Monday, December 30, 2013

Claude Lorrain: The Enchanted Landscape

Beginning February 3, 2012, the Städel Museum in Frankfurt showcased the work of
Claude Lorrain (c. 1600–1682), in a monographic exhibition, the first in Germany
since 1983.“Claude Lorrain: The Enchanted Landscape” presented about one
hundred and thirty works from all phases of the French Baroque artist’s production.

Loans were made available by the British Museum and the National Gallery in
London, the Petit Palais in Paris, and the Museum of Prints and Drawings in Berlin,
among others. Developed together with the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, the
presentation highlights Lorrain as a highly reflected artist producing outstanding and
original works in each of the three media.

Claude Gellée, known as Le Lorrain (“The Lotharingian”), Claude Lorrain, or
traditionally just Claude in English, was born in Chamagne, a village near Nancy, in
Lorraine in 1600. Still in his youth, he went to Rome where he remained until the end
of his life excepting a short return to his homeland in 1625. From his beginnings,
Claude primarily devoted himself to landscape painting: his pictures were such a
success that he soon received commissions from the pope, powerful cardinals, and
European princes. From the mid-1630s till the end of his days, the artist, who had no
big workshop and virtually no pupils, had to work hard to satisfy the demand for his
paintings. His oeuvre encompasses approximately 250 paintings, 1,200 drawings,
and 44 prints.

Claude based his paintings on the studies he made during numerous excursions
through the rural environs of Rome, relying on precisely developed compositions to
create timeless classic landscapes. Already during his life-time he was particularly
held in high regard in Italy and France, while his art excited the utmost admiration in
England and Germany in the eighteenth century. Travelers from England who, in
keeping with their station, visited Italy on their Grand Tour acquired many of the
artist’s paintings, and the greater part of his drawings and several of his etchings are
also to be found in English collections today.

Claude’s works not only exercised a formative influence on England’s fine arts of the
eighteenth and nineteenth centuries like on the painter William Turner, but especially
on English ornamental gardening, which mirrors the idealized landscape so typical of
Lorrain – a landscape that strikes us as good as natural thanks to its most precise
layout. Germany’s most famous “Grand Tourist,” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe,
aimed at this peculiar characteristic when he described Claude’s pictures as works
that possess “the highest truth, but no trace of reality” and said that “in Claude
Lorrain, nature declares itself eternal.” Goethe’s high regard for the artist reflects that
Claude profoundly influenced not only English, but also eighteenth-century German
artists, particularly the landscape painters working in Rome, such as Johann Heinrich
Wilhelm Tischbein. As Claude’s works were mainly purchased by well-off English
travelers, though, they are to be found only sporadically in German collections.
Besides five drawings and about forty etchings, the Städel possesses a significant
late painting by the master: “Christ Appears before Mary Magdalene (Noli me

The exhibition on display on the upper floor of the exhibition building offered a
chronological view of Claude’s production. The first hall was reserved for the
presentation of the artist’s early work, which mainly shows Arcadian pastoral scenes
and views of harbors. The large-format early pair of paintings

“Coast View” and

“The Judgment of Paris” from 1633

was rounded off with nature studies from earlysketchbooks and etchings from the 1630s.

Another early painting is a work for Pope Urban VIII:

“Landscape with Rustic Dance.”

This work was accompanied by pertinent drawings conveying a first impression of the relationship between Claude’s painting, drawing, and graphic art.

The tour continued with drawings and prints dating from Claude’s middle phase of
production like the painting

“A Seaport” from 1644

and the large

“Landscape with the Adoration of the Golden Calf” from 1653,

which constituted another focus of the exhibition.

Outstanding works on paper reveal a largely unknown aspect of the artist.
Claude not only made drawings in preparation of his paintings, but also for the sake
of drawing itself, showing a versatility that was entirely unusual for a seventeenthcentury
artist. Nature and composition studies are to be found next to drawings
documenting completed paintings; studies which have actually fulfilled their function
have been touched up and modified just for the artist’s pleasure. From the mid-1630s
on, Claude made drawings after his own paintings in special paper books; initially
aimed at preventing that works by other artists were sold as his, these drawings in
what he called his “Liber Veritatis” (Book of Truth) increasingly turned into a medium
of reflection.

Though Claude was interested in the technique of etching especially in his early
years, he experimented with this medium as he did with drawing and, throughout his
career as an artist, created works that rank among the most important of their kind in
the seventeenth century. The exhibition will present Claude’s etchings, far less
numerous than his drawings, almost in their entirety. The complete spectacular

“Fireworks” series (1637):

which captures festivities in the Piazza di Spagna lasting for several days, was displayed for the first time.

