The Ghosts of 2010

Although I have cut down on my  posts from one per day to one every 4 or 5 days in 2010 starting in August, I managed 256 posts.  I hope to improve on this year and continue to build up Bookstains, which is proving popular. This year Echostains celebrated 16 artists birthdays (another area I intend to improve on).  Some earlier categories have gone and I have plans for some new ones.  This year saw the arrival of slide shows and polls.  WordPress is a learning process and I’m still learning:-)

PS This video was completed in 2010 and was supposed to go on New Years day.    I have had to revise it because it was originally over 20 minutes long 😀

Christmas Greetings!

The first Christmas card was commissioned by Henry Cole in 1843, London.  The image  can be found on this video – see if you can spot it.  Early Christmas cards were rarely religious, the focus was fairies, flowers and the approach of Spring.  Cards could be sentimental featuring humour and children. I  have started the video with some religious paintings which can be seen nowadays on Christmas cards.  The cards I have chosen are an eclectic mix of sentimental, humourous, wintery ,nostalgic and Jolly – just like Christmas should be.  This is an early attempt at making  a YouTube video.  Expect more (hopefully better:-))

The music
Prokofiev’s Winter Fairy (from Cinderella), performed by Caela Harrison from here

The credits are many;

coolcatsblog operationletter bekati leepowelldesign clipartandcraft colourbakery  quickstep frostysclub  beliefnet faripop confarta
Lovely vintage cards here  here here  here and here also here and here

A Portrait of Jane (Austen)

Today is the 235th birthday of British writer Jane Austen b.1775 – 1817.  Austen is one of  the most well-known  female author of  English Literature.  Her shrewd observations, wry wit and social commentary give us an insight into Georgian society.  She came from a  close large  family consisting of Father George Austen, mother Cassandra Leigh and six brothers and one sister, Cassandra b. 1873.  Much has been written about the author and her life on the fabulous Pemberley website

Jane Austen 1870 1869 engraving showing an idealized, young Jane Austen, based on a sketch by Cassandra Austen

 Austen started writing when she was young but it wasn’t until 1811 that she achieved any success (Sense and Sensibility) this was followed by perhaps her most popular novel Pride and Prejudice1813, then Mansfield Park 1814.  Emma followed in 1816 and this was followed by Northanger Abbey and Persuasion which were both published posthumously in 1818.  She began another book Sanditon but died before it was finished.

As to my aunt’s personal appearance, hers was the first face I can remember thinking pretty. Her face was rather round than long, she had a bright, but not a pink colour­ a clear brown complexion, and very good hazel eyes. Her hair, a darkish brown, curled naturally, it was in short curls around her face. She always wore a cap.”
Recollections of Aunt Jane by Caroline Austen

Cassandra drawing

It is impossible to really know exactly what Jane Austen looked like.  Etchings and paintings have all been based upon this rudimentary sketch by Cassandra the authors sister.  People who knew Jane are divided: some thought the sketch generally unlike her.  However, in 2002 Forensic artist Melissa Dring  attempted a definitive portrait of the author, which was unveiled at the Jane Austen centre in Bath, with this result:-

Jane Austen by Melissa Dring

In creating this work, Ms. Dring explains, “The natural starting point, then, had to be Cassandra’s sketch, which I reversed, as I decided to have Jane looking the other way, and also I needed to make her look a few years younger. Cassandra drew Jane at 35, and I had to make her aged 26-31, during her years in Bath. Above all, though, I wanted to bring out something of Jane’s lively and humorous character, so evident in her novels and all contemporary accounts of her. Cassandra’s drawing may have been quite like Jane physically, but has failed to catch her sparkle.”*

I suppose we’ll never know for sure what Jane Austen really looked like, but it’s fun to speculate 🙂

Meanwhile over on Bookstains – there are MORE Austen Celebrations plus a Poll!

Lots more portraits and info from here

Find out about Jane Austen the author here

Images from here here

video by ewell01 Thanks!

Happy Birthday (again) Edvard Munch!

