Virtual Trip to meet the Pre-Raphaelites

Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 1828–1882
Monna Vanna, 1866, oil on canvas, 88,9 cm × 86,4 cm, TATE Britain, London

“Conception, my boy, fundamental brain work, is what makes all the difference in art…” once said, Dante Gabriel Rossetti. During COVID 19 Days, we need a new meaningful Conception of our Life, and how we can make it powerful and fulfilling… just like ART! London, home of Dante Gabriel Rossetti and his Brotherhood friends, is an ideal Virtual Trip to meet the Pre-Raphaelites! Please… Stay in the comfort of your HOME! Snack on something deliciously BRITISH! …and ACTION!

The Guildhall Art Gallery in London, founded in 1886 as the “Collection of Art Treasures worthy of the capital city,” exhibits some superb examples of Pre-Raphaelite works.

According to the TATE experts “The Pre-Raphaelites were a secret society of young artists (and one writer), founded in London in 1848. They were opposed to the Royal Academy’s promotion of the ideal as exemplified in the work of Raphael. …Inspired by the theories of John Ruskin, who urged artists to ‘go to nature’, they believed in an art of serious subjects treated with maximum realism. Their principal themes were initially religious, but they also used subjects from literature and poetry, particularly those dealing with love and death. They also explored modern social problems.”    https://www.tate.org.uk/art/art-terms/p/pre-raphaelite.

Let’s uncover the mysteries of this secret society of painters with the help of our KIDS and the TATE    https://www.tate.org.uk/kids/explore/who-is/who-are-pre-raphaelites …and let’s explore Pre-Raphaelite London! https://theculturetrip.com/europe/united-kingdom/england/london/articles/a-pre-raphaelites-tour-of-london/    and    https://www.standard.co.uk/go/london/arts/pre-raphaelite-art-london-best-paintings-exhibitions-a3965701.html

Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 1828–1882
Monna Vanna, 1866, oil on canvas, 88,9 cm × 86,4 cm, TATE Britain, London

Movie Time with the Pre-Raphaelites… and ACTION!

Effie Gray is a 2014 British biographical film written by Emma Thompson and directed by Richard Laxton. It is based on the true story of John Ruskin’s marriage to Euphemia Gray and the subsequent annulment of their marriage.     https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1605798/     and     https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5BLzK1z0EII

Desperate Romantics is a six-part television drama series about the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, first broadcast on BBC Two between 21 July and 25 August 2009. Discussing the series’ billing as “Entourage with Easels,” Franny Moyle, whose book about the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, Desperate Romantics: The Private Lives Of The Pre-Raphaelites was an inspiration for the series, said: “I didn’t pitch it as ‘Entourage with easels’ … I pitched it as a big emotional saga, a bit like The Forsyte Saga. Having said that, I think it was a useful snapshot – a way of getting a handle on the drama.”     https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1346018/?ref_=kw_li_tt     and     https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g4BraAD71cE

The BBC Documentary, The Pre-Raphaelites: Victorian Revolutionaries, examines the 19th century Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood art movement. This 3-Part Documentary explores its origins, some early works and the criticism faced by the Brotherhood.    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FkWONORqHZw     https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oe9JOWEYldU     https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OSCRU73LIms

FOOD… with Victorian Recipes

What did the Victorians eat? Mrs. Avis Crocombe was the head cook at Audley End House in the 1880s. She compiled many different recipes in her handwritten cookery book, which includes a range of Victorian delights – including a recipe for a roasted swan! Will they prove interesting to taste?     https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/inspire-me/victorian-recipes/

Singer with a Glove…

Edgar Degas, 1834 – 1917
Singer with a Glove, c. 1878, pastel on canvas, 53.2 x 41 cm, Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum

“Art is not what you see, but what you make others see,” Edgar Degas once said. What do we really see in his pastel painting of a Singer with a Glove?

