Tag Archive for: oil painting

Artist: Edvard Munch

Taken from a previous article, today’s artist is Edvard Munch. I know just one of his famous works ‘the Scream’ and it will be interesting to see what else this man did.

Edvard Munch was born on the 12th of December 1863 in Ådalsbruk in Løten, Norway as the second child with four siblings. The family moved to Christiania (now Oslo) in 1864 when his father, Christian Munch, was appointed medical officer at Akershus Fortress. His mother died of tuberculosis in 1868, as did Munch’s favourite sister in 1877. Often ill for much of the winters and kept out of school, Edvard would draw to keep himself occupied, and received tutoring from his school mates and his aunt. Christian Munch also instructed his son in history and literature, and entertained the children with vivid ghost stories and tales of Edgar Allan Poe. The military pay his father received was very low and the family lived in poverty, which featured in many of Munch’s early drawings and watercolours.

Christian’s positive behaviour toward his children, however, was overshadowed by his morbid pietism. Munch wrote, “My father was temperamentally nervous and obsessively religious—to the point of psychoneurosis. From him I inherited the seeds of madness. The angels of fear, sorrow, and death stood by my side since the day I was born.”The oppressive religious milieu, plus Edvard’s poor health and the vivid ghost stories, helped inspire macabre visions and nightmares in Edvard, who felt death constantly advancing on him.

By his teens, art dominated Munch’s interests.At thirteen, Munch had his first exposure to other artists at the newly formed Art Association, where he admired the work of the Norwegian landscape school. He returned to copy the paintings, and soon he began to paint in oils. In 1879 Munch enrolled in a technical college to study engineering, where he excelled in physics, chemistry, and math. He learned scaled and perspective drawing, but frequent illnesses interrupted his studies. The following year, much to his father’s disappointment, Munch left the college determined to become a painter. His father viewed art as an “unholy trade”, and his neighbors reacted bitterly and sent him anonymous letters. Munch himself adopted an undogmatic stance toward art, writing in his diary his simple goal: “in my art I attempt to explain life and its meaning to myself.”

In 1881, Munch enrolled at the Royal School of Art and Design of Christiania where his teachers were sculptor Julius Middelthun and naturalistic painter Christian Krohg. In 1883, Munch took part in his first public exhibition and shared a studio with other students.He came under the influence of Hans Jæger, the local nihilist who lived by the code “a passion to destroy is also a creative passion” and who advocated suicide as the ultimate way to freedom. After numerous experiments, Munch concluded that the Impressionist idiom did not allow sufficient expression. He found it superficial and too akin to scientific experimentation. Under Jaeger’s commandment that Munch should “write his life”, meaning that Munch should explore his own emotional and psychological state. Munch began a period of reflection and self-examination, recording his thoughts in his “soul’s diary”. This deeper perspective helped move him to a new view of his art.

Regardless of these new views, Munch still struggled to define his style throughout the 1880s and early 1890s.His idiom continued to veer between naturalistic, as seen in Portrait of Hans Jæger, and impressionistic, as in Rue Lafayette. His Inger On the Beach (1889) hints at the simplified forms, heavy outlines, sharp contrasts, and emotional content of his mature style to come. While stylistically influenced by the Post-Impressionists, what evolved was a subject matter which was symbolist in content, depicting a state of mind rather than an external reality.

In 1889, Munch presented his first one-man show of nearly all his works to date. The recognition it received led to a two-year state scholarship to study in Paris under French painter Léon Bonnat. Munch arrived in Paris during the festivities of the Exposition Universelle (1889) and roomed with two fellow Norwegian artists. Munch was enthralled by the vast display of modern European art, including the works of three artists who would prove influential: Paul Gauguin, Vincent van Gogh, and Henri Toulouse-Lautrec—all notable for how they used color to convey emotion. Munch was particularly inspired by Gauguin’s “reaction against realism” and his credo that “art was human work and not an imitation of Nature”, a belief earlier stated by Whistler.

That December, his father died, leaving Munch’s family destitute. He returned home and arranged a large loan from a wealthy Norwegian collector when wealthy relatives failed to help, and assumed financial responsibility for his family from then on.

By 1892, Munch formulated his characteristic, and original, Synthetist aesthetic, as seen in Melancholy, in which color is the symbol-laden element. During four years in Berlin, Munch sketched out most of the ideas that would comprise his major work, The Frieze of Life, first designed for book illustration but later expressed in paintings. He sold little, but made some income from charging entrance fees to view his controversial paintings.Already, Munch was showing a reluctance to part with his paintings, which he termed his “children”.

