Friday, April 30, 2010

Le Lorrain - Sea Port at Sunset

Claude le Lorrain (1605-1682) - Sea Port at Sunset (1635)
France Stamp issued 2008
Louvre Museum, Paris

Claude was born in Lorraine, which was a separate province to France at the time.  He lived a life of poverty in early years, but he eventually went on to work for cardinals and then Pope Urban VIII in Rome in the late 1620s.  He died a wealthy man.

He is most famous for his landscape work, most of which are now held in England.  At the time, landscapes were not considered worthy of being depicted in paintings.  Figures were usually in all of his paintings, but they were small and usually painted by other artists.  An interesting article from the Sydney Morning Herald in 1929 outlines some of the key features of Charles Lorrain's life.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Charles Le Brun - Femme A Genoux

Charles Le Brun (1619-1690) - Femme A Genoux or Nude Woman Kneeling (c. 1650)
First Day Cover - France Stamp issued 1973
Drawing held at the Louvre Museum Paris

This drawing was meant to be part of a larger work, where a young girl sinner was being struck down by a bolt of lightning by Jesus Christ.  

Charles Le Brun was one of the dominant forces of French Art in the 17th century.  He worked with royalty in parts of Europe and took joint control of the Academy of Painting and Sculpture in Paris in the mid 1600s.  Industrial arts grew immensely at this time, and Le Brun was one of the leading influences on the Loius XIV style of furnishing that was developed during this time.

Towards the latter years of his life, he was an academic and he completed a series of famous paintings depicting Alexander the Great.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Alexander Jackson - Yukon Territory Highway Near Kluane Lake

Alexander Jackson (1882-1974) - Yukon Territory Highway Near Kluane Lake (1943)
Canada Stamp issued 1982
National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa

Jackson, one of the founding members of  Canada's Group of Seven artists, was firstly a commercial artist in Chicago before he headed off to Paris to study Impressionist painting.  He traveled widely during his career, and primarily gained famed through his depictions of the Canadian landscape.   Yukon is depicted in full beuaty, but it is somewhat lonely and desolate at the same time.

This stamp was one of 12 modern art paintings that were depicted on Canada Day in 1982.  The stamps cover the ten provinces and 2 territories that make up Canada.  Rather ironically, A. Y. Jackson's work was used in this stamp issue, even though he made a prediction in 1946 that Canada would become part of the United States by 1971.  (Refer to news story here.)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Edgar Degas - Dancer with Bouquet

Edgar Degas (1834-1917) - Dancer with bouquet
France Stamp Issued 1970
Musee d'Orsay, Paris, France

Degas is regarded as one of the founders of the impressionist movement although he rejected the term, and preferred to refer to his work as realism. He was born into a relatively wealthy family in Paris, and he failed as a law student before embarking on an artistic career.  Degas travelled in Europe in addition to spending time in the United States in the 1870s as he had family there.

Towards the latter half of his career, he was quite successful as he was one of the key painters and organisers of the impressionist movement - however, his works are more known for their emphasis in depicting the beauty of movement of the human form.  As such, ballet is a common subject of Degas' work, consisting of up to a third of all his paintings.  This was quite a contemporary subject at Degas' time, as ballet was a common form of urban entertainment in France at the time when the impressionist movement took place.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Giotto - Sermon of the Birds

Fragment of Sermon of the Birds c. 1302 - Giotto di Bondone (1267-1337) 
France Stamp Issued 2008
Louvre, Paris

Giotto is now regarded as one of the key artists whose work signaled the end of Medieval Gothic and Byzantine Arts towards the early Renaissance.  This is one of his most important works - one of a series of paintings depicting the life of St Francis of Assisi - these frescos are also subject to some dispute as to whether they can be attributed to Giotto.

 Extract from "Renaissance Art" - Chambers Library:

"This is a famous fragment of the predella of a signed picture, which the artist executed for the Franciscans in Pisa.  The aura of spontaneous intimacy - with the saint portrayed in the presence of birds which are not depicted in the manner of medieval art but are individuated- authenticates this panel."

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Maurice Bramley - Join us in a Victory Job

Maurice Bramley - Join us in a Victory Job (1943)
Australian 41c Stamp Issued 1991
Poster held at the Australian War Memorial

This stamp was issued to commemorate Anzac Day in 1991.  This piece of propaganda art was produced during WWII, but the artist went on to produce comic books in the 1950sand 1960s.

This poster is held in the Australian War Memorial in Canberra: Extract from Australian War Memorial Website

"A Second World War poster depicting six women, representing the WRAN, AWAS, WAAAF, AWLA, AAMWS, and a munitions worker. The poster is designed to encourage women to join the services or become involved in industry to help in the war effort.

