Friday, May 26, 2017

Old European Paintings in Japan

Lorenzo Leonbruno (Mantua)
Nativity
ca. 1515
oil on panel
National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo

Lucas Cranach the Elder (Germany)
Garden of Gethsemane
1518
oil on panel
National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo

Bonifacio Veronese (Venice)
Holy Family with Tobias and the Angel, St Dorothy, and St John the Baptist
before 1553
oil on panel
National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo

In 1959 Le Corbusier built a museum in Tokyo to house a collection of European art, a project intended "as a symbol of the resumption of diplomatic ties between Japan and France after World War II."  The core collection of this new National Museum of Western Art had been assembled early in the 20th century by a political-industrial tycoon named Kojiro Matsukata (1865-1950). Additionally, "the museum has purchased art work every year since its establishment in its efforts to build and develop its permanent collection."

Francesco Salviati (Florence)
Portrait of a man
before 1563
oil on canvas
National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo

Giorgio Vasari (Florence)
Garden of Gethsemane
ca. 1570
oil on panel
National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo

El Greco (Spain)
Annunciation
ca. 1590-1603
oil on canvas
Ohara Museum of Art, Kurashiki, Japan

Peter Paul Rubens (Flanders)
Two Sleeping Children
ca. 1612-13
oil on panel
National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo

Jacob Jordaens (Flanders) after Peter Paul Rubens
Flight of Lot and his Family from Sodom
ca. 1618-20
oil on canvas
National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo

Gerrit Dou (Netherlands)
Still-life with boy blowing soap-bubbles
ca. 1635-36
oil on panel
National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo

Jusepe de Ribera (Naples)
The Philosopher Crates
1636
oil on canvas
National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo

Guido Reni (Bologna)
Lucretia
ca. 1636-38
oil on canvas
National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo

Govert Flinck (Netherlands)
Lamentation
1637
oil on canvas
National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo

David Teniers the Elder (Flanders)
Venus and Cupid at the Forge of Vulcan
1638
oil on copper
National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo

Simon Vouet (France)
St Catherine of Alexandria
before 1649
oil on canvas
National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo

Thursday, May 25, 2017

French Revolutionary Faces

Anonymous French painter
Family Portrait
ca. 1795-1800
oil on canvas
Musée de Tessé, Le Mans

"The French Revolution was made by the bourgeoisie.  By that I mean roughly what Burke meant at the time, when he said the "the moneyed men, merchants, principal tradesmen, and men of letters . . . are the chief actors in the French Revolution," though obviously I differ from Burke in thinking that the coming to power of such men was part of an irreversible change in the social and symbolic order. "Part of" is sufficient here.  Not "caused by" or "expression of."  I am not interested in a narrative of causes.  All I want or need to do, for my present purpose, is insist on the oddity of the word "People" in a revolution of this social character." 

"An image will do better than a thousand words.  There is a picture in Le Mans Museum that for years was thought to be by David himself, and that I think must have come from someone in his inner circle.  It is rightly held to be one of the most poignant documents to come down to us of the change that the revolution wrought in personal style.  Nothing I can say will rob, or is meant to rob, the man in the center of the picture of his plain dignity.  It is massive and touching.  But for that very reason I think we should attend to the contrast between the father's careful  symbolic déshabillé and the costumes of his sons and daughter, the china on the mantleshelf (one looks about for a terra-cotta Marat), the glimpse of picture-covered walls, the well-turned furniture, the spinet and the young girl's music lessons, the power to order this painting in the first place.  These people and their painter are anonymous, as I say.  But I take them to be representative of the political actors we have been looking at."

François Sablet
Portrait of a Revolutionary
1794
oil on panel
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

"Compare, for example, the sans-culotte militant François-Pierre Beaudouin, president of the comité révolutionnaire of the Gravilliers section in Winter Year 2 (we know about him from his will).  Master decorative painter, employing six skilled workers, in charge of the section's war production, and leaving behind at  his death in 1795 a fine apartment in the rue Phélippeaux: several large rooms, opening onto a terraced garden, a kitchen with two ovens, walnut cabinets, inlaid hardwood floors, copper plumbing, crystal chandeliers, and goblets, settings in porcelain (terra-cotta Marats long since disposed of), tables of oak and marble.  Remember that Beaudouin existed quite far down Jacobin ranks, and in a sense outside them.  He was a "popular" leader.  To quote the verdict of the historian who discovered him, a leadership comprised of men like Beaudouin "was bourgeois in its social aggregate, and absolutely by comparison with the population it ruled.  It was so by its manufacturing and commercial capital, by its real properties and salaried incomes, by its skills in literacy, manipulation of ideological formulae, and governance.  It had the power to command labor on a large scale and to create dependencies, allegiances, and constituencies." . . . Of course the point is not to convict them of hypocrisy or even lack of self-knowledge.  I for one am sure David was horribly sincere.  It is to wonder what might have been involved for bourgeois individuals  what kinds of inventiveness, what sources of knowledge and ignorance  when they began to represent those whose labor they commanded." 

