Category Archives: Historical Art

Alfred Stevens – A Life Immersed in Art

Defining Belgian artist Alfred Stevens (1823 – 1906) has always been a challenge. Throughout his career, the painter’s artwork fulfilled styles seen in various movements, like Romanticism, Impressionism, and Realism. As his styles changed so did his subject matter; regal women, political scenes, and sea settings were among his many focal points. Perhaps the most profound constant in Stevens’ life was art itself.

Alfred Stevens was introduced to art at an early age. His father and brothers were painters, art dealers, critics, or collectors. If he and his family members were not creating art they could be found discussing art at the café his grandparents owned. The establishment was always intended to be a place where artists could congregate.

At age 14, the young painter attended an art school where he developed drawing abilities. These skills preceded his enrollment in the influential Parisian art school, Ecolé de Beaux-Arts, where he may have studied the work of Dutch genre painters. This art style, known for portraying “scenes from everyday life,” quickly launched Stevens into fame.

www.segmation.comAfter four years of publically displaying his work, Alfred Stevens painted Ce qu’on appelle le vagabondage (translated to What is called vagrancy) which got the attention of the Emperor at the 1855 Universal Exhibition. After viewing the piece of art depicting Parisian soldiers leading an impoverished mother and her children to prison while signs of wealth shroud the scene, Napoleon III enacted political changes.

Shortly after this, in 1857, Alfred Stevens returned to his favorite subject matter: women in fashion. One decade later, by the time the Great Exhibition of 1867 arrived, paintings like Woman in Pink, Miss Fauvette, Ophelia, and In the Country were added to his portfolio.

His career was postponed in 1870 when he fought in the Franco-Prussian War. When the war was over, he continued to paint. In 1878 he was elected Commander of the Legion of Honor. (He received a Legion of Honor award 15 years earlier.) He also received a medal from the prestigious Paris Salon the same year.

Despite his acclaimed portfolio and notoriety throughout France, Alfred Stevens experienced significant financial troubles in the 1880s. Serendipitously, this struggle would catapult Stevens into a new art style. Falling on hard times was exacerbated by unrelated health concerns. Even though his diagnosis was never known, the prescription that surfaced proclaims a doctor ordered Stevens to vacation by the sea. For three years, vacations were funded by a Parisian art dealer who accepted the artwork Stevens created as an even exchange. This is how sea settings began to appear in Stevens’ artwork. Nevertheless, Alfred Stevens had a few more genre paintings in him.

The pinnacle of Alfred Stevens’ late career was Panorama du Siècle. Painted alongside Henri Gervex and other assistants, the masterpiece received many accolades at the 1889 International Exhibit.

Stevens was often honored in the final years of his life. In 1900 his alma mater, Ecolé de Beaux-Arts, ushered his name into history as the first living artist to receive a retrospective exhibit. Other honorary exhibits sold Stevens’ work but did not provide him with enough money to live the rest of his years comfortably. Alfred Stevens passed away in 1906. His most valuable assets were works of art already in circulation.

Alfred Stevens left the art world with a rich and lasting legacy. His artistic talents evolved throughout his career. He produced numerous paintings that fit different styles, genres, and artistic movements. In addition, he stirred politics with his honest portrayal of daily life in Paris and captured women of the era in latest fashions. Most importantly, Alfred Stevens paralleled the essence of art itself. Like art, Stevens was not always easy to define. Still, many art enthusiasts looked at him with awe; he was a man who lived his life fully immersed in art.

However, this post is meant to recognize his artist style and some major pieces. For those who want to read more of Stevens story, visit this link: http://www.segmation.com/products_pc_patternset_contents.asp?set=AST . Also, Segmation is proud to offer 29 digital Stevens patterns. By downloading these paint by numbers masterpieces, you can emulate one of the most fascinating artists who ever lived.

Enjoy the 29 Alfred Stevens – A Life Immersed in Art . Segmation has for you and continue to learn and celebrate the life of a great artist.

