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.
I have a number of other portraits in my collection, a few of we will visit in this chapter. I do not know the identity of the two gentlemen pictured or the artists that painted them while there appears a signature and date on the third portrait from the artist.
The first portrait is of an unknown gentleman. Painted in the 19th century. The image measures 6″ x 6 1/2″ . Finely painted in watercolour with the focus on the face. This is quite typical of the style of portrait painting at that time. The accuracy leans toward vagueness as one goes further away from the face. This allows the artist to finish his work quickly while still presenting the subject with their desired object – a beautiful image of themselves. We go to a somewhat more delicate portrait. This miniature is 2 1/4 x 2 3/4 in an oval frame. It is, I believe, painted on ivory. You can see through the damage to the paint work the underlying white ivory it is painted on. I think possibly an 18th century work. The execution is superb. Once again the face being the focal point and having an almost three dimensional feel to it. Luckily the damage has not reached the face so this man’s visage is still wonderful to look at. Once again the gentleman is not known nor is the artist. We finish with a large portrait done in 1908. It sits again in an oval matte. The image is 14″ by 17″. This of course is a copy of a painting by Rembrandt – his portrait of Aechie Claesdr done in 1634. This copy is painted by Lilian Harries in 1908. It is fairly true too the original but it lacks precision and accuracy bis t still manages to convey that Lilian had some talent as an artist. I have found no information about her.
Three very different types of portraits from different times, all which are meant to do the same thing – portray the sitter in their best image.
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.
I recently purchased a drawing which I think is both artistically and historically important. The charcoal drawing is of a young woman sitting in a graveyard on the shore. The oil painting of this scene hangs in Manchester Art Gallery. The title of the piece is #Evangeline. It was drawn to #WilliamWadsworthLongfellow’s romantic poem Evangeline, A Tale of Acadie. The poem follows an #Acadian girl on her search for her love, Gabriel. It is set during the expulsion of the Acadians (1755-1764). It follows her travels across America in search of Gabriel – sometimes close, sometimes not – until they meet again after many years of separation. Evangeline, now working as a Sister of Mercy nurse in Philadelphia and an old woman, meets Gabriel during an epidemic and he dies in her arms. She later also passes. A bit of a North American Romeo and Juliet. #ThomasFaed (1826-1900) was born in Kirkcudbrightshire, Scotland. He and his siblings were all artists. Educated in Edinburgh, he eventually moved to London and found fame as a painter of domestic genre scenes.
The drawing which is presented here is very old. So much so that the paper has deteriorated. There are areas where pieces have flaked off and even two very small holes. Even so, the quality and precision of this work prove to me – at least – that it is the work of Thomas Faed. The technique and materials used are very similar to Thomas’s portrait of his brother, James, which hangs in the Kirkcudbrightshire Gallery. It also passed through the hands of high end London picture framer Sebastian D’Orsai.The sublime technique presented here certainly displays the virtuosity of the artist. It is said that Thomas Faed was to Scottish art what Robert Burns was to song. I believe this is the image from which Thomas’s brother James created the mezzotints and engraved prints. Even with all its’ small flaws and imperfections, it is an amazing work to look at. The photographs don’t really do it justice.
This past week saw me purchase a small artwork. I went to the local Saturday market at which there are several dealers of curios. One of them had a number of old prints and some watercolours. But a small black and white image caught my eye. I had a cursory glance at the piece and liked what I saw. The stall holder said it was an etching and that he had been unable to decipher the signature. I will state here that so far I also have failed but since I liked it and the price was right I acquired it.I took it home and as you can see it is a fine work with a great degree of finesse but here is the hook. It is not an etching. After a better study of this piece, I have come to the conclusion that it is actually an original #pencil/graphite drawing. This certainly makes the piece more interesting. It is done with very little shading but is worked with lines. This style of work is called #crosshatch. The more lines you add the deeper the tone. This can be and is very tedious work. ‘Shading’ or ‘colouring in’ is possibly the norm. One tends to find this type of work in etchings/engravings (often not to this degree of finesse) and is not as popular as a drawing technique.
I attach an image of the signature, in the hopes that my readers might have better luck than I at deciphering the signature. In the second image, one can see the myriad of fine lines which are used the give the drawing depth and tonality. A superb #drawing, even if I don’t know who the artist is. And I can’t shake a feeling that I should know who this artist is.
Most will not recognise the artist of today’s chapter for to me he is a local man. #CyrilEdwardDeakins (1916-2002) was an artist who worked in many mediums – oils, tempera, watercolours, wood-engraving and etching. His technique was sound and his output was considered traditional – landscapes, figures, flowers, still-life, and architectural drawings. He loved painting East Anglia with all of it’s many wonderful faces.k
Deakins was easy-going by nature. He didn’t strive for fame. He was satisfied to be considered a capable jobbing artist. The ‘Adam and Eve’ shows, I think, that he was better than your ‘average’ artist. The feeling this painting evokes feels right – friendliness, joy, warmth, and camaraderie. Love the old locals out front.
The #AdamandEve is the oldest pub in Norwich. The building is a former monastery brewhouse with a history which goes back to 1249 and possibly older. The watercolour shows the pub as it was in 1952. A place where drinking was secondary and socialising was paramount. You can still have a pint drawn – so when in Norwich take the time to visit and consider through what times this place has lived.
We visit an artist known as a marine artist. #ThomasBushHardy (1842-1897) was born in Sheffiel, England. Amazingly, he was mostly self taught and even so he is regarded as one of the finest marine water-colourist.
The watercolour in my collection has little to do as a marine painting. It is a view of Beaugency in the Loire Valley in France and hence the water in the image is the Loire River. We stand on the river bank and look along the 12th century stone bridge (it has 26 arches) toward the village. We see the tower of the Eglise Norte Dame and the Tower of Caesar, Place Dunois. The four bells of Saint-Fermin bell tower play the Orleans, Beaugency, Norte-Dame de Clery, Vendome. A tune you will be whistling soon after your arrival here.
An important place, historically, as it was a main crossing point on the Loire River. Joan of Arc led her French troops in defeating the English here in 1429.
The watercolour is signed, titled, and dated on the lower left and here we will take note of the year in which this was painted. It reads 1897. This might have been the last work which Hardy created since he died in 1897.