Cultured Wednesday: von Drasche-Wartinberg’s Im Tiefen Winter

Here’s a winter landscape painting by a 19th century geologist.

January, just the time to have a closer look at paintings of winter landscapes.  Here is one by Richard Freiherr von Drasche-Wartinberg:

Richard Freiherr von Drasche-Wartinberg: Im tiefen Winter (In Deep Winter)

Richard Freiherr von Drasche-Wartinberg (born 18 March 1850 in Vienna, died 3 July 1923 in the same place) was the son of the brick maker who turned the Wienerberger Ziegelkonzern into the leading company of this kind in Austria during the Gründerzeit.  The company is known today as the Wienerberger AG, by now the world’s largest producer of bricks and clay roof tiles.

Painting was not Richard Freiherr von Drasche-Wartinberg’s main occupation, in fact, he was rather known for his published geological studies and he traveled and researched a lot.  But for the moment, we are more interested in his painting.  That’s what winter is supposed to be like…

Cultured Wednesday: The Flying Dutchman

This was a sight to chill a seaman’s heart: the Flying Dutchman, speeding before her own ghost wind and crewed by a company of the dead.  She augured death to those who spied her.

The story of the Flying Dutchman is quite well known, I should say, and has certainly been the object of many a painting.  I picked two of them for your kind perusal.

Charles Temple DixFlying Dutchman concentrates on the ship itself for effect, and light seems to be the most prominent means to convey ghostliness.  Everything in the picture flees from the source of light, however:  It is not a promise of salvation, but portends doom and destruction.

The Flying Dutchman by Charles Temple Dix

Howard Pyle‘s Flying Dutchman betrays the writer and illustrator: Much like a story often relies on contrast for effect, his central character stands out in his posture – defying wind, defying danger – as well as in color – the red sash, recurring in his eyes and, to a lesser degree, in his ghostly crew.  The waves behind him could just as well be mountains.  Not the kind of fellow you wish to meet on a regular basis, this Captain Vanderdecken, or at all, Pyle stresses.

Howard Pyle The Flying Dutchman
The Flying Dutchman by Howard Pyle

Just in case the story is unfamiliar, here is what the the Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica have to say on the matter:

Flying Dutchman, in European maritime legend, spectre ship doomed to sail forever; its appearance to seamen is believed to signal imminent disaster. In the most common version, the captain, Vanderdecken, gambles his salvation on a rash pledge to round the Cape of Good Hope during a storm and so is condemned to that course for eternity; it is this rendering which forms the basis of the opera Der fliegende Holländer (1843) by the German composer Richard Wagner.

Another legend depicts a Captain Falkenberg sailing forever through the North Sea, playing at dice for his soul with the devil. The dice-game motif recurs in the Rime of the Ancient Mariner (1798) by the English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge; the mariner sights a phantom ship on which Death and Life in Death play dice to win him. The Scottish writer Sir Walter Scott adapted the legend in his narrative poem Rokeby (1813); murder is committed on shipboard, and plague breaks out among the crew, closing all ports to the ship.

howard pyle flying hutchman closeup
Captain Vanderdecken

Forever lashed by wind and rain, forever braced on a rolling deck, the spectral captain of the Flying Dutchman sailed his ship wherever sea roads led.

Cultured Wednesday: Rockwell Kent’s “Snowy Fields”

“I want the elemental, infinite thing; I want to paint the rhythm of eternity.”

Today, I invite you to have a look at only one painting of the remarkable painter, illustrator, writer, and rather interesting individual Rockwell Kent (1882 – 1971).  The painting is called “Snowy Fields (Winter in the Berkshires)”, and was painted in 1909.

rockwell kent featured
Snowy Fields (Winter in the Berkshires). 1909

“I don’t want petty self-expression”, Kent wrote, “I want the elemental, infinite thing; I want to paint the rhythm of eternity.”

Can you see “the Symbolist spirit evoking the mysteries and cosmic wonders of the natural world” in this painting?

Cultured Wednesday: Isaac van Ostade

Isaac van Ostade didn’t have to travel the world to find his inspiration.

Isaac van Ostade was a 17th-century Dutch painter of peopled landscapes, so to speak: Country scenes, often in winter, fairs and the outsides of inns, but also some interior scenes.  His brother Adrian taught him, and although Isaac died before the age of 30, he still left about 100 paintings.

an inn by a frozen river
An Inn by a Frozen River. between 1640 and 1645.  The featured image shows the same inn and the same frozen river in a slightly different scene.

