Archive for October, 2010

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Royal Academy Pictures Magazine

October 29, 2010

As an extension to the previous post, I would like to recommend another 19th century art theme publication that can be found at Archive.org, the Royal Academy Pictures, which began as a supplement to The Magazine of Art in the 1870s and then became an independent magazine on its own when the other folded. It later changed it’s name to Royal Academy Illustrated and is still in publication today showcasing artists from the Royal Academy of Arts in London.



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Unlike the Magazine of Art, the RAP just contains pictures without any articles, and all are photographic prints instead of engravings. Most of the illustrations are black and white with an occasional one in four- color. The printing is not of very good quality, but is still worthwhile to study.


Detail image

I’m guessing the early scans come from the American copies, since the dimensions listed below each image appear to be in inches and feet. Some of the names that appear are familiar ones to me, like Edmund Leighton, John Waterhouse, Frank Brangwyn, William Orpen, Harold Speed, and Stanhope Forbes, but it’s fascinating to see names that I never would have known about otherwise, which can improve my research. I’m particularly interested in John Collier and George Clausen’s work. Hopefully I can find some full color scans of them. The style changes that show up in the issues from the 1920s show Modern influences starting to creep in.



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As an added bonus check out these Pall Mall Extra magazine files below, which was another art print magazine in circulation at that time. There’s an ad in Volume May 1909 issue (page n35) that mentions the Miehle two-revolution press that was used to make that very edition.



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Again, I recommend viewing these files at the Archive.org site by using their online viewer instead of bothering to download the PDFs (click “Read Online”.) Zoom them up to 100% and save the JPG images for easier viewing.


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For further reading on this subject and time period in British art look for the book “Narrating Modernity: the British Problem Picture, 1895-1914” by Pamela M. Fletcher. You can read much of the text of it at Google books.

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19th Century Publishing: The Magazine of Art

October 28, 2010

Following up on some past posts of mine regarding 19th century engraving, I’ve come across a few more late 19th and early 20th century art print publications. The first I’d like to mention is The Magazine of Art, which can be found at the great Archive.org site. High resolution images of whole publications can be viewed there online.



The first few issues were illustrated only with engravings, which was the print technology of the time. Photographic reproductions begin to appear in the mid 1880s (@ Vol. 9 or 10,) mostly used for sculptures, and then by the end of the decade it’s all photogravure, even adding a little bit of color. The writing, too, is very interesting reading including articles ranging from ancient Greek sculpture to contemporary Victorian artists and ateliers. If you’re fond of that era and Pre-Raphaelite artists you may find it particularly fascinating, as they have several articles on artists like Burne-Jones and Rossetti. Some etchings and lithographs also appear occasionally; although, those were likely recreations as well. It’s good to see and read about artwork that has mostly vanished from history. Many of these are buried in collections that may never be seen again.


Engraving detail


It is odd reading a magazine article that discusses the particular technique and skill of an artist when the image you’re looking at is an engraving by someone else for the art in question. Still, if you just look at them separately as prime examples of the engraving art form in their own right you should find it quite enjoyable. The names of Pannemaker, Babbage, Leveille, and Jonnard sometimes appear, and their engraving studios were the best available; although, most show no name credits at all. It’s debatable that the visual quality is better in the engraving than a photo would have been. They may be, in some cases, even better than the original artwork. If you’re a student of the inked line, there’s much to be learned here.



Many of the photos that were printed in these later editions also include a name credit of André Sleigh, which refers to Richard André, an early pioneer of color lithography. The photos here, however, were not very high quality, similar to newsprint, and lighting conditions back then caused major problems for photographing artwork, not to mention being in black and white or the later limitations of four-color printing. Note that the deatils here are actual size.

Photo print


Photo print detail

The best way to view the files at Archive.org is with their on-line viewer (click “Read Online”) instead of downloading the lesser quality PDF files that they offer. The files are just scanned JPG images that can be saved to disk for easier viewing. Many thanks extended to Archive.org and the University of Toronto Robarts Library care of Cathy Mathews, who is credited as the source.

