Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Strawberry Girl by Nils Schillmark

The Strawberry Girl (1782) by Nils Schillmark
Finland Stamp 1,70 Issued 1987
Ateneum Finnish National Gallery Helsinki
Schillmark (1745-1802) became one of the most important portrait painters in Finland after being apprenticed in Stockholm to Pehr Fjellström.   He spent much of his life travelling throughout western and southern Finland, completing portraits for those who afford it.  Schillmark used the Baroque style of portrait painting used by Olof Arenius (1701–66). Gradually, Schillmark developed his own penetrating style of portrait painting.

His subjects are engaged and the completed works look very realistic. He had some unusual flair, as displayed in this portrait, where the girl is dressed in a common fashion, although she was actually a member of the mobility - her calm stare against a slightly threatening landscape - it is realistically but impossible at the same time.

This stamp was issued as one of five works in a series of art from the Ateneum Finnish National Gallery.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Adoration of the Magi by Konrad Witz

Konrad Witz (c 1400-1445) - Adoration of the Magi (c 1444)
New Zealand 3c Stamp Issued Christmas 1974
Musée d'Art et d'Histoire, Geneva, Switzerland
The majority of Witz's work was completed altarpieces during his lifetime, which have since been dismantled and displayed in various art galleries - his art was completed on many medium, including wood and cloth.  The German artist was known for his scenes of realism - he was probably influenced by Flemish artists like Jan van Eyck, even though Witz probably spent all his working life in Basel.

He did not use mystical symbolism although it was very popular in northern Europe at the time - his work is more immediate and real to the viewer.  Witz is best known at the artist who completed the first outdoor landscape of a real site, being Lake Geneva, in 1444.  The painting was called The Miraculous Draft of Fishes.  He worked the majority of his life in the Painters Guild in Basel, but little is known about his training.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Virgin with Child by Maratta

The Virgin with Child (1660) by Carlo Maratta (1625-1713)
New Zealand Stamp 3d Issued Christmas 1966
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna
Carlo Maratta spent the majority of his life as a well regarded artist and it said to be the last classical style artist in a long line from Raphael.   He began his career while he was young - he was born in a papal state and moved to Rome at age 11 under the care of a friend of his father who was also a secretary to the nephew of the Pope.  These good connections must have assisted in him being able to further develop his talent.  He was apprenticed by Andrea Sacchi and built a strong friendship with Giovan Bellori, who was a big art collector and influence on the art market in Rome during this period.

Some of his work was commissioned by the Pope - this is one of his earlier pieces of work in a long career.  He would proceed to large frescos later in his career under the commission of the popes from Rome to France.  The majority of his work had a religious theme, although he also completed portraits of important figures in Rome at the time.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Two Trinities by Bartolome Murillo

The Two Trinities (1682) by Bartolome Murillo
New Zealand 3d Stamp Issued Christmas 1965
National Gallery, London
Murillo (1617-1682) specialised in religious paintings as one of two leading artists in 17th Century Spain - the other being Velazquez.  This painting features two trinities - the first being the Holy Trinity of father, son and ghost, while the other is the earthly trinity of Mary, Joseph and Jesus - the holy family.  The light and mood in this painting is very striking.

Murillo faced extensive personal loss during his long life.  He outlived three wives and all but three of his nine children.  He also survived the plague that hit Seville in 1649, wiping out half the population of the city.  No wonder his work included heavenly clouds and cherubs, as it must have been a welcome way to avoid all the death and sadness on earth!

Another of Murillo's works features in a UK stamp issue in 1967: Madonna in the Clouds.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Holy Family with A Shepherd by Titian

Holy Family with a Shepherd (1510) by Titian (1490-1576)
New Zealand 2d Stamp Issued 1963
National Gallery, London
New Zealand postal authorities selected a third painting from the National Gallery in London for inclusion in the Christmas stamps during the 1960s.  This one was in a larger format to do justice to the larger size of the underlying oil on canvas painting by Titian.  A shepherd is in adoration of the Madonna and child.  

