Sunday, 21 December 2014

BBC4 Tales of Winter: The Art of Snow and Ice

Tonight, BBC4 is repeating an excellent programme Tales of Winter: The Art of Snow and Ice which explores how the onset of winter has been depicted by Western painters across the centuries. The programme will be available on BBC iPlayer shortly after it is broadcast at 7.30-9.00pm.

If  you don't live in the UK and would still like to see it, I suggest you take a peek at YouTube and view the same programme in six films of 10 minutes.

The programme comprises several commentators, many of whom are wrapped up warmly and clutching reproductions of the paintings as they revisit places the artist knew and review how similar the painting is to what's there today. I'm a complete sucker for programmes like this and I'll definitely be watching!

Tales of Winter - The Art of Snow and Ice

  • Part 1 of 6 covering the very cold winters in the 16th century - including Brueghel's painting of Hunters in the Snow - the first ever painting of a landscape under snow - with comments by Grayson Perry and Jonathan Jones and a cartoon based on it by Peter Brookes
Hondius - Frost Fair 1684
A Frost Fair on the Thames at Temple Stairs (c. 1684) by Abraham Danielsz Hondius (Abraham de Hondt)
Caspar David Friedrich 002
The Abbey in the Oakwood by Caspar David Friedrich
  • Part 4 of 6 - continues with 
    • Ruskin's painting of waterfalls including "Le Cascade de la Folie, Chamonix
    • before moving on to the Impressionists' absorption with the colour of the snow effect "the illusive colour of the shadows in snow". The programme visits Vetheuil where Claude Monet lives when impoverished and where his wife became severely ill. It shows you the house he lived in when he had to choose between paint or medicine for his wife. 
    • It also include paintings of winter by the American Impressionist  painter Childe Hassam.  
    • Next it considers what is probably the first ever photograph of falling snow - "Winter, 5th Avenue" (1893) by Alfred Steiglitz and other photographs of "The Terminal", "The Flat Iron Building" and "The City of Ambitions"
  • Part 5 of 6 - focuses the contrast between rural and urban winters. Giovanni Segantini painted the Swiss mountains in all seasons including winter.  George Bellows, one of the Ashcan painters, paints the raw, bitter, cruel New York winter in The Lone Tenement and John Nash, a  Royal Academician and serving solider fighting in the Artist Rifles Batallion, paints the bitter winters of the First World War
Giovanni Segantini 002
Death (1898-99) by Giovanni Segantini (1858 – 1899)

George Bellows - The Lone Tenement (1909)
The Lone Tenement (1909) by George Bellows (1882 - 1925)

'over the Top'. 1st Artists' Rifles at Marcoing, 30th December 1917 Art.IWMART1656
Over the Top - 1st Artists' Rifles at Marcoing, 30th December 1917 by John Nash

I guess my only criticism of it is it presents a curiously Western European/American view of landscape painting in winter - and misses out the very significant contributions made by the Scandinavians, Eastern Europeans, Russians and Canadians.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

The view from Richmond Hill

One of the most famous views in the history of landscape painting is "The View from Richmond Hill". In the last it was liked so much that it's now the only view in the UK which is specifically protected by an Act of Parliament.

I've created a small website about it - The View from Richmond Hill - for those who want to know exactly where it is and what the view looks like - and some more about the artists associated with painting the view from the hill e.g.
  • Sir Joshua Reynolds whose home (Wick House on Richmond Hill) has this view, or 
  • JMW Turner who painted it several time or 
  • Jasper Francis Cropsey, the American landscape painter (Hudson River School) whose painting of the View of Richmond Hill recently sold at Bonhams in New York. Cropsey later produced a massive painting of the same view - some eight feet wide - based on this study (and presumably others he made at the same time).  This study is principally focused on the features of the landscape and doesn't have the figures seen in the later painting.
View of Richmond Hill - Jasper Francis Cropsey (1823-1900)
previously exhibited as Study for Richmond Hill in the Summer of 1862
oil on canvas 12 1/2 x 20 1/2in
sold 21st May 2014 for $50,000 at Bonhams
Back in 2010 I visited to see what all the fuss was about. Like many such views I've visited in the past - the trees have grown!

