Thursday, June 22, 2017

Friedrich von Kaulbach Paints Geraldine Farrar

Beautiful, famous women attracted well-known portrait painters. In some cases, the painters would create multiple versions of their subject. Such was the case of opera star Geraldine Farrar (1882-1967) and Munich-based Friedrich August von Kaulbach (1850-1920). Biogrphical information on Farrar is here, and a brief summary of Kaulbach's career is here.

I suspect that Kaulbach was fascinated by and infatuated with the 32-years-younger singer. He was probably not alone.


Photo of Farrar when young, not very far from the time she was in Germany and Kaulbach painted her.

Farrar shown in a performance setting. This painting is in Seattle's Frye Museum collection.

Studie zu einem Bildnis der Sängerin Geraldine Farrar (Study for a Portrait of the Singer Geraldine Farrar), a 1906 painting.

This painting and the one above it portray Farrar wearing essentially the same costume.

Monday, June 19, 2017

A Bouguereau at the Meat Packers

The photo above was taken at the Frye meatpacking facility in Seattle's Georgetown neighborhood perhaps sometime around 1940. The reason why all those paintings are there is because they were overflow from the home of Charles Frye and his late wife Emma who had an extensive collection. The painting at the upper left is Dans le bois (also called "The Sisters") a late (1905) work by William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1825-1905) the prolific French painter whose works were not worth much when the photo was taken, but now can be bought at auction for more than a million dollars.

The packing plant was destroyed in 1943 when one of the three prototype XB-29 bombers experienced an engine fire and crashed into it. The entire crew was killed, including famed test pilot Eddie Allen, and more were killed in the plant. The Bouguereau was not destroyed, and perhaps there were no paintings there at the time. What was lost was documentation for the Frye collection. More about the crash and the Frye collection is here and here. Some background on the Frye Museum, where the collection now resides, is here.

The two photos above and the one following are excerpts from the Fry Museum web site. This photo shows part of the collection when it was housed in the Frye residence.

Another Frye residence photo. Here the Bouguereau can be seen in the corner next to a portrait of Mrs. Frye.

And here is that Bouguereau as captured by my camera June 11th of this year.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Did Franz Stuck Ever Settle on a Style?

Franz von Stuck (1863-1928) was an important Munich artist during the decades surrounding the turn of the 20th century. He was both a rebel of sorts, helping found the Munich Secession, and an establishmentarian as a professor at the Munich Academy. His Wikipedia entry is here. I wrote about Stuck here and here.

Stuck can fairly be called a Symbolist when he wasn't painting portraits or genre scenes (I'm not aware of Stuck landscapes or still lifes, but there might be a few). His preferred subjects were nude or partly-clothed women, though he did paint some nude males, in more than one painting shown fighting over a nude woman.

His painting style varied considerably, but not in the form of moving from one style to another as time passed. That is, throughout his career we find fuzzy looking paintings along with crisp works and somewhat poster-like images. I presume Stuck established a set of painting styles during the first part of his career that he then deployed depending upon the subject of a work.


Sphinx - 1889

The Guardian of Paradise - 1889
Two paintings from Stuck's 20s. Both completed the same year, but with different atmospheres. The murky style of Sphinx will reappear later, often with fuzzier brushwork.

Frau Braun - 1896
Considerable contrast between the carefully rendered face and the rest of the painting.

Two Dancers - 1896
Again, the greatest detail is in the faces, as might be expected. Otherwise, Stuck's anatomical work is still more true to reality than in some of the later paintings shown below.

Die Wippe - 1898

Franz and Mary Stuck in the Studio - 1902
I doubt that Stuck's clothing shown here were his usual painting togs ... but I just might be wrong.

Portrait of a Lady - 1912
Again, the contrast between carefully rendered parts and quite loosely done other areas.

Sounds of Spring - 1912
By the 1910s Stuck added a style to his repertoire that had a flatter, more illustration-like quality.

Badende Frauen - c. 1920
His "Bathing Women" is sketchy across the board. Perhaps this was a study (though it's signed). Or maybe he was reacting to works by younger, post-1900, Modernist painters.

Phryne - 1918
An example of his dark, fuzzy style. Only a few details are sharply depicted.

The Judgement of Paris - 1923
A poster-like painting. Flat, with some mural-style outlining along with some fuzziness for the women's bodies.

Marianne Mechler - 1924
Presumably a commission, because most Stuck effects are absent.

