Monday, January 3, 2022

17 Works, January 2nd. is Piero di Cosimo's day, his art, illustrated with footnotes #259

Cosimo Rosselli  (1439–1507) 
Descent from Mount Sinai, circa 1480
Fresco
Height: 350 cm (11.4 ft) Width: 572 cm (18.7 ft)
Sistine Chapel

In the upper part is Moses kneeling on Mount Sinai, with a sleeping Joshua nearby: he receives the Tables of the Law from Yahweh, who appears in a luminescent cloud, surrounded by angels. In the foreground, on the left, Moses brings the Tables to the Israelites. In the background is camp of tents, with the altar of the golden calf in the middle; the Israelites, spurred by Aaron, are adoring it: the position of some of them, painted from behind, was usually used for negative characters, such as Judas Iscariot in the Last Supper. Once seeing that, Moses, in the center, gets angry and breaks the Tables on the ground. The right background depicts the punishment of the idolatrous and the receiving of the new Tables. Joshua, in the blue and yellow, appears with Moses. More on this painting

Piero di Cosimo (2 January 1462[1] – 12 April 1522), also known as Piero di Lorenzo, was an Italian painter of the Renaissance. He is most famous for the mythological and allegorical subjects he painted in the late Quattrocento; he is said to have abandoned these to return to religious subjects under the influence of Savonarola, the preacher who exercised a huge sway in Florence in the 1490s, and had a similar effect on Botticelli. The High Renaissance style of the new century had little influence on him, and he retained the straightforward realism of his figures, which combines with an often whimsical treatment of his subjects to create the distinctive mood of his works.

Piero di Cosimo, 1462-1521
Battle of Lapiths and Centaurs, c. 1490
Panel, 71 x 260 cm
National Gallery, London

The battle depicted takes place between the Lapiths and the Centaurs at the wedding feast of Pirithous. Pirithous, king of the Lapith, had long clashed with the neighboring Centaurs. To mark his good intentions Pirithous invited the Centaurs to his wedding to Hippodamia. Some of the Centaurs, over-imbibed at the event, and when the bride was presented to greet the guests, she so aroused the intoxicated centaur Eurytion that he leapt up and attempted to carry her away. This led not only to an immediate clash, but to a year-long war, before the defeated Centaurs were expelled from Thessaly to the northwest. More on  the Battle of the Centaurs against the Lapiths

Vasari has many stories of his eccentricity, and the mythological subjects have an individual and quirky fascination. He trained under Cosimo Rosselli, whose daughter he married, and assisted him in his Sistine Chapel frescos.

Piero di Cosimo  (1462–1522)
Portrait of Simonetta Vespucci, c. 1490
Tempera on panel
Height: 570 mm (22.44 in); Width: 420 mm (16.53 in)
Condé Museum

This Florentine painting from the Quattrocento is one of the most famous masterpieces of the Condé museum. Painted around 1490, the portrait known as Simonetta Vespucci has never ceased to intrigue art historians. The young and beautiful mistress of Giuliano de Medici, "the idol of Florence", who posed for Botticelli, died of consumption at the age of twenty-three in 1476 and her lover would have had this portrait painted in memory of her. But it is not certain that we are in the presence of the portrait of Simonetta, because the inscription which names her at the bottom of the painting is perhaps later. Moreover, if this portrait represents Simonetta well, it is then a posthumous portrait, because Piero di Cosimo was only fifteen years old when he died.

It could rather be the Cleopatra with the serpent around her neck. However, the iconography does not correspond to Cleopatra, represented with the serpent biting her breast.

The depiction of a woman with a naked bust is unusual for a 15th century portrait. It can also be an ideal portrait, a Neoplatonic allegory of death, symbolized by the serpent which bites its tail, which leads to beauty. The funeral interpretation of the painting is reinforced by the black clouds and the dead tree which appear in front of Simonetta, on the left, while on the right, the trees have leaves and the sky is blue. More on this painting

The son of a goldsmith, Lorenzo di Piero, Piero was born in Florence and apprenticed under the artist Cosimo Rosseli, from whom he derived his popular name and whom he assisted in the painting of the Sistine Chapel in 1481.

Piero di Cosimo, 1462-1521
The Finding of Vulcan on Lemnos, c. 1495-1505
Oil and tempera on canvas
Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford

Vulcan (Greek Hephaestus) in Greek and Roman mythology was the god of fire, and the blacksmith who forged the weapons of many gods and heroes. He was the educator of the primitive man, and taught him the proper use of fire. He was the son of Jupiter and Juno. He was married to Venus who made a cuckold of him. He was crippled as a result of being thrown down to earth from Olympus by Jupiter in a fit of anger.

When Vulcan was thrown down from Olympus, he landed on the island of Lemnos in the Aegean where he was looked after by the inhabitants. He is shown being helped to his feet by one of a band of nymphs. More on this painting

Piero di Cosimo  (1462–1522)
Vulcan and Aeolus, circa 1490
 (or The Return of New Life to Lemnos)
Tempera and oil on canvas
155.5 × 166.5 cm (61.2 × 65.5 in)
National Gallery of Canada

Inspired by Classical authors, Piero imagined the dawn of civilization, when humanity lived in harmony with Nature. The horse has been tamed, metal-working invented, and men build a primitive house from rough tree trunks. It was painted at a time of fascination with the exotic: the figures’ partial nudity, and the giraffe and camel would have suggested other lands and cultures to Piero’s contemporaries. While the setting is fully conceived, the exact subject remains uncertain, but likely shows the story of Vulcan, the blacksmith god, who taught man craft. Frame: carved wood, painted and partly gilded. Italy, late 16th – early 17th century. More on this painting

For ancient Greeks, the island of Lemnos sacred to Hephaestus, god of metallurgy, who—as he tells himself in Iliad I.590ff—fell on Lemnos when Zeus hurled him headlong out of Olympus. There, he was cared for by the Sinties, according to Iliad, or by Thetis, and there with a Thracian nymph Cabiro (a daughter of Proteus) he fathered a tribe called the Kaberoi. Sacred initiatory rites dedicated to them were performed in the island. Its ancient capital was named Hephaistia in the god's honour. More on Lemnos

In the first phase of his career, Piero was influenced by the Netherlandish naturalism of Hugo van der Goes, whose Portinari Triptych (now at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence) helped to lead the whole of Florentine painting into new channels. From him Cosimo acquired the love of landscape and the intimate knowledge of the growth of flowers and of animal life. The manner of Hugo van der Goes is especially apparent in the Adoration of the Shepherds, at the Berlin Museum.