“What a creature he was, that Degas!” Renoir said about him, and he was right! A reluctant Impressionist, the offspring of a wealthy family with Creole ties, Edgar Degas studied in the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris and then in July 1856, he travelled to Italy, where he would remain for the next three years drawing and painting numerous copies of works by the great masters of the Renaissance. However, Degas’s Italian art studies were not conventional. He learnt the secrets of each painter’s art by focusing his attention to a particular detail that had caught his attention, a secondary figure in a large composition, or a minor portrait in a master’s painting.

Edgar Degas, 1834 – 1917
Self-Portrait, 1863, oil on canvas, 925 x 665mm, Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, Lisbon

Upon his return to France in 1859, and for the next thirteen years, Degas kept busy exhibiting, annually, at the Salon (1865-1870) drawing attention with his historic paintings, defending Paris as an enlisted member of the National Guard, during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, and travelling extensively visiting friends in France or spending a year visiting family in New Orleans (1972). In 1873 Degas was back in Paris, facing the death of his father and financial ruin due to enormous business debts amassed by his brother René. He sold his house and Art Collection to preserve his family’s reputation, and started fresh, producing much of his greatest work, joining a group of young artists who were soon to be known as the Impressionists.

Edgar Degas, 1834 – 1917
A Cotton Office in New Orleans, 1873, oil on canvas, 73 cm × 92 cm, Musée des beaux-arts de Pau, France

Degas participated in seven of the Impressionist Exhibitions (1874-1886) taking a leading role in their organization and final disbanding in 1886. Deeply conservative in his social views, Degas disliked the term “Impressionism” that was popularly attached to the group as much as he disliked and mocked painting “en plein air” like Monet and others did, writing “You know what I think of people who work out in the open. If I were the government I would have a special brigade of gendarmes to keep an eye on artists who paint landscapes from nature. Oh, I don’t mean to kill anyone; just a little dose of bird-shot now and then as a warning.”

He was very much, however, an Impressionist in painting the reality of the Parisian world around him with a strong sense of immediacy, using blazing and luminous colours, the force of light, and off-centre compositions. By the late 1860s women became Degas’s source of inspiration, and conforming to contemporary ideas, Degas painted hard-working women like milliners and laundresses, but women entertainers as well, like Ballet Dancers and Singers.

Edgar Degas, 1834 – 1917
Singer with Glove, 1878, pastel on paper marouflé on toile, 62,5 x 48 cm, Copenhague, Ordrupgaard, Danemark
Café Singer, 1879, oil on canvas, 53.5 × 41.8 cm, Art Institute of Chicago
Singer with Glove, 1878, drawing on paper, Louvre Museum
http://www.degas-catalogue.com/fiches.php?id=25

The Singer with a Glove is one such painting. Using the harsh artificial light needed to illuminate the stage of the famous Parisian Café Chantant, maybe his favourite Café des Ambassadeurs, Degas presents the singer as she holds an operatic note holding her gloved hand up to stress her effort! He uses harsh light and strong colours… shades of orange, washes of pink and green, stark black and pure white. Degas uses light and colours to dominate his composition and create… drama needed to stress new values for France’s newly established Third Republic!

Bibliography on Degas is extensive and interesting. For easy access to Internet short articles on the painting in focus, please go to https://www.harvardartmuseums.org/art/228652    and    https://fashionhistory.fitnyc.edu/1884-degas-singer-in-green/    and    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edgar_Degas#cite_note-26

For a student Activity on the painting of the Harvard Art Museums Singer with a Glove by Edgar Degas, please… click HERE!

The work of my Dear Student Kalypso I.

Theodoros Ralli

Theodoros Ralli, 1852-1909
Veiled Woman, 1889, oil on vellum, diameter 22 cm, ALPHA Bank Collection

“Art is ANYTHING you can get away with” Andy Warhol once said… How true is he when we consider the artistic oeuvre of Theodoros Ralli and his amazing Orientalism! A wealthy Greek ex-patriate artist, living between the West, mostly in Paris, and the East, Cairo during the cold month of winter, Theodoros Ralli is a true cosmopolitan of the late 19th century Gilded Age.

