Is the Onus on You, Lin or Robyn?

lin-onusAbove: “Robyn” by Lin Onus (1995), synthetic polymer paint on canvas (181x181cm).

William McLintock Onus (aka Lin Onus)  was born on 4 December 1948 at St. George’s Hospital, Kew, Melbourne, Victoria to William Townsend Onus Sr, Yorta Yorta and Mary Kelly, of Scottish parentage. Lin Onus was educated in the 1950s and 1960s at Deepdene Primary School and Balwyn High School in Melbourne.

With both Scottish and Indigenous Australian heritage; (His father Bill Onus, was the founder of the Aboriginal Advancement League and was the first Aboriginal JP, dying in 1968, a year after the fruits of a long campaign, the referendum giving Indigenous Australians the right to vote).

  • Onus was largely a self-taught urban artist who, after being expelled from Balwyn High School for fighting, began his working life as a motor mechanic before making artifacts for the tourist market with his father’s business, Aboriginal Enterprise Novelties.

Onus became a successful painter, sculptor and maker of prints. His works often involve symbolism from Indigenous styles of painting, along with recontextualisation of modern artistic elements.

The images in his works include haunting portrayals of the Barmah Forest red gum eucalypts of his father’s ancestral country, and the use of rarrk cross-hatching-based painting style that he learned whilst visiting the Indigenous communities of Maningrida.

  • Lin Onus had a heart attack and died at the age of 47, on 24 October 1996.  He was buried at the settlement of Cummeragunja on the New South Wales-Victorian border-line.
  • Four years later, on 8 December 2000, as part of Aboriginal Reconciliation, Peter Bond, Principal of Balwyn High School, at its presentation night at Dallas Brooks Hall, issued a posthumous apology to Lin Onus for being expelled from its school in the early 1960s, as reported in the Herald-Sun newspaper (Friday, 8 December 2000, p.8.)

Robyn is part of Onus’s Arafura Swamp pictures, where he animated the waters deep overall field of blue with the reflected images of trees and clouds and swirling shoals of local perch. He also produced several paintings which included a naked female figure floating in the water. Robyn was one of these and Onus described this painting as such:

I liked…the idea of placing Robyn against a background of large coloured pebbles as they reminded me of rock pools which I had seen in the Kimberley region, (in) North Western Australia. Pools which had crystal clear water and which reflected a great deal of colour.  Similarly the notion of bright colour appealed to me as I was reminded of the vividness of the urban environment and all of the art work I saw whilst I was in Madrid. There was a strong connection with the colouring used and my memories of Spain. Both Spanish and Australian  landscapes have influenced the colouring and texture of this work.

  • So, I ask you, is the Onus on Lin or Robyn?
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It’s Orpen Understood that War Time Painters Efforts are Seldom Recognised

william-orpen-early-morningEarly Morning (1922)  90cm x85cm, London.

Major Sir William Newenham Montague Orpen was born on 27 November 1878, in Stillorgan, Co.Dublin, Ireland. He was the fourth son of Arthur Herbert Orpen  and his wife, Anne Caulfield (daughter of the Right Rev. Charles Caulfield; Bishop of Nassau). Both of his parents were amateur painters, and his eldest brother, Richard Caulfield Orpen, became a notable architect.

Growing up at the family home Oriel, at the age of 13, the young and talented Orpen attended the Dublin Metropolitan School of Art. It was here that he won every major prize as well as the British Isles Gold Medal for Life Drawing; before leaving to study at the Slade School of Art (1897-1899). It was here that he mastered an oil painting technique which included mirrors in his pictures to create images within images; adding false frames and collages around his subjects; making pictorial references to works by other artists in his own paintings.

Orpen married Grace Knewstub and they had three daughters together; but the marriage was not a happy one and, by 1908, Orpen had begun a long running affair with Mrs Evelyn Saint-George, a well-connected American millionairess based in London, and with whom he also had a child.

