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Amedeo Modigliani

Italian, 1884 - 1920

Woman with a Necklace, 1917

Oil on canvas

 

(closeup)

 

Amedeo Clemente Modigliani (July 12, 1884 – January 24, 1920) was a Jewish-Italian painter and sculptor who pursued his career for the most part in France. Modigliani was born in Livorno, Italy and began his artistic studies in Italy before moving to Paris in 1906. Influenced by the artists in his circle of friends and associates, by a range of genres and movements, and by primitive art, Modigliani's oeuvre was nonetheless unique and idiosyncratic. He died in Paris of tubercular meningitis—exacerbated by a lifestyle of excess—at the age of 35.

 

Early life

 

Modigliani was born into a Jewish family in Livorno, Italy.

 

Livorno was still a relatively new city, by Italian standards, in the late nineteenth century. The city on the Tyrrhenian coast dates from around 1600, when it was transformed from a swampy village into a seaport. The Livorno that Modigliani knew was a bustling centre of commerce focused upon seafaring and shipwrighting, but its cultural history lay in being a refuge for those persecuted for their religion. His own maternal great-great-grandfather was one Solomon Garsin, a Jew who had immigrated to Livorno in the eighteenth century as a religious refugee.

 

Modigliani was the fourth child of Flaminio Modigliani and his wife, Eugenia Garsin. His father was in the money-changing business, but when the business went bankrupt, the family lived in dire poverty. In fact, Amedeo's birth saved the family from certain ruin, as, according to an ancient law, creditors could not seize the bed of a pregnant woman or a mother with a newborn child. When bailiffs entered the family home, just as Eugenia went into labour, the family protected their most valuable assets by piling them on top of the expectant mother.

 

Modigliani had a particularly close relationship with his mother, who taught her son at home until he was ten. Beset with health problems after a bout of typhoid at the age of fourteen, two years later he contracted the tuberculosis which would affect him for the rest of his life. To help him recover from his many childhood illnesses, she took him to Naples in Southern Italy, where the warmer weather was conducive to his convalescence.

 

His mother was, in many ways, instrumental in his ability to pursue art as a vocation. When he was eleven years of age, she had noted in her diary that:

 

“The child's character is still so unformed that I cannot say what I think of it. He behaves like a spoiled child, but he does not lack intelligence. We shall have to wait and see what is inside this chrysalis. Perhaps an artist?"

 

Art student years

 

Modigliani is known to have drawn and painted from a very early age, and thought himself "already a painter", his mother wrote, even before beginning formal studies. Despite her misgivings that launching him on a course of studying art would impinge upon his other studies, his mother indulged the young Modigliani's passion for the subject.

 

At the age of fourteen, while sick with the typhoid fever, he raved in his delirium that he wanted, above all else, to see the paintings in the Palazzo Pitti and the Uffizi in Florence. As Livorno's local museum only housed a sparse few paintings by the Italian Renaissance masters, the tales he had heard about the great works held in Florence intrigued him, and it was a source of considerable despair to him, in his sickened state, that he might never get the chance to view them in person. His mother promised that she would take him to Florence herself, the moment he was recovered. Not only did she fulfil this promise, but she also undertook to enroll him with the best painting master in Livorno, Guglielmo Micheli.

 

Micheli and the Macchiaioli

 

Modigliani worked in the studio of Micheli from 1898 to 1900. Here his earliest formal artistic instruction took place in an atmosphere deeply steeped in a study of the styles and themes of nineteenth-century Italian art. In his earliest Parisian work, traces of this influence, and that of his studies of Renaissance art, can still be seen: artists such as Giovanni Boldini figure just as much in this nascent work as do those of Toulouse-Lautrec.

 

Modigliani showed great promise while with Micheli, and only ceased his studies when he was forced to, by the onset of tuberculosis.

 

In 1901, whilst in Rome, Modigliani admired the work of Domenico Morelli, a painter of melodramatic Biblical studies and scenes from great literature. It is ironic that he should be so struck by Morelli, as this painter had served as an inspiration for a group of iconoclasts who went by the title, the Macchiaioli (from macchia—"dash of colour", or, more derogatively, "stain"), and Modigliani had already been exposed to the influences of the Macchiaioli. This minor, localised art movement was possessed of a need to react against the bourgeois stylings of the academic genre painters. While sympathetically connected to (and actually pre-dating) the French Impressionists, the Macchiaioli did not make the same impact upon international art culture as did the followers of Monet, and are today largely forgotten outside of Italy.

 

Modigliani's connection with the movement was through Micheli, his first art teacher. Micheli was not only a Macchiaioli himself, but had been a pupil of the famous Giovanni Fattori, a founder of the movement. Micheli's work, however, was so fashionable and the genre so commonplace that the young Modigliani reacted against it, preferring to ignore the obsession with landscape that, as with French Impressionism, characterised the movement. Micheli also tried to encourage his pupils to paint en plein air, but Modigliani never really got a taste for this style of working, sketching in cafes, but preferring to paint indoors, and especially in his own studio. Even when compelled to paint landscapes (three are known to exist), Modigliani chose a proto-Cubist palette more akin to Cézanne than to the Macchiaioli.

 

While with Micheli, Modigliani not only studied landscape, but also portraiture, still-life, and the nude. His fellow students recall that the latter was where he displayed his greatest talent, and apparently this was not an entirely academic pursuit for the teenager: when not painting nudes, he was occupied with seducing the household maid.

 

Despite his rejection of the Macchiaioli approach, Modigliani nonetheless found favour with his teacher, who referred to him as "Superman", a pet name reflecting the fact that Modigliani was not only quite adept at his art, but also that he regularly quoted from Nietzsche's Thus Spake Zarathustra. Fattori himself would often visit the studio, and approved of the young artist's innovations.

 

In 1902, Modigliani continued what was to be a life-long infatuation with life drawing, enrolling in the Accademia di Belle Arti (Scuola Libera di Nudo, or "Free School of Nude Studies") in Florence. A year later while still suffering from tuberculosis, he moved to Venice, where he registered to study at the Istituto di Belle Arti.

 

It is in Venice that he first smoked hashish and, rather than studying, began to spend time frequenting disreputable parts of the city. The impact of these lifestyle choices upon his developing artistic style is open to conjecture, although these choices do seem to be more than simple teenage rebellion, or the cliched hedonism and bohemianism that was almost expected of artists of the time; his pursuit of the seedier side of life appears to have roots in his appreciation of radical philosophies, such as those of Nietzsche.

 

Early literary influences

 

Having been exposed to erudite philosophical literature as a young boy under the tutelage of Isaco Garsin, his maternal grandfather, he continued to read and be influenced through his art studies by the writings of Nietzsche, Baudelaire, Carduzzi, Comte de Lautréamont, and others, and developed the belief that the only route to true creativity was through defiance and disorder.

 

Letters that he wrote from his 'sabbatical' in Capri in 1901 clearly indicate that he is being more and more influenced by the thinking of Nietzsche. In these letters, he advised friend Oscar Ghiglia,

 

“(hold sacred all) which can exalt and excite your intelligence... (and) ... seek to provoke ... and to perpetuate ... these fertile stimuli, because they can push the intelligence to its maximum creative power.”

 

The work of Lautréamont was equally influential at this time. This doomed poet's Les Chants de Maldoror became the seminal work for the Parisian Surrealists of Modigliani's generation, and the book became Modigliani's favourite to the extent that he learnt it by heart. The poetry of Lautréamont is characterised by the juxtaposition of fantastical elements, and by sadistic imagery; the fact that Modigliani was so taken by this text in his early teens gives a good indication of his developing tastes. Baudelaire and D'Annunzio similarly appealed to the young artist, with their interest in corrupted beauty, and the expression of that insight through Symbolist imagery.

 

Modigliani wrote to Ghiglia extensively from Capri, where his mother had taken him to assist in his recovery from the tuberculosis. These letters are a sounding board for the developing ideas brewing in Modigliani's mind. Ghiglia was seven years Modigliani's senior, and it is likely that it was he who showed the young man the limits of his horizons in Livorno. Like all precocious teenagers, Modigliani preferred the company of older companions, and Ghiglia's role in his adolescence was to be a sympathetic ear as he worked himself out, principally in the convoluted letters that he regularly sent, and which survive today.

 

“Dear friend

I write to pour myself out to you and to affirm myself to myself. I am the prey of great powers that surge forth and then disintegrate... A bourgeois told me today - insulted me - that I or at least my brain was lazy. It did me good. I should like such a warning every morning upon awakening: but they cannot understand us nor can they understand life...”

 

Paris

 

Arrival

 

In 1906 Modigliani moved to Paris, then the focal point of the avant-garde. In fact, his arrival at the epicentre of artistic experimentation coincided with the arrival of two other foreigners who were also to leave their marks upon the art world: Gino Severini and Juan Gris.

 

He settled in Le Bateau-Lavoir, a commune for penniless artists in Montmartre, renting himself a studio in Rue Caulaincourt. Even though this artists' quarter of Montmartre was characterised by generalised poverty, Modigliani himself presented - initially, at least - as one would expect the son of a family trying to maintain the appearances of its lost financial standing to present: his wardrobe was dapper without ostentation, and the studio he rented was appointed in a style appropriate to someone with a finely attuned taste in plush drapery and Renaissance reproductions. He soon made efforts to assume the guise of the bohemian artist, but, even in his brown corduroys, scarlet scarf and large black hat, he continued to appear as if he were slumming it, having fallen upon harder times.

 

When he first arrived in Paris, he wrote home regularly to his mother, he sketched his nudes at the Colarossi school, and he drank wine in moderation. He was at that time considered by those who knew him as a bit reserved, verging on the asocial. He is noted to have commented, upon meeting Picasso who, at the time, was wearing his trademark workmen's clothes, that even though the man was a genius, that did not excuse his uncouth appearance.

 

Transformation

 

Within a year of arriving in Paris, however, his demeanour and reputation had changed dramatically. He transformed himself from a dapper academician artist into a sort of prince of vagabonds.

 

The poet and journalist Louis Latourette, upon visiting the artist's previously well-appointed studio after his transformation, discovered the place in upheaval, the Renaissance reproductions discarded from the walls, the plush drapes in disarray. Modigliani was already an alcoholic and a drug addict by this time, and his studio reflected this. Modigliani's behaviour at this time sheds some light upon his developing style as an artist, in that the studio had become almost a sacrificial effigy for all that he resented about the academic art that had marked his life and his training up to that point.

 

Not only did he remove all the trappings of his bourgeois heritage from his studio, but he also set about destroying practically all of his own early work. He explained this extraordinary course of actions to his astonished neighbours thus:

“Childish baubles, done when I was a dirty bourgeois."

 

The motivation for this violent rejection of his earlier self is the subject of considerable speculation. The self-destructive tendencies may have stemmed from his tuberculosis and the knowledge (or presumption) that the disease had essentially marked him for an early death; within the artists' quarter, many faced the same sentence, and the typical response was to set about enjoying life while it lasted, principally by indulging in self-destructive actions. For Modigliani such behavior may have been a response to a lack of recognition; it is known that he sought the company of other alcoholic artists such as Utrillo and Soutine, seeking acceptance and validation for his work from his colleagues.

 

Modigliani's behavior stood out even in these Bohemian surroundings: he carried on frequent affairs, drank heavily, and used absinthe and hashish. While drunk he would sometimes strip himself naked at social gatherings. He became the epitome of the tragic artist, creating a posthumous legend almost as well-known as that of Vincent van Gogh.

 

During the 1920s, in the wake of Modigliani's career and spurred on by comments by Andre Salmon crediting hashish and absinthe with the genesis of Modigliani's style, many hopefuls tried to emulate his 'success' by embarking on a path of substance abuse and bohemian excess. Salmon claimed—erroneously—that whereas Modigliani was a totally pedestrian artist when sober,

 

“...from the day that he abandoned himself to certain forms of debauchery, an unexpected light came upon him, transforming his art. From that day on, he became one who must be counted among the masters of living art.”

 

While this propaganda served as a rallying cry to those with a romantic longing to be a tragic, doomed artist, these strategies did not produce unique artistic insights or techniques in those who did not already have them.

 

In fact, art historians suggest that it is entirely possible for Modigliani to have achieved even greater artistic heights had he not been immured in, and destroyed by, his own self-indulgences. We can only speculate what he might have accomplished had he emerged intact from his self-destructive explorations.

 

Output

 

During his early years in Paris, Modigliani worked at a furious pace. He was constantly sketching, making as many as a hundred drawings a day. However, many of his works were lost - destroyed by him as inferior, left behind in his frequent changes of address, or given to girlfriends who did not keep them.

 

He was first influenced by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, but around 1907 he became fascinated with the work of Paul Cézanne. Eventually he developed his own unique style, one that cannot be adequately categorized with other artists.

 

He met the first serious love of his life, Russian poet Anna Akhmatova, in 1910, when he was 26. They had studios in the same building, and although 21-year-old Anna was recently married, they began an affair. Tall (Modigliani was only 5 foot 5 inches) with dark hair (like Modigliani's), pale skin and grey-green eyes, she embodied Modigliani's aesthetic ideal and the pair became engrossed in each other. After a year, however, Anna returned to her husband.

 

Experiments with sculpture

 

In 1909, Modigliani returned home to Livorno, sickly and tired from his wild lifestyle. Soon he was back in Paris, this time renting a studio in Montparnasse. He originally saw himself as a sculptor rather than a painter, and was encouraged to continue after Paul Guillaume, an ambitious young art dealer, took an interest in his work and introduced him to sculptor Constantin Brancusi.

 

Although a series of Modigliani's sculptures were exhibited in the Salon d'Automne of 1912, he abruptly abandoned sculpting and focused solely on his painting.

 

Question of influences

 

In Modigliani's art, there is evidence of the influence of primitive art from Africa and Cambodia which he may have seen in the Musée de l'Homme, but his stylisations are just as likely to have been the result of his being surrounded by Mediaeval sculpture during his studies in Northern Italy (there is no recorded information from Modigliani himself, as there is with Picasso and others, to confirm the contention that he was influenced by either ethnic or any other kind of sculpture). A possible interest in African tribal masks seems to be evident in his portraits. In both his painting and sculpture, the sitters' faces resemble ancient Egyptian painting in their flat and masklike appearance, with distinctive almond eyes, pursed mouths, twisted noses, and elongated necks. However these same chacteristics are shared by Medieval European sculpture and painting.

 

Modigliani painted a series of portraits of contemporary artists and friends in Montparnasse: Chaim Soutine, Moise Kisling, Pablo Picasso, Diego Rivera, Marie "Marevna" Vorobyev-Stebeslka, Juan Gris, Max Jacob, Blaise Cendrars, and Jean Cocteau, all sat for stylized renditions.

 

At the outset of World War I, Modigliani tried to enlist in the army but was refused because of his poor health.

 

The war years

 

Known as Modì, which roughly translates as 'morbid' or 'moribund', by many Parisians, but as Dedo to his family and friends, Modigliani was a handsome man, and attracted much female attention.

 

Women came and went until Beatrice Hastings entered his life. She stayed with him for almost two years, was the subject for several of his portraits, including Madame Pompadour, and the object of much of his drunken wrath.

 

When the British painter Nina Hamnett arrived in Montparnasse in 1914, on her first evening there the smiling man at the next table in the café introduced himself as Modigliani; painter and Jew. They became great friends.

 

In 1916, Modigliani befriended the Polish poet and art dealer Leopold Zborovski and his wife Anna.

 

Jeanne Hébuterne

 

The following summer, the Russian sculptor Chana Orloff introduced him to a beautiful 19-year-old art student named Jeanne Hébuterne who had posed for Foujita. From a conservative bourgeois background, Hébuterne was renounced by her devout Roman Catholic family for her liaison with the painter, whom they saw as little more than a debauched derelict, and, worse yet, a Jew. Despite her family's objections, soon they were living together, and although Hébuterne was the love of his life, their public scenes became more renowned than Modigliani's individual drunken exhibitions.

 

On December 3, 1917, Modigliani's first one-man exhibition opened at the Berthe Weill Gallery. The chief of the Paris police was scandalized by Modigliani's nudes and forced him to close the exhibition within a few hours after its opening.

 

After he and Hébuterne moved to Nice, she became pregnant and on November 29, 1918 gave birth to a daughter whom they named Jeanne (1918-1984).

 

Nice

 

During a trip to Nice, conceived and organized by Leopold Zborovski, Modigliani, Tsuguharu Foujita and other artists tried to sell their works to rich tourists. Modigliani managed to sell a few pictures but only for a few francs each. Despite this, during this time he produced most of the paintings that later became his most popular and valued works.

 

During his lifetime he sold a number of his works, but never for any great amount of money. What funds he did receive soon vanished for his habits.

 

In May of 1919 he returned to Paris, where, with Hébuterne and their daughter, he rented an apartment in the rue de la Grande Chaumière. While there, both Jeanne Hébuterne and Amedeo Modigliani painted portraits of each other, and of themselves.

 

Last days

 

Although he continued to paint, Modigliani's health was deteriorating rapidly, and his alcohol-induced blackouts became more frequent.

 

In 1920, after not hearing from him for several days, his downstairs neighbor checked on the family and found Modigliani in bed delirious and holding onto Hébuterne who was nearly nine months pregnant. They summoned a doctor, but little could be done because Modigliani was dying of the then-incurable disease tubercular meningitis.

 

Modigliani died on January 24, 1920. There was an enormous funeral, attended by many from the artistic communities in Montmartre and Montparnasse.

 

Hébuterne was taken to her parents' home, where, inconsolable, she threw herself out of a fifth-floor window two days after Modigliani's death, killing herself and her unborn child. Modigliani was interred in Père Lachaise Cemetery. Hébuterne was buried at the Cimetière de Bagneux near Paris, and it was not until 1930 that her embittered family allowed her body to be moved to rest beside Modigliani.

 

Modigliani died penniless and destitute—managing only one solo exhibition in his life and giving his work away in exchange for meals in restaurants. Had he lived through the 1920s when American buyers flooded Paris, his fortunes might well have changed. Since his death his reputation has soared. Nine novels, a play, a documentary and three feature films have been devoted to his life.

Theme: iSphere wallpaper

 

Subject: feminine beauty

 

Description: feminine beauty,

art (painting, drawing, sculpting, photography) portraying the essential beauty of women;

expressing femininity through color, composition, lighting, feelings, mood, style;

 

art work from antiquity to modern times;

all art is by original artists, yet reformatted + designed to fit wallpapers by the GraphicJungle

 

art work:

John Singer Sargent (1856-1925 @69 Am. realist painter, leading portraitist) 'Portrait of Madame X' (1884 Salon @29), cropped to top half

 

Format: 10124 x 768 pixels (iPad HD), 150dpi, RGB, portrait; orig'l size 234.95 x 109.86 cm (92.5 x 43.3 in)

  

© 2010-2011

  

John Singer Sargent History

======================

BIRTH:

John Singer Sargent

born Florence, Italy 1856 Jan 12, d. 1925 Apr 14 @69 in London; buried in Brookwood Cemetery, near Woking, Surrey, UK

 

American, leading portrait painter of his generation

 

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CHILDHOOD:

 

dad: FitzWilliam, eye surgeon, Philadelphia

 

traveling influence:

older sisters dies @2, family leaves country to recover yet remains nomadic expatriates forever, following the seasons to the mountains + sea in France / Italy / Germany / Switzerland

 

JSS was born on this trip in Florence

his next sister Mary (named after mom) is born a yr later, forcing dad to quit U.S. job + join family in Italy

 

they live modestly on small inheritance / savings, generally avoided society + Americans (except artists)

 

another 4 kids were born, 2 die in childhood, hence 4 grow up

  

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ADULTHOOD

 

JSS reached total fame at 40!

 

he then painted a little less (portraits), traveled more

when he painted 'An Interior in Venice' (1900, of the Curtis family in their Palazzo Barbaro) whose looseness ('smudge everywhere') (22 year older) Whistler did not approve of (though hailed by critics)

(Whistler was Brit. but Am. born, the opposite of JSS, even in style, as Whistler was a moral allusionist, lead in credo "art for art's sake" though similarly influenced by music in painting, calling his works 'arrangements' / 'harmonies' / 'nocturnes')

 

1907 @51 shuts studio!

but did some landscapes

  

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LOVE:

 

life-long bachelor

friends-family-man

extremely private

early Playboy as sex life 'was notorious in Paris, and in Venice, positively scandalous. He was a frenzied bugger.' (quote from Jacques-Émile Blanche, painter + early sitter)

homosexual tendencies

affair with model Louise Burckhardt (portrait 1882 @27)

  

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CHARACTER:

 

- rambunctious child

"willful, curious, determined and strong" (after mother)

yet shy, generous, modest (after father)

- later over-confident

- paunchy physique (depicted + popularized by Brit. Cartoonist Max Beerbohm in 1900s)

  

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SCHOOL

 

- initially failed due to family's itinerant life-style

- 1st lessons @13! (watercolor) from Carl Welsch (German landscape painter)

- quickly grows into highly literate / cosmopolitan young man, accomplished in art / music / literature, fluent in French / Italian / German

 

- 2nd lessons, 1874 @18 JSS passed rigorous admission exam on 1st attempt! @ École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts (France's premier art school); learned anatomy + perspective; gained Silver prize

 

- 3rd lessons, 1874-1878 @18-22, not at Academy of Florence as they were re-organizing, but under Carolus-Duran (bold technique + modern teaching methods, anti-academic; alla prima or direct-to-canvas method dev. by Velázquez) in Paris; other Americans artists (Weir / Eakins) studied the traditional style of Jean Léon Gérôme

 

- 4th lessons: self-study: drawing in museums + painting in studio shared with James Carroll Beckwith (valuable friend + Sargent's primary connection with Am. artists abroad)

 

- 5th lessons: Léon Bonnat

 

ideal artist who traveled the world to learn, as in the Renaissance Men:

Venice to Tyrol / Corfu / Middle East / Montana / Maine / Florida

  

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BRITAIN:

 

since 1881, long before his decommission in France with Mme X in 1884, he has started sending the British Royal Academy paintings for exhibition; by 1886, 2 years after the X scandal, he moved to London @31, thanks to numerous portrait commissions, encouraged the entire time by friend Henry James (writer).

  

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INFLUENCED BY:

 

mom who early on encouraged him to visit Europe + museums + drawing excursions

mom was fine amateur artist

dad was skilled medical illustrator

 

initial subject (13-18): landscapes

initially JSS copied ships from The Illustrated London News; dad hoped it would lead JSS to join navy

 

later (18 onwards): portraits

portrait painting was easier to get commissioned for + to enter Salons than harder though more prestigious history paintings; livelihood was of essence as usual

 

Carolus-Duran (1874-78 @18-22)

Léon Bonnat

Diego Velázquez (1879) (alla prima method); JSS was passionately absorbed by Velazquez + Spanish music/dance…re-awakened his own talent for music, acting as skillful accompanist to pros + amateurs…expressed in El Jaleo (1882 @27)

 

friendship with Paul César Helleu allowed him to meet Degas / Rodin (1884) / Monet (1885) / Whistler

 

visits Monet at Giverny 1885 @30, buys 4 of Monet's paintings

  

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STYLE:

 

- mature art skills

- unusual concentration + stamina; seemingly effortless facility for paraphrasing masters in contemporary fashion

- portraits reveal individuality / personality of subjects (nervous energy) (pleasant familiarity w/ subjects)

- early: unusual composition + lighting to striking effect

- not an impressionist but using its technique to his advantage i.e. Claude Monet Painting at the Edge of a Wood

- late (Britain): returned to landscape (charming English countryside : )

- portrait painter in the grand manner (ennobling subjects)

- realism

- 1880s tried British Impressionist Salon in plein-air style (French Impressionists did not consider him Impressionist; Monet even said he's too influenced by Carolus-Duran)

 

JSS would visit sitter's home to see where painting would hang + helped choose attire, but usually painted in studio (well-stocked w/ furniture/backdrops)

 

usually req. 8-10 sittings, face in 1

usu. kept pleasant conversation (he hated) and/or took piano breaks

 

as for landscapes: he showed equal restless intensity, working day morning to night

 

watercolors were his most vivid / experimental vs. pressured portraiture

early water colors: M.E. / N Africa: Bedouins / goatherds / fisherman

late water colors: mostly faun / flora / natives…in Maine / Florida / W Am.

this was the period, in last decade, when he painted most purely for himself, showing joyful fluidness – hence extensively family / friends / gardens / fountains

 

no assistants!

prepped canvas, arranged for photos, shipping, documentation, bureaucracy all independently

  

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VALUE:

 

live portraits cost ≈ $5k ($130k! today; 26x) (1890s @34+, UK, avg. 14 commissions/yr = $1.8M!!)

late (1900s) portrait drawings: $400 ($10.4K today; 12.5 cheaper than full oil portraits)

auction value:

  

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FAME:

 

instantly popular due superior talent + command of French language

 

1877 @21 1st Salon got him attention (1st major portrait, of friend Fanny Watts)

1877 2nd Salon entry was impressionistic 'Oyster Gatherers of Cançale' (he made 2nd copy for US Salon)

1879 @23 portrait of Carolus-Duran (his teacher since 1874) hailed at Salon (for tribute to famed Duran + as mature ad for portrait commissions); see Henry James'critique below

1887 @ 31 1st success at Brit. Royal Academy 'Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose' (immediately bought by Tate Gallery! where it's still hanging today)

1887-88 1st trip to NY/Boston begets him over 20 commissions

1888 largest JSS commission from single patron by Asher Wertheimer, wealthy London Jewish art dealer (bequeathing most to National Gallery)

 

1890s associate of the Royal Academy; full mbr. 3 yrs later

1905 @49 1st major solo watercolors exhibit, Carfax Gallery, London

1909 @53 exhibits 86 watercolors in NYC (83 bought by Brooklyn Museum! then)

1907 @51, upon closing studio, declines British Knighthood! (preferring to keep Am. citizenship)

1918 @62, upon return UK from 2 yr stay in US, commissioned as a war artist by Brit. Ministry of Info i.e. 'Gassed' (1919) (WWI mustard gas)

JSS confidently set high prices + turned down unsatisfactory sitters

  

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CRITIQUE:

 

1879 Henry James (Am./Brit. writer, key figure in 19C literary realism or impressionist writing style) on JSS's early works offers "the slightly 'uncanny' spectacle of a talent which on the very threshold of its career has nothing more to learn."

 

1886 @31 he moved to London after French Mme X scandal; initially Brits critiqued him as 'Frenchified' (cold, harsh, inpallpable, inexpressive)

 

water colors in general: 'Everything is given with the intensity of a dream.'

