Thursday, March 31, 2011

Modeling for My Parents

Nancy II . 1914

Nancy Hale, daughter of artists Lilian and Philip Hale did not like to pose. Why not? "While people who paid for portraits by my mother might get their own way about what they wore in them, I, who had been since infancy the built-in, free artist's model around that house, never had any such say.

My mother had drawn me at the age of six weeks in my bassinet; propped up against pillows, at the age of six months, on a background of patterned roses. At the age of one, seated in a baby carriage, I made a spot in an Impressionist painting by my father. There is a portrait of me at six wearing a dark-blue straw hat with red cherries, but that is the only article of apparel in any picture of me I remember having any fondness for, and even in that portrait I look glum.

Lilian Wescott Hale (1881 - 1963) . The Cherry Hat
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

At seven I was posed with my hair parted in the middle and tied with two bows, too tight, which hurt. A prize-winning painting of my mother's called Nancy and the Map of Europe shows me and my large doll dressed in identical blue cotton-crepe dresses with waistlines up under the armpits, and white guimpes. I hated dresses with high waistlines, because the other girls wore dresses with low waistlines. For that matter, I hated my doll, too.

Nancy and the Map of Europe

I had to pose so much in my childhood that when I reached the age of about thirteen I finally figured out a requirement of my own. I wouldn't pose, I said, unless I could be painted with a book. So all subsequent pictures show me in the act of reading. Several are silhouetted against a window; some show the book, some don't; but all have the eyes downcast. *

* from The Life in the Studio by Nancy Hale . Little, Brown and Company, 1957

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Philip Leslie Hale, Lilian's Husband

Philip Leslie Hale . 1930

Lilian Wescott Hale was "always successful, right from the start. Her husband, Philip Hale, told with pride how, at the openings of exhibitions of even her earliest genre paintings and those charcoal drawings for which she had developed a sharpened-point technique wholly her own, one Boston dealer used to put up a velvet cord across the entrance until the cream of the buying cream had had a preliminary view. When the cord was taken down, every picture in the show would have been sold."

Lilian's proud husband, "Philip Hale, was an important member of the Boston School of figure painters and one of the most innovative of the American Impressionists. He was also an influential and prolific art critic, recognized for his insightful writings on Impressionism and other aspects of modern art, as well as for his monographs on the seventeenth-century Dutch painter, Jan Vermeer. Hale’s talents also extended into the realm of teaching: for over thirty years, he was one of the most popular instructors at the school of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, his pupils including such noted painters as John Lavalle and Will Barnet."* That is where he met Lilian. Even though he was seventeen years older, they had married and had a daughter, Nancy. Nancy adored her father, was delighted by his stories, and shares a number of them in her book, The Life in the Studio.

The Crimson Rambler . 1908 . Philip Leslie Hale

Philip Leslie Hale was the son of a well-known minister, the Reverend Edward Everett Hale. Hale began painting and drawing as a child [see his sketchbook at age 13], encouraged by his mother and by his aunt, Susan Hale (1833-1910), a respected painter, author, and editor. His earliest artistic success came in 1883, when he designed the cover illustration for the March 9th issue of the Harvard Lampoon.

Upon graduating from Roxbury Latin School in 1883, Hale decided to pursue a career as a painter. However, he was not permitted to undertake formal study until, in compliance with his father’s wishes and family tradition, he had first passed the entrance examination to Harvard University. Upon doing so, Hale spent a year at the Museum School (1883-84), after which time he went to New York, studying at the Art Students League under J. Alden Weir and Kenyon Cox."* Then he took off to Paris to study art. He stayed for fifteen years. As his daughter Nancy tells:

"As I walked along beside my father on the way to school, he used to tell me stories of his Paris days. Once my father made the decision to go to Paris, he was left, by his father, to his own devices. He supported himself there almost wholly by copying Old Masters; it brought a certain income from tourists who wanted to take a picture home from Europe without paying very much for it. He stayed a long time in Paris.

A photograph of him at that time shows him lounging sidewise in a chair; his head is thrown back dashingly, but his eyes are anxious. He must have felt he had to be a success, after staking his judgment against his father's. When he came back to America, about 1895, a show of his paintings at Durand-Ruel's caused a sensation with their pure Impressionism. He never followed up his New York success, however. He went back to Boston.

