Born on 19 May 1862: Mikhail
Vasilyevich Nesterov, Russian painter who died in 1942.
Nesterov was born into the family of a merchant in the city of Ufa in the Urals. In 1874, his parents brought him to Moscow to study in a technical college, where he caught the attention of K. Trutovsky, an artist and inspector of the Moscow School of Art. This was an important meeting, the turning point in his life. In 1876 on the recommendation of K. Trutovsky he entered the Moscow School of Painting and Sculpture; he studied in the classes of Perov, Savrasov [1830-1897] and Pryanishnikov. In 1881, he entered St. Petersburg Academy of Art, studio of professor Pavel Tchistyakov (1881-1884), actively participated in the Itinerants’ Society of Traveling Exhibitions (the society organized the traveling exhibitions through all Russia).
First he tried himself in the genres of historic and everyday scenes, but later, in the 1890s, he became interested in religious themes. In technique his religious pictures are much influenced by style modern. In the 1890s-1900s, he fulfilled paintings in the Vladimir Cathedral in Kiev, mosaics in the Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ in St. Petersburg (1894-1896), paintings in the Church of Alexander Nevsky in Abastuman, Georgia (1899-1904), frescoes in Marfo-Mariinsky Cloister in Moscow (1907-1911). His other works of the period are also connected with religion: Hermit (1889), Vision to Youth Bartholomew (1890), Youth of Saint Sergey Radonezhsky (1897), Tzarevich Dmitry (1899), Philosophers (Portrait of Pavel Florenskiy and Sergey Bulgakov) (1917), Archbishop (Portrait of Antoniy Volynskiy) (1917) and many others.
In 1885, he married Maria Ivanovna Martynovskaya. Unfortunately, she died next year after giving birth to their daughter, Olga. “The death of Masha made me an artist”, Nesterov wrote later. His paintings, which according to his own judgment had lacked feelings, now obtained them. From now on he depicted moods, not events. One of his most lyrical works is Portrait of Olga Nesterova, known as Woman in a Riding Habit (1906), which personifies a typical Russian girl from an upper-middle class family.
In the Soviet period of his creative work Nesterov paints portraits, mostly of his colleagues, Portrait of Ivan Shadr (1934), Portrait of Vera Mukhina (1940) etc. There are several interesting portraits of outstanding people of his time: Portrait of Sergey Yudin (1935), Portrait of Ivan Pavlov (1935), etc.
Vision to Youth Bartholomew (1890) _ detail
Died on 19 May 1918: Ferdinand
Hodler, Swiss Art
Nouveau painter, born on 14 March 1853
Hodler was born in Berne and died in Geneva. The oldest of the 6 children of a carpenter, he lost all his brothers, sisters, and parents to tuberculosis, then common among the poor. By the age of 14 he was an orphan alone in the world. He had learned the elements of painting, so he went on to study under a painter in Thun. Pennyless, Hodler went to Geneva, to try to make a living as a sign-painter. There he got to know the painter and teacher Barthélémy Menn [20 May 1815 13 Oct 1893], a pupil of Ingres [29 Aug 1780 14 Jan 1867] and a friend of Corot [16 Jul 1796 22 Feb 1875]. . This progressive and educated art pedagogue accepted Hodler free of charge as a student and from 1871 to 1878 gave him a comprehensive theoretical and practical education in painting, through which he developped an artist's vision of the world and of himself.
Through Menn, Hodler's art was influenced by Corot and Courbet. Hodler traveled in Switzerland and Spain and discovered the works of Dürer, Holbein and Raphael. He was lastingly influenced by the masterpieces of Velázquez which he saw in the Prado Museum during a visit to Madrid.
Hodler developed a strongly realistic style, until he departed from naturalism and adopted a frankly Symbolist style in the painting Night (1890) marked by a great strength of expression. For his often seemingly melancholic, mystical, and the beautiful paintings, Hodler was attacked as backward by the critics and the predominantly Impressionist avant-garde of the time. The coherence of his compositions was based on repeated lines, volumes and colors, a method he termed parallelism.
