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ART “4” “2”-DAY  09 March
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^ Born on 09 March 1856: Thomas William Roberts, British Australian painter who died in 1931.
LINKS(Studio)(The Bridge)(Busy Street)(By the Shore)(Woman by the Pond) [the preceding titles are not given, so I made them up]
Bailed Up (1927, 135x183cm) _ Tom Roberts was fascinated by pastoral life and found his greatest fulfillment in a series of bush-life paintings begun in 1888-90 with Shearing the rams and continued after his shift in 1891 from Melbourne to Sydney. Whilst staying at Duncan Anderson's Newstead sheep station, near Inverell in the New England tableland of northern New South Wales, Roberts conceived the idea of a bushranging picture. In it he would present an imaginary incident from the disorderly past, within an artistically modern portrayal of the Australian landscape in its highest key. Such was the beginning of Bailed up.
      At Newstead at the end of 1893 Roberts was already planning his second sheep-shearing painting, The Golden Fleece, which he would complete during the following year. Walking along the road between Newstead and Paradise, a neighboring station owned by Russell Hughes, he found a setting for his bushranging picture. It was an isolated spot among grass trees and a forest of tall gums, a level bend on a long steep ascent, the last bad hill for travellers following the Macintyre River on their way to Inverell. This back road was not in fact a coaching route, but here was a good setting for Roberts's 'sham stick-up': a coach would have been well and truly trapped by the great log placed across the narrow climbing road; mounted bushrangers could have waited well camouflaged in the steep forest above, and a spare horse left lurking in the shadows. It was highland country, not far from where the region's last bushranger, 'Captain Thunderbolt', had died a quarter of a century earlier.
      At this ideal spot for a robbery under arms, the artist, helped by the Anderson family, built a platform of timber, bark and wire in a stringy-bark tree growing below the road, so that he could set up his canvas on this 'Perch' at the level of the road. A Cobb & Co. coach then in operation between Inverell and Glen Innes was painted in town at Inverell, together with its driver Bob Bates. 'Silent Bob Bates' had a story of being robbed by Thunderbolt some three decades earlier, and it was his laconic, hard-wrung description of the quiet nature of the incident which determined the mood of Roberts's composition. Other characters were modelled by other townspeople in Inverell, and by station hands at Newstead, where the painting was completed. Roberts made tiny drawings and an oil sketch of how he wanted the scene to look before he started his big canvas, in which he set out to create the most complex painting of his career to date; complex because it was not only about the seizing of a moment in the landscape but was also intended to convey a recollection of the historical past. This particular place had engendered the artist's idea of a sudden, apparitional haunting by bushrangers.
      Of the group of bush masterpieces that Roberts embarked upon between 1888 and 1898, Bailed up turned out to be the most contentious. For in spite of the nationalistic fervour which might have guaranteed an enthusiastic reception for the painting when it was exhibited in Sydney and Melbourne in the 1890s, it neither succeeded in eliciting unanimous praise, nor found a willing buyer. Roberts dropped the price from £275 to 70 guineas in 1900. After all the enthusiasm and trouble he took to paint Bailed up, Roberts could not dispatch it into the world.
      Because Roberts reworked the painting in 1927 it is now difficult to assess the validity of its reception in 1895. Nagging criticisms made by the press concerned the way the legs of the men, or the skin of the horses had been depicted, for example. Perhaps unsatisfactory pictorial resolution was sensed, turning potential collectors away. Eventually in 1928, after Roberts had substantially repainted the background landscape, Bailed up, price 500 guineas, was sold from an exhibition of his work in Sydney.
      Critical opinion about Bailed up has fluctuated. Lionel Lindsay wrote warmly of it in the Macquarie Galleries exhibition catalogue, praising its rich rendering of light and comparing its subject to the prose of Henry Lawson. But more recently, in his biography of Roberts, Humphrey McQueen ventured the opinion that Bailed up was ineffectual as a bushranging story and that, because of its flat, almost skyless landscape and lateral disposition of figures across the composition, it was an insipid echo of the then-fashionable, decorative, Symbolist mural style of Puvis de Chavannes. This ambiguity about Bailed up as an icon of Australian art is puzzling. Why is admiration of it so tempered with caution? Is it because, notwithstanding the monumental failure of his vast Opening of the First Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia, his Bailed up represents the most protracted struggle in Roberts's career to realise his vision on a large scale?
