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DEATHS: 1904 SANDYS — 1912 ALMA~TADEMA 1916 EAKINS
BIRTHS: 1787 BATONI — 1932 BLAKE 1704 PLATZER
^Died on 26 June 1904: Anthony Frederick Augustus Sandys, English Pre-Raphaelite painter born Antonio Frederic Augustus Sands on 01 May 1829.
— Sandys, born Anthony Frederick Augustus Sands at Norwich, studied under his father Anthony Sands, a drawing master and portrait and subject painter. He was educated at Norwich Grammar School and at the Government School of Design at Norwich. An early patron was the Revd James Bulwer, Rector of Stody and a former pupil of Cotman. Sandys made architectural and antiquarian drawings for him and etched his drawings.
He exhibited drawings at the Norwich Art Union from 1839 and won Royal Society of Arts medals in 1846 and 1847. By 1851, the year he first exhibited at the Royal Academy, he had moved to London. He married Georgina Creed, the daughter of a Norwich artist, in 1853. He changed the spelling of his name from Sands to Sandys in about 1855. A precocious draftsman, he worked mainly as an illustrator and portraitist, but in the late 1850s and early 1860s he also painted in oils.
      Sandys first became acquainted with the Pre-Raphaelites in 1857, while working on his engraving A Nightmare, a parody of Millais's Sir Isumbras at the Ford. He called on Rossetti in order to get an accurate likeness for the engraving, and they became friends. He was thereafter much admired but remained on the fringes of the group. His first independent illustration appeared in the Cornhill Magazine in 1860. He visited Holland and Belgium in 1862. For most of 1866 he stayed with Rossetti at 16 Cheyne Walk, Chelsea, and went on a walking tour with him in October that year, but they afterwards fell out. He began living with Mary Jones (the actress Mary Clive) in the late 1860s; she bore him nine children. Among his later works was a series of chalk portraits of writers commissioned in 1880 by Alexander Macmillan.
      He showed regularly at the Royal Academy from 1851 to 1886, and at the Grosvenor Gallery, London from 1877. He became a founder member of the International Society of Sculptors, Painters and Gravers in 1898. He died in London.
— Sandys was born in Norwich. His surname was Sands. He added the ’y’ later. He was trained at the Norwich Art Union, and in the early 1850s moved to London. It would appear that he left his wife in Norwich, and did not return to her. He famously parodied the controversial painting by Millais [1829-1896] Sir Isumbras at the Ford with his drawing The Nightmare. This brought him to the attention of the Pre-Raphaelites, who, surprisingly, were not offended. In the 1860s he lived with Rossetti [1828-1882], at his house in Cheyne Walk. Sandys had an affair with a gypsy girl called Keomi, whose portrait he painted. For many years he lived with a well-known actress called Mary Jones, stage name Miss Clive, and she was the model for a number of his pictures. Sandys & Mary Jones had nine children who survived infancy. In truth he seems to have been a real old rascal! Sandys' carefree mode of life, his liking for women and drink caused him considerable long term financial problems. He seems to have used his wits, and ability to entertain people on convivial evenings to help him through his problems.
      Sandys was one of the most able, consistent, and significant of the Pre-Raphaelites. He had a penchant for painting half-length figures of malicious sexually predatory women. In real life, as will be seen above, he did not seem to be in any awe of women! Sandys was probably the best draughtsman amongst the Pre-Raphaelites, and he was a supremely naturally talented artist, in the same league as Millais. The rejection of Medea by the Royal Academy in 1868 seems to have had, not surprisingly, a profound effect on Sandys. This rejection by the Hanging Committee was quite obviously politically based. Sandys was a painstaking perfectionist in the execution of his oil paintings, and he must have asked himself if all the hard work was worthwhile. Following this he painted much less in oils, and tended to produce portraits in .

LINKS
Morgan le Fay (1864, 63x44cm; 301x422pix, 366kb) _ ZOOMable to 1524x1077pix, 1681kb) in frame. _ Morgan le Fay was a fairy enchantress of Arthurian legend and romance. In Vita Merlini (1150) of Geoffrey of Monmouth she was the ruler of Avalon, a marvelous island where King Arthur was to be healed of his wounds, and she was described as skilled in the arts of healing and of changing shape. In the romance of Erec (1165) of Chrétien de Troyes, she first appeared as King Arthur's sister. In 12th- and 13th-century elaborations of Arthurian legend, two themes, of healing and of hostility (owing to unrequited love), were developed: in the early 13th-century Vulgate cycle, for example, she was responsible for stirring up trouble between Arthur and his queen, Guinevere, yet finally appeared as a beneficent figure conveying Arthur to Avalon. Her magic powers were explained as learned from books and from the enchanter Merlin. Although later versions of the legend placed Arthur's death in a Christian context, traditions of a living Arthur being tended by Morgan le Fay (until the time should come for him to return to his kingdom) survived in some 13th- and 14th-century texts, many of them associated with Sicily (perhaps taken there by Norman conquerors) where the term Fata Morgana is still used to designate a mirage sometimes seen in the Strait of Messina.
Medea (1868, 62x46cm; 1000x709pix, 477kb _ the “zoom” gives no enlargement) _ In the picture Medea may be preparing the poison with which she will unsuccessfully attempt to kill her stepson Theseus to prevent him from succeeding his father Aegeus on the throne of Athens, which Medea wants for her son Medus. This picture by Sandys has been used on the bookjacket of Medea: Essays on Medea in Myth, Literature, Philosophy, and Art edited by James J. Clauss and Sarah Iles Johnston. Medea preparing the poison seems to be also pictured in Medea by Evelyn de Morgan, and William Russell Flint [1880-1969] painted Medea Offering the Poisoned Cup to Theseus.
Mary Magdalene
Queen Eleanor
Gentle Spring (1865, 121x64cm)
Mary, Mrs. Frederick Sandys (1873, 55x49cm; 655x530pix, 507kb _ ZOOMable to 1652x1333pix, 2468kb)
— a different portrait Mrs. Sandys (780x556pix, 41kb)
Autumn (1862, 25x36cm)
Love _ the picture looks more like “Anger”.
Perdita
May Gillilan (37x29cm; 1000x743pix, 136kb _ slight horizontal scratch across the hair is clue that this is the authentic image) _ May Gillilan (same painting, image slightly cropped along the left edge, inexpertly doctored, presumably to remove the scratch: very blurry, stretched horizontally, colder color balance, 1000x700pix, 286kb _ ZOOMable to even worse 1498x1048pix, 456kb) _ May Gillilan was the eldest daughter of William Gillilan, who lived at 6 Palace Gate, Kensington. Gillilan was commissioning and acquiring works by Sandys for a decade from about 1885, including portraits of himself, his wife Mary, and their three daughters, May, Winnie, and Christabel.The picture originally incorporated Winnie to May's right, but was at some point reduced to this single portrait.
The Red Cap (1903, 37x29cm)
Anita Smith (1888, 68x51cm)
Josiah Caldwell (1888, 68x51cm)
Cyril Flower, Lord Battersea (1872, 63x51cm) Cyril Flower [30 Aug 1843–]
Julia Smith Caldwell (112x75cm)
Oriana (1861, 25x19cm) _ The subject is taken from the poem “The Ballad of Oriana” by Tennyson. Oriana is described as standing on the wall of a castle, watching her betrothed in battle below. An arrow meant for him goes astray and she is killed instead. Only one line of the ballad, “She stood upon the castle wall”, can be directly related to Sandys's painting. Sandys was influenced by the Pre-Raphaelites and the technique of this work shows that he had, in common with them, an interest in fifteenth-century Flemish painting. From the early 1860s, the intensity of Rossetti's poetic vision began to influence Sandys's work.
Lady Greensleeves a young girl (1893, 124x68cm; 600x311pix, 83kb) the note at the top right reads:
Greenleeves was all my joy
Greenleeves was my delight
Greenleeves was my hart of gold
And who but Lady Greenleeves.