  • By the start of WW1, Orpen was the most commercially successful artist working in Britain.
  • In December 1915 he was commissioned into the Army Service Corps painting portraits, including that of Winston Churchill, and other war artist postings.
  • In late1917, Orpen spent two weeks in hospital with blood poisoning and it was here that he met a young volunteer Red Cross worker from Lille named Yvonne Aubicq.

In May 1918, 125 of Orpen’s war paintings and drawings were displayed at Agnew’s Galleries in Old Bond Street in London. The exhibition was a great success with 9,000 paying visitors attending its four week exhibition.

  • In 1928 Orpen stood for election as President of the Royal Academy but lost to Sir William Llewellyn.
  • Orpen died aged 53 in London, on 29 September 1931, and was buried at Putney Vale Cemetery.
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Oh Cecilia, You’re Breaking My Heart

guido-reni-st-ceciliaAbove: St. Cecilia as portrayed by Italian artist: Guido Reni

Saint Cecilia was a Roman martyr. She is reported to be born Ca. 2nd or 3rd Century A.D., although her dates of birth and martyrdom are unknown.

  • St. Cecilia is the patron saint of music and her feast day is celebrated each year on 22 November.

She is said to have heard heavenly music inside her heart when she was forced to marry the pagan, Valerian. Therefore, her name has been associated with a wealth of musical attributes including church music, musicians. composers, instrument makers and poets.

It is suggested that she was young when she was betrothed to Valerian. But before she completed her marriage vows to Valerian, she claimed that she had already vowed her virginity to God and later refused to consummate her marriage.

Cecilia is also acclaimed to have distributed her possessions to the poor, and that this enraged an avaricious prefect who ordered her to be burned. When the flames did not harm her, she was beheaded.

  • Cecilia was buried in the catacombs of a church near Rome. At the beginning of the 5th Centenary, Pope St. Paschal I discovered her relics in the catacombs and had them moved to Rome.

To borrow from Simon & Garfunkel’s 1960’s hit song “Cecilia” which some say is based on Cecilia, the patron saint of music, I will finish with this refrain:

“Oh Cecilia, You’re Breaking My Heart, You’re Shaking My Confidence Daily.”








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On Armistice Day – Lest We Forget

ww1-recuitment-posters3Above is part of a collection of World War One (WW1) recruitment posters, (A gift by Horace H.J. Roberts). Over 200 Parliamentary Recruiting Committee and Parliamentary War Saving Committee posters were published before the introduction for conscription in January 1916.

The posters were designed as positive and negative propaganda to aid recruitment and to encourage donation to the war effort; which was aimed at domestic civilian audiences.

  • Expatriate Australian artists in London such as Will Dyson were employed to design such posters.

poppies-anzacThis poppy installation [featured above] comes from the Lynn Berry and Margaret Knight installation entitled “From Little Things Big Things Grow.”

It was described as something that began as a small tribute by two Australian women as their personal tribute to their fathers who fought in World War Two (WW2), which became a nationwide outpouring of respect and remembrance to all those who served their countries in all wars, conflicts and peace-keeping operations.

Lynn and Margaret set out to crochet a humble 120 poppies to plant around the 14/32nd Battalion’s tree in the Avenue of Honour at Melbourne’s Shrine of Remembrance for its Remembrance Day event in 2014.

Its simple tribute of love and honour has sparked massive community interest with an estimated 50,000 plus contributors to what is now a nationwide project which includes  hundreds, if not thousands, of smaller localized installations throughout Australia, New Zealand and Singapore.

And, as For the Fallen – “Lest We  Forget” .

“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them”.

(Laurence Binyon).

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Coulrophobia – (The Fear of Clowns)

30owendippieAbove street art is by Owen Dippie, (OD) a street artist / graffiti artist / muralist from New Zealand.  You can find out more about Owen Dippie via his website  or follow him on his Blog. The artwork commemorates Heath Ledger’s role as ‘The Joker’.

There is a new world-wide phenomenon which is happening through many countries including the United Kingdom, the United States of America and Australia, to mention just a few. This new craze involves ‘Creepy Clowns’ or ‘Scary Clowns’ – or in particular, people dressing up in ‘horror’ clown costumes and committing ‘malice’ amongst unsuspecting members of the community. This can be particularly alarming for those who suffer from coulrophobia – the fear of clowns.

