BG News

3 ways to look at…figure

December 16, 2017

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

Tagged in: Art Intrigues

Reboot your Eye

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.

What is Modernism and how did it transform the American Art Scene? Well, there are books written on the introduction of European moderns to American painters and audiences in the 1913 Armory show and from that time forward the art world was in flux, realist academic painting challenged with the new urban realism of America and the new perspectives of European artists.It is interesting to look at artists such as James Herbert and see how he straddled this fluid art world.

The “Flag Dance” series clearly places James Herbert in the 20th century tradition of figurative American painting. Herbert throughout his youth was surrounded by New York’s throbbing urban reality with its dense and diversified populace. As a student of Kenneth Hayes Miller and a classmate of Reginald Marsh at the New York Arts Student League, Herbert honed his skill for figurative drawing and evidenced a fascination with stage “performers” rather than the local neighbors that attracted his artist colleagues. New York City showgirls and theatrical performers assimilate into his imagery of French inspired Napoleonic and court dancers. Courtesy Mary Tinti , PhD

James D. Herbert, Flag Dance #1, Oil on canvas 16” x 20” , $4,000.

Cathy @ 10:54 am

Tagged in: Art Intrigues

Painting of the Week – American Scene Painting

December 9, 2017

Jean Hogan (1909 – 1995)  Hartford, Ct    Oil on Board 24″ x 20″    Verso: Meridan Art Association Award and Estate Stamp, original frame  $1,500.

Jean Hogan, born in Hartford, Connecticut, worked and lived in Connecticut and Rhode Island, and summered on Monhegan Island, Maine. Her biography from a Brown University alumni magazine read” Jean V. Hogan ’31, Wickford, RI: Jan. 15. She was an art teacher in the South Kingstown, R.I., school system for many years before retiring, and also had taught at the Ethel Walker School in Simsbury, Connn. She studied art at the Rhode Island School of Design and the A.E. James School of Fine Art, and exhibited her paintings throughout New England. She had one-woman shows at New York City’s Morton Galleries and at the Harbor Art Galleries in Wickford.

Hogan was a painter, graphic artist and teacher. Her art portrays an eastern United States version of American Scene painting or Regionalism. The Oxford Dictionary of Art defines Regionalism as” Movement in American paintings… part of the wider category of American Scene painting.. in which artists concentrated on realistic depiction of scenes and types from the American Midwest and deep South The movement flourished during the 1930’s and early 1940’s. The motivation of the Regionalists, like that of all American Scene painters, derived from a patriotic desire to establish genuinely American art by the utilization of American subject-matter and the repudiation of inoovative artistic styles. In addition, they were moved by a nostalgic desire to glorify, or at lease to record, rural and small-town American as distinct from the new industrial urbanization, and it was from this that their widespread popularity drew its sustenance. Thomas Hart Benton was the vociferous mouthpiece of the group and prominent among them wee Grant Wood, Andrew Wyeth, Edward Hopper and John Stuart Curry, with Charles Burchfield and Ben Shahn on the fringes. Hooper was more

Born: 1909,
Lived: Hartford, Connecticut; Wickford, Rhode Island
Summered: Monhegen, Maine

Studied: Pembroke College, and artists J.G. McManus, A.E.Jones

Member: CAFA, New Haven PCC, Springfield Art League, Hartford: Society of Women Painters, South Country Art Club

Exhibited:   National Academy of Design, New Haven PCC
Springfield Art League, 1938 (prize), 1942 (prize)
Hartford Society Women Painters
Ogunquit Art Center
Brown University
South County Art Club
Morton Gallery, New York, 1945 (one-man)
Worlds Fair New York, 1939
Ethel Walker School, Simsbury, Connecticut
CAFA, 1943 (prize)

Cathy @ 7:11 am

Tagged in: Art Intrigues

Reboot your eye…Thomas Sgorous

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. No better way to do this than seek an accomplished artist’s eye.  Thomas Sgorous had an eclectic personal collection showing that he “rebooted” his eye often.  Here a sampling of the array of works for sale from his personal collection.

