Chinese Snuff Bottle

I thowught we might return to China and look at something which was made to carry snuff or powdered tobacco. Snuff was considered as a remedy for common illnesses such as colds, flu, headaches and even stomach upset (smoking tobacco was illegal). The Chinese carried their snuff in small bottles´┐╝ – the Europeans used small ornate boxes.

Snuff bottles were made to fit in the palm of ones hand. Easy to carry and small enough to not be overly noticeable when being carried. Snuff bottles were made from a variety of materials – porcelain, jade, ivory, wood, rhinoceros horn, tortoise shell, ceramic and metal – but the most used was glass. The stopper usually had a small spoon attached.

Snuff bottles were decorated with paintings or carvings. The better the quality of the artwork the more valuable the bottle. The artwork was so good at times that one dare not use the snuff bottle lest one damage the artwork. Inside painted are bottles which bear pictures and often calligraphy on the inside surface of the glass. Usually the image is only one to two inches tall and is painted through the neck of the bottle in reverse. A very skilled artist might complete a simple scene in a week, something special in a few months but something truly fine and intricate only 3 or 4 in a year.

The #snuffbottle in my collection has painted on it – a buildings entrance or gateway on one side and a person in a hut on the other. Foliage flows around the bottle and birds can be seen on both sides. It stands just over 3″ (76mm – with stopper in) and 3/4″ (18mm)wide. It has a tourmaline stopper with a gold metal strip and a tiny gold spoon attached. A nice piece and very finely paintings ed.

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Edwin La Dell lithographer

The art of lithography – printing with stones – was invented in 1796. The stone would have a image drawn onto it using wax, oil or fat. An acid would then be applied etching the non-protected (untreated) parts of the stone. These roughened areas would retain moisture when next wetted. The oil-based ink then applied would adhere to the original drawing only – being repelled by the water in the etched areas. The stone is then pressed onto paper and the ink is transferred from stone to paper producing a printed page.

Originally, stone or metal plates were used for lithography but in modern lithography flexible plastic or metal plates are used. Colour lithography appeared in the 1890’s and was often used in the production of posters to promote artists works. With the ability to copy artworks there arose a need for limited editions so that artists could control the price and value of their artworks.

#EdwinLaDell (1914-1970) was a British printmaker, lithographer, illustrator and painter. Edwin’s early tutelage was at the Sheffield School of Art – a scholarship brought him to study at the Royal College of Art under John Nash. La Dell eventually became head of the Department of Lithography at the College. He was a war artist creating public murals and camouflage but his fame came from his post-war works – lithographs created for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, for the School Prints scheme, and his own series featuring Oxford, Cambridge, Kent and New York.

I came across a set of three prints, not long ago. They just happen to be of a favourite place of mine – Cambridge. The three show King’s College from the Backs, punting at Clare Bridge, and the Great Gate of Trinity College. All these lithographs display La Dell’s fine artistic eye and a man at the peak of his artistry. The last image is also in my collection – Fishing at Marlow- was created as part of the Lyons Tea Rooms series.

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Norwegian Art

Today, we visit a country not truly known as being a centre of the arts. Norwegian art is mostly grouped together with the other Scandinavian countries under the name Nordic Art. For most of Norways artistic history, it has been influenced by Denmark, Germany and Holland and after WWII by the USA art scene. Norwegian Art came into its’ own in the 19th century mostly through the efforts of its’ landscape painters and later through Impressionism and Realism later. For most people, Edvard Munch would be considered Norways greatest artist but there were fine artists before him.

Among them were Johann Christian Dahl, Johannes Flintoe, Adolph Tidemand, and Kitty Kielland (an early female painter).

The two small oils are winter #landscapes. One showing two remote buildings in the wintry hills and the other a lakeshore in the cold of winter. They are painted by Nini #Arntzen (I think that is what the first name reads – more confident about the last name) and dated 1895. Both are finely rendered with a nice use of colour and tone. Nicely layered allowing the play of light and shadow to highlight and accentuate. They both could use a light clean which would brighten the colours somewhat. Even so, two small oils which come from a time in a countries emergence as an artistic centre in the genre from which it began – landscapes of the country itself. The heart and soul of #Norway.

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Qianlong Ch’ien-Lung

I recently came across, what I think are two very fine #Chinese vases. They are not very large, standing only 5 5/8″ (142mm) and 2 1/8″ (54mm) in diameter. Often, I see pieces which are, for me, poorly painted – feel wrong in weight and shape but this pair seemed to tick the right boxes for me.

Both vases bear a seal on the base which reads #qianlong nian zhi ch’ien-lung. This mark was used from 1736-1795. Different styles of this seal were used. The seal might be written underneath the glaze in cobalt blue, or atop the glaze in various enamels (iron red, pale blue, or black). It may even be written in gilt, incised or impressed into the base.