Louis Gauffier
Portrait of André-François Miot and family,
Envoy of the French Republic to the Grand Duke of Tuscany

1796
oil on canvas
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

 quoted passages are by T.J. Clark from Farewell to an Idea: Episodes from a History of Modernism (Yale University Press, 1999) 

Form as Meaning

Lucien Henry
Waratah
1887
oil on panel
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney

Francisco Goya
Ways of Flying
1816
drawing
Museo Lázaro Galdiano, Madrid

Juan Gris
Abstraction
1915
oil on canvas
Phillips Collection, Washington DC

"Visual art offers many different kinds of interest.  Any attempt to argue that one kind is superior to all the rest regularly ends up as not much more than apology for one's own narrowmindedness.  But what is possible, I think, and maybe necessary to criticism, is to identify a kind of interest that certain works of art have which marks them off from the forms of image-making all around them.  (It is not the only kind of interest that even these works of art have to offer.  It is just the kind that is peculiar to them.)  Certain works of art, I should say, show us what it is to "represent" at a particular historical moment  they show us the powers and limits of a practice of knowledge.  That is hard to do.  It involves the artist in feeling for structures of assumption and patterns of syntax that are usually (mercifully) deeply hidden, implicit, and embedded in our very use of signs; it is a matter of coming to understand, or at least to articulate, what our ways of world-making most obviously (but also most unrecognizably) amount to.  I think that such work is done with real effectiveness  and maybe can only be done  at the level of form.  It is the form of our statements, and the structure of our visualizations, that truly are our ways of world-making  at any rate the ways that hold us deepest in thrall.  That means there is a necessary (though of course not sufficient) relation between the intensity and complexity of a work of art's formal ordering and its success in pursuing the questions:  What is it we do, now, when we try to make an equivalent of the world?  And what does the form that such equivalence now takes tell us about the constraints and possibilities built into our dealings with Nature and one another?"

 T.J. Clark, from his classic book on the name and nature of pictorial Modernism, Farewell to an Idea (Yale University Press, 1999)

Johan Christian Dahl
Smoke from Cannon-Shots
1831
oil on paper, mounted on cardboard
National Gallery of Norway, Oslo

Thomas Wilmer Dewing
The White Dress
1901
oil on canvas
Berkshire Museum, Massachusetts


John Singer Sargent
Corfu Cypresses
1909
watercolor
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Henri-Edmond Cross
Promenade
1897
color lithograph
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Christoffer Wilhelm Eckersberg
Colosseum, Rome
View through three arches of the third story

1815
oil on canvas
Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen

Ludvig Karsten
Blue Kitchen
1913
 oil on canvas
National Gallery of Norway, Oslo

Oscar Bluemner
Oranges
before 1938
watercolor
Phillips Collection, Washington DC

Lovis Corinth
Flower-vase on table
1922
watercolor
Albertina, Vienna

Ernest Ludwig Kirchner
Portrait of Otto Mueller
1915
color woodcut
Art Institute of Chicago

Paul Klee
Hardy Plants
1934
oil on panel
Minneapolis Institute of Art

William Glackens
East River Park
ca. 1902
oil on canvas
Brooklyn Museum


Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Van Dyck

Anthony van Dyck
Portrait of Katherine, Countess of Chesterfield and Lucy, Countess of Huntingdon
ca. 1636-40
oil on canvas
Yale Center for British Art

Anthony van Dyck
Portrait of Mary Hill, Lady Killigrew
1638
oil on canvas
Tate Britain