Today is the birthday of Edvard Munch (1863 – 1944) Norwegian Symbolist artist and printmaker and a forerunner of the Expressionist art movement .  There a quite a few videos to choose from which feature his work, but I rather like this one because of the way the music seems to capture the mood of his work. The music sounds to me like it comes from Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells.

An early Echostains posts explores this artist further and references his most famous painting ‘The Scream’ and where the idea may have come from.

Picasso Pops up

Art pops up in the most unexpected places (see my post about Michaelangelo’s work found behind a sofa…).   271 pieces of Pablo Picasso‘s work have now turned up in a garage on the French Rivera.  They have lain there in a cardboard box for 40 years. Retired electrician 71-year-old Pierre Le Guennec sought to have them authenticated by the Picasso administration.  The artist’s son Claude Picasso and 5 other heirs say that the works are stolen and have slapped a lawsuit upon Le Guennec.


The previously unseen work includes drawings, lithographs, cubist collages, a watercolour and notebooks.  They are estimated to be worth between 60 -80 million dollars according to different sources.  Le Guennec included photographs of 27 of the works in an email to the Picasso administration.  Christine Pinault, Claude Picasso’s assistant and an employee of the Picasso Administration and the family have  acknowledge authenticity but question how Le Guennec came into possession of the works.  Le Guennec says that he received the works from Picasso’s wife in return for alarm systems he installed.  The family say that whilst Picasso did give gifts – he usually dedicated them.

Picasso - Pipe, Glass, Bottle of Vieux Marc an example of the artists collage work

Meanwhile, the works  were seized by France’s Central Office for the Fight Against Traffic in Cultural Goods October 5  and are now holding them in a vault at its Nanterre office, northwest of Paris.  The couple have said theat they don’t want to sell them – just have them authenticated  and clear the matter up for their children.  I wonder what the outcome shall be of this interesting case?

More info and another video from here

youtube video from itnnews thanks!

Picasso photo from here and collage here


Don’t forget the latest poetry challenge over on Bookstains!

The Art of Progress

Turner The Fighting Temeraire 1839

Everything in the world is forever changing –  our planet, our government, our values, ourselves  – everything is shifting.  Art  serves as a  testament  leaving  its legacy and mark on change.  Art provides a reference to our world – a porthole, a window to the past, present and the now.  It has always been like this.  J M W Turner‘s (b. 1775 – 1851 London)  moving watercolour of The Fighting Temeraire shows Nelson’s 98 gun flagship, triumphant in the Battle of Trafalgar 1805 being towed from Sheerness to Rotherhithe to be broken up and used as scrap in 1838  As the new age ushers in new forms of transport, men are no longer slaves to the seas whims: it is the beginning of the age of steam – the ‘floating kettles’ as some called them.  The beautiful setting of the sunset shows a sense of loss as the old warship contrasts with the smaller steam-powered tug.

The Railway Station by William Powell Frith 1862

William Powell Frith‘s (b.1819 – 1909 Yorkshire England) gigantic canvas ‘The Railway Station’  had everyone talking about it when it went on show at a gallery in the Haymarket London in 1862.  Not only was it interesting because the artist had collaborated with a photographer (Samuel Fry), using his photographs as aides to his work – there were nearly 100 figures in the painting and lots of little details which people flocked to see.  Scenarios break out all over the painting: one example being two famous Scotland Yard detectives of the time Haydon and Brett arresting a criminal.  A wedding party and some army recruits join the throng.  This painting was reported by the Times newspaper as breaking all previous sales records for any painting by a living artist:-

“the artist had been paid the astonishing sum of £8,750 for it, while the Athenaeum put the total at 8,000 guineas, or £9,187 10s. Whatever the correct amount, Frith’s earnings from The Railway Station broke all previous records…

 ‘As a rule, it is only dead men whose works have risen to such figures,’ declared The Times, ‘and even these honoured dead may be counted on the two hands.

