Thursday, 7 March 2019

Dogs in Paintings and Drawings

Dogs are in drawings and paintings as companions, working dogs,  hunters and retrievers.Here are a few of my favourites art works for you to enjoy.


                                                                                    Dog Chair by Cecil Aldin

A house with a dog  chair suggests that the owners treat the dogs as companions and friends. This artist is well known for his illustrations of dogs.

                                                         In Disgrace by Charles Barbour Burton


   Victorian and sentimental  in style .This little girl has been naughty but has as sympathetic   friend  in her  dog.

                                            Pulling A Pint by Norman Cornish
 Norman Cornish drew and painted the pit men in and around Durham in the north of England.This is a pub where coal miners would go for a drink after a hard day often taking their whippets, along with them.

Working Dogs 


Welsh artist Kyffin Williams has caught the attitudes of the Collie dogs as they round up sheep for their shepherd perfectly.

                                              Searching for sheep in the snow.

 Hunting and Retrieving 


                                 Hunters Returning in The Snow, by Breugel The Elder
                     This painting may be seen at Kunthistories museum in Vienna
   Hunters trudging home through deep snow in freezing weather they are hanging their  heads in disappointment they have nothing to bring home after a long day.



A traditional hunting scene by Cecil Aldin.
Although scenes like this are now very unpopular with some people this artist captures the excitement of the hounds as they follow their natural instincts to go out as a pack.


                                         Walkies in Buenos Aires by Beryl Cook                       

       Professional dog walkers are seen everywhere these days. Beryl Cook's paintings are usually about ordinary people enjoying themselves or in this case dogs. 

From Beryl Cook :The Bumper Edition ISBN 0-575-07021-8


Monday, 4 March 2019

Best Ten Great Portraits You Should See

Ten Great Portraits and Where to See Them

The Laughing Cavalier by Frans Hals


 Nobody really knows who this man was ,he was not a cavalier but a wealthy, fashionable man aged about 26 living in the Netherlands in 1624.The love symbols on his sleeve of hearts and flaming torches suggest this may have been a betrothal portrait.

You can see this portrait at The Wallace Collection , London UK

 Girl With A Pearl Earring by Vermeer

 This much loved portrait is a character painting with the girl possibly a servant ,dressed in various props owned by Vermeer.A recent novel and film with the same title as the painting suggest that the expensive earrings were borrowed Vermeer's wife,she was not pleased.

              This painting may be seen at Mauritshuis ,The Hague, Holland


 Self Portrait by Rembrandt


As a young artist Rembrandt was short of models so he painted himself looking much like a modern pop star with a mop of hair.The subtle tones show early promise of his ability to use a narrow range of colours to create atmosphere and light.

This painting may be seen at The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam,Holland. 





Keith (from Gimme Shelter) by Elizabeth Peyton 




This painted portrait of Keith Richards was taken from a clip from the film  Gimme Shelter . Many contemporary portrait painters use photographs to capture their subjects.

This painting may be seen at Soloman R Guggenheim Museum New York U.S.A.



American Gothic by Grant Wood



This strangely buttoned up pair were staged by Grant Wood using his sister Nan and his dentist  Dr B.H.McKeeby as models.Various interpretations have been made about this iconic work.Suggestions that it was a satire of the Midwest and its conservative values were rejected by the artist.


This painting may be seen at  The Art Institute of Chicago ,IL,USA 


  Three Studies of The Head of A Young Negro by J.A.Watteau



The French artist Jean-Antione Watteau was a prolific portrait painter.He made many drawings of his subjects before putting them into larger scenes and groups off people.These preliminary drawings often had great charm like the studies of this boy.


Many of the drawings may be viewed at



 Woman With A Coffee Pot  by Paul Cezanne


Cezanne was known as a slow and painstaking worker who would fly into a rage if the slightest thing upset him.The solid figure of this country woman is sitting in a room adorned with paintings on the walls suggesting that she is a servant in a wealthy household.The cylinder filter coffee pot and woman's blue cotton dress are typically French.

