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3 ways to look at…

3 ways to look at…figure

3 Ways to look at… The beauty of art is how artists approach the canvas from their individual thoughtful perspective. The result is great art from different perspectives and a range of styles.

Here are three artists, three perspectives of the same topic.

Jane Hart wrote a great synopsis of the evolution of figurative art in Art Business News in 2009. It really sets the groundwork for the 3 artists selected for this weeks’ blog entry.

“Figurative art has evolved through centuries of rich tradition and experimentation. From ancient stick-figure drawings to the Realist works of the early masters, the human form has captured artists’ attention for thousands of years. Today, the intrigue of figurative works continues, and artists are free to unleash their imaginations, putting a contemporary twist on the human form.

“The human figure holds an irresistible attraction for most people; it has from the beginning of time and always will,” says Tim Collins, director of Titus Fine Art, “It is the subject of some of the most powerful and memorable paintings, such as Manet’s ‘Olympia’ and Picasso’s ‘Les Demoiselles d’Avignon.'”

  1. Portrait of Amasa M Eaton and Charles F. Eaton, James Sullivan Lincoln (1811 – 1888), 1852, oil on canvas 54” x 48”  $9,500.

Amasa and Charles Eaton, children of the Providence lawyer Levi C. Eaton and Sarah Brown Mason shows two boys who would grow to become successful men. Amasa, the older of the two, would study law at Brown and Harvard Universities, going onto a life of serving his state and his country as a soldier in the Civil War, and then as a member of the Rhode Island House of Representatives. Charles, the younger boy, would travel to Paris to train as an artist. After returning to the United States Charles would participate in the Arts and Crafts movement and he would instill a live of art into his daughter, Elizabeth Eaton Burton. The portrait shows the then eleven year old Amasa to look much older than his ten year old brother. Amasa wears his hair short and has his socks and shoes on. His brother Charles has longer hair and is shown barefoot, with his shoes discarded behind him, giving him a younger and more playful look.

James Sullivan Lincoln, who was a prominent figure in the Providence Art world painted this portrait in 1852. Landing a commission from the Brown Family spoke to the status that Lincoln commanded in Providence at the time. Bringing his expertise in oil painting to bear in the creation of this portrait, with the use of shadows on Charles’s face displaying an incredible, almost photographic level of realism. Lincoln would continue to paint portraits of the notable people of Providence, and would also incorporate photography into his workshop.

Biography James Sullivan Lincoln was the leading portrait painter in Providence during the 19th century. During his long career he chronicled the lives and time of Providence dreamers, thinkers, educators, families and politicians. Over 4,000 images were generated including oil portraiture and photography. The painted and photographed likenesses created by this master portraitist convey the history of an American region during a critical period of change and growth. A review of Lincoln’s images provides visual representation of well-known Rhode Island names, like Samuel Slater, Betsey Baker and Ambrose Burnside. This prolific painter dutifully recorded in his log book, owned by the Rhode Island Historical Society, most of his sitters. The log book begins at 1837 and is a treasure trove of information about the patrons and business of his career, as Lincoln recorded prices paid for likenesses after 1863. Lincoln’s work was typical of the style of the day, highly delineated likenesses with a limited pallette. His early training had been in engraving and he did spend some time under the tutelage of C. Hinckley. Most characteristic of Lincoln’s work is the methodical and exacting brushstrokes he used. An exhibit of his works is currently on view at the Rhode Island Historical Society’s Aldrich House at 110 Benevolent Street. A catalogue accompanies this exhibition.

     2. Odalisque, James Drummond Herbert (1873 – 1941), Watercolor 6” x 11”, $1,200.

Sorting through the endless number of sketches, drawings and watercolors of James Herbert it is clear that he was determined to master the figure study. Herbert spent hours upon hours sketching models and systematically studying the human form. This foundation was instrumental for his costumed dance paintings where the anatomical movements of ballerinas across the stage are carefully orchestrated and evocative.

