Friday, October 24, 2014

Martin van Meytens the Younger

In Martin van Meytens the Younger (1695–1770) the Belvedere is presenting a pre- eminent European master of the Baroque age. As the preferred portraitist at Maria Theresa’s imperial court, Meytens impressively captured influential personalities of his period’s intellectual, artistic, and political spheres. 

“It is a great joy for me personally that the first monographic show on Martin van Meytens is taking place in Vienna – the city where the artist, following extensive stays in a number of other countries, spent more than half of his life and where he left behind impressive traces,” says the Belvedere’s director Agnes Husslein-Arco. Like no other artist, Martin van Meytens the Younger succeeded in documenting the protagonists of the legendary age of Maria Theresa in his portraits. “The precisely painted facial features, the detailed rendering of elaborate garments, and the unmistakable clues to the sitters’ social standing and profession still convey a lively impression of this period, which was probably not as glamorous as it appears in the paintings,” Agnes Husslein-Arco adds.

Martin van Meytens cannot be assigned to any particular painting tradition, such as the Swedish, French, or Roman school. His personal style, which is characterised by precise drawing and partly intense colours, is much too distinctive for categorisation. Having been highly interested in alchemy and physics, he immersed himself in the development of his own materials, namely paints, besides his activities as an artist, receiving a patent from the imperial government for the production of mineral paints in 1743. Moreover, Martin Meytens the Younger is said to have had a written and spoken command of several languages, so that he can probably be most fittingly described as a European citizen who was proud of his Swedish origins.

The beginnings of Meytens, who today is known primarily for his life-sized portraits, lie in miniature painting, which was greatly appreciated at the time. Meytens, a student of his compatriot Charles Boit (1662–1727), soon acquired considerable fame in this genre and achieved a special brilliance in the enamel technique. Even the Russian tsar and the Swedish king tried to lure him to their courts, but Meytens decided for Vienna. He entered the service of the Habsburg family and became a successful portraitist of the court and the aristocracy. In 1732 he was officially appointed “imperial chamber painter”. 

The names of those whose likenesses, physiques, and social ranks he depicted in his paintings almost resemble a Who’s Who of the age of Maria Theresa. They include such statesmen as Johann Christoph von Bartenstein or Wenzel Anton von Kaunitz-Rietberg, as well as members of the Batthyány, Liechtenstein, Pálffy, and Schwarzenberg families. However, they only represent one aspect of his oeuvre. Besides more than a dozen of self-portraits, he also painted such artist colleagues as Johann Gottfried Auerbach, the costume designer and Maria Theresa’s drawing teacher Antonio Bertoli, and the librettist Pietro Metastasio. Held in high esteem particularly by Maria Theresa, Meytens was finally appointed director of the Vienna Academy and filled this position until his death in 1770.

The Belvedere is the first museum to highlight this important figure of the Austrian art scene in a monographic exhibition, which is on view from 18 October 2014 to 8 February 2015 in the Baroque ambience of the Winter Palace. 

Of Dutch origins and born in Sweden, Martin van Meytens the Younger developed his specific style, for which he borrowed from diverse European models and which he later successfully passed on to numerous students, during several lengthy sojourns in France, England, and Italy. Originally trained as a painter of miniatures, Meytens perfected monumental painting over the years while always remaining true to portraiture, apart from a few forays into other figural genres. The focus of this exhibition is on his fascinating portraits and the art of his most important pupils, including that of Joseph Hickel.

Martin van Meytens the Younger was born in Stockholm in 1695 the son of Martin Mijtens the Elder (1648–1736), who was also active as a portraitist. His parents, who originally came from Southern Holland, had emigrated to Sweden. Having first been trained by his father, the younger Meytens embarked on a study tour of several years as early as 1714, which led him to his parents’ native country, as well as to England, France, Italy, and, finally, to Vienna.

From Miniature Painting to Portraiture

Characteristics of Style

The precision in the rendering of laces, fabrics, and other details is characteristic of the works by Martin van Meytens the Younger and his collaborators. Such paintings as Maria Theresa in a pink lace dress have thereby even gained documentary importance. This special focus on textiles and accessories sometimes also stands out in portraits that were produced outside the artist’s workshop or by his followers. Frequently, the actual portrait even appears to be a neglected element. The meticulous representation of motifs recalls Lucas Cranach the Elder, whose flourishing workshop was also known for its extraordinary precision and sharpness with regard to details, which occasionally even gives the impression of a certain degree of steeliness. Whereas Meytens was so successful during his lifetime just because of the great precision of his works, this very characteristic of his style would later meet with disapproval among critics.

