Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Just one more Millais - Shakespeare's women - The Quality of Mercy


John Everett Millais (English painter, 1829-1896) Portia

Perhaps it is not a crown or power that makes a leader...

The quality of mercy is not strain'd,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath: it is twice blest;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes:
'Tis mightiest in the mightiest: it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown;
His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;
But mercy is above this sceptred sway;
It is enthroned in the hearts of kings,
It is an attribute to God himself;
And earthly power doth then show likest God's
When mercy seasons justice.

Shakespeare's Portia, The Merchant of Venice IV i 179



Thursday, April 17, 2014

Remembering my parent's wedding day...


William Hogarth (British artist, 1697–1764) The Wedding of Stephen Beckingham and Mary Cox


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

American Artist Charles Webster Hawthorne (1872-1930)


Charles Webster Hawthorne (1872 - 1930) The Coral Necklace

Charles Webster Hawthorne (1872 - 1930) arrived in New York City in 1894 at the age of 22 & enrolled in the Art Students League as a night student, while working days to support his dream of becoming a painter. Hawthorne began studying under American impressionist William Merritt Chase in 1896.


Charles Webster Hawthorne (1872 - 1930) Daffodils

After a brief stint as Chase's assistant, Hawthorne traveled to Holland in 1898, where he was influenced by the tonal style of Franz Hals. That year abroad inspired Hawthorne to return to the United States & open his own school, The Cape Cod School of Art in Provincetown, Massachusetts, where he taught for 30 years.


Charles Webster Hawthorne (1872 - 1930) Early Spring

Hawthorne was content with a simple life of painting & he was devoted to a friendly style of teaching which attracted students to his school in the small fishing village of Provincetown.

Charles Webster Hawthorne (1872 - 1930) Girl with Pan

Students learned from Hawthorne not only how to paint but also how "to see & feel their subjects." He would often tell his pupils, "Anything under the sun is beautiful if you have the vision -- it is the seeing of the thing that makes it so."

Charles Webster Hawthorne (1872 - 1930) Girl with Red Rose

The study of the figure, reflected in the harsh, brutal realistic paintings of Portuguese fishing families along the Cape, was his first love. In his figures, he was noted for the placement of the head & the gaze emanating from his subjects.


Charles Webster Hawthorne (1872 - 1930) Girl with Vase


Charles Webster Hawthorne (1872 - 1930) Little Dora

Hawthorne’s student at The Cape Cod School of Art Stephen Gilman wrote, "We came to Provincetown conceited, hoping to get a finishing course, & were literally dragged back to consider matters so elementary & so fundamental we had all forgotten the little we ever knew of them."

Charles Webster Hawthorne (1872 - 1930) Mrs Woodruf 1924

"This deliberate insistence of fundamentals was the thing that marked Charles Hawthorne as a great teacher," Gilman continued. "A lesser man would have been tempted to show off. A lesser man would have succumbed to the questions about trifling things. A lesser man would have wandered into verbal bypaths. But he was strong because of his simplicity. He was strong because he had the courage to repeat over & over again his fundamental concept of art, knowing full well that should his hearers once understanding his meaning, they would never be able to forget it."

Charles Webster Hawthorne (1872 - 1930) Spring

Charles Webster Hawthorne (1872 - 1930) The Trousseau

Charles Webster Hawthorne (1872 - 1930) The Captain's Wife 1924


Charles Webster Hawthorne (1872 - 1930) The Fisherman's Daughter


Charles Webster Hawthorne (1872 - 1930) Annette


Charles Webster Hawthorne (1872 - 1930) Fisherman and His Daughter


Charles Webster Hawthorne (1872 - 1930) Fisherman's Daughter


Charles Webster Hawthorne (1872 - 1930) Mayme Noons


Charles Webster Hawthorne (1872 - 1930) Mother and Child


Charles Webster Hawthorne (1872 - 1930) Motherhood Triumphant


Charles Webster Hawthorne (1872 - 1930) The Bath Emelyn Nickerson with Baby


Charles Webster Hawthorne (1872 - 1930) The Family


Charles Webster Hawthorne (1872 - 1930) The Lovers


Charles Webster Hawthorne (1872 - 1930) Young Girl


Charles Webster Hawthorne (1872 - 1930) Three Women of Provincetown


Friday, April 4, 2014

Ralph Earl's American Revolution propaganda drawings


Ralph Earl (American artist, 1751-1801) Plate I The Battle of Lexington, April 19th. Doolittle 1775. The engravings of the battles of Lexington and Concord in 1775. Amos Doolittle (engraver) and Ralph Earl

Massachusetts-born painter Ralph Earl (1751-1801) was known primarily for His portraits. By 1774 he was working in New Haven, Connecticut, as a portrait painter. In 1775, Earl visited Lexington & amp; Concord, Which were the sites of recent battles between the colonists & amp; the British. Working in collaboration with the engraver Amos Doolittle, Earl drew 4 That battle scenes were used as pro-Revolutionary propaganda prints. As it turned out, Although His father was a colonel in the Revolutionary army, Earl himself was apparently a Loyalist. In 1778, he escaped to England by disguising himself as the servant of the British army captain John Money. These prints are at the New York City Public Library.

