ART 4 2-DAY 09 March
DEATH: 1925 METCALF
Baptized as an infant on 09 March 1734: Francisco
Bayeu y Subías, Spanish painter and tapestry designer
who died on 04 August 1795, brother-in-law of Goya.
— Francisco Bayeu was one of the most successful Spanish artists, along with Mariano Salvador Maella, at the court of Charles III (King of Spain 1759–1788), where the presence and influence of foreign artists, such as Giambattista Tiepolo and Anton Raphael Mengs, were still very strong, although this situation was slowly changing. Like his younger brothers, Fray Manuel Bayeu y Subías [08 Jan 1740 – 1809] and Ramón Bayeu y Subías [23 May 1746 – 02 Mar 1793] (who was at one time his assistant), he was trained in the studio of Juan Andrés Merklein [–1797], a painter from Bohemia living in Saragossa, and then with José Martínez Luzán [1710–1785], a little-known Aragonese painter who had been in Italy.
— In 1758 Francisco Bayeu y Subías he won first prize in painting and a scholarship to study at the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, Madrid, with his picture The Tyranny of Geryon (1758). There he studied under António González Velázquez. In 1759 he returned to Saragossa and married Sebastiana Merklein, the daughter of his former teacher. In 1763 Bayeu went back to Madrid where he was invited by Mengs to work under his direction in the Palacio Real, mainly as a painter of frescoes. There he began work on one of his most important early royal commissions, Olympus: The Fall of the Giants (1764), a ceiling fresco in one of the public chambers of the Prince of the Asturias. The quality of the highly finished sketch for this, with its delicate impasto and loose brushwork, indicates Bayeu’s early talent. In 1765 he was made a member of and taught at the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando. In 1767 he was appointed Pintor de Cámara, and he began painting the fresco depicting the Apotheosis of Hercules in the Palacio Real (1769). Among other commissions for ceiling decorations in the palace was Apollo Rewarding the Arts (fresco, 1769). His style as a fresco painter was formed in the Italian painterly tradition of Corrado Giaquinto, passed on through Bayeu’s teacher González Velázquez and combined with the cooler Neo-classical style represented in Madrid by Mengs.
— The students of Francisco Bayeu included Francisco de Goya, Juan Antonio Ribera y Fernández, Fernando Selma.
Olympus: The Fall of the Giants (1764)
Saint James being visited by the Virgin with a Statue of the Madonna of the Pillar _ Signed on the reverse 'Franciscus Bayeu fecit Caesaraugustae Anno MDCCLX' _ Legend credited Saint James with bringing Christianity to Spain. When passing through Zaragoza he was visited by the Virgin, who gave him with a statuette of herself on a jasper column. An enormous basilica has grown on the site, one of the most venerated shrines in Spain. The subject is therefore popular in Zaragoza. Sketches made by Antonio Gonzales Velasquez in 1753 for frescoes in the dome seem to have influenced Bayeu's design. This was a perhaps a private version of these works. It also shows the influence of Giaquinto on Bayeu.
— La Reddition de Grenade (1492, ovale 98x111cm; 1000x1142pix, 69kb) _ Esquisse pour le décor du plafond de la troisième antichambre de la reine-mère Isabelle Farnèse, aujourd'hui salle à manger d'apparat, au Palais Royal de Madrid. L'épisode représenté est particulièrement important pour l'histoire de l'Espagne puisqu'il clôt la grande entreprise de reconquête contre les Maures, commencée au début du millénaire.
Born on 09 March 1621: Egbert Lievenszoon van der Poel,
painter who died on 19 July 1664; son of a Delft goldsmith.
— He may have resided during 1648 in the coastal town of Scheveningen, outside The Hague. He registered with the Guild of Saint Luke in Delft on 17 October 1650 as a landscape painter. A year later he married Aeltgen Willems van Linschooten in Maasluis, near Rotterdam. The couple were living on the Doelenstraat in Delft at the time of the gunpowder explosion on 12 October 1654, which may have killed one of their daughters who was buried in the Nieuwe Kerk there on 14 October. The couple had three daughters who were baptized in Delft. The baptismal records of a son indicate that the artist was living on the Rotte next to the Saint Joris House in Rotterdam by November 1655. He died in Rotterdam.
— Van der Poel was a painter of landscapes and townscapes, specializing in scenes of nocturnal fires and brandjes en maneschijntjes. When he married in 1651 he moved from (Nieuwe) Doelenstraat to Nieuwe Langendijk. In 1652 he was again living on Doelenstraat near Carel Fabritius. He is also known for nocturnal scenes , possibly under the influence of Bramer. In and after 1654 he painted scenes of destruction in Delft. Two days after the gunpowder explosion one of Egbert's children was buried from Oosteinde, possibly a temporary address.