      Answers to these questions may be hinted at by comparing Bailed up with its family of bush-life paintings. Others of the family might have had a more instant appeal. The motif of A break away!, for example, has the impact of an action shot filmed by a swooping helicopter. A rider tries desperately to stop a mob of sheep stampeding down to a water-hole. Suspended in heat and dust, the powerful dynamic of this composition can be read from far away. Small wonder that when Bailed up was first exhibited in 1895 the press preferred Frank Mahony's bustling Australian paintings of Americanized 'cowboys' and 'outlaws', such as the cattlepiece Rounding up a straggler (1889), and the mounted pursuit of bushrangers As in the Days of Old (1892), both of which Roberts would have seen hanging in the collection of the Art Gallery of New South Wales. Against such action-packed pictures, the static solemnity of Bailed up seems to have worked against its general appeal; perceived perhaps as rather laid-back but artificial tableau. Yet, by considering the deceptive ease of its mood, and with a patient examination of its detail, we may appreciate Bailed up as one of his greatest achievements.
      The composition has been cunningly constructed with diagonals and verticals leading the eye up to, around and beyond the dramatis personae. The landscape rises to the very top of the picture — no sky as such, and no space for escape — and the gaze soon descends once more to the lower half, forced to contain itself within the flat parameters of the picture. Scanning the surface further brings forth the real richness of the work since, as much as Bailed up may be about armed robbery, or landscape, or historical mythology, it is equally about the transforming process of painting.
      Roberts's enormous struggle with Bailed up enabled him to arrive at a majestic synthesis. Light became paint, and paint became light and we cannot tell the difference between the two, whether it is in the radiance of the shirts and hats of the figures, or the straw-coloured grass and silvery tree-trunks of the midsummer landscape. Day after day Roberts walked three kilometers uphill on the road from Paradise, where he stayed because it was closer than Newstead, climbed up a ladder to the 'Perch', and stared at the hot stillness he was setting down on his canvas which had been wired to a railing. This sense he transferred to the coach scene itself, investing the figures with an almost mystical calm. Indeed he created the feeling that time had stopped in the small, transient affairs of humankind, as an all-pervading, all-redeeming, saturating light became the most important subject of the work. The idea that we are observing a kind of fairytale incident, strangely remote from yet hypnotised by it, was carried even more tellingly into Roberts's companion bushranging picture In a corner on the Macintrye, painted about the same time. But nowhere in the entire history of Australian painting has such a quality been better rendered than in Bailed up, where the mystery of light, human incident, and experience of the Australian bush are combined with spellbinding orchestration.
      The remaining question which tantalizes is a technical one, and concerns the extent to which Roberts repainted Bailed up in 1927. The surface of the painting — scraped, reworked, impasted, glazed, restated — is like a fossilised ocean bed, and traversing its bumps, dents and crevices with the naked eye does not easily expose what is old or new; only the impression of an impenetrable embodiment of the painting's own history. Roberts inscribed two dates on the painting — 1895 and 1927 — and said that he reworked it extensively in 1927 in his current manner. This was at a period when he had become much more a meditative artist than a descriptive one, and thus of profound interest to certain later painters of Australian landscape. And that, in the end, is the telling factor which may distinguish Bailed up from the period of its conception. For although he was no Poussin, nor even a Puvis, he had an astute intuition for the grid. In other words, at his best, he could orchestrate with genius all the aspects of a painting, be they naturalistic or abstract, into the modern values of a flat surface. In this way Bailed up straddles two worlds. It began as an idea for an historical narrative of the nineteenth century, but finished, through Roberts's difficulties, as a scaffolding by which he could be in grand scale a painter for the twentieth.
