DEATH: 1966 SEVERINI
on 27 February 1622: Carel Fabritius, Dutch
painter who died on 12 October 1654.
Carel Fabritius was Rembrandt’s most outstanding pupil: he was a brilliant experimental artist whose exceptional reputation rests on a handful of surviving paintings. Carel was born to the family of a village schoolmaster and amateur artist, who himself gave his son the first lessons in drawing and painting. Between 1641 and 1643 Carel worked in Rembrandt’s workshop in Amsterdam. His earliest known painting The Raising of Lazarus reveals his careful study of his master’s The Night Watch. Approximately to this period belongs the proto-romantic Self-portrait.
In 1650, Fabritius moved to Delft, where he entered the Lucas Guild two years later. His short life ended tragically: he died in the explosion of a municipal powder store, which devastated almost a quarter of Delft, and with him perished the greater part of his work. Those that survived, about a dozen, however, show his original gift and early artistic independence. In particular, he opened up new ways of handling space and perspective. He also differed from Rembrandt in the treatment of light background. Fabricius did not specialize, as so many others did, in any field, but covered the wide range of portraiture, genre pictures and still life. During the few years he worked in Delft he had a great influence on the local school of painters, especially on de Hooch (1629 1684) and Vermeer. The latter was his pupil and continued to develop his particular conception of how light should be used.
Carel Fabritius was Rembrandt van Rijn’s most outstanding pupil: he was a brilliant experimental artist whose exceptional reputation rests on a handful of surviving paintings. Carel was born to the family of a village schoolmaster and amateur artist, who himself gave his son the first lessons in drawing and painting. Between 1641 and 1643 Carel worked in Rembrandt’s workshop in Amsterdam. His earliest known painting The Raising of Lazarus reveals his careful study of his master’s The Night Watch. Approximately to this period belongs the proto-romantic Self-portrait.
In 1650, Fabritius moved to Delft, where he entered the Lucas Guild two years later. His short life ended tragically: he died in the explosion of a municipal powder store, which devastated almost a quarter of Delft, and with him perished the greater part of his work. Those that survived, about a dozen, however, show his original gift and early artistic independence. In particular, he opened up new ways of handling space and perspective. He also differed from Rembrandt in the treatment of light background. Fabricius did not specialize, as so many others did, in any field, but covered the wide range of portraiture, genre pictures and still life. During the few years he worked in Delft he had a great influence on the local school of painters, especially on de Hooch and Vermeer. The latter was his pupil and continued to develop his particular conception of how light should be used.
Dutch Baroque painter of portraits, genre, and narrative subjects whose concern with light and space influenced the stylistic development of the mid-17th-century school of Delft.
He was Rembrandt's most gifted pupil and a painter of outstanding originality and distinction, but he died tragically young in the 12 October 1654 explosion of the Delft gunpowder magazine, leaving only a tiny body of work (much may have perished in the disaster). In his youth he worked as a carpenter (the name Fabritius was once thought to have derived from this profession, but it is now known that his father had used it) and he was probably in Rembrandt's studio in the early 1640s. He settled in Delft in about 1650.
Although only about a dozen paintings by him are known, they show great variety. His earliest surviving works (The Raising of Lazarus, National Museum, Warsaw, c.1645) are strongly influenced by Rembrandt, but he broke free from his master and developed a personal style marked by an exquisite feeling for cool color harmonies and (even though he often worked on a small scale) unerring handling of a loaded brush (The Goldfinch, Mauritshuis, The Hague, 1654 Beheading of John the Baptist, Self-Portrait #1, Self-Portrait #2, Self-Portrait #3, Delft).
(even though he often worked on a small scale) unerring handling of a loaded brush (The Goldfinch, Mauritshuis, The Hague, 1654). These qualities, together with an interest in perspective. occur in the work of Vermeer, the greatest of Delft painters, and Fabritius certainly influenced him, although it is not likely (as is sometimes maintained) that he was his master, this distinction perhaps belonging to Bramer.
