Monday, May 31, 2010

Michail Wrubel - Swan Carewna

Michail Wrubel (1856-1910) - Swan Carewna (1900)
Russia Stamp issued 1967
Tretyakov Gallery, Russia

This stamp depicts painting of the wife of this artist, Nedezhda Zabela - she was a famous opera singer in Moscow at the time when this painting was completed.  Vrubel was a key player in the Russian symbolist artistic movement. 

The artist gained some notoriety in future depictions of demons and spirits - this style is partially reflected in this stamp.  He suffered a nervous breakdown within a few years of completing the painting in 1900.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Monitor Lizard from the Farquhar Collection - Artist Unknown

Sketches of Lizards from the Farquhar Collection
Singapore Stamps issued 2002

These are another two stamps that were developed from the Farquhar Collection of sketches that were issued by Singapore Post in 2002.  Although Farquhar did not draw these sketches, he did commission the work, as he had a keen interest in natural history.

Farquhar is a comparatively forgotten figure in Singapore history, when compared to Stamford Raffles, even though he administered Singapore in the early stages of its development as a settlement under British control.  Farquhar was also instrumental in preserving historical buildings in Malacca, which had been previously settled by the Portuguese and Dutch (prior to it becoming one of the British Straits Settlements in the early 1800s).  

Friday, May 28, 2010

Gely Korzhev - Homer

Gely Korzhev (1925 -   ) -  Homer (1959)
Russian Stamp Issued 1968

Korzhev was a painter who did his work in the socialist realism style that was sponsored by the Soviet Union in the 1950s and 1960s.  Many of his works conveyed messages that were not wholly in a style that promoted the state sponsored propaganda of the communist era in Russia.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Vasili Andreevich - The Lace Maker

Василий Андреевич Тропинин Vasili Andreevich Tropinin (1776-1857) - The Lace Maker (1823)
Russian Stamp issued 1967
Held in the Tretyakov Gallery, Russia

Tropinin was a gifted serf who managed to embark on an artistic career in his 20s, although he did not obtain his freedom until he was almost 40 years old.  He lived in the Ukraine for over 20 years early in his career.

This painting is one of three of his most important works and it was painted shortly after he got his freedom and was living in Moscow.  He became an important and respected romantic portrait artist, completing over 3000 portraits during his life.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Napuh from the Farquhar Collection - Artist Unknown

Watercolour from the Farquhar Collection
Singapore Stamp Issued 2002
Napuh - Artist Unknown

Singapore issued a series of stamps that were developed from drawings from the Farquhar Collection.  Over 400 watercolours were commissioned between 1819 and 1823 by William Farquhar, who was an employee of the East India Company and First Resident of Colonial Singapore.  These exquisite and realistic drawings were made by Chinese locals, depicting the local flora and fauna of the region.

The napu is also known as the Greater Mouse Deer.  It inhabits lowland tropical forests and mangrove areas of the south east Asian tropics and is often tamed as a pet by people who live in these regions, although it has disappeared from Singapore nowadays.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Sydney Parkinson & J. F. Miller - Banksia Serrata

Banksia Serrata - Original Engraving by Sydney Parkinson (1770) 
& Water Colour Painting by J. F. Miller (1773) 
Australian Pre-Stamped Envelope Issued in 1986
Watercolour held at the British Museum (Natural History Unit), London

Sydney Parkinson was an artist who created a prolific number of engravings aboard James Cook's Endeavour during its voyage to Australia and the Pacific in the 1770s.  This is an image of one of Australia's most instantly recognisable and distinctive plants, being the Banksia.   The banksia was named after Joseph Banks, who was also a member of this voyage.  The image was originally designed as an engraving, which was later developed into a watercolour once the voyagers had returned back to London.

Sydney Parkinson's work provided us with a large number of images that document European first impressions of the Australian continent.  He was depicted on a stamp in 1984.