In December 1893, Unter den Linden in Berlin held an exhibition of Munch’s work, showing, among other pieces, six paintings entitled Study for a Series: Love. This began a cycle he later called the Frieze of Life — A Poem about Life, Love and Death. Around the turn of the century, Munch worked to finish the “Frieze”. He painted a number of pictures, several of them in larger format and to some extent featuring the Art Nouveau aesthetics of the time. He made a wooden frame with carved reliefs for the large painting Metabolism (1898), initially called Adam and Eve. This work reveals Munch’s preoccupation with the “fall of man” myth and his pessimistic philosophy of love. The entire Frieze showed for the first time at the secessionist exhibition in Berlin in 1902.

“The Frieze of Life” themes recur throughout Munch’s work but find their strongest outpouring in the mid-1890’s. In sketches, paintings, pastels and prints, he taps the depths of his feelings to examine his major motifs: the stages of life, the femme fatale, the hopelessness of love, anxiety, infidelity, jealousy, sexual humiliation, and separation in life and death. Munch hated to part with his paintings because he thought of his work as a single body of expression. So to capitalize on his production and make some income, he turned to graphic arts to reproduce many of his most famous paintings, including those in this series.

Still attracting strongly negative reactions, in the 1890s Munch did begin to receive some understanding of his artistic goals, as one critic wrote, “With ruthless contempt for form, clarity, elegance, wholeness, and realism, he paints with intuitive strength of talent the most subtle visions of the soul.”One of his great supporters in Berlin was Walter Rathenau, later the German foreign minister, who greatly contributed to his success.

In 1896, Munch moved to Paris, where he focused on graphic representations of his “Frieze of Life” themes. He further developed his woodcut and lithographic technique. Munch’s Self-Portrait With Skeleton Arm (1895) is done with an etching needle-and-ink method also used by Paul Klee. Many of the Parisian critics still considered Munch’s work “violent and brutal” but his exhibitions received serious attention and good attendance.His financial situation improved considerably.

Munch returned to Christiania in 1897 where he also received grudging acceptance, where one critic wrote, “A fair number of these pictures have been exhibited before. In my opinion these improve on acquaintance.”In 1903-4, Munch exhibited in Paris where the coming Fauvists, famous for their boldly false colors, likely saw his works and might have found inspiration in them. When the Fauves held their own exhibit in 1906, Munch was invited and displayed his works with theirs. During this time, Munch received many commissions for portraits and prints. After an earlier period of landscapes, in 1907 he turned his attention again to human figures and situations.

However, in the autumn of 1908, Munch’s anxiety, compounded by excessive drinking and brawling, had become acute. As he wrote later, “My condition was verging on madness—it was touch and go.”Subject to hallucinations and feelings of persecution, he entered the clinic of Dr. Daniel Jacobson. Munch’s stay in hospital stabilized his personality, and after returning to Norway in 1909, his work became more colorful and less pessimistic. Further brightening his mood, the general public of Christiania finally warmed to his work, and museums began to purchase his paintings. He was made a Knight of the Royal Order of St. Olav “for services in art”. His first American exhibit was in 1912 in New York.

As part of his recovery, Dr. Jacobson advised Munch to only socialize with good friends and avoid public drinking. Munch followed this advice and in the process produced several full-length portraits of high quality of friends and patrons—honest portrayals devoid of flattery. He also created landscapes and scenes of people at work and play, using a new optimistic style—broad, loose brushstrokes of vibrant colour with frequent use of white space and rare use of black—with only occasional references back to his morbid themes.

Munch spent most of his last two decades in solitude at his nearly self-sufficient estate in Ekely, at Skøyen, Oslo. To the end of his life, Munch continued to paint unsparing self-portraits, adding to his self-searching cycle of his life and his unflinching series of snapshots of his emotional and physical states.

The outbreak of World War I, found Munch with divided loyalties, as he stated, “All my friends are German but it is France that I love.” In the 1930s, his German patrons, many Jewish, lost their fortunes and some their lives during the rise of the Nazi movement.
In 1940, the Germans invaded Norway and the Nazi party took over the government. Munch was seventy-six years old. The Nazis labelled Munch’s work “degenerate art” (along with Picasso, Paul Klee, Matisse, Gauguin and many other modern artists) and removed his 82 works from German museums.With nearly an entire collection of his art in the second floor of his house, Munch lived in fear of a Nazi confiscation. Seventy-one of the paintings previously taken by the Nazis had found their way back to Norway through purchase by collectors (the other eleven were never recovered), including The Scream and The Sick Child, and they too were hidden from the Nazis.