A Flourishing Workshop

It can hardly be estimated how many paintings left Meytens’s studio over the decades. In any case, the demand for his paintings was so high that the artist was soon no longer able to cope with the workload by himself and therefore employed numerous pupils and collaborators. Among the most talented of them were Sophonias de Derichs (1712–1773), who also came from Sweden, and Joseph Hickel (1736–1807). They worked entirely in the master’s manner so that their share in the individual works has remained hidden for both patrons and art lovers of the past and present. Moreover, Meytens hardly ever signed his works.

 Scholars therefore also depend on archival materials and contemporary engravings after Meytens’s works for their attributions, as these documents and reproductions usually mention the names of both painter and sitter. The following generation of artists represents the transition from the type of official Baroque portraiture they had been taught by Meytens to a distinctly drier style that was in keeping with the age of Josephinism and the Enlightenment.

Georg Lechner, the exhibition’s curator, is preparing a revised and comprehensive catalogue raisonné on Martin van Meytens the Younger, which will presumably appear in 2015 within the series of the Belvedere’s oeuvre catalogues.

Martin van Meytens Yr., The Family of Count Nikolaus Pálffy of Erdöd, around 1760
Oil on canvas
333 x 283 cm

Martin van Meytens Yr., Portrait of a Man Wearing a traditional Hungarian Costume, around 1740/1750
(Imre Count Tökölyi?)
Oil on canvas
93 x 76 cm

Martin van Meytens Yr., Double Portrait, 1740
Oil on canvas
105 x 126 cm

Martin van Meytens Yr., Archduke Peter Leopold, around 1753
Oil on canvas
220 x 158 cm

Martin van Meytens Yr., Johann Gottfried Auerbach, around 1740
Oil on canvas
92 x 73 cm

Martin van Meytens Yr., Self-portrait, 1750s
Oil on canvas
147 x 106 cm

Martin van Meytens Yr., Kneeling Nun (Front side), about 1731
Oil on copper
28 x 21 cm

Martin van Meytens Yr., Kneeling Nun (Back side), about 1731
Oil on copper
28 x 21 cm

Martin van Meytens Yr., Carl Gustaf Tessin, Ulla Sparre of Sundby and Brita Stina Sparre, 1730/31
Oil on canvas
100 x 122 cm
Martin van Meytens Yr., Maria Theresia as Archduchess, in the mid-1730s
Oil on canvas
91 x 72 cm
Martin van Meytens Yr., Joseph de France with his Family, 1748
Oil on canvas
118 x 155 cm
Martin van Meytens Yr., Emperor Francis I Stephen, about 1745/1765
Oil on canvas
235 x 160 cm

Strokes of Genius: Italian Drawings from the Goldman Collection

The Art Institute of Chicago presents more than 80 masterpieces of Italian draftsmanship selected from the collection of Chicagoans Jean and Steven Goldman in the exhibition Strokes of Genius: Italian Drawings from the Goldman Collection, on view Saturday, November 1, 2014, through Sunday, February 1, 2015.

Francesco de Rossi, il Salviati. The Head of a Female Warrior, n.d. Jean and Steven Goldman Collection 

Focusing on the periods of Mannerism and the early Baroque, the exhibition includes nearly 60 drawings never before seen in public. Recent acquisitions of works, ranging from a figure study by Baccio Bandinelli to a composition drawing by Salvator Rosa, are shown with two dozen significant drawings from the Goldmans’ existing collection, including masterpieces by Pietro da Cortona, the Carracci, and Francesco Salviati. 

The exhibition features many of the Goldmans’ promised gifts to the Art Institute alongside about 20 related works from the museum’s Prints and Drawings Collection that provide greater historical context for this prodigious era of Italian art.

The exhibition focuses on “The Art of Composition” by displaying drawings from the late 15th to the mid-17th century according to their intended function. Organized by drawing type—figures,
head studies, and compositional sketches—Strokes of Genius invites viewers to compare the use of media and technique in each category. Most were executed as working drawings to develop compositions for paintings, sculpture, and decorative arts. 

This collection provides a unique opportunity to view more than one study for a single project. On display are multiple preparatory sheets for one commission allowing viewers to witness the thought process of the artist as he rejects and changes ideas while searching for his form. 

Two sheets by Francesco Vanni (1563–1610) for The Coronation of the Virgin, created for the Chiesa del Santuccio in Siena between 1610 and 1614, vividly illustrate this process.

Pirro Ligorio. A Scene from The Golden Ass by Apuleius, n.d. Promised gift of Jean and Steven Goldman.

