Get Your Togs Off | Swimsuits Are Optional

Paul Serusier – In 1888, while a student at the Academie Julian in Paris, Serusier visited the Breton village of Pont-Aven, where he met the influential painter Paul Gauguin. The young Serusier adopted with enthusiasm many of Gauguin’s revolutionary ideas, particularly those affecting colour and composition. These ideas, broadly referred to as Synthetism, fostered a subjective approach to interpreting the natural world through the use of bold expanses of colour and the representation of forms by means of radically simplified shapes. Boys on a river bank with its simplified forms, strong contours and emphatic tonal register, reveals a clear debt to Gauguin. [Boys on a river bank (1906) oil on canvas Felton Bequest, National Gallery of Victoria].

Australian artist Kenneth Robertson Macqueen  was born on 8 April 1897 at Ballarat East, Victoria. The family moved to Brisbane, Queensland in 1898 where Macqueen studied at Bowen House School and later in Sydney, New South Wales at Scots College; and attended weekly drawing-classes conducted by Alfred Coffey. Macqueen enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) and served (1917-18) on the Western Front with the 12th (Army) Brigade, Australian Field Artillery. After the war he studied at the Slade School of Fine Art, University of London, and at the Westminster Technical Institute and School of Art. Returning to Australia, he worked on sheep stations in New South Wales, before settling at Mount Emlyn, near Millmerran, in south-eastern Queensland, where he divided his time between water-colour painting and farming. From the early 1920s Macqueen’s watercolours frequently appeared in the annual exhibitions of the Society of Artists, Sydney. Having joined the Australian Watercolour Institute in 1928, he contributed to its yearly showings until the late 1950s. Macqueen served as a trustee (1959-60) of the Queensland Art Gallery until his untimely death from a coronary occlusion on 21 June 1960 at Millmerran. His work is represented in the National Gallery of Australia, all State galleries, major regional and university collections, and in public galleries in New Zealand and the United States of America. In November-December 1981 a retrospective exhibition was held at the University of Queensland’s art museum, Brisbane. [Out To Sea by Kenneth Macqueen].

Marià Josep Maria Bernat Fortuny i Marsal was born in Reus, a city near Tarragona, in Catalonia, Spain on June 11, 1838. Known more simply as Marià Fortuny or Mariano Fortuny, he was the leading Spanish painter of his day. His brief career encompassed works on a variety of subjects common in the art of the period, including the Romantic fascination with Orientalist themes. Fortuny’s father died when he was an infant, and his mother by the time he was 12. Thus, Fortuny was raised by his grandfather, a cabinet-maker who taught him to make wax figurines. At the age of 9, at a public competition in his town, a local painter, teacher and patron, Domènec Soberano, encouraged further study. At the age of 14 Fortuny moved to Barcelona with his grandfather. The sculptor Domènec Talarn secured him a pension allowing him to attend the Escola Provincial de Belles Arts and in March 1857 Fortuny gained a scholarship that entitled him to two years of studies in Rome starting in 1858. There he studied drawing and grand manner styles. Fortuny died on November 21, 1874. [Nude on a Beach at Portici]

Australian artist Frederick William Leist  was born in Sydney, New South Wales on 21 August 1873. He began his career as a furniture designer for David Jones Limited, but decided on a career in art; studying at Sydney Technical College before entering the Julian Ashton Art School, where he studied directly under Julian Ashton, from whom he learned plein air techniques. In the 1890s, he began working as a black-and-white artist for The Bulletin and became staff artist for The Sydney Mail. After 1900, he was also the Sydney representative for The Graphic magazine of London. Leist’s illustrations also were included in books such as the 1902 Commonwealth Annual. He was one of the original members of the Society of Artists. During the World War I, he was an official war artist with the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) in France. After visiting London and parts of the United States, Leist returned to Australia in 1926 and took up a position as the Head of Painting at the East Sydney Technical College. Leist died at Mosman, outside Sydney, from a cerebral thrombosis on 18 February 1945. [Bathers by Frederick Leist]

Anders Leonard Zorn was one of Sweden’s foremost artists. He obtained international success as a painter, sculptor and etcher. Zorn was born on 18 February 1860 and raised on his grandparents’ farm in Yvraden, a hamlet near the village of Utmeland in the parish of Mora, Dalarna in Sweden. From 1875 to 1880 he studied at the Royal Swedish Academy of Arts in Stockholm, where he amazed his teachers with his talent. Members of Stockholm society approached Zorn with commissions. He traveled extensively to London, Paris, the Balkans, Spain, Italy and the United States, becoming an international success as one of the most acclaimed painters of his era. At the end of his life, Zorn established the Swedish literary Bellman Prize in 1920 shortly before his death on 22 August, 1920. [Nudes (1902)]

Anne Thompson is a Melbourne artist who creates large acrylic works on canvas. Her figures in the landscape are often depicted in the sea spray and summer sunlight enjoying an unspoiled environment. Thompson is adept in harnessing the hues and colour and light as it falls on bodies of water. [Polka Dot 3 (2014) synthetic polymer on canvas, exhibited Bayside City galleries].