From the personal collection of Thomas Sgorous (1927 – 2012)

Thomas Sgouros’ career spanned over 56 years, as a renowned illustrator and a distinguished painter of sublime watercolors and still life canvases in his later career.  Sgouros was a Professor Emeritus of the Rhode Island School of Design and recipient of numerous prestigious awards, including the Pell Award for Excellence in the Arts. Currently his work is handled by Cade Tompkins Projects in Providence.

For those who got to know Tom personally he was a very gentle, thoughtful and productive artist. His passion for his art remained consistent throughout his whole life. As with most artists Tom collected an assortment of artworks throughout his lifetime from friends and colleagues. Bert Gallery is pleased to have a number of those works for sale during the Winter Exhibition. His family wanted to place these works into the collection of other art appreciators in the community to cherish and enjoy the same way they did as children growing up surrounded by Tom’s favorites.

1. Pasquale Masiello, Washington Bridge, Oil on Canvas 30” x 36”, $850. SALE $700.

2. David Aldrich, Rock and Red and Green, Watercolor 13″ x 17″, framed $300. SALE $250.

3. Roger Pontbriand, Beach Scene, Oil on Canvas 20” x 30”, framed  $2,700. SALE $2,400.


4. Grace Albee, LEscarene 11/30, Wood Engraving, framed, $350.  SALE $275.

5. Walter Feldman, Grass, 1989, Lithograph 6″ x 6″ , unframed, Artist Proof  $40. SALE $20.

6. George Morrison, Abstraction,  Ink Paper 13” x 10”, 1959 $1,500. SALE $1,000.


Pasquale Masiello was born in Providence, Rhode Island, a son of Carlo and Angelina Masiello. He was a fine arts graduate of Rhode Island School of Design in 1935. During his college years, he spent summers in Provincetown studying painting with John R. Frazier. He travelled in Italy in 1957 and again in 1985 to paint. He settled in Attleboro where he began a 40 year career with the L.G. Balfour Company as an engraver.

His paintings and etchings have received many national awards and his works are represented in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Library of Congress in Washington, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and in many private collections.

He was a member of the Utopian Club and received a medal from this group of artisans and craftsmen. He was a lifelong member of the Providence Art Club, serving on the board of managers. He was also a member and on the board of managers of the Attleboro Museum. He twice won the Museum Prize at the Rhode Island School of Design.

This artist loved to teach, giving classes and lectures throughout New England in watercolor and etching. He died on April 7, 1987.

David Aldrich (1907 – 2002)  American watercolor painter and architect from Rhode Island.  The landscapes and city scapes that he painted were not painted with literal realism but rather with freedom and spontaneity in an attempt to capture the essence of the scene.

Alrich’s artistic career began as an architect in New York City, New York in 1933, with his uncle, Chester Holmes Aldrich, at Delano & Aldrich.  After his time in New York, he spent two years in Washington DC at the US Treasury Department.  In 1937 he became a partner in the architectural firm of Kent & Aldrich in Providence, RI.

He retained his interest in watercolor painting throughout his life, studying at the O’Hara School, the Positanto Workshop, the Rhode Island School of Design and attending figure study classes every week at the Providence Art Club, where he was a life member.

Roger Pontbriand is a recognized New England landscape painter and illustrator. Retired from his 30-year post as Associate Professor of Illustration at Rhode Island School of Design, Mr. Pontbriand spends his time painting the Outer Cape shore. Roger’s work uses color and form to move the eye into and around the canvas. With bold strokes, pulled together by pallet knife, and recognizable subject matter Pontbriand’s end result is a feast to the eye.

Roger Pontbriand (ILLUS ’59) former faculty member, passed away this February (2012).  Roger came to teach in 1961 as an Instructor in Illustration and retired as  Associate Professor in 1991. He served as Head of the Department of Illustration Studies, 1973-1977. Pontbriand was a recognized New England landscape painter and illustrator. After he retired, Pontbriand spent his time painting the Outer Cape shore.

Grace Albee (1890 -1985) Grace Albee’s wood engravings are testimony to a perceptive observer and skilled craftsman. The seasoned artist produced over two hundred prints in a sixty year career span and became noted as a keen observer of the world around her, be it a scene of Paris, elsewhere in France, Pennsylvania farm country, or the Rhode Island Sea Coast. Throughout her career she gained entry into thirty-three museum collections, membership to the National Academy of Design, and a retrospective exhibition of 93 wood engravings in 1976 at the Brooklyn Museum.

