May Marshall Brown artist

We travel to Scotland, to visit the home of artist #MayMarshallBrown (nee Brown Robertson). She was born in 1887, the daughter of an Edinburgh wine merchant (William Robertson). Her artistic talents were the focus of her education. She studied at the Royal Institute in Edinburgh and the Edinburgh College of Art. She was mainly a land/seascape and figure painter, an etcher as well as teacher. May exhibited at the Royal Scottish Academy, the Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolours, the Glasgow Institute of Fine Art and the Scottish Society of Artists. She was elected to the Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolours in 1936. In 1912, May married artist William Marshall Brown RSA (some 24 years her elder). Many of her watercolours portray fishing villages, boats, harbours and those people that resided and frequented those places.

A street scene of a man selling his wares from the back of his horse drawn cart. I continue to look at this painting and there is some just so ‘real’ about it. She has captured something. The grouping feels right, body postures real, colouring good. All this without too much finesse and fine brush work. The evidence of a talented artist, who knew her stuff.

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Albany E Howarth

Today, we visit with an artist best known for his etchings although he was an accomplished water-colourist also (few of his watercolours remain). #AlbanyEHowarth was born in Durham in 1872. His artistic flair was seen early on in life. His early career path was as a draftsman – working for a company in Newcastle-upon-Tyne designing ships, locomotives, automobiles, and aircraft. This ‘too mechanical’ style of working restricted his own artistic talents. His career as a draftsman was short lived – 4 years only. Howarth moved on to illustrating for various newspapers and magazines. This work also allowed him to learn about different printing techniques and their benefits as well as their limitations and drawbacks. This was immensely helpful early in his own artistic career when he self published his works and later in commercial publication of his pieces. As with many engravers of his time, he took advice from master printer Frederick Goulding. His series of etchings of Oxford (1909) and Cambridge (1910) are some of his best known works. Howard has exhibited at the Royal Society of Painters, Etchers and Engravers until 1923 and showed with a number of galleries as well as the Royal Academy. Howarth’s work was extremely popular and most of his works up to 1912 sold to collectors and were only obtainable if they came up for resale at auction. During his artistic career , Howarth worked with several printers/publishers. They would purchase the finished plate from him and produce a limited set of prints – after which the plate would be destroyed. Howarth died in 1936 at the young age of 64.

The etching shown is titled ‘Five Sisters of York’. It was executed in 1915 and shows the stained glass windows of York Cathedral, the organ facade, and entrance into the choir. It is a very large engraving. The plate mark for this etching measures 33 1/4″ by 18 1/4″ (845mm x 465mm). A monumental artwork indeed and one of the largest engravings in my collection.

The ‘Five Sisters of York’ is a legend told of in Dickens’ novel Nicholas Nickleby. This 13th century window is filled with finely painted clear glass set in geometric designs. It was re-dedicated after WWII to all female victims of violence and conflict.

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Frits Thaulow artist

A visit to an artist who should be far better known. He was an artist who walked the line between Impressionism and Realism. #FritsThualow (1847-1906) was a Norwegian painter known for his beautiful landscapes. As a young man he was educated at the academy in Copenhagen under the tutelage of CF Sorensen and later with Hans Gude in Baden School of Art in Karlsruhe. In 1875, Thaulow moved to Paris where he developed a realistic approach to painting. Thaulow was born into a well-to-do family and this allowed him to study with leading artists of his time.At first Thaulow focused on becoming an artist of seascapes and marine vistas but over time became more interested in landscapes especially those with small bodies of water. His masterful portrayal of water and how it reacts and reflects is sublime. Thaulow traveled between Norway and France for several years and finally settled in Paris for the last 14 years of his life. Thaulow is credited with bringing Impressionism to Norway. Thurlow did not marry, thus after his death, officials sold his studio.The aquatint presented here is titled ‘The River, Snowy Day’ or ‘Wintry Landscape’. It is known that Thaulow painted this scene several times (1 oil and 5 pastel drawings) Each with slight variations in the buildings. Mr. Vidar Poulsson, an expert on this artist, has stated that this present work was probably made during his stay at Petit-Appeville, a small village near Dieppe by the river Scie. Probably painted around 1895.

