Today, we look at British artist #WilliamLionelWylie (1851-1931). He was a painter of maritime scenes and considered the ‘most distinguished marine artist of his day’. His works are held in the many of the major galleries and museums in this country and across the globe.
Wylie’s parents were also artistic. His father as a successful genre painter and his mother was a singer. They lived in London and Wimereux, France. Wylie was encouraged in his early artistic aptitude by his father and half-brother Lionel Smythe. His tutelage eventually brought him to the #RoyalAcademy were he worked under Landseer, Millais, Leighton and others. With his painting ‘Dawn after the Storm’, he won the Turner Gold Medal in 1869.
It was his love of the sea that continuously inspired his art. Wylie was a great supporter of the Royal Navy. So much so, that his funeral was with full naval honours. His coffin was rowed up Portsmouth Harbour with battleships’ colours dipped and bugles calling. The quayside was lined with dockyard workers in respect. His panorama of the Battle of Trafalgar which hangs in the #RoyalNavalMuseum in Portsmouth sees more than 100,000 visitors a year.
The engraving in my collection is ‘The Solent from Southsea with Fort Blockhouse’. It is no. 20 from a publication run of 50. Well struck with fine colour. A beautiful work by an extremely talented artist.
In my small collection of old books are five volumes of ‘Good Words’ spanning 1862 to 1866. These were produced by the Dalziel Brothers, who ran a commercial wood-engraving company (they were considered to be the best in London at that time). The volumes contain the monthly magazine which was edited by Queen Victoria’s Chaplin, Dr. Norman McLeod. Each monthly magazine contain parts of novels ( in serialisation), travel stories, poetry. It proved to be huge success.
The woodcut designs were done by some of the best artists of the day and at times a few lesser known artists. In 1862, #EdwardColeyBurne-Jones was a not so well known artist. He was asked for two works on the recommendation of # WilliamHolmanHunt. Holman Hunt described Burne Jones as “the most remarkable of all the younger men of the profession for talent, and will, undeniably in a few years fill the high position in general public favour which at present he holds in the professional world”. Above, you see, Sigurd, the Crusader, the first of the designs submitted and produced for the magazine in 1862.
The second design produced by Burne-Jones was published in 1863 to illustrate the poem ‘Summer Snow’ by #DoraGreenwood. Here, we certainly see the individual style which Burne-Jones had developed. It was a step apart from the normal or regular woodcuts of the time. The beautiful lady who posed for this image was no other than #JaneBurdenMorris. The wife of artist William Morris. I have the photogravure by Emery Walker of Jane in my collection too.
Today, we will conclude our look at the vue d’optique although I still have several which will not be included. We will look at another 8 images ending with three of my favourites (two are un-coloured).We begin with an image showing a view of the gardens and buildings of the Cortile del Belvedere at the Vatican Palace in Rome. The space was designed to link the Belvedere Court to the Vatican Palace via a series of terraces and stairs. Our next two views are not published by Laurie & Whittle. There were a number of publishers at the time which also held vue d’optique in there production books. Three of those were #RobertWilkinson, #RobertSayer, and #CarringtonBowles.These two prints have all three of the aforementioned publishers on them. At times appearing in different order depending on which publishing house they came from. These depict Rome at its’ beautiful best. Sites as the Trojan Arch, the Tomb of Cestus, the Imperial Palace, the Senate House, the Egyptian Obelisk, and the Temple of Fortune appear in these two views. Again all are hand coloured and show their age in one way or another. We look at another pair published by Laurie & Whittle. These show events rather than specific sites.This pair of views show events pertaining to the siege of Barcelona. The first shows men digging trenches to fortify their position as well as captured building which would then be used as barracks and hospitals. In the distance stands Barcelona. The second attempts to display the barbarity which can ensue when soldiers succumb to battle fury and becoming ravagers, looters, and plunderers.
A final three which are my favourites. The magnificent Niagara Falls. A place that certainly most who would view this print would never have seen in person. A written description in English and French appears at the bottom of the image.
We return to Rome for a view of The Church of St Peter published by Bowles & Carver. The piazza and basilica are wonderfully portrayed here. The last, a plate published by Robert Wilkinson shows the stunning Rialto Bridge in Venice as it crosses over the Grand Canal at its’ narrowest point. I appreciate that these final two have not been coloured.
We continue our views of #vued’optique published by #Laurie&WhittlePublishers. We look at 6 different city prospects. We start in France and of course with Paris.We see a scene of the river Seine as it divides to bypass the Ile de la Cite. It is considered to be the epicentre of Paris and the site of Norte-Dame Cathedral. The bridge seen connects the Ile Saint-Louis to Ile de la Cite. I am not quite sure why the horsemen are riding down the ramp into the river. From here we move to the Chateau de Versailles. We look down towards the palace. It was the royal residence until the French Revolution in 1789 and is located some 12 miles from Paris. A place of great events in history. Marie Antoinette married here, the Peace of Paris (1783) was signed here as well as the Proclamation of the German Empire and the Treaty of Versailles to end WWI. It is now a Unesco World Heritage site and welcomes close to 8 million tourists a year. We now take to the water and visit the city of Naples. If Italy is a boot then Naples is it’s ankle. Nearby sits Mount Vesuvius, a still active volcano, which destroyed the city of Pompeii. The city is a focal point of art and architecture, Neapolitan cuisine which includes pizza. We board our ship again and sail out of the Mediterranean to the Portuguese city of Oporto.A coastal city located in north-west Portugal. It is known for its’ bridges, the Ribeira (riverside) district, and its narrow cobbled streets. The city is also known as Porto – a mistake by the English in pronunciation led to the Oporto name. The city lies at the mouth of the Douro River. It is the second largest city in Portugal and is famous for port wine created in 1678. We re-board our ship to sail up the coast to the city of Amsterdam. This capital city of the Netherlands is famous for its elaborate canal system, its narrow houses with gabled facades, its artistic heritage. The Rijksmuseum holds works by Rembrandt and Vermeer and a visit to the Van Gogh Museum would be special too. A visit to the Anne Frank house would not be amiss and there are many small eccentric museums to visit. And we board again to set sail for distant Bombay. Today, this city is called Mumbai and lies on India’s west coast. It is a financial centre for India, it’s largest city, and the centre of the Bollywood film industry.
