ART 4 2-DAY 23 May v.9.40
Died on 23 (or 24) May 1782: Vigilius Eriksen,
(or Erichsen), Danish painter, active also in Russia, specialized in portraits
(especially of Catherine the Great), born on 02 September 1722.
— He was apprenticed to the portrait painter Johann Salomon Wahl in Copenhagen. In 1755 he competed unsuccessfully for the gold medal at the Royal Academy of Art in Copenhagen with a historical painting, Lot and his Wife. In a letter he complained that the rules did not allow him to enter a portrait, a genre more suited to his talents. Presumably in 1756 he completed the portraits of the registrar of the royal art collections, Lorenz Spengler and his wife Gertrud Sabine (Trott) Spengler. These portraits already show the specific features of Eriksen’s style, characterized by precise rendering of the sitter, distinct modeling of form and a cool virtuosity in the unemphatic treatment of dresses and accessories. Erichsen's magnificent full-length portrait of the Dowager Queen Juliane Marie (1778, 284x194cm _ b&w image) was his principal Danish work. He subsequently worked in Russia.
Grand Prince Pavel Petrovich in his Study (1766; 91kb)
— Catherine II the Great (471x363pix, 35kb)
— Catherine II in Profile (1761, 54x42cm; 575x444pix, 98kb)
— Catherine II in front of a Mirror (1763, 262x201cm)
— Catherine II in a Guard uniform on horseback, on 28 June 1762 (1764, 195x178cm; 575x520pix, 125kb) _ Katharina II af Rusland, ridende i garderuniform pĺ hesten Brillante, den 28. juni 1762 (97x88cm; 525x469pix, 41kb) _ 2 almost versions differing only in the size of the originals and in minor details, mostly of the background.
— Caspar von Saldern (25x18cm)
— Duke Frederick (1777, 236x196cm; 575x389pix, 77kb)
— Kunstdrejer og kunstkammerforvalter Lorenz Spengler (1758, 78x62cm; 601x484pix, 36kb)
— Gertrud Sabine (Trott) Spengler (1758, 79x62cm; )
— Peter Cramer (1778; 78x62cm; 320x244pix, 14kb)
— Storfyrste Paul, senere Zar Paul I (1764, 61x49cm; 320x251pix, 15kb) _ Pavel Petrovich [01 Oct 1754 – 23 Mar 1801] was the son of Peter III [21 Feb 1728 – 18 Jul 1762] and Catherine II the Great [02 May 1729– 17 Nov 1796], who took power on 09 July 1762 from mentally feeble Peter III, who had reigned from 05 January 1762, (and had him assassinated) and marginalized Paul, who nevertheless succeeded her at her death and reversed many of her policies. His disastrous reign was ended when high officials, with the tacit approval of his son Alexander I [23 Dec 1777 – 01 Dec 1825], assassinated him, whereupon Alexander became tsar, as had been Catherine the Great's intention in the first place.
Born on 23 May 1683: Antoine
Pesne, French painter active in Prussia, who died on 05 August
— Pesne studied under his father, the portrait painter Thomas Pesne [1653–1727], and his maternal great-uncle, Charles de La Fosse. In 1703, as a student at the Académie Royale, he would have won the Prix de Rome with his Moses and the Daughters of Jethro, had not Jules Hardouin Mansart, adviser to the Académie, deemed all entries that year unworthy. Nevertheless Pesne left for Italy, making the acquaintance of Jean Raoux in Venice and being allowed the use of a studio in Rome by Charles Poërson, Director of the Académie de France. While in Venice, Pesne painted the portrait of Friedrich Ernst von Knyphausen (destroyed in 1893), a lively work indebted to Veronese that is said to have decided King Frederick I of Prussia to invite Pesne to Berlin.
Antoine Pesne was born in Paris into the family of the painter T. Pesne. Antoine received his first lessons in art from his father, later he studied in the Academy and from his gifted and resourceful uncle, Charles de la Fosse [1636-1716]. In 1710-1711 Antoine made an extensive tour of Italy. He came to Berlin in 1711 to teach art to Prince Frederick and his more artistically talented younger brother. Soon Pesne became a court painter of the Prussian king and remained a highly esteemed and highly paid figure at Berlin’s court for over 46 years. Pesne painted portraits, historical and religious subjects, executed monumental decorative works. In 1720, he became a member of the Paris Academy of Arts. In 1722-1724, Pesne went to England. He was also the director of the Berlin Academy. The artist died in Berlin.