 

'the Van Dyck of our times'

 

Camille Pissarro 'he is not an enthusiast but rather an adroit performer'

Walter Sickert's satire 'Sargentolatry'

 

1927, 2 years after JSS's death, Hon. Sir Evan Edward Charteris (1864-1940 Brit. biographer / barrister / arts administrator / publisher of JSS biography!) 'To live with Sargent's water-colours is to live with sunshine captured and held, with the luster of a bright and legible world, ‘the refluent shade’ and ‘the Ambient ardours of the noon.'' (JSS was not as critically respected as the ultimate Am. watercolorist Winslow Homer, 1836-1910, 20 years younger than JSS, but close)

 

1917 following his encore portrait, Rockefeller, modern critics consider him past tense, completely out of touch with the reality of American life vs trendy Cubism + Futurism; JSS quietly accepts new criticism but refuses to alter his negative opinions of modern art; part of his fall due to rise in anti-Semitism (intolerance of 'celebrations of Jewish prosperity') i.e. his single biggest patron Wertheimer (jewish art dealer) + authentic Americanism (when JSS was an expatriate)

 

1926 Roger Fry, biggest critic @ London's Sargent retrospective 'Wonderful indeed, but most wonderful that this wonderful performance should ever have been confused with that of an artist.' on lack of aesthetic quality

 

1930s severest critic, Lewis Mumford (1895-1990; Am. literary critic / historian / philosopher of tech) 'Sargent remained to the end an illustrator…the most adroit appearance of workmanship, the most dashing eye for effect, cannot conceal the essential emptiness of Sargent's mind, or the contemptuous and cynical superficiality of a certain part of his execution.'

 

1950s/60s Victorian art revival helped his popularity return

  

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FAMOUS WORKS:

 

01. Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose (1877 Royal Aca. @31)

02. Portrait of Madame X (Mme Pierre Gautreau) (1884 Salon @29) (currently at MET)

(personal fave, considered his best too) (most controversial work as infuriated by Paris Salon; back-firing self-confidence as she did not commission it + he pursued her for the opportunity + she was portrayed with equally arrogantly cocked head + over-sensual – new negative critique + dried up French commissions are also probable cause for his move to London and/or his wish to pursue msuic or business instead!; shame as painted Mme Gautreau over 1 yr! + his best work)

 

03. Lady Agnew of Lochnaw (1892 @36)

04. The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit (1879 @24, influenced by Velázquez's Las Meninas 1656)

05. El Jaleo (1882 @27)

06. The Lady with the Rose (Charlotte Burckhardt) (1882 @27) (friend, rumored romantic involvement)

07. even 2 U.S. pres. Theodore Roosevelt + Woodrow Wilson

08. LAST regular portrait 1907: modest / serious self-portrait (in Uffizi Gallery)

09. John D. Rockefeller (1917 @61)

10. very last portrait 1925 @69: 'Grace Curzon, Marchioness Curzon of Kedleston' (daughter of Monroe Hinds, former US Minister to Brazil)

11. Largest works: murals of Boston Public Library (depicts history/triumph of religion); 24 years in the making, final panel never done!; restored 2003-2004, as hidden for all these years, even showing the controversial paintings; if Mme X was his most controversial portrait @29 in 1884 Paris, this Boston mural starting @39 in 1895 was the next most controversial work, when it reached controversy in 1919 @63 as he painted 'The Church' and 'The Synagogue,' politically incorrect or offending Boston's Jews, since it depicts human progress as Christian (radiant young woman vs. old blind hag)…since JSS abandoned the job thereafter, the public outcry died too

  

---------------------------

QUOTE:

 

1. self-confidence

'I have a great desire to paint her portrait and have reason to think she would allow it and is waiting for someone to propose this homage to her beauty. ...you might tell her that I am a man of prodigious talent.' him on Mme X poser ; )

 

2. work

'Painting a portrait would be quite amusing if one were not forced to talk while working…What a nuisance having to entertain the sitter and to look happy when one feels wretched.' him 1907 @51 when closing studio

  

---------------------------

LEGACY:

 

≈ 900 oil paintings (avg. 14 portrait commissions/yr)

2,000+ watercolors

countless sketches/charcoal drawings (JSS called them rapid charcoal portraits 'Mugs')

 

Grand Central Art Galleries (GCAG):

JSS founded this 1922 with Edmund Greacen, Walter Leighton Clark etc.

to increase Americans' awareness of essence of art + act as largest sales gallery ww! ($100-$10k)

the NY Central Railroad gifted the top of the Grand Central Terminal (6 floors! 15000 sf or 1400 m2)

- launched 1923 Mar 23

- initial art: painting, sculpture

- JSS was actively involved in GCAG + its academy Grand Central School of Art till death in 1925

- 1928, 3 yrs after his death, GCAG exhibited 100s of his sketches (found in his London studio, entrusted to organize by his sister to GCAG co-founder Leighton)

- GCAG was in Grand Central 1923-1958 (35 years), moving to smaller, 2nd floor on Biltmore Hotel for 23 years till 1981, then 24 W 57th St for ca. a decade when closed in early 1990s.

  

© 2010-2011 iSphere / the graphicJungle

 

Theme: iSphere wallpaper

 

Subject: feminine beauty

 

Description: feminine beauty,

art (painting, drawing, sculpting, photography) portraying the essential beauty of women;

expressing femininity through color, composition, lighting, feelings, mood, style;

 

art work from antiquity to modern times;

all art is by original artists, yet reformatted + designed to fit wallpapers by the GraphicJungle

 

art work:

John Singer Sargent (1856-1925 @69 Am. realist painter, leading portraitist) 'Portrait of Madame X' (1884 Salon @29), uncropped

 

Format: 10124 x 768 pixels (iPad HD), 150dpi, RGB, portrait; orig'l size 234.95 x 109.86 cm (92.5 x 43.3 in)

  

© 2010-2011

  

John Singer Sargent History

======================

BIRTH:

John Singer Sargent

born Florence, Italy 1856 Jan 12, d. 1925 Apr 14 @69 in London; buried in Brookwood Cemetery, near Woking, Surrey, UK

 

American, leading portrait painter of his generation

 

---------------------------

CHILDHOOD:

 

dad: FitzWilliam, eye surgeon, Philadelphia

 

traveling influence:

older sisters dies @2, family leaves country to recover yet remains nomadic expatriates forever, following the seasons to the mountains + sea in France / Italy / Germany / Switzerland

 

JSS was born on this trip in Florence

his next sister Mary (named after mom) is born a yr later, forcing dad to quit U.S. job + join family in Italy

 

they live modestly on small inheritance / savings, generally avoided society + Americans (except artists)

 

another 4 kids were born, 2 die in childhood, hence 4 grow up

  

---------------------------

ADULTHOOD

 

JSS reached total fame at 40!

 

he then painted a little less (portraits), traveled more

when he painted 'An Interior in Venice' (1900, of the Curtis family in their Palazzo Barbaro) whose looseness ('smudge everywhere') (22 year older) Whistler did not approve of (though hailed by critics)

(Whistler was Brit. but Am. born, the opposite of JSS, even in style, as Whistler was a moral allusionist, lead in credo "art for art's sake" though similarly influenced by music in painting, calling his works 'arrangements' / 'harmonies' / 'nocturnes')

 

1907 @51 shuts studio!

but did some landscapes

  

---------------------------

LOVE:

 

life-long bachelor

friends-family-man

extremely private

early Playboy as sex life 'was notorious in Paris, and in Venice, positively scandalous. He was a frenzied bugger.' (quote from Jacques-Émile Blanche, painter + early sitter)

homosexual tendencies

affair with model Louise Burckhardt (portrait 1882 @27)

  

---------------------------

CHARACTER:

 

- rambunctious child

"willful, curious, determined and strong" (after mother)

yet shy, generous, modest (after father)

- later over-confident

- paunchy physique (depicted + popularized by Brit. Cartoonist Max Beerbohm in 1900s)

  

---------------------------

SCHOOL

 

- initially failed due to family's itinerant life-style

- 1st lessons @13! (watercolor) from Carl Welsch (German landscape painter)

- quickly grows into highly literate / cosmopolitan young man, accomplished in art / music / literature, fluent in French / Italian / German

 

- 2nd lessons, 1874 @18 JSS passed rigorous admission exam on 1st attempt! @ École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts (France's premier art school); learned anatomy + perspective; gained Silver prize

 

- 3rd lessons, 1874-1878 @18-22, not at Academy of Florence as they were re-organizing, but under Carolus-Duran (bold technique + modern teaching methods, anti-academic; alla prima or direct-to-canvas method dev. by Velázquez) in Paris; other Americans artists (Weir / Eakins) studied the traditional style of Jean Léon Gérôme

 

- 4th lessons: self-study: drawing in museums + painting in studio shared with James Carroll Beckwith (valuable friend + Sargent's primary connection with Am. artists abroad)

 

- 5th lessons: Léon Bonnat

 

ideal artist who traveled the world to learn, as in the Renaissance Men:

Venice to Tyrol / Corfu / Middle East / Montana / Maine / Florida

  

---------------------------

BRITAIN:

 

since 1881, long before his decommission in France with Mme X in 1884, he has started sending the British Royal Academy paintings for exhibition; by 1886, 2 years after the X scandal, he moved to London @31, thanks to numerous portrait commissions, encouraged the entire time by friend Henry James (writer).

  

---------------------------

INFLUENCED BY:

 

mom who early on encouraged him to visit Europe + museums + drawing excursions

mom was fine amateur artist

dad was skilled medical illustrator

 

initial subject (13-18): landscapes

initially JSS copied ships from The Illustrated London News; dad hoped it would lead JSS to join navy

 

later (18 onwards): portraits

portrait painting was easier to get commissioned for + to enter Salons than harder though more prestigious history paintings; livelihood was of essence as usual

 

Carolus-Duran (1874-78 @18-22)

Léon Bonnat

Diego Velázquez (1879) (alla prima method); JSS was passionately absorbed by Velazquez + Spanish music/dance…re-awakened his own talent for music, acting as skillful accompanist to pros + amateurs…expressed in El Jaleo (1882 @27)

 

friendship with Paul César Helleu allowed him to meet Degas / Rodin (1884) / Monet (1885) / Whistler

 

visits Monet at Giverny 1885 @30, buys 4 of Monet's paintings

  

---------------------------

STYLE:

 

- mature art skills

- unusual concentration + stamina; seemingly effortless facility for paraphrasing masters in contemporary fashion

- portraits reveal individuality / personality of subjects (nervous energy) (pleasant familiarity w/ subjects)

- early: unusual composition + lighting to striking effect

- not an impressionist but using its technique to his advantage i.e. Claude Monet Painting at the Edge of a Wood

- late (Britain): returned to landscape (charming English countryside : )

- portrait painter in the grand manner (ennobling subjects)

- realism

- 1880s tried British Impressionist Salon in plein-air style (French Impressionists did not consider him Impressionist; Monet even said he's too influenced by Carolus-Duran)

 

JSS would visit sitter's home to see where painting would hang + helped choose attire, but usually painted in studio (well-stocked w/ furniture/backdrops)

 

usually req. 8-10 sittings, face in 1

usu. kept pleasant conversation (he hated) and/or took piano breaks

 

as for landscapes: he showed equal restless intensity, working day morning to night

 

watercolors were his most vivid / experimental vs. pressured portraiture

early water colors: M.E. / N Africa: Bedouins / goatherds / fisherman

late water colors: mostly faun / flora / natives…in Maine / Florida / W Am.

this was the period, in last decade, when he painted most purely for himself, showing joyful fluidness – hence extensively family / friends / gardens / fountains

 

no assistants!

prepped canvas, arranged for photos, shipping, documentation, bureaucracy all independently

  

---------------------------

VALUE:

 

live portraits cost ≈ $5k ($130k! today; 26x) (1890s @34+, UK, avg. 14 commissions/yr = $1.8M!!)

late (1900s) portrait drawings: $400 ($10.4K today; 12.5 cheaper than full oil portraits)

auction value:

  

---------------------------

FAME:

 

instantly popular due superior talent + command of French language

 

1877 @21 1st Salon got him attention (1st major portrait, of friend Fanny Watts)

1877 2nd Salon entry was impressionistic 'Oyster Gatherers of Cançale' (he made 2nd copy for US Salon)

1879 @23 portrait of Carolus-Duran (his teacher since 1874) hailed at Salon (for tribute to famed Duran + as mature ad for portrait commissions); see Henry James'critique below

1887 @ 31 1st success at Brit. Royal Academy 'Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose' (immediately bought by Tate Gallery! where it's still hanging today)

1887-88 1st trip to NY/Boston begets him over 20 commissions

1888 largest JSS commission from single patron by Asher Wertheimer, wealthy London Jewish art dealer (bequeathing most to National Gallery)

 

1890s associate of the Royal Academy; full mbr. 3 yrs later

1905 @49 1st major solo watercolors exhibit, Carfax Gallery, London

1909 @53 exhibits 86 watercolors in NYC (83 bought by Brooklyn Museum! then)

1907 @51, upon closing studio, declines British Knighthood! (preferring to keep Am. citizenship)

1918 @62, upon return UK from 2 yr stay in US, commissioned as a war artist by Brit. Ministry of Info i.e. 'Gassed' (1919) (WWI mustard gas)

JSS confidently set high prices + turned down unsatisfactory sitters

  

---------------------------

CRITIQUE:

 

1879 Henry James (Am./Brit. writer, key figure in 19C literary realism or impressionist writing style) on JSS's early works offers "the slightly 'uncanny' spectacle of a talent which on the very threshold of its career has nothing more to learn."

 

1886 @31 he moved to London after French Mme X scandal; initially Brits critiqued him as 'Frenchified' (cold, harsh, inpallpable, inexpressive)

 

water colors in general: 'Everything is given with the intensity of a dream.'

 

'the Van Dyck of our times'

 

Camille Pissarro 'he is not an enthusiast but rather an adroit performer'

Walter Sickert's satire 'Sargentolatry'

 

1927, 2 years after JSS's death, Hon. Sir Evan Edward Charteris (1864-1940 Brit. biographer / barrister / arts administrator / publisher of JSS biography!) 'To live with Sargent's water-colours is to live with sunshine captured and held, with the luster of a bright and legible world, ‘the refluent shade’ and ‘the Ambient ardours of the noon.'' (JSS was not as critically respected as the ultimate Am. watercolorist Winslow Homer, 1836-1910, 20 years younger than JSS, but close)

 

1917 following his encore portrait, Rockefeller, modern critics consider him past tense, completely out of touch with the reality of American life vs trendy Cubism + Futurism; JSS quietly accepts new criticism but refuses to alter his negative opinions of modern art; part of his fall due to rise in anti-Semitism (intolerance of 'celebrations of Jewish prosperity') i.e. his single biggest patron Wertheimer (jewish art dealer) + authentic Americanism (when JSS was an expatriate)

 

1926 Roger Fry, biggest critic @ London's Sargent retrospective 'Wonderful indeed, but most wonderful that this wonderful performance should ever have been confused with that of an artist.' on lack of aesthetic quality

 

1930s severest critic, Lewis Mumford (1895-1990; Am. literary critic / historian / philosopher of tech) 'Sargent remained to the end an illustrator…the most adroit appearance of workmanship, the most dashing eye for effect, cannot conceal the essential emptiness of Sargent's mind, or the contemptuous and cynical superficiality of a certain part of his execution.'

 

1950s/60s Victorian art revival helped his popularity return

  

---------------------------

FAMOUS WORKS:

 

01. Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose (1877 Royal Aca. @31)

02. Portrait of Madame X (Mme Pierre Gautreau) (1884 Salon @29) (currently at MET)

(personal fave, considered his best too) (most controversial work as infuriated by Paris Salon; back-firing self-confidence as she did not commission it + he pursued her for the opportunity + she was portrayed with equally arrogantly cocked head + over-sensual – new negative critique + dried up French commissions are also probable cause for his move to London and/or his wish to pursue msuic or business instead!; shame as painted Mme Gautreau over 1 yr! + his best work)

 

03. Lady Agnew of Lochnaw (1892 @36)

04. The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit (1879 @24, influenced by Velázquez's Las Meninas 1656)

05. El Jaleo (1882 @27)

06. The Lady with the Rose (Charlotte Burckhardt) (1882 @27) (friend, rumored romantic involvement)

07. even 2 U.S. pres. Theodore Roosevelt + Woodrow Wilson

08. LAST regular portrait 1907: modest / serious self-portrait (in Uffizi Gallery)

09. John D. Rockefeller (1917 @61)

10. very last portrait 1925 @69: 'Grace Curzon, Marchioness Curzon of Kedleston' (daughter of Monroe Hinds, former US Minister to Brazil)

11. Largest works: murals of Boston Public Library (depicts history/triumph of religion); 24 years in the making, final panel never done!; restored 2003-2004, as hidden for all these years, even showing the controversial paintings; if Mme X was his most controversial portrait @29 in 1884 Paris, this Boston mural starting @39 in 1895 was the next most controversial work, when it reached controversy in 1919 @63 as he painted 'The Church' and 'The Synagogue,' politically incorrect or offending Boston's Jews, since it depicts human progress as Christian (radiant young woman vs. old blind hag)…since JSS abandoned the job thereafter, the public outcry died too

  

---------------------------

QUOTE:

 

1. self-confidence

'I have a great desire to paint her portrait and have reason to think she would allow it and is waiting for someone to propose this homage to her beauty. ...you might tell her that I am a man of prodigious talent.' him on Mme X poser ; )

 

2. work

'Painting a portrait would be quite amusing if one were not forced to talk while working…What a nuisance having to entertain the sitter and to look happy when one feels wretched.' him 1907 @51 when closing studio

  

---------------------------

LEGACY:

 

≈ 900 oil paintings (avg. 14 portrait commissions/yr)

2,000+ watercolors

countless sketches/charcoal drawings (JSS called them rapid charcoal portraits 'Mugs')

 

Grand Central Art Galleries (GCAG):

JSS founded this 1922 with Edmund Greacen, Walter Leighton Clark etc.

to increase Americans' awareness of essence of art + act as largest sales gallery ww! ($100-$10k)

the NY Central Railroad gifted the top of the Grand Central Terminal (6 floors! 15000 sf or 1400 m2)

- launched 1923 Mar 23

- initial art: painting, sculpture

- JSS was actively involved in GCAG + its academy Grand Central School of Art till death in 1925

- 1928, 3 yrs after his death, GCAG exhibited 100s of his sketches (found in his London studio, entrusted to organize by his sister to GCAG co-founder Leighton)

- GCAG was in Grand Central 1923-1958 (35 years), moving to smaller, 2nd floor on Biltmore Hotel for 23 years till 1981, then 24 W 57th St for ca. a decade when closed in early 1990s.

  

© 2010-2011 iSphere / the graphicJungle

 

Theme: iSphere wallpaper

 

Subject: Masters art

 

Description: art (painting, drawing, sculpting, photography, architectural) throughout human history, from all cultures + styles

 

hand-picked not for just art history's sake but for aesthetic / emotional / spiritual / sensual / socio-political...cultural effect / influence; thus proving human genius at its best ; )

 

art work from antiquity to modern times;

all art is by original artists, yet reformatted + designed to fit wallpapers by the GraphicJungle

 

art work:

John Singer Sargent (1856-1925 @69 Am. realist painter, leading portraitist) 'Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose' (1877 Royal Aca. @31), girls aglow with lanterns in typical magical enchanting British garden, cropped to top half

 

Format: 10124 x 768 pixels (iPad HD), 150dpi, RGB, landscape

  

© 2011

  

John Singer Sargent History

======================

BIRTH:

John Singer Sargent

born Florence, Italy 1856 Jan 12, d. 1925 Apr 14 @69 in London; buried in Brookwood Cemetery, near Woking, Surrey, UK

 

American, leading portrait painter of his generation

 

---------------------------

CHILDHOOD:

 

dad: FitzWilliam, eye surgeon, Philadelphia

 

traveling influence:

older sisters dies @2, family leaves country to recover yet remains nomadic expatriates forever, following the seasons to the mountains + sea in France / Italy / Germany / Switzerland

 

JSS was born on this trip in Florence

his next sister Mary (named after mom) is born a yr later, forcing dad to quit U.S. job + join family in Italy

 

they live modestly on small inheritance / savings, generally avoided society + Americans (except artists)

 

another 4 kids were born, 2 die in childhood, hence 4 grow up

  

---------------------------

ADULTHOOD

 

JSS reached total fame at 40!

 

he then painted a little less (portraits), traveled more

when he painted 'An Interior in Venice' (1900, of the Curtis family in their Palazzo Barbaro) whose looseness ('smudge everywhere') (22 year older) Whistler did not approve of (though hailed by critics)

(Whistler was Brit. but Am. born, the opposite of JSS, even in style, as Whistler was a moral allusionist, lead in credo "art for art's sake" though similarly influenced by music in painting, calling his works 'arrangements' / 'harmonies' / 'nocturnes')

 

1907 @51 shuts studio!

but did some landscapes

  

---------------------------

LOVE:

 

life-long bachelor

friends-family-man

extremely private

early Playboy as sex life 'was notorious in Paris, and in Venice, positively scandalous. He was a frenzied bugger.' (quote from Jacques-Émile Blanche, painter + early sitter)

homosexual tendencies

affair with model Louise Burckhardt (portrait 1882 @27)

  

---------------------------

CHARACTER:

 

- rambunctious child

"willful, curious, determined and strong" (after mother)

yet shy, generous, modest (after father)

- later over-confident

- paunchy physique (depicted + popularized by Brit. Cartoonist Max Beerbohm in 1900s)

  

---------------------------

SCHOOL

 

- initially failed due to family's itinerant life-style

- 1st lessons @13! (watercolor) from Carl Welsch (German landscape painter)

- quickly grows into highly literate / cosmopolitan young man, accomplished in art / music / literature, fluent in French / Italian / German

 

- 2nd lessons, 1874 @18 JSS passed rigorous admission exam on 1st attempt! @ École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts (France's premier art school); learned anatomy + perspective; gained Silver prize

 

- 3rd lessons, 1874-1878 @18-22, not at Academy of Florence as they were re-organizing, but under Carolus-Duran (bold technique + modern teaching methods, anti-academic; alla prima or direct-to-canvas method dev. by Velázquez) in Paris; other Americans artists (Weir / Eakins) studied the traditional style of Jean Léon Gérôme

 

- 4th lessons: self-study: drawing in museums + painting in studio shared with James Carroll Beckwith (valuable friend + Sargent's primary connection with Am. artists abroad)

 

- 5th lessons: Léon Bonnat

 

ideal artist who traveled the world to learn, as in the Renaissance Men:

Venice to Tyrol / Corfu / Middle East / Montana / Maine / Florida

  

---------------------------

BRITAIN:

 

since 1881, long before his decommission in France with Mme X in 1884, he has started sending the British Royal Academy paintings for exhibition; by 1886, 2 years after the X scandal, he moved to London @31, thanks to numerous portrait commissions, encouraged the entire time by friend Henry James (writer).

  

---------------------------

INFLUENCED BY:

 

mom who early on encouraged him to visit Europe + museums + drawing excursions

mom was fine amateur artist

dad was skilled medical illustrator

 

initial subject (13-18): landscapes

initially JSS copied ships from The Illustrated London News; dad hoped it would lead JSS to join navy

 

later (18 onwards): portraits

portrait painting was easier to get commissioned for + to enter Salons than harder though more prestigious history paintings; livelihood was of essence as usual

 

Carolus-Duran (1874-78 @18-22)

Léon Bonnat

Diego Velázquez (1879) (alla prima method); JSS was passionately absorbed by Velazquez + Spanish music/dance…re-awakened his own talent for music, acting as skillful accompanist to pros + amateurs…expressed in El Jaleo (1882 @27)

 

friendship with Paul César Helleu allowed him to meet Degas / Rodin (1884) / Monet (1885) / Whistler

 

visits Monet at Giverny 1885 @30, buys 4 of Monet's paintings

  

---------------------------

STYLE:

 

- mature art skills

- unusual concentration + stamina; seemingly effortless facility for paraphrasing masters in contemporary fashion

- portraits reveal individuality / personality of subjects (nervous energy) (pleasant familiarity w/ subjects)

- early: unusual composition + lighting to striking effect

- not an impressionist but using its technique to his advantage i.e. Claude Monet Painting at the Edge of a Wood

- late (Britain): returned to landscape (charming English countryside : )

- portrait painter in the grand manner (ennobling subjects)

- realism

- 1880s tried British Impressionist Salon in plein-air style (French Impressionists did not consider him Impressionist; Monet even said he's too influenced by Carolus-Duran)

 

JSS would visit sitter's home to see where painting would hang + helped choose attire, but usually painted in studio (well-stocked w/ furniture/backdrops)

 

usually req. 8-10 sittings, face in 1

usu. kept pleasant conversation (he hated) and/or took piano breaks

 

as for landscapes: he showed equal restless intensity, working day morning to night

 

watercolors were his most vivid / experimental vs. pressured portraiture

early water colors: M.E. / N Africa: Bedouins / goatherds / fisherman

late water colors: mostly faun / flora / natives…in Maine / Florida / W Am.

this was the period, in last decade, when he painted most purely for himself, showing joyful fluidness – hence extensively family / friends / gardens / fountains

 

no assistants!

prepped canvas, arranged for photos, shipping, documentation, bureaucracy all independently

  

---------------------------

VALUE:

 

live portraits cost ≈ $5k ($130k! today; 26x) (1890s @34+, UK, avg. 14 commissions/yr = $1.8M!!)

late (1900s) portrait drawings: $400 ($10.4K today; 12.5 cheaper than full oil portraits)

auction value:

  

---------------------------

FAME:

 

instantly popular due superior talent + command of French language

 

1877 @21 1st Salon got him attention (1st major portrait, of friend Fanny Watts)

1877 2nd Salon entry was impressionistic 'Oyster Gatherers of Cançale' (he made 2nd copy for US Salon)

1879 @23 portrait of Carolus-Duran (his teacher since 1874) hailed at Salon (for tribute to famed Duran + as mature ad for portrait commissions); see Henry James'critique below

1887 @ 31 1st success at Brit. Royal Academy 'Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose' (immediately bought by Tate Gallery! where it's still hanging today)

1887-88 1st trip to NY/Boston begets him over 20 commissions

1888 largest JSS commission from single patron by Asher Wertheimer, wealthy London Jewish art dealer (bequeathing most to National Gallery)

 

1890s associate of the Royal Academy; full mbr. 3 yrs later

1905 @49 1st major solo watercolors exhibit, Carfax Gallery, London

1909 @53 exhibits 86 watercolors in NYC (83 bought by Brooklyn Museum! then)

1907 @51, upon closing studio, declines British Knighthood! (preferring to keep Am. citizenship)

1918 @62, upon return UK from 2 yr stay in US, commissioned as a war artist by Brit. Ministry of Info i.e. 'Gassed' (1919) (WWI mustard gas)

JSS confidently set high prices + turned down unsatisfactory sitters

  

---------------------------

CRITIQUE:

 

1879 Henry James (Am./Brit. writer, key figure in 19C literary realism or impressionist writing style) on JSS's early works offers "the slightly 'uncanny' spectacle of a talent which on the very threshold of its career has nothing more to learn."