All the above vue d’optique were printed in 1794 and are hand-coloured. Some show there handling more than others but you can see why people would view them – to travel to places they might never get to.
I have a number of old maps in my collection and they usually appear as singles or pairs when I come across them. But a couple of years back I came across a bunch of them. Some 33 maps or prospects. Nineteen of these views were published by #Laurie&Whittle and of those we look at the images concerning English sites. #RobertLaurie (1755-1836) and #JamesWhittle (1757-1818) formed a partnership in 1794 to take over the publishing company of #RobertSayer. Sayer’s collection of maps and atlases and decorative prints were the foundation of the new partnership but the new owners added new material to freshen up the atlases and also printed on topical issues such as the Napoleonic Wars. Laurie was apprenticed to Sayer from 1770 to 1777. He was a talented artist as well as engraver of mezzotints. Producing portraits, scenic views and decorative works. Whittle was apprenticed to the Needlemaker’s Guild.
The five views as they appear are:
1. A View of the Royal Palace of Windsor
2. The South View of Kensington
3. A Front View of the Royal Palace of Kensington
4. A View of the Royal Palace of Hampton Court
5. The Inside View of the Royal Exchange at London
All of these prints were printed in 1794 and are hand coloured. The image size of the first four without lettering measures 9″ by 15″ while the last is 10″ by 16″.
These pieces and those we will see in future chapters are called Vue d’Optique. They were set of prints with a central theme. Their owner would travel from city to city displaying them. Charging customers to view them through the lens of a zograscope. A convex lens with a adjacent mirror to look at the print giving it more of a 3D feel. This did reverse the image so you will often find the the printing on such images is in reverse. They were meant to be handled and looked at – a couple from the ones I acquired do show it.
Beautiful prospective views. Next week we will visit the European sites.
Portraits are often considered to have little value if one does not know the sitter or the artist. In the previous chapter we looked at a photographic portrait of Edward VII. This chapter concerns another portrait but in this case a hand drawn portrait. The portrait is of two young people. I would guess their ages at 2 1/2 and 3 1/2 years. One positioned slightly forward of the other with the arm of the older child protectively across the breast of the younger. The portrait is unsigned and undated, no watermark or any other identifying marks can be found. From the age and browning of the paper I would suggest first half of the 19th century.
Even though this is a stunningly beautiful work – it has sustained some damage. So why keep it?
Here, I am going to suggest that this piece, even though unsigned, is by a very important artist and that this portrait is of two very well known people. This of course is all conjecture. But. What if.
The positioning of the two young people is very reminiscent of a family portrait done in watercolour of the children of Count Wladislaw and Countess Elsbieta Krasinski. This watercolour was painted by #FranzXaverWinterhalter (Winterhalter was a very renowned portrait painter). But these are not those children. I think that these two young people are Vicky and Bertie. Queen Victoria’s two oldest children. That would date this work to 1843/44 – within my estimate for the age of the paper.
The quality of the work is evident. The subtle shading, the minimal use of colour, the white outlining of the children’s bodies only adds to the focus on the faces of the two sitters. And two very finely done faces they are.
I apologise for the speculating but every once in a while I like to think ‘what if’.
I don’t usually collect photographs but I couldn’t resist this one. It is a portrait of a fine looking gentleman sitting at an amazing table in a wonderful chair. On the mount just below the picture is the name C. Vandyk. #CarlVandyk (1851-1931) was born in Bunde, Germany. He opened a photographic studio in London in 1882 on Gloucester Road. In 1901, he opened a second studio on Buckingham Palace Road. He was a royal photographer, taking portraits of Queen Victoria, Edward VII, George V as well as notables such as Alexander I of Yugoslavia, Christian X of Denmark, Buffalo Bill, and Enrico Caruso. Vandyk is associated with 659 portraits in the #NationalPortraitGallery in London. This portrait does not appear in the NPG catalogue. His two brothers were also photographers with their own studios and his son carried on his studios after his death.
Also on the verso is a small hand-written note in regards to when this portrait was framed. The date appears to be March 1st, 1906 with the framers signature and place of framing below. So here is the portrait itself. I believe the sitter to be #KingEdwardVII. I have yet to find another copy of this portrait anywhere. The verso carries no image/copy number in the place provided. My research continues.It is a superb image of a man very comfortable in his surrounding. The image is so good, one can read the title of the unopened book (The House Annual – 1903), make out that the gentleman is reading German poetry, that his suit is of superb quality, and that he is wearing an Albert chain to his pocket watch. A very fine portrait indeed.