The myth of Horus

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The Egyptian goddess Isis was married to her brother Osiris, who was murdered by another jealous brother, Set. The body of Osiris was dismembered and scattered. Isis managed to retrieve all the parts except his penis, which had been thrown into the Nile and eaten by a catfish, With a spell learned from her father she miraculously and temporarily revived Osiris, and with the aid of a golden phallus became pregnant with Horus.

Horus became the sky god and is depicted as a man with the head of a falcon


Bas relief alabaster carving of the falcon god Horus, the Temple of Horus and Sobek, Kom Ombo, Upper Egypt

He also sometimes takes on the form of a falcon, without human attributes


Figure of a Horus Falcon, c300-c250 BC,  gold with blue glass inlay, height 3.5 cm, Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, MD, USA


Amulet representing a ram-headed falcon, 1254 BC, found on the mummy of an Apis bull in the Serapaeum of Memphis at Saqqara, Gold, lapis, turquoise and cornelian, Musée du Louvre, Paris, France

The falcon is depicted clasping shen rings, circles with a tangential line, representing eternal protection. The Shen ring is most often seen carried by the falcon god Horus.



A Wedjat or Eye of Horus pendant, Antiquities Museum, Cairo, Egypt

The eye symbol represents the marking around the eye of the falcon, including the teardrop marking sometimes found below the eye.



Wedjat Eye Plaque, 1039-991 BC, gold, 10 x 15 cm, Antiquities Museum, Cairo, Egypt






Birds on postage stamps

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The Pelican, the Penguin & the Puffin were shown as a link to the section on Penguin Books and its logo

The first examples of birds on stamps are on these, which were issued by Japan in 1875

Since then almost every country has portrayed them, with varying aesthetic standards.
Since the subject is peripheral to the history of art, this is simply a gallery of some of them







The parrot, and its association with women

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Rather surprisingly, there are many paintings of women with parrots in the history of art, and several theories as to why this should be.

The parrot may be seen as the confidant of the woman. This seems unlikely, since the parrot, being able to repeat what it hears, would be liable to pass on any secret confided to it.

It may be seen as a symbol of women’s confinement, being in a cage itself: perhaps.

With their spectacularly coloured plumage and ability to mimic human speech, parrots have long held a place in man’s affections, and for centuries artists have accorded them diverse roles in their works. Since the Middle Ages, the parrot has represented the Virgin birth of Christ,

Jan van Eyck, The Madonna with Canon van der Paele, 1436, oil on panel, 122 x 157 cm, Groeningemuseum, Bruges, Belgium

or acted as an eye-witness to the Fall of Man.

Peter Paul Rubens, The Garden of Eden with the Fall of Man, c1617, oil on panel, 64 x 115 cm, Mauritshuis, The Hague, Netherlands

Albrecht Dürer, Adam and Eve, 1504, engraving, 25.1 x 20 cm, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY, USA

Colourful, tropical parrots were collectors’ items in Germany, and they were also symbols in art. The call of the parrot was believed to sound like “Eva-Ave” —Eve and Ave Maria. This word play is supposed to reinforce the Christian interpretation of the story of the Fall of Humanity by portraying the Virgin Mary, as the antidote for Eve’s sin in the Garden of Eden.

The parrot has also been celebrated as a domestic pet. In addition to making frequent appearances in still lifes and portraits, it sometimes impersonates or stands in for people, plays the role of a woman’s surrogate lover, or mocks and comments on the follies of human behaviour.


Nicolas de Largillierre, Portrait of a Woman, 1696, oil on canvas, 140 x 107 cm, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY, USA


Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, Young Woman with a Parrot, 1760-1761, oil on canvas, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, UK


Eugène Delacroix, La Femme au perroquet, 1827, oil on canvas, 25 x 33 cm, Musée des Beaux Arts, Lyon, France


Edouard Manet, Femme au perroquet, 1866, oil on canvas, 185 x 129 cm, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY, USA

The model was Victorine Meurent, who also posed for Déjeuner sur l’herbe and Olympia.


Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Femme à la perruche, 1871, oil on canvas, 92 x 65 cm, Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY, USA

Here, the model was Lise Tréhot, a favourite of Renoir.


Gustave Courbet, Femme au perroquet, 1866, oil on canvas, 130 x 196 cm, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY, USA

This was the first nude by Courbet to be accepted by the Paris Salon in 1866. While painted in a style to gain Academy acceptance in its pose and smooth flesh tones, the model’s discarded clothes and disheveled hair were controversial, although less so than Le Sommeil, painted the same year. Joanna Hiffernan probably posed for both paintings, as well as for James Abbott McNeill Whistler, Symphony in White, No. 1: The White Girl, 1862, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, USA

And, a couple from the twentieth century


Frida Kahlo, Yo y Mis Pericos, 1941, oil on canvas,  Private Collection, New Orleans, LA, USA

Botero, Woman with Parrot, 1973



Picasso and the Dove

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Picasso’s father was a pigeon fancier, and Pablo spent his childhood in Málaga surrounded by the birds. His father was also an artist and taught him how to draw them.

One of the early works in his blue period shows a child holding a dove


Pablo Picasso, L’enfant au pigeon, 1901, oil on canvas, 73 x 54 cm, Private Collection

He included them in this painting from his cubist period


Pablo Picasso, Femme aux pigeons, 1930, pastel on paper applied to canvas, 200 x 185 cm, Centre Pompidou, Paris

The model for this work was Marie-Thérèse Walter, whom he had met in 1927, and who was his partner for more than ten years.