I loved his evocations of a life, carefree in its poverty-strickenness, among the camaraderie of the ateliers, the cafes, the hole-in-the-wall lodgings of the Left Bank. My father lived with two friends, in the Rue des Saints-Peres, in a garret reached by a ladder nailed against the wall, up which he professed to have been able to climb carrying a lighted lamp and pitcher of water. Since my father was in Paris during the eighties and nineties, those stories of his were much like the life in Trilby and La Boheme.

When my father told those stories, his face lit up with laughter and his eyes sparkled. I had the strong feeling that he was poised for flight. At any moment he might take off, leave my mother and me for that life I imagined on the other side of the world.

At the same time, I was well aware that my father would do anything I wanted. Once as we were walking along I was taken by a wild flower, and my father, in his clothes for going to town and his hard straw hat, lay down on his stomach on the tar sidewalk, reached under the fence, and got it for me.

Philip Leslie Hale (1864-1931) **

I have a memory of how my father's studio looked in a painting of his that was lost from sight many years, found and then exhibited in the fiftieth anniversary re-enactment of the famous 1913 Armory Show. As I viewed it, my father's picture burst upon me in radiant floods of light as if I had never seen it before.

Against the great studio window Carrie [the model] stands, flourishing a gauzy scarf through which she is revealed, posed as though dancing. She is looking down at her feet; her face is hidden by a pompadour of clinging, coppery hair. Beyond the studio window, in full sunlight, rises the pink brick steeple of a church. Inside, a big pier glass of the kind painters use to view their work in reverse makes a balance to the church in the composition. And reflected in the mirror - tiny, tiny, so that it is no wonder the director's description of the painting, based on a photograph, didn't include it - stands the figure of my father painting the picture.

Even so minutely, it shows the father I knew- his characteristic painting stance, legs apart; the white shirt sleeves and stiff collar he always wore; the walrus mustache; the same melancholy eyes. The picture's title in the catalog was, simply, "Nude"; but suddenly I remembered - I can't imagine from where, it must have been from earliest childhood because I hadn't even remembered the picture - that my father's old, joking name for it was "The World, the Flesh, and the Devil." It seemed like a portrait of my father.

Looking at the sad little face in that picture full of sun, I was able at last to admit to myself that my father had really not been a gay man at all, but a retiring man who assumed ebullience to cheer himself up, and to get along in a world he had no instinct to overwhelm. The things in his life he picked out to actually do, or not do, prove how he sought and clung to safety in the bosom of his tiny, adoring family. He loved the art of painting, and what he really wanted was to be at home quietly with my mother.

'Aren't you ready to go yet?' my mother said when I rejoined her at the far end of the gallery. 'Don't you want to go and look at Papa's pictures one more time?' I said. ' I hate to go away and leave them.' 'I know every picture your father ever painted by heart,' she said. Her belief was always that my father was perfect - a great, unappreciated painter. It was no surprise to her when, toward the end of the Armory Show, the nude was bought by a gentleman in the Middle West. What she said was, 'It's about time somebody had a look at all that wonderful technical skill. All that training. Nobody has any training nowadays.'"***

** from Smithsonian Archives of American Art, collection donated by Tom Dunlay

*** from The Life in the Studio by Nancy Hale

Lilian Wescott Hale: The Eyes Have It!

Home Lessons

Never look into the shadows: Artist Lilian Wescott Hale never looked into the shadows. In her drawings and paintings you will not find details in the darks. Not only was this a tenet of her Boston art school training [part of which included classes with the man who would become her husband], but it seemed as if her eyes and mind really could not see into the shadows. As her daughter, Nancy Hale, records in her mother's biography The Life in the Studio:

"On dark days she always called off a portrait sitting. She said she couldn't see anything when it was dark. Her eyes were certainly very different from lay eyes. When she and went out shopping together, I could peer into the dark recesses behind a shop window and make out all sorts of objects - loaves of bread or garden rakes or magazines or whatever we might be looking for - while my mother, confronted by anything in deep shadow, would all her life simply say, 'I can't see a thing.'

In his class in life drawing at the Museum School, moreover, my father taught his students to render the nude in strict light and shade. Some pupils seemed never to be able to learn to find the edge of the shadow, on one side of which all was visible and to be shown, on the other side of which all was considered invisible.

