Edgar Degas

Famous for his work in painting, sculpture, printmaking and regarded as one of the founders of Impressionism, the French artist Edgar Degas was Born 19th July 1834 in Paris, France. He was the oldest of five children of Célestine Musson De Gas, a Creole from New Orleans, Louisiana, and Augustin De Gas, a banker. His maternal grandfather Germain Musson, was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti of French descent and had settled in New Orleans in 1810.

Degas began his schooling in 1845 enrolling in the Lycée Louis-le-Grand. His mother died when he was thirteen, and his father and grandfather became the main influences on him for the remainder of his youth. Degas began to paint early in life and became a superb draftsman. By the time he graduated from the Lycée with a baccalauréat in literature in 1853, at age 18, he had turned a room in his home into an artist’s studio. Upon graduating, he registered as a copyist in The Louvre Museum, but his father expected him to go to law school. Degas duly enrolled at the Faculty of Law of the University of Paris in November 1853. In 1855 he met Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, whom Degas revered and whose advice he never forgot: “Draw lines, young man, and still more lines, both from life and from memory, and you will become a good artist” in 1855 Degas was admitted to the École des Beaux-Arts. He studied drawing there with Louis Lamothe. Early in his career, he wanted to be a history painter, a calling for which he was well prepared by his rigorous academic training and close study of classic art.

In July 1856, Degas traveled to Italy. In 1858, while staying with his aunt’s family in Naples, he made the first studies for his early masterpiece The Bellelli Family. He also drew and painted numerous copies of works by Michelangelo, Raphael, Titian, and other Renaissance artists. Degas returned to France in 1859, and moved into a large Paris studio And began painting The Bellelli Family, intended for exhibition in the Salon. He also began work on several history paintings: Alexander and Bucephalus and The Daughter of Jephthah, Sémiramis Building Babylon and Young Spartans.

In 1861 Degas visited his childhood friend Paul Valpinçon in Normandy, and made the earliest of his many studies of horses. He exhibited at the Salon for the first time in 1865, exhibiting the painting Scene of War in the Middle Ages and continued to exhibit paintings at the Salon for the next five years including “Steeplechase—The Fallen Jockey”. Degas then abruptly changed subject matter bringing the traditional methods of a history painter to bear on contemporary subject matter, he became a classical painter of modern life. This was inspired in part by Édouard Manet, whom Degas had met in 1864 (while both were copying the same Velázquez portrait in the Louvre.

During the Franco-Prussian War Degas enlisted in the National Guard, where his defense of Paris left him little time for painting. Sadly his eyesight hindered him. In 1872 Degas visited New Orleans, Louisiana, where his brother René and a number of other relatives lived. Staying at the home of his Creole uncle, Michel Musson, on Esplanade Avenue, Degas produced a number of works, including A Cotton Office in New Orleans, many depicted family members.

In 1873 Degas returned to Paris sadly though his father died in 1874. Degas also learned that his brother René had amassed enormous business debts. To preserve his family’s reputation, Degas sold his house and an art collection he had inherited, and used the money to pay off his brother’s debt. In 1874 joined a group of young artists including Monet, who were organizing an independent exhibiting society. The group soon became known as the Impressionists. Between 1874 and 1886 they mounted eight art shows, known as the Impressionist Exhibitions. However Degas deeply disliked being associated with the term “Impressionist”, which the press had coined and popularized, and insisted on including non-Impressionist artists such as Jean-Louis Forain and Jean-François Raffaëlli in the group’s exhibitions and The group was disbanded in 1886. Degas also began collecting works by artists he admired: such as El Greco, Manet, Pissarro, Cézanne, Gauguin, Van Gogh, Édouard Brandon, Ingres, Delacroix, and Daumier. In the late 1880s, Degas also developed a passion for photography. Photographing many of his friends, including Renoir and Mallarmé. He also photographed dancers and nudes, which he used for reference in some of his drawings and paintings.

Much of Degas works depict dancers. These display his mastery in the depiction of movement, as do his racecourse subjects and female nudes. His portraits are notable for their psychological complexity and depiction of human isolation. Some of Degas’s work was controversial, but was generally admired for its draftsmanship. His La Petite Danseuse de Quatorze Ans, or Little Dancer of Fourteen Years, which he displayed at the sixth Impressionist exhibition in 1881, was probably his most controversial piece. The suite of pastels depicting nudes that Degas exhibited in the eighth Impressionist Exhibition in 1886 produced “the most concentrated body of critical writing on the artist during his lifetime however The overall reaction was positive and Degas soon joined forces with the Impressionists, and rejected the rigid rules, judgements, and elitism of the Salon In favour of the the experimentalism of the Impressionists.

Degas held the view that a painter could have no personal life, Consequently Degas became isolated. Then The Dreyfus Affair controversy brought his anti-Semitic leanings to the fore and he broke with all his Jewish friends this together with his argumentative nature alienated him from most of his friends. Between 1907 and 1910 he Continued working in pastel and making Sculptures but he ceased working in 1912, when the impending demolition of his longtime residence on the rue Victor Massé forced him to move to quarters on Boulevard de Cliche. He spent the last years of his life, nearly blind, restlessly wandering the streets of Paris before dying 27 September 1917.