Pablo Picasso 1881–1973, La Colombe, 1949, lithograph on paper, 57 x 76 cm, Tate Gallery, London

Picasso made the lithograph on 9 January 1949 in the atelier of the printmaker Fernand Mourlot in Paris. It is  a traditional, realistic picture of a pigeon which had been given to him by his great friend Matisse.

The image was used to illustrate the poster of the 1949 Paris Peace Congress and became not only the symbol of the Peace Congresses but also of the ideals of world Communism. The Congrès mondial des Partisans de la paix opened in Paris on 20 April.


The day before, Picasso’s partner, Françoise Gilot, had given birth to his fourth child, who was named Paloma, the Spanish word for dove.


Picasso later developed this image into a simple, graphic line drawing that is one of the world’s most recognisable symbols of peace.


Pablo Picasso, L’Atelier (Pigeons), 1957

Matisse and Picasso had known each other since 1904 when they were introduced at the Paris salon of Gertrude Stein. They were not only friends but each had a profound influence on one another and their art.

After Matisse died in 1954, Picasso was devastated. He moved his family to a large villa near Cannes,  and painted a series of eleven paintings which he called Studio in the style of his friend, and in homage to him. Many of them feature doves, which were beloved of Matisse.


Henri Cartier-Bresson, Matisse and his pigeons, 1944



The Dove, as a symbol of the Holy Spirit

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The Baptism of Christ


Andrea del Verrocchio, Battesimo di Cristo, c1475, oil on panel, 177 x 151 cm, Galleria degli Uffizzi, Florence, Italy

The work was painted in the studio of Andrea del Verrocchio and generally ascribed to him and his pupil Leonardo da Vinci, and perhaps others as well.
The angel to the left is supposed to have been painted by the youthful Leonardo. In fact , although the work is still attributed to Verrocchio, it is becoming increasingly thought that much of the landscape in the background and the figure of Christ are also the work of Leonardo.


Piero della Francesca, Battesimo di Cristo, 1448-1450, tempora on poplar panel, I18 x 116 cm, National Gallery, London, UK.

The Annunciation


Joos van Cleve, Annunciation, 1525, oil on wood, 86 x 80 cm,  Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY, USA


Carlo Crevelli, L’Annunciazione di Ascoli, o Annunciazione con sant’Emidios, 1486, oil on canvas, 207 x 147 cm, National Gallery, London, UK

This painting was also discussed at an earlier meeting of the group

Details from the Crevelli version

The Holy Spirit descends towards Mary


Other doves hover near a dovecote on the house opposite, and perch on a balcony

There are two other birds

A peacock, Christian symbol of immortality and the Resurrection, sits on a balcony directly above Mary’s chamber


and a caged goldfinch.  Because of the thistle seeds it eats, in Christian symbolism the goldfinch is associated with Christ’s Passion and his crown of thorns







The Eagle in Heraldry

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In heraldry, the eagle is considered to be the king of birds, as the lion is the king of beasts.
It symbolises perspicacity, courage, strength and immortality, and is also the messenger of the highest gods. With these attributed qualities the eagle became a symbol of power and strength in Ancient Rome. Mythologically, it has been connected by the Greeks with the god Zeus, by the Romans with Jupiter, by the Germanic tribes with Odin, and in Christian art with Saint John the Evangelist.


An early depiction of heraldic art from the Codex Manesse, 1304-1340, an anthology of the works of a total of about 135 minnesingers of the mid 12th to early 14th century. For each poet, a portrait is shown, followed by the text of their works. The entries are ordered approximately by the social status of the poets, starting with the Holy Roman Emperor Henry VI, shown here, with a modern example of his arms.


The heraldic eagle was particularly popular in Germanic countries such as Austria, because of its  association with the Holy Roman Empire, whose eagle was doubleheaded, representing the East and West of the old Roman Empire.


Matthew Paris, Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, Parker MS 16 fol. 18, c1250, showing the first depiction of the Reichsadler as double-headed in the arms of emperor Otto IV

Heraldic eagles are most often found displayed, with their wings and legs extended, as in the examples above.


The French Imperial Eagle or Aigle de drapeau was a figure of an eagle on a staff carried into battle as a standard by the Grande Armée of Napoleon I during the Napoleonic Wars, bore the eagle with wings inverted.

Carolingian ivory plaque with the eagle of Saint John, showing the customary halo, Victoria & Albert Museum



The arms of Isabella de Castilla, as Princesa de Asturias, 1468-1474


The badge of the Royal Air Force, showing an eagle volant


Since 20 June 1782, the United States has used its national bird, the bald eagle, on its Great Seal; the choice was intended to  recall the Roman Republic and to be uniquely American.


The flag of Mexico, showing an eagle sitting on a cactus while devouring a serpent that signaled to the Aztecs where to found their city, Tenochtitlan

French Civic heraldry abounds with images of the eagle

Here are two examples

The arms of Agen, showing an eagle essorant on a nineteenth century illustration, a French cigarette card and a French stamp of 1964

and another stamp


The arms of Nice



The Eagle

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In the arts, the eagle has always been regarded as the king of birds. Although examples in western painting are rare, apart from depictions of the rape of Ganymede by Zeus.


