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Art History Today
Midlands, United Kingdom
Professional Art Historian, Phd in Poussin,
Interests: music, art history, films, (classical through to rock), literature (mainly modern crime mystery).
Recent Activity
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Slides William Powell Frith, The Sleepy Model, 1853, oil on canvas, R.A., London. Charles Bargue, The Artist & his Model, 1878, oil on panel, location and measurements unknown. Georges Seurat, Les Poseurs, 1887-88, oil on canvas, 207,6 × 308 cm, Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia. Sir Edward Burne Jones, Pygmalion and Galatea: The Soul Attains, 1869-79, oil on canvas, 99.4×76. 6 cm, Birmingham Art Gallery. William Hogarth, Female Nude Seated, c. 1735, black and white chalk on brown paper, 37. 3×28.7 cm, Johann Zoffany, A Life Class at St Martin’s Academy, 1761-62, oil on canvas, 50.5×66 cm, R.A., London. Charles West Cope,... Continue reading
Posted Dec 7, 2017 at Art History Today
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Coda: Model into Studio; Studio into History. “All portraits are difficult to me. But a nude presents different challenges. When someone is naked, there is in effect nothing to be hidden. You are stripped of your costume, as it were. Not everyone wants to be that honest about themselves. That means I feel an obligation to be equally honest in in how I represent their honesty.” Lucian Freud.1 If one were to conduct a public poll on painters of the nude, Lucian Freud’s name would probably be near the top of the list, or even right at the top. He... Continue reading
Posted Dec 7, 2017 at Art History Today
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Exposed or Overexposed: The English Model from Walter Sickert to Lucien Freud. “When I became more painted against than painting, I decided to be as Sistine as hell. I climbed up the walls; I rolled on the floor; I hung from the beams; I held chairs over my head. The students were furious. Gradually I became aware that I was not posing for the pupils; I was working for the teachers.” Quentin Crisp.1 In order to “work for the teachers” Crisp – of “naked civil servant” fame- had to submerge his identity; his individualism could not be accommodated within an... Continue reading
Posted Dec 7, 2017 at Art History Today
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Picasso, Matisse, the Model & the Studio. “My studio is a sort of laboratory….On occasion my paintings have beauty- at least people see it in them. So much the better. But what matters is how they are created- every line that is added, the transition from one stage to another. That’s what painting is about, part poetry, part philosophy.” Picasso.1 If one wanted to follow the theme of the artist’s model in the studio over the course of a painter’s career, then one could do worse than to follow Picasso since many of his works deal with the relations of... Continue reading
Posted Dec 7, 2017 at Art History Today
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The English Nude Model & the Avant-Garde. “When I worked on the picture [A Studio in Montparnasse] and put in the nude, I was thinking only of the design. But then I always forget the interpretation the average member of the public puts on a nude.” Christopher Richard Wynne Nevinson. As Martin Postle notes, Nevinson’s comments on the nude and design are contradicted by this scene of a sensuous nude within a realistic Parisian bohemian interior which has more in common with Matisse and Bonnard rather than Cubism or Vorticism; that notwithstanding, Nevinson’s words do alert one to the problem... Continue reading
Posted Dec 7, 2017 at Art History Today
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The English Model: Drawing after Nature at the Slade. “The impact of the Slade School on art education went far beyond artistic technique or the question of access to the living model to issues of class and of gender. For the first time women were permitted to work in public from the semi-naked living model, a right which was not extended to women students at the Royal Academy until 1894- by which time women were working from the nude male model.” Martin Postle.1 Despite Dyce’s attempts to restrict the use of the live model earlier in the century, it began... Continue reading
Posted Dec 7, 2017 at Art History Today
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Between Paris & the Slade. “….it is precisely these points which make the difficulty in drawing from nature, and which render it necessary for the student to have some acquaintance with the general character of the human figure before attempting the study of the living model.” Sir Edward Poynter. There is a link between Trilby and the Slade School of Art because Edward Poynter (1836-1919) who became the first professor at the Slade in 1871- before he departed for the R.A.- trained in Charles Gleyre’s (1806-1874) studio in Paris; the bohemian scenes in Du Maurier’s novel are based on Du... Continue reading
Posted Dec 7, 2017 at Art History Today
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The English Model: Trilby “ I pose...in the altogether.” Trilby.1 France has quite a number of novels, stories dealing with painters and their studios, of which the most well-known are Balzac’s Le chef d’ oeuvre inconnu (The Unknown Masterpiece” 1831), the Goncourt Brothers’ Manette Salomon (1867), a story about a Jewish model, and Emile Zola’s L’Oeuvre (1886), the tragic tale of the fated painter Claude Lantier. Within this stream are also found novels written by British writers about artists living and working in Bohemian Paris. Trilby published serially in Harpers in 1894 was by the cartoonist George de Maurier; it... Continue reading
Posted Dec 7, 2017 at Art History Today
