Saturday, 31 March 2012

Paintings of water in March by Willard Metcalf

I've not come across Willard Metcalf (1858-1925) before.  He's an American artist who became renowned as a landscape painter.  Here are two landscapes by Metcalf for the Spring Landscape series.  They both include water and neatly demonstrate the contrasts in landscape scenes which occur in March in the USA.

The Frozen Pool, March (1909) by Willard Metcalf
66.04 x 73.66 cm
Brook in March (1923) by Willard Metcalf

Facts about Willard Metcalf
The Spring Landscape series will continue next week with paintings of April.  Do send your recommendations to me by leaving a comment on this blog.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

'March' by Isaac Levitan (Spring Landscape #4)

March by Isaac Levitan
March (1895) by Isaac Levitan
oil, 60 x 75cm
The Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, Russia

We tend to think of Spring as being new shoots, fresh green buds - maybe a bit of blustery weather.  But for a lot of people Spring is "the thaw" and underfoot can get a bit messy.....

Isn't the painting of the light absolutely remarkable in this painting?  Every time I see a painting by Levitan I find myself staring at the colour and the light and the atmosphere.

Isaac Levitan - founder of the 'mood landscape'

This is a painting by Isaac Ilyich Levitan (1860-1900) who is always described as a famous Russian landscape painter painting in the nineteenth century - round about the same time as the French Impressionists.  he's regarded as the founder of the “mood landscape” genre.

The reality is that he was was born on August 30, 1860 in the shtetl (Jewish town) of Wirballen in the Province of Kowno in Lithuania - which at the time was occupied by Russia. It's now known as Kybartai and is situated extremely close to the border with Russia.  Which means strictly speaking he's a very famous Lithuanian landscape painter!

This is a biographical essay about Levitan.  He was part of the Peredvizhniki (Society for Traveling Art Exhibitions).

This is an article about the exhibition Russian Landscape in the Age of Tolstoy at the The National Gallery, London (23 June-12 September 2004).  It sets the context for landscape painting
As the National Gallery's curator of 19th-century paintings, Christopher Riopelle has pointed out, 'Landscape plays a central role in the Russian imagination. The emptiness of the country's vast reaches, the rigours of its climate, the difficulties of transportation, and the intense isolation that long winter months impose, all contribute to a specifically Russian sense of nature, different from - perhaps more fatalistic than - that of elsewhere. In the age of Tolstoy the landscape simply dominated the lives of most Russians.'

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

March: Peasants at Work on a Feudal Estate by Limbourg brothers

March: Peasants at Work on a Feudal Estate by the Limbourg Brothers
Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry
? on vellum, 22 x 13.5 cm
Musee Conde, Chantilly, France

I've got just a few days left to find landscapes of the countryside in March.  This is the third Spring Landscape in the current series.

Spring is a time of new beginnings and the perennial occupation of ploughing fields and sowing seed. However I'm not sure current farm machinery has quite the appeal of the ox-drawn plough in this painting of peasants at work in March by the Dutch Limbourg Brothers.

It's part of the Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry.  This book is widely regarded to be a sumpreme example of manuscript illumination. It's also said to be the archetype of the International Gothic style.
Its most original and beautiful feature is the series of twelve full-page illustrations of the months - the first time a calendar was so lavishly treated - full of exquisite ornamentation and beautifully observed naturalistic detail.Web Gallery of Art - Limbourg brothers
It's thought to be one of the most valuable books in the world. 

It is kept as Ms.65 in The Musée Condé - in English, the Condé Museum - which is located inside the Château de Chantilly in Chantilly, Oise, 40 km north of Paris.

The Limbourg brothers are said to play an important part on the development of the landscape painting in northern Europe.  It's thought at least one of the brothers visited Italy and brought back notions of how space is best rendered.

I'll say more about the book and the brothers as the year unfolds.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Spring Landscape #2 - by Berthe Morisot

I had no idea that French impressionist painter Berthe Morisot drew landscapes in coloured pencils - I think of her as somebody painted people.

However a search for spring landscapes turned up this coloured pencil drawing by Berthe Morisot of a Spring Landscape.  Not only that but it turns out that, like me, she also preferred to hatch with her coloured pencils!

Spring Landscape by Berthe Morisot NGA Washington
Drawing of a Spring Landscape (c. 1890/1891) by Berthe Morisot
colored pencils and graphite, 23.7 x 18.4 cm (9 5/16 x 7 1/4 in.)
Ailsa Mellon Bruce Collection,
Courtesy of the National Gallery of Art, Washington

The Musee Marmottan has the first and major retrospective exhibition of works by Berthe Morisot between 8 March to 1 July 2012 - Marmottan Monet – Berthe Morisot

I discovered a little bit about Morisot and her landscape drawings and paintings.

She was born on January 14, 1841, in Bourges, France and was the granddaughter of the influential Rococo painter Jean-Honoré Fragonard.  She studied painting with her sister Edma.  Edma was Berthe’s painting companion until 1869, and her favourite model from 1869 to 1873.

At the time women were not allowed to study at official art schools and this did not change until the latter years of the nineteenth century.  Instead the sisters copied masterpieces from the Louvre Museum in the late 1850s under Joseph Guichard.

They then studied with the well-known landscape painter Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot, who was associated with the Barbizon school of painters, and began painting outdoor scenes and working plein air.  Corot subsequently became a friend of Morisot's and she worked with him between 1862 to 1868.  Through she was Corot introduced her to other artists.

In terms of exhibiting her art, Morisot was able to exhibit at the Salon de Paris for a decade with her first work being exhibited in Salon in 1864.  She was just 23 years old when two landscape paintings were accepted for the exhibition

In 1874, she subsequently joined the "rejected" Impressionists in the first of their own exhibitions held at the studio of the photographer Nadar. Fellow exhibitors included Paul Cézanne, Edgar Degas, Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and Alfred Sisley.

Morisot was also a close friend of Manet and in 1874 she married Eugene Manet, Edouard's younger brother.  Morisot was the link which led to Manet joining the painters who formed the group known as the Impressionists.

Below is a landscape that demonstrates that Morisot also brought a touch of the domestic and woman's world to her landscape paintings. Here's a painting from her years of married life.

Percher de Blanchisseuses (English: Hanging the Laundry out to Dry) (1875) by Berthe Morisot
33 × 40.6 cm (13 × 16 in)
National Gallery of Art, Washington

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

The Louvre, March Mist - Pissaro (Spring Landscape #1)

The Louvre, March Mist by Camille Pissarro
oil painting on canvas, 54 x 65cm
Location: Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark
I'm starting a series of posts about Spring landscapes.  I wanted first of all to start with landscapes in March.

Having spent last week sketching in the sunshine and haze down by the Thames at Kew (see The Thames at Kew - in March sunshine), I was very taken with this misty painting of the Louvre Palace and the River Seine in Paris by Camille Pissarro.  It captures that effect you get in the sky when it's sunny but the ground is basically still cold.  The haze has both an absence of colour and yet tints at the same time.  It's very difficult to capture - and I think Pissarro has done it remarkably well.

Places to paint:  It looks to me as if he located himself

  • either near the end of the Ile de la Cite, the island in the Seine which has a great view of the Louvre.  
  • or maybe he was stood on the Pont Neuf (the 'New Bridge' which is now the oldest bridge in Paris)?

I've always been interested in Camille Pissarro's work - but never known a lot about him.  Maybe I should take some time out to learn about him?


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