Danish painter Paul Gustav Fischer was born on 22 July 1860 in Copenhagen, Denmark. He belonged to the fourth generation of a Jewish family which originally came from Poland. Fischer began to paint when he was still young, guided by his father. His formal art education lasted only a short time in his mid teens when he spent two years at the Royal Danish Academy of Art in Copenhagen. Fischer exhibited regularly at Charlottenborg Spring Exhibition from 1884-1902. His reputation began to evolve as he came in contact with young Danish naturalists. After a stay in Paris from 1891–1895, Fischer’s colours became richer and lighter. Around this time, he also painted bright, sunny bathing scenes, some with nude women, and developed an interest in posters, inspired by Théophile Steinlen and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. Despite Fischer’s lack of critical recognition during his lifetime, his art sold well. He died on 1 May 1934 in Gentofte. [Nude Bathers on the Beach]

Spanish artist Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida was born on February 27, 1863 in Valencia, Spain and excelled in the painting of portraits, landscapes, and monumental works of social and historical themes. His most typical works are characterized by a dexterous representation of the people and landscape under the bright sunlight of his native land and sunlit water. At the age of eighteen Sorolla traveled to Madrid, studying master paintings in the Museo del Prado. Then, after completing military service he began a four-year term studying painting in Rome, Italy followed by a long sojourn in Paris. After successful displays and international exhibitions in Madrid, Paris, Venice, Munich, Berlin, and Chicago, Sorolla soon rose to general fame and became the acknowledged head of the modern Spanish school of painting. He died on 10 August 1923. [Boys on a Beach (1910) Cason del Beuen Retiro, Madrid].

When it comes to swimming and bathing,
it appears that swimsuits or bathers are optional!

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The Presentation, Sir Lancelot and the Wise Virgins

English artist and illustrator Eleanor Fortescue-Brickdale (1872 – 1945) was born in Upper Norwood, Surrey. The late Victorian period produced a fine school of artist-illustrators of whom Fortescue-Brickdale was one of the best. She illustrated many books and also painted in oil and watercolour in a romantic and poetic style derived mainly from the style of Burne-Jones. Her pictures are often in sets of two or three panels usually in frames designed by herself. She was trained first at the Crystal Palace School of Art, under Herbert Bone and entered the Royal Academy in 1896. Fortescue-Brickdale soon began exhibiting her oil paintings at the Royal Academy and her watercolours at the Dowdeswell Gallery, where she had several solo exhibitions.

While at the Academy, Fortescue-Brickdale came under the influence of John Liston Byam Shaw, a protégé of John Everett Millais and much influenced by John William Waterhouse. When Byam Shaw founded an art school in 1911, Fortescue-Brickdale became one of the teachers.

  • In 1909, Ernest Brown, of the Leicester Galleries, commissioned a series of 28 watercolour illustrations to Tennyson’s Idylls of the King, which Fortescue-Brickdale painted over two years. They were exhibited in the gallery in 1911, and 24 of them were published the following year in a deluxe edition of the first four Idylls.

Fortescue-Brickdale lived during much of her career in Holland Park Road, opposite Leighton House, where she held an exhibition in 1904. Later, Fortescue-Brickdale also worked with stained glass.

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O’Brien’s Sacred Music of Colour

Australian artist Justin Maurice O’Brien was born in Hurstville, New South Wales in 1917 and studied art under Edward Smith. O’Brien is best known for his colourful and exuberant depictions of religious themes inspired by his biblical knowledge and the faith from which he had drifted; and to which he later returned.

O’Brien served with the Australian Army Medical Corps during World War II and in 1940 was sent to Palestine and Greece. He was taken prisoner at Ekali, Greece and after 6 months in Athens, was sent to Torun in Poland, where he arrived on New Year’s Eve, 1941. In 1944, O’Brien was among those sent to Barcelona in exchange for German prisoners; and after returning to Australia, he was demobilized. During his period as prisoner, O’Brien studied Byzantine art as expressed in religious iconography. On his return to Sydney, the pictures painted in Torun formed the nucleus of an exhibition which he shared with another ex-prisoner Jesse Martin.

O’Brien was the inaugural winner of the Blake Prize for Religious Art in 1951 and his painting The raising of Lazarus was acquired by the Vatican. His commanding use of colour and form is displayed in the sumptuous detail of his still lifes, portraits and landscapes. Many of his portraits are of students, painted during his 20 years as art master at the Cranbrook School in Sydney; and of fellow prisoners during his internment in Greece and Poland in WWII. They portray the remarkable story of compassion and respect shared between the artist and the people he encountered throughout his life.

  • A recent survey – Justin O’Brien: The Sacred Music of Colour was the first major retrospective of his work since 1987; and the first since his death, in 1996. The survey contained 90 paintings, watercolours and drawings; some of which had not been seen in public for more than 60 years.

O’Brien’s art is represented in the collections at The National Gallery of Australia in Canberra, the University of New South Wales, the Art Gallery of New South Wales; and the National Gallery of Victoria.

  • According to Barry Pearce, Head Curator of Australian Art at the Art Gallery of NSW“O’Brien loved people, loved drawing and painting portraits and ensembles of figures and telling stories through time-honoured themes. He illuminated through a deep biblical knowledge basic questions of the human condition played out like a sort of timeless medieval procession”.

