Thursday, 21 February 2013

Alte Pinakothek in Munich – Part 2

This is the second article on my visit last year to the Alte Pinakothek in Munich (see Alte Pinakothek in Munich – Part 1).

I will start with my favourite painting in the whole museum: a self-portrait by Rembrandt.

Rembrandt (Harmensz. van Rijn)

Self-Portrait (1629) by Rembrandt (Harmensz. van Rijn) (1606-1669) Oil on oak (15,6 x 12,7 cm)

Why is this portrait my favourite painting in the museum? I saw in books some reproductions of this work, but they don’t do justice to the original. This self-portrait of Rembrandt at the age of 23 is really small (15,6 cm x 12,7 cm). The size was a surprise. The painting technique as well as the way the artist depicted himself are remarkable. The half-profile looks relaxed, with the mouth half open and the dark eyes. The light is soft and the eyes hide in the shadow. The feeling is different to the many later self-portraits.

In term of technique, Rembrandt used glazing, impasto for the collar and sgrafitto for the curled hair. The treatment has the delicacy of soft pastel.

Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640)

I am not a big fan of Rubens’ monumental canvasses: too many figures, to much rounded figures, to much muscle. Everything is exagerated. Compositions are elaborate, but also very busy.

Lion Hunt (Ca. 1621) by Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640)

Oil sketch for the Lion Hunt by Peter Paul Rubens. Oak, 44 x 50 cm

I much prefer the oil sketch to the finished painting. Not only this sketch informs us on the artist's creative process, but it is more spontaneous that the huge canvas painted from it. And not everything is said: for me, the focus on a few elements makes this sketch more effective than the finished work.

Hippopotamus and Crocodile Hunt by Rubens

François Boucher (1703-1770)

François Boucher was French painter, draughtsman and engraver born in Paris in 1703. In 1765, he became the director of the Royal Academy in Paris, and "peintre du Roi" (the king’s official painter). He died in Paris in 1770.

Portrait of the Marquise de Pompadour (1756) Canvas, 201 x 157 cm - On permanent loan from the HypoVereinsbank, Member of UniCredit.

Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson (Marquise de Pompadour) became the mistress of Louis XV and reached an elevated position at court. On February 7, 1756 she became the queen's lady-in-waiting (dame du palais). This painting by Boucher was made for thie occasion.

Francisco de Zurbarán y Salazar (1598-1664)

Zurbarán was a Spanish painter, born in 1598 in Fuente de Cantos, Estremadura. He painted mainly religious subjects for monasteries in Seville and in Guadelupe. He also worked for the king Philip IV of Spain. He died in Madrid in 1664.

Saint Francis by Francisco Zurbaran

Bartolomé Estéban Murillo (1618-1682)

I remember the painting “Beggar Boys Eating Grapes and Melon” from my school’s Spanish lessons. A reproduction of this painting featured as an illustration to a poem.

Beggar Boys Eating Grapes and Melon (Ca. 1650) by Bartolomé Estéban Murillo (1618-1682) - Canvas, 145,9 x 103,6 cm - Probably acquired in 1698 by Duke Max Emanuel

What I did not realised is that Murillo painted a series of these scenes. Murillo's other Munich genre paintings were executed thirty years after "Beggar Boys Eating Grapes and Melon".

Beggar Boys Playing Dice (Ca. 1675) by Bartolomé Estéban Murillo (1618-1682) - Canvas, 146 x 108,5 cm - Acquired in 1698 by Duke Max Emanuel

Children eating a pie by Bartolomé Estéban Murillo (1618-1682)


Young Spanish Gentleman by Diego Rodriguez de Silva y Velázquez - Canvas, 89,2 x 69,5 cm. Acquired in 1694 for the Düsseldorf Gallery

Young Spanish Gentleman by Diego Rodriguez de Silva y Velázquez (detail)

It's not clear to me whether the artist couldnot finish the painting or decided not to detail the hand so that the viewer would concentrate on the face.

Claude Lorrain (Claude Gellée) (1600-1682)

Claude Gellée, known as Claude Lorrain, was a French landscape painter and engraver, born in 1600 in Chamagne in Lorraine (hence his artist name “Lorrain”).

A seaport at sunrise by Claude Lorrain (Claude Gellée) (1600-1682)

Ferdinand Bol

Portrait of a gentleman by Ferdinand Bol

When I first saw this painting, I thought it was a Rembrandt… but I was wrong

The museum

Alte Pinakothek
Barer Straße 27
Eingang Theresienstraße
80333 München

Web site

Monday, 18 February 2013

Alte Pinakothek in Munich – Part 1

There are three Pinakothek museums in Munich, covering different art periods. The “Alte Pinakothek” covers the earlier period.

Sandro Botticelli

Lamentation of Christ (Ca. 1490) by Sandro Botticelli (1445-1510). Tempera on Wood panel, 140 x 207 cm

Sandro Botticelli was a painter from Florence. He studied with Fra Filippo Lippi. His most famous painting is the Birth of Venus, but this is a more somber theme and treatment. Lamentation of Christ was commissioned for the Pauline monastery in Florence.

Leonardo da Vinci

Virgin and Child (Ca. 1473) by Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) – Oil on wood (62 x 47,5 cm)

Leonardo da Vinci, another great name from Florence, was young when he created this painting. Leonardo worked as pupil in the studio of Andrea del Verrocchio.

Albrecht Dürer

Self-Portrait with Fur-Trimmed Robe (1500) by Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528) Oil on limewood, (67,1 x 48,9 cm)

Dürer painted this self-portrait when he was 28 years old. This is the first portrait known done this way: a full frontal view with no objects around the subject. He looks like a representation of Christ. The Latin inscription on the painting reads: "Thus I, Albrecht Dürer from Nuremberg, portrayed myself with characteristic colors in my 28th year."