I can see my father now, standing under the stark atelier skylight in his rumpled old gray suit, backing up from some student's smudgy charcoal drawing and coming up to it again, making gestures with his thumb (he never touched a pupil's drawing) and wearing a pained expression.

'Where the light falls is the light. Where the light does not fall is the shadow. Chiaroscuro, the clear and the obscure. Don't go mucking your drawing up with half-light.' Half-lights were the snare that seduced the undertrained; the greatest sin was to go peering into the shadow."

See things with wonder: "When my mother looked at things (and her life was given over to looking at things; in any unfamiliar house she used to keep crying, 'Look at that! Look at that!' about a chair, a picture, a china bowl of flowers, until she became embarrassed by the realization that nobody else joined her), she looked with a kind of innocent stare. I can see that now, too. She held her eyes very wide open and simply stared, as though confronted by the first day of creation."

Perceive the color that is actually there: "Often she saw things quite differently from other people. Colors, for instance, appeared differently to her from what they seemed to me to be. She would keep talking about a blue house on the road to Gloucester, and couldn't imagine what she was talking about, and then one day we would be driving that road together and she would cry, 'There's the blue house! Look at that!' I would look, and it would be white.

'You're so literal,' my father and mother used to complain to me. This was in no sense a compliment but referred to the instantaneous reflex of reading into color what I figured it had to be, instead of seeing it for what - in that light - it was.

I remember a dress my mother owned in the latter part of her life. She called it her black dress. Although it was a very dark dress, I couldn't help knowing that it was really navy blue. It did take peering to see that, though, and my mother never peered. She just stared, and her vision and the image met for what they were."
  1. Never look into the shadows
  2. Look at the world with wonder
  3. Let your eyes see the color that is actually there

to be continued...

Hint on Finding the Shadow: It's not always easy to see where the shadow begins or even if something is actually a part of the shadow. If in doubt, take your brush, pencil or charcoal and set it on the subject so that it casts a shadow into the area in question. If you can see the implement's shadow, then that area is not a part of the shadow. If you can't see the implement's shadow, then the area in question is definitely in shadow.

* The Life in the Studio by Nancy Hale

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Introducing Lilian Wescott Hale

The Open Door

Those who have seen Lilian Westcott Hale's work in person are amazed by her unusual and delicate technique. Her mentor, Edmund Tarbell, exclaimed after seeing her drawings in the one-woman 1908 Boston show, “Your drawings are perfectly beautiful—as fine as anything could be. They belong with our old friends Leonardo, Holbein and Ingres, and are to me the finest modern drawings I have ever seen.” *

Seeing that I had posted several of her drawings, my teacher lent me The Life in the Studio by her daughter, Nancy Hale. It is a lovely book, an easy read that one can curl up with and enter into. It is within these pages that we are introduced to Lilian, the artist:

From the beginning, "her private world was not at any age the same as other girls'. At eighteeen it was not the dream of beaux and dances that, for example, her older sister's was. She thought boys were what she later learned from my father to call 'the least of God's mercies.'

She met my father [Philip Hale, artist/teacher/critic] in Boston, where she went to study art. He was seventeen years older than she, a painter with fifteen years of training in the Paris ateliers, and phenomenally learned in art and art history. He was the only man who ever attracted her; for what she had been dreaming of, even when she was a little girl, was art. Art was to her so important that beside it clothes, parties, flirtations, even the idea of marriage, were trivial.

When I myself began going to dances in Boston, my mother used to view my enthusiasm with a sort of incredulity. She shocked me once when I was about eighteen by saying of one of my friends, 'All she seems to want to do is get married and have children. It isn't serious!'

After their marriage, she lived at home in the two-hundred-year-old cottage backing up against the woods, to pursue her secret life all day alone [while her husband went to his teaching job].

Her mornings were for artwork. There were the sounds of the sharp, steady sawing of charcoal (sharpened to a needle point with a razor blade) up and down against the sheet of Strathmore board on my mother's easel as she worked on a snow scene from the windows of the front hall. There would come a pause in the sawing, and a faint rattle, while she rummaged around in the blue-edged box that French charcoal came in. A clack - she had dropped something on the floor. If it was charcoal, it fell with a small explosion. Then a scratchy, rubbing sound, which was the careful filing of the sides of her stick of charcoal against the board covered with fine sandpaper which had a handle to keep one's fingers clean. A pause. Then would recommence the sawing of the point drawn rhythmically up and down.

