Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Gallery Update

This week I received a present that “made my day” from a friend who had recently returned from China. It is a LingBi scholars' stone (shown below) and it’s superb! A few posts ago I discussed the key attributes of a good stone— viz. shou (thinness); zhou (wrinkles); lou (hollowness); tou (penetrated); and, qi (life force)
(see http://www.printsandprinciples.com/search/label/scholars%27%20stones)—and this one meets them all. The reason that I’m sharing my surprise with you is that the gift was accompanied by photographs (shown further below) of where the precious LingBi stones are found.

I had imagined that such stones would have come from a rocky landscape where the stones were gathered from an exposed rock strata, but I was mistaken. From what I now understand, the stones are volcanic and their weirdly wonderful shapes are the result of being blasted into the air in a molten state and their ultimate shape is determined by how they fall and what they land on (i.e. water or soil). As a consequence of their eventful origin, the stones are scattered and have a characteristic rough “skin”/surface on one side—I guess that this is the side that the molten mass landed on—and rounded edges, textures and hollows on the lustrous viewing side arising from their once molten state. For those that love LingBi stones, the true test of this stone is to hear the clear metallic sound once the stone is struck. No wonder the stone has featured in ancient Chinese musical instruments.

Scholars' Stone: Fire
LingBi stone
(height x width x depth including base) 37 x 27 x 12 cm




Backhoe excavation for the stones
Manual digging for the stones
Cleaning the stone
Some on-site examples of the stones
Regarding what I've recently posted in the galleries (these may be found by clicking on the strip of links at the top of the page), the Architecture and Ornament gallery now has a set of three magnificent engravings of monumental vases by Jean-Claude Thomas Duplessis (1699–1774). Interestingly, his son, Jean-Claude Duplessis Thomas Chamberlain (1730–83) worked for Sèvres and followed the neoclassical style during Louis XVI’s reign.

Seeing that I was in the mood for displaying neoclassical works I have also posted in the Architecture and Ornament gallery two exquisite etchings by Pietro Aquila (1650-1692) of some of the decorations in the Galleria Farnese. The first of these etchings is rare to find intact as often the individual panels are cut and sold separately. What amuses me about these “cut” panel prints is that they are described as having been “cut within the platemarks.” Although this description is true, what is not explained is the extent of the print remaining—it’s huge!

The second of the Galleria Farnese etchings is after Annibale Carracci’s wall paintings. For me it is a slice of opulence that speaks of notions of grandeur from a long past age. I’m also fascinated how images like this one of a bas-relief invite the eye to leap from slabs of architectural detail into populated pools of deep space. I guess that this is why I also like digital formats as, again, there is an invitation to leap from one pool of reality to the next with the click of a mouse.

Keeping with the theme of Carracci prints, I have listed one by Agostino Carracci in the Figures and Fauna gallery. It’s one of his important prints and you only have to look briefly at it to see why. The image has a rock-solid composition and, like all great artworks, it almost commands a viewer to be silent in front of it. What a marvellous print!

Also in the Figures and Fauna gallery I have showcased two prints by the famous French printmaker whose reputation is built upon reproducing the drawings and paintings of the early masters, Bernard Picart (1673–1733). The two prints listed are etchings of Raphael’s studies of women. From the perspective of any artist fascinated by interpretative prints, these are wonderful demonstration pieces showing how a skilfully laid network of lines in a print can reproduce subtle transitions of tone. From a personal viewpoint, however, they are simply gorgeous and the warm plate-tone left lightly on the prints gives them an aura of being precious.

For the Landscape and Flora gallery I've listed two extra large etchings by Jan Luyken (1649–1712). If ever there was an artist who gives value for money in terms of filling an image with masses of people he must come close to the top. In fact, when I was selecting details to scan I couldn't stop. Instead of displaying the usual four details, with the first Luyken print I ended up with EIGHT details that I simply had to share. Before I did my scanning of the two etchings I had the misconception that Luyken's style of drawing was a bit raw and schematic, but after examining his drawings of sheep, goats, dogs and horses in the first print my opinion changed as I could see how truly skilful he was as a draughtsman. In fact I think that he could almost draw a goat or a sheep as well as any of the Barbizon group (see Jacque’s drawings of sheep for instance: http://www.printsandprinciples.com/2012/07/jacque-sheep-and-shadows.html). Before heaping too much praise, however, Luyken had a problem with understanding animals’ legs. Sadly, he wasn't very good at drawing cows’ heads either. Nevertheless, he did draw a convincing horse in the print and anyone that can draw a good horse should be praised. Of course I may be way off-target with my view about Luyken’s animals so please let me know what you think in the feedback section below.

Now that I've lightly touched upon the topic of bucolic imagery, in the Books gallery, I've decided to showcase a book featuring 17 original etchings by Frédéric Jacque (1859–1931)—one of Charles-Emile Jacque’s (1813–94) sons. What is interesting about these prints is that they are focused on Jean-François Millet (1814–75) and the Barbizon district near Paris that Millet and Jacque made famous.

In the final gallery, Objects and Artefacts, I have listed for sale the two casts that a friend made of my hands featured in my last post, Figure Drawing. The intention behind making the casts was for the same goal that all the other plaster casts featured in the Objects and Artefacts gallery were originally made: they were designed to be drawing subjects for my classes.

I’ve been contemplating what I should post next as the next discussion in this blog. Although I haven’t received any feedback on my last post I have decided that the last discussion only lightly “skimmed the surface” concerning principles used in life-class drawing. So very soon I’ll put my thoughts together for a second part to the discussion about figure drawing.

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