This work is a good example of the recruitment posters aimed at women during the Second World War. It draws on elements of popular visual culture to counter the perception of only a few years before that it was inappropriate for women to enlist in the military services or to work in heavy industry and agriculture. Using bright and vibrant colours, the poster employs imagery typical of pre war and contemporary advertising in its line up of attractive, radiant women of indeterminate age and social standing. The six women depicted include members of the three services, army and civilian nurses and, right at the front, a generic factory worker or land army girl. The imagery and the wide range of occupations make the poster all-encompassing, implying that there is a job for every Australian women and that she must take it up. The airbrushed attractiveness of the women also suggests that women who take up these new forms of employment retain their femininity, a major concern for men, and a reassurance for the women that their new and unfamiliar roles were legitimate."

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Heather Belle - Artist Unknown

Heather Belle (Artist Unknown) - Completed c. 1860
Romance of Sail Stamp Series issued 1998 Australia
Held in the Crowther Collection - State Library of Tasmania

This boat was built in 1855 and it mainly traded on the route from Sydney to Melbourne, although it did once complete a speedy passage from Melbourne to Britain in 67 days in 1856.  The boat had a relatively long life before being broken up in Balmain Sydney in 1894.

This is one of four ships that are depicted in this series: Romance of Sail.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Botticelli - The Birth of Venus

Botticelli - The Birth of Venus (1482)
France Stamp issued 2008
Painting held at Uffizi Museum, Florence Italy

This painting shows the goddess of beauty, Venus, coming to life after Zephyr has breathed life upon her.  Although the painting is clear and full of realism, it is also unrealistic, with an idealized coastline and Venus is unbalanced, with the wind blowing her in towards the coastline. 

Botticelli prodcued a large number of mythological and secular works, although he is also known for depictions of the Madonna.  This work was produced for the Medici family - he later went on to paint the family in his depiction of Adoration of the Magi.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Charles Dickson Gregory - Chusan

Charles Dickson Gregory - Chusan
La Trobe Collection - State Library of Victoria
Romance of Sail Series - Australia $1 Stamp issued 1998

The steamship Chusan commenced mail and passenger shipping operations from Britain to Australia in 1852.  It is thought that this sketch was completed around 1903.  Despite being a steamship, the sails were the main motive power for this ship. 

This is one of a series of four Romance of Sail stamps that were issued by Australia Post in 1998.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Archimboldo - Summer

Archimboldo (1529-1593) - Summer (1573)
France Stamp Issued 2008
The Louvre  - Paris, France

This painting was completed in a style that is classically famous for this painter, as a portrait has completed from fruits and vegetables.  

Although his paintings have a lot of contemporary appeal, they are also interesting from a historical perspective, because they chronicle the arrival of new species of fruits and vegetables in Italy at the time of the Rennaissance.  This painting includes an ear of corn, which would have been imported from the Americas, in addition to brown eggplant from Asia.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Raphael - La Belle Jardiniere

Raphael.  The Virgin and Child with Infant John the Baptist in a Landscape
"La Belle Jardiniere". (1507 or 1508)
France Stamp Issued 2008
Oil on panel. Louvre, Paris, France

This painting was completed by the artist when he lived in Florence.  It is one of his classics, with a pyramid style composition, and the depiction of the virgin with classic female beauty.  The infants are cherub like, the entire composition fitting perfectly into the surrounding landscape.

This painting was one of nine that were depicted in French stamps in 2008.

Monday, April 19, 2010

George Stubbs - Grey Stallion with Mares and Foals

George Stubbs (1724-1806) - Grey Stallion with Mares and Foals (1768)
Great Britain Stamp 9d Issued 1967
Painting held at the Tate Britain

This fellow was a legend in the art of drawing horses, after having spent 18 dubious months of his life carrying out a large number of dissections of horses, in order to learn about their anatomy.  This painting is one of many under this genre, and it was completed in 1768.

George Stubbs also painted other works of English landscapes and animals, but it is best known for his depictions of horses.  He sometimes painted these animals on a blank background, which was somewhat unusual for the time - his most famous work is probably Whistle Jacket.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Fujishima Takeji - Black Fan

Fujishima Takeji (1867-1943) - Black Fan (1908)
Japan 50 yen Stamp issued July 7, 1980
Modern Art Series
Painting held at the Bridgestone Museum of Art, Tokyo

This is a Western style painting, although the painter was Japanese.  Takeji travelled to the National School of Fine Arts in Paris from 1905-1910, where he developed a Western style of painting.  After 1910 he continued to live and work in Tokyo at the Tokyo Art School.

This painting is now housed in a museum in Tokyo that was founded by the founder of the Bridgestone tyre company.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Thomas Robertson - Marco Polo

Thomas Robertson (1819-1873) - Marco Polo 1859 
Australian Stamp issued 1998 - Romance of Sail Series
La Trobe Collection - State Library of Victoria

Robertson spent most of his life at sea, drawing pictures of ships, harbours and life in the ports of Australia and New Zealand in the mid 19th Century.  This painting was completed shortly before he became the master of the Lightning which ploughed the seas between Australia and New Zealand from 1860.