The sculpture, 66 cm in height, is on display at the London Museum, and was discovered on a construction site in The Minories, London, in September 2013.
It came from a high-ranking official’s tomb of the 1st or 2nd century AD, and is one of only two statues of its type in the world. The other was found in Jordan in 1937.
The sculpture features an eagle grasping a writhing serpent in its beak and is thought to symbolise the struggle of good against evil.

Because of its power and nobility, it has been widely used in Christian tradition as the symbol of Saint John the Baptist


Les Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry, Saint John on Patmos, 1412-1416


Titian, Saint John the Evangelist on Patmos, c1547, oil on canvas, 238 x 263 cm, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, USA

and especially as a lecturn to support the Bible, because of the symbolism of spreading the gospel over the world.


Eagle Lecturn, Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, Ireland

John James Audubon, an American naturalist, was the first artist to concentrate on birds and his classic “Birds of America” is still used by ornithologists today


John James Audubon, Golden Eagle, 1833-34, Plate 181, Birds of America

Emily Carr, 1871-1942, was a Canadian artist who studied in England for a while. She painted on the west coast of Canada, concentrating on the forests, and Indian villages and totems.


Emily Carr, Big Eagle, Skidigate, B.C., c. 1930, watercolour on paper, 76 cm x 57 cm, The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, BC, Canada

 Emily Carr, Cumshewa, 1912
The eagle at the former US Embassy, Grosvenor Square, London
The Eagle Comic was founded by Marcus Morris, an anglican vicar, who felt that the church was not reaching the young, and the contemporary comics of the time were not satisfactory reading material.
Hence the eagle with its power to spread the gospel
Eagle comic, No1, 14 April 1950

The Myth of Ganymede

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Ganymede was abducted by Zeus from Mount Ida, near Troy, where he  had been tending sheep. Zeus either summoned an eagle or turned into an eagle himself to transport the youth to Mount Olympus.
In the Iliad, Zeus is said to have compensated Ganymede’s father by the gift of fine horses, delivered by the messenger god Hermes. He was consoled that his son was now immortal and would be the cupbearer for the gods on Olympus, a position of much distinction, which had previously been the privilege enjoyed by Hebe. All the gods were filled with joy to see him, except for Hera, Zeus’s consort, who regarded Ganymede as a rival for her husband’s affection. Zeus later placed Ganymede in the sky as the constellation Aquarius.
Plato accounted for the pederastic aspect of the myth by attributing its origin to Crete, where the social custom of paiderastía was supposed to have originated. Socrates denied that Ganymede was the catamite of Zeus, asserting that the god loved him for his psychē, mind or soul, giving the etymology of his name as ganu-, taking pleasure, and mēd-, mind. He further pointed out that Zeus granted Ganymede immortality,  which he did not do for his other lovers.
In poetry, Ganymede became a symbol for the beautiful young male who attracted homosexual desire and love. Virgil portrays the abduction with pathos: the boy’s aged tutors try in vain to draw him back to Earth, and his hounds bay uselessly at the sky. The loyal hounds left calling after their abducted master is a frequent motif in visual depictions.

Two early examples of the myth on pottery

Side A of an Attic black-figure amphora, Ganymede on Olympus, c510 BC, Staatliche Antikensammlungen, Munich, Germany
Ganymede pouring Zeus a libation, Attic red figure calyx krater by the Eucharides Painter, c490-480 BC. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY, USA

Not surprisingly given the opportunity to display a scandalous subject in the guise of art, depictions of the rape of Ganymede were popular.

Three versions from the seventeenth century


Peter Paul Rubens, The Rape of Ganymede, 1636, oil on canvas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain


Rembrandt van Rijn, The Rape of Ganymede, 1635, oil on canvas, Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, Dresdan, Germany

Rubens has concentrated on the erotic features of the incident, whereas Rembrandt, by depicting Ganymede as a baby, seems to have missed the point.


Eustache Lesueur, Ganymède enlevé par Jupiter, c1644, oil on canvas, 127 x 108 cm, Musée du Louvre, Paris, France

and two sculpures


Bertel Thorvalden, Ganymed, den Adler des Zeus tränkend, 1817, Thorvaldsen Museum, Copenhagen, Denmark


José Álvarez Cubero, Ganymede, 1804, plaster, Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, Madrid, Spain

and a mosaic


Ganymedes and the Eagle, Graeco-Roman mosaic from Paphos 3rd Century AD, Kato Paphos Archaeological Park, Paphos, Cyprus



Four artists who painted in the style of the impressionists

Four artists who painted in the style of the impressionists, but who are less well-known today. The first was Dutch, and the others were American, Scottish & Norwegian.

George Hendrijk Breitner, 1857-1923, was born in Rotterdam. He was a painter who worked en plein air and also a photographer. He studied at the Academy of Art in the Hague and met Vincent van Gogh in 1882. Breitner preferred working class subjects, and he and van Gogh often painted in the poorer districts of Amsterdam. He saw himself as a painter of the people. Through his masterly city scenes he introduced “social realism in art” to the Netherlands.


George Hendrik Breitner, Distribution of Soup, 1882


George Hendrik Breitner, Meisje in witte kimono,1894, oil on canvas, 59 x 57 cm, Rijkmuseum, Amsterdam, Netherlands

George Hendrik Breitner, Building site Amsterdam, c1890

John Henry Twatchtman, 1853-1902, was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he began to study painting. Like many American artists of the time he travelled abroad, first to Munich and its Academy of Fine Arts, and then to Paris, where, between 1883 and 1885, he was enrolled in the Académie Julian. He spent the rest of his life in Connecticut, where he painted mainly landscapes of the area, and his farm and garden.


