ART 4 2-DAY 14 March v.10.20
Born on 14 March 1892: John
Fulton Jack Folinsbee, US artist who died on
10 May 1972.
Born in Buffalo, died in New Hope, Pennsylvania. In 1914 Jack Folinsbee married Ruth Standish Baldwin of Washington. They settled in New Hope in 1916 at the suggestion of tonalist painter Birge Harrison. Primarily known as a landscape painter, Folinsbee also did portraits. His early impressionist landscapes employ light colors. Following a 1926 trip to France, Folinsbee began to use darker, brooding colors, and his work became more expressionist in approach. Known for his paintings of shad fish along the Delaware River in Lambertville, the painter also depicted the factories around his home and the Maine seacoast. Under Folinsbee's brush subjects that would not rise above the commonplace with lesser artist become beautiful and powerful. The factory, with its dull red walls, a flash of green water, gray smoke stacks and rolling clouds of smoke, epitomizes the spirit of iron and steel. Above all, it has splendor that does not depend on what we are accustomed to consider beauty." John Fulton Folinsbee attended the Gunnery School, Connecticut, 1907-1911, Art Students League Summer School, Woodstock, New York, 1912.
Among those who taught him or influenced him are Birge Harrison, John Carlson, Frank Vincent DuMond, Robert Spencer Giotto, Masaccio, El Greco, Paul Cézanne, George Bellows, George Luks. John Folinsbee lived in New Hope from 1916 to 1972. He and his wife, Ruth, moved to New Hope upon the suggestion of Birge Harrison, who had several friends in the flourishing artists' colony. Ruth Folinsbee was involved with the founding of the Philips Mill Association, which brought people together for art exhibitions, theater performances, and social gatherings. She also was one of the original subscribers and stockholders of the Bucks County Playhouse in 1939. John Folinsbee chaired the Art Committee for the Philips Mill Association in 1930. Along with Edward Redfield, Daniel Garber, Lloyd R. Ney, and writer Henry Chapin, John Folinsbee formed the New Hope Scientific Society, a social group which gathered for evening games of poker. Harry Leith-Ross was a close friend from his Woodstock School days, who acted as best man at Folinsbee's marriage to Ruth Baldwin on 10 October 1914. Other colleagues in New Hope included William Lathrop and Robert Spencer. Folinsbee was very close to his son-in-law, Peter G. Cook, also a fine artist.
— Cider Mill in Washington, Connecticut (51x41cm; 602x750pix, 185kb) _ Known as Dipple’s Cider Mill, this large factory site began in 1832-33 as a cotton-woolen plant. It was located off River Road on the Shepaug River. It passed through many hands, including Herman Baldwin, owner of a grist mill and shingle mills and a blacksmith shop; Frank J. Kilbourn, owner of a grist mill, feed and cider mills and Charles Dipple, who had a cider mill only. Operations continued until 1947 when Dipple ended all production. This scene was painted by Folinsbee before the mill and its 3.2 m dam were destroyed by the destructive flood of 19 August 1955.
— Canal Below New Hope (51x76cm; 529x750pix, 136kb) _ The Folinsbees found their way to New Hope, Pennsylvania, a village on the banks of the Delaware River. New Hope was a picturesque town during the early years of the 20th century and provided a peaceful rustic retreat for the many artists who lived among its gently rolling hills and graceful woodlands. Much of Folinsbee’s work was painted here before development and urbanization forced him to seek inspiration along the rugged coast of Maine. Aware that New Hope and Bucks County were rapidly changing, he endeavored to portray its best features in an attempt to preserve for future generations the appearance of this region.
— Evening at Swan’s Island (89x127cm; 549x750pix, 101kb) _ Folinsbee and his family spent their summers in Maine, where the powerful sea and rugged coastline along with its harbor and fishing activities, provided him with fresh inspiration. In 1952, Folinsbee acquired a 7.6-meter lobster boat and named it Sketch. As well as fishing from the vessel, he used it as a floating studio. When the weather permitted and the sea was calm, he would travel the coast, observing and making sketches. Evening at Swan’s Island was produced on one of his boating trips.
— Beth and Joan (1924, 81x102cm; 564x750pix, 162kb) _ The medical profession gave Folinsbee a very short life expectancy, and children, he was told, were out of the question. Ruth’s response to the doctor was, "Perhaps the Lord will decide that." Beth was born in 1917 and Joan, two years later. Folinsbee’s interest in portrait painting developed when he began sketching his daughters in their childhood. Although he was primarily a landscape painter, he painted hundreds of portraits during his long career and always claimed that he painted a portrait the way he painted a landscape. Those who have known only Folinsbee’s lusty landscapes may view his portraits with surprise: Great is the contrast between the two facets of the artist’s talents. His portraits are painted with great sensitivity, those of women and children with appropriate delicacy; yet they are as forthright in their way as any landscape he ever painted, being quite rapidly executed, not requiring over two or three sittings. This implies unusual perception in character analysis and a brush that caresses features as expertly as it lays-in the waters of the North Atlantic.
— Farm Scene (25x35cm; 540x751pix, 99kb)
— Maine Dock Scene (25x35cm; 504x760pix, 112kb)
— Edward Redfield Painting (1923, 26x21cm; 600x468pix, 71kb) _ sold for $17'250 at Shannon's in April 2002.
— Grey Buildings (41x51cm; 468x600pix, 67kb) _ sold for $16'450 at Shannon's on 24 April 2003.
— The Squall (1949, 41x46cm; 600x492pix, 36kb) _ sold for $7500 at Shannon's on 23 October 2003.
on 14 March 1682: Jacob Isaakszoon van Ruisdael
(or Ruysdael), Dutch Baroque
painter, draftsman, and etcher, specialized in Landscapes,
born in 1628 or 1629. He died about 4 days before his burial.
