Duncan Grant artist

A little over 5 years ago, I wrote a chapter on a sequence of prints displaying their progression through subsequent states. I, at that time, had another set of prints which until this past week remained unattributed. By accident, I came across a painting from which the prints in my collection are taken.

#DuncanJamesCorrowrGrant (1885-1978) was born at Rothiemurchus in Scotland but resided for most of his young life in India. It was intended that he would have an army career but he chose to study art/painting. He studied at the Westminster School of Art, traveled to Italy where he studied the works of Masaccio, followed this by studying at Jacque-Emile Blanche’s school- La Palette in Paris and finally returning to study at the Slade School of Art.

He was friends with French artist Simon Bussy, was acquainted with Matisse as well as Picasso.

After his studies Grant set up a studio in Fitzroy Square in London. Grant was a member of an influential circle of artist, writers and critics called the ‘Bloomsbury Group’. The group consisted of Lytton Strachey, Maynard Keynes, Roger Fry, Virginia and Leonard Woolf, and Vanessa and Clive Bell.

The painting from which this set of six etching states is taken from is entitled ‘Bathing’. It was painted in 1911 under the theme ‘London on Holiday’ for the dining room of Borough Polytechnic, London. It presently hangs in the Tate, London.

Grant’s painting shows seven nude male figures inq the act of diving into the water, swimming to and clambering into a boat. They are seven individual figures and yet could be the movements of one person. His figures are based on his studying of Michelangelo’s nudes. The scene is of the Serpentine in Hyde Park. A site associated with London’s gay culture.

The painting was controversial at the time of it’s making due to it’s homoerotic implications.

I cannot say for sure that these etching were created by Grant or another of the Bloomsbury Group since they are unsigned but it would be a brave artist to create these without his permission. I have not found anything like these six ‘states’ on the web.

The progression through the states from fine lines to multicoloured displays a wondering mind and an artist willing to experiment with hue and tone.

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Sir Edwin Landseer

Today, we look at an artist whose reputation as a painter of animals was and is unrivalled. #EdwinHenryLandseer (1802-1873) was and is best known for his paintings of horses, dogs, and stags. Landseer was also a sculptor and if you have been to Trafalgar Square, you would have seen his handiwork. He created the four bronze lions at the base of Lord Nelson’s Column.

I acquired two 9″ diameter mahogany plaques with finely painted representations of Landseer’s work. ‘Sleeping Bloodhound’ and ‘Suspense’ are presented here done with black oil paint over graphite. They were painted no later than 1900 and possibly much earlier even to Landseer’s time. Might they even be by the great artist. He was known to paint on mahogany panel. They are fine works and unique in shape and material in my searchings.

Like most artists, Landseer made most of his renown and income from the publication of engravings of his works. A number of these engravings were made by his brother Thomas Landseer. I have a number of engravings in my collection done by various engravers. The mezzotint ‘Waiting for Master’ was etched by William Giller after Landseer’s painting called ‘Favourites’ which resides with the Royal Collection.

I also have mezzotints of ‘High Life’ and ‘Life’ both engraved by CC Hollyer. One can understand Edwin Landseer’s popularity just from these few works and the reproducing of his work in other mediums allowed his reputation to grow and grow and grow. One quirky point about Landseer is that he was reported to be able to paint with both hands at the same time. A skill indeed seeing the wonderful technique in his works.

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Persian Miniatures

Today, we travel to Iran to look at miniature paintings. And we begin with artist #ArdeshirMojaradTakestani. Takestani was born in the city of Rasht in 1949 and is presently one of the foremost painters in the miniature style. He is also trained as a tasheir. A tasheir is an artist who decorates the margins of books.

Takestani studied with a number of master miniature painters and then traveled to Germany to continue his research into the gilding of books. After completing his studies he return to his home town to work for the local museum conserving and repairing the traditional precious manuscripts which it held. He was called upon by other museums and mosques to manage the care of their manuscripts. He, presently, teaches miniature painting at Tehran University and other centres, adjudicates art exhibitions, and has published works on painting, gilding, and book decorating. A multi-talented artist who looks after ancient manuscripts, teaches miniature painting at Tehran University, and is a professional artist.

The decorating of books by great artists has been done in most societies. Each with their own styles and techniques. Here presented are the recto and verso of a decorated book. And we finish with a piece which has been decorated – but in this case the painting has been inserted over the top of the original written text. Still beautiful but why paint over the text.