O’Brien can certainly illuminate art through his “Sacred Music of Colour

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Source: McCulloch, Alan. Encyclopedia of Australian Art. Hutchinson: Richmond, 1977.
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If I Said “I Didn’t Like It” I Would Be Telling Phibs

Phibs aka Tim De Haan, was born in a town along coastal New South Wales, Australia in 1974. Phibs began his career as a graffiti tagger. He produces detailed and intricate works across a vast variety of media using both aerosol and acrylic paints. Phibs’ complex wild-style graffiti incorporates interwoven and overlapping lettering and characters,  reflecting his unique realms of symbolism, multiculturalism and mythology; often inspired by Aztec and Mayan art and mythology.

Another common theme in Phibs’s work is the use of indigenous and tribal motifs, particularly koru style curls. His ‘tribal style’ heads, often referred to as his ‘phibsong‘ free-style, incorporates a menagerie of signature characters, largely inspired by nature. Other compositions may feature animals such as fish or birds, presented in a vibrant mix of complimentary colours.

  • Phibs has been commissioned to create large scale artworks for companies such as Absolut Vodka; Max Brenner chocolates in Paddington; and  the Glow Cafe in Newtown and a number of alleyways throughout the city of Sydney.

From Sydney Phibs moved to Melbourne in 2001 and became one of the most respected and renowned names in Australian Graffiti/Street Art. He joined the Everfresh Crew studio collective based in Fitzroy (an inner suburb of Melbourne), with other street artists including Rone and Mike Maka(tron).

  • Phibs has painted so many walls around Fitzroy, that it has been affectionately known by the locals as ‘Phibsroy’.

In Melbourne, Phibs has established a name within the fine arts world and has rapidly become one of the cities most respected and renowned artists, on and off the streets. Several of his works have been acquired by the National Gallery of Australia for its permanent collection.

His public art works are prolific in both Sydney and Melbourne and can also be found on walls around the world, including the cities of Berlin, Miami and New York.

  • Discover more about Phibs from his website or email direct:

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Compare the Pair #21 | Goya’s Empress in New Clothes

Son of a Basque, Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes was born on March 30, 1746 in Fuendetodos, Aragón, Spain. Goya is known as a Spanish romantic painter and print-maker and regarded as the last of the Old Masters and the first of The Moderns. During his career, he became court painter to the Spanish Crown after studying under Anton Raphael Mengs, a painter who was popular with Spanish royalty.

  • Goya also studied under Francisco Bayeu y Subías and in 1773, he married Bayeu’s sister, Josefa. Through his friendship with Bayeu, Goya obtained work at the Royal Tapestry Factory, which brought his artistic talents to the attention of the Spanish monarchs who later employed him to the royal court.

Goya painted the Spanish royal family, including the portraits of Charles IV of Spain and  Ferdinand VII. His work extended from merry festivals for tapestries and draft cartoons, to scenes of war and human debasement. This evolution reflects the darkening of Goya’s temper. Modern physicians suspect that the lead paint pigments poisoned him and caused his deafness after 1792. Near the end of his life, Goya became reclusive and produced frightening and obscure paintings of insanity, madness and fantasy.

  • Goya left Spain in May 1824 for Bordeaux and then Paris. He travelled back to Spain in 1826, but returned to Bordeaux, where he died of a stroke on 16 April 1828, at the age of 82. Although he was buried in Bordeaux; his remains were later transferred to the Royal Chapel of St. Anthony of La Florida, in Madrid in 1919.

Two of Goya’s best known paintings are The Nude Maja (La maja desnuda 1797-1800) and The Clothed Maja (La maja vestida 1800-1805). They depict the same woman in the same pose, naked and clothed, respectively. The paintings were never publicly exhibited during Goya’s lifetime; as the Catholic Church had fiercely enforced a ban on the creation and display of artistic nudes.

The more controversial of the two is The Naked Maja and considered “the first totally profane life-size female nude in Western art“. By the standards of 1800, the Naked Maja was pornographic. Not only was she naked and sprawled out on a couch, but even more shocking; Goya painted the woman’s pubic hair. As a consequence, the Inquisition tribunal stripped Goya of his position and income as court painter to Charles IV.

  • The identity of the Maja’s is uncertain. The most popularly cited models are the Duchess of Alba, with whom Goya was sometimes thought to have had an affair; and Pepita Tudó, (Josefa de Tudó y Catalán, 1st Countess of Castillo Fiel), mistress of Manuel de Godoy, Prince of La Paz and the Prime Minister of Spain. Both paintings were owned by Godoy. He commissioned several paintings from Goya including a female nude to join his collection of other nude paintings.

In 1808, all of Godoy’s property was seized by Ferdinand VII after his fall from power and exile, and in 1813, the Inquisition confiscated both works as ‘obscene’; returning them in 1836, to the Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando. The two works now sit side by side at the Museo del Prado, Madrid and have done so since 1901.

  • Discover more about Goya’s Maja paintings by seeking out a copy of the movie: The Naked Maja (1958) directed by Henry Koster. A film about the painter Francisco Goya and the Duchess of Alba; where Anthony Franciosa played Goya and Ava Gardner played The Duchess.

Clothes on? Clothes off?
Doesn’t matter
Become a Goya Voyeur

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Source: Spanish painting by Jacques Lassaigne. Skira Geneva, 1952
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Banksy the Existencilist

Banksy is an English-based street artist, political activist, and film director whose real name and identity remain unconfirmed and the subject of much speculation. His pieces are found on walls and streets in many cities around the world.