When Hodler wanted to exhibit Night in Geneva in 1891, it was rejected, although it had received a gold medal at an exhibition in Munich had created a sensation at the Paris 1900 World Fair. It would take years, until Hodler finally succeeded in getting accepted in Switzerland his manner of representating his conception of the world, and in stimulating historical painting. Thanks to two Austrian sponsors and to his success abroad, Hodler saw his financial situation somewhat eased. He separated from its first wife after two years of marriage. He had no children other than a son and a daughter from two of his lovers.
In addition to historical and allegorical works, Holde painted wonderful mountain landscapes impressive in their bright, gleaming colors. His portraits are just as important. Besides Rembrandt, Hodler was probably the most prolific European self-portraitist, often showing himself in the company of slow dying of Valentine Godé-Darel, his French lover and mother of its daughter.
Night (1890) _ According to Hodler this painting does not represent a particular night, but the totality of diverse nocturnal impressions. The key idea is that sleep prefigures death. The central figure is a sleeper in the throes of a nightmare; his wracked body and twisted features also seem to express fear at the coming of death. Thus the inscription on the frame: More than one man has gone to sleep calmly in the evening not to wake up again in the morning.
Day I (1900) The Chosen One _ The Chosen One The Convalescent (1880) Louise-Delphine Duchosal (1885) Surprised by the Storm (1887) Emotion (1902)
Born on 19 May 1593: Claude
Vignon, French painter and engraver who died on 10 May 1670.
[Il manquait d'er pour être vigneron.]
Vignon was born in Tours and active mainly in Paris. His richly eclectic style was formed mainly in Italy, where he worked from 1616 to 1622, and his openness to very diverse influences was later fueled by his activities as a picture dealer. Paradoxically, in view of his varied sources of inspiration, his style is the most distinctive of any French painter of his generation highly colored and often bizarrely expressive. Elsheimer and the Caravaggisti were strong influences on his handling of light, and his richly encrusted brushwork has striking affinities with Rembrandt, whose work he is known to have sold. Vignon is said to have fathered more than twenty children by his two wives, and his sons Claude the Younger (1633-1703) and Philippe (1638-1701) were also painters.
Esther before Ahasuerus (1624, 80x119cm) _ Vignon's passion for over-elaboration is seen in this picture. It seems that he enjoyed painting awkward human situations like this when Esther confronts Ahasuerus. The picture has also been identified as depicting Solomon and the Queen of Sheba.
Croesus Receiving Tribute from a Lydian Peasant (1629, 105x149cm) After his return from Rome to Paris in 1624, Vignon became enormously prolific; a huge number of pictures, several hundred in all, were documented at the time of his death. As he matured in Paris and lightened his palette a little, Vignon still maintained his sense of drama. For example, in his Croesus Receiving Tribute from a Lydian Peasant, there is a lessening of interest in bizarre surface texture, and the poses of the figures round the table show a return to the conventions of Caravaggism. There is some doubt about the identification of the main figure as Croesus, but the story fits enough. The moral is clear - great wealth is amassed by cruel methods.
The Young Singer (1623, 95x90cm) _ The earliest Mannerist influences on Vignon, which probably occurred before he left for Rome, must have been submerged while he was in Italy. That Vignon's Caravaggism was perfectly competent is shown by the fact that his work effectively merged with that of his contemporaries. This had led to great difficulties in defining his Roman oeuvre.
Died on 19 May 1845: William
John Huggins, London painter born in 1781, specialized in
— After several years at sea in the service of the East India Company, Huggins settled again in his native London. His house at 36 Leadenhall Street was near East India House, and he was regularly employed to paint carefully detailed pictures of the company’s ships. He exhibited 16 marine paintings at the Royal Academy between 1817 and 1844 and also showed at the British Institution and Suffolk Street.
