James Adley, a true Modernist

You can be forgiven for not recognising today’s artist for until I acquired one of his works, I also had not heard of him.  Great fame did not come to this artist but #JamesAdley (1931- 2015) was respected and admired.  Born in south London, to working parents, Jim began his working life as an accountant.  He enlisted undertaking his national service and in 1963 enrolled in the Chelsea School of Art.  After graduating, he took a master’s degree at the University of Pennsylvania where he studied under #ClyffordStill.  A teaching post was granted to him at Penn State but he soon moved to teach at Michigan State.  He remain for 30 years and was a much beloved professor.

Forms in Space – acrylic on paper by James Adley @ 1960

The grand scale and subtle colouring of his paintings made photographing them very difficult. This severely hampered his ability to promote himself and his works and even now many of his works are stored in a house basement hoping to find a place where they displayed.

Jim was a masterful employer of colour and when young it didn’t matter whether that colour came from an arts store or the improperly mixed or unwanted paint from the local DIY shop.  In his mind, all colours were akin and they just needed to be used in the right way for them to work.
The work, I acquired, ‘Forms in Space’ is dated 1960, so comes from his first year at Chelsea Art School.  We see the beginnings of his use of striations and layers of colour which eventually evolved into grid like patterns.  To my amateur eye, even this early composition is well conceived and thoughtfully executed.  It attracts interest both in line and colour and for being early in his artistic career it shows a maturity beyond his years.

 

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Matteo Civitali and Charles Callahan Perkins

Today’s chapter concerns sculptor #MatteoCivitali (1436–1502) and etcher Charles Callahan Perkins.  Civitali was a sculptor, architect, painter and engineer from Lucca.  He was born in Lucca, Italy and much of his work can be seen there.  He studied in Florence under artists Rossellino and da Fiesole.  Civitali appears to have taken up sculpting around the age of 40 after practicing as a barber/surgeon.  Civitali was a leading artistic personality of the Early Renaissance.  He is known to have sculpted statues of Adam, Eve, Abraham, Zacchariah and Elizabeth, and others for the chapel of San Giovanni Battista in Genoa.

Adoring Angel – etching by CCP (Charles Callahan Perkins) after Matteo Civitali @ 1868

The etching (book plate) I acquired this week is produced from one of  Matteo Civitali’s sculptures.  The #adoringangel and it’s counterpart were sculpted for the Duomo in Lucca, Italy.  There is an emotional content to his sculpture which is not regularly seen in Florentine artworks.  His Christ is a man of sorrows, his angels are adoring and worshipful, and his Madonnas are tender-hearted.

 The etching cites Civitali in the lower left, in the lower right the monogram of the etcher CCP (or PCC/CPC) and in the upper right we see it’s plate number for the publication from which it comes (undetermined).

If the order is CCP, the artist/author maybe #CharlesCallahanPerkins (1823-1886).  An American, born in Boston, Massachusetts, educated at Harvard, eventually, he studied art in Rome and Paris.  Two of his books were ‘Tuscan Sculptors’ and ‘Italian Sculptors’ published in 1864 and 1868, respectively.  He was an art critic, author, organizer of cultural activities, and an influential friend of design and of music in Boston.  Charles Perkins deserves a chapter for himself in regards to his contributions and influence on the arts in North America in the second half of the 19th century.  Charles Callahan Perkins helped found the Museum of Fine Arts at which he was an honorary director.

Clean, finely executed lines breathe beauty, reverence and tenderness into this angel.

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Ukiyo-e Woodblock Prints

This week, we chat about a field of printing which is both intriguing and baffling to me.  Intriguing because I find it beautiful (in it’s complex simplicity) and yet baffling due to the enormous number of woodblock prints and artists.

Crow on Cherry Tree
by Ohara Koson @ 1910

Woodblock parting in the Far East, has been around since the eighth century but was mostly restricted to the production of Buddhist texts and images.  There was not yet a large literate public to appreciate printed books and the production of woodblock texts was very expensive.

Movable type was not used for printing until 1590, at which point literacy and learning became integral to producing an educated and urban society.

Eastern woodblock printing uses water-based inks, whereas, western woodblock printing which regularly used oil-based inks.  This water-based ink provides a wide span of vivid colours, glazes and good transparency.

I acquired five prints recently, one by #OharaKoson, two by #OgataGekko, one by #HirafukuSuian, and one by #SeikoOkuhara all of which I will display so that you might enjoy an art form which we should learn more about so that we might appreciate it more.

Kingfisher
by Ogata Gekko


Two Doves
by Ogata Gekko


Three Gulls in Flight
by Hirafuku Suian


Plovers on the Shore
by Seiko Okuhara @ 1910

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William Forrest engraver

In this chapter we consider an artist who is famous for copying from other greats.  William Forrest (1805-1899)is known for his landscape engravings.  His best works are based on pieces by Chevalier, Church, Lorraine, Waterloo, and Allan.  #WilliamForrest worked in both London and Edinburgh from where he established a healthy reputation for his landscapes and genre engravings.  Perhaps his finest and most important work is ‘The Great Fall, Niagara’.  It is surely his largest work.