 

1886 @31 he moved to London after French Mme X scandal; initially Brits critiqued him as 'Frenchified' (cold, harsh, inpallpable, inexpressive)

 

water colors in general: 'Everything is given with the intensity of a dream.'

 

'the Van Dyck of our times'

 

Camille Pissarro 'he is not an enthusiast but rather an adroit performer'

Walter Sickert's satire 'Sargentolatry'

 

1927, 2 years after JSS's death, Hon. Sir Evan Edward Charteris (1864-1940 Brit. biographer / barrister / arts administrator / publisher of JSS biography!) 'To live with Sargent's water-colours is to live with sunshine captured and held, with the luster of a bright and legible world, ‘the refluent shade’ and ‘the Ambient ardours of the noon.'' (JSS was not as critically respected as the ultimate Am. watercolorist Winslow Homer, 1836-1910, 20 years younger than JSS, but close)

 

1917 following his encore portrait, Rockefeller, modern critics consider him past tense, completely out of touch with the reality of American life vs trendy Cubism + Futurism; JSS quietly accepts new criticism but refuses to alter his negative opinions of modern art; part of his fall due to rise in anti-Semitism (intolerance of 'celebrations of Jewish prosperity') i.e. his single biggest patron Wertheimer (jewish art dealer) + authentic Americanism (when JSS was an expatriate)

 

1926 Roger Fry, biggest critic @ London's Sargent retrospective 'Wonderful indeed, but most wonderful that this wonderful performance should ever have been confused with that of an artist.' on lack of aesthetic quality

 

1930s severest critic, Lewis Mumford (1895-1990; Am. literary critic / historian / philosopher of tech) 'Sargent remained to the end an illustrator…the most adroit appearance of workmanship, the most dashing eye for effect, cannot conceal the essential emptiness of Sargent's mind, or the contemptuous and cynical superficiality of a certain part of his execution.'

 

1950s/60s Victorian art revival helped his popularity return

  

---------------------------

FAMOUS WORKS:

 

01. Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose (1877 Royal Aca. @31)

02. Portrait of Madame X (Mme Pierre Gautreau) (1884 Salon @29) (currently at MET)

(personal fave, considered his best too) (most controversial work as infuriated by Paris Salon; back-firing self-confidence as she did not commission it + he pursued her for the opportunity + she was portrayed with equally arrogantly cocked head + over-sensual – new negative critique + dried up French commissions are also probable cause for his move to London and/or his wish to pursue msuic or business instead!; shame as painted Mme Gautreau over 1 yr! + his best work)

 

03. Lady Agnew of Lochnaw (1892 @36)

04. The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit (1879 @24, influenced by Velázquez's Las Meninas 1656)

05. El Jaleo (1882 @27)

06. The Lady with the Rose (Charlotte Burckhardt) (1882 @27) (friend, rumored romantic involvement)

07. even 2 U.S. pres. Theodore Roosevelt + Woodrow Wilson

08. LAST regular portrait 1907: modest / serious self-portrait (in Uffizi Gallery)

09. John D. Rockefeller (1917 @61)

10. very last portrait 1925 @69: 'Grace Curzon, Marchioness Curzon of Kedleston' (daughter of Monroe Hinds, former US Minister to Brazil)

11. Largest works: murals of Boston Public Library (depicts history/triumph of religion); 24 years in the making, final panel never done!; restored 2003-2004, as hidden for all these years, even showing the controversial paintings; if Mme X was his most controversial portrait @29 in 1884 Paris, this Boston mural starting @39 in 1895 was the next most controversial work, when it reached controversy in 1919 @63 as he painted 'The Church' and 'The Synagogue,' politically incorrect or offending Boston's Jews, since it depicts human progress as Christian (radiant young woman vs. old blind hag)…since JSS abandoned the job thereafter, the public outcry died too

  

---------------------------

QUOTE:

 

1. self-confidence

'I have a great desire to paint her portrait and have reason to think she would allow it and is waiting for someone to propose this homage to her beauty. ...you might tell her that I am a man of prodigious talent.' him on Mme X poser ; )

 

2. work

'Painting a portrait would be quite amusing if one were not forced to talk while working…What a nuisance having to entertain the sitter and to look happy when one feels wretched.' him 1907 @51 when closing studio

  

---------------------------

LEGACY:

 

≈ 900 oil paintings (avg. 14 portrait commissions/yr)

2,000+ watercolors

countless sketches/charcoal drawings (JSS called them rapid charcoal portraits 'Mugs')

 

Grand Central Art Galleries (GCAG):

JSS founded this 1922 with Edmund Greacen, Walter Leighton Clark etc.

to increase Americans' awareness of essence of art + act as largest sales gallery ww! ($100-$10k)

the NY Central Railroad gifted the top of the Grand Central Terminal (6 floors! 15000 sf or 1400 m2)

- launched 1923 Mar 23

- initial art: painting, sculpture

- JSS was actively involved in GCAG + its academy Grand Central School of Art till death in 1925

- 1928, 3 yrs after his death, GCAG exhibited 100s of his sketches (found in his London studio, entrusted to organize by his sister to GCAG co-founder Leighton)

- GCAG was in Grand Central 1923-1958 (35 years), moving to smaller, 2nd floor on Biltmore Hotel for 23 years till 1981, then 24 W 57th St for ca. a decade when closed in early 1990s.

  

© 2010-2011 iSphere / the graphicJungle

 

Theme: iSphere wallpaper

 

Subject: feminine beauty

 

Description: feminine beauty,

art (painting, drawing, sculpting, photography) portraying the essential beauty of women;

expressing femininity through color, composition, lighting, feelings, mood, style;

 

art work from antiquity to modern times;

all art is by original artists, yet reformatted + designed to fit wallpapers by the GraphicJungle

 

art work:

John Singer Sargent (1856-1925 @69 Am. realist painter, leading portraitist) 'Portrait of Madame X' (Mme Pierre Gautreau) (1884 Salon @29), uncropped, brown side glow

 

Format: 10124 x 768 pixels (iPad HD), 150dpi, RGB, portrait; orig'l size 234.95 x 109.86 cm (92.5 x 43.3 in)

  

© 2010-2011

  

John Singer Sargent History

======================

BIRTH:

John Singer Sargent

born Florence, Italy 1856 Jan 12, d. 1925 Apr 14 @69 in London; buried in Brookwood Cemetery, near Woking, Surrey, UK

 

American, leading portrait painter of his generation

 

---------------------------

CHILDHOOD:

 

dad: FitzWilliam, eye surgeon, Philadelphia

 

traveling influence:

older sisters dies @2, family leaves country to recover yet remains nomadic expatriates forever, following the seasons to the mountains + sea in France / Italy / Germany / Switzerland

 

JSS was born on this trip in Florence

his next sister Mary (named after mom) is born a yr later, forcing dad to quit U.S. job + join family in Italy

 

they live modestly on small inheritance / savings, generally avoided society + Americans (except artists)

 

another 4 kids were born, 2 die in childhood, hence 4 grow up

  

---------------------------

ADULTHOOD

 

JSS reached total fame at 40!

 

he then painted a little less (portraits), traveled more

when he painted 'An Interior in Venice' (1900, of the Curtis family in their Palazzo Barbaro) whose looseness ('smudge everywhere') (22 year older) Whistler did not approve of (though hailed by critics)

(Whistler was Brit. but Am. born, the opposite of JSS, even in style, as Whistler was a moral allusionist, lead in credo "art for art's sake" though similarly influenced by music in painting, calling his works 'arrangements' / 'harmonies' / 'nocturnes')

 

1907 @51 shuts studio!

but did some landscapes

  

---------------------------

LOVE:

 

life-long bachelor

friends-family-man

extremely private

early Playboy as sex life 'was notorious in Paris, and in Venice, positively scandalous. He was a frenzied bugger.' (quote from Jacques-Émile Blanche, painter + early sitter)

homosexual tendencies

affair with model Louise Burckhardt (portrait 1882 @27)

  

---------------------------

CHARACTER:

 

- rambunctious child

"willful, curious, determined and strong" (after mother)

yet shy, generous, modest (after father)

- later over-confident

- paunchy physique (depicted + popularized by Brit. Cartoonist Max Beerbohm in 1900s)

  

---------------------------

SCHOOL

 

- initially failed due to family's itinerant life-style

- 1st lessons @13! (watercolor) from Carl Welsch (German landscape painter)

- quickly grows into highly literate / cosmopolitan young man, accomplished in art / music / literature, fluent in French / Italian / German

 

- 2nd lessons, 1874 @18 JSS passed rigorous admission exam on 1st attempt! @ École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts (France's premier art school); learned anatomy + perspective; gained Silver prize

 

- 3rd lessons, 1874-1878 @18-22, not at Academy of Florence as they were re-organizing, but under Carolus-Duran (bold technique + modern teaching methods, anti-academic; alla prima or direct-to-canvas method dev. by Velázquez) in Paris; other Americans artists (Weir / Eakins) studied the traditional style of Jean Léon Gérôme

 

- 4th lessons: self-study: drawing in museums + painting in studio shared with James Carroll Beckwith (valuable friend + Sargent's primary connection with Am. artists abroad)

 

- 5th lessons: Léon Bonnat

 

ideal artist who traveled the world to learn, as in the Renaissance Men:

Venice to Tyrol / Corfu / Middle East / Montana / Maine / Florida

  

---------------------------

BRITAIN:

 

since 1881, long before his decommission in France with Mme X in 1884, he has started sending the British Royal Academy paintings for exhibition; by 1886, 2 years after the X scandal, he moved to London @31, thanks to numerous portrait commissions, encouraged the entire time by friend Henry James (writer).

  

---------------------------

INFLUENCED BY:

 

mom who early on encouraged him to visit Europe + museums + drawing excursions

mom was fine amateur artist

dad was skilled medical illustrator

 

initial subject (13-18): landscapes

initially JSS copied ships from The Illustrated London News; dad hoped it would lead JSS to join navy

 

later (18 onwards): portraits

portrait painting was easier to get commissioned for + to enter Salons than harder though more prestigious history paintings; livelihood was of essence as usual

 

Carolus-Duran (1874-78 @18-22)

Léon Bonnat

Diego Velázquez (1879) (alla prima method); JSS was passionately absorbed by Velazquez + Spanish music/dance…re-awakened his own talent for music, acting as skillful accompanist to pros + amateurs…expressed in El Jaleo (1882 @27)

 

friendship with Paul César Helleu allowed him to meet Degas / Rodin (1884) / Monet (1885) / Whistler

 

visits Monet at Giverny 1885 @30, buys 4 of Monet's paintings

  

---------------------------

STYLE:

 

- mature art skills

- unusual concentration + stamina; seemingly effortless facility for paraphrasing masters in contemporary fashion

- portraits reveal individuality / personality of subjects (nervous energy) (pleasant familiarity w/ subjects)

- early: unusual composition + lighting to striking effect

- not an impressionist but using its technique to his advantage i.e. Claude Monet Painting at the Edge of a Wood

- late (Britain): returned to landscape (charming English countryside : )

- portrait painter in the grand manner (ennobling subjects)

- realism

- 1880s tried British Impressionist Salon in plein-air style (French Impressionists did not consider him Impressionist; Monet even said he's too influenced by Carolus-Duran)

 

JSS would visit sitter's home to see where painting would hang + helped choose attire, but usually painted in studio (well-stocked w/ furniture/backdrops)

 

usually req. 8-10 sittings, face in 1

usu. kept pleasant conversation (he hated) and/or took piano breaks

 

as for landscapes: he showed equal restless intensity, working day morning to night

 

watercolors were his most vivid / experimental vs. pressured portraiture

early water colors: M.E. / N Africa: Bedouins / goatherds / fisherman

late water colors: mostly faun / flora / natives…in Maine / Florida / W Am.

this was the period, in last decade, when he painted most purely for himself, showing joyful fluidness – hence extensively family / friends / gardens / fountains

 

no assistants!

prepped canvas, arranged for photos, shipping, documentation, bureaucracy all independently

  

---------------------------

VALUE:

 

live portraits cost ≈ $5k ($130k! today; 26x) (1890s @34+, UK, avg. 14 commissions/yr = $1.8M!!)

late (1900s) portrait drawings: $400 ($10.4K today; 12.5 cheaper than full oil portraits)

auction value:

  

---------------------------

FAME:

 

instantly popular due superior talent + command of French language

 

1877 @21 1st Salon got him attention (1st major portrait, of friend Fanny Watts)

1877 2nd Salon entry was impressionistic 'Oyster Gatherers of Cançale' (he made 2nd copy for US Salon)

1879 @23 portrait of Carolus-Duran (his teacher since 1874) hailed at Salon (for tribute to famed Duran + as mature ad for portrait commissions); see Henry James'critique below

1887 @ 31 1st success at Brit. Royal Academy 'Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose' (immediately bought by Tate Gallery! where it's still hanging today)

1887-88 1st trip to NY/Boston begets him over 20 commissions

1888 largest JSS commission from single patron by Asher Wertheimer, wealthy London Jewish art dealer (bequeathing most to National Gallery)

 

1890s associate of the Royal Academy; full mbr. 3 yrs later

1905 @49 1st major solo watercolors exhibit, Carfax Gallery, London

1909 @53 exhibits 86 watercolors in NYC (83 bought by Brooklyn Museum! then)

1907 @51, upon closing studio, declines British Knighthood! (preferring to keep Am. citizenship)

1918 @62, upon return UK from 2 yr stay in US, commissioned as a war artist by Brit. Ministry of Info i.e. 'Gassed' (1919) (WWI mustard gas)

JSS confidently set high prices + turned down unsatisfactory sitters

  

---------------------------

CRITIQUE:

 

1879 Henry James (Am./Brit. writer, key figure in 19C literary realism or impressionist writing style) on JSS's early works offers "the slightly 'uncanny' spectacle of a talent which on the very threshold of its career has nothing more to learn."

 

1886 @31 he moved to London after French Mme X scandal; initially Brits critiqued him as 'Frenchified' (cold, harsh, inpallpable, inexpressive)

 

water colors in general: 'Everything is given with the intensity of a dream.'

 

'the Van Dyck of our times'

 

Camille Pissarro 'he is not an enthusiast but rather an adroit performer'

Walter Sickert's satire 'Sargentolatry'

 

1927, 2 years after JSS's death, Hon. Sir Evan Edward Charteris (1864-1940 Brit. biographer / barrister / arts administrator / publisher of JSS biography!) 'To live with Sargent's water-colours is to live with sunshine captured and held, with the luster of a bright and legible world, ‘the refluent shade’ and ‘the Ambient ardours of the noon.'' (JSS was not as critically respected as the ultimate Am. watercolorist Winslow Homer, 1836-1910, 20 years younger than JSS, but close)

 

1917 following his encore portrait, Rockefeller, modern critics consider him past tense, completely out of touch with the reality of American life vs trendy Cubism + Futurism; JSS quietly accepts new criticism but refuses to alter his negative opinions of modern art; part of his fall due to rise in anti-Semitism (intolerance of 'celebrations of Jewish prosperity') i.e. his single biggest patron Wertheimer (jewish art dealer) + authentic Americanism (when JSS was an expatriate)

 

1926 Roger Fry, biggest critic @ London's Sargent retrospective 'Wonderful indeed, but most wonderful that this wonderful performance should ever have been confused with that of an artist.' on lack of aesthetic quality

 

1930s severest critic, Lewis Mumford (1895-1990; Am. literary critic / historian / philosopher of tech) 'Sargent remained to the end an illustrator…the most adroit appearance of workmanship, the most dashing eye for effect, cannot conceal the essential emptiness of Sargent's mind, or the contemptuous and cynical superficiality of a certain part of his execution.'

 

1950s/60s Victorian art revival helped his popularity return

  

---------------------------

FAMOUS WORKS:

 

01. Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose (1877 Royal Aca. @31)

02. Portrait of Madame X (Mme Pierre Gautreau) (1884 Salon @29) (currently at MET)

(personal fave, considered his best too) (most controversial work as infuriated by Paris Salon; back-firing self-confidence as she did not commission it + he pursued her for the opportunity + she was portrayed with equally arrogantly cocked head + over-sensual – new negative critique + dried up French commissions are also probable cause for his move to London and/or his wish to pursue msuic or business instead!; shame as painted Mme Gautreau over 1 yr! + his best work)

 

03. Lady Agnew of Lochnaw (1892 @36)

04. The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit (1879 @24, influenced by Velázquez's Las Meninas 1656)

05. El Jaleo (1882 @27)

06. The Lady with the Rose (Charlotte Burckhardt) (1882 @27) (friend, rumored romantic involvement)

07. even 2 U.S. pres. Theodore Roosevelt + Woodrow Wilson

08. LAST regular portrait 1907: modest / serious self-portrait (in Uffizi Gallery)

09. John D. Rockefeller (1917 @61)

10. very last portrait 1925 @69: 'Grace Curzon, Marchioness Curzon of Kedleston' (daughter of Monroe Hinds, former US Minister to Brazil)

11. Largest works: murals of Boston Public Library (depicts history/triumph of religion); 24 years in the making, final panel never done!; restored 2003-2004, as hidden for all these years, even showing the controversial paintings; if Mme X was his most controversial portrait @29 in 1884 Paris, this Boston mural starting @39 in 1895 was the next most controversial work, when it reached controversy in 1919 @63 as he painted 'The Church' and 'The Synagogue,' politically incorrect or offending Boston's Jews, since it depicts human progress as Christian (radiant young woman vs. old blind hag)…since JSS abandoned the job thereafter, the public outcry died too

  

---------------------------

QUOTE:

 

1. self-confidence

'I have a great desire to paint her portrait and have reason to think she would allow it and is waiting for someone to propose this homage to her beauty. ...you might tell her that I am a man of prodigious talent.' him on Mme X poser ; )

 

2. work

'Painting a portrait would be quite amusing if one were not forced to talk while working…What a nuisance having to entertain the sitter and to look happy when one feels wretched.' him 1907 @51 when closing studio

  

---------------------------

LEGACY:

 

≈ 900 oil paintings (avg. 14 portrait commissions/yr)

2,000+ watercolors

countless sketches/charcoal drawings (JSS called them rapid charcoal portraits 'Mugs')

 

Grand Central Art Galleries (GCAG):

JSS founded this 1922 with Edmund Greacen, Walter Leighton Clark etc.

to increase Americans' awareness of essence of art + act as largest sales gallery ww! ($100-$10k)

the NY Central Railroad gifted the top of the Grand Central Terminal (6 floors! 15000 sf or 1400 m2)

- launched 1923 Mar 23

- initial art: painting, sculpture

- JSS was actively involved in GCAG + its academy Grand Central School of Art till death in 1925

- 1928, 3 yrs after his death, GCAG exhibited 100s of his sketches (found in his London studio, entrusted to organize by his sister to GCAG co-founder Leighton)

- GCAG was in Grand Central 1923-1958 (35 years), moving to smaller, 2nd floor on Biltmore Hotel for 23 years till 1981, then 24 W 57th St for ca. a decade when closed in early 1990s.

  

© 2010-2011 iSphere / the graphicJungle

 

Hans Holbein the Younger (c. 1497– between 7 October and 29 November 1543) was a German artist and printmaker who worked in a Northern Renaissance style. He is best known as one of the greatest portraitists of the 16th century. He also produced religious art, satire, and Reformation propaganda, and made a significant contribution to the history of book design. He is called "the Younger" to distinguish him from his father, Hans Holbein the Elder, an accomplished painter of the Late Gothic school.

 

Born in Augsburg, Holbein worked mainly in Basel as a young artist. At first he painted murals and religious works and designed for stained glass windows and printed books. He also painted the occasional portrait, making his international mark with portraits of the humanist Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam. When the Reformation reached Basel, Holbein worked for reformist clients while continuing to serve traditional religious patrons. His Late Gothic style was enriched by artistic trends in Italy, France, and the Netherlands, as well as by Renaissance Humanism. The result was a combined aesthetic uniquely his own.

 

Holbein travelled to England in 1526 in search of work, with a recommendation from Erasmus. He was welcomed into the humanist circle of Thomas More, where he quickly built a high reputation. After returning to Basel for four years, he resumed his career in England in 1532. This time he worked under the patronage of Anne Boleyn and Thomas Cromwell. By 1535, he was King's Painter to King Henry VIII. In this role, he produced not only portraits and festive decorations but designs for jewellery, plate, and other precious objects. His portraits of the royal family and nobles are a record of the court in the years when Henry was asserting his supremacy over the English church.

 

Holbein's art was prized from early in his career. The French poet and reformer Nicholas Bourbon dubbed him "the Apelles of our time," a typical contemporary accolade. Holbein has also been described as a great "one-off" of art history, since he founded no school. After his death, some of his work was lost, but much was collected, and by the 19th century, Holbein was recognised among the great portrait masters. Recent exhibitions have also highlighted his versatility. He turned his fluid line to designs ranging from intricate jewellery to monumental frescoes. Holbein's art has sometimes been called realist, since he drew and painted with a rare precision.

 

His portraits were renowned in their time for their likeness; and it is through Holbein's eyes that many famous figures of his day, such as Erasmus and More, are now "seen". Holbein was never content, however, with outward appearance. He embedded layers of symbolism, allusion, and paradox in his art, to the lasting fascination of scholars. In the view of art historian Ellis Waterhouse, his portraiture "remains unsurpassed for sureness and economy of statement, penetration into character, and a combined richness and purity of style".

 

Holbein was born in the free imperial city of Augsburg during the winter of 1497–98. He was a son of the painter and draughtsman Hans Holbein the Elder, whose trade he and his older brother, Ambrosius, followed. Holbein the Elder ran a large and busy workshop in Augsburg, sometimes assisted by his brother Sigmund, also a painter.

By 1515, Hans and Ambrosius had moved as journeymen painters to the city of Basel, a centre of learning and the printing trade. There they were apprenticed to Hans Herbster, Basel's leading painter. The brothers found work in Basel as designers of woodcuts and metalcuts for printers. In 1515, the preacher and theologian Oswald Myconius invited them to add pen drawings to the margin of a copy of The Praise of Folly by the humanist scholar Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam. The sketches provide early evidence of Holbein's wit and humanistic leaning. His other early works, including the double portrait of Basel's mayor Jakob Meyer zum Hasen and his wife Dorothea, follow his father's style.

The young Holbein, alongside his brother and his father, is pictured in the left-hand panel of Holbein the Elder's 1504 altar-piece triptych the Basilica of St. Paul, which is displayed at the Staatsgalerie in Augsberg.

In 1517, father and son began a project in Lucerne (Luzern), painting internal and external murals for the merchant Jakob von Hertenstein. While in Lucerne Holbein also designed cartoons for stained glass. The city's records show that on 10 December 1517, he was fined five livres for fighting in the street with a goldsmith called Caspar, who was fined the same amount. That winter, Holbein probably visited northern Italy, though no record of the trip survives. Many scholars believe he studied the work of Italian masters of fresco, such as Andrea Mantegna, before returning to Lucerne. He filled two series of panels at Hertenstein's house with copies of works by Mantegna, including The Triumphs of Caesar.

In 1519, Holbein moved back to Basel. His brother fades from the record at about this time, and it is usually presumed that he died. Holbein re-established himself rapidly in the city, running a busy workshop. He joined the painters' guild and took out Basel citizenship. He married Elsbeth Schmid, a widow a few years older than he was, who had an infant son, Franz, and was running her late husband's tanning business. She bore Holbein a son of his own, Philipp, in their first year of marriage.

Holbein was prolific during this period in Basel, which coincided with the arrival of Lutheranism in the city. He undertook a number of major projects, such as external murals for The House of the Dance and internal murals for the Council Chamber of the Town Hall. The former are known from preparatory drawings. The Council Chamber murals survive in a few poorly preserved fragments. Holbein also produced a series of religious paintings and designed cartoons for stained glass windows.

In a period of revolution in book design, he illustrated for the publisher Johann Froben. His woodcut designs included those for the Dance of Death, the Icones (illustrations of the Old Testament), and the title page of Martin Luther's bible. Through the woodcut medium, Holbein refined his grasp of expressive and spatial effects.

Holbein also painted the occasional portrait in Basel, among them the double portrait of Jakob and Dorothea Meyer, and, in 1519, that of the young academic Boniface Amerbach. According to art historian Paul Ganz, the portrait of Amerbach marks an advance in his style, notably in the use of unbroken colours. For Meyer, he painted an altarpiece of the Madonna which included portraits of the donor, his wife, and his daughter. In 1523, Holbein painted his first portraits of the great Renaissance scholar Erasmus, who required likenesses to send to his friends and admirers throughout Europe. These paintings made Holbein an international artist. Holbein visited France in 1524, probably to seek work at the court of Francis I. When Holbein decided to seek employment in England in 1526, Erasmus recommended him to his friend the statesman and scholar Thomas More. "The arts are freezing in this part of the world," he wrote, "and he is on the way to England to pick up some angels".

 

England, 1526–1528

Holbein broke his journey at Antwerp, where he bought some oak panels and may have met the painter Quentin Matsys. Sir Thomas More welcomed him to England and found him a series of commissions. "Your painter, my dearest Erasmus," he wrote, "is a wonderful artist". Holbein painted a famous portrait of More and another of More with his family. The group portrait, original in conception, is known only from a preparatory sketch and copies by other hands. According to art historian Andreas Beyer, it "offered a prelude of a genre that would only truly gain acceptance in Dutch painting of the seventeenth century". Seven fine related studies of More family members also survive.

During this first stay in England, Holbein worked largely for a humanist circle with ties to Erasmus. Among his commissions was the portrait of William Warham, Archbishop of Canterbury, who owned a Holbein portrait of Erasmus. Holbein also painted the Bavarian astronomer and mathematician Nicholas Kratzer, a tutor of the More family whose notes appear on Holbein's sketch for their group portrait. Although Holbein did not work for the king during this visit, he painted the portraits of courtiers such as Sir Henry Guildford and his wife Lady Mary, and of Anne Lovell, recently identified as the subject of Lady with a Squirrel and a Starling. In May 1527, "Master Hans" also painted a panorama of the siege of Thérouanne for the visit of French Ambassadors. With Kratzer, he devised a ceiling covered in planetary signs, under which the visitors dined. The chronicler Edward Hall described the spectacle as showing "the whole Earth, environed with the sea, like a very map or cart".

 

Basel, 1528–1532

On 29 August 1528, Holbein bought a house in Basel, in St Johanns-Vorstadt. He presumably returned home to preserve his citizenship, since he had been granted only a two-year leave of absence. Enriched by his success in England, Holbein bought a second house in the city in 1531.