"To be serious, and to quit the Allusion before it be worn thread-bare, I am of Opinion, that Women, that is, Women of Sense and Education (for to such alone I address myself) are much better Judges of all polite Writing than Men of the same Degree of Understanding; and that 'tis a vain Pannic, if they be so far terrify'd with the common Ridicule that is levell'd against learned Ladies, as utterly to abandon every Kind of Book and Study to our Sex.  Let the Dread of the Ridicule have no more Effect, than to make them conceal their Knowledge before Fools, who are not worthy of it, nor of them. . . . In a neighboring Nation, equally famous for good Taste, and for Gallantry, the Ladies are, in a Manner, the Sovereigns of the learned World, as well as of the conversible; and no polite Writer pretends to venture upon the Public, without the Approbation of some celebrated Judges of that Sex.  Their verdict is, indeed, sometimes complain'd of: and, in particular, I find, that the Admirers of Corneille, to save that great Poet's Honour upon the Ascendant that Racine began to take over him, always said, That it was not to be expected, that so old a Man could dispute the Prize, before such Judges, with so Young a Man as his Rival.  But this Observation has been found unjust, since Posterity seems to have ratify'd the Verdict of that Tribunal: And Racine, tho' dead, is still the Favourite of the Fair Sex, as well as of the best Judges among the Men."

 David Hume, from Essays, Moral and Political (1742)

Anthony van Dyck
Portrait of Paolina Adorno Brignole-Sale
1627
oil on canvas
Musei di Strada Nuova, Genoa

Anthony van Dyck
Daedalus and Icarus
ca. 1615-25
oil on canvas
Art Gallery of Ontario

Anthony van Dyck
Portrait of Philip Herbert, 4th Earl of Pembroke
ca. 1634
oil on canvas
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

Anthony van Dyck
Portrait of George Digby 2nd Earl of Bristol
ca. 1638
oil on canvas
Dulwich Picture Gallery, London

Anthony van Dyck
Equestrian Portrait of Anton Giulio Brignole-Sala
1627
oil on canvas
Musei di Strada Nuova, Genoa

Anthony van Dyck
Vision of the Blessed Hermann Joseph
1629-30
oil on canvas
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

Anthony  van Dyck
Lamentation
ca. 1634-40
oil on canvas
Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao

Anthony van Dyck
Samson and Delilah
ca. 1628-30
oil on canvas
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

Anthony van Dyck
Portrait of a Genovese gentleman
ca. 1621
oil on canvas
Gemäldegalerie, Berlin

Anthony van Dyck
Portrait of a Genovese lady
ca. 1621
oil on canvas
Gemäldegalerie, Berlin

Anthony van Dyck
Portrait of Diego de Mexía, Marquess of Leganés
before 1641
oil on canvas
Fundación Banco Santander, Madrid

Anthony van Dyck
Portrait of Thomas Howard, Earl of Arundel
1620-21
oil on canvas
Getty Museum, Los Angeles

"The Earl of Arundel was the next Officer of State, who, in his own Right, and Quality, preceded the rest of the Council.  He was generally thought to be a proud man, who liv'd always within himself, and to himself, conversing little with any who were in common conversation; so that he seem'd to live as it were in another Nation, his House being a place to which all people resorted who resorted to no other place; Strangers, or such who affected to look like Strangers, and dress'd themselves accordingly.  He resorted sometimes to Court, because There only was a greater man than himself; and went thither the seldomer, because there Was a greater man than himself.  He liv'd towards all Favourites, and great Officers, without any kind of condescension, and rather suffered himself to be ill treated by their power and authority (for he was often in Disgrace, and once or twice Prisoner in the Tower) than to descend in making any application to them.  And upon these Occasions he spent a great interval of his time in several Journeys into forreign Parts, and, with his Wife and Family had liv'd some years in Italy; the humour, and manners of which Nation he seem'd most to like, and approve, and affected to imitate.  He had a good fortune by Descent, and a much greater from his Wife, who was the sole Daughter upon the matter (for neither of the two Sisters left any issue) of the great House of Shrewsbury; but his Expences were without any measure, and always exceeded very much his Revenue.  He was willing to be thought a Scholar, and to understand the most mysterious parts of Antiquity, because he made a wonderful and costly Purchase of excellent Statues, whilst he was in Italy, and in Rome (some whereof he could never obtain permission to remove from Rome, though he had paid for them) and had a rare Collection of the most curious Medals.  As to all parts of Learning he was almost illiterate, and thought no other part of History so considerable, as what related to his own Family; in which, no doubt, there had been some very memorable Persons.  It cannot be denied that he had in his person, in his aspect, and countenance, the appearance of a great man, which he preserv'd in his gate, and motion.  He wore and affected a Habit very different from that of the time, such as men had only beheld in the Pictures of the most considerable Men; all which drew the eyes of most, and the reverence of many towards him, as the Image and Representative of the Primitive Nobility, and Native Gravity of the Nobles, when they had been most Venerable: but this was only his out-side; his nature and true humour being much disposed to levity, and delights, which indeed were very despicable and childish.  He was rather thought not to be much concern'd for Religion, than to incline to this, or that Party of any: and had little other affection for the Nation or the Kingdom, than as he had a great share in it, in which like the great Leviathan he might sport himself; from which he withdrew, as soon as he discern'd the repose thereof was like to be disturb'd, and died in Italy, under the same doubtful character of Religion in which he liv'd."