I found it very tricky to get a place where you got a decent view of the bend in the river without running into other problems - like trees obscuring the view.

This is my "failed" photographic view. It's a classic one - with the horizon bisecting the image! You can at least see the river and the fact it has a curve and an island and some boats on it - plus some water meadows next to it!

The view from Richmond Hill - in 2010
This local photographer has had a go at showing us what is the magic of this place in this video

I'm thinking maybe a visit in winter when there are no leaves might prove more fruitful - although it would appear this brings different challenges

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Peder Balke and Norwegian landscapes at the National Gallery

On the 12th November, a new exhibition of 50 paintings by the 19th century Norwegian artist Peder Balke (1804 - 1887) will open in the Sunley Room of the National Gallery in London. Admission is free and the exhibition will continue until 12th April 2015. Most of the paintings have never been seen before in the UK.

This exhibition continues a theme of exhibitions of landscapes by Scandinavian artists in recent times. Previous ones have included
This exhibition has been organised by the Northern Norway Art Museum, Tromsø, in collaboration with the National Gallery, London.  The paintings on display include ones from private and public collections across Europe that represent every facet of the artist’s career.

Peder Balke, The Mountain Range ‘Trolltindene’, about 1845
Peder Balke, The Mountain Range ‘Trolltindene’  c.1845
Collection of Asbjørn Lunde, New York
© Photo courtesy of the owner
There's a video on YouTube of his paintings with some rather marvellous music

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Fine Canadian Landscape Art - Auction and Previews

There's an auction of "Fine Canadian Art" being held in Toronto, Canada by Heffel Fine Art Auction House on 27th November 2014. The majority of the works in the catalogue are landscapes.

Heffel Fine Canadian Art Catalogue Cover
The Trapper's Return by Clarence Gagnon
oil on canvas, circa 1909 ~ 1913
signed and on verso signed and titled and titled
21 x 28 3/4 in, 53.3 x 73 cm
$500,000 ~ $700,000 CAD

View the catalogue

You can the works in the auction as follows:

The Artists

Artists who are new to me who impressed 

These included:
David Brown Milne in 1909
  • David Brown Milne (1882-1953) - I liked his watercolours. You can see more of his work on Wikimedia - these include some very fine paintings of the First World War eg Montreal Crater, Vimy Ridge and there is more information on the National Gallery of Canada website
  • Clarence Alphonse Gagnon (1881 - 1942) - whose painting is on the cover of the catalogue. A woodcut of the same scene is also included in the sale together with a number of other paintings. He was apparently renowned as a painter of the Canadian winter - with snow being pink in the morning and blue at the end of the day. His landscapes were more 'dreamed about' than painted on the spot - with some being completed in his studio in Paris.  Paysage de Charlvoix is simply stunning!
He invented a new type of landscape - a winter world composed of valleys and mountains, of sharp contrasts of light and shadow, of vivid colours, and of sinuous lines. He ground his own paints, and from 1916 his palette consisted of pure white, reds, blues and yellows.   
National Gallery of Canada profile

Artists familiar to me

  • Lawren Stewart Harris - I was surprised to find out that Harris is Canada's top artist in terms of auction sales. I'd never before seen any of Harris's urban landscapes - his painting of Houses on Gerrard Street is very fine and is on the back cover of the catalogue
Gerrard Street Houses by Lawren Harris
Back cover of catalogue: Gerrard Street Houses by Lawren Harris(Estimate $350,000-400,000)
Harris’s depictions of Toronto streets are like portraits. Sometimes poignant, sometimes regal, sometimes sad, each of his buildings can be seen as a sitter whose character, carriage and personality are depicted with exacting skill under Harris’s brush Catalogue

Information about the auction

The evening auction is being held at the Park Hyatt Hotel, Queen’s Park Ballroom, 4 Avenue Road, Toronto. 