During this period in Basel, he painted The Artist's Family, showing Elsbeth, with the couple's two eldest children, Philipp and Katherina, evoking images of the Virgin and Child with St John the Baptist. Art historian John Rowlands sees this work as "one of the most moving portraits in art, from an artist, too, who always characterized his sitters with a guarded restraint".

Basel had become a turbulent city in Holbein's absence. Reformers, swayed by the ideas of Zwingli, carried out acts of iconoclasm and banned imagery in churches. In April 1529, the free-thinking Erasmus felt obliged to leave his former haven for Freiburg im Breisgau. The iconoclasts probably destroyed some of Holbein's religious artwork, but details are unknown. Evidence for Holbein's religious views is fragmentary and inconclusive. "The religious side of his paintings had always been ambiguous," suggests art historian John North, "and so it remained". According to a register compiled to ensure that all major citizens subscribed to the new doctrines: "Master Hans Holbein, the painter, says that we must be better informed about the [holy] table before approaching it". In 1530, the authorities called Holbein to account for failing to attend the reformed communion. Shortly afterwards, however, he was listed among those "who have no serious objections and wish to go along with other Christians".

Holbein evidently retained favour under the new order. The reformist council paid him a retaining fee of 50 florins and commissioned him to resume work on the Council Chamber frescoes. They now chose themes from the Old Testament instead of the previous stories from classical history and allegory. Holbein's frescoes of Rehoboam and of the meeting between Saul and Samuel were more simply designed than their predecessors. Holbein worked for traditional clients at the same time. His old patron Jakob Meyer paid him to add figures and details to the family altarpiece he had painted in 1526. Holbein's last commission in this period was the decoration of two clock faces on the city gate in 1531. The reduced levels of patronage in Basel may have prompted his decision to return to England early in 1532.

 

England, 1532–1540

Holbein returned to an England where the political and religious environment was changing radically. In 1532, Henry VIII was preparing to repudiate Catherine of Aragon and marry Anne Boleyn, in defiance of the pope. Among those who opposed Henry's actions was Holbein's former host and patron Sir Thomas More, who resigned as Lord Chancellor in May 1532. Holbein seems to have distanced himself from More's humanist milieu on this visit, and, according to Erasmus, "he deceived those to whom he was recommended". The artist found favour instead within the radical new power circles of the Boleyn family and Thomas Cromwell. Cromwell became the king's secretary in 1534, controlling all aspects of government, including artistic propaganda. More was executed in 1535, along with John Fisher, whose portrait Holbein had also drawn.

Holbein's commissions in the early stages of his second English period included portraits of Lutheran merchants of the Hanseatic League. The merchants lived and plied their trade at the Steelyard, a complex of warehouses, offices, and dwellings on the north bank of the Thames. Holbein rented a house in Maiden Lane nearby. He portrayed his clients in a range of styles. His portrait of Georg Gisze of Danzig shows the merchant surrounded with exquisitely painted symbols of his trade. His portrait of Derich Berck of Cologne, on the other hand, is classically simple, possibly influenced by Titian. For the guildhall of the Steelyard Holbein painted two monumental allegories, "The Triumph of Wealth" and "The Triumph of Poverty", both now lost. The merchants commissioned from Holbein a street tableau of Mount Parnassus for Anne Boleyn's coronation eve procession of 31 May 1533.

Holbein also portrayed various courtiers, landowners, and visitors during this time. His most famous, and perhaps greatest, painting of the period was The Ambassadors. This life-sized panel portrays Jean de Dinteville, an ambassador of Francis I of France in 1533, and Georges de Selve, Bishop of Lavaur, who visited London the same year. The work incorporates symbols and paradoxes, including an anamorphic (distorted) skull. According to scholars, these encode enigmatic references to learning, religion, mortality, and illusion in the tradition of the Northern Renaissance. Art historians Oskar Bätschmann and Pascal Griener suggest that in The Ambassadors "Sciences and arts, objects of luxury and glory, are measured against the grandeur of Death".

No certain portraits of Anne Boleyn by Holbein survive, perhaps because her memory was purged following her execution for treason, incest, and adultery in 1536. That Holbein worked directly for Anne and her circle is, however, clear. He designed a cup engraved with her device of a falcon standing on roses, as well as jewellery and books connected to her. He also sketched several women attached to her entourage, including Jane Parker, Anne's sister-in-law. At the same time, Holbein worked for Thomas Cromwell as he masterminded Henry VIII's reformation. Cromwell commissioned Holbein to produce reformist and royalist images, including anti-clerical woodcuts and the title page to Myles Coverdale's English translation of the bible. Henry VIII had embarked on a grandiose programme of artistic patronage. His efforts to glorify his new status as Supreme Head of the Church culminated in the building of Nonsuch Palace, started in 1538.

 

By 1536, Holbein was employed as the King's Painter on an annual salary of 30 pounds, though he was never the highest-paid artist on the royal payroll. The royal "pictor maker", Lucas Horenbout, earned more, and other continental artists worked for the king. In 1537, Holbein painted what has become perhaps his most famous image: Henry VIII standing in a heroic pose with his feet planted apart. The left section of Holbein's cartoon for a life-sized wall painting at Whitehall Palace has survived, showing the king in this pose, with his father behind him. The mural itself, which also depicted Jane Seymour and Elizabeth of York, was destroyed by fire in 1698. It is known from engravings and from a 1667 copy by Remigius van Leemput. An earlier half-length portrait shows Henry in a similar pose, but all the full-length portraits of him based on the Whitehall pattern are copies. The figure of Jane Seymour in the mural is related to Holbein's sketch and painting of her.

Jane died in October 1537, shortly after bearing Henry's only son, the future Edward VI. About two years later, Holbein painted a portrait of the prince, clutching a sceptre-like gold rattle. Holbein's final portrait of Henry, dating from 1543 and perhaps completed by others, depicts the king with a group of barber surgeons.

Holbein's portrait style altered after he entered Henry's service. He focused more intensely on the sitters' faces and clothing, largely omitting props and three-dimensional settings. Holbein applied this clean, craftsmanlike technique both to miniature portraits, such as that of Jane Small, and to grand portraits, such as that of Christina of Denmark. Holbein travelled with Philip Hoby to Brussels and sketched Christina in 1538 for the king, who was appraising the young widow as a prospective bride. John Hutton, the English ambassador in Brussels, reported another artist's drawing of Christina as "sloberid" (slobbered) compared to Holbein's. In Wilson's view, Holbein's subsequent oil portrait is "the loveliest painting of a woman that he ever executed, which is to say that it is one of the finest female portraits ever painted".The same year, Holbein, again escorted by the diplomat Hoby, went to France to paint Louise of Guise and Anne of Lorraine for Henry VIII. Neither portrait of these cousins has survived. Holbein found time to visit Basel, where he was fêted by the authorities and granted a pension. On the way back to England, he apprenticed his son Philipp to the Basel-born goldsmith Jacob David in Paris.

Holbein painted Anne of Cleves, Henry's eventual choice of wife, at Düren in summer 1539, posing her square-on and in elaborate finery. "Hans Holbein," reported the English envoy Nicholas Wotton, "hath taken the effigies of my Lady Anne and the lady Amelia [Anne's sister] and hath expressed their images very lively". Henry was disillusioned with Anne in the flesh, however, and he divorced her after a brief, unconsummated marriage. The tradition that Holbein's portrait flattered Anne derives from the testimony of Sir Anthony Browne. He said that he was dismayed by her appearance at Rochester having seen her pictures and heard advertisements of her beauty, so much that his face fell. No one other than Henry ever described Anne as repugnant.

 

Last years and death, 1540–1543

Holbein had deftly survived the downfall of his first two great patrons, Thomas More and Anne Boleyn, but Cromwell's sudden arrest and execution on trumped-up charges of heresy and treason in 1540 undoubtedly damaged his career. Though Holbein retained his position as King's Painter, Cromwell's death left a gap no other patron could fill.

Apart from routine official duties, Holbein now occupied himself with private commissions, turning again to portraits of Steelyard merchants. He also painted some of his finest miniatures, including those of Henry Brandon and Charles Brandon, sons of Henry VIII's friend Charles Brandon, 1st Duke of Suffolk, and his fourth wife, Catherine Willoughby. Holbein managed to secure commissions among those courtiers who now jockeyed for power, in particular from Anthony Denny, one of the two chief gentlemen of the bedchamber. He became close enough to Denny to borrow money from him. He painted Denny's portrait in 1541 and two years later designed a clock-salt for him. Denny was part of a circle that gained influence in 1542 after the failure of Henry's marriage to Catherine Howard. The king's marriage in July 1543 to the reformist Catherine Parr, whose brother Holbein had painted in 1541, established Denny's party in power.

Holbein may have visited his wife and children in late 1540, when his leave-of-absence from Basel expired. None of his work dates from this period, and the Basel authorities paid him six months salary in advance. The state of Holbein's marriage has intrigued scholars, who base their speculations on fragmentary evidence. Apart from one brief visit, Holbein had lived apart from Elsbeth since 1532. His will reveals that he had two infant children in England, of whom nothing is known except that they were in the care of a nurse. Holbein's unfaithfulness to Elsbeth may not have been new. Some scholars believe that Magdalena Offenburg, the model for the Darmstadt Madonna and for two portraits painted in Basel, was for a time Holbein's mistress. Others dismiss the idea. One of the portraits was of Lais of Corinth, mistress of Apelles, the famous artist of Greek antiquity after whom Holbein was named in humanist circles. Whatever the case, it is likely that Holbein always supported his wife and children. When Elsbeth died in 1549, she was well off and still owned many of Holbein's fine clothes; on the other hand, she had sold his portrait of her before his death.

 

Hans Holbein died between 7 October and 29 November 1543 at the age of 45. Karel van Mander stated in the early 17th century that he died of the plague. Wilson regards the story with caution, since Holbein's friends attended his bedside; and Peter Claussen suggests that he died of an infection. Describing himself as "servant to the king's majesty", Holbein had made his will on 7 October at his home in Aldgate. The goldsmith John of Antwerp and a few German neighbours signed as witnesses. Holbein may have been in a hurry, because the will was not witnessed by a lawyer. On 29 November, John of Antwerp, the subject of several of Holbein's portraits, legally undertook the administration of the artist's last wishes. He presumably settled Holbein's debts, arranged for the care of his two children, and sold and dispersed his effects, including many designs and preliminary drawings that have survived. The site of Holbein's grave is unknown and may never have been marked.

 

Portraits.

For Holbein, "everything began with a drawing". A gifted draughtsman, he was heir to a German tradition of line drawing and precise preparatory design. Holbein's chalk and ink portraits demonstrate his mastery of outline. He always made preparatory portraits of his sitters, though many drawings survive for which no painted version is known, suggesting that some were drawn for their own sake. Holbein produced relatively few portraits during his years in Basel. Among these were his 1516 studies of Jakob and Dorothea Meyer, sketched, like many of his father's portrait drawings, in silverpoint and chalk.

Holbein painted most of his portraits during his two periods in England. In the first, between 1526 and 1528, he used the technique of Jean Clouet for his preliminary studies, combining black and coloured chalks on unprimed paper. In the second, from 1532 to his death, he drew on smaller sheets of pink-primed paper, adding pen and brushwork in ink to the chalk. Judging by the three-hour sitting given to him by Christina of Denmark, Holbein could produce such portrait studies quickly. Some scholars believe that he used a mechanical device to help him trace the contours of his subjects' faces. Holbein paid less attention to facial tones in his later drawings, making fewer and more emphatic strokes, but they are never formulaic. His grasp of spatial relationships ensures that each portrait, however sparely drawn, conveys the sitter's presence.

Holbein's painted portraits were closely founded on drawing. Holbein transferred each drawn portrait study to the panel with the aid of geometrical instruments. He then built up the painted surface in tempera and oil, recording the tiniest detail, down to each stitch or fastening of costume. In the view of art historian Paul Ganz, "The deep glaze and the enamel-like lustre of the colouring were achieved by means of the metallic, highly polished crayon groundwork, which admitted of few corrections and, like the preliminary sketch, remained visible through the thin layer of colour".

The result is a brilliant portrait style in which the sitters appear, in Foister's words, as "recognisably individual and even contemporary-seeming" people, dressed in minutely rendered clothing that provides an unsurpassed source for the history of Tudor costume. Holbein's humanist clients valued individuality highly. According to Strong, his portrait subjects underwent "a new experience, one which was a profound visual expression of humanist ideals".

Commentators differ in their response to Holbein's precision and objectivity as a portraitist. What some see as an expression of spiritual depth in his sitters, others have called mournful, aloof, or even vacant. "Perhaps an underlying coolness suffuses their countenances," wrote Holbein's 19th-century biographer Alfred Woltmann, "but behind this outward placidness lies hidden a breadth and depth of inner life". Some critics see the iconic and pared-down style of Holbein's later portraits as a regression. Kenyon Cox, for example, believes that his methods grew more primitive, reducing painting "almost to the condition of medieval illumination". Erna Auerbach relates the "decorative formal flatness" of Holbein's late art to the style of illuminated documents, citing the group portrait of Henry VIII and the Barber Surgeons' Company. Other analysts detect no loss of powers in Holbein's last phase.

Until the later 1530s, Holbein often placed his sitters in a three-dimensional setting. At times, he included classical and biblical references and inscriptions, as well as drapery, architecture, and symbolic props. Such portraits allowed Holbein to demonstrate his virtuosity and powers of allusion and metaphor, as well as to hint at the private world of his subjects. His 1532 portrait of Sir Brian Tuke, for example, alludes to the sitter's poor health, comparing his sufferings to those of Job. The depiction of the Five wounds of Christ and the inscription "INRI" on Tuke's crucifix are, according to scholars Bätschmann and Griener, "intended to protect its owner against ill-health". Holbein portrays the merchant Georg Gisze among elaborate symbols of science and wealth that evoke the sitter's personal iconography. However, some of Holbein's other portraits of Steelyard merchants, for example that of Derich Born, concentrate on the naturalness of the face. They prefigure the simpler style that Holbein favoured in the later part of his career.

Study of Holbein's later portraits has been complicated by the number of copies and derivative works attributed to him. Scholars now seek to distinguish the true Holbeins by the refinement and quality of the work. The hallmark of Holbein's art is a searching and perfectionist approach discernible in his alterations to his portraits. In the words of art historian John Rowlands:

This striving for perfection is very evident in his portrait drawings, where he searches with his brush for just the right line for the sitter's profile. The critical faculty in making this choice and his perception of its potency in communicating decisively the sitter's character is a true measure of Holbein's supreme greatness as a portrait painter. Nobody has ever surpassed the revealing profile and stance in his portraits: through their telling use, Holbein still conveys across the centuries the character and likeness of his sitters with an unrivalled mastery.

 

Miniatures.

During his last decade, Holbein painted a number of miniatures; small portraits worn as a kind of jewel. His miniature technique derived from the medieval art of manuscript illumination. His small panel portrait of Henry VIII shows an inter-penetration between his panel and miniature painting. Holbein's large pictures had always contained a miniature-like precision. He now adapted this skill to the smaller form, somehow retaining a monumental effect. The twelve or so certain miniatures by Holbein that survive reveal his mastery of "limning", as the technique was called. His miniature portrait of Jane Small, with its rich blue background, crisp outlines, and absence of shading, is considered a masterpiece of the genre. According to art historian Graham Reynolds, Holbein "portrays a young woman whose plainness is scarcely relieved by her simple costume of black-and-white materials, and yet there can be no doubt that this is one of the great portraits of the world. With remarkable objectivity Holbein has not added anything of himself or subtracted from his sitter's image; he has seen her as she appeared in a solemn mood in the cold light of his painting-room".

Designs.

Throughout his life, Holbein designed for both large-scale decorative works such as murals and smaller objects, including plate and jewellery. In many cases, his designs, or copies of them, are the sole evidence for such works. For example, his murals for the Hertenstein House in Lucerne and for the House of the Dance in Basel are known only through his designs. As his career progressed, he added Italian Renaissance motifs to his Gothic vocabulary.

Many of the intricate designs etched into suits of Greenwich armour, including King Henry's own personal tournament harnesses, were based on designs by Holbein. His style continued to influence the unique form of English armour for nearly half a century after his death.

Holbein's cartoon for part of the dynastic Tudor wall painting at Whitehall reveals how he prepared for a large mural. It was made of 25 pieces of paper, each figure cut out and pasted onto the background. Many of Holbein's designs for glass painting, metalwork, jewellery, and weapons also survive. All demonstrate the precision and fluidity of his draughtsmanship. In the view of art historian Susan Foister, "These qualities so animate his decorative designs, whether individual motifs, such as his favoured serpentine mermen and women, or the larger shapes of cups, frames, and fountains, that they scintillate on paper even before their transformation into precious metal and stone".

Holbein's way of designing objects was to sketch preliminary ideas and then draw successive versions with increasing precision. His final draft was a presentation version. He often used traditional patterns for ornamental details such as foliage and branches. When designing precious objects, Holbein worked closely with craftsmen such as goldsmiths. His design work, suggests art historian John North, "gave him an unparalleled feel for the textures of materials of all kinds, and it also gave him the habit of relating physical accessories to face and personality in his portraiture". Although little is known of Holbein's workshop, scholars assume that his drawings were partly intended as sources for his assistants.

 

(Wikipedia Encyclopedia).

 

The full text of this excellent Wikipedia article with all the notes is here:

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hans_Holbein_the_Younger

 

(as to all of my photo's: for educational non-commercial use only)

Acquired with the important artcollection of Edward Solly in 1821.

 

Hans Holbein the Younger (c. 1497– between 7 October and 29 November 1543) was a German artist and printmaker who worked in a Northern Renaissance style. He is best known as one of the greatest portraitists of the 16th century. He also produced religious art, satire, and Reformation propaganda, and made a significant contribution to the history of book design. He is called "the Younger" to distinguish him from his father, Hans Holbein the Elder, an accomplished painter of the Late Gothic school.

 

Born in Augsburg, Holbein worked mainly in Basel as a young artist. At first he painted murals and religious works and designed for stained glass windows and printed books. He also painted the occasional portrait, making his international mark with portraits of the humanist Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam. When the Reformation reached Basel, Holbein worked for reformist clients while continuing to serve traditional religious patrons. His Late Gothic style was enriched by artistic trends in Italy, France, and the Netherlands, as well as by Renaissance Humanism. The result was a combined aesthetic uniquely his own.

 

Holbein travelled to England in 1526 in search of work, with a recommendation from Erasmus. He was welcomed into the humanist circle of Thomas More, where he quickly built a high reputation. After returning to Basel for four years, he resumed his career in England in 1532. This time he worked under the patronage of Anne Boleyn and Thomas Cromwell. By 1535, he was King's Painter to King Henry VIII. In this role, he produced not only portraits and festive decorations but designs for jewellery, plate, and other precious objects. His portraits of the royal family and nobles are a record of the court in the years when Henry was asserting his supremacy over the English church.

 

Holbein's art was prized from early in his career. The French poet and reformer Nicholas Bourbon dubbed him "the Apelles of our time," a typical contemporary accolade. Holbein has also been described as a great "one-off" of art history, since he founded no school. After his death, some of his work was lost, but much was collected, and by the 19th century, Holbein was recognised among the great portrait masters. Recent exhibitions have also highlighted his versatility. He turned his fluid line to designs ranging from intricate jewellery to monumental frescoes. Holbein's art has sometimes been called realist, since he drew and painted with a rare precision.

 

His portraits were renowned in their time for their likeness; and it is through Holbein's eyes that many famous figures of his day, such as Erasmus and More, are now "seen". Holbein was never content, however, with outward appearance. He embedded layers of symbolism, allusion, and paradox in his art, to the lasting fascination of scholars. In the view of art historian Ellis Waterhouse, his portraiture "remains unsurpassed for sureness and economy of statement, penetration into character, and a combined richness and purity of style".

 

Holbein was born in the free imperial city of Augsburg during the winter of 1497–98. He was a son of the painter and draughtsman Hans Holbein the Elder, whose trade he and his older brother, Ambrosius, followed. Holbein the Elder ran a large and busy workshop in Augsburg, sometimes assisted by his brother Sigmund, also a painter.

By 1515, Hans and Ambrosius had moved as journeymen painters to the city of Basel, a centre of learning and the printing trade. There they were apprenticed to Hans Herbster, Basel's leading painter. The brothers found work in Basel as designers of woodcuts and metalcuts for printers. In 1515, the preacher and theologian Oswald Myconius invited them to add pen drawings to the margin of a copy of The Praise of Folly by the humanist scholar Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam. The sketches provide early evidence of Holbein's wit and humanistic leaning. His other early works, including the double portrait of Basel's mayor Jakob Meyer zum Hasen and his wife Dorothea, follow his father's style.

The young Holbein, alongside his brother and his father, is pictured in the left-hand panel of Holbein the Elder's 1504 altar-piece triptych the Basilica of St. Paul, which is displayed at the Staatsgalerie in Augsberg.

In 1517, father and son began a project in Lucerne (Luzern), painting internal and external murals for the merchant Jakob von Hertenstein. While in Lucerne Holbein also designed cartoons for stained glass. The city's records show that on 10 December 1517, he was fined five livres for fighting in the street with a goldsmith called Caspar, who was fined the same amount. That winter, Holbein probably visited northern Italy, though no record of the trip survives. Many scholars believe he studied the work of Italian masters of fresco, such as Andrea Mantegna, before returning to Lucerne. He filled two series of panels at Hertenstein's house with copies of works by Mantegna, including The Triumphs of Caesar.

In 1519, Holbein moved back to Basel. His brother fades from the record at about this time, and it is usually presumed that he died. Holbein re-established himself rapidly in the city, running a busy workshop. He joined the painters' guild and took out Basel citizenship. He married Elsbeth Schmid, a widow a few years older than he was, who had an infant son, Franz, and was running her late husband's tanning business. She bore Holbein a son of his own, Philipp, in their first year of marriage.

Holbein was prolific during this period in Basel, which coincided with the arrival of Lutheranism in the city. He undertook a number of major projects, such as external murals for The House of the Dance and internal murals for the Council Chamber of the Town Hall. The former are known from preparatory drawings. The Council Chamber murals survive in a few poorly preserved fragments. Holbein also produced a series of religious paintings and designed cartoons for stained glass windows.

In a period of revolution in book design, he illustrated for the publisher Johann Froben. His woodcut designs included those for the Dance of Death, the Icones (illustrations of the Old Testament), and the title page of Martin Luther's bible. Through the woodcut medium, Holbein refined his grasp of expressive and spatial effects.

Holbein also painted the occasional portrait in Basel, among them the double portrait of Jakob and Dorothea Meyer, and, in 1519, that of the young academic Boniface Amerbach. According to art historian Paul Ganz, the portrait of Amerbach marks an advance in his style, notably in the use of unbroken colours. For Meyer, he painted an altarpiece of the Madonna which included portraits of the donor, his wife, and his daughter. In 1523, Holbein painted his first portraits of the great Renaissance scholar Erasmus, who required likenesses to send to his friends and admirers throughout Europe. These paintings made Holbein an international artist. Holbein visited France in 1524, probably to seek work at the court of Francis I. When Holbein decided to seek employment in England in 1526, Erasmus recommended him to his friend the statesman and scholar Thomas More. "The arts are freezing in this part of the world," he wrote, "and he is on the way to England to pick up some angels".

 

England, 1526–1528

Holbein broke his journey at Antwerp, where he bought some oak panels and may have met the painter Quentin Matsys. Sir Thomas More welcomed him to England and found him a series of commissions. "Your painter, my dearest Erasmus," he wrote, "is a wonderful artist". Holbein painted a famous portrait of More and another of More with his family. The group portrait, original in conception, is known only from a preparatory sketch and copies by other hands. According to art historian Andreas Beyer, it "offered a prelude of a genre that would only truly gain acceptance in Dutch painting of the seventeenth century". Seven fine related studies of More family members also survive.

During this first stay in England, Holbein worked largely for a humanist circle with ties to Erasmus. Among his commissions was the portrait of William Warham, Archbishop of Canterbury, who owned a Holbein portrait of Erasmus. Holbein also painted the Bavarian astronomer and mathematician Nicholas Kratzer, a tutor of the More family whose notes appear on Holbein's sketch for their group portrait. Although Holbein did not work for the king during this visit, he painted the portraits of courtiers such as Sir Henry Guildford and his wife Lady Mary, and of Anne Lovell, recently identified as the subject of Lady with a Squirrel and a Starling. In May 1527, "Master Hans" also painted a panorama of the siege of Thérouanne for the visit of French Ambassadors. With Kratzer, he devised a ceiling covered in planetary signs, under which the visitors dined. The chronicler Edward Hall described the spectacle as showing "the whole Earth, environed with the sea, like a very map or cart".

 

Basel, 1528–1532

On 29 August 1528, Holbein bought a house in Basel, in St Johanns-Vorstadt. He presumably returned home to preserve his citizenship, since he had been granted only a two-year leave of absence. Enriched by his success in England, Holbein bought a second house in the city in 1531.

During this period in Basel, he painted The Artist's Family, showing Elsbeth, with the couple's two eldest children, Philipp and Katherina, evoking images of the Virgin and Child with St John the Baptist. Art historian John Rowlands sees this work as "one of the most moving portraits in art, from an artist, too, who always characterized his sitters with a guarded restraint".

Basel had become a turbulent city in Holbein's absence. Reformers, swayed by the ideas of Zwingli, carried out acts of iconoclasm and banned imagery in churches. In April 1529, the free-thinking Erasmus felt obliged to leave his former haven for Freiburg im Breisgau. The iconoclasts probably destroyed some of Holbein's religious artwork, but details are unknown. Evidence for Holbein's religious views is fragmentary and inconclusive. "The religious side of his paintings had always been ambiguous," suggests art historian John North, "and so it remained". According to a register compiled to ensure that all major citizens subscribed to the new doctrines: "Master Hans Holbein, the painter, says that we must be better informed about the [holy] table before approaching it". In 1530, the authorities called Holbein to account for failing to attend the reformed communion. Shortly afterwards, however, he was listed among those "who have no serious objections and wish to go along with other Christians".

Holbein evidently retained favour under the new order. The reformist council paid him a retaining fee of 50 florins and commissioned him to resume work on the Council Chamber frescoes. They now chose themes from the Old Testament instead of the previous stories from classical history and allegory. Holbein's frescoes of Rehoboam and of the meeting between Saul and Samuel were more simply designed than their predecessors. Holbein worked for traditional clients at the same time. His old patron Jakob Meyer paid him to add figures and details to the family altarpiece he had painted in 1526. Holbein's last commission in this period was the decoration of two clock faces on the city gate in 1531. The reduced levels of patronage in Basel may have prompted his decision to return to England early in 1532.