— He is regarded as the principal figure among Dutch landscape painters of the second half of the 17th century. His naturalistic compositions and style of representing massive forms and his color range constituted a new direction away from the ‘tonal phase’ (about 1620 to 1650) associated with the previous generation of landscape painters and exemplified by the work of his uncle Salomon van Ruysdael, Jan van Goyen, Cornelis Vroom, Pieter Molijn, and others. Ruisdael showed unusual versatility: he produced several distinct landscape types: mountainous, woodland and river settings, waterfalls, beach and dune scenes, seascapes, panoramas, and winter scenes; and created images that were both innovative and among the best in their category. He was not apparently interested in the fashion for Italianate landscapes but stands out as a unique talent in the context of such notable contemporaries as Aelbert Cuyp and Philips Koninck. His oeuvre comprises about 700 paintings and 100 drawings, the majority undated.
— He was probably taught by his father, the frame maker and artist Isaak de Goyer, who later called himself Ruysdael. None of Isaak's paintings have been identified with certainty, and it is impossible to determine the nature and extent of his influence on Ruisdael. The influence of Cornelis Vroom, another Haarlem landscapist, is often noticeable in his early works of the 1640s. The earliest dated pictures are of 1646. Two years later Ruisdael became a member of the Guild of Saint-Luke in Haarlem. From 1650 to 1653 he traveled extensively in the Netherlands and the neighbouring parts of western Germany. In about 1655 he settled in Amsterdam, of which he became a free citizen in 1659.
Ruisdael's early work, such as the Dunes (1647), reflects his obsession with trees. Earlier Dutch artists use trees merely as decorative compositional devices, but Ruisdael makes them the subject of his paintings and imbues them with forceful personalities. His draftsmanship is meticulously precise and is enriched by thick impasto, which adds depth and character to the foliage and trunks of his trees. After 1650 the monumentality of his landscapes increases. In his view of Bentheim Castle (1653), the forms become more massive, the colors more vibrant, and the composition more concentrated. The latter quality is even more evident in his famous Jewish Cemetery (1660), which is one of his most masterly compositions. All motifs of secondary importance serve as accessories to the main motif, three ruined tombs. The painting symbolizes the transience of temporal things.
After 1656 Ruisdael's compositions became more spacious and his palette became brighter. His paintings of waterfalls and his Marsh in the Woods (1665), recall his earlier interest in forest scenes. But more often his late works, such as the Windmill at Wijk-bij-Duurstede (1665), Wheatfields (1670), and his numerous views of Haarlem display panoramas of the flat Dutch countryside. The horizon is invariably low and distant and dominated by a vast, clouded sky. Sometimes the small figures in his pictures were added by other artists, such as Adriaen van de Velde, Johannes Lingelbach, Philips Wouwerman, and Claes Berchem. He also produced several delicately finished etchings, one of the most famous of which is The Wheat Field (1648, etching 10x15cm).
— The family of Jacob van Ruisdael was really named De Goyer, until his uncle Salomon and his father Isaack changed their name to Ruysdael. They named themselves after a castle near their father's birthplace, Blaricum. Their nephew, Jacob was the only one to write the new family name with an 'i'. Jacob van Ruisdael, born in Haarlem, began to paint at an early age. His first work dates from 1646. Ruisdael probably had lessons from his father, but his uncle, the artist Salomon van Ruysdael, must also have been a great influence on the young painter. As well as being a painter, Ruisdael was also a doctor. Ruisdael's paintings depict untamed nature in its many different guises. He painted not only woodland landscapes with strong, central motifs such as ruins, watermills and oaks, but also cityscapes and seascapes. Ruisdael's compositions are often more imposing than reality. His Bentheim Castle and Windmill at Wijk-bij-Duurstede are good examples of this.
Ruisdael traveled in order to get inspiration for his paintings. On these trips he made many drawings. There are also some etchings which he is known to have made. About 1650 he stayed with a friend, the painter Claes Berchem, near the German border, as evidenced by his various 'portraits' of Bentheim Castle. He must also have traveled in the company of Meindert Hobbema, his most important student, since they painted the same water-mill. In the 1650s, probably around 1656, Jacob van Ruisdael moved to Amsterdam, where he lived and worked until his death.
— Meindert Hobbema [31 Oct 1638 – 07 Dec 1709] was the most famous student and follower.of Ruisdael.
Bentheim Castle (1653, 68x54cm) _ The castle is on top of a hill. Down below, in the shade a shepherd is walking with his flock. Further up, at the foot of the hill, in the light of the setting sun, a couple of people are standing on a track that appears to run into the river rushing along through rocks and dead trees in the foreground of the painting. The situation in the painting does not completely correspond with reality. In real life the castle is much less imposing. Van Ruisdael must have seen the castle during a trip he made with his friend the painter Claes Berchem. Van Ruisdael signed the painting on the right on a rock.