Landscape with Cattle, Evening - engraving by William Forrest after Claude Lorrain The engraving shown is titled #LandscapewithCattle,Evening and comes from a series called Engravings after the Best Pictures of the Great Masters.  This image is plate 2 from the series. Forrest was also a contributor to a number of publications – The Land of Burns, and Memorials of Edinburgh in The Olden Time being two. 

 Large scale engravings from the Victorian period and earlier are now becoming scarce and harder to find.  Picture framers back then had no knowledge of conservation methods which lead to valuable works either being completely destroyed or unalterably stained and marred by their acidic mats and frames. Saying this, I recently went to a gallery to view a special exhibit of prints.  They were wonderful and in pristine condition- and there was something lacking.  I know that many of the pieces I find are imperfect but in many ways that is what gives them life makes them interesting.  These pristine prints were perfect – they had not lived, been enjoyed, held, admired.  Many a time, I find that age has improved the art in my collection but that is only my opinion.

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Robert Hills O. W. S.

#RobertHills (1769 – 1844) is not a name which most people will recognise for being influential in the British painting scene.  Hills was an English painter and etcher, working mostly as a watercolourist and etcher with the odd venture into oil painting.  Hills was born in Islington and his early studies were under #JohnAlexanderGresse (Royal drawing master) later enrolling in the Royal Academy Schools in London.Portrait of a Lady - watercolour by Robert Hills

Much of his body of work feature village and rural scenes but his fame comes from his portrayal of farm animals.  His favourite subjects were cattle, sheep, donkeys, pigs and above all deer.  He worked plein-air in making his sketches but also produced meticulous anatomical studies of these animals bones and joints.

Hills also produced over a 1000 etchings.  In 1815, he published Etchings of Quadrupeds; the British Museum holds the artist’s collection of his own etchings. 

Hills was a founding member of the Society of Painters in Watercolours. The watercolours of deer and cattle, farmyard and parkland, are characterised by the precision with which the animals were observed and draw.  Hills used the practice of washing his line drawings with greys, blues and browns to create interest and atmosphere.  Hills moved in an artistic circle that believed in the importance of drawing from life.  I wonder if he might even have met Robert Bloomfield (rural bard and focus of a previous chapter).

Although Hills was known for his depiction of animals he produced some studies of farmers, their wives and children.  The piece, I have shown is signed ‘R. Hills delt’ and is certainly not what Robert Hills is known for.  The colouring and execution is very fine – watercolour over graphite with body colour.  Lushous earthy colours drape this beautiful lady in calm and serenity.  A lovely depiction by a fine artist.

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Theodore Gerard artist

Today, we travel to Belgium the home of artist #TheodoreGerard (1829-1895).  Gerard was a nineteenth century Belgian painter whose fame came from his depiction of delightful genre scenes.  He drew his inspiration from the idealised charms of rustic life in the Low Countries ( Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg).

Family Life – etching by Theodore Gerard @ 1879

Theodore Gerard began studying art at an early age in his home town of Ghent.  He set off in 1863 to find fame and fortune in the new nation’s capital the city of Brussels.  To broaden his artistic and life experience, he traveled extensively throughout Germany and the Hungarian Empire.  His reputation grew and his charming genre scenes won him awardsat exhibitions in Philadelphia, London, Vienna, and Brussels.  Gerard’s reputation and talent won him a post of professor at the Brussels Academy of Fine Art

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Philip Wilson Steer

#PhilipWilsonSteer (1860 –1942) was known as a British painter of landscapes, seascapes but he also dabbled in portraitures and figure studies.  His sea and landscape paintings made him a leading figure in the Impressionist movement in Britain but in time he turned to a more traditional English style. Steer was clearly influenced by both Constable and Turner.  As he aged, Steer spent more and more time painting in the countryside rather than on the coast.  He was also an influential art teacher.  As a painting tutor at the Slade School of Art for many years he influenced generations of young artists.

Misty Morning on the Severn- watercolour by Philip Wilson Steer @ 1925

After Steer was rejected by the Royal Academy of Arts, he travelled to Paris where he studied and was greatly influenced by seeing works by Manet, Whistler and other French impressionists.  Steer returned to England and established a studio in London.  Here he developed his own impressionistic style in which he depicted beach scenes and seascapes.  Steer often stayed in the towns of Walberswick and Southwold.  Many of his coastal scenes are inspired by these two places and are remarkable for their freshness and depiction of light and shade.  Later in life, Steer began to lose the sight in one eye.  Although he continued to paint, he did mostly in watercolours and his compositions became much looser less defined and at times almost abstract.  By 1940 he had stopped painting altogether.

