Jane Austen 

One expects that great and renowned authors like #JaneAusten would be instantly recognisable but in fact only five or six images of Miss Austen have been authenticated and most of them are taken from a drawing done by Jane’s sister Cassandra.  I would like to introduce you to Jane Austen – a new image (as yet unauthenticated).  

Jane Austen – graphite and body colour – by Ellen Douglas @ 1806

The only truly authentic pictures of Jane are those done by her sister, Cassandra.  There are of course others – the ‘Rice’ portrait displaying the image of Jane as a precocious 13 year old – the recently uncovered ‘Byrne’ portrait showing Jane as a working and accomplished authoress – the ‘Clark’ portrait of a somewhat more flamboyant personage.  Experts have found problems with each image- but I digress- I am not here to argue pros and cons but introduce my image. 

Jane Austen – graphite and body colour portrait

We begin with the stylised JA with the date 1806 just beneath it.  The date of 1806 would make this pictures creation date prior to Cassandra’s sketch and Jane would have been 30 at the time.  As far as the artist ‘Ellen Douglas’ I have been unable to garner any information.  She is of course a character in Walter Scott’s poem ‘The Lady of the Lake’ composed around 1810 so the character might be based upon a real personage but that is another digression not to be taken.

The drawing is done with some skill – portraying a real person – not a rough sketch or impression.  A half length image of Jane seated with her curly tresses exposed.  The style of her dress is indicative of the stated date 1806 and of dresses which she appears in in other portrayals.  Jane was above average in heighth with grace and poise.  Her face long and round with large hazel eyes and fairly dark brown naturally curly hair.  She was described as ‘pretty’.  Jane regularly wore a bonnet or cap so this portrait would certainly have been done in a relaxed and personal location with someone she knew and trusted.  No indication of when in 1806 the portrait was done so no location for the sitting.  

Jane Austen – graphite and body colour @ 1806

I am not an expert on images of Jane Austen but to my eye this portrait could be another step in solving one of the oldest mysteries in English literature – that of the appearance of Jane Austen. 

I am informed by a professional on Miss Austen that the dress the lady is wearing is not of the correct age.  It comes from the 1830’s – 1840’s and so the young lady in the picture could not be Jane Austen.

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Men of the Cloth

We will continue from last chapters characters, Thomas Cranmer and Nicholas Ridley, with two more portraits of great religious leaders.  Let’s begin with the Rev. John Fletcher.   

Rev. John Fletcher – etching by J. Thomson

#JohnWilliamFletcher (1729-1785) was born in Nyon, Switzerland.  His real name was Jean Guillaume de la Flechere.  He was educated in Geneva and chose enlisted life after his schooling.  An accident forced him out of the military and he traveled to England to become a tutor.  The family resided in London for part of each year and while there John Fletcher first heard of the Methodists and became personally acquainted with John and Charles Wesley, as well as his future wife, Mary Bosanquet.  Mary Bosanquet is known for being the first woman preacher, authorized by John Wesley to preach, in 1770.  Fletcher was ordained in the Church of England and chose to serve in Madeley in Shropshire.  Wesley described him as the holiest man he had ever met, or ever expected to meet “this side of eternity.” He was zealous in work and life and was driven by a sincere religious and social concern for the people in his care. Wesley had chosen him to be the next leader of the Methodists but he died prior to Wesley’s passing.  

Rev. John Cennick – engraving by

#JohnCennick (1718 – 1755) was born in Reading, Berkshire and raised in the Church of England.  He was greatly influenced by John Wesley but had a number of theological differences with him.  Cennick became an itinerant evangelist in England and Ireland, enduring tremendous and often violent opposition. By the time of his early death ( 36 years of age), he had established over 40 churches.  He was also a hymn writer, some of which can still be found today and is credited with bringing Evangelicalism to Ireland”

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A Pair of Portraits

Two stipple engraving portraits by two separate artists are today’s focus.  Let’s begin with a work by #WilliamHoll Sr. (1771-1838) (I believe) of #ThomasCranmer.  

Thomas Cranmer – stipple engraving by William Holl Sr. @ 1829

William Holl Is thought to be of German background.  He studied stipple engraving under Benjamin Smith and Holl became a noted exponent of “chalk manner” engraving, based on the simulation of chalk lines on paper.  Holl was noted for his numerous engraved portraits, a number of which were published for Edmund Lodge’s Portraits of Illustrious Personages of Great Britain.  Holl was one of the earliest users of the steel plates in engraving rather than copper.  Holl had five sons.  Four followed him in the etching profession and one became an actor.  William Holl Jr started his own career with an image of Cranmer in 1829 but it is definitely not this image.

Thomas Cranmer was Archbishop of Cantebury and lived during the time of Henry VIII and Oliver Cromwell.  He was the creator/compiler of the Common Book of Prayer used in the Anglican Church.

We next look at Scottish portrait miniaturist, #JohnCochran.  He worked in stipple and line engraving and was also a painter in watercolours.  

Nicholas Ridley – stipple engraving by John Cochran @ 1834

Cochran contributed engravings to numerous publications and his portraits are now-a-days in major gallery print collections.

Both artists are superb proponents for the art of stipple engraving.  Exquisite technique and sublime artistry are the foundation upon which they built their well-deserved reputations.

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Vincennes and Sevres Porcelain

The year 1738 saw the beginning of Vincennes Porcelain.  It was founded with the support of Louis XV and Madame de Pompadour to compete with the manufacturers of Chantilly and Meissen porcelain.  It’s mission was to create works of art using artisanal techniques.  This included both the productio/reproduction of older works as well as the contemporary creations of living artists.

Seated Courtier- with Vincennes mark @ 1751


Seated Courtier – with Vincennes mark @ 1751

In 1756, the factory was moved to Sevres where it became the “Royal Porcelain Manufactory.”  The factory focused on producing luxury porcelain for the royal family and the aristocracy.  The factory also manufactured items as needed by the state as well as items for commercial sale.  It was also charged with the research and development of technological aspects regarding  porcelain production.  As part of this new artistic ideas came into play as to decorative styles and colourings.  Artists of the time which included Francois Boucher and the neoclassical sculptor Augustin Pajou became involved with the artistic direction of the business.

Seated Courtier – with Vincennes mark @ 1751


Seated Courtier – with Vincennes mark @ 1751

The factory continued to produce porcelain although the French Revolution put a great strain on its finances.  It lost both royal patronage as well as most of it’s clientele.  The factory recovered slowly throughout the 19th century and by the end of the century new shapes and form, asymmetricality inspired by nature and the Art Nouveau movement were influential in it’s creations.
  The Sevres Manufactry produced some of the most exquisitely designed and decorated porcelain ever made including dinner services, ornamental figurines and extravagantly decorated vases embellished with ornate relief designs.

Vincennes mark @ 1751

 Both pieces shown have the ‘double Louis’ reversed and intertwined ‘L’ mark.  The space created by the intertwining was left vacant in the years 1751 to 1753.  It is possible that these two pieces are forgeries since the Vincennes/Sevres mark has often been reproduced for finàncial gain.  Even so, the two pieces are very finely produced and painted in the style of the time.  I have not found other images of the two pieces.  Both are slightly damaged and remain unrepaired.  Should one repair artworks like these or not.  I’m not sure.

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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.

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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