Monday, December 7, 2009

Georges SEURAT

This sketch is one of twelve small studies in oil panel (Seurat called them croquetons - little sketches) painted at Grandcamp on the Normandy coast in the summer of 1885. They are Seurat's first marine landscapes. Of this group of sketches, two served as a basis for large canvases. The National Gallery of Australia's sketch provided the basis for Le Bec du Hoc, Grandcamp 1885, now in the Tate Gallery, London.

The composition of the croqueton, painted on the spot, differs in some respects from the finished painting, which was almost certainly worked up in the studio after Seurat's return to Paris. The study shows the rocky shoreline at the base of the cliff, whereas in the final painting this is excluded (as if the tide had come in), allowing the direct juxtaposition of the promontory, a swooping arc against the unrelieved horizontal of a calm sea. The expressive qualities of the composition are drawn out in the final painting: a flock of birds appears above the point of the promontory, a lone white sail can be seen on the horizon. 'From the precipitous coast of Grandcamp', wrote the critic Félix Fénéon (1861-1944) of the painting in 1888, 'the little promontory of Bec du Hoc soars over the quiet, melancholy sea'.

The idea of painting the promontory from above may have been suggested to Seurat by the vertiginous cliff paintings that Claude Monet executed on the Normandy coast a few years earlier (at Fécamp in 1881 and at Varengeville, Pourville and Dieppe in 1882) and which were exhibited in Paris in 1882 and 1883. It has also been suggested that the simplified silhouette of Le Bec du Hoc may have been inspired by Japanese woodblock prints, specifically the towering wave in Katsushika Hokusai's The great wave of Kanagawa from Thirty-six views of Mount Fuji of about 1825.

adapted from Michael Lloyd and Michael Desmond, European and American Paintings and Sculptures 1870-1970 in the Australian National Gallery, 1992, pp.64-67 by Christine Dixon

1. 'De l'abrupt littoral de Grandcamp … le petit promontoire du Bec du Hoc se hausse hargneusement sur la mer calme et triste' (Félix Fénéon: 'A La Revue Indépendante: La Revue Indépendante March 1888', in Félix Fénéon, Oeuvres plus que complètes, 2 vols, Geneva, 1970, vol. 1, p.98).
2. Henri Dorra and Sheila C. Astin, 'Seurat's Japonisme', Gazette des Beaux-Arts, vol.73 no.1201, February 1969, pp.81-94, cf. p.85. This argument is developed further by Françoise Cachin, 'Les Neo-Impressionistes et le Japonisme, 1885-1893', in Japonisme in Art: An International Symposium, ed. Society for the Study of Japonisme, Tokyo: Kodansha International 1980, pp.225-238.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Dunedin Public - Art Gallery

The Dunedin Public Art Gallery holds the main public art collection of the city of Dunedin, New Zealand. Located in The Octagon in the heart of the city, it is close to the city's public library, municipal chambers, and other facilities such as the Regent Theatre.

The gallery was founded by W.M. Hodgkins in 1884 and was the first public art gallery in New Zealand. It originally occupied what is now the maritime gallery in the Otago Museum, was located in the Municipal Chambers in the Octagon from 1888-1890, and then in an annexe to the Otago Museum now the site of the Fels Wing. It moved to a new purpose-designed building in Queen's Gardens in 1907, to which a structure housing the Otago Settlers Museum was added the following year, the whole designed by John Burnside. In 1927 it was moved to a building constructed for the 1925-6 New Zealand and South Seas International Exhibition in Logan Park, Dunedin North designed by Edmund Anscombe. The building was bought and donated to the city by Sir Percy and Lady Sargood, as a memorial to their son who was killed at Gallipoli.[1] The gallery was relocated to its present site, the refitted D.I.C. building, in 1996.

In its long existence it has played host to numerous overseas shows, including Masterpieces of the Guggenheim a 1990s exhibition of modern art, and the touring Tate Gallery exhibition The Pre-Raphaelite Dream, more recently.

The gallery has a strong collection of old, modern and contemporary works, by New Zealand and overseas artists. It has one of the most numerous collections of works by Frances Hodgkins, who was born in the city. It has the most extensive collection of old master paintings in New Zealand and the most significant holdings of paintings by post 1800 overseas artists too. The holdings include works by Jacopo del Casentino (also known as Landini), Zanobi Machiavelli, Benvenuto Tisi (called Garofalo), Ridolfo Ghirlandaio, Carlo Maratta, Luca Giordano, Salvator Rosa, Claude Lorraine, Hans Rottenhammer, Pieter de Grebber, Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger etc.