— Pesne's students included Georg Wenceslaus Knobelsdorff, Philip von Mercier, Bernhard Rode, Anna Dorothea Therbusch.
Self-portrait with Daughters (1754, 167x150cm) _ Pesne was a painter of portraits and historical subjects at the court of Prussia, contributing to the French influences at the court of Frederick II. He also painted portraits at many other francophile German courts.
— Fortune Teller (1710, 222x218cm)
— Baron von Erlach with His Family (1711, 288x317cm) _ detail _ Sigismund von Erlach [1661-1722], was a military specialist; since 1699 he was the ambassador of the Prussian Elector in Switzerland; later he was a Hofmarschall of the Prussian court. He wrote the book Grundlehren des Krieges und ihre Anwendung auf die Taktik und die Mannszucht der preussischen Truppen. In the portrait the baron wears the Prussian Order of the Black Eagle. This portrait was the first work by Pesne in Berlin.
— Johann Melhior Dinglinger (1721, 149x110 cm) _ Johann Melchior Dinglinger [1664-1731], a famous Dresden jeweler, born in Biberach and trained as goldsmith in Ulm. From 1698, he was a court jeweler of the Saxon Elector and King of Poland Augustus II the Strong [1670-1733]. He is an outstanding master of decorative art of the Baroque. Today Dinglinger's reputation as one of the world's most famous goldsmiths, on par with Benvenuto Cellini and Carl Fabergé, is taken for granted. In this portrait Dinglinger is with a cup of his making known as Bath of Diana.
— Maria Susanna Dinglinger (1721, 148x113cm) _ Maria Susanna Dinglinger [1698-1726], née Guterman, the 4th wife of Johann M. Dinglinger. Their wedding bells went ding-ling in 1721.
— Frederick the Great as Crown Prince (1739, 78x63cm) _ Frederick II the Great [1712-1786], Prussian King since 1740, was born in Berlin, the son of Frederick William I and Sophia-Dorothea, daughter of George I of Great Britain. Pesne painted the portrait in 1739, the 27-year old prince Frederick II is wearing the Order of the Black Eagle, which was founded by his grandfather Frederick I in 1701. The painter foreshortened the prince’s large nose.
— Frederick II (1743, 234x161cm) _ After Frederick became king he never sat for artists and made sure that no portrait of himself was ever in sight at any royal residence. This second portrait of Frederick II by Pesne, made for Catherine II, dates to 1743. In this portrait Frederick II holds a field-marshall’s baton and wears the Russian Order of St. Andrew, which he received in 1740. This portrait was probably made on the basis of the first portrait.
— Birth of Christ (1745, 48x72cm)
— The Dancer Barbara Campanini, Called Barbarina (1745, 221x40cm) _ Barbara Campanini (1721-1799) known as Barnarina, was an Italian dancer with European fame. In 1739, she successfully performed in Paris, and then went to London for a still more triumphant career. By 1744, she was a famous dancer in Venice, and Frederick II the Great invited her to dance at the Berlin Opera from 1744 to 1748. This portrait of Barbarina was commissioned by Frederick and was originally installed behind his desk in his oval white and gold study at the Berlin Palace. The dancer's marriage to the son of the Prussian High Chancellor incurred the king's rage. Upon her divorce, Barbarina was given the title of Countess of Campanini.
— The Actress Babette Cochois (1750)
— Marianne Cochois (1750, 78x107cm) _ Marianne Cochois, a French dancer, was the premičre danseuse at the Berlin Opera since 1742. Frederick II the Great, Prussian king since 1740, found her equal to Terpsichore, muse of the Dance. She was the younger sister of Babette Cochois, dramatic actress.
— A Man (66x56cm)
— Luise Eleonore von Wreech, née von Schöning [1708-1784] (1737; 804x685pix, 37kb)
— Albertine (?) von der Marwitz [1718–] (1738; 871x786pix, 38kb)
— Frau von dem Bussche (1719; 828x698pix, 44kb)
— Dorothea Luise von Wittenhorst-Sonsfeld [1681-1746] (1715; 609x532pix, 17kb)
— Poetry surrounded by puti (462x1052pix, 55kb)
— Iris on the Rainbow (797x1031pix, 94kb)
— Puto (Hymen) carrying a torch (798x638pix, 30kb)
— Venus and Cupid (1742; 520x772pix, 30kb)
— Prometheus steals Fire from the Sun's Chariot (432x891pix, 30kb)
— Flirting at a Masked Ball (874x1378pix, 171kb — ZOOM to 875x1898pix, 142kb)
Died on 23 May 1648: Louis
Le Nain, French Baroque
painter born in 1593 (1603?), brother of Antoine
Le Nain [1588 25 May 1648] and Mathieu
Le Nain le Chevalier [1607 20 Apr 1677]. All
three worked together and their individual works cannot be distinguished.
