Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Again: Help requested

Reader Lorens first request (june 7th) for help and identifying the maker of the charming woodblock print was solved within two weeks by reader Tine. Thank you Tine.

The maker, identified by the monogram used, was American illustrator and long time contributor the the Saterday Evening Post: Moses Lawrence Blumenthal (1879-1955) See:

Today she sends two more prints for sharing and she hopes to reveal the identity maker of one of the two prints she acquired recently. The above is by Russian artist Angelika Moltschanova (Молчанова, Ангелика). I tried but failed to find any data on this artist in the Internet. And in the same lot was: 

It's 6" x 4" and most probably also Russian, circa 1960's. If you have any ideas or clues please leave your comment or email me.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Mount Fuji, painting on silk

Mount Fuji view.

I have no idea how and when this large (60 x 70cm.) Japanese painting on silk came to the low countries. Nor have I any idea when it was painted and by whom. It was framed with an expensive frame in the-Hague, Netherlands, by framer Johan Jacob Schraag esth. Hofspui 10. It must have fallen out of grace because I stumbled over it recently, neglected and covered in dust and dirt, and couldn't resist adopting it.   
Taking it out of the frame and removing the matt for cleaning I discovered the colours have faded considerably and there's a stain in the centre. It must have been a spectacular picture once. I wonder if the fading could be restored and also if such an entreprise would be worth while. 

I couldn’t find anything resembling Googling. But there are a few things to tell about the scene, its’ location and the traditional small sailing boat from contemporary photogravures, Japanese watercolour paintings and woodblock prints. 
Mount Fuji as seen from Tagoura Harbour in Shizouka province in an old hand coloured photographure. This junk probably a larger (sea-going ?) type of sailing ship.

Above three watercolor paintings 1900-1930 with similar views and identical  small sailing ships.  
Photogravures: "Mount Fuji from Numagawa (?) along Tokaido" by Italian early photographer Adolpho Farsari (1841-1898) see here* for Yokohama Shashin and the process of Japanese hand colouring early photographures. 
Photographs sometimes were mirrored (I discovered) for postcard editions and the one below, according to the silhouette of Mt Fuji seems to have been taken on the other side of Mt. Fuji. Because of the possible mirroring effect (Mt. Fuji 's cone isn't symetyrical) however, I cannot be sure (below view from the Fuji river).  

Woodblock prints by Hasui Kawasa (1883-1957) and Hiroshige (1797-1958)
and Konen Uehara (1878-1940) (Compare the asymetry  to the postcard above !)

PS: don't try to do what I did. Improving the faded areas. The very very thin silk mesh is painted/dyed before it is attached to a cotton backing cloth. Any attempt to add pigment seeping through the mesh and colouring the white underlying cotton. Also the condition of silk has deteriorated so much due to UV-light it disintegrates almost while looking at it. Let alone when you touch it. In the end it proved to be an hopeless endeavor. For an amateur. So: lessons learned.     

All pictures (mouse-clickable to embiggen) borrowed freely from the Internet for friendly educational and non commercial use only. 

Friday, 14 June 2013

Psamathe, a Nereid and goddess of sandy beaches


A Nereid, goddess of sandy beaches 
Daughter of Nereus and Doris
Wife of Proteus
Mother of Phocis 

This painting, below, by Norwegian Axel Hjalmar Ender (1853-1920) recently crossed my path finding it in an old on-line auction catalogue: "Kvinne på strand": woman at the beach. Ender painted her after a lifetime of painting Norwegian folklore and landscapes in 1918, at the end of his life. His late in life encounter with a sea nymph (because that is obviously the case) his finest. But that is my humble opinion as I have a fascination for nymphs. 
It made me think, not only because of the beautiful bathing goddess (the english queen is derived from kvinne), but  because of it's soft colors, of Sir Frederic Leighton's (1830-1896) painting of the sea nymph Psamathe. In ancient greece lived celestial nymphs, earth and land nymphs, freshwater, saltwater, beach, river (Naiades), waterfall and spring nymphs. And many more. What a wonderful world. 

Psamathe is a Nereid, a sea nymph and even more specifically the nymph of the sandy beaches (Psammos = sand, Theia = goddess). According to Greeck mythology there were 50(!) of them, the Nereids, sisters, all daughters of Nereus and Doris. Sir Frederic obviously shared my fascination and seems to have known the Nereid family well because he painted her sister  Actaea too. 

Actaea (above by Leighton) was the goddess of the shores and their sister Thetis (and leader of the Nereids) was the mother of Achilles. Nereids had the powers to change into different creatures like seals and dolphins.
Another encounter with one of the 50 sisters by Canadian (and Academie Julian student) Randolph Stanley Hewton (1888-1960). He painted her in 1920.

Father Nereus was a god of the oceans, son of Pontis and Gaia (earth) and mother Doris daughter of Oceanis and Thetys. Greek mythology isn't easy. There are interfering older and newer worlds of gods and there were many promiscuous, often incestuous, relationships between members of both worlds. With countless descendants. 
French pré-Raphaelite painter Gaston Bussiere (1862-1928) also had visions of the Nereid world, who according to some sources had blue hair. 