This painting may be seen at Musee d'Orsay, Paris



Self Portrait by Vincent Van Gogh 


Painted before madness completely took over this is Van Gogh in the sunny south of France.The application of brush strokes of pure colour which typify his style can be seen here especially in the straw hat.





 Churchill by Graham Sutherland



This portrait of Winston Churchill was commissioned  as a gift to Churchill.For a while it hung in the family home at Chartwell .Churchill absolutely loathed it and his wife, Clemmie was convinced that it was making him depressed.She threw it onto a bonfire in the garden and it was completely destroyed.

There is nowhere you can see this work apart from photographs like this.



Wednesday, 27 February 2019

Best Paintings of Parties You Should See

                                   Paintings of Parties and Where to Find Them




        The Peasants Wedding by Peter Breugal The Elder  (1525-69)


Known for his paintings of  complex rural scenes  and religious sujects Breugal would dress down as a peasant and go into the Flemish countryside to find  scenes to paint.This wedding is being held in a rough barn where a door has been taken down to use as a serving tray.The bride is easy to identify but it is hard to find the groom.

This painting may be seen at the Kunthistoriches Museum, Vienna.





                    Isabella by John Everett Millais, 1847


This family party is not a happy gathering. The lovely Isabella seen stroking her dog is talking to her lover Lorenzo, a workman employed by her family. Isabella's malevolent brothers seated opposite have marriage plans for Isabella which do not include the Lorenzo.This toxic party has been called so that family members can discuss and arrange the murder of Lorenzo.The body language says it all.

                       This painting may be seen at The Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, UK





                             The Reception by James Tissot 1873


Master party painter Tissot often showed glamourous  young women in the company of much older men.This painting is sometimes known as The Political Woman.His interest in fashion and the gorgeous dresses of his fashionable women have made him highly collectable.

This painting may be seen at The Albert Brigit Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, USA






                          Too Early by James Tissot 1873



Every celebrities' nightmare, arriving at the party too early  and being the first one there.The hostess is still giving last minute instructions to the  musicians and the servants are laughing behind the door.


 This painting may be seen  at Guildhall Art Gallery, City of London






                      Luncheon of The Boating Party Pierre Auguste Renoir


This is one of the world's most famous party scenes.Pretty girls and  handsome young men aboard a boat on the river in Paris on a hot summer day. The food and wine look good too.Renoir was very pleased with this painting, it sold so well he did several versions of it.


This painting may be seen at The Philips Collection,Washington D.C. USA




            Party Boys by Beryl Cook


Beryl Cook's paintings are nearly always about ordinary people enjoying themselves and having a laugh.These boys are in a local pub. I have no idea what they are celebrating.Most of Beryl Cook's paintings are in private ownership, but you can see what they are about in the book

                                    Beryl Cook ,The Bumper Edition ,ISBN0575070218




Friday, 22 February 2019

Tate Modern, Pierre Bonnard ,The Colour of Memory Review


                    The Tate  Modern, Bankside, London

                        ticketing and details from 



 Remembering France

I have visited France many times over the last 60 years.The French have always presented a life style that I like. This exhibition reminded me of all that life there can offer.The paintings and the colours brought back memories of France ,wonderful food,the warm, lavender scented south and some rather dodgy plumbing.

The Exhibition

The exhibition is large extending over 13 rooms so give yourself plenty of time  and wear comfortable shoes. Inspite of a timed ticket system it is rather overcrowded.
Bonnard has painted the private world that he shared with his companion of 30 years Marthe de Meligny.
There are detailed explanations of the paintings and Bonnard's increasing development of the use of colour. Nearly all of the paintings are of France.


The French take food very seriously and many paintings show the enjoyment of leisurely and delicious meals. Sometimes family pets are included like these two cats glaring at each other across the table.     
P. Bonnard


Everyone wants to try eating snails the first time they go to France .There are special tongs for removing them from their shells and the plate is swimming in garlic butter in which to dip them.