 
^Born on 25 June 1708: Pompeo-Girolamo Batoni (or Battoni), Italian Rococo era painter who died on 04 February 1787; specialized in Portraits. — {non “bastoni”, per piacere!}
— In his day he was the most celebrated painter in Rome and one of the most famous in Europe. For nearly half a century he recorded the visits to Rome of international travelers on the Grand Tour in portraits that remain among the most memorable artistic accomplishments of the period. He was equally gifted as a history painter, and his religious and mythological paintings were sought after by the greatest princes of Europe.
— He was the last great Italian personality in the history of painting at Rome. He carried out prestigious church commissions and painted numerous fine mythological canvases, many for eminent foreign patrons, but he is famous above all as a portraitist. After Mengs left Rome for Madrid in 1761 his preeminence in this field was unchallenged, and he was particularly favored by foreign visitors making the Grand Tour (an extensive journey to the Continent), whom he often portrayed in an antique setting. His style was a polished and learned distillation from the antique, the works of Raphael, academic French painting, and the teaching of his master Sebastiano Conca. His characterization is not profound, but it is usually vivid, and he presented his sitters with dignity. Batoni was also an outstanding draftsman, his drawings after the antique being particularly memorable. He was curator of the papal collections and his house was a social, intellectual, and artistic center, Winckelmann being among his friends.

LINKS
–- The Ecstasy of Saint Catherine of Siena (1743) _ Batoni was a very cultured man who gained international fame at an early age. He was the first Italian artist consciously to work out a formal alternative to Rococo art and Venetian painting, which he felt to be outdated. He trained in Rome where he studied Raphael and classic Renaissance art. He quickly came up with a "reform" program for painting along controlled academic lines. He set out to provide a series of paintings that could be used as a model for religious art. In his paintings each figure is posed in a composed fashion. With the work of his rival Anton Raphael Mengs, Batoni's art marked the first beginnings of Neo-Classicism, in an urbane, highly polished, if very derivative manner. If we compare works on similar subjects (for example The Ecstasy of St. Francis by Piazetta), we can measure the cultural change that Batoni was proposing.The great sense of movement contained in compositions by artists in the first half of the century could also be seen in the speed with which they painted. This was now subjected to a rigorous check. Everything was controlled and expressed in impeccable form at the cost of losing much emotional intensity. After the middle of the century, this academic way became the main influence on painting in central Italy.
–- The Holy Family (1777, 226x150cm) _ One of the most important works of the artist. In the painting, the naturalistic, genre-like representations of Anne and Joseph are contrasted with the idealized portraits of Mary and the Child.
–- Sir Gregory Page-Turner (1768, 135x99cm) [he is not shown turning pages for a pianist, nor was that his occupation or that of any of his ancestors, as far as is known]
–- Susana and the Elders
–- Diana and Cupid
–- Achilles at the Court of Lycomedes
–- Thetis Takes Achilles from the Centaur Chiron (1770, 226x297cm)
Sensuality (1747, 138x100cm) _ There is a companion-piece to this painting: Time Orders Old Age to Destroy Beauty. The two paintings, commissioned by Bartolomeo Talenti, are mentioned together in a letter of the artist.

 
^Died on 25 June 1912: Lawrence Alma-Tadema, Dutch English Pre-Raphaelite painter and designer born on 08 January 1836 (first name also spelled Laurens, Lorenz, or Lourens). Teacher from 1870 of Laura Theresa Epps [17 Apr 1852 – 15 Aug 1909] who became his second wife in 1871.
— Alma-Tadema, the son of a Dutch notary, studied art at the Antwerp Academy under the Hendrik Leys. A visit to Italy in 1863 shifted Alma-Tadema's interest toward antiquity , and afterward he depicted imagery almost exclusively from Greek, Roman, and Egyptian sources. He became a British citizen in 1873 and was elected a member of the Royal Academy in 1879. He was knighted in 1899.
— The son of a notary, Alma-Tadema demonstrated an early artistic ability. In 1852 he entered the Antwerp Academy, where he studied under Gustaf, Baron Wappers, and Nicaise de Keyser. An important influence at this time was Louis De Taye, Professor of Archaeology at the academy and a practicing artist. Alma-Tadema lived and worked with De Taye from 1857 to 1859 and was encouraged by him to depict subjects from the early history of France and Belgium. This taste for historical themes increased when Alma-Tadema entered Baron Henri Leys’s studio in 1859 and began assisting him with his monumental frescoes for the Antwerp Town Hall. While in Leys’s studio, Alma-Tadema produced several major paintings, for example The Education of the Children of Clovis (1861) and Venantius Fortunatus Reading his Poems to Radagonda (1862), which are characterized by their obscure Merovingian subject-matter, rather sombre coloring and close attention to detail.
—      Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, the painter of "Victorians in togas", was one of the most successful artists of the XIX century. He was internationally famous and so immensely popular that scarcely a middle-class Victorian drawing room was without at least one print of Alma-Tadema's painting. Yet a few years after his death he was all but forgotten.
      Laurens (later he changed to the more English Lawrence) Tadema was born in the small village of Dronrijp, about 5 km west of Leeuwarden, Friesland, Holland. He was the sixth child of Pieter Jiltes Tadema, a notary. It is unclear when and why he affixed the name Alma to his last name, probably it was the name of his godfather. His parents wanted him to become a lawyer and Laurens was enrolled at the gymnasium of Leeuwarden. Although Laurens was a good student, he always wanted to be an artist and, with great enthusiasm he tried to pursue both courses. This caused a significant decline of his health that his doctors even predicted he would die shortly. His mother decided to allow him to spend his remaining days doing what he enjoyed most, to paint. But happily after that he recovered completely. This marked the beginning of a new period of his life. In 1851, he went to Antwerp to study in the Antwerp Academy, where he was taught first by Gustave Wappers and then by Nicaise de Keyser. He left the Academy in 1856 and continued to study art and also took up the history of Germany, early France and Belgium under the guidance of Louis de Taye, the Professor of Archaeology at the Academy of Antwerp. Faust and Marguerite (1857) was painted as a result of these studies. In 1859 Alma-Tadema became a student of Hendrik Leys, joining his studio in Antwerp. In 1861, Tadema's picture The Education of the Children of Clovis (1868) was exhibited and became a success.
     In 1862, Alma-Tadema left Leys's studio and started his own career. The period 1862-1870 is called his Continental period, he established himself as a significant contemporary European artist. His main works were of classical genre, dedicated to Ancient Egypt: An Egyptian Widow (1872) and Greek and Roman history: A Roman Family (1868), An Audience at Agrippa's (1876). In 1870, Alma-Tadema moved to England, where he was to spend the rest of his life. He became one of the most famous and highly paid artists of his time, acknowledged and rewarded by the fellow artists as well as by the governments of the European countries. In 1879, he was elected as a full member of the Royal Academy of Arts and in 1899 was knighted by Queen Victoria. Among his most famous works are An Apodyterium (1886), Spring (1894), The Coliseum (1896), The Baths of Caracalla (1899), Silver Favourites (1903), The Finding of Moses (1904), A Favourite Custom (1909).

— Few artists enjoyed the success that the Dutch-born painter Lawrence Alma-Tadema achieved in the United Kingdom with his studies of semi-nudes, which were set against a background of daily life in ancient Rome, Greece and Egypt. Born in Dronryp, his art training began at the Antwerp Academy, and was completed with Baron Leys, an historical painter whose careful reconstructions of life in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries made him the ideal teacher for a painter like Alma-Tadema, whose choice of subject-matter had always been similar. But it was left to Ernst Gambert, the Belgian international art dealer to realize that in Alma-Tadema he had found himself a first-class artist. After seeing his work, Gambert immediately commissioned forty-four paintings which were eventually shown in England, where they caused an instant sensation.
      The Victorians had already been conditioned to accept nudes as an art form after Lord Leighton had exhibited his paintings in the 1860s. But Alma-Tadema's paintings went a step further. After painting a number of subjects in which his seminude females were merely decorative adjuncts to his vivid reconstructions of classical history, he overreached himself with his painting A Sculptor's Model (1877). This uncompromising, full-frontal nude of the model deeply offended the prudes and caused something of a furor, and from then Alma-Tadema confined himself to portraying his models semi-draped. His work became enormously popular in the United States, where it did much to forge Hollywood's conception of life in ancient times. His pictures were all numbered with Roman numerals, starting with No I when he was 15, and ending with CCCCVIII.
     A genial and uncomplicated man, Alma-Tadema enjoyed his success and money, living in extravagant lifestyle at Townshend House in Tichfield Terrace, Regent's Park, which he redesigned to resemble a Pompeiian villa. Unfortunately, it was partially destroyed in 1874, when a barge carrying gunpowder on Regent's Canal exploded near the house. After the house was rebuilt, Alma-Tadema moved to a larger house in Saint John's Wood, which had once been owned by the French artist Tissot (1836-1902). Tissot had left England abruptly in 1882 after the tragic death of his mistress and muse, Kathleen Newton.
     Alma-Tadema's life was an enormously successful one in which he was made an RA, knighted and showered with honors from many countries. By 1911, however, his popularity began to wane. Realizing that his work was becoming unfashionable he resigned from the Royal Academy committee, after serving on it for thirty-one years. In the following year he went to take the waters at Wiesbaden, Germany where he was suddenly taken ill and died on 25 June 1912. His body was brought back to England and interred in the crypt of Saint Paul's Cathedral (London), where it lies in the company of fellow artists, Millais, Holman Hunt and Lord Leighton. Like so many artists before him, the grim realities of World War I helped to finish off whatever popularity his work had enjoyed, and it is only recently that his reputation as a major Victorian artist has been restored.
     Alma-Tadema's wife Laura was also a talented artist in her own right, as was their daughter Anna.
      Alma-Tadema's paintings are often criticized as lacking emotion and spirituality. The Art Journal complained that there was 'no spirituality and little intellect in the faces of men and women in his world.' In the 1920s the Bloomsbury Group singled out Alma-Tadema's work as an illustration of all that was wrong with Victorian art, accusing him of wasting his technical skill on subjects so futile, pointless and superficial. However, Alma-Tadema's paintings, like most of his Victorian contemporaries, are now back in fashion again — The Finding of Moses sold for £1.5 million in 1995.
— Etching F#>portrait of Alma-Tadema (half-size _ F#>ZOOM to full size) by Paul Adolphe Rajon [1843-1888]