 

England, 1532–1540

Holbein returned to an England where the political and religious environment was changing radically. In 1532, Henry VIII was preparing to repudiate Catherine of Aragon and marry Anne Boleyn, in defiance of the pope. Among those who opposed Henry's actions was Holbein's former host and patron Sir Thomas More, who resigned as Lord Chancellor in May 1532. Holbein seems to have distanced himself from More's humanist milieu on this visit, and, according to Erasmus, "he deceived those to whom he was recommended". The artist found favour instead within the radical new power circles of the Boleyn family and Thomas Cromwell. Cromwell became the king's secretary in 1534, controlling all aspects of government, including artistic propaganda. More was executed in 1535, along with John Fisher, whose portrait Holbein had also drawn.

Holbein's commissions in the early stages of his second English period included portraits of Lutheran merchants of the Hanseatic League. The merchants lived and plied their trade at the Steelyard, a complex of warehouses, offices, and dwellings on the north bank of the Thames. Holbein rented a house in Maiden Lane nearby. He portrayed his clients in a range of styles. His portrait of Georg Gisze of Danzig shows the merchant surrounded with exquisitely painted symbols of his trade. His portrait of Derich Berck of Cologne, on the other hand, is classically simple, possibly influenced by Titian. For the guildhall of the Steelyard Holbein painted two monumental allegories, "The Triumph of Wealth" and "The Triumph of Poverty", both now lost. The merchants commissioned from Holbein a street tableau of Mount Parnassus for Anne Boleyn's coronation eve procession of 31 May 1533.

Holbein also portrayed various courtiers, landowners, and visitors during this time. His most famous, and perhaps greatest, painting of the period was The Ambassadors. This life-sized panel portrays Jean de Dinteville, an ambassador of Francis I of France in 1533, and Georges de Selve, Bishop of Lavaur, who visited London the same year. The work incorporates symbols and paradoxes, including an anamorphic (distorted) skull. According to scholars, these encode enigmatic references to learning, religion, mortality, and illusion in the tradition of the Northern Renaissance. Art historians Oskar Bätschmann and Pascal Griener suggest that in The Ambassadors "Sciences and arts, objects of luxury and glory, are measured against the grandeur of Death".

No certain portraits of Anne Boleyn by Holbein survive, perhaps because her memory was purged following her execution for treason, incest, and adultery in 1536. That Holbein worked directly for Anne and her circle is, however, clear. He designed a cup engraved with her device of a falcon standing on roses, as well as jewellery and books connected to her. He also sketched several women attached to her entourage, including Jane Parker, Anne's sister-in-law. At the same time, Holbein worked for Thomas Cromwell as he masterminded Henry VIII's reformation. Cromwell commissioned Holbein to produce reformist and royalist images, including anti-clerical woodcuts and the title page to Myles Coverdale's English translation of the bible. Henry VIII had embarked on a grandiose programme of artistic patronage. His efforts to glorify his new status as Supreme Head of the Church culminated in the building of Nonsuch Palace, started in 1538.

 

By 1536, Holbein was employed as the King's Painter on an annual salary of 30 pounds, though he was never the highest-paid artist on the royal payroll. The royal "pictor maker", Lucas Horenbout, earned more, and other continental artists worked for the king. In 1537, Holbein painted what has become perhaps his most famous image: Henry VIII standing in a heroic pose with his feet planted apart. The left section of Holbein's cartoon for a life-sized wall painting at Whitehall Palace has survived, showing the king in this pose, with his father behind him. The mural itself, which also depicted Jane Seymour and Elizabeth of York, was destroyed by fire in 1698. It is known from engravings and from a 1667 copy by Remigius van Leemput. An earlier half-length portrait shows Henry in a similar pose, but all the full-length portraits of him based on the Whitehall pattern are copies. The figure of Jane Seymour in the mural is related to Holbein's sketch and painting of her.

Jane died in October 1537, shortly after bearing Henry's only son, the future Edward VI. About two years later, Holbein painted a portrait of the prince, clutching a sceptre-like gold rattle. Holbein's final portrait of Henry, dating from 1543 and perhaps completed by others, depicts the king with a group of barber surgeons.

Holbein's portrait style altered after he entered Henry's service. He focused more intensely on the sitters' faces and clothing, largely omitting props and three-dimensional settings. Holbein applied this clean, craftsmanlike technique both to miniature portraits, such as that of Jane Small, and to grand portraits, such as that of Christina of Denmark. Holbein travelled with Philip Hoby to Brussels and sketched Christina in 1538 for the king, who was appraising the young widow as a prospective bride. John Hutton, the English ambassador in Brussels, reported another artist's drawing of Christina as "sloberid" (slobbered) compared to Holbein's. In Wilson's view, Holbein's subsequent oil portrait is "the loveliest painting of a woman that he ever executed, which is to say that it is one of the finest female portraits ever painted".The same year, Holbein, again escorted by the diplomat Hoby, went to France to paint Louise of Guise and Anne of Lorraine for Henry VIII. Neither portrait of these cousins has survived. Holbein found time to visit Basel, where he was fêted by the authorities and granted a pension. On the way back to England, he apprenticed his son Philipp to the Basel-born goldsmith Jacob David in Paris.

Holbein painted Anne of Cleves, Henry's eventual choice of wife, at Düren in summer 1539, posing her square-on and in elaborate finery. "Hans Holbein," reported the English envoy Nicholas Wotton, "hath taken the effigies of my Lady Anne and the lady Amelia [Anne's sister] and hath expressed their images very lively". Henry was disillusioned with Anne in the flesh, however, and he divorced her after a brief, unconsummated marriage. The tradition that Holbein's portrait flattered Anne derives from the testimony of Sir Anthony Browne. He said that he was dismayed by her appearance at Rochester having seen her pictures and heard advertisements of her beauty, so much that his face fell. No one other than Henry ever described Anne as repugnant.

 

Last years and death, 1540–1543

Holbein had deftly survived the downfall of his first two great patrons, Thomas More and Anne Boleyn, but Cromwell's sudden arrest and execution on trumped-up charges of heresy and treason in 1540 undoubtedly damaged his career. Though Holbein retained his position as King's Painter, Cromwell's death left a gap no other patron could fill.

Apart from routine official duties, Holbein now occupied himself with private commissions, turning again to portraits of Steelyard merchants. He also painted some of his finest miniatures, including those of Henry Brandon and Charles Brandon, sons of Henry VIII's friend Charles Brandon, 1st Duke of Suffolk, and his fourth wife, Catherine Willoughby. Holbein managed to secure commissions among those courtiers who now jockeyed for power, in particular from Anthony Denny, one of the two chief gentlemen of the bedchamber. He became close enough to Denny to borrow money from him. He painted Denny's portrait in 1541 and two years later designed a clock-salt for him. Denny was part of a circle that gained influence in 1542 after the failure of Henry's marriage to Catherine Howard. The king's marriage in July 1543 to the reformist Catherine Parr, whose brother Holbein had painted in 1541, established Denny's party in power.

Holbein may have visited his wife and children in late 1540, when his leave-of-absence from Basel expired. None of his work dates from this period, and the Basel authorities paid him six months salary in advance. The state of Holbein's marriage has intrigued scholars, who base their speculations on fragmentary evidence. Apart from one brief visit, Holbein had lived apart from Elsbeth since 1532. His will reveals that he had two infant children in England, of whom nothing is known except that they were in the care of a nurse. Holbein's unfaithfulness to Elsbeth may not have been new. Some scholars believe that Magdalena Offenburg, the model for the Darmstadt Madonna and for two portraits painted in Basel, was for a time Holbein's mistress. Others dismiss the idea. One of the portraits was of Lais of Corinth, mistress of Apelles, the famous artist of Greek antiquity after whom Holbein was named in humanist circles. Whatever the case, it is likely that Holbein always supported his wife and children. When Elsbeth died in 1549, she was well off and still owned many of Holbein's fine clothes; on the other hand, she had sold his portrait of her before his death.

 

Hans Holbein died between 7 October and 29 November 1543 at the age of 45. Karel van Mander stated in the early 17th century that he died of the plague. Wilson regards the story with caution, since Holbein's friends attended his bedside; and Peter Claussen suggests that he died of an infection. Describing himself as "servant to the king's majesty", Holbein had made his will on 7 October at his home in Aldgate. The goldsmith John of Antwerp and a few German neighbours signed as witnesses. Holbein may have been in a hurry, because the will was not witnessed by a lawyer. On 29 November, John of Antwerp, the subject of several of Holbein's portraits, legally undertook the administration of the artist's last wishes. He presumably settled Holbein's debts, arranged for the care of his two children, and sold and dispersed his effects, including many designs and preliminary drawings that have survived. The site of Holbein's grave is unknown and may never have been marked.

 

Portraits.

For Holbein, "everything began with a drawing". A gifted draughtsman, he was heir to a German tradition of line drawing and precise preparatory design. Holbein's chalk and ink portraits demonstrate his mastery of outline. He always made preparatory portraits of his sitters, though many drawings survive for which no painted version is known, suggesting that some were drawn for their own sake. Holbein produced relatively few portraits during his years in Basel. Among these were his 1516 studies of Jakob and Dorothea Meyer, sketched, like many of his father's portrait drawings, in silverpoint and chalk.

Holbein painted most of his portraits during his two periods in England. In the first, between 1526 and 1528, he used the technique of Jean Clouet for his preliminary studies, combining black and coloured chalks on unprimed paper. In the second, from 1532 to his death, he drew on smaller sheets of pink-primed paper, adding pen and brushwork in ink to the chalk. Judging by the three-hour sitting given to him by Christina of Denmark, Holbein could produce such portrait studies quickly. Some scholars believe that he used a mechanical device to help him trace the contours of his subjects' faces. Holbein paid less attention to facial tones in his later drawings, making fewer and more emphatic strokes, but they are never formulaic. His grasp of spatial relationships ensures that each portrait, however sparely drawn, conveys the sitter's presence.

Holbein's painted portraits were closely founded on drawing. Holbein transferred each drawn portrait study to the panel with the aid of geometrical instruments. He then built up the painted surface in tempera and oil, recording the tiniest detail, down to each stitch or fastening of costume. In the view of art historian Paul Ganz, "The deep glaze and the enamel-like lustre of the colouring were achieved by means of the metallic, highly polished crayon groundwork, which admitted of few corrections and, like the preliminary sketch, remained visible through the thin layer of colour".

The result is a brilliant portrait style in which the sitters appear, in Foister's words, as "recognisably individual and even contemporary-seeming" people, dressed in minutely rendered clothing that provides an unsurpassed source for the history of Tudor costume. Holbein's humanist clients valued individuality highly. According to Strong, his portrait subjects underwent "a new experience, one which was a profound visual expression of humanist ideals".

Commentators differ in their response to Holbein's precision and objectivity as a portraitist. What some see as an expression of spiritual depth in his sitters, others have called mournful, aloof, or even vacant. "Perhaps an underlying coolness suffuses their countenances," wrote Holbein's 19th-century biographer Alfred Woltmann, "but behind this outward placidness lies hidden a breadth and depth of inner life". Some critics see the iconic and pared-down style of Holbein's later portraits as a regression. Kenyon Cox, for example, believes that his methods grew more primitive, reducing painting "almost to the condition of medieval illumination". Erna Auerbach relates the "decorative formal flatness" of Holbein's late art to the style of illuminated documents, citing the group portrait of Henry VIII and the Barber Surgeons' Company. Other analysts detect no loss of powers in Holbein's last phase.

Until the later 1530s, Holbein often placed his sitters in a three-dimensional setting. At times, he included classical and biblical references and inscriptions, as well as drapery, architecture, and symbolic props. Such portraits allowed Holbein to demonstrate his virtuosity and powers of allusion and metaphor, as well as to hint at the private world of his subjects. His 1532 portrait of Sir Brian Tuke, for example, alludes to the sitter's poor health, comparing his sufferings to those of Job. The depiction of the Five wounds of Christ and the inscription "INRI" on Tuke's crucifix are, according to scholars Bätschmann and Griener, "intended to protect its owner against ill-health". Holbein portrays the merchant Georg Gisze among elaborate symbols of science and wealth that evoke the sitter's personal iconography. However, some of Holbein's other portraits of Steelyard merchants, for example that of Derich Born, concentrate on the naturalness of the face. They prefigure the simpler style that Holbein favoured in the later part of his career.

Study of Holbein's later portraits has been complicated by the number of copies and derivative works attributed to him. Scholars now seek to distinguish the true Holbeins by the refinement and quality of the work. The hallmark of Holbein's art is a searching and perfectionist approach discernible in his alterations to his portraits. In the words of art historian John Rowlands:

This striving for perfection is very evident in his portrait drawings, where he searches with his brush for just the right line for the sitter's profile. The critical faculty in making this choice and his perception of its potency in communicating decisively the sitter's character is a true measure of Holbein's supreme greatness as a portrait painter. Nobody has ever surpassed the revealing profile and stance in his portraits: through their telling use, Holbein still conveys across the centuries the character and likeness of his sitters with an unrivalled mastery.

 

Miniatures.

During his last decade, Holbein painted a number of miniatures; small portraits worn as a kind of jewel. His miniature technique derived from the medieval art of manuscript illumination. His small panel portrait of Henry VIII shows an inter-penetration between his panel and miniature painting. Holbein's large pictures had always contained a miniature-like precision. He now adapted this skill to the smaller form, somehow retaining a monumental effect. The twelve or so certain miniatures by Holbein that survive reveal his mastery of "limning", as the technique was called. His miniature portrait of Jane Small, with its rich blue background, crisp outlines, and absence of shading, is considered a masterpiece of the genre. According to art historian Graham Reynolds, Holbein "portrays a young woman whose plainness is scarcely relieved by her simple costume of black-and-white materials, and yet there can be no doubt that this is one of the great portraits of the world. With remarkable objectivity Holbein has not added anything of himself or subtracted from his sitter's image; he has seen her as she appeared in a solemn mood in the cold light of his painting-room".

Designs.

Throughout his life, Holbein designed for both large-scale decorative works such as murals and smaller objects, including plate and jewellery. In many cases, his designs, or copies of them, are the sole evidence for such works. For example, his murals for the Hertenstein House in Lucerne and for the House of the Dance in Basel are known only through his designs. As his career progressed, he added Italian Renaissance motifs to his Gothic vocabulary.

Many of the intricate designs etched into suits of Greenwich armour, including King Henry's own personal tournament harnesses, were based on designs by Holbein. His style continued to influence the unique form of English armour for nearly half a century after his death.

Holbein's cartoon for part of the dynastic Tudor wall painting at Whitehall reveals how he prepared for a large mural. It was made of 25 pieces of paper, each figure cut out and pasted onto the background. Many of Holbein's designs for glass painting, metalwork, jewellery, and weapons also survive. All demonstrate the precision and fluidity of his draughtsmanship. In the view of art historian Susan Foister, "These qualities so animate his decorative designs, whether individual motifs, such as his favoured serpentine mermen and women, or the larger shapes of cups, frames, and fountains, that they scintillate on paper even before their transformation into precious metal and stone".

Holbein's way of designing objects was to sketch preliminary ideas and then draw successive versions with increasing precision. His final draft was a presentation version. He often used traditional patterns for ornamental details such as foliage and branches. When designing precious objects, Holbein worked closely with craftsmen such as goldsmiths. His design work, suggests art historian John North, "gave him an unparalleled feel for the textures of materials of all kinds, and it also gave him the habit of relating physical accessories to face and personality in his portraiture". Although little is known of Holbein's workshop, scholars assume that his drawings were partly intended as sources for his assistants.

 

(Wikipedia Encyclopedia).

 

The full text of this excellent Wikipedia article with all the notes is here:

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hans_Holbein_the_Younger

 

(as to all of my photo's: for educational non-commercial use only)

Hans Holbein the Younger (c. 1497– between 7 October and 29 November 1543) was a German artist and printmaker who worked in a Northern Renaissance style. He is best known as one of the greatest portraitists of the 16th century. He also produced religious art, satire, and Reformation propaganda, and made a significant contribution to the history of book design. He is called "the Younger" to distinguish him from his father, Hans Holbein the Elder, an accomplished painter of the Late Gothic school.

 

Born in Augsburg, Holbein worked mainly in Basel as a young artist. At first he painted murals and religious works and designed for stained glass windows and printed books. He also painted the occasional portrait, making his international mark with portraits of the humanist Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam. When the Reformation reached Basel, Holbein worked for reformist clients while continuing to serve traditional religious patrons. His Late Gothic style was enriched by artistic trends in Italy, France, and the Netherlands, as well as by Renaissance Humanism. The result was a combined aesthetic uniquely his own.

 

Holbein travelled to England in 1526 in search of work, with a recommendation from Erasmus. He was welcomed into the humanist circle of Thomas More, where he quickly built a high reputation. After returning to Basel for four years, he resumed his career in England in 1532. This time he worked under the patronage of Anne Boleyn and Thomas Cromwell. By 1535, he was King's Painter to King Henry VIII. In this role, he produced not only portraits and festive decorations but designs for jewellery, plate, and other precious objects. His portraits of the royal family and nobles are a record of the court in the years when Henry was asserting his supremacy over the English church.

 

Holbein's art was prized from early in his career. The French poet and reformer Nicholas Bourbon dubbed him "the Apelles of our time," a typical contemporary accolade. Holbein has also been described as a great "one-off" of art history, since he founded no school. After his death, some of his work was lost, but much was collected, and by the 19th century, Holbein was recognised among the great portrait masters. Recent exhibitions have also highlighted his versatility. He turned his fluid line to designs ranging from intricate jewellery to monumental frescoes. Holbein's art has sometimes been called realist, since he drew and painted with a rare precision.

 

His portraits were renowned in their time for their likeness; and it is through Holbein's eyes that many famous figures of his day, such as Erasmus and More, are now "seen". Holbein was never content, however, with outward appearance. He embedded layers of symbolism, allusion, and paradox in his art, to the lasting fascination of scholars. In the view of art historian Ellis Waterhouse, his portraiture "remains unsurpassed for sureness and economy of statement, penetration into character, and a combined richness and purity of style".

 

Holbein was born in the free imperial city of Augsburg during the winter of 1497–98. He was a son of the painter and draughtsman Hans Holbein the Elder, whose trade he and his older brother, Ambrosius, followed. Holbein the Elder ran a large and busy workshop in Augsburg, sometimes assisted by his brother Sigmund, also a painter.

By 1515, Hans and Ambrosius had moved as journeymen painters to the city of Basel, a centre of learning and the printing trade. There they were apprenticed to Hans Herbster, Basel's leading painter. The brothers found work in Basel as designers of woodcuts and metalcuts for printers. In 1515, the preacher and theologian Oswald Myconius invited them to add pen drawings to the margin of a copy of The Praise of Folly by the humanist scholar Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam. The sketches provide early evidence of Holbein's wit and humanistic leaning. His other early works, including the double portrait of Basel's mayor Jakob Meyer zum Hasen and his wife Dorothea, follow his father's style.

The young Holbein, alongside his brother and his father, is pictured in the left-hand panel of Holbein the Elder's 1504 altar-piece triptych the Basilica of St. Paul, which is displayed at the Staatsgalerie in Augsberg.

In 1517, father and son began a project in Lucerne (Luzern), painting internal and external murals for the merchant Jakob von Hertenstein. While in Lucerne Holbein also designed cartoons for stained glass. The city's records show that on 10 December 1517, he was fined five livres for fighting in the street with a goldsmith called Caspar, who was fined the same amount. That winter, Holbein probably visited northern Italy, though no record of the trip survives. Many scholars believe he studied the work of Italian masters of fresco, such as Andrea Mantegna, before returning to Lucerne. He filled two series of panels at Hertenstein's house with copies of works by Mantegna, including The Triumphs of Caesar.

In 1519, Holbein moved back to Basel. His brother fades from the record at about this time, and it is usually presumed that he died. Holbein re-established himself rapidly in the city, running a busy workshop. He joined the painters' guild and took out Basel citizenship. He married Elsbeth Schmid, a widow a few years older than he was, who had an infant son, Franz, and was running her late husband's tanning business. She bore Holbein a son of his own, Philipp, in their first year of marriage.

Holbein was prolific during this period in Basel, which coincided with the arrival of Lutheranism in the city. He undertook a number of major projects, such as external murals for The House of the Dance and internal murals for the Council Chamber of the Town Hall. The former are known from preparatory drawings. The Council Chamber murals survive in a few poorly preserved fragments. Holbein also produced a series of religious paintings and designed cartoons for stained glass windows.

In a period of revolution in book design, he illustrated for the publisher Johann Froben. His woodcut designs included those for the Dance of Death, the Icones (illustrations of the Old Testament), and the title page of Martin Luther's bible. Through the woodcut medium, Holbein refined his grasp of expressive and spatial effects.

Holbein also painted the occasional portrait in Basel, among them the double portrait of Jakob and Dorothea Meyer, and, in 1519, that of the young academic Boniface Amerbach. According to art historian Paul Ganz, the portrait of Amerbach marks an advance in his style, notably in the use of unbroken colours. For Meyer, he painted an altarpiece of the Madonna which included portraits of the donor, his wife, and his daughter. In 1523, Holbein painted his first portraits of the great Renaissance scholar Erasmus, who required likenesses to send to his friends and admirers throughout Europe. These paintings made Holbein an international artist. Holbein visited France in 1524, probably to seek work at the court of Francis I. When Holbein decided to seek employment in England in 1526, Erasmus recommended him to his friend the statesman and scholar Thomas More. "The arts are freezing in this part of the world," he wrote, "and he is on the way to England to pick up some angels".

 

England, 1526–1528

Holbein broke his journey at Antwerp, where he bought some oak panels and may have met the painter Quentin Matsys. Sir Thomas More welcomed him to England and found him a series of commissions. "Your painter, my dearest Erasmus," he wrote, "is a wonderful artist". Holbein painted a famous portrait of More and another of More with his family. The group portrait, original in conception, is known only from a preparatory sketch and copies by other hands. According to art historian Andreas Beyer, it "offered a prelude of a genre that would only truly gain acceptance in Dutch painting of the seventeenth century". Seven fine related studies of More family members also survive.

During this first stay in England, Holbein worked largely for a humanist circle with ties to Erasmus. Among his commissions was the portrait of William Warham, Archbishop of Canterbury, who owned a Holbein portrait of Erasmus. Holbein also painted the Bavarian astronomer and mathematician Nicholas Kratzer, a tutor of the More family whose notes appear on Holbein's sketch for their group portrait. Although Holbein did not work for the king during this visit, he painted the portraits of courtiers such as Sir Henry Guildford and his wife Lady Mary, and of Anne Lovell, recently identified as the subject of Lady with a Squirrel and a Starling. In May 1527, "Master Hans" also painted a panorama of the siege of Thérouanne for the visit of French Ambassadors. With Kratzer, he devised a ceiling covered in planetary signs, under which the visitors dined. The chronicler Edward Hall described the spectacle as showing "the whole Earth, environed with the sea, like a very map or cart".

 

Basel, 1528–1532

On 29 August 1528, Holbein bought a house in Basel, in St Johanns-Vorstadt. He presumably returned home to preserve his citizenship, since he had been granted only a two-year leave of absence. Enriched by his success in England, Holbein bought a second house in the city in 1531.

During this period in Basel, he painted The Artist's Family, showing Elsbeth, with the couple's two eldest children, Philipp and Katherina, evoking images of the Virgin and Child with St John the Baptist. Art historian John Rowlands sees this work as "one of the most moving portraits in art, from an artist, too, who always characterized his sitters with a guarded restraint".

Basel had become a turbulent city in Holbein's absence. Reformers, swayed by the ideas of Zwingli, carried out acts of iconoclasm and banned imagery in churches. In April 1529, the free-thinking Erasmus felt obliged to leave his former haven for Freiburg im Breisgau. The iconoclasts probably destroyed some of Holbein's religious artwork, but details are unknown. Evidence for Holbein's religious views is fragmentary and inconclusive. "The religious side of his paintings had always been ambiguous," suggests art historian John North, "and so it remained". According to a register compiled to ensure that all major citizens subscribed to the new doctrines: "Master Hans Holbein, the painter, says that we must be better informed about the [holy] table before approaching it". In 1530, the authorities called Holbein to account for failing to attend the reformed communion. Shortly afterwards, however, he was listed among those "who have no serious objections and wish to go along with other Christians".

Holbein evidently retained favour under the new order. The reformist council paid him a retaining fee of 50 florins and commissioned him to resume work on the Council Chamber frescoes. They now chose themes from the Old Testament instead of the previous stories from classical history and allegory. Holbein's frescoes of Rehoboam and of the meeting between Saul and Samuel were more simply designed than their predecessors. Holbein worked for traditional clients at the same time. His old patron Jakob Meyer paid him to add figures and details to the family altarpiece he had painted in 1526. Holbein's last commission in this period was the decoration of two clock faces on the city gate in 1531. The reduced levels of patronage in Basel may have prompted his decision to return to England early in 1532.

 

England, 1532–1540

Holbein returned to an England where the political and religious environment was changing radically. In 1532, Henry VIII was preparing to repudiate Catherine of Aragon and marry Anne Boleyn, in defiance of the pope. Among those who opposed Henry's actions was Holbein's former host and patron Sir Thomas More, who resigned as Lord Chancellor in May 1532. Holbein seems to have distanced himself from More's humanist milieu on this visit, and, according to Erasmus, "he deceived those to whom he was recommended". The artist found favour instead within the radical new power circles of the Boleyn family and Thomas Cromwell. Cromwell became the king's secretary in 1534, controlling all aspects of government, including artistic propaganda. More was executed in 1535, along with John Fisher, whose portrait Holbein had also drawn.

Holbein's commissions in the early stages of his second English period included portraits of Lutheran merchants of the Hanseatic League. The merchants lived and plied their trade at the Steelyard, a complex of warehouses, offices, and dwellings on the north bank of the Thames. Holbein rented a house in Maiden Lane nearby. He portrayed his clients in a range of styles. His portrait of Georg Gisze of Danzig shows the merchant surrounded with exquisitely painted symbols of his trade. His portrait of Derich Berck of Cologne, on the other hand, is classically simple, possibly influenced by Titian. For the guildhall of the Steelyard Holbein painted two monumental allegories, "The Triumph of Wealth" and "The Triumph of Poverty", both now lost. The merchants commissioned from Holbein a street tableau of Mount Parnassus for Anne Boleyn's coronation eve procession of 31 May 1533.

