Tag: realist painting

19th century Russian portrait painting by veronica winters

19th century Russian Art & Portrait Painting: eyes are the window to the soul

Russian Portrait Painting

In this blog post I’d like to introduce you to some of my favorite 18th and 19th- century Russian portrait paintings that I fell in love with when I was a child. These portrait paintings made a considerable influence on my aesthetic and desire to learn traditional oil painting techniques in adulthood. Some of these paintings represent the collision of classical ideals with Romanticism that is obvious in artists’ choice of subject and color schemes.

Art became a source of inspiration early in my life. Many oil paintings were printed in public school textbooks. Russian art occupied the last few pages in those textbooks that were printed in color and on thick paper unlike the rest of the material (the 1980s Soviet Union). Besides one art class in the elementary school, we didn’t have art as a subject back then, so those color reproductions and my parents’ art book collection became my first introduction to Russian art.

Ilya Repin (1844-1930)

Ilya Repin is one of the most well-known Russian artists of his generation. Excellent figurative painter, he is one of my favorites for his moral views and social purpose he channeled through his art. His portraits depict a variety of characters that all share the enormous artistic power and thoughtfulness.

Ilya Repin, Portrait of Garshin, 35×27,” 1884, the Metropolitan Museum of Art

This portrait is one of several that Repin made of Russian artists and intellectuals following his return from graduate study in France. The artist begged the Academy to let him return home, so he could work on the national themes in his painting.

Here is an excerpt from the Met about this painting. “Russian author Vsevolod Garshin specialized in short stories expressing his pacifist beliefs, love of beauty, and aversion to evil. In the early 1880s he became friends with Repin, a leading progressive painter who shared his concern for contemporary political and social problems. Four years after it was created, Garshin, scarred by the suicides of his father and brother and his own mental illness, threw himself down a stairwell and died.” http://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/437442 )

Vladimir Borovikovsky (1757-1826)

Russian artist Borovikovsky
Vladimir Borovikovsky,  Portrait of Maria Lopukhina, 1797, 72×53 cm, State Tretyakov gallery, Moscow

Created at the end of the 18th century, this painting reflects the sentiment of the epoch where a man is part of nature. The artist fuses the model with a natural, but decorative landscape behind her where Russian landscape becomes more prominent than it used to be shown in Russian painting. This oil painting has a through balance of color. The blues of tiny cornflowers in the background are reflected in her beautiful blue sash, and the gold of the rye mingles with her jewelry and the golden sash accents. The color of a dull pink shawl wrapping around her figure is similar to the quiet roses blooming by her side. Her white gown finds similar tones with a couple of trees, repeating the diagonal of the figure.

Otherwise standard, diagonal three-quarter view of the woman depicts the beauty of a young Princess Lopukhina (1779-1803) who belonged to the Russian royal family of Tolstoy and died of tuberculosis in her early twenties. Her masterfully painted face shows beautiful restraint. Soft transitions between warm and cool tones, light pinks on the cheeks, greenish shadows, the riveting depth of the eyes, and gentle, rosy colors of the mouth – everything breathes with life. I love this portrait for its quietness, elegant confidence and a masterful balance between colors and shapes.

Borovikovsky created numerous portraits after his work in the military, and then graduation from the Academy in St. Petersburg. He found fame among the imperial court including Catherine II.

Karl Briullov (1799-1852)

Karl Briullov, The Last Day of Pompeii, 183 x 256 inches, 1830-33

Karl Briullov was the last great classical portraitist in the 19th century Russia. Trained in the Academy in St. Petersburg, the artist was influenced by the classical ideals of Rome. Painter of royalty, Briullov had a tremendous skill set that he showed off in his most famous historical artwork titled “The last day of Pompeii, 1830-33” that brought him a widespread fame throughout Europe. Realism and idealism, classical and neoclassical ideals collide on a huge canvas that depicts people in action, running for their lives during the eruption of Vesuvius. After receiving the highest honors at the Academy, Karl Briullov won a golden medal to travel to Italy. Immersed in the classical tradition of painting, the artist had spent three years studying each figure for the Last day of Pompeii, completing numerous drawings. There is movement and balance in every figure, buildings and horses. Every element is painted with great detail and mastery of the form.

Russian artist also produced many paintings featuring royalty as well as idealized Italian themes with lighthearted women doing regular tasks, like picking up grapes or washing clothes. Although those paintings were painted masterfully, they lacked vision and the reflection of some important societal changes happening in the country. Those changes were painted soon thereafter by the Itinerants.