Walter Feldman (1925 – 2017) was born in 1925 in Lynn Massachusetts. After high school he became a student at the Yale School of the Fine Arts in 1942. After one semester he joined the army and served for two years in the European theatre in the infantry. He was awarded 4 battle stars, the Purple Heart and the combat infantry badge.

He reentered Yale in 1946, studied with Whilhem deKooning and Josef Albers . He received the BFA in 1950 and was awarded the Alice Kimball English Traveling Fellowship and spent the next months traveling and studying in France and Italy. He returned to Yale and received the MFA in 1951 and stayed on as Instructor of Painting for the next two years. In 1952 he received the print prize at the Metropolitan Museum of Art for his wood cut “ The Final Agony” .

In 1953 he was appointed to the art faculty at Brown University.

His work in printmaking received awards in a number of national exhibitions in 1953 ’54 and ’55. In 1957 he was awarded a senior Fulbright Fellowship and worked in painting and mosaic in Rome. In that same year he was awarded the gold medal in Milan’s “Mostra International for his self portrait. In the same year he received two major commissions: a multi color woodcut for the International Graphic Arts Society and for a series of exterior mosaic pavements for the new Temple Beth-El in Providence, Rhode Island

In 1959 he received the Childe Hassam purchase prize from the National Academy of Design and the Tonner prize from the American Color Print Society.

In 1960 he designed and executed a large exterior mosaic mural for Temple Emanu-el in Providence and was followed in 1961 with a series of seven stained glass windows in a Memorial Chapel in Providence.

He was awarded the George A. and Eliza Gardener Howard Fellowship and spent 1962 painting in Mexico where he absorbed a great deal of the pre Columbian imagery and culture. In1966 he painted a 32 panel mural for the new meeting hall of Temple Emanu-el in Providence. He was commissioned by the Gorham Silver Company to design a commemorative silver plate in 1973.

In 1976 he painted a 4,500 square foot exterior mural for the Union paper company.

His paintings during the period before and after the turn of the century were shown in numerous one man and group exhibitions in New York, Mexico City , London, Milan, and Boston. Since 1985 he has divided his time in painting and as the designer and publisher of artists’ book under the Ziggurat press imprint. His artists’ books are in over a 150 public collections including the museum of Modern Art and the Albert and Victoria Museum.

Retiring in 2007 he is now Visual Art Professor Emeritus of Brown University and continues painting and producing artists’ books .

George Morrison (1919 – 2000) From Grand Marais, Minnesota, George Morrison was an abstract-expressionist painter and sculptor, known for his wood collages and paintings inspired by Lake Superior. His focus was on texture: “I like the so-called magical surface of a painting, the marks the painter makes”. (234-Herskovik)

HIs training was in traditional art but in the late 1930s and early 1940s, he became established as an Abstract Expressionist and “for year was better known outside Native American art circles than within”. (375-Lester).

He was born on the Grand Portage Ojibwa Reservation in northern Minnesota and earned a scholarship to study commercial art in Minneapolis. He graduated from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, went to New York City to the Art Students League, and then to Paris on a Fulbright Scholarship.

For 20 years he lived in New York and also taught at the Rhode Island School of Design, but returned to Minnesota in 1970. There he founded the Indian Studies Program at the University of Minnesota and was a professor of art until 1983. After that, he moved to the North Shore of Lake Superior until his death.

He became the first artist honored with the Eiteljorg Fellowship for Native American Fine Art from the Eiteljorg Museum in Indianapolis, Indiana, and in 1992, the Tweed Museum at the University of Minnesota in Duluth and the Minnesota Museum of American Art in St. Paul gave him a retrospective exhibition. In 2003, a solo exhibition is planned at the Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian.
Marika Herskovic, Editor, “American Abstract Expressionism of the 1950s”
Jeanne Snodgrass, “American Indian Painters”
Patrick Lester, “Biographical Directory of Native American Painters”



Cathy @ 7:08 am

Tagged in: Attic Sale

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

Tagged in: Art Intrigues

Previous PageNext Page

Subscribe (RSS)