John Henry Twatchtman, The White Bridge, c 1895, oil on canvas, 77 x 77 cm, Institute of Arts, Minneapolis, MN, USA



John Henry Twatchtman, Fishing Boats at Gloucester, 1901, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC, USA


John Henry Twatchtman, Landscape, Branchville, c 1888, oil on canvas, 152 x 203 cm, Museum of Art, Columbus, OH, USA

James MacLaughlan Nairn, 1859-1904, was born in Glasgow, where he studied for four years, and was associated for a while with the Glasgow Boys, a group interested in impressionism.
He moved to New Zealand for health reasons, painting there en plein air, and thus introducing the impressionist style of the Glasgow group to the country.


James MacLaughlan Nairn, Winter Morning, Wellington Harbour, c.1900, Te Papa Tongarew Museum, Wellington, New Zealand
…which is very similar to


Claude Monet, Impression, soleil levant, oil on canvas, 48 × 63 cm, Musée Marmottan, Paris, France

James MacLaughlan Nairn, Wellington Harbour, 1894, oil on canvas, Te Papa Tongarew Museum, Wellington, New Zealand


James MacLaughlan Nairn, Evans Bay, Wellington, 1893, oil on canvas, Te Papa Tongarew Museum, Wellington, New Zealand

Frits Thaulow, 1847-1906, was born in Christiania, Norway, and studied at the Academy of Art in Copenhagen and later at the Baden School of Art in Karlsruhe.
In 1892 he moved to France where he spent the rest of his life. He found that the cityscapes of Paris did not suit him, and so chose to paint in Montreuil, Dieppe, Quimper and the Dordogne.
Unusually for artists of the time he received several honours, including the Légion d’Honneur


Frits Thaulow, La Dordogne à Beaulieu, 1903, oil on canvas, Private Collection


Frits Thaulow, Clair de lune à Beaulieu, 1904, oil on canvas, Private Collection


Frits Thaulow, Le Curé, c1900, oil on canvas, 65 x 81 cm, Private Collection

MH, 12 December, 2018, Meeting No 7

The Pelican in her Piety

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It was once thought that as young pelicans grow, they begin to strike their parents in the face with their beaks. Though the pelican has great love for its young, it strikes back and kills them. After three days, the mother pierces her side or her breast and lets her blood fall on the dead birds, and thus revives them. The myth existed long before Christianity which adopted the idea as a symbol of Christ’s sacrifice.

The device was popular in medieval manuscripts

MMW, 10 B 25, Folio 32r, Museum Meermanno, The Hague, Netherlands


ms. 993, Folio 158v, Bibliothèque Municipale, Reims, France


KB, KA 16, Folio 96v, Koninklijke Bibliotheek, Brussels, Belgium


Brass plate from the fifteenth century, 51 cm in diameter, and made in Dinant or Maline, Netherlands. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY, USA

The pelican in heraldry


The civic arms of Speising, Vienna, Austria.
The arms are a rebus; a pun on the name, from the german speisen, to eat


The arms of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, UK, reproduced on a Wills cigarette card of 1922.

A modern rendering of the arms of Kistokaj in Hungary


And finally, an example of the pelican in stained glass


Chancel, east window, by Morris and Co, 1913, Broomfield, Somerset, UK


Penguin Books

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The imprint Penguin Books was co-founded in 1935 by Sir Allen Lane, with his brothers Richard and John. It is said that Lane thought of the idea of cheap mass-produced paperback books when he discovered that he had nothing to read on a rail journey. With the introduction of high quality fiction and non-fiction paperback books, Penguin revolutionised publishing in the 1930s. The books were sold for 6d throught outlest like W H Smith and Woolworth.

Lane had already decided on an animal as the motif, and when a penguin was suggested, the first designer Edward Young went straight off to the zoo to spend the rest of the day drawing penguins in every pose. The clear logo was matched with the archetypal modern typeface, Gill Sans, and the  three-band cover in different colours for different genres.


Later, the Pelican and the Puffin were introduced


After 1945, with the easing of the restrictions on the use of paper, the imprint began to succumb to the visual demands of the market, and retain the logo only in miniature. These examples are from 1962, 1984 & 1999


Birds in Art

The talk at meeting No 15 on 17 April was too long to be published as one post.
It also lacked focus, and is now separated into smaller more specific subjects.

They are listed here; each has a link back to this page.

Penguin Books
The pelican in her piety
The myth of Ganymede
The eagle
The eagle in heraldry
Picasso and the dove
The dove, as a symbol of the Holy Spirit
The parrot, and its association with women
Birds on Postage Stamps
The myth of Horus

To be published

The crow and the magpie
The peacock
The phoenix
The owl
Birds on cigarette cards
The crane in oriental art
Le coq hardi
Leda and the Swan


We have traced, very briefly, the history of French art  from Academic Romanticism (e.g. painters such as Bouguereau,  Meissonnier and Delacroix), to the Realists (Courbet), to the Impressionists (too many to list!!) and to Post-Impressionism (Cézanne, Seurat, Gauguin and van Gogh).

What came next?

