an asylum where he continued to write and produce his poetry.

This hand written edition of the poem #The Wren comes from 1864. It was the second sheet of a pair. The first is displayed as the second image here. Possibly written by a Master Wallis on June 22, 1864. I have not found a publication date for ‘The Wren’ but John Clare is considered its’ author. John Clare died in May of 1864. Both sheets of paper bear an 1862 watermark.

This blog ,I guess, inadvertently, enters me into the area of the true wordage used by Clare. In the seventh line With mine are other birds that bear the bell occurs as With mine, there’s other birds that bear the bell and again in the penultimate line Tending my sheep: and still they come to tell is given as Tenting my sheep: and still they come to tell. Questions have been raised by scholars as to the correct words or possible meaning of the words used in the versions of the poem. I confess that I prefer the words used in the copy in my collection.

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Princess Victoria

When it comes to identifying a person in a portrait, it can be a painstakingly long process. A number of months back, I considered that the young woman in a graphite and body colour portrait in my collection might have been Jane Austin. I was informed that this was definitely not Jane since the dress worn by the young woman was from the 1830’s – after Jane’s time. Since then, I have looked at a lot of drawings and portraits. Here, now is another consideration which I put to my readers. Here are two images of the portrait I own and now I wish to show you a couple of images found on line of the young #PrincessVictoria. I see quite a resemblance from the known images to my artwork. The royals have always been a popular choice to portray and many a fine artist has attempted it. My portrait comes from 1836 which would make Victoria 17 years of age (1 year prior to her taking the throne). The portrait bears a date 1836 and a stylised ‘A’ (I think) which might stand for #Alexandrina, which was Victoria’s first name. Which would make this image a possible self-portrait. Victoria was known to be a very respectable artist. My artwork also bears the name Ellen Douglas but she could not have been the artist since she would have been 12 years old (a gift to a friend perhaps). It is certain she knew Victoria and likely spent a good deal of time with her since she was the daughter of the 17th Earl of Douglas who was a Scottish Tory politician who spent time at Westminster in London (House of Lords). I also have a small watercolour which I will set beside another portrait of the young princess. After looking at more online images, another thought has crossed my mind. Queen Victoria’s husband Albert was also a fine artist. This can be seen in the drawings held by the Royal Collection. He at times is signified by a stylised ‘A’. Might this be a portrait of the young Victoria by her yet to be husband. I think both of the portraits in my collection might actually be of the young Princess Victoria. I leave you to ponder the images and what might be.

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Pietro Annigoni – portrait artist

A man whose name you might not know but you have likely seen his work. #PietroAnnigoni (1910-1988) was a portrait artist from Italy. His nickname was ‘the painter of queens’ for his renown came from his portraiture of royals and important personages from around the world.

He was born in Milan (1910) but spent most of his life in Florence (1920 onwards). He studied at the Academy of Fine Arts and had his first solo exhibition at the age of 22. His technique was most reminiscent of the great Italian Renaissance painters. Throughout his life, he stood against modern art and other movements which arose in his life time.

The list of names whom he painted is a veritable who’s who. He has painted Queen Elizabeth II (twice), HRH Prince Phillip, Princess Margaret, Pope John XXIII, US Presidents JF Kennedy and Lyndon B Johnson, the Shah and Empress of Iran, Salvatore Ferragamo, Margot Fonteyn, Julie Andrews, Rudolf Nureyev and the list goes on.

The portrait of a man’s head in my collection bears a dedication to Nicholas Eadon. It is done in #sanguine (blood on paper) which is a red-brown iron oxide chalk (hematite). Today most artists draw with conte crayon or coloured pencil but sanguine was a staple tool of the old masters especially when used on cream paper. It works wonderfully well for figure drawing. Even though Annigoni uses only the one colour, yet, he is able to evince a depth, a personality, even a mood into his portraits. They make you want to look at them.

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Emmanuel Mane-Katz

An artist who loved more than one country. #EmmanuelMane-Katz was born in the Ukraine. He use to say his real home was Paris (He became a French citizen) but his spiritual home was Israel where he is buried.

His Jewish heritage meant that he was born Mane Leyzerovich Kats (1894-1962). His father wished him to become a rabbi but Katz loved to paint. At the age of 19, he moved to Paris to study. During WWI, he went to live and paint in Petrograd but eventually left to return to his home town of Kremenchuk to teach art. In 1921, he again returned to Paris, where this time he met and became friends with Pablo Picasso. He was associated with the group of artists known as the #SchoolofParis and was considered a member of the #JewishSchoolofParis.