Banksy became an artist at the age of 14, after he was expelled from school, and served time in prison for petty crime. Living in Easton, Bristol, he started as a freehand graffiti artist in 1990–1994, as one of Bristol’s DryBreadZ Crew (DBZ), with two other artists known as Kato and Tes. Banksy says that he was inspired by local artists and his work was part of the larger Bristol underground scene with Nick Walker, Inkie and 3D, a graffiti artist and founding member of the musical group Massive Attack.

By 2000, Banksy moved to London and turned to stencilling after realising it takes much less time to complete a piece. He claims his ‘eureka moment’ came while hiding from the police under a rubbish lorry, when he noticed its stencilled serial number. Banksy’s stencils feature striking satirical images and are occasionally combined with slogans. The messages often show anti-war, anti-capitalist, or anti-establishment themes. His subjects often include rats, apes, policemen, soldiers, children, and the elderly.

  • Banksy is commonly believed to be Robin Gunningham, first identified by The Mail on Sunday in 2008. Gunningham was born on 28 July 1973, in Yate, 19 km from Bristol. Several of Gunningham’s associates and former schoolmates at Bristol Cathedral School have corroborated this, and in 2016; a study by researchers using geographic profiling tools at the Queen Mary University of London found that the incidence of Banksy’s works correlated with the known movements of Gunningham.
  • According to The Sunday Times, Gunningham began employing the name Robin Banks, which eventually became Banksy.
  • In June 2017, DJ Goldie referred to Banksy as “Rob”.
  • In October 2014, an internet hoax circulated that Banksy had been arrested and his identity revealed.

Banksy has published several books that contain photographs of his work accompanied by his own writings:

  • Banging Your Head Against a Brick Wall (2001)
  • Existencilism (2002)
  • Cut It Out (2004)
  • Pictures of Walls (2005)
  • Wall and Piece (2007)

Banksy | Robin? | Rob? | Whatever!

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Come and See the Work of Jean-George Rémond and Cie

Jean-George Remond and Cie

Jean-George Remond and Cie

Jean-George  Rémond (1752-1830) was a jeweller, goldsmith and founder of the firm Jean-Georges Rémond & Company. Born on 27 July, 1752 in Hanau, Germany, which, in the second part of the 18th Century, was the centre for the production of jewellery, clocks and enamel painted snuffboxes. Many of the Hanau jewellers and watchmakers were Huguenot families who were forced to leave France due to persecution generated by the abolition of the Edict of Nantes on religious freedom in 1685.

Rémond perfected his jewellery skills in the major European cities of Paris, Berlin and London. His works were in great demand and soon Rémond became a participant of an elite group of European artists producing jewellery and clocks together with musical and entertaining automata. At the age of thirty-one, Rémond moved to Geneva and on 18 June, 1783, was registered as “a jeweller from Hanau”.

On December 22, 1783, Rémond was officially admitted as goldsmith-jeweller and founded the company Georges Rémond & Cie and registered his first identification hallmark. Rémond produced snuffboxes with the movements of Jacquet-Droz and Leschot; Piguet and Meylan clocks; and Jean-Louis Richter and Jean-Abraham Lissignol enamels.

  • There is very little known about Rémond’s personal life. He married Elizabeth Bariyon, who came from a Protestant family, on November 22, 1784.

Over the years the business name changed, along with an array of working partners. From its original name it became Guidon Remond Gide & Co, Rémond Gide & Co, Remond Lamy & Co and Jean Georges Rémond et Compagnie. With offices in both Geneva and Hanau, they further traded as Remond Lamy Mercier & Co until 1811.

Geneva was captured by Napoleon Bonaparte’s troops in 1798, and the town’s authorities introduced the French system of gold and silver objects’ identification. With the trade situation worsening throughout the Napoleonic Wars, many of Geneva’s jewellers opposed the innovations until December 1806; when their resistance was broken by the official Napoleon decree. French jewellers left Geneva in 1814 and a new procedure of identification was adopted in the city.

  • Rémond’s jewellery manufacturing and trade were widely spread and had a good reputation. The products were exhibited in Paris and London and were sold in Germany, Russia, Turkey, India and China.

There were some difficulties in business after 1812. It might be caused by the death of Rémond’s wife Elizabeth in 1810; and his partner in Hanau, Zhan Bema, in April 1811. After 1820, Rémond lived in his hometown of Hanau; in his own house on Römergasse,  until his death on 11 February, 1830.

  • Jean-Georges Rémond and his partners’ production of gold snuffboxes during a thirty-five year period was extremely important. They were the first to use painted images on a polished base, fine work on gold foil, transparent enamel over guilloche; and engraving and edging made of pearls. His pieces were works of fine jewellery. Today they deservedly adorn the most significant state and private collections scattered around the world.

Discover more about Jean-Georges Rémond’s work at the Koopman Art website.