There were three brothers of this name, all born in Laon. Antoine was in Paris from 1629 and his two brothers Louis and Mathieu from 1630. They had established a common workshop in Paris. They remained unmarried and are traditionally said to have worked in harmony, often collaborating on the same picture. The "Le Nain problem" of determining which of them painted what is complicated because no signed work bears a first initial and no work completed after 1648 is dated. Evaluation of the three personalities early in the 20th century was therefore based on the dubious establishment of three stylistic groups. Art scholars today no longer try to attribute individual works, and the three brothers are treated as a single artist.
In spite of intensive study, the oeuvre of the three Le Nain brothers Louis, Antoine, and Mathieu remains difficult to attribute with complete assurance. Born in Laon in northern France to a family of property but of peasant origins, the brothers all elected an artistic career, moving to Paris by 1629. There they worked together in the same studio, collaborated on some works, and signed their paintings simply Le Nain. They were not only genre painters but produced portraits, mythologies, and religious pictures as well. They were patronized by the aristocracy and their paintings were prized by connoisseurs. The brothers participated in the first session of the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture in 1648. Both Antoine and Louis died that same year, presumably victims of a contagious disease. Mathieu is the youngest and best documented of the brothers, but information on Antoine and Louis is oflen too vague for firm distinctions. However, Louis has been traditionally assigned the peasant scenes which depict people with round, heavy faces and a melancholy air (The Cart, 1641, and Peasant Meal, 1642). His technique is more fluent, his work has more breadth, and his somber color schemes reflect a serious, thoughtful temperament. The Le Nains refused to embrace the prevailing tenets of French classicism, adhering rather to the realist tradition by portraying ordinary people from their provincial boyhood. As painters of reality, their work remains fundamental to the artistic heritage of France.
Brothers Antoine, Louis, and Mathieu Le Nain were born at Laon but had all moved to Paris by 1630. The traditional birth-dates for Antoine and Louis are 1588 and 1593, respectively, but it is now thought that they were born shortly before and shortly after 1600, so that all three brothers were of much the same generation. Mathieu was made painter to the city of Paris in 1633, and all three were foundation members of the Academy in 1648. Apart from this, little is known of their careers and the assigning of works to one or the other of them is fraught with difficulty and controversy, for such paintings as are signed bear only their surname, and of those that are dated none is later than 1648, when all were still alive. The finest and most original works associated with the brothers powerful and dignified genre scenes of peasants are conventionally given to Louis; Antoine is credited with a group of small-scale and richly colored family scenes, mainly on copper; and in a third group, attributed to Mathieu, are paintings of more eclectic style, chiefly portraits and group portraits in a manner suggesting influence from Holland. The brothers are also said to have collaborated on religious works. In 1978-1979 a major exhibition in Paris brought together most of the pictures associated with the brothers, but it raised as many problems as it solved. It also confirmed the stature of Louis, whose sympathetic and unaffected peasant scenes are the main reason why the Le Nains have attracted so much attention. It has recently been proposed that the traditional description of the figures in these paintings as 'peasants' is a misnomer (they are said to be too well dressed for that) and that in fact they represent members of the bourgeoisie.
The Supper at Emmaus (1645, 75x92cm)
Four Figures at Table (1635, 46x55cm) _ The early years of the three Le Nain brothers, Antoine, Louis and Mathieu, are ill-documented, and their individual artistic identities are submerged under the surname with which they signed their works. They were born in Laon between 1600 and 1610 and were working in Paris by 1629; Antoine and Louis died within two days of each other in May 1648 but Mathieu survived until 1677. All three became members of the French Royal Academy at its formation in 1648. In circumstances which have not yet been clarified, Mathieu seems to have enjoyed the personal protection of Louis XIV for 'his services in the armies of the King', and from 1658 aspired to the nobility.
Although the Le Nain first made their reputation with large-scale mythological and allegorical compositions and altarpieces (many of which were lost during the French Revolution) and continued to receive commissions of this type, they are now chiefly known for their small and striking paintings of 'low-life', especially those depicting peasants. Recent scholarship has associated their new kind of realistic rustic genre, neither romanticising nor satirising country dwellers, with an emergent class of bourgeois landowners whose ideals of the dignity of agricultural labour and of the partnership between owners of land and tenant farmers they seem to reflect.