— The Fair (1661, 98x158cm) — A Skating Scene (1656, 36x48cm; 467x618pix, 106kb)
— Farmyard (24x28cm; 600x667pix, 67kb) _ Van der Poel often produced series of paintings of the same topic, all very much alike. Other paintings of this series are a.o. in the Louvre and in the Gemäldegalerie in Dresden.
— Celebration by Torchlight on the Oude Delft (1654, 55x43cm) _ In this nocturnal scene Van der Poel takes us to one of the best-known buildings in Delft: the Gemeenlandshuis of Delfland, illuminated by torches, with rich ornamentation and coats of arms above the entrance. This Late Gothic house was built in 1505 as a residence for the dikereeve and bailiff Jan de Huyter. In 1645 it became the seat of the board of the Hoogheemraadschap of Delfland. The building occupies a prominent place on Delft's oldest canal, the Oude Delft, just south of the Prinsenhof, the erstwhile Convent of Saint Agatha and residence of William the Silent until his assassination in 1584. On the right in the painting, behind the bridge, one can make out the tower of the Oude Kerk. In front of the Gemeenlandshuis a crowd has gathered, captivated by the spectacle of the blazing torches and the fireworks in the night sky. The torches are made from barrels filled with pitch or tar and mounted on poles. They were usually paid for by the town or by private individuals on the occasion of a festivity. The painting is undated and contains no unambiguous indications of the nature of the event represented. Traditionally the picture has been interpreted as a depiction of the celebrations of the conclusion of the Treaty of Münster, which was signed on 15 May 1648. In honor of this momentous event the States General ordered a day of thanksgiving and rejoicing on 05 June, the day of the official announcement. Alternatively, it has been suggested that he scene shows the festivities on the occasion of the Hoogheemraadschap's installation in the Gemeenlandshuis in 1645. This interpretation explains the building's prominence in the painting, though such a well-known edifice may simply have provided Van der Poel with a readily identifiable Delft setting.
— The Explosion of the Delft magazine (1654; 755x965pix, 81kb) _ After his earlier, peaceful farmyards, landscapes, and moonlit beaches, Van der Poel seems to have developed a penchant for the depiction of catastrophic events. Not only did he paint numerous views of Delft during and after the explosion of 1654 that devastated large parts of the city but, possibly inspired by the event, he also made a specialty of nocturnes showing burning houses and people desperately trying to fight the fire and save their possessions — or loot other people's. These "brandjes", as they were known in contemporary inventories, were evidently popular and gained Van der Poel the accolade of being 'the best painter of fire in all of the Netherlands."
“'t Sekreet van Hollandt” secret gun powder storage was the site of the gunpowder explosion of 12 October 1654 at 10:30, the sonic boom of which reverberated to the island Texel in the far north of Holland. The blast killed Carel Fabritius but for other painters such as Daniel Vosmaer and Egbert van der Poel it yielded a new market for many townscape views of the devastated areas. They and others earned a livelihood in a new branch of townscape views.
This gunpowder storage bunker, which was hidden from view with bushes, was hard to reach by foot and it was therefore virtually unknown to the Delft population. It was built on the grounds of the former Clarisse convent, to the west of the Oude Doelen building. Hundreds of buildings were razed to the ground, including the Nieuwe Doelen, where the schutterij trained, and the Oude Doelen. Large trees were sheared at the bottom.
— Fire in a Village (38x32cm; 527x435pix; 30kb) _ Sujet éminemment propice à des effets de pittoresque et de virtuosité picturale très prisé par l'artiste qui s'en fit une spécialité en marge des Van Ostade et de Teniers.
— View of Delft after the Explosion of 1654 (1654, 36x50cm; 802x1056pix, 126kb) _ On Monday 12 October 1654, shortly after half past eleven in the morning (or at 10:30?), one of Delft's powder magazines exploded and devastated a large part of the city. The "Delfische Donderslag" was said to have been heard as far away as the island of Texel, 110 km north of Delft.
This painting shows the terrible damage caused by the explosion. In the distance against the horizon the two major churches of the city, the Oude and the Niewe Kerk, stand relatively intact. Between them is the Town Hall tower. The church on the extreme right is the chapel of the Hospital of Saint George in Noordeinde.To the right of the picture is the area where the gunpowder had been stored; all that remains are a crater filled with water, some burnt trees, roofless houses, and piles of rubble. In the foreground, people are busy helping the wounded and comforting one another. Two men crossing a bridge on the left of the picture carry a basket containing the few belongings they have managed to salvage.
