White Ships by John Singer Sargent

John Singer Sargent, American artist, 1856-1925
White Ships, circa 1908, Translucent and opaque watercolor and wax resist with graphite underdrawing, 35.6 x 49.2 cm, Brooklyn Museum, NY, USA https://www.brooklynmuseum.org/opencollection/objects/20397

Strange flight, the body / Held at a threshold / And never quite freed    /    Or quite revealed— / One wing taut with wind, / One wing concealed    /    Until the wind grows calm / And it shimmers in a shadow-world, / The shape of a sail, yet softer—    /    The drifting boat / A bird half in air, / Half in water… writes Heather Allen, and I think of White Ships by John Singer Sargent and a perfect day in the sea… anywhere in the world! https://www.tweetspeakpoetry.com/2017/02/09/top-10-ship-sail-boat-poems/

John Singer Sargent is the par excellence representative American artist of the Gilded Age. His life represents its very characteristics! He was born in Florence, Italy, to expatriate American parents…  He had a nomadic childhood, spending winters in Florence, Rome, or Nice and summers in the Alps or other cooler locations. Early in his life, he realized what he wanted to do in life was to become an artist, and supported by his mother, Mary Newbold Sargent, who was herself an accomplished amateur watercolorist he accomplished it. Sargent and his mother carried sketchbooks throughout their extensive travels across Europe, and he developed a quick eye and fast reflexes for recording his impressions of the landscape. Eighteen years old, under the tutelage of the painter Carolus-Duran, who encouraged him to paint directly onto the canvas, without any preparatory drawing, and to study the Old Masters, John Singer Sargent developed his skills, exhibited both landscapes and portraits to much acclaim, and developed a reputation as a fine society portraitist on both sides of the Atlantic. What a life… Brooklyn Museum – Teaching Resource: Special Exhibition – John Singer Sargent Watercolors – April 5–July 28, 2013, p. 2

John Singer Sargent, American artist, 1856-1925
Self-Portrait, 1906, oil on canvas, 70×53 cm, the MET, NY, USA https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sargent,_John_SInger_(1856-1925)_-_Self-Portrait_1907_b.jpg

Sargent wanted more… He grew restless at the height of his career, and sought escape from the constraints of the studio and the demands of his patrons for society portraits. What he did was to travel to remote spots, choose his own subjects, and paint without distraction inspirational watercolours… of landscapes, genre scenes, friends, and family. After 1900 Sargent spent his summers traveling throughout Europe, painting both oil paintings and watercolors. What a life… Brooklyn Museum – Teaching Resource: Special Exhibition – John Singer Sargent Watercolors – April 5–July 28, 2013, p. 2

Painting the characteristic Mediterranean sailing boats and fishing vessels was a favourite theme of Sargent’s watercoloures. The Brooklyn White Ships is by far my favourite. The subject matter is purely “marine,” the lines communicate energy and the colours bask on summer chaleur! The artist focuses on the sails, the mast and the prow of each boat, the blue of the sky and the reflections on the seawater. Controlled tones of blue and white suggest subtle shadows while brushstrokes of colour on the water create an interaction of light a shade. How more summery can it get!

When I discuss John Singer Sargent’s Watercolours with my Students I always give them a copy of the Brooklyn Museum – Teaching Resource: Special Exhibition – John Singer Sargent Watercolors – April 5–July 28, 2013. It is a great source of information and provides many sources for Student Activities.

For a PowerPoint on John Singer Sargent’s Watercolours, please…  Click HERE!

Idle Hours by William Merritt Chase

William Merritt Chase, American painter, 1849-1916
Idle Hours, 1894, oil on canvas, 90.17×64.77 cm, Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Texas

“The first lily of June opens its red mouth. / All over the sand road where we walk / multiflora rose climbs trees cascading / white or pink blossoms, simple, intense / the scene drifting like colored mist.    /    The arrowhead is spreading its creamy / clumps of flower and the blackberries / are blooming in the thickets. Season of / joy for the bee. The green will never / again be so green, so purely and lushly    /    new, grass lifting its wheaty seedheads / into the wind. Rich fresh wine / of June, we stagger into you smeared / with pollen, overcome as the turtle / laying her eggs in roadside sand.” More Than Enough is a lovely poem by Marge Piercy. Idle Hours by William Merritt Chase is a wonderful painting to make us dream of summer days… https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/42466/more-than-enough

My God, I’d rather go to Europe than go to heaven… William Merritt Chase apparently said back in 1872 when a group of St. Louis businessmen offered him the financial support to study in Europe. He was a young, talented man from Indiana, and the Royal Academy in Munich, Germany, was his choice for Art studies. Less distracting… compared to Paris, he probably thought… but the more Academic Munich Art scene did not keep Chase from exploring the latest in European Art. The flashy brushwork and dramatic chiaroscuro espoused by Wilhelm Leibl, Gustave Courbet‘s German friend and stylistic alter ego was what he espoused in Munich along with the painterly realism of old masters such as Peter Paul Rubens and Frans Hals. https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/chas/hd_chas.htm

William Merritt Chase, American painter, 1849-1916
Self-Portrait, 1915-16, oil on canvas, 133.3×161.2 cm, Richmond Art Museum, Richmond, IN, USA