FAUVISM  (The Wild Ones)  c. 1905

Henri Matisse, Maurice de Vlaminck, André Dérain, Kees van Dongen, Raoul Duffy, Georges Braque

They separated colour from its purely descriptive purpose, thus placing it on the canvas as   an independent element.
MOOD projection was displayed as well as SUBJECT.

CUBISM  c.1907

Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Salvador Dali, Paul Cézanne, Juan Gris, Marc Chagall, Marcel Duchamp, Fernand Léger

…leading to Abstract painting

Piet Mondrian, Diego Rivera, Paul Klee, Alberto Giocometti


… David Hockney, Francis Bacon


Paul Cézanne, Mont Saint Victoire, 1904, oil on canvas, 79 x 89 cm, Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA, USA


Paul Cézanne, Mont Saint Victoire, 1895, oil on canvas, Barnes Foundation, Merion, PA, USA


Paul Cézanne, Château noir, 1904, oil on canvas, 74 x 97 cm, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY, USA


Juan Gris, Portrait of Pablo Picasso, 1912, oil on canvas, Art Institute, Chicago, USA


Juan Gris, Guitar and Music Paper, 1927, oil on canvas, 65 x 81 cm, Saidenberg Gallery, New York, NY, USA


Pablo Picasso, Self Portrait, 1907, oil on canvas, 50 x 46 cm, Narodni Gallery, Prague, Czech Republic


Pablo Picasso, Bread with Fruit Dish on a Table, 1909, oil on canvas, 164 x 132 cm, Kunstmuseum, Basel, Switzerland

From 1909 Braque and Picasso worked together to develop Cubism.

Shown below are three examples of their work in collage, which was then used in fine art for the first time.


Pablo Picasso, Girl with a Mandolin, 1910, oil on canvas, 100 x 74 cm, Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY, USA


Pablo Picasso, Guitar, 1913, collage, 66 x 50 cm, Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY, USA


Georges Braque, Guitar, collage, 1913, 100 x 65 cm, Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY, USA


Pablo Picasso, L’Usine, Horta de Ebro, 1909, oil on canvas, 51 x 60, Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg


Georges Braque, Bateaux de pêche, 1909, oil on canvas, 92 x 73 cm, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX, USA


Cubism was to lead eventually to the de Styl movement of Piet Mondrian

and , thus, the beginning of Abstraction.

The two World Wars, I would suggest, put an end to any further logical discussion on the French art with which we have become so familiar.

Fragmentation seems now to be the order of the day.

MH 17 April 2018, Meeting No 15

Tamara de Lempicka, “Nana de Herrera”


Tamara de Lempicka, Nana de Herrera, 1929, oil on canvas, 121 x 64 cm, Private Collection


Tamara de Lepicka working on the portrait. Nana is awkwardly posed, and the result is unflattering to her subject.

The painting is in the collection of Madonna, London

Nana de Herrara, 1905-1991, was a Spanish flamenco dancer, and, at the time of the portrait, the mistress of Baron Kuffner, a rich Polish business man. He was an enthusiastic collector of Lempicka’s paintings, and he commissioned her to paint a portrait of Nana. Tamara took her place in the Baron’ affections, and the portrait remained in the hands of the dancer, who sold it in 1970. Tamara and Raoul were married after her divorce from her first husband Tadeusz de Lempicki.


Tamara de Lempicka, Portrait of Baron Raoul Kuffner, 1932, oil on canvas, 36 x 27 cm, Centre Pompidou, Paris, France

In about 1940, Nana met Pere Creixams, 1893=1965, a self taught Catalan painter living in Paris, and they had a child, Ramón.



Pere Creixams, Portrait of La Goulue, 1928, oil on canvas, Private Collection

La Goulue was a dancer at Le Moulin Rouge in Paris, and perhaps better known from the work of Toulouse-Lautrec.


Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, La Goulue, 1891, lithograph, 191 x 117 cm, Private Collection


Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, La Goulue arrivant au Moulin Rouge, 1892, oil on cardboard, 79 x 59, Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY, UK

The style and grace of Nana inspired many artists to produce her image


Joël Martel, Nana de Herrera, Poster, 1926

She is perhaps best known today for her silhouette by Max Ponty  that is still in use today on the Gitanes Blonde cigarette packet.


She later had a brief career as an actress, appearing in films of the 1940s and 1950s.

The East End Group

The East End Group

Phyllis Bray, ‘The Drama’, at The People’s Palace, Mile End, detail, 1936, oil on canvas, Queen Mary College, London
Phyllis Bray, ‘The Dance’, study for the mural in The People’s Palace, Mile End, 1936, watercolour
Elwyn Hawthorne, Bow Road, 1931
Elwyn Hawthorne, Trinity Almshouses, Mile End Road, 1935, Private Collection
Elwyn Hawthorne, Cumberland Market, 1931
Cecil Osborne, Sunday Morning, Farringdon Road, 1931
Grace Oscroft, Old Houses, Bow
Grace Oscroft, St Clements Hospital, Bow
Grace Oscroft, Bryant & May Factory, Bow
Bryhild Parker, Interior, Art Gallery & Museum, Cheltenham, UK
Harold Steggles, Canonbury, 1938
Harold Steggles, Grove Hall Park, Bow, 1933
Harold Steggles, Freighters in West India Dock, 1929, watercolour
Walter Steggles, Stratford, 1929
Walter Steggles, Brymay Wharf
Walter Steggles, Old Houses, Bethnal Green, 1929
Albert Turpin, Marian Square, Hackney, 1952, Private Collection
Albert Turpin, Rebuilding St Matthew’s Church, Bethnal Green, Private Collection