Castle Bentheim towers above the landscape. The lines of the composition lead the viewer's eye to the castle. The dead tree in the river, the band of light across the hill and the clouds above the building run parallel, pointing towards the castle. The portrait format of the painting and the low viewpoint make the painting an impressive spectacle. Bentheim lies just across today's border with Germany. Following their journey to this region, Van Ruisdael and Berchem often pictured this castle in their paintings. One example is the drawing by Berchem Landscape with Bentheim Castle (1656).
a different Bentheim Castle (1653; 800x1060pix, 144 kb) _ During the years from about 1650 to about 1655, the heroic quality of Ruisdael's landscapes increases. The forms become larger and more massive. Giant oaks and beeches as well as shrubs acquire an unprecedented abundance and fullness. Colors become more vivid, space increases in both height and depth, and there is an emphasis on the tectonic structure of the compositions. He strove to achieve heroic effects without sacrificing the individuality of a single tree or bush. An outstanding example of this tendency is his mighty view of Bentheim Castle. Ruisdael visited Bentheim, a small town in Wesphalia near the Dutch-German border, when he traveled to the region with his friend Berchem in the early fifties. Bentheim's castle is, in fact, on an unimposing low hill, but in his painting Ruisdael enlarged it into a wooded mountain providing the castle with a commanding position. His invention is a superb expression of his aggrandizement of solid forms during this phase. The dense mass of the mountain, obliquely stretching away into depth, and the coulisses on either side of the front edge of the painting are reminiscent of compositional schemes used by the generation of his teachers, but the spatial clarity is new, as are the strong colors, the energy of the brushwork, and the way he unifies the close view of a nearly overwhelming wealth of detail with the most distant parts of the landscape into a consistent whole. The impact of the broad prospect is as intense as the vegetation seen close up. Ruisdael continued to include Bentheim Castle in his landscapes, seen in various settings and from different viewpoints, until his very last years.
and yet another different The Castle at Bentheim (1651, 98x81cm; 1003x820pix, 131 kb) _ Jacob van Ruisdael, the greatest of all Dutch seventeenth-century landscape painters, was born in Haarlem. He was a member of a dynasty of artists and was trained in the studios of his father, Isaac Jacobszoon van Ruisdael and his uncle, Salomon van Ruysdael. Salomon worked in the 'monochrome' Haarlem style of which Jan van Goyen and Pieter Molijn were also practitioners, and Jacob's earliest paintings display a powerful debt to his uncle's work. He joined the Haarlem guild in 1648 and two years later went with his friend Nicolaes Berchem [01 Oct 1620 – 18 Feb 1683], a painter of Italianate landscapes, to the German border. There, they visited Bentheim, a small town in Westphalia on the border between the United Provinces and Germany. They both sketched Bentheim Castle and later worked up their drawings into paintings. Indeed Ruisdael, whose imagination was particularly inspired by Bentheim, made a whole series of paintings of the castle perched dramatically on an outcrop of rock. Ruisdael's and Berchem's views of Bentheim provide a fascinating comparison between the two artists and their approach to landscape: whereas in a painting of 1656 Berchem turned the castle into a fairy-tale cluster of pinnacles and placed it in the shimmering distance behind a scene of carefree Italian peasants watering their cattle, Ruisdael transformed the low hill on which the castle sits into a sheer cliff, topped by a granite fortress.
— Castle and Watermill by a River (1670, 68x57cm; 960x760pix, 420kb _ ZOOM to 2274x1800pix, 2647kb)
The Windmill at Wijk-bij-Duurstede (1670, 83x101cm; 901x1087pix, 182kb _ ZOOM) _ A Dutch landscape consists essentially of sky dominating low-lying land, where water (whether it be the sea or some canal) frequently reflects the clouds. In the work of Ruisdael the feeling of infinity, in which man seems lost, attains a Pascalian gravity. In this painting the sky responds in its cloud formations to the mighty wings of the windmill. As in Rembrandt's mature phase, which is approximately contemporaneous, this landscape shows classical elements which strengthen the compositional power. Horizontals and verticals are coordinated with the Baroque diagonals, which are still alive and help to create a mighty spaciousness. The atmospheric quality is as important as ever in uniting the whole impression. Light breaks now with greater intensity through the clouds and the clouds themselves gain in substance and volume. The sky forms a gigantic vault above the earth, and it is admirable how almost every point on the ground and on the water can be related to a corresponding point in the sky.
_ Dark clouds are gathering above this river landscape. The sunlight occasionally penetrates the clouds, casting a dramatic light upon the mill towering above all else. The buildings in the background are the castle and Saint Maarten's Church of Wijk-bij-Duurstede. The river in the foreground is the river Lek. Jacob van Ruisdael was one of the most famous painters of wind and water mills in the seventeenth century. This painting depicts an utterly Dutch landscape: flat, lots of water, sky and mills.
We know from archive material that a clock was added to the tower in the background in 1668. Since a clock can be seen in the painting, this picture must be dated later. A pun has been made in this painting. In front of the mill there used to be a so-called 'Vrouwenpoort' or Women's Gate. Instead of painting the gate, Ruisdael has painted a group of women. He had also painted a man beside them, but later painted him out again.
There is some discussion about the state of the weather in this painting. The threatening clouds do not seem are consistent with the white horses on the water but not with other parts of the painting. For instance, the mill's sails seem to be stationary. The sails on the boat are slack, as though there is no wind. Yet the dark bank of clouds suggests a strong wind and that rain will soon pour down. Certainly Ruisdael did not paint this picture on the spot, even assuming that he was prepared to be drenched, since painting out-of-doors was not common practice at the time. He made the painting in his studio.
_ detail (1058x758pix, 166kb) _ In this painting the sky responds in its cloud formations to the mighty wings of the windmill.
View of Haarlem (1670, 43x38cm) _ A typically Dutch landscape: flat with plenty of sky. In the background lies the city of Haarlem. Lengths of linen are lying on the fields in the sun, bleaching. Here and there the sun breaks through the cloudy sky casting rays of light that glance across the meadow landscape. The sun illuminates the red roofs of the houses in the foreground and the white arms of the windmill. Even the town, although far away, is being shone upon in places. The large church in the middle is the church of St Bavo. Landscapist Jacob van Ruisdael painted several views of Haarlem.