LINKS
Self-Portrait (1852)
Self-Portrait (1896, 66x53cm) Self-Portrait
Death of the Pharaoh's Firstborn Son (1872, 77x125cm; 616x1000pix _ ZOOM to 986x1600pix, 186kb) _ The God of Israel sent the Egyptians plagues each time they refused to release the Jews from slavery. Last of all these was the death of the firstborn of Egypt. The story is told in the book of Exodus 12:29-32:
      And at midnight the Lord smote all the first-born in the Land of Egypt, from the first-born of Pharaoh who sat on his throne, to the first-born of the captive in the dungeon and all the first- born of the cattle. And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he and all his servants, and all the Egyptians; and there was a great cry in Egypt; for there was not a house where there was not one dead. And he called for Moses and Aaron by night and said, Rise up, and get you forth from among my people, both ye and the children of Israel; and go, serve the Lord as ye have said. Also take your flocks and your herds, as ye have said, and be gone.
      Alma-Tadema painted the pharaoh of Egypt with the body of his eldest son, who was not spared either. The mother is clinging to her child in grief. Servants are lamenting and dancers are performing a dance of death. The lighting adds to the drama. In the background on the right are the Israelite leaders Moses and Aaron. Pharaoh is about to tell them that they can now leave Egypt. Alma-Tadema devoted great care to details such as furniture and costumes. He had a thorough knowledge of Ancient Egypt.
     The emphasis on 'historically correct' details is typical of Alma-Tadema's work. He was profoundly interested in ancient Egypt and in classical antiquity. He made a thorough study of these early civilizations, in the British Museum and in books. Many of the objects in his paintings are taken directly from an archaeological guidebook of 1837, The Manners and Customs of the Ancient Egyptians, by Gardner Wilkinson. Alma-Tadema undoubtedly had a copy of this book. His Egyptian models all came from a single period, the thirteenth century BC. At the time it was held that the biblical story of Exodus took place then.
     Alma-Tadema made his name with the Death of the Firstborn. The English Pall Mall Magazine called it the most beautiful painting of the year and in 1878 it was awarded a gold medal in the Paris Salon Paris Salon.
      In 17th-century Paris the tradition of an annual exhibition in May began - this was the 'Salon de Mai' or simply the 'Salon'. Works of art were selected by a strict jury which was also responsible for awarding prizes. For (young) artists exposure at the salon represented a significant recognition of their work. In general, the jury tended to be conservative in its judgment: only artists who met the traditional, academic norms were admitted. Innovative, modern art was often refused. In protest, in 1863 a 'Salon des Refusés' was organized which featured works that were later to become famous, such as the Déjeuner sur l'herbe by Manet. In 1884 the 'Salon des Indépendants' was started, a salon without a jury and without prizes.
      Alma-Tadema would eventually become famous mainly for works featuring Roman antiquity. It was this 'Egyptian' canvas, however, that first made him famous. The work was also his own favorite, he never sold it.
The Conversation aka A Chat (40x25cm; _ Zoomable) _ The present painting depicts two patrician Roman citizens engaged in something more than just a "chat." They are fervently discussing the merits of a text laid on the table beside a round leather box full of scrolls. The painting was the precursor to many in which the artist built an entire picture around inconsequential and anecdotal episodes. The silver statue on the carved marble table was adapted from the Venus of Arles now in the Museo Nazionale in Naples. It demonstrated, according to Christopher Wood, '[A] pedantic love of ornament, with every object based, where possible on a direct archaeological precedent.' (p. 110). It should be rememberd however, that the surprisingly sophisticated The Conversation was only Alma-Tadema's third attempt at painting a Greco-Roman subject. As such, its pictorial literalism was to be expected. In fact throughout his long career, Tadema made archaeological reconstruction one of the raison d'êtres of his oeuvre. The art critic, Frederick W. Stephens, wrote about Tadema's painting in 1884, "For the first time classical genre subjects were represented with verisimilitude, learning and technical mastery." The popularity of archaeologically accurate pictures was spurred on by the recent involvement of France and Italy in excavations at Pompeii and Herculaneum. Such scholarly research prompted painters of Classical themes to widen their knowledge of Roman interiors, dress and implements. Alma-Tadema was an early and enthusiastic convert to this trend, and, as much as anyone else, brought depictions of antiquity from an archaeological science to a high art. Sir Edmund Gosse states that the deep rich tonality of Tadema's paintings from this period was the result of the artist redecorating his new studio at 51 rue de Palais in Brussels in 1865. He now surrounded himself with resonant Pompeian-red and Roman wall-motifs. He attached great importance to the effect of light and color upon his work: "When I found that the black Pompeian decorations of my early Antwerp studio made me paint my pictures too heavy, I had my next studio painted red. There they got too hot.... The influence was such that you can classify my pictures according to the influence produced upon them by the surroundings." The Conversation successfully shows a deep, rich, warm tonality and color schemes reminiscent of Pompeii fresco painting.
Spring 1894, 179x80cm; _ Zoomable)
A Coign of Vantage 1895, 44.5x64cm; _ Zoomable)
The Finding of Moses 1904, 137.5x213.4cm; _ Zoomable) _ detail (_ Zoomable)
The Women of Amphissa 1887, 121.8x182.8cm; _ Zoomable)
The Roses of Heliogabalus 1888, 132x213.9cm; _ Zoomable) _ The author of over 700 poems and prose poems, Clark Ashton Smith [1893-1961] continued into the twentieth century a poetic tradition that Modernist history declared had died with Baudelaire, Verlaine and Swinburne. Distinguished by an exquisite ear for word-melody, a sure and delicate sense of rhythm, and an exotic vocabulary, C.A. Smith was most well-known to the public for his short stories in the genres of fantasy, science-fiction, and horror. In this respect he joins such early twentieth century masters of fantasy as Lord Dunsany, E.R. Eddison, and J.R.R. Tolkien in his polymath literary tendencies; but unlike these goldsmiths of prose, his best work was wrought in verse. There was no direct relationship between Smith's poem and Alma-Tadema's masterpiece, but both works were inspired by the same historical figure, the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius Antonius (better known as Elagabalus or Heliogabalus). Where the Dutch-English master has transformed the somewhat macabre incident (in the Roman account the Emperor actually suffocates his guests in a shower of rose petals) into one of playful luxury, Smith's poem celebrates the Emperor's decadent personality in the tradition of Baudelaire. Heliogabalus Clark Ashton Smith Translated from Christophe des Laurières I He, the supreme idealist of Sin, Through scarlet days a white perfection sought — To make of lyric deed and lyric thought One music of perverse accord, wherein The songless blatancy and banal din Of all the world should perish: he had wrought From Vice a pure, Pentelic Venus, fraught With lines of light and terror, that should win The plaudits of the stars. . . . But prevalent For him, above the achievable desire, And Life perfectible by Sin and Art, Such lusts as leave the Titans impotent Allured, and Life and Sin, in worlds apart, Were fair with suns of quintessential fire. Source: The Eldritch Dark.
The Vintage Festival (1870, 77x177cm; _ Zoomable)
Sappho and Alcaeus (1881, 66x122cm; _ Zoomable)
A Difference of Opinion (1896, 38x23cm; _ Zoomable)
Maria Magdalena (1854, 31x35cm; _ Zoomable)
Silver Favorites (1903, 42x69cm; _ Zoomable)
A Favorite Custom (1909, 45x66cm; _ Zoomable)
After the Audience (1879, 66x91cm; _ Zoomable)
A Sculpture Gallery (1867; _ Zoomable)
A Kiss (1891, 46x63cm; _ Zoomable)
An Earthly Paradise (1891, 86x165cm; _ Zoomable)
Phidias Showing the Frieze of the Parthenon to his Friends (1868, 72x110cm; _ Zoomable)
The Frigidarium (1890, 45x60cm)
The Triumph of Titus (1885; _ Zoomable)
Vain Courtship (1900, 77.5x41cm; _ Zoomable)
The Baths of Caracalla (1899, 152x95cm; _ Zoomable)
Egyptian Juggler (1870, 45x66cm; _ Zoomable)
The Parting Kiss (1882, 112x73cm; _ Zoomable)
Promise of Spring (1890, 38x22cm; _ Zoomable)
Comparisons (1892, 45.7x61cm; _ Zoomable)
Cherries (1873, 79x129cm; _ Zoomable)
Flora aka Spring in the Gardens of the Villa Borghese (1877, 30x20cm; _ Zoomable)
Strigils and Sponges (1879, 32x14cm; _ Zoomable)
Expectations (1885, 66x45cm; _ Zoomable)
The Favourite Poet (1888, 37x50cm; _ Zoomable)
A Dedication to Bacchus (1889, 78x178cm; _ Zoomable)
Unconscious Rivals (1893, 45x63cm; _ Zoomable) _ detail (_ Zoomable)
Ask me no more (1906, 80x116cm; _ Zoomable)
Caracalla and Geta (1909, 123x154cm; _ Zoomable)
Antony and Cleopatra (1883, 65x92cm; _ Zoomable)
A Reading from Homer (1885, 91x184cm; _ Zoomable)
Preparation in the Coliseum (1912, 154x80cm; _ Zoomable) _ detail (_ Zoomable)
A Reading from Homer (1885, 91x184cm; _ Zoomable) _ detail (_ Zoomable)
The Sculpture Gallery (1874, 223x173cm; _ Zoomable) _ detail (_ Zoomable)
A Greek Woman (1869, 67x47cm; _ Zoomable)
Confidences (1869, 56x38cm; _ Zoomable)
— A Roman Emperor AD41 (1871, 84x174cm) _ detail 1 (_ Zoomable) _ detail 2 ( _ Zoomable)
A Bath (An Antique Custom) (1876, 28x8cm; _ Zoomable)
A Silent Greeting (1889, 31x23cm; _ Zoomable)
A Birth Chamber, Seventeenth Century (1868, 49x65cm; _ Zoomable)
An Exedra (1869, 38x60cm; _ Zoomable)
Sappho and Alcaeus (1881, 66x122cm) _ Sappho and Alcaeus were ancient Greek poets who lived in Mytilene on the Isle of Lesbos in the 7th century BC. _ In 1870, Alma-Tadema moved to London where he found a ready market among the wealthy middle classes for paintings re-creating scenes of domestic life in imperial Roman times. In this work, however, he turns to early Greece to illustrate a passage by the poet Hermesianaz (preserved in Atheneaus, Deipnosophistae, "Banquet of the Learned," book 2, line 598). On the island of Lesbos (Mytilene), in the late seventh century BC, Sappho and her companions listen rapturously as the poet Alcaeus plays a kithara. Striving for verisimilitude, Alma-Tadema copied the marble seating of the Theater of Dionysus in Athens, although he substituted the names of members of Sappho's sorority for those of the officials incised on the Athenian prototype.
Anthony and Cleopatra (1883, 65x92cm) _ In this picture Alma-Tadema envisions a meeting between Anthony and Cleopatra. Anthony was a Roman general; Cleopatra was the Queen of Egypt.
The Roses of Heliogabalus (1888, 132x214cm) _ Marcus Aurelius Antonius - better known by his adopted name of Heliogabalus or Elagabalus was one of the most debauched of all the Roman emperors. He ascended the throne in AD 218 and, according to Gibbon, 'abandoned himself to the grossest pleasures with ungoverned fury.' He attempted to introduce the cult of the oriental sun god of Emesa to Rome and ran an oriental style court. His elaborate banquets were said to have included the brains of 600 ostriches, powdered glass and camel dung. He was eventually murdered, at the age of eighteen (10 March 222), by the Praetorian Guard; his body dragged through the streets and flung in the River Tiber. Alma Tadema's painting depicts the emperor's most celebrated practical joke. One of his whims was to have a feast in which his entire court were smothered in a cascade of roses. At a given signal, a canopy above was unleashed, releasing tons of rose petals which suffocated the unwitting guests below. In the painting, Heliogabalus in pontifical robes watches the spectacle from the upper table with his mother and other favorites. Behind him is a statue (now in the Vatican) of Dionysos and a young faun, symbolic of the 'forbidden love' which numbered among the emperor's many excesses. The be-petalled guests look more annoyed than suffocated, although the oil sketch for the painting shows a more constricting view of the incident. Alma Tadema sold the painting to the MP Sir John Aird, for the then enormous sum of £4000. The artist had roses sent weekly from the French Riviera during the four winter months that he worked upon the picture. He was still painting highlights onto the canvas on Varnishing Day when the painting was exhibited at the RA in 1888. The rose petals littered the floor of his studio for many months afterwards.
     Author of over 700 poems and prose poems (and occasional artist), Clark Ashton Smith [13 Jan 1893 – 14 Aug 1961] continued into the twentieth century a poetic tradition that Modernist history declared had died with Baudelaire, Verlaine and Swinburne. Distinguished by an exquisite ear for word-melody, a sure and delicate sense of rhythm, and an exotic vocabulary, C.A. Smith was most well-known to the public for his short stories in the genres of fantasy, science-fiction, and horror. In this respect he joins such early twentieth century masters of fantasy as Lord Dunsany, E.R. Eddison, and J.R.R. Tolkien in his polymath literary tendencies; but unlike these goldsmiths of prose, his best work was wrought in verse.
    There was no direct relationship between Smith's poem and Alma-Tadema's masterpiece, but both works were inspired by the same historical figure, Heliogabalus. Where the Dutch-English master has transformed the somewhat macabre incident (in the Roman account the Emperor actually suffocates his guests in a shower of rose petals) into one of playful luxury, the poem celebrates the Emperor's decadent personality in the tradition of Baudelaire.
Heliogabalus, by Christophe des Laurières (translated by Clark Ashton Smith)
{actually written by Smith and attributed by him to an imaginary French poet}
He, the supreme idealist of Sin,
Through scarlet days a white perfection sought —
To make of lyric deed and lyric thought
One music of perverse accord, wherein
The songless blatancy and banal din
Of all the world should perish: he had wrought
From Vice a pure, Pentelic Venus, fraught
With lines of light and terror, that should win
The plaudits of the stars. . . . But prevalent
For him, above the achievable desire,
And Life perfectible by Sin and Art,
Such lusts as leave the Titans impotent
Allured, and Life and Sin, in worlds apart,
Were fair with suns of quintessential fire.


