Tag Archives: American Portrait Artist

The Style and Poise of a Colonial American Portrait Painter

www.segmation.comOther than his large body of work, not much is known about Joseph Blackburn. The 18th century English portrait painter left the world with over 150 documented works of art, which allow us to learn about the artistic style of a man who, in the mid-1700s gained notoriety and esteem on two continents.

How he developed his techniques is unknown. There is no record of him doing an apprenticeship to jumpstart his career. His style seemed to be adopted from a drypoint tone method known as mezzotint. He combined this approach with portrait poses that were comparable to baroque and rococo artists like Sir Godfrey Kneller, Sir Peter Lely and Thomas Hudson. Regardless, his style was sought out by wealthy elite as well as merchants, politicians, and military officers; in a seven year span (1755-1762) he received over 60 commissions.

To his patrons, Blackburn was known for accentuating grace and poise. This was a high value to prosperous families who stood at the helm of the first industrial revolution. Blackburn’s style and use of pastel colors increased the appearances of his subjects. The portraitist had a unique ability to bring his paintings to life by adding fine details. For instance, he portrayed silk, lace, strands of pearls, and vases with great attention. He has many surviving works that poignantly express the traits of beautiful women. By sitting ladies in fancy settings with lavish outfits and accessories, he exaggerated their wealth. In addition, he used natural, textured settings as backdrops. Sometimes he would use garden backgrounds, which may have been common in English art but seemed new to America.

Beyond the appeal of his style, patrons were drawn to Blackburn’s character. He carried himself in a graceful manner just like the people he would paint. He was also clever and engaging in conversation which made him popular wherever he went. It seems that his likeability led to success in England, parts of America and other areas of the developing world. In the course of a decade he spent time in Bermuda, Newport, Boston and Portsmouth.

Even though his personality helped his success, his style and settings were the dominate reasons people sought his services. When arriving in America, he had knowledge of London fashion. He also brought with him many techniques that had not yet been seen. At the time, colonies were transitioning from a predominantly puritan lifestyle. Blackburn’s art was infused with imagination, movement, light colors, lavish décor, extravagant outfits and natural elements. Moving into the 19th century, this approach grew in popularity.www.segmation.wordpress.com

When Blackburn returned to England at the twilight of his career, people continued to follow the style he brought to the American colonies. A man whom Blackburn was able to influence gained his own fame at this time. John Singleton Copley grasped Blackburn’s rococo style and some say he executed portraits better than Blackburn.

Leaving Copley to extend his lavish style throughout developing America, Blackburn went home to England in 1763. Unfortunately, he quickly found that his rococo style was no longer relevant in areas like London. Still, he remained true to his lavish style and wanderlust. He completed another 16 portraits in England, Wales and Dublin.

Despite the small amount of information recorded on Joseph Blackburn, it is necessary to use his artwork to weave together the story of his life and success. With style and personality he attained a fine life. Whether he was in England or America, he was always poised for success.

However, this post is meant to recognize his artist style and some major pieces. For those who want to read more of Joseph Blackburn’s story, visit this link: http://www.segmation.com/products_pc_patternset_contents.asp?set=BLK. Also, Segmation is proud to offer 21 digital Joseph Blackburn patterns. By downloading these paint by numbers masterpieces, you can emulate one of the most fascinating artists who ever lived.

Enjoy the 21 Joseph Blackburn Patterns Segmation has for you and continue to learn and celebrate the life of a great artist.

Source:

Worchester Art Museum

Read more Segmation blog posts about other great artists:

Robert Henri – American Portrait Artist and Teacher

William Merritt Chase – American Impressionist Painter


Thanksgiving Scenes Influences Art


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Robert Henri – American Portrait Artist and Teacher

Tan Gam by Robert Henri

Tan Gam by Robert Henri

American artist Robert Henri had a mind of his own. Loyal to a fault and guided by his convictions, Henri was as great a leader as he was an artist. Throughout the course of his notable career, he defied traditional standards of art, pursing and promoting realism.

