Wednesday, February 10, 2010

(Too) Late History Painting

The Capture of the Pirate Blackbeard by the American painter Jean Leon Gerome Ferris (1863-1930).

How his name indicates Ferris was a great devotee of the French academic painter Jean-Léon Gérôme (1824-1904). And that illustrates the problem. Ferris worked a whole generation later when history painting in the way of Gérôme and his contemporaries has long passed by.

Despite Ferris was a good artist he is missing the cool and clear composition of the neoclassic trained Gérôme. Ferris piled up a lot of nice historical details and came out as an illustrator but without reaching the high level of his great compatriots Howard Pyle, N.C. Wyeth, or Frank Schoonover who discovered new methods for the interpretation of history.

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