The Passion of Collecting Academic Nudes

Join me as we explore my collection of Academic Nudes from the 18th, 19th, and Early 20th Centuries and serendipitous finds in the Museum, Art Auction, and Gallery world......examples from the Golden Age of the European Academie

Friday, April 30, 2010

Ludwig von Hofmann (1861-1945)

Below are illustrations of the German Art magazine 'PAN' in which many of von Hofmann's artworks appeared.

Below are a couple of photographs of the other Ludwig von Hofmann print in my collection. One of the constant themes in Symbolist art is the idea of bathing. The title of the print is "Badende in felsiger Landschaft". It is signed in pencil and numbered 61/200. Ludwig von Hofmann (Darmstadt, 1861 - Pillnitz, 1945) is a major German artist of the early 20th Century. He first studied law in Bonn from 1880 to 1883. The then commenced studies in art at the Dresden Academy (1883-1886) and in the master class of Ferdinand Keller (1886-1888). In the following year Hofmann enrolled at the Academie Julien, Paris, France. There he was strongly impressed by the art of contemporary French painters such as Puvis de Chavannes, Albert Besnard, and Maurice Denis. Hofmann returned to Germany in 1890 and settled in Berlin for the following thirteen years.

Ludwig von Hofmann's years in Berlin were very eventful. There he was a founding member of 'The Eleven' and the 'Berlin Secession'. The foundation of the Berlin Secession (1898) was the first open revolt against academic traditions and paved the way for the creation of modern German art movements, such as Expressionism. During this period, Hofmann was a founding member of the influential arts periodical, Pan. He contributed numerous illustrations to the magazine, including the famous cover designs. As his reputation in the German art world , his circle of acquaintances and associates would include great masters and literature as Arnold Bocklin, Edvard Munch, Max Klinger, Gerhard Hauptmann, and Stefan George.

In 1903 Ludwig von Hofmann accepted the post of Professor at the Archducal School of Art in Weimar. During his years at Weimar he devoted much of his time to painting commissioned murals. Most of his famous original lithographs dat from this period. In both print making and painting he fully developed his famous portrayals of Hellenic life and beauty drawn from his inspiration of models of antiquity. His reputation was well known and collectors of his art works at the time included the Empress of Austria and the German novelist Thomas Mann.

Hofmann left Weimar in 1916 to accept the post of director of the Academy of Arts at Dresden. In the economically troubled times that followed for Germany he turned his artistic talents to illustrating many fine books such as Homers, Odyssey and The Iliad, as well as books by Hauptmann, Eduard Stucken, and Goethe. He retired from the Dresden Academy in 1931.

In 1933 the National Socialist Party of Adolph Hitler took power in Germany. Like so many of the very creative artists of the period, his works did not fall into the debilitating category of state approved art. Many of his works were destroyed during the purge of 'Degenerate Art' at Erfurt in 1937.

"Badende in felsiger Landschaft" is a powerful example of von Hofmann's famous neo-classical artworks. Hofmann rarely numbered his original lithographs and etchings, particularly during his years in Weimar. The editions of his prints ranged from fifty to one hundred print impressions.

Caption: Badende in felsiger Landschaft..... Bathing in rocky landscape.
Artist: Ludwig von Hofmann
Medium: Lithograph on mulberry (rice) paper with full margins
Dated: undated

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Paul H. Winchell (1903-1972) Mature Works

Here are a few more examples of Winchell's work. The technical aspects of how he handled paint and his drawing style are readily obviouse.

Paul H. Winchell (1903-1972)

This oils on canvas study is the first oil painting in my collection. I also have another painting by Winchell and will try to post photographs of that painting also.

Caption: Male Nude
Artist: Paul H. Winchell (1903-1972)
Medium: Oils On Canvas
Dated: Undated Early 20th Century

Paul H. Winchell (1903-1972), printmaker, illustrator, instructor, and gilder (framer), was an instructor at the Minneapolis School of Art. He lived in Minneapolis. He studied at the Art Institute of Chicago and his instructors included Leon Kroll, Daniel Garber, and Charles Woodbury. He taught classes in drawing, figure study, and sketching at the School of Art. His travel includes Spain, Africa, Italy, england, Germany, and France. His work is included in the collections of the Minnesota Historical Society and the Minnesota Institute of Arts.