The gallery's holdings of British watercolours, the gift of F.H.D. Smythe, contains over 1300 works and is outstanding in New Zealand. It has significant holdings of overseas old master and modern prints and drawings, including a notable group of Japanese woodblock prints. Its New Zealand holdings are distinguished by such works as George O'Brien's 'Lawyer's Head from Forbury Head, Sunrise', Petrus Van der Velden's 'A Waterfall in the Otira Gorge', G.P. Nerli's 'Portrait of a Girl', C.F. Goldie's 'All 'e Same t'e Pakeha', Alfred Henry O'Keeffe's 'The Defense Minister's Telegram' Rita Angus's 1937 'Self Portrait', Colin McCahon's 'The 5 Wounds of Christ' and Ralph Hotere's 'Rosemary'.

Unlike New Zealand's other major public galleries the Dunedin Public Art Gallery branched out into the decorative arts in the 1920s, developing on the model of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, or the American 'Art Museums'. It thus has extensive and, in New Zealand, unparalleled, holdings of ceramics, glassware, metalwork, furniture and textiles, mostly of overseas origin

Thursday, November 26, 2009

John Ernest Aitken


John Ernest Aitken was the son of James Aitken, a Scottish-born maritime artist. He studied at the Manchester, Liverpool and Wallasey Schools of Art and was also taught by his father with whom he shared a studio in Liverpool. Aitken and his father permanently moved to the Isle of Man in 1911, although they had visited the Island from 1894. A few months after moving to Port St Mary, Aitken built an artist’s studio at the rear of Lime Street.

He was a prolific and commercially successful artist with some of his paintings being reproduced as calendars and prints. The most popular of these was The Herring Boats, Port St Mary, produced by Bregazzi’s, the Douglas firm of picture framers. In his obituary Aitken was described as:

A man of the highest integrity of a retiring and kindly disposition, Mr Aitken’s whole life was dedicated to his art.


Like his father Aitken specialised in maritime art from seascapes and coastal views to working harbour scenes. His first exhibited work, The Grey North Sea was shown in 1907 at the Walker Art Gallery. Throughout his fifty year artistic career he continued to paint Manx, Dutch and Scottish fishing ports and harbours.

The extent of his commercial success can be measured by the existence of three sketchbooks dating from 1908 to 1957, which contain the details and thumbnail sketches of almost 2,400 paintings. These acted as stock books for Aitken, allowing him to keep track of his paintings whilst they were being framed, exhibited and hopefully sold. They also enabled him to gauge how commercially successful a particular view or scene was by how quickly it sold. As a result certain scenes may appear only once or twice whilst others, such as Manx coastal scenes and Dutch towns, might be frequently repeated.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Master Painter in the age of Rembrandt

Gerrit Dou, The Hermit,1670
34 paintings by 17th-century Dutch artist Gerrit Dou, Rembrandt's first pupil, were brought together for the exhibition. Paintings from all periods of the artist's career were presented, including scenes of daily life, portraits, still lifes, and religious images. The show was the first international exhibition dedicated to Dou's work.

The exhibition was organized by the National Gallery of Art and the Dulwich Picture Gallery, in association with the Royal Cabinet of Paintings Mauritshuis, The Hague. Ronni Baer, the Mrs. Russell W. Baker Curator of European Painting at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and Arthur K. Wheelock Jr., curator of northern baroque paintings at the National Gallery of Art, were the curators. The exhibition was made possible by Shell Oil Company Foundation on behalf of the employees of Shell Oil Company. The exhibition was supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Maryport Maritime Museum

The Museum houses a wealth of objects, pictures, models and paintings that illustrate Maryport's proud maritime and painting tradition. The collection at the Museum was initially based on the donations of items by local resident Miss Annie Robinson, and consisted almost entirely of artefacts from or linked to the Town of Maryport. Miss Robinson was instrumental in setting up the Museum in 1974. The collection has grown in all areas since then. During the refurbishment of the Museum in the 1990's several items were obtained on long-term loan to be used in the displays.

Occupying three floors, the museum houses a diverse and fascinating collection of artefacts. The majority of exhibits hold a unique association with Maryport's maritime, industrial, social and political history, having been donated by townspeople and those connected with the port. Two of the most interesting artefacts in the museum are this painting by William Mitchell and the scrimshaw whales tooth.

"A Breezy Day' by William Mitchell, 1863. A ship rounding the outer wooden pier at South Harbour, Maryport"

"Sperm whale tooth etched with a picture of the whaler 'Eagle'. Carving of bone and ivory, known as "scrimshaw" work, was an art mainly from the Anglo-American whaling ships in the first half of the nineteenth century."

There are also displays about Fletcher Christian of the mutiny on the Bounty and Thomas Ismay, owner of the Titanic.

