Saturday, August 31, 2013

Australian Artist Hugh Ramsay 1877-1906

Hugh Ramsay (Australian artist, 1877-1906), Woman in White 1902

Hugh Ramsay (1877-1906) was born at Glasgow, Scotland, 6th son of John Ramsay, die-sinker & engraver, & his wife Margaret, née Thomson. In 1878, the family migrated to Melbourne. The Ramsays raised their 9 children piously at the substantial family home, Clydebank, Essendon. Hugh attended Essendon Grammar School. Gifted in both art & music, he was organist & choirmaster at the Congregational Church, Ascot Vale.

Hugh Ramsay (Australian artist, 1877-1906), Nellie Patterson

In 1894, he entered the National Gallery schools under Bernard Hall & Frederick McCubbin. Hall's teaching steeped Ramsay in the tonal tradition of Velasquez & stimulated his interest in the portraiture of Whistler & Manet. In 1897, he briefly attended classes with E. Phillips Fox & T. St G. Tucker at Charterisville, Heidelberg. Ramsay was a diligent student with a natural facility; his prize-winning was impressive, but he failed to gain the traveling scholarship in 1896 & 1899.  Tall, slim & dark, Ramsay was remembered as modest & sensitive with a keen wit & a critical eye. He was close to his family &, of his large output from ten years of active work, they are often his subjects.

Hugh Ramsay (Australian artist, 1877-1906), Ambrose Patterson

Determined to study in Europe, he sailed in September 1900, meeting on board George & Amy Lambert. In Paris, he shared James MacDonald's studio, a dilapidated building at Montparnasse which housed other artists including Ambrose Patterson, Henry Ossawa Tanner, & Frederick Freiseke. The Lamberts lived nearby. Both Ramsay & Lambert studied at the Académie Colarossi. Ramsay's visits to the Louvre to study Velasquez & the Old Masters improved his work. He reportedly painted from dawn till late at night & his influence on Patterson & Lambert became evident.

Hugh Ramsay (Australian artist, 1877-1906), Nellie Melba

In April 1902, Ramsay won international acclaim when four of five paintings submitted to the New Salon were accepted & grouped together, an honour normally extended only to members of the Société Nationale des Beaux Arts. Ramsay seemed on the brink of success but within weeks of his arrival his doctor diagnosed tuberculosis, caused by the overwork & poor living conditions during 2 winters in Paris. An immediate return to Australia was prescribed.

Hugh Ramsay (Australian artist, 1877-1906), Jeanne

Melba returned to Australia soon after Ramsay. She held an exhibition of his works at her Toorak house, Myoora, in December 1902, & commissioned him to paint her father & niece. In Australia, Ramsay was appointed to the judging panel for the gallery school's annual student exhibition & to the Victorian Artists' Society's selection committee.

Hugh Ramsay (Australian artist, 1877-1906), Lady in Blue

Despite medical orders to rest, Ramsay continued to work, painting with a new vigour & breadth of style derived from his recent admiration for Sargent, producing large-scale canvases exhibited at the V.A.S. in 1903 & 1904. In 1904, he was forced to end his 5-year engagement to Lischen Muller & to rest in the country at Barnawatha. He died at Clydebank in March 1906, at the age of 28.

Hugh Ramsay (Australian artist, 1877-1906), The Sisters

Hugh Ramsay (Australian artist, 1877-1906), Portrait of a Young Girl

Hugh Ramsay (Australian artist, 1877-1906), Madge 1902

Hugh Ramsay (Australian artist, 1877-1906), Self Portrait 1902

Hugh Ramsay (Australian artist, 1877-1906), Seated Figure

Hugh Ramsay (Australian artist, 1877-1906), Self Portrait

Much of the biography from the Australian Dictionary of Biography essay by Patricia Fullerton.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Woman Artist - Helene Schjerfbeck (1862-1946)

The Finnish artist Helene Schjerfbeck (1862-1946) painted mainly works depicting herself, other women, children, & the home. Born in Helsinki, she began her training at the Finnish Fine Art Association's Drawing School as a precocious 11-year-old.

1880s Helene Schjerfbeck (1862-1946) Picking Bluebells

Periods of study in Paris during the 1880s gave her the chance to see the works of Pierre Puvis de Chavannes (1824-1898), Edouard Manet (1832-1883), Paul Cézanne (1839-1906), Berthe Morisot (1841-1895), & Jules Bastien-Lepage (1848-1884). During the decade, she also traveled to Florence, St Petersburg, Vienna, & Great Britain. At the Paris Exhibition of 1889, the 27-year old artist was awarded a bronze medal for her painting ‘Le Convalescent’, which shows Impressionist influence.

1884 Helene Schjerfbeck (1862-1946) Naisprofiili

A Finnish grant had first allowed her to travel to Paris in 1880. There she studied with Léon Bonnat & Jean-Léon Gérôme at Madame Trélat de Vigny's painting studio for ladies. In 1881, she went to the private Académie Colarossi, where she was taught by Raphael Colin (1850-1916) & Gustave Courtois (1852-1924), who called her "une de mes meilleures élèves" in a letter of recommendation characterizing her as "très laborieuse" & as one of the most talented students, "certainement une des mieux douées." Until 1890, she returned frequently to Paris; & in 1884, she had her own studio there, which she longed for again as she aged.