The #Qianlong Emperor was the sixth ruler of the Qing dynasty. He was a man who was fascinated with collecting and preserving the Confucian culture. He did this by using any means necessary to acquire the great private collections and integrate these treasures into the imperial collection. The emperor’s demand for truly high quality porcelain (both artistic and utile) meant that the Qianlong period was the epitome of pottery creation in China.

Both vases feature horses galloping and cavorting amidst trees and flowering shrubs. They, also display a verse of poetry with a poets seal. I find the skill in the use of the enamels to be quite fine and the colouring and shading to be very expertly executed.

Items like these were also made or copied during a period from 1911 to 1949 (called the Republic era). I am not qualified to say which but often the copies quality of artwork is lacking. Whether they are old or more recent they remain two small but very beautiful vases.

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The Thomas Viaduct or Latrobe’s Folly

Today, we look at a small pen and ink drawing which I came across this past week. It is a landscape in which the focus is a viaduct but amazingly this viaduct is not found here in England but in the USA.

The #ThomasViaduct crosses the #Patapsco River and Valley and its’ construction was finished in 1835. At that time, it was the first and largest multi-span masonry railroad bridge in the US – to be built on a curve!! It now is the world’s oldest multiple arched stone railroad bridge still in use.

The viaduct is 612 feet (187 m) long with each individual arch roughly 58 feet (18 m) in span. The top of the arches are roughly 59 feet (18 m) from the water below. The width at the top is a little over is 26 feet (8 m). The bridge is built of Maryland granite ashlar (finely dressed/worked stone) – also known as Woodstock granite – sourced from local quarries. It also has an added pedestrian wooden floored footpath supported by cast iron brackets.

In the drawing , you can see a 15 foot (5m) obelisk (left side between trees) which names the builder, the architect, the directors of the railway and others, as well as the dates of commencement (1833) July 4th and completion(1835) July 4th.

At the time of construction, many doubted that it would even hold its’ own weight. Thusly its’ nickname of #Latrobe’sFolly (after Benjamin Latrobe II the designer) but it proved all doubters wrong and since has survived the great flood of 1868 as well as Hurricane Agnes in 1972 (two floods which wiped out the Patapsco valley and nearly everything in their paths).

This magnificent structure was critical in the American Civil War as it was the only supply line into Washington DC and therefore heavily guarded against sabotage.

This little drawing might be the oldest image of the viaduct existing. I have seen online an etching done in 1858 which shows a view from much the same perspective (I date mine earlier than the engraving only by the size of the tree in the top left corner of the images). I have not found any information regarding an American – W H Radford. I have seen information regarding a William Radford (1817-1897) and his son William Harold Radford, engineer-bridge masters , specialists in bridge construction who lived in England but they seem to have no connection to bridges in the US.

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Robert W. Macbeth artist

We travel to Glasgow, Scotland, to visit with artist #RobertWMacbeth (1848-1910). Robert belonged to a family which produced a good number of artists. His father was a well known portrait painter, two of his brothers were artists and his niece was also a painter.

Macbeth was a painter, etcher, and watercolorist who specialised in pastoral landscape scenes. Rustic rural life was his inspiration.

Like many artists, Macbeth traveled to London to study. His focus on realistic everyday scenes brought him to the attention of ‘The Graphic Illustrated Magazine’ for which he worked at the end of his studies.

His paintings display the rural country life found in the Lincolnshire and Somerset counties. Macbeth often painted out-of-doors, working from real life to produce his works. From 1871, Macbeth exhibited his art regularly. He achieved many honours for his works. Macbeth was a highly talented engraver and his works include numerous plates after artists like Burne-Jones, Velasquez, Titian, Mason and Walker. His engravings exude vigour and depth mirroring their original source paintings.

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Art walls

After six years of collecting, I have acquired a good number of artworks. This has come to mean that I have run out of wall space to display them. Over time, I have leant towards hanging originals rather than prints. I certainly do not claim to be an interior designer in any sense and my picture walls tend to be items which I like to look at. This room has a wall which is mostly devoted to the female form and has a pair of chairs for relaxing and reading.

The landing and stairwell are also picture galleries (too narrow to get a nice photo of) but this shot is from the master bedroom onto the landing. Once again, I concentrate on originals but there are two prints along the bottom which bear the JMW Turner studio blind stamp ( this means that these were in Turner’s possession when he died and were bequeathed to the nation at his death). As seen, some things from that bequest have been sold into public possession.