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Myles Birket Foster

Today, we return to an artist whom we have previously visited but in regards to a couple of new pieces in my collection and also a change of technique from last time. #MylesBirketFoster (1825-1899) was a popular English illustrator, watercolourist, and engraver. Birket Foster was employed as an illustrator for Punch magazine and the London Illustrated News but during the 1850’s he learned painting in watercolours. Birket Foster traveled widely ; Scotland, Germany, the Alps, Italy, Venice, the Mediterranean, and the Rhine Valley. He eventually settled in Witley near Godalming, Surrey where he built his residence called ‘The Hill’. He was friends with William Morris and Edward Burne-Jones, his contemporaries, and decorated his home with a number of their works.

It was after he moved to Witley that he began to paint in the style for which he is now renowned. A sentimentalised view of life in the English countryside especially Surrey. He was criticised for this idealised depiction of life but lauded for his detail and execution. The two paintings, presented here, are, I believe, early in his watercolour phase. They are monogrammed (in the regular way) and titled on the verso ‘Whitby Harbour’ and ‘Whitby from West Cliff’. They show only the beginnings of the sentimentality found in his later works and certainly show his eye for detail and hand for execution. Both pieces are 6.25″ by 10.5″ and traveled through the hands of J Pratt Art Dealer in Nottingham. Two lovely pieces by a deservedly well thought of artist.

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Monochrome means ‘one colour’, so art created in monochrome uses only one colour. Most would think that using one colour would restrict the freedom of the artist but might it not also focus the intent of the artist and thereby produce something more which if colours were used would not be achievable. Do we when looking at the seascape miss colour? I think not for this painting exudes an image of the sea which has depth and life, movement and presence. Would that all art even using colours could be so evocative.

Painting in #blackandwhite or #grisaille was predominately religious based from the Middle Ages to the 17th century. The art produced this way might not be paintings but might be done using charcoal, crayon, graphite, or ink. From Dutchman Adriaen van de Venne to artists like Van Eyck, Giacometti, Picasso, Velasquez, Goya, Ingres, Richter, and Pollock all have produced works in grisaille.

The pieces, I present here some of which I have talked about previously are all watercolour paintings. They span from a 20th century Cornwall? coastal scene to a 19th century Welsh?landscape to an 18th century ( maybe earlier yet) portrait (Hagar and Ishmael) – all done in monochrome. Each trying to invoke some response from the onlooker. They all display excellence but the last is still possibly one of the best pieces of art that I own.

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Henry George Hine artist

I came across a watercolour this past week by artist #HenryGeorgeHine (1811-1895). Henry Hine was born at Brighton, Sussex, the son of a coachman. Henry taught himself to draw and paint and his further training was encouraged by a local vicar . This vicar owned several paintings by #CopleyFielding which Henry truly appreciated. For a number of years Henry produced sea themed pieces and coastal scenes. To improve his technique. Henry traveled to London and apprenticed as a draghtsman to Henry Meyer. After his apprenticeship, Henry traveled to Rouen where he lived and painted. He stayed in France for about two years, when he moved back to Brighton and then to London.In London, he used his skills to produce wood engravings for illustrated publications. Henry contributed to PUNCH magazine for 3 years and then went to work for the Illustrated London News. Hine returned to painting landscapes. He was elected to the Institute of Painters in Watercolour in 1863 and exhibited regularly with the Institute until his death in 1895.

The piece, I came across, shows a number of female labourers stripping the bark off of willow branches or osiers for later use in basket weaving. It is signed H. Hine but not dated. I place it around 1860-1880. I have opted for Henry George Hine as the artist rather than his son #HenryWilliamHine (known as Harry) as the younger regularity signed his works ‘Harry Hine’. A look into life of the female workforce and the hard labour which they struggled with to earn a living. Willow stripping was entirely done by hand as each stem is pulled individually through a hand-brake. The willow stripping machine appeared between the two world wars.

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Marine etching

As I have have been collecting , I have come across some superb etchings. It is true that I think the art of etching/engraving is under-valued by the art world and general public. There are, of course, those few like Rembrandt, Hollar, Holl, Bartolozzi whose name you might recognise but even their etchings are usually a side display rather than the focus of an exhibition. I cannot attribute the etching we will look at in this chapter, but suffice it to say that it is a truly fine piece of work.

A marine etching. A harbour view – possibly Dordrecht harbour. I am guessing that this work is of Dutch origin and since it is on laid paper printed prior to 1850. What one does see when your look at this work is the sublime tonal quality achieved by this artist. The exactness and finesse allows one to enlarge the image and see the individuals in the boats and ships. The workmanship seen in the clouds, the rippling water, and the shadows is sublime. It presents a depth and variance of tone which is only seen in the work of a master.

After more research, I believe, I can attribute this etching to #EgideFrancoisLeemans (1839-1883). He was a Belgian painter and engraver who lived in Antwerp and is best know now for his realistic waterscapes, harbour scenes, and seascapes. He specialised in evening and moonlit scenes with special attention to the reflections on the water. The title for this etching is #KanalinDordrecht.

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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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