1900 Helene Schjerfbeck (1862-1946) Girl Reading

Between 1881 & 1884, she journeyed to Pont-Aven & Concarneau in Brittany with fellow female painters Marianne Preindelsberger (1855-1927) & Maria Wiik (1853-1928). Pont-Aven had attracted artists as early as the 1860s. The 3 Finnish women artists were there before Paul Gauguin (1848-1903), who arrived in Brittany in July 1886. It became a trendy venue for plein air painters from the late 1880s through early 1890s. In Brittany, Schjerfbeck met an English artist, to whom she was briefly engaged. But when the relationship ended, she traveled to St. Ives in Cornwall.

1903 Helene Schjerfbeck (1862-1946) At Home Mother Sewing

In the 1890s she simplified her style, eliminating background detail and reducing her palette. These stylistic changes are seen in many of the portraits she painted of herself, her mother, and others.Schjerfbeck’s work shows a highly individual development, transforming gradually from melancholy, late 19th-century academic Realism to her own very personal style tending towards abstract Expressionism displaying perfectly balanced colors.

1905 Helene Schjerfbeck (1862-1946) The Seamstress (The Working Woman)

From about 1902 her delicate health began to deteriorate (although she lived into her 80s); and she adopted a solitary life living with her mother at Hyvinkaa, almost forgotten, developing a much more simplified style. During this early period alone, her work was dominated by domestic scenes, featuring women and children engaged in reading or embroidery.

1907 Helene Schjerfbeck (1862-1946) Elämänpuun Tyttö

As details gradually disappeared from her paintings, they gained increasing depth, approaching an abstract technique which was far ahead of her time.

1907 Helene Schjerfbeck (1862-1946) Stilhet

After this interval of semi-obscurity, Schjerfbeck made a second breakthrough in 1917 with her first solo exhibition, mounted by the art dealer Gösta Stenman in Helsinki. Besides early works, it included recent paintings which, like works of earlier artists such as Vincent van Gogh and Paul Gauguin, were apparently inspired by Japanese masters.

1907 Helene Schjerfbeck (1862-1946) Old Woman

After her work was exhibited in 1937, she was recognized as one of the pioneers of modernism in Finland.

1908 Helene Schjerfbeck (1862-1946) Seated Woman in White Dress

1909 Helene Schjerfbeck (1862-1946) Maria

Helene Schjerfbeck (1862-1946)

1915 Helene Schjerfbeck (1862-1946) ) The Family Heirloom

1916 Helene Schjerfbeck (1862-1946) Singer in Black

1916 Helene Schjerfbeck (1862-1946) The Circus Girl

1919 Helene Schjerfbeck (1862-1946) The Gipsy Woman

1920 Helene Schjerfbeck (1862-1946) Dreams

1925 Helene Schjerfbeck (1862-1946) Blond Woman

1926 Helene Schjerfbeck (1862-1946) ) The Fortune-Teller (Woman in Yellow Dress)

1927 Helene Schjerfbeck (1862-1946) Rosy-Cheeked Girl

1927 Helene Schjerfbeck (1862-1946) The Seamstress (The Working Woman), half-length portrait

1927 Helene Schjerfbeck (1862-1946) ) Girl from Eydtkuhnen II

1928 Helene Schjerfbeck (1862-1946) Omenatytto

1929 Helene Schjerfbeck (1862-1946) Girl From the Islands

1933 Helene Schjerfbeck (1862-1946) The Teacher

1933 Helene Schjerfbeck (1862-1946) Göta

1934 Helene Schjerfbeck (1862-1946) Girl from California

1939 Helene Schjerfbeck (1862-1946) Forty Year Old

1941 Helene Schjerfbeck (1862-1946) Girl from Loviisa

1942 Helene Schjerfbeck (1862-1946) Friends

1943 Helene Schjerfbeck (1862-1946) Nurse I (Kaija Lahtinen)

1944 Helene Schjerfbeck (1862-1946) Portrait of a Girl in Blue and Brown (Inez)

See additional postings on Helen Schjerfbeck here.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Woman Artist - Self-Portraits - Helene Schjerfbeck (1862–1946)

Helene Schjerfbeck (1862-1946) 1890 Photo

Helene Schjerfbeck (1862-1946) painted at least 36 self-portraits throughout her career. The older she became, the more isolated she became. Her later portraits reveal a sort of visual confrontational self-analysis. Between 1939 & 1945, not long before her death, she produced her most impressive series of self-portraits, in which she records her own physical deterioration with shocking honesty. Her facial features become increasingly hollow, until only the ghost of a skull remains. This uncompromising series of portraits can be intensely emotional for some viewers & just plain frightening for others, especially those who find themselves growing quickly older with each passing day.

See additional postings on Helene Schjerfbeck here.

Helene Schjerfbeck (1862-1946) Self Portrait 1885

Helene Schjerfbeck (1862-1946) Self Portrait 1884-5

Helene Schjerfbeck (1862–1946) Self Portrait 1912

Helene Schjerfbeck (1862–1946) Self Portrait 1915

Helene Schjerfbeck (1862-1946) Self Portrait

Helene Schjerfbeck (1862-1946) Self Portrait

Helene Schjerfbeck (1862-1946) Self Portrait

Helene Schjerfbeck (1862-1946) Self Portrait

Helene Schjerfbeck (1862-1946) Self Portrait

Helene Schjerfbeck (1862-1946) Self-Portrait with Red Spot, 1944

Helene Schjerfbeck (1862-1946) An Old Painter 1945

Helene Schjerfbeck (1862-1946) Self Portrait 1940s