I try not to over power or indiscriminately hang pictures (although there may be no connection between them other than my liking them) so again I have limited myself to one one wall in another room which looks as follows.Over the six years which I have collected, I believe I have found some lovely things. Not all perfect but they have been loved and appreciated by those who owned them. The pieces on my walls range from an old French master to living British artists and so many in between – some known and some not. They each tell their own story and I, hopefully, will carry their tale forward to others.

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Tabular Estimate of some leading members of the House of Commons

Quite a while back, I bought a number of pieces as a job lot. I was not actually sure what I might find when I had the time to look thoroughly at the individual pieces. This chapter is about one piece from 1824-25 and I will begin with the verso or less interesting side. On the verso are a number of snippets of poetry or verse which all are sourced back to a publication called The Literary Magnet of the Belles Lettres, Science, and the Fine Arts published in 1824 – edited and compiled by #TobiasMerton. Please excuse the corners where the previous owner glued a backing page to aid in reading the recto. The pieces are are all hand written with no obvious link since they come from various parts of the publication other than the ‘Red sank’ and Sly Cupid’ which are verses 2 and 3 of a poem called Frederick and Maria.

But let us continue to the more interesting side. Here we find a list of names and a persons evaluation of those people. All of these people sat in parliament in the year of 1824-25. ‘Tabular estimate of some leading members of the House of Commons’ is the overall heading the categories are broken down as follows

Intellectual Capacity – resources, judgement,logic, self-possession

External Appearance- voice,language,style,manner, expression

Effect – power,impression

Predominating Character

Of all the names on the list, possibly the best known would be that of #WilberWilberforce who was considered a radical member of parliament. A voice for the abolition of slavery. The struggle for abolition cost him much in his personal life and health. Wilberforce comes off very well in this evaluation as do a number of others. Some of the comments are not complimentary, some even biting but I would think that the compiler of this chart is being honest in his observations. These members of the #HouseofCommons come from the #WhigandTory parties as well as a couple of radical members. These were some of the men who lead this country through a very difficult cultural and political part of our history. It is very interesting to see what a peer (possibly) thought of them in the various categories.

Have a look. There are some very interesting people on this list.

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Misssed Places

When my wife and I holiday, we tend to work out and plan what we might like to see and do. Our itinerary is not solid but is flexible on the chance that we encounter something we might like to see or do which we had not planned. Even so, one comes across things after the holiday is over and one thinks ‘I’d have done that if I had known about it’. This leads me to today’s piece of art.

We have been to Scotland a couple of times and I know that we have driven very close to ‘Burgie Tower’, Rafford, MorayBurgle Tower, Forres - watercolour - early 20th century? - unknown artistBut we have not visited. Granted it does not quite appear as it does in this watercolour. Time has taken it’s toll and although it is now a ‘listed building’, finding funds to keep it in shape is challenging.

The tower was once a part of a Z-plan castle (towers on opposite corners of a rectangular keep) which was mostly demolished in the early 1800’s to provide stonework for Burgie House. The tower dates back to 1602 when it was built by Alexander Dunbar, Dean of Moray and is the only remaining part of the castle.

The watercolour comes from the earlier part of the 20th or late 19th century (I think). Accurate portrayal of the architecture is augmented by the subtle use of light shades of brown and green focusing the eye on the tower which is done in richer earthier tones. It is not signed. It displays a tower draped in ivy and possibly still a liveable residence (all windows and doors intact). A fine open view of the surrounds must have been had from the top of the tower.

I would like to see this in person some day knowing that I had been close already. A part of Scottish history hopefully to be preserved.

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Hans Feibusch artist

This past week, my eye was drawn to a book – #TheRevelationOfSaintJohnTheDivine. It was published in 1946. The text comes from the #KingJamesBible but it was the illustrations which drew me to the book. The depiction of scenes in lithographic form from the book of Revelations. #HansFeibusch (1898-1998) was a painter and sculptor of Jewish heritage who was born in Frankfurt am Mein, Germany. He served/fought on the Russian front during WWI but fled to England in 1933 to avoid Nazi persecution.

Feibusch is best remembered for his murals most of which can be found in churches across England. He was commissioned some 40 times (30 times for CofE) to produce artworks for churches and also painted a number of secular works for friends and corporations. #ElyCathedral also commissioned Feibusch to produce a sculpture – Christus (found near the west entrance). The Revelation of Saint John the Divine is a book which depicts what is to come. It foretells the return of the Christ and the final judgement and destruction of evil, the devil, and mankind as well as the rescuing of the redeemed. It provides, for the artist, inspiration allowing them to imagine and then create visages of a great and terrible time.

The 15 lithographs ( including front cover) created by Feibusch are miniature versions of his large scale murals. His dramatic and vivid depictions are striking in their use of colour to emphasise the horrible visages.

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