DEATH: 1931 REYNOLDS
Born on 23 February 1863: Franz
von Stuck, German Symbolist
painter, sculptor, engraver and architect. Fame stuck to von Stuck because
of a Sin which followed his Sensuality. He died on 30
August 1928. [Von Stuck stuck to his sensual style]
From 1878 to 1885 he studied at the School of Plastic Arts in Munich, then at the the Munich Academy. He at first earned his living by illustrating various magazines. In 1892 was one of the founders of the Munich Sezession. His Symbolist period is of this decade. In 1895 he began teaching at the Munich Academy, where his pupils included Kandinsky, Klee and Albers, whose subsequent careers enhanced von Stuck's fame. Designed and built the Villa Stuck. Von Stuck has suffered from unfair comparison with Böcklin and been described as superficial in his Symbolist vein. In fact, his many nudes, with their torrid sensuality and a linear style combining decorative and erotic elements, are direct precursors of Jugendstil. His students included E. Martin Hennings
Sensuality (1891) _ Franz von Stuck achieved the greatest success of his career with the painting Sin which was hailed as a work of genius at the 1893 exhibition of the Munich Secession. Rows of seats had to be placed in front of the painting for the crowds of fascinated viewers. Sin was a variant of the yet more suggestive Sensuality which Stuck had painted four years previously. So great was the demand for these pictures that Stuck painted at least eighteen versions of the subject of a woman entwined with a snake under the titles of Sin, Sensuality and Vice.
The Murderer (1891, 47x46cm) _ Inspired by Böcklin's Murderer pursued by Furies, but with an even greater sense of excitement and drama, in 1891 Stuck painted his first version of the despair and remorse which pursue a criminal after his deed. The ancient Furies, the goddesses of vengeance, hide behind a rock as they lie in wait for the murderer who has just killed his victim. The sight of these ugly creatures is a foretaste of the torments awaiting the murderer. The figure of the murderer is derived from Klinger's etching Pursuit in which a man in a similar pose runs away on a narrow path. _ See also Edvard Munch's The Murderer on the Lane (1919)
Sin (1893, 88x53cm) _ Stuck exhibited Sin at the Secessionist Exhibition in Munich in 1893. It was bought by the Neue Pinakothek musuem. Stuck's Sin brought crowds flocking to the Neue Pinakothek, where it was installed immediately after it had been bought. In Das Jahr der schönen Täuschungen, the doctor and poet Hans Carossa described the deep impression that this famous work made on the viewer: 'The fame of the painting drove us through the galleries; we stopped nowhere and opened our eyes for the first time when we were finally standing opposite it. It was displayed on a special easel in its broad, monumental gold frame, and now all three of us stared at the night of hair and snake which did not allow too much of the pale, female body to be seen. The shadowed face with the bluish-white of the dark eyes was less important to me at first than the iron sheen of the nestling snake, its evil, beautifully designed head and the dull chequered pattern on its back, over which a delicate blue line ran like a seam. There are works of art that strengthen our sense of community, and there are others that seduce us into isolation. Stuck's painting belonged to the latter group.' There are several versions of this painting. The painting shows Eve, no longer hesitating between good and evil, she has chosen evil and has become one with the snake, shown wrapped round her neck.
About a year after Stuck's Sin, Edvard Munch produced Madonna as part of his Frieze of Life. It has the same ambivalent mixing of Christian iconography with sensual content, the same combination of eros and thanatos, love and death, pain and pleasure: 'Your face encompasses the whole of the earth. Your lips, as red as ripening fruit, gently part as if in pain. It is the smile of a corpse. Now the hand of death touches life. The chain is forged that links the thousand families that are dead to the thousand generations to come.' Suck turned Sin into an icon and included it in his artist's altar displayed at the Villa Stuck.
The Kiss of the Sphinx (1895, 160x149cm) _ This painting is grand melodrama painted in a blaze of fiery red. Locked in a passionate kiss, the sphinx presses her lips against the man's like a vampire, as if to suck the life out of him. It was Heinrich Heine's poem in the foreword to his Buch der Lieder of 1839 that inspired Stuck to paint this triumph of woman over man.
'The marble image came alive,
Began to moan and plead -
She drank my burning kisses up
With ravenous thirst and greed.
