Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Theatrical Costumes

Cover of The Saturday Evening Post 1934 by the great American artist Joseph Christian Leyendecker (1874-1951).

Sure, that’s no history painting, but Leyendecker refers to that kind of history fashion, where stuffy bourgeois went dressed up as Romans. It’s kind of the same fashion that favored painters like Waterhouse or Alma-Tadelma. There are the nice costumes and the great gestures. A really nice cartoon full of Leyendecker’s cutting irony.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Fallen from Grace

Mariamne Leaving the Judgment Seat of Herod (1887) by the British painter John William Waterhouse (1849-1917).

Mariamne I was the second wife of Herod the Great. She was famous for her beauty, but because of her conflict with Salome the sister of Herod she was finally convicted and executed in 29 BC. It’s said that Herod grieved for her for many months.

Waterhouse depicts here the queen on her way to prison and the grieving king. But more than in this story he seemed to be interested in the historical details, the marble the magnificent architecture. Academic history painting is already on its way to pure decoration.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Bold Americans

Ferdinand de Soto on the banks of the Mississippi by the American artist Herbert Moore (1881-1943). This was an illustration for the book "The Men Who Found America" by Frederick Winthrop Hutchinson (1909).

The Spanish conquistador is looking on the endless waters of the Mississippi, where he should die in 1542. The vastness of the landscape and the river underlines the courage of these men, who went so far in unknown territory. And last not least the Spaniard is here claimed as one of the forefathers of the modern US-Americans.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Kind of a Goddess

Phryne at the Festival of Poseidon in Eleusin (1889) by the Polish painter Henryk Hector Siemiradzki (1843-1902). Here a print of this popular painting

Phryne was the most famous hetaera of Ancient Greece (390-330 BC) whose beauty was compared to a goddess.

Because of her lovers she was very rich and Siemiradzki shows her here with a lot of servants and admirers. For him it was a good opportunity to depict a lot of historical costumes, items and architecture with every detail. But truth be told, above all it was a possibility to paint a beautiful woman, who is posing effectively in the center.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Good Old Days

A Musical Interlude (1903) by the French artist Adolphe Alexandre Lesrel (1839-1929). Lesrel did a really good job, costumes, gowns, architecture, and furniture, all is well researched and perfectly painted. But nevertheless it demonstrates only the hollowness of academic art at the beginning of the 20th century.