Hans Holbein

St. Sebastian Altar; Central panel: Martyrdom of St. Sebastian (1516) by Hans Holbein d. Ä. (1465-1524)

Acquired in 1809 from the Jesuit church of St. Saviour in Augsburg, in the process of secularization.

Albrecht Altdorfer
Albrecht Altdorfer (1482-1538) was a German painter, engraver, designer of woodcuts and architect. Born around 1482, probably in Regensburg (Ratisbon).

Susanna and the Elders (1526) by Albrecht Altdorfer (1482-1538). Oil on Limewood, 74,8 x 61,2 cm

This is an amazingly detailed painting with many intricate details. It depicts of a biblical story from Daniel 13. The different scenes of the story are on the same canvas. A sketch of the work exists in Düsseldorf.

Raphael was born in 1483 in Urbino. After training with his father Giovanni Santi, he became an assistant to Perugino in Perugia. In Florence, he studied in the workshop of Fra Bartolommeo, Leonardo and Michelang

The Canigiani Holy Family (Ca. 1505/06) by Raphael (1483-1520) - Oil on Poplar, (131 x 107 cm)

The Canigiani Holy Family (details)

Raphael used a pyramidal composition for the figures of the Holy family. The triangle figure works both as a visual unifier and as the symbol of the Holy Trinity. The relationship between the figures is interesting and creates some mouvement in a static composition. The groups of angels, which were over-painted in the late 18th century, have been restored in 1983. They participate to the balance of the entire composition.

Fra Bartolommeo

Adoration of the Child by Fra Bartolommeo

Rogier Van Der Weyden

Saint Luke drawing the Virgin by Rogier Van Der Weyden

The museum

Alte Pinakothek
Barer Straße 27
Eingang Theresienstraße
80333 München

Alte Pinakothek's Web site

Related articles

Neue Pinakothek in Munich

Monday, 11 February 2013

Quick sketches for linocut projects

At the week-end, I did a few quick sketches that could be carved as linocut.

I used a graphite pencil to do a rough outline and then my Pentel  Color Brushes (Steel blue and Sepia).

On the owl, I experimented with leaving some lines out in the border. The frame is suggested by the negative shapes and it opens up the design.

For more on Linocut technique, see my article Working out tones with linocut and the links referenced at the end of this post.

Friday, 8 February 2013

Victor Hugo’s Drawings

When visiting Victor Hugo’s house in Paris, I was hoping to see again some of Hugo's drawings I saw in the past. But there were only two examples on display (and not the best ones) depicting pieces of furniture. Drawings are fragiles and are only shown during special exhibitions.

During his life, Victor Hugo produced more than 4000 drawings. He worked on paper (often on vellum paper) with pen, ink washes (black and brown) and occasionally some colours.
In his dark brown or black drawings, he sometimes created highlights with white gouache. He experimented with different techniques: using stencils, blotting the paper, printing with laces, scratching the surface… He was able to instil mystery and drama into his works.
He had a clear fascination for architecture and liked inventing castles and other buildings. He deployed in his drawing the same avid imagination that feed his literary works.
Some more abstract drawing may have come from Spiritualist séances (that he hosted in his home).
Below are some of Victor Hugo’s drawings from Wikimedia. Enjoy!



I kept my favourite for last:

Related resources
You can see more drawings by Victor Hugo at the following sites:

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Artworks in Victor Hugo’s house

With the success of 'Les Misérables' in cinemas, it is a good time to talk about Victor Hugo.

At the end of last year, I visited the Maison de Victor Hugo located Place des Vosges in Paris. Hugo lived in this house for 16 years, between 1832 and 1848. He wrote most of 'Les Misérables' in this house, which is now is a museum.

In this post, I will show you some of the art exhibited throughout the house. In a next post, I will cover Hugo’s drawings. Hugo was not only a prolific writer (poet, novelist, and dramatist) but also a prolific drawer.

Maisons de la Place royale (now Place des Vosges) – Ink on paper by Gustave Fraipont

The most dramatic room in the house is the Oriental room. Such decoration was fashionable at the time.

There are several portraits of Victor Hugo in the house. The best one is by Léon Bonnat. Because of the reflection from the Window, I had to take the picture from the side.

The original of this painting was done in 1877 by Léon Bonnat and exhibited at the Salon of 1879 (major French official art exhibition at the time). The painting in the museum is a copy executed, with the consent of the artist, by one of his former student named Daniel Saubès. This is probably the most well known image of Victor Hugo.

Engraving of Hugo sitting for his portrait

There is a beautiful portrait of Léopoldine, Hugo’s daughter who drowned at the age of 19 in 1843. Hugo wrote many poems about Léopoldine’s death.

Léopoldine au livre d’heures – Oil on canvas by Auguste de Châtillon

There is also a portrait of Victor Hugo’s wife, Adèle Foucher, when she was young.

Adèle Foucher (around 1820) – Oil on canvas by Julie Duvidal de Monferrier (1797-1865)

Julie Duvidal de Monferrier was the student of the painter baron Gérard. She exhibited her work at the Salon from 1819 to 1827. In 1822, Pierre Foucher, Adele’s father, obtained for her a studio in the Hotel de Toulouse. She used this studio until 1827, when she married Victor Hugo’s elder brother and when she gave drawing lessons to Adèle
A caricature of Victor Hugo by Bajamin Roubaud

Panel by Henry Cros (in Hugo House’s staircase)

Related resources

Maison de Victor Hugo (Paris)
Hôtel de Rohan-Guéménée
6, place des Vosges
75004 Paris

The permanent collections are free for everyone.
The temporary exhibitions are free for children under14yrs.

More information and opening time.