Senin, 26 Maret 2012

Paul César Helleu - part 1

I was recently reminded of the elegant portraits of Paul César Helleu’s by author and illustrator Ian Beck (Ian has a splendid, slightly esoteric blog that's worth taking a look at too – a link can be found in ‘Links’ in the sidebar). This is part 1 of a 3-part post on the life and works of Paul Helleu.

Paul César Helleu (1859 – 1927) was a French artist best known for his portraits of beautiful Society women. He was born in Vannes, Brittany in 1859. He started as a ceramist but at the age of seventeen, despite the disapproval of his widowed mother, he went to Paris to study with Gérôme and at the École des Beaux-Arts.

He became a close friend of John Singer Sargent, whom he met in Paris in 1878 when Helleu was 18 years old and Sargent 22. Already becoming known, Sargent was getting commissions for work. Helleu had not sold anything, was deeply discouraged and almost to the point of abandoning his studies. When Sargent heard this, he went to Helleu and picked one of his paintings, praising his technique. Flattered that Sargent would praise his work he offered to give it to him. Sargent replied, "I shall gladly accept, Helleu, but not as a gift. I sell my own pictures, and I know what they cost me by the time they are out of my hand. I should never enjoy this pastel if I hadn't paid you a fair and honest price for it." With this he paid him a thousand-franc note. This was perhaps the first thousand-franc note Helleu had ever seen.

Paul Helleu Sketching with his Wife by John Singer Sargent 1889
 Helleu was commissioned to paint a portrait of a young woman named Alice Guerin in 1884. They fell in love, and married two years later (28 July 1886). She was undoubtedly his favourite model. Charming, refined and graceful, she helped introduce them to the aristocratic circles of Paris, where they were popular fixtures.

Portrait of Mlle Alice Guerin 1884
In 1904 he was awarded the Légion d’honneur and became one of the most celebrated artists of the Edwardian era in both Paris and London and an honorary member of the most important beaux-arts societies. He was a member of the International Society of Sculptors, Painters and Engravers and the Societaire de la Nationale des Beaux-Arts. He was decorated by the French Government with the Legion d’honneur in 1904.He was the creator of the astrological ceiling decoration in New York City's Grand Central Terminal completed in 1912.

The ceiling of the Grand Central Terminal in New York City
By the time of his last trip to New York City in 1920 he realized that the Belle Epoque was over. He felt out of touch and retired to his family life. He died in Paris of peritonitis in 1927.

c1879 Mademoiselle Ellen Helleu, pastel & chalk 32.6 x 30.6 cm

c1880 Young Woman in White

c1885-90 Portrait de Mademoiselle Granier pastel 95.9 x 64.8 cm

c1885 Mademoiselle Ellen Helleu conté crayon, wax crayon, chalk 35.2 x 19 cm

1894 Meditation drypoint 28 x 20 cm

c1895 Half-Length Portrait of Alice Helleu, the Artist's Wife chalk & pastel

c1895 Woman Looking at a Drawing chalk 63 x 45 cm

c1895 Woman Reading drypoint 59 x 44 cm

c1895 Woman Seated drypoint 53 x 32 cm

1896 Madame Helleu, Reading on the Beach

1897 James MacNeill Whistler drypoint 50 x 35 cm
Six years after the portrait of Whistler (above) Helleu appears to have executed another version of the same print:

1903 James MacNeill Whistler drypoint

c1898-1900 Madame Helleu on her Yacht L'étoile oil on canvas

1899 On the Sofa pastel

c1899 Portrait of a Woman Wearing a Hat (Madame Letellier) drypoint 55 x 35.7 cm

1900 Portrait of Mme. Cheruit Wearing a Fur Collar drypoint 50.5 x 40 cm

1900 Young Woman in White oil on canvas

c1900 Consuelo Vanderbilt oil on canvas

c1900 Half-Length Portait of a Seated Woman, Smoking a Cigarette, Facing Left drypoint 53.9 x 40.9 cm

c1900 Woman Seated Leaning Forward, Chin Cupped in Left Hand drypoint 53.5 x 41.1 cm

1901 Le Grand Pavois

Sabtu, 24 Maret 2012

Edward Detmold, illustrator - part 2

This is part 2 of a 2-part post on the life and works of British illustrator Edward Julius Detmold (1883 – 1957). For biographical notes on Detmold and for more works see part 1.