Biography Born in New York City, Herbert lived in Manhattan and studied at Columbia University during his youth. He attended the Art Student’s League of New York from 1920-1923, and again from 1926-1929. While there he studied with eminent artists such as Frank Drummond and Kenneth Hayes Miller. He joined a “coterie of intelligent, socially interested and humanly alive artists” such as Reginald Marsh and Isabel Bishop. As Reginald Marsh was attracted to painting of the social theatrics of New York daily life, Herbert painted from a more personal and psychological perspective, capturing the “performances” of individuals. Dancers and theatrical figures were his subject matter.

  1. After the Bath, 1932, Eliza Gardiner (1871 – 1955), Woodcut 9.6” x 12”, $850.

Eliza Gardiner is among the most significant artists to emerge from Rhode Island. This native Rhode Islander’s fame is a result of her pioneer work in block printing. She was one of the first American artists to achieve national recognition in the medium of color block printing. It was not only her technical ability which won such acclaim, but her special interest in studies of children at play or people on holiday. In her work she was able to communicate a simple, direct statement with a serenity of feeling. In a 1929 Providence Journal review of her Vose Gallery Show the critic commented, ” I had never realized how much the feeling of childhood, tenderness, contentment or sadness could be revealed in flat spaces of color, until I saw Eliza Gardiner’s wood-block prints.”

Eliza Gardiner was a graduate of Rhode Island School of Design and taught there for 30 years. The special affection and tenderness expressed in her wood block prints reveal the very nature of Miss Gardiner. She was very popular among students and her studio at Pawtuxet Cove was a mecca for students during her lifetime.

While Eliza achieved recognition as a block-print artist, she was also a good water colorist. Her landscapes, still lifes and portrait sketches demonstrate integrity, however these never achieved the attention accorded her wood-block prints.

The wood block prints of Eliza Gardiner are represented in museum collections both in the United States and abroad. She exhibited these block prints at the American Wood Block shows in Chicago, New York and the Philadelphia Academy. She was represented in the International Print Show at Utizza Gallery in Florence, at the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris, 1928, the International Society of Print Makers in California, The Springfield Public Library, Detroit Institute of Art, The Philadelphia Print Club and the Rhode Island School of Design. She was a member of the Providence Art Club, The Providence Water Color Club and The California Print Maker’s Society. She also exhibited in Paris LOC in 1944, the Art Institute at Chicago and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts

Cathy @ 10:55 am

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3 Ways to Look at a Peach

The beauty of art is how artists approach the canvas from their individual thoughtful perspective. The result is great art from different perspectives and a range of styles.

The rendering of a peach has evolved from the early self-taught artists such as Batcheller, to the succesfully trained artists such as Leavitt and finally to the remarkable Peers with his modernist interpretation of still life.

Here are three artists, three perspectives of the same topic.

1. F. S. Batcheller (1837 – 1889)Oil on Canvas 16” x 22” Peaches $2,500. SALE $2,200.

2. E.C. Leavitt (1842-1904) Peach and Grapes, 1878, Oil on Canvas 12″ x 8″, $850. SALE $750.

3. Gordon Peers (1909 – 1988), Apple Still Life Oil on Canvas 20” x 24” , $3,500. SALE $3,200

Provenance: Newport Art Museum, Still Life exhibition


F. S. Batcheller 1837 – 1889 “The color in his is fruit is generally excellent; nor is it always in the intense and highly contrasted vein that fruit painters generally take so much satisfaction in.”                                         Providence Journal review 1889

Reminds me of L.E. Wilmarth (1835 – 1918) founder of the Art Students League of New York or National Academy of Design who was fond of still life painting.

Frederick Stone Batcheller began his art career as an apprentice with Tingley Brothers Marble Cutters, a prominent Providence firm.  For a short while, Batcheller sculpted marble busts but hisattentions quickly turned to painting and he was committed to the craft by 1855. In that same year, Batcheller became part of “The 1855 Group” which was the first organization of artists to promote the artistic and cultural development of Providence. This group also included John Arnold, Thomas Robinson, James Lewin, and Marcus Waterman. In 1858, Batcheller opened a studio at 33 S. Main St and entered art professionally. Later, in 1880, Batcheller would be involved in the founding of the Providence Art Club; he was one of the original 16 charter signers of the Providence Art Club Compact.

