26 Dec 2017

Venice at Christmas

Snowy and cold holidays in Ottawa.
The weather forecast is hopeful: cold and sunny, with a chance for happiness.

Venice is destination I once avoided, I did not get off the train when I could have.
It was November 1st, 36 years ago, there was a massive whiff of cold, damp fog and very uncertain weather that hit my face. I decided not to get off, I pressed on and went to Rome.
Venice remains this place I do not go to see, sheltering it from disappointment.

I almost prefer to hold to the imaginary Venice: 
a slice of Josip Brodsky against the Canaletto background...

Like this Venetian teapot and a cup - the melancholic object can be rearranged, moved around, serve many occasions.

Oh, and don't get fooled by the fat crest with two lions back-stamp: this is not England my dear, it is pure China designed in Italy. Lovely nevertheless.

30 Jul 2017

19th c Cuteness Overload?

John everett millais.jpg
Sir John Everett Millais, 1st Baronet, PRA ( 8 June 1829 – 13 August 1896) was an English painter and illustrator who was one of the founders of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.

 His wife was previously married to the critic John Ruskin whose support for Millais early work was probably very instrumental in creating the later success.
Ruskin was a strong proponent of naturalism -"painting from nature only".
He was also an influential social critic and reformer.
I have a pleasure of owning an old copy of his great "The Seven Lamps of Architecture" with remarkable illustrations, such as this:

But the more minor work of Millais I have been reading about is this:

John Everett Millais Its title is "The Minuet" and was probably one of those creating the "cuteness overload" in the 19/early 20th century psyche.

I have just a small print - titled "The First Minuet" and inscribed as Hand Printed Facsimile by Raphael Tuck & Sons Ltd., London.
It is a fairly old print, nicely embossed, spot-coloured  otherwise monochrome print.
Lovely embossed water mark of the printer in the left corner.
I have just carefully cleaned it and now I marvel on the amount of interesting research it triggers.

The search on the subject of the history of the printer is equally exciting.
The founder, Raphael Tuck was born into a Orthodox Jewish family in the early 19th c in Kożmin, near my home town of Poznań - then within the Prussian partition.
Tuck and his wife Ernestine, married in the eve the 1848 Revolution which in the end was another step into the "Clash of Empires".  While still while living in Poland they took to reproducing in the Victorian mode the post cards and other printed decorum.
Emigration to England followed and the family did well in the printing business on the Island.
They mingled well and their son has already become a baron, assumed a coat of arms and continued successfull family business, publishing mostly post cards.

They operated under this name until 1959, which suggests that I basically finished them...
So, to make the long tale short, whether art reproductions or kitch, the commercial art printing has made some fortunes in the past.

10 Jun 2017

Qu'Appelle, Saskatchewan

This small water colour on paper, in its original frame entered my life most recently.
Cleaning the dusty glass opened the expanse of the skies and water.
I set the print in archival picture corners and backed the work with museum grade foam board.
The note on its tattered backing paper is made in pencil, in a nice cursive:

Qu'Appelle Valley
Oct. 10th, 1955

The image, the old frame, the aging and the note have pushed me to a melancholic trip in time.

The effects of the research were very interesting but did not f ill with optimism.
Qu'Appelle is merely a shadow of its vibrant past.
Once a town with commercial viability and successful farming community is now almost gone back to the land.
Once ruthlessly taken from the Cree, it is now a refuse of our industrial civilized efforts. The Laws of Entropy in all natural manifestations.

It is definitely one of the places I would like to visit, but it may not take place in this life...

26 May 2017

Or, perhaps George Smith?

Classical Landscape

Classical Landscape

George Smith (1714–1776)


Noooo, still rather Bierstadt? https://visualelsewhere.files.wordpress.com

22 Apr 2017

Perhaps another Mount Logan?

Or, perhaps another Lander's Peak?


Albert Bierstadt was a German-born (near Dusseldorf) painter (1830-1902).

He became part of the Hudson River School in New York, an informal group of like-minded painters who started painting along the Hudson River. Their style was based on carefully detailed paintings with romantic, almost glowing lighting, sometimes called luminism. An important interpreter of the western landscape, Bierstadt, along with Thomas Moran, is also grouped with the Rocky Mountain School. [1]

So here it is, a section close-up.
If it is not Bierstadt then what on earth is it???

Patching canvas hole and surface conservation ahead...

