Neidpath Castle

Heading north, today to a place which if your not looking for it you would miss. #NeidpathCastle is located a mile from Peebles in an area called ‘The Borders’. The castle rests on the side of a steep gorge overlooking a bend of the #RiverTweed. The castle has seen a lot of history but can only be visited by appointment, nowadays. The tower dates back to the 14th century but major renovations and alterations occurred during the 16th and 17th centuries. Neidpath Castle was the longest surviving bastion against Cromwell but even it fell due to the incredible damage done by cannon barrages which led to the defenders surrender. The castle was visited by Mary Queen of Scots in 1563 and was an inspiration to Sir Walter Scott and William and Dorothy Wordsworth. It has been the set of a number of movie scenes which include The Bruce, Merlin, and Joan of Arc.

The watercolour is 19th century but I have yet to decipher the signature on the verso and the lithograph comes from The River Tweed by George Reid (1884). A place to visit next time I’m traveling north.

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Joseph Nash lithographer

A visit today to a man few will know. An artist who worked with stone creating images to illustrate other authors works. #JosephNash (1809 – 1878) was born in Great Marlow which is west of London. As a child he displayed aptitude for art and studied with Augustus Charles Pugin who specialised in writing about and drawing medieval architecture. Around 1830, Nash became interested in lithography. As his mentor was so was Nash. His early career saw him concentrate his work on architectural images and genre scenes. He was able to combine the authenticity of the architectural place settings with an historical romanticism portrayed by the people in his images. His most famous work might well be his illustrating of Sir D Wilkie’s “Oriental Sketches” but he created many large sets not just to compliment others works but on his own as well. The images displayed here are taken from his work ‘The Mansions of England in the Olden Time. Nash produced 104 lithographs in 4 volumes showing the famous and not so famous country homes found across England. A fifth volume accompanied the original four containing only text regarding the lithographs. It took ten years to complete the work – 1839 to 1849. Nash visited every house and recorded in detailed drawings his observations. From these sketches, he then created a romanticised image by adding people and animals in a tableaux of Tudor life. These images brought him fame and popularity.

I came across the first volume of 26 and added it to my collection this past week. They are fine works by a master craftsman.

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Admiral Stoddart artist

A bit of a vague title today but hopefully I will have explained by the end of the chapter. In this case, the title might refer to #AdmiralPringleStoddart (1768-1848) or #AdmiralJamesStoddart (1813-1892) – father and son. Seafaring as well as artistic talent ran in the Stoddart family. James’ son Archibald Peile Stoddart also rose to the rank of rear-admiral making three generations of naval commanders. James’ eldest brother #ThomasTodStoddart was a well known poet and avid angler. James’ niece Margaret was a well respected New Zealand. artist.

The very finely worked watercolour has the displayed inscription on the verso and although the Admiral Stoddart is quite readable the place or title I have struggled to decipher (any suggestions gladly accepted). The mystery is the date. In 1854 Admiral Pringle Stoddart was deceased and James had not yet ascended to the rank. The work is comparable with other pieces which James produced during his naval career but the work might have been created by another artist and owned by Admiral Pringle. Either way the work is beautiful to look upon. Delicacy of tone and finesse of brushwork inhabit this small watercolour. See for yourselves.

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Adelaide Louisa Haselgrave artist

Last chapter we were in Portelet Bay, Jersey and this week we are going to jump across the English Channel to Sussex. Specifically an area called the Weald and we’ll throw in a bit of folklore too.

#AdelaideLouisaHaslegrave (1857-1937) was born in London. Her father was rector at St Peter’s Church, Islington. Adelaide became an artist best known for the painting of pastoral scenes in oil and watercolour. She worked out of a block of studios off the King’s Road – 10 Trafalgar Studios – in Chelsea. Fellow studio renters were Frank Brangwyn and Edward Onslow Ford. Adelaide exhibited with the Royal Academy and the Society of Women Artists from 1890 until 1916.

The watercolour shown depicts a view of the Weald of Sussex near Devil’s Dyke. The Weald is a geographical area beginning south of London and stretching to the south east coast and contains outstanding natural beauty and a fascinating history. The Weald stretches across Kent, Surrey, and Sussex.