Batcheller’s worked in oil and he is best known for his still life of fruit but he also painted flowers, landscapes, marines, and animals. While Batcheller worked very diligently on his painting and was well-respected by his colleagues, he never achieved a level of recognition comparable to that of his colleagues during his career. A Memorial Exhibition of his work was held at the Providence Art Club in 1889 and was well-received. The Providence Journal reviewed the show and said that Batcheller was, “Most successful in fixing the glowing color and vivid contrasts in rendering the various textures and surfaces…in the rounded, rich and shadowy masses of fruit compositions he was most at ease…The color in his is fruit is generally excellent; nor is it always in the intense and highly contrasted vein that fruit painters generally take so much satisfaction in.” Batcheller’s paintings stand out among others in the thriving still life genre scene in Providence and nearby Fall River, Massachusett.

E.C. Leavitt (1842 – 1904)  E. C. Leavitt was one of the most popular and widely known artists within the Providence community during his lifetime. This was due largely to his choice and manner of painting still life.
The artist was the son of the minister of the Richmond Street Congregational Church. He was primarily self-taught with the exception of some introduction from J. Lewin. While Lewin did not share the popularity that Leavitt did, he is actually recognized today as the better still life painter. The primary difference between the two artists is that Lewin chose a more poetic and interpretive view when painting still life where Leavitt sought a realistic and material point of view. Leavitt’s concentration on a more transcriptional painting of fruit and flower was widely popular because of the technical proficiency it demonstrated.

After a brief interruption in his painting career, to serve in the Navy during the Civil War, Leavitt resumed painting at the Merchants Bank Building. Later he moved to the Hoppin Homestead Building, setting up a studio next to the other popular still life artist Emma Swan. Here Leavitt produced numerous still life paintings, perhaps thousands. He became known for being an untiring worker whose art was in constant demand. John N. Arnold ranked him among the foremost in his profession in technique declaring that his work stands close to the European masters.

Interestingly enough, much of Leavitt’s success was largely due to the introduction of photography after the war which caused portrait painting commissions to decline and still life to emerge as a popular art form. He is recognized today as a significant still life artist with his works exhibited throughout the United States. E.C. Leavitt contributed to the Rhode Island art community not only by the high standard of art he painted but also as a member of the Providence Art Club and teacher of many Rhode Island artists.

Gordon Peers 1909 – 1988   An independent and disciplined painter, Gordon Peers acquired technical and theoretical art sophistication early in his career. Peers came under the influence of Frazier as a Rhode Island School of Design student, then went on to become Frazier’s colleague when he later returned to his Alma mater to teach. The two would remain good friends throughout their lives, but their aesthetic paths would differ. Early on Peers had a tremendous success with his tightly delineated still life compositions, similar in technique to that of John Frazier. These canvases saw national exhibition at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Corcoran Art Gallery, Carnegie Institute and the National Academy of Design in the 1940’s. But by the 1950’s the influence of Cezanne became evident in Peer’s work and the painter began a lifetime of experimentation which would culminate in a body of thickly painted, brightly palette still lifes and landscapes. These signature pieces, which differed significantly from his mentor’s work, were like stained glass canvases. During his life time, these later works never received the critical attention of early works. Unfortunately, this was primarily due to the dominance of abstract expressionism in the art world which left little room for the methodical and developed painting of Peers.

Cathy @ 7:06 am

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3 ways to look at…cows?

The beauty of art is how artists approach the canvas from their individual thoughtful perspective. The result is great art from different perspectives and a range of styles.

Here are three, actually four perspectives of the same topic.

One of my favorite drives is along the Shenandoah Valley where you see the most incredible farms with acres of crops and lots of cows and sheep in the fields. As you go through the terrain it is hard not to see the daily rhythms of farm animals.

Cows & sheep  were a favorite subject for Providence painters.   The capital city transitioned to an energetic urban city and there was a nostalgia for the farmlands replaced by bustling factory buildings. The challenge for artists was to alter the images so a household could collect many different renditions of the subject matter.

Thus, you see:

Cows meandering in a moonlight village with their farmer, sheep enjoying a sunny day in the fecund summer landscape, close ups of grooming and grazing and just meandering on the hillside.