  • The increase of the crazy-creepy clown sightings have ‘ramped up’ due to Halloween preparations.
  • The first sighting was on 19 August, in Greenville, South Carolina when a boy claimed that two creepy clowns tried to entice him into a forest.
  • By October, 2016, there were sighting in the UK and other towns around the world.

One of the more famous ‘Creepy Clowns’ belongs to ‘The Joker” from the Batman series, and in particular the one featured in the Batman movie “The Dark Knight”.

This was Perth (Australia) born actor Heath Ledger’s last role before his untimely death on 22 January, 2008 at the age of 28, in his apartment in Soho, Manhattan.

“The Joker”referred to himself as an ‘Agent of Chaos’ and Ledger described him as a psychopathic, mass murdering, schizophrenic clown with zero empathy.

However, there are counter-clown movements developing who are trying to take the ‘modern day’ creepiness away from clowns and take them back to the ‘good old days’ in circus arenas in times gone by, who entertained children with their own peels of laughter, whilst witnessing the antics of the comic clowns.

30twe-crew Street art featured above is by the French TWE Crew whose members are reportedly: Athor2 (Tarbes),  Nitch (Bayonne), Skuze (Paris), and Deza (also from Paris).


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Time to Bask in Tutankhamun’s Golden Mask

tomb-of-tutankhamonThe Golden Mask (aka The Gold Death Mask) featured above is an exact replica of the Egyptian Pharaoh Tutankhamun’s features, represented in beaten gold inlaid with semi-precious stones. (The life size replica stands 21″ high x 15″ wide at the shoulders, and weighs 24 lbs)  – as seen at the ‘Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs Exhibition’, Melbourne Museum, April, 2011.

The mask’s inlays cover almost the entire surface. The stripes of the nemes headdress and the beard contain coloured glass in imitation lapis lazuli. The eyebrows and inlaid parts around the eye are made of real lapis lazuli.  The whites of the eye consist of quartz and the areas of the iris and pupil are obsidian. The collar includes sections of coloured glass, turquoise, quartz and other semi-precious stones.

  • Tutankhamun was an Egyptian Pharaoh of the 18th Dynasty (ca. 1332 BC – 1323 BC), who reigned during the Egyptian New Kingdom. He died at the age of almost 18 years.

The modern world became aware of Tutankhamun on 4th November 1922, when his tomb was discovered by Howard Carter and George Herbert, 5th Earl of Carnarvon. Its discovery and contents sparked a renewed public interest in ancient Egypt, for which Tutankhamun’s burial mask remains a popular symbol.

Exhibits of artifacts from his tomb have toured the world ever since and have become some of the most traveled artifacts in the world. The longest running world-wide exhibition tour was ‘The Treasures of Tutankhamun’, which ran from 1972-1979. This exhibition was first shown in London at the British Museum from 30 March-30 September 1972, where more than 1.6 million visitors saw the exhibition; with some queuing for up to eight hours. It became the British Museum’s most popular exhibition in its history.

  • The exhibition moved on to many other countries, including the USA, Japan, France, Canada, and West Germany, to name but a few.
  • In April 2011 the exhibition visited Australia for the first time, opening at the Melbourne Museum in April for its only Australian stop before Egypt’s treasures returned to Cairo in December, 2011. 
  • The exhibitions did not include the gold mask that was a feature of the 1972–1979 tours, as the Egyptian government determined that the mask is too fragile to withstand travel and will never again leave Egypt.
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The Race That Stops a Nation

garry-shead-before-the-start-1989Above: “Before the Start” (1989)

“It was a fast week a hectic week,
And in Flemington they ran a race.
The punters rallied and partied hard,
And somehow lost the pace.
But now as the dust settles on the track.
The roses faded to dust.
The winner counts the winnings,
And the losers slouch home bust.
To all of you who had a wager,
I hope it was successful.
But to those like me with purses shut
Their gains are most regretful!”