Isaac was born in Haarlem in the Netherlands, and baptized there on June 2, 1621.  He started studying with his brother Adriaen, but eventually developed his own peculiar style.  Especially noteworthy in his paintings are his broad contrasts of light and shade and the masterly figures of horses, riders, travelers, rustics, quarreling children, dogs, poultry and cattle.  A favorite place is always given to the white horse, which particularly endears him to our girls, as you can probably imagine.

travellers outside an inn 1645
Travelers Outside an Inn (1645)

Alas!, his life was short, albeit not idle:  He painted over 400 paintings!  On October 16, 1649, he died, and was buried in his hometown.  So we will let his paintings speak for themselves.

Entertainment on the Ice (1640-45)  – No white horse in this one!
a frozen lake 1648
A Frozen Lake (1648)
winter landscape 1645
Winter Landscape (1645)

I find it quite interesting how Isaac van Ostade paints the same basic landscape so often, populating it with different people or portraying it in a different season.  In other words, he didn’t have to travel the world to find his inspiration.  Fascinating.

Cultured Wednesday: Wilhelm Carl Räuber

Wilhelm Carl Räuber was a German painter of the latter half of the 19th and first quarter of the 20th century.

Here we have a German painter by the name of Wilhelm Carl Räuber (1849-1926), who is mostly known (anymore) for his St. Hubertus painting, but we thought he had some other interesting paintings that deserve a bit of attention.  The white stag in the painting is, of course, a symbol that goes back to pre-Christian times.

hubertus raueber
Die Bekehrung des Heiligen Hubertus, 1892

White stags played an important role in other pre-Indo-European cultures, especially in the north.  The Celtic people considered white stags to be messengers from the Otherworld, and thus, much like in the Arthurian legend, the pursuit of the animals represents mankind’s spiritual quest.  The Celts believed that the white stag would appear when one was transgressing a taboo, whereas King Arthur’s knights felt called to go on a quest when they encountered a white stag.  You can find one of these stories in the Mabinogion, for example.

Incidentally, and quite off topic, really:   The white stag makes an appearance in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, in which a large white stag is hunted as part of the quest “Ill Met by Moonlight”.  Hmmm.

Back to the painter:  Wilhelm Carl Räuber was born July 11th, 1849 in Marienwerder in what was then West Prussia, and died on January 25th, 1926 in Munich.  He studied in Königsberg, known as Kaliningrad since the end of WWII, and later in Munich. There, Räuber settled for the rest of his life.

Räuber was quite famous in his time and received several golden medals in art exhibitions in Düsseldorf (in 1880) and Munich (in 1883).  Today, his paintings are found in the Nationalgalerie in Berlin, as well as in the Deutschen Museum and the Neuen Pinakothek, both in Munich.

Pause Unterwegs, 1916

The Alps feature quite prominently in two of the three paintings we chose, as a somewhat hazy, and yet majestic backdrop to an otherwise colorful and rather preoccupied group of people.

The people and what they are engaged in, be it a moment of prayer or a probably well-deserved break, speak to us in a very lively manner, as if we were part of their group instead of observers.  And there are always dogs in the paintings!

Just so that we don’t ignore Räuber’s portraits completely, here is one of his charcoal portraits of a little cutie pie who appears to have been his adoptive daughter.  It’s a giant image when you click on it, so you can see rather well how he drew it.


Featured: Wilhelm Räuber: Landsknechte am Wegkreuz, 1902

Cultured Wednesday: Albert Pinkham Ryder

“When a thing has the elements of beauty from the beginning, it cannot be destroyed.”

Today’s choice of painter, Albert Pinkham Ryder (1847-1917), speaks to us primarily through the moods he created in his paintings.  Mystical, mysterious, sometimes eerie, even where his motifs are not explicitly so.

The Old Mill by Moonlight. 1885
The Old Mill by Moonlight. 1885

For his bio, allow me to quote passages from what is written about him in Albert Pinkham Ryder’s Find-A-Grave memorial because it seems to me that here someone wrote who valued the artist for who he was as well as for what he created.

He is considered one of America’s most original artists, best known for his brooding, nocturnal land and seascapes. Most of his paintings are allegories, based on stories from the Bible, Shakespeare, and other literary sources, and filtered through his dreamlike imagination. (…)

Siegfried and the Rhine Maidens
Siegfried and the Rhine Maidens. 1888–1891

Ryder was born and raised in the whaling town of New Bedford, Massachusetts, and the sea would always be a favorite setting for him. In 1867 he settled in New York City and between 1870 and 1875 took classes at the National Academy of Design.

