was successfully added to your cart.

Category Archives: History of Art

Joy and Light

By | Art, Color, History of Art | 2 Comments

image Lebasque painting

I haven’t posted any of my informal series of “women creating” lately, so here is Marthe at Her Easel by Henri Lebasque (French, 1865-1937). It was done in oils, about 1915.

As soon as I saw it, I loved it. Could that be because it looks to me like there is a hooked rug in the bottom foreground? Perhaps! As in almost all of this “series” of paintings showing women at creative work, Marte is sitting next to a window, with its light pouring onto the scene.

We know that Marthe was Lebasque’s daughter. Lebasque is considered a Post-Impressionist, if you are into art history labels. He was called by critics and artists “the painter of joy and light,” was admired for the intimacy of his themes, and his unique and joyful use of colors and forms. Friends with both Matisse and Renoir, he was a founding member (with Matisse) of the Salon d’Automne in turn of the century Paris.

According to Wikipedia, “From his first acquaintance with Georges Seurat and Paul Signac, Lebasque learnt the significance of a colour theory which stressed the use of complementary colours in shading.” And he was part of a group in Paris called “The Intimists” who chose to portray the calm and quietude of domestic subject matters.

Okay, here is another of Lebasque’s paintings for you, also of women at their creative work, though these three are outdoors. This one was painted in 1923, and is called Afternoon in the Garden:

image Lebasque painting

I do love both of these works, especially the vibrant colors Lebasque used. My husband gave me a set of acrylic paints for Christmas, and when I finally get to dubbing around with them, I may well try to copy one of these works. I strongly doubt it will be any good, but hey, you might as well start by trying for something you really admire…

A cold winter’s day

By | Color, Composition, History of Art | One Comment

image met museum dutch landscape

We haven’t looked at any interesting paintings for a while, so here is Sports on a Frozen River, painted in oil on wood in about 1660 by Dutch artist Aert van der Neer (1603/4–1677).

First, let’s read the description by the Metropolitan Museum’s curator:

Van der Neer’s special interest in effects of light and atmosphere found an ideal subject in the winter landscape. Here, the brilliant illumination of the sunset is diffused throughout the landscape by its reflection in the ice.

In this painting we can find applied all the rules of composition that make us improve our own sense of design. The feeling of a cold winter day is created (to me) by the dark colors everywhere except in the sky and it’s reflection. There are only three tiny dots of red or orange in the skaters’ clothing – all else, except the color of the sunset, is white, gray, brown, black.

Look at the repetition – in the people skating and talking, in the rooflines of the houses on both sides of the river. There’s repetition in all the upright poles, the patches of white snow, even in the curves in the clouds.

If you were to outline the major angles and lines (what I call “the bones”) of this painting, which would you pick out as dominant? And if you consider the “rule of thirds”, that tic-tac-toe grid, what do you notice?

And think about balance. What I notice is that the closest (largest) people are off to the bottom left, as are the brightest white patches of snow and these nicely balance the drama of the sunset, which to me is the major focal point. Even the angle of the river’s edges lead us toward the windmill and the sunset.

And finally, movement: there is a wonderful sense of movement here, from the skaters in motion to the small flock of birds in the sky. Your eye keeps moving to notice all the details, and yet the entire composition hangs together. And in a different sense of “movement”, you can feel time moving – you know the sun will go down momentarily, and the dusk will quickly turn to night, the skaters will disappear, and the river will be still.

As my grandmother used to say, “The more you look, the more you see…”

This Van der Neer painting is part of The Friedsam Collection, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in New York, which is online at metmuseum.org.