Biblical and mythological motifs prevail in Claude’s later work, their subjects
reverberating in the landscapes in which they are embedded. Claude was an
unequalled master in rendering light and the subtlest atmospheric nuances; however,
the harmonic balance of his compositions, the calm, serene coexistence of man and
nature, is always endowed with an inner dynamics charged with tension which we
grasp step by step. The Frankfurt painting

“Christ Appears before Mary Magdalene(Noli me tangere)” and

the Oxford work “Landscape with Ascanius Shooting the Stag of Sylvia” (1682)

illustrated this in a particularly striking way.

Claude’s working method did not comply with what the academies taught at that time.
Based on a thorough knowledge of nature, he composed his works by using
elements that repeat themselves in ever new variations and were taken from his
carefully guarded store of drawings. The approach he pursued was an almost
abstract one of “theme and variations” – a method that entailed an increasing
intensification. A specific feature of his production was working with pendants: in the
1630s, Claude developed an individual artistic concept of pairs of (painted or
engraved) pictures revealing certain compositional parallels or opposites. He often
combined an Arcadian scenery with a view of the sea or a morning and an evening
scene. How this concept of pendants, which Claude expounded in the course of his
career, enhances the extraordinary quality of his compositions through a mutual and
manifold poetic reflection will be demonstrated impressively in the presentation of
numerous examples such as “Coast View” (1633) and “The Judgment of Paris”(1633),
“Christ Appears before Mary Magdalene” (1681) (all 3 above) and

“Landscape with the Baptism of the Eunuch” (1678),

as well as “Landscape with Ascanius” (1682) (above) and

“View of Carthage with Dido and Aeneas” (1675/76).

From an interesting review of an earlier version of the exnibition:

Still less do Claude’s objects have body. Strange geometrical flanges sometimes hug the canvas edge, nominally representing antique architecture: you only read them right when you realise they have no function except to obstruct or recede. His anatomy-free figure painting has always been a standing joke – he knew it, we’re told, but refused to subcontract the task. What you get instead of volume and inner structure is gorgeously variegated optical texture, an unsurpassed attention to the play of light on the fractal surfaces of foliage, rocks and water. Yet the underlying clearheadedness of the operation ensures that the canvas is never cluttered or fussy. Claude is at once greatly generous and greatly detached: all he is really thinking about is behind and before, recession and obstruction.
Similar works not in the show:

Claude Lorrain, Landscape with Country Dance, a drawin

Italy, 1640-41

“The Judgment of Paris” from 1646-6

Coast View with Apollo and the Cumaean Sibyl 1647

A Seaport at Sunrise 1674

Winter is an Etching: The Printmaking Legacy of Rembrandt Van Rijn

It was Dutch artist Rembrandt Van Rijn’s (1606-1669) desire to create work with
far-reaching impact. Almost 400 years later some of Rembrandt’s etching
masterpieces, including a self-portrait, are reaching visitors at the Art Gallery of
Greater Victoria in British Columbia, Canada.

Rembrandt Van Rijn, Bust of a Man wearing a high cap, 1630. Etching on paper. Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. Gift of Commander & Mrs. A.J. Tullis 1973.146.001.

AGGV’s Winter is an Etching runs from Dec. 13, 2013 to May 19, 2014, and brings
together the work of Rembrandt, his contemporaries and some of his printmaking
heirs, including Adrian Van Ostade (Dutch 1610-1685), Edouard Manet (French
1832-1883) and Käthe Kollwitz (German, 1867-1945), all from the collection of the

Adriaen Van Ostade | The Smiling Smoker, n.d. | etching on paper | Art Gallery of Greater Victoria | Dr. Gustav and Marie Schilder Collection | 1981.002.001

“During Rembrandt’s lifetime, it was his etchings, not his paintings, which were at
the root of his international reputation,” says Michelle Jacques, AGGV Chief
Curator. “Today, his canvases are more celebrated, but there is no doubt the
expressive potential he found in the printed line is extraordinary, and has been
inspirational to generations of artists.”

“Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting, and autumn a
mosaic of them all.” These eighteen words represent the entirety of a poem
written by American poet Stanley Horowitz and first published in Reader’s Digest
in 1983. Horowitz’s poem provides a fitting title for the exhibition, which focuses on
seventeenth-century etchings and engravings by Rembrandt and his circle, as well
as later works that share certain qualities with their Dutch precedents: expressive
line, dramatic play of light and dark, and naturalistic observation of the figure.