Works can be seen in previews as follows
  • Preview At Heffel Gallery, Vancouver: 2247 Granville Street Saturday, November 1 Through Tuesday, November 4, 11 Am To 6 pm
  • Preview At Galerie Heffel, Montreal: 1840 Rue Sherbrooke Ouest Thursday, November 13 Through Saturday, November 15, 11 Am To 6 pm
  • Preview At University Of Toronto Art Centre 15 King’s College Circle Entrance Off Hart House Circle Saturday, November 22 Through Wednesday, November 26, 10 Am To pm Thursday, November 27, 10 Am To 12 pm
  • Heffel Gallery, Toronto 13 Hazelton Avenue, Toronto Ontario, Canada M5r 2e1 Telephone 416 961~6505, www.Heffel.Com

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

The Peak Prints Project

Images from the Peak Prints Collection
The Peak Prints Project highlights both the art of the wood engraver and the place known as the Peak District.
This area of Middle England is highly suitable for the art because of its plethora of woods and stones, crags and deep river gorges, ancient carved stones and picturesque farms, fields and barns. But hardly any wood engravings of these subjects have been done!
The project has been sponsored by Nicholas and Ruth Pitts-Tucker. The aim was to ‘encourage wood engravers to engage with the Peak District, and local people to engage with this art form.’

They invited 12 leading wood engravers to stay through the course of the year over a number of long weekends. As a result 40 engravings have now been produced which are being sold in editions of 25.

The prints are now being displayed in exhibitions at different locations within the Peak District.

You can also buy prints via the website where you can see which prints are for sale and you can order them. Click on an image to see the individual image a bigger version of the image which he or she has created


The participating artists are:

I'm the owner of prints by both Hilary Paynter and Sue Scullard and can speak very highly of the quality of their work


You can see The Peak Prints at the following exhibitions in and around the Peak District.

25th July – 7th August 2014Beechenhill Farm
Derbyshire DE6 2BD UK
Telephone 01335 310274

15th August 2014 – 28th August 2014
near Sheffield
Derbyshire S11 7TS
Telephone 01433 637904

6th September 2014 – 20th September 2014
Wirksworth Festival
Derbyshire DE4 4FG
Telephone 01629 824003

4th October 2014 – 19th October 2014
Derwent Gallery
Main Road
Hope Valley
Derbyshire S32 2JN
Telephone 01433 630458
Open Wednesday – Saturday 10.00am – 5.00pm
Sunday and Bank Holidays 10.00am – 4.00pm

19th October 2014 – 25th October 2014
George Inn Barn

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Susan Abbott - sketching and painting plein air

I caught up with this post The Travel Bug by Susan Abbott on her Painting Notes blog.

You can see her recent watercolour sketches of Paris on her blog A Painting Year and on her website (see below) - plus her plein air oil paintings. What I really like about her watercolour sketches and paintings is how she has a very consistent and recognisable colour palette and the way in which she keeps all her colours fresh and never muddy!

Plein Air Watercolours by Susan Abbott

For those planning plein air painting this summer check out her blog posts about painting plein air which she wrote last summer:
  • Plein Air 101 - provides a number of tips for effective working plein air
  • Plein Air 102 - covers her kit for watercolour and oil painting plein air

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

American Paradise: The World of the Hudson River School

Cover of the exhibition catalogue re. American Paradise: The World of the Hudson River School

American Paradise: The World of the Hudson River School

You can download this catalogue of the exhibition American Paradise: The World of the Hudson River School at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The exhibition was held between 4th October 1987 and 3rd January 1999.

The reproduction qualities of the pdf copy available for download on the Metropolitan Museum of Art website is very good.