In addition to preparatory drawings, the exhibition includes meticulously finished presentation renderings that were executed as works of art in their own right, including a set of the Four Evangelists by Guercino (1591?–1666). The increasing interest in presentation drawings by both collectors and scholars reflects the importance placed on drawing as a medium capable of conveying artistic genius and worthy of collecting for its singular merits. In addition to well- known artists of the period, the exhibition includes a number of stellar works by masters who were once deemed minor but have since been reconsidered by scholars.

Battista Franco, Il Semolei. A Male Nude Bending Over, 1560/61. Promised gift of Jean and Steven Goldman.

An exhibition catalogue, prepared by independent scholars Jean Goldman and Nicolas Schwed, includes essays situating the collection within the context of Mannerism and examining the role of drawing in the business of art. 

Thomas Roberts: Landscape and Patronage in Eighteenth-Century Ireland

This exhibition, which featured some 50 works by Roberts, was the first significant show devoted to the artist and the largest ever gathering of his works. 

Landscape with Waterfall and Rustic Bridge

It coincided with the publication of the most comprehensive study on the artist in over 30 years, 'Thomas Roberts: Landscape and Patronage in Eighteenth-Century Ireland', written by William Laffan and Brendan Rooney, who have also curated the National Gallery exhibition. 

 Thomas Roberts: Ideal Landscape ; ca. 1770; National Gallery of Ireland.
There has not been an in-depth presentation of Roberts's work since the National Gallery's exhibition in 1978 when just 16 works by the artist were on display. Since then, important paintings by Roberts have come to light and now have an opportunity to be admired in full splendor.

Out of the 64 autograph works assembled for the book, 47 were included in the exhibition, all of which belong to a career that lasted just a decade. Roberts died in Lisbon, tragically young at the age of 28, in 1777, and not in 1778 as previously thought.
The exhibition focused on key areas of the artist's oeuvre: topographical views of picturesque locations in Dublin, Wicklow and Meath, as well as wonderful views of the north-west of Ireland, featuring subjects painted in and around Lough Erne, Belturbet, Belleek and Ballyshanon. 

Thomas Roberts` ‘Landscape with Slane Castle’—Oil on canvas Exhibited at the Pyms Gallery, London (Public Domain)

There were examples of his storm scenes and ideal landscapes and the wonderful demesne views of Dawson Grove, Co. Monaghan, Slane, Co. Meath, and the Casino at Marino. 

Landscape with two men and a horse 

Unique to the exhibition was Roberts's series of views of some of Ireland's finest demesnes such as the Lucan series, and the complete set of views at Carton, Co. Kildare. 

Also included was a rare portrait of the artist by Hugh Douglas Hamilton (recently acquired by the National Gallery of Ireland), as well as paintings by Roberts's teachers; George Mullins and John Butts, and his contemporaries George Barret, Robert Carver and William Ashford.
Thomas Roberts was born in Waterford, in 1748, the son of architect, 'Honest John' Roberts (1714-1796), who is synonymous with the two Cathedrals in Waterford.
In 1762, Roberts enrolled in the Dublin Society Drawing Schools where he trained under George Mullins (fl.1756-1775/6), a distinguished landscape painter in his own right, and the Cork born artist, John Butts (c.1728-65). Roberts developed a distinctive approach to landscape painting. His close attention to detail of the Irish landscape, together with an instinctive ability in capturing the effects of nature, earned him critical acclaim during his short career.
As a consequence, he invited great interest and subsequent patronage from some of the highest ranking figures in Ireland, among them Sir Ralph Gore, Earl of Ross, and Viscount Belleisle (Belle Isle at Lough Erne); Thomas Dawson, Baron Dartrey (Dawson Grove, Co. Monaghan), Lord Charlemont (Marino), the Veseys of Lucan Demesne and the FitzGeralds of Carton House and Demesne. Roberts was also commissioned by the Leesons of Russborough House.
The exhibition included many previously unknown works, the majority of which have been assembled from private collections as well as from the National Gallery of Ireland, and other museums in Ireland and abroad. 

It highlighted the artist's outstanding achievements during his short career spanning the 1760s and 1770s. This together with the thorough study on Roberts by William Laffan and Brendan Rooney, aimed to make his work more widely known which up until now has been little appreciated outside specialist circles. Roberts was an enigmatic figure whose life and work are celebrated in this much anticipated retrospective exhibition and aims to place him in the annals of European landscape painting.

Watercolors by Homer: The Color of Light

The Art Institute of Chicago presented Watercolors by Winslow Homer: The Color
of Light,  130 works that reveal Homer’s astounding mastery of watercolor,
exploring how he unlocked the secrets of the medium over a period of more than three
Offering the most comprehensive exhibition of Homer’s watercolors in decades, Watercolors by Winslow Homer: The Color of Light was organized by and mounted exclusively at the Art Institute. The exhibition was view February 16–May 10, 2008.