“A perfect Parisian type, wearing a beret à la Hermonville and a light brown vest with gold trim buttoned to the neck, still very youthful and of an open, jovial character, Mr. Ralli is a delightful conversationalist and very gallant.”

Not just so… Theodoros Ralli, born in Constantinople, at the crossroads of East and West, the mythical capital of the Byzantine Empire and the alluring EAST, was destined to become the most representative of the Greek, Orientalist painters. He was “the offspring of a wealthy family from the island of Chios, active in commerce in England and around the world.” Theodoros Ralli had no financial problems to pursue, unobstructed, his passion for the Arts. The photographs of his Parisian Studio that still survive today preserve his appearance and way of living. Documents of the period present him as a personality, and discuss “his courtesy, gentility, humour, patience, tenacity, smoking habit, love of Wagnerian opera, a weakness for watercolourists, aversion to long-term relationships, industriousness and his love for the fair sex, in Parisian Studios he had the nickname of Don Juan.”  All documents “reinforce the picture of a man who despite his genteel and fragile appearance, disposed of enormous psychic reserves, had an iron will and the perseverance to become what he had dreamed of becoming: a painter.”

The Artist’s Studio in Paris

Theodoros Ralli studied painting under the academic teacher and Orientalist painter Jean-Leon Gerome until approximately 1880, sharing his teacher’s aversion towards Impressionism and the avant-garde movements of the later 19th century. He exhibited, uninterruptedly, in the official French Salons, the World Exhibitions of Paris, as well as many other exhibitions both inside and outside France, winning medals and establishing international recognition. He travelled extensively to Greece and many Middle Eastern countries, drawing inspiration for his paintings. He kept two Studios, one in Paris and another in Cairo, where he kept warm and stimulated during wintertime.

Theodoros Ralli, 1852-1909
Veiled Woman, 1889, oil on vellum, diameter 22 cm, ALPHA Bank Collection

Orientalism in later 19th century Art is a tantalizing, multi-faceted, genre much loved by Europeans of the time. We can trace it back to the merchants of the Silk Road, the few adventurous Northern European travellers of the “Grand Tour,” or the Venetian Renaissance fiestas painted by Veronese, the Dutch Curiosity Cabinets, Rococo eroticism or to the many Odalisques that inspired both Ingres and Delacroix. Then we have to consider Napoleon, his Egyptian Campaign of 1798-1801, and the gradual European desire for… political involvement and colonialism. Whatever the cause of European curiosity and pathos for the East, it lingered for a long time, inspiring and creating great works of art. https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/euor/hd_euor.htm    and    https://www.artuk.org/discover/stories/inspired-by-the-east-thoughts-about-orientalism

For a Student Activity on Orientalism inspired by Theodoros Ralli, please… Click HERE!

Written both in Greek and English, this is a valuable source of information for the Artist: Theodoros Ralli, Looking East – The catalogue was first published on the occasion of the exhibition “Theodoros Ralli. Looking East” Benaki Museum, Museum of Islamic Art, 11th December 2014 – 22nd February 2015 https://www.benaki.org/images/publications/pdf/rallis.pdf

For Browsing through a collection of paintings by Theodoros Ralli, go to https://paletaart.wordpress.com/2012/07/09/%CF%81%CE%AC%CE%BB%CE%BB%CE%B7%CF%82-%CE%B8%CE%B5%CF%8C%CE%B4%CF%89%CF%81%CE%BF%CF%82-rallis-theodoros-1852-1909/

Still Life à la cafetière

Vincent van Gogh, 1853 – 1890
Still Life à la cafetière, Still Life with Coffee Pot, May 1888, Oil on Canvas, 65 × 81 cm, Basil and Elise Goulandris Foundation, Athens

The three primary colours, red, blue yellow, a touch of orange… and how you can create a masterpiece! Still Life à la cafetière in the Basil and Elise Goulandris Foundation, at Athens, is a case to study!!!