Ralph Earl (American artist, 1751-1801) Plate II A view of the town of Concord The Doolittle engravings of the battles of Lexington and Concord in 1775. Amos Doolittle (engraver) and Ralph Earl


Ralph Earl (American artist, 1751-1801) Plate III The engagement at the North Bridge in Concord The Doolittle engravings of the battles of Lexington and Concord in 1775. Amos Doolittle (engraver) and Ralph Earl


Ralph Earl (American artist, 1751-1801) Plate IV A view of the south part of The Lexington Doolittle engravings of the battles of Lexington and Concord in 1775. Amos Doolittle (engraver) and Ralph Earl


Thursday, April 3, 2014

The heroic, harrowing life of American colonial Henrietta Johnston 1674-1729


Henrietta Johnston was a remarkable woman, not just because she was America's 1st known female portraitist & the 1st artist on this side of the Atlantic known to have worked in pastels, but because she lived a heroic life balancing her talent with the emotional & physical ups & downs of two rather inadequate husbands, while rearing a growing family.

1711 Henrietta Johnston (American colonial era artist, 1674-1729) Henriette Charlotte de Chastaigner (Mrs Nathaniel Broughton)

She traveled from the old world to the new several times. Each trip across the Atlantic was a risk. Ship passengers knew that their lives were in danger throughout the voyage, but they forged ahead anyway.

1705 Henrietta Johnston (American colonial era artist, 1674-1729) Young Irish Girl.

At the age of 10 or 12, Henrietta de Beaulieu, fled with her Huguenot family to England from France to avoid persecution. In 1694, she married Robert Dering (1669-1702-4),the fifth son of Sir Edward Dering, moving to Ireland. Their marriage application of March 23, 1694, describes Henrietta as a maiden, about 20, of the Parish of St. Martin-in-the-Fields.

1705 Henrietta Johnston (American colonial era artist, 1674-1729) Unknown Dublin Lady in Grey Dress.

When she was in Ireland, two artists there were doing pastel portraits, Edmund Ashfield (d. 1700) & Edward Luttrell, who flourished from 1699 to 1720. Pastels were a relatively new medium at the time. It is possible that she met or even learned from these men, who may have trained in France where the pastels originated. 

1708-09 Henrietta Johnston (American colonial era artist, 1674-1729) Unknown Lady.

Her earliest identified extant works are from about 1704 in Ireland. She was a single mother at this time, for she remarried the following year. She was probably painting to help support her family. When her first husband Dering died, she became a widow with two daughters, one of whom, Mary, later became a lady in waiting for the daughters of George II. The pastel portraits she painted during this period were mostly of members of deceased husband’s extended family.

1708-10 Henrietta Johnston (American colonial era artist, 1674-1729) Marianne Fleur Du Gue (Mrs Pierre Bacot)

In 1705, she wed the Reverend Mr. Gideon Johnston (1668-1716), a graduate of Trinity College, Dublin, who was the widowed vicar at Castlemore & who was to become rector appointed by the Bishop of London, of St. Philip’s Church in Charles Town, South Carolina, in 1708. He needed a wife to help with his children, as they prepared to leave for the new world.

Charleston was a fledgling town at this time scrambling to become become the most affluent & largest city in the South, the leading port & trading center for the southern colonies. Many French Protestant Huguenots, seeking religious freedom, were moving to Charleston, where they began building fine townhouses along the harbor's edge & wanted portraits to grace their hallways & establish their family's presence as a power.

1708 Henrietta Johnston (American colonial era artist, 1674-1729) Mary DuBose (Mrs Samuel Wragg)

Henrietta, her new husband, & 3 children from their combined family set sail for his assignment in Charleston. The story goes that on a ship stopover in the Madeira Islands, the groom went ashore, returning after the ship had already sailed for Charleston. It was surely a sign of things to come.