Holbein also portrayed various courtiers, landowners, and visitors during this time. His most famous, and perhaps greatest, painting of the period was The Ambassadors. This life-sized panel portrays Jean de Dinteville, an ambassador of Francis I of France in 1533, and Georges de Selve, Bishop of Lavaur, who visited London the same year. The work incorporates symbols and paradoxes, including an anamorphic (distorted) skull. According to scholars, these encode enigmatic references to learning, religion, mortality, and illusion in the tradition of the Northern Renaissance. Art historians Oskar Bätschmann and Pascal Griener suggest that in The Ambassadors "Sciences and arts, objects of luxury and glory, are measured against the grandeur of Death".

No certain portraits of Anne Boleyn by Holbein survive, perhaps because her memory was purged following her execution for treason, incest, and adultery in 1536. That Holbein worked directly for Anne and her circle is, however, clear. He designed a cup engraved with her device of a falcon standing on roses, as well as jewellery and books connected to her. He also sketched several women attached to her entourage, including Jane Parker, Anne's sister-in-law. At the same time, Holbein worked for Thomas Cromwell as he masterminded Henry VIII's reformation. Cromwell commissioned Holbein to produce reformist and royalist images, including anti-clerical woodcuts and the title page to Myles Coverdale's English translation of the bible. Henry VIII had embarked on a grandiose programme of artistic patronage. His efforts to glorify his new status as Supreme Head of the Church culminated in the building of Nonsuch Palace, started in 1538.

 

By 1536, Holbein was employed as the King's Painter on an annual salary of 30 pounds, though he was never the highest-paid artist on the royal payroll. The royal "pictor maker", Lucas Horenbout, earned more, and other continental artists worked for the king. In 1537, Holbein painted what has become perhaps his most famous image: Henry VIII standing in a heroic pose with his feet planted apart. The left section of Holbein's cartoon for a life-sized wall painting at Whitehall Palace has survived, showing the king in this pose, with his father behind him. The mural itself, which also depicted Jane Seymour and Elizabeth of York, was destroyed by fire in 1698. It is known from engravings and from a 1667 copy by Remigius van Leemput. An earlier half-length portrait shows Henry in a similar pose, but all the full-length portraits of him based on the Whitehall pattern are copies. The figure of Jane Seymour in the mural is related to Holbein's sketch and painting of her.

Jane died in October 1537, shortly after bearing Henry's only son, the future Edward VI. About two years later, Holbein painted a portrait of the prince, clutching a sceptre-like gold rattle. Holbein's final portrait of Henry, dating from 1543 and perhaps completed by others, depicts the king with a group of barber surgeons.

Holbein's portrait style altered after he entered Henry's service. He focused more intensely on the sitters' faces and clothing, largely omitting props and three-dimensional settings. Holbein applied this clean, craftsmanlike technique both to miniature portraits, such as that of Jane Small, and to grand portraits, such as that of Christina of Denmark. Holbein travelled with Philip Hoby to Brussels and sketched Christina in 1538 for the king, who was appraising the young widow as a prospective bride. John Hutton, the English ambassador in Brussels, reported another artist's drawing of Christina as "sloberid" (slobbered) compared to Holbein's. In Wilson's view, Holbein's subsequent oil portrait is "the loveliest painting of a woman that he ever executed, which is to say that it is one of the finest female portraits ever painted".The same year, Holbein, again escorted by the diplomat Hoby, went to France to paint Louise of Guise and Anne of Lorraine for Henry VIII. Neither portrait of these cousins has survived. Holbein found time to visit Basel, where he was fêted by the authorities and granted a pension. On the way back to England, he apprenticed his son Philipp to the Basel-born goldsmith Jacob David in Paris.

Holbein painted Anne of Cleves, Henry's eventual choice of wife, at Düren in summer 1539, posing her square-on and in elaborate finery. "Hans Holbein," reported the English envoy Nicholas Wotton, "hath taken the effigies of my Lady Anne and the lady Amelia [Anne's sister] and hath expressed their images very lively". Henry was disillusioned with Anne in the flesh, however, and he divorced her after a brief, unconsummated marriage. The tradition that Holbein's portrait flattered Anne derives from the testimony of Sir Anthony Browne. He said that he was dismayed by her appearance at Rochester having seen her pictures and heard advertisements of her beauty, so much that his face fell. No one other than Henry ever described Anne as repugnant.

 

Last years and death, 1540–1543

Holbein had deftly survived the downfall of his first two great patrons, Thomas More and Anne Boleyn, but Cromwell's sudden arrest and execution on trumped-up charges of heresy and treason in 1540 undoubtedly damaged his career. Though Holbein retained his position as King's Painter, Cromwell's death left a gap no other patron could fill.

Apart from routine official duties, Holbein now occupied himself with private commissions, turning again to portraits of Steelyard merchants. He also painted some of his finest miniatures, including those of Henry Brandon and Charles Brandon, sons of Henry VIII's friend Charles Brandon, 1st Duke of Suffolk, and his fourth wife, Catherine Willoughby. Holbein managed to secure commissions among those courtiers who now jockeyed for power, in particular from Anthony Denny, one of the two chief gentlemen of the bedchamber. He became close enough to Denny to borrow money from him. He painted Denny's portrait in 1541 and two years later designed a clock-salt for him. Denny was part of a circle that gained influence in 1542 after the failure of Henry's marriage to Catherine Howard. The king's marriage in July 1543 to the reformist Catherine Parr, whose brother Holbein had painted in 1541, established Denny's party in power.

Holbein may have visited his wife and children in late 1540, when his leave-of-absence from Basel expired. None of his work dates from this period, and the Basel authorities paid him six months salary in advance. The state of Holbein's marriage has intrigued scholars, who base their speculations on fragmentary evidence. Apart from one brief visit, Holbein had lived apart from Elsbeth since 1532. His will reveals that he had two infant children in England, of whom nothing is known except that they were in the care of a nurse. Holbein's unfaithfulness to Elsbeth may not have been new. Some scholars believe that Magdalena Offenburg, the model for the Darmstadt Madonna and for two portraits painted in Basel, was for a time Holbein's mistress. Others dismiss the idea. One of the portraits was of Lais of Corinth, mistress of Apelles, the famous artist of Greek antiquity after whom Holbein was named in humanist circles. Whatever the case, it is likely that Holbein always supported his wife and children. When Elsbeth died in 1549, she was well off and still owned many of Holbein's fine clothes; on the other hand, she had sold his portrait of her before his death.

 

Hans Holbein died between 7 October and 29 November 1543 at the age of 45. Karel van Mander stated in the early 17th century that he died of the plague. Wilson regards the story with caution, since Holbein's friends attended his bedside; and Peter Claussen suggests that he died of an infection. Describing himself as "servant to the king's majesty", Holbein had made his will on 7 October at his home in Aldgate. The goldsmith John of Antwerp and a few German neighbours signed as witnesses. Holbein may have been in a hurry, because the will was not witnessed by a lawyer. On 29 November, John of Antwerp, the subject of several of Holbein's portraits, legally undertook the administration of the artist's last wishes. He presumably settled Holbein's debts, arranged for the care of his two children, and sold and dispersed his effects, including many designs and preliminary drawings that have survived. The site of Holbein's grave is unknown and may never have been marked.

 

Portraits.

For Holbein, "everything began with a drawing". A gifted draughtsman, he was heir to a German tradition of line drawing and precise preparatory design. Holbein's chalk and ink portraits demonstrate his mastery of outline. He always made preparatory portraits of his sitters, though many drawings survive for which no painted version is known, suggesting that some were drawn for their own sake. Holbein produced relatively few portraits during his years in Basel. Among these were his 1516 studies of Jakob and Dorothea Meyer, sketched, like many of his father's portrait drawings, in silverpoint and chalk.

Holbein painted most of his portraits during his two periods in England. In the first, between 1526 and 1528, he used the technique of Jean Clouet for his preliminary studies, combining black and coloured chalks on unprimed paper. In the second, from 1532 to his death, he drew on smaller sheets of pink-primed paper, adding pen and brushwork in ink to the chalk. Judging by the three-hour sitting given to him by Christina of Denmark, Holbein could produce such portrait studies quickly. Some scholars believe that he used a mechanical device to help him trace the contours of his subjects' faces. Holbein paid less attention to facial tones in his later drawings, making fewer and more emphatic strokes, but they are never formulaic. His grasp of spatial relationships ensures that each portrait, however sparely drawn, conveys the sitter's presence.

Holbein's painted portraits were closely founded on drawing. Holbein transferred each drawn portrait study to the panel with the aid of geometrical instruments. He then built up the painted surface in tempera and oil, recording the tiniest detail, down to each stitch or fastening of costume. In the view of art historian Paul Ganz, "The deep glaze and the enamel-like lustre of the colouring were achieved by means of the metallic, highly polished crayon groundwork, which admitted of few corrections and, like the preliminary sketch, remained visible through the thin layer of colour".

The result is a brilliant portrait style in which the sitters appear, in Foister's words, as "recognisably individual and even contemporary-seeming" people, dressed in minutely rendered clothing that provides an unsurpassed source for the history of Tudor costume. Holbein's humanist clients valued individuality highly. According to Strong, his portrait subjects underwent "a new experience, one which was a profound visual expression of humanist ideals".

Commentators differ in their response to Holbein's precision and objectivity as a portraitist. What some see as an expression of spiritual depth in his sitters, others have called mournful, aloof, or even vacant. "Perhaps an underlying coolness suffuses their countenances," wrote Holbein's 19th-century biographer Alfred Woltmann, "but behind this outward placidness lies hidden a breadth and depth of inner life". Some critics see the iconic and pared-down style of Holbein's later portraits as a regression. Kenyon Cox, for example, believes that his methods grew more primitive, reducing painting "almost to the condition of medieval illumination". Erna Auerbach relates the "decorative formal flatness" of Holbein's late art to the style of illuminated documents, citing the group portrait of Henry VIII and the Barber Surgeons' Company. Other analysts detect no loss of powers in Holbein's last phase.

Until the later 1530s, Holbein often placed his sitters in a three-dimensional setting. At times, he included classical and biblical references and inscriptions, as well as drapery, architecture, and symbolic props. Such portraits allowed Holbein to demonstrate his virtuosity and powers of allusion and metaphor, as well as to hint at the private world of his subjects. His 1532 portrait of Sir Brian Tuke, for example, alludes to the sitter's poor health, comparing his sufferings to those of Job. The depiction of the Five wounds of Christ and the inscription "INRI" on Tuke's crucifix are, according to scholars Bätschmann and Griener, "intended to protect its owner against ill-health". Holbein portrays the merchant Georg Gisze among elaborate symbols of science and wealth that evoke the sitter's personal iconography. However, some of Holbein's other portraits of Steelyard merchants, for example that of Derich Born, concentrate on the naturalness of the face. They prefigure the simpler style that Holbein favoured in the later part of his career.

Study of Holbein's later portraits has been complicated by the number of copies and derivative works attributed to him. Scholars now seek to distinguish the true Holbeins by the refinement and quality of the work. The hallmark of Holbein's art is a searching and perfectionist approach discernible in his alterations to his portraits. In the words of art historian John Rowlands:

This striving for perfection is very evident in his portrait drawings, where he searches with his brush for just the right line for the sitter's profile. The critical faculty in making this choice and his perception of its potency in communicating decisively the sitter's character is a true measure of Holbein's supreme greatness as a portrait painter. Nobody has ever surpassed the revealing profile and stance in his portraits: through their telling use, Holbein still conveys across the centuries the character and likeness of his sitters with an unrivalled mastery.

 

Miniatures.

During his last decade, Holbein painted a number of miniatures; small portraits worn as a kind of jewel. His miniature technique derived from the medieval art of manuscript illumination. His small panel portrait of Henry VIII shows an inter-penetration between his panel and miniature painting. Holbein's large pictures had always contained a miniature-like precision. He now adapted this skill to the smaller form, somehow retaining a monumental effect. The twelve or so certain miniatures by Holbein that survive reveal his mastery of "limning", as the technique was called. His miniature portrait of Jane Small, with its rich blue background, crisp outlines, and absence of shading, is considered a masterpiece of the genre. According to art historian Graham Reynolds, Holbein "portrays a young woman whose plainness is scarcely relieved by her simple costume of black-and-white materials, and yet there can be no doubt that this is one of the great portraits of the world. With remarkable objectivity Holbein has not added anything of himself or subtracted from his sitter's image; he has seen her as she appeared in a solemn mood in the cold light of his painting-room".

Designs.

Throughout his life, Holbein designed for both large-scale decorative works such as murals and smaller objects, including plate and jewellery. In many cases, his designs, or copies of them, are the sole evidence for such works. For example, his murals for the Hertenstein House in Lucerne and for the House of the Dance in Basel are known only through his designs. As his career progressed, he added Italian Renaissance motifs to his Gothic vocabulary.

Many of the intricate designs etched into suits of Greenwich armour, including King Henry's own personal tournament harnesses, were based on designs by Holbein. His style continued to influence the unique form of English armour for nearly half a century after his death.

Holbein's cartoon for part of the dynastic Tudor wall painting at Whitehall reveals how he prepared for a large mural. It was made of 25 pieces of paper, each figure cut out and pasted onto the background. Many of Holbein's designs for glass painting, metalwork, jewellery, and weapons also survive. All demonstrate the precision and fluidity of his draughtsmanship. In the view of art historian Susan Foister, "These qualities so animate his decorative designs, whether individual motifs, such as his favoured serpentine mermen and women, or the larger shapes of cups, frames, and fountains, that they scintillate on paper even before their transformation into precious metal and stone".

Holbein's way of designing objects was to sketch preliminary ideas and then draw successive versions with increasing precision. His final draft was a presentation version. He often used traditional patterns for ornamental details such as foliage and branches. When designing precious objects, Holbein worked closely with craftsmen such as goldsmiths. His design work, suggests art historian John North, "gave him an unparalleled feel for the textures of materials of all kinds, and it also gave him the habit of relating physical accessories to face and personality in his portraiture". Although little is known of Holbein's workshop, scholars assume that his drawings were partly intended as sources for his assistants.

 

(Wikipedia Encyclopedia).

 

The full text of this excellent Wikipedia article with all the notes is here:

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hans_Holbein_the_Younger

 

HANS HOLBEIN THE YOUNGER (c.1497-1543) - De Vos van Steenwijk (c, 1497 - c. 1564), 1541, detail. Gemäldegalerie Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin ©Hans Ollermann

 

(as to all of my photo's: for educational non-commercial use only)

 

Hans Holbein the Younger (c. 1497– between 7 October and 29 November 1543) was a German artist and printmaker who worked in a Northern Renaissance style. He is best known as one of the greatest portraitists of the 16th century. He also produced religious art, satire, and Reformation propaganda, and made a significant contribution to the history of book design. He is called "the Younger" to distinguish him from his father, Hans Holbein the Elder, an accomplished painter of the Late Gothic school.

 

Born in Augsburg, Holbein worked mainly in Basel as a young artist. At first he painted murals and religious works and designed for stained glass windows and printed books. He also painted the occasional portrait, making his international mark with portraits of the humanist Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam. When the Reformation reached Basel, Holbein worked for reformist clients while continuing to serve traditional religious patrons. His Late Gothic style was enriched by artistic trends in Italy, France, and the Netherlands, as well as by Renaissance Humanism. The result was a combined aesthetic uniquely his own.

 

Holbein travelled to England in 1526 in search of work, with a recommendation from Erasmus. He was welcomed into the humanist circle of Thomas More, where he quickly built a high reputation. After returning to Basel for four years, he resumed his career in England in 1532. This time he worked under the patronage of Anne Boleyn and Thomas Cromwell. By 1535, he was King's Painter to King Henry VIII. In this role, he produced not only portraits and festive decorations but designs for jewellery, plate, and other precious objects. His portraits of the royal family and nobles are a record of the court in the years when Henry was asserting his supremacy over the English church.

 

Holbein's art was prized from early in his career. The French poet and reformer Nicholas Bourbon dubbed him "the Apelles of our time," a typical contemporary accolade. Holbein has also been described as a great "one-off" of art history, since he founded no school. After his death, some of his work was lost, but much was collected, and by the 19th century, Holbein was recognised among the great portrait masters. Recent exhibitions have also highlighted his versatility. He turned his fluid line to designs ranging from intricate jewellery to monumental frescoes. Holbein's art has sometimes been called realist, since he drew and painted with a rare precision.

 

His portraits were renowned in their time for their likeness; and it is through Holbein's eyes that many famous figures of his day, such as Erasmus and More, are now "seen". Holbein was never content, however, with outward appearance. He embedded layers of symbolism, allusion, and paradox in his art, to the lasting fascination of scholars. In the view of art historian Ellis Waterhouse, his portraiture "remains unsurpassed for sureness and economy of statement, penetration into character, and a combined richness and purity of style".

 

Holbein was born in the free imperial city of Augsburg during the winter of 1497–98. He was a son of the painter and draughtsman Hans Holbein the Elder, whose trade he and his older brother, Ambrosius, followed. Holbein the Elder ran a large and busy workshop in Augsburg, sometimes assisted by his brother Sigmund, also a painter.

By 1515, Hans and Ambrosius had moved as journeymen painters to the city of Basel, a centre of learning and the printing trade. There they were apprenticed to Hans Herbster, Basel's leading painter. The brothers found work in Basel as designers of woodcuts and metalcuts for printers. In 1515, the preacher and theologian Oswald Myconius invited them to add pen drawings to the margin of a copy of The Praise of Folly by the humanist scholar Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam. The sketches provide early evidence of Holbein's wit and humanistic leaning. His other early works, including the double portrait of Basel's mayor Jakob Meyer zum Hasen and his wife Dorothea, follow his father's style.

The young Holbein, alongside his brother and his father, is pictured in the left-hand panel of Holbein the Elder's 1504 altar-piece triptych the Basilica of St. Paul, which is displayed at the Staatsgalerie in Augsberg.

In 1517, father and son began a project in Lucerne (Luzern), painting internal and external murals for the merchant Jakob von Hertenstein. While in Lucerne Holbein also designed cartoons for stained glass. The city's records show that on 10 December 1517, he was fined five livres for fighting in the street with a goldsmith called Caspar, who was fined the same amount. That winter, Holbein probably visited northern Italy, though no record of the trip survives. Many scholars believe he studied the work of Italian masters of fresco, such as Andrea Mantegna, before returning to Lucerne. He filled two series of panels at Hertenstein's house with copies of works by Mantegna, including The Triumphs of Caesar.

In 1519, Holbein moved back to Basel. His brother fades from the record at about this time, and it is usually presumed that he died. Holbein re-established himself rapidly in the city, running a busy workshop. He joined the painters' guild and took out Basel citizenship. He married Elsbeth Schmid, a widow a few years older than he was, who had an infant son, Franz, and was running her late husband's tanning business. She bore Holbein a son of his own, Philipp, in their first year of marriage.

Holbein was prolific during this period in Basel, which coincided with the arrival of Lutheranism in the city. He undertook a number of major projects, such as external murals for The House of the Dance and internal murals for the Council Chamber of the Town Hall. The former are known from preparatory drawings. The Council Chamber murals survive in a few poorly preserved fragments. Holbein also produced a series of religious paintings and designed cartoons for stained glass windows.

In a period of revolution in book design, he illustrated for the publisher Johann Froben. His woodcut designs included those for the Dance of Death, the Icones (illustrations of the Old Testament), and the title page of Martin Luther's bible. Through the woodcut medium, Holbein refined his grasp of expressive and spatial effects.

Holbein also painted the occasional portrait in Basel, among them the double portrait of Jakob and Dorothea Meyer, and, in 1519, that of the young academic Boniface Amerbach. According to art historian Paul Ganz, the portrait of Amerbach marks an advance in his style, notably in the use of unbroken colours. For Meyer, he painted an altarpiece of the Madonna which included portraits of the donor, his wife, and his daughter. In 1523, Holbein painted his first portraits of the great Renaissance scholar Erasmus, who required likenesses to send to his friends and admirers throughout Europe. These paintings made Holbein an international artist. Holbein visited France in 1524, probably to seek work at the court of Francis I. When Holbein decided to seek employment in England in 1526, Erasmus recommended him to his friend the statesman and scholar Thomas More. "The arts are freezing in this part of the world," he wrote, "and he is on the way to England to pick up some angels".

 

England, 1526–1528

Holbein broke his journey at Antwerp, where he bought some oak panels and may have met the painter Quentin Matsys. Sir Thomas More welcomed him to England and found him a series of commissions. "Your painter, my dearest Erasmus," he wrote, "is a wonderful artist". Holbein painted a famous portrait of More and another of More with his family. The group portrait, original in conception, is known only from a preparatory sketch and copies by other hands. According to art historian Andreas Beyer, it "offered a prelude of a genre that would only truly gain acceptance in Dutch painting of the seventeenth century". Seven fine related studies of More family members also survive.

During this first stay in England, Holbein worked largely for a humanist circle with ties to Erasmus. Among his commissions was the portrait of William Warham, Archbishop of Canterbury, who owned a Holbein portrait of Erasmus. Holbein also painted the Bavarian astronomer and mathematician Nicholas Kratzer, a tutor of the More family whose notes appear on Holbein's sketch for their group portrait. Although Holbein did not work for the king during this visit, he painted the portraits of courtiers such as Sir Henry Guildford and his wife Lady Mary, and of Anne Lovell, recently identified as the subject of Lady with a Squirrel and a Starling. In May 1527, "Master Hans" also painted a panorama of the siege of Thérouanne for the visit of French Ambassadors. With Kratzer, he devised a ceiling covered in planetary signs, under which the visitors dined. The chronicler Edward Hall described the spectacle as showing "the whole Earth, environed with the sea, like a very map or cart".

 

Basel, 1528–1532

On 29 August 1528, Holbein bought a house in Basel, in St Johanns-Vorstadt. He presumably returned home to preserve his citizenship, since he had been granted only a two-year leave of absence. Enriched by his success in England, Holbein bought a second house in the city in 1531.

During this period in Basel, he painted The Artist's Family, showing Elsbeth, with the couple's two eldest children, Philipp and Katherina, evoking images of the Virgin and Child with St John the Baptist. Art historian John Rowlands sees this work as "one of the most moving portraits in art, from an artist, too, who always characterized his sitters with a guarded restraint".

Basel had become a turbulent city in Holbein's absence. Reformers, swayed by the ideas of Zwingli, carried out acts of iconoclasm and banned imagery in churches. In April 1529, the free-thinking Erasmus felt obliged to leave his former haven for Freiburg im Breisgau. The iconoclasts probably destroyed some of Holbein's religious artwork, but details are unknown. Evidence for Holbein's religious views is fragmentary and inconclusive. "The religious side of his paintings had always been ambiguous," suggests art historian John North, "and so it remained". According to a register compiled to ensure that all major citizens subscribed to the new doctrines: "Master Hans Holbein, the painter, says that we must be better informed about the [holy] table before approaching it". In 1530, the authorities called Holbein to account for failing to attend the reformed communion. Shortly afterwards, however, he was listed among those "who have no serious objections and wish to go along with other Christians".

Holbein evidently retained favour under the new order. The reformist council paid him a retaining fee of 50 florins and commissioned him to resume work on the Council Chamber frescoes. They now chose themes from the Old Testament instead of the previous stories from classical history and allegory. Holbein's frescoes of Rehoboam and of the meeting between Saul and Samuel were more simply designed than their predecessors. Holbein worked for traditional clients at the same time. His old patron Jakob Meyer paid him to add figures and details to the family altarpiece he had painted in 1526. Holbein's last commission in this period was the decoration of two clock faces on the city gate in 1531. The reduced levels of patronage in Basel may have prompted his decision to return to England early in 1532.

 

England, 1532–1540

Holbein returned to an England where the political and religious environment was changing radically. In 1532, Henry VIII was preparing to repudiate Catherine of Aragon and marry Anne Boleyn, in defiance of the pope. Among those who opposed Henry's actions was Holbein's former host and patron Sir Thomas More, who resigned as Lord Chancellor in May 1532. Holbein seems to have distanced himself from More's humanist milieu on this visit, and, according to Erasmus, "he deceived those to whom he was recommended". The artist found favour instead within the radical new power circles of the Boleyn family and Thomas Cromwell. Cromwell became the king's secretary in 1534, controlling all aspects of government, including artistic propaganda. More was executed in 1535, along with John Fisher, whose portrait Holbein had also drawn.

Holbein's commissions in the early stages of his second English period included portraits of Lutheran merchants of the Hanseatic League. The merchants lived and plied their trade at the Steelyard, a complex of warehouses, offices, and dwellings on the north bank of the Thames. Holbein rented a house in Maiden Lane nearby. He portrayed his clients in a range of styles. His portrait of Georg Gisze of Danzig shows the merchant surrounded with exquisitely painted symbols of his trade. His portrait of Derich Berck of Cologne, on the other hand, is classically simple, possibly influenced by Titian. For the guildhall of the Steelyard Holbein painted two monumental allegories, "The Triumph of Wealth" and "The Triumph of Poverty", both now lost. The merchants commissioned from Holbein a street tableau of Mount Parnassus for Anne Boleyn's coronation eve procession of 31 May 1533.

Holbein also portrayed various courtiers, landowners, and visitors during this time. His most famous, and perhaps greatest, painting of the period was The Ambassadors. This life-sized panel portrays Jean de Dinteville, an ambassador of Francis I of France in 1533, and Georges de Selve, Bishop of Lavaur, who visited London the same year. The work incorporates symbols and paradoxes, including an anamorphic (distorted) skull. According to scholars, these encode enigmatic references to learning, religion, mortality, and illusion in the tradition of the Northern Renaissance. Art historians Oskar Bätschmann and Pascal Griener suggest that in The Ambassadors "Sciences and arts, objects of luxury and glory, are measured against the grandeur of Death".

No certain portraits of Anne Boleyn by Holbein survive, perhaps because her memory was purged following her execution for treason, incest, and adultery in 1536. That Holbein worked directly for Anne and her circle is, however, clear. He designed a cup engraved with her device of a falcon standing on roses, as well as jewellery and books connected to her. He also sketched several women attached to her entourage, including Jane Parker, Anne's sister-in-law. At the same time, Holbein worked for Thomas Cromwell as he masterminded Henry VIII's reformation. Cromwell commissioned Holbein to produce reformist and royalist images, including anti-clerical woodcuts and the title page to Myles Coverdale's English translation of the bible. Henry VIII had embarked on a grandiose programme of artistic patronage. His efforts to glorify his new status as Supreme Head of the Church culminated in the building of Nonsuch Palace, started in 1538.

 

By 1536, Holbein was employed as the King's Painter on an annual salary of 30 pounds, though he was never the highest-paid artist on the royal payroll. The royal "pictor maker", Lucas Horenbout, earned more, and other continental artists worked for the king. In 1537, Holbein painted what has become perhaps his most famous image: Henry VIII standing in a heroic pose with his feet planted apart. The left section of Holbein's cartoon for a life-sized wall painting at Whitehall Palace has survived, showing the king in this pose, with his father behind him. The mural itself, which also depicted Jane Seymour and Elizabeth of York, was destroyed by fire in 1698. It is known from engravings and from a 1667 copy by Remigius van Leemput. An earlier half-length portrait shows Henry in a similar pose, but all the full-length portraits of him based on the Whitehall pattern are copies. The figure of Jane Seymour in the mural is related to Holbein's sketch and painting of her.