The horizon in this painting is very low, compared with early seventeenth-century landscapes, such as, for example, The Cattle Ferry (1622, 75x113cm; 879x1600pix, 222kb) by Esaias van de Velde I [bap. 17 May 1587 – 18 Nov 1630 bur.]. Three-quarters of the surface of Van Ruisdael's painting is covered with clouds. This conforms entirely with Van Ruisdael's taste and the fashion of the day. By using a portrait format, Van Ruisdael emphasises the cloudy sky. A flock of birds are sharply focused against the background.
Rough Sea (1670)
The Great Forest.
Great Oak (1652) _ The painting is signed and dated, however, in the
18th century it was wrongly attributed to Nicolaes Berchem. In fact Berchem
painted only the staffage figures of the picture.
Landscape with a House in the Grove (1646, 105x162cm) _ Ruisdael is one of the exceptional painters who appears on the scene as a precocious complete master. He was active as an independent artist before he was inscribed as a member of the Haarlem guild in 1648. More than a dozen of his works are signed and dated 1646, when he was a seventeen- or eighteen-year-old teenager, and in the following year the number increases. In these early works there is no fumbling or groping. On the contrary, from the beginning he surpasses his models by his ability to enlarge a detail of nature into central motif. The sand dunes and clumps of trees around his native town which were his favourite subjects during these years are rendered with loving care and from the moment we recognize his hand until his last years he gave unprecedented meticulous attention to arboreal details. He was the first artist to depict a variety of trees that are consistently and unequivocally recognizable to the botanist on account of their overall habit.
View of Amsterdam (52x43cm) _ The painting depicts the bank of the Binnenamstel, in the background the tower of the Zuiderkerk. _ detail
View of Haarlem with Bleaching Grounds (1665, 62x55cm) _ Of about the late 1660s are many firsthand views of the Dutch landscape in its various aspects by Ruisdael. The sea, the shore, the vast fertile plains now become important subjects side by side with the woods and waterfalls, and they are always seen under a majestic sky. In his panoramic views of Haarlem with its bleaching grounds, which continue into the seventies, the master's hand is felt in the strength and deceptive simplicity of the compositions. Bleaching fields were familiar sights in his time. After brewing, bleaching linen manufactured in Holland and unbleached cloth imported from England, Germany, and the Baltic countries was Haarlem's major industry. Jacob's 'Haarlempjes' as they were called in his day appeal to us because they offer what is now accepted as the most characteristic view of the Dutch countryside while achieving an unparalleled degree of openness and height. The one at Zurich, a summit of Jacob's achievement, is an exemplar of the type. Its sky, as the skies in most of them, takes up more than two thirds of the canvas, but the impression of height is increased here by the vertical format, and still more by the dominant part the towering, strongly modelled clouds play in the awe-inspiring aerial zone. The prospect of the plain is shown from an exceptionally distant and elevated point of view. As a result there is a reduction in both in scale and in overlappings of the watery dunes, woods, and tracts of land. The firm cohesion of the great cloudy sky gains in mass and significance from its relations to the diminutive forms. The eye can explore here - more than in most other 'Haarlempjes' - the vast expanse of the land richly differentiated by the gradations of alternating bands of light and shadow into the distance toward a horizon stretched taut as sinew.
Two Water Mills and an Open Sluice (1653) _ Besides the Bentheim Castle, another motif Ruisdael discovered on his trip to the Dutch-German border region was the water mill. The half-timbered overshot and undershot mills he favoured were found in the eastern provinces of the Netherlands and in the area near Bentheim. Of course, earlier artists included water mills in their pictures but he was the first to make them the principal theme of a painting. The subject became one of the specialities of his student Meindert Hobbema, and today, when we think of them, his paintings not Ruisdael's come to mind. But in judging their respective accomplishments it is helpful to recall that Ruisdael painted powerful ones, such as Two Water Mills and an Open Sluice, which impresses by the cohesion of its forms and clear daylight effect, before Hobbema held a brush in his hand.
The Hunt (107x147cm) _ The animals were painted by Adriaen van de Velde.
Jewish Cemetery (1660) another The
Jewish Cemetery (1657, 141x183cm) Ruins sometimes play a prominent
role, and gloomy skies set a melancholy mood. Ruisdael's rare ability to
create a compelling and tragic mood in nature is best seen in his famous
Jewish Cemetery of 1660. The autograph 1657 version is larger and
more elaborate. These works are moralizing landscapes that were painted
with a deliberate allegorical programme. The combination of their conspicuous
tombs, ruins, large dead beech trees, broken trunks, and rushing streams
alludes to the familiar themes of transience and the vanity of life and
the ultimate futility of human endeavor, while the burst of light that breaks
through the ravening clouds in each painting, their rainbows and the luxuriant
growth that contrasts with the dead trees offer a promise of hope and renewed
The masterliness of the 1660 painting lies in the artist's clear and concentrated presentation of these ideas. The eye focuses on the three tombs in the middle distance, where the light is centralized. They present a truthful picture of the actual, identifiable sarcophagi as they can still be seen in the Portuguese-Jewish Cemetery at Ouderkerk on the Amstel River near Amsterdam. Ruisdael made carefully worked-up drawings of the tombs, one of which he used as a preparatory drawing for the paintings. But the landscape settings of the paintings bear no resemblance whatsoever to the site at Ouderkerk. They are Ruisdael's inventions. The cemetery never had monumental ruins. Those seen in the Dresden version were transplants from the shattered remains of Egmond Castle near Alkmaar, a site about forty kilometers from Ouderkerk; they also are based on a preparatory drawing. The ruins seen in the Detroit painting are probably derived from the ruins of Egmond's old Abbey Church. A rushing stream does not bisect the actual burial ground. (Would anyone in his right mind place tombs near a vigorous stream which would wreak havoc with the tombstones and coffins beneath them when it flooded?). The stream was included as a traditional allusion to the passage of time. Most remarkable is the barren beech tree in the 1660 picture that gestures toward the three tombs and heavenwards. If ever a tree was capable of seducing a viewer to accept the pathetic fallacy of endowing natural forms with human feelings and emotions it is this dead beech.
