Died on 28 December 1924: Léon
Nicolaevitch Bakst (Lev Samoylovich Rosenberg), Byelorussian
Jewish theater costume and scenery designer born in 1886 (on 10 May, or
on 08 Feb = 27 Jan Julian, depending on source).
Born Lev Samoilovich Rosenberg. Student at the Academy of St. Petersburg. Began calling himself Léon Bakst (mother’s maiden name), in the late 1890s. Established himself in Moscow and adhered to the Russian academic tradition, taking his subjects from popular life. However, little by little he began to stray from the traditional, profoundly influenced by modern French art. A proponent of the new style in Russia, he founded the group "Mir Iskousstva" ("Artistic World"), but soon left Moscow and St. Petersburg for Paris (1893). Played a considerable role during the years preceding World War I as a costume decorator and designer for the famous Russian ballets directed by Serge de Diaghileff. A bold colorist, possessing a heightened sense of an art in service to rhythm and subject to variations in lighting, Bakst realized a bold and pleasing fusion of the elements of Russian popular art and the values of modern French art, influenced notably by Aubrey Beardsley, as well as by Greek vase painting and the Fauvism of Henri Matisse. Established legal residence in Paris in 1912.
Bakst was born in a middle class Jewish family in Grodno, Belarus, and died in Paris on 27 December 1924. He was educated at the gymnasium in St. Petersburg and then at the Imperial Academy of Fine Arts, from where he was expelled after painting a too realistic Pietà. He started his artistic career as an illustrator for magazines but changed his mind when he met Aleksandr Benois. He travelled through Europe and came in contact with European artists. After his return to St Petersburg, he began to gain notoriety for his book designs and his portraits. In 1898, together with Benois and Serge Diaghilev, he founded the group Mir Iskusstva. In 1906 he became a teacher of drawing in Yelizaveta Zvantseva's private art school where, among other students, he taught Marc Chagall. Bakst's greatest achievements are related to theater. He debuted with the stage design for the Hermitage and Aleksandrinskii theatres in St. Petersburg in 1902-3. Afterwards, he received several commissions from the Marinskii theater (1903-4). In 1909 he began his collaboration with Diaghilev, which resulted in founding of the Ballets Russes, where he became the artistic director. His stage designs quickly brought him international fame. Most notable are his costume designs for Diaghilev's Shéhérazade (1910) and L'Après-Midi d'un Faune. He settled in Paris in 1912, after being exiled because of his Jewish origins.
Minister of State
Nymph another Nymph The Faun [Nijinsky] 17 theatrical designs at FAMSF
Born on 28 December 1883: Abel (or
Abraham?) George Warshawsky, US artist who died in 1962.
Warshawsky grew up in Cleveland and studied art at the Cleveland School of Art with Louis Rorimer. In 1904, he was in New York studying at the National Academy of Design and the Art Students League. In 1908, Warshawsky went to Paris where he developed his straightforward Impressionist style. Active in the Parisian art community, Warshawsky kept a studio in Paris for thirty years. He maintained a routine of travelling through France and Italy punctuated by annual trips to the United States to exhibit and sell his paintings. In 1938, the impending outbreak of World War II compelled Warshawsky to return to America. He settled in Monterey where he built a studio, did portrait work and taught classes. He specialized in figural compositions often combined with the rugged coastline of Northern California. He was active in the Carmel Art Association, serving as president for one term.
Girl in Green (81x71cm) [>>>], was painted in France and shows Warshawsky's fully mature Impressionist style. The figure is carefully observed. Although the girl is posed in foreground shade, the soft light and incidental highlights reflected from her coat and blouse give her face a realistic sense of form. The background is handled in short and quick brushstrokes with abundant use of yellow highlight and purple shade.