I intend to have the finest studio in New York… he told a friend… and in 1978, back in New York, he did… by renting a small studio in the prestigious Tenth Street Studio Building in Greenwich Village. That studio became the perfect setting for the elegant, debonair image he contrived for himself. He traveled back and forth to Europe, visited the latest art shows, meeting artists and collectors, exploring the modern look, experimenting with subjects of relaxation in an innovative style,  and set himself to become the finest members of the American artistic community.  https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/chas/hd_chas.htm

Archival  Photographs of the Shinnecock Summer School on Long Island
https://aaqeastend.com/contents/the-art-village/

In 1891 William Merritt Chase became the leading Art Teacher of the prestigious, but equally popular and fashionable, Shinnecock Summer School on Long Island. He was happy at Shinnecock as he was able to practice open-air painting for twelve consecutive summers in an elegant environment he enjoyed. He taught two days every week and then… I imagine him in his veranda… overlooking the ocean, among members of his family, content and overwhelmed by the changing effects of light, creating some of his finest, vivid landscapes.  

William Merritt Chase, American painter, 1849-1916
Idle Hours (detail), 1894, oil on canvas, 90.17×64.77 cm, Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Texas
https://gallerythane.com/products/william-merritt-chase-fine-art-print-idle-hours

To celebrate the Summer Solstice of 2021, I chose to present the 1894 painting Idle Hours by William Merritt Chase exhibited today at Amon Carter Museum of American Art in Texas. The painting shows the artist’s wife in a red bonnet with two of her daughters and possibly his sister-in-law. The group enjoys a perfect day of sunshine and sea breeze while indulging in the idyllic pastime of reading outdoors. The Shinnecock dunes and beach, the yellowy, summer greens of the landscape and the flickering light, create a painting of summer bliss I particularly enjoy… and hope, you will enjoy as well… https://artsandculture.google.com/asset/idle-hours-william-merritt-chase/aAGRt5_rnKp-qw and https://www.wga.hu/html_m/c/chase/idlehour.html

For a Student Activity, please… Check HERE!

Mother’s Day

Mary Stevenson Cassatt, 1844–1926
Maternal Caress, 1890-91, Drypoint, aquatint and softground etching, printed in color from three plates, 36.5 × 26.8 cm, the MET, NY, USA
https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/364213

“Sonnets are full of love, and this my tome / Has many sonnets: so here now shall be / One sonnet more, a love sonnet, from me / To her whose heart is my heart’s quiet home, / To my first Love, my Mother, on whose knee / I learnt love-lore that is not troublesome; / Whose service is my special dignity, / And she my loadstar while I go and come. / And so because you love me, and because / I love you, Mother, I have woven a wreath / Of rhymes wherewith to crown your honoured name: / In you not fourscore years can dim the flame / Of love, whose blessed glow transcends the laws / Of time and change and mortal life and death.” I miss my mother… and on Mother’s Day, I think of her with Art and poetry, because my heart and thoughts are … full of love. https://poets.org/poem/sonnets-are-full-love-and-my-tome (Christina Rossetti’s (1830-1894) Sonnets are full of love)

For the Mother’s Day BLOG POST two Works of Art from two different parts of the world… yet, Mary Stevenson Cassatt’s Maternal Caress, and Kitagawa Utamaro’s Mother and Sleepy Child, have so many similar stories to tell… https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/364213 and https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/51137

Mary Stevenson Cassatt, 1844–1926
Maternal Caress, 1890-91, Drypoint, aquatint and softground etching, printed in colour from three plates, 36.5 × 26.8 cm, the MET, NY, USA
https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/364213
Kitagawa Utamaro, 1753–1806,
Midnight: The Hours of the Rat; Mother and Sleepy Child, Edo period (1615–1868), ca. 1790, Polychrome woodblock print, The MET, NY, USA
https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/51137

Mary Stevenson Cassatt (1844 – 1926) was a fortunate lady! Born into an affluent family in Pennsylvania who believed it was important for women to receive an education, she grew up attending school in Philadelphia and travelling to Europe where …Art kept changing. Reaching adulthood she persuaded her parents that her life’s destination was Europe and professional pursuit will be painting! It was not easy for her father to accept it, but after serious deliberation, it was decided… in 1866, with her mother and family friends acting as chaperones, she settled in Paris and was accepted to study Art in the private studios of Jean-Léon Gérôme, Charles Joshua Chaplin and Thomas Couture. She expanded her training with daily copying in the Louvre and trips to the French countryside where she drew from life. Two years later, in 1868, her painting A Mandoline Player, was accepted for exhibition in the Paris Salon. She was noticed as a professional painter, but she was not fully content!

Everything changed in 1877 when paintings she submitted to enter the year’s Salon were rejected by the committee. Disillusioned with academic painting and eager to experiment, Cassatt met Edgar Degas, an artist she greatly admired, who invited her to collaborate with the Impressionists and exhibit with them in 1879, at the 4th Impressionist Exhibition. She was finally happy in an artistic environment that suited her needs… plein air painting, ordinary subjects, vibrant, metallic in some cases, colour, in short, dancing brushstrokes, flat space, the discovery of Japanism…

On the 9th of May, celebrating Mother’s Day, a tribute to Mary Cassatt as “…in her clear-headed treatment of mothers and infants, (she) was, for her time, entirely alone. The bunch of English and French daubers have put them in such stupid and pretentious poses! complained the critic J.-K. Huysmans, contrasting them with Cassatt’s irreproachable pearls of Oriental sweetness.” I couldn’t agree more! https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/364213

