Died on 24 December 1824: John Downman,
English painter born in 1750.
Born in Ruabon, North Wales. He studied under Benjamin West in London and entered the Royal Academy, London Schools in 1769. He visited Rome with Wright of Derby in 1773-5, apparently intent on becoming a history painter, but by 1777 he was painting portraits in Cambridge and by 1780 he had evolved his most characteristic portrait manner, the half-length oval in black chalk and stump with light washes of color. He exhibited portraits and a number of fancy subjects at the Royal Academy, London 1769-1819, and was elected Associate Royal Academician, London 1795. He practised in the west country 1806-8 and is recorded at Chester in 1818-19. He died at Wrexham on 24 December 1824.
Shakespeare - As You Like It - Act 1, Scene 2, (50x63cm) [illustrating the play As You Like It]
The 3rd Marquess of Hertford as a Boy (1781, 22x17cm) [hair and dress of a girl, it seems to me]
Born on 24 December 1596: Leonaert Bramer,
Dutch artist who died on 10 February 1674.
Dutch genre and history painter, active mainly in his native Delft. He travelled widely in Italy and France, 1614-28, and drew on a variety of influences for his most characteristic paintings - small nocturnal scenes with vivid effects of light. Works such as the Scene of Sorcery have earned him the reputation an interesting independent who cannot easily be pigeonholed. Bramer was also one of the few Dutch artists to paint frescoes in Holland, but none of his work in the medium survived. He evidently knew well the greatest of his Delft contemporaries, Vermeer, for he came to the latter's defence when his future mother-in-law was trying to prevent him from marrying her daughter. In fact, it is likely that Bramer, rather than Carel Fabritius, was Vermeer's teacher.
The Adoration of the Magi (1630) _ Bramer is best remembered today for his small nocturnal scenes illuminated by phosphorescent colors and streaks of light. His contemporaries considered him an outstanding wall painter and, he was one of the artists commissioned by Frederik Hendrik to help decorate his hunting lodge at Honselaarsdijk, and he also received several other important commissions. Bramer was one of the few seventeenth-century Dutch artists who painted frescoes in Holland; none have survived the Dutch climate. Bramer's name has been invoked in connection with Rembrandt's early phase. The question of whether Bramer's early night scenes influenced Rembrandt, or if Rembrandt inspired Bramer's late works, is best answered negatively. The resemblance between their works is superficial. It is safe to say both artists arrived at their results independently.
Died on 24 December 1904: Gustav Bauernfeind,
Austrian (or German?) artist specialized in orientalism, born on 04 September
Bauernfeind originally studied architecture before turning to art. One of the few Jewish artists of his time, he settled in Jerusalem in 1898 and died there six years later. He had great talent at depicting ordinary life and produced beautiful paintings that are considered among the most historically accurate images we have today of the Middle East in the nineteenth century.
Lament of the Faithful at the Wailing Wall, Jerusalem (1890) The Wailing Wall is the one surviving wall of the great temple of Solomon which the Babylonians destroyed when they overran Israel and sacked Jerusalem. In this painting you can see it has been rebuilt but not restored to its original condition. Certain stones seem out of place and probably were in different locations in the original structure. This represents the archetypal vision which has been shattered and then imperfectly rebuilt; and is a metaphor for the human condition. For centuries Christian artists had painted scenes from the Bible. Now Jewish artists were painting scenes from Jewish religious life.
Market at Jaffa Market in Jaffa, now a part of Tel Aviv, was painted by Gustav Bauernfeind in 1887. Bauernfeind was extremely brave to paint in cities like Jaffa and Damascus. Jaffa was frequently under quarantine for plague and westerners could be attacked in the streets of Damascus by religious zealots. Bauernfeind would show up in these cities in western dress with bulky photographic equipment and somehow survive and get his work done.
Jaffa, Recruiting of Turkish Soldiers in Palestine (1888, 148x281cm) This is the largest and most impressive painting of Bauernfeind (available online only as this tiny reproduction!). The harbor is the setting for a riveting spectacle that Bauernfeind witnessed of men being conscripted into the Ottoman army, while their wives and children ran after them into the surf. What is especially noteworthy about this image, and what sets it apart from many other Orientalist works, is its engagement of both the traditional, or "timeless," motifs of Orientalism--the picturesque costumes and architecture--and the contemporary Ottoman world of steam-powered warships, uniformed soldiers and conscription.
Born on 24 December 1919: Pierre Soulages,
French abstract painter.
Pierre Soulages was born in Rodez, France. As a child, he was attracted by Romanesque art, carved menhirs, grottos and vast isolated plateaus. He is a self-taught painter. Though he had been accepted at the École des Beaux-Arts, he declined to enrol, inspired by the discovery of Cézanne and Picasso in 1938. He settled in Paris in 1946 and devoted himself entirely to painting. His first solo exhibition was held in 1949. By the 1950s, he had been propelled onto the international scene, and his works are in the collections of all the great museums. The first retrospective exhibition took place in 1960, in Hanover, Germany. His works have been exhibited without interruption from 1948 to 1995, in the United States, France, Japan (where he won the Grand Prize at the 1957 Tokyo Biennial Exhibition), Germany, Korea and China. In 1974-1975, a retrospective was shown in Africa, France, Spain, Portugal, Venezuela and several cities in Brazil. Working on a government commission from 1987 to 1994, Soulages made 104 models for stained glass windows for the Romanesque abbey church in Conques, France.
