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
Thanksgiving

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)

Tate

Noooo, still rather Bierstadt? https://visualelsewhere.files.wordpress.com

22 Apr 2017

Perhaps another Mount Logan?

Or, perhaps another Lander's Peak?

 

Albert Bierstadt was a German-born (near Dusseldorf) painter (1830-1902).


He became part of the Hudson River School in New York, an informal group of like-minded painters who started painting along the Hudson River. Their style was based on carefully detailed paintings with romantic, almost glowing lighting, sometimes called luminism. An important interpreter of the western landscape, Bierstadt, along with Thomas Moran, is also grouped with the Rocky Mountain School. [1]
 (Wikipedia)


So here it is, a section close-up.
If it is not Bierstadt then what on earth is it???

Patching canvas hole and surface conservation ahead...


















Another of his paintings, the actual "Lander's Peak", one in the Harvard Art Collection, has been described as follows: 
This painting is based on sketches and photographs that Bierstadt compiled in the summer of 1859, when he joined a government survey expedition led by Frederic W. Lander. But the work is an imagined view rather than an accurate topographical rendering. Painted and exhibited in Bierstadt’s New York studio, it is geared to the sensibility of urban East Coast viewers. With its dramatic sunlit mountain range and verdant, uncultivated valley, the painting portrays the American West as an edenic landscape filled with hope and opportunity. It signals the promise of new beginnings, a resonant theme for a nation torn apart by civil war.
Bierstadt, one of the first American painters to explore the West, journeyed as far as the Wind River Mountains of Wyoming. Though he encountered and sketched many Native Americans on his travels, this work does not include any signs of the indigenous population.
from: http://www.harvardartmuseums.org/art/303976
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