Kitagawa Utamaro, 1753–1806,
Midnight: The Hours of the Rat; Mother and Sleepy Child, Edo period (1615–1868), ca. 1790, Polychrome woodblock print, The MET, NY, USA
https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/51137

One of my favourite classroom games, teaching my students the accomplishments of Impressionist artists like Mary Cassatt, is to present them with Japanese Woodblock prints and assist them to draw comparisons and conclusions. The MET experts present Kitagawa Utamaro as “one of the most prolific artists of the genre of the portrayal of beautiful women… extremely interested in images of mother and child in daily life.” Midnight: The Hours of the Rat; Mother and Sleepy Child “belongs to a series entitled Fuzoku Bijin Tokei (Women’s Daily Customs). To illustrate midnight, Utamaro has chosen a mother who sleepily emerges from her mosquito net to attend to her child, who rubs the sleep from his eyes. The personal, quotidian nature of the subject exemplifies the new interest in the individual that emerged during the Edo period.”

For a PowerPoint on Mary Stevenson Cassatt and Japanism, please… Check HERE!

Kanaris Burning the Turkish Flagship

Nikiforos Lytras, 1832-1927
Kanaris Burning the Turkish Flagship, 1873, oil on canvas, 143×109 cm, Averoff Gallery, Metsovo, Greece     https://www.averoffmuseum.gr/kanaris-burning-the-turkish-flagship/?lang=en

“Mais le bon Canaris, donc un ardent sillon  /  Suit la barque hardie,  /  Sur les vaisseaux qu’il prend, comme son pavillon,  /  Arbore l’incendie !          But good Kanaris, whose daring boat  /  Is followed by a burning wake,  /  On the vessels he seizes, as his ensign,  /  Displays the blaze!” Writes Victor Hugo inspired by the daring deeds of Konstantinos Kanaris (anglicised as Constantine Canaris), distinguished as a brave fire ship captain. In 1873, Nikiforos Lytras painted Kanaris Burning the Turkish Flagship, honouring the great man.     https://poesie.webnet.fr/lesgrandsclassiques/poemes/victor_hugo/canaris     and     https://www.crwflags.com/fotw/flags/fr_canar.html

Averoff Gallery, Metsovo, Greece     

Every time I travel to Metsovo, in the Epirote mountains of Pindos, in Northern Greece, I visit the Averoff Gallery and stop in front of Nikiforos Lytras’s painting Kanaris Burning the Turkish Flagship. You cannot miss it… It is one of the most captivating 19th-century Greek paintings. https://www.averoffmuseum.gr/

Kanaris Burning the Turkish Flagship is an amazing departure from what Nykiforos Lytras studied in the Münchner Akademie der Bildenden Künste under the tutelage of Karl Theodor von Piloty (1826-1886). An influential Art School, the Münchner Akademie, attracted and trained artists from around the world to become leading painters, able to combine in their style, academic realism, baroque colourism and dark chiaroscuro. The artists of the Akademie were committed to monumental history paintings, landscapes, ethnography, portraits and still life. Naturalism in its depiction of human emotions was not among the School’s greatest artistic pursuits. http://www.artmag.gr/art-history/art-history/item/270-i-sxoli-you-monaxou

Konstantinos Kanaris (1793 – 1877)
Greek and Philhellene Fighters in the Greek Revolution of 1821, Portraits of the German officer and Philhellene Karl Krazeisen
This is a rare series of the lithographs of Krazeisen, which are hand-painted.
https://www.eefshp.org/en/portfolio-item/konstantinos-kanaris-1793-1877/

Lytras’s painting on the heroic deed by Konstantinos Kanaris is a historic painting with a twist! The artist moves away “from the romantic tendency that prevailed in the School of Piloty to a more naturalistic one in which the genre element played the dominant role.” According to the description provided by the Averoff Museum “Lytras` anthropocentric painting… was not concerned so much with the historical event per se. More so it was the projection of the heroic act carried out by brave persons worthy of emulation. The flaming ship is thrust into the distance to form the backdrop for the human action that is played out on a plane close to the viewer. Thus, in contrast to the ambiguous treatment of the background, where the ship disappears half-hidden by the smoke, the realistic rendering of the Psarians with Kanaris in the boat gives the work the immediacy and truth that interested the artist.”     https://www.averoffmuseum.gr/kanaris-burning-the-turkish-flagship/?lang=en

Nikiforos Lytras, the painter of Kanaris Burning the Turkish Flagship in Metsovo, was born in Pyrgi, on the Cycladic island of Tinos, the son of a marble sculptor. An exceptional talent, Lytras studied at the Athens School of Art from 1850 until 1860 and then, as the recipient of a state scholarship, he continued his studies at the Munich Academy, in the class of Karl von Piloty. In 1866 Lytras was back in Greece and was appointed professor at the Athens School of Fine Arts, a position he held for 38 productive years. A conscientious teacher, but interested to experience new ideas and always open to new trends, Nikiforos Lytras became the leading Greek artist of his time, popular with the people and honoured by his students and fellow artists.