Pygmalion and Galatea - 1926
A dark, somewhat fuzzy painting from near the end of his career.

Wind and Waves (unfinished) - 1928
What Stuck was doing near the end of his life. Not far from what he'd been painting for many years.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Up Close: "Sonata" by Irving Ramsey Wiles

Irving Ramsey Wiles (1861-1948) ... or it it Irving Ramsay Wiles? Go to Google and you will find both spellings.

In December I came across his painting "The Sonata" (1889) at San Francisco's De Young. The placard next to the painting has it "Ramsey" whereas the De Young's web page for the painting favors "Ramsay."

A small matter, so far as this post is concerned. My interest here is that painting.

As for Wiles, his very brief Wikipedia entry is here. I blogged about his depictions of women here.

In that post I held that Wiles was not a great artist, but a good one who made some fine paintings. "Sonata" is one of those. Note the "X" composition as well as the brushwork in the Up Close photos I took. Click on the images to enlarge.


This image is from the De Young web site.

"The Sonata" as seen in its gallery by my camera.

Detail of the upper part of the painting.

Detail showing Wiles' treatment of fabrics.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Motli Ritratti: Tilla Durieux

Tilla Durieux (née Ottilie Godeffroy - 1880-1971) born in Vienna to a chemist (Richard Godeffroy) and a Hungarian pianist (Adelheid Ottilie Augustine Hrdlicka), was an actress who spent most of her career in Germany, but waited out the Nazi years in Switzerland and Yugoslavia. Her Wikipedia entry is here.

Like Sarah Bernhardt and Eleonora Duse, Durieux was the subject of a number of portraits by artists even though it was the age of photography. With one noteworthy exception, the images below were created by artists of German and Austrian background.


Photo of Tilla Durieux

Tilla as Salome, by Max Slevogt - 1907

By Oskar Kokoschka - 1910

By Max Oppenheimer - 1912
Note the surprisingly similar feeling in the three paintings above done by three different artists.

Tilla as Circe - by Franz von Stuck - c. 1912-13

Tilla as Circe - by Franz von Stuck - c. 1912-13

Tilla as Circe - pastel and pencil - by Franz von Stuck - c. 1912-13

By Auguste Renoir - 1914
Here Tilla looks like most other women in Renoir paintings.

By Emil Orlík - 1922

Monday, June 5, 2017

An Especially Wild Boldini

Giovanni Boldini (1842-1931) was a representational painter, yet he painted so freely that many of his images are exaggerated, if not flat-out distorted. His Wikipedia entry is here and includes a number of examples of his work. I have posted about him as well.

San Francisco's Legion of Honor has Café Scene (c.1887) a small sketch-painting made in Paris. It interests me because, like many unfinished paintings, it offers some insight into how an artist goes about working.

In Boldini's case, it is sketchy indeed.

The painting: a cropped photo I took at the Legion of Honor. What was cropped was the frame plus a tiny bit of the painting.


Thursday, June 1, 2017

Many Artists, Similar Styles, Techniques

Not long ago I drove to the other side of Lake Washington to visit the Howard/Mandville Gallery. It was having the opening reception for Wanderlust: Invitational Landscape Exhibition 2017.

I though most of the paintings on display were pleasant, and a few were very fine. But what struck me was how similar many of them seemed to one another, even allowing for the usual individual artistic personality differences.

Of course, subject matter can be a strong influence. I've mentioned now and then how similar many paintings of California landscapes can be. Then there is the fashion factor. Like the architecture of houses, it can be fairly easy to assign, within a decade or two, when certain paintings or illustrations were made. What I was viewing seems to be a currently popular approach to painting landscapes in the temperate zone of North America. I don't intend this a criticism. Almost all the works I viewed were pleasing.

The image at the top of this post is "Winter Silence" by Roger Dale Brown: I'll use it as an example. What is especially clear when seen in person is thinner, more free brushwork for incidental parts of the painting, though "incidental" might actually comprise much of the area of the canvas or panel. Contrasting this are more thickly painted, usually crisply defined details. In the above painting, the metal roof of the barn is an example of this. So are the tree branches shown against the sky -- the effect is wispy yet much of the detailing is sharp.


"Valley Light" - Brian Blood

"The Soloist" - Shanna Kunz

"Road to the Forest" - David Lidbetter

"Remnants" - David Santillanes

"Ocher Landscape" - Andrew Skorut

"Old Barn in Autumn" - Romona Youngquist