It must have been Rembrandt's chiaroscuro, employed as a subtle method of defining form through the inflection of light which impressed Fabritius most deeply. But while most other pupils of Rembrandt slavishly applied chiaroscuro, making it pretty and charming like Dou, Fabritius went in another direction altogether. Rembrandt's chiaroscuro was basically tonal, using intensities of light on a scale varying from very dark to very bright. The paintings of Fabritius, of which The Goldfinch is a brilliant example, maintain an overall brightness, a golden glow; yet within the strong light, light is still more inflected - not by toning it down or intensifying it but by tingeing it with subtle hues of color It was this method that Vermeer learned from Fabritius. It has been suggested that this painting, rather than fitting in a cabinet or interior window, may have served as a house sign for a family in The Hague whose name, De Putter, is Dutch for goldfinch. If it were placed in a plastered wall, the effect would have been strikingly illusionistic.
These qualities, together with an interest in perspective, occur in the work of Vermeer, the greatest of Delft painters, and Fabritius certainly influenced him, although it is not likely (as is sometimes maintained) that he was his master, this distinction perhaps belonging to Bramer.
Carel's brother Barent Fabritius (1624-73) was also a painter, but of much lesser quality. He also may have studied with Rembrandt; he mainly painted portraits and religious works.
Abraham de Potter (1640) The Beheading of John the Baptist (1640)
Self~Portrait The Goldfinch (1634) Self-Portrait (1645) View of Delft with a Musical Instrument Seller's Stall (1652) The Watchman (1654) Abraham de Potter (1640) The Beheading of John the Baptist (1640)
Self-Portrait (1654, 70x61cm) _ This resolute likeness most probably represents Carel Fabritius only months before he was fatally wounded in his studio in Delft by the explosion of a gunpowder magazine on 12 October 1654. (The aftermath of the disaster is recorded in a painting by Egbert van der Poel also in the National Gallery.) The son of a schoolmaster and Sunday painter who may have taught him the rudiments of the art, Fabritius studied with Rembrandt between around 1641 and 1643. Only eight certainly authentic works by him survive. The National Gallery is fortunate in owning two: this portrait, and a curious small View of Delft which may have formed part of a perspective box or peepshow. Fabritius is also recorded as having made illusionistic perspective wallpaintings, but none is known.
Fabritius proved to be Rembrandt's most gifted and original pupil. At the time of his death at 32 he had already evolved a style and technique at variance with his teacher's. While Rembrandt normally - although not invariably - set his sitters in light against a dark background, Fabritius's silhouette looms starkly against a cloudy sky impastoed white highlights on the metal thrusting the cuirass forward in space. His preparation of the canvas was also quite different. Rembrandt preferred a double ground, a cool grey superimposed over orange-red; analysis has shown that the single ground of this picture is a light cream colour.
Rembrandt had painted himself wearing a military breastplate or gorget - a collarlike piece of armor - in the late 1620s and 1630s, and this became a popular type of self portrait among his pupils. Its significance has been much debated, some scholars arguing that it suggests Dutch patriotism, a readiness to champion the homeland's hard-won independence, others denying that any such topical meaning could have been intended. Military armour, like pastoral costume, Italian Renaissance or Burgundian dress, was thought to be less susceptible to the vagaries of fashion than civilian outdoor wear, and thus more 'timeless'. Fabritius's fur cap also seems anachronistic, its shape closer to the outline of sixteenth-century headgear than to contemporary hats. But perhaps Rembrandt's invention of a timeless or heroic type of portrait had a more personal significance for Fabritius.
His surname, sometimes used by his father and adopted by the artist by 1641, is derived from the Latin word faber, meaning manual workman, and was applied to smiths, building workers and carpenters. Fabritius worked as a carpenter before entering Rembrandt's studio, and a probable self portrait of about 1648-9 showing him in coarse working dress (now in Rotterdam) has been interpreted as alluding both to his former occupation and to his name. 'Fabritius' has, however, another, altogether grander significance. C(aius) Fabritius or Fabricius was a soldier and consul of the Roman republic, celebrated for frugality, courage and integrity. His story was familiar from Plutarch's account, and a fellow student in Rembrandt's studio was later to paint an episode from his life in Amsterdam Town Hall. The last records of C(arel) Fabritius in Delft speak of mounting debts but growing professional recognition. If the Rotterdam picture depicts Fabritius/faber the craftsman-painter, might not the National Gallery portrait recall the man of whom Virgil wrote 'Fabricius, poor, yet a prince'?