During Degas’ life, public reception to his work ranged from admiration to contempt. As a promising artist in the conventional mode, Degas had a number of paintings accepted in the Salon between 1865 and 1870. These works received praise from Pierre Puvis de Chavannes and the critic, Jules-Antoine Castagnary And his dynamic paintings and sketches of everyday life and activities, and his bold color experiments, served to finally tie him to the Impressionist movement as one of its greatest artists and Degas is now considered “one of the founders of Impressionism”. Though his work crossed many stylistic boundaries, his involvement with the other major figures of Impressionism and their exhibitions. His paintings, pastels, drawings, and sculptures are on prominent display in many museums and he also greatly influenced several important painters, most notably Jean-Louis Forain, Mary Cassatt, and Walter Sickert and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.

Caravaggio

Italian artist Michelangelo Merisi or Amerighi da Caravaggio sadly died 18 July 1610 at the age of 38, under mysterious circumstances in Porto Ercole, while on his way to Rome to receive a pardon. He was born 29 September 1571 in Milan where his father, Fermo (Fermo Merixio), was a household administrator and architect-decorator to the Marchese of Caravaggio, a town not far from the city of Bergamo.[ His mother, Lucia Aratori (Lutia de Oratoribus), came from a nearby property owning family. In 1576 the family moved to Caravaggio (Caravaggius) to escape a plague that ravaged Milan, of which Caravaggio’s father and grandfather both died in 1577. The artist grew up in Caravaggio, but his family kept up connections with the Sforzas and with the powerful Colonna family, who were allied by marriage with the Sforzas and destined to play a major role later in Caravaggio’s life.

 Caravaggio’s mother died in 1584, and following her death he began his four-year apprenticeship to the Milanese painter Simone Peterzano, described in the contract of apprenticeship as a pupil of Titian. Caravaggio stayed in the Milan-Caravaggio area after his apprenticeship ended, and visited Venice where he saw the works of Giorgione, he became familiar with the art treasures of Milan, including Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper, and with the regional Lombard art, Which used simplicity and attention to naturalistic detail and was closer to the naturalism of Germany than to the stylised formality and grandeur of Roman Mannerism. Following his initial training under Simone Peterzano, in 1592 Caravaggio left Milan for Rome, in flight after “certain quarrels” and the wounding of a police officer.

In Rome he forged some extremely important friendships, with the painter Prospero Orsi, the architect Onorio Longhi, and the sixteen-year-old Sicilian artist Mario Minniti. Orsi, established in the profession, introduced him to influential collectors; while Longhi, introduced him to the dubious world of Roman street-brawls. A few months later he was painting for the highly successful Giuseppe Cesari, Pope Clement VIII’s favourite artist, “painting flowers and fruit” and developed a considerable name as an artist, In Rome there was demand for paintings to fill the many huge new churches and palazzos being built at the time. It was also a period when the Church was searching for a stylistic alternative to Mannerism in religious art that was tasked to counter the threat of Protestantism. Caravaggio’s innovation was a radical naturalism that combined close physical observation with a dramatic, even theatrical, use of chiaroscuro that came to be known as tenebrism. Minniti served Caravaggio as a model and, years later, would be instrumental in helping him to obtain important commissions in Sicily. Known works from this period include a small Boy Peeling a Fruit (his earliest known painting), a Boy with a Basket of Fruit, and the Young Sick Bacchus, supposedly a self-portrait done during convalescence from a serious illness that ended his employment with Cesari.

Caravaggio led a tumultuous life and was a violent amd easily provoked individual. He was jailed on several occasions, vandalized his own apartment, and ultimately had a death warrant issued for him by the Pope. He was also notorious for brawling, even in a time and place when such behavior was commonplace, and the transcripts of his police records and trial proceedings fill several pages. In 1606, he killed, possibly unintentionally, a young man named Ranuccio Tomassoni from Terni (Umbria). The circumstances of the brawl and the death of Ranuccio Tomassoni remain mysterious. Several contemporary avvisi referred to a quarrel over a gambling debt and a tennis game.  Whatever the details, it was a serious matter. Previously his high-placed patrons had protected him from the consequences of his escapades, but this time they could do nothing. Caravaggio, outlawed, fled from Rome to Naples.

In Naples, outside the jurisdiction of the Roman authorities Caravaggio was protected by the Colonna family. Whose connections led to a stream of important church commissions, including the Madonna of the Rosary, and The Seven Works of Mercy, this painting depicts the seven corporal works of mercy as a set of compassionate acts concerning the material needs of others. The painting is still housed in, the church of Pio Monte della Misericordia in Naples. Caravaggio combined all seven works of mercy in one composition which became the church’s altarpiece. Despite his success in Naples, after only a few months in the city Caravaggio left for Malta, the headquarters of the Knights of Malta, presumably hoping that the patronage of Alof de Wignacourt, Grand Master of the Knights, could help him secure a pardon for Tomassoni’s death. De Wignacourt proved so impressed at having the famous artist as official painter to the Order that he inducted him as a knight, and the early biographer Bellori records that the artist was well pleased with his success. Major works from his Malta period include a huge Beheading of Saint John the Baptist (the only painting to which he put his signature) and a Portrait of Alof de Wignacourt and his Page, as well as portraits of other leading knights. In 1608 he was arrested and imprisoned as the result of yet another brawl, during which the door of a house was battered down and a knight seriously wounded.  He was imprisoned by the knights and managed to escape. By December he had been expelled from the Order “as a foul and rotten member.”