Piero di Cosimo, 1462-1521
Venus, Mars, and Cupid, c. 1505
Oil on panel
72 x 182 cms | 28 1/4 x 71 1/2 ins
Staatliche Museen, Berlin | Germany

Despite the different datings they have been given the two panels (Death of Procris (See below) , and Venus and Mars) may have formed part of a cycle illustrating themes from ancient mythology. The long shape of the panels suggest that they may have decorated a cassone chest.

Another aspect of Piero's artistic personality is his ability to infuse his subjects with wit and fantasy. The subject matter is sensual in nature, with Cupid nestling beside Venus' breast near a long-eared rabbit, a symbol of sexual excess. The black and white birds down below seem to symbolize the lovers, Venus and an exhausted Mars asleep on the ground.

This panel may have been painted as part of a suite of marital furniture, such as a bedstead, hope chest, or frieze. More on this painting

Piero di Cosimo, 1462-1521
The Death of Procris
Oil on panel
65 x 183 cms | 25 1/2 x 72 ins
National Gallery, London | United Kingdom

A nymph lies on a patch of grass in the foreground, blood streaming from wounds on her throat and hand. A satyr, half man and half goat, kneels next to her, mourning her death. A dog sits at her feet, balancing the stooping figure of the satyr and seemingly mourning as well. More dogs appear at the lakeside in the background.

It has been suggested that this painting depicts an episode from the Metamorphoses, an influential poem by the ancient Roman writer Ovid. If this is the case, then the beautiful nymph would be Procris, who was accidentally killed by her husband Cephalus. A fifteenth-century adaptation of the Metamorphoses added the satyr, which is not mentioned by Ovid.

The painting’s dimensions suggest that it was part of furniture or inserted into wooden panelling. Piero di Cosimo specialised in the production of such paintings, known as spalliere. More on this painting

Cephalus was married to Procris, a daughter of Erechtheus, an ancient founding-figure of Athens. One day the goddess of dawn, Eos, kidnapped Cephalus when he was hunting. The resistant Cephalus and Eos became lovers, and she bore him a son. However, Cephalus always pined for Procris, causing a disgruntled Eos to return him to her, making disparaging remarks about his wife's fidelity. 

Once reunited with Procris after an interval of eight years, Cephalus tested her by returning from the hunt in disguise, and managing to seduce her. In shame Procris fled to the forest, to hunt. In returning and reconciling, Procris brought two magical gifts, an inerrant javelin that never missed its mark, and a hunting hound, Laelaps that always caught its prey. The hound met its end chasing a fox (the Teumessian vixen) which could not be caught; both fox and the hound were turned into stone. But the javelin continued to be used by Cephalus, who was an avid hunter.
Procris then conceived doubts about her husband, who left his bride at the bridal chamber and climbed to a mountaintop and sang a hymn invoking Nephele, "cloud". Procris became convinced that he was serenading a lover. She climbed to where he was to spy on him. Cephalus, hearing a stirring in the brush and thinking the noise came from an animal, threw the never-erring javelin in the direction of the sound – and Procris was impaled. As she lay dying in his arms, she told him "On our wedding vows, please never marry Eos". Cephalus was distraught at the death of his beloved Procris, and went into exile. More on Cephalus and Procris

Piero di Cosimo, 1462-1521
Perseus Frees Andromeda, c. 1513
Tempera grassa on wood
70 x 120 cm
Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence

In the centre of the composition, Perseus is dealing with the sea monster that is about to attack Andromeda, daughter of the King of Ethiopia, offered as a sacrifice to placate the monster's ire. The monster had been unleashed by Poseidon, angry with the boastful Cassiopeia, Andromeda's mother. Perseus is shown twice more in the painting, when he sees the dragon and the young sacrificial victim, while flying through the skies on his winged sandals, when he celebrates the liberation of Andromeda, who will become his bride. In the composition, the jubilation of Andromeda's father and the laughing crowds, shown on the right, contrasts with the desperation of the family at the destiny of the young princess in the scene on thee left.

The subject of the painting, derived from the Ovid's Metamorphoses illustrates the story of a famous couple from Greek mythology and seems right for the destination of the panel, painted as part of the furnishings for a nuptial room, most likely that of Filippo Strozzi the younger and Clarice de' Medici in Palazzo Strozzi in Florence, on which cabinet maker Baccio d'Agnolo was working in 1510-1511. The artist, Piero di Cosimo, an eccentric, imaginative Florentine painter, working above all to make the narration clean and the improbably musical instruments or eastern costumes of the subjects credible, rather than evoking the drama of the story, also diluted by the reassuring view of the sea in which the enormous monster is swimming, almost bathing in a pond. More on this painting

He journeyed to Rome in 1482 with his master, Rosselli. He proved himself a true child of the Renaissance by depicting subjects of Classical mythology in such pictures as Venus, Mars, and Cupid, The Death of Procris (See above), the Perseus and Andromeda series (See above), at the Uffizi, and many others. Inspired to the Vitruvius' account of the evolution of man, Piero's mythical compositions show the bizarre presence of hybrid forms of men and animals, or the man learning to use fire and tools. The multitudes of nudes in these works shows the influence of Luca Signorelli on Piero's art.