She drank the breath from out my breast,
She fed lust without pause;
She pressed me tight, and tore and rent
My body with her claws.'
What a psychologically exhausting treatment of the subject this is! There lies the sphinx, this time a bewitchingly beautifuly woman, on a low slab of rock. With her lion's claws she clasps the body of the unfortunate, who has sunk to his knees, while her lips press against his. The classical myth is given depth by investing it with the universality of a modern symbol. We hear the old song about man and woman, about man's powerlessness when faced with a demonic woman, about physical strength against the psychical. As this body of a young man writhes in the claws of the sphinx, impotent, unresisting, as lips press against lips there in passionate desire the moment of greatest pleasure also the moment of death all of this is portrayed with a dramatic force which truly moves one to the depths of one's being and is incomparably poignant. This painting, like Sin, caused a sensation in Munich. Reproductions of it were removed from the windows of art galleries on the orders of the police. The painting is a universal symbol of the passion that leads to downfall.
Franz and Mary Stuck as a God and Goddess (1900) The Kiss of the Sphinx (1895) Boy Bacchus Riding on a Panther (1901) Pietà Fighting Fauns (1889, 85x148cm) Innocence (1889, 68x61cm) The Guardian of Paradise (1889, 250x167cm) Wild Chase (1889, 53x84cm)
Died on 23 February 1792: Sir
Joshua Reynolds, British painter specialized in Portraits,
born on 16 July 1723.
Reynolds, as a portrait painter and aesthetician, dominated English artistic life in the middle and late 18th century. Through his art and teaching, he attempted to lead British painting away from the indigenous anecdotal pictures of the early 18th century toward the formal rhetoric of the continental Grand Style. With the founding of the Royal Academy in 1768, Reynolds was elected its first president and knighted by King George III.
Reynolds attended the Plympton grammar school of which his father, a clergyman, was master. The young Reynolds became well read in the writings of classical antiquity and throughout his life was to be much interested in literature, counting many of the finest British authors of the 18th century among his closest friends. Reynolds early aspired to become an artist, and in 1740 he was apprenticed for four years in London to Thomas Hudson, a conventional portraitist and the pupil and son-in-law of Jonathan Richardson. In 1743 he returned to Devon and began painting at Plymouth naval portraits that reveal his inexperience. Returning to London for two years in 1744, he began to acquire a knowledge of the old masters and an independent style marked by bold brushwork and the use of impasto, a thick surface texture of paint, such as in his portrait of Captain the Honourable John Hamilton (1746).
Back in Devon in 1746, he painted a large group portrait of the Eliot Family (c. 1746/47), which clearly indicates that he had studied the large-scale portrait of the Pembroke Family (1634-35) by the Flemish Baroque painter Sir Anthony Van Dyck, whose style of portrait painting influenced English portraiture throughout the 18th century. In 1749 Reynolds sailed with his friend Augustus Keppel to Minorca, one of the Balearic Islands off the Mediterranean coast of Spain. A fall from a horse detained him for five months and permanently scarred his lip - the scar being a prominent feature in his subsequent self-portraits. From Minorca he went to Rome, where he remained for two years, devoting himself to studying the great masterpieces of ancient Greco-Roman sculpture and of Italian painting. The impressions that he retained from this visit were to inspire his paintings and his Discourses for the rest of his life, for he felt that it was by allying painting with scholarship that he could best achieve his ambition of raising the status of his profession back in England. While returning home via Florence, Bologna, and Venice, he became absorbed by the compositions and color of the great Renaissance Venetian painters of the 16th century: Titian, Jacopo Tintoretto, and Paolo Veronese. The Venetian tradition's emphasis on color and the effect of light and shading had a lasting influence on Reynolds, and, although all his life he preached the need for young artists to study the sculptural definition of form characteristic of Florentine and Roman painters, his own works are redolent of the Venetian style.
In 1753 Reynolds settled in London, where he was to live for the rest of his life. His success was assured from the first, and by 1755 he was employing studio assistants to help him execute the numerous portrait commissions he received. The early London portraits have a vigor and naturalness about them that is perhaps best exemplified in a likeness of Honourable Augustus Keppel (1754). The pose is not original, being a reversal of the Apollo Belvedere, an ancient Roman copy of a mid-4th-century-BC Hellenistic statue Reynolds had seen in the Vatican. But the fact that the subject (who was a British naval officer) is shown striding along the seashore introduced a new kind of vigor into the tradition of English portraiture. In these first years in London, Reynolds' knowledge of Venetian painting is very apparent in such works as the portraits of Lord Cathcart (1753/54) and Lord Ludlow (1755). Of his domestic portraits, those of Nelly O'Brien (1762) and of Georgiana, Countess Spencer, and Her Daughter (1761) are especially notable for their tender charm and careful observation.