The magazine, known as the Secreet van Hollandt, had been established in the former Clarissenklooster in the northeastern corner of Delft in 1572. When the magazine, large parts of which were underground, exploded, it contained about 40 tons of gunpowder. The force of the blast was so great that most houses in the immediate vicinity were destroyed and buildings throughout the city were damaged. The two major churches, the Oude and the Nieuwe Kerk, were also damaged.
Although the number of people killed is not known, it has been estimated that deaths were in the hundreds. Among the casualties was one of Delft's most famous painters, Carel Fabritius. News of the event spread rapidly throughout the country. The States General sent a note of condolence; Elizabeth, queen of Bohemia, paid a visit; and many other people came to survey the devastation.
While we do not know whether Van der Poel witnessed the explosion, it is possible that he was personally touched by it: one of his children may have died in the catastrophe. Certainly, the event had a great effect on his work. About twenty versions of the present composition survive, showing either the explosion itself or the devastated townscape that was left in its wake. Toward the right of the picture is the area of the former magazine. All that is left are a crater filled with water, some charred trees, remnants of houses, and piles of rubble. In the foreground people are busy helping the wounded, consoling one another, and trying to salvage whatever belongings may have survived. The low vantage point accentuates the depth of the space and the extent of the devastated area. Van der Poel unifies the space with a diagonal line that starts at the bridge on the left and reaches into the far background.
Although the depiction is devoid of much of the atmospheric quality for which Delft painting has been known since the late 1640s - a quality present in the works of Fabritius, Paulus Potter, Adam Pynacker and Daniel Vosmaer - Van der Poel employs pronounced light effects to counteract the plunging perspective. The receding space is carefully structured as alternating areas of light and shade, with some of the most brightly illuminated walls placed immediately behind the looming remnants of former houses in the left foreground. The rather dense mass of buildings on the left, accentuated by the two churches rising at the horizon, is balanced by the wide-open area on the right, to which the eye is automatically drawn. The canal running parallel to the picture plane creates a stage-like area in the foreground upon which the figures display the human dimension of the tragedy.
Most of Van der Poel's paintings of the event bear the precise date of the explosion. Having discovered a market for these pictures, Van der Poel seems to have continued painting them for several years, despite his departure for Rotterdam in 1654 or early 1655. The experience of the explosion may have inspired his choice of "brandjes", paintings of blazing fires dramatically set against a nocturnal sky, as the principal undertaking of his Rotterdam period.
Died on 09 March 1925: Willard Leroy
Metcalf, US Impressionist
painter and illustrator born on 01 July 1858. He studied under Gustave
Lefebvre and George
— His formal education was limited, and at 17 he was apprenticed to the painter George Loring Brown of Boston. He was one of the first scholarship students admitted to the school of art sponsored by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and took classes there in 1877 and 1878. After spending several years illustrating magazine articles on the Zuni Indians of New Mexico, he decided to study abroad and in 1883 left for Paris. There he studied at the Académie Julian under Jules Lefebvre and Gustave Boulanger. During the five years he spent in France he became intimately acquainted with the countryside around the villages of Grez-sur-Loing and Giverny. He returned to the US in 1888 and in the following spring exhibited oil studies painted in France, England and Africa, at the Saint Botolph Club in Boston (e.g. Street Scene, Tunis, 1887).
— Midsummer Twilight (1888, 82x89cm;865x1000 pix, 188kb) Le Sillon (1911)
Child in Sunlight — Havana Harbor (1902, 46x67cm, 838x1216pix)
— 20 images at Webshots
Born on 09 March 1856: Thomas
William “Tom” Roberts, English-born
Australian painter who died on 14 September 1931.
— A leader of the Heidelberg School and pioneer of plein-air Impressionism in Australia, he has been described as ‘the father of Australian landscape painting’. Having moved to Melbourne in 1869, he studied at the East Collingwood and Carlton Schools of Design and the National Gallery of Victoria’s School of Art (1874–1881) while working as a photographic assistant. He led sketching expeditions with Frederick McCubbin and initiated student requests for reforms at the school. Returning to England, he enrolled in the Royal Academy Schools, London, on 06 December 1881, officially recommended by Edwin Long. In the summer of 1883 he toured Spain with the painter John Peter Russell. He learnt something of French Impressionism from Spanish art students Ramon Casas and Loreano Barrau [1864–], and then followed the latter’s advice to visit the Académie Julian in Paris.