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Pierre Bonnard | Le Nabi le trés japonard

French painter, illustrator, and print-maker Pierre Bonnard was born in Fontenay-aux-Roses, Hauts-de-Seine on 3 October 1867. Bonnard showed a talent for drawing and water colours, as well as caricatures. He painted frequently in the gardens of his parent’s country home at Grand-Lemps near the Cote Saint-André in the Dauphiné. He also showed a strong interest in literature. Bonnard received his baccalaureate in the classics, and to satisfy his father, earned his license in law, and began practicing as a lawyer beginning in 1888. While he was studying law, he also attended art classes at the Académie Julian in Paris where he met Edouard Vuillard and Ker Xavier Roussel. He also sold his first commercial work of art, a design for a poster for France-Champagne, which helped him convince his family that he could make a living as an artist. He set up his first studio at on rue Lechapelais and began his career as an artist.

Bonnard was a leading figure in the transition from Impressionism to Modernism. He painted landscapes, urban scenes, portraits and intimate domestic scenes, where the backgrounds, colours and painting style usually took precedence over the subject. After the summer holidays of 1888, Bonnard and his friends from the Académie Julian became the founding members of the Post-Impressionist group of avant-garde painters, known as Les Nabis. This was an informal group of artists with different styles and philosophies, but common artistic ambitions. Two of Bonnard’s featured images include:

  • Siesta (1900) oil on canvas (Felton Bequest, National Gallery of Victoria). Siesta belongs to Bonnard’s ‘realist’ period during which he painted frank portraits documenting his relationship with his model and muse Marthe Boursin. Marthe’s pose has been reconfigured to evoke the Borghese Hermaphrodite, a famously erotic sculpture in the Louvre. Siesta was well-known among Paris’s literary and artistic circles and was once owned by Gertrude Stein.
  • Portrait of Reine Natanson and Marthe Bonnard (1928) oil on canvas, School of Paris, Musee D’art Moderne. Reine was the second wife of Thadee Natanson, former editor of the Revue Blanche and a close friend of Bonnard. She sat several times during 1920-21 and is wearing the red dress.

From 1893 until her death, Bonnard lived with Marthe de Méligny (1869–1942) aka Maria Boursin (birth name). They married in 1925. In the years before their marriage, Bonnard had love affairs with two other women, who also served as models for some of his paintings, Renée Monchaty (the partner of the American painter Harry Lachmann); and Lucienne Dupuy de Frenelle, the wife of a doctor.

  • It has been suggested that Bonnard may have been the father of Lucienne’s second son.
  • Renée Monchaty committed suicide shortly after Bonnard and de Méligny (Boursin) married.

Bonnard was known especially for his stylized decorative qualities and his bold use of colour. His early work was strongly influenced by Paul Gauguin’s paintings; and the prints of Hokusai and other Japanese artists.

  • In 1893 Bonnard viewed a major exposition of the works of Utamaro and Hiroshige at the Durand-Rouel Gallery.  The Japanese use of multiple points of view, and bold geometric patterns in clothing, such as checkered blouses, began to appear in Bonnard’s work.
  • Because of his passion for Japanese art, Bonnard’s nickname among the Nabis became Le Nabi le trés japonard.

Working in his studio at 65 rue de Douai in Paris, Bonnard presented paintings at the Salon des Independents in 1900, and took part in an exhibition with the other Nabis at the Bernheim Jeaune Gallery. By 1905, he produced a series of nudes and portraits, and in the following year had a personal exposition at the Bernheim-Jeune Gallery. Bonnard’s reputation as an artist grew and in 1918 he was selected, along with Renoir, as an Honorary President of the Association of Young French Artists.

  • Bonnard finished his last painting, The Almond Tree in Blossom, a week before his death on 23 January 1947, at his cottage on La Route de Serra Capeou near Le Cannet, on the French Riviera.
  • The Museum of Modern Art in New York City organized a posthumous retrospective of Bonnard’s work in 1948, although originally it was meant to be a celebration of the artist’s 80th birthday.

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Glamourpuss posters from a previous age

Advertising in the early 1950s saw a boom in posters for both the corporate world and the everyday consumer. Wanting to appeal to a broad audience, the 50s Style posters were often brightly coloured, and often whimsical or playful in design which heightened their popularity.

Typical artists of this genre included Swiss-born Herbert Leupin and Donald Brun; Paul Rand from the United States and France’s Raymond Sauvignac, who exemplifed the style’s light-hearted qualities. The 50s Style was applied to consumer services and consumer products. Ever present were marvelous airline and traveller’s destination campaigns as well as fashion posters advertising women’s lingerie.

  • Here we have a poster featuring a white cat, advertising Enkalon stockings. It was designed by Herbert Leupin. Leupin was born in Beinwil am See, Switzerland on 20 December 1916. A graphic designer, he was known primarily for his poster art. From 1931-1934, Leupin attended the Kunstgewerbeschule in Basel. He made his name in the 1940s through his use of the magic realism style of images for advertising consumer goods. Later, Leupin worked as an advertising consultant for the German cigarette manufacturer Reemtsma from 1951-1964. During this time he also created the Milka cow image. Leupin died in Basel on 21 September 1999.
  • The second ‘white cat’ poster: the ‘She-Cat”, was designed ca 1948 for Gaines Viso Gurtel, to advertise the female undergarment, the girdle or corset. The poster designer was Marc Von Allmen. Not much is known about Von Allmen, except that he was born in 1919 in Ovin, Switzerland and worked as an architect, graphic designer and poster artist.