Huggins was appointed Marine Painter to William IV in 1834. His royal commissions include three paintings of the Battle of Trafalgar. His daughter married Edward Duncan [1803–1882], a talented watercolorist and engraver, who engraved many of Huggins’s paintings and sometimes acted as his assistant.
— An East Indiaman Entering Madras Harbour, India (75x140cm)
South Sea Whale Fishery [1834, colored aquatint engraved by Edward Duncan (1804-1882)] _ This is the companion print to Huggins and Duncan’s Northern Whale Fishery (1829). This scene became immensely popular and was widely emulated. Thomas Beale printed a simplified version of it in his seminal book, The Natural History of the Sperm Whale (1839); and it was from Beale that Herman Melville knew it and mentions it in Moby-Dick (1851) as “Huggins’s Whale.” Later it served as the inspiration for a famous American print by Albert van Beest, R. Swain Gifford, and Benjamin Russell, entitled Sperm Whaling N°2 -- The Capture (1862). Huggins, a seaman in his youth, learned to draw ships aboard the East India Company ship Perseverance. A distinguished ship portraitist and painter of naval scenes, he was appointed official Marine Painter to King William IV (“the Sailor King”) in 1834, the year that South Sea Whale Fishery was published. Engraver Edward Duncan was his son-in-law.
Born on 19 May 1593: Jacob
Jordaens I, baptized on 20 May 1593, Antwerp painter, tapestry
designer, and draftsman, who died on 18 October 1678.
— In the context of 17th-century Flemish art, Jordaens is a somewhat complicated figure. His oeuvre, the fruit of a continual artistic development, is characterized by great stylistic versatility, to which the length of his career contributed. His religious, mythological and historical representations evolved from the rhetorical prolixity of the Baroque into a vernacular, sometimes almost caricatural, formal idiom. The lack of idealistic treatment in his work is undoubtedly the factor that most removed Jordaens’s art from that of his great Flemish contemporaries Rubens and van Dyck. Jordaens’s officially commissioned works included many paintings in which the sublimity of the subject-matter clashed with the vulgarity of some of his figures. Unlike Rubens and van Dyck, both of whom were knighted in the course of their careers, Jordaens was, in fact, completely ignored by the courts of Spain and Brussels, and he did not receive a single significant commission from Italy, France, or England. Only once did Charles I of England grant him a commission, and then under less than favorable circumstances. After Rubens’s death in 1640, Jordaens became the most prominent artist in the southern Netherlands. Only then did he receive royal commissions, but these came from the north, where pomp and circumstance were avoided and few demands were made in the way of Baroque perfection. Until then, his patrons had come almost entirely from among the prosperous bourgeoisie. The people of the social circles in which he moved were far less demanding of life, and they manifested a certain indifference towards the values of the culturally refined.
— Jordaens was the student and son-in-law of Adam van Noort. Although Jordaens often assisted Rubens, he had a flourishing studio of his own by the 1620s, and after Rubens's death in 1640 he was the leading figure painter in Flanders. His style was heavily indebted to Rubens, but was much more earthbound, using thick impasto, strong contrasts of light and shade, and coloring that is often rather lurid. His physical types, too, are coarser than Rubens's and his name is particularly associated with large canvases of hearty rollicking peasants. Two of his favorite subjects, which he depicted several times are The Satyr and the Peasant, based on one of Aesop's fables, and The King Drinks, which depicts a boisterous group enjoying an abundant Epiphany feast. Jordaens's prolific output, however, included many other subjects, including religious works and portraits, and he also etched and made designs for tapestries. He rarely left his native Antwerp, but commissions came from all over Europe, the most important being The Triumph of Frederick Hendrik (1652), an enormous composition painted for the Huis ten Bosch, the royal villa near The Hague. In about 1655 Jordaens became a Calvinist; he continued to paint pictures for Catholic churches, but the work of the last two decades of his life is more subdued.