died on 28 December 1933: Robert William
Vonnoh, US Impressionist
painter born on 17 September 1858. Husband of Bessie
Potter Vonnoh. Robert Vonnoh studied under Gustave
Boulanger and Jules-Joseph
Lefebvre. Vonnoh's students included Robert
While the best known colony of American impressionist artists in France was established in Giverny, the home of Claude Monet, the aesthetic developed in other rural art centers as well, most notably in Grez-sur-Loing, near the Forest of Fontainebleau. There, the principal agent for the introduction of Impressionism was the Boston painter, Robert Vonnoh. Vonnoh attended the Académie Julian in Paris in 1881 and returned to Boston in 1883, teaching at the newly formed Cowles School in 1884 and at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in 1885. After his marriage in 1886 to Grace D. Farrell, he and his bride may have honeymooned briefly in Grez; the following year, he returned to France for further study at Julian's, but beginning in the fall of 1887, he spent much of the next three or four years in Grez, before returning to Boston in the spring of 1891.
Many of Vonnoh's figural canvases of the 1880s reflect his allegiance to strong, tonal Naturalism, but by 1888 he was beginning to work out-of-doors on bright, colorful landscapes and nature studies of flowers, which reflect his involvement in the Impressionist aesthetic. Indeed, Vonnoh's art of the late 1880s suggests an almost schizophrenic artistic persona; it is difficult to believe that the same painter created in the same year, 1888, both his dark, strongly modeled Companion of the Studio and his several depictions of flaming, brightly colored Poppies , shadowless and pushed up against the picture plane, and executed with slashing brush and palette knife work. But, like a good number of US painters of the period, Vonnoh was reluctant to surrender in his figure paintings the academic precepts he had labored so dearly to master, while in his landscape work, for which academic training had offered little preparation, he felt freer to investigate newer, more modern strategies.
Vonnoh's "conversion' to Impressionism has been attributed to the influence of the Irish painter, Roderic O'Conor, who had adopted the bright, unmixed hues and thick impasto of Impressionism by 1886, and may have been in Grez as early as that year. Vonnoh may also have been led to Impressionism through the example of Alfred Sisley, working nearby in Moret-sur-Loing.
The several renditions of Poppies (such as Poppies in France, 1888) were both finished nature studies in their own right, and preparatory for his 1890 masterwork, Coquelicots, the largest and most ambitious painting of his career. The subject of poppies was a common one in French and Impressionist painting. It had recently become especially associated with Claude Monet (Les Champs de Coquelicots Coquelicots près de Vétheuil 1880 Coquelicots Rouges à Argenteuil), two of whose Giverny poppy field paintings of 1885 had garnered tremendous attention when they were included in the first great American show of French Impressionist art held in New York City at the American Art Association in April of 1886.
Poppies had been painted in Grez in 1885 also, by the Swedish painter, Karl Nordstrøm and the American, Theodore Robinson . And in 1886, a group of American painters, John Singer Sargent, Edwin Blashfield, Edwin Austin Abbey, and Frank Millet, were all painting poppy pictures in the art colony of Broadway in the West of England. At the same time that Vonnoh was completing Coquelicots, Childe Hassam was investigating the theme in the garden of the poet, Celia Thaxter, on the Island of Appledore off the coast of New Hampshire and Maine (Poppies, Isles of Shoals, 1891). None of these paintings, however, were as ambitious as Vonnoh's Coquelicots.
Though Coquelicots is undoubtedly a studio composition, Vonnoh maintains the free, unoutlined and unstructured character of his earlier small poppy pictures throughout the landscape elements, while the figures of the young woman picking flowers, the two children behind her, the distant farm wagon and horses, and the buildings on the horizon are more firmly rendered, each defining a distinct spatial plane and providing organization to the spatial recession of the vast canvas.
Of his involvement with Impressionism,
Vonnoh wrote: "I gradually came to realize the value of first impression
and the necessity of correct value, pure color and higher key, resulting
in my soon becoming a devoted disciple of the new movement in painting."
Vonnoh's wife posed for the principal figure, and for a small oil study
of the principal figure, formerly entitled Study for Picking Tulips
and now called Picking Poppies.
With its vast scale, Coquelicots was designed as an exhibition piece, meant to appeal to its many viewers. Despite the small farm wagon, the agricultural field here is a source of pleasure, not backbreaking labor. The attractive young woman in the foreground is linked in beauty with the brightly colored flowers, a bunch of which one of the children waves jubilantly in the air.