Is there any significance in the fact that they are both white cats? Well, maybe. White cats have many fascinating myths and legends associated with them. As opposed to black cats which are regarded as harbingers of bad luck, white cats are seen as a symbol of good luck, purity and positivity. They symbolize rebirth, happiness, prosperity, healing and more. 

Either way, I’m sure the She-Cat is feline fine and the other displays lots of purr-sonality.    That’s two paw-some posters for you, I’m not kitten you!

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Master Hans | The Cameraman at the Court of the Tudor King

German artist and print-maker Hans Holbein the Younger, was born c. 1497 in Augsburg, Germany. He is called “the Younger” to distinguish him from his father, Hans Holbein the Elder; an accomplished painter of the Late Gothic school. Holbein the Younger is known as one of the greatest portraitists of the 16th century. As a young artist in Basel, he painted murals and religious works and created designs for stained glass windows and printed books. Holbein’s works have been described as being of a Northern Renaissance style.  He attained artistic status after completing a portrait of the Reformist, Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam, during the Humanist Renaissance. With a recommendation from Erasmus, Holbein travelled from Basel to England in search of work in 1526. There, he was welcomed into the humanist circle of statesman, scholar and Chancellor of England, Sir Thomas More; the author of Utopia (1516) and a friend of Erasmus. Holbein’s portraiture reputation grew after he painted a portrait of More and another of More and his family.

  • After heading back to Basel for four years, Holbein returned to England in 1532 where he painted many courtiers, landowners, and visitors. His most famous and perhaps greatest painting of this period is The Ambassadors. This life-sized panel painted in the tradition of the Northern Renaissance Style, portrays Jean de Dinterille, an ambassador of Francis I of France; and Georges de Selve, Bishop of Lavaur and ambassador of Charles V, who visited London in 1533. Together, they lean on a table alongside a magnificent collection of astronomical and musical instruments, sitting on top of a carpet which is now referred to as one of the ‘Holbein carpets‘ featured in some of his works. The Ambassadors incorporates symbols and paradoxes encoding enigmatic references to learning, religion, mortality and illusion  At the bottom of the work between the two men is an anamorphic (distorted) skull acting as a ‘momento mori‘ amongst the display of refinement and knowledge. The skull is recognizable only when seen from a certain angle.

By 1535, Holbein became King’s Painter to King Henry VIII and his portrait style altered. He focused more intensely on the sitters’ faces and clothing, largely omitting props and three-dimensional settings. Holbein applied this clean, craftsman-like technique to miniature and grand portraits. He not only painted portraits but created designs for jewellery, plates and other precious objects and festive decorations.

In 1537, Holbein painted what has become perhaps his most famous image King Henry VIII standing in an heroic pose with his feet planted apart. The House of Tudor monarch,  (1491-1547) is best known for his six wives: Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves, Catherine Howard and Katherine Parr. There is a famous rhyme which recalls the fate of each wife: “Divorced, Beheaded, Died: Divorced, Beheaded, Survived”. Henry suffered a riding accident in 1536, which marked the turning point in his health. This fall was serious enough to prevent Henry from jousting and the athletic activities he loved as a young man. The consequent reduction in physical activity led to obesity; which characterizes his portraits from this time. Henry’s increasing ill temper in his later years was largely due to his physical disability and the ulcer on his leg which was so painful, it often rendered him speechless. From 1545 the monarch was carried around in a sedan chair.

  • Jane Seymour (1512-1537) was Henry’s third wife and came from an old established landed family from Wiltshire. She appears to have been something of a cypher used by her brother, to advance the family interests; and looking at this portrait, it seems to indicate that the match was hardly one based on passion. Jane died in October 1537 at the age of 25, shortly after bearing Henry’s only son, the future Edward VI. Despite the many wives, Henry chose to be buried with Jane at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor. [Portrait from the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection, Lugano].

Princess Mary or Mary Tudor (1516-1558) was Henry’s first born and the daughter of Catherine of Aragon. She became, Queen of England and Ireland from July 1553 until her death in 1558. Mary ascended the throne after her half-brother Edward VI (son of Jane Seymour) died from illness, aged 14. During Mary’s five year reign, she had over 280 religious dissenters burned at the stake in her attempt to reverse the English Reformation put in place during her father’s reign. This gave her the ‘Bloody Mary‘ title. After Mary’s death in 1558, her re-establishment of Roman Catholicism was reversed by her younger half-sister and successor, Elizabeth I, daughter of Anne Boleyn, ending the rule of the House of Tudor and returning the Crown and country to the Church of England. (National Portrait Gallery, London).

Cecily Heron (nee More) (1507-1540) was the youngest of Thomas More’s three daughters. She married Giles Heron on 29 September 1525 in a double wedding ceremony with her sister Elizabeth who married William Dauncey. She was well educated and with her sisters, performed in court before Henry VIII. After her marriage her husband Giles (who had been a ward of her father Thomas More) fell out of favour with not only the More family but with the King and he was executed for treason in 1540. After this, much of Cecily’s property was confiscated and she is thought to have died the same year as her husband.

  • Hans Holbein died somewhere between 7 October and 29 November 1543 at the age of 45, possibly from the plague. The site of Holbein’s grave is unknown and may never have been marked; but his 16th Century portraiture-style art has become a visual record encapsulating the life at the court of the Tudor King.