He returned to Melbourne in 1885 and the following year established the first summer camp at Box Hill with McCubbin and Louis Abrahams [1852–1903], portrayed in his painting The Artists’ Camp (1886). According to the painter Arthur Streeton, it was Roberts’s ‘quick perception and expression of the principles of Impressionism in the year 1886, from which sprang the first national school of painting in Australia’. Charles Conder later wrote to Roberts, who was his teacher: ‘If there is any distinct school in Melbourne (I wouldn’t say Sydney) it’s entirely due to you’. His Heidelberg school nickname was ‘Bulldog’.
— A Break Away! (1891, 137x168cm; 804x1000pix, 504 kb _ ZOOM not recommended to 1990x2475pix, 2029kb) _ a horse-mounted shepherd waves his hat in a vain attempt to stop a flock of sheep stampeding to freedom. A mostly almost monochrome picture, where reddish-brown is the color even of most of the tree leaves and other vegetation, and not much more than the dark grayish blue sky is of a contrasting color.
Winter Morning after Rain, The Old Bridge, Gardiner's Creek
Bourke Street, Allegro Con Brio (35x45cm) Slumbering Sea, Mentone (1887, 51x76cm)
A Summer Morning Tiff (1886, 76x51cm) The Sculptor's Studio
Bailed Up (1927, 135x183cm) _ Tom Roberts was fascinated by pastoral life and found his greatest fulfillment in a series of bush-life paintings begun in 1888-90 with Shearing the rams and continued after his shift in 1891 from Melbourne to Sydney. Whilst staying at Duncan Anderson's Newstead sheep station, near Inverell in the New England tableland of northern New South Wales, Roberts conceived the idea of a bushranging picture. In it he would present an imaginary incident from the disorderly past, within an artistically modern portrayal of the Australian landscape in its highest key. Such was the beginning of Bailed up.
At Newstead at the end of 1893 Roberts was already planning his second sheep-shearing painting, The Golden Fleece, which he would complete during the following year. Walking along the road between Newstead and Paradise, a neighboring station owned by Russell Hughes, he found a setting for his bushranging picture. It was an isolated spot among grass trees and a forest of tall gums, a level bend on a long steep ascent, the last bad hill for travellers following the Macintyre River on their way to Inverell. This back road was not in fact a coaching route, but here was a good setting for Roberts's 'sham stick-up': a coach would have been well and truly trapped by the great log placed across the narrow climbing road; mounted bushrangers could have waited well camouflaged in the steep forest above, and a spare horse left lurking in the shadows. It was highland country, not far from where the region's last bushranger, 'Captain Thunderbolt', had died a quarter of a century earlier.
At this ideal spot for a robbery under arms, the artist, helped by the Anderson family, built a platform of timber, bark and wire in a stringy-bark tree growing below the road, so that he could set up his canvas on this 'Perch' at the level of the road. A Cobb & Co. coach then in operation between Inverell and Glen Innes was painted in town at Inverell, together with its driver Bob Bates. 'Silent Bob Bates' had a story of being robbed by Thunderbolt some three decades earlier, and it was his laconic, hard-wrung description of the quiet nature of the incident which determined the mood of Roberts's composition. Other characters were modelled by other townspeople in Inverell, and by station hands at Newstead, where the painting was completed. Roberts made tiny drawings and an oil sketch of how he wanted the scene to look before he started his big canvas, in which he set out to create the most complex painting of his career to date; complex because it was not only about the seizing of a moment in the landscape but was also intended to convey a recollection of the historical past. This particular place had engendered the artist's idea of a sudden, apparitional haunting by bushrangers.
Of the group of bush masterpieces that Roberts embarked upon between 1888 and 1898, Bailed up turned out to be the most contentious. For in spite of the nationalistic fervour which might have guaranteed an enthusiastic reception for the painting when it was exhibited in Sydney and Melbourne in the 1890s, it neither succeeded in eliciting unanimous praise, nor found a willing buyer. Roberts dropped the price from £275 to 70 guineas in 1900. After all the enthusiasm and trouble he took to paint Bailed up, Roberts could not dispatch it into the world.
Because Roberts reworked the painting in 1927 it is now difficult to assess the validity of its reception in 1895. Nagging criticisms made by the press concerned the way the legs of the men, or the skin of the horses had been depicted, for example. Perhaps unsatisfactory pictorial resolution was sensed, turning potential collectors away. Eventually in 1928, after Roberts had substantially repainted the background landscape, Bailed up, price 500 guineas, was sold from an exhibition of his work in Sydney.