Piero di Cosimo
The Visitation with Saint Nicholas and Saint Anthony Abbot, c. 1489/1490
Oil on panel
184.2 x 188.6 cm (72 1/2 x 74 1/4 in.)
The National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC

The central scene of the eccentric Florentine artist Piero di Cosimo's Visitation depicts the meeting of the Virgin Mary and the elderly Saint Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist. Saint Nicholas on the left, identified by his attribute of three gold balls alluding to his charity towards the daughters of an impoverished nobleman, and Saint Anthony Abbot on the right, identified by his cane, bell and ever-present pig, sit in the foreground as studious witnesses to the event. Additional scenes relating to the birth of Christ are depicted in the background: the Annunciation painted on a distant church wall, the Nativity and Adoration of the Shepherds on the left, and the Massacre of the Innocents in the middle ground. More on this painting

Piero di Cosimo
The Nativity with the Infant Saint John, c. 1495/1505
Oil on canvas
(diameter): 145.7 cm (57 3/8 in.)
The National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC

In this Nativity, among the largest of Piero’s roundels, was likely intended for devotional use in a private palace or in the more public setting of a local confraternity or guildhall. Mary kneels in adoration of the infant Christ, who rests on a blue mantle, his head supported by a pillow of wheat that evokes the Eucharist. Also present to venerate the incarnate Jesus are an angel and the young John the Baptist, who clutches a reed cross and regards the Christ child with touching solemnity.

Piero’s narrative vision encompasses details sublime and mundane, from the symbolic rose and bud, rocks, and dove beside Christ to the half-ruined stable in the background with its niche of kitchen utensils. Jesus’s father, Joseph, descends the building’s wooden stairs in the cautious manner of an aged man. He is attended by angels bearing flowering branches to celebrate the Child’s birth. In the distance at left, the three Magi traverse a serene landscape whose rolling contours perfectly complement the tondo’s shape. More on this painting

Piero di Cosimo (Italian, Florence 1462–1522 Florence)
The Young Saint John the Baptist, ca. 1480–82
Tempera and oil on wood
11 1/2 x 9 1/4 in. (29.2 x 23.5 cm)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Saint John the Baptist is one of the patron saints of Florence, where representations of him as a youth enjoyed a special popularity in the fifteenth century. In its format and profile depiction of the saint, this picture resembles contemporary marble reliefs, but the soft modeling reflects Piero's awareness of Netherlandish painting. More on this painting

John the Baptist (sometimes called John in the Wilderness; also referred to as the Angel of the Desert) was the subject of at least eight paintings by the Italian Baroque artist Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571–1610).
 
The story of John the Baptist is told in the Gospels. John was the cousin of Jesus, and his calling was to prepare the way for the coming of the Messiah. He lived in the wilderness of Judea between Jerusalem and the Dead Sea, "his raiment of camel's hair, and a leather girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey." He baptised Jesus in the Jordan.

According to the Bible, King Herod's daughter Salome requested Saint John the Baptist's beheading. She was prompted by her mother, Herodias, who sought revenge, because the prophet had condemned her incestuous marriage to Herod. More John the Baptist

Piero di Cosimo, 1462-1521
Madonna and Child Enthroned with Sts. Peter, John the Baptist, Dominic, and Nicholas of Bari
Tempera and oil on panel
69 3/4 in. x 47 in. x 5 in. (177.2 x 119.4 x 12.7 cm)
Saint Louis Art Museum

In a lifelike rendering, this large panel portrays a sacra conversazione (holy conversation) where saints surround the Madonna and Child in a unified pictorial space. Piero di Cosimo’s approach is far removed from the compartmentalized divisions in Lorenzo di Nicolo’s altarpiece elsewhere in this gallery. Here, Saint Peter presents the kneeling Saint Dominic (left) while Saint John the Baptist announces Christ’s ministry, and Saint Nicholas kneels in devotion (right). The three smaller panels, called a predella, depict scenes from the lives of Saints Dominic, John, and Nicholas. The Pugliese coat of arms adorns the frame, identifying the Florentine family who commissioned the work for its private chapel. More on this painting

Piero di Cosimo, 1462-1521
St Mary Magdalene, c. 1490-95
Tempera on panel
72 x 53 cm
Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica, Rome

St Mary Magdalene is identified by her profile and the halo, her long hair and jar of ointment. The jar alludes to the visit of the Magdalene and the pious women to the sepulcher on Easter morning. Having reached the place where the body of Jesus would be embalmed with perfumed oils, they found the sepulcher empty and were the first to bear witness to the Resurrection. The long hair with which the Magdalene is generally depicted actually derives from an erroneous interpretation of the Gospel, arising from a confusion between the Magdalene with the nameless prostitute who, repenting of her sins, shed tears on Jesus's feet and dried them with her own hair.

Piero di Cosimo's painting, however, includes details that go beyond the traditional depiction of the saint, drawing on the artist's own time: the style of her dress, the open book and the lady's pose, like the architecture framing her, draw directly on the portraiture of the 1400s. In fact, it cannot be excluded that the painting may actually have been commissioned by or for a lady named Maddalena, who wished to be portrayed as the saint whose name she bore.

The painting is notable for its extremely refined execution, particularly striking in the pictorial surface and definition of the details. In these ways, Piero di Cosimo reveals his profound understanding and appreciation of the formal values of Flemish painting. More on this painting

During his lifetime, Piero acquired a reputation for eccentricity—a reputation enhanced and exaggerated by later commentators. Reportedly, he was frightened of thunderstorms, and so pyrophobic that he rarely cooked his food; he lived on a diet of hard-boiled eggs, which he prepared 50 at a time while boiling glue for his artworks. He also resisted any cleaning of his studio, or trimming of the fruit trees of his orchard; he lived, wrote Vasari, "more like a beast than a man".

If, as Vasari asserts, he spent the last years of his life in gloomy retirement, the change was probably due to preacher Girolamo Savonarola, under whose influence he turned his attention once more to religious art. The death of his master Roselli may also have affected Piero's morose elder years. The Immaculate Conception with Saints, at the Uffizi, and the Holy Family, at Dresden, illustrate the religious fervour to which he was stimulated by Savonarola.