The iconographical programme of Ruisdael's two versions of the Jewish Cemetery leaves no doubt that they were intended as moralizing landscapes. He made no others that can be given a similar unmistakable reading. None of his other existing paintings include tombs; those done by his contemporaries are rare, and some of them are based on his depictions of the sarcophagi at Ouderkerk. However, Ruisdael made numerous pictures that include identifiable or imaginary ruins, dead and broken trees, rushing streams, rivers, and waterfalls. Were these motifs invariably intended by the artist as symbols of transience and the vanity of life, and does the handful of them that include rainbows allude to hope? It has been argued that this is indeed the case, and that these motifs not only offer the iconographical essence of Ruisdael's landscapes but offer the key to the meaning to seventeenth-century landscape painting. According to this interpretation they were intended as visual sermons to convey the biblical message that man lives in a transient world beset by sinful temptation, but may hope for salvation.
Landscape with Church and Village (1670, 59x73cm) _ In the late 1660s, perhaps inspired by the example of Philips Koninck, Jacob van Ruisdael painted a number of extensive landscapes, of which this is a fine example. Like Koninck, he adopts a high viewpoint, devoting more than half the canvas to a cloud-filled sky. It has been suggested that the church in the center is that of Saint Agatha at Beverwijk, about seven miles north of Haarlem, where Ruisdael lived and worked. The tower of that church, however, was different and in any case it is unlikely that Ruisdael was attempting topographical accuracy. The painting was no doubt based on drawings made in the vicinity of Haarlem which Ruisdael then took back to his studio and transformed into an imaginative landscape. There are four other landscapes by Ruisdael which show the same view or part of the same view with small differences of detail.
The Marsh in a Forest (1665, 72x99cm) _ Among Ruisdael's most personal creations are his large forest scenes of the sixties. In the Marsh in a Forest of about 1665 at the Hermitage powerful trees form a mighty group around a lonely pond. The decayed ones speak with their winding branches as vividly as those in full growth. There is more spaciousness now than there was in the earlier phase of the fifties. Massive trees no longer virtually seal off middle and background vistas. One can look into the distance under the trees, and the sky plays a more pronounced role. There is air all round, and the local color, which was very distinct in the bluish green of the fifties, is somewhat neutralized by a greyish tint in the bronze-brown foliage. In this particular picture Jacob van Ruisdael based his composition on a design of Roelandt Savery which was accessible through the engraving of Egidius Sadeler. Yet the transformation of the Mannerist's work into his heroic terms is more significant than the dependence on it. Ruisdael did not accept the bizarre and ornamental play with nature's forms. He created an archetype of the splendour and grandeur of nature.
Extensive Landscape with a Ruined Castle and a Village Church (1672,
109x146cm) _ Panoramic views of the flat plains in Holland are often said
to be the most distinctive contribution of Dutch landscape painting. They
differ from the 'world panorama' of earlier Flemish art by seemingly recording
the momentary view of a single scene, rather than being composed of a collection
of separate visual memories. Formally, they are characterized bb a low horizon
line, implying a low viewpoint. Although Ruisdael, perhaps the greatest
and the most versatile Dutch landscape specialist, did not invent this type
of picture, he became one of its most distinguished practitioners. This
painting may represent a view in Gooiland, a district to the east of Amsterdam;
there are, however, at least four other, smaller landscapes by Ruisdael
that show the same view or part of it with considerable variations, and
it is clear that he was not attempting strict topographical accuracy. Despite
the pretence of spontaneity, this work, like all landscape paintings of
the time, is a synthetic product of the artist's studio. Its dominant feature
is the sky, to which two thirds of the picture surface is devoted and which
is also reflected in the water of the foreground. This is the real, moisture-laden
sky of Holland billowing with clouds, the sun breaking sporadically through
scattering shafts of light across the countryside - effects which Constable
was later to emulate. Almost more remarkable than the truthful record of
the shape, density and illumination of the clouds is the illusion that they
are moving through space and over our heads (we tend to think that perspective
does not govern cloudscapes, but these seem to taper towards the horizon
and broaden at the upper edge of the painting). The long horizon too seems
to extend beyond the frame, broken only by church spires and the tiny white
sails of a windmill. But our sense of inhabiting the landscape is compromised
by our viewpoint in relation to the foreground. By letting us look down
into the bastion standing below the horizon line, the painter suggests that
we are viewing it from some improbably high place, higher also than the
shore on which the peasants graze their flock (both figures and animals
were painted by Adriaen van der Velde, a division of labor quite common
in Dutch landscapes). This implied detachment, however, strengthens the
elegiac mood aroused by the sight of overgrown ruins, melancholy reminders
of a distant and more heroic past.