Psamathe was married to Proteus, the old seal herder of Poseidon, but bore a son she named Phocis (seal) to king Aeacus who'd ambushed and raped her on the beach although disguised as a seal she tried, but failed, to escape the amorous attack. I wonder if Aeacus, sick with passion, noticed. 

The legend of the Selkie, the seal woman, in Northern parts of Europe (Scotland, Scandinavia and even among the Inuit) however seems to have evolved independently, maybe referring to early Scots marrying Norwegian and Finnish women arriving in sealskin kayaks.        

All pictures borrowed freely from the Internet for friendly, educational and non commercial use only.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Jacob Mooij, Dutch printmaker in Harderwijk

Jacob Mooij
Dutch woodblock printmaker, publisher and
 printing press owner.

I first stumbled over this forgotten and hardly known Dutch printmaker when I saw (but missed) this large print of a Utrecht alley in a local auction site. Only recently I found another one, a picturesque scene in one of the oldest (esth. 1648 and today former) University cities of the Netherlands, the fishing port of Harderwijk. Before the Zuiderzee was closed by the Afsluitdijk in 1933.  In the 18th century Harderwijk was also nicknamed the Athens of Gelderland (province). Carl Lineaus, the Danish botanist studied here in 1735. It is also located on the edge of the Dutch Bible belt.

Usually the old Lighthouse and gate in one of the remaining towers and gate to the walled medieval city, is the subject of numerous works of art: it’s as iconic as the Martini tower in Groningen and the Waterpoort in Sneek. Right: the old Lighthouse by Cees Bolding (1897-1979) one of the finest Dutch painters and printmakers. 

Jacob Mooij was born as the son of the evangelist Arend Mooij who stayed and preached in several Dutch and Belgian cities, married a girl from province Zeeland and  did what the Bible ordered him to do: create a large family. Jacob started a publishing and printing  business in Harderwijk with his brother Herman Willem (1872-1932) while another brother, Maarten, also preached the gospel like his father and uncles before him.

Paradijspoortje ("Gate to paradise") in Harderwijk: wood/linoblock by Jacob Mooij, etching by Herman J. Ansingh (1880-1957) and woodblock by Arie van der Boon (1886-1961)
and an oil painting by David Schulman (1881-1966)

In Harderwijk he will have met Henri Wils (1892-1967) the  interned Belgian printmaker who’d fled, with tens of thousands of compatriots, the siege of Antwerp in 1914. From Wils, who was a student of Eduard Pellens (1872-1947) in Antwerp (Emile Verpilleux (1888-1964) also was) Jacob Mooij learned the art of woodblock printing. Jacob married Geertje Visser in 1915 and both men later (around 1922) moved to Rotterdam were Jacob started a printing press and Wils a career as a printmaker and books illustrator.

Harderwijk Old Lighthouse and Vispoort (Fish-gate): by Henri Wils, postcard, Herman (H.J.) Ansingh, Wijnand Otto Jan Nieuwenkamp (1884-1950) and Louis Haver (1906-1969)
The influence of Pellens (who had been a student of August Lepère (1849-1918) in Paris and one of the founding fathers of Modern printmaking) is unmistakenly evident in all Wils’ prints. Wils never excelled, never changed from the stiff city views and sticked to his style using just two or three blocks and creating recognizable, framable and affordable wall decorations. For a generation of Dutch city bourgois. 
Antwerpen by Henri Wils and his teacher professor Eduard Pellens.

Wils was a bread and butter printmaker and he had his prints printed mechanically at the printing press of his (former) employers, the publisher and printing press of Kok in nearby Kampen. Wils when living in Harderwijk will have without a doubt had knowledge of the printing and publishing activities of the Mooij brothers. Henri Wils and his legacy in print will feature in an upcoming posting (ending the Antwerp School of Printmaking postings)    

The influence of Wils is evident in Mooij who, I believe, eventually proved to be far more creative and artistic then his master using more color blocks and guiding a much freer hand cutting the linoleum. And of course he decided to pull his prints by hand. Hopefully more prints by Mooij will surface in future.

All pictures borrowed freely from the Internet for friendly, educational and non commercial use only.
All pictures are mouse-clickable to embiggen.

Friday, 7 June 2013

Help requested

Today reader Loren in America asks the help of readers and visitors and  passers-by to identify her newly acquired woodblock print by a possibly Belgian (or French) printmaker.  The Monogram could read JvR or JvB (JNB ?) Any suggestions are much welcomed.

There's a label on the back reading: Ernest Fox,  Maison A. Defrene Successeur. The (British ?) frame maker who probably bought the mirror and framing entreprise (and name)  from A. Defresne in the Rue de Vallon in Brussels. 

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Hendrik Christiaan Spruit: new find

Sharing my latest discovery today here's Hendrik Christiaan Spruit (1881-1842) and "the Seven Willows" linoleum etching. 

See here* for the April article on H.C. Spruit in this Blog.