From 'The Fables of Aesop' 1909

From 'The Fables of Aesop' 1909

From 'The Fables of Aesop' 1909

From 'The Fables of Aesop' 1909

From 'The Fables of Aesop' 1909

From 'The Jungle Book' 1913

From 'The Jungle Book' 1913

From 'The Jungle Book' 1913

From 'The Life of the Bee' 1901

From 'The Life of the Bee' 1901

From 'The Life of the Bee' 1901

Jasmines from 'News of spring and other nature studies' 1917

Off to the Fishing Grounds etching


The Fruits of the Earth

The Happy Family etching

The Hare and the Tortoise

The Pomegranate, The Apple Tree and The Bramble from “The Fables of Aesop”

The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad

Venus atrapamoscas  from 'News of spring and other nature studies' 1917

Kamis, 22 Maret 2012

Edward Detmold, illustrator - part 1

This is part 1 of a 2-part post on the life and works of British illustrator Edward Julius Detmold (1883 – 1957). Edward and his twin brother Charles Maurice Detmold (1883 – 1908) were born in London in 1883. They were tutored by an uncle who fostered their artistic talents and their love of natural history. Their animal subjects were always among the most sensitive of their drawings. Prodigious early talents, they exhibited watercolours at the Royal Academy when they were 13 and had a portfolio of etchings issued in 1898.

The brothers worked jointly on their etchings and illustrations. Their first book illustrations were produced jointly for the 1899 Pictures From Birdland. Their next project, at the age of 20, was a portfolio of sixteen watercolours inspired by Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book. They were well on their way to joint and individual success when Maurice suddenly committed suicide in 1908 – he was twenty-four years of age. No satisfactory explanation for the act has even been given. The coroner's inquest returned a verdict of suicide 'whilst unsound of mind' and there was apparently a note as well. Edward was stunned by the sudden death of his twin, but managed to continue on with his art.

His next book illustrations practically defined him to his publishers and their patrons. These were the 1909 The Fables of Aesop for which he did twenty-three colour plates and numerous pen and ink chapter headings. Then came Maurice Maeterlink's The Life of the Bee and Birds and Beasts and The Book of Baby Beasts in 1911. In 1912, it was the Book of Baby Birds and Hours of Gladness. Other books had titles like The Book of Baby Pets and The Book of Baby Dogs (1915), Our Little Neighbours and Fabre's Book of Insects (1921) - all reflecting the natural history that had so fascinated him as a youngster.

Even when he branched out, as he theoretically did in 1924 with his The Arabian Nights, he was just as likely to choose animals to illustrate as he was to depict humans. It was to be his last illustrated work. In 1921 he had written a tract to attempt to explain himself, his work and his life. To quote from Keith Nicholson's introductory essay in The Fantastic Creatures of Edward Julius Detmold:

"A decade of intense activity was drawing to a close. Detmold could look back upon some fine achievements, but he was disillusioned with many of the uninspiring commissions for children's books he had undertaken. A pointless and destructive world war emphasized his worst forebodings of man's direction in the new century. The happiness of his childhood and the loss of his twin brother, now recollected in an uneasy tranquillity, combined to produce an existential crisis in the artist. In the wake of feeling that life for him had become meaningless and intolerable, he produced a literary work which testifies to his readings in Schopenhauerian pessimism and the Buddhist philosophy of the Upanishadr and the Bhagavad-Gita. Life, his only un-illustrated work, a book of aphorisms, was published by J. M. Dent in 1921. A key book to an understanding of Detmold's mind, Life is an inauspicious-looking small volume printed on one side of the leaf only. In his preface the author writes: `The following words have come to the writer, over a period of many years, as the fruits of self-overcoming.' From the curious, mystical text we learn that there are two ways of attainment: `The direct positive way - through progressive liberation - passing from the lesser realisation of the body, to the greater realisation of the mind, and therefrom to the realisation of the infinite through the soul; and the direct negative way -through disillusionment - which comes of infatuation with things in themselves, and the inevitable passing thereof.' In the event, Life was Detmold's farewell to the public world of books, and his testament."

Resigned from the world, Detmold went to live in Montgomeryshire where, after a long retirement and almost totally forgotten, he died in July, 1957. Strangely, there exists no official record of his death, though it is believed that he too committed suicide.

Amapolas from 'News of spring and other nature studies' 1917

At the Edge of the Lotus Pool etching & drypoint

Birds in a Nest

Catasetum y Cypripedium from 'News of spring and other nature studies' 1917

Cockerel etching

Coryanthes Maculata from 'News of spring and other nature studies' 1917

Espinas from 'News of spring and other nature studies' 1917

From 'Birds and Beasts' 1911

From 'Birds of Town & Village' 1920

From 'Birds of Town & Village' 1920

From 'Birds of Town & Village' 1920

From 'Fabre's Book of Insects' 1921

From 'Fabre's Book of Insects' 1921

From 'Fabre's Book of Insects' 1921

From 'Fabre's Book of Insects' 1921

From 'Fabre's Book of Insects' 1921

From 'Hours of Gladness'

From 'The Book of Baby Birds' 1912

From 'The Book of Baby Birds' 1912

From 'The Book of Baby Birds' 1912