Munch died in his house at Ekely near Oslo on January 23, 1944, about a month after his 80th birthday. His Nazi-orchestrated funeral left the impression with Norwegians that he was a Nazi sympathizer.The city of Oslo bought the Ekely estate from his heirs in 1946 and demolished his house in May 1960.

When Munch died, he bequeathed his remaining works to the city of Oslo, which built the Munch Museum at Tøyen (it opened in 1963). The museum hosts a collection of approximately 1,100 paintings, 4,500 drawings, and 18,000 prints, the broadest collection of his works in the world. It currently serves at Munch’s official Estateand has been active in responding to copyright infringements, as well as clearing copyright for the work, such as the appearance of Munch’s The Scream in a 2006 M&M advertisement campaign. The U.S. copyright representative for the Munch Museum and the Estate of Edvard Munch is the Artists Rights Society.

One version of The Scream was stolen from the National Gallery in 1994. In 2004 another version of The Scream along with one of Madonna were stolen from the Munch Museum in a daring daylight robbery. All were eventually recovered, but the paintings stolen in the 2004 robbery were extensively damaged. They have been meticulously restored and are on display again.

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Artist: Egon Schiele

The name of this artists came from Monday’s post on Tracey Emin, where this man is mentioned as one of her inspirational sources. I must admit that I’ve never heard of him before, so I was well excited to see a first couple of images by his hand. They look nice! And call it prejudice, but that is not something I expected to find linked to Emin.

Egon Schiele was born on the 12 of June 1890 in Tulln on the Danube in Austria. As a child, he attended the school run by the Stift Klosterneuburg, where his arts teacher K.L. Strauch recognized and supported Schiele’s artistic talent. When Schiele was 15 years old, his father died from syphilis, and he became a ward of his maternal uncle, Leopold Czihaczec, who became distressed by Schiele’s lack of interest in academic studies, yet recognized his passion and talent for art. In 1906 Schiele applied at the Kunstgewerbeschule (School of Arts and Crafts) in Vienna but within his first year Schiele was sent to the more traditional Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Vienna in 1906, at the insistence of several faculty members,. There, he studied painting and drawing, but was frustrated by the school’s conservatism.

In 1907, Schiele sought out Gustav Klimt. Klimt generously mentored younger artists, and he took a particular interest in the gifted young Schiele, buying his drawings, offering to exchange them for some of his own, arranging models for him and introducing him to potential patrons. He also introduced Schiele to the Wiener Werkstätte, the arts and crafts workshop connected with the Secession. In 1908 Schiele had his first exhibition, in Klosterneuburg. He left the Academy in 1909, after completing his third year, and founded the Neukunstgruppe (“New Art Group”) with other dissatisfied students.

Klimt invited Schiele to exhibit some of his work at the 1909 Vienna Kunstschau, where he encountered the work of Edvard Munch, Jan Toorop, and Vincent van Gogh among others. Once free of the constraints of the Academy’s conventions, Schiele began to explore not only the human form, but also human sexuality. At the time, many found the explicitness of his works disturbing.

In 1911, Schiele met the seventeen-year-old Valerie (Wally) Neuzil, who lived with him in Vienna and served as model for some of his most striking paintings. Schiele and Wally wanted to escape what they perceived as the claustrophobic Viennese milieu, and went to the small town of Krumau in southern Bohemia. This was the birthplace of Schiele’s mother, but they were driven out of the town by the residents who strongly disapproved of their lifestyle, including his alleged employment of the town’s teenage girls as models.

Together they moved to Neulengbach, 35 km west of Vienna, seeking inspirational surroundings and an inexpensive studio in which to work. As it was in the capital, Schiele’s studio became a gathering place for Neulengbach’s delinquent children. Schiele’s way of life aroused much animosity among the town’s inhabitants, and in April 1912 he was arrested for seducing a young girl below the age of consent.

When they came to his studio to place him under arrest, the police seized more than a hundred drawings which they considered pornographic. The charges of seduction and abduction were dropped, but the artist was found guilty of exhibiting erotic drawings in a place accessible to children. In court, the judge burned one of the offending drawings over a candle flame. The twenty-one days he had already spent in custody were taken into account, and he was sentenced to only three days’ imprisonment. While in prison, Schiele created a series of 12 paintings depicting the difficulties and discomfort of being locked in a jail-cell.