Walder, John. Henry VIII: 100 Colour Illustrations. Octopus: London (1973)

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A Summer Morning | In the Sand Dune

Australian artist Max Middleton enjoyed a long and highly acclaimed career as a professional artist, exhibiting in 68 exhibitions over 66 years. Born in Melbourne in 1922, Middleton knew he wanted to be an artist from the age of 12. At 16 he started lessons in drawing at the National Gallery School, and practiced his oil painting technique on Sunday’s when his father drove him to the country to paint en plein air (French: meaning the practice of painting entire finished pictures out of doors).

Middleton studied privately with Harold Septimus Power from 1940, whom greatly influenced his early paintings with the use of broad brush strokes and patterns of light and shade. In 1950, Middleton travelled to Europe to see the major museums and trained from 1950-1953 at Heatherley’s School in London and in Florence at the Scala di Bellearti (School of Fine Art). In Europe, his key influences were JMW Turner and Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida, both en plein air painters of the transformative effects of light.

From there on, Middleton painted in the flourishing art community of Cornwall as well as in Wales, Ireland, France and Spain. It was in regional Spain that he chose to paint the people of the area, and from thereon, the human figure began to feature in his paintings.

Middleton returned to Australia in 1953, excited to once again be painting landscape in the unique Australian light. From 1959 and for the most of his career, Middleton and his family lived in the Dandenong Ranges, outside of Melbourne, where he painted extensively in the Sherbrooke Forest.

  • By 1988, Middleton began painting nudes, which became his inspiration throughout the final years of his career.
  • Ill health forced him to retire from painting in 2010.
  • He died in 2013 died at the age of 90.

His works can be found at various Australian collections including:

Queensland Art Gallery, Bendigo Regional Art Gallery, Benalla Regional Art Gallery, and the Castlemaine Regional Art Gallery.

  • Discover more about Max Middleton at this website.

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Adolphe and Eve

Adolphe Leon Willette | Eve (1905)

Adolphe Leon Willette | Eve (1905)

French painter, illustrator, caricaturist, and lithographer Adolphe Léon Willette was born in Châlons-sur-Marne on 30 July, 1857.  He was also the architect of the famous Moulin Rouge cabaret.

Willette studied for four years at the École des Beaux-Arts under Alexandre Cabanel. He has been labelled the modern “Watteau of the pencil”, (after French artist, Antoine Watteau 1684-1721) and an exponent of sentiment that moves emotions among the public.

  • Willette was a prolific contributor to the French illustrated press using various pseudonyms, such as “Cemoi”, “Pierrot”, “Louison”, “Bebe”, and “Nox”, but more often under his own name.

Willette illustrated Melandri’s Les Pierrots and Les Giboulles d’avril, Le Courrier français, and published his own Pauvre Pierrot and other works, in which he tells his stories in scenes in the manner of Busch.  He decorated several “brasseries artistiques” with wall-paintings, stained glass, and notably Le Chat noir and La Palette d’or. Willette  painted the highly imaginative ceiling for La Cigale music hall. His characteristically fantastic Parce Domine was shown in the Franco-British Exhibition in 1908. A remarkable collection of his works was exhibited in 1888. His V’almy is in the Luxembourg, Paris.

  • He died on 4 February 1926 at the age of 69.

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Hell and the Journey of the Magi

The Florence Baptistery, (Baptistery of Saint John or the Battistero di San Giovanni), is considered a minor basilica in Florence, Italy.  The octagonal building stands in both the Piazza del Duomo and the Piazza San Giovanni, across from the Florence Cathedral and the Campanile di Giotto and is considered to be one of the oldest buildings in the city, constructed between 1059 and 1128 in the Florentine Romanesque style.

It was once believed that the Baptistery was originally a Roman temple dedicated to Mars, the tutelary god of the old Florence. Excavations in the 20th Century have shown that there was a 1st Century Roman wall running through the piazza and the Baptistery, which may have been built on the remains of a Roman guard tower on the corner of this wall, or possibly another Roman building including a 2nd Century house which was later restored. It is certain that an initial octagonal baptistery was erected here in the late 4th or early 5th Century. It was replaced or altered by another early Christian baptistery in the 6th Century. Its construction is attributed to Theodolinda, queen of the Lombards (570–628), to seal the conversion of her husband, King Authari.

  • The Baptistery is renowned for its three sets of artistically important bronze doors with relief sculptures.
  • The south doors were created by Andrea Pisano and the north and east doors by Lorenzo Ghiberti. Michelangelo dubbed the east doors the Gates of Paradise.
  • The building contains the monumental tomb of Anti pope John XXIII, by Donatello.
  • The Italian poet Dante Alighieri and many other notable Renaissance figures, including members of the Medici family, were baptised here.

The Baptistery is crowned by a magnificent mosaic ceiling vault. It was created over the course of a century in several different phases. The oldest parts are the upper zone of the dome with the hierarchy of angels, the Last Judgment on the three western segments of the dome; and the mosaic above the rectangular chapel on the western side.

