Delacroix is known for his brilliant colorism and bold brushwork, and for his interest in exoticism and themes derived from literature, mythology, and religion. He is traditionally seen as the pivotal figure in Romanticism, that nineteenth-century movement characterized by a taste for the exotic, for the historical, and for a variety of subject and emotion. Considered the culmination of the painterly tradition of Titian, Veronese, Rubens, and Rembrandt, he nevertheless founded his art on a thorough study of the great masters of classicism, such as Raphael and Poussin. He himself profoundly inspired later artists such as Cézanne, Renoir, Matisse, and Picasso, and thus was an important link to the rise of modern art.
Delacroix was a consummate draftsman as well as a superb painter. Drawing was the very foundation of his art. His method of artistic creation involved the elaborate development of his ideas for paintings through multiple drawings—from rough scrawls, to preliminary studies, to drawings of details, to fully accomplished designs squared for transfer to canvas. The magnificent history paintings for which he is famous are complemented by hundreds of drawings and many sketchbooks and single sheets. The luminous use of color and expressive brushwork in Delacroix’s paintings are paralleled in his drawings by a spontaneity and sureness of touch and by a broad range of inventive graphic effects. The drawings owned by UMMA include works executed in graphite, ink, watercolor, and wash. Subjects include a range of biblical and historical scenes as well as animals and the human figure, many of which can be related to finished paintings.
Delacroix prints, include scenes from Shakespeare. Delacroix saw Edmund Kean in performances of Richard III, Othello, and The Merchant of Venice during a brief trip to London in 1825. Two years later, six plays by Shakespeare were presented at the Odeon in Paris. Delacroix had a strong interest in literary works; he was an admirer of Goethe, Schiller, Scott, and Byron as well as Shakespeare. His enthusiasm for the English playwright's tragedies inspired numerous works in various media.
(A. Dixon and C. McNamara, 1998, taken from text panel of the exhibition, Drawings by Delacroix from the University of Michigan Museum of Art, December 5, 1998–January 24, 1999)
Signed in pencil in margin below l.r. corner of image: Keith Shaw Williams. In pencil at l.l. corner of sheet: a18002 [....] 14; in pencil on a circular tab (now ripped) pasted on u.r. corner of sheet: 164; In pencil in l.l. corner of mat: JMK 134; in pencil at l.c. of mat: KEITH SHAW WILLIAMS (1906-1951)/ PORTRAIT OF STOW WEGENROTH DRAWING/ ON A LITHOGRAPHIC STONE. Reproduced as/ fronticespiece in The Lithographs of stow Wegenroth [underlined]. 1974
Kara Walker is a young African-American artist living and working in Providence, RI. Looking back to 19th-century American cut-paper silhouettes forming tableaux, the artist makes panoramic prints that simulate shadow plays. Characteristically Walker’s prints are on racial themes and feature pre-Civil War stereotypes: slave and master, adult and child. This suite of five prints shows a swampland with the heads of escaping slaves visible above the surface of the water; the scene is enframed by a mother nursing a child at left and a master throttling the neck of a captured slave child at right. These enigmatic narrative elements evoke the distant world of the historical novel. Both the use of silhouettes and the sobriquets enable the artist to distance herself and the viewer from the suggestions of physical violence and sexual threat on the part of the master, and the passive acceptance of these acts by the victimized slaves.
The prints was published in an edition of 20 by Landfall Press in Chicago. The fine aquatint texture of the black areas with their crisp, curving contours makes a voluptuous contrast with the velvety surface of the heavy, smooth cream Somerset Satin wove paper.
On the plate, l.r.: Callot fecit Israel excudit. On the plate, lower right margin: 18 On the plate, lower margin, six verse lines in groups of two disposed from left to right: Cet example d'un Chef plein de reconnoissance, Qui punit les méchans et les bon recompance, Doit picquer les soldats d'un aiguillon d'honneur Puisque de la vertu dépend tout leur bon-heur, Et qu'ordinairement ils reciovent du Vice, La honte, le mespris, et le dernier supplice.
Born July 10, 1834 in Lowell, Massachusetts, the son of George Washington Whistler, a draftsman and civil engineer. In 1842 the senior Whistler was employed by the Russian government to help build a railroad between St. Petersburg and Moscow. James Whistler thus spent seven years of his youth in Russia (1842-49). In 1851 he entered West Point Academy but was discharged in 1854, for deficiency in chemistry. He worked as a draftsman from 1854 to 1855 in the U. S. Coast Survey, Washington, D.C., where he also learned to etch. In 1855 he left the United States for Paris and, after five years in France, settled in London. He never returned to the United States. He enjoyed great success in his life, as a painter and printmaker, but also struggled for acceptance and endured times of financial hardship.
