Thursday, April 27, 2017

Sketchy Portraits of Women by John Singer Sargent

John Singer Sargent (1856-1925) -- Wikipedia entry here -- made his living during the 19th century by painting portraits. He was very good at it, as many 21st century folks have been coming to realize.

His most famous portraits were made using oil paints. He also did finished portrait drawings. And he painted many landscapes, city scenes, and casual views of friends as well various anatomical studies. In other words, Sargent was a hugely prolific artist.

One aspect of his output that I find worth a blog post is casually-done, sketchy even, oil portraits of women. Some of these are shown below in roughly chronological order.


Rosina Ferrara - 1878
She was a favorite subject at a time he visited the isle of Capri. I think this is one of Sargent's finest works.

A Spanish Woman - c.1880
A borderline sketch, the face fairly carefully realized while the rest of the canvas is little more than blocked in.

Vernon Lee - 1881
Sketch portrait of one of Sargent's friends.

Head of a Venetian Woman - 1881
Just enough facial detail to be quite convincing.

Mme Gautreau Drinking a Toast - c.1883
Madame X in a casual pose.

Mme Errazuriz - 1883-84
A flattering sketch that's interesting in terms of Sargent's choice of placement of light and shade.

Flora Priestley - 1885
Another portrait where only the face was given consideration.

Edith French - 1901
A very nice study, though her mouth seems too small.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Number One Thousand

This is the 1,000th post on Art Contrarian.

For the first few years of this blog I posted three times per week. But I've since cut production down to twice a week due to the need to keep my Car Style Critic blog chugging along. Plus I recently started a personal blog titled Retired Blowhard that has postings whenever I feel the urge to bloviate on one topic or another.

Monday, April 24, 2017

J. Carlos: Jazz Age Brazilian Illustrator

Brazilian illustrator José Carlos de Brito e Cunha (1884-1950) shortened his name to J. Carlos for cartooning and other professional purposes. His English language Wikipedia entry (here) is brief, but the Portuguese entry covers almost exactly the same ground. The message is that he was both versatile and prolific.

I'll add that he also was very, very good.

This post features some of his covers for the weekly magazine Para Todos, which another brief reference holds that he owned and edited for much of its 1920s existence. The title's literal translation is "For All" though perhaps a better, looser version would be "Everybody's" -- also the name of an American magazine published 1899-1929.

All the Para Todos covers I found on the Internet were done by Carlos. But given their quality and on occasion elaborate nature, I almost can't believe that he was able to create a cover every week in addition to his other activities.

Here is a sampling:


Thursday, April 20, 2017

Wilhelm Kotarbiński: The Good and Not-So-Good Paintings

Wilhelm (Vasily) Aleksandrovich Kotarbiński (1848-1921), a Pole who spent many years in Italy as well as in his native Russian Empire, is best known for his classical and religious paintings, though he also dealt with other subjects at times. His English language Wikipedia entry is here, and it has a link to the lengthy Polish entry that your browser might be able to translate.

Based on images of his works found on the Internet, what struck me was the great variation in quality. My guess is that the inferior paintings were primarily sketches or studies, but I can't be certain.


Raising of the Son of the Widow of Nain - 1879
This painting was in the National Museum in Warsaw's Gallery of Polish Painting when I visited a number of years ago. It deals with the passage in Luke 7: 11-15. It was painted in Rome, and not intended to be placed in a religious setting.

On the Terrace
This is one of those inferior works I referred to. It is sketchily painted. Note how poorly the faces are drawn.

Evening Reverie
This is better that the previous painting, but the subject's face is still not quite right (her eyes seem too large).

If you click to enlarge this image you will find that it is quite sketchy, so I'll assume it was a study.

Painted in Rome. Given the lack of facial and other details, this too seems to be a study, though it was signed.

Crowning the Poet - 1881
Another painting from Kotarbiński's time in Rome. This painting is carefully done.

Venetian Serenade
Painted around the same time as the previous painting, but using a smoother style.

Favorite of the Seraglio with Her Handmaiden
Another carefully done work.

Roman Orgy
Kotarbiński put a lot of imagination and work into this painting.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Armand Schönberger: Derivative Modernist, But Nice

Armand Schönberger (1885-1974) was an Hungarian Modernist who studied in Munich and Paris as well as in Budapest. Internet biographical information is extremely sparse: this will have to do.

Even though he lived a long life that included World War 2 and nearly 30 years of Communist rule, I could locate none of his paintings dated outside the 1920s and early 1930s. In part this might be because the majority of his paintings seen on the web have no dates attached. Or maybe he painted less as time went by.

Schönberger painted in a composite of Modernist styles -- mostly Cubist, but with Fauvist coloring and perhaps a whiff of Futurism. So he was not especially "original." But to me this is no artistic crime. What's important, I think, is how well done paintings are in terms of how they look. As for Schönberger, even though I'm not much of a fan of Modernism, I find some of his works pleasing versions of that approach.

One more thing: Despite plenty of Cubist details, Schönberger's human figures did not stray far from normal proportions. This helps make his paintings more approachable to viewers indifferent to Modernism.


At the Table


Concert in the Coffee House - 1928

Coffee House - 1931

Musicians - 1929

Mädchenportrait (Portrait of a Young Woman) - 1925
This is perhaps his nicest painting.

Self-Portrait with Daughter Vera - 1928

Model in Interior - 1931

Portrait of a Young Woman - 1930

Model in an Art Studio
Much less Modernist, so I suspect that it was painted after 1935.

Young Woman
Another likely later work, judging by the subject's hair style.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

More Painting by Herbert La Thangue

Henry Herbert La Thangue (1859 – 1929) was a Newlyn School (Stanhope Forbes - influenced) painter who mostly dealt with rural subjects. I previously posted about him here. Biographical information on La Thangue is here and here.

Below are a few rural English scenes along with paintings made in Italy and some portrait works. La Thangue painted in a basically representational manner, but simplified to varying degrees and used strong brushwork -- the latter especially for backgrounds.


Traveling Harvesters

The Sussex Cider Press

The Orchard

Making Lugurian Lace

Farmyard Scene - 1905

The Festa

Italian Peasant Girl

The Puppy

Portrait of a Young Girl - 1880

Polly (study) - c.1885

Resting After the Game - Kate La Thangue
Kate was his wife.

The Artist's Wife