This is the first Academic figure study oil painting I added to my collection. I was impressed with the color palette and the application of paint by the artist. If you look carefully you will quickly see that the artist has made the model sexless. His privates and paps are missing.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Caesar Fracassini (Italian 1838 Orvieto - 1868 Rome)

Standing Male Nude....Caesar Fracassini (circa 1855)

Mature works by Fracassini:

The Martyrs of Gorkum..........Vatican Museum

St. John before Herod and Herodius...........
Caption: Standing Male Nude
Artist: Caesar Fracassini (1838 - 1868)
Medium: Graphite on Paper
Dated: circa 1855

This is the first drawing I bought for my collection many years ago. I think what struck me most about this work of art was not the drawing but that frame. The frame in itself is a work of art. I am not sure if it is contemporary with the drawing, mainly because it has an Art Nouveau look about it, but it does catch your eye. The drawing is signed on the reverse and is by Italian artist Caesar Fracassini (1838 Orvieto - 1868 Rome). The condition of the drawing is in an unrestored condition. Caesar Fracassini was trained in Rome and became a popular painter of his time. Among his major works is The Martyrs of Gorkum (illustrated above), which is housed in the Vatacan Museum. This drawing has a typical mid-19th Century feel to it (note the hair style and facial hair). Fracassini decorated a curtain in the Teatro Mancinelli in Orvieto, Italy also.

Maximilian Spilhacezk (1876-1961) Additional works

Caption: Standing Male Nude, Back View
Artist: Maximilian Spilhacezk (1876-1961)
Medium: Black and white chalks on paper
Dated: 1890-1905

Additional examples of Spilhacezk's work:

With permission from the Boris Wilnitsky Fine Art Gallery in Vienna, Austria I have posted several examples of Maximilian Spilhacezk's other works. I usually like to list other works by artists in my collection to give you an idea what his or her mature work might look like. If you are interested in collecting works of art, may I suggest that you take a look at the Boris Wilnitsky Fine Art Gallery website. The folks at the Gallery are friendly and very willing to help you with your purchase and provide shipping around the world. Pay them a visit. They have a huge stock of Artworks on hand.

Ludwig von Hofmann (1861-1945)

Ludwig von Hofmann painting a self-portrait.


Caption: Reife Fruchte
Artist: Ludwig von Hofmann (1861-1945)
Medium: Color Lithograph on paper
Dated: 1916

The Ludwig von Hofmann print Reife Fruchte (directly above) arrived yesterday and I must say it is beautiful. I can always count on the Galerie-Jacobsa in Neurnberg to provide quality works. The subject matter is typical of von Hofmann's Symbolist roots. His subject matter is somewhat academic in execution. The print itself is mounted in a paper frame and at the bottom of the frame there is an embossed stamp from the publisher. The print was printed by Freunde Graphische Kunst, Leipzig in 1916. I have included photographs of other von Hofmann works (paintings and prints)at the top of this post to give you an idea of his other Symbolist works. You can see the recurring themes in his work. I have one more Ludwig von Hofmann print in my collection and I will post that as soon as I can photograph it.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Our Journey Begins

Drawing is the foundation of all art. Drawing is a fusion of your knowledge, your personal vision, and above all, your craftsmanship. The term 'Academic Art' is usually associated particularily with the French Academy and its influence on the Paris Salons in the 19th Century. Though Academic Art can be meant to extend to all art influenced by the European Academies, it's often meant to refer to artists influenced by the standards of the French Academie de Beaus-Arts.

The Academie des Beaux-Arts was founded in an effort to distinguish artists "who were gentlemen practicing a liberal art" from craftsmen, who were engaged in manual labor. This emphasis on intellectual component of art production had a considerable impact on the subjects and styles of Academic Art.

Paris Salons were held in the Salon d'Apollon in the Palais du Louvre in Paris. They were enormously influential in establiching officially approved styles and in molding public tastes in art. They helped consolidate the Royal Academy's dictatorial control over the production of fine art.

Academic Art was in fashion in Europe from the 17th to 19th century.