Nikiforos Lytras, 1832-1927
Self-Portrait, 19th century, oil on canvas, 51,5 x 43,5 cm, National Gallery of Athens      

There are two paintings on the theme of Kanaris Burning the Turkish Flagship. The earliest, chronologically, was painted by Nikiforos Lytras and today is exhibited in the Averoff Museum at Metsovo, one of my favourite Art Museums in Greece. The second painting, by  Ivan Konstantinovich Aivazovsky, was painted in 1881 and is part of the E. Koutlidis Collection and is exhibited in Athens at the National Gallery. For a Student “Compare and Contrast” Activity, paintings, please… Check HERE!

Ivan Konstantinovich Aivazovsky, 1817-1900
The Burning of the Turkish Flagship, 1881,oil on canvas, 162×223 cm, National Gallery of Athens     https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_Burning_of_the_Turkish_Flagship_by_Kanaris_-_Ivan_Aivazovsky,_1881.png

If you wish to learn more about the Greek War of Independence and the Bicentennial Celebrations in 2021, please VISIT the official Greece 1821-2021 Bicentennial site http://www.greece2021.gr, Twitter, https://twitter.com/Greece_2021, Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/Greece2021/, and Instagram, https://www.instagram.com/greece2021/?hl=el

Celebrating the Greek Revolution of 1821

Johann Georg Christian Perlberg, 1806-1884
Drums for the War of Independence – Young Drummer in Missolunghi, oil on canvas, 48.5 x 34.5 cm, Private Collection
https://www.dorotheum.com/en/l/2897144/      and     http://ellas2021.eu/gallery.html

It was for these children that we fought… paraphrasing the words of Yanni Makrigianni, 1794-1864, Greek Revolutionary Fighter of 1821! Celebrating the Greek Revolution of 1821 and remembering the children who probably suffered the most.

Messolonghi… View of the location where Lord Byron died, 1848
ESTOURMEL, Joseph d’, Comte. Album du Journal d’un Voyage en Orient, Paris, Hellenic Library – Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation
http://eng.travelogues.gr/item.php?view=39968

“The torch that was Missolonghi shed its light as far as Vasiladhi and Klisova and over the whole plain, and even reached us. The flashes of gunfire looked like a host of fireflies. From Missolonghi we heard the shrieks of women, the sound of gunfire, the explosion of powder magazines and mines, all combined in an indescribably fearful noise. The town was like a roaring furnace” remembers Nikolaos Kasomoulis (1795 – 1872), who took part, fought and survived the Exodus. I hope Perlberg’s Young Drummer Boy, so romantically groomed, successfully survived the tragedy…     https://books.google.gr/books?id=GhCLDwAAQBAJ&pg=PA26-IA16&lpg=PA26-IA16&dq=%22The+flashes+of+gunfire+looked+like+a+host+of+fireflies.%22&source=bl&ots=sDTZ6TqHS3&sig=ACfU3U1jIfv4avEDAVvPpC9AfvJbcVkRmQ&hl=el&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiE8qvu2bvvAhWDO-wKHTb_A5MQ6AEwAnoECAEQAw#v=onepage&q=%22The%20flashes%20of%20gunfire%20looked%20like%20a%20host%20of%20fireflies.%22&f=false

For our Youngsters… the National Historical Museum in Athens

National Historical Museum of Greece – The building was designed by Francois Boulanger to serve as the first Greek Parliament. Construction began in 1858 and ended in 1875. It served as the Nation’s Parliament until 1935 and became a museum in 1960.     https://www.greece-is.com/national-historical-museum/

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 is 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! The 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

For our Youngsters… a List of Student Activities on the Greek Revolution of 1821 prepared by Greek Museums and Foundations… HERE!

Student work… Foustaneloforoi!

For an easy to print Celebrating the Greek Revolution of 1821 Worksheet, please… Click HERE!

If you wish to learn more about the Greek Revolution of 1821 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/

Boat of Greeks

Dionysis Tsokos, 1820-1862
Boat of Greeks, 1844 to 1847, oil on canvas, 29×23 cm, Averoff Museum, Metsovo, Greece
https://www.averoffmuseum.gr/boat-of-greeks/?lang=en
 

“…Fill high the bowl with Samian wine!  /  On Suli’s rock, and Parga’s shore,  /  Exists the remnant of a line  /  Such as the Doric mothers bore;  /  And there, perhaps, some seed is sown,  /  The Heracleidan blood might own.          /          Trust not for freedom to the Franks—  /  They have a king who buys and sells;  /  In native swords and native ranks  /  The only hope of courage dwells:  /  But Turkish force and Latin fraud  /  Would break your shield, however broad….” Writes George Gordon Byron in The Isles of Greece and makes the best possible introduction for Dionysis Tsokos’s Boat of Geeks at the Averoff Museum in Metsovo.     https://englishverse.com/poems/the_isles_of_greece

Dionysis Tsokos’s painting Boat of Geeks is closely connected to the fate of the small city of Parga on the Ionian Coast of Epirus. Parga, a small city/fortress, was always closely connected to the European political interests of the Ionian Islands. Since 1360 when the fortress of Parga was built with the help of the Normans who held, at the time the island of Corfu, the Pargians faced countless Ottoman attacks while they were under Venetian, French or British rule. In 1815 the inhabitants of the city of Parga rebelled against the French rule, under the instigation of the British, and a short period of British rule started. Seeing Parga as the stepping stone to achieving their final goal: to occupy the Ionian Islands, the British, in 1817, sold Parga to Ali Pasha for 150,000 pounds.     https://www.kastra.eu/castleen.php?kastro=parga