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Self Portrait Drawing

October 22, 2010

Well, if you were curious about what the guy who writes this stuff looks like, here I am in my favorite comfy chair.

Approximately 9×12 inches drawn with a PITT sepia marker.

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Studying Édouard Manet

October 18, 2010


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I’ve been preoccupied the last few days with studying the 19th century French artist Édouard Manet. One of the things about his work that I picked up on right from the beginning was that he painted his backgrounds like stage backdrops. By that I mean literally what appears to be a falsely painted set scrim that hangs behind the main figure or center of attention. This could be anything from the forest scene in “Le Dejeuner sur l’herbe” (1863) to the monochromatic backdrop that he uses in many of his full figure portraits, like “The Fifer” (1866.) He’s presenting actors in staged settings. His method of applying paint also helped flatten the space with its patchy modulation, and other subjects such as still-lifes and outdoor scenes were also presented this way. Once I understood this, his work began to make more sense to me. It’s important to see his works in person whenever possible. Reproductions often dissolve the subtleties of his brushwork as can be seen in the detail above.


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In paintings of the 1870s his brushstrokes became more loosely and rapidly applied, attributed to either influence from studying Franz Hals, or from his relationships with other artists like Monet and Degas. I believe it mostly just evolved on its own since you can see this technique appear in earlier works as in this detail above from his painting “Music in the Tuileries Garden” (1862.) Manet left that earlier academic style behind by making his color palette brighter and more saturated. Instead of taking the work to a controlled and polished level, they often look like studies (what Salon painters would call “esquisse.”) Most of them are in fact sketches, and were never shown in public. Examine “Monet and his Wife in His Floating Studio” from 1874 and “Chez le père Lathuille” from 1879. The latter painting was entered into the Salon of 1880 and has a more controlled appearance.


Manet spent most of his career trying to appeal to the Paris Salon jury to exhibit his paintings, but only a few were ever accepted. The annual Salon show was the major artistic event that showcased traditional academic works by French artists from which would come public commissions, state purchases, and notoriety. Without their endorsement any artistic success was impossible at that time.
Wiki Link about the Salon
Wiki Link about Pris du Rome

Reading about his career the main thing that impressed me was his artistic integrity. The Salon was the way to achieve worldwide fame, but he insisted on getting there on his terms. He knew what they wanted to see in academic techniques and subject matter and he had the training to give them exactly that, but he made his work to suit himself and expected the Salon to come to him rather than paint their way. He was a determined fellow, despite the obstacles he faced with public appreciation of his work. However, after his death his widow was able to sell all the remaining works from his studio. Exposition Universelle of 1889 declared the rank of French artists who had best flourished since the Revolution. Manet was on that list, and several of his paintings were hung alongside other great artists of the 19th century.
Reference Link 1
Reference Link 2

Books Researched:
“Manet’s Modernism” by Michael Fried
“Manet and the French Impressionists” by Theodore Duret
“Manet: The First of the Moderns” by Gilles Neret
“Inspiring Impressionism…” edited by Ann Dumas
“Painting Methods of the Impressionists” by Bernard Dunstan

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New Drawing: Museum Docent

October 12, 2010

This is a new sketch from an old photo of a museum docent giving a tour, but I don’t remember the painting he was in front of. It’s made with a sepia ink PITT pen and brush, @ 7×11 inches.

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New Pencil Sketch

October 6, 2010

Here’s a new drawing hot off the pad from this morning. It’s from an old photo I took while relaxing at a hotel pool where I was staying at the time. Cell phone talkers make good subjects since they rarely pay any attention to anything else.

The drawing is about 6.5 x 10 inches on Strathmore Smooth Bristol paper using an HB pencil.

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Hand Drawing in Sepia Ink

October 4, 2010

Trying to get back to some artwork while the other business begins to settle. Drawing is always the best way for me to think clearly on a short project as other distractions roar around me.

Here is an ink drawing on a Duralar plastic sheet, @ 6×8 inches. It’s made with a sepia ink PITT marker.