She sat beautifully erect, on a high stool, her right arm out at full length, holding the charcoal in its French brass holder. The charcoal would be moving slowly, tentatively, as though groping, along the page, as her face kept turning, alertly, from drawing to scene outside the windows; or the charcoal would all at once move decisively, in a long line that ran down the paper, nervous, elegant, intensely black.

Lilian Westcott Hale at Work

When my father got home from his Boston studio just before dinner at night, he would go at once to my mother's studio, on the north side of our house and see how her day's work had progressed.

"I need a crit!" she would cry, embracing him at the front door. My father would stand in the white-walled room backing away from the canvas on the big easel and coming up close again to indicate with his thumb something he felt needed fixing. He was heavyset, with a walrus mustache that half concealed his mouth. He had a way of letting his hand drop to his side with a hard slap after making such an indication. Since he carried loose kitchen matches in his pocket to light his pipe with, at least once, in his life class, a student had timidly said, 'Mr. Hale, there's smoke coming out of your pocket!'

My mother sat on her high painting stool, her chin propped on her fist, paying rapt attention. It had been just an ordinary room, until its whole north wall was replaced by windows with short sash curtains that enabled my mother to make innumerable adjustments in the exact degree of that essential to painting as she knew it - the light."**

to be continued...

* Philip Hale Papers, Box 53a, Folder 1444, SSC **The Life in the Studio by Nancy Hale, 1957 . Little, Brown & Co.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Frieseke's Third Secret: Patiently, Insistently Wait for the Light

Lady in a Garden

Continuing with his interview, Frederick Carl Frieseke said: “I feel that the old idea of Impressionism is lost. It used to mean a distinct fleeting effect or phase of nature. The present so-called Impressionist sees every moment of the day or night, of the month, or year in exactly the same way, and renders it the same.

But there is no receipt for painting nature in all her varying moods. I think an artist should work but an hour if the day is sunny. If it is gray, but two hours, and the study should never be resumed, but in exactly the same kind of weather and at the same hour at which it was started, and when the effects are the same. In making an impression of nature, one should never consider time there or method, but only the result...” I gazed thoughtfully at the old apple tree and knew that it often must have heard its former friend, Theodore Robinson, say these same words.

“Nor do I believe in constructing a picture from manifold studies which have been made in 'plein air.' One is in a nervous tension then, and falls into no studied methods or mannerisms. One’s work is more naïve and spontaneous, and one is not in danger of becoming too theoretical. One should never forget that seeing and producing an effect of nature is not a matter of intellect, but of feeling. Anyone paints a patch of flowers in the sunlight as he feels it at that moment, and not as he felt it three weeks or three months ago, coldly, in the studio, and with the immediate impression of that particular moment forgotten."

I remember the story of another painting, John Singer Sargent's Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose that illustrates this principle of patiently and insistently waiting for the light.

Sargent wrote: “I am trying to paint a charming thing I saw the other evening. Two little girls in a garden at twilight lighting paper lanterns among the flowers from rose-tree to rose-tree. I shall be a long time about it - if I don’t give up in despair”.

He had joined an informal colony for the arts. Here the scene which had so delighted him on his boat trip came to occupy him for two whole summers. Just after sunset, Sargent would race to his large canvas.

He would work just after sunset for about 20 minutes to record the effect of the light as his two little models held their Chinese lanterns. With the warm glow of the lanterns against the dusky purple of the summer twilight, he told Robert Louis Stevenson that he was seeking to capture “a most paradisiac sight [that] makes one rave with pleasure”. The painting came to be called “Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose” after the refrain of a popular song of 1885.

Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose

He was also insistent on having the subject matter remain as much the same as possible. In a letter to his sister Emily, Sargent wrote, “ I am launched into my garden picture and have two good little models and a garden that answers the purpose although there are hardly any flowers and I have to scour the cottage gardens and transplant and make shift...Fearful difficult subject.”

