27 Jan 2018

Early Collodion Prints

I have seen such photographs before, but never up-close.
This is the recent acquisition, from a young antiquarian and a collector of old photographs.
Most of his collection comes from Fredericton, New Brunswick - on the Atlantic side of Canada.
Some of the smaller photos I had purchased bear the embossed mark of Harvey, 164 Queen Street, F'ton N.B. The studio still exists, but doesn't bear any traces of its past...

Other photo, portrait of some Mr. Johnson and another man comes from a studio of Norman B. Henry in Clint, Ontario. I cannot locate any traces of the photographer, but there lives Johnson family.
Another yet from Belleville - Brock & Co.
My new anonymous great-great-grandfathers.

Beautiful golden tones and surprisingly neutral-to-friendly facial expressions!

26 Dec 2017

Venice at Christmas

Snowy and cold holidays in Ottawa.
The weather forecast is hopeful: cold and sunny, with a chance for happiness.

Venice is destination I once avoided, I did not get off the train when I could have.
It was November 1st, 36 years ago, there was a massive whiff of cold, damp fog and very uncertain weather that hit my face. I decided not to get off, I pressed on and went to Rome.
Venice remains this place I do not go to see, sheltering it from disappointment.

I almost prefer to hold to the imaginary Venice: 
a slice of Josip Brodsky against the Canaletto background...

Like this Venetian teapot and a cup - the melancholic object can be rearranged, moved around, serve many occasions.

Oh, and don't get fooled by the fat crest with two lions back-stamp: this is not England my dear, it is pure China designed in Italy. Lovely nevertheless.

30 Jul 2017

19th c Cuteness Overload?

John everett millais.jpg
Sir John Everett Millais, 1st Baronet, PRA ( 8 June 1829 – 13 August 1896) was an English painter and illustrator who was one of the founders of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.

 His wife was previously married to the critic John Ruskin whose support for Millais early work was probably very instrumental in creating the later success.
Ruskin was a strong proponent of naturalism -"painting from nature only".
He was also an influential social critic and reformer.
I have a pleasure of owning an old copy of his great "The Seven Lamps of Architecture" with remarkable illustrations, such as this:

But the more minor work of Millais I have been reading about is this:

John Everett Millais Its title is "The Minuet" and was probably one of those creating the "cuteness overload" in the 19/early 20th century psyche.

I have just a small print - titled "The First Minuet" and inscribed as Hand Printed Facsimile by Raphael Tuck & Sons Ltd., London.
It is a fairly old print, nicely embossed, spot-coloured  otherwise monochrome print.
Lovely embossed water mark of the printer in the left corner.
I have just carefully cleaned it and now I marvel on the amount of interesting research it triggers.

The search on the subject of the history of the printer is equally exciting.
The founder, Raphael Tuck was born into a Orthodox Jewish family in the early 19th c in Kożmin, near my home town of Poznań - then within the Prussian partition.
Tuck and his wife Ernestine, married in the eve the 1848 Revolution which in the end was another step into the "Clash of Empires".  While still while living in Poland they took to reproducing in the Victorian mode the post cards and other printed decorum.
Emigration to England followed and the family did well in the printing business on the Island.
They mingled well and their son has already become a baron, assumed a coat of arms and continued successfull family business, publishing mostly post cards.

They operated under this name until 1959, which suggests that I basically finished them...
So, to make the long tale short, whether art reproductions or kitch, the commercial art printing has made some fortunes in the past.

10 Jun 2017

Qu'Appelle, Saskatchewan

This small water colour on paper, in its original frame entered my life most recently.
Cleaning the dusty glass opened the expanse of the skies and water.
I set the print in archival picture corners and backed the work with museum grade foam board.
The note on its tattered backing paper is made in pencil, in a nice cursive:

Qu'Appelle Valley
Oct. 10th, 1955

The image, the old frame, the aging and the note have pushed me to a melancholic trip in time.

The effects of the research were very interesting but did not f ill with optimism.
Qu'Appelle is merely a shadow of its vibrant past.
Once a town with commercial viability and successful farming community is now almost gone back to the land.
Once ruthlessly taken from the Cree, it is now a refuse of our industrial civilized efforts. The Laws of Entropy in all natural manifestations.

It is definitely one of the places I would like to visit, but it may not take place in this life...

26 May 2017

Or, perhaps George Smith?

Classical Landscape

Classical Landscape

George Smith (1714–1776)


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