Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Goddesses and Putti, Venus and Cupid : Any idea ?

I know, this print (22 x 22 cm.) is nothing like the early XXth century (German) color woodblock prints this Blog is more or less build around. But please let me know what you make of this woodblock (it really is !) print. It emerged from a stack of material from all sorts and periods deriving from all quarters of the compass. And I fell in love instantly (this happens a lot lately, it might have to do with an aging romantic). 

If I'm correct (?) the print is colored by hand, not printed, with a pallet of exquisitely warm, glowing and almost sensual "setting sun" earth colors. The laziness and sensuality of the moment is screaming of the paper but I have no idea what the artist tries to transmit to us. It's obviously "Venus, Company and Putti" (her son Cupid). There's no signature or other marking leading to an artist. 

It could be a 17th or 18th century composition by Pieter Paul Rubens (1577-1640) but

Jan Brueghel the Elder and Workshop of Peter Paul Rubens - Nymphs Filling the Cornucopia

but  Henri Matisse (1869-1954) could also have had a hand in it. And what about 

Aristide Maillol (1861-1944) ?

Did you know he created some exquisite woodcuts ("gravure a bois") too ?

Please send any comment or suggestion. 

All pictures borrowed freely from the Internet for friendly, educational and non commercial use only.

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Helene Gries-Danican, two surprising early prints

Helene Gries–Danican
(Kiel 1874-1935 Braunschweig) 

was a German painter (and printmaker) who, in her times was much praised for her sea paintings. She'd started her studies privately with marine painter Georg Burmeister (1864-1936) who's influence and use of colour is evident in all her sea related paintings. 

Master and Student: Georg Burmeister and Helene Gries-Danican.

The similarities with Max Beckmann's (1884-1950) 1907 "Seestück" (lower) are striking. She will have met Beckmann while studying with Burmeister in Berlin(1906-1908). 

She also entered Dresden “Kunstschule Kops” the privately run by Georg Lührig (1868-1957) painting school and studied with Dora Hitz (1856-1924) who'd moved from Dresden to Berlin in 1892. As daughter of a well to do notary in Kiel she was also allowed to study (1903-04) in the Academie Colarossi in Paris ending her studies in 1908 with again Georg Burmeister in Berlin. 

In childhood she had to undergo surgery (probably because of an inner ear infection) which left her disabled after the facial nerve was damaged with a paralyzed and drooping right side of her face and a hearing impediment. Recently more attention to her work and biography was given by a publication by a grand-nephew. And her work was exhibited in 2008.

Finding these two very Japanese colour woodblock prints in the Internet was a pleasant surprise. I could not find datings but I wonder what may have inspired her because there’s not much to compare them with besides the 1906-08 Japanese lantern prints by American printmaker Bertha Lum (1869-1954) but that seems too far fetched and unlikely.  

More probable are the Munich artists Martha Wenzel (1856-1943) iconic “Spaziergang” (1907),

and Martha Cunz (1876-1961) who did several "night scene" prints (in shades of gray and a strong colour component) around 1905-06.

Studying in Berlin 1906-1908 places her also in the times of Emil Orlik who came from Munich to Berlin in 1905 to teach woodblock printmaking. It is frustrating so little written evidence is left or delivered to us although this period is called "recent history". In Germany this is because of the devastations of archives, buildings and complete city's in during WW2. 

All pictures borrowed freely from the Internet for friendly, educational and non commercial use only.  

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Rembrandt: Chaumière au grand arbre.

Barn with large tree 

("Chaumière au grand arbre") 
(Cat. B.226) 

Some time ago I (a flying crow....) stumbled over this battered, glued and browned impression of an etching in a broken frame. As in before posting it had evoked a "deja vue": I was sure I'd seen this composition before. Besides falling in love instantly (as a romantic it happens to me all the time), the frame told it was fabricated in a well known, posh, shop and it held an old (auctioneers) price tag. But even without those indicators....................... 

It measures roughly 25 x 42 cm. and it is (part of) an interpretation (not a copy !) of Rembrandts "La chaumières au grand arbre" (the barn with the big tree), catalogued as B.226. It's roughly twice the size of the known original. The right side is missing (I think, or maybe it was left out....). But even so it's very decorative and I would dearly like to know who made it, and when.  

In 1640 Rembrandt made this drawing, below, an etching of Amsterdam (catalogued B.210). Small as it is (a tiny 11,3 x 15,5 cm.) it shows the city with church towers, the harbor with ships, and the landscape with mills surrounding the city seen from the north side of the Y. 