After 1760 Reynolds' style became increasingly classical and self-conscious. As he fell under the influence of the classical Baroque painters of the Bolognese school of the 17th century and the archaeological interest in Greco-Roman antiquity that was sweeping Europe at the time, the pose and clothes of his sitters took on a more rigidly antique pattern, in consequence losing much of the sympathy and understanding of his earlier works.
There were no public exhibitions of contemporary artists in London before 1760, when Reynolds helped found the Society of Artists and the first of many successful exhibitions was held. The patronage of George III was sought, and in 1768 the Royal Academy was founded. Although Reynolds' painting had found no favor at court, he was the obvious candidate for the presidency, and the king confirmed his election and knighted him. Reynolds guided the policy of the academy with such skill that the pattern he set has been followed with little variation ever since. The yearly Discourses that he delivered at the academy clearly mirrored many of his own thoughts and aspirations, as well as his own problems of line versus color and public and private portraiture, and gave advice to those beginning their artistic careers.
From 1769 nearly all of Reynolds' most important works appeared in the academy. In certain exhibitions he included historical pieces, such as Ugolino (1773), which were perhaps his least successful works. Many of his child studies are tender and even amusing, though now and again the sentiment tends to be excessive. Two of the most enchanting are Master Crewe as Henry VIII (1775-76) and Lady Caroline Scott as Winter (1778). His most ambitious portrait commission was the Family of the Duke of Marlborough (1777).
In 1781 Reynolds visited Flanders and Holland, where he studied the work
of the great Flemish Baroque painter Peter Paul Rubens.
This seems to have affected his own style, for in the manner of Rubens'
later works the texture of his picture surface becomes far richer. This
is particularly true of his portrait of the Duchess of Devonshire and
Her Daughter (1786). Reynolds was never a mere society painter or flatterer.
It has been suggested that his deafness gave him a clearer insight into
the character of his sitters, the lack of one faculty sharpening the use
of his eyes. His vast learning allowed him to vary his poses and style so
often that the well-known remark of Thomas Gainsborough,
Damn him, how various he is! is entirely understandable. In 1782 Reynolds
had a paralytic stroke, and about the same time he was saddened by bickerings
within the Royal Academy. Seven years later his eyesight began to fail,
and he delivered his last Discourse at the academy in 1790.
Personality and criticism
Reynolds preferred the company of men of letters to that of his fellow artists and was friends with Samuel Johnson, Edmund Burke, and Oliver Goldsmith, among others. He never married, and his house was kept for him by his sister Frances.
Reynolds' state portraits of the king and queen were never considered a success, and he seldom painted for them; but the Prince of Wales patronized him extensively, and there were few distinguished families or individuals who did not sit for him. Nonetheless, some of his finest portraits are those of his intimate friends and of fashionable women of questionable reputation.
Unfortunately, Reynolds' technique was not always entirely sound, and many of his paintings have suffered as a result. After his visit to Italy, he tried to produce the effects of Tintoretto and Titian by using transparent glazes over a monochrome underpainting, but the pigment he used for his flesh tones was not permanent and even in his lifetime began to fade, causing the overpale faces of many surviving portraits. In the 1760s Reynolds began to use more extensively bitumen or coal substances added to pigments. This practice proved to be detrimental to the paint surface. Though a keen collector of old-master drawings, Reynolds himself was never a draftsman, and indeed few of his drawings have any merit whatsoever.
Reynolds' Discourses Delivered at the Royal Academy (1769-91) is among the most important art criticism of the time. In it he outlined the essence of grandeur in art and suggested the means of achieving it through rigorous academic training and study of the old masters of art.
Garrick between Tragedy and Comedy (1761) The Infant Hercules Strangling the Serpents sent by Hera
Master Hare (1788, 77x64cm) _ In 1788, when Reynolds was at the summit of his reputation, he painted this portrait for one of his aunts, Anna Maria Lady Jones. The sitter was Francis George Hare, the nephew or adopted son of Lady Jones. Two years after it was painted this picture was already famous.