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The Male & Female Model in British Nineteenth- Century Academies & Private Studios. “He was confronted by a fellow statue. A member of the race which has learned to sleep standing up ‘posed’ upon the throne...he was as torpid as the Model was, as indifferent as these mechanical students. The clock struck. With a glance at the Massier, the Model slowly and rhythmically abandoned her rigid attitude, coming to life as living statues do in ballets; she reached for her chemise.” Wyndham Lewis, Tarr.1 One of the leading painters of the nude in the mid nineteenth- century was William Etty... Continue reading
Posted Dec 7, 2017 at Art History Today
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Defining the English Model. “The English models form a class entirely by themselves. They are not so picturesque as the Italian, nor so clever as the French, and they have absolutely no tradition, so to speak, of their order.” Oscar Wilde, “London Models.”1 Had Oscar Wilde been alive to comment on English models in the early nineteenth-century instead of the modern age, he would have found it difficult as the type didn’t really exist, at least in France.2 As we saw previously, in addition to pose- nude, semi-nude, draped, hands and feet etc, models were classified by type, or more... Continue reading
Posted Dec 7, 2017 at Art History Today
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Slides Netherlandish Manuscript illustrator, Cicero's works, 15th century manuscript, University Library, Ghent. Jacob Hoefnagel, Apelles Painting Campaspe in the Presence of Alexander, 1611, watercolour on paper, 220×160 mm, Private collection. Albrecht Dürer, Draughtsman drawing a nude with perspective device, 1538, etching, British Museum, London. Attributed to Annibale Carracci, Portrait of an Artist at Work, probably Ludovico Cardi, National Museum, Stockholm, no date, red chalk, 21×16.5 mm. Annibale Carracci, Half-length nude seen from behind, c. 1583-4, Accademia, Venice, red chalk heightened with white chalk on ivory paper. Odardo Fialetti, The Artist’s Studio, from Il vero modo et ordine per disegnar tutte... Continue reading
Posted Nov 30, 2017 at Art History Today
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Two Models in the 19th Century Studio & Art World “I recognised, in the woman with a snake, that Maryx with her pretty postures. Jeanne, that wretched Jeanne who tortured him [Baudelaire] in all sorts of ways.” Madame Baudelaire.1 To end we follow the trajectory of two women who modelled for artists, one of whose name and career has only recently been brought to light by feminist art and literary historians. The fortunes of these two models- Joséphine Marix (1822-1891) and Apollonie Sabatier (1822-1890)- are woven into the public and private spaces of Paris, its painting and literary culture, as... Continue reading
Posted Nov 30, 2017 at Art History Today
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The Invention of the Female Model & the Private Atelier in the 19th Century. From the days of the French Academy of Painting in the 17th century well into the age of the École des Beaux-Arts in the 19th century modelling was mainly restricted to males with women modelling only for the head from 1759.1 From the eighteenth-century the French Academy had banned female models outright from their studios, and up until 1830, the male model was considered the beau idéal.2 However, it was a different story in the private ateliers or studios. Records have uncovered that female models were... Continue reading
Posted Nov 30, 2017 at Art History Today
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The Decline of Le Beau Idéal & the Male Nude in the 19th century/Emergence of the Italian Model. “The male nude fades out in the nineteenth century. The male body is determinedly and nervously covered up; and as the male goes out of focus, the female nude becomes the central symbol of art. For the first time, nude is automatically taken to mean a woman,” Margaret Walters.1 The cause of the “disappearing male” to use Walters’s phrase meant that the notion of the beau idéal faded too because of that ideal of art was thought to be present in the... Continue reading
Posted Nov 30, 2017 at Art History Today
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Notes on the Model in the 17th & 18th Centuries in France. “Several models of different ages and characters are necessary...otherwise even work after nature may become mannered. I would suggest that that practice of always relying on the same model and working from the same forms can become a routine” Charles-Nicolas Cochin, 1777.1 It is generally thought that the model used in academies was mainly female, but in fact this was not the case, despite all the many depictions of Apelles painting Campaspe and Zeuxis choosing his models as in Vincent’s 1789 version of the subject. Until the 1830s... Continue reading
Posted Nov 30, 2017 at Art History Today
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Apelles & Campaspe in the 18th Century “in this act of his [Alexander] he won as much honour and glory, as by any victory over his enemies; for now he had conquered himself, and not only made Apelles partner with him, of his love, but also gave his affection clean away.” Pliny the Elder. There are more painted versions of the story- recounted in Pliny’s Historia Naturalis- of Apelles falling in his love with his model Campaspe than in any other century. Perhaps the most famous is Tiepolo’s version (above) done between 1725-26 where Campaspe is modelled on Cecilia Guardi... Continue reading
Posted Nov 30, 2017 at Art History Today
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Rembrandt & the Model. “What was in his mind when he felt impelled to set down these painful visions of human nakedness?” Kenneth Clark.1 The Carracci Academy used male models- the feminine form was drawn after classical sculpture- but attitudes were less restrictive in northern Europe, especially in the Netherlands. In drawings by Rembrandt and his workshop we see live female models, though most of their identities are lost to us.2 In Amsterdam around the middle of the century it was possible to work het collegie van schilders (an assemby of painters) one of whom used his customary model Maria... Continue reading