In 1607 Caravaggio made his way from Naples to Sicily To gain a papal pardon for his sentence. In Sicilly met his old friend Mario Minniti, who was now married and living in Syracuse. Together they set off on what amounted to a triumphal tour from Syracuse to Messina and, maybe, on to the island capital, Palermo. In Syracuse and Messina Caravaggio continued to win prestigious and well-paid commissions. Among other works from this period are Burial of St. Lucy, The Raising of Lazarus, and Adoration of the Shepherds. His style continued to evolve, showing now friezes of figures isolated against vast empty backgrounds. “His great Sicilian altarpieces isolate their shadowy, pitifully poor figures in vast areas of darkness; they suggest the desperate fears and frailty of man, and at the same time convey, with a new yet desolate tenderness, the beauty of humility and of the meek, who shall inherit the earth.”.

In 1609 After only nine months in Sicily, an increasingly paranoid Caravaggio returned to Naples. He was being pursued by enemies while in Sicily and felt it safest to place himself under the protection of the Colonnas until he could secure his pardon from the pope (now Paul V) and return to Rome. In Naples he painted The Denial of Saint Peter, a final John the Baptist (Borghese), and his last picture, The Martyrdom of Saint Ursula. In Naples, an attempt was made on his life, And he was seriously disfigured in the face. He painted a Salome with the Head of John the Baptist (Madrid), showing his own head on a platter, and sent it to de Wignacourt, he also painted David with the Head of Goliath, which he sent to the art-loving Cardinal Scipione Borghese, nephew of the pope, who had the power to grant or withhold pardons.

Throughout his life Caravaggio displayed bizarre behaviour, and courted controvery. this seems to have increased after Malta and Questions about his mental state arose from his erratic and bizarre behavior. In the summer of 1610 he took a boat northwards to receive the pardon, which seemed imminent thanks to his powerful Roman friends. With him were three last paintings, gifts for Cardinal Scipione. However He died in 28 July 1610 under uncertain circumstances while on his way from Naples to Rome. Reports stated that he died of a fever, but suggestions have been made that he was murdered or that he died of lead poisoning. Recent research suggest that the artist died on that day of a fever in Porto Ercole, near Grosseto in Tuscany. Human remains found in a church in Porto Ercole in 2010 are believed to almost certainly belong to Caravaggio. Some argue that Caravaggio was murdered by the same “enemies” that had been pursuing him since he fled Malta, possibly Wignacourt and/or factions in the Order of St. John.

During his life, Caravaggio’s innovations inspired many Baroque paintings and his influence  on the new Baroque style  can be seen in the work of Rubens, Jusepe de Ribera, Bernini, Rembrandt and  the “Caravaggisti” or “Caravagesques”, as well as Tenebrists or “Tenebrosi” (“shadowists”) who incorporated the drama of chiaroscuro without the psychological realism.

 

Rembrandt van Rijn

Dutch painter and etcher Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn , was born 15 July 1606. His contributions to art came during a period of great wealth and cultural achievement that historians call the Dutch Golden Age which was very different to the Baroque style that dominated Europe, he was extremely prolific and innovative. As a boy he attended Latin school and was enrolled at the University of Leiden, although according to a contemporary he had a greater inclination towards painting and was soon apprenticed to a Leiden history painter, Jacob van Swanenburgh, with whom he spent three years. After a brief but important apprenticeship of six months with the famous painter Pieter Lastman in Amsterdam, Rembrandt opened a studio in Leiden in 1624 or 1625, which he shared with friend and colleague Jan Lievens. In 1627, Rembrandt began to accept students, among them Gerrit Dou. In 1629, Rembrandt was discovered by the statesman Constantijn Huygens, the father of Dutch mathematician and physicist Christiaan Huygens, who procured commissions from the court of The Hague. As a result of this connection, Prince Frederik Hendrik continued to purchase paintings from Rembrandt until 1646.

In 1631 Rembrandt moved to Amsterdam, then rapidly expanding as the new business capital of the Netherlands, and began work as a professional portrait artist with great success. Throughout his career the themes of portraiture, landscape and narrative painting were his primary subjects and he produced over 600 paintings, nearly 400 etchings and 2,000 drawings including a number of biblical works, including The Raising of the Cross, Joseph Telling His Dreams and The Stoning of Saint Stephen, he was especially praised by his contemporaries, who extolled him as a masterly interpreter of biblical stories for his skill in representing emotions and attention to detail.During Rembrandt’s Leiden period (1625–1631) his Paintings were rather small, but rich in details (for example, in costumes and jewelry). Religious and allegorical themes were favored. In 1626 Rembrandt produced his first etchings, the wide dissemination of which would largely account for his international fame In 1629 he completed Judas Repentant, Returning the Pieces of Silver and The Artist in His Studio, works that evidence his interest in the handling of light and variety of paint application, and constitute the first major progress in his development as a painter.

Between 1632 and 1636 Rembrandt painted dramatic biblical and mythological scenes in high contrast and of large format (The Blinding of Samson, 1636, Belshazzar’s Feast, c. 1635 Danaë, 1636), seeking to emulate the baroque style of Rubens. With the occasional help of assistants in his workshop, he painted numerous portrait commissions both small (Jacob de Gheyn III) and large (Portrait of the Shipbuilder Jan Rijcksen and his Wife, 1633, Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp, By the late 1630s Rembrandt had produced a few paintings and many etchings of landscapes. Often these landscapes highlighted natural drama, featuring uprooted trees and ominous skies (Cottages before a Stormy Sky, and The Three Trees. From 1640 his work became less exuberant and more sober in tone, possibly reflecting personal tragedy. Biblical scenes were now derived more often from the New Testament than the Old Testament, as had been the case before. In 1642 he painted The Night Watch and in the decade following the Night Watch, Rembrandt’s paintings varied greatly in size, subject, and style. The previous tendency to create dramatic effects primarily by strong contrasts of light and shadow gave way to the use of frontal lighting and larger and more saturated areas of color.