Robert Henri was born in Ohio and raised in Cozad, Nebraska. At that time this town bared his birth name: his father, John Cozad, founded the town when Robert was eight. Unfortunately, the entire family fled this area after an altercation resulted in John murdering a local rancher. Eventually they ended up – under the guise of alias names – on the east coast.

When the drama of childhood waned, Robert Henri completed his first painting. He was 18 years old. Enjoying the activity and appeased by his natural skill, Robert planned to attend Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in 1886. There, he came to appreciate the work of Thomas Eakins and the artist’s approach to realism. Henri continued to pursue his education by traveling to Paris where he attending Ecole des Beaux Arts. After his time there, he traveled Europe briefly before returning to Philadelphia where he began his career in art education.

Early in his career it became apparent that Henri was a born leader and a natural teacher too. It is said he inspired students by saying their art could be “a social force that creates a stir in the world”. Within a few years Henri was inspiring more than his students; he developed a following of aspiring artists as well.

During this time, Robert Henri was moving away from the impressionism that influenced his early work. He began moving towards realism, and encouraging other artists to do the same. This ignited a movement that urged American painters to pursue art with fresh perspective, making it okay for artists to express the world as they see it – not the idealized vision society wants see. The movement came to be known as the Ashcan School.

In 1898, Henri accepted a teaching position at the New York School of Art. Around this time, students, colleagues, and critics observed the passion he had for his craft. He was uninhibited by societal norms and blazed a trail for artists to express the realities of life.

Henri was admired and followed by many. In fact, he was elected to the National Academy of Design (a museum and school established to promote fine arts) for recognition of his artwork. Unfortunately, when the National Academy did not display the work of his colleagues at a show in 1907, Henri became disenchanted with the mainstream art world. He knew a bold move would be required to emphasize the importance of realism.

As a result, he set up an exhibition called “The Eight”. All featured work signified a break from traditional art perspectives of the time. In February 1908, five American artists put paintings on display at the Macbeth Gallery. Only once did they come together for this purpose; regardless, it left a lasting impression. It also propelled Henri to continue leading and promoting independent artists.

Robert Henri organized a number of art shows and exhibitions between 1910 and 1920. They included “Exhibition of Independent Artists”, jury-free exhibitions at the MacDowell Club, and the Armory Show. In addition, he continued his career as a teacher at the Art Students League between 1915 and 1927.

While Henri was a skilled artist, his natural gift as an influential teacher solidified his fame. He was effortlessly able to lead and organize people to pursue their passions. All the while, he prompted them to believe that art was a personal expression of a real world. In the book, The Art Spirit, one of Henri’s students compiled his works of art and detailed accounts of his thoughts on the subject.

When Robert Henri passed away in 1929, his influence lived on. In fact, it served as a bridge to usher in European modernism. More so, it inspired artists to reach levels of self-expression that had never been seen before. As an effect, realism came to life through the power of art.

The San Diego Museum of Art will be the first museum exhibition dedicated to the Spanish paintings of Robert Henri  from March 29, 2014 through September 09, 2014. Spanish Sojourns Robert Henri and the Spirit of Spain consists of over 40 major paintings borrowed from important museum and private collections around the country. More information can be found at:  http://www.sdmart.org/.

However, this post is meant to recognize his artist style and some major pieces. For those who want to read more of Robert Henri’s story, visit this link: http://www.segmation.com/products_pc_patternset_contents.asp?set=RHR. Also, Segmation is proud to offer 44 digital Robert Henri patterns. By downloading these paint by numbers masterpieces, you can emulate one of the most fascinating artists who ever lived.

Enjoy the 44 Robert Henri Patterns Segmation has for you and continue to learn and celebrate the life of a great artist.

Sources:

National Gallery of Art

Robert Henri Museum

Read more Segmation blog posts about other great artists:

William Glackens – American Realist Painter

Thomas Moran – American Landscape Painter

William Merritt Chase – American Impressionist Painter

Be a Artist in 2 minutes with Segmation SegPlay® PC (see more details here)

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