Four Figures at Table is one of many 'peasant meals' painted by the Le Nain. The strong light falling from the upper left emphasises the darkness and stillness of the humble but respectable interior - brightened only by the well-washed linen - at the same time as it delineates form, texture and expression. It has been suggested that the picture depicts the Three Ages, the old woman's lined face, marked by resignation, contrasting with the interrogatory glance of the young woman, the wide-eyed eagerness or apprehension of the little girl and the contented indifference of the boy cutting the bread. But an allegorical interpretation seems neither necessary nor probable; the painting speaks to us directly of shared human destiny, borne with dignity.
looks like a pentimento, a painter's change of mind, in the face of the
little boy has been revealed by X-radiography to be a crimson ornament in
the costume of a bust-length portrait of a bearded man painted underneath.
This figure is not a sketch, but a finished, or nearly finished, work. He
wears a ruff and a grey doublet with cream braiding. Whether the sitter
refused the portrait, or was painted in preparation for a larger picture
or an engraving, we do not know, but it seems that not long afterwards,
and in the same studio, this prosperous citizen was effaced by four country
people at their frugal meal.
^ Venus at the Forge of Vulcan (1641, 150x117cm) _ It is unusual for this often repeated mythological subject to be treated as a genre piece, although this occurs in Velázquez's celebrated The Forge of Vulcan (1630). The problem of collaboration of the three Le Nain brothers is highlighted in the Venus at the Forge of Vulcan. It is dated 1641 which was during the last period when all three brothers were alive. In this painting the figure of Venus herself seems an uneasy adaptation of a Renaissance model. Perhaps including an obvious quotation was the artist's way of making it plain to the client that the picture had a well-known precedent.
The rest of the picture, however, reveals great powers of observation. Especially perceptive are the two figures in the background, silhouetted against the light of the furnace. In all the French art of the seventeenth century, this is the first time that a painter has been able to observe nature without adding mannerisms of his own: even Georges de La Tour at his most realistic created an artificial world in which everything was secondary to his fascination with candlelight. Here, the figure on the left glances towards Venus in a completely natural way, and it is this naturalism, which occurs again and again in parts of their pictures, that sets the Le Nain brothers apart from all their French contemporaries.
Blacksmith at His Forge (69x57cm) _ The Venus at the Forge of Vulcan and the Blacksmith at His Forge are close in style, in the latter the artist simply removed Venus and painted a straightforward genre picture in which he could concentrate on the most sympathetic rendering of men working in a forge. The smith himself looks towards the spectator as if he has been disturbed by the artist and asked to hold the pose while a photograph is taken. The other figures look in different directions, exactly as a group of people will do today when caught unawares by the camera. Especially perceptive is the depiction of the seated old man on the right - he is staring into space exactly as many old people tend to do, particularly when they are preoccupied with something which is not part of the event in front of them. The gazes of the three children are alert but lacking the concentration of the adults. Thus the painters of this picture have observed, for the first time in French painting, a 'slice of life'. The depiction of the better-off peasantry is interesting from a sociological point of view because there are so few renderings of that class, but, even more important, it showed that masterpieces could be produced from humble material. This realistic treatment of 'low' subjects was not to be found again in French art until Courbet in the nineteenth century.
Peasants at their Cottage Door (1645, 55x68cm) _ In this painting the approach is unusually stark for the Le Nain brothers. Instead of a landscape background, there is a two-storey house belonging to the peasants, whose relative prosperity is indicated by the glass in the windows (all over Europe at this time many of the poorer classes lived in conditions far more primitive than those recorded by the Le Nain brothers). This unassuming picture is one of the most perceptive paintings to be produced in the 1640s. As in the Forge, the treatment of the low-life subject is given a totally unexpected dignity. The boy on the right and the old man next to him stare through us into space, and together they counterbalance the large area of pale stone of the house behind them. Into their expressions the artist have distilled a timelessness as far removed from anecdote as possible. Whereas in Georges de La Tour this timelessness is easier to understand because of the spiritual content of his subjects, in the depiction of a peasant's face it is rare for the artist not to be interested in telling a story, but simply to be observing what he sees. This approach, which was to preoccupy many of the most important painters of the nineteenth century, from Courbet to the Impressionists, was an anachronism in the seventeenth century and the reason why the Le Nain brothers were so untypical of artists of their time.