Another of his paintings, the actual "Lander's Peak", one in the Harvard Art Collection, has been described as follows: 
This painting is based on sketches and photographs that Bierstadt compiled in the summer of 1859, when he joined a government survey expedition led by Frederic W. Lander. But the work is an imagined view rather than an accurate topographical rendering. Painted and exhibited in Bierstadt’s New York studio, it is geared to the sensibility of urban East Coast viewers. With its dramatic sunlit mountain range and verdant, uncultivated valley, the painting portrays the American West as an edenic landscape filled with hope and opportunity. It signals the promise of new beginnings, a resonant theme for a nation torn apart by civil war.
Bierstadt, one of the first American painters to explore the West, journeyed as far as the Wind River Mountains of Wyoming. Though he encountered and sketched many Native Americans on his travels, this work does not include any signs of the indigenous population.
from: http://www.harvardartmuseums.org/art/303976

12 Apr 2017

Love of print again

Of course, I re-enact the desires of my childhood.
My mother took me regularly to museums and old masters galleries - my sister tucked in a pram and I - free to gaze into the Netherlandish skies of Ruysdaels and alike.
Visits in print rooms gave the notion or precision and organization of the visual record.
Soon I realized that I feel very comfortable among the subtly yellowed vignettes, nicely matted, rigidly framed, organized by the tight webbing of drawn scenes.

Those three are just recently re-framed items, archivally backed or matted.

Henry Jackson Simpson - Loch Logan
engraving on English-made paper by JFHead
Behind - large pin-hole photograph, abandoned church in Nova Scotia, favourite photography subject.

Left - the final unveiling of the "oryginal" Frank H. Mason print
The melancholy of the St.Michel, Normandy has great appeal.
The print has yellowed, but has been given archival ecru-coloured spacer mat.

Interestingly, paper moulds are of considerable interest, paper and prints can be dated by identifying the watermarks.
Mould photo from a very informative site:
Apparently, the monogram watermark was introduced ca 1930, but my print has the the whole manufacturers name embossed.
In my days of humble paper making I used synthetic mesh over plastic grid.
Some of my sheets have still survived, some were used by a friend artist to make great works with paint and ink.

8 Mar 2017

Broads of the World Unite

Pink galore
When we are young, soft and supple, March 8 to be something like Monarchy - something we don't know what to think about.
With age, we mature like a good antique and see their total and complete usefulness.

Johnson Bros., historical photo

12 Feb 2017

Love of old china

Did I mention - it is middle of February, it is cold, dark and it is snowing all the time... Yes, I do tend to acquire various not particularly rare but cute vintage china. But I am already afraid that it is fragile.

Here is the way to upcycle the loses, sigh of relief....

Designed and made by Chinese artist

11 Feb 2017

English China dress material?

In case it all breakes, proceed to the next post....

4 Feb 2017

Polish Army in Canada, 100 Anniversary

Polish Army, so called Blue Army was formed offically 100 years ago in 1917 in France, under gen. Haller - after more than a century of occupation by Prussia, Russia and Austria.
But much of the events took place in Canada which - as part of the Dominion - was able to allow the formation. Estimated 20,000 to 25,000 Poles volunteered from North America, mostly US and some from Canada.

Notably, Methodists of YMCA were helpful in the organization endevours.
(more info here: http://www.hallersarmy.com/

Initially, the Polish fought in WWI with one goal in mind - Polish independence.
After fighting in WW1 the Blue Army became Polish Army and fought against Bolshevik Russia in 1920.

This remarkable event has been immortalized in this painting.
Polish Army at Beach by C.W. Jefferys
Beeverbrook Collection of the Canadian War Museum

Charles William Jefferys.jpgCharles William Jefferys (1869 – 1951) was a Canadian painter, illustrator, author, and teacher best known as a historical illustrator.
Jefferys was one of the War Artists, a program which called selected artists to document the events of wars.

The painting really expands on the theme of Blue.
At the first glance the sunny landscape of the Lake Ontario coast, the blue lake water and blue sky merge and the sight of hundreds of naked men bathing seems almost recreational.
But up close we see the seriousness of the scene: the men are bathing seriously, is a part of soldering, the blue-uniformed sergeants overlook the operation and everyone knows there is more war ahead... 

More about the artist and his paintings can be found here:

from the cahier #35, Published by THE NIAGARA HISTORICAL SOCIETY
The United States having declared war, Mr. Ignace J. Paderewski offered to form
a Polish Army but the United States Congress did not allow and special legions and onthe 4th of June, France decrees that a Polish Army is to be formed, Canada opens its armsand the best young men are selected from among those of the  training school at Cambridge Springs and sent to Camp Borden where Col. Le Pan with his excellent staff Majors Young, Madell, Kirk and Kenrick who had taught from the first 23 young men at Toronto devoted themselves with zeal and l
ove to make of them good officers and with them Col. LePan went to Niagara Camp, in October, 1917 to receive three thousandvolunteers and train them. Who
was instrumental in getting that sacred historical spot Fort George and Fort Mississsauga could not be learned and those who knew would not tell. I only know there is in Canada a certain high officer who likes to be called the "Godfather of the Polish Army" who obtains from the Canadian Government all the whoobtains from the Canadian Government all the favors and privileges for the Polish Army.
On 4th November, I witnessed the touching scene when after 125 years of
persecution the "White Eagle, Polish banner was unfurled and on the spot where
Canadians had shed their blood in defence of their country, a hundred years ago. The banners were given that day to three thousand men who had only been four weeks or lessin the Camp and the Canadian officers were giving the commands in Polish who had no idea about Polish till they met our boys...
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