Reboot your eye for art….

Reboot your eye for art….

Reboot your eye for art…we live in a culture of mass production and “sameness” yet we are all unique individuals with different tastes. So for the art collector we must be careful to challenge our eye – think about different approaches.

Vigorous Watercolors

For many years watercolors were considered an inferior art form as compared to oils, but by the late 19th century watercolors found an audience among artists, collectors and museums. Evidence of the master of watercolor is the exhibit of the French painter Jean Fragonard (1732- 1806) currently at the National Gallery in Washington DC.  Fragonard is  known for his rapidly executed, brightly colored paintings of lavishly costumed individuals and his work exemplifies the acceptance of watercolor as an important medium in the 18th century.

Watercolors by Marianne Stokes (1855-1927) and Sydney Burleigh are good examples of artists who have mastered the medium.  Both artists and others are now on view at Bert Gallery.

Marianne Stokes (1855-1927)


Stokes, Marianne (1855-1927), SLR, Undated., Portrait of a Victorian Lady

Watercolor on paper 16” diameter.                              $1,500.


Stokes, Marianne (1855-1927), SLR, Undated. Portrait of a Victorian Lady

watercolor on paper 15 ½” diameter.                           $1,500.


Marianne Stokes, born Marianne Preindlsberger, was an Austrian painter. She settled in England after her marriage to Adrian Scott Stokes (1854–1935), the landscape painter, whom she had met in Pont-Aven, Brittany in 1883. Stokes was considered one of the leading artists in Victorian England.

Preindlsberger was born in Graz, Austria. She first studied in Munich under Lindenschmidt and having been awarded a scholarship for her first painting Muttergluck, she moved to Paris to study under Pascal Adolphe Jean Dagnan_Bouveret and Gustave Courtois. As with many of her contemporary painters she sought out rural communities in the French countryside, sources for a “plein air” social realism, subject matter popularized by the leading proponents Jules Bastien- Lepage and Jean Francois Millet. In 1883, she visited the rural community of Pont-Aven on a painting sojourn, and there met her future husband. They married in 1884.

Marianne Stokes first painting accepted into the prestigious Paris salon, Reflection, was exhibited at the Royal Academy of Arts in London in 1885. The work was painted in Brittany. Other works were exhibited at the Grosvenor Gallery, New Gallery, and the Society of British Artists annual exhibition, all in London. By this time she was signing her work with her married surname. In 1900, a joint exhibition of her works and that of her husband was held at the prestigious London art gallery, Fine Art Society on New Bond Street. At that time the couple resided in St. Ives, a coastal port town in Cornwall on the Celtic sea. Having no children they travelled abroad regularly to the Tyrol (part of Austria at this time), in 1905 to Hungary and the High Tatra. a mountain range along the northern border of Slovakia. They spent six months sketching and painting in the villages of the mountains. Adrian Stokes concentrated on the landscapes and picturesque cottages, while Marianne painted portraits showing fine details of the garments. These paintings are now a valuable resource of record of Slovak culture at that time.

By the early years of the twentieth century they were living in Chelsea, and in 1921 the Stokes moved to Grantham Place off Park Lane. Marianne. On her return to London, Marianne’s art turned to more varied subject matter; portraiture, religious and historical subjects and children dominated her output. After abandoning oils, and inspired by the Pre-Raphaelite movement, Marianne Stokes painted flat compositions in tempera and gesso, her paintings giving the impression of being frescoes on plaster surfaces. She was voted an Associate of the Royal Society of painters in Water Colours in 1923. Today her works can be seen at the Tate (Candlemas) and National Portrait Gallery (John Westlake) in London, the Musee D’Orsay (Death and the Maiden), as well as in museums in Liverpool (Walker Art Gallery), Nottingham and Pittsburgh.

S.R. Burleigh (1853-1931)  Woman and Loom, Watercolor 14” x 17”        $1,200. SALE $1,000.

Sydney Burleigh (1853 – 1931), Woman Sewing Watercolor 14” x 10”       $ 850. SALE $750.

The artistic community in Providence has always been in step or a step ahead of American art trends. A very fine group of Providence artists emerged in 1880 on par with other colleagues across the country. American art giants such as John La Farge (1835 – 1910) and Winslow Homer (1836 – 1910) showed their watercolor mastery in Rhode Island venues further fueling the local enthusiasm of the medium. Sydney Burleigh (1853 – 1941) ushered in a new level of excellence in watercolors and by the early 20th Century modern trends emerged among top watercolorists.

In the Providence arts arena Sydney Burleigh (1853 – 1941) was the earliest Rhode Island artist to achieve recognition for his mastery of watercolors. The Providence Journal who stated, “The only professed watercolorist in Providence is Mr. Sydney Burleigh”, validated the Little Compton native’s forte in 1885. While certainly there were other artists painting in watercolor before Burleigh, such as the precisely rendered watercolors of S.R. Chaffee (1850 – 1913), Burleigh’s facility in the medium was unmatched. By 1896 he founded the Providence Watercolor Club and was teaching watercolor at the Rhode Island School of Design in 1897. A new era of painters following Burleigh became adept in the medium taking command of the nuances of pigment on paper.