Henrietta landed in South Carolina, with the children in tow, only to discover that the parishioners had appointed their own rector while waiting for the London Bishop's appointee. There was no pulpit or parsonage for the new family; & at that moment, there was no husband to help figure out what to do next.

1710 Henrietta Johnston (American colonial era artist, 1674-1729) Catherine LeNoble (Mrs Robert Taylor)

When The Reverend Mr. Johnston finally arrived in Charleston 12 days later, he had to oust the elected rector from his pulpit. This was not a popular move, & Gideon Johnston became bogged down in church politics. He wrote in September, 1708, that he "never repented so much of anything, my Sins only excepted, as my coming to this Place."

1710 Henrietta Johnston (American colonial era artist, 1674-1729) Susanne LeNoble (Mrs Alexander de Chastaigner) (Mrs Rene Louis Ravenel)

In Charleston, the Henrietta Johnston added to the family's meager coffers by drawing 9" by 12" portraits of many of Charleston’s French Huguenot residents & members of St. Philip’s Church. Frustrated by debt & problems, probably of his own making, once he arrived in South Carolina, The Reverend Mr. Gideon Johnston complained to the Bishop in 1709: “Were it not for the Assistance my wife gives me by drawing of Pictures…I shou’d not have been able to live.”

1715 Henrietta Johnston (American colonial era artist, 1674-1729) Mary Magdalen Gendron (Mrs Samuel Prioleu) 1691-1765.

Henrietta's popularity as a portraitist grew, as his popularity declined. She kept painting, making friends, raising his children, keeping house, & acting as his secretary. By the spring of 1711, she'd run out of art supplies, just as her husband's congregation wanted to send some important messages back to the Bishop in London by personal carrier.

1717-18 Henrietta Johnston (American colonial era artist, 1674-1729) Mary Griffith (Mrs Robert Brewton) (Mrs William Loughton) 1698-1761.

Afraid that their now indebted, unpopular clergyman might skip out on his local debts, the church sent Henrietta to London with the missives for the church hierarchy. The little jaunt to London took 3 years. Enough time for her to restock her art supplies with French pastels. Throughout her career she typically used 9 x 12-inch sheets of paper in simple wooden frames, which she often signed & dated on the back.

1719 Henrietta Johnston (American colonial era artist, 1674-1729) Judith Wragg

On her return voyage, she was involved with some frightening pirates; and shortly after her return, her clergyman spouse drowned in a boating accident. She remained in Charleston, when her sons later returned to England. She & her work remained popular in the colonies, even taking her to New York to paint portraits request there.

1720 Henrietta Johnston (American colonial era artist, 1674-1729) Anne Broughton (Mrs John Gibbes)

Her extant Irish works are all detailed waist-length portraits with well-defined facial features, lively & expressive eyes, attention to clothing details, & dramatic background shading.

1722 Henrietta Johnston (American colonial era artist, 1674-1729) Anne DuBose (Mrs Job Rothmahler)

Nearly 40 works attributed to Johnston survive, many of these in their original frames signed & dated by the artist.

1725 Henrietta Johnston (American colonial era artist, 1674-1729) Elizabeth Colden Mrs Peter DeLancey (1719-1784)

Several of her Charleston portraits retain the time-consuming characteristics of her early Irish works, but most are bust-length with less detailing of clothing & facial features. She seldom painted the hands of her adult sitters.

1725 Henrietta Johnston (American colonial era artist, 1674-1729) Frances Moore Bayard.

In the colonies, her female subjects usually wore soft chemises, while her male sitters dressed in everyday clothes or in military garb. Her female colonial sitters are draped in either white or a soft gold, with white, ruffled borders on V-shaped neckline. Their hair is generally swept up, with ringlets falling over one shoulder.


Henrietta Johnston (American colonial era artist, 1674-1729) Anna Cuyler (Mrs. Anthony) Van Schaick, ca. 1725

Johnston’s portraits became almost dull in the period immediately after her rector husband’s unexpected death. It may have been that she missed her beloved. Or perhaps she realized that the entire burden for the family finally fell on her shoulders.

During this period, her subjects’ faces lack the lively expression of her earlier works, clothing details are hazy, & colors are dull. Perhaps she was running low on supplies, working too quickly, or just growing weary.

In the final years of her life, Johnston’s portraits vary in quality & detail. Some revert to her earlier lively facial & clothing details, while others have the far-away look seen after her 2nd husband’s untimely demise. Her New York portraits include small children, which do depict the children’s arms & hands. Whether portraying children or adults, Henrietta Johnston led the way for many portrait painters in early America.