Maryport Festivals Ltd

The Maritime Museum is home of the Maryport Festivals Ltd (MFL) office, a local non-profit making organisation dedicated to the organisation and promotion of festivals in Maryport for the economic, social and cultural benefit of the town. MFL deliver an annual festival programme including Maryport Bitter and Blues, Sea Maryport and Maryport Christmas Festivals.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Ellis Luciano Silas

Ellis Luciano SilasEllis Luciano Silas, artist, was born in London on 13 July 1885. His father was an artist and designer and his mother an opera singer. He was educated by private tutors before working in his father’s studio, where he studied under the well-known artist Walter Sickert. Marine art became his main interest and he painted in English coastal towns. In 1907, he sailed to Australia where he spent time painting in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide before he settled in Perth.

On 16 October 1914, Silas that joined the AIF (Australian Imperial Force) as a signaller with the 16th Battalion. He had served in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (RNVR) for three years and had a strong sense of patriotism, but was doubtful about his ability to be a successful soldier and would have preferred a position as a medical orderly. On 18 November, he embarked with the battalion on the Dimboola, for Melbourne. The ship stopped at Adelaide and the men were given four hours leave. It gave Silas just enough time to:

Dash off to the Art Gallery to see one of my favourite paintings, “Circe invidiosa” by Waterhouse - colour glorious and general treatment most decorative.

The Dimboola went on to Melbourne, where the men disembarked and started training at Broadmeadows camp.

On 22 December 1914, Silas sailed with his battalion on the Ceramic for Egypt, where he trained at Heliopolis, near Cairo. He found army life distasteful, but persevered with signalling, and when possible, continued his sketching and painting.

At about 6 pm on 25 April 1915, Silas went ashore at Gallipoli with the 16th Battalion. The battalion was sent immediately to Pope’s Hill at the head of Monash Valley, where they spent the night digging in under intense rifle fire. Silas later recorded his first experiences in his painting, The End of the Great Day: The 16th Battalion, AIF digging the original trenches on Pope’s Hill on the evening of the landing at Anzac, 25 April 1915 - By an eyewitness (Signaller Ellis Silas, 16th Battalion AIF).

For the next five days, the 16th held Pope’s Hill against the Turks. As Silas recorded in his drawings of that period:

The repetition of shrapnel in each sketch is not a fad of mine, but just the natural order of things: they became as much part of the landscape as the clouds.

Constant exposure to heavy fire during his time at Gallipoli caused Silas to suffer from neurasthenia, otherwise known as shell-shock. On 17 May, he was put aboard the hospital ship Galeka and eventually admitted to No 1 AGH (Australian General Hospital) in Egypt with neurasthenia and enteric fever. Silas was sent to convalesce in England and was discharged from the AIF as medically unfit on 17 August 1916. Silas’ experience of Gallipoli, recorded in his diary and sketchbook, were published in 1916 as Crusading at Anzac, AD 1915. In his foreword, he wrote:

In this work I have not touched upon the big historical facts, but have endeavoured to portray War as the soldier sees it, shorn of all its pomp and circumstance; the War that means cold and hunger, heat and thirst, the ravages of fever; the War that brings a hail of lead that tears the flesh and rends the limb, and makes of men, heroes.

While waiting in London for a passage back to Australia, Silas painted works depicting war at Gallipoli. Three of these were bought for the Australian War Memorial collection, including his piece Roll Call. Silas was one of very few artists who recorded in sketches and paintings his own first-hand experiences of the Australian participation at Gallipoli.

Silas executed this painting in London in about 1920 on commission for the Australian War Records SectionIn 1921, Silas returned to Australia and lived in Sydney where he worked as a commercial artist and contributed cartoons and articles to the Bulletin. In 1922, he went to the Trobriand Islands, New Guinea, to paint, and in 1925 returned to England to work as a marine artist. His painting ‘The Price of Glory’, begun in Perth and depicting the First Dutch War, caused a minor sensation at the Royal Academy of Arts in 1934. It now hangs in the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich in England. He also designed posters, illustrated books and painted commissioned works to hang on ocean liners.

Silas married Ethel Florence Detheridge in London in 1927, and she survived him when he died in London on 2 May 1972.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Eduards Kalnins

The contemporaries of Eduards Kalnins (1904 -1988) gave his art the stamp of "classic" while he was still alive. The "Kalnins legend" is a combination of many notions – talented landscapist, pupil of Vilhelms Purvītis, the first winner of the Latvian Academy of Art Rome Prize, grand master of marine painting, consistent advocate of the principles of plein air and tonal painting, long standing teacher at the Academy of Art, a professional who demanded much of himself and others, influential figure in art circles, a sovreign, lively and wise personality. The hazy grey Baltic Sea marine paintings and the celebrated figural works "Raftsmen", "The New Sails" and "Latvian Fishermen in the Atlantic" have become the centenarian’s unmistakable signs of recognition.

