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

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Otto Valdemar Strandman: Backustag - Nude Bronze Relief - Bacchanal 1894

Correggio's: Venus and Cupid with Satyr

Portrait of Otto Strandman 1906

Otto Valdemar Strandman (1871 - 1970) was a famous Swedish sculptor and painter. He studied at the Arts and Crafts Society School in Gothenburg, the Royal Academy of Art (1891-1895), and in Germany, Italy, and Paris in 1899. He won the Royal Medal in 1895 and in 1907 he worked at the University of Technology in Stockholm. In 1915 he became a member of the Academy of Art. He was a very versatile artist, painting portraits, marine scenes, and sculpted portrait busts, including Queen Mother Josefina. He created many sculptural reliefs, including utilitarian objects. He excelled in painting, sculpture, drawing, and watercolor. He is represented in several museums, including the National Museum in Stockholm. This small bronze relief sculpture of a Bacchanal came from an antiques dealer in Stockholm. One of my favorite motif's is the Bacchanal.
This little bronze relief brings us to something near and dear to my heart (and many other artists including Picasso), and that is "Appropriation." It plays a major role in my own creativity. Below I have listed an illustration of a large scale, slightly erotic, somewhat humorous painting that I am presently working on titled "Love Finds Cupid." Sometimes I let my sense of humor run wild and this is an illustration of what that flight of fancy produces. This is really a tongue-in-cheek spoof of Correggio's famous 1528 painting "Venus and Cupid with Satyr" and needless to say all those depictions out there of the motif "Sleeping Cupid." I am sure most of you know what "Appropriation" in artistic terms is but for those who do not let me offer this brief definition:

"To take possession of an other's imagery (or sounds), often without permission, reusing it in a context which differs from its original context, most often in order to examine issues concerning originality or to reveal meaning not previously seen in the original. This technique is far more aggressive than allusion or quotation, it is not the same as plagiarism, however."

This painting I am working on (below) is actually an amalgam of quite a few appropriated images and I hope a good example of appropriation: (1) Correggio's Venus, Cupid and Satyr (above), (2) the sculpture 'Boy Herm' from Pompeii, (3) Emile Edmond Peynot's 1884 sculpture Pro Patria, (4) Otto Strandman's bronze relief: Backustag (below), and (5), an obscure architectural form called 'gemitosayiro'.

In my next posting I will go back to a prior listing and take another look at the artist Hans Thoma and his print Der Verlorene Sohn (The Prodigal Son) and the whole idea of "Appropriation."

Title: Love Finds Cupid
Medium: Oils on Canval
Size: 3 feet by 5 feet
(all right reserved)

(False highlights to enhance the figures)

Caption: Backustag (Bacchus Day or Bacchanal)
Artist: Otto Valdemar Strandman (1871 - 1970) (Signed and dated upper right in the cast)
Medium: Bronze Relief casting
Dated: 1894

Here are additional examples of Strandman's works:


Portrait of Charles Lindberg

Friday, October 15, 2010

Anonymous French School 19th Century Nude Ephebe Portrait

This beautiful mid to late 19th century nude portrait of an adolescent boy originated from Paris and an unknown 19th century French Atelier. It was the first 19th century painting I bought for my collection. The artist has captured that delicate transition between boyhood and the beginning of manhood. The dark brooding good looks of the sitter is there, notice the dark beginnings of a mustache on that pouty upper lip. The real subject matter is Ganymede if I have ever seen it. The last two photographs used a flash to bring out the subdued colors, thus the difference. It is unfortunate that the artist did not sign his work.
Ganymede is an interesting iconographic figure in art history and in order to put some light on this phenomenon, let me again quote from James M. Saslow's book (actually his published Doctoral Thesis) Ganymede in the Renaissance: Homosexuality in Art and Society (ISBN 0-300-04199-3), a summary of Ganymede's importance in Renaissance Art:

"In iconographic terms, the abduction and heavenly service of the beautiful mortal youth represented the epitome of four interlinked emotions: the rapture of the pure human soul or intellect in the presence of divinity, the uplifting power of chaste earthly love, and both the delight and the disapproval associated with sexual passion, particularly in its homosexual form."


Caption: Nude Portrait of an Adolescent Boy
Artist: Anonymous
Medium: Oils on stretched canvas
Dated: circa mid to late 19th century

Anonymous 18th Century Male Nude

This nicely rendered drawing came into my collection several years ago. I have not seen many 18th century original drawings on the market, unlike the good quantity of 19th century academic nude drawings available out there. Chalk manner prints of 18th century drawings are more numerous and I have a few of those in my collection also.

Caption: Male Nude
Artist: Anonymous, unsigned
Medium: Red chalks on paper
Dated: undated, circa 1780-90

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Duncan Grant (1885-1978) Female Nude - Eve and the Serpent/ Nude Boy In Prayer

Duncan Grant (left)
Self portrait

Duncan Grant (1885-1978) was a member of the Bloomsbury Group in United Kingdom and a great admirer of Picasso. He specialized in interior design and was a well known muralist. He made great art on a domestic scale and in a domestic setting. Grant made art to live with, intimately. He designed fabrics and ceramics in the 1930's which represented a high ideal of applied modernist art. His work implies the hand of the artist responding to a particular environment. His finest works represent a world of unusual yet unostentatious domestic values. In his fabrics and ceramics, paintings, designs and interiors, he fashioned a sophisticated yet accessible vision of beauty. As the son of a Scottish army officer. He accompanied his parents to India, where he lived until the age of 9. He studied with Jacques-Emile Blanche (1861-1942) in Paris in 1909. He shared with Roger Fry and Vanessa Bell a commitment to the decorative arts as wells as to painting on canvas. He later became the director of the Omega Workshops in 1913.

Several years ago I was doing my usual perusal of auctions on eBay and found this vase design listed by a Gallery in Copenhagen, Denmark. The listing did not attribute an artist to the work and the owner did not seem to realize what he had. I took one look at that drawing, that brush stroke, and those colors and knew it was by Duncan Grant. The seller also had another work of a Boy in Prayer by the same hand which I also bought.


Caption: Eve and the Serpent (Female Nude) Study for a Vase Design/Nude Boy in Prayer
Artist: Duncan Grant (1885-1978) (In the manner of)
Medium: Gouache on paper
Dated: undated (circa 1900-1930)

Here are but a few examples of Grant's extensive body of works:

M. Elwein : Male Nude (Drawing With Sepia Ink Wash)

This nice pencil drawing on paper with ink washes came from an estate in Austria. I am sorry to say that I do not have any biographic information on the artist other than he was Austrian. Nicely executed and delicate ink washes over the under drawing.

Caption: Male Nude
Artist: M. Elwein (?)
Medium: Pencil drawing with sepia ink wash on paper
Dated: Circa 1900 - 1910

Here is an additional example of Elwein's works:

Alfred Kruger (1876 - 1958) Reclining Female Nude

This beautiful watercolor came from Germany several years ago. Alfred Kruger was born in Dresden in 1876 and died in Leipzig in 1958. Unfortunately I do not have more biographical information on him other than his dates of birth and death. I am always on the look out for a variety of academic nudes in various mediums and when this drawing presented itself I bought it for my collection. It was most probably created during the first half of the 20th century.

Caption: Reclining Female Nude (Liegender Weiblicher Akt)
Artist: Alfred Kruger (1876-1958)
Medium: Watercolor (Aquarell)
Dated: Undated

Here is an additional example of Kruger's works:

Interior View with Nude