In 1914, Schiele glimpsed Edith Harms, who lived with her parents across the street from his studio. In February 1915, Schiele wrote a note to his friend Arthur Roessler stating: “I intend to get married, advantageously. Not to Wally.” When he explained the situation to Wally, she left him immediately and never saw him again. This abandonment led him to paint Death and the Maiden.

World War I now began to shape Schiele’s life and work. Three days after his wedding, Schiele was ordered to report for active service in the army where he was initially stationed in Prague. He was treated well by officers who respected his artistic talent; He never saw any fighting at the front, and was able to continue painting and sketching while guarding Russian prisoners of war, and doing light guard duties.

By 1917, he was back in Vienna, able to focus on his artistic career. His output was prolific, and his work reflected the maturity of an artist in full command of his talents. He was invited to participate in the Secession’s 49th exhibition, held in Vienna in 1918. Schiele had fifty works accepted for this exhibition, and they were displayed in the main hall. The show was a triumphant success, and as a result, prices for Schiele’s drawings increased and he received many portrait commissions. During the same year, he also had successful shows in Zürich, Prague, and Dresden.
Previously, Schiele had participated in numerous exhibitions, including those of the Neukunstgruppe in Prague in 1910 and Budapest in 1912; the Sonderbund, Cologne, in 1912; and several Secessionist shows in Munich, beginning in 1911. In 1913, the Galerie Hans Goltz, Munich, mounted Schiele’s first solo show. A solo exhibition of his work took place in Paris in 1914.

In the autumn of 1918, the Spanish flu epidemic that claimed more than 20,000,000 lives in Europe reached Vienna. Edith, who was six months pregnant, succumbed to the disease on 28 October. Schiele died only three days after his wife. He was 28 years old. During the three days between their deaths, Schiele drew a few sketches of Edith; these were his last works.

Schiele has been the subject of a biographical film, Excess & Punishment (aka Egon Schiele Exzess und Bestrafung) and a theatrical dance production by Stephan Mazurek called “Egon Schiele”. His life and work have also been the subject of essays, including a discussion of his works by Richard Avedon in an essay on portraiture entitled “Borrowed Dogs.” Mario Vargas Llosa uses the work of Schiele as a conduit to seduce and morally exploit a main character in his 1997 novel The Notebooks of Don Rigoberto.

Schiele’s work is noted for its intensity, and the many self-portraits the artist produced. The twisted body shapes and the expressive line that characterize Schiele’s paintings and drawings mark the artist as an early exponent of Expressionism, although still strongly associated with the art nouveau movement (Jugendstil). Some view Schiele’s work as being grotesque, erotic, pornographic, or disturbing, focusing on sex, death, and discovery. He focused on portraits of others as well as himself. In his later years, while he still worked often with nudes, they were done in a more realist fashion. He also painted tributes to Van Gogh’s Sunflowers as well as landscapes and still lifes.

The Leopold Museum, Vienna houses perhaps Schiele’s most important and complete collection of work, featuring over 200 exhibits. Other notable collections of Schiele’s art include the Egon Schiele-Museum, Tulln and Österreichische Galerie Belvedere, Vienna.

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Artist: Paul Delaroche

Today I shall have to admit I kind of liked the way of working I did yesterday so I’ll go with that for a little longer. I picked today’s name from the studies to photographers featured earlier this week. I’d be the last to claim that I am not easily influenced by others and the swing in research method has been directly affected by the treasurer to the LSA, mr.  David Phillips. I spoke to him at this week’s Gallery 150 opening (Bruno Cavellec’s paintings are a must-see) and I told him about my blog and research and he asked me about my methods…..and well….. there you have it. I don’t suppose ‘ random’ is a method?

Hippolyte Delaroche, commonly known as Paul Delaroche, was born on the 17th of July 1797 in Paris. He was born into a wealthy family and was trained by Antoine-Jean, Baron Gros, who painted life-size histories and had many students.

The first Delaroche picture exhibited was the large Josabeth saving Joas (1822). This exhibition led to his acquaintance with Théodore Géricault and Eugène Delacroix, with whom he became friends. The three of them formed the core of a large group of Parisian historical painters.