The literary portrait of the artist by Jānis Melbarzdis in his book "Ciesi pie veja"1 (Close to the Wind) brings alive the legend of the old master, just like the racily related episodes of "individual mythology" – the bohemian escapades and the exciting sporting and travel stories. Despite the large amount of 20th century publications on the artist, there has yet to be a serious work of research on the phenomenon of Kalnins’s art and his generation’s relationship with the complicated times.

Behind the openly visible facade of official publicity and the well-known frame of biographical facts, the artist had his personal "territory" dominated by two passions – painting and the sea. With the former he carried on a constant dialogue throughout his long creative career circling around the changes in his individual style, setting himself difficult professional tasks, observing the set rituals of his craft, enjoying and living the painting process itself as well as the concentration required for plein air studies or the long hours of loneliness in the studio. In an interview Kalnins once concluded: "And what is painting itself? It’s probably a kind of meditation when a person frees himself from all that is superfluous and remains alone with his thoughts and feelings."2 His other fateful passion, the sea, gradually became the basic subject matter of the artist’s work.

Certain character traits have united at the core of Kalnins’s artistic individuality: the features of a realist and a romantic, emotional and rational origins, respect for the traditions of the national school and openness to innovation, the ability and will to change flexibly in following the demands dictated by his inner self or by the age. His views on painting honed by long experience and observations of nature help us to understand his feeling for art and his working methods. The dream of his youth, to become a virtuoso painter, was, over time, substituted by a consciously formulated desire to free himself from his acquired dexterity in the frozen-in-time manner.

In his work Kalnins progressed from the intuitive capture of the visible world to self-defined more complicated professional aims. He strove to achieve absolute spatial illusion in the plane of the canvas and to depict the visually imperceptible – the impression of silence and the presence of the infinite in the everyday. His most outstanding successes combine a trained eye and a deft hand – an amazingly precise tonal and sophisticated perception of colour; his perfected brushwork recreates an observation of nature that can be felt in the mood and he fascinates with his ability to transform thematic realities into the appearance of a painting.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Art and Science join to make Awareness of Louisiana's Coastal Wetlands

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)'s National Wetlands Research Center (NWRC) in Lafayette, Louisiana, is always looking for new ways to expand its education and outreach efforts in the community. So, when art-gallery director Roger Laurent called USGS outreach contractor Susan Horton (IAP World Services, Inc.) to ask NWRC to be part of an exhibit of paintings and photographs of Louisiana's barrier islands and coastal wetlands, the answer was "yes." Connecting the science and mapping to the art was easy.

The exhibit, shown at Gallery 912 from late July through August, was titled "Hell and High Water" and featured 45 pieces of artwork from Southeastern Louisiana University's chairman of visual arts, Dennis Sipiorski, and professor of graphic design Karin Eberhardt. A Wisconsin native, Sipiorski showed acrylic paintings inspired by his trips to the barrier islands in the 27 years that he's lived in Louisiana. Since 2004, Eberhardt has been visiting and photographing the barrier islands and using a computer to digitally manipulate her images and present them as collages.

While the artists were documenting and recording their impressions of these fragile habitats along the Gulf Coast, USGS scientists and geographers were interpreting and mapping changes in Louisiana wetland habitats—including barrier islands, such as the Chandeleur Islands, Isles Dernieres, and Timbalier Islands—using aerial photography and satellite imagery.

USGS maps displayed at Gallery 912 to complement the art exhibit included a map of Raccoon Island (in the Isles Dernieres chain) and another map showing 50 years of changes in Louisiana's coastal zone, including changes in the land/water ratio caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Even more striking changes were visible on a historical map of the Louisiana coast, surveyed by George Gauld in 1778. This map, "A Plan of the Coast of Part of West Florida & Louisiana," which was found on the Web site of the Geography and Map Division of the Library of Congress (URL, was contributed by NWRC photo interpreter Jason Dugas (IAP World Services contractor).