— Jordaens' students included Johann Boeckhorst, Leendert van der Cooghen, Johann Ulrich Mayr, Jan Tricius.
— Self Portrait among Parents, Brothers and Sisters (1615, 178x138cm) _ An early painting of the artist. Its datation is possible from the knowledge of the ages of the family members. _ detail _ the artist, head and shoulder.
— The Family of the Artist (1621, 181x187cm)
The Holy Family (1617) Thetis and Achilles Before the Oracle (1625)
— The Bean King (1655, 242x300cm) _ detail _ Jordaens painted several versions of the subject, representing a popular custom, the feast of the Bean King.
— The Bean King (1638, 160x213cm) _ Jordaens was one of Rubens' most promising students and upon his master's death acquired the title of "principal Antwerp painter". The painting captures The Festival of the Bean King - celebrated on January 6th. A pie containing a single bean is served on this day and the guest who receives it becomes the "Bean King". Three people are recognizable in the painting: "The Bean King" - Jordaens' father-in-law; the woman to the left - Jordaens' wife, Yelizabeth; and the man with the upraised pitcher, Jordaens himself.
— The Bean King — The Bean King (1638, 160x213cm) _ detail — The King Drinks (1638)
— The King Drinks (156x210cm) _ This lavish depiction originates in the custom, on the Feast of the Epiphany popularly known as “the Feast of the Three Kings“ (06 January), of proclaiming king for the evening the person finding a bean hidden in his tart, and having him select his court from among those present. In the middle, behind the festive board, laden with expensive dinnerware, waffles, pastries and wine, sits enthroned the king of the evening. We recognize the old man as Jordaens' father-in-law, the painter Adam van Noort. He raises his glass to his mouth, at which everyone loudly proclaims: "The king drinks!". To the right of the festive pig the court musician is enlivening the solemn moment with his bagpipes, and next to him his butler lifts wine jug and glass with a sweeping gesture. To the left the court fool responds by raising his lighted pipe. The boisterous reactions of the other guests show that they have already indulged heavily in food and drink. In the right foreground a mother has to clean her crying child. To the left a bragging man lifts his cap and can into the air, whilst a dog jumps up at the surrounding hullabaloo. The drunkard in the left foreground, in the process of vomiting, grabs giddily at the back of a chair, tipping a set of drinking vessels noisily to the ground. Certain art historians have seen in this depiction of extreme merriment a turning away from such behaviour by a soberly inclined artist who had become a Protestant in later life. This interpretation may well be as unsatisfactory as the earlier reading of it as an ode to pleasure within the warm family circle, a concept so popular that it even founds its way onto biscuit tin lids. The surfeit to which Jordaens' figures are giving themselves over, but which is not really doing them much good, receives a somewhat ambivalent commentary in the cartouche in the top centre: "In een vry gelachllst goet gast syn" (where there is a free meal it is good to be a guest). A contradiction appears to exist between the message and the scene confronting us. Here the realisation that one should count oneself lucky not to have to pay the bill leads too far from pleasant excesses. Jordaens' presentation is therefore not free from a certain amount of irony.
— Prometheus Bound (1640, 245x178cm) _ Jordaens's painting is a variation on a theme that Rubens attempted early in his career and which derived formally from studies by Michelangelo.
— Allegory of Fertility (1623, 180x241cm) _ This is without doubt one of Jacob Jordaens' most magnificent compositions and one of the most successful examples of his cooperation with still-life specialist Frans Snyders. In this work, painted around 1623, a good eight years after Jordaens had become a free master, the painter is at the peak of his career. Nothing remains of the clumsiness of his youthful work. Whether the eye stays on the anatomy or the expressions of the figures, on their rhythmic ordering or their gestures, or enjoys the creamy, confident paint strokes or the alternation between the golden light and the transparent shadows, or is tempted by the rich colors of Snyders' opulent fruits: everywhere it senses the same impressive harmony.