Edward Lear, 1812-1888
Parga, Journals of a Landscape painter in Albania etc., London, Richard Bentley, 1851,  14×21 cm, Benaki Museum Library
https://eng.travelogues.gr/collection.php?view=283

What happened next is best described in the October 1819 edition of the Edinburgh Review… “As soon as the notice was given [of how much Ali was to be charged for their homeland] every family marched solemnly out of its dwelling, without tears or lamentation; and the men, preceded by their priests, and followed by their sons, proceeded to the sepulchres of their fathers, and silently unearthed and collected their remains, – which they placed upon a huge pile of wood which they had previously erected before one of their churches. They even took their arms in their hands, and, setting fire to the pile, stood motionless and silent around it, till the whole was consumed. During this melancholy ceremony, some of Ali’s troops, impatient for possession, approached the gates of the town; upon which a deputation of citizens was sent to inform our Governor, that if a single Infidel was admitted before the remains of their ancestors were secured from profanation, and they themselves, with their families, fairly embarked, they would all instantly put to death their wives and children, – and die with their arms in their hands, – and not without a bloody revenge on those who had bought and sold their country. Such a remonstrance, at such a moment, was felt and respected, as it ought by those to whom it was addressed. General Adam succeeded in stopping the march of the Mussulmans. The pile burnt out – and the people embarked in silence…”      http://newsteadabbeybyronsociety.org/works/downloads/sale_parga.pdf     and      https://books.google.gr/books?id=7kNBAAAAYAAJ&pg=RA1-PA12&lpg=RA1-PA12&dq=Edinburgh+Review+Sale+of+Parga&source=bl&ots=hZxwnxM1hD&sig=ACfU3U3ac4JXKloQ18zhWLsbpAsGjXXTtQ&hl=el&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjug-2Ly5jvAhVfQhUIHaLnBgkQ6AEwB3oECAkQAw#v=onepage&q=Edinburgh%20Review%20Sale%20of%20Parga&f=false pp. 22-23

Boat of Geeks by Dionysis Tsokos depicts the final act of Parga’s sale by the British to Ali Pasha… “a boat full of refugees – resistance fighters, a priest, and a woman – floundering on the waves as it heads for foreign shores. One gallant lad stands embracing the mast and holding the Greek flag, gazing intently at the fatherland he is abandoning, while the captain holds fast to the helm.”     https://www.averoffmuseum.gr/boat-of-greeks/?lang=en

Dionysis Tsokos, 1820-1862
The Flight from Parga, after 1847, oil on canvas, 37×47 cm, E. Koutlidis Foundation Collection, National Gallery of Greece, Athens
https://www.nationalgallery.gr/en/painting-permanent-exhibition/painting/the-years-of-othon%E2%80%99s-reign/history-painting/the-flight-from-parga.html

Dionysis Tsokos created two paintings on the theme of Greeks fleeing Parga after the shocking 1819 British sale to Ali Pasha. The earliest, chronologically, of the two paintings, is today exhibited in the Averoff Museum at Metsovo, one of my favourite Art Museums in Greece, the second painting, dated a little later is part of the E. Koutlidis Collection and is exhibited in Athens at the National Gallery. For a Student “Compare and Contrast” Activity on Dionysis Tsokos’s paintings, please… Check HERE!

If you wish to learn more about the Greek War of Independence and the Bicentennial Celebrations in 2021, please VISIT the official Greece 1821-2021 Bicentennial site http://www.greece2021.gr, Twitter, https://twitter.com/Greece_2021, Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/Greece2021/, and Instagram, https://www.instagram.com/greece2021/?hl=el

Constantino Brumidi

Constantino Brumidi, 1805-1880
The Apotheosis of Washington, 1865, Fresco, 4,664 square feet, United States Capitol Building’s Rotunda, Washington, DC

Myrtle Cheney Murdock, the wife of John R. Murdock, the elected congressman from Arizona, was a teacher and an enthusiastic tour guide at the United States Capitol. She was amazed and dismayed at how little was known about Constantino Brumidi, the Greek/Italian/American artist of the Apotheosis of Washington on the Capitol’s Rotunda Dome. She frequently asked, “How can countless exquisite frescoes and paintings adorn our Capitol Building and yet the American people have little or no knowledge of their existence?” Researching for her Monograph on Constantino Brumidi, Michelangelo of the United States Capitol, she discovered the artist buried in an unmarked grave in Glenwood Cemetery. Myrtle Cheney Murdock’s research and dedication to Constantino Brumidi led to a posthumous appreciation of the artist’s artistic achievements and a commemorative plaque placed over his tomb in 1952, inscribed with a wish allegedly expressed by Brumidi back in 1855: “I have no longer any desire for fame and fortune. My one ambition and my daily prayer is that I may live long enough to make beautiful the Capitol of the one country on earth in which there is liberty.”     https://www.washingtonpost.com/gdpr-consent/?next_url=https%3a%2f%2fwww.washingtonpost.com%2flocal%2fbrumidi-study-of-capitol-dome-painting-to-go-to-smithsonian%2f2012%2f03%2f05%2fgIQAclhhtR_story.html     and     https://www.senate.gov/reference/reference_item/Michelangelo_of_the_US_Capitol.htm

Constantino Brumidi, 1805-1880
The Apotheosis of Washington, 1865, Fresco, 4,664 square feet, United States Capitol Building’s Rotunda, Washington, DC