Landscape with Peasants and a Chapel (41x55cm) _ Like their peasant scenes, the landscapes of the Le Nain brothers are careful observations of what they saw, rather than derivations from other painters' works. An example is this painting, in which, although figures dominate the foreground, the main effort has been concentrated on the landscape. In the distance there is a large village with traces of its decaying fortifications, and a small Gothic chapel outside its walls. Such a sight may still be seen today, in the remoter parts of northern and eastern France. Again, the Le Nain brothers have told us what the people and the landscape of the time looked like.
Family (1640, 113x160cm) _ This painting is the collective work of Louis
and Antoine Le Nain. The three brothers produced their work collectively.
This is supported by the fact that they never used any other form of signature
but 'Le Nain', as a kind of studio stamp. It explains the existence of complex
pictures where brilliant passages of paintings are to be found alongside
mediocre areas executed by assistants or students. But there are also others
of a high level where the brothers worked alone or with each other, without
help from outsiders. The Louvre has two paintings depicting peasant families
by Le Nain, one of them is an austere and virile work. This one, however,
strikes a note of profound intimacy, a warmth of spirit, like the atmosphere
of a domestic festivity. The general harmony of greys and browns is in keeping
with the spirit of austerity reigning in French painting in the time of
Louis XIII. Unlike the Flemings, who made their scenes of rustic life an
occasion for depicting the unleashing of the coarsest sensual instincts,
Louis Le Nain saw in the peasant soul a profound gravity, even solemnity;
the expression of a life of toil whose hard realities have bestowed on it
a sense of its own dignity. The paint quality is flowing and rich, with
touches of impasto used not simply for effect, as in the work of
Frans Hals, but giving proof of a sensitive brush, searching out the
modelling with attention and feeling. Several early copies give evidence
of the paintings reputation.
Peasant Interior (1642, 56x65cm) _ In the pictures of peasant interiors by the Le Nain brothers there is as much diversity as in the exterior scenes, and attempts have een made to group them round each of the brothers. The categories into which they have been divided make sense, even if no name can convincingly attached to each one. Closest to the Dutch models, especially to the art of Jan Miense Molenaer, is the group of peasant scenes painted on a minute scale. One of the best is the Peasant Interior signed 'Lenain fecit' and dated 1642. Although exquisitely painted, the figures seem to be in a very curious spatial relationship with one another; the mother seems far too small and the children far too big. All their expressions are lively and alert and, as usual in Le Nain, they look in different directions, as if caught by surprise.
The Peasant Meal (1642, 97x122cm) _ The Louvre has two paintings depicting peasant families by Le Nain. This one of them is an austere and virile work. The other one, however, strikes a note of profound intimacy, a warmth of spirit, like the atmosphere of a domestic festivity.
Smokers in an Interior (1643, 117x137cm) _ Not all the Le Nain genre scenes depict peasants. Some of them show middle-class sitters, even rarer in art than the depiction of the poor. It is one of these larger 'bourgeois compositions' which admits the Le Nain brothers into that small group of painters capable of creating a masterpiece. This is the Smokers in an Interior in the Louvre, dated 1643. Its technique must have been learned during the painting of the Forge, but the brushwork is far more precise. The composition is much less original, being closer to the type familiar from the Dutch. The figures are grouped round a table illuminated by a solitary candle, and the figure on the left has fallen asleep at the table.
In this painting it seems that the depiction of low life here middle-class men smoking in an interior has risen beyond its normal pictorial limitations to create a masterpiece which is, perforce, unexpected. While Nicolas Poussin was obsessed with the concept of beauty and with the need to be able to paint exactly what he thought, here the painter's desire arises from an opposite need, the need to observe. Each of the models appears to be a portrait, although it is difficult to explain why the sitters should have chosen to be depicted with such casualness.
There is no clue to the possibility of a confraternity, although the curious emblems on the carpet on the table could be symbols of some secret society. The eerie quality of the picture is emphasized by the fall of the shadows on the faces and by the way in which the figures stare into space just like the peasants in other pictures and the seated figure on the right has all the appearance of being under the influence of some drug. There is no satisfactory explanation for such a picture; it is as if this trio of painters, observers of a small fragment of their times, never intended the meanings of their pictures to be divined. _ detail _ Each of the models appears to be a portrait, although it is difficult to explain why the sitters should have chosen to be depicted with such casualness. There is no clue to the possibility of a confraternity, although the curious emblems on the carpet on the table could be symbols of some secret society. The eerie quality of the picture is emphasized by the fall of the shadows on the faces and by the way in which the figures stare into space just like the peasants in other pictures and the seated figure on the right has all the appearance of being under the influence of some drug.
— 6 ZOOMable images at Wikimedia