“The race that stops a nation”is the annual horse racing event – “The Melbourne Cup” which is held on the first Tuesday of November, at Flemington Race Course in Melbourne, Victoria. It is the most prestigious of horse-racing events to be held ‘DownUnder’ and has become a major international event with a world-wide selection of horses brought to Flemington to vie for the Melbourne Cup. This year there was a great nail-biter of a finish and therefore, what better time to introduce you to a great Australian artist, who has painted this appropriate title “Before the Start”, as pictured above, which could be based on this event.

Garry Shead was born in Sydney in 1942. During his childhood he had many influencers such as his uncle the winemaker Maurice O’Shea and his friends who included the prominent artist, William Dobell. One of his fondest childhood memories is when he was awarded the Argonauts’ Art Prize – the judge was Jeffrey Smart. 

He received his early schooling at Shore in Sydney where the art master John Lipscombe and the art teacher, Ross Doig, were both supportive of his artwork and annually he won the school art prize. In his final year at Shore, he produced his own satirical newsletter, The Corn Flake, which had a legendary popularity with his peers.

In 1961 Shead gained admission to the National Art School in Sydney and his painting of his sister Lynne was accepted and hung in the Archibald Prize exhibition, at 19, making him one of the youngest Archibald exhibitors ever. Simultaneously he commenced work as a cartoonist for a number of magazines including The Bulletin.

It was here that Shead formed friendships and as a group of four art students they published their first issue of The Arty Wild Oat  in April, 1962. The first issue featured on its front page an interview with the art critic Robert Hughes, while the second issue, which also turned out to be the final issue, carried Shead’s interview with contoversial artist Norman Lindsay.

Shead’s earliest art school work focussed on the female nude found in urban and rural settings. Even at this early stage there is a certain conceptual unity in all of Shead’s work – the paintings, drawings and the films have a common erotic quest and gentle lyricism.

His freelance cartoons, apart from providing a source of much needed income, also brought him into contact with art critics and the broader world of Sydney journalism. It was also in the context of The Bulletin that Shead published an article which, at least in his mind, led to his non-re-admission to the Art School for his third year of study in 1963.

Shead held his first solo exhibition in July 1966 at Frank Watters Gallery in Sydney. He has subsequently had over 45 solo exhibitions and has participated in over 200 group exhibitions.

In 1993 Shead was awarded the Archibald Prize and in 2004 the Dobell Prize for drawing, which was judged by John Olsen.

Shead is one of Australia’s most highly acclaimed artists, represented around the world including:

  • National Gallery of Australia,
  • Gallery of New South Wales,
  • Art Gallery of South Australia,
  • Queensland Art Gallery,
  • Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery,
  • Newcastle Regional Art Gallery,
  • Wollongong City Art Gallery,
  • Hungarian National Museum, Budapest Hungary,
  • Shepparton Art Museum Gallery,
  • Sydney Morning Herald Collection, State Bank of India, Sydney,
  • University of Western Australia,
  • University of New South Wales,
  • Australian National University,
  • Queensland University of Technology,
  • Brisbane City Art Collection Artbank,
  • National Film Library Parliament House, Canberra,
  • Phillip Morris Collection Canberra,
  • Philip Morris Arts Grant in National Portrait Gallery Crafts Board Sydney

For the sweep I got “NotWorthTwoBob”

However, my monies on: “Old Carpet” – Never Been Beatin’

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A Hoffering on A Hill

rayner-hoff-alfred-hillAlfred Hill (1936) by Rayner Hoff (1894-1937) patinated plaster. National Portrait Gallery, Canberra.

Australian/New Zealand composer, conductor and teacher, Alfred Francis Hill was born on 16 December 1869 in Melbourne, Victoria. He spent most of his early life in New Zealand. He then went to Germany and studied at the Leipzig Conservatory between 1887 and 1891 and played second violin with the Gewandhaus Orchestra.

Hill returned to New Zealand, where he was appointed director of the Wellington Orchestral Society. He also worked as a violin teacher, recitalist, chamber musician, and choral conductor. He was active in the push for a New Zealand Conservatorium of Music, and for the foundation of an institute of Māori studies at Rotorua.