The painting was exhibited at the (Old) Salon annual exhibition in Paris in 1891, and then at the International Exposition held in Munich in 1892. It was in Munich that Coquelicots achieved tremendous renown, the great art historian, Richard Muther, writing of the "gleaming and flaming picture of a field of poppies . . . less like an oil-painting than a relief in oils. The unmixed red had been directly pressed on to the canvas from the tube in broad masses, and stood flickering against the blue air; and the bluish-green leaves were placed beside them by the same direct method, white lights being attained by judiciously managed fragments of blank canvas. Never yet was war so boldly declared against the conventional usage's of the studio; never yet were such barbaric means employed to attain an astounding effect of light."
Coquelicots, now entitled A Poppy Field, was included in Vonnoh's one-artist show held in February, 1896, at the Durand-Ruel Gallery in New York City. On the one hand, the US critics admitted their astonishment at his advanced strategies: The New York Times noted that Vonnoh "has achieved capital results in the matter of vibrating color, light and astonishing brilliancy . and that "Broken color, touches of various pale tones of blues, yellows, reds, violets and other tints, never crude or spotty, rarely obtrusive, give a vibration, a realism quite remarkable." Yet, pictures such as Coquelicots were felt by that same critic to "utterly lack the sentiment and poetry with which the portraits are invested." Coquelicots did not sell. Vonnoh went on to create only one more large-scale figural work set out-of-doors, The Ring (1898).
After many years, Coquelicots resurfaced as Poppies in the December, 1914, winter exhibition at the National Academy of Design in New York City, and then appeared in the Panama-Pacific International Exposition held in San Francisco in 1915, where Vonnoh won a gold medal. By then, the original signature and date had been removed, and the picture had been resigned with a copyright date of 1914. Poppies then was shown early in 1916, first at the City Art Museum, St. Louis, and then at the Memorial Art Gallery, Rochester, in a two-artist exhibition of Robert Vonnoh's paintings and Bessie Potter Vonnoh's small sculptures. By 1919, the work had been retitled again. The sculptor, J. Massey Rhind, had suggested to Joseph G. Butler, Jr., the title Flanders- "Where Soldiers Sleep and Poppies Grow," a reference to the German invasion of Belgium during World War 1, and to the 1915 poem, "In Flanders Fields," by the Canadian surgeon, John McCrae, though the joyous sentiments projected by the painting are antithetical to the tragic expression of McCrae's poem.
Coquelicots (In Flanders FieldWhere Soldiers Sleep and Poppies Grow, 1890, 147x264cm) _ Final title inspired by McCraes' poem first published in Punch on 08 December 1915:
In Flanders Fields
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
Compare Claude Monet's 274 Coquelicots à Argenteuil (1873), Coquelicots à Giverny (1887), Coquelicots près de Vétheuil (1880, 71x90cm),
Mary Cassatt's Poppies in a Field (1878)
Birch Trees (1889, 27x36cm)
Born on 28 December 1860: Philip Wilson
Steer, British artist who died on 21 March 1942
Steer was born at Birkenhead, England. His ancestors were Devon yeoman farmers and shipbuilders. His father, an art teacher, had moved north in order to take up a post there. When Steer was four the family moved to Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire, where his father died seven years later. As a child he had plenty of opportunity and encouragement to experiment with drawing and painting. He came across a book containing engravings of the old masters shown in the Manchester Exhibition of 1857. His careful scrutiny of these left him with a great admiration for Turner. He went to Hereford Cathedral School and Glouster Art School.
In 1882 Steer went to Paris, where he entered the Académie Julian and a year later the École des Beaux-Arts. He had to leave the latter when it was made compulsory to pass an examination in French. So he returned to England, having seen a little of contemporary French art apart from the 1883 Edouard Manet memorial exhibition. Back in London he took a studio, working and teaching all the winter and spending the summers by the sea.
In 1886, aged 26, Steer was a founding member of the New English Art Club, which brought him into contact with Whistler. The club stood firm against William Morris's condemnation of modern painting and made it its aim to use everyday things for subject-matter. Steer was greatly concerned with the visible world and made innumerable landscape studies. He loved the sea, and one of his favorite themes was young girls on the shore. The blurred, misty quality of his On the Pier-head (1887) aroused public antagonism.