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Still Life Painting

We visit an artist known as a ‘painter of fruits’. #RobertKell (1829-1902) was born in Woodbridge, Suffolk. Little is known of his artistic life and I have only seen a couple of landscapes which belie his talent. I picked up this painting a couple of weeks back. I took me some time to read the inscription which I display. I will admit that the information I have found on Robert Kell calls him a journeyman painter and decorator and a house painter. He did paint artistic works but the two I have seen make him a mediocre artist. The citation here (which took a while to decipher) is painted over top of the original paint and has partially disappeared. As well I have never seen any artist sign his work ‘Painted by’. If my reading is correct, the inscription reads ‘Painted By Robert Kell 1859. The date would mean this painting was created in 1859 – some 21 years before his earliest known exhibiting. The frame – although fine – is not the original in which this piece was mounted. The quality of this still life says to me that there was no reason Kell should not not have been very well known and a professional in his own right and not a house painter.I have recently been to The Ashmolean in Oxford and visited their still life gallery. To be truthful, the quality of this piece ranks it among pieces by Old Dutch masters like Kalf, de Heem, Claesz, Hullegarden, van Son, Heda and Davidsz. I believe it to be that good. Even so, I hope you enjoy looking at this artwork which might have been painted in 1859 or it might actually have been painted around a hundred years earlier.

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William Frederick Hulk artist

Today, we look at an artist who was at his best when he painted on a small scale but did paint a number of fine large pieces. #WilliamFrederickHulk (1852-1906) was born in Holland. His father Abraham Hulk and uncle Johannes Hulk were well known marine/town/canal scene painters. His brother Abraham junior was a fine painter mostly portraying the English countryside and pastoral scenes.

William travelled widely with his father but eventually settled in London in 1870. William was taught art and painting by his father and quickly became a well regarded landscape painter and exhibited often. William lived in Shere near Guildford from 1882 onward and the surrounding Surrey countryside was an ever present inspiration for his paintings. He specialised in rural scenes usually including cattle and water with the effects of light and shadow on it.

The painting shown is Hulk at his miniature best. It is 3 3/4″ x 4 3/4″ (95mm x 120mm). Small and beautiful.

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Wassily Kandinsky

I bought a pair of magazines earlier this week and they lead to our artist in this chapter. #WassilyKandinsky (1886-1944) is considered to be the father of abstract art. Born in Moscow, Kandinsky spent his childhood and formative years in Odessa. He later enrolled at the University of Moscow, studying law and economics. He was successful in his chosen profession and in 1896, Kandinsky moved to Munich to live and work. He returned to Moscow in 1914, after the outbreak of World War I. Opportunities beckoned Kandinsky back to Germany after the Russian revolution. Here he taught and painted at the Bauhaus School of Art till 1933 when it was closed. Kandinsky then moved to live in Paris. He remained in France, even becoming a citizen, till his death in 1944. The magazine in called #Siecle XXe and I acquired numbers 3 and 4. The magazine was the brain-child of Gualtieri di San Lazaro. It was an art magazine dedicated to the promotion of modern art and artists. Artists were asked to supply works which would be used in the magazine (limited early on to 1200 copies). For the third volume, Kandinsky provided six #woodcuts to be reproduced – 3 in colour and 3 in black and white. Thankfully all six are to be found in the volume which I acquired. They are (as they appear in the chapter)

1. The Archer

2. Two Riders on a Red Background

3. In an Oriental Style

4. Garden of Love

5. Riding Path

6. Black Dot

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A La Poupee

An odd title. It is a type of print making which is not that popular due to the amount of time and effort required to produce just one print. #Alapoupee comes from the French and is translated ‘with a doll’. It refers to the wad of fabric (ball shaped) used to apply the coloured inks to the copperplate. A new wad is used for each colour and only one pressing is achieved from the inking.

I have very few of this type of print in my collection and the best one is this still-life.

As you can see the colours are superb but as with most prints done in this manor – it is still hand-finished. I do not know who this print is by but it has a couple of clues as to when and who. Firstly, it has a watermark as well as a small monogram in the bottom right corner. I have yet to find the watermark in any records. Nor have I deciphered the monogram.