This is one of the earliest examples of European based art in Australia - the primary interest of one of documenting new scientific discoveries.  

Monday, May 24, 2010

Alberto Magnelli - Virginia

Alberto Magnelli (1888-1971) - Virginia (1914)
France Stamp Issued 1986
Musee Municipal Vallauris

Magnelli was an Italian artist who gained some fame in the early 20th century as an artist, despite lacking a formal art education.  When in Paris, he met Picasso and adopted a cubist style of painting around the time when this painting, Virginia, was completed.   He later went onto paint in a futurist style.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Marc Chagall - Fiances of the Eiffel Tower

Marc Chagall (1887-1985) - Fiances of the Eiffel Tower (1939)
France Stamp Issued 1963

France has issued a large number of art based stamps, and this is one of the earliest releases for a modern 20th Century artist.  

Russian-French Artist Marc Chagall has been described by Robert Hughes as the quintessential Jewish artist of the 20th Century and the last surviving pioneer of the modernist movement.   

This painting is one of Chagall's dream like works, with an almost surreal quality.  The artists lived a long life, creating a prolific variety of work.  

Friday, May 21, 2010

Singapore Street Scenes - Artist Unknown

Singapore Street Scenes - Paintings of Chinatown - Artist Not Specified
Singapore Stamp Issued 1989

Although the Singapore postal authority promoted this stamp issue as an art series, they did not specify the artists who were responsible for the creation of these lively paintings that depict colourful Singapore street scenes of Chinatown through the years.   The scenes of Temple Street and Pagoda Street do not differ markedly from the Singapore of today, except that things have been cleaned up a lot.  This is wonderful neighbourhood architecture that has thankfully be retained by this young and fast growing country. 

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Albert Gleizes - Ecuyere

Albert Gleizes (1881-1953) - Ecuyere (1923)
France Stamp Issued 1981
National Museum of Modern Art - Paris

This is an example of one work of cubism that was skillfully mastered by Gleizes.  Objects are broken up and reassembled to provide multiple viewpoints in an abstract form.  An ecuyere is a horseman or knight.

The artist was born and raised in Paris and he served in the French army intermittently up to the beginning of the first world war.   In 1915 he continued his artistic career by moving to New York City, where mush of his work now remains, after having being purchased as part of the Guggenheim Collection.   

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Paul Gauguin - Arearea (Joyousness)

Paul Gauguin (1848-1903) - Arearea (Joyousness) (1892)
France Stamp issued 1968
Musee d'Orsay Paris

This painting was completed by Gauguin when he was in Tahiti, paving the way for the art world at the time, leading towards a greater interest in primitive arts.  His paintings are good examples of symbolism - this painting contains a group of people worshiping a statue at the rear of the painting, a red dog and the sky is not visible, even though this is an outdoor scene.

Gauguin did not achieve a great deal of success when he exhibited his Tahiti paintings in Paris in 1893, but he lead the way for other artists who became interested in primitive arts in the 20th century.  He died in the Dominique Islands in the South Pacific in poor circumstances.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Sergi Poliakoff - Composition 1954

Sergi Polliakoff (1900-1969) - Composition 1954
France Stamp Issued 1988
Lille - Musee des Beaux Arts

Born in Russia, this artist began his career as a figurative artist before turning to abstract art when he lived in France in the 1930s and 1940s.  This work is typical of his abstract work, with relatively bright ochre colours in irregular shapes.

The artist became a French citizen in 1962.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Jacques Louis David - Napoleon Crossing the Alps

Jacques Louis David (1748-1825) - Napoleon Crossing the Alps (1801)
France Stamp Issued 2008
Held at Chateau de Malmaison

David was an influential painter during his lifetime, as he depicted many paintings of contemporary events.  He lived at an interesting and formative time in French history, so his work was intertwined with the politics of France's influential leaders at the time.  David was devoted to Napoleon, even after the emperor's defeat.