The life-size figures, allowing only a glimpse of the landscape to show through, unfold like a sculpted frieze on both sides of a female nude, seen from behind, standing slightly off centre and so introducing a certain dynamism into the composition. Her nakedness catches the full light and draws the viewer's attention. A golden glow strokes her skin, in which nothing reminds us of the cold stone from which her sculptural monumentality initially seems to originate. Rather, as a nymph she belongs, together with her female companions and the satyrs surrounding her, to the category of beings between humans, gods and animals which in antiquity embodied the untameable powers of nature. The grapes that they are all gathering possibly symbolise the rich fertility of nature. For this reason the identification of the nymph seen from behind as "Humanity" is not convincing. Just as unsatisfactory is the identification of the woman in a red mantle to her right as Pomona, the goddess of fruit.
The cornucopia on the far right is a reference to Ovid's Metamorphoses, which tells how it came into being when the horn of Achelous, metamorphosed into a bull, broke off in his fight with Hercules. It was not Pomona but the water nymphs or naiads that afterwards filled it with fruit. In Jordaens' picture we do not, however, find the unambiguous references to Hercules and his unfortunate opponent, making it difficult to correctly title this masterpiece.
— a different Allegory of Fertility (119x182cm)
— Education of Jupiter (61x75cm) _ The court painters Rubens and Van Dyck regarded art as an elevated intellectual activity and were firmly convinced that the creation of art was on a far loftier plane than any other manual work. Jordaens was rooted in a section of society bounded by more modest horizons. He devoted his life to furthering his personal prosperity, and considered that his material wealth and skill as an artist earned him the right to enjoy the status of a respected citizen. This somewhat bourgeois element is also reflected in his oeuvre, even in the mythological works such as The Education ofJupiter, in which the inhabitants of Olympus appear to be taken straight from everyday life, in spite of their nakedness.
— As the Old Sang the Young Play Pipes (1638, 192x120cm) _ detail _ The work depicting the theme of As the Old Sang, the Young Play Pipes, signed by Jordaens and dated 1638, is the earliest known version of this highly popular theme which the artist painted and drew on a variety of occasions. This wonderful family concert shows Jordaens at his best.
— Satyr at the Peasant's House (1620, 195x204cm)
— Satyr and Peasant (188x168cm) _ The theme is taken from a fable by the ancient Greek author Aesop. In the right foreground a satyr gets up brusquely from a table to which he has been invited by a peasant family, and admonishes his host, sitting to the left, for cooling his hot porridge by blowing on it, whereas earlier he had warmed his cold hands with the same breath when traveling home with the satyr. The peasant “blows both hot and cold”. This still popular expression means that someone does not take a clear position and is therefore unreliable.
The earnestness of this moralizing message appears, however, to be lost on this country group. The satyr's approach is greeted rather with astonishment. The plump young farmer's wife stops eating, but looks like she still does not understand clearly what is going on. Her child is uninterested by the satyr and looks at the viewer rascally. From inside the shadowed canopy of her wicker chair the grandmother bends her wrinkled head, in pointed contrast to the flushed head of the young peasant woman in the same pose beneath her. To the left the composition is rounded off by a fresh, softly smiling milkmaid. The lumbering dog under the table and the cock proudly enthroned on top of grandmother's chair seem equally unperturbed. The very low horizon, just visible under the peasant's chair, makes the country people tower above the viewer, lending them an imposing monumentality which one would normally expect with high-born people. As simple people they take, with a certain dignity, their appointed place in the social order.
Jordaens' lifelike characterization of the peasants, full of insight into human nature, and their closeness to nature expressed in their unpolished manners must have strongly seduced the city-dwellers commissioning these tableaux, who considered themselves as more civilized. In a later version, also in the Brussels museum, the fable appears to turn into a good-humored joke. There the warm palette and the rich texture have made way for the more even reproduction of colors and materials that are typical of the artist's later work. Jordaens' oeuvre contains various other paintings on this theme, including a duplicate of this one.