In 1897, Hill returned to Australia, where he taught for a number of years. He married his first wife, Sarah Brownhill Booth, a New Zealander, on 6 October, 1897, in Paddington, New South Wales.

  • On 1 January,1901, he conducted a choir of 10,000 voices and ten massed brass bands as part of the celebrations of the Federation of Australia in Sydney. After several years regularly travelling between Australia and New Zealand, Hill settled in Sydney in 1911, becoming the principal of the Austral Orchestral College, and viola player of the Austral String Quartet.
  • In 1913 Hill founded the Australian Opera League with Fritz Hart, as part of an attempt to create an Australian operatic tradition.
  • Hill was also a founder of the Sydney Repertory Theatre Society, and a foundation council member (later President) of the Musical Association of New South Wales (NSW).
  • In 1915–1916 Hill co-founded the NSW State Conservatorium of Music and became its first Professor of Theory and Composition, and later deputy conductor to Henri Verbrugghen. In 1921 he divorced his wife, and on 1 October, 1921 married his former student Mirrie Solomon, also a composer.

From 1937, Hill devoted himself  to composition. He wrote more than 500 compositions, including 12 symphonies; eight operas (including The Weird Flute); numerous concertos; a mass; 17 string quartets and other chamber works; two cantatas on Māori subjects (Hinemoa and Tawhaki) and 11 other choral works; and 72 piano pieces.  In 1947 he became president of the Composers’ Society of Australia.

Hill was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1953, and a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George (CMG) in 1960.

  • Alfred Hill died at the age of 90 on 30 October, 1960. He was survived by his second wife Mirrie Hill, and the three children of his first marriage who were given the Wagnerian names Isolde, Tristan and Elsa.

About the sculptor: George Rayner Hoff was born on 27 November 1894 on the Isle of Man, the son of a stone and wood carver of Dutch descent. He came to Australia at the age of 28. Hoff is known for his memorial work on one of Australia’s finest art deco structures – the Anzac War Memorial in Sydney. Hoff died at the age of 43 on 19 November,  1937. Alfred Hill is the last portrait head Hoff sculpted.

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A Child is Born

a-child-is-born-by-mrs-tun-jou-kuA Child is Born by Mrs. Tun-jou Ku (I-ching Ku).

I-ching Ku, was born ca 1915 in Hanchow, China. She was a well-known artist specializing in birds, flowers and Chinese landscapes. She became a professor of Chinese Art at the National College of Fine Arts, Hanchow, and Tunghai University, Taiwan.

  • She lectured extensively and had her work exhibited in numerous colleges, museums and art shows and at the World’s Fair.
  • She judged art shows and was an expert at authenticating Chinese paintings.
  • She is best known for painting wildlife on stone.

Her husband, Professor Tun-jou Ku died in 1998. I-ching Ku died at the age of 88, at McCandless, Pennsylvania, on October 26, 2003.

She is survived by her sons Andrew and Henry, grandchildren Charlene and Raymond; and great-grandchild Ronan; and in China by her older second brother, younger third sister and younger sixth brother.

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The Batavia Has it All – Mutiny, Shipwreck and Murder

batavia freemantle museumBatavia was a ship which belonged to the Dutch East India Company. It was built in Amsterdam in 1628 and armed with 24 cast-iron cannons and a number of bronze guns.

  • On 27th October, 1628, she sailed from Texel in The Netherlands to the Dutch East Indies, on a her maiden voyage to obtain spices. It sailed under the commandment of senior merchant Francisco Pelsaert, with Ariaen Jacobsz as his skipper.
  • Also on board was the junior merchant Jeronimus Cornelisz, a bankrupt pharmacist from Haarlem who was fleeing The Netherlands, in fear of arrest because of his heretical beliefs associated with the painter Johannes van der Beeck, (aka) Torrentius.

During the voyage, Jacobsz and Cornelisz conceived a plan to take the ship, which would allow them to start a new life somewhere, using the huge supply of trade gold and silver which would then be on board. They had already gathered a small group of men around them and arranged an incident from which the mutiny was to ensue.