Posted Nov 30, 2017 at Art History Today
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The Carracci Academy & the Male Model. “They [the Carracci] founded schools; indeed, it is true to say that schools as we know them today began with the Carracci- those schools I mean, in which a careful study of the living model came first and almost entirely replaced the unremitting study of every branch of art, of which the study of the model is only part.” Eugene Delacroix.1 Founded in Bologna around 1582 by three members of the Carracci family, Ludovico and his cousins Annibale and Agostino, and usually called the Accademia degli Incamminati, or simply the Accademia d’ Carracci,... Continue reading
Posted Nov 30, 2017 at Art History Today
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Slides Walter Sickert, The Juvenile Lead: A Self-Portrait, c. 1907, oil on canvas, 51×45.8 cm, Southampton Art Gallery. Walter Sickert, Ennui, 1914, oil on canvas, 152.4×112.4 cms, Tate, London. Paul Mathey, Portrait of Edgar Degas, 1882, graphite, National Gallery of Art, Washington. Edgar Degas, The Bellelli Family, 1858-69, oil on canvas, 200×250 cm, Museé d’ Orsay, Paris. Walter Sickert, Mamma mia Poveretta, 1903-4, oil on canvas, 46.1×38.2 cm, Manchester Art Gallery. Walter Sickert, Jacques Blanche, c. 1910, oil on canvas, 61×50.8 cm, Tate, London. Jacques Emil-Blanche, Portrait of Marcel Proust, 1892, oil on canvas, 73.5×60.5 cm, Musée d’Orsay, Paris. John... Continue reading
Posted Nov 20, 2017 at Art History Today
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Two Literary Portrait Painters: Patrick Heron & Tom Philips We end with two artists, Patrick Heron and Tom Philips. This also brings us back to the link between portrait painting and literature as they both painted two well-known modern novelists, A.S. Byatt and Iris Murdoch (above). As a member of the St Ives Group Heron was at the forefront of abstraction even claiming that he’s invented abstract expressionism before the American crowd. Though Heron was mainly known for his open air “garden paintings” he had painted portraits earlier in his career; in 1949 he painted a “semi-cubist” portrait of T.S.... Continue reading
Posted Nov 20, 2017 at Art History Today
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English Abstraction & the Portrait: Wyndham Lewis to Francis Bacon “The open mouth became central to Bacon’s iconography from very early on..By the early 1950s, however, it had become obsessive, dominating all other concerns.” Michael Peppiat.1 Returning to England we can see this fascination with the manipulation of form and colour used to express personality emerging through the abstract turn following Fry’s exhibitions. Initially sympathetic to Fry, Percy Wyndham Lewis eventually quarrelled with him and broke away to form his own avant-garde movement which was called Vorticism. Lewis painted a modernist portrait of the eccentric poetess Edith Sitwell which is... Continue reading
Posted Nov 20, 2017 at Art History Today
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Kokoschka: Sitting for the Psychological Portrait. “I try to keep my sitters moving and talking, to make them forget they are being painted. This has nothing to do with extracting intimate secrets or confessions but rather with establishing, in motion, an essential image of the kind that remains in memory or recurs in dreams. I could not do this if my sitter had to keep still, as he might for a photographer, or to hold a stiff pose." Kokoschka. Born in Pöchlorn, Austria, in 1886, Oscar Kokoschka quickly established himself as a painter of the cultural elite in Vienna at... Continue reading
Posted Nov 20, 2017 at Art History Today
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The Birth of the Modern Portrait 3: The Portrait in Central Europe. “It was a pretty clumsy piece of work...I don’t flatter myself I hit her off very well, though we had, I suppose, twenty sittings. What can you do with a rum sort of face like that? You might think she would be easy to capture, with those hyperborean cheek-bones, and eyes like cracks in a loaf of bread. Yes, there’s something about her- if you get the detail right, you botch the ensemble. Riddle of the sphinx. Do you know her? It would probably be better to paint... Continue reading
Posted Nov 20, 2017 at Art History Today
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The Birth of the Modern Portrait 2: Matisse at the English Galleries. “The contrast between Dicksee’s The Lady Inverclyde exhibited at the Royal Academy that year and Matisse’s Femme aux Yeux Verts at the Grafton Galleries was too great for most of the general public; the two paintings seemed scarcely the product of the same century let alone the same decade.” Frances Spalding.1 For the next significant moment for modern portraiture we must leave the Paris of 1906 and journey through time and space to the London of 1910. Between November 8th and January 15th 1911, an exhibition billed as... Continue reading
Posted Nov 20, 2017 at Art History Today
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The Birth of the Modern Portrait 1: Picasso and Primitivism. “He painted in the head without having seen me again and he gave me the picture and I was and I still am satisfied with my portrait, for me, it is I, and it is the only reproduction of me which is always I, for me.” Gertrude Stein on Picasso’s portrait of her. Gertrude Stein’s playful use of pronouns in her comments on Picasso’s 1905-6 portrait of her flags up the question of identity in relation to the modern portrait. But identity in this era with its link to the... Continue reading
Posted Nov 20, 2017 at Art History Today