Constantino Brumidi’s father was Stavros Brumidis from Filiatra in the Peloponnese, who, after the 1770 Orlov insurrection, a major precursor to the Greek War of Independence in 1821, and fearing Ottoman repercussions,  fled Greece for Italy. Stavros Brumidis settled in Rome, married  Anna Bianchini, opened a coffee shop to support his family and in 1805 became the father of a boy named Constantino. The boy was artistic and talented, studied Art for fourteen years at the Academy of St. Luke in Rome and became quite successful as a fresco painter working for the Vatican. In 1849 he was caught up in the Italian Risorgimento, he was arrested, accused of serious crimes and sentenced to eighteen years in prison. The Pope pardoned him but his only hope for freedom was to leave Italy for the United States.     https://www.aoc.gov/explore-capitol-campus/art/constantino-brumidi

Constantino Brumidi, 1805-1880
The Apotheosis of Washington (detai), 1865, Fresco, 4,664 square feet, United States Capitol Building’s Rotunda, Washington, DC

Brumidi reached the United States in September 1852 and for the next two years he worked, on private or church commissions in New York, Massachusetts and Mexico City. In December 1854 he met with Captain Montgomery C. Meigs, the Army Corps of Engineers officer who was supervising the construction of extensions to the Capitol. Impressed with Brumidi’s credentials, Meigs offered him the opportunity to paint for the United States Capitol through the 1860s and the 1870s. His major contribution  is the 1865 Apotheosis of Washington and the frieze of the new Capitol Dome.

For a PowerPoint on the Apotheosis of Washington, please… check HERE!

Constantino Brumidi, 1805-1880
The Apotheosis of Washington (detail), 1865, Fresco, 4,664 square feet, United States Capitol Building’s Rotunda, Washington, DC

Christmas-Time

Eastman Johnson, 1824–1906
Christmas-Time, The Blodgett Family, 1864, oil on canvas, 76.2 x 63.5cm, the MET, NY
https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/11258

I heard the bells on Christmas Day  /  Their old, familiar carols play,  /  And wild and sweet  /  The words repeat  /  Of peace on earth, good-will to men!…  Christmas Bells by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)… a wonderful way to introduce Christmas-Time by Eastman Johnson and Wish you all Merry Christmas!!! https://www.nga.gov/collection/artist-info.1423.html and https://poets.org/poem/christmas-bells

Eastman Johnson, 1824–1906
Eastman Johnson, 1890s, albumen print (cabinet card) by Edwin S. Bennett (detail), National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, Department of Image Collections
Self-portrait of Eastman Johnson, circa 890, oil on canvas, 60.9 x 50.7 cm, Brooklyn Museum
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eastman_Johnson

In 1846 Eastman Johnson was in Boston, where he was commissioned to create portraits of several of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s friends and family members. At the time, Eastman Johnson was a young man of twenty-two, but his draftsmanship was accomplished and thus he drew the attention of the established poet and Harvard professor Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. All of these portraits hang today in the Vassall/Craigie/Longfellow House in Cambridge, Massachusetts, a site that offers unique opportunities to explore 19th-century literature and arts. https://www.mainememory.net/artifact/15896     and     https://www.nps.gov/long/index.htm

Eastman Johnson, 1824–1906
Portraits of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 1846, Crayon and Chalk on Paper, 21 x 19 in. Oval, Vassall-Craigie-Longfellow House
Scanned from Eastman Johnson: Painting America     https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Eastman_Johnson_portrait_of_Longfellow.jpg

Young Eastman Johnson was pleased to place himself under Henry Wadsworth Longfellow patronage, but like his patron, his dream was to travel and study in Europe… and this is exactly what he did in 1849, “when he travelled to Düsseldorf, Germany, and received rigorous training in drawing at that city’s academy. More congenial, however, was the time he spent in the studio of Emanuel Leutze,” the German/American artist who painted in 1851 Washington Crossing the Delaware “where he concentrated on painting. In 1851 he went to London to see the Universal Exposition and then relocated to The Hague, remaining for over three years. His lengthy stay at The Hague was somewhat unusual for an American artist, but he apparently found much inspiration in the Dutch Old Masters as well as ready patronage through August Belmont, the wealthy American ambassador. His European education ended with several months spent in the Parisian studio of Thomas Couture before the death of his mother brought him home in 1855.”     https://www.nga.gov/collection/artist-info.1423.html

Eastman Johnson, 1824–1906
Negro Life at the South, 1859, oil on canvas, 129.5×154.9 cm, The New-York Historical Society, The Robert L. Stuart Collection

Back in the United States, Eastman Johnson spent his time painting in his rented studio in New York City or travelling extensively, visiting members of his family in Washington, D.C., or Lake Superior, where he sketched members of the Chippewa Tribe.  His reputation was established in 1859 when, at a time when slavery was heatedly debated,  he presented in a New York exhibition a painting of the backyard of his father’s house in Washington, D.C. titled Negro Life in the South. https://www.nyhistory.org/exhibit/negro-life-south-0

Eastman Johnson, 1824–1906
Christmas-Time, The Blodgett Family (detail), 1864, oil on canvas, 76.2 x 63.5cm, the MET, NY https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/11258

