Painters of People
This selection of books taken from the Art Collection at the Poughkeepsie Public Library District represents a few artists who are particularly adept at portraiture. Each artist has the unique ability to convey more than just a passing likeness, managing to express certain psychological traits in their subjects.
Chuck Close by Robert Storr
Chuck Close is a contemporary artist who paints enormous, mural-sized portraits of people in a modern pointillist style. This painting is of Close’s friend Lucas Samaras. Samaras is a
contemporary photographer and multimedia artist. The Walker Art Center has an interview with the artist with a picture of him at work on one of his enormous canvases.
Chuck Close (American born 1940)
Oil and pencil on canvas
100 x 84 in. (254 x 213.4 cm)
Purchase, Lila Acheson Wallace Gift and
Gift of Arnold & Milly Glimcher, 1987 (1987.282)
Fragonard by Pierre Rosenberg
Jean-Honore Fragonard is largely known for his exuberant rococo style, but his pictures of men and women can also offer a disarmingly candid glimpse into 17th century French manners and customs.
A Young Girl Reading
Oil on Canvas
82 x 65 cm
National Gallery of Art, Washington
Holbein by Helen Langdon
Hans Holbein the Younger was a favorite among the 16th century English royal court and produced many commissioned portraits that bear an almost photographic quality. Henry VIII even had Holbein create a portrait of Anne of Cleves, the fourth of Henry's eight wives, before he had seen her in person, as a sort of Polaroid by which the King could judge her beauty or lack thereof. Holbein neglected to include the many pox scars that dotted her face and when Henry finally came face to face with his future wife he was, needless to say, underwhelmed. The portrait shown here is of Sir Thomas More, author of Utopia. The painting can be seen at The Frick Collection in New York City.
Hans Holbein the Younger
Sir Thomas Moore
Oil on Panel
75 x 60 cm
The Frick Collection, New York
Portraits by Ingres: Image of an Epoch by Gary Tintero
Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres' portraits were commissioned by members of the 19th century French aristocracy. His work pays particular attention to the luxurious details surrounding his sitters like the luminous glow of crushed green velvet, or the intricate brocade of a sitter's collar. Their mirror-like finish and carefully modulated shadowing display his love of Italian Renaissance painting.
Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres
Comtesse de Tournon, née Geneviève de Seytres Caumont
Oil on Canvas
92 x 73 cm
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia
Klimt's Women by Tobias G. Natter
Recently one of Gustav Klimt's portraits of Adele Bloch-Bauer, wife of a Viennese sugar-manufacturer, reportedly sold at auction for a record-breaking $135 million dollars, surprising many in the art market. Klimt was a superb draughtsman who boldly experimented with color, pattern and texture in his portraits. The portrait featured here, of Friederike Maria Beer, also shows Klimt's predilection for Japanese silk screens. Another famous Viennese painter, Egon Schiele, also painted Friederike Maria Beer's portrait.
Portrait of Friederike Maria Beer
Oil on Canvas
168 x 130 cm
Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Tel Aviv
Larry Rivers by Sam Hunter
Larry Rivers was a contemporary painter who, even up to his death at 79, was combining three-dimensional collage work with slick photographic technique in new and exciting ways. His work bridged the gap between early Abstract Expressionists like William De Kooning and Jackson Pollack and the later Pop Art Masters Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein. This portrait is of noted Italian contemporary art collector Carlo Bilotti. In the background is a Dubuffet sculpture owned by Bilotti and is on display at his museum in Rome. You can also check out the lovely double portrait Warhol did of his wife and daughter at the Carlo Bilotti Museum web site. Additionally, if the Dubuffet looks familiar, you may have seen one like it in New York City called Group of Four Trees.
Carlo con Dubuffet sullo sfondo
Oil on Canvas on Shaped Support
120 x 86 cm
Museo Carlo Bilotti, Rome
Lucian Freud: Recent Work by Catherine Lampert
Lucian Freud is the grandson of famous Viennese psychologist Sigmund Freud, which may explain some of the trademark psychological intensity found in his work. Girl in Bed is a portrait of Freud's second wife Lady Caroline Blackwood, heir to the Guinness fortune. Their marriage didn't last but many years later the famous American poet Robert Lowell - and Blackwood's third husband - was said to be traveling with this painting when he suffered a fatal heart attack. You can read more about Caroline Blackwood in the fascinating biography Dangerous Muse, or check out some of the books in the Mid-Hudson Library System's collection written by Blackwood.
Girl in Bed
Alice Neel by Ann Temkin
Alice Neel is especially noted for her frank portrayal of people. Her wide painterly gaze captured everyone from Andy Warhol and Robert Smithson to Faith Ringgold and Frank O'Hara, each in the same equitable manner. This portrait is of Ellen Johnson a Professor of Art at Oberlin College. Click on the picture to read an account of the making of this portrait. Neel's portraits have also graced the cover of Time magazine.
Portrait of Ellen Johnson
Oil on canvas
44 x 38 in.
Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin College, Ohio
Vincent van Gogh by Johannes van der Wolk
Most people have probably heard of Vincent Van Gogh. His experimentation with line and color produced vibrant, visually stunning pictures. The portrait here is of an attendant at the Mental Hospital in Saint-Rémy where Van Gogh stayed before his death in 1890. Despite Van Gogh's convalescence he was still making his strongest works like the iconic Starry Night. Van Gogh also made a portrait of the attendant's wife and after many years of being hidden in storage it is now on display at the Hermitage in Russia. Both portraits are copies Van Gogh made for himself as the originals were given to Trabuc and his wife and are now presumably lost or destroyed. Click here for the provenance of these two portraits.
Vincent Van Gogh
Portrait of Trabuc
76 x 100 cm
Kunstmuseum Solothurn, Switzerland
Velázquez by Antonio Dominquez Ortiz
This portrait of Juan de Pareja, an assistant to Diego Velázquez, may be the finest portrait ever made. It was said to have been painted as practice for an equally famous portrait Velázquez created of Pope Innocent X. Velázquez was a Spanish court painter during the reign of Philip the IV. Check out other portraits of the royal family including Infanta Margarita Teresa, and Prince Balthasar Carlos on Horseback in this lovely book of his works. You can also travel down to New York City to see the wonderful portrait of Juan de Pareja in person at to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Click on the portrait to see a painting done by Pareja himself.
Juan de Pareja
Oil on Canvas
81.3 x 69.9 cm
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York