 the text of the famously malicious biographical sketch of Thomas Howard, Earl of Arundel (1585-1646), published by Edward Hyde, Earl of Clarendon (1609-1674) in his biased and influential History of the Rebellion and Civil Wars in England (1704)    

Zurbarán and Zurbarán

Francisco de Zurbarán
St Ursula
ca. 1635-40
oil on canvas
Musei di Strada Nuova, Genoa

Francisco de Zurbarán
St Dorothy
1640
canvas
Museo de Bellas Artes de Sevilla

 
Francisco de Zurbarán
Infant Christ
ca. 1635-40
oil on panel
Pushkin Museum, Moscow

"Francisco de Zurbarán (1598-1664) a native of the town of Fuente de Cantos and resident of the city of Seville, began his study of art in Estremadura with some disciple of the divine Morales.  Afterwards, in order to perfect his art, he went to Seville to the school of Juan de las Roelas and did so well that he earned the reputation of an excellent painter by means of the many works he did.  Particularly noteworthy are those by his hand in the small cloister of the Merced Calzada in said city, which show the story of St. Peter Nolasco."

Francisco de Zurbarán
St Peter Nolasco recovering the image of the Virgin
1630
oil on canvas
Cincinnati Art Museum

"This artist was so studious that he used mannequins when he painted drapery and a live model for the flesh tones, following the school of Caravaggio, a painter whom he liked so much that someone seeing his works, and not knowing whose they are, will not hesitate to attribute them to Caravaggio. . . . It is a well-known story that when he returned to live in Fuente de Cantos, his birthplace, the city of Seville sent a delegation to him, asking him if he would deign to come to live in Seville to honor it with his presence and eminent skill.  Since there were at that time other famous painters in the city, he agreed to go, as was befitting such an honor. It is certain that besides his talent he was a highly recommendable person because of his appearance, dress, and natural endowments.  And they even say that they offered him a house . . . "

Francisco de Zurbarán
St Ambrosius
ca. 1626-27
oil on canvas
Museo de Bellas Artes de Sevilla

Francisco de Zurbarán
St Elisabeth of Portugal
ca. 1635
oil on canvas
Prado, Madrid

Francisco de Zurbarán
St Casilda
ca. 1630-35
oil on canvas
Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid

Francisco de Zurbarán
Archangel Gabriel
ca. 1630-31
canvas
Musée Fabre, Montpellier

"Finally he came to Madrid around the year 1650, called by Velázquez at the King's orders, where he executed the paintings of the Labors of Hercules that are in the salon in the Palace of the Buen Retiro over the large pictures. And they say that when he was painting them, Philip IV, on one of the many occasions he came to watch him work, approached him one time and, putting his hand on his shoulder, said to him, "Painter of the King and King of Painters."

 quoted passages above are from the life of the artist by Antonio Palomino de Castro (Madrid, 1724) as translated by Jonathan Brown in Italian and Spanish Art, 1600-1750 : Sources and Documents (Northwestern University Press,1992)

Francisco de Zurbarán
Bodegón
ca. 1650
oil on canvas
Prado, Madrid

Francisco de Zurbarán
Cup of water and Rose
ca. 1630
oil on canvas
National Gallery, London

Francisco de Zurbarán
Still-life with lemons oranges and a rose
1633
oil on canvas
Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena

Francsico's son Juan de Zurbarán (1620-49) trained with his father in Seville. He demonstrated an inclination toward the still-life aspect of his father's practice, and seems to have avoided religious iconography.  Perhaps he would have moved in additional directions if he had not died while still in his twenties during an unfortunate episode of plague at Seville.

Juan de Zurbarán
 Bodegón de limones
1640
oil on canvas
Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, Madrid

Juan de Zurbarán
Still-life with plate of apples and orange blossom
ca. 1640
oil on canvas
private collection

Juan de Zurbarán
Basket with Apples, Quinces, Pomegranates
ca. 1643-45
oil on canvas
Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya, Barcelona