Sargent walked through the village offering to buy flowers from the residents’ gardens. By November the air was chill and the little girls wore wool cardigans underneath their summer frocks. Because the rose bushes were bare, his hostess tied on artificial flowers for Sargent to paint. His painting was far from finished, though, so the canvas was stored until the following year.

Sargent was prepared for the second season of painting. In April, he had sent fifty Aurelian lily bulbs to his hosts in Broadway - twenty to be put in pots for him to use for his painting, and the rest for the garden. When he returned to Broadway in the summer of 1886, he once again worked to capture the few minutes of light with his little models. Sargent finally finished by the end of October 1886. He entered Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose in the 1887 Royal Academy exhibition in London, where it was both a critical and popular success. Soon after it went on view, it was purchased for the Tate Gallery."

Both Sargent and Frieseke were very serious about maintaining the same situations as they worked on a piece. They patiently waited for those perfect moments wanting to actually see what they wished to create. There was not much interest in trying to rely on memory or the ability to make up what was not actually there.


Monday, March 7, 2011

Frieseke's Second Secret

Some artists primarily delight in great drawing, some in form, and some in color itself. What was it that inspired Frederick Carl Frieseke as he sought to create his work? Here is his answer - and one of the great secrets of his style of painting:

Frederick Frieseke's Second Secret: Paint the Light


“It is sunshine, flowers in sunshine; girls in sunshine; the nude in sunshine, which I have been principally interested in for eight years, and if I could only reproduce it exactly as I see it, I would be satisfied,” he said with a sigh.

Picturesquely gowned women in this garden, serving tea, reading, sewing or hanging up bird cages, often shadowed by Japanese parasols, flitted before me all enveloped in sparkling light and executed in vivid color.

“Speaking of gardens, have you any preference?” I said. “And do you make careful studies of flowers?”

“No, I know nothing about the different kinds of gardens, nor do I even make studies of flowers. My one idea is to reproduce flowers in sunlight. I do not suggest detail by form..[I make] strokes in oil to produce the effect of vibration, completing as I go. I cannot scrape down or repaint a canvas. I must take a new one.

I usually make my first notes and impressions with dashes of tempera, then I paint over this with small [strokes] as I have to keep it as pure as possible or the effect of brilliancy will be lost. Of course, there is a limit to the strength of pigments, and one can but relatively give the impression of nature. I may see a glare of white light at noon, but I cannot render it literally. The longer I paint the stronger I feel that we should be more spontaneous."

The Garden Parasol

A swallow skimmed across the pool, the flowers gave out their perfume to the heat, the sound of a peasant's cart passing down the lane came over the wall. My hostess sat sewing on a chaise-longue and often looked up to make suggestions or to quicken her husband's memory. Mr. Frieseke, a short, stout figure, clad in white flannel, lounged lazily before me, smoking, while I incessantly prodded him with questions.

“If one realizes the effect of sunlight in a room,” he continued, “and by studying finds out how many changes there are in sun and shadow in the course of a day, think how much there must be out of doors with the myriads of scintillating lights, their reflections and shadows, and the interplay, too, of each on the other. It is impossible to paint everything one sees, but one must give the effect of having done so.

If you are looking at a mass of flowers in the sunlight out of doors, you see a sparkle of spots of different colors; then paint them in that way. I do not believe in patching up a picture inside after beginning it outdoors, nor do I believe in continuing a study from memory in the studio. No one has a good enough memory, and often obtains accidental notes out of doors which really construct the picture."

"Then I infer you are a true impressionist?"

And he replied: “Yes, I believe I am. No artist in that school has influenced me except, perhaps, Renoir. Him I admire the most of all. I laid aside all accepted rules of painting when I began, and went to nature. The only study I have had was a short period at Julien's and with Whistler.”

“Yes,” I nodded, “and with the result that you are distinctly individual in style.”

The Birdcage, ca. 1910

~ the above is excerpted from an interview with Frederick Frieseke by Clara T. MacChesney (1914)

The idea of painting light was new to me a few years ago. I could paint things: a nose, a a book, and a shoe with light falling on them, but that's not the way Frieseke approached painting light. My teacher explained that one should think of light as water. Imagine it in reference to a head...spilling down upon the hair, over the forehead and down under the brow, then up over the nose, and up and down over the lips and gently over and around the chin into the dark chasm of the neck. Now as you paint or draw a picture, create the light on the objects with that imagery in mind.