However these graphic works of natural drama eventually made way for quiet Dutch rural scenes and by the 1650s, Rembrandt’s style changed again. Colors became richer and brush strokes more pronounced. With these changes, Rembrandt distanced himself from earlier work and current fashion, which increasingly inclined toward fine, detailed works. In later years biblical themes were still depicted often, but emphasis shifted from dramatic group scenes to intimate portrait-like figures (James the Apostle, 1661). In his last years, Rembrandt painted his most deeply reflective self-portraits, and several moving images of both men and women in love, in life, and before God.Although he achieved youthful success as a portrait painter, Rembrandt’s later years were marked by personal tragedy and financial hardships. Yet his etchings and paintings were popular throughout his lifetime, his reputation as an artist remained high, and for twenty years he taught many important Dutch painters. Rembrandt’s greatest creative triumphs are exemplified especially in his portraits of his contemporaries, self-portraits and illustrations of scenes from the Bible. His self-portraits form a unique and intimate biography, in which the artist surveyed himself without vanity and with the utmost sincerity. In his paintings and prints he exhibited knowledge of classical iconography, which he molded to fit the requirements of his own experience; thus, the depiction of a biblical scene was informed by Rembrandt’s knowledge of the specific text, his assimilation of classical composition, and his observations of Amsterdam’s Jewish population. Rembrandt sadly passed away on 4th October 1669) but his legacy lives on in the form of many wonderful paintings and because of his empathy for the human condition, he is also sometimes referred to as “one of the great prophets of civilization.”

Gustav Klimt

Austrian symbolist painter Gustav Klimt was born July 14, 1862, he was one of the most prominent members of the Vienna Secession movement and is noted for his paintings, murals, sketches, and other art objects. Klimt’s primary subject was the female body. Born in Baumgarten, near Vienna in Austria-Hungary he displayed artistic talent early on but lived in poverty while attending the Vienna School of Arts and Crafts (Kunstgewerbeschule), where he studied architectural painting until 1883.He revered the foremost history painter of the time, Hans Makart and readily accepted the principles of a conservative training and his early work may be classified as academic.

In 1888, Klimt received the Golden order of Merit from Emperor Franz Josef I of Austria for his contributions to murals painted in the Burgtheater in Vienna. He also became an honorary member of the University of Munich and the University of Vienna. He also became one of the founding members and president of the Wiener Sezession (Vienna Secession) in 1897 where he remained until 1908. The group’s goals were to provide exhibitions for unconventional young artists, to bring the best foreign artists’ works to Vienna, and to publish its own magazine to showcase members’ work.The group declared no manifesto and did not set out to encourage any particular style—Naturalists, Realists, and Symbolists all coexisted. The government supported their efforts and gave them a lease on public land to erect an exhibition hall. The group’s symbol was Pallas Athena, the Greek goddess of just causes, wisdom, and the arts—and Klimt painted his radical version in 1898.

In 1894, Klimt was commissioned to create three paintings to decorate the ceiling of the Great Hall in the University of Vienna. Not completed until the turn of the century, his three paintings, Philosophy, Medicine and Jurisprudence, were criticized for their radical themes and material and caused a public outcry from all quarters—political, aesthetic, and religious. As a result, they were not displayed on the ceiling of the Great Hall. as a result This was the last public commission accepted by the artist for some time.In 1902, Klimt finished the Beethoven Frieze for the 14th Vienna Secessionist exhibition, which was intended to be a celebration of the composer and featured a monumental, polychromed sculpture by Max Klinger. Meant for the exhibition only, the frieze was painted directly on the walls with light materials. After the exhibition the painting was preserved, although it did not go on display until 1986. The face on the Beethoven portrait resembled the composer and Vienna Court Opera director Gustav Mahler.

Klimt’s ‘Golden Phase’ was marked by positive critical reaction and success. Many of his paintings from this period used gold leaf; the prominent use of gold can first be traced back to Pallas Athene (1898) and Judith I (1901), although the works most popularly associated with this period are the Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I (1907) and The Kiss (1907–1908). Klimt travelled little but trips to Venice and Ravenna, both famous for their beautiful mosaics, most likely inspired his gold technique and his Byzantine imagery. In 1904, he collaborated with other artists on the lavish Palais Stoclet, the home of a wealthy Belgian industrialist, which was one of the grandest monuments of the Art Nouveau age. Klimt’s contributions to the dining room, including both Fulfillment and Expectation, were some of his finest decorative work, and as he publicly stated, “probably the ultimate stage of my development of ornament.

Between 1907 and 1909, Klimt painted five canvases of society women wrapped in fur. His apparent love of costume is expressed in the many photographs of Flöge modeling clothing he designed.In 1911 his painting Death and Life received first prize in the world exhibitions in Rome. In 1915 his mother Anna died. Klimt died three years later in Vienna on February 6, 1918, having suffered a stroke and pneumonia due to the influenza epidemic of that year and was buried at the Hietzinger Cemetery in Hietzing, Vienna. Numerous paintings were left unfinished. However those he did finish before his untimely demise have brought some of the highest prices recorded for individual works of art. In November 2003, Klimt’s Landhaus am Attersee sold for $29,128,000, and plenty of other examples of his work have also fetched vast sums of money at auction.

