Art/Art History/Architecture & Design.

FEATURED IMAGE (left to right): Pierre-Auguste Renoir, The Swing, 1876, oil on canvas, Musée d’Orsay (THE “TRICKY BUSINESS” OF THE CAILLLEBOTTE BEQUEST); Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger, Captain Thomas Lee in Irish Dress, oil on canvas, 1594, Tate Britain (COMPLETE ART WORKS OF MARCUS GHEERAERTS THE YOUNGER); Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Jane Avril, color lithograph in 5 colors, 1893 (TOULOUSE-LAUTREC’S COMPLETE MASS PRODUCED COLOR POSTERS); David Adler, floor plan, 1912 (WORKS OF DAVID ADLER, CHICAGO ARCHITECT).

Dialogue with Miguel Aguilar and Chris Silva, Conversation Pieces. Expo Chicago/2016.

Art/Art History is an area that involves visual analysis and historical and cultural interpretation. Its subject engages, understands and interprets several areas of knowledge including architecture and design, material culture, fashion, film and video, painting, sculpture, prints, photographs (and other works on paper) as well as performance and installation art so to identify its important forms of visual expression. Its subject matter extends from antiquity to the present and art objects that are researched and under comment and review are drawn from geographically diverse cultures around the globe.

While architecture and design are clearly included in Art/Art History its citing in the menu title is simply to make clear its variant and sometime especial emphasis in this blog.

Art/Architecture & Design/Art History is then a discipline that strives to understand works of art, architecture and design, among more, from a variety of perspectives, including original context of their making and reception to their circulation, collection, conservation, and display.

As culturally significant expressions, works of art may yield multiple meanings depending on the kinds of research and interpretive strategies that the art historian brings into play. These strategies might include consultation of original archives and philosophical and critical discourses as well as research into modes of history or formal analysis.

Chicago Harbor Lighthouse (1893). Active lighthouse near Navy Pier played a significant role in the social and economic development of Chicago and the U.S. Midwest.

Chicago Harbor Lighthouse (1893), Chicago, Illinois, 2017. Known as the “Chicago Light,” the Chicago Harbor Lighthouse is an active automated lighthouse dating from 1893. About one-half mile beyond Navy Pier, the lighthouse stands at the north of the main entrance of the Chicago Harbor in Lake Michigan. The lighthouse has had a significant role in the […]

Utagawa Hiroshige (1797-1858). Ukiyo-e Master.

Hiroshige is best known for his horizontal-format landscape series The Fifty-Three Stations of the Tōkaidō and his vertical format landscape series One Hundred Views of Edo. His subjects are an expansion of the ukiyo-e genre, adding to its usual focus on beautiful women, popular actors, and scenes of urban pleasure districts during Japan’s Edo dynasty (1603–1868).  […]

ORIGINS OF GERMAN EXPRESSIONIST PAINTING: THE EARLY MODERN ART CAREER OF ALEXEI VON JAWLENSKY (1864-1941), RUSSIAN-ÉMIGRÉ PAINTER, FROM 1889 TO THE BLUE RIDER IN MUNICH IN 1911.

Alexei von Jawlensky (1864-1941), Russian-émigré German Expressionist painter. SUMMARY: Alexei von Jawlensky (1864-1941), a young Russian-émigré artist to Germany beginning in the mid 1890’s, became one of the most progressive avant-garde modernist artists of his generation. His international search—from Russia to France, England and the Low Countries, as well as his lifelong expatriate base in […]

The Chicago Avenue Bridge (1914). Demolished in 2018. Chicago, Illinois. A significant example of evolutionary progress in bridge design in an early 20th century American metropolis.

By John P. Walsh Built in 1914 by Ketler-Elliot Erection Company of Chicago, the Chicago Avenue Bridge was one of the oldest pony truss bascule bridges in Chicago. Connecting River North and River West, the steel bridge was, after 104 years, demolished in 2018 and replaced, in 2019, by a temporary bridge. A new, permanent […]

Italian Art.

Dosso Dossi (c. 1489–1542). Dosso Dossi (c. 1489–1542), Melissa, 1520s. 69.25 x 68.5 inches, Borghese Gallery, Rome. Dosso Dossi (c. 1489-1542)– whose actual name was Giovanni de Lutero–was an Italian Renaissance painter who belonged to the School of Ferrara. Its scores of artists painted mainly in the Venetian style greatly influenced by Giorgione (c. 1477-1510). […]

On the 500th Anniversary of Leonardo da Vinci’s death, a look at a masterpiece, the Battle of Anghiari, and its Fabled Competition with Michelangelo for the Laurel of Greatest High Renaissance Artist in Sixteenth-Century Italy.

Profile Portrait of Leonardo da Vinci, attributed to Francesco Melzi, circa 1515–1517, Royal Trust Collection. On May 2, 2019, the world remembered the day 500 years ago when Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519), Italian Renaissance artist and polymath, died. The 67-year-old applied the spheres of the human brain to its many branches of knowledge and voraciously fused […]

Lee Miller (1907-1977), Photographer, Surrealist, and Aesthete, Part 1: the Poughkeepsie years, 1907-1925.

Text by John P. Walsh The Millers, Theodore, Elizabeth Lee, Erik, John and Florence, in 1923. In the first decades of the twentieth century it became increasingly common practice for established American families to reflect and display their personal lives as well as social status in the timely gathering of photographic portraits. Progressively, the American […]

Photographic Portraits of French Cultural Figures by Nadar (1820-1910) in 19th-Century Paris: History, Commentary and Criticism.

By John P. Walsh. This presentation is excerpted from content of university course I taught whose research project is ongoing. Nadar was born on April 6, 1820 to 26-year-old Thérèse Maillet and 49-year-old Victor Tournachon at 195 rue Saint-Honoré in Paris. His parents didn’t marry until 1826. After Gaspard-Félix (Nadar’s birth name) was born his […]

Eugène Atget, Photographer: L’Art Dans Le Vieux Paris.

Eugène Atget, Photographer’s Studio, c. 1910. Eugène Atget in an anonymously-taken photograph. Atget was born in 1857 near Bordeaux (Libourne) and after his parents died in 1862, the 5-year-old boy was brought up by his grandparents in Bordeaux. Atget received a solid education and, similar to Paul Gauguin, eventually went to sea in the merchant […]

The life of Joan of Arc, Martyr-Maid of France.

JOAN OF ARC (French, 1412-1431) is one of the best documented and most popular of medieval saints. The story of Jeanne La Pucelle, as she is known in France, has been beautifully depicted by artists and writers for centuries—as well as in films.  In France the places and sites associated with “the Maid” can still […]

Complete signed, dated, documented and inscribed art works (33 paintings) of Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger (c. 1562-1636). Featuring his Captain Thomas Lee in Irish Dress, oil on canvas, 1594, in Tate Britain.

Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger, Captain Thomas Lee in Irish Dress, oil on canvas, 1594 (purchased 1980), Tate Britain. Captain Thomas Lee (c.1551-1601) had his portrait painted by 33-year-old Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger (Bruges, 1561-1636) in London in 1594. Captain Lee was 43 years old and had worked as a military adventurer for English colonization in Ireland since […]

John Singer Sargent (1856-1925): Portraits of the 1870’s and 1880’s.

By John P. Walsh The art works by John Singer Sargent (1856-1925) in this post are ones in oil, watercolor, and pastel. They begin to present Sargent’s professional output during his formative years in France, England and his trips to the United States. While Sargent’s early portrait subjects range from famous people such as writer Robert […]

Francisco de Goya (1746-1828): First Suites of Tapestry Cartoons for the Princes of Asturias in Madrid, 1775 to 1778.

A selection of Goya’s first two suites of decorative tapestry cartoons (or designs) completed for El Escorial in 1775 and El Palacio Real del Pardo between 1776 and 1778. Both of these palaces were the residences of the future Carlos IV (reigned, 1788-1808) and his wife, Queen consort of Spain, María Luisa de Parma—they are the Prince and Princess of Asturias […]

Works of David Adler (1882-1949), Chicago architect, Part 1.

David Adler (January 3, 1882 – September 27, 1949) was an American architect who made major contributions in domestic architecture for mostly affluent clients in and around Chicago. Different than German-American modernist architect Mies van der Rohe (1886-1969) who also practiced in Chicago around the same time, David Adler’s important work drew from the past for his architectural idioms.1 What are […]

REVIEW: “Van Gogh’s Bedrooms,” The Art Institute of Chicago, February 14 to May 10, 2016.

Van Gogh’s Bedrooms at The Art Institute of Chicago, February 14 to May 10, 2016. The photograph depicts the three versions of Van Gogh’s “Bedroom” in Arles, France, in this blockbuster exhibition’s penultimate gallery. From the collections (left to right) of the Musée d’Orsay, Paris (1889), The Art Institute of Chicago (1889), and the Van […]

Part 5 “Oviri (Savage).” Savagery in Civilization: Paul Gauguin and His Tahiti-Inspired Graphic Work in Paris, 1893-1895.

By John P. Walsh By 1887 Paul Gauguin (French, 1848-1903) had created over 50 ceramic sculptures as well as several carved decorative panels, so during his time in Paris between 1893 and 1895 it may be expected that he would create a woodcut based on his most recent and important discovery of the Paris interval: his hideous […]

Part 4 “Tahitian Idol-The Goddess Hina.” Savagery in Civilization: Paul Gauguin and His Tahiti-Inspired Graphic Work in Paris, 1893-1895.

By John P. Walsh For some pieces of graphic art Paul Gauguin (French, 1848-1903) uses the moniker “P.Go.” to sign them.52  In Tahitian Idol-The Goddess Hina (fig.9), it is present in the lower left corner slightly on its side. While Day of the Gods, painted in Paris in 1894 at the same time as the woodcut, received a simple signature […]

Part 3 “Tahitian Landscape.” Savagery in Civilization: Paul Gauguin and His Tahiti-Inspired Graphic Work in Paris, 1893-1895.