The Sea                                                
August is a month when the French abandon everything to go to the coast or country.Bonnard spent extended periods in the  strong warm light of  the South of France.The coast and visits there became his subjects.



 Marthe de Meligny  whom Bonnard evetually married took long baths in the hope of curing various complaints from which she was suffering. He painted several portraits of her bathing ,experimenting with colour and compositions in front of a mirror.


                                                                         After The Exhibition

       A good place to take a break after the exhibition is the Bar and Kitchen Cafe.Book in advance if you want a window table and enjoy a leisurely meal while you watch the endlessly fascinating views across the River Thames. 

View of the river Thames from tate Modern

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Working Women, Fish Wives

Fish Wives 


 I am married to an academic whose research studies  have taken us to many countries around the world.It was not until I went to the USA that I first learned of the American artist Winslow Homer.Some of his most interesting and lovely paintings are of the Cullercoats fishing community on the east coast of Northumberland where he lived for two years.I lived near that stunning coast for many years and was astonished that in England this artist is almost unknown.

This is just one example of Homer's wonderful water colours.

Fisher Folk, Winslow Homer


          For the bigger picture follow the link to the Addison Galleryof American Art in Massachusetts.





Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Working Women

It it sometimes assumed that women have only entered the work place relatively recently.

It was only aristocratic, rich women or those who conformed to a certain Victorian middle class respectabilty who did not work .

An exception was the talented portrait painter Elisabeth Vigee Le Brun.Her popularity as a fashionable artist  gave her a freedom to travel and socialise not usual among women in her class.

Elisabeth Vigee Le brun (self portrait)


  The women who made the lace for her clothing and who plaited the straw for her hat led a very different existance.Working from tiny cottages lacemakers were usually the wives and daughters of agricultural labourers.The money they earned contributed to the family income making the difference between a living wage and abject poverty.Working outside gave a better light .

Little girls began making lace in lacemaking schools from the age of four.It was a hard life. Get distracted and look away from the lacemaking pillow and your nose would be rubbed in the pins holding the pattern in place.As they grew older their eyesight was ruined and many contracted  tuberculosis from long winters working inside crowded, damp cottages



One advantage of being a lacemaker was that you needed smooth hands and were excused from labouring in the fields like these country girls.



Monday, 18 February 2019

Painted Fake News

Paintings  of  Fake News.

Artists have frequently been persuaded ,bribed or coerced in painting pretty pictures of scenes that are not quite what they seem.You can see modern day examples of this coming from certain countries in the far east of jolly ,well fed workers who in reality have large sections of their population who are  starving.


     Helen Allingham  painted pretty pictures of cottages in the English countryside.   A simple cottager was usually standing by the door.The reality was that inside these cottages would be damp hovels full of dirty, hungry children. Washing, cooking facilities would be minimal, the water being fetched from that stream you can see shared with animals.There would be dirt floors  and a muddy unmade road outside.                                                  
Cottages, Helen Allingham

 These healthy looking mill girls enjoying a dinner hour were almost certainly posed in a studio for completion of the painting.The reality of their lives was deafness from the noise of the weaving machinery, rotten ,damaged teeth from the habit of chewing the end of broken threads to join them more easily.Damage to their lungs was appalling from the cotton fibres that wafted around them in the air they were breathing most of the time.
The Dinner Hour, Eyre Crowe

Under communist rule artists were obliged to show well fed ,happy workers like these construction site workers taking a break while pretty girls bring them their refreshments.Oppression,food shortages, grim living accommodation and constant fear was the reality of the dictatorships that governed their lives.

Russian Socialist Realism

  This is almost to ghastly to show. A charming rural setting while Hitler, painted in a flattering pose tries to show his affection for a small girl .At least the artist showed her struggling to get away.

Nazi Fascist Realism