Jane died in October 1537, shortly after bearing Henry's only son, the future Edward VI. About two years later, Holbein painted a portrait of the prince, clutching a sceptre-like gold rattle. Holbein's final portrait of Henry, dating from 1543 and perhaps completed by others, depicts the king with a group of barber surgeons.

Holbein's portrait style altered after he entered Henry's service. He focused more intensely on the sitters' faces and clothing, largely omitting props and three-dimensional settings. Holbein applied this clean, craftsmanlike technique both to miniature portraits, such as that of Jane Small, and to grand portraits, such as that of Christina of Denmark. Holbein travelled with Philip Hoby to Brussels and sketched Christina in 1538 for the king, who was appraising the young widow as a prospective bride. John Hutton, the English ambassador in Brussels, reported another artist's drawing of Christina as "sloberid" (slobbered) compared to Holbein's. In Wilson's view, Holbein's subsequent oil portrait is "the loveliest painting of a woman that he ever executed, which is to say that it is one of the finest female portraits ever painted".The same year, Holbein, again escorted by the diplomat Hoby, went to France to paint Louise of Guise and Anne of Lorraine for Henry VIII. Neither portrait of these cousins has survived. Holbein found time to visit Basel, where he was fêted by the authorities and granted a pension. On the way back to England, he apprenticed his son Philipp to the Basel-born goldsmith Jacob David in Paris.

Holbein painted Anne of Cleves, Henry's eventual choice of wife, at Düren in summer 1539, posing her square-on and in elaborate finery. "Hans Holbein," reported the English envoy Nicholas Wotton, "hath taken the effigies of my Lady Anne and the lady Amelia [Anne's sister] and hath expressed their images very lively". Henry was disillusioned with Anne in the flesh, however, and he divorced her after a brief, unconsummated marriage. The tradition that Holbein's portrait flattered Anne derives from the testimony of Sir Anthony Browne. He said that he was dismayed by her appearance at Rochester having seen her pictures and heard advertisements of her beauty, so much that his face fell. No one other than Henry ever described Anne as repugnant.

 

Last years and death, 1540–1543

Holbein had deftly survived the downfall of his first two great patrons, Thomas More and Anne Boleyn, but Cromwell's sudden arrest and execution on trumped-up charges of heresy and treason in 1540 undoubtedly damaged his career. Though Holbein retained his position as King's Painter, Cromwell's death left a gap no other patron could fill.

Apart from routine official duties, Holbein now occupied himself with private commissions, turning again to portraits of Steelyard merchants. He also painted some of his finest miniatures, including those of Henry Brandon and Charles Brandon, sons of Henry VIII's friend Charles Brandon, 1st Duke of Suffolk, and his fourth wife, Catherine Willoughby. Holbein managed to secure commissions among those courtiers who now jockeyed for power, in particular from Anthony Denny, one of the two chief gentlemen of the bedchamber. He became close enough to Denny to borrow money from him. He painted Denny's portrait in 1541 and two years later designed a clock-salt for him. Denny was part of a circle that gained influence in 1542 after the failure of Henry's marriage to Catherine Howard. The king's marriage in July 1543 to the reformist Catherine Parr, whose brother Holbein had painted in 1541, established Denny's party in power.

Holbein may have visited his wife and children in late 1540, when his leave-of-absence from Basel expired. None of his work dates from this period, and the Basel authorities paid him six months salary in advance. The state of Holbein's marriage has intrigued scholars, who base their speculations on fragmentary evidence. Apart from one brief visit, Holbein had lived apart from Elsbeth since 1532. His will reveals that he had two infant children in England, of whom nothing is known except that they were in the care of a nurse. Holbein's unfaithfulness to Elsbeth may not have been new. Some scholars believe that Magdalena Offenburg, the model for the Darmstadt Madonna and for two portraits painted in Basel, was for a time Holbein's mistress. Others dismiss the idea. One of the portraits was of Lais of Corinth, mistress of Apelles, the famous artist of Greek antiquity after whom Holbein was named in humanist circles. Whatever the case, it is likely that Holbein always supported his wife and children. When Elsbeth died in 1549, she was well off and still owned many of Holbein's fine clothes; on the other hand, she had sold his portrait of her before his death.

 

Hans Holbein died between 7 October and 29 November 1543 at the age of 45. Karel van Mander stated in the early 17th century that he died of the plague. Wilson regards the story with caution, since Holbein's friends attended his bedside; and Peter Claussen suggests that he died of an infection. Describing himself as "servant to the king's majesty", Holbein had made his will on 7 October at his home in Aldgate. The goldsmith John of Antwerp and a few German neighbours signed as witnesses. Holbein may have been in a hurry, because the will was not witnessed by a lawyer. On 29 November, John of Antwerp, the subject of several of Holbein's portraits, legally undertook the administration of the artist's last wishes. He presumably settled Holbein's debts, arranged for the care of his two children, and sold and dispersed his effects, including many designs and preliminary drawings that have survived. The site of Holbein's grave is unknown and may never have been marked.

 

Portraits.

For Holbein, "everything began with a drawing". A gifted draughtsman, he was heir to a German tradition of line drawing and precise preparatory design. Holbein's chalk and ink portraits demonstrate his mastery of outline. He always made preparatory portraits of his sitters, though many drawings survive for which no painted version is known, suggesting that some were drawn for their own sake. Holbein produced relatively few portraits during his years in Basel. Among these were his 1516 studies of Jakob and Dorothea Meyer, sketched, like many of his father's portrait drawings, in silverpoint and chalk.

Holbein painted most of his portraits during his two periods in England. In the first, between 1526 and 1528, he used the technique of Jean Clouet for his preliminary studies, combining black and coloured chalks on unprimed paper. In the second, from 1532 to his death, he drew on smaller sheets of pink-primed paper, adding pen and brushwork in ink to the chalk. Judging by the three-hour sitting given to him by Christina of Denmark, Holbein could produce such portrait studies quickly. Some scholars believe that he used a mechanical device to help him trace the contours of his subjects' faces. Holbein paid less attention to facial tones in his later drawings, making fewer and more emphatic strokes, but they are never formulaic. His grasp of spatial relationships ensures that each portrait, however sparely drawn, conveys the sitter's presence.

Holbein's painted portraits were closely founded on drawing. Holbein transferred each drawn portrait study to the panel with the aid of geometrical instruments. He then built up the painted surface in tempera and oil, recording the tiniest detail, down to each stitch or fastening of costume. In the view of art historian Paul Ganz, "The deep glaze and the enamel-like lustre of the colouring were achieved by means of the metallic, highly polished crayon groundwork, which admitted of few corrections and, like the preliminary sketch, remained visible through the thin layer of colour".

The result is a brilliant portrait style in which the sitters appear, in Foister's words, as "recognisably individual and even contemporary-seeming" people, dressed in minutely rendered clothing that provides an unsurpassed source for the history of Tudor costume. Holbein's humanist clients valued individuality highly. According to Strong, his portrait subjects underwent "a new experience, one which was a profound visual expression of humanist ideals".

Commentators differ in their response to Holbein's precision and objectivity as a portraitist. What some see as an expression of spiritual depth in his sitters, others have called mournful, aloof, or even vacant. "Perhaps an underlying coolness suffuses their countenances," wrote Holbein's 19th-century biographer Alfred Woltmann, "but behind this outward placidness lies hidden a breadth and depth of inner life". Some critics see the iconic and pared-down style of Holbein's later portraits as a regression. Kenyon Cox, for example, believes that his methods grew more primitive, reducing painting "almost to the condition of medieval illumination". Erna Auerbach relates the "decorative formal flatness" of Holbein's late art to the style of illuminated documents, citing the group portrait of Henry VIII and the Barber Surgeons' Company. Other analysts detect no loss of powers in Holbein's last phase.

Until the later 1530s, Holbein often placed his sitters in a three-dimensional setting. At times, he included classical and biblical references and inscriptions, as well as drapery, architecture, and symbolic props. Such portraits allowed Holbein to demonstrate his virtuosity and powers of allusion and metaphor, as well as to hint at the private world of his subjects. His 1532 portrait of Sir Brian Tuke, for example, alludes to the sitter's poor health, comparing his sufferings to those of Job. The depiction of the Five wounds of Christ and the inscription "INRI" on Tuke's crucifix are, according to scholars Bätschmann and Griener, "intended to protect its owner against ill-health". Holbein portrays the merchant Georg Gisze among elaborate symbols of science and wealth that evoke the sitter's personal iconography. However, some of Holbein's other portraits of Steelyard merchants, for example that of Derich Born, concentrate on the naturalness of the face. They prefigure the simpler style that Holbein favoured in the later part of his career.

Study of Holbein's later portraits has been complicated by the number of copies and derivative works attributed to him. Scholars now seek to distinguish the true Holbeins by the refinement and quality of the work. The hallmark of Holbein's art is a searching and perfectionist approach discernible in his alterations to his portraits. In the words of art historian John Rowlands:

This striving for perfection is very evident in his portrait drawings, where he searches with his brush for just the right line for the sitter's profile. The critical faculty in making this choice and his perception of its potency in communicating decisively the sitter's character is a true measure of Holbein's supreme greatness as a portrait painter. Nobody has ever surpassed the revealing profile and stance in his portraits: through their telling use, Holbein still conveys across the centuries the character and likeness of his sitters with an unrivalled mastery.

 

Miniatures.

During his last decade, Holbein painted a number of miniatures; small portraits worn as a kind of jewel. His miniature technique derived from the medieval art of manuscript illumination. His small panel portrait of Henry VIII shows an inter-penetration between his panel and miniature painting. Holbein's large pictures had always contained a miniature-like precision. He now adapted this skill to the smaller form, somehow retaining a monumental effect. The twelve or so certain miniatures by Holbein that survive reveal his mastery of "limning", as the technique was called. His miniature portrait of Jane Small, with its rich blue background, crisp outlines, and absence of shading, is considered a masterpiece of the genre. According to art historian Graham Reynolds, Holbein "portrays a young woman whose plainness is scarcely relieved by her simple costume of black-and-white materials, and yet there can be no doubt that this is one of the great portraits of the world. With remarkable objectivity Holbein has not added anything of himself or subtracted from his sitter's image; he has seen her as she appeared in a solemn mood in the cold light of his painting-room".

Designs.

Throughout his life, Holbein designed for both large-scale decorative works such as murals and smaller objects, including plate and jewellery. In many cases, his designs, or copies of them, are the sole evidence for such works. For example, his murals for the Hertenstein House in Lucerne and for the House of the Dance in Basel are known only through his designs. As his career progressed, he added Italian Renaissance motifs to his Gothic vocabulary.

Many of the intricate designs etched into suits of Greenwich armour, including King Henry's own personal tournament harnesses, were based on designs by Holbein. His style continued to influence the unique form of English armour for nearly half a century after his death.

Holbein's cartoon for part of the dynastic Tudor wall painting at Whitehall reveals how he prepared for a large mural. It was made of 25 pieces of paper, each figure cut out and pasted onto the background. Many of Holbein's designs for glass painting, metalwork, jewellery, and weapons also survive. All demonstrate the precision and fluidity of his draughtsmanship. In the view of art historian Susan Foister, "These qualities so animate his decorative designs, whether individual motifs, such as his favoured serpentine mermen and women, or the larger shapes of cups, frames, and fountains, that they scintillate on paper even before their transformation into precious metal and stone".

Holbein's way of designing objects was to sketch preliminary ideas and then draw successive versions with increasing precision. His final draft was a presentation version. He often used traditional patterns for ornamental details such as foliage and branches. When designing precious objects, Holbein worked closely with craftsmen such as goldsmiths. His design work, suggests art historian John North, "gave him an unparalleled feel for the textures of materials of all kinds, and it also gave him the habit of relating physical accessories to face and personality in his portraiture". Although little is known of Holbein's workshop, scholars assume that his drawings were partly intended as sources for his assistants.

 

(Wikipedia Encyclopedia).

 

The full text of this excellent Wikipedia article with all the notes is here:

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hans_Holbein_the_Younger

 

(as to all of my photo's: for educational non-commercial use only)

  

Theme: iSphere wallpaper

 

Subject: Masters art

 

Description: art (painting, drawing, sculpting, photography, architectural) throughout human history, from all cultures + styles

 

hand-picked not for just art history's sake but for aesthetic / emotional / spiritual / sensual / socio-political...cultural effect / influence; thus proving human genius at its best ; )

 

art work from antiquity to modern times;

all art is by original artists, yet reformatted + designed to fit wallpapers by the GraphicJungle

 

art work:

John Singer Sargent (1856-1925 @69 Am. realist painter, leading portraitist) 'Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose' (1877 Royal Aca. @31), girls aglow with lanterns in typical magical enchanting British garden, uncropped, black background with lantern glow

 

Format: 10124 x 768 pixels (iPad HD), 150dpi, RGB, landscape

  

© 2011

  

John Singer Sargent History

======================

BIRTH:

John Singer Sargent

born Florence, Italy 1856 Jan 12, d. 1925 Apr 14 @69 in London; buried in Brookwood Cemetery, near Woking, Surrey, UK

 

American, leading portrait painter of his generation

 

---------------------------

CHILDHOOD:

 

dad: FitzWilliam, eye surgeon, Philadelphia

 

traveling influence:

older sisters dies @2, family leaves country to recover yet remains nomadic expatriates forever, following the seasons to the mountains + sea in France / Italy / Germany / Switzerland

 

JSS was born on this trip in Florence

his next sister Mary (named after mom) is born a yr later, forcing dad to quit U.S. job + join family in Italy

 

they live modestly on small inheritance / savings, generally avoided society + Americans (except artists)

 

another 4 kids were born, 2 die in childhood, hence 4 grow up

  

---------------------------

ADULTHOOD

 

JSS reached total fame at 40!

 

he then painted a little less (portraits), traveled more

when he painted 'An Interior in Venice' (1900, of the Curtis family in their Palazzo Barbaro) whose looseness ('smudge everywhere') (22 year older) Whistler did not approve of (though hailed by critics)

(Whistler was Brit. but Am. born, the opposite of JSS, even in style, as Whistler was a moral allusionist, lead in credo "art for art's sake" though similarly influenced by music in painting, calling his works 'arrangements' / 'harmonies' / 'nocturnes')

 

1907 @51 shuts studio!

but did some landscapes

  

---------------------------

LOVE:

 

life-long bachelor

friends-family-man

extremely private

early Playboy as sex life 'was notorious in Paris, and in Venice, positively scandalous. He was a frenzied bugger.' (quote from Jacques-Émile Blanche, painter + early sitter)

homosexual tendencies

affair with model Louise Burckhardt (portrait 1882 @27)

  

---------------------------

CHARACTER:

 

- rambunctious child

"willful, curious, determined and strong" (after mother)

yet shy, generous, modest (after father)

- later over-confident

- paunchy physique (depicted + popularized by Brit. Cartoonist Max Beerbohm in 1900s)

  

---------------------------

SCHOOL

 

- initially failed due to family's itinerant life-style

- 1st lessons @13! (watercolor) from Carl Welsch (German landscape painter)

- quickly grows into highly literate / cosmopolitan young man, accomplished in art / music / literature, fluent in French / Italian / German

 

- 2nd lessons, 1874 @18 JSS passed rigorous admission exam on 1st attempt! @ École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts (France's premier art school); learned anatomy + perspective; gained Silver prize

 

- 3rd lessons, 1874-1878 @18-22, not at Academy of Florence as they were re-organizing, but under Carolus-Duran (bold technique + modern teaching methods, anti-academic; alla prima or direct-to-canvas method dev. by Velázquez) in Paris; other Americans artists (Weir / Eakins) studied the traditional style of Jean Léon Gérôme

 

- 4th lessons: self-study: drawing in museums + painting in studio shared with James Carroll Beckwith (valuable friend + Sargent's primary connection with Am. artists abroad)

 

- 5th lessons: Léon Bonnat

 

ideal artist who traveled the world to learn, as in the Renaissance Men:

Venice to Tyrol / Corfu / Middle East / Montana / Maine / Florida

  

---------------------------

BRITAIN:

 

since 1881, long before his decommission in France with Mme X in 1884, he has started sending the British Royal Academy paintings for exhibition; by 1886, 2 years after the X scandal, he moved to London @31, thanks to numerous portrait commissions, encouraged the entire time by friend Henry James (writer).

  

---------------------------

INFLUENCED BY:

 

mom who early on encouraged him to visit Europe + museums + drawing excursions

mom was fine amateur artist

dad was skilled medical illustrator

 

initial subject (13-18): landscapes

initially JSS copied ships from The Illustrated London News; dad hoped it would lead JSS to join navy

 

later (18 onwards): portraits

portrait painting was easier to get commissioned for + to enter Salons than harder though more prestigious history paintings; livelihood was of essence as usual

 

Carolus-Duran (1874-78 @18-22)

Léon Bonnat

Diego Velázquez (1879) (alla prima method); JSS was passionately absorbed by Velazquez + Spanish music/dance…re-awakened his own talent for music, acting as skillful accompanist to pros + amateurs…expressed in El Jaleo (1882 @27)

 

friendship with Paul César Helleu allowed him to meet Degas / Rodin (1884) / Monet (1885) / Whistler

 

visits Monet at Giverny 1885 @30, buys 4 of Monet's paintings

  

---------------------------

STYLE:

 

- mature art skills

- unusual concentration + stamina; seemingly effortless facility for paraphrasing masters in contemporary fashion

- portraits reveal individuality / personality of subjects (nervous energy) (pleasant familiarity w/ subjects)

- early: unusual composition + lighting to striking effect

- not an impressionist but using its technique to his advantage i.e. Claude Monet Painting at the Edge of a Wood

- late (Britain): returned to landscape (charming English countryside : )

- portrait painter in the grand manner (ennobling subjects)

- realism

- 1880s tried British Impressionist Salon in plein-air style (French Impressionists did not consider him Impressionist; Monet even said he's too influenced by Carolus-Duran)

 

JSS would visit sitter's home to see where painting would hang + helped choose attire, but usually painted in studio (well-stocked w/ furniture/backdrops)

 

usually req. 8-10 sittings, face in 1

usu. kept pleasant conversation (he hated) and/or took piano breaks

 

as for landscapes: he showed equal restless intensity, working day morning to night

 

watercolors were his most vivid / experimental vs. pressured portraiture

early water colors: M.E. / N Africa: Bedouins / goatherds / fisherman

late water colors: mostly faun / flora / natives…in Maine / Florida / W Am.

this was the period, in last decade, when he painted most purely for himself, showing joyful fluidness – hence extensively family / friends / gardens / fountains

 

no assistants!

prepped canvas, arranged for photos, shipping, documentation, bureaucracy all independently

  

---------------------------

VALUE:

 

live portraits cost ≈ $5k ($130k! today; 26x) (1890s @34+, UK, avg. 14 commissions/yr = $1.8M!!)

late (1900s) portrait drawings: $400 ($10.4K today; 12.5 cheaper than full oil portraits)

auction value:

  

---------------------------

FAME:

 

instantly popular due superior talent + command of French language

 

1877 @21 1st Salon got him attention (1st major portrait, of friend Fanny Watts)

1877 2nd Salon entry was impressionistic 'Oyster Gatherers of Cançale' (he made 2nd copy for US Salon)

1879 @23 portrait of Carolus-Duran (his teacher since 1874) hailed at Salon (for tribute to famed Duran + as mature ad for portrait commissions); see Henry James'critique below

1887 @ 31 1st success at Brit. Royal Academy 'Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose' (immediately bought by Tate Gallery! where it's still hanging today)

1887-88 1st trip to NY/Boston begets him over 20 commissions

1888 largest JSS commission from single patron by Asher Wertheimer, wealthy London Jewish art dealer (bequeathing most to National Gallery)

 

1890s associate of the Royal Academy; full mbr. 3 yrs later

1905 @49 1st major solo watercolors exhibit, Carfax Gallery, London

1909 @53 exhibits 86 watercolors in NYC (83 bought by Brooklyn Museum! then)

1907 @51, upon closing studio, declines British Knighthood! (preferring to keep Am. citizenship)

1918 @62, upon return UK from 2 yr stay in US, commissioned as a war artist by Brit. Ministry of Info i.e. 'Gassed' (1919) (WWI mustard gas)

JSS confidently set high prices + turned down unsatisfactory sitters

  

---------------------------

CRITIQUE:

 

1879 Henry James (Am./Brit. writer, key figure in 19C literary realism or impressionist writing style) on JSS's early works offers "the slightly 'uncanny' spectacle of a talent which on the very threshold of its career has nothing more to learn."

 

1886 @31 he moved to London after French Mme X scandal; initially Brits critiqued him as 'Frenchified' (cold, harsh, inpallpable, inexpressive)

 

water colors in general: 'Everything is given with the intensity of a dream.'

 

'the Van Dyck of our times'

 

Camille Pissarro 'he is not an enthusiast but rather an adroit performer'

Walter Sickert's satire 'Sargentolatry'

 

1927, 2 years after JSS's death, Hon. Sir Evan Edward Charteris (1864-1940 Brit. biographer / barrister / arts administrator / publisher of JSS biography!) 'To live with Sargent's water-colours is to live with sunshine captured and held, with the luster of a bright and legible world, ‘the refluent shade’ and ‘the Ambient ardours of the noon.'' (JSS was not as critically respected as the ultimate Am. watercolorist Winslow Homer, 1836-1910, 20 years younger than JSS, but close)

 

1917 following his encore portrait, Rockefeller, modern critics consider him past tense, completely out of touch with the reality of American life vs trendy Cubism + Futurism; JSS quietly accepts new criticism but refuses to alter his negative opinions of modern art; part of his fall due to rise in anti-Semitism (intolerance of 'celebrations of Jewish prosperity') i.e. his single biggest patron Wertheimer (jewish art dealer) + authentic Americanism (when JSS was an expatriate)

 

1926 Roger Fry, biggest critic @ London's Sargent retrospective 'Wonderful indeed, but most wonderful that this wonderful performance should ever have been confused with that of an artist.' on lack of aesthetic quality

 

1930s severest critic, Lewis Mumford (1895-1990; Am. literary critic / historian / philosopher of tech) 'Sargent remained to the end an illustrator…the most adroit appearance of workmanship, the most dashing eye for effect, cannot conceal the essential emptiness of Sargent's mind, or the contemptuous and cynical superficiality of a certain part of his execution.'

 

1950s/60s Victorian art revival helped his popularity return

  

---------------------------

FAMOUS WORKS:

 

01. Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose (1877 Royal Aca. @31)

02. Portrait of Madame X (Mme Pierre Gautreau) (1884 Salon @29) (currently at MET)

(personal fave, considered his best too) (most controversial work as infuriated by Paris Salon; back-firing self-confidence as she did not commission it + he pursued her for the opportunity + she was portrayed with equally arrogantly cocked head + over-sensual – new negative critique + dried up French commissions are also probable cause for his move to London and/or his wish to pursue msuic or business instead!; shame as painted Mme Gautreau over 1 yr! + his best work)

 

03. Lady Agnew of Lochnaw (1892 @36)

04. The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit (1879 @24, influenced by Velázquez's Las Meninas 1656)

05. El Jaleo (1882 @27)

06. The Lady with the Rose (Charlotte Burckhardt) (1882 @27) (friend, rumored romantic involvement)

07. even 2 U.S. pres. Theodore Roosevelt + Woodrow Wilson

08. LAST regular portrait 1907: modest / serious self-portrait (in Uffizi Gallery)

09. John D. Rockefeller (1917 @61)

10. very last portrait 1925 @69: 'Grace Curzon, Marchioness Curzon of Kedleston' (daughter of Monroe Hinds, former US Minister to Brazil)

11. Largest works: murals of Boston Public Library (depicts history/triumph of religion); 24 years in the making, final panel never done!; restored 2003-2004, as hidden for all these years, even showing the controversial paintings; if Mme X was his most controversial portrait @29 in 1884 Paris, this Boston mural starting @39 in 1895 was the next most controversial work, when it reached controversy in 1919 @63 as he painted 'The Church' and 'The Synagogue,' politically incorrect or offending Boston's Jews, since it depicts human progress as Christian (radiant young woman vs. old blind hag)…since JSS abandoned the job thereafter, the public outcry died too

  

---------------------------

QUOTE:

 

1. self-confidence

'I have a great desire to paint her portrait and have reason to think she would allow it and is waiting for someone to propose this homage to her beauty. ...you might tell her that I am a man of prodigious talent.' him on Mme X poser ; )

 

2. work

'Painting a portrait would be quite amusing if one were not forced to talk while working…What a nuisance having to entertain the sitter and to look happy when one feels wretched.' him 1907 @51 when closing studio

  

---------------------------

LEGACY:

 

≈ 900 oil paintings (avg. 14 portrait commissions/yr)

2,000+ watercolors

countless sketches/charcoal drawings (JSS called them rapid charcoal portraits 'Mugs')

 

Grand Central Art Galleries (GCAG):

JSS founded this 1922 with Edmund Greacen, Walter Leighton Clark etc.

to increase Americans' awareness of essence of art + act as largest sales gallery ww! ($100-$10k)

the NY Central Railroad gifted the top of the Grand Central Terminal (6 floors! 15000 sf or 1400 m2)

- launched 1923 Mar 23

- initial art: painting, sculpture

- JSS was actively involved in GCAG + its academy Grand Central School of Art till death in 1925

- 1928, 3 yrs after his death, GCAG exhibited 100s of his sketches (found in his London studio, entrusted to organize by his sister to GCAG co-founder Leighton)

- GCAG was in Grand Central 1923-1958 (35 years), moving to smaller, 2nd floor on Biltmore Hotel for 23 years till 1981, then 24 W 57th St for ca. a decade when closed in early 1990s.