In 1641 he drew two separate landscapes with a farm: one to the left and one to the right of his earlier vantage point in an oblong (13 x 32 cm.) format. Put together they form a wide angle view or panorama of Amsterdam. (B.226 and B.225), something like this:

Master engraver Amand Durand (1831-1905) who was commissioned by the Louvre Museum director to restore its collection of worn Rembrandt plates used a revolutionary "reversed method" invention. A fine and original paper print was used to produce an etched image in a fresh copper plate with the help of an electric light: the Heliogravure. It could take up to 6 months to create an image. But then it was accurate within 1/100 of cm. to the lines drawn by the hand of Rembrandt himself. Needles to say these limited Durand (re)prints are highly sought after and recognizable from a red seal on the back. 

The Heliogravure technique, after Durands epic mission, was quickly abandoned: it had been used to prints stamps and it was so good it could also be used to forge paper money. 

After Charles rapid comment (thanks) I found this: William Baillie (1723-1810) known for his many "after" Rembrandt etchings................. 

All pictures borrowed freely from the Internet for friendly, educational and non commercial use only.

Monday, 25 April 2016

Marius Bauer: Susanna or Saskia ?

Recently I discovered this intriguing and charming etching in a fair. Going through a pile of other "stuff" this one stood out and since I could not find any new works created by my German woodblock printmaking ladies, I decided she was to be my fair consolation. 

What had caught my eye, and interest, was the Rembrandtesque light, the sketch like drawing and the slightly familiar interior and pose of the startled girl. See also the subtle slipper lower right. In both works ! 

It is obvious the artist was inspired by Rembrandts Susanna (but without the dirty old men euphemistically named.. "Elders"). 

And that she is actually situated in Rembrandts house (preparing and looking towards the bed) is maybe another a clue. This artist knew his Rembrandt (1606-1669) and showed his admiration in this "pastiche".
Rembrandt drew his love Saskia in the "box" bed. And she may also have been model to the most lovely, intimate and spontaneous nude drawings I know.

Even during his life Rembrandts sketches probably were inspiration for others. I can't help suspecting Rubens was inspired by Rembrandt in his Susanna (1636-40), but I'm not an art historian. 

It is known, Rembrandt probably was on his way with Hendrikje, his later wife, to visit her parents that Rembrandt stayed in the city of Amersfoort in the early 1650's. Here lived  his colleague Paulus Bor  (1601-1669). This location, the Westersingel, very near the place where I learned to play the piano. 300 years later.. 

Paulus Bor, sitting nude  ------------------

There has been a signature, obviously, but it looks like it has been clumsily erased. Why ? After some research I found this etching listed in the catalogue raisonée of one of the most important (consider by experts "the best") Dutch 1880-1930 etchers and "orientalist" Marius Bauer (1867-1932) and there it is titled "Saskia". 

The residue of the erased signature however resembling the signature seen in etchings by Etienne Bosch (1863-1933). Sadly the print has no margins. Another clue why the erased signature, was within it's borders ........A clue but not an answer. 

Etienne Bosch had been a class mate and friend of Marius Bauer in the Hague Art Academie (studying there 1880-85, yes Bauer entered aged 12 !). Like Bauer, Bosch probably shared the same teachers and thus also had been a student of controversial George Breitner (1857-1923) a most celebrated post-impressionist and early photographer who had once claimed Vincent van Gogh paintings were: "Art for Eskimo's"................ I think this was not ment to be an advice hanging Vincents colorful paintings in an Greenland iglo. It had to do with the colors Breitner could not approve of.  

 Bauer and Breitner, student and master.
Both considered controversial in the Hague's Academy. Both left.  

Who knows, Bosch "cheated" with Bauers copper plate and changed his mind later. There can be multiple explanations. As long there's no copy of the etching with Bauers actual signature I'll stay doubtful about the attribution. The original plate, but without makers markings or signature is said to have been found together with 50 others (by Bauer) and is now kept in Bauers reference collection. But "found together" is no proof either. 

Both men were involved in the "Nederlandse Etsclub" (Dutch Etching Club 1885-1896) and consisted of some 28 leading Dutch graphic artists publishing and promoting their work and organizing exhibitions showing the international graphic works of contemporary colleagues: Degas, Whistler, Rops, Pissarro and many others.  

All pictures borrowed freely from the Internet for friendly, educational and non commercial use only. 

Monday, 18 April 2016

Margarete Donath, quest for a forgotten Dresden painter & printmaker (3/3)

Margarete Donath (3/3) 
Hermann-strasse 2 (renamed Lauritzerstrasse in 1922) 
Weißer Hirsch, Loschwitz, Dresden 

Only recently I discovered these 4 postcard drawings by Margarete Donath. They depict historic sites in Augustusburg, not far from Dresden and only miles away from her (I think) ancestral 19th century family seat: Bärenstein/Annaberg.