You won't find it by including the title in the websites' search facilty. Instead you need to know to go to their MetPublications website

The title is out of print hence why the Met is making it available online.  You can also:

About the exhibition

Prior to 1987, the Metropolitan Museum of Art has focused on individual artists when mounting major retrospectives and had highlighted prominent American artists in doing so.

This exhibition was the first time a major retrospective had been undertaken of an important school of art unique to the USA. The book and the exhibition represented a summary of the (then) current scholarship relating to the Hudson River School.

The exhibition - and the catalogue - brought together some of the finest and most historically important of the paintings associated with the School.  It also provided a survey of the work of the various artists involved with the School.

Prior to this exhibition, there had been three initiatives by museums in the USA to highlight the art, scope and role of the Hudson River School

  • 1917 - the Museum had held a much smaller exhibition - Paintings of the Hudson River School;
  • 1945 - the Art Institute of Chicago mounted the The Hudson River School and the Early American Landscape Tradition exhibition
  • 1949 - The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston published a book about M. and M. Karolik Collection of American Paintings, 1815–1865 

The Hudson River School

The Hudson River School was America's first true artistic fraternity. Its name was coined to identify a group of New York City-based landscape painters that emerged about 1850 under the influence of the English émigré Thomas Cole (1801–1848) and flourished until about the time of the Centennial.

This is the webpage for the Hudson River School in the Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History on the Met's website

Monday, 24 February 2014

Pete "The Street" Brown paints plein air

This is a video of a very hard-working plein air artist - Peter Brown NEAC ROI RSPP PS aka "Pete the Street".  You can see his artwork in the Annual Exhibitions of various national art societies at the Mall Galleries including:
He's based in Bath and can often be seen painting on the streets of Bath.  To my mind he paints with what I'd call a "very English palette" - lots of muted coloured greys.

There's an article about him in the February 2014 edition of Artists & Illustrators Magazine - available in print and digital versions.

Click the link in his name to visit his website.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Landscape Pictures - Notes #1

"Landscape Pictures" is a new type of post for this blog. The aim is to have a periodic round-up about recommended blog posts and articles about landscape art - with an emphasis on those with decent images and places you can see landscape paintings. It will also allow me to highlight blog posts by artists just because I like the painting!


Prolific plein air painter Haidee-Jo Summers artist reviewed her plein air painting year and exhibitions in four posts which include lots and lots and LOTS of plein air landscape paintings
Michael Chesley Johnson (A Plein Air Painter's Blog)has a post which lacks visual interest but reflects on which of his blogs posts in 2013 have been of most interest to Plein Air Painters - see Top 10 Posts for A Plein Air Painter's Blog
Galley Hill Allotments in the snow by Haidee-Jo Summers 
Winner of The Best Picture (Landscape) 2013

In my Making A Mark Art Blog Awards - on Making A Mark
He regularly includes lots of very useful tips relating to plein air painting and painting generally - and very obviously thoroughly enjoys his plein air painting. This particular post A Plein Air Set Up For Watercolor  (posted last month) almost deserves an award all to itself! 
  • The 2013 winner of The Travels with a Sketchbook Trophy was Pete Scully (Pete Scully)
He draws the routine and the mundane in the area where he lives and the places he visits and makes most places look interesting. He opens my eyes and remind me again and again about how sketching starts with learning how to see.



The 2013 Fleurieu Art Prize claims to be the world's richest landscape painting Prize (AU$60,000) and attracts both Australian and International Artists. Do you know different?  To see the list of 2013 finalists go to the Finalist Page.

Two competitions/exhibitions for landscape photographers:


America’s Forgotten Landscape Painter: Robert S. Duncanson is a blog post by the site.  Robert Seldon Duncanson is a 19th century African American artist I'd never heard of before who trained in painting in Glasgow, Scotland.  You can see more of his work on Wikimedia Commons.