Self-Portrait (1645, 65x49cm) _ Carel Fabritius was Rembrandt's most outstanding pupil: he was a brilliant and experimental artist whose prodigious reputation rests on a handful of surviving paintings. Born in the village of Midden-Beemster and trained by his father, an amateur artist, Fabritius was in Rembrandt's Amsterdam studio in the years around 1640. His earliest known painting, The Raising of Lazarus reveals Fabritius's careful study of his master's The Night Watch, completed in 1642. This proto-romantic self-portrait, in which the artist shows himself with long, tousled hair, opennecked shirt and working smock against a background of crumbling plasterwork, probably dates from shortly after The Raising of Lazarus. There was perhaps a sense in which the choice of this dress had a special significance for Fabritius. The Latin word faber, from which Carel's father had taken the cognomen Fabritius, means workman, and the painter's pose and dress in this portrait may have been intended as an allusion to his name. Compositionally, the most striking feature is the daring placing of the head so far down on the panel, giving a greater than usual emphasis to the part of the picture that is occupied by the peeling plaster wall, and allowing Fabritius to explore effects of texture and shadow. It is a measure of Carel's extraordinary imaginative gifts that he could dispense in this way with the conventional centrality of the sitter's head in a bust portrait. Fabritius was to move to Delft in 1650 but died four years later in the explosion of the municipal powder magazine in the town, a premature end to a remarkable career.
another Self-Portrait (62x51cm)
View of the City of Delft (1652, 15x32cm) _ The View of the City of Delft with the Stall of a Dealer in Musical Instruments suggests that Fabritius, like other contemporary Dutch painters, made use of a camera obscura.
| ^ Died
on 27 February 1966: Gino Severini, Italian
painter, born on 07 April 1883.
Gino Severini, pintor italiano.
Nel 1899, a Roma, conosce Boccioni e Balla che lo introduce alla tecnica divisionista. Stabilitosi nel 1906 a Parigi (dove trascorre la maggior parte della sua vita), Severini entra in contatto con i circoli dell’avanguardia artistica e letteraria legandosi, in particolare, a Picasso, Modigliani, Jacob e Fort. Orientatosi inizialmente allo studio di Seurat in paesaggi e vedute di Parigi di grande sensibilita' cromatica, si volge poi, sollecitato dalle istanze futuriste, verso soluzioni formali che tendono a rendere il senso del movimento cosmico (Danza del Pan Pan al Monico, 1911; dispersa durante la prima guerra mondiale, l’opera viene ridipinta da Severini nel 1960 in base a documenti fotografici.). Tra i firmatari del primo Manifesto della pittura futurista (1910), Severini svolge un importante ruolo di collegamento tra l’ambiente parigino e il gruppo futurista (nel 1912 collabora con Fènèon all’allestimento della mostra Les peintres futuristes italiens). Dopo un soggiorno in Italia (1913-1914), tornato a Parigi, Severini porta avanti, accanto a dipinti che interpretano in modo cubo-futurista la guerra (Cannone in azione, 1915), una serie di opere ispirate all’orfismo (Mare = Ballerina, 1914) e al cubismo sintetico (Zingaro che suona la fisarmonica, 1919).
Gino Severini nasce a Cortona, presso Arezzo. Nel 1899 si trasferisce con la madre a Roma, dove inizia a lavorare come contabile. Nell’ambiente culturale della capitale conosce Boccioni e Balla; quest’ultimo in particolare lo avvicina al divisionismo. Nel 1903 Severini esordisce all’esposizione annuale degli Amatori e cultori con Dintorni di Roma. Nel 1906 parte per Parigi, dove conosce Amedeo Modigliani e Max Jacob (12 Jul 1876 05 Mar 1944 Max Jacob di Modigliani) che lo introducono nell’ambiente artistico della città. Ritorna per un breve periodo in Italia nel 1907, durante il quale esegue i ritratti del padre e della madre. Rientrato definitivamente a Parigi, espone all’Exposition des artistes indépendants e al Salon d’Automne (1908). Nel 1910 Boccioni lo invita ad aderire al primo Manifesto della pittura futurista. Con lo stesso Boccioni, con Carrà e Russolo, due anni più tardi partecipa alla mostra Les peintres futuristes presso la galleria Bernheim-Jeune. A Londra, presso la Marlborough Gallery, è allestita la sua prima mostra personale, che successivamente viene presentata alla galleria Der Sturm di Berlino (entrambe nel 1913). Nell’inverno del 1916, Severini conosce il mercante d’arte Léonce Rosenberg, che per una ventina d’anni sarà suo sostenitore e amico.