“Painting Still Lifes is the beginning of everything,” Van Gogh said back in the winter of 1884/85, and as Dutch in origin, he was so right! Let’s not forget the Netherlandish attachment to this genre. During his prolific career that did not last more than a decade, from 1881 until his death in 1890, Van Gogh painted more than 170 Still Lifes! https://www.museum-barberini.com/en/van-gogh/

He started by “paying tribute” to his Dutch, 17th-century tradition of painting Still Lifes with sombre, melancholy, earthy tones. We can describe these early Still Life paintings as experiments in colour! Direct, powerful, and sincere, these early Still Life studies were created while living with his parents in Nuenen. Across a dark background, he used humble everyday objects that were probably used by his family for their everyday meals. By mixing primary colours himself, his palette was dark, brown and greyish, and the objects he was presenting were brought to life with touches of white paint. His painting, titled Still life with three bottles and earthenware, is a perfect example. https://www.vangoghmuseum.nl/en/collection/s0138V1962?v=1

Vincent van Gogh, 1853 – 1890
Still Life with three bottles and earthenware, 1884/5, oil on canvas, 39,5 x 56 cm, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam

That was not enough for Van Gogh! He felt the need to develop and evolve, to practice and struggle in getting better… and so, he travels to Paris, gets in touch with Impressionism, and his Still Life paintings gradually acquire the bright Mediterranean colours of Southern France, which he so loved. Painting Still Lifes during the Paris period is very important for him. He studies every book he can get on the fundamentals of “Colour Theory” and experiments until his colour palette dramatically changes. He doesn’t mix colours any more, he uses them separately, he combines complementary colours and gets rid of the use of browns. In Paris, painting flowers fascinates him, changing his technique intrigues him, communicating his feelings as well as what he sees becomes his objective. The newly authenticated Vase with Poppies at the Wadsworth Atheneum is such a representative example of his efforts at the time. https://www.theartnewspaper.com/blog/two-van-gogh-exhibitions-in-a-single-week

Vincent van Gogh, 1853 – 1890
Vase with Poppies, ca. 1886, oil on canvas, Wadsworth Atheneum, 56.0 cm × 46.5 cm, Hartford, Connecticut

Vincent van Gogh moved to Arles in early 1888, and his palette positively explodes with colour and vibrant brushstrokes. The Basil and Elise Goulandris Foundation painting Still Life à la cafetière is an amazing example of his final period. Quoting a description of the painting in a Van Gogh letter to his brother Theo, we read… “A coffee pot in blue enamel, a cup (on the left) royal blue and gold, a milk jug checkered light blue and white, a cup (on the right) white with blue and orange patterns on a plate of earthenware yellow-grey, a pot of barbotine or majolica blue with red, green, brown patterns, finally two oranges and three lemons; the table is covered with a blue cloth, the background yellow-green, thus six different blues and four of five yellows and oranges.” The art of simplicity at it’s best. Once more, dispassionate items of his everyday life, search for immediacy and turn into a moving painting of extraordinary vitality. The three primary colours, lots of blues and greens, an amazing red borderline that encloses the painting, juxtapose to “touches” of complementary oranges. A diagonal composition with crossed lines animates the composition. Incredible brushstrokes forcefully convene in the enamel coffee pot, creating a sense of perspective. He works like a man in a frenzy and creates a world, his world, that feels ALIVE! Color, Space, and Creativity: Art and Ontology in Five British Writers, by Jack Stewart, 2008, Rosemont Publishing & Printing Corp., page 224, and https://goulandris.gr/en/artwork/vincent-van-gogh-still-life-coffee-pot

For a Student Activity, please… check HERE!