Five versions of this painting was made by David, who was very influential in political circles with Napoleon.  Napoleon crossed the Alps in 1800 and David depicted this event, along with several other crucial events that occurred at the time of the French Revolution.  He also painted coronation celebrations of the Empire, before heading into exile in Belgium during the Restoration under Louis XVII.  David lived in a house that contained many paintings of Napoleon during his exploits, in Rue Fosse-aux Loups in Brussels.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Portia Geach - Sir John Quick

Portia Geach - Sir John Quick
Australian Pre-stamped Envelope Issued 1993
Corowa Federation Conference

The portrait of Sir John Quick adorns this pre-stamped envelope from 1993, commemorating the Centenary of the Corowa Conference.  Corowa is now a small country town in New South Wales, but close to the Victorian border.  The conference was important to the federation movement, as Sir John Quick established the need to listen to the voice of the people in discussions that took place.  Federation finally occurred in 1901, but this conference set the wheels in motion for this process.

The artist, Portia Geach was a fashionable and accomplished artist and feminist - she also painted Edith Cowan in another portrait.

See also other Federation Art.  

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Johannes Vermeer - Girl with a Pearl Earring

Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675) - Girl with a Pearl Earring (1665)
France Stamp Issued 2008
 Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis, The Hague.

Vermeer used expensive pigments in his portraits, including ultramarine - these contribute to a powerful combination of light and depth to his paintings.   He was a successful genre painter of his time, but he produced very few paintings - he specialised in painting exquisite interior scenes depicting middle class Dutch life.  Unfortunately for his family, he left a relatively large debt upon his untimely death in his early 40s.   

Vermeer was not particularly famous until the late 19th century, and his reputation has grown since then.  Only 35 paintings can be reliably attributed to him today.  

This painting was also the subject of a fictional 2003 film and novel by Tracey Chavelier, that tells the story of a fictional account of an affair between the model and the painter from this painting.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Alex Colville - Family and Rainstorm

Alex Colville (1925-    ) - Family and Rainstorm (Nova Scotia) (1955)
Canada 30c Stamp issued 1982
National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa

Colvillewas a Canadian painter who emerged after WWII from the East Canadian provinces, depicting the naturalism and everyday life of post WWII democracy.  In this painting, the individuals are starkly depicted with clean lines in a pleasant environment.  However, I see some sense of foreboding or gloom - the clouds are dark on the horizon and the metallic industrial frame of the car door are centrally placed in this painting.  The people do not communicate with the audience.

This was one of 12 paintings that were depicted on 1982 Canada Day stamps - all ten provinces and 2 territories of Canada were represented - this painting is from Nova Scotia

Friday, May 7, 2010

Georges Rouault - The Dreamer

Georges Rouault (1871-1958) 'The Dreamer' (1946)
France Stamp issued 1971
Held at Centre Georges Pompidou. Paris. France

Rouault took up an apprenticeship as a glassmaker in his late teens - the similarity of many of his works to stained glass windows is often accredited to be due to this influence in his learly life.  He was instrumental in the Fauvism Movement. 

Fauvism, generally considered the first artistic revolution of the 20th Century, can be seen as a manifestation of the main impulses of the century: towards autonomy of colour and the intervention of the painter's emotions as a constituent part of the painting.  
- Extract from Chambers Arts Library - Modern Art by Edina Berdand

The fauves were one of the first movements in modern art, but they were less revolutionary than other movements, such as cubism and abstractionism.  Their work is mainly interested in colour, with less distortion of shapes - this is directly seen in the work depicted on this stamp.  

Rouault's work was exhibited in Australia in the 1950s, during an exhibition of modern French artists who were living at the time.  This exhibition was reviewed by the Sydney Morning Herald at the time, and it makes for interesting reading:  French Exhibition is Study in Modern Art (Links to Trove National Library of Australia Newspaper Archives).