Amedeo Modigliani

Amedeo Modigliani, was born on July 12, 1884 in Italy but worked mainly in france, is one of the most popular artists of the 20th century. Right from his childhood, Modigliani suffered from various health problems such as pleurisy (1895) and typhoid (1898). In 1898, considering his feeble physical health, he was dropped out of regular school to join the Art Academy in Livorno. One year later, he again took ill with pleurisy and got infected with tuberculosis, which eventually claimed his life.

In 1906, Modigliani settled in Paris, where he encountered the works of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Georges Rouault, and Pablo Picasso (in his "blue period") and assimilated their influence, as in

The Jewess (1908; private collection, Paris).

The strong influence of Paul Cezanne’s paintings is clearly evident, both in Modigliani’s deliberate distortion of the figure and the free use of large, flat areas of color.

His friendship with Constantin Brancusi kindled Modigliani’s interest in sculpture, in which he would continue his very personal idiom, distinguished by strong linear rhythms, simple elongated forms, and verticality. Head (1912; Guggenheim Museum, New York City) and Caryatid (1914; Museum of Modern Art, New York City) exemplify his sculptural work, which consists mainly of heads and, less often, of full figures.

After 1915, Modigliani devoted himself entirely to painting, producing some of his best work. His interest in African masks and sculpture remains evident, especially in the treatment of the sitters’ faces: flat and masklike, with almond eyes, twisted noses, pursed mouths, and elongated necks. Despite their extreme economy of composition and neutral backgrounds, the portraits convey a sharp sense of the sitter’s personality, as in

Moise Kisling (1915; private collection, Milan).

A fine example of Modigliani’s figure paintings is a reclining

(1917; Guggenheim Museum),

an elegant, arresting arrangement of curved lines and planes as well as a striking idealization of feminine sexuality.

The following are some of the most famous Amedeo Modigliani paintings:

Sleeping Nude with Arms Open

Jeanne Hébuterne in Red Shawl

Portrait of Maude Abrantes

Head of a Woman with a Hat

Portrait of Juan Gris

Amedeo Modigliani Quotes:
Happiness is an angel with a serious face.

I am now rich in fruitful ideas and I must produce my work.

Rome is not outside me, but inside me.. Her feverish sweetness, her tragic countryside, her own beauty and harmony, all these are mine, for my thought and my work.

What I am seeking is not the real and not the unreal but rather the unconscious, the mystery of the instinctive in the human race.

Today, the popularity of oil painting reproductions and prints of Amedeo Modigliani works shows his success. Modigliani paintings are loved by thoudsands of art lovers.

Saturday, December 28, 2013


Home to an extraordinarily rich collection of eminent works by Gustav Klimt, the Leopold Museum, Vienna, celebrated the artist’s 150th birthday from the 24th of February to the 27th of August 2012 with an exhibition dedicated to this important exponent of fin-de-siècle Vienna, who is among the most celebrated artists of the 20th century.


While the oeuvre of Gustav Klimt is now world-renowned, the man and artist behind it has remained almost completely hidden. The anniversary exhibition Klimt: Up Close and Personal. Images – Letters – Insights showed Klimt in a different light, with select works being presented in juxtaposition with quotes from the artist himself. For this exhibition, the museum drew upon its rich Klimt collection, which includes chief works such as the allegory “Death and Life”, landscapes such as “Lake Attersee”, “The Still Pond” or “The Large Poplar II” as well as more than one hundred drawings.(See images below)

These renderings are complemented by other important works loaned to the museum and are presented side by side with statements made by the artist. By weaving together his life and his oeuvre, the exhibition reveals hitherto unknown aspects of Klimt’s

The artist caused many a controversy during his lifetime, which prompted him to increasingly retreat within himself. Klimt’s contemporary, the art historian Hans Tietze, wrote on this subject in 1919:

“The circumstances placed Klimt right at the center of the boisterous Viennese art scene, but he was actually a shy individual who abhorred making public appearances. […] Even his friends were hardly ever allowed to glimpse behind the wall that Klimt had built around himself.” (Hans Tietze, Gustav Klimts Persönlichkeit, 1919, p. 1)

It is hardly surprising, therefore, that the man and artist Gustav Klimt has become enshrouded in countless cliches and myths, many of which this exhibition sought to dispel.