The exhibit opened July 27 with an artists' reception attended by Horton and Joy Merino, a coastal ecologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Marine Fisheries Service, who shared information about efforts to restore some of the barrier islands through the Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection and Restoration Act (CWPPRA; URL

Several hundred visitors to the "Hell and High Water" exhibit now have a new perspective on the importance of Louisiana's coastal wetlands and what's happening to them as seen through the eyes of an artist, a photographer, and those scientists and geographers at NWRC who study and map these disappearing habitats.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Fine Art compilations

'Lifeboat going to a vessel in distress' by William Joy (1803-1859)

The Waterfall by John Sell Cotman

Saxthorpe Church by Rev James Bulwer

Norwich River: Afternoon by John Crome

The earliest collection of paintings to be acquired by the Norwich Museum was in 1841 when Captain William Manby, the inventor of early effective life saving equipment at sea, presented a unique collection of seventeen seascapes in oil and watercolour, originally commissioned by him to illustrate and promote his invention. Manby, who lived at Great Yarmouth, was the patron of William and John Cantiloe Joy and set them upon their careers as successful marine artists. The gift includes works by other notable marine painters of the day, including two by F. L. T. Francia, the only oil paintings known by this internationally recognised watercolourist.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Wheelock’s best

Hendrick Ter Brugghen, Bagpipe player in Profile, 1624

Ludolf Backhuysen, Ships in Distress off a Rocky Coast, 1667

Willem Claesz Heda, Banquet Piece with Mince Pie, 1635

Johannes Cornelisz Verspronck, Andries Stilte as a Standard Bearer, 1640

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Fauve Painting in the Permanent Collection

The National Gallery of Art will bring together its collection of fauve paintings in an exhibition to commemorate the one hundredth anniversary of the naming of this movement in French art. In the fall of 1905, critic Louis Vauxcelles first coined the epithet fauve, or "wild beast," to characterize what appeared to be an explosion of color in the work of a loosely knit group of young painters exhibiting at the Salon d'automne in Paris. Between roughly 1904 and 1907, Henri Matisse, André Derain, Georges Braque, Maurice de Vlaminck, and others brought a newly liberated colorism into cityscape and landscape paintings. Working with an intense, unmodulated application of pure color and the bold strokes of a loaded brush, these artists adapted the advances of postimpressionism, creating a presumably more impetuous or "anarchic" manner.

The National Gallery of Art possesses a splendid collection of fauve paintings. Highlights include Braque's The Port of La Ciotat (1907); Vlaminck's Tugboat on the Seine, Chatou (1906); and Derain's Charing Cross Bridge, London (1906). The crown jewel of the exhibition is Matisse's small but riveting Open Window, Collioure (1905), a bequest of Mr. and Mrs. John Hay Whitney. It is the central icon of the fauve movement and one of Matisse's acknowledged early masterpieces.

Two-year renovation of Museum Facility


The U.S. Department of the Interior Museum will be closing Friday, October 30th for a two-year modernization project. Throughout the project, the Museum will continue to offer public programs at other locations in the Main Interior Building on the first Wednesday of every month and the Murals Tour by appointment. For more information or to schedule a Murals Tour call Diana Ziegler (202) 208-4743.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Hull Maritime Museum

Founded in 1912 the Maritime Museum moved to the old Dock Offices in 1974. The Dock Offices were formerly the home of the Hull Dock Company until 1893, when North Eastern Railway took over the running of the docks.

The shareholders' Court Room, now used for temporary exhibitions, is a highly decorated piece of Victorian architecture. The room has a frieze of cherubs displaying the coats of arms of the European cities that Hull traded with.

Hull dominated the Arctic whaling trade in the early nineteenth century and there is an outstanding collection of whaling artefacts. This includes skeletons of the whales themselves, the tools and weapons, as well as personalia, journals and logbooks. There are fine contemporary paintings of the ships and the largest collection of scrimshaw (the folk art of the whaler) on this side of the Atlantic.

The museum also tells the story of the city's involvement in fishing, initially in the North Sea and then out to Norway, Iceland and Greenland, with models ranging from small cobles and smacks to the huge modern stern trawlers.From the Middle Ages the core of Hull's trade was with the Baltic and Scandinavia. The Wilson Line, founded in 1831, began trading by importing iron ore from Sweden but by 1903 was the biggest privately-owned shipping company in the world.

The transition from sail to steam is exemplified by models and decorative arts (glass, pottery and silver). Throughout there are examples of the paintings by outstanding local marine artists such as John Ward and Henry Redmore.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Small French Paintings

In 1969 Ailsa Mellon Bruce bequeathed to the National Gallery of Art her extensive collection of French impressionist and postimpressionist paintings. She considered their small size suitable for modestly scaled modern interiors, such as her apartment in Manhattan. When the East Building opened in 1978, a series of small galleries was devoted to exhibitions from her collection. Her brother, Paul Mellon (1907–1999), one of the Gallery's most generous benefactors, admired these "small galleries that enhance the paintings' intimacy and their human appeal" (Reflections in a Silver Spoon: A Memoir, by Paul Mellon, John Baskett (Contributor), 1992). Since the original Bruce gift, Mr. and Mrs. Mellon and other donors have added many French paintings of modest scale but high quality, a selection of which is normally on view at the Gallery.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Virtue and Beauty

In a visual culture such as ours, it is hard to imagine a world nearly devoid of images of living people. But that was the case in Europe before the fifteenth century when artists devoted themselves almost exclusively to representing saints, biblical figures, and religious scenes. Secular portraiture was limited mainly to likenesses of rulers or images of donors tucked into the corners of altarpieces and other paintings of sacred themes.