Even so, one can see the use of different coloured inks from the following images. This application of various colours took time since one wished to avoid the blending or blurring of colours while applying as well as when wiping excess ink from the plate. Not an easy task. Usually only five or six colours or less were used. Here, we have red, blue, green, yellow, black and brown used in this print. One can also see the hand-finishing in the application of further colour to enhance the printed image. This type of print was made popular by #JohanTeyler (1648-1709). Téyler, himself, was not an artist but a mathematician. He did own the patent for the multi-colour printing technique he used and most likely set up a publishing house which employed engravers to produce the plates and prints.

I will continue to research this print but I do hope you enjoy just looking at it. It is a superb piece and displays huge talent and technique.

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Michele De Vito artist

I came across three small watercolours this week. They were not signed, but to be honest, it did not take that much research to identify the artist involved. My research led me to #MicheleDeVito. Her first name might also have been spelt as ‘Michela’. Little is known in regards to this female painter. She was born in Abruzzi, Italy and was known to have worked and resided in Naples when she became a known and respected painter. She may have been the daughter or possibly sister of Camillo de Vito another well known painter of gouache scenes of real life. Michela worked in the early part of the 19th century. This is corroborated by the watermark found on one of the pieces I have. The watermark reads ‘ J Whatman Turkey Mill 1837‘. As an artist she was described as “A refined painter, very skilled when it came to drawings, she had the characteristic to make her subject more gentle, compared to her male collegues”.

The first image of the seated woman has in inscription in the bottom right which reads ‘Nicabelli’. The second – mother and child – has an inscription which reads ‘Francavillo’. The third – mother and baby – has no identifiers as to which town or area she comes from.Three love pieces. Very typical of her work and historically important in regards to the history of local folk costume of the time.

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Lee Man Fong artist

A Chinese painter, today, who has become known for his portrayal of Indonesian life. #LeeManFong was born in Guangdong, China in 1913. At the age of 3, his family emigrated to Singapore. It was here where he gain his early training in painting, learning under masters like Mei Yutian and Huang Qingquan. Lee’s father died in 1930 and he became the main earner of the family. He accomplished this by drawing cartoons for newspapers and advertising logos and billboards for companies.

Lee moved to Jakarta to become an art editor for a newspaper but left after six years to establish his own advertising agency. Although, he owned his own company, Lee never gave up his own artistic pursuits. Lee became a full time artist in 1941. He was imprisoned for a time during the Japanese occupation. While imprisoned he befriended Sukarno (later to become Indonesia’s first president). After the occupation, Lee traveled to Holland to work and study.

In 1952, Lee returned to Jakarta to live and paint. He later became head curator to the Indonesian presidential palace. Lee died in 1988. He was an artist known for the blending of Chinese/Eastern techniques and subjects with Western composition styles and mediums.

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Kabuki, the art of Japanese Theater

#Kabuki is the traditional dance-drama theatre of Japan known mostly for it’s elaborate make-up worn by the performers. Kabuki began in 1603 as a new form of entertainment performed by an all female cast portraying both men and women in short comic plays about ordinary life. It became very popular due to it’s ribald and suggestive themes added to the fact that many of the performers were working prostitutes. In 1629 female kabuki was banned as being to erotic and thus began the all male kabuki which we know today.

The lead actor in kabuki must be able to convey a wide range of emotions. These emotions are also expressed through the colours of their costumes. Gaudy and vivid hues convey foolishness or joy while harsh or muted colours convey seriousness and focus.

The dramatic stage makeup emphasises the actors emotions. Red for passion, heroism, and other positive traits. Blue or black eschew villainy, jealousy, and other bad traits while green is the colour of the supernatural and purple the colour of royalty.

Every kabuki actor takes a stage name. They are usually handed down from father to son and to following generations. These names hold great honour and are associated with certain roles or acting styles. Each new inheritor of the name must live up to the expectations embodied within that name. An actor might have three different names during his career.

The four woodcuts show kabuki actors in their dramatic makeup and poses which they became reknowned for.

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