Celebrating the Greek War of Independence

K. G. Papagiannaki,
The Greek Boy, 1837, oil on canvas, 0,28×0,21 cm, Benaki Museum, Athens

It was for these children that we fought… Celebrating the Greek War of Independence …paraphrasing the words of Yanni Makrigianni, 1794-1864, Greek Revolutionary Fighter of 1821!

If you wish to learn more about the Greek War of Independence and the preparation for the Bicentennial Celebration in 2021, please VISIT the official Greece 1821-2021 Bicentennial site: https://www.greece2021.gr/en/ and/or https://www.greece2021.gr/

For our Youngsters…

For celebratory mood and quality time with your youngster, you can VISIT the National Historical Museum site http://www.nhmuseum.gr/en and then go to http://www.nhmuseum.gr/el/ekpaideysi/ekpaideytiko-yliko/.

This a Colouring Page Activity (in Greek BUT easy to understand and DO) on famous figures of the Greek War of Independence. It was inspired by the Exhibition The 1821 Greek War of Independence Retold in… Playmobil! Activity is very EASY! http://www.nhmuseum.gr/el/ekpaideysi/ekpaideytiko-yliko/

To do the Colouring Activity Press on each picture you wish your child to colour – download it – print it – DONE! You can choose between heroes and heroines of the Greek War of Independence and celebrate an important moment in Greek History.

From top to bottom the Colouring Page Figures are: Theodoros Kolokotronis, Odysseas Androutsos, Laskarina Bouboulina, Konstantinos Kanaris, Manto Mavrogenous, Germanos, Metropolitan Paleon Patron, Andreas Lontos, Asimo Goura, Ioannis Makrigiannis, Domna Visvizi, Christos Kapsalis, Andreas Pipinos, Dimitrios Papanikolis

Colouring 1821-Greek War of Independence

For an easy to print Celebrating the Greek War of Independence Worksheet, please… check HERE!

A Tiffany Drawing and the final product!

Tiffany Glass and Decorating Company, 1892–1902
Design Drawing, ca. 1898–99, Watercolor and graphite on paper, 28.9 x 40.6  cm, the MET, NY
https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/17504
Louis Comfort Tiffany, 1848–1933
Bowl, 1898–1902, Enamel on Copper, 15.6 x 24.1 x 24.1 cm, the MET, NY https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/works-of-art/51.121.29/

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York has in its American Wing’s Collection two items I particularly like. The first is a Watercolour Design Drawing by the Tiffany Glass and Decorating Company illustrating a very special copper bowl belonging to Louis Comfort Tiffany’s private collection. The second item is the actual Enamel on Copper Tiffany Bowl, lushly decorated with plums among leaves in a very organic way, shimmering and glowing…

The MET “Recent Acquisitions, A Selection: 2005–2006”: The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, v. 64, no. 2 (Fall, 2006) page 53, Publication has the acquisition report of the Tiffany Design Drawing with a plethora of information. We learn, for example, that it presents a large enamel bowl in the Repoussé technique. The artist of the drawing used the Watercolour medium to better represent the luminosity of purple and green translucent enamels. We also learn, through notations, the formulas for the enamel colours used by the artists, and that ten days and 50 hours of work were required to make the piece. Two names written on the paper are of particular importance. “Munson” refers to Julia Manson, the lady in charge of the Tiffany enameling workshop and “Leslie Nash,” a later addition, a Tiffany production manager and original owner of the Drawing. https://www.metmuseum.org/art/metpublications/Recent_Acquisitions_A_Selection_2005_2006_The_Metropolitan_Museum_of_Art_Bulletin_v_64_no_2_Fall_2006