— Norwegian Landscape with Waterfall (1645, 98x84cm, 1250x1081kb, 317kb; _ ZOOM to 2500x2162pix, 1232kb _ or, for more fun than watching the erosion of the rocks, ZOOM= to the same 2500x2162pix, but 6157kb)
Landscape with Waterfall (1665, 142x195cm) _ Van Ruisdael specialized in painting landscapes in which one sees water cascading from one rock to the next, until finally it murmurs through valleys and lowlands. The name Ruisdael (“murmuring dale”) matched the content of his paintings. Ruisdael often included people in his landscapes. Here a shepherd is wading through the river, on the left, with his flock. There are also several persons resting under the trees. Although Ruisdael may have seen this particular waterfall on his travels, most of his paintings were based largely on fantasy. The real counterpart of this landscape has never been found.
a different Landscape with Waterfall (1670, 101x142cm) _ This is one of Ruisdael grandest landscapes. After Ruisdael had settled in Amsterdam, about 1656 or 1657, his compositions broaden, and a certain heaviness in the foreground disappears. The opening of the view suggests that he was impressed by Philips Koninck's panoramic views, but the fresh atmospheric effect, the brilliant glittering daylight which brightens the landscapes, the reflections, and vivid colors in the shadows are completely personal. In the late fifties Ruisdael also began to represent waterfalls in mountainous northern valleys, and in the sixties they became an important theme in his oeuvre. This motif was popularized by Allart van Everdingen [bap. 18 Jun 1621 – 08 Nov 1675 bur.] after he returned to Holland in 1644 from a trip to Norway and Sweden, and Ruisdael, who never visited Scandinavia, derived his torrential falls in northern landscapes from Everdingen's art.
_ Jacob van Ruisdael specialized in painting landscapes in which one sees water cascading from one rock to the next, until finally it murmurs through valleys and lowlands. The artist's name, Ruisdael (which roughly translates as 'murmuring valley') matched the content of his paintings. Ruisdael often included people in his landscapes. Here a shepherd is wading through the river, on the left, with his flock. There are also several persons resting under the trees. Although Ruisdael may have seen this particular waterfall on his travels, most of his paintings were based largely on fantasy. The real counterpart of this landscape has never been found.
Waterfall by a Church (1670, 109x132cm) _ Ruisdael often chose waterfalls as a subject for his landscape paintings after the 1650s, inspired by the dramatic Scandinavian waterfall scenes of Allaert van Everdingen. Ruisdael's paintings were done in Amsterdam, which succeeded Haarlem as the center of landscape painting after the middle of the century. At the same time a heightened expression became fashionable.
Waterfall in a Mountainous Northern Landscape (1665; 970x853pix, 130kb)
Mountainous Landscape with Waterfall (mega-image)
Wheat Fields (1675, 100x130cm; 786x1034pix, 138kb) _ In Ruisdael's paintings of the 1670s, like this one, flat landscape subjects are characteristic, as are the converging lines of earth and sky and the alteration of shadow and sunlight. The tiny figures who populate Ruisdael's canvases - indeed, all human activities - are ultimately dwarfed by the vast canopy of sky and immense, towering clouds. This vision of nature is impressive and powerful yet never loses its wistful, melancholic beauty.
Winter Landscape (1670, 42x50cm; 850x1028pix, 153kb) _ A survey of the large oeuvre of Jacob van Ruisdael reveals he painted virtually every subject depicted by Dutch landscapists: dunes and country roads, grainfields, panoramas, rivers and canals, woods and forests, ruins, winter scenes, water and windmills, city views, mountain scenes, Scandinavian landscapes, and seascapes and views of beaches as well. Ruisdael's winter landscapes are not the least remarkable in the oeuvre. In this first-rate example of one, forbidding dark clouds hang over a forlorn snow-covered scene. There is no trace here of the gaiety of Avercamp's better known winterscapes and, unlike his, Ruisdael's conjures up no image of skaters and other delights of the season. Its subject is a rarer one: the brooding mood of a winter day darkened by threatening clouds.
a different Winter Landscape (600x890pix, 165kb _ ZOOM to 1400x2077pix)
The Country Mansion (700x521pix, 62kb _ ZOOM to 1400x1042pix, 215kb)
Water mill (1659 drawing, 20x31cm) _ Water mills were a favorite motif in the work of Jacob van Ruisdael. This drawing was probably done in Gelderland: the mill is of the type associated with that province, with three wheels. The water flows from left to right and sets the mill in motion. The stream runs through a channel past the two wheels and pours down at the end. There is a third wheel to the right of the building. Van Ruisdael also depicted that side in a drawing. Van Ruisdael made a number of journeys through the Netherlands and Germany. During these travels he collected material for his paintings. He drew numerous sketches of landscapes and buildings, including this water mill.
Van Ruisdael drew the water mill at the time when Meindert Hobbema his student. Hobbema and Van Ruisdael traveled together: this is apparent from their drawings and paintings. The subjects Van Ruisdael depicted are also seen in Hobbema's work. A Water mill (1668, 62x85cm) by Hobbema so closely resembles this drawing that it was long assumed that the drawing was by him. His drawing style, however, differs clearly from that of his teacher. Characteristic of Van Ruisdael are the vigorous design in chalk and the lighting subtly indicated with the brush.
Born on 14 March 1853: Ferdinand
Hodler, Swiss Art
Nouveau painter, who died on 19 May 1918.
— He came from a poor family and lost both of his parents at an early age. He received his first training from Ferdinand Sommer [1822–1901], a painter from Thun who produced lake and mountain landscape views for tourists. In 1871 or 1872 Hodler moved to Geneva to attend lectures in natural science at the Collège de Genève and to copy paintings by Alexandre Calame and François Diday in the museum there. In 1873 he became a student of Barthélemy Menn at the École des Beaux-Arts in Geneva and while there undertook an intensive study of Dürer’s writings on proportions. In 1878 he went to Madrid, spending almost a year there, and was strongly influenced by the Spanish landscape and by the works of such masters as Titian, Poussin, Claude, Velázquez, and Goya in the Museo del Prado. He returned to Switzerland in 1879, having learnt to lighten his color.