The Lovers' Boat.  c. 1881
The Lovers’ Boat. c. 1881

A loner by temperament, he never married and painted in seclusion, oblivious to art world trends and influences. His reputation as an eccentric is best applied to his unconventional creative methods. Ryder would work sporadically on a canvas for several years, often painting over collected dust, adding layers of pigment and varnish without allowing them to dry properly, and applying such unsuitable substances as wax and candle grease. As a result many of his estimated 160 paintings have deteriorated beyond repair – colors faded, details gone, surfaces heavily cracked.

In the Stable.  1900
In the Stable. 1900

This began to happen during Ryder’s lifetime, and he seemed unfazed about it. “When a thing has the elements of beauty from the beginning, it cannot be destroyed”, he said. “Take the Venus de Milo. Ages and men have ravaged it, its arms and nose have been knocked off, but it still remains a thing of beauty because beauty was with it from the beginning”. The poor condition of his surviving artwork has made Ryder one of the most forged of American painters, but the intensity of his vision remains evident with each brushstroke and can hardly be duplicated.

Spirit of Autumn.  c. 1875
Spirit of Autumn. c. 1875

I guess there is very little left to say, except perhaps that the featured image (slightly cropped) is maybe his most famous painting called The Race Track or Death on a Pale Horse (1895–1910), and that Albert Pinkham Ryder also wrote poetry to go with his paintings, but I was unable to find any of them online.  Pity, that.

If you would like to see more of his paintings, you could go to Albert Pinkham Ryder’s Wikiart entry, there to find 27 of his paintings in total, plus what Wikipedia has to say about him.

Side note: The second painting in the post is my husband’s favorite, our girls like the painting of the horses in the stable best, and my favorite is the last painting, Spirit of Autumn – how fitting for a Cultured Wednesday in October.  Do you have a favorite among the ones we picked, or any of his other paintings?

Cultured Wednesday: Pretty Pilot Mountain

Pilot Mountain in Surry County, NC, has special significance in our family history.

Today, we would like to introduce a mountain that has been featured in many paintings and which probably looks familiar to many of you.  It has special significance in our family history as well:  Pilot Mountain in Surry County, North Carolina.

Note: The paintings that follow we found online, and if they are for sale in some way, shape or form, we added links to the respective sites.

pm by diane
The Pilot – Pilot Mountain, by L. Diane Johnson

Pilot Mountain is often considered North Carolina’s natural wonder because it is so unique.  Being a remnant of the ancient Sauratown Mountains, Pilot Mountain is a quartzite monadnock, that is, a mountain that stands way above the surrounding area.  To the native “Saura” Indians, Pilot Mountain was known as Jomeokee, the “Great Guide” or “Pilot” as it guided both Native Americans and early European hunters along a north-south path through the area.  The summit area is off limits to the general public these days, the top being only physically accessible via rock climbing.  The highest point people can get to in Pilot Mountain State Park is the Little Pinnacle, a false summit.

Pilot Mountain by Bernie Rosage Jr
“Pilot Mountain” by Bernie Rosage Jr

Fast forward to the 1960s, and you have a happy little TV sitcom set more or less at the foot of this beautiful rock: The Andy Griffith Show.  And somewhere in between the two, our family history becomes connected to the area, and Denney bones still rest there.

Pilot Mountain In NC by Jason Zhang
“Pilot Mountain in NC” by Jason Zhang

Our first sure Denney ancestor in the United States was Samuel Denney (1635-1710), who came to America from the south-western England, settling first in Tidewater, VA.  One of his great-grandsons, who was born 1715 or 1722, was named after him.  He, in turn, had several sons with whom he came to Surry County, NC “some time before the war”, and settled on “the Hill Farm” on the Ararat River near the mouth of Pilot Creek, just west of Pilot Rock.  This Samuel Denney remained there until he lost his wife Sarah, whose remains now lie under a rock pile on the south side of Pilot Creek, near the mouth, at the foot of the hill.  If you look at a map where Pilot Creek meets the Ararat River, you can see quite well where that would have been.  After his wife’s death, old man Samuel went west with some of his sons and grandsons and died in Gallia County, Ohio, where they had then settled.

pm and stream
Pilot Mountain, NC, and Stream; by Richard Benson

Samuel’s son Azariah (1750 – 1830), the next ancestor in our line, married and settled on the Martin Flinchum farm on Pilot Creek, where he raised twelve children, six boys and six girls.  His son James (1777 – 1860), our 5th great-grandfather, was among the family members that later left the area (between 1812 and 1816) to settle in Gallia County, Ohio, as mentioned above, while old man Azariah lived with his son Jordan on the farm on Pilot Creek until he died.  See why the painting that featured a stream spoke to us especially?