Three thousand canvases and drawings make up the artist's output. Soulages chose to use the deepest black to express his fascination with light. While black is the color he uses almost exclusively, line is his principal means of expression, and has been from the beginning. His work, at once ascetic, balanced and powerful, eschews all reference to nature and anecdote. "This rejection of the descriptive," noted Jean-Louis Andral, curator of the exhibition, "is not some sort of opportunistic or circumstantial decision, but an imperative response to the need for painterly intensity that has guided him from the outset." Soulages's compositions are dominated by rectangular shapes constructed on an elaborate play of horizontals and verticals. At first, he painted mainly on paper with walnut stain, solvents and oil. But soon the tipped artist's brush was replaced by the flat brush, palette knife and spatula so he could work the medium of paint to create more effective contrasts of flat color and streaks. The resulting textural relief becomes a focus for reflection: it reacts to the reception of light, entraps and alters it, while light in turn transforms the pictorial space.
Soulages' work can be divided into four periods: the fluid gestures of the early works from 1947, the broken constructions of the 1950s, the monumental architecture of the 1960s, and the explorations since 1979, where black unleashes its light and color. Born on December 24, 1919 in Rodez, in southwest France, Soulages started painting very early, moved by his fascination for the contrast created by black shapes on a white page. In 1938, he briefly attended the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris but, disappointed by its academic rigidity, he soon dropped out and decided to work on his own. During World War II, he was a farm laborer and could not devote himself to painting until 1946 when he moved to Paris. Soulages' first exhibition, in 1947, during the Salon des Surindépendants, received immediate notice from critics and painters as different as Francis Picabia and Hans Hartung. His large dark pieces stood out against the polychromatic works of other painters. In 1948, he participated in the exhibition, Französische Abstrakte Malerei that travelled throughout Germany and won him great respect among German painters. In 1949, he had his first solo exhibition in Paris, and in 1952 he joined the Galerie Louis Carré, which carried the works of other important French artists including Fernand Léger, Raoul Dufy, and Jacques Villon.
But Soulages' consecration came from the United States where the response of professionals and collectors was the most favorable. James Johnson Sweeney, curator of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, visited his studio as early as 1948, purchasing a painting on behalf of the Museum in 1952. Soulages first exhibited in New York, at the Betty Parsons Gallery in 1949, and at the Sidney Janis Gallery in 1950, and he participated in the landmark Younger European Painters exhibition presented at the Solomon Guggenheim Museum in 1953. Thereafter his reputation in the United States was solidified and many of the major American museums showed his work. From 1954 to 1968, he had solo exhibitions almost every year in New York, first at the Sam Kootz Gallery (until 1966) and then at the Knoedler Gallery. During his many travels to the United States, Soulages established lasting friendships with great American painters, notably Mark Rothko. In 1964, he received the Carnegie Award and in 1966 the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Texas organized the first retrospective exhibition of his work. In France, Soulages switched to the Galerie de France in Paris, in 1956, where his work has been exhibited regularly since. In 1967, the Musée National d'Art Moderne de Paris organized a retrospective exhibition, initiating a series of such exhibitions in a number of museums worldwide. Soulages work is represented in museum collections throughout the world, with 146 pieces, 45 of which are part of diverse collections in the United States. The international art world recognized Soulages' career of accomplishment, awarding him the Prix National de Peinture in France in 1987 and the Proemium Imperiale for Painting in Japan in 1992.
Pierre Soulages' abstract style corresponds to the European and American postwar movement, but it does not relate to any school; indeed, its singularity is striking. His canvases have no illustrative titles, not even that of composition – they are designated by the uniform term painting, followed by the dimensions of the canvas and the date of their completion. Soulages thus indicates that his paintings are objects presented to the viewer's gaze, objects inviting the viewer to construct or deconstruct his or her own meaning. But these objects are neither images nor languages: they represent nothing exterior to themselves and have no significance assigned by the painter. Rather, they aim to provoke by allowing the viewer a share of their emotions in the encounter. Frequently, before 1979, Pierre Soulages based his painting on the contrast between regions of black neighboring other dark colors and white or other light colors. His painting is characterized by the strength of its assertions, modeled by wide black touches and by the power that emerges from the rhythm of black on white. From 1979 on, his black tones invade the surface of the whole canvas, which is generally of large dimensions and often assembled in polyptichs. The entire composition escapes, however, a simple monochromatic effect as the black paint is worked in streaks and in flat tints in order to reflect the light. It offers the viewer a luminous and colorful image which is continually renewed.
Composition IV (1957) Green and Black Abstract Composition in Black and Yellow
Peinture 200 x 265 cm, 20 Mai 1959 [reproduction >] _ Soulages is considered by some to be the greatest French painter of his generation (that does not say much for the others!). Nevertheless, he received his most favorable response in the United States. His abstract style corresponds to the European and American postwar movement, but it does not relate to any school; indeed, its singularity is striking. His canvases have no illustrative titles, not even "composition"; they are designated by the uniform term "painting," followed by the dimensions of the canvas and the date of their completion. He based many of his paintings on the contrast between regions of black neighboring other dark colors and white. This painting, in which streaks of black rise in a burst to meet the diagonal at a right angle, is one of his last pieces done in this explosive style, as well as one of his most successful. Twentieth of May 1959, like other works of the late 1950s, combines an immobility of shapes with a striking dynamism and clearly belongs to this second style particularly used since 1956. It is a piece characterized by its rhythm and the dynamic beat of its shapes in space. Wide streaks of black rise in a burst to meet the diagonal at a right angle. The play of light in Twentieth of May 1959, which is one of the last pieces of this style and one of the most successful, foreshadows Soulages' achievements since 1979. It can be compared to Eighteenth of April 1959. It also bears similarities with Twenty Second of May 1959, a piece painted in a static style of the same period. [This drivel does not represent the opinions of Art~4~2day].