Other Titian works that have been used in stamps:

Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Madonna in Prayer by Sassoferrato

Madonna in Prayer (1609-1684) by Sassoferrato (1650)
New Zealand 2d Stamp Issued 1962 Christmas
National Gallery London

This work is rich in colour and volume with the heavy draperies of the virgin.  Sassoferrato was heavily influenced by Raphael.  Most of his work consisted of devotional religious paintings, many of which were repeated.  He was trained Umbria by his father, prior to reaching the peak of his career in Rome.

The stamp was very popular and it was awarded the Philatelic Societies of San Francisco award for the most beautiful stamp of the year.

Stamps that include works by Raphael:
Madonna and the Goldfinch (1505)
The Large Cowper Madonna (1507)
The Virgin and Child (1508)
The School of Athens (1511)

Monday, February 6, 2012

Adoration of the Magi by Albercht Durer

Adoration of the Magi (1504) - Albrecht Durer (1471-1528)
New Zealand 2d Stamp Issued 1961 Christmas
Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy

This work was created by Durer during a time when he was staying in Nuremberg.  The painting is oil on wood so it is thought to have been housed in a church in earlier times.  Durer is considered to be the most important painter of the Northern Renaissance.

Much of his work has religious meaning, including a work of "Adam" which featured on a stamp that was issued by Rwanda.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Adoration of the Shepherds by a pupil of Rembrandt

Adoration of the Shepherds (1646) by a pupil of Rembrandt
2d Christmas Stamp Issued New Zealand 1960
National Gallery in London

This painting was re-examined in 2009 by the National Gallery and it has been confirmed that it is highly likely that it was not completed by Rembrandt, but by a pupil of his.  The layering of paint was found to be quite different to other works by Rembrandt when the painting was studied in detail with modern scientific equipment during the 2009 clean.  Another Rembrandt painting of the same period shows a very similar scene in a reverse format.  Details of this recent discovery are on the National Gallery website.

This was also the first Christmas stamp to be issued in New Zealand - at first there was concern that the postmarking of used stamps with a religious painting may not be appropriate to Christian sensibilities.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Slieve na Brock by Colin Middleton

Slieve na Brock by Colin Middleton
9p Stamp issued 1971 - United Kingdom
Middleton (1910-1983) trained at the Belfast Academy of Art and was heavily influenced by the work of Vincent van Gogh.  His artwork was quite surreal in many respects.  In addition to being an artist, he was also a musician, theatre designer and poet.  In 1969 he was awarded an MBE and appointed an associate at the Royal Hibernian Academy, with full membership in 1970.

His work was one of three paintings in the Ulster '71 Festival stamp series:

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Deer's Meadow by Thomas Carr

Deer's Meadow by Thomas Carr
7p Stamp issued 1971 United Kingdom

Carr was taught at the Slade School of Fine Art in London after selling an initial landscape painting in a local hotel during a three week holiday in Cassis, in the South of France. Commercially successful, this Northern Irish artist shunned adstractionism that was popular in the early stages of his career.  For much of his life he was a teacher and artist, living in the countryside of Northern Ireland in addition to living in Belfast from 1955.

This is one of three landscape paintings by Northern Irish artists that featured in an "Ulster '71 Festival" stamp issue:
TP Flanagan - A Mountain Road
Colin Midleton - Slieve na Brock

Thursday, January 5, 2012

A Mountain Road by TP Flanagan

A Mountain Road, by TP Flanagan (1929-2011)
UK 3p Stamp issued 1971
TP Flanagan made a large contribution to the arts during his long career in Northern Ireland in the mid 20th century.  As well and being a teacher at the St Mary's Training College in Belfast until retirement in 1983, he had a parallel career as a professional artist in oils and watercolours was quietly flourishing throughout the 1960s and 1970s, with awards, exhibitions, honours, a television film (TP Flanagan: Painter).

He and his family were close friends with the famous Irish poet, Seamus Heaney, who was quoted as saying: "As an artist, Flanagan has gone his own way, explored the Irish landscape and enhanced Irish landscape painting through the discovery andelaboration of an individual style."

This stamp is one of a series of three "Ulster Paintings" from the Ulster '71 festival on 16 June 1971:
Colin Middleton
Tom Carr