Piero di Cosimo (Italian, Florence 1462–1522 Florence)
A Hunting Scene, ca. 1494–1500
Tempera and oil transferred to Masonite
27 3/4 x 66 3/4 in. (70.5 x 169.5 cm)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art

This picture and its companion (also in The Met's collection) (See below) reimagine the early history of humankind and are among the most singular works of the Renaissance. Their inspiration was the fifth book of De Rerum Natura by the Epicurean poet and philosopher Lucretius (ca. 99–55 B.C.). A manuscript of Lucretius’s work was discovered in 1417 and published in Florence in 1471–73. Lucretius believed that the workings of the world can be accounted for by natural rather than divine causes, and he put forward a vision of the history of primitive humanity and the advent of civilization that was much discussed in Renaissance Florence—and beyond. More on this painting

Piero di Cosimo (Italian, Florence 1462–1522 Florence)
The Return from the Hunt, ca. 1494–1500
Tempera and oil on wood
27 3/4 x 66 1/2 in. (70.5 x 168.9 cm)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art

This picture and its companion (also in The Met's collection) 
(See above) reimagine the early history of humankind and are among the most singular works of the Renaissance. Their inspiration was the fifth book of De Rerum Natura by the Epicurean poet and philosopher Lucretius (ca. 99–55 B.C.). A manuscript of Lucretius’s work was discovered in 1417 and published in Florence in 1471–73. Lucretius believed that the workings of the world can be accounted for by natural rather than divine causes, and he put forward a vision of the history of primitive humanity and the advent of civilization that was much discussed in Renaissance Florence—and beyond. More on this painting

With the exception of the landscape background in Rosselli's fresco of the Sermon on the Mount, in the Sistine Chapel, there is no record of any fresco work from his brush. On the other hand, Piero enjoyed a great reputation as a portrait painter: the most famous of his work is in fact the portrait of a Florentine noblewoman, Simonetta Vespucci 
(See above), mistress of Giuliano de' Medici. According to Vasari, Piero excelled in designing pageants and triumphal processions for the pleasure-loving youths of Florence, and gives a vivid description of one such procession at the end of the carnival of 1507, which illustrated the triumph of death. Piero di Cosimo exercised considerable influence upon his fellow pupils Albertinelli and Bartolomeo della Porta, and was the master of Andrea del Sarto.

Piero di Cosimo (Italian, 1462–1522)
The Discovery of Honey by Bacchus, c. about 1499
Oil on panel
79.2 x 128.4 cm (31 3/16 x 50 9/16 in.)
Worcester Art Museum

In this allegorical setting the mythological figures of Bacchus and Ariadne, in the right foreground, are accompanied by satyrs and maenads who make noise to attract a swarm of bees to settle in a hollow tree. The result is the discovery of honey, considered a step forward in the history of civilization which is symbolized in the background by the juxtaposition of an idyllic view of a town (on the left) and a wild and forbidding landscape (on the right). More on this painting

Piero di Cosimo
The Misfortunes of Silenus, c. 1500
Oil on panel
80.1 x 129.3 cm (31 9/16 x 50 7/8 in.)
Fogg Art Museum at Harvard University

This panel, along with a companion showing the Discovery of Honey, was probably commissioned as a nuptial gift to adorn the bedchamber in the Florentine palace of Giovanni Vespucci and his bride; both panels are described by the artist and biographer Giorgio Vasari in his Life of Piero di Cosimo. Wasps (vespe in Italian) adorned the family’s coats of arms, and the scenes were certainly chosen as humorous but cautionary tales for the newlyweds. The story is based on passages from Ovid’s Fasti, where Silenus, looking for honey, climbs on the back of his donkey to reach into the hollow of a tree. Inside, he discovers a wasp’s nest, setting off a series of misfortunes: the branch on which he was leaning breaks, and he falls from his donkey, is kicked by an ass, and is stung by the wasps he disturbed. At the left of this panel, Bacchus and Ariadne watch as Silenus’s stings are treated with mud. 

The paintings in the Worcester and Harvard Art Museums shared a common provenance until the “Discovery of Honey” (See above) was sold in 1937 to the Worcester Art Museum and the “Misfortunes of Silenus” was sold in 1940 to the Fogg Art Museum. The Fogg Art Museum purchased the painting directly from Mrs. Douglas. More on this painting

Vasari gave Piero's date of death as 1521, and this date is still repeated by many sources, including the Encyclopædia Britannica. However, contemporary documents reveal that he died of plague on 12 April 1522. He is featured in George Eliot's novel Romola. More on Piero di Cosimo




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Saturday, January 1, 2022

12 Works, January 1st. is Charles Édouard Armand-Dumaresq's day, his art, illustrated with footnotes #258

Charles Édouard Armand-Dumaresq  (1826–1895)
General Faidherbe in combat at Biefviller-lès-Bapaume, January 3, 1871, c. 1883
Oil on canvas
Town Hall, Bapaume , Pas-de-Calais, France

After the defeat of Napoleon III and his French Imperial Army by the Prussian Army in the summer of 1870, colonial officers such as Faidherbe were recalled to France and promoted to higher ranks to command new units and replace generals killed or captured in the war. Faidherbe was promoted to divisional general in November 1870, and in December appointed as commander-in-chief of the Army of the North by the Government of National Defence.

Faidherbe quickly proved himself to be the most able of the generals fighting Prussian forces in the French provinces, and won several small victories against the Prussian First Army. Despite his military skills, Faidherbe was never able to form an army strong enough to seriously worry the Prussians, as his army, composed of raw recruits, suffered immense supply difficulties and low morale in the freezing winter of 1870–1871. The Army of the North performed remarkably well by striking isolated enemy forces and then retreating behind the belt of fortresses around Pas-de-Calais. Ultimately, however, Faidherbe was ordered by Minister of War Leon Gambetta to attack the Prussians – Faidherbe rushed into an open battle at St Quentin and his army was destroyed. More on General Faidherbe

Charles Édouard Armand-Dumaresq (1 January 1826, in Paris – 6 March 1895, in Paris) was a French painter and illustrator who specialized in military subjects.

Edouard Armand-Dumaresq
Dinner Scene
Oil on board
8 x 12 in
Private collection

Edouard Armand-Dumaresq
Your Brother is Sleeping
Oil on canvas
35" x 29 ¾"
Private collection

Edouard Armand-Dumaresq (français, 1826 - 1895)
Scène pastorale
Oil on Canvas
220 x 189 cm. (86.6 x 74.4 in.)
Private collection

His father, Gabriel Armand, was also a painter. He began his art studies with Thomas Couture and was originally a watercolorist as well as a painter. He concentrated on religious themes before becoming interested in military art. In 1858, he was legally authorized to add his mother's maiden name to his, becoming Armand-Dumaresq.

