L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e ~ D o s t o ï e v s k i

L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e  ~  D o s t o ï e v s k i

Sunday, January 14, 2018

So many... arrows - Saint Sebastian, part I

Paul Delaroche, 1822.
Salvator Rosa, 1650.

When you go onto the internet looking for images of Saint Sebastian, expect to be sitting there a while. A long while. Other than Christ, himself, in the history of art I can think of no male religious figure who has been portrayed more frequently. (Maybe David or John the Baptist turn up more often?) Sometimes the compositions he inhabits are elaborate, with soldiers and landscapes, fluttering drapery, even a cherub or two. Sometimes Saint Irene and a maid are shown busy at work, tending to the devout pincushion. But most often just an underdressed young fellow, a few arrows, and bit of rope will suffice. And perhaps a tree.

Vicente López y Portaña, circa 1795-1800.
Nicolas Régnier, 1625.(Régnier and his studio made rather a career of painting St. Sebastians.)

But why is he everywhere? He's not a particularly useful saint; he doesn't actually serve much biblical purpose. The only things he really has to recommend him are high drama and pulchritude. A whole lot of male pulchritude. I expect those qualities - particularly the latter - are what has kept him in such frequent rotation. At any rate, here is a selection of "saintly" torsos. I haven't included all that many that are very well known, or ones that I've already included elsewhere on this blog. This is just a tiny sampling of the apparently infinite moods of Sebastians: calm and writhing, pretty and ugly, silly and tragic, gross and lyrical.

San Sebastiano nel bosco di Calvenzano, d'après Guido Reni, by Luigi Ontani, 1970.
Augustin Van den Berghe, 1777.
Bernardo Strozzi, circa 1631-36.
F. Holland Day, 1907.
Master of the Virgo inter Virgines, 1480.
Circle of Nicolas Régnier, first half of the seventeenth century.
Pietro Perugino, circa 1493-4.
Hendrick ter Brugghen, 1625.
Giovanni Colacicchi, 1930s. (Study for the following painting.)
Giovanni Colacicchi, 1930s.
Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, 1851-73.
François-Guillaume Ménageot, 1803.
François-Xavier Fabre, 1789.
The Master MZ, circa 1500-10.
Greg Semu, 2014.
Marco Antonio Bassetti, circa 1620.
Gustave Moreau, circa 1870.
Master of the Holy Kinship, circa 1493-94.
Cornelis van Haarlem, circa 1591.
Anthony Gayton, 2004.
 Honoré Daumier, circa 1849-50.
José de Ribera, 1636.
Frans Badens, between 1600-18,
Alexandra Hiller, 2000. (?)
 Dosso Dossi, 1526.
Antonello da Messina, 1477.
Ed Fury, Athletic Model Guild, circa 1950s.
Mattia Preti, circa 1660.
Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, 1850.
Simon Vouet, 1621-2.
Kieran Keat, circa 2010.
Nicolas Régnier, circa 1620.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Jean-Louis-Gustave d'Hautefort, and his sister, Marie-Thérèse-Thaïs d'Hautefort, by Henri-Pierre Danloux (or Adèle Romanée?), 1800-02

This double portrait pays tribute to the warm relationship of its subjects, the two children of Jean-Louis-Anne de Hautefort, comte de Vaudre, under the Ancien Régime a colonel attached to the Boulonnais regiment, and superior officer of the Gardes du corps du Roi. Beyond this painting, the only other thing I know about Gustave, comte d'Hautefort (1785-1850), and his sister Thaïs (1784-1845) is that the siblings married other siblings - Adélaide de Maillé de La Tour-Landry and Charles Théodore Bélisaire de Maillé de La Tour-Landry, marquis de Jalesnes, respectively - and on the same day, 28 May 1805.


There seems to be some confusion as to who actually painted this portrait. It was sold at auction at Sotheby's only a little over two years ago as the work of Danloux. But another dealer and expert currently claims it as the work of Adèle Romanée, a much lesser known artist of the period who is still being "rediscovered"; there has been much recent research on her life and art, and some paintings previously attributed to David and Regnault have been restored to her oeuvre. Comparing this portrait with the works of both artists, though, it seems much more likely to be by the hand of Danloux. The painting is, over all, much more sophisticated and technically consistent than Romanée's work. And it appears to show the influence - as the Sotheby's catalogue argues - of Raeburn and other of the great British portrait painters of the day, artists that Danloux encountered at the time of his stay in England during the 1790s.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

A fragile and ferocious telling - book illustrations by Kay Nielsen

Illustration for East of the Sun and West of the Moon.

Kay Rasmus Nielsen (12 March 1886, Copenhagen – 21 June 1957, Los Angeles), Danish artist who, along with Arthur Rackham and Edmund Dulac, was among the most popular book illustrators of the early 20th century, the "golden age of illustration".

Illustration for In Powder and Crinoline.

Born into an artistic family - both of his parents were very successful actors - he studied art in Paris at the Académie Julian and the Académie Colarossi from 1904 to 1911, and then lived in England from 1911 to 1916. He received his first English commission from Hodder and Stoughton to illustrate a collection of fairy tales in 1913. Printing technology had then developed to the point that full color drawings and paintings could be reproduced with reasonable fidelity, and beautifully produced gift books were extremely popular. For the next two decades, only interrupted by the First World War, he produced illustrations for several prominent story collections, In Powder and Crinoline and East of the Sun and West of the Moon probably being the best known. Towards the end of the war, he traveled to New York, where his work was exhibited, and then returned to Denmark, where he painted stage scenery for the Royal Danish Theatre in Copenhagen. After that he resumed his work for illustrated books.

Illustration for East of the Sun and West of the Moon.

By the end of the Thirties, with the slowing of his illustration work, he moved to California, looking to find employment with the Hollywood studios. He was hired by Walt Disney Studios, where he contributed to several sequences of Fantasia. He was highly regarded at the studio but, after four years there, he was let go in 1941. He briefly returned to Denmark, desperate for employment, but found no demand for his work there either. Returning to California, his final years were spent in poverty. His last works were murals for schools and churches in Los Angeles. He developed respiratory problems that would plague him until his death at the age of seventy-one; his funeral service was held under a mural he had painted in the Wong Chapel of the First Congregational Church in Los Angeles. His wife of thirty-one years, Ulla, died the following year. Before her death, she had entrusted her husband's remaining works to a prominent colleague, who in turn tried to place them with museums. But none - American or Danish - would accept them.

Illustrations for In Powder and Crinoline, 1913:

Illustrations for East of the Sun and West of the Moon, 1914: