A - Z Challenge 2016

A – Z Challenge 2016, E if For…

Eis for East, Alfred. I did not really have an E that sprang to mind so had to do a search and after dismissing a fwe others settled upon this gentleman.

Painting of East by Laszlo
Painting of East by Laszlo

East was born in Kettering in Northamptonshire and studied at the Glasgow School of Art. His romantic landscapes show the influence of the Barbizon school. His The Art of Landscape Painting in Oil Colour was published in 1906. In April 1888 he had shared an exhibition at the galleries of the Fine Art Society with T.C. Gotch and W. Ayerst Ingram, and was commissioned the following year by Marcus Huish, Managing Director of the Society, to spend six months in Japan to paint the landscape and the people of the country. When the exhibition of 104 paintings from this tour was held at the Fine Art Society in 1890 it was a spectacular success.

East visited Spain after 1892 when he visited Algeciras at the southern end of Iberia.[2]

In 1906 he was elected President of the Royal Society of British Artists, a position he held until his death. In that year, he published his 107-page illustrated “The Art of Landscape Painting in Oil Colour”; in its preface, he made the observation: “The greatest errors in landscape painting are to be found — contradictory as it may appear — not so much in the matter of technique as in the painter’s attitude toward Nature”. In this book he described his techniques using colours, half-tones and pencil sketches.

He was awarded a Knighthood in 1910 by King Edward VII. His portrait was painted by Philip de Laszlo. The Alfred East Art Gallery in Kettering, designed by John Alfred Gotch opened on 31 July 1913. The Alfred East Gallery is Northamptonshire’s oldest purpose-built art gallery.

East was elected an Associate of the Royal Academy in 1899, having been a regular exhibitor since 1883 and elected to full membership in 1913.

On Sunday, 28 September 1913, Alfred East died at his London residence in Belsize Park. His body was taken back to Kettering and lay in state in the Art Gallery, where it was surrounded by the pictures he had presented to the town, and attracted crowds of several thousands.

I cheated and lifted the bio from Wikipedia simply as there is not much said there apart from a list of his accomplishments, for those outside the UK you may not know Kettering is an army town and has been for many years and I would speculate he came from a fairly well off military family but for all his travels there is something very homely about his art.

BAL14993 The Fiesta by East, Sir Alfred (1849-1913) Roy Miles Fine Paintings English, out of copyright
BAL14993 The Fiesta by East, Sir Alfred (1849-1913)
Roy Miles Fine Paintings
English, out of copyright

I chose this picture first as it struck me that on the one hand you have the feeling of an impressionist, Monet himself regularly painted figures in the garden but the back ground structure was what really made me stop and look again. I cannot be sure if it is an aqueduct or a railway bridge, certainly by this point the age of steam was in full flow, Monet and several other artists painted in the stations in Paris yet East chooses to show architecture blending into the landscape rather than jarring against it,

Many times writers go to extremes in an attempt to surprise and entertain but it is just as true for us that in integrating layers of ideas subtly you can create depth in a story and achieve the same impact  eventually but at a what could be considered a slower pace, in some ways this makes the juxtapositions of ideas more surprising than an initial jarring at seeing them side by side.View_at_Kettering

The final one reminds me again of numerous other artists but I think it also serves as a reminder that just because something is similar to other things it does not negate the quality of the work or the time spent crafting it. They say all stories can be tracked back to half a dozen themes, after that everything is just a variation. Likewise when you consider that there is every chance dozens of artists have stood in that self same spot he paint from at countless points through time, the time differences caused by his eyesight looking at that spot on that day may not be obvious without another next to it for exact comparison but just consider how very different that same painting might have felt if there had been black clouds and rain on that day.

We should all remember that often it is the slightest things that can change everything without seeming important at all.

A - Z Challenge 2016

A – Z Challenge 2016, C is for…

Cis for Cox, Robert, and maybe for con?

Does it matter who the artist is if you love a painting, surely it shouldn’t? I bought two paintings twenty years ago from a second hand market stall, I got them both for £25, bargain. But being the curious creature I am with the internet came the chance to research them and try to find the artist. The first had a dodgy signature, hard to make out but was done in a French impressionist/Monet-ish style, research uncovered it was the work of a group of artists working under a banner name to mass produce the paintings for mass market sale, I didn’t care I like it. The second was clearly marked Robert Cox, my initial attempts found nothing then I would find the odd painting on Ebay or listed as for sale with an auction house but still nothing. Then I came across a few posts like this one…

I found several paintings by this artist at a local thrift shop. I also found the biography below on several sites. I think this may be some sort of a scam or perhaps similar to the many “Burnett” paintings from Mexico. All of the paintings in the local shop bore the stamp of “Creative Interiors” and “Hecho en Mexico”. I could not find Robert Cox with the birth and death dates given below in either the Social Security Death Index or in the California Death Index. I could find no mention of a company called “Mayhew Peakes”. There is a Katherine Gibbs School, but it appears to be a 2 year college. The Art Workers Coalition was founded in New York City in 1969, seven years after Cox supposedly moved to California, and only existed until 1971. The only mention I can find for the Brown Hammerson Medal of Honour (or Honor) is in this biography.


“Born on July 14th, 1934 in Mt Holly, New Jersey, he studied at the Katharine Gibbs School of Art from 1953 until 1956 before joining Mayhew Peakes Inc. as a graphic designer. Dissatisfied with his progress he resigned in 1962 and moved to California where he married Marjorie in 1966. The new Californian environment gave him unrestricted floral subjects for his painting and he painted furiously to make up for the lost time he felt he had spent in Philadelphia. It was important to him that art was available to the general public. He appreciated that most people could not afford thousands of Dollars for original works and, often to his own financial detriment, he strived to keep his sale prices low.