Armand Dumaresq
NAPOLEON'S SLEEP
Oil on canvas
H. 27.5 cm, W. 35.5 cm
Private collection

Renowned for sleeping only a few hours a day, the Emperor is represented here at a rare moment in his hectic military life, far from the tumult of wars and battles. In country clothes, Napoleon is dozing on a chair, his feet resting on a stool near a large smoking fireplace. This intimate scene gives a surprising vision of the illustrious man, probably after a battle, far from the splendor and luxury of the imperial palaces. More on this painting

Attributed to Edouard Armand-Dumaresq Paris, 1826 - 1895
Zouave, a gun in his hand
Oil on canvas
h: 33 w: 26.50 cm
Private collection

The Zouaves were a class of light infantry regiments of the French Army serving between 1830 and 1962 and linked to French North Africa, as well as some units of other countries modelled upon them. The zouaves, along with the indigenous Tirailleurs Algeriens, were among the most decorated units of the French Army. More on the Zouaves 

The artist accompanied the French troops to Algeria and designed French uniforms for the archives of the Ministry of War. 

Armand Dumaresq
Cambronne à Waterloo, c. 1867
Oil on canvas
2.50m x 1.50m
I have no further description, at this time

Pierre Cambronne was a French general of Napoleon Bonaparte who commanded the Imperial Guard during the Battle of Waterloo. "The guard dies and does not surrender," he is said to have replied when urged by the British to surrender.

After the war, Pierre Cambronne had to answer to a French court because of the surrender in Waterloo. His clever lawyer Pierre-Antoine Berryer avoided a lengthy prison sentence. Cambronne was released in April 1816 and married Mary Osburn, the Scottish nurse who had cared for him after the Battle of Waterloo. Louis XVIII appointed him commander in Lille. He retired in 1823. Pierre Cambronne died in Nantes in 1842. More on this painting

He was a member of the jury at the painting exhibition of the Exposition Universelle (1867). Shortly after, he exhibited his monumental tableau Cambronne at Waterloo, for which Napoléon III awarded him the Cross of the Legion of Honor. Later, the painting was purchased by Isma'il Pasha, the Khedive of Egypt.

Edouard Armand-Dumaresq (French, 1826--1895)
Skirmish at Bender, c. 1877
painting on canvas
172 x 231 cm. (67.7 x 90.9 in.)
Private collection

After the Swedish defeat at the Battle of Poltava on 27 June 1709 and the surrender of most of the Swedish army at Perevolochna three days later, Charles XII of Sweden fled together with a few hundred Swedish soldiers and a large number of Cossacks to the Ottoman Empire, where they spent a total of five years.

On 1 February, the Ottoman force attacked the camp. Together with some 40 soldiers, Charles XII stood against many hundreds of Turks. During parts of the fighting, Charles was also actively sniping with a carbine against the assaulting enemy from a window in his sleeping quarters, positioned in the building where the Swedes had taken up their defense. The fighting lasted for over seven hours and the Ottomans eventually used both artillery and fire arrows. The fire arrows set the building's roof on fire and forced the defenders to abandon it, the fighting then came to an abrupt end when the king tripped on his own spurs while exiting the burning house. He was assaulted by scores of Ottoman soldiers who managed to capture him and the remaining fighters. More on the Skirmish at Bender

Edouard Armand-Dumaresq
French soldiers on the battlefield, c. 1860
Oil on panel
24 x 32.5 cm
Private collection

In 1870, the Ministry of National Education dispatched him on a mission to the United States to study various methods of teaching drawing for industrial applications. He had recently completed a similar study in the Netherlands. During his investigations, he interacted with the art community in the eastern part of the country, as well as making contacts at West Point and the United States Naval Academy. He concluded that the superiority of French methods was recognized there; citing the employment of several French citizens in the engraving and printing department of the United States Treasury. He painted and sketched very little during his trip, but created numerous American-themed works upon his return.

Edouard Armand-Dumaresq (French, 1826–1895)
The execution of Mariéchal Ney
Oil on canvas
76.2 x 127 cm. (30 x 50 in.)
Private collection

Michel Ney, 1st Duke of Elchingen, 1st Prince of the Moskva (10 January 1769 – 7 December 1815), popularly known as Marshal Ney, was a French military commander and Marshal of the Empire who fought in the French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars. He was one of the original 18 Marshals of the Empire created by Napoleon I. Napoleon characterized him as le Brave des Braves (the Bravest of the Brave), a real paladin in the field, a braggart without judgment and decision in the workroom and after all is said, a Don Quixote.

When Napoleon was defeated, dethroned, and exiled for the second time in the summer of 1815, Ney was arrested on 3 August 1815. Ney was condemned, and on 7 December 1815 he was executed by firing squad in Paris near the Luxembourg Gardens. He refused to wear a blindfold and was allowed the right to give the order to fire, reportedly saying:

"Soldiers, when I give the command to fire, fire straight at my heart. Wait for the order. It will be my last to you. I protest against my condemnation. I have fought a hundred battles for France, and not one against her ... Soldiers, fire!" More on Mariéchal Ney

Towards the end of his career, he worked with the Belgian painter, Louis Van Engelen (1856-1940), to create a panorama of the Battle of Bapaume from the Franco-Prussian War; now preserved in the Town hall of Bapaume.