John Tenniel

English illustrator, graphic humourist, and political cartoonist Sir John Tenniel was born 28 February 1820 in Bayswater, West London, Tenniel had five siblings; two brothers and three sisters. One sister, Mary, was later to marry Thomas Goodwin Green, owner of the pottery that produced Cornishware. Tenniel was a quiet and introverted person, both as a boy and as an adult. In 1840, while practising fencing with his father, Tenniel received a serious eye wound from his father’s foil, which had accidentally lost its protective tip. Over the years Tenniel gradually lost sight in his right eye.

Tenniel became a student of the Royal Academy of Arts in 1842 and was admitted after making several copies of classical sculptures to provide the necessary admission portfolio. While Tenniel’s more formal training at the Royal Academy and at other institutions was beneficial in nurturing his artistic ambitions, it failed in Tenniel’s mind because he disagreed with the school’s teaching methods, resulting in Tenniel educating himself for his career. Tenniel studied classical sculptures through painting; but was frustrated that he was never taught how to draw. Tenniel would draw the classical statues at the London’s Townley Gallery, copied illustrations from books of costumes and armor in the British museum, and drew the animals from the zoo in Regent’s Park as well as the actors from the London theatres, which were drawn from the pits.It was in these studies that Tenniel learned to love detail; however, he became impatient with his work and was the happiest when he could draw from memory. Tenniel was blessed with a photographic memory, undermining his early training and seriously restricting his artistic ambitions. Tenniel also participated in an artists group, free from the rules of the academy which had previously stifled Tenniel.

In the mid-1840s Tenniel joined the Artist’s Society or Clipstone Street Life Academy. Tenniel’s first book illustration was for Samuel Carter Hall’s The Book of British Ballads. During 1842 various Government backed contests were also taking place in London, To combat the growing Germanic Nazarenes style and promote a truly national English school of art. Tenniel planned to enter the 1845 House of Lords competition for the chance to design the mural decoration of the new Palace of Westminster and submitted the cartoon, An Allegory of Justice, for which he received a £200 premium and a commission to paint a fresco in the Upper Waiting Hall (or Hall of Poets) in the House of Lords.

Tenniel began incorporating more detail in backgrounds and figures and started producing more precisely-designed illustrations which depicted specific moments of time, locale, and individual character instead of just generalized scenes. Tenniel also developed a new interest in human types, expressions, and individualized representation. This style probably stemmed from his earlier interest in caricature. In Tenniel’s first years on Punch he developed this caricaturist’s interest in the uniqueness of persons and things, giving anthropomorphic qualities to inanimate objects and buildings. He also began using vigorously hand-drawn hatching greatly intensifying darker areas

In 1850 he was invited by Mark Lemon to fill the position of joint cartoonist (with John Leech) on Punch. He had been selected on the strength of his recent illustrations to Aesop’s Fables. He contributed his first drawing in the initial letter appearing on p. 224, vol. xix. His first cartoon was Lord Jack the Giant Killer, which showed Lord John Russell assailing Cardinal WisemaIn 1861, Tenniel was offered a position at Punch, as political cartoonist; however, Tenniel still maintained some sense of decorum and restraint into the heated social and political issues of the day. John Tenniel’s satirical, often radical and at times vitriolic images of the world, remained a steadfast social commentary of the sweeping national, political and social reforms taking place. Tenniel’s work, was often scathing in it’s depiction of the issues of working class radicalism, labour, war, economy, and other national themes. Many of Tenniel’s political cartoons expressed strong hostility to Irish Nationalism, with Fenians depicted as monstrous, brutes, while “Hibernia”—the personification of Ireland—was depicted as a beautiful, helpless young girl threatened by these “monsters” and turning for protection to “her elder sister”, the powerful armoured Britannia. His drawing “An Unequal Match”, depicted a police officer fighting a criminal with only a ‘baton’ for protection, Tenniel’s work at Punch was often controversial and socially sensitive, amd expressed the voices of the British public. Tenniel contributed around 2,300 cartoons, innumerable minor drawings, many double-page cartoons for Punch’s Almanac and other special numbers, and 250 designs for Punch’s Pocket-books expressing theVictorian public’s mood for liberal social changes

Tenniel is also remembered for Illustrating Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There. Lewis Carroll originally illustrated Wonderland himself, but his artistic abilities were limited. Engraver Orlando Jewitt, who had worked for Carroll in 1859 and had reviewed Carroll’s drawings for Wonderland, suggested that he employ a professional illustrator. Carroll was a regular reader of Punch and was therefore familiar with Tenniel. So In 1865 Tenniel, illustrated the first edition of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. His style was rather disturbing and grotesque featuring dark atmospheric compositions of exaggerated fantasy creatures, often featuring animal heads on humans and the merging of beings with objects and this “grotesqueness” was one of the main reasons why Lewis Carroll wanted him to illustrate the Alice books.

In 1893 Tenniel was knighted for his public service by Queen Victoria. When he retired in January 1901, Tenniel was honoured with a farewell banquet at which AJ Balfour, then Leader of the House of Commons, presided. Sadly Tenniel died in 1914 at the age of 93 but many of his wonderfully imaginative drawings and political cartoons remain.