  • After leaving Cape Town, where they had stopped for supplies, Jacobsz deliberately steered the ship off course, away from the rest of the fleet. Batavia became shipwrecked and was made famous by the subsequent mutiny and massacre that took place among her survivors.

In 1972, The Netherlands transferred all rights to Dutch shipwrecks on the Australian coasts to Australia. Some of the items, including human remains, which were excavated, are now on display in the Western Australian Museum – Shipwreck Galleries in Fremantle. Others are held by the Western Australian Museum, Geraldton, north west of Fremantle.

  • The Western Australian Museum in Fremantle houses the original timbers from the ship’s hull in its Shipwreck Galleries.
  • While a great deal of materials have been recovered from the shipwreck site, the majority of the cannons and anchors have been left in-situ.
  • As a result, the wreck remains one of the premier dive sites on the West Australian coast and is part of the Museum’s wreck trail, or underwater “museum-without-walls” concept.

A twentieth-century replica of the ship, also called the Batavia, can be visited in Lelystad, in The Netherlands. The Batavia replica was built with traditional materials, such as oak and hemp, and using the tools and methods of the time of the original ship’s construction. For the design, good use was made of the remains of the original ship in Fremantle.

  • On 25 September 1999, the new Batavia was transported to Australia by barge, and moored at the National Maritime Museum in Sydney.
  • In 2000, Batavia was the flagship for the Dutch Olympic Team during the 2000 Olympic Games. During its stay in Australia, the ship was towed to the ocean once, where it sailed on its own.
  • On 12 June 2001, the ship returned to the Bataviawerf in Lelystad, where it remains on display to visitors.
  • On the evening of 13 October 2008, a fire ripped through the wharf.  Luckily, the  moored Batavia was never in danger.

The reservation and the preservation of the Batavia shows that “breaking up is hard to do“.

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The Fall of the Boy

frederic-remingtonFrederic Remington – “Fall of the Boy“, 1895 (oil on canvas),  Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth, Texas.

American painter, illustrator, sculptor, and writer, Frederic Sackrider Remington  was born in Canton, New York, on 4 October 4, 1861. He specialised in replicating the last quarter of the 19th-Century American West, including images of cowboys, American Indians, and the U. S. Cavalry within his artistic works.

  • His father was a colonel in the Civil War; whose family arrived in America from England in 1637.
  • His maternal family (the Bascom line) was of French Basque ancestry, coming to America in the early 1600s and founding Windsor, Connecticut.
  • He was also related to General George Washington, America’s first president.

The family moved to Ogdensburg, New York when Remington was eleven and he attended Vermont Episcopal Institute, a church-run military school. It was here that he took his first drawing lessons.

Remington later attended the art school at Yale University, leaving  in 1879 to attend to his ailing father who was suffering from and later succumbed to tuberculosis.  It was during this time that he secured a good paying clerical job in Albany, New York and Remington would return home on weekends to see his girlfriend Eva Caten whom he later married; although they suffered from recurring relationship problems throughout their married life.

At nineteen, he made his first trip west, going to Montana where he saw the vast prairies, the quickly shrinking buffalo herds, cattle, and the last major confrontations of U.S. Cavalry and native American tribes. These became inspirations for his artwork.

  • From that first trip, Harper’s Weekly published Remington’s first commercial effort, a re-drawing of a quick sketch on wrapping paper that he had mailed back home.
  • He made a gentleman’s agreement with Harper’s Weekly, giving the magazine an informal first option on his output but maintaining his independence to sell elsewhere if desired. As a bonus, the magazine launched a massive promotional campaign, stating that “He draws what he knows, and he knows what he draws.
  • His first full page cover under his own name appeared in Harper’s Weekly on January 9, 1886, when he was twenty-five.
  • With financial backing from his Uncle Bill, Remington was able to pursue his art career and support his wife Eva.

His status as the new trendsetter in Western art was solidified in 1889 when he won a second-class medal at the Paris Exposition.

Remington’s regular attendance at celebrity banquets and stag dinners fostered prodigious eating and drinking which caused his girth to expand alarmingly. Obesity became a constant problem for him.

