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Subject: ‘Famous artists’
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Posted in Animals, Art, Artist, Famous artists, Historical articles, History on Wednesday, 13 February 2013
This edited article about George Stubbs originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 132 published on 25 July 1964.
When the horse saw its portrait painted by George Stubbs it reared up in fright.
Nobody would go near the lonely farmhouse in the heart of the flat Lincolnshire countryside. The local gentry and their wives would have liked to call, for did not George Stubbs, most famous animal painter of the day, live there? But . . . as one ruddy-faced squire remarked ruefully to another . . . “Can’t get near the place for the fearful smell. . . .”
This was not surprising, even in an age when bad smells and unhygienic conditions were commonplace. For George Stubbs was painting dead horses. And some of the horses had been dead for seven weeks or more.
Apart from Stubbs himself, the only other person who did not seem to mind the terrible odour which pervaded the farmhouse was his spinster niece Mary Spencer, who acted as his housekeeper.
While neighbours turned up their noses and hastily rode the other way, Mary looked after her Uncle George faithfully as he dissected, studied, sketched and finally engraved on copper plates the complete anatomy of the horse – flesh, bones, muscles, tendons and all.
A few years later in 1766, Stubbs published his great work The Anatomy of the Horse, with 24 detailed illustrations neatly engraved by himself. It was the first book of its kind to be published, and it has remained the standard work on the structure of the horse ever since. There are few horse painters today who have not studied every line and drawing of Stubbs’s “Anatomy” with care.
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Posted in Art, Artist, Famous artists, Historical articles, History on Friday, 1 February 2013
This edited article about Albrecht Durer originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 114 published on 21 March 1964.
One day in 1495 a young German artist was standing in his Nuremberg studio reading a letter from Frederick the Wise, Elector of Saxony. The young artist had already sent several of his engravings to Weimar for the Elector’s inspection, and the Elector had been very impressed by them.
That was why the letter that the young man was reading contained a commission for a portrait. Young Albrecht Durer realized that if the Elector liked the result his fortune was made. For a long time the important citizens of Nuremberg had refused to engage him.
“That man’s unknown,” they had snorted. “Besides, he’s young and inexperienced.”
But Durer, the son of a well-known Nuremberg goldsmith, was to prove them wrong.
When the portrait was finished the Elector was delighted with it. Although he was a coarse man, he liked to think of himself as well-read. A keen observer of human nature, Durer saw this and painted his client in dark, flowing clothes with a scroll in his hand.
“Come back to Weimar with me,” the Elector urged, but Durer politely declined. He wanted to be free to travel.
When he got back to Nuremberg in 1507, Durer settled down to begin work in earnest.
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Posted in Art, Artist, Famous artists, Historical articles, Religion on Tuesday, 15 January 2013
This edited article about Botticelli originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 102 published on 28th December, 1963.
A flamboyant, hard-working and brilliant artist – this was Sandro Botticelli, who was one of the greatest painters of the Italian Renaissance. Botticelli was not his real name; he took it from his eldest brother who bore the nickname Botticello, meaning Little Barrel, and it is this name that has come down to us. Sandro was born in Florence, one of the great centres of Italian art, in 1444, and served as an apprentice under the painter Lippi. Florence was full of great artists at this time, and young Sandro soon established a fine reputation with his strong, individual paintings. Many altar-pieces are among his work, and he also liked to paint scenes from famous legends, as well as the conventional portraits of famous men, which were painted in great numbers at the time. Botticelli died in 1510.
Posted in Art, Artist, Famous artists, Historical articles on Monday, 14 January 2013
This edited article about Renoir originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 100 published on 14th December, 1963.
Pierre Auguste Renoir (1841-1919) helped to create the French Impressionist technique of painting, a style of art in which light and atmosphere are emphasized, leaving only the vaguest suggestion of form. As an apprentice, Renoir painted porcelain, blinds and fans before entering the studio of a painter named Gleyre in Paris. He developed a love of rich colour and solid form and a preference for figures rather than landscapes. In later life, when Renoir suffered badly from arthritis, he had his brushes tied to his hands so that, in bold strokes, he could paint beautiful women in bright colours. In his lifetime he produced about 6,000 paintings and 155 lithographs.
Posted in America, Dance, Famous artists, Historical articles, History on Wednesday, 2 January 2013
This edited article about Isadora Duncan originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 802 published on 28th May 1977.
This female dancer engraved after a mural at Pompeii could have inspired Isadora Duncan’s modern dance style as much as her Classical Greek counterparts did
On 27th May, 1878, a little girl was born in San Francisco who, although she never took a lesson in her life, became internationally famous as a dancer and for the dancing schools she established for children. Her name was Isadora Duncan and she believed that dancing was the key to happiness.