1.George Hays (1854-1945),   Moonlight in the Village, 1915

Oil on Canvas 18” x 24”                          $2,500. SALE $2,200.

2.George Hays (1854 – 1945)  Two Cows in Front Field     

Watercolor 10.5” x 15”                               $800. SALE $600.

3.G.A. Hays, signed lower right   Two Cows on the Hillside

Watercolor/paper; 9.5″ x 13.5″                    $1,200. SALE $900.

4.Wesley Webber (1841-1914)     Sheep on Hillside                                 

Oil on canvas 20” x 24”                                $2,300. SALE $2,100.

Biography: Wesley Webber  1839-1914
Landscape and marine painter Wesley Webber was born in Gardiner, Maine and died in Wollaston, Massachusetts in November 1914. He lived in Boston from 1870 to 1890 and in New York City from 1892 and was self-taught. He is considered one of the finer landscape painters who painted from life in the Conway area of New Hampshire and along the New England coast and he is reminiscent of the Hudson River School in style and manner.

Webber served in the Civil War (Company B of the Sixteenth Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment) and was present at General Lee’s surrender at Appomattox. His original sketches made at the surrender, along with his finished illustrations of the Civil War were shown at the Boston Art Club and brought Webber considerable fame, recognition and fortune. Many of his Civil War scenes were published as wood engravings in Harper’s Weekly and as a lithograph published by J.H. Bufford of Boston. He was discharged from Civil War service in Augusta, Maine, June 15, 1865 and he opened a studio in Gardiner, where he became a carriage painter. Thereafter, Webber earned a fine reputation as a marine and landscape painter, but at the end of his life (ca. 1900-1914) he became an alcoholic and his style weakened along with his reputation.

Webber shared a Boston studio in Pemberton Square and then shared a Boston studio with marine painter William P. Stubbs (1876-) and kept other studios in New York City until his death. Every summer he went to Conway, New Hampshire to paint the hillside, where painters John J. Enneking, Frank Shapleigh and others joined him to paint. He also painted in Manchester-by-the-Sea, in Nova Scotia and in Canada. Two of his most famous paintings are “Kennebec River”, “Maine Boat Shop and Unidentified Vessels Ice-bound at Gloucester” (both at the Peabody Museum, Salem, MA). He is also represented in the permanent collections of the Boston Athenaeum; New York Public Library; the Brooklyn Museum; Portland Museum of Art (Maine) and elsewhere.

From 1897 to 1914 Webber’s New York City studio at 11 East 14th Street was filled with artists. In 1914, he left the city for his daughter’s home in Wollaston, MA, where he died. In February 1915, his family sold the contents of his studio at the Boston auction house of C.F. Libbie and Company. The artist is buried in Gardiner, Maine.

References: American Art Analog, vol. 1; Who Was Who in American Art, vol. 3, p. 3489; Campbell, New Hampshire Scenery, p. 171.

Cathy @ 4:54 pm

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3 Ways to look at….Dunes

3 Ways to look at… The beauty of art is how artists approach the canvas from their individual thoughtful perspective. The result is great art from different perspectives and a range of styles.

Here are three, well actually four perspectives of the same topic.

Sand Dunes: “Any accumulation of sand grains shaped into a mound or ridge by the wind under the influence of gravity.” Painting sand dunes near along the northeast shoreline often separates the amateur from the professional artist. How to paint the rich texture of what appears to be such a limited range of beige’s? Well, here are three examples of the pro’s.

Smith: technique oil in short choppy strokes to create dimension and texture on board.

Arthur Diehl: technique fluid brush strokes, very painterly integration of color

Gordon Harris: choice of pastel to layer for the rich texture effect, very soft and inviting.

Frank Vining Smith, sll  Dunes  Oil on Board 14” x 20”                         $750.

Arthur Diehl (1870 -1929) Dune Scene  Oil on canvas 8” x 12”               $1750.

Gordon Harris (1891 – 1963) Dunes – Cape Pastel  11” x 14”                     $500.

Gordon Harris (1891 – 1963) Sunset Dunes Oil on Canvas 8” x 10”             $500.

Cathy @ 4:25 pm

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