After the Hurricane, Bahamas, 1899

The Watcher, Tynemouth

“A much richer picture of Winslow Homer as a practicing artist emerges from this exhibition,” said Martha Tedeschi, curator of prints and drawings at the Art Institute and
the exhibition’s curator. “ Homer’s watercolors have often been characterized as free, spontaneous images captured outdoors during fishing trips or in moments of leisure. Indeed many of them do have that feeling—which is exhilarating. But what we found as we investigated more closely using a variety of analytical conservation technologies is that he often put a great deal of thought and careful planning into his watercolors, sometimes changing his mind and making radical alterations to the image. And as this exhibition and its catalogue demonstrate, watercolor was the artist’s favorite way to experiment with new ideas about color and light, two of his central preoccupations. In many ways, Homer’s watercolors reveal him at his most modern, most daring, and most passionate moments. They also speak movingly about his love of nature and offer profound insights about humanity’s place in.”

The Rapids, Hudson River, Adirondacks

American painter Winslow Homer (1836–1910) created some of the most breathtaking and influential images in the history of the watercolor medium. He was, famously, a man who received almost no formal artistic education. Acknowledged in his own day as America’s most original and independent watercolorist, he had an intuitive relationship with this challenging medium. Between 1873 and 1905, he created nearly 700 watercolors—an astonishing number. A staple of his livelihood, watercolors were quick drying and portable. The medium became his movable classroom, a way for him to learn through experimentation—with color theory, composition, materials, optics, style, subject matter, and technique—far more freely than he could in the more public and tradition- bound arena of oil painting.

North Woods Club, Adirondacks (The Interrupted Tete-a-Tete)

Watercolors by Winslow Homer: The Color of Light was arranged in thematic sections, organized around the different sites where the artist worked. These invited viewers both to look closely at Homer’s watercolor techniques and also to step back in order to appreciate the way he adapted his light effects and color palette to the unique characteristics of the settings where he worked. In an almost uncanny way, Homer’s watercolors nearly always ring true, vividly capturing the tangible sensations of each environment. A total of 130 watercolors, oils, drawings, and prints from public and private collections throughout the United States told the story of Homer’s development as a watercolor artist, chronicling his techniques, materials, and his responses to dramatic settings—the rocky, deserted coast of Maine, the lush habitats of the Adirondack Mountains, and mesmerizing vistas in the Caribbean and Florida. The exhibition demonstrated the central role that watercolor played in helping the artist achieve the fresh, immediate, light-filled scenes that have become his most enduring legacy to American art.

A beautifully illustrated catalogue accompanied Watercolors by Winslow Homer: The Color of Light. Published by the Art Institute in association with Yale University Press, the 228- page volume presents essays written by Tedeschi and by Art Institute paper conservator Kristi Dahm. The catalogue also includes major contributions by Homer specialist Judith Walsh, associate professor of conservation at Buffalo State University, and by exhibition research assistant Karen Huang. 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Picasso Through the Eyes of a Connoisseur: Sales at Sotheby's Nov. 3-5

Picasso Through the Eyes of a Connoisseur is a collection of over 125 etchings, linoleum cuts, paintings, sculptures, lithographs and ceramics by one of the most influential artists of the 20th century. The offerings begin with a single owner sale of Prints on 3 November 2014 that presents a comprehensive view of Pablo Picasso’s entire career – from 1923 Le Collier to works from the 1970s – with estimates ranging from a few thousand to $600,000.

 Led by a number of Picasso’s most celebrated works, including 

Portrait de Femme au Chapeau a Pompons et au Corsage Imprime from 1962 (est. $400/600,000) 

and Portrait de Jeune Fille d'après Cranach le Jeune, II (est. $400/600,000) from 1958, 

the breadth of the collection illustrates the artist’s wide ranging iconography. Paintings and drawings by Picasso will also be included in the 4 & 5 November Impressionist and Modern Art Evening and Day sales.

Throughout his career, Picasso mastered various artistic mediums including drawing, painting, sculpture, ceramics, printmaking, set design and illustration. While most often associated with the Cubist movement, Picasso used etching, drypoint, aquatint, lithography and linoleum cuts for their intrinsic artistic properties from the early 1900’s until just a few months before his death. The present collection a veritable survey collection of Picasso’s career and capabilities as a printmaker, painstakingly assembled by a private American collector over several decades, admirably demonstrates Picasso’s ability to evolve, to innovate and to project his visual vocabulary in multiple media.

