Tag 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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Joaquín Sorolla – The World-Renowned Spanish Painter

Valencia was center stage for world-renowned artist Joaquín Sorolla. Though the Spanish painter’s career afforded him a life of worldwide travel and notoriety, the passion that fueled his art was his homeland. Through his portrait art and landscape paintings, he explored people, locations and historical scenes familiar to Spaniards and captivating to foreigners.

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Sorolla’s career, like his personal life, seemed very fulfilling. By the time he reached 30 years of age, he had already received national recognition for his artwork and was approaching an era of worldwide fame. In the following years, his work was exhibited in art capitals like Madrid, Paris, Venice, Munich, Berlin and Chicago. When he was only 40-years-old, he was donning major awards and became known as one of the “western world’s greatest living artists.”

His list of accomplishments is great but, when realizing he started life as an orphan, born in 1863, the heights of his fame seem that much greater. Joaquín Sorolla was only two years old when, it is believed, his parents passed away from cholera. At that time, he and his sister went into the care of his maternal aunt and uncle.

Whatever obstacles he faced were quickly overcome as he showed much artistic talent by age nine. At 14 he was studying art with teachers Cayetano Capuz and Salustiano Asenjo. His first awards started coming at age 15, from the Academy of Valencia. This may have been the reason he was able to travel to Madrid when he was 18 to study painting at the infamous Spanish Museum, El Prado.
After dedicating some time to his studies, Sorolla served in the military. But by age 22 he was freed from his duty and found himself painting in Rome, Italy. He followed this trip with a long stay in Paris where he was likely exposed to modern paintings by Jules Bastien-Lepage and Adolf von Menzel.

In 1888, Sorolla returned to Valencia to marry the daughter of photographer Antonio Garcia. Before long, he and his wife, Clotilde, had three children: Maria, Joaquín and Elena.
Sorolla’s career took him and his flourishing family to Madrid. It was there that his career began to take stride. During this era of life, his art was predominately focused on social subjects and historical happenings, as well as concepts that were considered mythological and oriental. He painted these works on large canvases and began to showcase them around the world.

It could be said that Sorolla had a “big break” in 1893 when he submitted his work to the World’s Columbian Exhibition in Chicago. From there, in year 1900, he displayed art at Paris Universal Exhibition. Later, he was asked to showcase artwork at the Hispanic Society of New York, which would take Sorolla’s work on a tour of the United States. As a result of this honor, Joaquín Sorolla was invited to the White House where he sat President Taft for a portrait.

In 1911, the Spanish painter was asked by the Hispanic Society of America to create a large piece of art displaying the customs and cultures that existed in various parts of Spain. Sorolla would spend the next eight years of his life consumed by this project before suffering a severe stroke.
Three years after his stroke, Sorolla passed away on August 10, 1923.

Today, the memory of Joaquín Sorolla lives on in art history. Unfortunately, some of his admirers believe he is not as famous as he ought to be. Aside from his little notoriety in the new millennium, the Spanish painter far surpassed the life that most orphans lived at the turn of the century. From his birth in 1863 to death in 1923, Joaquín Sorolla used his natural talent, drive and skill to promote his art and native land for the world to see.

However, this post is meant to recognize his artist style and some major pieces. For those who want to read more of Joaquín Sorolla ‘s story, visit this link: http://www.segmation.com/products_pc_patternset_contents.asp?set=SOR . Also, Segmation is proud to offer 34 digital Joaquín Sorolla patterns. By downloading these paint by numbers masterpieces, you can emulate one of the most fascinating artists who ever lived.

Enjoy the 34 Joaquín Sorolla Spanish patterns. Segmation has for you and continue to learn and celebrate the life of a great artist.
Sources:

Joaquin Sorolla – Life

Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida

Sorolla and America

Read more Segmation blog posts about other great artists:
Robert Delaunay, Blazing a Colorful Trail

The Reluctant Educator and Revered Artist, Emil Carlsen”

Thomas Moran – American Landscape Painter

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A Color Manual Ahead of its Time

271 Years Before Pantone, an Artist Mixed and Described Every Color Imaginable in an 800 Page Book watercolor history color books Before technology made color automatic, creating the perfect hue required a rather systematic approach.

Prior to the days of RGB values and hexadecimal strings, humans used creative means to create color options. Depending on the medium, artists might have mixed paints and in some cases, added water to achieve lighter tones.

A Brief History of Watercolor

The concept of watercolor may be as old as time itself but it didn’t become a well-known, consistent art medium until the Renaissance.

Albrecht Dürer was considered the father of the trade. He was a German painter who had much influence throughout Europe in the 16th century. Often times, Dürer chose to use watercolor when bringing landscape settings to life.

In an age when art was held with high value, watercolor quickly became a popular art medium. It became so popular, that in 1692, during the Golden Age of Dutch Painting, a man by the name of A. Boogert wrote an 800 page color manual, by hand.

A Medieval Color Manual

271 Years Before Pantone, an Artist Mixed and Described Every Color Imaginable in an 800 Page Book watercolor history color books Predating Pantone (the modern-day authority on color) by nearly 300 years, Boogert compiled a comprehensive account of how to achieve different colors when adding water to paint. He explained how using one, two or three parts water would create three varying tones of the same hue. He organized each page by meticulously positioning varying shades of the same color.