Robert Duncanson - Land of the Lotos Eaters
Robert Duncanson - Land of the Lotus Eaters
Two paintings by Claude Monet of the cliffs at Etretat
One of the enduring motifs of landscape painting on the coast of Normandy are the famous chalk cliffs and stacks of Étretat. Charley Parker (Lines and Colors) has done a very interesting post which displays paintings by various different Painters of the cliffs of Étretat

The Standard Examiner has a fascinating piece - sadly with no images - about Top of Utah Voices: Landscape painting in the round.  However the word pictures are stunning!
Painters who utilized the art form and travelled with their depictions faced a daunting task of transporting these large works of sometimes dozens of paintings attached to each other and unrolled scene by scene. Some were advertised as being three miles long and taking over an hour to view. Usually 12 feet in height and rolled up on poles which, when unrolled by an assistant, gave the viewers a tour of the chosen scenes the painter portrayed while the artist (standing on a platform) described them.


Art In Liverpool's post 'Turner: Travels, Light and Landscape’ at the Lady Lever highlights an exhibition which runs from 14 February to 1 June 2014 at the Lady Lever Art Gallery in Port Sunlight Village, Lower Rd, Wirral CH62 5EQ.  Turner: Travels, Light and Landscape comprises some 30 watercolours, paintings and prints, drawn from the National Museums Liverpool’s own Turner collection.
Paintings such as 'Margate Harbour' (1837) and 'Linlithgow Palace' (about 1807), will be shown alongside prints and watercolours that are rarely displayed due to their light-sensitivity. This will include the watercolours 'Dudley' (about 1830-33), 'Off Dover' (between 1820-1827), 'Wells Cathedral' (1795-96) and 'View of the Mole' (about 1818).
New Turner exhibition at the Lady Lever Art Gallery in Port Sunlight - opens 14th February 2014

Recording Britain is a touring exhibition organised by the Victoria & Albert Museum, London. It can be seen in the Sir William Harpur Gallery at The Higgins in Bedford until March 20th 2014.
At the outbreak of the Second World War an ambitious scheme was set up to employ artists on the home front. The result was a collection of more than 1500 watercolours and drawings that make up a fascinating record of British lives and landscapes at a time of imminent change.
I've already bought the catalogue for the exhibition and it's absolutely fascinating.  I think this is one exhibition I'll definitely be going to see.  I'll be writing more about the project on this blog.

A National Art: Watercolour & the British Landscape Tradition can be viewed at the Wixamtree Gallery at The Higgins Bedford until Sunday 27th April 2014
The exhibition, drawn entirely from the Cecil Higgins Art Gallery collection of works on paper, explores the landscapes of the late 18th century and early 19th century watercolourists and how they influenced their 20th century counterparts. The work of Cotman, Girtin and Turner will be shown alongside that of Nash, Ravilious and Piper in a celebration of the British landscape and its ideal medium, watercolour. It is part of a season of exhibitions exploring the idea of landscape, which includes Recording Britain and Bawden's Britain.

This one takes some beating when it comes to exhibitions of landscape art. Culture 24 introduces The best art exhibitions to see in Wales in 2014 and starts with a new exhibition in Cardiff thus 

How about this for a new take on landscape painting? National Museum Cardiff’s Wales: A Visitation. Poetry, Romanticism and Myth in Art, (February 22 - September 7) takes the neo-Romantic work of David Jones, Graham Sutherland, Richard Long and contemporary abstract landscape painter Clare Woods and wraps it around an LSD-infused trip to Wales made by beat poet Allen Ginsberg in 1967.


Katherine van Schoonhoven (Art and Music) has an interesting review post of a trip to the coast of California when she painted the same place at different times of the day. The timescale panorama in learning from the plein air line up
is fascinating.

"View of Pescadero" Mexico, plein air, landscape painting by Robin Weiss on the In Plein Air blog is a great visual report of a landscape painting