Charles Édouard Armand-Dumaresq (1826-1895)
The Signing of the First Geneva Convention
Oil on canvas

Participating countries Grand Duchy of Baden (now Germany) -Kingdom of Belgium -Kingdom of Denmark -French Empire -Grand Duchy of Hesse (now Germany) -Kingdom of Italy -Kingdom of the Netherlands -Kingdom of Portugal -Kingdom of Prussia (now Germany) -Kingdom of Spain -Swiss Confederation -Kingdom of Württemberg (now Germany)

The First Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded in Armies in the Field, held on 22 August 1864, is the first of four treaties of the Geneva Conventions. It defines "the basis on which rest the rules of international law for the protection of the victims of armed conflicts." After the first treaty was adopted in 1864, it was significantly revised and replaced in 1906, 1929, and finally 1949. It is inextricably linked to the International Committee of the Red Cross, which is both the instigator for the inception and enforcer of the articles in these conventions. More on the Signing of the First Geneva Convention

Charles Édouard Armand-Dumaresq (1826-1895)
Signing of Declaration of Independence, circa 1873
Oil on canvas
Height: 74.9 cm (29.4 in); Width: 120.6 cm (47.4 in)
White House Cabinet Room

This painting of the signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776 is by artist Charles-Edouard Armand-Dumaresq. Also in the White House Collection is a sketch that may be a draft by the artist for this work. The painting depicts the delegates actively debating and voting on the Declaration. Armand-Dumaresq was a French painter who visited the United States in the 1870s. More on this painting

His works may be seen at the Château de Versailles, the print collection of the Bibliothèque nationale de France and in the "Musée national de la coopération franco-américaine" at the Château de Blérancourt. One of his works, The Signing of the Declaration of Independence, is on display in the Cabinet Room at the White House. It was donated by Sam Salz during the Kennedy Administration. A copy is kept at the Clinton Presidential Center. Charles Édouard Armand-Dumaresq




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Friday, December 31, 2021

19 Works, December 30th. is Osman Hamdi Bey's day, his art, illustrated with footnotes #257

Osman Hamdi Bey
At the Mosque Door (Cami Kapısında), c. 1891
Oil on canvas
82 x 43 inches (208.5 x 109 cm)
Private collection

A total of 17 figures, 16 people and a dog, are skillfully depicted in front of the Yeşil Mosque in Bursa. The painting, which reveals the fine workmanship of the Ottoman architecture and the detail in the decorations, is a document about the Ottoman daily life. It is stated in the painting that Osman Hamdi Bey drew a ladder to add movement to the painting, although there is no ladder in front of the Bursa Green Mosque. More on this painting

Osman Hamdi Bey (30 December 1842, in Istanbul – 24 February 1910) was an Ottoman administrator, intellectual, art expert and also a prominent and pioneering painter. He was also an accomplished archaeologist, and is regarded as the pioneer of the museum curator's profession in Turkey. He was the founder of Istanbul Archaeology Museums and of the Istanbul Academy of Fine Arts. He was also the first mayor of Kadıköy.

Osman Hamdi
In the Harem, c. 1880
Oil on canvas
56 x 116 cm
Erol Kerim Aksoy collection

Osman Hamdi Bey
Two Musician Girls, c. 1880
Oil on canvas
58 x 39 cm
Pera Müzesi, Istanbul, Turkey

Two Musician Girls illustrates young women playing the tambourine and a tambur (lute), traditional Ottoman instruments. They are in a corner room of the Yeşil Camii, (Green Mosque or Mosque of Mehmed I) in Bursa. Osman repeated here the same Islamic identifiers: the rugs, the beautifully painted tiles, wooden workmanship, and the richly decorated interiors. What must be emphasized here is his approach to female identity. Unlike Jean-Léon Gérôme’s Pool in a Harem, Hamdi Bey never put emphasis on sexuality. 

Two Musician Girls (1880) is particularly interesting for showing its figures with two traditional Turkish musical instruments. The large stringed instrument is a tambur, a member of the lute family which was plucked, and the large tambourine is a daf. More on this painting

Osman Hamdy Bey
A Lady of Constantinople, c. 1881
Oil on canvas
120 x 60 cm, 47.24 x 23.62 in
Private collection

After the visit of Empress Eugénie to Constantinople in 1869, women's costume in that city changed dramatically. French fashion magazines were widely circulated – even within the harem - and dresses were ordered directly from Paris or commissioned from seamstresses in Pera, in emulation of the styles. As elements of European fashion were selectively adopted and combined with traditional Turkish dress, a hybrid style emerged – one that did not conform to the exotic imaginings of European artists and travellers. More on this painting


Osman Hamdy Bey
The Yellow Dress, c. 1881
Oil on canvas
61 by 40cm., 24 by 15 3/4 in
Private collection

The Yellow Dress is a case in point. While loosely conforming to the 'Orientalist' genre, it counters the expectations of the nineteenth-century western viewer. Women were often portrayed to promulgate Europeans' pre-conceived romantic notions of the East: as overtly kept women or as racy and sultry nudes in exotic-looking harems. By contrast, Hamdy Bey's paintings of women are delicately understated, and set in the modern world. Here, a virtuous young girl regards herself in a looking glass as she gets dressed to go out, her maid in attendance. Other than that she is of the privileged classes and well to do, her identity is unknown. She might even be one of the Sultan's favourites, but if so and if the elegant boudoir is part of the Sultan's palace, it is not obvious.

Hamdy Bey was more interested in capturing the fashions and mores of his day, which he did with painstaking detail and accuracy.  The interior in The Yellow Dress is not a romanticised figment of the imagination, but decorated in the French rococo style fashionable in Constantinople by the 1870s, complete with parquet flooring and the latest printed silk upholstery. The dress fashion, too, is revealing about changing tastes among Turkish women at the time. French fashions were beginning to replace traditional Ottoman costumes, although the translucent veil, or yashmak, was still worn in public. Here, the girl in the yellow dress is seen tying hers, her maid holding out in readiness the black kaftan worn over the dress. More on this painting

Osman Hamdi Bey (1842–1910)
Persian Carpet Dealer on the Street (1888)
Oil on canvas
60 x 122 cm
Alte Nationalgalerie, Berlin

The "Turkish street scene" shows the captivating ingredients of his art: In front of a niche of a well-known historical well building in Constantinople, around which such trade was carried out, two men offer a tourist couple with a daughter some carpets, while a third stands close behind the woman and she does this seems to advise. The delicate and finely painted picture reveals itself as a suggestive collage, which also served common ideas. While the dealers wear historicizing costumes, the potential buyer with his pith helmet and his unsuspecting gaze appears as a cliché of a traveler to the Orient. Osman Hamdy Bey used objects from his possession that can be found in many of his paintings to depict the antiques that are also on sale, including an imposing vase. More on this painting

Osman Hamdi
Mihrap/Genesis, c. 1901
Oil on canvas
I have no further description, at this time

This work was exhibited for the first time in the same year in Berlin, and later to be presented at the Royal Academy Exhibition in London in 1903.