Then answer these questions: Is my painting affecting my eyes the same way my subject matter does? Does the light smack me in the eye in the same way or does it glow like the original? Are there other light effects that I need to create?

I know that much more could be said about painting light, but I am still learning, and it is helpful looking at someone's work who clearly made it his priority...


Sunday, March 6, 2011

Frederick Frieseke's First Secret

Frederick Carl Frieseke

There's nothing like first-hand information,
and I thought that you might enjoy portions of an interview in 1914 with Frederick Carl Frieseke by writer and painter Clara T. MacChesney:

"One glorious morning I passed through that dilapidated station in Paris, Gare St. Lazare, bound for Giverny. Giverny, long the home of Monet, MacMonnies, and the object of my journey, Frederick Carl Frieseke.

For two hours we sped along the willowed banks of the Seine; we lost it, we found it again: we ran by the woods of Chantilly, past the palace which contains that choice collection owned by the late Duc d'Aumale; through fields made ruddy by the glorious red poppy, and blue by the lovely cornflower, until we saw in the far distance the picturesque church tower of Giverny, which crowns a hill at our right.

Alighting at Vernon, we took a fiacre, and for half an hour wound along the base of a hill, past an irregular line of cottages, until we turned a corner and entered Giverny. Its thatch-roofed white houses straggle down the hill from the church to cultivated fields and farms watered by the lazy little stream, the Epte.

The glistening white road led me past the inn to a high gate set in the corner of a wall. On entering, I found Mr. Frieseke hard at work under a big sketching umbrella, his model posing for him in the garden. With a broad sun hat on the back of his head, palette in hand, he hastened forward to welcome me.

Later in the afternoon, his wife, he and I sat in the shade under the treees, surrounded by rows of lilies and of larkspur, the blue, clear sky of France over our heads, while the artist patiently submitted to my questions.

Under the Umbrella

(currently at the Taft Art Museum's show,
this photo does not do the painting justice)

“But first tell me,” I said, “all about this delightful old house and garden. What a find and what a sanctum in which to work!'

Secret Number One: Create an Environment in Which to Make Paintings

This retreat has high walls on three sides, a two-story cottage on the fourth, while the garden is a riot of flowers, vines, and trees. Here was no telephone to interrupt: no rasping street car, no roar of elevated trains, no shriek of motors to break the calm. Here reigned peace and privacy.

“Yes,” he said quietly, “we have lived here eight years.” Then, looking at his wife with pride: “She made the garden.”

This is a tangle of flowers with a pool in the centre, a crooked old apple tree at one end. It has often been painted by that early impressionist, Theodore Robinson, who occupied the house for years. The house is painted yellow and its blinds are green. But it is almost hidden on the garden side by trellises of roses, clematis, and passion vines.

“We've remodeled the house, decorated it, and with the garden, it serves as my studio from April to December.” Mr. Frieseke continued. “I have a small room in which I store my canvases and painting traps and show my pictures. But I seldom use it to work in. If it rains or is too cold to paint here I take my easel, palette, and model and begin another canvas indoors. I do not like the usual studio light – it is so artificial. I pose my model in a naturally lighted room in an ordinary house. There is nothing like a long, faithful study of nature to lead one away from the artificial, is there?”

“So we are indebted,” I said, “to bad weather for your charming interiors of my lady making up before her dressing mirror, arranging flowers on a table, reading or sewing by a window?" “Yes, that is true. But I never paint inside unless driven in by the weather.”

(The Frieseke's interior; see the colors
mentioned in the description below)

The walls of the Frieseke livingroom are tinted a lemon-yellow; the doors opening into the garden an emerald green. The furniture is covered with flowered cretonne and the window curtains are made of the same material. The kitchen is painted a deep, rich blue, forming a wonderful background for the highly-polished copper pots and kettles. It was easy to infer that all this scheme of color and decoration was intended as a setting for future pictures. I said as much."

So Mr. Frieseke's first secret in this interview is out! He and his wife deliberately spent time creating the backgrounds for his paintings. She planted a lovely garden filled with colorful flowers, curving pathways, and a small pond which is featured in so many of his creations. Then they decorated the interior of their house with colors, materials and furniture that would also appear on his rainy day paintings.

