Over on my social media I have been sharing a series called #AnArtworkADay. Once a week, I’m collecting together the artworks I have shared in a blog post. You can view the first week of #AnArtworkADay here, and today’s blog post shares the second week of the series.
Day 8: Hiroshige, Plum Garden at Kameido, 1857
For Day 8 of my #AnArtworkADay series, I chose Hiroshige’s Plum Garden at Kameido (1857). This ukiyo-e, or woodblock, print is the thirtieth view in Hiroshige’s ‘One Hundred Famous Views of Edo’.
In this ukiyo-e, we look out at the Umeyashiki, a plum garden on the banks of the Sumeida river. Our view is through the branches of one of the plum trees known as the Sleeping Dragon Plum (Prunus mume). In the distance, we can see figures walking through the gardens, enjoying the blossoms.
Day 9: Eric Slater, Rough Seas, 1929
My choice for Day 9 of my #AnArtworkADay series was Eric Slater’s Rough Seas (1929).
After the death of his father when he was eight, Slater moved to Sussex with his mother, living in Winchelsea, Bexhill-on-Sea, and Seaford. Educated at Hastings School of Art, Slater’s prints fused Japanese woodcut techniques with the Sussex landscapes and seascapes he saw around him. Slater’s prints were celebrated in the 1930s and early 1940s, but by the time of his death in 1963, his work had faded in to obscurity.
Collections of Slater’s prints are held by the British Museum and Victoria and Albert Museum. In 2012, Towner Art Gallery held a retrospective of Slater’s work. This was followed in 2017 by an exhibition at Hastings Museum & Art Gallery. Called ‘A Sussex Wave from Japan’, this exhibition explored the work of Eric Slater and fellow Sussex printmaker Arthur Rigden Read.
Find out more about Eric Slater on the official website here.
Day 10: William Hodges, Tahiti Revisited, 1776
For Day 10 of my #AnArtworkADay series I chose William Hodges’ Tahiti Revisited (1776).
Hodges was appointed as the official artist on Captain Cook’s second voyage to the Pacific in 1772-5. The purpose of Cook’s second voyage was to locate the ‘Southern Continent’ and explore the islands of the central Pacific more closely. Hodges was tasked with producing a visual record of the places and people discovered on the voyage.
Cook’s second voyage was, for the purposes of the Royal Navy, a resounding success. Hodges’ representation of the Pacific islands as a ‘new Eden’ proved to be lasting – and highly problematic.
The full title of Tahiti Revisited is A View taken in the bay of Oaite Peha [Vaitepiha] Otaheite [Tahiti]. It is one of twenty-six oil paintings from Cook’s second voyage in the collections at Royal Museums Greenwich. You can find out more about the painting, and zoom in, on their website here.
Day 11: Paul Gauguin, Arearea, 1892
For Day 11 of my #AnArtworkADay series, I decided it was high time for a pop of colour with Paul Gauguin’s Arearea (1892).
Gauguin first set sail for Tahiti on 1 April 1891, where he intended to escape what he saw as the evils of Western civilisation and ‘everything that is artificial and conventional’. He did not stay long in French Polynesia and returned to France in 1893, where he continued to paint Tahitian subjects.
Gauguin longed to return to the Pacific. Like any good bohemian of his era, he eventually ran out of money, and by 1895 his friends had arranged for him to return to Tahiti. He continued to paint, and published his travelogue Noa Noa in 1901. Gauguin died in 1903, having never seen Europe – or his family – again.
You can find out more about ‘Arearea’ over on the Musée d’Orsay website here.
Day 12: Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Luncheon of the Boating Party (Le déjeuner de canotiers), 1881.
If you’ve seen the film Amélie, you’ll recognise my choice for Day 12 of my #AnArtworkADay series! Here is Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s ‘Luncheon of the Boating Party’ (‘Le déjeuner des canotiers’).
Renoir painted this in 1881 and shows some of the artists’ friends relaxing at the Maison Fournaise, a restaurant and hotel on the Seine at Chatou. It was displayed at the Seventh Impressionist Exhibition in 1882, where it was praised by critics. The dealer-patron Paul Durand-Ruel purchased the painting direct from Renoir.
The Maison Fournaise closed in 1906, but was restored and reopened as the Musée Fournaise in 1990. Renoir’s ‘Luncheon of the Boating Party’ is now in The Phillips Collection in Washington D. C., and you can find out more about the painting on their website, here.
With its warm colours and flickering brush strokes, the painting looks like it’s about to move.
Day 13: Auguste Rodin, The Kiss, 1901-4
For Day 13 of my series #AnArtworkADay, I chose Auguste Rodin’s The Kiss (1901-4). This version in the Tate collection is one of three made in the artist’s lifetime.
The Kiss was originally designed by Rodin as one of the reliefs on his monumental bronze sculpture, The Gates of Hell. It depicts Francesca di Rimini, a thirteenth century Italian noblewoman who features in Dante’s Inferno (1318-1320). While reading the story of Lancelot and Guinevere, Francesca di Rimini falls in love with her husband’s younger brother, Paolo Malatesta. Poor Francesca and Paolo are caught and killed by her husband, Giovanni. When he first created the sculpture in 1887, Rodin called it Francesca di Rimini, but critics suggested that The Kiss (Le baiser) would be a bit less obscure.
Rodin made this copy for Lewes resident Edward Perry Warren, who paid the bargain price of 20,000 francs. Warren wrote a letter where he explained that “being a pagan and lover of antiquities” he wanted the genitals of the male figure to be carved in the style of Classical Greek sculptures. Warren was most insistent and Rodin’s contract to create this copy of The Kiss states that ‘the genitals of the man must be complete’. The sculpture arrived in Lewes in 1904, where Warren displayed it at his house on School Hill. Lewes Town Council borrowed the work for a temporary exhibition in 1914. The exhibition invoked the fury of some of the town’s more puritanical and vocal residents. The campaign against the sculpture, led by the appropriately named local headmistress Miss Fowler-Tutt, objected to the erotic subject of the sculpture and argued it promoted indecency.
The Kiss made a special return to Lewes in 1999, for a short exhibition of Rodin’s works.
Day 14: George Stubbs, Whistlejacket, c. 1762.
The choice for Day 14 of my series #AnArtworkADay is one of the most recognisable paintings of the eighteenth century – and probably one of the best-known paintings of a horse.
The painting I am writing about is, of course, George Stubbs’ Whistlejacket (c.1762). Widely considered to be Stubbs’ masterpiece, this horse portrait depicts Whistlejacket, an Arabian chestnut stallion owned by the Marquess of Rockingham. When the painting was first displayed, Stubbs’ ‘contemporaries were … astonished that a single horse should command a huge canvas’.
Stubbs painted Whistlejacket after being invited by the Marquess of Rockingham to spend time at Wentworth Woodhouse in Yorkshire. The artist spent several months on the Marquess’ estate, painting several group portraits of horses alongside Whistlejacket.
The Independent argued that Stubb’s portrait of Whistlejacket depicts a ‘paradigm of the flawless beauty of an Arabian thoroughbred’. The painting remained in the care of the heirs of the Marquess of Rockingham until 1997, when it was put up for auction. With the help of the National Lottery Heritage Fund (then the Heritage Lottery fund), the National Gallery in London acquired the painting for £11 million.
Find out more about Whistlejacket, and take a closer look at the painting, on the National Gallery website here.