Hodler was born in Berne and died in Geneva. The oldest of the 6 children of a carpenter, he lost all his brothers, sisters, and parents to tuberculosis, then common among the poor. By the age of 14 he was an orphan alone in the world. He had learned the elements of painting, so he went on to study under a painter in Thun. Pennyless, Hodler went to Geneva, to try to make a living as a sign-painter. There he got to know the painter and teacher Barthélémy Menn [20 May 1815 13 Oct 1893], a student of Ingres [29 Aug 1780 14 Jan 1867] and a friend of Corot [16 Jul 1796 22 Feb 1875]. This progressive and educated art pedagogue accepted Hodler free of charge as a student and from 1871 to 1878 gave him a comprehensive theoretical and practical education in painting, through which he developped an artist's vision of the world and of himself.
Through Menn, Hodler's art was influenced by Corot and Courbet. Hodler traveled in Switzerland and Spain and discovered the works of Dürer, Holbein and Raphael. He was lastingly influenced by the masterpieces of Velázquez which he saw in the Prado Museum during a visit to Madrid.
Hodler developed a strongly realistic style, until he departed from naturalism and adopted a frankly Symbolist style in the painting Night (1890) marked by a great strength of expression. For his often seemingly melancholic, mystical, and the beautiful paintings, Hodler was attacked as backward by the critics and the predominantly Impressionist avant-garde of the time. The coherence of his compositions was based on repeated lines, volumes and colors, a method he termed parallelism.
When Hodler wanted to exhibit Night in Geneva in 1891, it was rejected, although it had received a gold medal at an exhibition in Munich had created a sensation at the Paris 1900 World Fair. It would take years, until Hodler finally succeeded in getting accepted in Switzerland his manner of representating his conception of the world, and in stimulating historical painting. Thanks to two Austrian sponsors and to his success abroad, Hodler saw his financial situation somewhat eased. He separated from its first wife after two years of marriage. He had no children other than a son and a daughter from two of his lovers.
In addition to historical and allegorical works, Holde painted wonderful mountain landscapes impressive in their bright, gleaming colors. His portraits are just as important. Besides Rembrandt, Hodler was probably the most prolific European self-portraitist, often showing himself in the company of slow dying of Valentine Godé-Darel, his French lover and mother of its daughter.
— Self-Portrait (600x624pix _ ZOOM to 1400x1456pix)
— Tired of Life (1892, 150x294cm)
The Chosen One
The Convalescent (1880)
Louise-Delphine Duchosal (1885)
Surprised by the Storm (1887)
Died on 14 March 1969: Benjamin
Zwi Shahn, US social
realist painter and graphic artist born on 12 September 1898 in Lithuania.
His work, a combination of realism and abstraction, backed various social
and political causes.
— Shahn was the oldest of five children in a traditional Orthodox Jewish family. Shahn emigrated with his mother, brother and sister to Brooklyn in 1906. There, they joined his father, a socialist, who had been exiled to Siberia for his subversive activities. From 1913 to 1917 Ben Shahn worked as a lithographer's apprentice while attending high school at night. He later attended New York University, City College of New York, and the National Academy of Design in New York. During travels to Europe in 1925 and 1927 he saw the works of the Old Masters.
In 1931 Shahn began his first major work, a series of paintings on the trial of the anarchists Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti (who, though they may have been innocent, were executed on 23 August 1927 for the 15 April 1920 murder of F.A. Parmenter). Shahn expressed his sympathy for the defendants with great emotional power and satiric bite, and the series brought him fame. He explored another famous trial, that of the labor leader Tom Mooney [08 Dec 1882 – 06 Mar 1942] (who, on dubious evidence, was sentenced to death for the 22 July 1916 bombing of the Preparedness Day Parade, and pardoned in 1939), in a work of 1932–1933. In 1933 Shahn enrolled in the New York City Public Works Art Project and made a series of pictures on the Prohibition era. From 1935 to 1938 he worked for the Farm Security Administration as an artist and photographer.
In 1938–1939 Shahn and his mate, Bernarda Brysen [07 Mar 1903 – 12 Dec 2004], painted a series of panels for the lobby of the Bronx post office in New York, a project that took the form of a geographic panorama of US life. The year 1939 was particularly fruitful for Shahn, as he created three of his best-known pictures: Seurat's Lunch, Handball, and Vacant Lot. Shahn also created widely reproduced graphic works, in which he developed an original and distinctive use of line. Beginning in the mid-1950s, his work became more reflective and less concerned with social criticism.
— Myself Among the Churchgoers (1939; 446x658pix, 74kb)
— The Passion of Sacco and Vanzetti (1932, 215x 122cm; 912x502pix, 86kb) _ This painting is from a series of 23 gouaches titled collectively The Passion of Sacco and Vanzetti. It shows villains, very distinguished Massachusetts citizens, standing over the coffins of the recently executed victims of the injustice, Nicola Sacco [1891 - 23 Aug 1927] and Bartolomeo Vanzetti [1888 - 23 Aug 1927] and Bartolomeo Vanzetti. The people standing over the coffin, in the center, A. Lawrence Lowell, the bigoted president of Harvard University, who was appointed by the governor of Massachusetts to be the chairman of the commission to review the Sacco and Vanzetti case. Lowell was an admitted racist. He believed in racial quotas. He established them at Harvard. His two sidekicks are Samuel W. Stratton, president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Robert Grant, a former judge. Over them, as a portrait in a courthouse portico, is the judge, Webster Thayer [1857–], who presided over the trial (he called the defendants “anarchist bastards”) and made a mockery of justice. He told people he was out to get these radical Italians, and he would not rest until they were in their graves.