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Henri Toussaint and Cambridge

Just down the road from where I live is the city of Cambridge.  Renowned for its universities and their chapels, it’s place in English history, punting, and as a place of research into so many fields.  Into this mix we throw it’s appeal to artists, as a place to study art, to create art, and to experience art (Fitzwilliam Museum and Gallery as well as other galleries).

King’s College from the Backs – etching by Henri Toussaint

#HenriToussaint (1849-1911) was a French artist who worked for a large part of his life in England.Toussaint specialised in  architectural studies and produced these in both etchings and watercolour. Toussaint’s renown came from his studies of Paris, the French provinces, and of Oxford and Cambridge. Toussaint studied both painting and etching in Paris.  He exhibited his art at the Paris Salon from 1874 and during the following years received numerous awards.  Toussaint’s etchings were as well known in England as they were in France. 

St. Sepulchre’s Church or Round Church, Cambridge- etching by Elizabeth Byrne

At the end of King’s Parade in Cambridge we find the Holy Sepulchre Church (known as the Round Church).  It is one of four medieval round churches still in use in England.  It consists of a round nave and an ambulatory, with a short chance,  Originally a wayfarers’ chapel on the Roman road known as Via Devana (now Bridge Street).  It became a parish church (13th century) and around this time structural alterations were made to the church, with the rebuilding of the chancel and the addition of a north aisle.  During the 1400’s the Norman style windows in the nave were replaced by larger Gothic style window and the carvings of angels in the roofs of the chancel and aisle were added and a bell-tower was built over the nave.  By the 19th century the church was in a poor state of repair.  Since the major repairs have been carried out.  The stained glass in the church was introduced during the 19th-century restoration while the depiction of Christ in Majesty was installed in 1946 as the east window was destroyed by a bomb in 1942.

St. Sepulchre’s Church or Round Church interior, Cambridge – etching by John Byrne

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William Edward Parry Engraving

When one mentions the name of #WilliamEdwardParry, one brings to mind the search for the Northwest passage.  Parry made three voyages in his quest to find the elusive Northwest Passage.  On his first attempt in 1819-20, Parry found a way through Lancaster Sound but no further.  His second attempt in 1821-23 saw him explore Hudson Bay for a more southerly route but he had no luck.  Foxe Basin, Repulse Bay and Melville Peninsula were unaccommodating as to routes west.  The ice closed in and Parry spent the winter.  To keep morale up he set up a theatre company and a school as well as an observatory.

William Edward Parry, rear-admiral stipple engraving by unknown artist @ 1825

From Inuit in the vicinity, Parry discovered information on a passage to the north of were they had wintered which supposedly led to open water.  He sailed north to find the strait which is now known as the Fury and Hecla Strait (the names of the ships in Parry’s voyage).  The strait never cleared of ice so sailing was impossible but a foot traverse did reveal a body of water to the west.  After a second wintering, Parry was forced to return to England due to lack of supplies.

Parry’s third and most disappointing attempt in 1824-25 saw him in Prince Regent Inlet.  Ice around Baffin Bay forced him to over-winter in the Inlet and early in the spring while searching for an opening the Fury ran aground and was lost.  With two crews on-board, Parry was forced to return to England.  It was not a total loss, for much information regarding the position of the magnetic pole was collected as well as information on arctic flora and fauna.

William Edward Parry, rear-admiral stipple engraving close-up – unknown artist @ 1825

Parry also made an attempt to reach the North Pole in 1827 but reached only 82*54′ north.  This remained the northerly latitude record for 49 years.  Parry also pioneered the use of cans for storing rations but he forgot to invent the can opener at the same time so opening might have been a bit messy.

The stipple engraving (which I have not yet found another copy of) is on a 9″ by 12″ piece of paper and has a lightly pencilled ‘Admiral W Parry’ on the lower right.  It is one of the finest stipple engravings in my collection – done with exquisite technique.

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Grenoble Etchings

#Grenoble is a city in southeastern France, situated at the foot of the French Alps.  The city has the nickname “Capital of the Alps” due to its’ location and its’ history goes back more than 2000 years.

Porte de France, Grenoble etching – signed @ 1880

Grenoble is a base for winter sports but is also known for its’ wonderful museums , universities and research centres.  It boasts a superb public transport system which includes the spherical cable cars known as “Les Bulles” (Bubbles) which connect the city to summit of ‘La Bastille’ hill named for the fortress on its’ slopes.  The etching to the left is of the #PortedeFrance gate or entrance to the city.  I suggest 1880 for a date of pressing as from 1894 the tram line which served the city until 1952 ran between the gatehouse on the right and the rock face on the left.

Porte St. Laurent, Grenoble – etching signed @ 1880

The second etching (by the same artist) is of #PorteSaintLaurent.  Both etchings read Epauvre d’Etat (test state or proof).  The  etchings are quite finely produced and are architecturally accurate.  If anyone can decipher the name or recognises the artist signature please let me know so that I can give proper credit to this talented artist.

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