In 1864, he was commissioned to paint Christmas-Time, The Blodgett Family, a group portrait with interesting narrative elements. “It shows William Tilden Blodgett (1823–1875), a supporter of the Union cause and a founding trustee of the Metropolitan Museum, with his family in the Renaissance Revival parlour of their house at 27 West 25th Street. Depicted during the Civil War, at a time of urban upheaval, the serene interior decorated for Christmas embodies the best sentiment of home, as a critic observed in 1865.”  https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/11258

Eastman Johnson, 1824-1906
The Girl I Left Behind Me, 1872, oil on canvas, 106.7 x 88.7 cm, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC

One of the foremost painters of American life, Eastman Johnson’s reputation grew further with paintings like the A Ride for Liberty—The Fugitive Slaves, of 1862 or The Wounded Drummer Boy, of 1864-1870 or The Girl I Left Behind Me, of 1872. He was financially comfortable and professionally successful. He lived in a large house in Manhattan and vacationed on the island of Nantucket, the scene of many of his paintings. He was an active member of the National Academy, the Century and Union League Clubs, the Metropolitan Museum, and even the Society of American Artists. He is remembered for his humour and kindness in helping other artists, as a good story-teller, a short, rotund kind of a man. https://www.brooklynmuseum.org/opencollection/exhibitions/1664

For a Student Activity on It’s Christmas with Eastman Johnson, please… Check HERE!

Rosa Bonheur

Rosa Bonheur, 1822 – 1899
The Horse Fair, 1835–-55, oil on canvas, 244.5 cm × 506.7 cm, the MET, NY

“Ah! If nations could only agree to employ their resources to perfect agriculture and improve transportation, and to bring all their girl children a good education, what an explosion of happiness there would be on earth!” Rosa Bonheur said and I couldn’t agree more… She was a formidable lady and I like her!     https://www.quotetab.com/quote/by-rosa-bonheur/ah-if-nations-could-only-agree-to-employ-their-resources-to-perfect-agriculture

Anna Klumpke, 1856–1942
Rosa Bonheur, 1898, oil on canvas, 117.2 x 98.1 cm, the MET, NY

Rosa Bonheur was a lucky, talented lady! Her progressive painter father, Oscar-Raymond Bonheur, trained her to become a commercially successful painter and a spirited woman of staunch belief in women’s equality. “To my father’s doctrines, I owe my great and glorious ambition for the sex to which I proudly belong and whose independence I will defend until my dying day.” She was the oldest of four children, two girls and two boys, born to a pianist mother, who patiently and ingeniously taught her reluctant daughter how to read and write. Sophie Bonheur, Rosa’s mother noticed how reluctant her spirited daughter was to do her homework and how enthusiastic she was to draw. As the artist recalled ‘…One day she had a bright idea…She told me to draw an ass opposite the A and a cow opposite the C and so on…’ Rosa not only learnt how to read and write but, but inspired by her mother’s teaching method, she developed a lasting love and deep understanding of animals.   https://www.theartstory.org/artist/bonheur-rosa/life-and-legacy/

Rosa’s formal education started at a boarding school run by Mme. Gilbert, but “…The Gilberts refused to harbour… such a noisy creature as I and sent me back home in disgrace…my tomboy manners had an unfortunate influence on my companions, who soon grew turbulent… ” Her father decided to take charge. She was 13 years old when Rosa started working at her father’s Studio first training to do pencil drawings of plaster casts and engravings, later still life paintings working from nature, landscapes, animals, and birds. Finally, she was sent to study painting and sculpture at the Louvre, the youngest of all students as she was only 14 years old.

Rosa Bonheur, 1822 – 1899
Ploughing in Nevers, 1849, oil on canvas, 1,340×2,600 mm, Musée d’Orsay, Paris

In 1841 Bonheur exhibited at the Paris Salon for the first time. By 1843 she was successful and selling her paintings regularly so much so that she was able to travel the country for inspiration and more paintings of French landscapes and animal studies. At the 1848 Salon Rosa Bonheur was awarded a gold medal, and the French government commissioned her to paint Ploughing in Nevers, exhibited at the 1849 Salon, to honour the age-old tradition of field ploughing by animal power.     https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/becoming-modern/avant-garde-france/realism/v/rosa-bonheur-plowing-in-the-nivernais-1849     and     https://www.musee-orsay.fr/en/collections/works-in-focus/painting/commentaire_id/ploughing-in-nevers-2040.html?tx_commentaire_pi1%5BpidLi%5D=509&tx_commentaire_pi1%5Bfrom%5D=841&cHash=60f905d6af

Rosa Bonheur, 1822 – 1899
The Horse Fair, 1855, reduced version, 120 cm × 254.6 cm, National Gallery, London

Bonheur’s most famous painting was accomplished in 1855. Titled The Horse Fair, it is monumental in size and shows the famous horse market in Paris, on the tree-lined Boulevard de l’Hôpital, near the asylum of Salpêtrière, where Rosa Bonheur, dressed as a man by special police permission, sketched, preparing the painting, twice a week, from the summer of 1850 to the end of 1851. Rosalia Shriver writes that “When (the painting) was finally finished and exhibited at the Salon of 1853, its creator was only 31 years old. Yet no other woman had ever achieved a work of such force and brilliance, and no other animal painter had produced a work of such size.” Bonheur herself said that when she paints horses her “…dream is to show the fire which comes out of the horses’ nostrils; the dust which rises from their hooves. I want this to be an infernal waltz.” https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/435702      and     Rosalia Shriver, Rosa Bonheur: With a Checklist of Works in American Collections, Art Alliance Press, Philadelphia 1982