The artists eventually moved to Japan before his death in 1873 in Yokohama.

This stamp is one of a series of four stamps depecting the Romance of Sail - issued in 1998 by Australia Post.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Kaburagi Kiyokata - Leaf

Kaburagi Kiyokata 鏑木清方  (1873-1972) - "Leaf" 
Japanese Stamp Issued 1980
Modern Art Series

Kaburagi lived a colourful and long life during a period of huge social and political change in Japan.  This painting was commissioned in 1940 at the height of his artistic career, as was a member of the Art Committee for the Imperial Household in Tokyo.  

He is credited with being part of the revival of the 'bijinga' style of painting and printing in Japan during the 20th Century.   This genre calls for the classic depiction of Japanese women in classical style, often wearing a kimono.

His former house has been converted into a really quaint little museum in true Japanese style.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Rita Angus - Boats

Rita Angus - Boats, Island Bay (1963)
New Zealand 24c Stamp issued 1983
Private Collection

This is the final of four stamps that were issued in 1983 by New Zealand Post to commemorate the work of Rita Angus.  

From the Te Papa Gallery Website: 

One of Rita Angus’s best-loved paintings, Boats, Island Bay, celebrates the landscape and community of Wellington’s south coast. Fishing boats twist and bob on the tide, with the island of Tapu te Ranga on the horizon.

Angus’s friend Betty Curnow recalled visiting Island Bay with her:

‘Our days at Island Bay were enjoyable, with lots of things to laugh about. Rita watched absorbed, and remembered so much that was happening about her … All of her paintings were planned and worked out from absorbed and remembered things as well as from sketches – all with reason and purpose.’

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Robert Harris - A Meeting of the School Trustees

Robert Harris - A Meeting of the School Trustees (1885)
Canadian 17c Stamp Issued 1980 Canada

This painting depicts some of the difficulties of life experienced by people in isolated areas of Canada in the late 19th Century.  School teacher Kate Henderson is having a confrontation with the local school trustee board in a local school on Prince Edward Island in Canada.  

Robert Harris, a Canadian artist immortalised this event which has come to represent part of Canadian folklore - it shows some of the difficulties encountered when trying to live in isolated communities.  This artist also painted "The Fathers of Confederation", the original painting that depicted the conference that settled the basics of a union of the British North American Provinces (i.e. Canada). 

Monday, April 12, 2010

Marc-Aurele Fortin - A La Baie Saint Paul

Marc-Aurele Fortin (1888-1970)  - A La Baie Saint Paul (1939)
Canada 17c Stamp Issued 1981

Fortin experimented with a marge number of mediums during his lifetime, and he was not popular amongst his contemporaries during his career.  The artist spent much of his time working in solitude, although he did study in France in the 1930s.  He is mainly known for his bright watercolours that depicted Quebec in a new and modern style, even though many of his works depicted traditional rural scenes.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Rita Angus - Tree

Rita Angus (1908-1970) - Tree (1943)
New Zealand 45c Stamp Issued 1983
Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa

This is one of four stamps issued in 1983 to depict the works of Rita Angus, one of New Zealand's most popular modern artists.  This work is simple and memorable.

Rita Angus painted this watercolour while staying at her sister’s house in Greymouth on the West Coast. When it rained for several days, she sat at the front window and sketched the cherry tree in the garden.

Angus may have identified with this solitary tree, about to break into bud with the arrival of spring. In the same week, she wrote: ‘I am very fortunate, it is as though my life is in two, I am beginning the second half, with a little wisdom from experience and knowledge, and a little genius. I am free to flower, if only for a few years.’ (Source: Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa)

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Lucius O'Brien - Sunrise on the Saguenay, Cape Trinity

Sunrise on the Saguenay, Cape Trinity   1880 - Lucuis O'Brien (1832-1899)
Canadian Stamp issued 1980
From the National Gallery of Canada

This painting depicts a scene where nature is huge in comparison to people in the landscape.  O'Brien painted many scenes of Canada in the 19th Century, mainly in the provinces of Ontario and Quebec.  His skillfully manipulates light in many of his works- the landscapes often have a hint of the surreal.