In 1890, Remington and his wife Eva moved to New Rochelle, New York in order to have both more living space and extensive studio facilities, and also with the hope of gaining more exercise. But the financial panic of 1907 caused a slow down in his sales and Remington tried to sell his home to get further away from urbanization. One night he made a bonfire in his yard and burned dozens of his oil paintings which had been used for magazine illustration making an emphatic statement that he was done with illustration forever. He wrote, “There is nothing left but my landscape studies.

Near the end of his life, he moved to Ridgefield, Connecticut. In his final two years, he was veering more heavily towards Impressionism, and he regretted that he was studio bound due to his declining health. Remington died after an emergency appendectomy led to peritonitis on December 26, 1909. His extreme obesity (weighing approx. 300 pounds) had complicated the anesthesia and the surgery, and chronic appendicitis was cited in the post-mortem examination as an underlying factor in his death. He was buried in Evergreen Cemetery, Canton, New York.

With “The Fall of the Boy” it is obvious that Remington “Draws what he knows, and he knows what he draws.

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This Placement of the Casement has become a Famous Statement

fra-filippo-lippi-a-man-and-a-woman-at-a-casement(Above: Portrait of a Man and Woman at a Casement (c. 1440). Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City).

Fra’ Filippo Lippi (c. 1406 – 8 October 1469), aka Lippo Lippi, was a Florentine artist. In 1420 after his parents had died, he was admitted to the Carmelite Friars community of the Priory of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Florence. He stayed there until 1425, when he was ordained as a priest; remaining in residence until 1432. 

  • In 1452 he was appointed chaplain to the nuns at the Monastery of St. Mary Magdalene in Florence.
  • His paintings became popular and he was supported by the Medici family.
  • In June 1456, Fra Filippo moved to Prato (near Florence) to paint frescoes in the choir of the Cathedral.

In 1458, while engaged in this work, he set about painting a picture for the monastery chapel of St. Margherita, where he met the beautiful Lucrezia Buti, a novice of the Order. Lippi asked that she might be permitted to sit for the figure of the Madonna (or perhaps St. Margherita). Under that pretext, he engaged in sexual relations with her; abducted her to his own house, and kept her there despite the nuns’ efforts to reclaim her. Together Lippi and Lucrezia had a son Filippino Lippi, who became a painter; no less famous than his father.

Lippi spent his latter life in Spoleto, where he was commissioned to paint the apse of the Spoleto Cathedral; and it was here that Lippi died on or about the 8 October 1469. The cause of his death remains in dispute. One rumour suggests that the Pope granted Lippi a dispensation to marry Lucrezia, but before the permission arrived, Lippi had been poisoned by the indignant relatives of either Lucrezia or some lady who had replaced her in Lippi’s wandering affections.

  • Lippi is buried on the right side of the transept within the Spoleto Cathedral.
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The Hounds of Love are Calling

edwin-landseer-the-faithfull-hound(Above: The Faithful Hound (1830) – where the bloodhound, as protagonist, howls a mournful lament for his dead master, as the the last rays of the sun fade).

English painter Sir Edwin Henry Landseer was born on 7 March, 1802. Landseer was born in London, the son of the engraver John Landseer. In 1815, at the tender age of 13, the young Landseer exhibited works at the Royal Academy. He was elected an Associate Member at the age of 24; and an Academician five years later in 1831, at the age of 29.

According to Wikipedia, he studied under several artists, along with his father, and the artist Benjamin Robert Haydon, who encouraged the young Landseer to perform dissections in order to fully understand animal musculature and skeletal structure. (This is why he is well known for his paintings of animals, including those of horses, dogs and stags).

Landseer was rumoured to be able to paint with both hands at the same time, e.g. paint a horse’s head with the right and its tail with the left, simultaneously. He was also known to be able to paint extremely quickly—when the mood struck him. Likewise, he could also procrastinate, sometimes for years, over certain commissions.

edwin-landseer-islay-and-tilca-with-red-macaw-and-2-lovebirds(Left: Islay and Tilca with Red Macaw and Two Lovebirds. (1839) – A depiction of five of Queen Victoria’s pets).