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Christian Clare Robertson - Antarctic Landscapes

Christian Clare Robertson - Antarctic Landscapes
Australian Antarctic Territory Stamps Issued 1996 - First Day Cover

Although these stamps look like they are photographs, they are in fact paintings by the artist who was stationed at the Australian Antarctic Division in 1989.  The paintings depict the extreme land forms that exist on the Antarctic continent - perspectives are difficult to maintain in these landscapes.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Molly Joan Lamb Bobak - Tea Hill

Molly Joan Lamb Bobak (1922-    ) - Tea Hill 
Canada 30c Stamp issued 1982
Holland College School of Visual Arts

Molly Joan Bobak was appointed as a war artist in 1945, being the only woman to do so.  Her father was one of the Group of Seven Canadian artists.  

This is one of twelve Canada Day stamps from 1982 that depicted artworks from each of Canada's provinces and territories.  This paint depicts a warm summer's afternoon on Prince Edward Island.  The artist was known for painting ordinary events, particularly scenes of peaceful social interaction in the landscape. 

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Quentin Metsys - The Moneylender and his Wife

Quentin Metsys (1466-1530) - The Moneylender and His Wife (1516)
France Stamp issue 2008 
The Louvre, Paris

The majority of Metsys' work depicts the life of merchants in Holland during a prosperous time in their history - this painting was completed when the artist lived in Antwerp at a time when the city was a trading hub for the Spanish and Portuguese.  The people in his paintings are usually depicted in indoor scenes, where there are clear indications of wealth - however, the paintings do not openly show extravagant wealth, as was usual for this time in Holland.  Religious overtones, include the scales of justice behind the subjects, providing insight into the ultimate judgement that each person must face.  The mirror and book on the table are completed to a high level of realistic detail.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Adrian Hebert - Street Scene, Quebec

Adrien Hébert (1890-1967), "Scène de rue, Montréal" (1933) 

Canada Stamp issued 1982 for Canada Day

Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, Québec, Quebec

Hebert portrayed urban life in the Montreal area over the 1930s and 1940s.  Many of his paintings depicted the Port Of Montreal, but when access was restricted in the second world war, he went to other urban locations, including locomotive workshops and railway stations.  

This painting has an interesting perspective - the street is very busy, but somewhat gloomy in the midst of the Canadian winter.  We are drawn into a small piece of a much larger city that sits outside the frame of the painting.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Leonardo da Vinci - Mona Lisa (La Gioconda)

Leonardo da Vinci - Mona Lisa (1506)
France Stamp Issued 2008
Painting held at the Louvre Paris
Today is the 491st anniversary of Leonardo da Vinci's death.  This painting needs no introduction as it is one of the greatest works from the renaissance period.  

Some interesting observations/claims from Wikipedia:
  • the painting was not named until 31 years after Leonardo da Vinci's death
  • it only became very famous from the 18th Century
  • the painting was commissioned for a rich Florentine merchant's family to celebrate the birth of their first child;
  • six million people now view the painting, which is held behind bullet proof glass in a specifically built facility within the Louvre;
  • it was one of the first portrait pictures to depict the sitter in an imaginary landscape and an aerial perspective;
  • it was stolen from the Louvre in 1911 by and Italian employee, who tried to sell the painting to Uffizi Gallery in Florence, after holding it in his apartment for two years.
Leonardo da Vinci also influenced a number of artists of the renaissance period who have had their works depicted on stamps:

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Christpoher Pratt - Breakwater

Christpoher Pratt (1935-    ) - Breakwater (1976) 
Canada 30c Stamp issued 1982 
National Gallery of Canada

This modern work was depicted on a Canadian stamp only 6 years after the painting was completed.  The artist is known for depictions of the Newfoundland landscape where he lives. Maritime, architecture and roadside scenes are common in his works.

This painting has a very timeless quality to it - the scene could well be imaginary.  Although the colours of the landscape are appealing, the modern style buildings are drab, with very few redeeming features, despite the light clean lines on the horizon.