The stamp is one of three that were issued to commemorate the centenary of the Royal Academy of Arts in Canada.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Zainul Abedin - Levelling the Ploughed Field

Zainul Abedin  জয়নুল আবেদিন (1914-1976) - Levelling the Ploughed Field (1943)
Bangladesh 10T stamp issued 1986

Abedin work became famous during the Bengal famine of 1943, when he composed a number of sketches of life in the rural parts of Bangladesh.  This famine occurred during the middle of WWII after the fall of Singapore and the subsequent invasion of neighbouring Burma by the Japanese.  During this period of extreme hardship, Adebin's modern art gained wide recognition.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Australian Animal Sketches - Charles-Alexandre Lesueur & Ferdinand Bauer

Port Lincoln Parrot by Ferdinand Bauer & Kangaroo by Charles-Alexandre Lesueur 
Australian Stamps issued on 4 April 2002 - Joint issue with France
Flinders-Baudin Bicentenary

On the 8th April 1802, the French Explorer Baudin and the English Explorer Flinders crossed paths at Encounter Bay, off the coast of South Australia.  The two nations were great rivals as they both tried to map and document scientific discoveries throughout the region during the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars of 1792-1815.

The artistic sketches of the animals discovered on the Australian continent are depicted on the stamps - the original sketches are held at the Natural History Museums in London and Paris respectively.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Rita Angus - Wanaka Landscape

Rita Angus (1908-1970) - Wanaka Landscape (1939)
New Zealand 35c Stamp Issued 1983
Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa
This is an earlier work by Rita Angus, who was featured in 4 stamps that were issued in 1983.   Wanaka is in the south central region of New Zealand's South Island.  This painting was completed by the artist on one of many trips that were made to this part of the country, as she was studying and working in Christchurch.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Salvador Dali - Christ of Saint John of the Cross

Salvador Dali (1904-1989) - Christ of St John of the Cross (1951)
Guyana 25c Stamp Issued Easter 1968

This is one of Dali's most popular and moving works - currently held in the Kelvingrove Gallery in Glasgow. 

The perspective is amazing, as Dali looks down on the crucified Christ, but we have a scene underneath, which is clearly painted from a front perspective.  Christ is not harmed by the nails in his hands, there is no blood and he does not wear a crown of thorns.    The painting was reportedly vandalised by someone in 1961, as they took offence at the perspective - looking down on Christ.

The scene at the base of the painting is from Port Lligat, a place that inspired Dali throughout his art career.  The people beside the boat are derived from a picture by Le Nain and from a drawing by Velazquez for The Surrender of Breda.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Rita Angus - Central Otago Landscape

Rita Angus (1908-1970) - Central Otago Landscape 1953-56
New Zealand 30c Stamp issued 1983
Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa

Rita Angus was a well established New Zealand artist during the art deco period, with her work being heavily influenced by the cubism movement and Byzantine art. She lived in the South Island of New Zealand and was mainly known for landscape works.

This work is the result of a trip to Central Otago by the artist in 1953. The stamp is one of a series of 4 works by Rita Angus that were depicted on NZ stamps in 1983.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Thomas Fuller - Design for Parliament Buildings, Ottawa

Thomas Fuller (1822-1898) - Design for Parliament Buildings, Ottawa, 1859
Canadian 35c Stamp Issued 1980 Canada
Royal Academy of Arts Issue

This stamp was part of a series to celebrate the centenary of the Royal Academy of Arts for Canada.  Thomas Fuller sketched this drawing, but he is more famous for his work as a architect in Canada - he designed the Parliament Buildings for Canada, which were occupied from 1865 to 1915, before being destroyed by fire - this was originally suspected to be a German plot, according to Australian newspapers at the time: 

Extract from The Argus, Feb 5, 1916:


German Plot Suspected.

News reached London from Ottawa at an early hour this morning that the Dominion House of Parliament was on fire.

The library has been destroyed, and the fire at latest was still defying the efforts of the firemen to control it.

Two explosions were heard after the outbreak was observed. It is suspected that the fire is the result of a German plot.

Mr. Martin Burrell, Minister for Agriculture, sustained burns on the hands and face.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

J Scott - Flying Cloud Off Whitby

J Scott - Flying Cloud Off Whitby (1871)
Australia 5c Stamp issued 1998 - Maritime Heritage - Romance of Sail
Held at the Australian National Maritime Museum

Painted in 1871 by John Scott, this picture depicts the three-masted extreme clipper ship Flying Cloud sailing off the port of Whitby, North Yorkshire. An American flag is on its mizzen-mast spanker boom and a house flag on its main mast. In 1854, the famous ship made the journey between New York and San Francisco in 89 days and eight hours, creating a world record that was not broken until 1989. (Commentary: Courtesy Australian National Maritime Museum).

This is one of four stamps of the "Romance of Sail" series from 1998.

L.S. Lowry - Children Coming Out Of School

L.S. Lowry (1887-1976) - Children Coming out of School (1927)
Great Britain Stamp issued 1967
20th Century Painting Series

Lawrence Stephen Lowry secretly held down a day job, while also being a famous painter during his lifetime, living around the Manchester area of England in the 20th Century.  This stamp was issued while we was still alive.  His works depict working class life in the north of England during the height of the industrial revolution. The Lancashire Local History website gives a lot more information about this artist.