Captain Robert Orme (1756, 240x147cm) _ Joshua Reynolds, third son and seventh child of the Reverend Samuel Reynolds, was apprenticed at seventeen in London to the portrait painter Thomas Hudson, a Devonshire man like himself. Despite the uninspired example of Hudson, Reynolds succeeded in his ambition to become no 'ordinary' craftsman-painter: he established himself as a fashionable portrait painter, became friends with the most eminent men of letters in England, first president of the newly formed Royal Academy in 1768, and was knighted in 1769. Although he did not achieve greatness as a 'history painter', he invested his innumerable portraits of the privileged men and women of English society with the wit, poetic resonance and nobility of heroic narrative. His fifteen Discourses on Art, delivered at the Academy between 1769 and 1790, remain the most cogent and most moving tribute in English to the ideals of Western art grounded in the Italian Renaissance. We now tend to prefer the fresher brush of his rival Gainsborough to Reynolds's contrivances. A restless and indiscriminate experimenter with media and pigments, imitating the surface effects of Old Master paintings without an understanding of their methods, he saw his pictures fade, flake and crack, so that portraits 'died' before their sitters. Even his contemporaries protested at his technical shortcomings. Yet the more we look at Reynolds, in the prodigious variety which Gainsborough rightly envied, the more we see that he indeed achieved what he defined as 'that one great idea, which gives to painting its true dignity...of speaking to the heart'. More than any English painter before him, in the 'great design' of 'captivating the imagination', Reynolds participated in 'that friendly intercourse which ought to exist among Artists, of receiving from the dead and giving to the living, and perhaps to those who are yet unborn' (Discourse Twelve).
Captain Robert Orme is one of the great romantic military portraits, painted soon after Reynolds established his London practice. It shows an officer of the Coldstream Guards with a letter in his hand, ready to mount his horse with all that fire mixed with rage that war and the love of his country can give. Robert Orme (1725-90), served in America as aide-de-camp to General Braddock. When Braddock was killed in 1755 in an ambush by the French, Orme returned to England and resigned from the army. Some time in 1756 he sat for Reynolds. Orme never purchased the portrait from the artist, in whose studio it attracted much notice 'by its boldness and singularity'. The composition may be freely adapted from drawings of Italian frescoes and Roman sculpture brought back by Reynolds from his journey to Italy in 1750-1752; it may also allude to a portrait of Charles I by Van Dyck. But the effect is splendidly dramatic and immediate: the thunderous sky and extravagant lighting, Orme's windswept hair, the highlighted despatches in his hand, his foaming steed, the red coat pushed open by the ready sword all suggest a heroic and transient moment in the life of the young officer.
Lady Cockburn and her Three Eldest Sons (1773, 142x113cm) _ In his seventh Discourse on Art delivered at the Royal Academy in 1776, Reynolds proclaimed: He...who in his practice of portrait-painting wishes to dignify his subject, which we will suppose to be a lady, will not paint her in the modern dress, the familiarity of which alone is sufficient to destroy all dignity... he dresses his figure something with the general air of the antique for the sake of dignity, and preserves something of the modern for the sake of likeness. In his fourth Discourse of 1771 he had recommended the 'historical Painter' never to to 'debase his conceptions with minute attention to the discriminations of Drapery...With him, the clothing is neither woolen, nor linen, nor silk, satin, or velvet: it is drapery; it is nothing more.' Reynolds was not alone in worrying about the way portraits began to look ridiculous as fashions changed. The dress of ancient Greeks and Romans belonged to that period in European history which, educated people then thought, set civilised standards for all time; it was also believed to be closer to nature than modern dress especially the 'straight lacing of English ladies', 'destructive...to health and long life'. But not all sitters wished to be depicted in mythical charades, and the results could sometimes be even more risible than an outmoded bodice - as when Lady Sarah Bunbury, who 'liked eating beefsteaks and playing cricket' was painted by Reynolds sacrificing to the Three Graces.