Augustusburg is where Duke August (1526-1586) ruler (King) of Saxonia had build his "Jagdschloß", a hunting castle. He was married to Anna (1532-1582) the daughter of King Christian III of Denmark. They were nicknamed "Vater August" and "Mutter Anna" and were married for 37 years. 

His portrait by Lucas Cranach the younger (1515-1586)


Today the I shall try to sketch the world of the (a) Donath family in Dresded Loschwitz from the 19th into the 20th century, altough I have no hard evidence, no genealogical data or mentioning in any of the artists lexicons concerning her artistic studies that she belonged to this family.

In 1863 Carl Christian Rinaldo Donath (born Bärenstein near Annaberg, 70 km south east of Dresden on the Czech border 1823-1897 Dresden) a sculptor and inn-keeper in 1863 bought the esthablishment “Goethesgarten” in Dresden- Blasewitz which he eventually sold in 1872.  It was located at the crossroads leading to the entrance of the new “Loschwitzer Brücke” (“Das Blaue Wunder, completed 1893”) spanning river Elbe. 

Rinaldo Donath was also involved in the manufacturing of canned and preserved fruits. In 1875 he was joined by his brother Christian Hermann Donath (Bärenstein 1833–1909 Dresden) a woodturner (“Dreschler”), painter and early photographer. 

The brothers have been awarded a streetname: “Donathstraße” in Laubegast.

I could not find any evidence of Rinaldo being married but Hermann Donath married in 1855. With Mathilde Wilhelmine Estel a clothing adornment and lace worker and seemstress (“Posamentennäherin, Spitzenklöpplerin and Schneiderin”). They lived Laubegast, Hauptstraße no. 5. In 1921 it was renamed  “Östereicherstraße”.  The couple had 8 childrenAlbert (1863–1935) and Emil (1868-1945) who also studied in Dresden “Kunstakademie”, a sister Helene (1870-1974) never married, she is buried with her parents in Dresden and (I think): 

Max Oswald Donath (b. 1865) who started “Donaths Bäckerei” in 1897. This bakery still exists and today is run by his great-granddaughters Ute and Elke Donath and is still located at Königsbrücker Landstraße 69 in Dresden

Two brothers are said to have emigrated to America (Cincinatti) which leaves two unidentified children. I suspect that Margarete Donath, the painter/printmaker, might be one of them.

In 1875 the brothers Rinaldo and Hermann Donath were partners in buying the old “Tolkewitzer Gasthof” in  Laubegast, Tolkewitz near Dresden. It was also known as “Donaths Neue Welt”. They build and added attractions, a mini Zoo, playground for children, miniature Alps build from papier-mâché which were lightened in the evenings for a spectacular effect ("Alpenglühen"). 

It’s restaurant, dancing facility and beer garden etc. were a very popular outing for Dresden inhabitants. The Donath family owned the facilities until 1893. The Dance Hall burned down in 2004 and was not rebuild. The plot houses now a mall with a bio-food shop named “Donath’s Ganz Neue Welt”.  


Brothers Emil and Albert Donath, were the founders of a health food company (“Reformwarenfirma”) the Firm Donath & Co. established in 1893 in Unterföhring near Munich manufacturing alcohol free and “biologic” fruit juices and in the same year started a business in Unterlockwitzgrund near Dresden winning a gold medal in 1906 in the “Internationalen Gartenbauausstellung”. 

Their interest and business in health food co-incides with the Health Spa business (rest, exercise, clean air, good organic food and fruit-juices) and its propagation (and invention) of Müsli by Maximillian Bircher-Benner (1867-1939) in Switzerland and Cornflakes by John Harvey Kellogg (1852-1943) in America. Also Brands existing to this day.  

This branch of the Donath familie in Dresden from then has built an imperium of organic fruit juice and wine manufacturing “Kellerei Lockwitzgrund”. 

The firm, although not in the same location is to this day in existence. The health food producers had come to the attention of and had led to some form of co-operation with Dr. Heinrich Lahmann (1860-1905) the health-spa owner and health food "guru". The Donath family lend their name to “Kurpension Donath” in “Weisser Hirsch”. (See part 1/3).

All pictures borrowed freely from the Internet for friendly, educational and non commercial use only. 

With the help of readers and passers-by I hope these Blog articles my lead to reveal more about the life and art of Margarete Donath.