Prior to the establishment of the Academy throughout Art history the artist was hired to do a job and was hired for his skills as a craftsman. He was apprenticed to a workshop or to an Artist's Guild and learned his trade at the knee of an experienced craftsman. Any artist worth his salt is always working to improve his powers of observation, mainly by working in the simplest medium available. Drawing develops the eye's powers of observation. Line drawing is the place to begin because it develops the ability of the eye to read contours. At later stages in his training the artist will learn mass drawing, which offers the ability to read values, that is, lights and darks. The main purpose of mass drawing is to develop one's perception of lights and darks (values), and to prepare the student for learning to paint in oils. There are a number of methods for teaching drawing. The method used in the classical atelier and in modern studios devoted to classical methods is the sight-size method.

Sight-size drawing is the method wherein the easel is positioned in such a way as to facilitate the drawing of the subject exactly the same size as the subject itself appears from the student's chosen vantage point. This vantage point, usually marked on the floor with a piece of tape, should be far enough away from the paper or canvas to allow the artist to see the entire drawing or painting at once and to also see the subject at the same time. This side-by-side comparison between the subject and the drawing makes it easy to spot errors in the drawing, which can then be corrected before they can throw off subsequent judgements by the artist. All angles and proportions are rendered exactly as they are observed and measured from the chosen vantage point. Measuring is accomplished usually by the use of a plumb bob. The sight-size method may be used for drawing on a reduced scale as well, simply by placing the easel where the image of the subject is the right size for the paper or canvas. It is best suited for beginning and intermediate students.

The modern classical atelier approach to art education has its roots in the guilds of the early Renaissance period. For centuries master artists transmitted their knowledge and technique to their apprentice students. This tradition reached its zenith in the second half of the 19th century, when Ateliers and Academies prepared thousands of artists. Skill-based instruction in the 19th century was centered on the observation of nature, sound artistic principles, and universal themes. One reference source that will give you a good history of 19th century methods is Gerald M. Ackerman's book: Charles Bargue _ Drawing Course. The book illustrates the various lithographs students used to copy in the Bargue Drawing Course. Above is illustrated one of the lithographs in Bargue's course. When I visited the private Atelier in Toronto, they were using the lithograph in their advanced copy work, one step beyond copying from the cast.

Most of the examples of Academic art I have managed to collect date from the late 19th century and are representative of the classical methods of artistic training endemic to that time period. Technically they should be referred to as academies, drawings of nude models posed in a studio setting.

Maximilian SPILHACZEK (1876-1961)

Below are several illustrations of an additional drawing by Maximilian Spilhaczek:
I have found another drawing by Maximilian SPILHACZEK (1876-1961) of the same model. This is a portrait rather than a full nude. I am sorry to say I missed the auction of this fine portrait otherwise it would also be in my collection. Still it is a fine example of this technically talented artist's work.


Caption: Standing Male Nude: Back View

Artist: Maximilian Spilhacezk (1876-1961)

Medium: Black & White Chalks On Paper

Dated: circa 1890-1900

The Maximilian Spilhacezk male nude drawing (circa 1890 - 1900) arrived in this morning's post and I am posting photographs of the drawing here for your enjoyment. The drawing is as spectacular as the illustration initially showed on the eBay Auction site. With the white highlights it is almost photographic in its detail. Spilhaczek has captured every detail of the models musculature and that contraposito pose. If you examine the drawing closely you can clearly see the technique of fine lines of varying widths to impose depth on a one dimensional surface. Sparing use of whites on the highest points of the figure's musculature adds greater depth to the composition. Truly a fine example of 19th and early 20th Century Drawing technique. It helps to have a model with such a fine physique like this also. It's all about observation and technical execution. If you are wondering how those fine lines are created the technique is all in the preparation of the graphite portion of the pencil. The wood is shaved off several inches from the tip of the pencil exposing the lead core. The artist can then maintain a very sharp drawing instrument by honing the lead to a fine point. The artist is able to maintain detailed control of the tip once on the paper. I observed the preparation of the drawing pencils while taking a painting course at a Private Atelier in Toronto once. Very fine detail can be obtained from such a drawing instrument.