Lady Cockburn's portrait demonstrates the half-way mode most successfully adopted by the artist, and his pleasure in it is reflected by his signing it on the hem of her robe - a wonderfully majestic gold 'drapery'. According to the newly fashionable exaltation of maternity, Augusta Anne, Sir James Cockburn's second wife, is posed with her three children (although separate sittings are recorded for the elder boys). James, the cherub kneeling on the left, born in 1771, became a general; George, born in 1772 and clambering around his mother's neck, grew up to be the admiral whose ship conveyed Napoleon to exile on St Helena; the baby, William, born that June, entered the Church and became Dean of York. The commission must have reminded Reynolds of the traditional allegorical image of Charity as a woman with three children; he probably knew Van Dyck's painting (now in the National Gallery, but then in an English private collection) or the famous engraving after it, for his composition resembles it in many details. Where Van Dyck's Charity gazes up to Heaven, however, Lady Cockburn turns her profile to us and looks lovingly at her eldest son. Despite George's mischievous address to the viewer - probably to be imagined as his Papa - the composition echoes Michelangelo's grand and severe sibyls on the Sistine Chapel ceiling. The colour accent of the brilliant macaw, a favourite pet in Reynolds's household recorded as having perched on the hand of Dr Johnson, was an afterthought, recalling Rubens's use of a similar device. So well did Reynolds succeed in lending Lady Cockbum 'the general air of the antique', however, that when the painting was etched for publication, and Sir James objected to his wife's name being exposed in public, the print was entitled Cornelia and her Children after the Roman matron who boasted that her children were her only jewels.
Lady Delmé and her Children (1780, 239x147cm) _ English portrait painting after 1750 moved in the direction of naturalness. Sir Joshua Reynolds and Thomas Gainsborough - exact contemporaries - were the two greatest English portrait painters of the eighteenth century, but their pictures were of quite different types. Reynolds was a temperamental painter who loved to yield to the excitement of actual painting. For all that, he was acutely concerned over all questions of technique, and throughout his life he studied the pictures of the masters, especially of Rembrandt and Rubens, in an effort to penetrate their secret. In the Baroque manner he painted his figures in the action and attitude best fitted to the sitter's character. When his sitters were women, he approached the sensuousness of Rubens.
Colonel George K. H. Coussmaker, Grenadier Guards (1782, 238x145cm) _ Reynolds was the first president of the Royal Academy and the author of 15 discourses on painting, which are classics of the theory of art. In this dismounted equestrian portrait, Reynolds presents Colonel Coussmaker in a pose of casual but studied negligence, the line of his body repeated in the curving neck of the horse. The summer before Reynolds painted the portrait, he traveled to Holland and Flanders and profited by his observation of Rubens's works, especially in the creation of a free and painterly surface treatment.
Born on 23 February 1817: George
Frederic Watts, English Pre-Raphaelite
painter and sculptor, who died on 01 July 1904.
Watts was born in London, the son of a paino-maker. Initially he wanted to become a sculptor, and at the age of 10 was apprenticed to William Behnes. However, in 1835, at the age of 18, he went to the RA Schools, where he remained for only a short period, and thereafter was mainly self-taught. After he first exhibited The Wounded Heron at the Royal Academy, painting became his main preoccupation. When his picture Caractacus won a £300 prize, he used the money to finance a trip to Italy, where he stayed with friends in Florence. He did not return to England until 1847, when his painting Alfred won the first prize of £500 in a House of Lords competition. Watts surrounded by his paintings
In 1850 Watts visited the home of Valentine Prinsep's parents in Holland park, supposedly for a three-day visit, but instead he stayed for thirty years. The Prinseps seem to have borne the situation cheerfully, and it no doubt gave them a certain cachet in the Bohemian circles in which they moved, which included such writers and painters as Thackeray, Dickens, Rossetti and Burne-Jones. Fortunately, Watts was a man of frugal habits. Although he had been depressed and unhappy when he had moved in with the Prinseps, Watts blossomed in this strange household, where notable writers and painters were treated with reverence. As a portrait artist, his gallery of eminent Victorians is unsurpassed: included among his sitters were the poets Tennyson, Swinburne and Browning, the artists Millais, Lord Leighton, Walter Crane and Burne-Jones; others were Sir Richard Burton, John Stuart Mill and Garibaldi, to mention only a few. He finally left the Prinseps' home in 1875 and moved to the Isle of Wight. In 1864 Watts married the actress Ellen Terry, who was only 16, although the marriage was short-lived, and he remarried in 1886 when he moved to Limnerslease, near Guildford. His new wife was Mary Fraser-Tytler, thirty-two year his junior. She was of Scottish descent, growing up in a castle on the shores of Loch Ness, and was an artist in her own right.