The Pyrrhic Dance (1869; 41x81cm) _ The Pyrrhic Dance was a Spartan war dance, performed at the Spartan and Athenian games. This picture was Alma-Tadema's first picture to be shown at the Royal Academy. It was generally well received. The notable exception was the art critic and champion of the Pre-Raphaelites, John Ruskin, who complained that it was 'a detachment of beetles looking for dead rat'.
A Dedication to Bacchus (1889, 78x178cm) _ Bacchus was the Roman god of wine; the Greek god of wine was Dionysus.
Caracalla and Geta (1909, 123x154cm) _ Caracalla [188-217] was the elder of the two sons of the Roman emperor Septimius Severus. He succeeded in AD 211 and is best-known for arranging the murder of his brother Geta after the two engaged in a power struggle in the months after their father's death. This painting depicts a gala performance in the Coliseum by Septimius Severus on the occasion of bestowing the title of Antonius Caesar on Caracalla.
Caracalla (1902)
A World of Their Own (1905, 13x50cm; 276x1000pix, 55kb)
A Bath (An Antique Custom) (1876, 28x8cm; 1000x269pix, 98kb)
A Favourite Custom (1909; 66x45cm; 700x490pix, 83kb)
The Golden Hour (1897, 33x35cm)
–- Anna Alma-Tadema (1883, 112x76cm; 952x665pix, 68kb _ ZOOM to 1428x997pix, 121kb) _ Anna [1867-1943] was the younger daughter of Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, and his first wife who died in 1869. She was brought up in London by Tadema, and his second wife Laura, whose marriage was childless. Both Anna and her elder sister seem to have retained, as adults, the timidity shown in the picture their father painted of them in childhood (next image). This 1883 portrait was used as a showcase for prospective patrons. Neither Anna, or her elder sister Laurense married, and after the death of their father lived in obscurity. In the case of Anna, this was extremely unfortunate, as she had considerable talent in her own right. She painted exceptionally good watercolors, highly detailed and finished.
Laurense and Anna Alma-Tadema aka This is our Corner (1873, 57x47cm)
Resting (1882) and Dolce far Niente (24x16cm) side by side, showing how a mirror can be a (lazy) painter's best friend.
The Education of the Children of Clovis (1861, 127x177cm; 832x1129pix) _ detail (800x622pix _ Zoomable to 2296x1785pix, 281kb) _ a mirror is not even necessary, see:
The Education of the Children of Clovis (1868; 797x1130pix)
Spring (1894, 179x80cm) _ A procession of women and children descending marble stairs carry and wear brightly colored flowers. Cheering spectators fill the windows and roof of a classical building. Lawrence Alma Tadema here represented the Victorian custom of sending children into the country to collect flowers on the morning of May 1, or May Day, but placed the scene in ancient Rome. In this way, he suggested the festival’s great antiquity through architectural details, dress, sculpture, and even the musical instruments based on Roman originals. Alma Tadema’s curiosity about the ancient world was insatiable, and the knowledge he acquired was incorporated into over three hundred paintings of ancient archeological and architectural design. He said: Now if you want to know what those Greeks and Romans looked like, whom you make your masters in language and thought, come to me. For I can show not only what I think but what I know. Certain scenes in Cecil B. De Mille’s film Cleopatra (1934) were inspired by the painting Spring.
A Coign of Vantage (1895, 44x64cm)
The Finding of Moses (1904, 137x213cm) _ .detail of the Pharaoh's daughter receiving the baby (872x638pix, 83kb _ .ZOOM to 1744x1275pix, 200kb _ .ZOOM+ to 3488x2550pix).
The Women of Amphissa (1887, 122x183cm) _ The painting depicts an obscure story recorded by the first-century Greek writer Plutarch: a group of bacchantes from Phocis awaken after a night of celebrating the rites of Bacchus. They find themselves in the marketplace of Amphissa, a town at war with Phocis. The women of the town have been guarding the sleeping revelers, protecting them from attack by soldiers.
The Vintage Festival (1870, 77x177cm)
A Difference of Opinion (1896, 38x23cm)
Silver Favourites (1903, 42x69cm)
An Audience at Agrippa's (1879, 66x91cm; 1124x811pix, 190kb)
After the Audience (1879, 66x91cm; 1128x819pix, 220kb)
A Sculpture Gallery in Rome at the Time of Agrippa (1867)
A Kiss (1891, 46x63cm)
The Parting Kiss (1882, 112x73cm)
An Earthly Paradise (1891, 86x165cm)
The Frigidarium (1890, 45x60cm)
The Triumph of Titus (1885)
Vain Courtship (1900, 77x41cm)
The Baths of Caracalla (1899, 152x95cm)
Egyptian Juggler (1870, 45x66cm)
Promise of Spring (1890, 38x22cm)
Comparisons (1892, 46x61cm)
Cherries (1873, 79x129cm)
Flora aka Spring in the Gardens of the Villa Borghese (1877, 30x20cm)
Strigils and Sponges (1879, 32x14cm)
In the Tepidarium (1881, 24x33cm)
Expectations (1885, 66x45cm)
The Favourite Poet (1888, 37x50cm)
Unconscious Rivals (1893, 45x63cm) _ Two attractive Roman ladies are on a shaded marble balcony on a hot summer’s afternoon. Their postures and expressions are not only redolent of mid-afternoon boredom but also suggest that they are dreaming of sensual delights to come. One interpretation is that they are unwittingly and languidly awaiting the same lover. Alma-Tadema’s career had begun in Holland with scenes of Merovingian history. It was on his honeymoon in Italy that he was first attracted to Roman antiquity, not simply to romantic ruins under a Mediterranean sun, but to the large amount of domestic objects being systematically unearthed from Pompeii and elsewhere. The careful research that had gone into his earlier historical scenes now went into reconstructions of the luxurious domestic life in Roman times, in which we enjoy intimate glimpses of familiar emotions at play.
Ask me no more (1906, 80x116cm)
A Reading from Homer (1885, 91x184cm)
The Sculpture Gallery (1874, 223x173cm)
Ninety-Four Degrees in the Shade (1876, 36x22cm)
A Greek Woman (1869, 67x47cm)
Confidences (1869, 56x38cm)
A Roman Emperor AD41, Claudius (1871, 84x174cm; 548x1134pix, 139kb)
God Speed! (1893, 25x13cm)
A Silent Greeting (1889, 30x23cm) _ The ‘silent greeting’ of the title is the gift of flowers that the young Roman soldier leaves for the sleeping woman. The subject was inspired by Der Besuch, a 1765 poem by the Johann Wolfgang von Goethe [1749–1832]. Alma-Tadema took great pains over the accuracy of his depictions of the ancient world, carefully researching the architecture and interior details. However, the sentimental subject and the contemporary look of the figures – memorably described as ‘Victorians in togas’ – gives the painting the air of a modern costume drama.