  

© 2010-2011 iSphere / the graphicJungle

 

Theme: iSphere wallpaper

 

Subject: Masters art

 

Description: art (painting, drawing, sculpting, photography, architectural) throughout human history, from all cultures + styles

 

hand-picked not for just art history's sake but for aesthetic / emotional / spiritual / sensual / socio-political...cultural effect / influence; thus proving human genius at its best ; )

 

art work from antiquity to modern times;

all art is by original artists, yet reformatted + designed to fit wallpapers by the GraphicJungle

 

art work:

John Singer Sargent (1856-1925 @69 Am. realist painter, leading portraitist) 'Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose' (1877 Royal Aca. @31), girls aglow with lanterns in typical magical enchanting British garden, uncropped

 

Format: 10124 x 768 pixels (iPad HD), 150dpi, RGB, portrait

  

© 2011

  

John Singer Sargent History

======================

BIRTH:

John Singer Sargent

born Florence, Italy 1856 Jan 12, d. 1925 Apr 14 @69 in London; buried in Brookwood Cemetery, near Woking, Surrey, UK

 

American, leading portrait painter of his generation

 

---------------------------

CHILDHOOD:

 

dad: FitzWilliam, eye surgeon, Philadelphia

 

traveling influence:

older sisters dies @2, family leaves country to recover yet remains nomadic expatriates forever, following the seasons to the mountains + sea in France / Italy / Germany / Switzerland

 

JSS was born on this trip in Florence

his next sister Mary (named after mom) is born a yr later, forcing dad to quit U.S. job + join family in Italy

 

they live modestly on small inheritance / savings, generally avoided society + Americans (except artists)

 

another 4 kids were born, 2 die in childhood, hence 4 grow up

  

---------------------------

ADULTHOOD

 

JSS reached total fame at 40!

 

he then painted a little less (portraits), traveled more

when he painted 'An Interior in Venice' (1900, of the Curtis family in their Palazzo Barbaro) whose looseness ('smudge everywhere') (22 year older) Whistler did not approve of (though hailed by critics)

(Whistler was Brit. but Am. born, the opposite of JSS, even in style, as Whistler was a moral allusionist, lead in credo "art for art's sake" though similarly influenced by music in painting, calling his works 'arrangements' / 'harmonies' / 'nocturnes')

 

1907 @51 shuts studio!

but did some landscapes

  

---------------------------

LOVE:

 

life-long bachelor

friends-family-man

extremely private

early Playboy as sex life 'was notorious in Paris, and in Venice, positively scandalous. He was a frenzied bugger.' (quote from Jacques-Émile Blanche, painter + early sitter)

homosexual tendencies

affair with model Louise Burckhardt (portrait 1882 @27)

  

---------------------------

CHARACTER:

 

- rambunctious child

"willful, curious, determined and strong" (after mother)

yet shy, generous, modest (after father)

- later over-confident

- paunchy physique (depicted + popularized by Brit. Cartoonist Max Beerbohm in 1900s)

  

---------------------------

SCHOOL

 

- initially failed due to family's itinerant life-style

- 1st lessons @13! (watercolor) from Carl Welsch (German landscape painter)

- quickly grows into highly literate / cosmopolitan young man, accomplished in art / music / literature, fluent in French / Italian / German

 

- 2nd lessons, 1874 @18 JSS passed rigorous admission exam on 1st attempt! @ École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts (France's premier art school); learned anatomy + perspective; gained Silver prize

 

- 3rd lessons, 1874-1878 @18-22, not at Academy of Florence as they were re-organizing, but under Carolus-Duran (bold technique + modern teaching methods, anti-academic; alla prima or direct-to-canvas method dev. by Velázquez) in Paris; other Americans artists (Weir / Eakins) studied the traditional style of Jean Léon Gérôme

 

- 4th lessons: self-study: drawing in museums + painting in studio shared with James Carroll Beckwith (valuable friend + Sargent's primary connection with Am. artists abroad)

 

- 5th lessons: Léon Bonnat

 

ideal artist who traveled the world to learn, as in the Renaissance Men:

Venice to Tyrol / Corfu / Middle East / Montana / Maine / Florida

  

---------------------------

BRITAIN:

 

since 1881, long before his decommission in France with Mme X in 1884, he has started sending the British Royal Academy paintings for exhibition; by 1886, 2 years after the X scandal, he moved to London @31, thanks to numerous portrait commissions, encouraged the entire time by friend Henry James (writer).

  

---------------------------

INFLUENCED BY:

 

mom who early on encouraged him to visit Europe + museums + drawing excursions

mom was fine amateur artist

dad was skilled medical illustrator

 

initial subject (13-18): landscapes

initially JSS copied ships from The Illustrated London News; dad hoped it would lead JSS to join navy

 

later (18 onwards): portraits

portrait painting was easier to get commissioned for + to enter Salons than harder though more prestigious history paintings; livelihood was of essence as usual

 

Carolus-Duran (1874-78 @18-22)

Léon Bonnat

Diego Velázquez (1879) (alla prima method); JSS was passionately absorbed by Velazquez + Spanish music/dance…re-awakened his own talent for music, acting as skillful accompanist to pros + amateurs…expressed in El Jaleo (1882 @27)

 

friendship with Paul César Helleu allowed him to meet Degas / Rodin (1884) / Monet (1885) / Whistler

 

visits Monet at Giverny 1885 @30, buys 4 of Monet's paintings

  

---------------------------

STYLE:

 

- mature art skills

- unusual concentration + stamina; seemingly effortless facility for paraphrasing masters in contemporary fashion

- portraits reveal individuality / personality of subjects (nervous energy) (pleasant familiarity w/ subjects)

- early: unusual composition + lighting to striking effect

- not an impressionist but using its technique to his advantage i.e. Claude Monet Painting at the Edge of a Wood

- late (Britain): returned to landscape (charming English countryside : )

- portrait painter in the grand manner (ennobling subjects)

- realism

- 1880s tried British Impressionist Salon in plein-air style (French Impressionists did not consider him Impressionist; Monet even said he's too influenced by Carolus-Duran)

 

JSS would visit sitter's home to see where painting would hang + helped choose attire, but usually painted in studio (well-stocked w/ furniture/backdrops)

 

usually req. 8-10 sittings, face in 1

usu. kept pleasant conversation (he hated) and/or took piano breaks

 

as for landscapes: he showed equal restless intensity, working day morning to night

 

watercolors were his most vivid / experimental vs. pressured portraiture

early water colors: M.E. / N Africa: Bedouins / goatherds / fisherman

late water colors: mostly faun / flora / natives…in Maine / Florida / W Am.

this was the period, in last decade, when he painted most purely for himself, showing joyful fluidness – hence extensively family / friends / gardens / fountains

 

no assistants!

prepped canvas, arranged for photos, shipping, documentation, bureaucracy all independently

  

---------------------------

VALUE:

 

live portraits cost ≈ $5k ($130k! today; 26x) (1890s @34+, UK, avg. 14 commissions/yr = $1.8M!!)

late (1900s) portrait drawings: $400 ($10.4K today; 12.5 cheaper than full oil portraits)

auction value:

  

---------------------------

FAME:

 

instantly popular due superior talent + command of French language

 

1877 @21 1st Salon got him attention (1st major portrait, of friend Fanny Watts)

1877 2nd Salon entry was impressionistic 'Oyster Gatherers of Cançale' (he made 2nd copy for US Salon)

1879 @23 portrait of Carolus-Duran (his teacher since 1874) hailed at Salon (for tribute to famed Duran + as mature ad for portrait commissions); see Henry James'critique below

1887 @ 31 1st success at Brit. Royal Academy 'Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose' (immediately bought by Tate Gallery! where it's still hanging today)

1887-88 1st trip to NY/Boston begets him over 20 commissions

1888 largest JSS commission from single patron by Asher Wertheimer, wealthy London Jewish art dealer (bequeathing most to National Gallery)

 

1890s associate of the Royal Academy; full mbr. 3 yrs later

1905 @49 1st major solo watercolors exhibit, Carfax Gallery, London

1909 @53 exhibits 86 watercolors in NYC (83 bought by Brooklyn Museum! then)

1907 @51, upon closing studio, declines British Knighthood! (preferring to keep Am. citizenship)

1918 @62, upon return UK from 2 yr stay in US, commissioned as a war artist by Brit. Ministry of Info i.e. 'Gassed' (1919) (WWI mustard gas)

JSS confidently set high prices + turned down unsatisfactory sitters

  

---------------------------

CRITIQUE:

 

1879 Henry James (Am./Brit. writer, key figure in 19C literary realism or impressionist writing style) on JSS's early works offers "the slightly 'uncanny' spectacle of a talent which on the very threshold of its career has nothing more to learn."

 

1886 @31 he moved to London after French Mme X scandal; initially Brits critiqued him as 'Frenchified' (cold, harsh, inpallpable, inexpressive)

 

water colors in general: 'Everything is given with the intensity of a dream.'

 

'the Van Dyck of our times'

 

Camille Pissarro 'he is not an enthusiast but rather an adroit performer'

Walter Sickert's satire 'Sargentolatry'

 

1927, 2 years after JSS's death, Hon. Sir Evan Edward Charteris (1864-1940 Brit. biographer / barrister / arts administrator / publisher of JSS biography!) 'To live with Sargent's water-colours is to live with sunshine captured and held, with the luster of a bright and legible world, ‘the refluent shade’ and ‘the Ambient ardours of the noon.'' (JSS was not as critically respected as the ultimate Am. watercolorist Winslow Homer, 1836-1910, 20 years younger than JSS, but close)

 

1917 following his encore portrait, Rockefeller, modern critics consider him past tense, completely out of touch with the reality of American life vs trendy Cubism + Futurism; JSS quietly accepts new criticism but refuses to alter his negative opinions of modern art; part of his fall due to rise in anti-Semitism (intolerance of 'celebrations of Jewish prosperity') i.e. his single biggest patron Wertheimer (jewish art dealer) + authentic Americanism (when JSS was an expatriate)

 

1926 Roger Fry, biggest critic @ London's Sargent retrospective 'Wonderful indeed, but most wonderful that this wonderful performance should ever have been confused with that of an artist.' on lack of aesthetic quality

 

1930s severest critic, Lewis Mumford (1895-1990; Am. literary critic / historian / philosopher of tech) 'Sargent remained to the end an illustrator…the most adroit appearance of workmanship, the most dashing eye for effect, cannot conceal the essential emptiness of Sargent's mind, or the contemptuous and cynical superficiality of a certain part of his execution.'

 

1950s/60s Victorian art revival helped his popularity return

  

---------------------------

FAMOUS WORKS:

 

01. Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose (1877 Royal Aca. @31)

02. Portrait of Madame X (Mme Pierre Gautreau) (1884 Salon @29) (currently at MET)

(personal fave, considered his best too) (most controversial work as infuriated by Paris Salon; back-firing self-confidence as she did not commission it + he pursued her for the opportunity + she was portrayed with equally arrogantly cocked head + over-sensual – new negative critique + dried up French commissions are also probable cause for his move to London and/or his wish to pursue msuic or business instead!; shame as painted Mme Gautreau over 1 yr! + his best work)

 

03. Lady Agnew of Lochnaw (1892 @36)

04. The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit (1879 @24, influenced by Velázquez's Las Meninas 1656)

05. El Jaleo (1882 @27)

06. The Lady with the Rose (Charlotte Burckhardt) (1882 @27) (friend, rumored romantic involvement)

07. even 2 U.S. pres. Theodore Roosevelt + Woodrow Wilson

08. LAST regular portrait 1907: modest / serious self-portrait (in Uffizi Gallery)

09. John D. Rockefeller (1917 @61)

10. very last portrait 1925 @69: 'Grace Curzon, Marchioness Curzon of Kedleston' (daughter of Monroe Hinds, former US Minister to Brazil)

11. Largest works: murals of Boston Public Library (depicts history/triumph of religion); 24 years in the making, final panel never done!; restored 2003-2004, as hidden for all these years, even showing the controversial paintings; if Mme X was his most controversial portrait @29 in 1884 Paris, this Boston mural starting @39 in 1895 was the next most controversial work, when it reached controversy in 1919 @63 as he painted 'The Church' and 'The Synagogue,' politically incorrect or offending Boston's Jews, since it depicts human progress as Christian (radiant young woman vs. old blind hag)…since JSS abandoned the job thereafter, the public outcry died too

  

---------------------------

QUOTE:

 

1. self-confidence

'I have a great desire to paint her portrait and have reason to think she would allow it and is waiting for someone to propose this homage to her beauty. ...you might tell her that I am a man of prodigious talent.' him on Mme X poser ; )

 

2. work

'Painting a portrait would be quite amusing if one were not forced to talk while working…What a nuisance having to entertain the sitter and to look happy when one feels wretched.' him 1907 @51 when closing studio

  

---------------------------

LEGACY:

 

≈ 900 oil paintings (avg. 14 portrait commissions/yr)

2,000+ watercolors

countless sketches/charcoal drawings (JSS called them rapid charcoal portraits 'Mugs')

 

Grand Central Art Galleries (GCAG):

JSS founded this 1922 with Edmund Greacen, Walter Leighton Clark etc.

to increase Americans' awareness of essence of art + act as largest sales gallery ww! ($100-$10k)

the NY Central Railroad gifted the top of the Grand Central Terminal (6 floors! 15000 sf or 1400 m2)

- launched 1923 Mar 23

- initial art: painting, sculpture

- JSS was actively involved in GCAG + its academy Grand Central School of Art till death in 1925

- 1928, 3 yrs after his death, GCAG exhibited 100s of his sketches (found in his London studio, entrusted to organize by his sister to GCAG co-founder Leighton)

- GCAG was in Grand Central 1923-1958 (35 years), moving to smaller, 2nd floor on Biltmore Hotel for 23 years till 1981, then 24 W 57th St for ca. a decade when closed in early 1990s.

  

© 2010-2011 iSphere / the graphicJungle

 

Theme: iSphere wallpaper

 

Subject: feminine beauty

 

Description: feminine beauty,

art (painting, drawing, sculpting, photography) portraying the essential beauty of women;

expressing femininity through color, composition, lighting, feelings, mood, style;

 

art work from antiquity to modern times;

all art is by original artists, yet reformatted + designed to fit wallpapers by the GraphicJungle

 

art work:

John Singer Sargent (1856-1925 @69 Am. realist painter, leading portraitist) 'Portrait of Madame X' (1884 Salon @29), uncropped

 

Format: 10124 x 768 pixels (iPad HD), 150dpi, RGB, landscape; brown sides, orig'l size 234.95 x 109.86 cm (92.5 x 43.3 in)

  

© 2010-2011

  

John Singer Sargent History

======================

BIRTH:

John Singer Sargent

born Florence, Italy 1856 Jan 12, d. 1925 Apr 14 @69 in London; buried in Brookwood Cemetery, near Woking, Surrey, UK

 

American, leading portrait painter of his generation

 

---------------------------

CHILDHOOD:

 

dad: FitzWilliam, eye surgeon, Philadelphia

 

traveling influence:

older sisters dies @2, family leaves country to recover yet remains nomadic expatriates forever, following the seasons to the mountains + sea in France / Italy / Germany / Switzerland

 

JSS was born on this trip in Florence

his next sister Mary (named after mom) is born a yr later, forcing dad to quit U.S. job + join family in Italy

 

they live modestly on small inheritance / savings, generally avoided society + Americans (except artists)

 

another 4 kids were born, 2 die in childhood, hence 4 grow up

  

---------------------------

ADULTHOOD

 

JSS reached total fame at 40!

 

he then painted a little less (portraits), traveled more

when he painted 'An Interior in Venice' (1900, of the Curtis family in their Palazzo Barbaro) whose looseness ('smudge everywhere') (22 year older) Whistler did not approve of (though hailed by critics)

(Whistler was Brit. but Am. born, the opposite of JSS, even in style, as Whistler was a moral allusionist, lead in credo "art for art's sake" though similarly influenced by music in painting, calling his works 'arrangements' / 'harmonies' / 'nocturnes')

 

1907 @51 shuts studio!

but did some landscapes

  

---------------------------

LOVE:

 

life-long bachelor

friends-family-man

extremely private

early Playboy as sex life 'was notorious in Paris, and in Venice, positively scandalous. He was a frenzied bugger.' (quote from Jacques-Émile Blanche, painter + early sitter)

homosexual tendencies

affair with model Louise Burckhardt (portrait 1882 @27)

  

---------------------------

CHARACTER:

 

- rambunctious child

"willful, curious, determined and strong" (after mother)

yet shy, generous, modest (after father)

- later over-confident

- paunchy physique (depicted + popularized by Brit. Cartoonist Max Beerbohm in 1900s)

  

---------------------------

SCHOOL

 

- initially failed due to family's itinerant life-style

- 1st lessons @13! (watercolor) from Carl Welsch (German landscape painter)

- quickly grows into highly literate / cosmopolitan young man, accomplished in art / music / literature, fluent in French / Italian / German

 

- 2nd lessons, 1874 @18 JSS passed rigorous admission exam on 1st attempt! @ École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts (France's premier art school); learned anatomy + perspective; gained Silver prize

 

- 3rd lessons, 1874-1878 @18-22, not at Academy of Florence as they were re-organizing, but under Carolus-Duran (bold technique + modern teaching methods, anti-academic; alla prima or direct-to-canvas method dev. by Velázquez) in Paris; other Americans artists (Weir / Eakins) studied the traditional style of Jean Léon Gérôme

 

- 4th lessons: self-study: drawing in museums + painting in studio shared with James Carroll Beckwith (valuable friend + Sargent's primary connection with Am. artists abroad)

 

- 5th lessons: Léon Bonnat

 

ideal artist who traveled the world to learn, as in the Renaissance Men:

Venice to Tyrol / Corfu / Middle East / Montana / Maine / Florida

  

---------------------------

BRITAIN:

 

since 1881, long before his decommission in France with Mme X in 1884, he has started sending the British Royal Academy paintings for exhibition; by 1886, 2 years after the X scandal, he moved to London @31, thanks to numerous portrait commissions, encouraged the entire time by friend Henry James (writer).

  

---------------------------

INFLUENCED BY:

 

mom who early on encouraged him to visit Europe + museums + drawing excursions

mom was fine amateur artist

dad was skilled medical illustrator

 

initial subject (13-18): landscapes

initially JSS copied ships from The Illustrated London News; dad hoped it would lead JSS to join navy

 

later (18 onwards): portraits

portrait painting was easier to get commissioned for + to enter Salons than harder though more prestigious history paintings; livelihood was of essence as usual

 

Carolus-Duran (1874-78 @18-22)

Léon Bonnat

Diego Velázquez (1879) (alla prima method); JSS was passionately absorbed by Velazquez + Spanish music/dance…re-awakened his own talent for music, acting as skillful accompanist to pros + amateurs…expressed in El Jaleo (1882 @27)

 

friendship with Paul César Helleu allowed him to meet Degas / Rodin (1884) / Monet (1885) / Whistler

 

visits Monet at Giverny 1885 @30, buys 4 of Monet's paintings

  

---------------------------

STYLE:

 

- mature art skills

- unusual concentration + stamina; seemingly effortless facility for paraphrasing masters in contemporary fashion

- portraits reveal individuality / personality of subjects (nervous energy) (pleasant familiarity w/ subjects)

- early: unusual composition + lighting to striking effect

- not an impressionist but using its technique to his advantage i.e. Claude Monet Painting at the Edge of a Wood

- late (Britain): returned to landscape (charming English countryside : )

- portrait painter in the grand manner (ennobling subjects)

- realism

- 1880s tried British Impressionist Salon in plein-air style (French Impressionists did not consider him Impressionist; Monet even said he's too influenced by Carolus-Duran)

 

JSS would visit sitter's home to see where painting would hang + helped choose attire, but usually painted in studio (well-stocked w/ furniture/backdrops)

 

usually req. 8-10 sittings, face in 1

usu. kept pleasant conversation (he hated) and/or took piano breaks

 

as for landscapes: he showed equal restless intensity, working day morning to night

 

watercolors were his most vivid / experimental vs. pressured portraiture

early water colors: M.E. / N Africa: Bedouins / goatherds / fisherman

late water colors: mostly faun / flora / natives…in Maine / Florida / W Am.

this was the period, in last decade, when he painted most purely for himself, showing joyful fluidness – hence extensively family / friends / gardens / fountains

 

no assistants!

prepped canvas, arranged for photos, shipping, documentation, bureaucracy all independently

  

---------------------------

VALUE:

 

live portraits cost ≈ $5k ($130k! today; 26x) (1890s @34+, UK, avg. 14 commissions/yr = $1.8M!!)

late (1900s) portrait drawings: $400 ($10.4K today; 12.5 cheaper than full oil portraits)

auction value:

  

---------------------------

FAME:

 

instantly popular due superior talent + command of French language

 

1877 @21 1st Salon got him attention (1st major portrait, of friend Fanny Watts)

1877 2nd Salon entry was impressionistic 'Oyster Gatherers of Cançale' (he made 2nd copy for US Salon)

1879 @23 portrait of Carolus-Duran (his teacher since 1874) hailed at Salon (for tribute to famed Duran + as mature ad for portrait commissions); see Henry James'critique below

1887 @ 31 1st success at Brit. Royal Academy 'Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose' (immediately bought by Tate Gallery! where it's still hanging today)

1887-88 1st trip to NY/Boston begets him over 20 commissions

1888 largest JSS commission from single patron by Asher Wertheimer, wealthy London Jewish art dealer (bequeathing most to National Gallery)

 

1890s associate of the Royal Academy; full mbr. 3 yrs later

1905 @49 1st major solo watercolors exhibit, Carfax Gallery, London

1909 @53 exhibits 86 watercolors in NYC (83 bought by Brooklyn Museum! then)

1907 @51, upon closing studio, declines British Knighthood! (preferring to keep Am. citizenship)

1918 @62, upon return UK from 2 yr stay in US, commissioned as a war artist by Brit. Ministry of Info i.e. 'Gassed' (1919) (WWI mustard gas)

JSS confidently set high prices + turned down unsatisfactory sitters

  

---------------------------

CRITIQUE:

 

1879 Henry James (Am./Brit. writer, key figure in 19C literary realism or impressionist writing style) on JSS's early works offers "the slightly 'uncanny' spectacle of a talent which on the very threshold of its career has nothing more to learn."

 

1886 @31 he moved to London after French Mme X scandal; initially Brits critiqued him as 'Frenchified' (cold, harsh, inpallpable, inexpressive)

 

water colors in general: 'Everything is given with the intensity of a dream.'

 

'the Van Dyck of our times'

 

Camille Pissarro 'he is not an enthusiast but rather an adroit performer'

Walter Sickert's satire 'Sargentolatry'

 

1927, 2 years after JSS's death, Hon. Sir Evan Edward Charteris (1864-1940 Brit. biographer / barrister / arts administrator / publisher of JSS biography!) 'To live with Sargent's water-colours is to live with sunshine captured and held, with the luster of a bright and legible world, ‘the refluent shade’ and ‘the Ambient ardours of the noon.'' (JSS was not as critically respected as the ultimate Am. watercolorist Winslow Homer, 1836-1910, 20 years younger than JSS, but close)

 

1917 following his encore portrait, Rockefeller, modern critics consider him past tense, completely out of touch with the reality of American life vs trendy Cubism + Futurism; JSS quietly accepts new criticism but refuses to alter his negative opinions of modern art; part of his fall due to rise in anti-Semitism (intolerance of 'celebrations of Jewish prosperity') i.e. his single biggest patron Wertheimer (jewish art dealer) + authentic Americanism (when JSS was an expatriate)

 

1926 Roger Fry, biggest critic @ London's Sargent retrospective 'Wonderful indeed, but most wonderful that this wonderful performance should ever have been confused with that of an artist.' on lack of aesthetic quality

 

1930s severest critic, Lewis Mumford (1895-1990; Am. literary critic / historian / philosopher of tech) 'Sargent remained to the end an illustrator…the most adroit appearance of workmanship, the most dashing eye for effect, cannot conceal the essential emptiness of Sargent's mind, or the contemptuous and cynical superficiality of a certain part of his execution.'

 

1950s/60s Victorian art revival helped his popularity return

  

---------------------------

FAMOUS WORKS:

 

01. Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose (1877 Royal Aca. @31)

02. Portrait of Madame X (Mme Pierre Gautreau) (1884 Salon @29) (currently at MET)

(personal fave, considered his best too) (most controversial work as infuriated by Paris Salon; back-firing self-confidence as she did not commission it + he pursued her for the opportunity + she was portrayed with equally arrogantly cocked head + over-sensual – new negative critique + dried up French commissions are also probable cause for his move to London and/or his wish to pursue msuic or business instead!; shame as painted Mme Gautreau over 1 yr! + his best work)

 

03. Lady Agnew of Lochnaw (1892 @36)

04. The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit (1879 @24, influenced by Velázquez's Las Meninas 1656)

05. El Jaleo (1882 @27)

06. The Lady with the Rose (Charlotte Burckhardt) (1882 @27) (friend, rumored romantic involvement)

07. even 2 U.S. pres. Theodore Roosevelt + Woodrow Wilson

08. LAST regular portrait 1907: modest / serious self-portrait (in Uffizi Gallery)

09. John D. Rockefeller (1917 @61)

10. very last portrait 1925 @69: 'Grace Curzon, Marchioness Curzon of Kedleston' (daughter of Monroe Hinds, former US Minister to Brazil)

11. Largest works: murals of Boston Public Library (depicts history/triumph of religion); 24 years in the making, final panel never done!; restored 2003-2004, as hidden for all these years, even showing the controversial paintings; if Mme X was his most controversial portrait @29 in 1884 Paris, this Boston mural starting @39 in 1895 was the next most controversial work, when it reached controversy in 1919 @63 as he painted 'The Church' and 'The Synagogue,' politically incorrect or offending Boston's Jews, since it depicts human progress as Christian (radiant young woman vs. old blind hag)…since JSS abandoned the job thereafter, the public outcry died too

  

---------------------------

QUOTE:

 

1. self-confidence

'I have a great desire to paint her portrait and have reason to think she would allow it and is waiting for someone to propose this homage to her beauty. ...you might tell her that I am a man of prodigious talent.' him on Mme X poser ; )

 

2. work

'Painting a portrait would be quite amusing if one were not forced to talk while working…What a nuisance having to entertain the sitter and to look happy when one feels wretched.' him 1907 @51 when closing studio

  

---------------------------

LEGACY:

 

≈ 900 oil paintings (avg. 14 portrait commissions/yr)

2,000+ watercolors

countless sketches/charcoal drawings (JSS called them rapid charcoal portraits 'Mugs')

 

Grand Central Art Galleries (GCAG):

JSS founded this 1922 with Edmund Greacen, Walter Leighton Clark etc.

to increase Americans' awareness of essence of art + act as largest sales gallery ww! ($100-$10k)

the NY Central Railroad gifted the top of the Grand Central Terminal (6 floors! 15000 sf or 1400 m2)

- launched 1923 Mar 23

- initial art: painting, sculpture

- JSS was actively involved in GCAG + its academy Grand Central School of Art till death in 1925

- 1928, 3 yrs after his death, GCAG exhibited 100s of his sketches (found in his London studio, entrusted to organize by his sister to GCAG co-founder Leighton)

- GCAG was in Grand Central 1923-1958 (35 years), moving to smaller, 2nd floor on Biltmore Hotel for 23 years till 1981, then 24 W 57th St for ca. a decade when closed in early 1990s.

  

© 2010-2011 iSphere / the graphicJungle