Although generally shy and unassuming, he was a founder member of the Art Workers Coalition and very active in promoting the rights of artists. He was awarded the Brown Hammerson Medal of Honour for services to art in 1986.

One of the most prolific painters of the 1970s and 1980s, Robert Cox established a huge reputation in the United States for his almost neo-Victorian style and his early adoption of the pallet knife in creating stylised flowers. His work is represented in many American museums, galleries and private collections as well as having been frequently exported to Europe and Australia and has been auctioned at Christies, Bonhams and Cheffins.

Robert Cox died on June 18th, 2001 in Escondido, California after a long illness. His wife, Marjorie, and his daughters, Kate and Ginny, survived him.”

I found this summary on Robert Cox’s bio  here, and I have to say I pretty much agree with his assessment. The question is does it matter? $_57

So this first painting I found on Ebay just for comparison purposes ‘Pink Roses in a Brown Vase’ the paintings are all floral arrangements and one could take that as evidence of the ‘scam’ in itself, after all surely a painter would paint other things not just sit day after day painting the same things, secondly the sheer volume of paintings out there suggests one man could not be responsible for them all.

I found around fifty just on the UK Ebay site ranging in price from £45 to £300 buy it now, the frames range from plain brown to highly ornate gold frames, personally I think mine had been in a more ornate frame and that the frame was taken to be used for something else and it was re-framed in a plain one just because the framing is not done very well and is not as well centred as many others seem to be. This is my painting…

Blue flowers Oil on Canvas by Robert Cox
Blue flowers Oil on Canvas by Robert Cox

The fact is it does not matter if a painting or a book is created for mass enjoyment rather than for a small group of academics to enjoy, what matter is that the individual finds pleasure in it, when I saw it along with the other painting at the second hand market I was not thinking I wonder what this would be worth, I saw it and thought I want that, I love it. Of course I worry a group of what could be incredibly talented painters are locked in a room somewhere being forced to paint vases of flowers from morning till night but is it any different to those who work in ceramic factories hand painting designs over and over again, maybe doing this during the day covers the bills so they can paint stunning sunsets for their own pleasure or under their own name.

The going rate for both the paintings I bought for £25 for the pair is £200 based on the size and subject/colour would I ever sell them nope not if you offered me double that amount, they were bought for the pleasure looking at them gives me and an authors name does not change that.

A - Z Challenge 2016

A – Z Challenge 2016, A is for…

Ais for  Amigoni, Jacopo (1682–1752), also known as Giacomo Amiconi,  he was born in Naples or Venice in the late-Baroque or Rococo period. He is thought to have begun his career in Venice, but is known to have been well travelled and was prolific throughout Europe, where his portraits were in demand. Jacopo_amigoni,_il_cantante_farinelli_con_amici_(detail)

Amigoni initially painted both mythological and religious scenes before becoming sought after to decorate the homes of the wealthy. In 1717, he is documented as working in Bavaria in the Castle of Nymphenburg (1719), and yes part of the reason I picted him was because I love that name lol. then in  in the castle of Schleissheim (1725–1729); and in the Benedictine abbey of Ottobeuren. He returned to Venice in 1726. His Arraignment of Paris hangs in the Villa Pisani at Stra. From 1730 to 1739 he worked in England, in Pown House, Moor Park Wolterton Hall and in the Theatre of Covent Garden. I love the fact that he painted in such diverse places from theatres to monasteries in a time where you would have though that doing one would exclude you from another.

In 1739 he returned to Italy, perhaps to Naples and surely to Montecassino, in whose Abbey existed two canvases (destroyed during World War II). Until 1747, he travelled to Venice to paint for Sigismund Streit, for the Casa Savoia and other buildings of the city. In 1747 he left Italy and established himself in Madrid. There he became court painter to Ferdinand VI of Spain and director of the Royal Academy of Saint Fernando. He died in Madrid.

Jacopo_Amigoni_-_Juno_Receiving_the_Head_of_Argos_-_WGA00272This painting is entitled Juno Receiving the Head of Argos (1730-32) and I have a couple of reasons for picking it first I love the fact it is mythical rather than religious but also having seen this type of work in real life you know that it will be a substantial piece and a photo will never do it justice.

I also love peacocks which of course are depicted here as a sign of the wealth and extravagance of the patron for whom this painting was commissioned. I love the fact there was no question of body shaming that having saggy boobs and love handles was totally okay, although I will say the cherub on the floor looking up does look a little creepy, like an old mans face on a babies body.

I could discuss more the technical aspects, there are issues with this painting in terms of multiple light sources and a couple of anatomical abnormalities but the fact is sometimes you just have to over look the details to enjoy the big picture something that in today’s society has become increasingly difficult for a lot of people as everything is placed under a microscope and scrutinised.

One thing I am going to do with each painting I feature is consider what type of book would it fit on the cover of, I think this would be a story of revenge and betrayal, the scorned woman receiving the head of her murdered lover for whom she feels nothing but contempt, in the story the messenger would be the new lover who has acted on her wishes but of course she would in turn betray him and it would be a he said/she said case for justice to determine the true criminal before they are both condemned, she going to her fate with a hard heart him heartbroken still at her abandonment of him.

(I have taken some of the facts and the images from Wikipedia for speed but the thoughts on the paintings and emotions and ideas provoked are entirely mine)