Paintings by Edward Hopper, 1882-1967, and Maurice Utrillo, 1883-1955, comparing their work with that of the East London Group

Edward Hopper, Early Sunday Morning, 1930, oil on canvas, 89 x 153 cm, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY, USA
Edward Hopper, Italian Quarter, Gloucester, 1912, 61 x 74 cm, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY, USA
Maurice Utrillo, La Place du Tertre, 1910, oil on canvas, 50 x 74 cm, Tate Gallery, London, UK
Maurice Utrillo, La Rue Norvins à Montmartre, 1910, oil on board, Private Collection
BT, 28 November 2018, Meeting No 6

Three artists and their use of political comment in their work

Three artists and their use of political comment in their work: William Hogarth, 1697-1764, James Gillray, 1756-1815, Gerald Scarfe, born 1936


William Hogarth, The Invasion, Plate 1; France, 1756, engraving

Here is Hogarth’s representation of the malnourished French soldier, who frequents inns dedicated to the symbol of French slavery and poverty: the wooden shoe (sabot). Through the window are visible the dry bones of a small joint of beef. A monk and soldiers prepare to invade Britain with torture equipment, whilst cooking up a last meal of frogs. The writing on the flag on the right suggests that the French are eager to enjoy the abundance of food and drink across the Channel.


William Hogarth, O the Roast Beef of Old England (‘The Gate of Calais’), 1748, oil on canvas, 79 x 95 cm, Tate Britain, London, UK

This painting is Hogarth’s comment on his second visit to France in the summer of 1748, when he was arrested as a spy while sketching the arms of England on the old city gate at Calais. The contemporary diarist George Vertue records in August 1748 that Hogarth and Francis Hayman were ‘attempting to draw some Views of Fortifications &c. were surprized & clapt into the Bastile. from whence they were soon glad to return to England’ (‘Vertue Note Books III’, Walpole Society, vol.22, Oxford 1934, p.142). Hogarth took his revenge with this painting. The title was taken from a popular tune of the day, which extolled roast beef as the symbol of Britain’s wealth and power.
Numerous xenophobic references indicate Hogarth’s low opinion of the French. The huge side of British beef at the exact centre of the picture, destined for the English inn at Calais, is neatly balanced by the scrawny French soldier at the other side of the drawbridge. A fat friar, the only well-nourished Frenchman in the picture, covetously pokes the beef. In the right foreground, a starving Jacobite sits with his pathetic meal of an onion and a piece of bread, his overturned cup beside him. The Jacobites, the Scotsmen who fled to France after the unsuccessful Scottish rebellion of 1745, are further symbolised by the black crow which perches atop the stone cross above the drawbridge. In the tableau framed by the gate, a white dove hangs on an inn sign above the cross – a satirisation of the Catholic Church. The fish-wives in the left foreground ridicule a skate whose unpleasantly human features resemble their own. To the left of the gate, framed by vegetables, sits Hogarth himself. As he sketches the drawbridge, the arresting officer’s hand clasps his shoulder.


James Gillray, ‘French democrats surprising the royal runaways’, 1791, hand-coloured etching, published by Hannah Humphrey, 25 x 35 cm, National Portrait Gallery, London, UK

1791 – Edmund Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France of 1790 had fractured opinion in Britain. From now on supporters of events in France could be seen as dangerous liberals. Here a French mob composed of ‘working men’ (see the implements of trade they are waving) uses excessive force to recapture the French royal family, who tried to escape the country in 1791. The French stereotype is now more bloodthirsty and savage than that of Hogarth’s prints. Notice Gillray does not spare the cowardly royal family either.


James Gillray, French Liberty. British Slavery, 1792, hand-coloured etching, published by Hannah Humphrey, 25 x 35 cm, British Museum, London, UK

Here, a new figure emerges: that of the sans culotte. So-called in France because they wore full trousers rather than knee-breaches, in England the term was translated in literal sense as ‘without trousers’. The Frenchman thanks his country for his freedom while munching on raw onions, while his English counterpart gorges on a table of food as he curses his taxes. The use of a well-fed John Bull was a popular choice when used in contrast with the French revolutionaries as the juxtaposition emphasised England’s prosperity while simultaneously denigrating France.


James Gilray, Petit souper, a la Parisienne; -or- a family of sans-culottes refreshing, after the fatigues of the day, 1792, hand-coloured etching, published by Hannah Humphrey, 25 x 35 cm, British Museum, London, UK

This caricature was inspired by news in London of the September Massacres in Paris (2-6 September 1792). Victims of the massacres are devoured by the sharp-toothed, cannibalistic monsters the revolution had brought into existence. The world has been turned upside down and the lowest in society rule – or in this case, eat – the highest. Gillray was also clearly enjoying taking the stereotype of the revolutionaries projected by anti-radicals in England to the extreme.


James Gillray, Dumourier dining in State at St Jame’s, 1793, The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, UK

Gillray has ironically inscribed this print with the words pro bono publico [for the public good]. The French general, Charles François Dumouriez (his name was anglicised in England), is invited to dine by the Opposition Whigs, Charles James Fox and Richard Brinsley Sheridan, and Joseph Priestley, defender of the French Revolution. They offer their guest William Pitt’s head, a crown and a mitre, three symbols of the English constitution, parliament, the monarchy and the Church. All the dishes are garnished with frogs. The use of eating as a means of conveying the balance of power is used repeatedly in the caricatures from this period.