Dopo la prima guerra mondiale, l’artista riprende a lavorare e a esporre: è del maggio 1919 una grande mostra presso Rosenberg. In questi anni avviene anche una ripresa del rapporto con l’Italia: per Valori plastici prepara un rapporto sulla situazione dell’arte e della poesia a Parigi; per la rivista post-futurista Noi scrive un saggio teorico-pratico sulla pittura. Nel 1921 Rosenberg gli propone di affrescare una sala per i Sitwell, in un loro castello presso Firenze: è l’occasione per il sospirato ritorno in Italia, e per il soggetto l’artista sceglie figure della Commedia dell’arte e grandi nature morte.
Tornato a Parigi, nel 1923 matura la conversione al cattolicesimo, rispecchiata anche in numerosi suoi lavori di questo periodo, per esempio nella decorazione della nuova chiesa di Semsales nel cantone di Friburgo, a cui segue quella della chiesa di La Roche, sempre in Svizzera. Fra la fine degli anni Venti e i primi anni Trenta l’attività artistica di Severini è molto intensa e ottiene anche importanti riconoscimenti: nel 1935 riceve il primo premio alla Quadriennale di Roma, nel 1936 gli vengono commissionati i mosaici per il Palazzo di giustizia di Milano e per il Palazzo delle poste di Alessandria, portati a termine nel 1938. In questi anni esegue anche scene e costumi per alcuni spettacoli teatrali: Amfiparnaso di Vecchi, La strega di Grazzini, Aridosia di Lorenzino de’Medici (tutti lavori allestiti nel 1938), Pulcinella di Stravinski e Arlecchino di Busoni (1940).
Al termine della guerra il vescovo di Cortona lo incarica di eseguire una Via Crucis a mosaico, portata a termine nel 1946; quindi ritorna in Francia. Nel 1959 rientra per un breve periodo a Roma per eseguire la ricostruzione de La danza del pan pan al Monico, distrutta dai nazisti. Verso il 1960 si susseguono importanti mostre dedicate alla riconsiderazione del futurismo, alle quali fanno seguito un’importante personale allestita a Palazzo Venezia, a Roma (1961), e una grande retrospettiva a Rotterdam (1963). Negli ultimi anni della sua vita, dà alle stampe Témoignages, 50 ans de réflexions, una raccolta di saggi critici. Severini muore a Parigi.
Nature morte au poisson (1958, color lithograph)
Train blindé en action _ Armored Train in Action (1915, 116 x89cm) _ One of the rare Severini paintings that does not fall back on words or a collage of signs and symbols, this painting takes its inspiration from a photograph published in Le Miroir on November 1st 1914. It depicts an armoured railway carriage equipped with turrets. The caption explains how the convoy "having, at full speed, broken through the enemy front lines (...) had no sooner stopped than its artillery was trained on the German trenches and opened fire. (...) The sound of bullets against the armour-plating of the train rang out continuously." This episode, which remains a rarity only possible at the start of the war, becomes, for Severini, a glorification of mechanical power. Oblique lines criss-cross like the trajectories of the projectiles and the silhouettes of the infantrymen are dominated by the barrel of the gun. The scene is enveloped in smoke, smoke painted 'à la Léger' in foliated curves.
Synthèse Plastique de l'Idée Guerre (1915, 60x50cm) _ Severini (1883-1966) did not take part in the fighting but, in 1914 and 1915, he attempted to paint it from the experiences of the French Cubists and the Italian Futurists, of which he was a leading exponent. To description, he preferred the composition of large symbolic ensembles using the juxtaposition of details and words according to the logic of Cubist collage established as of 1912 by Picasso and Braque. Thus the war is defined by adding together the general mobilisation order, a ship's anchor, an artillery gun carriage, range-finding instruments, an aircraft wing bearing the red, white and blue roundel, a factory chimney and the date of the declaration of war. Significantly, Severini does not introduce, or even allude to, any human presence, preferring to use the working drawings of engineers as the building blocks of his pictorial language. The association between industrial modernity and artistic modernity is obvious. Severini called his aesthetics "ideist realism".