Queen Victoria commissioned many artists to produce numerous works of art. Initially asked to paint various Royal pets, Landseer moved on to portraits of the Royal family, which included the Queen’s children as babies, usually in the company of a dog. So popular and influential were Landseer’s paintings of dogs in the service of humanity, that the name Landseer came to be the official name for the variety of Newfoundland dog that, rather than being black or mostly black, features a mix of both black and white.

In his late 1830s, Landseer suffered what is now believed to be a substantial nervous breakdown, and for the rest of his life was troubled by recurring bouts of melancholy, hypochondria, and depression; often aggravated by alcohol and drug use.

  • Knighted in 1850, Landseer declined his Presidential election to the Royal Academy, sixteen years late  in 1866.
  • As for Landseer’s most renown works, in 1858, the British government commissioned him  to make four bronze lions for the base of Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square, London. The sculptures were installed in 1867 ( see image – below).


Landseer’s works can be found in the Tate Britain, Victoria and Albert Museum, Kenwood House and the Wallace Collection in London.

In the last few years of his life, Landseer’s mental stability was problematic; and at the request of his family he was declared insane in July 1872.

  • Landseer’s death on 1 October 1873 was widely marked in England: Shops and houses lowered their blinds, flags flew at half mast; his bronze lions at the base of Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square were hung with wreaths; and large crowds lined the streets to watch his funeral cortege pass. Landseer was buried in St Paul’s Cathedral, London.
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I’ve understood Lidderdale’s Pensive Mood

charles-sillem-lidderdale-a-pensive-moodThe above is entitled: “A Pensive Mood” by C. S. Lidderdale.

There is not a lot of information about the artist Charles Sillem Lidderdale, however, it appears that he may have been born on 28 September 28, 1830, in St.Petersburg, Russia.

As a British artist whose work often focused on portraits of young women in outdoor settings, Lidderdale exhibited 36 paintings at the Royal Academy between 1856 to 1893.

  • Charles Sillem Lidderdale died  in London, on  June 7, 1895.
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Circe and the Dawn of a New Age

circe-bertram-mckellarAustralian sculptor Sir Edgar Bertram Mackennal was born on 12th June 1863 in Fitzroy, an inner city suburb of Melbourne. Mackennal studied at the National Gallery from 1878 -1882. He then left to study in London, where he shared a studio with Charles Douglas Richardson and Tom Roberts.

In 1884, Mackennal visited Paris for further study and married a fellow student, Agnes Spooner. On returning to England, Mackennal was appointed head of modelling and design at the Coalport Potteries, Shropshire in early 1886.

  • In the same year he won a competition for the sculptured reliefs on the front of Parliament House, Melbourne.
  • While in Australia, Mackennal obtained commissions, including the figure over the doorway of the Mercantile Chambers, Collins Street, Melbourne.

In 1893, Mackennal had his first success when his full-length figure “Circe“, now at the National Gallery of Victoria, (pictured above) obtained a “mention” at the Old Salon and created a good deal of interest. It was exhibited later at the Royal Academy where it also aroused great interest, partly because of the prudery of the hanging committee which insisted that the base should be covered. Because of this, commissions began flowing in, among them being the figures “Oceana” and “Grief” for the Union Club, Sydney.

bertram mackennal - dawn of a new ageAbove is: “Dawn of a New Age” (1924) Bronze; – Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney.  (Gift  of Mrs. D.V. Ritchie, 1951) Diploma work accepted 1924, by the Royal Academy –  who accepted Mackennal’s Diploma work. He was already a successful and highly sought-after sculptor in Britain and Australia at this time.

Other accolades include:

  • The British 1½d stamp of 1912 which was based on the Mackennal portrait of King George V.
  • Being the 1st Australian artist to be knighted, McKennal was created a Knight Commander of the Victorian Order in 1921, and was elected to the Royal Academy in 1922.

Sir Bertram Mackennal died suddenly from the rupture of an abdominal aneurysm at his house, Watcombe Hall near Torquay, Devon on 10 October 1931.

He is survived by Lady Mackennal and their daughter.

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