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.

Posted in Drawings and Sketches, Printing, Watercolour paintings | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

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.

Posted in Watercolour paintings | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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.

Posted in Watercolour paintings | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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.

Posted in Watercolour paintings | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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.

Posted in Etching | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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.

Posted in Etching | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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.

Posted in Lithographs | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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.

Posted in Ceramics/Pottery, Oil Paintings, Watercolour paintings | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Stipple Engraving

I have been blogging in regards to art for over 5 years and I have done a great amount of research and looked at a huge amount of art over that time. This does not make me an expert but it does mean that I now recognise some artists and their techniques. Such is the case with this chapters work. The engraver, #FrancescoBartolozzi (1727-1815) has featured in a number of my previous posts and this week I acquired an engraving which although is unsigned is certainly by Bartolozzi. He was an Italian engraver whose most productive period occurred during his residence in London. For close to 40 years, he resided in London. During his working life he produced an enormous number of engravings A great number of his works were after fellow artists, especially Cipriani and Angelica Kauffman. At some point in his career, he worked on a series of etchings portraying children playing. I have seen nine different portrayals: swinging, playing at marbles, playing shuttle-cock, playing at hot cockles, playing thread the needle, playing with a mouse, playing trap ball, playing hunt the slipper, and feeding chickens. The engraving I came across is called ‘Seesaw’ (title in pencil on a separate backing sheet of paper). It shows the same set of children from the other engravings enjoying themselves. The engraving is an early pressing for no title nor accreditation to artist has yet been etched onto the plate. A fine example of the masters workmanship.

Posted in Etching | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Nicholas Pocock marine artist

A small watercolour by artist #NicholasPocock was added to my collection this week but it is the sketch on the verso that is more of interest. Pocock (1740-1821) is known for his detailed paintings of naval battles during the age of sail. Born in Bristol, the son of a seaman, Pocock followed his father and became a seaman. By the age of 26, he was master of a merchant ship. During his time at sea, Pocock became a skilled artist making ink and wash drawings for his log books.Pocock gave up the sea and became a full-time artist in 1778 and within four years he was exhibiting at the Royal Academy. His reputation grew and he moved to London in 1789 where he flourished. Eventually being appointed Marine Painter to King George. Pocock’s naval paintings were extensively researched. He interviewed eyewitnesses about weather and wind conditions, the positions, condition, and appearance of their ships. He then drew detailed plans of the battles and preliminary sketches of individual ships. He was even onboard the frigate HMS Pegasus at the Glorious First of June in 1794.The sketch on the verso is of a naval action. I have not yet tied it to a finished work but am still studying. Being known for his naval works, the verso side of this work is possibly the more interesting although it is less finished than than the face side. And finally the label on the back for the gallery through whose hands this work was sold.

Posted in Drawings and Sketches, Watercolour paintings | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment