Sunday, 27 May 2012

Elisabeth Sawyer-Norton, some more prints

Elisabeth Sawyer-Norton
American painter, printmaker and sculptor.

(Continuing and updating from november 2010)

In november 2010 I showed the wonderful woodblocks by Elisabeth Norton on the Linosaurus. After a short break in Blogwriting and the sending of the cockatoos print by follower and reader Shaun from Lincolnshire last week this is a good opportunity showing some more newly discovered examples of her prints that have turned up over the last 18 months. 

Many of these new prints I found at Richard C. Frey Fine Arts  California (US)

The Cockatoos were shown in an auction sale announcement together with this "watering cattle (Pesos?)" print. It's not by Elisabeth Norton and I request the help of readers to identify the monogram in the cartouche or possibly the artist. (It could read "To Max, loving Thea").  

Friday, 11 May 2012

Johannes ten Klooster: modest printmaker

Johannes Frederik Engelbert 
ten Klooster

(Java 1873 - 1940 Veere)

Royal Dutch Indies officer,
painter and graphic artist.

Are you in for a treat ?  Today I'll present to you my most recent encounter in the world of printmaking. I had seen one or two examples of ten Kloosters' printmaking skills before. In the 1927 Studio and Malcolm Salamans “Art of the Woodcut, Masterworks from the 1920’s” for example. In it Salaman writes highly of the quality of his prints. And in 2007 ten_Klooster was awarded an exhibition in the Tropen Museum in Leiden, Netherlands. I missed it, but today I share a selection of his finest prints. Click all pictures to embiggen. 
Born from a Dutch father and a Javanese-Chinese mother in Java,  Netherlands Indie (Indonesia) Johannes ten_Klooster followed a military education and career in Sumatra and later in what is now called Irian Jaya, In those days the province of Papua.
Retiring in 1918, at 45, and moving to the historical town of Veere, Zealand, in the land of ancestors, the Netherlands, he started a new career as an artist. On leave in 1907 in the Netherlands he had received painting lessons from Dutch painter Willem Adriaan Konijnenburg (1868-1943). And painting he did between 1907 and 1918 in Papua. Some of his best paintings were made there on location.
But most of his paintings and woodcuts of tropical scenery, exotic people, dancers and fishermen, were created in the Netherlands either from memory or from sketches he had made earlier. All the more remarkable.
He developed very much his own style and was invited (only the most prominent artists were) creating this cover for “Wendingen” in 1928. In its days the most prestigious Dutch art Magazine (above).
Hendrik Willem van Loon (1882-1944) a Cornell professor, (American  citizen in 1919) journalist and between the great Wars America’s most famous Dutchman was ten_Klooster’s neighbour in Veere between 1927-1932. Himself a writer, publicist and illustrator he also spoke very highly of ten_Kloosters Asian modesty, his originality, craftsmanship and artistic talents in the July 1930 volume of the Forum magazine (the magazine was ended 1930).
The reason why so little of his work is seen in public probably is because most of it is kept hidden in museum collections all over the world. I found several in the British Museum but also in Australia, New-Zealand and the City of the Hague Museum (Haags Gemeente Museum). 
North Sea storm over Veere, Zeeland provice, Netherlands 
And the Tropen Museum holds some 30 of his prints. Together with the 2007 exhibition a book was published with an index to the 178 (!) woodcuts he produced between 1918 and 1940. Van Loon brought some to the USA in the 1930's as he proudly states in his Forum article.
Although the signature is faded beyond recognition I’m now convinced my 1922 resting tiger print (read here) wich I discovered last year is also by Johannes ten Klooster. I’ve already found an affordable copy of the book and will let you know soonest.

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Friday, 4 May 2012

Pissing at the moon

Finding a bunch of old sketchbook drawings in a local car boot by Dutch landscape and cow painter Gerrit Stegeman (1858-1940) unexpectedly lead to a semi-academic exercise in Internet exploring and research.

Preparing and training undergraduate students investigating the origin of statements, “facts” and quotations is the accepted way learning how to write academically reliable papers and theses later. Following the footsteps of history and footnotes of publications the library and, in modern days, the Internet is their excavation field.
In their wake I decided to follow this exercise in the case of Stegemans wonderful sketch of a pissing cow. Stegeman, a schoolmaster’s son, born and raised in the country probably just sketched “a pissing cow”. But unknowingly revived and followed in the footsteps of the Great Masters from two centuries before. Living in rural and dairy country Friesland, pissing cattle are of course an everyday sight but maybe not necessarily so for modern city dwellers. So, let's go out and tour around a bit.
The source of this theme, tracing the first (my investigations not reaching as far back as the Romans who had less of a problem with the calls of nature) may have been Paulus Potter’s (1625-1654) pissing cow. His famous original copied, mirrored and immitated many times by many artists. Most of them engravers/etchers, and their work often wrongly attributed.
Another probable original source could be Nicolaes Pietersz. Berchem (1620-1683) an equally famous painter and etcher of cattle and contemporary of Potter. Most of their work is now in the collections of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.  Including the pissing sheep and goats by Berchem. With Potter and Karel Dujardin (1625-1678) they were the great Italian style Dutch landscape artists of the 17th century. 
Just "mouse-click" and see the often incredible details in these miniature gems.

Just before, in 1619, the iconic statue of Menneken Pis by Hieronymus Duquesnoy was created in commission of the city council of Brussels after an earlier 14th century example. Since a decade or two it has a little sister: Jenneken Pis.

About the same time in Italy Guido Reni (1575-1642) painted his pissing wine drinking cherub with much humor: notice the leaking wine barrel.

Probably the earliest example besides this statue of a Roman farting actor from the 1th century AD I found was the squatting peasant (below) by Jacques Callot (1592-1635).  

Adriaen van Ostade (1610-1685) was an original too, and like Potters bovine equivalent had many later followers and copiers of his burlesque pissing drinker. Like Bernhard Scheuder (1748-1780) and the one attributed to the circle of van Ostade (below)

Rembrandt (1606-1669), always trying something new, showed his fascination for the ordinary and the basic human needs by showing old and young and both sexes in natural poses. He did them probably later in life.
I guess they were both popular and controversial in their days. But maybe they are considered even more controversial in ours. They are hardly seen or discussed.  
Pissing horses: if you've ever seen a horse watering you know were the saying comes from. No wonder artists were drawn showing them. Very powerfull and imaginative stuff. I found a good many, these a selection. Typical: almost if not all shown are male horses in contrast to the female cows, yews and goats. 
Jan van Aken (1614-1661)

Jan Peeter Verdussen (1700-1763) and Dirk Langendijk (1748-1805)

Pedro Nunez de Villavincenzio (1640-1710) made one of the few(?) oil paintings showing pissing cattle I could find:
Arthur Boris Klein (1893-1985) as a Russian in Paris became world famous for his hilarious, instantly and insanely popular etchings of Paris' pissing dogs in the 1960’s. Still (or again?) affordable and very collectable. They even hang in my old mothers hall way drawing smiles from every visitor even in 2012.

Thomas Bewick’s (1753-1828) example of a pissing dog: nonchalant and sketched to the life. 200 years old and actual and fresh like a 2012 comic cartoon. 

And the youngest example, although "hors concours" I found was so hilarious I couldn’t possibly withhold. All you need is a pencil and two dead flies. Plus a creative mind a dull moment and a somewhat different sense of humor.  
Well, speaking of humor: if I offended you in any way with this posting's pictures (how did you get as far as this I might ask) please keep in mind father and son Brueghel, Pieter the elder (1525-1569)

and Pieter the younger (1564-1636), both saw the humorous side of pissing. Their pissing at the moon making me smile even after 450 years !

See an update of this posting (june 3th)  here *