I spend far too much time sifting through on-line art galleries and images. We have unprecedented access to these things as never before in history. I recommend, for your sanity, take a little time to use these resources and exit from the world of sensational news and other half-cocked garbage spewed out by the electronic ton.
Aloïs Boudry (12 August 1851, Ypres – 27 November 1938, Antwerp) was a Belgian painter known for his portraits, still lifes, and interiors. Click for larger image.
The Dutch (or in this case Belgian-born) masters are not a bad place to start for some relatively recent history. Honestly, this is not a favorite of mine but I really love the interactive ladies. Okay, I’m really in it for the packbasket. These images, showing the way people actually lived, take me back in time.
Anthelme Trimolet (Anthelme Claude Honoré Trimolet, born 8 May 1798, Lyon – died 17 December 1866, Lyon) from the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon.
I have stared at this painting for quite some time. There is a lot to unpack from this one if you have any interest in hand tools. This image is of a very organized workshop of a master craftsman plying his trade in the early 19th century. I feel he is consulting with a client about a commission they are undertaking and discussing the finer details. Click the image for a larger version and enjoy.
Here is a painting by the Scottish artist John Burr (1831-1893) of an itinerant fiddler playing for a family in a Scottish lane probably trying to make enough money to eat or maybe even receive some food for his entertainment. I can’t help but think the father looking out has a skeptical look; possibly wondering what this will cost in the end.
Music and storytelling were a very different commodity in an age of widespread illiteracy and 24 hour media. It’s hard to even imagine a time when all music was handmade and intimate and not an item to be mass marketed.
By Léon François Comerre, French Academic School. I think this familiar looking instrument comes from Africa via the Arabic world and is generally called a tanbūr. A sort of distant uncle to the modern banjo, America’s African instrument.
My strange tendency, as an art-admirer, is to sometimes over-analyze a painting, not only as the Art itself, but also as a documentation of time and place. In historical paintings, it’s fun to look for the details and pick up some lost history along the way. There may be interesting clues in what the artist chose to depict … or not.
By William Sidney Mount.
Anybody else notice the left-handed set-up? Makes me wonder if the artist or model didn’t know the violin well. Although I expect it would be rare, I think it’s just possible a self-taught individual might learn this way. It’s a great picture and study but looks like a mirror image if you are intimate with the violin. Maybe the clue is in the title Left and Right.
This got me thinking about another of his excellent works, The Banjo Player. I had to look again but I seemed to recall it as a lefty too. And sure enough, a lefty.
The Banjo Player
The Sweeney style banjo strikes me as legitimately left-handed as the drone string is reversed. As a folk instrument it’s easier for me to imagine some variety in design and setup. But really, there’s not much point in this discussion other than some odd notes about two paintings I’ve thought about for some time now. If his art appeals to you, a lot more can be found by clicking the self portrait of Mount below.
The Blind Fiddler 1806 Sir David Wilkie 1785-1841, Tate Gallery Collection.
“An itinerant fiddler is playing for a humble country family. David Wilkie focuses on the listeners’ different expressions. Only two people seem to respond to the music: the baby and the boy on the right, who is imitating the fiddler by playing the bellows.When this picture was exhibited at the Royal Academy some critics thought the bust on the shelf represented a dissenting minister, and concluded that the family were nonconformists. The power of music to stir the passions of those supposedly suspicious of pleasure was thought to add to the painting’s subtlety.” From the Tate website 2007.
So many historic details in this painting: basket, copper work, cookware, walking stick, spinning wheel, stools, hats, dog, pipe, key, cup, and shovel. A snapshot of late 18th – early 19th century rural life.
Comrades, the 42nd Highlanders (copy of a lost earlier painting by the artist) 1894, by Robert Gibb.
This image is extremely moving and poignant. The scene is of the 42nd Regiment of Foot (later called the Black Watch), during the Crimean War winter campaign of 1854-1855. The dying man on the ground is whispering his dying words to the man propping him up while the third stands over them. The image is said to have been inspired by reading a book on Napoleon’s retreat from Moscow and adapted to a more familiar British theme. This remarkable snapshot of 19th century history hangs in the Black Watch Museum, Balhousie Castle in Perth, Scotland .
Bonjour, Monsieur Courbet, 1854. Self portrait by Gustave Courbet (right). The Realist style here is a bit stiff for my taste but this is a fine image for 19th century clothing. Nice walking staff too.
I like everything about this painting. Eduard Charlemont is an easy one to spot. Generally, his subjects are flamboyantly dressed, generally holding a drink, and often have a musical instrument; even if it’s just a drum. I think I’m ready to be this guy. And note the excellent little tusk-tenon bench.