Peter Paul Rubens

Rubens

German born Flemish Baroque painter Peter Paul Rubens was Born 28th June 1577. He was a prolific artist and was a proponent of extravagant Baroque style that emphasised movement, colour, and sensuality, he was known for his Counter Reformation altarpieces, portraits, landscapes, and history paintingso mythological and allegorial sujects.In addition to running a studio in Antwerp that produced paintings popular with nobility and art collectors throughout Europe, Rubens was a classically educated humanist scholar and diplomat who was knighted by both Philip IV, King of Spain, and Charles I, King of England. Religion figured prominently in much of his work and Rubens later became one of the leading voices of the Catholic Counter-Reformation style of painting .In Antwerp, Rubens studied Latin and classical literature. By fourteen he began his artistic apprenticeship with Tobias Verhaeght. Subsequently, he studied under two of the city’s leading painters, Adam van Noort and Otto van een. his earliest training involved copying woodcuts by Hans Holbein the Younger and Marcantonio Raimondi’s engravings. Rubens completed his education in 1598, and entered the Guild of St. Luke as an independent master. In 1600, Rubens travelled to Venice, Italy, where he saw paintings by Titian, Veronese, and Tintoretto, before settling in Mantua at the court of Duke Vincenzo I Gonzaga. The style of Veronese and Tintoretto had an immediate effect on Rubens’s painting, and his later, mature style was profoundly influenced by Titian.

With financial support from the Duke, Rubens travelled to Rome via Florence in 1601. There, he studied classical Greek and Roman art and copied works of the Italian masters, the Hellenistic sculpture Laocoön and his Sons was especially influential on him, as was the art of Michelangelo, Raphael, Leonardo da Vinci and Caravaggio. He later made a copy of Caravaggio’s Entombment of Christ. He recommended that his patron, the Duke of Mantua, purchase The Death of the Virgin and was instrumental in the acquisition of The Madonna of the Rosary for the Dominican church in Antwerp. Whilst invRome, Rubens completed his first altarpiece commission, St. Helena with the True Cross for the Roman church of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme. Rubens travelled to Spain on a diplomatic mission in 1603, delivering gifts from the Gonzagas to the court of Philip III. In Spain he studied the extensive collections of Raphael and Titian that had been collected by Philip II. He also painted an equestrian portrait of the Duke of Lerma during his stay . He returned to Italy in 1604, and stayed for the next four years, first in Mantua and then in Genoa and Rome. In Genoa, Rubens painted numerous portraits, such as the Marchesa Brigida Spinola-Doria and the portrait of Maria di Antonio Serra Pallavicini. He also began a book illustrating the palaces in the city, which was published in 1622 as Palazzi di Genova.

Rubens returned to Antwerp in 1608 during a period of renewed prosperity in the city, he was appointed as court painter by Albert VII, Archduke of Austria and Infanta Isabella Clara Eugenia of Spain, sovereigns of the Low Countries. In 1610, Rubens moved into a new house and studio that he designed. Now the Rubenshuis Museum, in the centre of Antwerp, it accommodated his workshop and made the most of his extensive collection of paintings, and his personal art collection and library,. During this time he created.Altarpieces such as The Raising of the Cross (1610) and The Descent from the Cross (1611–1614) for the Cathedral of Our Lady which were particularly important in establishing Rubens as Flanders’ leading painter . The Raising of the Cross also demonstrates the artist’s synthesis of Tintoretto’s Crucifixion for the Scuola Grande di San Rocco in Venice, Michelangelo’s dynamic figures, and Rubens’s own personal style. The Spanish Habsburg rulers also entrusted Rubens with a number of diplomatic missions, Between 1627 and 1630, Rubens’s diplomatic career was particularly active, and he moved between the courts of Spain and England in an attempt to bring peace between the Spanish Netherlands and the United Provinces. He also made several trips to the northern Netherlands as both an artist and a diplomat. It was during this period that Rubens was twice knighted, first by Philip IV of Spain in 1624, and then by Charles I of England in 1630. He was awarded an honorary Master of Arts degree fromCambridge University in 1629.

In 1621, the Queen Mother of France, Marie de’ Medici, commissioned Rubens to paint two large allegorical cycles celebrating her life and the life of her late husband, Henry IV, for the Luxembourg Palace in Paris. The Marie de’ Medici cycle was installed in 1625 Rubens’s reputation with collectors and nobility grew during this decade, and his workshop continued to paint monumental paintings for local patrons in Antwerp. Such as The Assumption of the Virgin Mary for the Cathedral of Antwerp. Rubens’s last decade was spent in and around Antwerp. He continued to paint Major works for foreign patrons stsuch as the ceiling paintings for the Banqueting House at Inigo Jones’s Palace of Whitehall. In 1630, he married 16-year-old Hélène Fourment who inspired the voluptuous figures in many of his paintings from the 1630s, including The Feast of Venus, The Three Graces and The Judgment of Paris . In an intimate portrait of her, Hélène Fourment in a Fur Wrap, also known as Het Pelsken Rubens’s wife is even partially modelled after classical sculptures of the Venus Pudica, such as theMedici Venus. In 1635, Rubens bought an estate outside of Antwerp, the Steen, where he spent much of his time. Landscapes, such as his Château de Steen with Hunter and Farmers Returning from the Fields, reflect the more personal nature of many of his later works. He also drew upon Pieter Bruegel the Elder for inspiration in later works like Flemish Kermis.