Read more Segmation blog posts about other great artists:

Benjamin West – The American Raphael

Jan Gossaert – A Great Flemish Painter of Antiquity”

Joaquín Sorolla – The World-Renowned Spanish Painter

Sources:

Alfred Stevens (painter)

Alfred Stevens

Alfred Stevens What is called vagrancy

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Benjamin West – The American Raphael

Benjamin West (1738-1820) was an American born painter who found great success in Europe. During his career he became known for elevating historical art practices in Britain. He also co-founded the Royal Academy and served as president following Sir Joshua Reynolds. In everything he did, West exuded confidence in himself and his abilities. As a result, his art was noticed by all.

Attention was given to Benjamin West long before he became known as “The American Raphael.” West was born in Pennsylvania in 1738, nearly thirty years prior to America claiming its independence from Great Britain. At a young age, he showed great artistic talent and an eagerness to learn how to produce great artwork. In fact, it was believed that West learned how to create paint by watching native Indians mix clay and bear grease together in pots.

After acknowledging his strengths, Benjamin West’s parents and the Quaker community in which they lived gave him permission to travel to Philadelphia and New York where he would study art. However, these emerging art hubs did not keep the skilled artist’s attention for long. In 1760, the painter went to study abroad in Italy on a trip sponsored by William Allen, the wealthiest man in Philadelphia at the time. Upon leaving Italy, West moved to England where he would grow into a great artist and teacher.

West did not spend much time in London before he painted Cymon and Iphigenia which exhibited in 1764 at Spring Gardens. Also, he was quickly commissioned to create portraits for Bishop of Bristol and Bishop of Worcester, as well as the Archbishop of York, Robert Hay Drummond. In 1766, he designed an altarpiece for a church in London, St. Stephen Walbrook. And he also painted Orestes and Pylades and The Continence of Scipio. His portrayal of classical subjects was very well received.

By 1970, Benjamin West was making a big splash among art enthusiasts including King George III with two paintings: The Oath of Hannibal and The Departure of Regulus. These depictions of ancient history proved that the American artist mastered “the style of history painting the French had perfected,” according to Loyd Grossman, a Fellow at the Society of Antiquaries.

Then, in 1771, Benjamin West showcased The Death of General Wolfe at the Royal Academy. West could not have known the painting would become one of the greatest art achievements in the 18th century. West’s refined approach to historical art did not show subjects in Greek and Roman dress, nor did he show them in shabby clothing. All subjects were glorified in West’s paintings; they were made to look pristine. According to Senior Curator at the Royal Academy, Helen Valentine, this was the “grand style” Benjamin West used and taught. He applied his grand style often, making the scenes he painted appear idyllic. He used the style as a tool for inspiration and created high art by deliberately perfecting nature which he felt would elevate himself and society.

The following year, West was paid an annual salary of 1,000 pounds to serve as the historical painter to King George III. Sometime later, after the death of Sir Joshua Reynolds, West was royally appointed to the role of president of the Royal Academy. West only took one year off from the Royal Academy between entering office in 1792 and his death in 1820.

In that time, and throughout his career, West influenced many artists in Britain and America. As he painted, he taught others the intricacies of his style and elevated the practice of painting historical art. Looking beyond his influence, one truth remained constant: Benjamin West was Britain’s “American Raphael.” To this day his art is showcased and his talent is noticed.

However, this post is meant to recognize his artist style and some major pieces. For those who want to read more of West ‘s story, visit this link: http://www.segmation.com/products_pc_patternset_contents.asp?set=BWT . Also, Segmation is proud to offer 27 digital West patterns. By downloading these paint by numbers masterpieces, you can emulate one of the most fascinating artists who ever lived.

Enjoy the 26 Benjamin West – The American Raphael. Segmation has for you and continue to learn and celebrate the life of a great artist.

Read more Segmation blog posts about other great artists:
Jan Gossaert – A Great Flemish Painter of Antiquity”

Joaquín Sorolla – The World-Renowned Spanish Painter

Robert Delaunay, Blazing a Colorful Trail

Sources:

Benjamin West Web Museum Paris

Benjamin West Royal Academy of Arts

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