  Der Besuch

Meine Liebste wollt' ich heut beschleichen,
Aber ihre Tuere war verschlossen.
Hab' ich doch den Schluessel in der Tasche!
Oeffn' ich leise die geliebte Tuere!

Auf dem Saale fand ich nicht das Maedchen,
Fand das Maedchen nicht in ihrer Stube,
Endlich, da ich leis' die Kammer oeffne,
Find' ich sie gar zierlich eingeschlafen,
Angekleidet auf dem Sofa liegen.

Bei der Arbeit war sie eingeschlafen;
Das Gestrickte mit den Nadeln ruhte
Zwischen den gefaltnen zarten Haenden;
Und ich setzte mich an ihre Seite,
Ging bei mir zu Rat', ob ich sie weckte.

Da betrachtet' ich den schoenen Frieden,
Der auf ihren Augenlidern ruhte:
Auf den Lippen war die stille Treue,
Auf den Wangen Lieblichkeit zu Hause,
Und die Unschuld eines guten Herzens
Regte sich im Busen hin und wieder.
Jedes ihrer Glieder lag gefaellig
Aufgeloest vom suessen Goetterbalsam.

Freudig sass ich da, und die Betrachtung
Hielte die Begierde, sie zu wecken,
Mit geheimen Banden fest und fester.

O, du Liebe, dacht' ich, kann der Schlummer,
Der Verraeter jedes falschen Zuges,
Kann er dir nicht schaden, nichts entdecken,
Was des Freundes zarte Meinung stoerte?

Deine holden Augen sind geschlossen,
Die mich offen schon allein bezaubern;
Es bewegen deine suessen Lippen
Weder sich zur Rede noch zum Kusse;
Aufgeloest sind diese Zauberbande
Deiner Arme, die mich sonst umschlingen,
Und die Hand, die reizende Gefaehrtin
Suesser Schmeicheleien, unbeweglich.
Waer's ein Irrtum, wie ich von dir denke,
Waer' es Selbstbetrug, wie ich dich liebe,
Muesst' ich's jetzt entdecken, da sich Amor
Ohne Binde neben mich gestellet.

Lange sass ich so und freute herzlich
Ihres Wertes mich und meiner Liebe;
Schlafend hatte sie mir so gefallen,
Dass ich mich nicht traute, sie zu wecken.

Leise leg' ich ihr zwei Pomeranzen
Und zwei Rosen auf das Tischchen nieder;
Sachte, sachte schleich' ich meiner Wege.

Oeffnet sie die Augen, meine Gute,
Gleich erblickt sie diese bunte Gabe,
Staunt, wie immer bei verschlossnen Tueren
Dieses freundliche Geschenk sich finde.

Seh' ich diese Nacht den Engel wieder,
O, wie freut sie sich, vergilt mir doppelt
Dieses Opfer meiner zarten Liebe.
The Visit (translation by Edgar Alfred Bowring)

Fain had I to-day surprised my mistress,
But soon found I that her door was fasten'd.
Yet I had the key safe in my pocket,
And the darling door I open'd softly!

In the parlour found I not the maiden,
Found the maiden not within her closet,
Then her chamber-door I gently open'd,
When I found her wrapp'd in pleasing slumbers,
Fully dress'd, and lying on the sofa.