Rosa Bonheur, 1822 – 1899
The Horse Fair, ca. 1852, oil on canvas, 26.67 x 63.5 cm, Albright-Knox Art Gallery

The original version of the The Horse Fair is part of the collection, and proudly exhibited, in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York along with two small studies of the painting on paper. The Albright-Knox Art Gallery has also a small oil on canvas study. Finally, a reduced version of the painting, dating in 1855, is exhibited in the London National Gallery of the United Kingdom, where Bonheur was highly successful , more so than in France. Interestingly, Bonheur’s fame and popularity in Britain led to a meeting with the Queen of England who, along with many of her countrymen appreciated Bonheur’s sentimental approach to landscape and rendering of animals.     https://mymodernmet.com/rosa-bonheur-facts/

Rosa Bonheur, 1822 – 1899
The Horse Fair, 1840–99, black chalk and graphite, 18.4 x 41.1 cm, the MET, NY
The Horse Fair, 19th century, black chalk, grey wash, heightened with white, 13.7 x 33.7 cm, the MET, NY

For a RWAP (RWAP stands for Research-Writing-Art-Project) student Activity, please… check HERE!

“Art is a tyrant. It demands heart, brain, soul, body. The entireness of the votary. Nothing less will win its highest favor. I wed art. It is my husband, my world, my life dream, the air I breathe. I know nothing else, feel nothing else, think nothing else.”     https://www.quotetab.com/quotes/by-rosa-bonheur

Émile Zola by Édouard Manet

Édouard Manet, 1832-1883
Portrait of Émile Zola, 1868, oil on canvas, 146,0 x 114,0 cm., Musée d’Orsay

“My dear Zola, – I am making up my mind to hold a private show. I have at least two score pictures to exhibit. I’ve already been offered a site in a very good location near the Champ de Mars. I am going to stake the lot and seconded by men like yourself, am hopeful of success. See you soon. Cordially, yours ever, All of us here are delighted with your article, and I am instructed to send you thanks.” This is a quote of Manet’s letter to Zola, Wednesday, 2 January 1867. My new POST Émile Zola by Édouard Manet further shows the relationship between the two men.     https://quotepark.com/quotes/1886775-edouard-manet-my-dear-zola-i-am-making-up-my-mind-to-hold-a-p/

It was 1866 and Émile Zola, disappointed with the way the French Academy and critics treated Édouard Manet’s work in the Salon of 1866 wrote an article on Manet in La Revue du XXe siècle and defended him. He did not stop, however, with this first article. The following year, 1867, when Manet organized a private exhibition on the fringes of the Universal Exhibition, Zola was once more present, supporting his friend, writing about Manet’s New Manner in Art, in the January La Revue du XXe siècle. Later in 1867, Zola republished the 1867 article in the form of a separate pamphlet. Zola wrote that he “instinctively loved” Manet’s Art replying to the critics who vilified the painter by saying  “I replied to them [to the crowd and to the art critics] that fate had undoubtedly already marked at the Louvre Museum the future place of the Olympia and of the Luncheon on the Grass.” This pamphlet was distributed on May 22, 1867, the opening day of the Private Exhibition of Edouard Manet, organized at his expense by the painter in a pavilion near the Pont de l’Alma.     https://www.librairie-faustroll.com/librairie-en-ligne/6684-zola-emile-edouard-manet-1867-dentu-edition-originale-de-cette-rare-plaquette-complet-de-l-eau-forte-d-apres-olympia.html     and     https://msu.edu/course/ha/446/zolamanet.htm

According to the Musée d’Orsay presentation “To thank him, Manet offered to paint Zola’s portrait. The sittings took place in Manet’s studio, rue Guyot. The setting was arranged for the occasion with items characteristic of Zola’s personality, tastes and occupation. On the wall is a reproduction of Manet’s Olympia, a painting which sparked a fierce scandal at the 1865 Salon but which Zola held to be Manet’s best work. Behind it is an engraving from Velazquez’s Bacchus indicating the taste for Spanish art shared by the painter and the writer. A Japanese print of a wrestler by Utagawa Kuniaki II completes the décor. The Far East, which revolutionised ideas on perspective and colour in European painting, played a central role in the advent of the new style of painting. A Japanese screen on the left of the picture recalls this. Zola is seated at his work table. He is holding a book, probably Charles Blanc’s L’Histoire des peintres frequently consulted by Manet. An inkwell and a quill on the desk symbolise the writer’s occupation. This portrait sealed the start of a loyal friendship between Manet and Zola, both eager for success.”     https://www.musee-orsay.fr/en/collections/works-in-focus/search/commentaire_id/emile-zola-313.html

The symbolist artist Odilon Redon (1840-1916), known today for the “dreamlike” paintings, observed penetratingly Zola’s Portrait and in his Salon review (La Gironde, 9 June 1868), wrote… “It is rather a still life, so to speak, than the expression of a human being”. Apparently Zola himself was not entirely delighted with his portrait, which Manet presented to him, and Charles-Marie-Georges Huysmans (1848-1907) the French novelist and art critic noticed that he had relegated the painting to an antechamber of his home.     http://www.visual-arts-cork.com/paintings-analysis/portrait-of-emile-zola.htm

For a Student Activity, please… check HERE!