However, only £4,500 of this was paid for the painting itself; the rest secured the far more lucrative copyright and sole exhibition rights.”  What price artistic ‘progression’ eh.  Frith was very well paid for him labours it seems.


connoisseur by Norman Rockwell

The third painting is by illustrator Norman Rockwell (b 1894 – 1978 New York USA)  ‘Coinoisseur’ 1962 – a tribute to Abstract Expressionist Jackson Pollock (b. 1912 – 1966 USA).  Whilst the painting is sometimes interpreted as a compliment to Pollock – it is also interesting to note the comparison between Rockwell’s illustrative art and the new Modern art of Pollock who was big news in the art scene of 1962.

This is the painting which has inspired yet another Poetry Challenge!  This time it’s about – you guessed by now – PROGRESS:-)  For details of how to enter please click The connoisseur to go over to Bookstains where you will find this and other poetry challenges that are art related.

More information  about The Railway here and image from here

connoisseur image from here

The Wonderful Myth

I’ve just come across this video about the ever popular Pre-Raphaelite painters.  Some of the artists, I am not familiar with – Edward Roberts Hughes and Charles Lock Eastlake are two of them.  But the video is just the thing to transport the spirit into another age (Victorian)- then into  yet another age (the ancient world of myth).  It just goes to show that a good story never dies and shall always linger on in our collective romantic memory:-)   The video is rather long and the music is by Vengellis (not a fan) but the paintings both recognised and unfamiliar are a veritable feast for the eyes 🙂

The video is by gilcarosio – thanks!

PS Things are hotting up over at my other blog Bookstains!  More poems have been added to the Dickens challenge:-)

Just click Charles to have a look – and perhaps join in:-)

Hats Off to York!

collapsable Opera hat

We’ve recently come back from a few days away in York.  Whilst there, I popped into the city Art Gallery where along with the ceramics, illustrations (wonderful small collection from children’s books) and paintings, there was an exhibition simply called ‘Hats’.  The exhibition which runs from to 18th September 2010 – 23rd  January 2011 tracks the way that hats have been used in social etiquette and trends during the last 400 years.

Jennifer Alexander, assistant curator of fine art, said:

“We have a wonderful collection of paintings from the last 400 years and many show how styles and fashions have changed. From baker hats to bonnets to bowlers, all hats say something about the person wearing it, whether it is their job, their social class or their era.

The hats are delightful and some of the fabrics still in very good condition, the intricate decorations including a dead birds head are fascinating.  But what struck me the most is the size of the hats.  Why are our heads bigger now? The skulls seem tiny compared to our present day ones.  I love hats and have been known to wear a few in my time – after all they can add a good few inches to the shorter person which I think is always a good thing where I’m concerned:-)

Barbara Hepworth Surgeon Waiting

Around the walls of the exhibition are paintings of the hats in their context.  Barbara Hepworth‘s oil and graphite on gesso prepared paper was an unexpected find. 

Miss Mary Arabella Jay exhibited 1819 by William Etty

 York painter William Etty (1787-1849) The Missionary Boy was also on display, unfortunately I couldn’t find an image of it to display here.  Etty was one of the few artists to become successful at large history paintings.  He liked to paint nudes, portraits and later, landscapes.  here’s an example of his work.

English artist Spencer Gore (1878- 1914) was a Founder member of the Fitzroy Street group and was involved with the formation of the Camden Town Group.   He came into contact with Pissarro whose impressionistic style he adapted.  Walter Sickert was another great friend and influence upon his art.  Spencer Gore is an interesting artist in his own right and I shall be writing more about him soon.

Spencer Gore. Balcony at the Alhambra, c. 1911-1912. Oil on canvas

Along with Roger Bissiere‘s Woman in a Straw Hat, other paintings include French artist Jacques Emile Blanche  (1861-1942) whose painting ‘Knightsbridge to Sloane Square’ painted in 1908/9 shows everyone from children to Policeman behatted.  Only the beggars remain bare-headed.

Hepworth image here, Etty image from here Gore image from here and info and more images here

More about York Gallery and the exhibitions here