While at work had slumber stolen o'er her;
For her knitting and her needle found I
Resting in her folded bands so tender;
And I placed myself beside her softly,
And held counsel, whether I should wake her.

Then I looked upon the beauteous quiet
That on her sweet eyelids was reposing
On her lips was silent truth depicted,
On her cheeks had loveliness its dwelling,
And the pureness of a heart unsullied
In her bosom evermore was heaving.
All her limbs were gracefully reclining,
Set at rest by sweet and godlike balsam.

Gladly sat I, and the contemplation
Held the strong desire I felt to wake her
Firmer and firmer down, with mystic fetters.

"Oh, thou love," methought, "I see that slumber,
Slumber that betrayeth each false feature,
Cannot injure thee, can nought discover
That could serve to harm thy friend's soft feelings.

"Now thy beauteous eyes are firmly closed,
That, when open, form mine only rapture.
And thy sweet lips are devoid of motion,
Motionless for speaking or for kissing;
Loosen'd are the soft and magic fetters
Of thine arms, so wont to twine around me,
And the hand, the ravishing companion
Of thy sweet caresses, lies unmoving.
Were my thoughts of thee but based on error,
Were the love I bear thee self-deception,
I must now have found it out, since Amor
Is, without his bandage, placed beside me."

Long I sat thus, full of heartfelt pleasure
At my love, and at her matchless merit;
She had so delighted me while slumbering,
That I could not venture to awake her.

Then I on the little table near her
Softly placed two oranges, two roses;
Gently, gently stole I from her chamber.

When her eyes the darling one shall open,
She will straightway spy these colourd presents,
And the friendly gift will view with wonder,
For the door will still remain unopen'd.

If perchance I see to-night the angel,
How will she rejoice,--reward me doubly
For this sacrifice of fond affection!

Between Hope and Fear (1876, 78x128cm)
A Female Figure Resting aka Dolce far Niente (24x16cm)
A Birth Chamber, 17th Century (1868, 49x65cm)
Whispering Noon (1896, 56x39cm)
In My Studio (1893, 62x47cm)
Who is it? (1884, 26x21cm)
Welcome Footsteps (1883, 42x55cm)
Not at Home (1879, 40x31cm)
Poetry (1879, 35x24cm)
Prose (1879, 35x24cm)
A Hearty Welcome (1878, 31x93cm)
In the Time of Constantine (1878, 32x16cm)
Pleading (1876, 40x31cm)
Exhausted Maenides after the Dance (1874, 59x132cm)
Pottery Painting (1871, 39x27cm)
>–- An Exedra (1869, 38x60cm; 699x1122pix, 84kb _ .ZOOM to 1048x1683pix, 184kb) _ Not a Hotel Exedra, but a semicircular stone or marble seat in which disputations of the learned were held among the ancients. And if it gave them headaches (possibly the case for the man sitting in the left foreground), they did not take Excedrin.
Boating (1868, 82x56cm)
Entrance to a Roman Theatre (1866, 70x98cm)
The Conversion Of Paula By Saint Jerome (1898, 51x113cm)
Joseph - Overseer of the Pharoah's Granaries (1874, 80x116cm)
The Soldier of Marathon (1865, 57x40cm) _ The two women models are the artist's mother-in-law Madame Grissin-Dumoulin, and his first wife, Pauline.
157 images at the Athenaeum
  177 images at ARC
 
^Born on 25 June 1932: Peter Blake, English painter, printmaker and sculptor.
— Born in Dartford, Kent. From 1946 to 1951 he studied at Gravesend Technical College and School of Art, and from 1950 to 1956 at the Royal College of Art, London. From 1951 to 1953 he served in the Royal Air Force. He studied folk art in various European countries with a research award. From 1959 he did collages with pin-up photos, star images, posters, LP covers and trivial images. Between 1960 and 1962 he taught at St. Martin's School of Art, London, and from 1962 to 1964 at the Walthamstow School of Art. In 1961 he obtained First Prize in the John Moore Exhibition, Liverpool, for Self-Portrait with Badges. In 1963 he married Jann Haworth and travelled to Los Angeles to do drawings for The Sunday Times. From 1974 to 1976 he taught at the Royal College of Art, London. In 1969 he was given his first retrospective by the City Art Gallery in Bristol. He moved to Wellow, Avon, and continued to live there until 1974. In 1973 and 1974 he had retrospectives in Amsterdam, Hamburg, Brussels and Arnheim. He was made A.R.A. in 1974 and R.A. in 1981. In 1975 he and his wife Jann were founder members of the Brotherhood of Ruralists, who had their first exhibition at the Royal Academy in 1976. He became separated from Jann in 1981 and returned to London. In 1983 he was given a large retrospective exhibition at the Tate Gallery and at the Kestner-Gesellschaft, Hanover.
— Blake studied at Gravesend Technical College and School of Art from 1946 to 1951, and from 1953 at the Royal College of Art, London, where he was awarded a First-Class Diploma in 1956. He then traveled through Europe for a year on a Leverhulme Research Award to study the popular and folk art that had already served him as a source of inspiration. While still a student Blake began producing paintings that openly testified to his love of popular entertainment and the ephemera of modern life, for example Children Reading Comics (1954.), and which were phrased in a faux-naïf style that owed something to the example of American realist painters such as Ben Shahn. In these works Blake displayed his nostalgia for dying traditions not only by his preference for circus imagery but also by artificially weathering the irregular wooden panels on which he was then painting. His respect for fairground art, barge painting, tattooing, commercial art, illustration and other forms of image-making rooted in folkloric traditions led him to produce some of the first works to which the term Pop art was later applied. His attitude to his source material was consistently that of the fan, to the extent that he literally wore his allegiances on his sleeve in Self-portrait with Badges (1961).
      Blake's virtuosity as a draftsman was largely directed to naturalist and academic traditions, giving this side of his work an old-fashioned air tempered by the contemporaneity of his subject-matter. From the late 1950s, however, he also produced works far more radical in conception by eliminating the personal touch. Fine Art Bit (1959), Got a Girl (1961) and Toy Shop (1962) typify the collage paintings and constructions composed only of patterns of bright color and of ready-made materials such as postcards, photographs, book illustrations, toys and other objects, and brutally presented without mediation. The acts of selection and retrieval in these works, generally made in alliance with references to pop music and mass entertainment, including Hollywood films, wrestling, pin-ups and strip-tease, are presented as equivalent to the painstaking recording of observations.
      Blake's devotion to illustration and to Victorian art, clearly avowed in his watercolors for Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking-glass (1971), which were also reproduced as screenprints, dominated his work between 1975 and 1979. At that time he was living in Wellow, near Bath, and painting with like-minded artists who styled themselves the Brotherhood of Ruralists. Blake's work of this period, on such 19th-century themes as fairy painting, was at its most effete and sentimental. A slow and painstaking technician, Blake demonstrated little stylistic development after this ruralist phase but continued to produce small-scale paintings and drawings of great refinement and popular appeal. To the general public, however, he remains best known as the designer of the record cover for Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band by the Beatles (1967), a fitting tribute to his genuine enthusiasm for the popular icons of his time.