An inscription in the mosaic above the western rectangular chapel states the date of the beginning of the work and the name of the artist. According to this inscription, work on the mosaic began in 1225 by the Franciscan friar Jacobus, who was trained in Venice and strongly influenced by the Byzantine art of the early to mid-13th Century. Since the inscription also names Emperor Frederick II, the inscription and the completion of the first phase of mosaics must fall within the Ghibelline phase of Florentine rule between 1238 and 1250.

The Last Judgment, created by Jacobus and his workshop was the largest and most important spiritual image created in the Baptistery. It shows a gigantic majestic Christ and angels with the instruments of the passion at each side (formerly attributed to the painter Coppo di Marcovaldo), the rewards of the saved leaving their tomb in joy (at Christ’s right hand), and the punishments of the damned (at Christ’s left hand). This last part is particularly famous: evil doers are burnt by fire, roasted on spits, crushed with stones, bitten by snakes, gnawed and chewed by hideous beasts.

The other scenes on the lower zones of the five eastern sections of the dome depict different stories in horizontal tiers of mosaic: (starting at the top) stories from the Book of Genesis; stories of Joseph; Mary and the Christ and finally in the lower tier, stories of Saint John the Baptist, patron saint of the church. A total of sixty pictures originated in the last decade of the 13th Century. The key artists employed were Corso di Buono and Cimabue.

  • The Baptistery vault is considered the most important narrative cycle of Florentine art before Giotto.

Who would have thought it – Hell in Florence

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I’m Your Venus | I’m Your Fire | At Your Desire

The work: Venus and Anchises. Venus (Greek: Aphrodite), was the Roman goddess of beauty and love and considered as either sprung from the foam of the sea, or the daughter of Jupiter and Dione. Her husband was Vulcan but she had amours with other gods and demigods, including the shepherd Anchises, whom they had a son Aeneas. The Romans believed that they were descended from Aeneas, and therefore Venus was venerated as a guardian of the Roman people. Her chief festival is 1 April.

The Artist: English portrait painter and sculptor Sir William Blake Richmond was also the designer of stained glass and mosaic. He is best known for his portrait work and decorative mosaics in St Paul’s Cathedral in London. Richmond was born on 29 November 1842 in Marylebone and was named after a close friend of his father, the poet William Blake. As a child, Richmond was tutored at home due to health problems. In 1858, at the age of 14, he enrolled at the Royal Academy of Art where he studied drawing and painting for three years. He also spent time at John Ruskin’s house, where he was given private art lessons.

In 1859, Richmond painted his first picture and sold it for £20, spending the money to tour Italy for six weeks with a tutor. This tour had a major impact on his artistic development and career. By 1865, Richmond returned to Italy, where he lived in Rome, studying art for four years. During the 1880s, he travelled often to Italy, Greece, Spain and Egypt where he would spend a few months each year exploring new areas, absorbing the history and mythology of the region, and making numerous drawings and sketches.

Richmond became the Slade Professor of Fine Art at the University of Oxford (1878-1883), succeeding his friend and mentor Ruskin. In 1888, he resumed his relationship with the Royal Academy and was elected an Associate Member (ARA), and a Royal Academician (RA) in 1895. Richmond served as Professor of Painting at the Academy from (1895-1899 and 1909-1911), and continued to exhibit until 1916. He was elected Senior RA at the Academy in 1920.

  • Richmond was an early advocate for clean air in London. He founded the Coal Smoke Abatement Society (CSAS) in 1898 and was a member of CSAS for a number of years. The CSAS, is the oldest non-government environmental organization in the UK which later become Environmental Protection UK.
  • Richmond wrote magazine articles and gave public lectures on the danger of coal smoke and wrote to the London Times in 1898 requesting for action, stating that “the darkness was comparable to a total eclipse of the sun“.

Richmond died at his home, Beavor Lodge, in Hammersmith on 11 February, 1921.

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Wood, Christopher.  Dictionary of Victorian Painters. Baron Publishing: Woodbridge, (1971)
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Rat art has spread the plague everywhere

French street artist Blek le Rat, (Xavier Prou) was born in Boulogne-Billancourt, Paris in 1951. Blek was one of the first street artists in Paris, and the originator of stencil graffiti art. He began his artwork in 1981, painting stencils of rats on the street walls of Paris, describing the rat as “the only free animal in the city“, and one which “spreads the plague everywhere, just like street art“.

Blek’s name originates from a childhood cartoon “Blek le Roc“, using “rat” as an anagram for “art“. Initially influenced by the early graffiti art of New York City after a visit in 1971, Blek chose a style which he felt better suited Paris, due to the differing architecture of the two cities. He also stated the influence of New York’s Richard Hamilton, who painted large-scale human figures in the 1980s. Blek is credited with being the inventor of the life-sized stencil, as well as the first to transform  the stencil from basic lettering into pictorial art.

Blek’s identity was revealed to French authorities in 1991 when he was arrested while stenciling a replica of Caravaggio’s Madonna and Child. From that point on, he has worked mainly with pre-stenciled posters, citing the speedier application of the medium to walls, as well as lessened punishment should he be caught in the act.

He has had a great influence on today’s street art movement, with the main motivation of his work being social consciousness and the desire to bring art to the people. Many of his pieces are pictorials of solitary individuals in opposition to larger, oppressive groups. He has also been noted for his series of images representing the homeless, which depicts them standing, sitting or laying on sidewalks, in an attempt to bring attention to what he views as a global problem.

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