Having taught herself to dance. Isadora gave her first public performance in Chicago in 1899. It was a complete flop.
Deciding that Europe would be more appreciative of her art, she saved up her fare to Greece. She was impressed by the ancient Greek friezes and statues which she saw in museums. From these graceful remains of the past she developed her whole idea of dancing. It had to be free and happy, and it had to be more than mere physical movement – it had to be art.
Soon she made her European debut and before long, critics were raving about the “poetry of her dancing”. Her most famous performance was during the First World War when she developed a dance to show the spirit of the French people triumphing over defeat.
The life of Isadora Duncan was often tragic: her two children were drowned in the Seine in Paris. But always she held on to her dream of establishing schools where she could pass on her style of dancing to a new generation, a style that helped breathe a new life into every sort of ballet.
Using all her savings, she did start schools at various times in Paris, Berlin and Moscow. Despite the large sums she earned, the schools took all her money and often she was hard pressed to buy the food for her pupils.
On 14th September 1927, she held a Press Conference to announce the founding of a new school of dance at Nice. When it was over she stepped into a motor car and within a minute she was killed in an accident.
Posted in Art, Artist, Famous artists, Literature on Thursday, 6 December 2012
This edited article about Kate Greenaway originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 792 published on 19th March 1977.
A greetings card by Kate Greenaway (after)
“What are you doing up so early?” the man asked as a small girl tiptoed into the kitchen.
Outside it was still dark and foggy and he was exhausted after working through the night on an etching for a London newspaper.
“I went to bed with my clothes on so I could cook you a breakfast,” replied little Kate Greenaway. As she prepared the meal, she asked her father about the work he had been doing. Someday she hoped to be an artist like him and these early morning breakfasts – just the two of them together – were the highlights of her childhood.
When she grew older Kate Greenaway, who was born in London on 17th March 1846, did become a professional artist. She designed Valentine and Christmas cards. She tried to write verses for them too, but her employer bluntly told her that these were “Rubbish and without any poetic feeling”.
This harsh criticism did not deter Kate. She was confident she could draw and write and in her spare time she produced a book of children’s poems.
The publisher who saw it was delighted. Until then children’s books had been very crude, but Kate brought real art into her work.
The book sold faster than the presses could print it. Kate’s pictures of children enchanted adults as much as the young readers. She based her pictures on real children.
After this success in 1879, Kate was able to give up the Christmas cards and concentrate on more book illustration. These books caused a revolution in publishing for children, and many other artists tried to copy Kate’s style. They never quite succeeded and the Kate Greenaway books became so popular round the world that Victorian fashions in children’s clothes were based on them. Generations of little girls were “Kate Greenaway frocks”.
She died on 6th November 1901, but since then her work has been reprinted and still continues to give pleasure.
Posted in America, Art, Artist, Famous artists, Historical articles, History, Illustrators on Thursday, 15 November 2012
This edited article about painters originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 785 published on 29th January 1977.
The blanket Indian – an illustration for the Boy’s Own Paper
by Stanley L Wood
Back in 1879, the Boy’s Own Paper first appeared and at once conquered countless young Victorians. It contained a profusion of articles together with superbly illustrated, rip-roaring tales of high adventure. And always a great favourite among the readers of the Boy’s Own Paper were the tales of adventure in the Wild West of America which were, more often than not, illustrated by Richard Caton Woodville and Stanley L. Wood.
These two artists knew and understood the West better than any other English artists before or since.
‘The cowboy of today is only a very mild specimen of what he was – thanks to civilisation, barb-wire fences, the coming of the sheepmen into his country and the Millionaire Beef Trusts. These have all helped to kill the old-time cowboy, and to turn him into a sort of glorified farmhand.’
So began Stanley L. Wood’s article on ‘The Cowboy – in Fact and Fiction’ dor the Boy’s Own Paper of March 1923. He tells of the reason behind every article of the cowboy’s dress and the harness of his horse – the double-cinch saddle with its big iron leather-covered horn and broad, high cantle and its big, wide stirrups hanging far back on their wide leathers; the great, blunt spurs; the ‘chaps’ or chaparajos; the wide-brimmed, high-crowned hat; the long, yellow oil-skin which the cowboy wore in the rain and which he called his ‘slicker’; the lasso or, as the cowboy always called it, the rope.
It would have been obvious to all the boys reading Wood’s article in 1923 that this man knew what he was talking about. He was talking from personal experience when he wrote:
‘When you ride, eat, smoke and sleep in your blankets beside him – as you watch and take part in his daily work – you find that everything the cowboy wears and everything he uses is just as essential and just as suited to his life and calling as is a fountain pen to a clerk, or a paint brush to an artist.’