Watts was a modest, hard-working artist who twice refused a baronetcy and other honors, including an offer to become president of the Royal Academy, although he did accept the Order of Merit. His work as a sculptor exists in the Cecil Rhodes Memorial, Cape Town. His chief work as a sculptor is the heroic figure of a man on horseback known as Physical Energy.
The critic G.K. Chesterton said of Watts: ".. more than any other modern man, and much more than politicians who thundered on platforms or financiers who captured continents, Watts has sought in the midst of his quiet and hidden life to mirror his age... In the whole range of Watts' symbolic art, there is scarcely a single example of the ordinary and arbitrary current symbol.... A primeval vagueness and archaism hangs over the all the canvases and cartoons, like frescoes from some prehistoric temple. There is nothing there but the eternal things, day and fire and the sea, and motherhood and the dead."
Another contemporary admirer, Hugh MacMillan, wrote that Watts "surrounds his ideal forms with a misty or cloudy atmosphere for the purpose of showing that they are visionary or ideal.... His colors, like the color of the veils of the ancient tabernacle, like the hues of the jewelled walls of the New Jerusalem, are invested with a parabolic significance.... To the commonest hues he gives a tone beyond their ordinary power... Watts is essentially the seer. He thinks in pictures that come before the inward eye spontaneously and assume a definite form almost without any effort of consciousness."
Watts' declared aims were clear: to paint pictures that appealed 'to the intellect and refined emotions rather than the senses': "I paint ideas, not things. I paint primarily because I have something to say, and since the gift of eloquent language has been denied to me, I use painting; my intention is not so much to paint pictures which shall please the eye, as to suggest great thoughts which shall speak to the imagination and to the heart and arouse all that is best and noblest in humanity."
Since the revival of interest in Victorian painting, Watts is slowly regaining the recognition and respect he enjoyed in the 19th century. However, in terms of public recognition he is not as well-known as contemporaries like Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Edward Burne-Jones.
Paolo and Francesca (1884, 60x51in) _ In Paolo and Francesca passion is seen externalized at the moment of weary ecstasy when desire has become a memory, and memory has distinguished the world..... These bodies are like the hollow shell left by flames which have burnt themselves out, and they float in the fiery air, weightless and listless, as dry leaves are carried along a wave of wind. All life has gone out of them except the energy of that one memory, which lives in the pallor of their flesh, and in the red hollows of the woman's half-closed eyes, and in the ashen hollows of the man's cheeks.... Now, they do not love, nor repent, nor hope, only remember; they have lived, they are no longer living, and they cannot die.
Love and Death (1877) _ This painting was inspired by the death of the 8th Marquis of Lothian, a friend of Watts, who died of a wasting disease whilst still young. Watts explained the painting: 'love is not restraining Death, for it could not do so. I wished to suggest the passionate through unavailing struggle to avert the inevitable.'
The Angel of Death (1870) _ In this painting Watts shows that all are equal when it comes to death.
Hope (1885) _ In classical mythology, Hope is portrayed as a female entity sealed inside Pandora's jar by Prometheus. Hope remained inside the jar when the evils were released. Though Hope is more a concept than a character she is occasionally personified as in this painting by Watts. Watts' Hope portrays a blindfolded woman with a broken lyre. Watts was expressing the sentiments of such popular aphorisms as 'Never despair' or 'Where there is life there is hope', though his painting seems to be suggesting the opposite. The Victorian public understood his message, however, and the painting became enormously popular, especially after it was reproduced as an engraving.
The Dweller in the Innermost (1886) _ This is one of Watts' most overtly Symbolist paintings. It appeared in an exhibition in 1896 described as 'Conscience, winged, dusk-faced, and pensive, seated facing, within a glow of light; on her forehead she bears a shining star; and on her lap lie the arrows that pierce through all disguise, and the trumpet which proclaims truth to the world'.
It inspired Walter Crane to compose a sonnet:
'Star-steadfast eyes that pierce the smouldering haze
Fledged, too, art thou with plumes on brow and breast