The case itself was a simple armed robbery in Braintree, Massachusetts. Paymaster F.A. Parmenter and his guard Alessandro Berardelli were shot and killed on 15 April 1920. It may never be known beyond a reasonable doubt whether Sacco and Vanzetti, or Sacco, or Vanzetti, were responsible for the killings (what seems most likely is that Sacco was guilty, but not Vanzetti). That's become lost in the evidence that was distorted and destroyed by the state. They were sentenced to death, and the execution was carried out after many many protests and much turmoil. And the legacy of Sacco and Vanzetti should live on. The US ought never to forget the Sacco and Vanzetti case, in which the real villains were the judges and the university presidents who lent the legitimacy of their institutions to a case of racism and injustice. At the very least, Sacco and Vanzetti ought to have been granted a second trial in view of their trial's significant defects. In 1977 the governor of Massachusetts, Michael S. Dukakis [03 Nov 1933~], issued a proclamation stating that Sacco and Vanzetti had not been treated justly and that “any disgrace should be forever removed from their names”.
Shahn’s involvement with the persecution and unfair trial of the Italian anarchists went deep, tapping his own immigrant and working-class roots, as well as his family’s socialist background.
— Sacco and Vanzetti (1931; 628x820pix, 160kb) handcuffed to each other, painted from this 1923 photograph (464x205pix, 13kb).
— Sacco and Vanzetti poster (1931 drawing; 510x354pix, 59kb) which quotes words of Vanzetti as written approximately by reporter P.D.Strong:
“If it had not been for these thing, I might have live out my life, talking at street corners to scorning men. I might die, unmarked, unknown, a failure. Now we are not a failure. This is our career and our triomph. Never in our full life can we hope to do such work for tolerance, for joostice, for man's onderstanding of man, as now we do by an accident. Our words - our lives - our pain - nothing! The taking of our lives - lives of a good shoemaker and a poor fishpeddler - all! The moment you think of belong to us - that agony is our triomph.”
— Jersey Homestead Mural (366x1372cm) _ Ben Shahn was commissioned to create a mural for the community center in Jersey Homesteads, New Jersey in 1936. He finished it in 1938, making it his first completed mural. Jersey Homesteads was a planned community, originally created for Jewish garment workers. It was sponsored by the Resettlement Administration, one of the New Deal programs of President Roosevelt. Although in a sense it was a failed experiment (the cooperative factory and farms never worked out), the town still exists today. The government sold off the box-like houses (actually designed by Bauhaus architects), and Ben Shahn and his family were among the first private owners. In 1945 the townspeople voted to rename the town Roosevelt in honor of the late president. The community center is now the Roosevelt Public School, and the mural continues to tell the story of the town’s founding to each new generation of schoolchildren.
The story reads from left to right, with immigrants arriving through Ellis Island on the left, workers organizing through unions for better working conditions in the middle, and an idyllic planned community represented on the right. It seems that Shahn used the structure of the Jewish sacred text, the Haggadah: from slavery (the oppressive conditions in Europe for Jews); through deliverance (liberation through coming to the US and the labor movement); to redemption (offered by the New Deal, unions, and the town of Jersey Homesteads).
_ Panel 1: Slavery (500x720pix, 52kb) _ In the upper left, a Nazi soldier stands next to anti-Jewish signs. Women wail over coffins containing the bodies of the executed Italian anarchists, Sacco and Vanzetti. Below are the halls of the Ellis Island registry center, and a small image of the Statue of Liberty. A crowd of immigrants streams off a gangplank, Shahn’s mother and the physicist Albert Einstein among them.
_ Panel 2: Deliverance (500x720pix, 57kb) _ Through labor unions, workers organize for better conditions. The figure of a labor leader modeled after John L. Lewis dominates this middle section. Behind him is the Triangle Shirtwaist Building, the site of a tragic fire in 1911, which sparked the movement that resulted in the International Ladies’ Garment Workers Union (ILGWU). On the lower right, an arched doorway marked ILGWU leads to a hall showing the progressive path toward a brighter future through unionized labor.
_ Panel 3: Redemption (518x720pix, 63kb) _ The unions and the New Deal come together to create the planned community of Jersey Homesteads. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, pictured in a campaign poster, was the political figure Shahn most admired. Various figures from the labor movement including Sidney Hillman and Heywood Broun are gathered around a table holding the blueprint for the town of Jersey Homesteads. In the upper right are the cooperative farm and factory—although by the time Shahn finished the mural, in 1938, these ventures had already failed.
— The Red Stairway (1944, 41x59cm; 581x861pix, 183kb _ ZOOM not recommended to blurry 1356x2009pix, 417kb )
— Handball (600x840pix, 185kb _ ZOOM to 1400x1961pix, 550kb) looks like a photograph.
— Bookshop, Hebrew Books, Holy Day Books (1953; 579x423pix, 70kb)
— New York (1947)
— Spring (1947; 381x678pix, 61kb)
— Dag Hammarskjold (1962)
— Composition for Clarinets and Tin Horn (1951)
— Three Men (1939; 346x500pix, 223kb)
— Scotts Run, West Virginia (1937, 57x71cm; 310x390pix, 21kb) similar to this October 1935 photo (809x1024pix, 335kb) by Shahn, with the houses from this other October 1935 photo of his showing Purseglove Coal Mining Company houses, Osage, Scotts Run, West Virginia (768x961pix, 464kb), and the electoral campaign posters (216x300pix, 9kb) that he photographed in 1938.
— Martin Luther King (drawing, 19 March 1965 Time cover)
— Johann Sebastian Bach (27 December 1968Time cover)