The drawings accompanying the article – not to mention the full-colour painting that appeared on the cover – are masterly and worthy of the great Frederic Remington himself.
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Posted in America, Anthropology, Art, Artist, Famous artists, Historical articles, History on Thursday, 15 November 2012
This edited article about George Catlin originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 784 published on 22nd January 1977.
George Catlin was the first great artist to roam the West and, moreover, he knew the Indians as few have ever known them. But on one occasion things went wrong . . .
The painting of “Mah-to-tchee-ga”, Little Bear, chief of the Hunkpapa Sioux, was almost finished. George Catlin stood back from his easel to take a last look before adding the finishing touches. All around him in his studio tepee stood or squatted an audience of Sioux chieftains watching his every movement with undisguised admiration amounting to superstitious awe. Here was “Ee-cha-zoo-kah-wa-kon”, The Medicine Painter, at work.
There was a step behind him, and Catlin turned to see the ill-natured countenance of “Shon-ka”, The Dog, chief of the Bad Arrow Points band of the Sioux. “Here’s trouble”, Catlin thought, “he looks in a worse mood than usual.”
Shon-ka stared at Little Bear’s portrait. The painting showed the chief in profile, admirably capturing his proud features.
“The Little Bear is but half a man!” sneered Shon-ka suddenly.
All was still in the tepee. Catlin held his breath. The only thing that moved in that tepee were the eyes of the chiefs. Then Little Bear spoke in a quiet but deadly voice.
“Who says that?”
“Shon-ka says it and Shon-ka can prove it.”
“Why does Shon-ka say it?” asked Little Bear, still in the same quiet tone.
“Ask the Medicine Painter. He can tell you. He knows you are but half a man, for he has painted but half of your face and knows that the other half is good for nothing!”
When Little Bear spoke again his voice was no longer quiet. “When The Dog says that let him prove it! The Little Bear can look at any one, and he is now looking at an old woman and a coward!”
Shon-ka glared at Little Bear for one long moment. Then abruptly turned on his heel and ducked out between the open flaps of the tepee entrance and was gone. Catlin knew this was not to be the end of the matter.
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Posted in Art, Artist, Famous artists, Historical articles, History on Tuesday, 13 November 2012
This edited article about photography originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 784 published on 22nd January 1977.
Today there is a camera for every purpose – for the biologist with his highly-specialized work or the amateur who just wants to keep a record of that wonderful holiday.
For as little as a pound or so anyone can buy a simple camera which will take very clear photographs. Most families in Britain own one.
In fact, photography is so much taken for granted today that few of us stop to think when we click the shutter how it all began.
In the first place photography is no modern discovery, and neither was it the idea of one man.
As early as AD1100 men were working on the idea of a camera obscura, but this was no more than a type of peep-show. People stood in a dark hut, and a lens in the roof projected views of the locality on to a white table in front of them. But the picture could not be captured permanently.
That would not be achieved until someone discovered a chemical substance which would undergo changes when a photographic image was flashed upon it and retain all the light and shade of that image.
In 1802, an Englishman named Thomas Wedgwood discovered that a coating of nitrate of silver on a photographic plate actually did produce a photographic image. But what was the use? It faded almost at once when further light shone on it.
In 1822 a French officer named Nicephore Niepce achieved the first real permanent photograph. He coated a plate with bitumen, a carbon substance, and exposed it in a camera which he had made himself out of an old cigar box and the lens from a microscope. Then he swabbed the plate with lavendar oil. This washed away the parts of the bitumen according to how light and shade had fallen on the plate. Result – a picture.
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Posted in America, Art, Artist, Famous artists, Historical articles, History on Friday, 9 November 2012
This edited article about Charles Marion Russell originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 783 published on 15th January 1976.
The boy had reached the Judith River by nightfall and decided it was as good a place as any to make camp. He picketed his mount and his pack horse and, feeling hungry and lonely, he began to unroll his bedding. Suddenly, from out of the darkness, came a man’s voice:
‘Hello, kid! What are you doing here?’
Startled and not a little scared, the boy turned to find a grizzled figure standing in the shadows, a Winchester rifle hanging loosely in his hand.
‘Camping,’ the boy answered lamely.
‘Where do you keep your grub?’ asked the stranger.
‘I ain’t got none.’
‘Where you going?’
‘To find a job.’
‘What kind of jobs you do?’
‘Well, I’ve been working as a sheep herder . . .’
‘A sheep herder?’ the stranger echoed, snorting with disgust. ‘You better come over and camp with me. I got a lot of elk meat, beans and coffee.’
The stranger’s name was Jake Hoover, the best hunter and trapper in Montana territory, and the boy – he was not yet sixteen years old – was Charles Marion Russell, destined to become one of the very greatest of all artists of the Old West.
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