By John P. Walsh As Belgian critic Emile Verhaeren saw him, Paul Gauguin (French, 1848-1903) produces “child art.”47 The artist’s anagram “P.Go.” looms large in the lower left hand corner making it plain that the 46-year-old Gauguin made this print. Gauguin’s use of color and form are significant as they build up the image of five […]

Part 2 “Tahitians Fishing.” Savagery in Civilization: Paul Gauguin and His Tahiti-Inspired Graphic Work in Paris, 1893-1895.

By John P. Walsh To look at a selection of four prints produced by Paul Gauguin in Paris between his two long trips to Tahiti not only elucidates his artistic ideas but benefits by this brief commentary on his methods and techniques he used to make them. The consummate craftsman – even Gauguin’s modern art opponents largely conceded this point – his traced […]

Savagery In Civilization: Paul Gauguin And His Tahiti-Inspired Graphic Work In Paris, 1893-1895.

By John P. Walsh In May 1894 during a working visit to Brittany filled with nostalgia, a 45-year-old Paul Gauguin broke his leg above the ankle in a scuffle with sailors in broad daylight. In France just nine months after being away in French Polynesia for over two years, Gauguin was spotted playing the role of bohemian artist in […]

Portraits of Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792).

Notes by John P. Walsh 1- REVEREND MR. THOMAS SMART, portrait after Reynolds (1735, private collection), 1822, mezzotint with scratching, 22.6 x 16.3 cm, British Museum, London. Reverend Mr. Thomas Smart was Vicar of Maker when, in 1735, 11-year-old Joshua Reynolds painted his portrait. It was the same year the sitter died. This print is […]

The Art of Connoisseurship, or How The Art Institute of Chicago’s Titian Painting was Discovered to be a Work by an “Imitator.”

By John P. Walsh Allegory of Venus and Cupid, c. 1600, Imitator of Titian (Tiziano Vecellio, Italian, c. 1485/90-1576), oil on canvas, 51 1/8 x 61 1/8 in. (129.9 x 155.3 cm). Charles H. and Mary F.S. Worcester Collection, 1943.90. The pleasant if heavily-restored late 16th century allegorical painting in the collection of The Art […]

French Cartoonist fêted, then revealed as Nazi collaborator: Chaval (1915-1968) and the purpose of art history and exhibitions.

Chaval’s cartoons, mainly wordless, are often derisive, ironic and filled with dark humor. By John P. Walsh The 53-year-old French cartoonist’s suicide in Paris in winter 1968 served as a tragic end to a witty career. Born Yvan Le Louarn near Bordeaux in 1915, Chaval left a suicide note on the apartment door that read “Mind the […]

Chicago’s Oldest German Parish (1852): St Michael Church in Old Town.

The bell tower of St. Michael Church in Chicago’s Old Town at 1633 N. Cleveland Avenue. It was in 1876 that the church having rebuilt after the Great Chicago Fire of October 1871 hoisted five new bells into the tower that were cast by McShane Company. In 1888, the tower’s four-sided clock was installed. atop the […]

The “Tricky Business” of the Caillebotte Bequest.

By John P. Walsh Gustave Caillebotte (1848-1894) and Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919) exhibited together in the Second Impressionist Exhibition in 1876 and became lifelong friends. Just two years later, in 1878, Caillebotte appointed Renoir to be executor of his will. Now in the wake of Caillebotte’s death in 1894, Renoir and Martial Caillebotte (1853-1910), the artist’s younger […]

Eluding “Terrible Monsieur Degas”: Gustave Caillebotte’s Retro-Style Vision for the Seventh Impressionist Exhibition of 1882.

By John P. Walsh The Third Impressionist Exhibition held in April 1877 is known as “Caillebotte’s Exhibition.” It is the highlight of the eight Impressionist exhibitions held between 1874 and 1886. While scholars agree that the Third Impressionist Exhibition was in every sense “glorious,” the show’s first euphoria was short lived.  Two weeks after the […]

A Bridge Too Far: Gustave Caillebotte and the Fourth (1879), Fifth (1880) and Sixth (1881) Impressionist Exhibitions.

By John P. Walsh In the five years between the “balanced and coherent” Third Impressionist Exhibition that took place in April 1877 and the exhibition of Gustave Caillebotte’s The Bezique Game in the penultimate Seventh Impressionist exhibition in March 1882, many significant changes had occurred in the art world. Two major developments were especially impactful […]

Gustave Caillebotte’s Dinner Invitation Leads to the Exquisite Third Impressionist Exhibition of 1877.

Richard R. Brettell, chair in Art and Aesthetics at the University of Texas at Dallas, states plainly that in January or February 1877 a soirée of seven male artists constituted what was “arguably the most important dinner party of painters held in the nineteenth century.” The reason for this social occasion was all business—specifically, to ponder and […]

Gustave Caillebotte and the Second Impressionist Exhibition of 1876.

Gustave Caillebotte, Les raboteurs de parquet (The Floor Scrapers), 1875, oil on canvas, 102 x 146.5 cm (40.2 × 57.7 in.). At his death in 1894, Caillebotte bestowed the painting to the Musée du Luxembourg where it was accepted. In 1929, it was transferred to the Musée du Louvre. It was relocated again in 1947 […]