This story, in both its versions (below), is a favorite of not only of Jordaens but of other Northern European genre or moral painters. Interestingly, however, these painters brought the satyr into the peasant's cottage, along with all the family members, the family dog, oxen, and roosters. Clearly they wanted to round off their moral lessons with a rich picture of a contemporary household--not to mention dramatizing the sexual tensions between the satyr and the women in that same household.
(Version 1) A Man had lost his way in a wood one bitter winter's night. As he was roaming about, a Satyr came up to him, and finding that he had lost his way, promised to give him a lodging for the night, and guide him out of the forest in the morning. As he went along to the Satyr's cell, the Man raised both his hands to his mouth and kept on blowing at them. “What do you do that for?” said the Satyr. “My hands are numb with the cold,” said the Man, “and my breath warms them.” After this they arrived at the Satyr's home, and soon the Satyr put a smoking dish of soup before him. But when the Man raised his spoon to his mouth he began blowing upon it. “And what do you do that for?” said the Satyr. “The soup is too hot, and my breath will cool it.” “Out you go,” said the Satyr. “I will have nought to do with a man who can blow hot and cold with the same breath.”
(Version 2) A Man and a Satyr once drank together in token of a bond of alliance being formed between them. One very cold wintry day, as they talked, the Man put his fingers to his mouth and blew on them. When the Satyr asked the reason for this, he told him that he did it to warm his hands because they were so cold. Later on in the day they sat down to eat, and the food prepared was quite scalding. The Man raised the hot soup to his mouth and blew on it. When the Satyr again inquired the reason, he said that he did it to cool the broth, which was too hot. “I can no longer consider you as a friend,” said the Satyr, “a fellow who with the same breath blows hot and cold."
— See The Satyr and the Peasant Family (1662, 51x46cm) by Jan Steen [1626 – 03 Feb 1679]. — The Satyr and the Peasant (1626, 133x167cm) by Jan Liss [1595-1629]
— The Four Evangelists (1625, 133x118cm) _ In the 17th century, following the example given by the Carracci and by Caravaggio, painters depicted the Evangelists as robust men of the people. This picture, which dates from between 1620 and 1625, is painted in vigorous and thick brushwork - a technique very different from that of Rubens.
— Meleager and Atalanta (1618, 152x120cm) _ Jordaens's artistic aspirations did not extend quite so high as those of Rubens. Jordaens showed himself to be an uncomplicated member of the middle-class, and there is little room in his work for reflection or any feeling of transcendence. Although he never visited Italy, he was strongly influenced by Caravaggio. Traces of this influence are visible in the contrast between light and dark which serves to heighten the dramatic tension of his Meleager and Atalanta. The painting's subject is taken from Ovid's Metamorphoses.
— An Apostle (1625, 69x52cm) _ Jordaens painted a series of apostles between 1623 and 1625. The model of these characteristic heads was Abraham Graphäus, the messenger of the Saint Luke Guild in Antwerp.
— Studies of the Head of Abraham Grapheus (45x52cm) _ Like Rubens, Jordaens ran a large workshop with numerous assistants. The paintings in the various museums undoubtedly include a variety of workshop products, in which the master had only a partial hand. Jordaens' skilful technique and deft observation can, however, be admired in their purest form in the double Studies of the Head of Abraham Grapheus. The artist must have been especially inspired by the shaggy head of his model — a messenger at the Antwerp Painters' Guild — as he appears in many of his paintings.
— Eating Man — Nymphs at the Fountain of Love (1630, 131x127cm) — Saint Charles Cares for the Plague Victims of Milan (1655) — Offering to Ceres, Goddess of Harvest (1620, 165x112cm) — Portrait of a Young Married Couple (1620) — Adoration by the Shepherds — The Holy Family with Saint Anne, the Young Baptist, and his Parents — Assumption of the Virgin (280x178cm) — Christ Driving the Merchants from the Temple
— 20 images at Webshots