Devil’s Dyke is a 100m deep v-shaped valley. Lore is told that it was dug by the devil to allow the sea to flood into the Weald of Sussex to destroy the many churches in the area but an old woman lit a candle which caused a cock to crow making the devil think that morning was upon him. He fled leaving the trench unfinished and his last shovelful of earth was thrown over his shoulder to land in the sea forming the Isle of Wight.

A beautiful part of the country filled with amazing history.

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Clifford George Blampied artist

Today, we look at an artist from The Channel Islands. #CliffordGeorgeBlampied (1875-1962) was a watercolour artist from St Helier, Jersey. A talented artist who produced many works from his local region – The Channel Islands. The scene which we see here is titled ‘Janvrin’s Tomb’. It is found on the tidal island of L’Ile au Guerdain in Portelet Bay. The tomb/tower is also known as Portelet Tower. It was built in 1808 by the British. It was 17ft (5m) tall and 27ft (8m) in diameter – housed a garrison of 12 men and their commanding sergeant and was armed with an 18-pounder carronade.

It is named after a local seafaring man, Philippe Janvrin, who died from the plague in 1721. The local authorities feared the contagion and refused the body’s return to the island and requested that it be interred on the tidal island. Thus, the tower became Janvrin’s tomb. His body was re-interred at a later time at St Brelade.

This watercolour displays a favourite painting site of the artist. I have seen a number of other watercolours which are painted from varying angles around the bay.

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Edmond Adolphe Rudaux artist

Today, we look at an artist from France. EdmondAdolpheRudaux (1840-1914) was a painter, etcher and illustrator of genre and idealised scenes. He was born in Verdun and went on to study painting and etching under artists like Lanielle, Leclaire and Boulanger. He began to exhibit at the Salon in 1863. Rudaux was a foundational member of a group of artists which revived etching in France after the passing of Charles Meryon. He along with others like Corot, Daubigny, Jacque, and Bracquemond all made etching a vital part of their artistic life and output.

At the same time , we find Alfred Cadart, publisher, who promoted artists and their etching by publishing most the their works. Cadart, certainly, published most of Rudaux’s etchings.

Both etchings shown here (from my collection) Passablement…pas du tout (Quite a bit…not at all) and Il M’aime un peu..beaucoup? (He loves me a little …a lot?) bear the publisher’s name and printers address “Vve Cadart Edit. Imp. 56 Blvrd Haussman, Paris. ┬áBoth were printed between 1874 and 1882.

One can see the wonderful technique and artistry which Rudaux possessed and also delight in the scenes for which he became so well known for.

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Chinese Painting

I have a number of Chinese paintings in my collection and love the techniques used. The utter simplicity with which the artist creates. Chinese landscape painting is considered the epitome of Chinese painting styles. It is associated with a refined scholarly taste. The Chinese term for ‘landscape’ is made up of two characters which translate as ‘mountains and water’. This type of painting is also tied to Daoism and its’ emphasis on harmony with the natural world. Mountains are seen as reaching up to heaven and therefore good for the soul to look upon.

Chinese landscapes usually portray imaginary places and idealised scenes.

The techniques used by Chinese painters is closely tied to the art of calligraph. The brush strokes are the same in both art forms. Colours are often subdued, restrained and subtle. Ink is the primary medium and watercolour secondary

Chinese paintings are generally not framed but mounted on silk for use as hanging scroll, handscrolls, book leaves, or fans. Painters and calligraphers were well respected and usually scholars. There are four items which a scholar would have in his studio. Paper, brushes, ink, and an inkstone. The intensity of the ink colour would depend on the wetness or dryness of the brush and the amount of water used in the ink.

All the items in the artist’s studio were precious: inkstones made of Duan stone, brushes made with deer, goat, wolf, or hare, hand-made lokta paper, and the finest ink cakes. Other items would include wrist rests or supports, seals, seal paste, brush pots, brush stands, and brush washers. During the 17th century training manuals began to appear. They described a step-by-step approach as to how to paint like a particular artist. They explained the techniques used in illustrating various subjects/objects. The different types of brush strokes were named and explained.

Simplicity. A combining of sublime technique and imagination to produce art that inspires and lifts the spirit. What more could one ask for.

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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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