He first visited Israel in 1928 and thereafter he was an annual visitor to the state.

His painting style was classical and somber using darker and earthier colours but after WWII his painting style changed. He began to utilise primary colours, brighter, more vivid, more life affirming colours to paint his #Hasidic characters – rabbis, musicians, beggars, yeshiva students – and scenes of shtetl life in Eastern Europe.

The painting, I acquired this past week, comes from his early period in which he used more somber colours. Large brush strokes laden with paint enable a three dimensional aspect to the painting which allows light and shadow to play a part in ones viewing of the painting.

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Thomas Malton (the younger) engraver

Today, I came across a set of four engravings by #ThomasMalton (1748-1804). Designated ‘the younger’ to distinguish him from his father, also Thomas Malton. ‘The younger’ was born in London. His father was a noted architectural draughtsman and author on geometry but due to financial difficulties later in life moved to Dublin where he continued to draw and lecture. ‘The younger’ was also a fine draughtsman.

In 1792, he produced his best known work. A set of 100 aquatint plates for a publication entitled ‘A Picturesque Tour through the Cities of London and Westminster.

He followed this with ‘Views from Cambridge‘ and was working on ‘Views from Oxford‘ when he died.

The four images, which I added to my collection come from the London and Westminster publication. The four are images of one of the great places people come to see when visiting London. The magnificent #WestminsterAbbey. All the images, I have, are of the interior of the Abbey. Portraying its’ majesty and exquisite design.

Malton was also an innovator as a print maker. He was one of the first artists to avail themselves of the newly developed technique of aquatinting to produce multiple copies. For all his success as an artist, Malton loved to teach. You might actually have heard of a couple of his students, Thomas Girtin and JMW Turner. That’s what you call a legacy. Meticulously rendered. An homage to one of the great places in Britain.

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The Art of Victor Noble Rainbird

Today, we visit a northern artist by name of #VictorNobleRainbird (1888-1936). He was born in North Shields in the U.K. His early education was at Armstrong College – now Newcastle University. His studies were highlighted by several awards. He further studied at the Royal College of Art. His paintings predominately portray the north of England although he did travel into Europe (France, Belgium, and the Netherlands. His European works mostly display Dutch fisher folk, Rouen, Amiens and Dieppe. While his British scenes display the sea and seafront around North Shields and numerous British city scenes.

Victor also worked with stained glass creating a number of windows for several churches in the North.

The watercolour in my collection shows Stonegate in the city of York. Stonegate is one of the most attractive and architecturally varied streets in York.

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James Rouse Jr porcelain artist

Artistry ran in this artist’s family. James’ father was a painter for Royal Crown Derby and is the only artist to work in all three of its’ factories – Nottingham Road, King Street, and Osmaston Road. Senior was a versatile artist, painting flowers to animals to portraits with aplomb. A trait found in a rare few porcelain artists.

#JamesRouseJr (1834-1891) was also very talented. He served his apprenticeship painting figures for #Coalport but was happier as an independent ‘china painter’ rather than an employee of any single company.

The plate shown is a Minton plate. #Mintons is impressed into the back as well as the year mark for 1873. The month stamp is unreadable.

The central image is 4 1/4″ in diameter. It depicts a dairymaid with two cows and a calf in a barn. It is signed (near bottom edge) in the image J. Rouse. One can see the quality of this painter who worked on blanks from a number of different porcelain factories.

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Neidpath Castle

Heading north, today to a place which if your not looking for it you would miss. #NeidpathCastle is located a mile from Peebles in an area called ‘The Borders’. The castle rests on the side of a steep gorge overlooking a bend of the #RiverTweed. The castle has seen a lot of history but can only be visited by appointment, nowadays. The tower dates back to the 14th century but major renovations and alterations occurred during the 16th and 17th centuries. Neidpath Castle was the longest surviving bastion against Cromwell but even it fell due to the incredible damage done by cannon barrages which led to the defenders surrender. The castle was visited by Mary Queen of Scots in 1563 and was an inspiration to Sir Walter Scott and William and Dorothy Wordsworth. It has been the set of a number of movie scenes which include The Bruce, Merlin, and Joan of Arc.

The watercolour is 19th century but I have yet to decipher the signature on the verso and the lithograph comes from The River Tweed by George Reid (1884). A place to visit next time I’m traveling north.

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