In fifteenth-century Florence, portraiture expanded to encompass members of the merchant class, who appear in scores of panel paintings, on medals, and as marble busts. Almost from the outset, this development included women as well as men. Virtue and Beauty focuses on the flowering of female portraiture in Florence from c. 1440 to c. 1540; it also presents several male portraits, Northern European or courtly analogues, and works that relate specifically to Leonardo's Ginevra de' Benci, one of only three female portraits painted by the master. The works of art on view illustrate the broad shift that occurred in this period from the profile portrait to the three-quarter or frontal view of the sitter. Over time the portraits of women also became larger in scale, more elaborate, and more communicative with the viewer.

Monday, August 31, 2009

The Paintings of HMS Tribune - 1797

Tribune Head, Herring Cove

This Engraving shows the frigate La Tribune being captured by the British frigate Unicorn in a celebrated battle in1796. A year later the British would lose their newly captured frigate in a horrific shipwreck off Halifax.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Charles Reiffel

Charles Reiffel had some notoriety painting seascapes like this one in his early years, as a lithographer for a concern in Buffalo, New York whilst living in the artist colony of Silvermine, Connecticut. In 1921, he abandoned lithography for easel painting; but the effect of the Eastern marine painters, notably Winslow Homer, seemed to influence Reiffel throughout his life.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Ferens Art Gallery

Opened in 1927, the award winning Ferens Art Gallery combines internationally renowned permanent collections with a thriving programme of temporary exhibitions. They also run a children's gallery as part of a lively education and events programme that includes tours, talks and art workshops.

The gallery's first-class permanent collection of paintings and sculpture spans the medieval period to the present day. These include European Old Masters, particularly Dutch and Flemish, portraiture, marine paintings, modern and contemporary British art, including video. Highlights include masterpieces by Frans Hals, Antonio Canaletto, Stanley Spencer, David Hockney, Helen Chadwick and Gillian Wearing.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Johannes Vermeer 1632-1675

Johannes Vermeer is among the most prominent painters of the Delft school in the second half of the seventeenth century. Only thirty-six paintings are today accepted as his work, mainly interior scenes like this one. This painting is known as The love letter, which immediately indicates that there is more to be seen here than one might think at first glance. The key to the interpretation lies in the combination of two motifs: a woman with a letter in her hand and a painting depicting a ship at sea. In Vermeer's paintings, there is often a suggestion the viewer interrupts the main characters during some activity or other, in this case the handing over of a letter. The scene is a kind of snapshot in time – the lady is looking at her servant girl expectantly, perhaps wondering what is in the letter. Possibly the answer lies in the marine painting in the background, for in the seventeenth-century language of imagery the sea often stood for love, and ships for lovers, who come and go. The calm waters we see in this painting, and the maid's gentle smile, seem designed to reassure the viewer that the course of this lady's love will be smooth.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Portsdown Hill, 1778 by Dominic Serres

This spectacular scene captures the incredible views from nearby Portsdown Hill. Dominic Serres (also known as 'Dominic Serres the Elder'), was a French born painter, born between 1719 and 1722. He was strongly associated with the 'English School of Painting' and particular maritime styles. He was one of the founding members of the Royal Academy in 1768. Serres was born in Auch, Gascony. He became a ships captain, and around the 1740s, whilst sailing to Cuba he was taken prisoner by the British Navy. He settled in London in 1758 where he may have trained as an artist under fellow maritime painter Charles Brooking. He died in 1793.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Nicosia - 1894

Sable Island

This painting shows a portrait of the barque Nicosia. The artist chose an imaginary dramatic storm setting for his painting made in 1881 long before the vessel actually met her fate on the sands of Sable Island.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

United States Maritime Expansion across the Pacific during the 19th Century

The westward expansion of the United States during the 19th century was not limited to North America, but rather included an ongoing push to establish a stronger U.S. presence in and across the Pacific Ocean. This maritime expansion, driven mostly by commerce, had important implications for U.S. foreign policy.