Sadly Rubens died 30 May 1640 from heart failure, brought on by his chronic gout. He was interred in Saint Jacob’s church, Antwerp. The artist had eight children, three with Isabella and five with Hélène; his youngest child was born eight months after his death. Rubens was a prolific artist. His commissioned works were mostly religious subjects, “history” paintings, which included mythological subjects, and hunt scenes. He painted portraits, especially of friends, and self-portraits, and in later life painted several landscapes. Rubens designed tapestries and prints, as well as his own house. He also oversaw the ephemeral decorations of the Joyous Entry into Antwerp by the Cardinal-Infante Ferdinand in 1635. His drawings are mostly extremely forceful but not detailed; he also made great use of oil sketches as preparatory studies. He was one of the last major artists to make consistent use of wooden panels as a support medium, even for very large works, but he used canvas as well, especially when the work needed to be sent a long distance. For altarpieces he sometimes painted on slate to reduce reflection problems. His fondness of painting full-figured women gave rise to the terms ‘Rubensian’ or ‘Rubenesque’ for plus-sized women.Rubens was a great admirer of Leonardo da Vinci’s work. Using an engraving done 50 years after Leonardo started his project on the Battle of Anghiari, Rubens did a masterly drawing of the Battle which is now in the Louvre in Paris.

Oskar Fischinger

German-American abstract animator, filmmaker, and painter Oskar Wilhelm Fischinger was born 22 June 1900. He is notable for creating abstract musical animation many decades before the appearance of computer graphics and music videos. He created special effects for Fritz Lang’s 1929 Woman in the Moon, one of the first sci-fi rocket movies. He made over 50 short films, and painted around 800 canvases, many of which are in museums, galleries and collections worldwide. Among his film works is Motion Painting No. 1 (1947), which is now listed on the National Film Registry of the U.S. Library of Congress.

Fischinger apprenticed at an organ-building firm after he finished school until the owners were drafted into World War I. The next year he worked as a draftsman in an architect’s office, until he too was called to duty. However, since he was too “unhealthy”, he was rejected from combat duty. After the war, the Fischinger family moved west to Frankfurt. There Fischinger attended a trade school and worked as an apprentice, eventually obtaining an Engineer’s Diploma. In Frankfurt, Fischinger met the theatre critic Bernhard Diebold, who introduced Fischinger to Walter Ruttmann, a pioneer in abstract film. Inspired by Ruttmann’s work, Fischinger began experimenting with colored liquids and three-dimensional modelling materials such as wax and clay. He invented a “Wax Slicing Machine”, which synchronized a vertical slicer with a movie camera’s shutter, enabling the efficient imaging of progressive cross-sections through a length of molded wax and clay. Fischinger wrote to Ruttmann about his machine, who expressed interest. Moving to Munich, Fischinger licensed the wax slicing machine to Ruttmann, who used it to make some backgrounds for Lotte Reiniger’s Prince Achmed film. During this time Fischinger shot many abstract tests of his own using the machine. Some of these are distributed today under the assigned title Wax Experiments.

In 1924, Fischinger was hired by American entrepreneur Louis Seel to produce satirical cartoons that tended toward mature audiences. He also made abstract films and tests of his own, trying new and different techniques, including the use of multiple projectors. “In 1926 and 1927, Fischinger performed his own multiple projector film shows with various musical accompaniments. These shows were titled Fieber (Fever), Vakuum, Macht (Power) and later, R-1 ein Formspiel” In 2012, a multiple screen event, “Raumlichtkunst,” from the series first performed in Germany in 1926, was reconstructed by the Center for Visual Music and exhibited at the Whitney Museum and Tate Modern, London. Following financial difficulties, Fischinger borrowed from his family, and landlady until Finally leaving Munich for Berlin in June 1927. Taking only his essential equipment, he walked 350 miles through the countryside, shooting single frames that were released many decades later as the film Walking from Munich to Berlin.

Arriving in Berlin, Fischinger borrowed some money from a relative and set up a studio on Friedrichstraße. He soon was doing the special effects for various films and In 1928, he was hired to work on space epic Woman in the Moon (German: Frau im Mond), directed by Fritz Lang, which provided him a steady salary for a time. On his own time, he experimented with charcoal-on-paper animation. He produced a series of abstract Studies that were synchronized to popular and classical music. A few of the early Studies were synchronized to new record releases by Electrola, and screened at first-run theatres with a tail credit advertising the record, thus making them, in a sense, the very first music videos.

The Studies — Numbers 1 through 12 — were well received at art theatres and many were distributed to first-run theatres throughout Europe. Some of the Studies were distributed to theatres in Japan and the US. His Studie Nr. 5 screened at the 1931 “Congress for Colour-Music Research” to critical acclaim. In 1931, Universal Pictures purchased distribution rights to Studie Nr. 5 for the American public, and Studie Nr. 7 screened as a short with a popular movie in Berlin, and many other cities worldwide. The special effects Fischinger did for other movies led to his being called “the Wizard of Friedrichstraße”. In 1932, Fischinger married Elfriede Fischinger, a first cousin from his hometown of Gelnhausen.

By 1933, the abstract film and art communities quickly disappeared as the Nazis considered it “degenerate art”. His brother Hans Fischinger showed his absolute film “Tanz der Farben” (i.e. The Dance of Colors) in Hamburg in 1939. Oskar Fischinger continued to make films, and also found work producing commercials and advertisements, among them Muratti Greift Ein (translated as Muratti Gets in the Act, or Muratti Marches On) (1934), for a cigarette company, and Kreise (Circles) (1933-34), for an advert agency. The color Muratti commercial with its stop-motion dancing cigarettes screened all over Europe. Though Fischinger at times ran afoul of the Nazi authorities, he managed to complete his abstract work Komposition in Blau in 1935. It was well-received critically, and contrary to popular myth, was legally registered.[5] An agent from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer screened a print of Komposition in Blau and Muratti in a small art theatre in Hollywood, and Ernst Lubitsch was impressed by the films and the audience’s enthusiastic response to the shorts. An agent from Paramount Pictures telephoned Fischinger, asking if he was willing to work in the United States, and Fischinger promptly agreed.

