Bell observes: "Facts mattered less to Delacroix than the principle that a painting should form a ‘bridge’ from mind to mind. ‘I have told myself a hundred times that painting – that is, the material thing called a painting – is no more than a pretext,’ he wrote in his journal on 18 July 1850, ‘the bridge between the mind of the painter and the mind of the spectator.’ ... Delacroix assembled ... a compendium of specimens of nature that is equally a compendium of pigments and mediums. The switch from tomato to aubergine becomes a switch from the fattest vermilion to the gauziest suspension of violet-tinged varnish. These colour forays bounce off against one of easel painting’s structural problems, as French tradition defined it – how to unify, how to arrive at cohesive effect through rhythms of highlights and darks."
Van Proyen concludes: "Despite whatever claim one might want to make about the complicated relation of Turner’s work to Romanticism (for starters, his politics were of the type that would never embrace the idea of “liberty leading the people”), the important point is that Turner did something with that influence, and that thing is what we see in this exhibition. It captures the precise hinge moment where the radical subjectivity of Romanticism pivots to a new place, where artists dedicated themselves to exploring the tangible relationship between experience and the materials that would allow them to capture those experiences."
"With more than thirty landscapes on display here, ranging from 18th century pre-Romantic scenes to Turner’s late Alpine watercolors, exhibition organizers say the British and German works in this show 'offer a fresh look at stylistic similarities and differences in the approaches of the two schools.' ... British artist John Robert Cozens (1752-1797) ... made drawings of the Italian landscape. 'A Ruined Fort Near Salerno,' ca. 1782, a moody, blue-toned watercolor, has scratched-in highlights giving the picture a dreamlike light. The scale in this watercolor is disorienting- an enormous mountain looms behind the crumbling fort while tiny sailboats can be made out in a lake below."
Scott Greene considers Winslow Homer’s The Herring Net (1885) in the collection of the Art Institute Chicago.
Greene writes: "Like most great traditional paintings, 'The Herring Net' is a bundle of contradictions. The sensuous, lapping applications of paint are loose and free, yet bound by observation and specificity. The jagged naturalistic mountains of water soften and shimmer through sfumato like a fading dream. Foreshortening compresses volume, creating a bold, graphic quality and expanding the sense of scale. An intimate glimpse surrounded by vast emptiness suggests isolation and vulnerability. Color values and hues are so close in places that, like a Morandi still-life, distinction between man and boat dissolves."
Altoon Sultan blogs about 19th century northern European paintings at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Sultan writes: "...on my most recent visit to the Met I ... was very happy to discover 3 or 4 small rooms tucked towards the rear that were full of beautiful, small landscape studies. The paintings I most admired were done by artists from northern Europe: Scandinavia––Denmark, Norway, Sweden––Flanders, and Germany... The work seemed very close to American Luminist painting in its clarity of light and form, its classic layering of space, and its modest size."
Belz notes that "Bell’s drawings--they’re all charcoal on mylar--are noticeably and resolutely small, on average between three and five inches on a side, small enough to hold in the palm of your hand, like a postcard, or a cell phone, or an iPod, or, even when framed, something still easily handled, like an iPad. All of which means size is purposefully a function of their content, as it’s been from time to time in art in the past. As it was, for instance, with the Abstract Expressionists who regularly produced oversized paintings, not first of all to express the might of American painting, a plausible suggestion, but to achieve intimacy--to physically engulf us in their worlds and thereby enable us to become one with them. Dozier Bell too seeks intimacy, but hers accrues to our holding close her miniature landscapes, rubbing our nose in them, not to control what we see, a possible but vainglorious fantasy, but better to absorb their content and to gain thereby a fuller understanding of nature’s scope and bounty."
Spicer writes that the "tendency towards introspection was a common theme in Romantic landscape art and, as A Dialogue with Nature illustrates, so too was the direct observation of the natural world... In the hands of the Romantic painters, however, landscape art took on a new depth of meaning... In the pursuit of accurate observations then, both German and British artists found common ground in a shared fascination with the most fleeting forces of the natural world."
Williams writes: "The two artists are represented by paintings and watercolours. In fact, water is one clear link between them: the way it carries colour, extending its reach into the corners, lapping against the edges, the bleeding and flowing of pigmented washes, suggestive of form or simply evocative of place as felt experience... I mused what [Turner] would have made of Frankenthaler’s work and even more so how would he have painted today? Would he still be painting landscapes? I wonder if it was landscape as a theme which eventually allowed him to paint as he wanted to paint, rather than always wanting to paint landscapes per se. The title of the show seems to reinforce this point. This is an exhibition that deals with how paintings get made rather than any specifics of subject matter. Many of Frankenthaler’s quotes about her work could equally have been uttered by Turner -'There are no rules. That is how art is born, how breakthroughs happen. Go against the rules or ignore the rules. That is what invention is about.' "
Jackie Wullschlager reviews the exhibition Turner and the Sea on view at the National Maritime Museum, London (through April 21 2014) and the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Massachusetts (May 31 - September 1, 2014).
Wullschlager writes: "Vortex-like compositions, suggesting history’s repetitions as doomed cycles of catastrophe and of man sucked to his fate recur in Turner. They are the violent side of the Victorian anxiety... Modern taste, however, since the mid-20th century, is for the Turner of pure sensation, effects of light, air, wind and colour, as abstractions. These mostly later works were largely unseen in the artist’s lifetime and for decades beyond... [Turner and the Sea] is a vibrant, engaging show encouraging us to perceive the myriad ways in which Turner was, as Ruskin wrote, 'the man who beyond doubt is the greatest of the age . . . at once the painter and poet of the day.' "
Edited by artist Brett Baker, Painters' Table highlights writing from the painting blogosphere as it is published and serves as a platform for exploring blogs that focus primarily on the subject of painting.