LINKS
Self-Portrait with Badges (1961, 174x122cm; 1024x680pix, 43kb) _ Although closely identified with Pop art, Blake has always regarded himself as a realist painter in the realist tradition. Blake's capacity to bring traditional elements into a specifically modern context is evident in this self-portrait. In sixteenth and seventeenth century portraits, for example, it was customary to depict the subject with attributes. These were objects which gave a clue to the sitter's vocation, achievements or interests. Following this tradition, Blake depicts himself in denim jacket, jeans and baseball boots, which were ahead of fashion at the time. The array of badges and the fan magazine, also express personal enthusiasms.
     Peter Blake was as interested in folk art as in pop, collecting "outsider" paintings, pub signs and ephemera when he started making paintings of instantly recognisable popular subjects as a student at the Royal College of Art in the 1950s. He anticipated the New York pop artists Roy Lichtenstein, Claes Oldenburg and Andy Warhol, but London's Independent Group was already making intellectual pop art: Eduardo Paolozzi started making collages of American consumer magazines in the 1940s.
      But Blake was very different from Independent Group artists such as Paolozzi and Richard Hamilton, with their science-fiction aesthetic and theoretical examination of consumer culture. He simply wanted to celebrate the new pop culture exploding in music and film and on TV. His feel for pop culture was shared by a number of RCA students, from his contemporaries Richard Smith and Joe Tilson to the younger David Hockney, who became stars of 1960s London.
      This is a portrait of the artist as a provincial. It is a strangely weak and faltering image of self as flimsy and needing external confirmation. There is something comically vulnerable about Blake's need to wear quite so many badges, ally himself with quite so many causes and icons, and so fervently pledge his cultural allegiance to the United States. Almost everything he wears is distinctively of the US: baseball boots, jeans and denim jackets were only just starting to be disseminated worldwide.
      The badges also seem to tell a story about losers. A small union flag is dwarfed by a big stars and stripes. Then there's a campaign badge for the unsuccessful Democratic presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson, a badge promoting Pepsi (second most celebrated US soft drink) and a huge badge of Elvis Presley, at this time seen as on the wane yet still celebrated romantically by artists such as Ray Johnson and Andy Warhol.
      The flatness of the badges, sewn-on patches and the magazine is a joke about flatness in art, thinness in life. The images pinned to Blake's jacket exist on the same plane as the painting as if they belong here, in the painting, more than he does — an effect heightened by their bold colors, red, white and blue — in contrast to the dingy and broken British garden fence behind him, the fuzzy green trees, the drab ground he stands on. His own physical presence is dumpy and disproportionate, his head a bit big, his assumed cool unconvincing.
      Blake plays on the contrast between the modern US and his loyalty to a British tradition of homely portraiture and landscape. British pop art came first, and yet the pop culture that fascinated it was of the US. The painting is acutely nostalgic as a portrait of the moment when American pop exploded in British imaginations. At the same time it could be a portrait of the dedicated follower of fashion in any time and place, seeking to assert identity through a slightly desperate display of insignia. Blake is a Chelsea pensioner of the pop revolution, chest laden with medals.
      The power of this portrait comes from its sense of art history, lightly worn. Blake's self-portrait shares the fancy display of some of the self-portraits of Rembrandt, in which the artist tries on Turkish costumes and floppy hats. However, its full-frontal presentation of the artist's passively returned gaze especially recalls one of the greatest and strangest of all figurative paintings, the Gilles (1719, 185x150cm) of Jean-Antoine Watteau: a wan portrait of a player in costume, looking at us sadly in his clownish attire.
Record cover for Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band by the Beatles (1967; 632x637pix, 74kb — ZOOM to 1251x1261pix, 151kb)
But it isn't old!" Tweedledum cried, in a greater fury than ever. "It's new, I tell you - I bought it yesterday - my nice NEW RATTLE!" and his voice rose to a perfect scream (1970; 722x534pix, 26kb)
On the Balcony (1957, 121x91cm) _ Blake made this painting while a student at the Royal College of Art. It introduces his interest in bringing together fine art and popular culture. Blake took his inspiration from a painting by the social realist artist Honoré Sharrer which shows poor workers holding great works of art. Here, the boy on the left holds Edouard Manet''s famous The Balcony, but there are twenty-six variations on this theme of ''coming out into the open'' elsewhere in the painting. It works as a painted collage, showing magazines, badges and famous photographs, as a way of introducing the characters in the scene.
The Fine Art Bit (1959, 91x61cm) _ The central theme of this painting is the marriage of popular and fine art, an idea which Blake began to explore in On the Balcony. The horizontal stripes refer to everyday images, such as flags, street signs and commercial packaging. At the same time these stripes also allude to ‘hard edge’ painting, which was emerging in America at the time Blake was making this work. The heraldic nature of the stripes is contrasted with traditional ‘Fine Art’ through the postcards of paintings and sculpture by Old Masters, and of Indian Art, which Blake has collaged across the top of the painting.
Tuesday (1961, 48x27cm) _ This painting is named after Tuesday Weld, a young screen actress who began her career in the early 1960s and became one of the sex symbols of the day. Blake selected her as the subject of this painting because of her unusual first name. Two photographs of her are included at the top of the painting. The three bands of color in the lower section of the work can be seen as alluding to the contemporary hard edge abstract painting of such artists as Albers, Kelly and Noland.
The First Real Target (1961, 54x49cm) _ The foundations of Pop Art in America were laid during the 1950s by Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg. Like Blake, both these artists incorporated images taken from popular culture into a fine art context, and Blake has acknowledged their example. This work refers to Johns's work in particular. Whereas Johns had taken a familiar object - a Target - and executed this motif on the canvas in a painterly style, Blake took this further by using a real archery target purchased from a sports shop. The work of art is consequently less like a painting and is even closer to the real world. Blake thus questions: is this 'the first real target'?
The Toy Shop (1962, 157x194x34cm relief) _ In the mid-1950s Blake incorporated images from popular culture into his art by painting them with meticulous realism, as in On the Balcony. Later, in works such as Tuesday, he extended this sense of realism by collaging in actual photographs, postcards or printed ephemera. It was therefore a natural progression for him to use three-dimensional objects to stress the reality of the work even further. The Toy Shop was originally conceived both as a work of art and as a way of storing Blake's collection of toys, a selection which reflects Blake's interests and enthusiasms. The door and window were obtained from a demolition site
Beach Boys (1964, 53x31cm)
The Masked Zebra Kid (1965, 55x27cm) _ Blake was one of the leaders of British Pop Art, a movement which celebrated contemporary popular culture. This is one of a series of collages he made during the 1960s with pin-up photos, posters and other ephemeral images. Blake has long been a fan of wrestling and had been to watch an American wrestler called the Masked Zebra Kid fight several times. The autograph of the wrestler in the center of the painting is surrounded by photographs taken from a fan magazine.
J.A. (1969)
Well, this is grand!" said Alice. "I never expected I should be a Queen so soon." (1970)

 

Died on a 25 June:


^ 1958 (1928?) Charles Spencelayh, British artist born on 26 (27?) October 1865 (1856?). — LINKS
Forty Winks (26x25cm)
Delightful with Sauce (40.5 x 30.5 cm)
Helping Mother (1899, 51x38cm)
The Punishment (1895, 51x77cm)
A Young Girl And Her Dog (1894, 51x41cm)
Kitty Spencelayh (1893, 8x6cm) _ It is not clear whether Kitty is the name of the cat, of the girl, or of both.
Snodland Ferry, Kent (1893, 40x51cm)
A Japanese Beauty (76x51cm)
Zeppelins (52x35cm) _ World War II was to have a great effect upon Spencelayh's life and art, but rather than depicting the air-raids as terrifying events of explosion and destruction, he saw the human side of the War and how it effected the patriots who remained in their homes waiting until it was all over. 'Zeppelins' depicts a stoic old man glaring out of his window, searching the skies for enemy airships, his antique pistol ready in his hand for whoever dares to invade his home.
     Spencelayh and his wife were only too aware of the danger threatening the safety of their beloved Britain. Their house in Lee in Kent, was destroyed by a falling bomb in 1940 and they only just escaped unscathed, shaken and dishevelled. One of the most curious things about the bombing at Lee was the way in which, just after the Spencelayhs got clear of the house, the front wall crumbled into the street, and, just like a doll's house when opened up, passers-by could look right into the rooms and see dozens of his paintings there still hanging on the walls, except in one room, where the blast had turned all the pictures with their faces to the wall. Spencelayh's comment on this was, “It wasn't a compliment, was it?”
      Many of Spencelayh's works had been destroyed with his house in Lee and on the staircase of his new home in Bozeat in Northamptonshire where the Spencelayh's rehoused themselves, hung the picture which had been on his easle at Lee, scorched and half destroyed by the flames. Four-hundred drawings were lost and inumerable paintings, but Spencelayh refused to give up and by 1941, was exhibiting again. 'Zeppelins' is one of the pictures that Spencelayh painted in Bozeat, in direct reaction to the War which had stirred him to paint with his usual intensity of skill, but with more of a feeling of drama and tension.
      The pictures he painted in the period after his move to Northamptonshire, alternated between timeless compositions of old gardeners, clock repairers and the like, and reflections of the events which he had experienced and knew from the newspapers, much-publicized patriotic essays of his, with bang-on, snappy, topical titles he set much store by.
      The Spencelayh's time at Bozeat in Northamptonshire was a special period for the artist and he was very well-loved by his neighbors. Spencelayh found his models among the retired farmers and bootmakers of Bozeat and never used professionals, as he explained to a newspaper reporter 'My old men are all amateur sitters. Usually they work- and - smoke! - from 09.30 to 17:00 or 18:00, and if I paid them some of them would gladly stay all night! I feed them well, give them plenty of ''rests'', and let them do exactly as they like. I always ''give in'' to a sitter, because I know the picture depends entirely on him.'. Zeppelins is not a painting of a man in his last years waiting to die, or even of the threats and terrors of war, it is a painting of patriotism and courage and the artist's affection for a generation of men whose values and qualities made Britain a country he dearly loved.
–- S*#> Pond in Bankey Field, Olney (17x24cm; 661x900pix, 92kb)
–- S*#> The Empty Chair (1947, 59x48cm; 900x730pix, 129kb) _ One of the greatest charms of Spencelayh's interiors is in his placing of a pleasant-faced old gentleman or comely young lady among arrayed items of bric-a-brac and furniture, which remind us of the houses of our parents and grandparents. The old chairs around the table that don't match, a prized teapot with a chipped lid handed down through the family and the miscellany of prints and old paintings which cluttered the walls; these all have their quaint appeal. Among the items in The Empty Chair is one of the many thousands of prints printed by Pears soap manufacturers the painting Bubbles of John Everett Millais. These everyday recognizable objects which evoke feelings of nostalgia and cosy contentment, touch us on an emotional level, whilst the hints of an unfolding narrative absorbs us completely into the intimacy of these domestic worlds. Every element is captured with loving care, from the finely observed expression of the gentleman lost in a daydream to the peeling wallpaper. The dexterity that Spencelayh demonstrates in the rendering of something as ordinary as the well-worn carpet or crinkled tablecloth demonstrates the artist's affection for these trappings of civilised normality and national pride with which we surround ourselves behind every dining room door. These arrayed items were of course the decorations of Spencelayh's own home (note the blue and white vase on the side table which appears in Natures Beauties, Known and Unknown) and the world depicted is very much the world of Spencelayh, peopled by figures that he depicted with an understanding and tenderness which is both beautiful and moving.
     The gentleman is alone now to take his tea, but still he takes the time to lay a table (albeit in a rather unpracticed manner) and is dressed smartly even indoors. There is a sense of melancholy and absence but not of the hair-rending, breast-beating Victorian type; this is the depiction of the autumn of 'real life' where paintings hang on nails over wall paper which has seen better days and life goes on as it did before, with all it's comforting rituals and familiarities. Spencelayh presents a slice of life in much the same way as soap opera or modern documentary photography and we can all relate to these scenes with their lack of pretence and immediacy.
–- S*#> Natures Beauties, Known and Unknown (1951, 61x47cm; 900x690pix, 131kb) _ This was Spencelayh's sole exhibit at the Royal Academy in 1852 and it captures the best qualities of the artist's still life. Added interest is given by the fetching figure of a young visitor who sits amongst the clutter of Spencelayh's studio. The model was Spencelayh's neighbor, a thirteen-year-old school girl at Woolaston School named Mary, the daughter of J. W. Forth the police constable for Bozeat in Northamptonshire. One day when she popped into the house with a message from her parents, Charles was struck by the coloring of her scarf and green coat, and the upshot of this was that she spent the whole of her Easter holiday posing for him. Spencelayh had painted a portrait of Mary when she was six and given the painting as a gift to the Forths who hung it proudly in their home.
     As though we glimpse the scene through the eyes of the artist himself, his hand and palette can be seen in the lower left corner of the composition. We see in it the usual jumble of Spencelayh's props: the paintings within the painting; musical instruments, ceramics, pieces of sculpture, the odd book, stuffed birds, and gardening boots, as well as Mary. It is almost a surrealist ensemble. This quirky humor and playful confusion of pictorial space, is similarly captured in works such as My Reflection (1925), in which we observe a painted mirror reflecting the artist painting the same picture as though the pictures exist in two different worlds.
     The circular picture in a gold frame in the center of Nature's Beauties, Known and Unknown is a print of Emily and Laura Anne Calmady by Thomas Lawrence whilst the little picture on the wall appears to be based upon a nude study by William Etty. Items such as the blue and white vase, the old boot, and the violin appear in Spencelayh's greatest still-life A Part of My Stock in Trade (1848).
–- S*#> Meditation, Rent Day (41x30cm; 900x660pix, 99kb)
–- S*#> In Front of the Fire (17x22cm; 640x900pix, 156kb) sketchily painted
–- S*#> Gone but Not Forgotten (46x30cm; 638x412pix, 58kb)

1916 Thomas Couperthwaite Eakins, US painter born (full coverage) on 25 July 1844.

1898 Nikolai Grigorevich Sverchkov (or Svertchkoff, Svertschkoff), Russian painter (mostly of horses?) born on 06 March 1817 (his name diversely written as Nikolai Egorovich Sverchkov, Nicolaj Gregorovitch Svertschkoff, SWERTSCHKOFF Nikolai Jegorowitsch Swertschkoff, Nicolas Swertchkow, Nikolai Yegorovich Shverchkov, etc.). — {Is it true that you could get a Svertschkoff cough just by pronouncing his name?}

^ 1886 Johann Friedrich (or Friedrich Johann) Voltz, German artist born on 31 October 1817. — {Is it true that the current estimate is 110 Voltz in the US, but 220 Voltz in Europe?}— Friedrich Voltz studied under his father Johann Voltz and afterwards at the Munich Academy. His first journey to Northern Italy took place in 1843. In 1846 he visited Belgium and Holland. In 1863 he became a member of Munich Academy, in 1869 member of Berlin Academy and in 1870 member of Vienna Academy. — Friedrich Voltz, Sohn von Johann Michael Voltz wuchs in Nördlingen auf und zog dann nach Augsburg und München. Er war aber Jahr für Jahr eine gewissen Zeit in München. Friedrich Voltz galt in den sechziger und siebziger Jahren des 19. Jahrhunderts als einer der besten Tiermaler. Er war ungemein fleissig. Er hat tausende von Zeichnungen und Radierungen hinterlassen. Dazu kommen noch etwa 3000 Ölgemälde, die in den verschiedensten Galerien hängen. Prinzregent Leopold von Bayern sagte über den Maler: “Wenn der Voltz eine Kuh malt, weiß man, aus welcher Alm sie kommt.”
Waldmotiv Mit Kuhen (1850, 48x71cm)
Four cows and a calf watering (425x848pix, 117kb)
Peasants returning from the market (34x28cm oval; 531x637pix, 69kb) _ detail 1 _ detail 2

^ 1853 Richard Hume Lancaster, British painter born in 1774. — LINKS
Landscape, with a View of Oxford (exhibited 1814)
A View at Southampton (1817, 89x137cm)
View of Trouville (1853, 107x152cm; 274x400pix, 28kb) 60% sky, 30% sea, 9% ship, 1% Trouville.

^ 1667 Joris Georg van Son, Dutch painter born on 24 September 1623. Joris van Son was a follower of the Dutch Jan Davidszoon de Heem [1606-1684] in Antwerp. Joris van Son successfully adopted his compositional schemes and style, his coloristic splendor rivaled that of the native Flemings. He was the father of Jan van Son [1658-1718] who settled in England, where he painted flowers, fruit, dead game, vases, curtains fringed with gold, Turkish carpets, etc.
Still-Life with Cheese (1655; 802x1108pix, 115 Kb)
Stilleven op stenen tafel (85x122cm; 745x1035pix, 55kb)
Stilleven naast een zuil (86x121cm; 727x1036pix, 51kb)
Still Life With a Nautilus Shell (1663, 61x76cm; 706x900pix, 111kb) _ Grapes, plums, apricots, and a pomegranate are in a basket on a stone ledge on which are other fruits and the nautilus shell.


Born on a 25 June:


1923 Samuel Lewis Francis, Californian painter who died (main coverage) on 04 November 1994. —(060602)

1704 Johann Georg Platzer, Austrian painter who died (full coverage) on 10 December 1761. —(061209)

^
Happened on a 25 June:

1973 Russian Schoolroom (41x94cm; 458x200pix, 20kb) is stolen from a Norman Rockwell Exhibit in Clayton, Missouri. — (060808)
1786 The great Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes [30 Mar 1746 – 16 Apr 1828] is named Royal Painter. –- Cristo Crucificado –- El Tercero de Mayo de 1808 –- El Dos de Mayo de 1808 en Madrid o La lucha de los mamelucos en la Puerta del Sol –- Maja With Masked Men –- Inquisition –- Carlos III –- Familia de Carlos IV –- Autoretrato –- Self-Portrait With Doctor –- Holy Name –- Queen of Martyrs –- Holy Family –- The Great He-Goat or Witches Sabbath –- Marquesa de Pontejos.
Etchings: –- Que Se Rompe la Cuerda –- Es Peor –- Desgracia –- Contra el Bien General.


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