The large painting depicts a young woman sitting on a “rahle” (a support for reading the Quran), with her back to the mihrap, the niche facing Mecca, the holy place of Islam. The young woman, who is pregnant, wears a yellow dress, whose cut is not medieval, but from the 19th century. Manuscripts and books appear at her feet, including Zend-i-Avesta, the holy book of the Zoroastrians, and a Quran. The artist’s signature appears on one of the books at the young woman’s feet. More on this painting

"For him, the young pregnant lady is a personification of a Turkey (and, by extension, of the Ottoman Empire) that turns its back on the past and looks to the future." Edhem Eldem

Osman Hamdi Bey
The miracle fountain, c. 1904
Oil on canvas
200 x 151 cm
Alte Nationalgalerie, Berlin

A bearded man with distinctive features, dressed in a silk robe, reads a handwriting. Standing on a carpet, he leans against a Koran case inlaid with mother-of-pearl in front of a fountain niche. Many facets of the complex figure of Osman Hamdy Bey seem to be reflected in the orientalizing genre image that combines objects from the Islamic art trade, classic Ottoman architecture and oriental-looking costume.

The golden jug refers to the 18th century and calligraphy refers to the founder of a Sufi order, while the Koran shrine comes from the collection of the Topkapı Palace. For the fountain niche from the 16th century, the template can be found in the oldest Ottoman building in Istanbul, in Çinili Köşk from 1472, which was part of the Imperial Museum of Antiquities. More on this painting

Osman Hamdi, orphaned at a very young age was adopted by Kaptan-ı Derya (Grand Admiral) Hüsrev Pasha and eventually rose to the ranks of the ruling class of the Ottoman Empire.

Osman Hamdi went to primary school in the popular Istanbul quarter of Beşiktaş; after which he studied Law, first in Istanbul (1856) and then in Paris (1860). However, he decided to pursue his interest in painting instead, left the Law program, and trained under French orientalist painters Jean-Léon Gérôme and Gustave Boulanger. 

OSMAN HAMDY BEY, Ottoman, 1842 - 1910
KORANIC INSTRUCTION/ Reading the Coran, c. 1890
Oil on canvas
80 by 60cm., 31½ by 23½in.
Private collection

The opulent tiled setting of the present work is a secluded corner of the Yesil Cami, or Green Mosque, in Bursa in western Anatolia. Framed by a Mamluk lantern and monumental candlestick, two men face one another, the seated man receiving Koranic instruction from the standing hoja or teacher.

The present work contains several subtle details that challenge the noble occupation of Koranic instruction. The preaching imam remarkably still wears his slippers despite the need to remain barefoot inside a mosque. His pupil, his slippers casually discarded in the niche beneath the alcove, appears on the verge of falling asleep. The painting is a manifestation of ideological and societal tension that not only offers European viewers an insight into Ottoman life but also promulgates a new and radical form of visual expression at home. More on this painting

Osman Hamdi Bey  (1842–1910)
Hodja Reading The Qoran, c. 1910
Oil on canvas
Height: 72.5 cm (28.5 in); Width: 53 cm (20.8 in)
Sakıp Sabancı Museum

Muslims believe that the Quran was verbally revealed by God to the prophet Muhammad through the angel Gabriel over a period of roughly 23 years. These revelations were transcribed by followers in the period following Mohammad's death, and each verse has a particular historical content that does not follow a linear or historical narrative. The Quran assumes that readers are already familiar with some of the major themes found in Biblical scriptures, and it offers commentary or interpretations of some of those events. More on the Quran

Osman Hamdy Bey
The Scholar, c. 1878
Oil on canvas
Private collection

The setting for the painting is a secluded corner of a madrasa or a mosque. The scholar lies reading a book on a carpeted ledge against a wall of turquoise hexagonal tiles. The niche in the wall is similar to those found in the seventeenth-century Twin Pavilions in the Topkapi palace, while the thirteenth-century Western Iranian candlestick on the left relates closely to an example now in the Victoria & Albert Museum. One of the books in the niche is inscribed Qamus ('Dictionary' in Arabic), possibly referring to al-Firuzabadi's al-Qamus al-Muhit – 'The Great Dictionary'. The carved Kufic inscription to the left of the niche is an invocation to God and reads bismillah wa ma tawfi illa b'illah (Koran, chapter XI (Hud), part of verse 88), but Hamdy Bey takes some playful artistic licence, audaciously adding his own name to the right of the niche. The closely cropped composition suggests that Hamdy Bey may have had recourse to photographs as he did for the later version, a practice favoured by the French academic painters, in particular Jean-Léon Gérôme whom Hamdy had met during his training in Paris. More on this painting

His stay in Paris was also marked by the first ever visit by an Ottoman sultan to Western Europe, when Sultan Abdülaziz was invited to the Exposition Universelle (1867) by Emperor Napoleon III. He also met many of the Young Ottomans in Paris, and even though he was exposed to their liberal ideas, he did not participate in their political activities.

Osman Hamdi Bey
Silah Taciri/ Arms Dealer, c. 1908
Oil on canvas
175 x 130 cm
Eczacıbaşı virtual museum

The Arms Dealer is a work that depicts himself (as two people) and his son together in clothes of an older era. Osman Hamdi painted himself sitting on a column capital. It is thought that with the column head on which it sits, it refers to the founding of the museum. The hand gesture is interpreted as giving advice to his son. More on the Arms Dealer

Once back in Turkey, he was sent to the Ottoman province of Baghdad as part of the administrative team of Midhat Pasha. In 1871, Osman Hamdi returned to Istanbul, as the vice-director of the Protocol Office of the Palace. During the 1870s, he worked on several assignments in the upper echelons of the Ottoman bureaucracy. He was appointed as the first mayor of Kadıköy in 1875, and stayed in that position for one year.

Below are two portraits by Osman Hamdi Bey of his second wife Marie, who later took the name Naile Hanım. The name of his first wife was also Marie, and both of them were French. From his first wife Marie, whom he met in Paris, he had two daughters named Fatma and Hayriye. From his second wife Marie (Naile Hanım), whom he met in Vienna, he had three daughters named Melek, Leyla and Nazlı, and one son named Edhem.