The exhibition touched upon various topics, ranging from his artistic methods and his formative influences to reports from his annual summer holidays at Lake Attersee, from information about his collectors, benefactors and the sale prices of his works to Gustav Klimt’s hitherto largely unknown role as a caring father to his illegitimate children and his take on the young artists of his time.

Almost all the landscapes Klimt created from the turn of the century onwards were inspired by motifs from his summer stays in the countryside. Very often the weather would thwart his plans, however, as he described in his letters to his mistress Mizzi Zimmermann, who had stayed behind in Vienna, writing that he would have to finish the paintings he started on site in his Vienna studio for lack of time. Showcased in this presentation were particularly striking examples of Klimt‘s magnificent landscapes, including some notable loans from national and international collections.

Another emphasis of the exhibition was on the reconstruction of Klimt’s studios, which again serves to highlight the artist’s private, non-public persona. Between 1892 and 1911 Klimt worked in a secluded studio cottage situated in the backyard of a town house.

The studio was a refuge for the artist, a place where he could withdraw from the public and be himself. It also served as his private kingdom, where the female nude models captured by Klimt in thousands of drawings congregated, earning it the reputation of a myth-enshrouded “hortus conclusus” already during the artist’s own lifetime. These reconstructions of his studios provide an ideal setting for the Klimt drawings selected for this exhibition from the Leopold Museum’s rich collection. Since the presentation also includes many of the original objects that Klimt surrounded himself with in his studios, such as a large number of original Japanese woodcuts, murals, theater masks and Japanese kimonos, Klimt is also speaking to us as a collector.

The paintings and drawings presented in the exhibition “Klimt: Up Close and Personal. Images – Letters – Insights” are complemented by a wealth of contemporary Klimt photographs, which are unprecedented in their number, density and quality. These historical photographs also explore the constant tension between the artist’s public persona and his private life. They show Klimt in a relaxed atmosphere among his friends in his typical painter’s coat on the lakeshore or on his quests for suitable motifs for his paintings. These pictures reveal to what an extent Klimt used photography as a means of self-stylization.

GUSTAV KLIMT (1862-1918) Tod und Leben, 1910/15 Death and Life Öl auf Leinwand / Oil on canvas 180,5 x 200,5 cm Leopold Museum, Wien, Inv. 630

GUSTAV KLIMT (1862-1918) Am Attersee, 1901 On Lake Attersee Öl auf Leinwand / Oil on canvas 80,2 x 80,2 cm Leopold Museum, Wien, Inv. 4148

GUSTAV KLIMT (1862-1918) Die große Pappel I, 1900 The Large Poplar I Öl auf Leinwand / Oil on canvas 80 x 80 cm Privatsammlung / Private Collection, Courtesy Neue Galerie New York

GUSTAV KLIMT (1862-1918) Die große Pappel II (Aufsteigendes Gewitter), 1902/03 The Large Poplar II (Gathering Storm) Öl auf Leinwand / Oil on canvas 100,8 x 100,7 cm Leopold Museum, Wien, Inv. 2008

GUSTAV KLIMT (1862-1918) Apfelbaum I, um 1912 Apple Tree I, c. 1912 Öl auf Leinwand / Oil on canvas 109 x 110 cm Privatbesitz / Private collection

GUSTAV KLIMT (1862-1918) Allee vor Schloss Kammer, 1912 Avenue in Front of Kammer Castle Öl auf Leinwand / Oil on canvas 110 x 110 cm Belvedere, Wien

GUSTAV KLIMT (1862-1918) Italienische Gartenlandschaft, 1913 Italian Garden Landscape Öl auf Leinwand / Oil on canvas 110 x 110 cm Kunsthaus Zug, Stiftung Sammlung Kamm

GUSTAV KLIMT (1862-1918) Der goldene Ritter (Das Leben ist ein Kampf), 1903 The Golden Knight (Life is a Battle) Öl auf Leinwand / Oil on canvas 103,5 x 103,7 cm Aichi Prefectural Museum of Art, Nagoya

GUSTAV KLIMT (1862-1918) Schönbrunner Landschaft, 1916 Schönbrunn Landscape Öl auf Leinwand / Oil on canvas 110 x 110 cm Privatbesitz, Graz / Private collection, Graz


Samuel Palmer (1805–1881): Vision and Landscape

Samuel Palmer ranks among the most important British landscape painters of the Romantic era. Marking the 200th anniversary of the artist's birth, Samuel Palmer (1805–1881): Vision and Landscape was the first major retrospective of his work in nearly 80 years, uniting some 100 of his finest watercolors, drawings, etchings, and oils from public and private collections in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, the Netherlands, and the United States.