Lastly, one more picture of Pilot Mountain, a photo this time that shows the view so many people are familiar with:  Pilot Mountain from the south on U.S. Route 52.  Got to go visit there one of these days!



Cultured Wednesday: Artists Colony Worpswede

Today we would like to introduce you to the Kuenstlerdorf Worpswede and a group of painters who were inspired by this little village in the north of Germany, and its surrounding moor called Teufelsmoor, or Devil’s Bog.

Today we would like to introduce you to the Kuenstlerdorf Worpswede and a group of painters who were inspired by this little village in the north of Germany, and its surrounding moor called Teufelsmoor, or Devil’s Bog.

Otto Modersohn: Herbst im Moor (1895)

Two of the early painters of the colony were Otto Modersohn, who painted the above “Autumn on the Moor” in 1895, and Carl Vinnen, who painted the following painting called “Moonlit Night” around 1900.

Carl Vinnen-Mondnacht-1900
Carl Vinnen: Mondnacht (1900)

Fritz Mackensen is credited with having been the first painter who settled there, and here is one of his paintings titled “Church Service Outside”:

Mackensen Gottestdienst im Freien
Fritz Mackensen: Gottestdienst im Freien

You should already get an idea of the kind of landscape these painters were influenced by:  It was somewhat bleak, like moors tend to be, with a wild and also implicitly dangerous beauty.  On a sandy dune in the midst of this lonely place, a few cottages sat at the foot of an old, equally sandy  hill, misleadingly called Weyerberg (54.4 meters (178 ft),

Bluehendes_Buchweizenfeld Fritz Overbeck 1900
Fritz Overbeck: Bluehendes Buchweizenfeld (1900)

and the farmers were eking out a meager existence which included growing buckwheat and cutting peat which was shipped down the small river Hamme towards the nearby city of Bremen.  You can still take tours on the Hamme river in the kind of boats they used, as depicted below:

Fritz Mackensen Torfkaene auf der Hamme 1904
Fritz Mackensen: Torfkaene auf der Hamme (1904)

At the time, everything seemed up in the air, to a degree, and painters as well as poets, sculptors and composers expressed the emotions that came with the dawning of a new century in various ways, some more hopeful than others.  The spring painting below was painted by Hans am Ende around 1900, and he also painted the featured image entitled “Weites Land” (Open Country) around that time.

Hans_am_Ende Fruehling in Worpswede 1900
Hans am Ende: Fruehling in Worpswede (1900)

But not only painters settled in Worpswede for a time.  The poet Rainer Maria Rilke was one of the artists that made his home in Worpswede for a while, where he married the sculptor Clara Westhoff.  The above mentioned Modersohn married another painter, Paula BeckerHeinrich Vogeler, among other things an architect, lefts his mark on the village, much like architect Bernhard Hoetger who also designed the Böttcherstraße in nearby Bremen.  Below you can see Vogeler’s famous painting “Sommerabend” (summer evening), in which some of the artists mentioned are portrayed:

Heinrich_Vogeler_Sommerabend 1905
Heinrich Vogeler: Sommerabend (1905)

The painting shows a concert on the porch of the Barkenhoff where Vogeler lived.  The house had become the center of the early artists colony.  Center front you see Vogeler’s wife Martha dreamily gazing into space.  At her her feet lies her dog, a Russian Barsoi.  Vogeler painted himself half hidden on the far right, playing the cello, on his left his brother Franz is playing the violin, while his brother-in-law Martin is playing the flute.  On the left you see, left to right, Paula Modersohn-Becker, Agnes Wulff und Clara Rilke-Westhoff.  The bearded gentleman in the background is Otto Modersohn.

As you might have noticed, birches feature prominently in many paintings of the moor, and the brooks along which they grow, as well as thatch-roofed houses that can still be seen in and around the area.  Very picturesque, indeed, both in the spring and in the fall.

Hans am Ende: Birken am Moorgraben (1896)

Later on, the artists went quite diverse ways, ranging from Heinrich Vogler becoming a communist to Fritz Mackensen joining the Nazi party, so a more biographic approach to the painters involved would surely take us too far for a modest introduction such as this.

Worpswede is still an artists colony, but also a tourist attraction these days.  Worth a visit, I dare say, if you are ever in the area.  🙂

Cultured Wednesday: Andreas Achenbach

Andreas Achenbach was probably the most influential German landscape painter of the Romantic period.