After arriving in Hollywood in February 1936, Fischinger was given an office at Paramount, German-speaking secretaries, an English tutor, and a weekly salary of $250. He and Elfriede socialized with the émigré community, but felt out of place among the elites. As he waited for his assignment to begin, Fischinger sketched and painted.[6] He prepared a film which was originally named Radio Dynamics, tightly synchronized to Ralph Rainger’s tune “Radio Dynamics”. This short film was planned for inclusion in the feature film The Big Broadcast of 1937 (1936). However, Paramount only planned to release in black-and-white film, which was not communicated to Fischinger when he began his work. Paramount would not allow even a test in color of Fischinger’s film. Fischinger requested to be let out of his contract and left Paramount. Several years later, with the help of Hilla von Rebay and a grant from the Museum of Non-Objective Painting (later The Guggenheim), he was able to buy the film back from Paramount. Fischinger then redid and re-painted the cels and made a color version to his satisfaction which he then called Allegretto. This became one of the most-screened and successful films of visual music’s history, and one of Fischinger’s most popular films.

Most of Fischinger’s filmmaking attempts in America suffered difficulties. He composed An Optical Poem (1937) to Franz Liszt’s Second Hungarian Rhapsody for MGM, but received no profits due to studio bookkeeping systems. He designed the J. S. Bach Toccata and Fugue in D Minor sequence for Walt Disney’s Fantasia (1940), but quit without credit because Disney altered his designs to be more representational. According to William Moritz, Fischinger contributed to the effects animation of the Blue Fairy’s wand in Pinocchio (1940).[7] In the 1950s, Fischinger created several animated TV advertisements, including one for Muntz TV. The Museum of Non-Objective Painting commissioned him to synchronize a film with a march by John Philip Sousa in order to demonstrate loyalty to America, and then insisted that he make a film to Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 3, even though he wanted to make a film without sound in order to affirm the integrity of his non-objective imagery. Secretly, Fischinger composed the silent movie Radio Dynamics (1942).

Frustrated in his filmmaking, Fischinger turned increasingly to oil painting as a creative outlet. Although the Guggenheim Foundation specifically requested a cel animation film, Fischinger made his Bach film Motion Painting No. 1 (1947) as a documentation of the act of painting, taking a single frame each time he made a brush stroke—and the multi-layered style merely parallels the structure of the Bach music without any tight synchronization. Although he never again received funding for any of his personal films (only some commercial work), the Motion Painting No. 1 won the Grand Prix at the Brussels International Experimental Film Competition in 1949. Three of Fischinger’s films also made the 1984 Olympiad of Animation’s list of the world’s greatest films.

Fischinger’s papers, films, photographs, and many animation drawings are in the collection of Center for Visual Music (CVM), Los Angeles, which owns and manages the films. They maintain a vimeo channel with excerpts and VOD films, and are releasing the second DVD compilation of his works in late 2017. CVM also has the papers of Elfriede Fischinger and Fischinger’s biographer Dr. William Moritz. CVM has preserved many of Fischinger’s films including Spirals, Wax Experiments, early tests and experiments, Squares, Study no. 5, Study no. 7, Allegretto, Radio Dynamics and others, and also reconstructed his 1926 Raumlichtkunst project which has been exhibited at the Whitney Museum, NY; Tate Modern, London and other museums worldwide. The Fischinger Trust in California administers Fischinger’s paintings, and their official art dealer representing the painting estate is Peyton-Wright Gallery, Santa Fe.

In the late 1940s Fischinger invented the Lumigraph (patented in 1955) which some have mistakenly called a type of color organ. Like other inventors of color organs, Fischinger hoped to make the Lumigraph a commercial product, widely available for anyone, but this did not happen. The instrument produced imagery by pressing against a rubberized screen so it could protrude into a narrow beam of colored light. As a visual instrument, the size of its screen was limited by the reach of the performer. Two people were required to operate the Lumigraph: one to manipulate the screen to create imagery, and a second to change the colors of the lights on cue.

The device itself was silent, but was performed accompanying various music. Fischinger gave several performances in Los Angeles and one in San Francisco in the early 1950s, performing various classical and popular music pieces, and many were impressed by the machine’s spectacular images. In 1964 the Lumigraph was used in the science fiction film The Time Travelers, in which it became a ‘lumichord’, although this was not Fischinger’s intent, but the decision of the film’s producers. Fischinger’s son Conrad even built two more machines in different sizes.

Sadly Fischinger died in Los Angeles in 31 January 1967. After his death, his widow Elfriede and daughter Barbara gave performances with the Lumigraph, along with William Moritz, in Europe and the US. Today one of the instruments is in the collection of the Deutsches Filmmuseum in Frankfurt, and the other two are in California. In February 2007 Barbara Fischinger performed on the original Lumigraph in Frankfurt, and in 2012 in Amsterdam. Film and video documentation of Elfriede’s Lumigraph performances are at the Center for Visual Music in Los Angeles, as well as documentation of Barbara’s 2012 rehearsal, showing how the Lumigraph is operated.