Detail from “The last day of Pompeii”

Detail from “the last day of Pompeii”

 

Karl Briullov, Portrait of the princess Elizabeth Saltykov, 1841, The State Russian Museum in Saint Petersburg.

 

veronica winters colored pencil drawing
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Nikolay Pimonenko (1862-1912)

Nikolay Pimonenko, Yule fortune telling, detail, 1888

This painting has such a bold use of color! Strong, single light source illuminates two peasant girls who read the fortune. In the old tradition, girls placed the melting wax into a cup with cold water to capture the “frozen” profile of a future husband. Here they look at the wall projection cast from the melted wax, trying to figure out who the man is. I love how spontaneous and fresh the brushwork is and how vivid colors harmonize to depict festive mood.

Ivan Kramskoy (1837-1887)

Ivan Kramskoy, a leader in the Itinerants movement, was one of the strongest portraitists in his generation of artists. Like other artists in the movement, he believed in public duty and service to people through his art. He was interested in painting national themes, but Kramskoy was also a great portraitist. In 1869 he exhibited his portraits at the Academy for which he won a rank of an Academician. One of his famous artworks depicts a woman who could be either decent or not, but her facial expression is captivating. Every texture is richly painted: the feathers, silk, fur, and velvet. Light yellow light envelops the distant buildings and describes the contours of the figure. The artist puts the same color into the hat’s feather and her face to carefully harmonize the painting.

Ivan Kramskoy, Stranger, 1883, The State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow
Russian art
Kramskoy, the forester,  1874 (84×62 cm or 33×24,5 inches), The Tretyakov State Gallery, Moscow

The gaze of this peasant man is just riveting! Tragedy, disturbance and hidden force reside in his enigmatic eyes. The artist shows a specific type of a man who doesn’t like to settle or to tolerate the abuse of the forest by men. Or perhaps the painting is about poor villagers  who are tired of their endless suffering and are getting ready to revolt against their wealthy masters.

Russian artist Ivan Kramskoy
Ivan Kramskoy portr. of artist’s daughter Sofia 1882

This portrait was painted in the end of the 19th century that marked the transition between the classical and modern art. The artist depicts his daughter in less controlled manner with loose strokes and colorful shadows that show the classical mastery of the anatomy and oil painting techniques. Her thoughtful face possesses no classical idealization, but expresses inner strength and depth of character that’s so hard to reach in a painting. The restrained position of her hands and mouth depicts a very young woman wrapped up in thoughts. Trained by her father, Sofia became a professional artist as well. She received recognition for her artistic skills but had a very complicated life after the revolution.

Ivan Nikolaevich Kramskoy, Portrait of Ivan Shishkin

Ivan Shishkin was a great landscape painter who posed for this masterful portrait by Kramskoy. The background and the pose are so simple that all our attention goes to the face of the artist, which channels so much humanity and life that seems impossible to describe in paint.

Vasily Tropinin (1776-1857)

Vasily Tropinin came from a family of the serfs and received his freedom only at the age of 47. He often depicted scenes of ordinary peasant life that feature women doing hard or meticulous work. Those paintings have jovial mood, celebrating ordinary, domestic life.

Russian art, Tropinin
Tropinin, the lace-maker, 1823 , The Tretyakov State Gallery, Moscow

I’m fond of this painting because it shows the old Russian tradition of lace-making, something I learned how to do in my teenage years, taking a class for a year. A pretty, peasant girl creates intricate pattern with numerous bobbins and thin threads. Captivated by her task, she quickly glances at the viewer only to return to her work. I love the gentleness in her face and a hint of a smile that’s subtle and kind.

 

To Read about Russian genre painting, click on the image below.

19th Century Russian Artists and Genre Art: the Itinerants movement

 

 

 

 

 

 

10 contemporary male artists painting women realistically

10 Contemporary male artists painting women in classical tradition: the best in figurative art

 

Today I’d like to feature some of the best contemporary male artists painting women in classical tradition. After decades of abstract art dominating the American culture, figurative painting sees a  gentle come back that is becoming stronger and more popular year after year. While contemporary art is an amalgam of so many subjects and styles, it’s often subjective to the viewer’s personal taste to determine who is the best in painting. Therefore, I don’t aim to say that the following artists deserve more attention than so many others, but I’d like to highlight the ones who show both technical and creative mastery in the depiction of their subjects, finding their inspiration in painting the female form.

