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Showing posts from November, 2014

Stanhope Forbes, Irish Poet of the Brush

The Health of the Bride, 1889

Irish painter Stanhope Alexander Forbes was born in Dublin on November 18, 1857. He was a founding member of the Newlyn School, which was an art colony of British artists in southwestern England that became very popular in the 1880's. They painted primarily en plein air to capture the majestic light and interesting characters of this small, modest fishing community—a theme that would recur throughout Forbes' career. What distinguishes Forbes from the rest of his artist colleagues was his naturalism, and a strong sense of narrative reminiscent of Joaquín Sorolla in being able to understand people and body language with an innate sense of group composition.

I was fortunate enough to see The Health of the Bride above in Tate Britain in September and I was awed by its simple power and drama. Off to the right a sailor raises his glass to the bride and groom seated at the table while friends and family around the table are poised to sip from their glass…

Marià Fortuny, The Wandering Spanish Eye

Viejo desnudo al sol, 1863



Born on June 11, 1838 in Reus, Spain, Marià Fortuny (Mariano José María* Bernardo Fortuny y Marsal) was a Romantic Catalan Spanish painter. He was known for his loose, distinctive brushwork, strong colors and a rich breadth of subject matter such as Academic drawings, military, portraiture and Orientalism. At a time when many painters of his era were taking more lucrative portraiture commissions while balancing their own individual styles, Fortuny's Romantic independence gave him a fresh eye, no matter where he pointed his brush. And while France was in the beginnings of breaking from the Salon and rising toward Impressionism, Fortuny seems to have absorbed outside influences from Paris and Rome into his own uniquely Spanish style. Sadly, his characteristic genius—like some notably great artists before him—was cut short and Fortuny passed away at the very young age of 36. One can only wonder what direction he would have taken had he lived another twenty …