Canon en Action (1915, 50x60cm) _ There remains one difficulty for the painter to overcome if possible: to add the great noise to the picture and give as complete a rendering of the feeling as he can. In the terms of Cubist "papiers collés", Severini introduces words and onomatopoeia, edging towards a poem painting. Some of his methods may appear pretty crude, like the "booom" of the blast. Others attempt to specify the technique itself, "arithmetical perfection", "geometrical rhythm", "gradual earthward curve". The picture is to be read as much as it is to be looked at, especially as the figures of the artillerymen are only sketched in and the gun itself is not shown in any great detail. In 1916, shortly after painting and exhibiting his war pictures, Severini moved away from warlike subjects and what he called "ideist realism", painting Cubist still lifes instead. One can't help feeling that this move can be explained, if only partly, in terms of the conviction that painting cannot safely tackle themes that are beyond it. None can suggest the "acrid stench" of the "centrifugal heaviness", and tracing words on the canvas is not a satisfactory solution either.
The Train-Hôpital (1915, 117x90cm) _ After the field ambulances and the first aid posts, the wounded were evacuated to the rear in specially designed trains to hospitals where they could be cared for. This theme appeared very early on in the dailies, with photographs and drawings of the halts in stations where volunteer nurses gave the patients something to drink and dressed their wounds. From these illustrations, Severini kept just the image of the nurse dressed in white, composing a synthesis of plastic elements, railway signals, train smoke, stations passed through and red cross flags. In this way he applies the Futurist method of depicting the speed and the topicality of the war although there are only traces of the latter here.
Born on 27 February 1606: Laurent
de la Hire (or Hyre), French artist who died on 28 December
La Hire (also spelled La Hyre) was a French Baroque classical painter whose best work is marked by gravity, simplicity, and dignity. He was the son of the painter Étienne de La Hire (c. 1583-1643) but was most influenced by the work of Georges Lallemont and Orazio Gentileschi. His picture of Pope Nicolas V at the Tomb of Saint Francis was done in 1630 for the Capuchins, for whom he executed several other works. For the goldsmiths' company he produced in 1635 St. Peter Healing the Sick and the Conversion of St Paul in 1637. In 1648, with 11 other artists, he helped found the French Royal Academy. Cardinal Richelieu called him to the Palais-Royal about 1640 to paint decorative mythological scenes, and he later designed a series of tapestries for the Gobelins.
Abraham Sacrificing Isaac (1650) _ Laurent de la Hire (or Hyre), French Baroque classical painter whose best work is marked by gravity, simplicity, and dignity.
Allegorical Figure of Grammar (1650, 103x113cm) _ Although the Parisian painter La Hyre seems never to have travelled to Italy, he was well aware - through study at Fontainebleau and through the work of contemporary artists like Vouet, Poussin and Claude - of the achievements of the Italian Renaissance. He became a major exponent of a restrained and refined classical manner fashionable in the French capital. The sculptural clarity and weight of the figure in this allegorical painting, the measured regularity of the composition with its emphasis on horizontal and vertical lines, the even lighting and discrete local colour can all be contrasted with the sweeping movement, dramatic play of light, shade, textures and reflections in Baroque works by contemporaries like Rembrandt.
This unlikely gardener represents Grammar and is one of a series of personifications of the Seven Liberal Arts painted to decorate a room in the Paris town house of Gédéon Tallemant, one of the counsellors of King Louis XIII. The Liberal Arts were the literary trio, Grammar, Rhetoric and Dialectic, and the mathematical quartet of Arithmetic, Music, Geometry and Astronomy. It had long been traditional to decorate private studios and libraries with their images. They were always shown as women, in keeping with the feminine gender of the Latin nouns grammatica, rhetorica etc., which retain their femininity in all the Romance languages. The other paintings of these high-minded ladies by La Hyre survive, dispersed in various collections. We do not know precisely how they were arranged in the room, but the pictures, of different sizes, were probably set into carved panelling and hung above head height.