This book was recently brought to light by medieval book historian, Erick Kwakkel. He noted that another scholar knew of the book’s existence and he only gave it a platform in the limelight because of his personal notoriety.

Ancient Art Trumps Modern Convenience

Regardless of how it came to the world’s attention, the book entitled, Traité des couleurs servant à la peinture à l’eau, is causing art enthusiasts to take note. While the concept of the book does not seem groundbreaking, it is causing a multitude of 21st century RGB-HEX artists to imagine the painstaking amount of work and attention that went into deciphering and mixing hundreds of hues.

271 Years Before Pantone, an Artist Mixed and Described Every Color Imaginable in an 800 Page Book watercolor history color books It would be nice to say that this book greatly contributed to how we use color today. In reality, the book was collecting dust before Kwakkel came across it a few weeks ago in a French database. Even though the book may have been the “most informative color guide of its time,” it was not widely distributed. Since the book was written by hand it has been assumed that the manual never made it into wide circulation.

Nevertheless, A. Boogert’s color manual recently made a splash. Upon its unearthing, much of the art community paused and shared thoughts about what it would be like to mix colors without technology.

Read more Segmation blog posts about historic art.

Color Symbolism in Medieval Christian Art

Art in Ancient Egypt

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How Pigments Create Color in Artist Mediums

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Have you ever wondered where the color in your paints actually comes from? For instance, what makes your ultramarine watercolors appear blue, and what makes your crimson pastels appear red? The answer is pigment. The pigments used to create artist mediums (such as paints, colored pencils, pastels, etc) consist of colored powder that is then mixed with various substances to create each specific medium.

The color intensity of each paint, pencil or pastel will depend on the ratio of pigment to filler. Filler is added to most commercial art mediums to “bulk up” the product. Higher quality art supplies will contain more pigment and less filler. Even though the result is a higher-priced medium, the cost is worth it for the better results that are achieved with the higher pigment content.

In addition to pigments, each medium has specific ingredients that give the medium its unique qualities:

  • Watercolors are created from a mixture of pigment and gum arabic (or synthetic glycol), which acts as a binder. Additives are often added to adjust the characteristics of the watercolors, altering qualities such as durability and sheen.
  • Acrylics consist of pigments dispersed in water and bound together with an acrylic medium.
  • Oil paints are made from a combination of pigments ground with an oil, such as linseed oil.
  • Pastels are a blend of pigments and a binder, such as gum tragacanth, gum arabic, or methyl cellulose. Pastels contain a higher percentage of pigment than any other art medium.

Commercially-made art mediums also typically contain preservatives and other ingredients, but you can easily make you own paints and pastels using the materials listed above, adjusting the hue and intensity of each color to your specific liking.

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The Meaning of Thanksgiving and Thanksgiving Art

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On the fourth Thursday each November, people travel long and far to be with the ones they love the most to celebrate one of America’s biggest holidays, Thanksgiving. These days, as in times past, Thanksgiving is a time of giving and sharing – coming together for an abundant feast while enjoying each other’s company.

Thanksgiving art centers on traditional images that symbolize the original meaning of the holiday. To understand the origins of Thanksgiving art, let’s travel back in time to the origins of this special holiday. The specific starting point of the holiday is debatable, but here is one of the most popular legends surrounding the Thanksgiving holiday:

Imagine you’re one of the first Pilgrims to colonize America. After a long ride across the Atlantic, you reach the shores of America and work hard to set up your homestead. You have plenty of seeds from England, so you dig a large garden using the same farming methods you and your ancestors used for centuries back in England. Unfortunately, your crops fail. Your family is desperate for food. What do you do?

Luckily, the Native Americans notice the many hardships that you and the other colonizers face. They feel compassion for you, so they generously share their native seeds and show you how to raise crops in your new homeland. Finally, you manage to yield a bountiful crop! It’s time to celebrate! What better way to honor your new friends than to create a holiday where you can thank your new friends for all they have done for you. It is a time of thankfulness for having enough food to eat, as well as expressing gratitude for the many blessings in your life.

Whether or not this generous exchange between the Pilgrims and the Native Americans is historically accurate or a fabricated legend (or a bit of both), both Pilgrim and Native American imagery are an important part of Thanksgiving iconography. Thanksgiving arts and crafts projects for kids often include making feathered Native American headbands and Pilgrim hats.

Other important Thanksgiving art symbols include:

  • turkeys
  • cornucopias
  • images of a bountiful harvest
  • food, especially a feast on a dinner table
  • pumpkins and pumpkin pie
  • the Mayflower

Here are some fun Thanksgiving art ideas:

  • Color in pictures of pilgrims, turkeys and cornucopias. You can hang the finished pictures on your front door or on your refrigerator.
  • Trace a child’s hand onto a piece of paper. The four fingers will become the feathers of a turkey, and the thumb will become the turkey’s head. The child can color in the turkey accordingly.
  • Hand-color Thanksgiving name tags with images of turkeys and fall leaves (as shown in the photo above). These name tags can be used for seating placements around the dinner table.
  • Arrange a display of food, such as a pumpkin, corn, and apples, in a basket and place it as the centerpiece of your Thanksgiving dinner table.
  • Create a wreath to hang on your front door. You can direct your child in making a wreath by drawing on construction paper, or you can make one with interlacing dried twigs, interwoven with flowers or other festive items.

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