About 1888 his mature style established itself and for about five years he was the most advanced painter in England. The dominant influences on him of Whistler and Manet gave way to a clear awareness of Impressionism. An exhibition of Impressionist paintings held in the early 1880's at Dowdeswells was his first introduction to Monet and Renoir, and in 1889 there was another Impressionist exhibition, in Goupil's London gallery.
After some years, however, Steer's style changed. He began to work up his pictures at home rather than paint entirely direct from nature. His color became heavier, his forms more substantial. The painters who then inspired him were Constable, Gainsborough, Rubens, and Tintoretto. For 31 years, from 1899 to 1930, he taught at the Slade School of Art, London, finding gentle phrases for his criticism and giving more attention to his students' sense of color than to anything else. He was influenced by his fellow teacher Henry Tonks and particularly by Turner.
Steer held many exhibitions. His first one-man show was in 1894 and he had a retrospective exhibition at the Tate Gallery in 1929. But although his work was usually pleasing, he failed to live up to his earlier promise. By 1940 his eyesight, which had been deteriorating for some time, was almost totally gone.
Knucklebones, Walberswick (1888) Girl and St. Bernard Dog (1899)
Died on 28 December 1656: Laurent de la
Hire (or Hyre), French artist born on 27 February 1606.
La Hire (also spelled La Hyre) was a French Baroque classical painter whose best work is marked by gravity, simplicity, and dignity. He was the son of the painter Étienne de La Hire (c. 1583-1643) but was most influenced by the work of Georges Lallemont and Orazio Gentileschi. His picture of Pope Nicolas V at the Tomb of Saint Francis was done in 1630 for the Capuchins, for whom he executed several other works. For the goldsmiths' company he produced in 1635 St. Peter Healing the Sick and the Conversion of St Paul in 1637. In 1648, with 11 other artists, he helped found the French Royal Academy. Cardinal Richelieu called him to the Palais-Royal about 1640 to paint decorative mythological scenes, and he later designed a series of tapestries for the Gobelins.
Abraham Sacrificing Isaac (1650) _ Laurent de la Hire (or Hyre), French Baroque classical painter whose best work is marked by gravity, simplicity, and dignity.
Allegorical Figure of Grammar (1650, 103x113cm) _ Although the Parisian painter La Hyre seems never to have travelled to Italy, he was well aware - through study at Fontainebleau and through the work of contemporary artists like Vouet, Poussin and Claude - of the achievements of the Italian Renaissance. He became a major exponent of a restrained and refined classical manner fashionable in the French capital. The sculptural clarity and weight of the figure in this allegorical painting, the measured regularity of the composition with its emphasis on horizontal and vertical lines, the even lighting and discrete local color can all be contrasted with the sweeping movement, dramatic play of light, shade, textures and reflections in Baroque works by contemporaries like Rembrandt.
This unlikely gardener represents Grammar and is one of a series of personifications of the Seven Liberal Arts painted to decorate a room in the Paris town house of Gédéon Tallemant, one of the counsellors of King Louis XIII. The Liberal Arts were the literary trio, Grammar, Rhetoric and Dialectic, and the mathematical quartet of Arithmetic, Music, Geometry and Astronomy. It had long been traditional to decorate private studios and libraries with their images. They were always shown as women, in keeping with the feminine gender of the Latin nouns grammatica, rhetorica etc., which retain their femininity in all the Romance languages. The other paintings of these high-minded ladies by La Hyre survive, dispersed in various collections. We do not know precisely how they were arranged in the room, but the pictures, of different sizes, were probably set into carved panelling and hung above head height.