The exhibition highlighted the artist's celebrated early work, executed in a visionary style inspired by William Blake, and re-examines Palmer's vibrant middle-period Italian studies and masterful late watercolors and etchings. It also includes a selection of works by artists in Palmer's circle. Samuel Palmer was on view at The Metropolitan Museum of Art from March 7 through May 29, 2006.

The exhibition was organized by The British Museum and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Organized chronologically, the exhibition placed special emphasis on the artist's early work, made during his youthful friendship with the older poet, painter, and printmaker William Blake. Visionary in subject, intimate in mood, rich in texture, and brilliant in hue, these compelling "Shoreham period" works exhibit a wholly original style that remains fresh to 21st-century eyes. This section of the exhibition included unprecedented loans to the U.S., including such priceless masterpieces as Palmer's celebrated

Self-Portrait (Ashmolean Museum),

The Valley Thick with Corn (Ashmolean Museum),

In a Shoreham Garden (Victoria & Albert Museum), and

The Sleeping Shepherd (private collection).

The exhibition also explored Palmer's embrace of a more naturalistic vision in the years of his early maturity. During this period, Palmer captured the striking landscapes of Wales, Italy, and the southern coast of England in sketches and watercolors. This portion of the exhibition featured significant works such as

Tintern Abbey (Victoria & Albert Museum),

The Cypresses at the Villa d'Este (Yale Center for British Art), and

A View of Ancient Rome (Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery).

Samuel Palmer featured an unrivalled selection of large, vibrant landscapes from Palmer's later maturity, including such treasures of British art as

Christian Descending into the Valley of Humiliation (Ashmolean Museum),

King Arthur's Castle, Tintagel, Cornwall (Ashmolean Museum), and

The Lonely Tower (Huntington Library and Art Gallery).

It concluded with a new examination of Palmer's extraordinary achievement as a printmaker, whose shimmering etchings transport the viewer to exquisite worlds. In prints such as

The Skylark,

The Weary Ploughman,

The Bellman, the bold imagination of Palmer's youth returns, refined by the wisdom of experience.

From an excellent review, well worth reading:

Samuel Palmer (British, 1805-1881)
Rest on the Flight to Egypt, 1824-5
Oil on panel
32.3 X 39.4 cm.
© The Ashmolean Museum, Oxford

It is in the second section, entitled The Primitive Years, where Palmer's working style evolved to strong decorative patterns, vivid colour and defined outlines - an intense and visionary stylization for which he is recognised. Palmer's distinctive style can be seen in two of his most recognised works: Rest on the Flight to Egypt (1824-5) and The Magic Apple Tree (1830). In the first painting, the Shoreham countryside becomes a vision of earthly paradise where Palmer is able to merge his spiritual ideology into the visual landscape of the Kent countryside. One of Palmer's key techniques was to distort the images of people in his paintings, like the Holy Family in Rest on the Flight to Egypt, to force the viewer's attention to the surrounding landscape. Note also the steeply sloping area in the left foreground, another compositional device frequently used by Palmer.

Samuel Palmer (British, 1805-1881)
The Magic Apple Tree, 1830
Brown ink, watercolor and gouache with gum arabic
34.9 x 26 cm.
© The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge

Both Rest on the Flight to Egypt and The Magic Apple Tree were painted during Palmer's Shoreham years, a period that is now recognised as the apex of his career and creativity. These paintings mark the third and fourth sections in the exhibition, Shoreham and The Ancients, 1826-1830, highlighting the most important periods in Palmer's life. He produced some of the best work of his artistic career at this time, and would later look back on and describe it as "...the happiest and most creative period of my life."

Exhibition Credits and Catalogue

Samuel Palmer (1805–1881): Vision and Landscape was organized by William Vaughan, Professor of the History of Art at Birbeck College, University of London, in collaboration with Metropolitan Museum Associate Curator Constance McPhee, and former Metropolitan Associate Curator Elizabeth Barker. The exhibition was also on view at The British Museum in London.

The exhibition was accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue published by The British Museum Press. It includes essays by William Vaughn, Elizabeth Barker, and Colin Harrison, Curator, Department of Fine Art, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, with six additional essays contributed by leading scholars.