Andreas Achenbach, born September 29th, 1815, was a German landscape painter of the Romantic period.  Born in Kassel, he was arguably the most prominent member of the  Düsseldorfer Malerschule (Düsseldorf school of painting).  He preferred marine art, while his younger brother Oswald Achenbach, also a renowned painter in his time (but today largely forgotten), preferred landscapes over seascapes.  During their lifetime, the brothers were called “das A und O der Landschaftsmalerei” (the Alpha and the Omega of landscape painting).

Ein Seesturm an der norwegischen Küste, 1837

Young Andreas is said to have known everything about drawing at the early age of 6, according to his first teacher.  By the age of 12, or so the story goes, he began studying at the  Königlich-Preußische Kunstakademie in Düsseldorf, where said Düsseldorfer Malerschule originated.  At age 16, he had his first big success when his paintings were not only part of a renowned exhibition, but when he also sold his first painting.  It showed – guess what?  Not a seascape, but the old academy in Düsseldorf, a simple building that at the time would have been considered unworthy as a motive.  Here the painting:

Die alte Akademie in Düsseldorf, 1831

In 1836, his fame was cemented when Prince Frederick of Prussia bought one of the seascapes he painted after a longer visit to the Netherlands and Riga, “Big Marina with Lighthouse”.

Große Marine mit Leuchtturm
Große Marine mit Leuchtturm, 1836

Later on he traveled a lot, to Scandinavia among other places, where he was quite inspired by the wild coast, as you can see in the first painting of this post, as well as further south to Italy, as the next beautiful painting shows.  Incidentally, his brother Oswald also loved to travel and was known for his Italian landscapes in particular.

Aufräumen Küste von Sizilien 1847
Aufräumen – Küste von Sizilien, 1847

Andreas Achenbach’s technique was said to be flawless, and hence he influenced a lot of painters although he taught only few.  When he died on April 1st, 1910 in Düsseldorf, the city experienced what amounted to a state funeral.  Here is another one of his seascapes, this time in calmer weather.

Küstenlandschaft mit Stadtansicht, 1875
Küstenlandschaft mit Stadtansicht, 1875

And finally, my favorite of his paintings: A watermill in Westphalia, painted in 1863.

Westfälische Wassermühle, 1863
Westfälische Wassermühle, 1863

Cultured Wednesday: Thomas Cole

Thomas Cole was a 19th-century painter known for his landscape and history paintings, which is why we picked him for today’s art feature.

Thomas Cole, born February 1, 1801 in Lancashire, UK, emigrated with his family to the United States in 1818, settling in Steubenville, Ohio.  Later, he moved first to Philadelphia and then to Catskill, NY, where he lived with his wife and children until his death on February 11, 1848.  The fourth highest peak in the Catskills is named Thomas Cole Mountain in his honor.

two lakes
A View of the Two Lakes and Mountain House, Catskill Mountains, Morning. 1844

Thomas Cole was a painter known for his landscape and history paintings, which is why we picked him for today’s art feature.  He was largely self-taught as a painter, and look how wonderful his landscapes are!  This is an imaginary scene from The Last of the Mohicans:

Imaginary Scene from The Last of the Mohicans: Cora Kneeling at the Feet of Tanemund. 1827

He is regarded as the founder of the Hudson River School, and known for his romantic portrayal of the American wilderness.  The painters of the Hudson River School believed that the natural world was a gift from God, and faithfully depicting its wonders was a high calling.  “Faithfully depicting” doesn’t mean photographically accurate, however, for such paintings are known as “topographical landscapes”.  That’s a whole different ballgame.

romantic tower
Romantic Landscape with Ruined Tower. 1832–36

But he also painted what is known as “allegorical works”.  The most famous of these are The Course of the Empire and The Voyage of Life.  If you follow the links, you can see all the paintings; I will only give an example of each here.  First, the last of The Course of the Empire paintings called “Desolation”:

The Course of Empire: Desolation. 1836

And of The Voyage of Life, we chose “Manhood”:

The Voyage of Life Manhood 1842
The Voyage of Life: Manhood. 1842

Cole was also a poet and dabbled in architecture:  He entered a suggestion in the design competition held in 1838 to create the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus, Ohio.  His entry won third place, and many contend that the finished building, a composite of the first-, second-, and third-place entries, bears a great similarity to Cole’s entry.  The painting below might have something to do with this little episode:

arcitects dream
The Architect’s Dream. 1840

Compare the Ohio Statehouse in this photo (shame about the ugly skyscraper…):

ohio statehouse
Ohio Statehouse in Columbus, OH

Lastly, the featured image again, un-cropped.  This is actually my favorite because if you’d offer us this place to move in, or even the spot by the water to build our own cabin on, we’d immediately kick out the fire, call the dogs and head there.

Home in the Woods, 1847
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