He visited Italy in 1838 and 1843, when his father-in-law, Horace Vernet, was director of the French Academy in Rome. Delaroche’s love for Horace Vernet’s young daughter Louise was the absorbing passion of his life and it is said that he never recovered from the shock of her 1845 death.

Delaroche’s studio in Paris was in the Rue Mazarine where his subjects were painted with a firm, solid, smooth surface, which gave an appearance of the highest finish. This texture was the manner of the day and was also found in the works of Vernet, Ary Scheffer, Louis-Leopold Robert and Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres. Among his students were British landscape artist Henry Mark Anthony and British history painter Edward Armitage R.A.

Delaroche’s paintings, with their straightforward technique and dramatic compositions, became very popular. He applied essentially the same treatment to the characters of distant historical times, the founders of Christianity, and various figures of his own day. Delaroche’s work was sometimes ahistorical where he tended to care more about dramatic effect than historical truth.

In 1837 Delaroche received the commission for the great picture, 27 metres (88.5 ft) long, in the hemicycle of the award theatre of the École des Beaux Arts. The commission came from the Ecole’s architect, Felix Duban. The painting represents seventy-five great artists of all ages, in conversation, assembled in groups on either hand of a central elevation of white marble steps, on the topmost of which are three thrones filled by the creators of the Parthenon: architect Phidias, sculptor Ictinus, and painter Apelles, symbolizing the unity of these arts. To supply the female element in this vast composition he introduced the genii or muses, who symbolize or reign over the arts, leaning against the balustrade of the steps, depicted as idealized female figures.

The painting is done directly on the wall, in oil paints. Delaroche finished the work in 1841, but it was considerably damaged by a fire in 1855. He immediately set about trying to re-paint and restore the work, but died on 4 November 1856, before he had accomplished much of this. The restoration was finished by Joseph-Nicolas Robert-Fleury.

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Artist: J.W. Waterhouse

When I think of the works of this artist, I think about beautifully soft romantic images: royal maidens in the company of their ladies-in-waiting, long hair and gowns afloat, having a rest at the side of a riverbank….. ahhh if only I could ever paint like this. Having taken a course in Arthurian legends at the University of Utrecht, I recognise quite a few of the characters portrayed, which brings them alive even more!

John William Waterhouse was baptised on the 6th of April 1849 (his actual date of birth is unknown) in the city of Rome to the British painters William and Isabella Waterhouse. in the same year when the members of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, including Dante Rossetti, John Millais and William Holman Hunt, were first causing a stir in the London art scene .

In 1854, the Waterhouse family returned to London, living near the newly founded Victoria and Albert Museum. Waterhouse was encouraged by his artistic parents to get involved in drawing, and often sketched artworks that he found in the British Museum and the National Gallery. In 1871 he entered the Royal Academy of Art school, initially to study sculpture, before moving on to painting.

Waterhouse’s early works were not Pre-Raphaelite in nature, but were of classical themes and exhibited at both the Dudley Gallery and the Society of British Artists. In 1874 his painting Sleep and His Half Brother Death was exhibited at the Royal Academy summer exhibition. The painting was a success and Waterhouse would exhibit at the annual exhibition every year until 1916, with the exception of 1890 and 1915. He went from strength to strength in the London art scene, with his 1876 piece After the Dance being given the prime position in that year’s summer exhibition. Perhaps due to his success, his paintings typically became larger and larger in size.

In 1883 he married Esther Kenworthy, the daughter of an art schoolmaster from Ealing who had exhibited her own flower-paintings at the Royal Academy and elsewhere. They did not have any children. In 1895 Waterhouse was elected to the status of full Academician. He taught at the St. John’s Wood Art School, joined the St John’s Wood Arts Club, and served on the Royal Academy Council.

One of Waterhouse’s most famous paintings is of a character from the Arthurian Romances – The Lady of Shalott, who dies of grief when Lancelot will not love her. He actually painted three different versions of her. Another of Waterhouse’s favourite subjects was Ophelia and like many other Waterhouse paintings, it deals with a woman dying in or near water. He may have been inspired by paintings by Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Millais.

He submitted his Ophelia painting of 1888 in order to receive his diploma from the Royal Academy. Waterhouse would paint Ophelia again in 1894 and 1909 or 1910, and planned another painting in the series, called “Ophelia in the Churchyard”. Waterhouse could not finish the series of Ophelia paintings because he was gravely ill with cancer by 1915. He died two years later on February 10th, and his grave can be found at Kensal Green Cemetery in London.

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