Louis Buvelot (1886 drawing, 28x22cm) _ Tom Robert's portrait of venerable artistic elder Louis Buvelot, is one of the most sensitive portrayals of an Australian artist made by a fellow artist. Buvelot is presented with a quiet dignity that underlines the respect and admiration that he inspired in the generation of artists that followed him and upon whom his work had such influence.

Died on a 09 March:
1943 Otto Freundlich, born in Germany in 1878, painter and sculptor active in France. — Ascension (1929, 2 m high bronze sculpture)
1925 Willard Leroy Metcalf, US painter born on 01 July 1858. — LINKSLe Sillon (1911) — Child in Sunlight
1904 Erskine Nicol, British painter born on 03 July 1825.
1885 Louis Haghe, Belgian artist born on 17 March 1806.
1820 Hermanus Numan, Dutch artist born in 1744.
1748 Joseph Christophe (or Christophle), French artist born in 1662.
1719 Peeter van Bredael (or Breda), Flemish artist born on 29 July 1629.
1692 Willelm (or Guilliam) van Heusch, Dutch artist born in 1638.
click for full size1688 Claude Mellan, French engraver born on 23 May 1598. — 1598 : naissance de Claude Mellan à Abbeville (Normandie), dans la famille d'un chaudronnier planeur de cuivre 1624 : départ pour l'Italie, grâce au soutien de Claude-Nicolas Fabri de Peiresc (1580-1637) : il est l'élève de Villamena et de Simon Vouet 1626 : mariage de Simon Vouet et de Virginia da Vezzo, dont Mellan fait le portrait. 1630 environ : Mellan grave des planches pour la Galleria Giustiniana, dirigée par Joachim von Sandrart, qui confie l'exécution des planches à différents graveurs, dont Pieter de Bailliu, Michel Natalis, Corneille Bloemaert et Théodore Matham 1636 : Mellan rentre en France; à Aix-en-Provence, il grave une carte de la Lune sous les instructions de Claude-Nicolas Fabri de Peiresc. 1642 : Mellan est logé au Louvre 1688 : le 09 septembre, décès à Paris — LINKSSelf-Portrait (engraving, 1635) — La Face du Christ sur le Suaire (1649, 43x32cm) — 49 other engravings at FAMSF
1680 Dirck Dirckszoon Bontepaert Santvoort (or Zantvoort), Dutch artist born in 1610.

Born on a 09 March:

John Duncan Ferguson, British artist who died on 30 January 1961.
1871 S. Granville Redmond, US painter specialized in oaktrees with flowers under them. [OK, so it's based on only two items, but that's all I could find.]. He died in 1935 [I don't know whether they buried him under oaks, but it would have been fitting.]. — Flowers Under the OaksCalifornia Oaks and Poppies
1809 Johan Hendrik Louis Meyer (or Meijer), Dutch artist who died on 31 March 1866.
1750 Johann-Friedrich-August Tischbein, German painter specialized in Portraits, who died on 21 June 1812, cousin of J.H.W. Tischbein, he studied under Anton Raphael Mengs. — LINKSWilliam V, Prince of Orange-Nassau (1789)
1734 Francisco Bayeu y Subías, Spanish painter who died on 04 August 1795. — Francisco Bayeu, pintor español, cuñado de Goya. — LINKSOlympus: The Fall of the Giants (1764) — Saint James being visited by the Virgin with a Statue of the Madonna of the Pillar _ Signed on the reverse 'Franciscus Bayeu fecit Caesaraugustae Anno MDCCLX' _ Legend credited Saint James with bringing Christianity to Spain. When passing through Zaragoza he was visited by the Virgin, who gave him with a statuette of herself on a jasper column. An enormous basilica has grown on the site, one of the most venerated shrines in Spain. The subject is therefore popular in Zaragoza. Sketches made by Antonio Gonzales Velasquez in 1753 for frescoes in the dome seem to have influenced Bayeu's design. This was a perhaps a private version of these works. It also shows the influence of Giaquinto on Bayeu.
1621 Egbert Lievensz van der Poel, Dutch painter who died on 19 July 1664. — LINKS


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