The Clipper Ship "Flying Cloud" off the English coast. Painting by James E. Buttersworth. (1859-60)

The appeal of profits to be earned from the China trade served as the initial impetus to motivate U.S. citizens and officials to enter into the Pacific region. China was the source of some of the world’s most sought after commodities—tea, porcelain, and silk—and Western merchants had sought access to this highly lucrative trade since at least the 17th century. Following U.S. independence, U.S.-based merchants continued to seek opportunity in China. In February 1784 the Empress of China became the first ship to sail from the United States to China, and in its wake came a steady flow of merchants in search of wealth. During the first decades of the 19th century, U.S. merchants amassed sizable fortunes that they subsequently invested in the development of their homeland. As this trade grew, U.S. traders built a small outpost in China and their interactions with Chinese subjects became more complex and occasionally contentious. The U.S. Government realized that it had to establish formal diplomatic ties in order to protect the interests of its citizens. In the wake of war between Britain and China, and the subsequent opening of diplomatic relations between those two countries, the United States moved to negotiate its own treaty with the Chinese Government. The resulting agreement, the Treaty of Wangxia, was ratified in 1844, and soon thereafter U.S. ministers and consuls took up residence in China’s capital and port cities.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Guildhall Art Gallery - current exhibitions

Paintings by Trevor Chamberlain(11 May – 26 July 2009)

Guildhall Art Gallery is pleased to be showing new and recent work by Trevor Chamberlain, who first exhibited here in 1970 in the annual Lord Mayor’s Art Award (in which he was a prize winner in 1976). Concentrating mostly on marine subjects, town scenes and landscapes painted en plain air , in both his oils and his watercolours Trevor Chamberlain seeks ‘to create an impression of nature and the spirit and atmosphere of a particular place, rather than a precise representation’. This exhibition of more than a hundred evocative and light-filled oil paintings and watercolours includes London subjects alongside views from as far afield as Armenia, India and Iran. Some works are available for purchase.

Born in Hertford in 1933, Trevor Chamberlain began painting at the age of 7. At 12 he enrolled in painting classes under Alfred Wright at the Ware Institute, but apart from this he had no formal art training. He worked as an architectural draughtsman until 1964, since when he has worked full time as a professional artist. He made his first painting trip abroad to Venice in 1970 and has since painted in every continent except Australia. Chamberlain has exhibited widely in London (including at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibitions and the Royal Watercolour Society) as well as elsewhere in the UK and overseas, and his works are held by numerous public and private collections. He is a member of the Royal Institute of Oil Painters, the Royal Society of Marine Artists and the Wapping Group of Artists, of which he has been President, and he is also a Past President of the Chelsea Art Society. He has also published two books on oil painting – Oil Painting Pure and Simple (1987) and Oils (1993) – and one on watercolour – Trevor Chamberlain A Personal View (1999), while sixty years of painting were celebrated in 2006 with the publication of England and Beyond.

Monday, June 29, 2009

'A Breezy Corner' - 1911

The late 18th and 19th centuries saw the development of British marine painting. J.M.W. Turner’s seascapes and experiments with watercolour techniques did much to raise the status of the genre and medium, once considered a poor relation to oils. Indeed, watercolour has an important place in the history of maritime art.

Frederic James Aldridge was one of the best English maritime painters working in watercolour and carried the 19th century tradition into the 20th century. He was based in the village of Findon, near Worthing in Sussex.

Aldridge generally painted Channel scenes and Venetian seascapes to the standard format of calm or storm. This atmospheric picture is typical of his mature work, with its rather loose drawing and predominately brown colouring. Aldridge was also an art dealer and attended Cowes Regatta for 50 consecutive years.

Monday, June 22, 2009

David Crick

David Crick is a self taught artist living in Compton, near Guildford.

He exhibits marine and landscape paintings at Guildford and Molesey Art Societies, being Vice President of the latter, and also in various galleries in England and overseas.

A lay member of the Royal Society of Marine Artists, he has exhibited in the Annual Exhibition in the past and teaches and demonstrates traditional watercolour techniques to art groups.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

123 - 'Boats off the Coast, Yarmouth'

He was the oldest son of John Sell Cotman, a painter of the Norwich school who was famous for his watercolours and his architectural engravings. Miles Edmund Cotman was primarily a marine painter with a style which can be described weaker of that of his father but skilful, pleasing and impressive. In 1834 he started teaching painting in Norwich and frequently changed places with his brother John Joseph who was also a painter.