Iridescent Tiffany Enamels were particularly esteemed and in high demand. The large Enamel on Copper Bowl at the Metropolitan Museum of Art is a rare and prized item to admire and study in order to realize high-quality craftsmanship. What I find astonishing is that the Tiffany enameling department was small, production was limited, and exclusively staffed by women artists. The first lady in charge was Patricia Gay, followed by Julia Munson, the artist of our Bowl-in-focus. As described by the sited MET publication, “The shape of the Bowl alludes to the plump, rounded form of the ripe plum. Fruit, leaves, and branches are rendered in repoussé in high relief, and the plums are so three-dimensional that they look almost as if they could be plucked off the bowl…” The MET Publication, pp.77-78, Louis Comfort Tiffany at The Metropolitan Museum of Art [adapted from The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, v. 56, no. 1 (Summer, 1998)] is a wonderful source of information for Tiffany and his accomplishments. https://www.metmuseum.org/art/metpublications/Louis_Comfort_Tiffany_at_the_Metropolitan_Museum_of_Art

For a Student Activity on Louis Comfort Tiffany, please… check HERE!

Repoussé: method of decorating metals in which parts of the design are raised in relief from the back or the inside of the article by means of hammers and punches; definition and detail can then be added from the front by chasing or engraving. The name repoussé is derived from the French pousser, “to push forward.” This ancient technique, which has been used extensively throughout the history of metalworking, achieved widespread popularity in Europe during the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries.

Wondrous Birds

Hans Thoma, 1839–1924
Wondrous Birds, 1892, 92.4 x 74.0 cm, North Carolina Museum of Art

“A romantic realist who has devoted his life to making love to Nature and expressing it in glowing colour.” Writes Huntly Carter, for Hans Thoma, the painter of Wondrous Birds!

Born in the Black Forest area, the son of a Miller, Hans Thoma developed a keen eye for the beauty of his ancestral home. His landscapes, genre paintings, and prints have little in common with contemporary artistic styles and ideas. He is “in love” with nature, its idyllic simplicity, ethereal quality, and effortless grandeur. He created his very own, distinctive, creative manniera, close to that of the early German masters, particularly that of Albrecht Altdorfer and Lucas Cranach the Elder. His love for nature, his attention to “local” colouring, drawing and the importance of outline, his fondness for “homeland” scenery, brings him close, but not part of another group of special artists, the Pre-Raphaelites.

According to North Carolina Museum of Art “Hans Thoma painted several compositions of flying storks that are quite remarkable for the bird’s-eye viewpoint from which they are represented, almost as if the artist were flying beside them. Although Thoma was known to have been profoundly interested in symbolism and mythology, he never publicly explained the meaning or symbolism of his Wundervögel.” NCMA offers an interesting introduction to Wondrous Birds and an educational lesson plan at https://learn.ncartmuseum.org/artwork/wondrous-birds/ and https://learn.ncartmuseum.org/lesson-plans/a-birds-eye-view/

Hans Thoma, 1839–1924
Self-portrait in front of a birch forest, 1899, oil on canvas, 91 x 75.5 cm, Städel Museum, Frankfurt

Hans Thoma started his career in art, entering, in 1859, the Karlsruhe Academy under the tutelage of Johann Wilhelm Schirmer and Ludwig des Coudres. Visiting Paris in 1868 was the second important step he took. The great French Realist, Gustav Courbet, became his teacher, mentor and the third step to artistic maturity. In 1874 he visited Italy and fell under the spell of Renaissance Art. In 1899 Hans Thoma was named Director of the Karlsruhe Academy, his reputation was firmly established through exhibitions and his days were spent between Düsseldorf, Paris, Italy, Munich, and Frankfurt. Today, many of his paintings have found their way into museums and private collections and are widely exhibited… Scholars of 19th century Art describe him as a Romantic Realist, a member of the “German Romans” group. For more on Hans Thome and the artistic environments in 19th century Germany, please, check: German Masters of the 19th Century, Paintings and Drawings from the Federal Republic of Germany, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1981, New York https://libmma.contentdm.oclc.org/digital/collection/p15324coll10/id/71300

A bird’s-eye view is an elevated view of an object from above, with a perspective as though the observer were a bird, often used in the making of blueprints, floor plans, and maps.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bird%27s-eye_view

For student RWAP (Research-Writing-Art-Project) please… check HERE!