Whistler studied at the Imperial Academy of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg, Russia and at West Point Academy, but probably received his earliest artistic training from his father. In 1856 he entered the studio of Marc-Gabriel Charles Gleyre in Paris and became acquainted with Henri Martin, Henri Oulevey, George du Maurier, E. G. Poynter and L. M. Lamont. In 1858 Whistler met Fantin-Latour at the Louvre. Fantin-Latour took him to the Cafe Molière, where he met Legros, Carolus-Duran and Astruc and to the Brasserie Andler, the meeting place of Courbet and his followers. Fantin, Whistler, and Legros formed their own society, the Société des Trois in the same year. Later, in 1865, Albert Moore replaced Legros as the third member of the Société.
Whistler submitted the painting, At the Piano, to the Salon in 1859. Rejected by the Salon, the painting was exhibited in Francois Bonvin's studio. This was also the first painting by Whistler exhibited in Britain, at the Royal Academy, in 1860. Among Whistler's principal patrons early in his career include F. R. Leyland and W. C. Alexander and among major works he produced at this time are portraits of family members of these two men.
In England, Whistler became acquainted with the pre-Raphaelite circle of artists. He began collecting Japanese art and curios in the early 1860s and also is known to have visited the Salon des Refusés in Paris when many of the Impressionist painters were exhibiting there. Whistler's many connections with contemporary artists and wide interests make him an artist difficult to pigeonhole.
Two events in Whistler's life perhaps shed some light on his character: he sued John Ruskin for libel in 1877 (the fees incurred during the case forced him to declare bankruptcy in 1879) and in 1890 he published a book "The Gentle Art of Making Enemies."
Whistler married Beatrix Godwin, widow of E. W. Godwin, in 1888. She preceded him in death in 1896. Whistler died in London on July 17, 1903.
One-man exhibitions: 1874 London, Flemish Gallery; 1904 Memorial exhibition, Boston; 1905 Memorial exhibition, London and Paris
Elected a member of the Royal Society of British Artists, 1884; president, 1886-1888
First president of the International Society of Sculptors, Painters, and Gravers, 1898-1903
Officer of Legion of Honor, France
Member of Société Nationale des Artistes Françaises
Commander of the Order of the Crown of Italy
Chevalier of the Order of St. Michael of Bavaria
Honorary member of Royal Academies of Bavaria, Dresden, and of St. Luke in Rome
Sources: Groce, G. C. and D. H. Wallace, eds. "The New York Historical Society's Dictionary of Artists in America 1564-1860." New Haven: Yale University Press, 1957; MacDonald, M. F. "James McNeill Whistler: Drawings, Pastels and Watercolours." New Haven: Yale University Press, 1995; McNamara, C. and J. Siewert, "Whistler: Prosaic Views, Poetic Vision." London: Thames and Hudson, 1994; Opitz, Glenn B., ed. "Mantle Fielding's Dictionary of American Painters, Sculptors and Engravers," 2nd ed. Poughkeepsie: Apollo, 1986; Spencer, R. "Whistler: The Masterworks." London: Studio Editions, 1990.
Seen frontally is a building along a canal. In front of the facade is a brick or cobble pavement; steps lead up to a triple doorway entrance while laundry and windows complete the second story. To either side of the central steps are doorways that lead down. In each of the doorways and on the pavement are grouped figures of women and children. The lower portion of the print shows the reflections of the building and figures.
According to the Glasgow catalogue raisonné, "The shop front of No. 148 Lijnbaansgracht, near the corner of Laurierstraat and Lijnbaansgracht, in the city of Amsterdam, capital of the Netherlands. 7 Beatrice Whistler called it the 'Royen Gracht'. "
Etching and drypoint
Second state of four (Kennedy 403)
Bequest of Margaret Watson Parker, 1954/1.403
Whistler’s Amsterdam etchings often have a darkness and closeness that borders on claustrophobic. Here he zeroes in on the motif, cropping the upper stories of the buildings and using the stagnant water of the back canals to mirror them with little differentiation between structure and reflection. In spite of the humble subjects and the sense of confined space, the Amsterdam prints, with their delicately etched lines, subtle printing in brown ink, and beautifully observed details of daily life, are works of unparalleled beauty. The laundry line and playing children are anecdotal touches that draw the viewer into the world of the image. The gaze becomes absorbed by the interplay between the complex rectangular forms that make up the facade of the house, the cobbled street, and the reflections on the surface of the canal in the foreground, where representation becomes pure form.
On the plate, top center: Butterfly monogram Signed, in pencil, on tab: Butterfly monogram and imp. Embossed collector's mark: Sir John Day. Lugt 526, Watermark: letters?