The Latin legend on Grammar's winding ribbon can be translated as 'A learned and articulate voice spoken in a correct manner'. The function of Grammar among the Liberal Arts was not to parse sentences or teach conjugations but to ensure that ideas could be communicated clearly and effectively. In Cesare Ripa's illustrated dictionary of personifications of concepts, the Iconologia, first published in 1593, a book much used by painters, the author comments, 'Like young plants, young brains need watering and it is the duty of Grammar to undertake this.' La Hyre shows Grammar, with a homely jug, watering primulas and anemones in terracotta pots as lovingly studied from the object as any kitchenware by Chardin. The overflow runs off through the drainage hole onto a fragment of antique Roman wall or pillar ornamented with an egg-and-dart frieze. Behind her, grand fluted Roman columns and a Roman urn close off our view into the garden beyond the wall, but the mood is as friendly and serene as if she were nursing her plants on a balcony in a quiet Paris backwater away from the traffic, airing the ravishing harmonies of her shot-silk gown and mild blue cloak.
The Children of Bethel Mourned by their Mothers (1653, 97x129cm) _ La Hire never went to Italy, and his style was formed in Paris under the Mannerist Georges Lallemant. All La Hire's leanings towards classical antiquity were therefore learned at second hand, particularly from the work of Nicolas Poussin. As early as 1630, however, a certain coldness was detectable in his art, probably derived from Vouet, who had recently returned from Rome. Almost all of La Hire's best pictures are of figures in classical landscapes. The Children of Bethel Mourned by their Mothers corresponds to a type already perfected by Poussin, namely a strong moral content with figures carefully arranged in an equally carefully balanced landscape or architectural setting. Even though La Hire's result was totally different from that of Poussin and it would never be possible to confuse the two, they fall into the same general category and would have appealed to the same type of patrons.
Cornelia Refusses the Crown of the Ptolomai (1646, 138x123cm) _ The painting depicts the scene when Cornelia - the daughter of Scipio Africanus, the widow of consul Tiberius Gracchus and mother of Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus - refuses the crown of the King of Egypt and his marriage proposal. The style of La Hire is the equivalent in painting that of Corneille and Racine in literature.
Laban Searching Jacob's Bagagge for the Stolen Idols (1647, 95x133cm) _ The biblical story represented in this painting is the following. Jacob, the son of Isaac and the twin brother of Esau, fled from his brother's wrath, taking refuge with his uncle Laban in Mesopotamia. Laban had two daughters, Leah and Rachel. Leah the elder, was rheumy eyed, but Rachel was graceful and beautiful. Jacob undertook to serve Laban as a herdsman for seven years in return for Rachel whom he wished to marry. At the wedding feast Laban substituted Leah by a trick, and then demanded another seven years labour from Jacob before he should obtain Rachel. At the end Jacob set off secretly to return to Canaan with both wives and his children and possessions. In parting, Rachel stole her father's teraphim, the small sacred figurines which were his 'household gods'. When he discovered the theft Laban set off in pursuit, overtook the party and searched their tents and belongings. Rachel promptly hid the teraphim in a camel's saddle and sat on it, saying to her father, 'do not take it amiss, sir, that I cannot rise in your presence, the common lot of women is upon me.' Jacob and Laban had a reconciliation before they parted.
Landscape with Peace and Justice Embracing (1654, 55x76cm) _ Inscribed in the centre: Iustitia et Pax/osculatae sunt. It is unusual for the subject of a picture to be inscribed so clearly on the painting. Although most of La Hire's work is of many-figured compositions executed in bright, solid colors, he is best remembered for his contribution to the development of landscape painting. His few surviving landscapes seems to amalgamate the limpid light of Claude Lorrain with the antiquarian interests of Nicolas Poussin. As there was so little landscape painting in Paris in the middle years of the seventeenth century, the works of La Hire form an illuminating example of the way that taste was turning towards the dry and formal.
Theseus and Aethra (1640, 141x118cm) _ This is a representation of Plutarch's story in which, in the presence of his mother, the young Greek hero Theseus finds the swords and sandals his father Aegeus has buried under a heavy stone. Seventeenth century French masters often chose to depict some fairly recondite theme from the Graeco-Roman history or legend, and La Hire, a popular artist of the period, excelled in paintings of this kind. The painting was commissioned by Cardinal Richelieu. _ detail _ The detail shows the figure of Theseus. It is assumed that the face of Theseus is a selt-portrait of the artist.