The Latin legend on Grammar's winding ribbon can be translated as 'A learned and articulate voice spoken in a correct manner'. The function of Grammar among the Liberal Arts was not to parse sentences or teach conjugations but to ensure that ideas could be communicated clearly and effectively. In Cesare Ripa's illustrated dictionary of personifications of concepts, the Iconologia, first published in 1593, a book much used by painters, the author comments, 'Like young plants, young brains need watering and it is the duty of Grammar to undertake this.' La Hyre shows Grammar, with a homely jug, watering primulas and anemones in terracotta pots as lovingly studied from the object as any kitchenware by Chardin. The overflow runs off through the drainage hole onto a fragment of antique Roman wall or pillar ornamented with an egg-and-dart frieze. Behind her, grand fluted Roman columns and a Roman urn close off our view into the garden beyond the wall, but the mood is as friendly and serene as if she were nursing her plants on a balcony in a quiet Paris backwater away from the traffic, airing the ravishing harmonies of her shot-silk gown and mild blue cloak.
The Children of Bethel Mourned by their Mothers (1653, 97x129cm) _ La Hire never went to Italy, and his style was formed in Paris under the Mannerist Georges Lallemant. All La Hire's leanings towards classical antiquity were therefore learned at second hand, particularly from the work of Nicolas Poussin. As early as 1630, however, a certain coldness was detectable in his art, probably derived from Vouet, who had recently returned from Rome. Almost all of La Hire's best pictures are of figures in classical landscapes. The Children of Bethel Mourned by their Mothers corresponds to a type already perfected by Poussin, namely a strong moral content with figures carefully arranged in an equally carefully balanced landscape or architectural setting. Even though La Hire's result was totally different from that of Poussin and it would never be possible to confuse the two, they fall into the same general category and would have appealed to the same type of patrons.
Cornelia Refusses the Crown of the Ptolomai (1646, 138x123cm) _ The painting depicts the scene when Cornelia - the daughter of Scipio Africanus, the widow of consul Tiberius Gracchus and mother of Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus - refuses the crown of the King of Egypt and his marriage proposal. The style of La Hire is the equivalent in painting that of Corneille and Racine in literature.
Laban Searching Jacob's Bagagge for the Stolen Idols (1647, 95x133cm) _ The biblical story represented in this painting is the following. Jacob, the son of Isaac and the twin brother of Esau, fled from his brother's wrath, taking refuge with his uncle Laban in Mesopotamia. Laban had two daughters, Leah and Rachel. Leah the elder, was rheumy eyed, but Rachel was graceful and beautiful. Jacob undertook to serve Laban as a herdsman for seven years in return for Rachel whom he wished to marry. At the wedding feast Laban substituted Leah by a trick, and then demanded another seven years labour from Jacob before he should obtain Rachel. At the end Jacob set off secretly to return to Canaan with both wives and his children and possessions. In parting, Rachel stole her father's teraphim, the small sacred figurines which were his 'household gods'. When he discovered the theft Laban set off in pursuit, overtook the party and searched their tents and belongings. Rachel promptly hid the teraphim in a camel's saddle and sat on it, saying to her father, 'do not take it amiss, sir, that I cannot rise in your presence, the common lot of women is upon me.' Jacob and Laban had a reconciliation before they parted.
Landscape with Peace and Justice Embracing (1654, 55x76cm) _ Inscribed in the centre: Iustitia et Pax/osculatae sunt. It is unusual for the subject of a picture to be inscribed so clearly on the painting. Although most of La Hire's work is of many-figured compositions executed in bright, solid colours, he is best remembered for his contribution to the development of landscape painting. His few surviving landscapes seems to amalgamate the limpid light of Claude Lorrain with the antiquarian interests of Nicolas Poussin. As there was so little landscape painting in Paris in the middle years of the seventeenth century, the works of La Hire form an illuminating example of the way that taste was turning towards the dry and formal.
Theseus and Aethra (1640, 141x118cm) _ This is a representation of Plutarch's story in which, in the presence of his mother, the young Greek hero Theseus finds the swords and sandals his father Aegeus has buried under a heavy stone. Seventeenth century French masters often chose to depict some fairly recondite theme from the Graeco-Roman history or legend, and La Hire, a popular artist of the period, excelled in paintings of this kind. The painting was commissioned by Cardinal Richelieu. _ detail _ The detail shows the figure of Theseus. It is assumed that the face of Theseus is a selt-portrait of the artist.