Critical opinion about Bailed up has fluctuated. Lionel Lindsay wrote warmly of it in the Macquarie Galleries exhibition catalogue, praising its rich rendering of light and comparing its subject to the prose of Henry Lawson. But more recently, in his biography of Roberts, Humphrey McQueen ventured the opinion that Bailed up was ineffectual as a bushranging story and that, because of its flat, almost skyless landscape and lateral disposition of figures across the composition, it was an insipid echo of the then-fashionable, decorative, Symbolist mural style of Puvis de Chavannes. This ambiguity about Bailed up as an icon of Australian art is puzzling. Why is admiration of it so tempered with caution? Is it because, notwithstanding the monumental failure of his vast Opening of the First Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia, his Bailed up represents the most protracted struggle in Roberts's career to realise his vision on a large scale?
Answers to these questions may be hinted at by comparing Bailed up with its family of bush-life paintings. Others of the family might have had a more instant appeal. The motif of A break away!, for example, has the impact of an action shot filmed by a swooping helicopter. A rider tries desperately to stop a mob of sheep stampeding down to a water-hole. Suspended in heat and dust, the powerful dynamic of this composition can be read from far away. Small wonder that when Bailed up was first exhibited in 1895 the press preferred Frank Mahony's bustling Australian paintings of Americanized 'cowboys' and 'outlaws', such as the cattlepiece Rounding up a straggler (1889), and the mounted pursuit of bushrangers As in the Days of Old (1892), both of which Roberts would have seen hanging in the collection of the Art Gallery of New South Wales. Against such action-packed pictures, the static solemnity of Bailed up seems to have worked against its general appeal; perceived perhaps as rather laid-back but artificial tableau. Yet, by considering the deceptive ease of its mood, and with a patient examination of its detail, we may appreciate Bailed up as one of his greatest achievements.
The composition has been cunningly constructed with diagonals and verticals leading the eye up to, around and beyond the dramatis personae. The landscape rises to the very top of the picture no sky as such, and no space for escape and the gaze soon descends once more to the lower half, forced to contain itself within the flat parameters of the picture. Scanning the surface further brings forth the real richness of the work since, as much as Bailed up may be about armed robbery, or landscape, or historical mythology, it is equally about the transforming process of painting.
Roberts's enormous struggle with Bailed up enabled him to arrive at a majestic synthesis. Light became paint, and paint became light and we cannot tell the difference between the two, whether it is in the radiance of the shirts and hats of the figures, or the straw-colored grass and silvery tree-trunks of the midsummer landscape. Day after day Roberts walked three kilometers uphill on the road from Paradise, where he stayed because it was closer than Newstead, climbed up a ladder to the 'Perch', and stared at the hot stillness he was setting down on his canvas which had been wired to a railing. This sense he transferred to the coach scene itself, investing the figures with an almost mystical calm. Indeed he created the feeling that time had stopped in the small, transient affairs of humankind, as an all-pervading, all-redeeming, saturating light became the most important subject of the work. The idea that we are observing a kind of fairytale incident, strangely remote from yet hypnotised by it, was carried even more tellingly into Roberts's companion bushranging picture In a corner on the Macintrye, painted about the same time. But nowhere in the entire history of Australian painting has such a quality been better rendered than in Bailed up, where the mystery of light, human incident, and experience of the Australian bush are combined with spellbinding orchestration.
The remaining question which tantalizes is a technical one, and concerns the extent to which Roberts repainted Bailed up in 1927. The surface of the painting scraped, reworked, impasted, glazed, restated is like a fossilised ocean bed, and traversing its bumps, dents and crevices with the naked eye does not easily expose what is old or new; only the impression of an impenetrable embodiment of the painting's own history. Roberts inscribed two dates on the painting 1895 and 1927 and said that he reworked it extensively in 1927 in his current manner. This was at a period when he had become much more a meditative artist than a descriptive one, and thus of profound interest to certain later painters of Australian landscape. And that, in the end, is the telling factor which may distinguish Bailed up from the period of its conception. For although he was no Poussin, nor even a Puvis, he had an astute intuition for the grid. In other words, at his best, he could orchestrate with genius all the aspects of a painting, be they naturalistic or abstract, into the modern values of a flat surface. In this way Bailed up straddles two worlds. It began as an idea for an historical narrative of the nineteenth century, but finished, through Roberts's difficulties, as a scaffolding by which he could be in grand scale a painter for the twentieth.
Louis Buvelot (1886 drawing, 28x22cm) _ Tom Robert's portrait of venerable artistic elder Louis Buvelot, is one of the most sensitive portrayals of an Australian artist made by a fellow artist. Buvelot is presented with a quiet dignity that underlines the respect and admiration that he inspired in the generation of artists that followed him and upon whom his work had such influence.