Gerald Scarfe, Cameron refuses to swallow French horsemeat, 10 February 2013, The Sunday Times, London, UK

Caricature of specific politicians – representing Cameron’s disdain for French viewpoint, as portrayed by President Hollande.


Gerald Scarfe, German Eagle

Scarfe observing the power, within Europe, of the Germans (Merkel) over the French and British.


Gerald Scarfe, Le Coq Macron, Twitter, 6 May 2017

Scarfe observation on the most recent French presidential elections. Less pejorative in its view of the French, in general. Perhaps builds on broader understanding, within (at least some of) the British of French character and culture

TB,12 December, 2018, Meeting No 7

William Lionel Wyllie, 1851-1931

William Lionel Wyllie, 1851-1931


William Lionel Wyllie, Dawn after a Storm, 1869, oil on canvas


William Lionel Wyllie, Harvesting the Land and the Sea, 1873, oil on canvas


William Lionel Wyllie, Battle of Trafalgar, 1930s, panorama, Royal Dockyard, Portsmouth, UK


William Lionel Wyllie, First Voyage of the Victory, print


William Lionel Wyllie, Blocking the Waterway at Zeebrugge, Royal Echange, London, UK


William Lionel Wyllie, Sea Scouts in Portsmouth Harbour, etching

TS, 28 November 2018, Meeting No 6

Later, Wyllie’s painting of the Battle of Jutland was added

William Lionel Wyllie, Royal Oak, Acasta, Benbow, Superb and Canada in Action, 1919, oil on canvas

And, two paintings by Eugène Boudin, 1824-1898, whose work may have have influenced Wyllie while on holiday on the northern French coast in his youth.


Eugène Boudin, Nuages blancs, ciel bleu, 1859, pastel on paper, 15 x 21 cm, Musée Eugène Boudin, Honfleur, France
Eugène Boudin, Marine, 1894, oil on canvas, Musée des Beaux Arts, Mulhouse, France

Four paintings by Mark Rothko, 1903-1970

Four paintings by Mark Rothko, 1903-1970

Mark Rothko, No 10, oil on canvas, 1948, oil on canvas, 164 x 108 cm, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, USA
Mark Rothko,  Composition, 1941-1942, oil on canvas, 72 x 62 cm, Private Collection
Mark Rothko, Blue and Gray, 1962, oil on canvas, 193 x 175 cm, Beyeler Foundation, Riehen, Switzerland
Mark Rothko, Orange and Yellow, 1956, oil on canvas, 231 x 180 cm, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York, NY, USA
MC, 28 November 2018, Meeting No 6

Ambrogio Lorenzetti, c1290-1348, The Allegory of Good and Bad Government, 1339

Ambrogio Lorenzetti, c1290-1348, The Allegory of Good and Bad Government, 1339, Sala dei Nove, Palazzo Pubblico, Siena

Selected Scenes


Allegory of Peace




The City




Taking a pig to market

RA, 14 November 2018, Meeting No 5

Two painters who died young: Maria Bashkirtseff & Frédéric Bazille

Two painters who died young

Marie Bashkirtseff, 1858=1884, who died of tuberculosis at the age of 25, and Frédéric Bazille, 1841-1870, who was killed  at the Battle of Beaune-la-Rolande during the Franco-Prussian War, at the age of 28.


Marie Bashkirtseff, Portrait de l’artiste, 1880, oil on canvas, 92 x 73 cm, Musée des Beaux Arts, Nice, France


Marie Bashkirtseff, Dans l’atelier, 1881, oil on canvas, 188 x 154 cm, State Art Museum, Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine


Marie Bashkirtseff, Automne, 1883, oil on canvas, Russian State Museum, Moscow, Russia


Marie Bashkirtseff, 1884, Portrait de la belle-soeur de l’artiste, oil on canvas, 92 x 73 cm, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, Netherlands


Marie Bashkirtseff, Un Meeting, 1884, oil on canvas, 193 x 177 cm, Musée d’Orsay, Paris, France


Frédéric Bazille, 1866, Autoportrait, oil on canvas, 109 x 72 cm, Art Institute, Chicago, IL, USA


Frédéric Bazille, Réunion de famille, 1867, oil on canvas, 152 x 230 cm, Musée d’Orsay, Paris, France


Frédéric Bazille, La Robe rose, 1864, oil on canvas,147 x 110 cm, Musée d’Orsay, Paris, France


Frédéric Bazille, Portrait de Renoir, 1867, oil on canvas, 62 x 51 cm, Musée Fabre, Montpellier, France


Frédéric Bazille, Le Héron, 1867, oil on canvas, 78 x 98 cm, Musée Fabre, Montpellier, France


Frédéric Bazille, L’Ambulance improvisée, 1865, oil on canvas, 48 x 65 cm, Musée d’Orsay, Paris, France

To complement Le Héron, by Frédéric Bazille

Sisley, Renoir & Bazille were in the same studio on the same day
Sisley & Bazille painted a still life and Renoir painted Bazille.