In addition to examples of some of Picasso’s most iconic and sought-after works, other highlights from the collection celebrate the artist’s technical skill and quest to capture the essence of a subject over the course of many stages of the image’s progression. 

Femme aux Cheveux Verts is a set of eight lithographs from 1949 depicting Françoise Gilot, Picasso’s lover and muse, in various phases – lacking hair, lacking a face, lacking color (est. $400/600,000). The viewer is able to see over the course of the eight states how a composition can be revised and how each phase contributes to the final work.

The collection also reveals Picasso’s mastery of three dimensional media, including 

a 23 karat gold plate from 1956 entitled Jacqueline au Chevalet (est. $150/250,000). 

Again using a wife, Jacqueline Roque, as subject matter; the gold plate depicts her at an easel – the reversal of her in control of easel is a rare repositioning of the role his muses played in his work. 

Ceramics in the collection range from $3,000 to $250,000 offering plates, statuettes, plaques and vases also including Personnages et Têtes from 1954 (est. $80/120,000) and a 23 carat gold figure entitled Joueur de Cymbale from 1960 (est. $50/80,000).

A painting by Picasso will be offered in the Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale on 4 November 2014. Depicting Picasso’s lover and “golden muse,” 

Femme au Col de Fourrure (Marie-Thérèse) from 1937 is estimated at $4/6 million. Painted two years after the birth of the couple’s daughter Maya, the picture illustrates the inventiveness, energy and passion that Marie-Thérèse inspired during the Surrealist period. 

Picasso drawings, including Harlequin et Femme Nue from 1969 (est. $250/350,000) and Le Retournant de la Paix from 1962 (est. $70/90,000) will be offered in Impressionist & Modern Art Day Sale on 5 November 2014. 

Two additional works from the collection, 

Henri Matisse’s Nu Allongée (est. $150/250,000) dated 1921 

and L'écuyère au Cheval Blanc (est. $600/800,000) by Marc Chagall from 1927, 

will also be included in the Day Sale. 

El Greco in New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Frick Collection

To commemorate the 400th anniversary of the death of El Greco (Domenikos Theotokopoulos, 1541–1614), a special collaboration will bring together all of the artist’s paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s collection, the finest outside the Museo del Prado in Madrid, and six loans from the Hispanic Society of America, November 4, 2014–February 1, 2015.
During the same period, New York’s Frick Collection, whose works by this artist cannot be lent, will exhibit its three El Greco pictures together for the first time. El Greco at The Frick Collection, on view November 4, 2014, through February 1, 2015, will unite its three remarkable El Greco paintings—Purification of the Temple and the portraits of Vincenzo Anastagi and St. Jerome—showing them together, for the first time, on one wall of the museum’s East Gallery.
Works on View at The Frick Collection:
Saint Jerome (1905.1.67)
Portrait of Vincenzo Anastagi (1913.1.68)
Purification of the Temple (1909.1.66)

On view at the Metropolitan Museum beginning November 4, 2014, El Greco in New York will be, in effect, a mini-retrospective of the artist, with the nine paintings from the Metropolitan Museum and six from the Hispanic Society of America spanning El Greco’s entire career, from his arrival in Venice in 1567, through his move to Rome in 1570 and his long residence in Toledo, Spain, from 1577 until his death in 1614.
El Greco’s religious paintings, portraits, and The View of Toledo, a masterpiece of the Metropolitan Museum’s collection, will make this presentation a unique experience. Few Old Master painters have exercised such a profound influence on modern art as has El Greco, one of the most original artists of the European tradition.
Exhibition Credits
El Greco in New York is organized by Keith Christiansen, John Pope-Hennessy Chairman of the Department of European Paintings, and Walter Liedtke, Curator in the Department of European Paintings, both at the Metropolitan Museum.
Works on View at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in El Greco in New York:
The Miracle of Christ Healing the Blind (1978.416)
Christ Carrying the Cross (1975.1.145)
The View of Toledo (29.100.6)
Portrait of a Man (possibly a self-portrait) (24.197.1)
Saint Jerome as a Cardinal (1975.1.146)
Portrait of a Cardinal, Probably Cardinal Don Fernando Niño de Guevara (29.100.5)
The Adoration of the Shepherds (05.42)
The Adoration of the Shepherds (41.190.17)
The Vision of Saint John (56.48)
The Pietà (Hispanic Society of America no. A69)
Saint Luke (Hispanic Society of America no. A1894)
The Holy Family (Hispanic Society of America no. A74)
rty u
Penitent Saint Jerome (Hispanic Society of America no. A73)
Portrait of a Man (miniature: Hispanic Society of America no. A311)