Cultured Wednesday: Barber’s Suspense

In this house we have three reasonably little girls and three reasonably big dogs.  It’s unbelievable that we haven’t had any of Charles Burton Barber’s paintings on our family website before!

Suspense, 1894

Charles Burton Barber (1845–1894), was a British painter who is mostly known for his portraits of children, particularly girls, and their pets.  Already during his lifetime, Barber was regarded as one of the country’s finest animal painters and received commissions from Queen Victoria to do paintings of her with grandchildren and dogs, as well as of the Prince of Wales, the later Edward VII, and his pets.

There are so many of his paintings that are just too cute, it was quite hard to choose one.  So here is one more, just for the joy of looking at paintings of little girls growing up with dogs.

This painting, titled ‘Girl with Dogs’, is another child and dog painting Barber painted towards the end of his life.


Cultural Wednesday: Draper’s Gates of Dawn

Beautiful Aurora, goddess of the dawn.

Herbert James Draper was an English Classicist painter.  His career began in the Victorian era and extended into the 20th century.

Herbert James Draper, The Gates of Dawn, 1900

Today’s featured artist Herbert James Draper, born in 1863 or 1864, focused his artistic talent mainly on mythological themes from ancient Greece.  So the beautiful lady depicted in the featured painting is Aurora, goddess of the dawn, opening the gates of dawn with her rosy-colored fingers.  Isn’t it simply beautiful?  Here at the homeplace, we read a lot of mythology, Greek, Roman, Nordic, you name it.  It is such an interesting field of study and helps appreciate poetry, literature, even language so much more.

But back to our featured artist.  Draper was quite famous in his day, first for his mythology-themed paintings and especially his The Lament for Icarus, and later, when mythological themes were no longer popular, as a portrait painter, but his work somewhat faded in popularity, which began even before he died on 22 September 1920 in London, England, where he had lived all his life.  Simon Toll’s book on Draper, published by the Antique Collector’s Club, is the only modern study of his work and includes a full catalog of his drawings and paintings.  Toll, incidentally, is the Head of Victorian Pictures and Director at Sotheby’s in London.

Cultured Wednesday: Fanny Corbaux

Fanny Corbaux was a 19th century British portrait painter.

The girls took a book about the history of dolls home from the library one day.  It was a very interesting book with a lot more photos than text.  One doll the girls thought particularly interesting, and that was one that was fashioned after this painting:

the day before marriage
The Day Before Marriage, by Fanny Corbaux

Our oldest loved the painting because it was so beautifully detailed, and the youngest liked it for the pretty clothing.  Who, then, painted the painting?  It was Fanny Corbaux, a British lady, although her last name does not sound British at all.  Her full name was, in fact, Marie Françoise Catherine Doetger Corbaux, which throws one completely off when it comes to first names as well.  She is known as a portrait painter of the late Edwardian and early Victorian era, as well as being credited with inventing whitewash, also known as calcimine or lime paint.

Cinderella, by Fanny Corbaux

Fanny Corbaux was born in 1812 in Paris, to an English-born statistician and mathematician who had a French last name and spent much of his life abroad. Fanny was obviously very talented and developed her talent early, for when she received her first medals for an original portrait she painted and two copies, one of a water-color and one of an engraving, she was only 15 years old.  She continued to copy artwork and paint original pieces as well, in oil as well as water-colors, but eventually she gave up the former in favor of the latter and joined the New Society of Painters in Water-Colours in 1839.

Leila, by Fanny Corbaux (1845)

By that time, she had already illustrated Thomas Moore’s Pearls of the East (1837), and in 1841 she did the same for Cousin Natalia’s Tales, both of which her sister lithographed.  Of these illustrations, a critic said she had “depicted oriental beauty in all its varieties of voluptuous languor and fascinating vivacity”.  Sounds like a compliment to me.

Gulnare, by Fanny Corbaux

Fanny Corbaux died at Brighton on 1 February 1883.

The Prado Madrid
The Prado, Madrid. By Fanny Corbaux

Cultured Wednesday: John Atkinson Grimshaw

Eerie and inviting at the same time: John Atkinson Grimshaw’s cityscapes.

Here we have an artist who wasn’t devoted to the vastness of the American wilderness, but to the cityscapes of the Old World, the UK in particular.  John Atkinson Grimshaw, who lived during the reign of Queen Victoria, is considered one of the most renowned painters of that era, as well as one of the best night- and townscape artists of all time, and we happen to agree.

JAG Reflections on the Thames 1880
Reflections on the Thames, Westminster, 1880

John Atkinson Grimshaw was born on September 6th, 1836, in Leeds, West Yorkshire, England.  In 1856, he married, and the couple had 15 children, all of whom were named after fictional characters in Tennyson’s Idylls of the King.  Nine of their children died before reaching adulthood, but of the remaining six, four became painters as well.

JAG On Hampstead Hill
On Hampstead Hill

The landscapes John Atkinson Grimshaw created were realistic, as in, of accurate color and lighting, and vivid detail.  Most famous are his moonlit views of city and suburban streets and of the docks in London, Hull, Liverpool and Glasgow.  The scenes he painted are eerie, and you expect Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson to appear any minute now, but at the same time the light pouring out of windows onto the wet cobblestones invites you in, and speaks of warmth and comfort.

The moods of the different season also feature prominently in John Atkinson Grimshaw’s paintings.  The one below captures beautifully the late afternoon light of mid-fall, around the time when heading home begins to sound like a wonderful idea.

Late October, 1882

John Atkinson Grimshaw died on October 13th, 1893, and is buried in Leeds General Cemetery, having lived in the Leeds area basically all his life.  As a last example of his marvelous paintings, we leave you with this less real, but no less realistic one of the Spirit of the Night.

JAG Spirit of the Night 1879
Spirit of the Night, 1879

Featured: Shipping on the Clyde, 1881


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