Alfred Sisley, Le héron aux ailes déployées, 1867, oil on canvas, Musée Fabre, Montpellier, France


Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Frédéric Bazille peignant à son chevalet, 1867, oil on canvas, 105 x 74 cm, Musée Fabre, Montpellier, France

BT, 14 November 2018, Meeting No 5

Examples of conceptual art

Examples of conceptual art


Rembrandt van Rijn, Holy Family with a Curtain, 1646, oil on panel, 47 x 69 cm, Museum Schloss Wilhelmshöhe, Kassel, Germany


Marcel Duchamp, Fontaine, 1917, passim


Joseph Kosuth, Neon, 1965


Joseph Kosuth, One & Three Chairs, 1965

MC, 14 November 2018, Meeting No 5


Sisters in Art

Sisters in Art


Bouguereau, William Adolphe, La Soeur ainée, 1869, oil on canvas, 160 x 97 cm, Museum of Fine Arts Houston, TX, USA


Bouguereau, William Adolphe, Sur la grève, 1896, oil on canvas, 142 x 92 cm, Museum of Arts, Detroit, MI, USA


Brontë, Bramwell, Portrait of His Sisters, 1834, National Portrait Gallery, London, UK


Landseer, Edwin?, The Brontë Sisters?, 1835, watercolour, Private Collection (not as yet confirmed)


Théodore Chassériau, Les deux soeurs, 1843, oil on canvas, 180 x 135 cm, Musée du Louvre, Paris, France


John Everett Millais, Sisters, 1868, oil on canvas, 108 x 108 cm, Private Collection 


Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Rose et Bleu, 1881, oil on canvas, 119 x 74 cm, Museu de Arte, São Paulo, Brazil

BT, 31 October 2017, Meeting No 4

The imagination of two Flemish painters of the sixteenth century

The imagination of two Flemish painters of the sixteenth century


Pieter Brueghel, Dulle Griet, 1562, oil on canvas, 115 x 161 cm, Museum Mayer van den Bergh, Antwerp , Belgium


Hieronymous Bosch, The Garden of Earthly Delights, 1510, oil on oak panels, 220 x 380 cm, Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain

BT, 17 October 2017, Meeting No 3

The German expressionist painter, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, 1880-1938

Eight paintings by the German expressionist painter, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, 1880-1938


1 Ernst Kirchner, Badende in Moritzburg, 1926, oil on canvas, 176 x 226 cm, Tate Gallery, London, UK
2 Ernst Kirchner, Blick auf Davos, 1924, oil on canvas, 92 x 121 cm, Bündner Kunstmuseum, Chur, Switzerland
3 Ernst Kirchner, Selbstbildnis als Soldat, 1915, oil on canvas, 69 x 61 cm,Oberlin College, Oberlin, OH, USA
4 Ernst Kirchner, Blaue Artisten, 1914, oil on canvas, Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich, Germany
5 Ernst Kirchner, Zwei rote Tänzerinnen, 1914, oil on canvas, 39 x 42 cm, Museo de Bellas Artes, Turin, Italy
6 Ernst Kirchner, Berliner Straßenszene,1913, oil on canvas, 121 x 95 cm, Neue Galerie, New York, NY, USA
7 Ernst Kirchner, Aktbild von Dodo, 1910, oil on canvas, Location unknown
8 Ernst Kirchner, Selbstbildnis mit Model, 1907, oil on canvas, 150 x 100 cm, Kunsthalle, Hamburg, Germany


EH, 17 October 2017, Meeting No 3

Artemisia Gentileschi, 1693-1653

Four paintings by Artemisia Gentileschi, 1593-1653


Artemisia Gentileschi, Giuditta che decapita Oloferne, 1620, oil on canvas, 159 x 126 cm, Museo di Capodimonte, Naples, Italy


Artemisia Gentileschi, Giuditta con la sua ancella, 1614, oil on canvas, Palazzo Pitti, Florence, Italy


Artemisia Gentileschi, Autoritratto in veste di Pittura, 1639, oil on canvas, Royal Collection, UK


Artemisia Gentileschi, Susanna e i vecchioni, 1610, oil on canvas, 170 x 119, Schloss Weissenstein, Pommersfelden, Germany

And four more versions of the story of Judith & Holophernes


Sandro Botticelli, Ritorno di Giuditta a Betulia, 1470, tempera on wood, 31 x 24, cm, Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence, Italy


Carravagio, Giuditta e Oloferne, 1602, oil on canvas, Palazzo Barberin, Rome, Italy


Lucas Cranach, Judith mit dem Haupt des Holofernes, 1530, oil on beechwood, 75 x 56 cm, Jagdschloss Grunewald, Berlin, Germany


Giorgione, Giuditta, 1504, oil on canvas, 144 x 66 cm, Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg, Russia

PB, 17 October 2017, Meeting No 3

Camille Pissarro, La Cueillette des pois

A painting which has been claimed by the inheritors of the original owner


Camille Pissarro, La Cueillette des pois, 1887, gouache on canvas, Private Collection

The painting was lent to the Musée Marmottan, by its present American owners, Bruce and Robbi Toll, who had bought it from Christie’s in 1995, for $800,000. The relatives of Simon Bauer, a wealthy businessman whose assets were seized in 1943 by the anti-Semitic wartime French government that collaborated with the Nazis, sued for the return of the painting. A court in May 2017 granted the Bauer descendants request to have the painting impounded, and since then a further decision has been made to have it returned to the Bauer family.

BT, 17 October 2017, Meeting No 3