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 21, 2018

In a fractured light - male portraits by Glyn Philpot

Head of a Man, 1919.
Portrait of Frank Schurtes.
Head of Negro, Heroic scale (Henry Thomas), 1937.
Man in Black (Robert Allerton), 1913.
Martyn Coleman, 1936.
Man in White, 1933.
Balthazar (Henry Thomas), 1929.
Sadly, I was unable to find a larger image of this remarkable painting.
Head of a Man, circa 1924.
Portrait of a Young Man, circa 1920.
Portrait of a Black Youth, Seated Half Length, Wearing a Pullover.
Italian Soldier No.2, circa 1918.
Portrait of Glen Byam Shaw as Laertes, 1934-5.
Black Man and Hibiscus (Henry Thomas), 1932.
André Eglevsky (dancer), 1937.
A Young Breton, 1917.
Portrait of a Young Man.
Head of a Negro (Henry Thomas), circa 1935.
Portrait of a Man in Black.
Head of a Young Man Seen in Profile.
Siegfried Sassoon, 1917.
Patrick Buchan-Hepburn, Lord Hailes, 1934.
Portrait of Henry Thomas.
Study of a Young Man.
The Skyscraper, 1916.
Frank Coombs, 1930.
Portrait of a Young Man.
Italian Soldier, 1922.

And, lastly, these two. From 1931-2, portraits of Julien Zaire - aka "Tom Whiskey - from Martinique, a performer at the Tegada nightclub in Paris. I think both of these are quite marvelous, and I wish I could find out more information on the sitter.


Self-Portrait, 1908.

Glyn Warren Philpot, RA (5 October 1884, London – 16 December 1937), English painter and sculptor. Born in the Clapham district of London - though his family moved to Kent shortly afterwards - he studied at the Lambeth School of Art - now known as City and Guilds of London Art School - and at the Académie Julian in Paris. He first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1904 and was elected to that establishment in 1923. A member of the International Society from 1913, the same year he was awarded the gold medal at the Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh, he went on to make a comfortable living through portraiture, which enabled him to travel and to become known for his generosity to other artists. Philpot had converted to Catholicism at an early age, but he didn't appear to be overly troubled by his own homosexuality. In the early Thirties, he suddenly and rather radically changed his painting style, developing a much looser technique, a lighter palette. His narrowing subject matter - predominantly male nudes and portraits of young men, portraits of young black men - was also a clearer expression of his sexuality. Two of his more ambitious pieces were considered too controversial in this regard and were withdrawn from the Royal Academy.The resulting scandal hurt his career and caused some financial hardship, but he eventually recovered, showing frequently and successfully at the end of his life. Always known as a charming and amiable individual, he was nevertheless engaged for over a decade in what appears to have been a fairly toxic relationship with the unstable painter Vivian Forbes. Philpot died of a stroke at the age of fifty-three. Forbes took sleeping pills and committed suicide the day after Philpot's funeral.

Vivian Forbes, 1934.

Friday, January 19, 2018

The artist's wife - Pauline Charlotte Bendemann, by Julius Hübner, 1829.

I love this portrait, painted right before or right after the artist and his dear model wed. She's a lovely woman, the faithfully rapt dog is charming, the textures are wonderfully described and luxurious, and the details are both beautiful and a bit odd - the silver and conch shell flower pot, especially. Her artfully unnatural pose, the strong, unchecked diagonal formed by the background drapery and the golden lining of her sleeves, and the disorienting ripple and turning of the carpet add a tension to the composition, unexpected in what otherwise might be a straightforward record of the artist's beautiful beloved. But it's the color that really attracts me to this work: that glorious swathe of red damask; the green-blue, the tone shifting slightly as it moves into shadow; the subtle contrast of gold; and the carpet's reference of all three dominant colors. So wonderfully calculated and harmonious.


Preparatory sketch by the artist, 1828.

Rudolf Julius Benno Hübner (27 January 1806, Oels, Silesia (now Poland) – 7 November 1882, Loschwitz, Dresden), German historical painter of the Düsseldorf school of painting. He was also known as a poet and as the father of classical scholar Emil Hübner. Born in Silesia, orphaned by the age of eleven, at the age of fifteen he was admitted to the Königliche Kunstakademie in Berlin, and two years later he joined the studio of the painter Wilhelm von Schadow, moving with other of Schadow's students to Düsseldorf in 1826. In 1829 he married Pauline Bendemann, the sister of the painter Eduard Bendemann, and the couple left on a long journey to Italy; their first child was born in Rome. They went on to have eight children, though three would predecease them. He became a member of the Akademie der Künste Berlin in 1832, but the family resided for the most part in Düsseldorf until 1839 when they settled at Dresden, Hübner becoming a professor in the Königlichen Kunstakademie Dresden in 1841. After their move to Dresden, the couple became very close friends with Clara and Robert Schumann. (And they remained so after the Schumanns moved away; decades later, the painter would take over care and custody of the Schumann's son Ludwig, who suffered from mental illness like his father, and Clara Schumann's very last composition was dedicated to the Hübners.) He won a gold medal at the Brussels Exhibition in 1851 and was made director of the Dresdener Gemäldegalerie in 1871. He died in Dresden at the age of seventy-six; Pauline would live another thirteen years.

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.