I know a few artists who have done the same. Their backyards are lovely parks...and that is where they have painted plein air at times and have also posed their models for other creations. Another artist couple have given a lot of thought to their interior, decorating it in a way that reflects their artistic sensibilities perfectly. The result is beautiful and unique, and in turn is reflected in their paintings.

So will I follow Frieseke's lead...take the time to think and plan and create both inside and outside spaces - and all on a tight budget - be continued - in which Another Secret is revealed!


Thursday, March 3, 2011

There Has to Be a Connection: The Giverny Group

Miller . The MillinerFrieseke . In the Garden

I love to be able to place artists in a setting.
I want to know who was friends with whom, where they went, what it was like, and what was their journey like into the world of art.

After recently looking at Richard Miller's work, then Frederick Frieseke's, I thought, "There Has to be Some connection here!"

There was. It turns out that they were part of a network of artists in the early 1900s in France called The Giverny Group. Other members were Louis Ritman, Karl Anderson and Alson Skinner Clark. I also wanted to throw Robert Reid into that mix...even though he wasn't on the official list.

Giverny was a very popular place for artists around the 1900s...especially after the opening of the Hôtel Baudy, a place that was the catalyst for changing a sleepy village of 300 into a sprawling artists' colony. It offered rural scenery for plein air painting and lots of opportunities for socializing with fellow artists.

Of course, Claude Monet lived in Giverny, but he ended up saying, "When I first came to Giverny I was quite alone, the little village was unspoiled. Now, so many artists, students, flock here, I have often thought of moving away." We know that he did not leave, but he did estrange himself from the artist colony, inviting only a few close friends such as Sargent (Monet had some paintings of his in his own bedroom), artist Theodore Robinson or Lila Cabot Perry who organised the first Monet exhibition in the USA and sold the first Monet there.

Frederick Carl Frieseke is believed to have visited Giverny as early as 1900, and in 1906 he and his wife moved into Theodore Robinson's former two-story cottage that adjoined the property of Claude Monet. They stayed there from April through December for fourteen years. Their house was surrounded by tall walls enclosing a sumptuous, colorful garden which served as the setting for many of his pictures. The outside of their house was painted in strikingly bright colors, yellow with green shutters, while the living room walls were lemon yellow and the kitchen, a deep blue. The artist also maintained a second studio on the Epte River, which ran through the town, where he painted many of his renderings of the nude outdoors.

His colleagues included American painters Guy Rose, Lawton Parker, Edmund Greacen, Richard E. Miller, and Karl Anderson.

  • Guy Rose, California born, visited Giverny before finally settling their with his wife Ethel in 1904. Rose was both a landscape and figurative painter and in Giverny, he painted female figures in outdoor light, keeping the draftsmanship he learned in Paris for the figures and using a more Impressionist style for the setting.
  • Lawton S. Parker was an artist and teacher who traveled frequently between the United States and Europe. He settled in Giverny in 1903. Even though Parker shared a Giverny garden with Frieseke, he is not credited with painting figures in garden settings extensively until about 1909. Then, he painted the same sorts of subjects as his Giverny companions.

  • Edward W. Greacen was a New Yorker who arrived in Giverny in 1907 where he painted a series of garden and domestic subjects in a painterly manner with a clear French influence.
  • Richard Edward Miller from St. Louis, Missouri, studied at l'Académie Julian in Paris. His early works featured well-drawn figures with more loosely rendered backgrounds, but after he settled in Giverny, his work became brighter, and he developed a style where his figures were well modeled. The backgrounds were often patterns of small brush strokes. Of these artists, he is the one who is compared most often with Frieseke.

  • Karl Anderson was only in Giverny a short time, but it changed the direction of his career and he will always be identified with the French village because he adopted the same subjects and a similar way of working.
In December 1910, six of the Giverny painters - Frieseke, Miller, Parker, Rose, Graecen and Anderson were given a show at the Madison Gallery in New York. This is the gallery which termed them The Giverny Group. Their style is often called Decorative Impressionism...and officially, that is where Robert Reid has been slotted as well. I love to be vindicated by the Pros!

Robert Reid . The Yellow Flower

Next: Frieseke Tells Some of His Art Secrets!