Osman Hamdi Bey
Portrait of woman (His wife Naile Hanim)
Oil on canvas
98 x 68 cm.
Sakıp Sabancı Museum

Osman Hamdi Bey (1842-1910)
Portrait of Naile Hanım
Oil on canvas
52 x 41 cm
Sakıp Sabancı Museum

This portrait significantly reflects a synthesis of Byzantine icons and Ottoman court portraiture.

An important step in his career was his assignment as the director of the Imperial Museum in 1881. He used his position as museum director to develop the museum and rewrite the antiquities laws and to create nationally sponsored archaeological expeditions. Osman Hamdi focused on building relationships with international institutions, notably the University of Pennsylvania, from which he received an honorary degree in 1894. In 1902, he painted the excavation of Nippur as a gift to the University of Pennsylvania Museum. In 1882, he instituted and became director of the Academy of Fine Arts. In 1884, he oversaw the promulgation of a Regulation prohibiting historical artifacts from being smuggled abroad.

Osman Hamdi Bey  (1842–1910)
Excavation of Nippur
Oil on canvas
Penn Museum

When Hilprecht’s book Explorations in Bible Lands appeared in 1903, he selected one of Haynes’s photos of the Nippur excavations as the frontispiece. Hilprecht immediately presented a copy of the book to Osman Hamdi Bey, who in turn employed the frontispiece image as the subject of this monumental painting, 

As an amusing gesture of friendship, Hamdi Bey inserted Hilprecht into the painting, depicting him examining the pottery in the middle distance.

The Excavations at Nippur of 1903. Originally intended for a projected Nippur Gallery at the Penn Museum. When the University balked at displaying the painting, Sallie Crozer Robinson Hilprecht purchased it as a gift for her husband. It finally came to the Penn Museum in 1948, as a bequest of Mrs. Hilprecht’s granddaughter, Elise Robinson Paumgarten. More on Excavation of Nippur

Osman Hamdi Bey
At the Mosque Door
Oil on canvas
Penn Museum

At the Mosque Door was in the Museum Archives since the department was set up in the late 1970s, known to some scholars but not the general public. It was purchased by the Museum in 1895 after being displayed in multiple exhibitions, as a way to incur favor with Hamdi Bey, and obtain a share of the finds from the Museum’s earliest excavations in ancient Nippur, located in present-day Iraq.

Several distinct figures appear in the painting’s foreground, but a closer look supports the consensus that many of these figures are in fact the artist himself! More on this painting

He conducted the first scientific based archaeological researches done by a Turkish team. To lodge these, he started building what is today the Istanbul Archaeology Museum in 1881. The museum officially opened in 1891 under his directorship.

Osman Hamdi Bey  (1842–1910)
Arzuhalci / Public Scribe, c. 1910
Height: 110 cm (43.3 in); Width: 77 cm (30.3 in)
Sakıp Sabancı Museum

Public Scribe may have been part of a campaign to improve education and literacy, particularly among women.

Throughout his professional career as museum and academy director, Osman Hamdi continued to paint in the style of his teachers, Gérôme and Boulanger. Yet, he frequently depicted himself and his family members in these paintings, complicating an assumption of a removed orientalist gaze in his work.

Osman Hamdi Bey  (1842–1910)
The Tortoise Trainer, c. early 20th Century
Oil on canvas
Height: 2,215 mm (87.20 in); Width: 1,200 mm (47.24 in)
Pera Museum, Istanbul

The painting depicts an elderly man in traditional Ottoman religious costume: a long red garment with embroidered hem, belted at the waist, and a Turkish turban. The figure may be a self-portrait of Hamdi himself. The anachronistic costume predates the introduction of the fez and the spread of Western style dress with the Tanzimat reforms in the mid-19th century. He holds a traditional ney flute and bears a nakkare drum on his back, with a drumstick handing to his front. The man's costume and instruments suggests he may be a Dervish.

The scene is set in a dilapidated upper room at the Green Mosque, Bursa, where the man is attempting to "train" the five tortoises at his feet, but they are ignoring him preferring instead to eat the green leaves on the floor. Above a pointed window is the inscription: "Şifa'al-kulûp lika'al Mahbub" ("The healing of the hearts is meeting with the beloved"). More on this painting

Osman Hamdi Bey
Girl Reciting Qur'an, c. 1880
Oil on canvas
Height: 41.1 cm (16.1 in); Width: 51 cm (20 in)
Malaysian Islamic Arts Museum

The Young Girl Reading the Qur'an, displays many of the qualities for which Osman Hamdi became best known. The impeccably rendered dress of the kneeling figure and the decorative background against which she is set, rich in colour and Islamic designs, are virtual signatures of the artist, as is the startling clarity of the picture's highly detailed style. The precision of its surface, however, masks significant ambiguities at its core: The book that the woman has chosen, the direction of her gaze, and even the parting of her lips and the buttons at her neck, all serve to undermine our first impressions of the scene. What begins as a pretty harem picture, in other words, becomes a complicated and multi-referential text which addresses a variety of topical issues within the landscapes of Orientalism, 19th century art history, and aspects of the artist's biography itself. Through its transposition of British, French, and Turkish models, and its manipulation of their themes, Young Woman Reading demonstrates the unique nature of Osman Hamdi's Orientalism, and his artful game. More on this painting

Hamdi's 1906 painting, The Tortoise Trainer (See above), has held the record until 2019 for the most valuable Turkish painting. The painting depicts Hamdi's likeness clad in antiquated clothing, training tortoises in a mosque. This choice of subject matter leads many to see this painting as a commentary on Turkey's conflicted national identity. His Girl Reciting Qur'an (1880) (See above) broke the record by realizing US$7.8 million at a Bonhams auction in September 2019. . More on Osman Hamdi Bey

17 Works, January 2nd. is Piero di Cosimo's day, his art, illustrated with footnotes #259

Cosimo Rosselli  (1439–1507)  Descent from Mount Sinai,  circa 1480 Fresco Height: 350 cm (11.4 ft) Width: 572 cm (18.7 ft) Sistine Chapel I...