L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e ~ D o s t o ï e v s k i

L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e  ~  D o s t o ï e v s k i

Friday, January 19, 2018

The artist's wife - Pauline Charlotte Bendemann, by Julius Hübner, 1829.

I love this portrait, painted right before or right after the artist and his dear model wed. She's a lovely woman, the faithfully rapt dog is charming, the textures are wonderfully described and luxurious, and the details are both beautiful and a bit odd - the silver and conch shell flower pot, especially. Her artfully unnatural pose, the strong, unchecked diagonal formed by the background drapery and the golden lining of her sleeves, and the disorienting ripple and turning of the carpet add a tension to the composition, unexpected in what otherwise might be a straightforward record of the artist's beautiful beloved. But it's the color that really attracts me to this work: that glorious swathe of red damask; the green-blue, the tone shifting slightly as it moves into shadow; the subtle contrast of gold; and the carpet's reference of all three dominant colors. So wonderfully calculated and harmonious.


Preparatory sketch by the artist, 1828.

Rudolf Julius Benno Hübner (27 January 1806, Oels, Silesia (now Poland) – 7 November 1882, Loschwitz, Dresden), German historical painter of the Düsseldorf school of painting. He was also known as a poet and as the father of classical scholar Emil Hübner. Born in Silesia, orphaned by the age of eleven, at the age of fifteen he was admitted to the Königliche Kunstakademie in Berlin, and two years later he joined the studio of the painter Wilhelm von Schadow, moving with other of Schadow's students to Düsseldorf in 1826. In 1829 he married Pauline Bendemann, the sister of the painter Eduard Bendemann, and the couple left on a long journey to Italy; their first child was born in Rome. They went on to have eight children, though three would predecease them. He became a member of the Akademie der Künste Berlin in 1832, but the family resided for the most part in Düsseldorf until 1839 when they settled at Dresden, Hübner becoming a professor in the Königlichen Kunstakademie Dresden in 1841. After their move to Dresden, the couple became very close friends with Clara and Robert Schumann. (And they remained so after the Schumanns moved away; decades later, the painter would take over care and custody of the Schumann's son Ludwig, who suffered from mental illness like his father, and Clara Schumann's very last composition was dedicated to the Hübners.) He won a gold medal at the Brussels Exhibition in 1851 and was made director of the Dresdener Gemäldegalerie in 1871. He died in Dresden at the age of seventy-six; Pauline would live another thirteen years.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

So many... arrows - Saint Sebastian, part I

Paul Delaroche, 1822.
Salvator Rosa, 1650.

When you go onto the internet looking for images of Saint Sebastian, expect to be sitting there a while. A long while. Other than Christ, himself, in the history of art I can think of no male religious figure who has been portrayed more frequently. (Maybe David or John the Baptist turn up more often?) Sometimes the compositions he inhabits are elaborate, with soldiers and landscapes, fluttering drapery, even a cherub or two. Sometimes Saint Irene and a maid are shown busy at work, tending to the devout pincushion. But most often just an underdressed young fellow, a few arrows, and bit of rope will suffice. And perhaps a tree.

Vicente López y Portaña, circa 1795-1800.
Nicolas Régnier, 1625.(Régnier and his studio made rather a career of painting St. Sebastians.)

But why is he everywhere? He's not a particularly useful saint; he doesn't actually serve much biblical purpose. The only things he really has to recommend him are high drama and pulchritude. A whole lot of male pulchritude. I expect those qualities - particularly the latter - are what has kept him in such frequent rotation. At any rate, here is a selection of "saintly" torsos. I haven't included all that many that are very well known, or ones that I've already included elsewhere on this blog. This is just a tiny sampling of the apparently infinite moods of Sebastians: calm and writhing, pretty and ugly, silly and tragic, gross and lyrical.

San Sebastiano nel bosco di Calvenzano, d'après Guido Reni, by Luigi Ontani, 1970.
Augustin Van den Berghe, 1777.
Bernardo Strozzi, circa 1631-36.
F. Holland Day, 1907.
Master of the Virgo inter Virgines, 1480.
Circle of Nicolas Régnier, first half of the seventeenth century.
Pietro Perugino, circa 1493-4.
Hendrick ter Brugghen, 1625.
Giovanni Colacicchi, 1930s. (Study for the following painting.)
Giovanni Colacicchi, 1930s.
Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, 1851-73.
François-Guillaume Ménageot, 1803.
François-Xavier Fabre, 1789.
The Master MZ, circa 1500-10.
Greg Semu, 2014.
Marco Antonio Bassetti, circa 1620.
Gustave Moreau, circa 1870.
Master of the Holy Kinship, circa 1493-94.
Cornelis van Haarlem, circa 1591.
Anthony Gayton, 2004.
 Honoré Daumier, circa 1849-50.
José de Ribera, 1636.
Frans Badens, between 1600-18,
Alexandra Hiller, 2000. (?)
 Dosso Dossi, 1526.
Antonello da Messina, 1477.
Ed Fury, Athletic Model Guild, circa 1950s.
Mattia Preti, circa 1660.
Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, 1850.
Simon Vouet, 1621-2.
Kieran Keat, circa 2010.
Nicolas Régnier, circa 1620.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Jean-Louis-Gustave d'Hautefort, and his sister, Marie-Thérèse-Thaïs d'Hautefort, by Henri-Pierre Danloux (or Adèle Romanée?), 1800-02

This double portrait pays tribute to the warm relationship of its subjects, the two children of Jean-Louis-Anne de Hautefort, comte de Vaudre, under the Ancien Régime a colonel attached to the Boulonnais regiment, and superior officer of the Gardes du corps du Roi. Beyond this painting, the only other thing I know about Gustave, comte d'Hautefort (1785-1850), and his sister Thaïs (1784-1845) is that the siblings married other siblings - Adélaide de Maillé de La Tour-Landry and Charles Théodore Bélisaire de Maillé de La Tour-Landry, marquis de Jalesnes, respectively - and on the same day, 28 May 1805.


There seems to be some confusion as to who actually painted this portrait. It was sold at auction at Sotheby's only a little over two years ago as the work of Danloux. But another dealer and expert currently claims it as the work of Adèle Romanée, a much lesser known artist of the period who is still being "rediscovered"; there has been much recent research on her life and art, and some paintings previously attributed to David and Regnault have been restored to her oeuvre. Comparing this portrait with the works of both artists, though, it seems much more likely to be by the hand of Danloux. The painting is, over all, much more sophisticated and technically consistent than Romanée's work. And it appears to show the influence - as the Sotheby's catalogue argues - of Raeburn and other of the great British portrait painters of the day, artists that Danloux encountered at the time of his stay in England during the 1790s.