Art History:   Grade 2 Lesson 5

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Art Periods


Art and Nature


  1. THE CASTLE GEYSER, , unknown American Artist, after watercolor by Thomas Moran (-), pastel, Smithsonian Institute, Washington, DC, Reproduction print of chromolithography.

    Upper Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National Park

    Chromolithography: a process by which a picture is printed in colors from a series of lithographic stones. Lithographic stones are stones for printing that have been prepared by drawing a picture on stone with a waxy crayon. Then the stone is bathed with acid. The acid eats away at the stone that is not covered by crayon. Then the acid is washed away with water. Next the stone is inked with a roller. The waxy, raised surface receives the ink - paper is applied and pressed. Then the print is hand colored. In chromolithography, a different stone is used for each color and part of the picture. The paper is printed many times until all parts of the picture appear.

     A geyser is a spring that throws forth intermittent jets of heated water and steam.


  2. SPRAY OF OAK LEAVES WITH ACORNS, , Leonardo DaVinci, Italian (1452-1519), Reproduction print 

    Leonardo Da Vinci was born in Tuscany and early in life loved to draw nature and play with mathematics. he was apprenticed at a young age to a sculptor of Florence named Verocchio. For a while Leonardo worked for the famous patron of the arts - Lorenzo de Medici. He also lived in Milan, painting, studying anatomy and working as an hydraulic engineer. The Pope and King Francois I of France were also his patrons. Although he is remembered today for his paintings, he was also a military engineer, an architect, a costume designer and a writer.
    Throughout his life he was interested in nature and made many notes as well as sketches of his observations. he was interested in botany as well as art, but the science stayed in his private notebooks. He studied plant forms, their structure and texture, the changes caused by the different times of day and at different distances. he observed details that had been missed by others, but he combined an artist's ability to portray the vitality of growth as well as the scientist's power of precise observation. Besides his art, DaVinci was also interested in anatomy, botany, cartography, geology, mathematics, aeronautics, optics, mechanics, astronomy, hydraulics, sonics, civil engineering, weaponry, and city planning.

    Notice the shape and texture of the oak leaves and acorns as well as the placement and direction of growth. How are the acorns grouped?
    The Chinese believe that in order to paint a tiger, you must feel like a tiger. The artist must create a shape which is not just covered with tiger stripes, but one which suggests the vitality and ferocity of the animal.

  3. INSECTS, Jan Van Kessel, Flemish (c 1626-1679), Reproduction print.
    Jan Van Kessel was a Flemish painter in Antwerp in 1645. he painted still life and flower paintings. His grandfather was Jan "Velvet" Breughel. Van Kessel painted garlands and bouquets of flowers but his specialty was insects and shells against a light background - they were often painted on copper and were so exact, they can be thought of as scientific studies. 
    Flower painters of the time often included insects crawling on the flowers.
  4. PEACEABLE KINGDOM, 1834, Edward Hicks, American (1780-1849), Oil on canvas, The Brooklyn Museum, NY, Reproduction print 
    Edward Hicks was born in 1780. his mother died when he was 18 months old and young Edward was cared for by a Quaker woman. At 13 he was apprenticed to a coach-maker. he married a Quaker and joined the Society of Friends. To support his wife and five children he painted fire buckets and tavern signs. He also tried painting landscapes.

    Isaiah's prophesy of peace [Isaiah 11:6-9] seems to have been realized when William Penn made a treaty with the Indians. Hicks took the composition from a popular print, but he was so inspired by the treaty and the prophecy that he painted many versions of the same scene - 60 in all.


    Peaceable Kingdom
  5. IN FULL BLOOM, , Rachel Ruysch, Dutch, (1664-1750), Reproduction print.
    Rachel Ruysch was appreciated in her lifetime and paid well for her paintings. She was born in Amsterdam. Her father was a professor of anatomy and botany. her mother was the daughter of a well-known architect.

    Talented in drawing, she was placed in the studio of a flower painter (Wullem van Aelst) at an early age. She married the portrait painter Juriaen Pool. Both were elected to the Artists' Guild at the Hague in 1701. they were court painters for the German nobility for 8 years.

    She bore and raised ten children and continued to paint until her eightieth year. Often her naturalistic style communicated hidden meanings as to the transience of life. The S-curve of the stems was a cliché of many 18th century flower painters.

    bulletRachel Ruysch - Biography


  6. CARDINAL GROSBEAK, , John James Audubon, American (1785-1851) National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, reproduction print

    Have you ever heard of the Audubon Society? Do you know what John James Audubon is famous for?

    Audubon was the first artist to take birds out of the glass case and make them appear real. previous artists had pictured them stiffly. Audubon worked from freshly killed birds that had been wired into life-like positions.

    Jean Jacques Gougere Audubon was born in 1785 on the island of San Domingo in the West Indies. His father was a prosperous French Sea Captain who brought him back to live in France at the age of four. 

    When he was eighteen, Audubon came to live at Mill Grove, Pennsylvania, but not before studying art in France with Jacques Louis David. After marrying (Lucy Bakewell), they moved west to Louisville Kentucky, where his father had set him up in business. The business was unsuccessful and instead he thought of the idea of painting all of the birds of North America. In pursuit of this goal, he was away from his family for months, exploring the west and making a meager living as an itinerant painter who also gave dancing and fencing lessons.

    With a full portfolio, he went to England in pursuit of a publisher or patron. Robert Havell, Jr. of London agreed to make engravings from the original watercolors. the "rough" American frontier man gained so many patrons and subscribers in England that he was able to return to America to complete his studies. It took 12 years to complete "Ornithological Biography" with it's accompanying text.

    A set of Audubon's "Birds of America", bound in four double elephant folio volumes and numbering 435 color plates, could have been purchased by subscription for one thousand dollars when it was published between 1827 and 1838. Single prints of some of the more popular subjects, such as the wild turkey now sell for thousands of dollars. The copy we have could be considered like a second edition of the original prints - or a restrike print.

    bullet Links
    bulletMassachusetts Audubon Society


  7. THE YOUNG HARE, 1502, Albrecht Dürer, German (1471-1528) Watercolour and gouache on paper, 251 x 226 mm, Graphische Sammlung Albertina, Vienna - Reproduction print
    Dürer was one of the greatest German artists of the Renaissance. He was born in Nuremburg and studied art with his father, a goldsmith; and Michael Wohlgemut, a local painter and printmaker. In 1494 he journeyed to Italy and came under the influence of Mantegna and Jacopo de Barbari. In 1495 he returned to Nuremburg and began an extremely productive career which included painting, woodcuts and copper engravings. 

    Dürer adopted the Renaissance ideas of humanism more than other German artist. He sought to become not only an artist but a gentleman and a scholar; he made scientific studies of perspective and woodcuts were created with a tremendous degree of dexterity, vitality and originality.

    Dürer's and DaVinci's dedication to the Renaissance ideal can be seen in their devotion to the details of nature. 

    The watercolor painting of the Young Hare illustrates this detail and keen observation of the tight crouch with ears erect as though sensing the approach of a hunter. Notice the subtle difference in the texture of the fur on the body and ears. Dürer was fascinated by animals and often sketched and painted them on his travels and to sharpen his powers of observation. he stated, "Art is implicit in nature and whoever can extract it, has it." He signed and dated paintings he was pleased with.

    bulletDürer - Pics


  8. RED SQUIRREL, 1578, Hans Hoffman,  (c1530-1591/2) Watercolor and gouache on vellum, 9 7/8" x 6 15/16", Ian Woodner Family Collection, NY - Reproduction photograph

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