1. Pino

Pino Daeni (1939-2010) was an Italian artist who painted women in fresh pastel colors that evoked feelings of love, admiration, and family warmth. Women dance, read or take a stroll in a field of flowers or at the beach. Sweet and lighthearted, the figures are painted in colorful, loose strokes, using the sophisticated color schemes that overlay and harmonize with each other like notes in music. Long skirts, comfy white shirts, and summer dresses get lost in the soft edges of the surroundings. To see the artist’s work, visit: http://www.pino-artist.com/

2. Serge Marshennikov

Russian artist, Serge Marshennikov is the representational painter who solely focuses on painting women. His youthful, semi-nude models rest on a couch in swirls of delicate fabric. The elaborate lace and cotton alike, it feels so gentle and real, the viewer feels tempted to reach out and touch it. Like the 19th-century French artist David, Serge plays with complex fabric folds and the luminous skin tones to create stunning contrast in his paintings.

Besides exhibiting a tremendous technical skill in oil painting, the artist possesses true talent composing his images with honest admiration and sensitivity to his models that transcend time and place. Follow the artist here: http://serge-marshennikov.tumblr.com/

3. Joshua LaRock

Joshua La’Rock

American artist, Joshua LaRock is a classical realist who studied with Jacob Collins to nurture his talents. Deeply rooted in classical painting, his portraits and still lifes are carefully planned and executed in classical tradition. Joshua describes his models in soft, slightly loose brushwork that breath with life. The award-winning artist works and teaches in New York. Connect with the artist here: http://joshualarock.com/

4. Emanuele Dascanio

Italian artist, Emanuele Dascanio draws and paints in the hyperrealism style with the models occupying huge surfaces. His subjects vary from women to old men, to still life. He often controls the light with a single light source (the Rembrandt lighting) to create dramatic charcoal drawings and paintings. To see the artist’s work, go here: http://www.emanueledascanio.com/en

5. Jeremy Mann

The first time I encountered Jeremy Mann’s work I was blown away by his loose style of painting that seemed totally real nevertheless. Painting cityscapes and women in thick, bold strokes of ink brayers and brushes, the artist creates a universe of harmonious, often monochromatic color relationships. Views of Manhattan and reposed models alike, his paintings make us contemplate a moment of beautiful silence that doesn’t scream with melancholy.

6. Gregory Mortenson

Gregory Mortenson is a classically trained artist whose recent body of work features Haitian children, who were painted by the artist after the devastating earthquake hit the country. His subdued color palettes show a beautiful restraint. To see the artist’s work: http://www.gregorymortenson.com/

7. Goyo Dominquez

Goyo Dominguez is a Spanish artist who paints women and still life, combining traditional painting techniques with the loose brushwork of the Impressionists. Influenced by Renaissance, his romantic artwork is colorful and pure with a sense of lightness and tranquility. Early in life he studied for priesthood and was encouraged to pursue the artistic career. His upbringing led the artist to create numerous murals and commissions for the church and more. To see his work: http://goyodominguez.com/

8. Brad Kunkle

American artist, Brad Kunkle paints women on the silver-leafed panels. He employs monochromatic grays and browns to describe his models. Brad often places women against the patterned background or lets the flying leaves revolve around the models like tiny birds. His figures could be the nymphs of magical forests that strike us with primal physical presence. To connect with the artist: http://bradkunkle.com/

9. Adrian Gottlieb 

Adrian Gottlieb is a classical portraitist working from his studio in LA. In his paintings he explores the relationship between color and poetry that unifies in timeless elements of beauty. Inspired by Rembrandt, the artist reigns supreme at capturing the luminosity of skin tones and fabric set against dark backgrounds. The amazing life-like appearance of his models is astonishing in all of his museum-quality paintings. He runs workshops from his studio and around the country. http://www.adriangottlieb.com/gottlieb-studios/

10. Louis Treserras

French artist and photographer, Louis Treserras paints fragile, young women with intense gaze in restrained, carefully controlled color schemes. Unlike Gottlieb, the artist always sets his figures against the light background. His female models possess the enigmatic and intense gaze that show character and thoughtfulness.  

Here you have it. Stay tuned for my future posts about the best contemporary female artists. 🙂

http://eepurl.com/b-vEXP