The Generals, John Singer Sargent, 1922

“I just don’t get it guys, why do we keep losing?”

IMG_0345

Source and appropriate epic size, it’s at the National Portrait Gallery in London.

Said Sargent, while working on it:

the Generals loom before me like a nightmare… I curse God and man for having weakly said I would do them, for I have no ideas about it and I foresee a horrible failure

 

 


When Will You Marry?

when-will-you-marry

What a title for a painting.  Heard of this Gaugin painting in an article about Qatar’s art scene.  Reportedly some Qataris bought it for $300 mill.  Says Wiki, back in 1893:

Gauguin placed this painting on consignment at the exhibition at a price of 1,500 francs, the highest price he assigned and shared by only one other painting, but had no takers.

Gaugin didn’t always crush it with his titles (Study of A Nude, etc) but sometimes he nailed it.  Here is Where Are You Going?

where-are-you-going

(sometimes less interestingly called Woman Holding A Fruit)

Of course best of all, Where Do We Come From?  What Are We?  Where Are We Going? at the good ol’ Boston MFA.

where-do-we-come-from

Charles Morice (fr) two years later tried to raise a public subscription to purchase the painting for the nation. To assist this endeavour, Gauguin wrote a detailed description of the work concluding with the messianic remark that he spoke in parables: “Seeing they see not, hearing they hear not”. The subscription nevertheless failed.

You can read about Geoff Dyer’s frustrating experiences with these paintings and Gaugin and Tahiti in:

white-sands

I was bummed I missed that dude at the Melbourne Writers’ Festival, bet we could’ve had some laughs.


You just can’t beat the Natural History Museum

IMG_4189 IMG_4190 IMG_4187


Leadership Shirt

Yeah, I’ll say!

That’s today’s Artwork Of The Day.

Going through my closet to determine which are my leadership shirts.


Doesn’t this look like Garry Shandling?

The Metropolitan Museum has five portraits that they’re pretty sure are by Hans Holbein The Younger.  Let’s have a look:

Here is Derick Berck of Cologne:

Here is Erasmus of Rotterdam:

Here is a member of the Wedigh family, probably Hermann von Wedigh:

“Truth breeds hatred,” is what that note in the book says, according to the Met, which “perhaps served as the sitter’s personal motto.”  Weird motto, bro.

And here is Man In A Red Cap:

Now.  Take a look at this one, of “Lady Lee”:

The Met says “The painting is close to the manner of Holbein, but the attention paid to decorative effects and linear details at the expense of life-like portrayal of the sitter is indicative of workshop production. The portrait was likely based on a Holbein drawing.”

(Are these guys for real?)


Avenue at Middelharnis by Meindert Hobbema

I can’t recall how I got my hands on the postcard – perhaps a teacher gave it to me – but it showed one of the seminal paintings of world art, the one that opened the eyes of European painters to the realities of landscape painting.  It bore a name that enchanted me, and from the first moment I saw it, it has been enshrined in my memory, to be recalled whenever I chance to see a row of fine trees leading down a country lane.  The Avenue at Middelharnis, by the Dutch painter Meindert Hobbema (1638-1709) seems at first to simplicity itself – it is a perfectly flat landscape with minute distant building showing and down the dead middle of the canvas runs a dirt road flanked on either side by a row of very tall, scraggly trees of almost repugnant form, totally bare of limbs for 90 percent of their height but topped by misshapen crowns of small, heavy branches.  It would seem as if almost anyone could paint a better picture than this, but if it commanded my attention and affection at age seven, so also did it captivate the artistic world; it proved that noble landscape painting could be achieved by using simple color, simple design and straightforward execution.  People who love painting love Avenue, Middelharnis, and I am pleased to say that as a child I made that discover on my own.

So says:

World Is My Home

(that one’s at the National Gallery of London)


Watson And The Shark (1778), John Singleton Copley

At his death, Watson bequeathed the 1778 painting to Christ’s Hospital, with the hope that it would prove “a most usefull Lesson to Youth”.

Little did I know that the MFA version, which proved so useful to me in my own youth, was “a replica Copley made for himself.”

Not to worry, Brook Watson survived the attack depicted, and grew into this happy fellow:

Says the great Wiki article:

A verse penned by one of Watson’s political enemies poked fun at his ordeal (and perhaps at his abilities):

Oh! Had the monster, who for breakfast ate
That luckless limb, his noblest noddle met,
The best of workmen, nor the best of wood,
Had scarce supply’d him with a head so good.

Now, what does this have to do with the previous post? :

Three years later [Watson] was sent to supervise the expulsion of the Acadians from the Baie Verte area.

That’s in Havana harbor, btw.