His work, when it represents purely his own thought and execution, though good in drawing and design, does luck freedom and is too prim and precise. In Boats Off the Coast, Yarmouth, one can not help being impressed by the great force that the two boats convey, while above them a sensational light blue sky in contrast with the misty sea, creates an atmospheric result.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

John Sell Cotman

The collection of watercolours by John Sell Cotman is outstanding. Cotman’s oeuvre divides into distinguishable periods, all of which are well represented in the collection. These comprise his early Norwich and Greta period work (several with related sketches), which are regarded as some of the finest in the history of watercolour painting (these include the famous Greta Bridge with which he is usually identified); a series of magical brown wash watercolours from his Normandy visits; numerous of his late so-called ‘paste’ medium watercolours in his blue and yellow phase, and a series of velvet brown monochrome watercolours painted on a final visit to Norfolk just before his death. He painted relatively few oils, which are rarely seen outside Norwich. Those in the museum show the complete range, from early family portraits to his final, unfinished painting. The provenances of the majority can be traced back to the artist’s sale or his family. These collections, together with sketches, drawing copies, etchings, personalia, etc, provide a complete picture of the artist and his working and teaching methods.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

‘Sea Piece’ by Jan Porcellis

‘Sea Piece’ byJan Porcellis (1584-1632)

Oil on panel

Jan Porcellis specialised in marine paintings. He worked in the cities of Rotterdam, Middelbourg and London. This painting had originally been attributed to the artist Jan Claes Rietschoof, hence the text on the painting’s frame. Presented by Miss Micklethwaite in 1932

Friday, May 22, 2009

Shipwreck Galleries

The Maritime Museum in Cliff Street, Fremantle, has been renamed the Western Australian Maritime Museum Shipwreck Galleries.

The Shipwreck Galleries are recognised as the foremost maritime archaeology museum in the southern hemisphere.

The displays in the restored convict-built Commissariat building feature early exploration and shipwrecks along the treacherous coastline as early as the 17th Century, including original timbers from the Dutch VOC ship the Batavia, wrecked in 1629.

The Shipwreck Galleries will continue to play an important role in researching and conserving Western Australia’s maritime heritage as well as being part of the complex of attractions for visitors to the Fremantle waterfront precinct.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Biscayne National Park Gallery Features the Art of Carey Chen

Renowned marine artist Carey Chen will be the next featured artist at Biscayne National Park’s Dante Fascell Visitor Center Gallery.Chen’s near-photographic paintings portray a realism few artists can match. Chen, though, is quick to point out that a painting can capture much more than a photo ever could. The signature piece for the Biscayne National Park show is a perfect example. The bottom half of the painting is a diverse scene featuring animals and plants from three of the park’s ecosystems: the mangrove shoreline, Biscayne Bay and the coral reefs. Above the waterline, a great white heron flies past the Boca Chita lighthouse, tying in the remaining significant parts of the park. Paradise for Marine Life will feature this original painting, and over 20 additional original paintings and prints.

A native of Los Angeles, Chen was raised in Jamaica where he took an early interest in fishing, boating and marine life. When his family moved to Miami in the mid 1970s, he pursued varied interests like motorcycle and auto racing while running the family business, a chain of Miami video stores. Throughout these successful ventures, he knew his heart remained with the ocean, and he returned to fishing and boating, etching into his memory many spectacular encounters with billfish and other marine life. Eventually he decided to try and capture some of his memories by sketching and later painting them. After years of honing his skills as an artist, he has now been the featured artist for over 200 of the world’s most prestigious fishing tournaments. He is always quick to share his success by working with various conservation groups and other charities.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Public Art in Maine

Maine’s Public Art program shall promote civic stewardship, cultural vibrancy, creativity, aesthetic excellence, and appreciation-of-place through the enhancement of public spaces using the arts. The program will champion federal, state, and private support, and encourage relationships that advance the quality of physical environments in Maine.

Public art refers to artwork that has been planned and executed with the specific intention of being exhibited in the public environment. The implication of this is that it will accessible to all members of society. Public artwork possesses characteristics that make it distinct from other artistic disciplines. Public art has particular relevance related to site specificity, physical and historic context, community involvement, and civic collaboration.

The term public art can also include private art which is exhibited in a public space or publicly accessible buildings. Civic statuary such as monuments and memorials are perhaps the most recognized forms of public art. Music in the park, parades, street theatre, public poetry, and other cultural events in shared spaces also can qualify as Public Art. The broad understanding for Public Art is that it is openly accessible and impacts public space.

Maine’s Percent for Art program sponsors public art for state buildings. The artwork commissioned through this program has taken many forms. Traditional representative sculpture, abstract wall-mounted works, projects that integrate artwork throughout the building in a holistic manner, mobiles, earthwork and electronic art are just a few of the categories that have been commissioned. An archive of the collection can be viewed through the Percent for Art Directory, current calls to artists can be accessed through the Opportunities Directory. The Maine Arts Commission also manages the Arts in the Capitol program, which brings exhibits from some of Maine’s finest galleries to the State Capitol. The Maine Arts Commission is dedicated to providing leadership, being an information resource, and developing process models to successfully place art in the public sphere.