The Passion of Collecting Academic Nudes

Join me as we explore my collection of Academic Nudes from the 18th, 19th, and Early 20th Centuries and serendipitous finds in the Museum, Art Auction, and Gallery world......examples from the Golden Age of the European Academie

Friday, September 30, 2022

Late 19th Century Student - French Academy - Drawing of Classical Drapery From A Cast


 I was wondering around the halls of eBay France this morning when I happened upon a very nice example of a late 19th Century student drawing of classical drapery, drawn most probably from a life sized studio plaster cast from the antique.  I suspect this is the quality of work expected from a 19th century French Art Academy student before they were ever let near a live human model. Anyone with Attention Deficit Disorder would probably have headed for the nearest exit when challenged with that kind of observational detail! Enjoy!


Thursday, September 15, 2022

Hans-Richard von Volkmann (1860-1927) Intaglio Print - Nackter Knabe mit Stier - Nude Boy with Bull - Circa 1906

                 The Artist: Hans-Richard von Volkmann (1860-1927)

The last few weeks have been very productive in terms of academic nude works that I have found and purchased on the German eBay site and which are now headed into my collection. This intaglio print by the German Artist Hans-Richard von Volkmann (1860-1927), although unsigned, titled "Nackter Knabe mit Stier," was found several days ago and bought today. Here is the graphic work in question:


Title: Nackter Knabe mit Stier (Nude Boy with Bull)
Materials: Intaglio Print on Paper (29cm x 19cm)
Artist: Hans-Richard von Volkmann (1860-1927
Date Executed- Circa 1906
Reference : Kunstdruckerei Künstlerbund Karlsruhe (KKK) (Art Print Artists Association Karlsruhe)
Signed: Unsigned

                         Here is some biographic information from the net:

"Hans Richard von Volkmann (19 May 1860, Halle - 29 April 1927, Halle) was a German illustrator and landscape painter, associated with the Düsseldorfer Malerschule. His father, Richard von Volkmann, was a well known surgeon and occasional author. By the age of fourteen, he was already roaming the areas around Halle with a pencil and paint box. Many of his early watercolors are still in the possession of the Halle state archives.

After completing his primary education, he enrolled at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, where he studied from 1880 to 1888. His primary instructors there were Hugo Crola, Heinrich Lauenstein, Johann Peter Theodor Janssen and Eduard von Gebhardt. During this time, he became a member of the progressive artists' association, Malkasten. From 1888 to 1892, he was in Karlsruhe, as master student of the landscape painter, Gustav Schönleber, who would be his primary influence. His first sale was in 1890, to a friend of his father's, Dr. Eduard Hertzberg.

He made extensive painting excursions throughout Central and Southern Germany. In 1893, he paid a visit to the Riviera. Despite these travels, Halle would be his artistic home base for the rest of his life. Later, he joined the Deutscher Künstlerbund and participated in their first exhibit in 1904, at Munich's Staatliche Antikensammlungen.[1]

His second home was the artists' colony in Willingshausen. He first went there in 1883 and, for the next twenty-five years, was there every summer.[2] From 1907 to 1910, he lived there with his wife and children. He would do so again from 1924 to 1926.

He died in his home town, three days after returning from a trip. In 1928, the city of Halle presented a major retrospective of his work. In addition to his relatively simple landscapes, he also illustrated sixty-two children's books; some of them written by his father under the pen name "Richard Leander."

 The Düsseldorf school of painting is a term referring to a group of painters who taught or studied at the Dusseldorf Academy  (now the Staatliche Kunstakademie Düsseldorf or Düsseldorf State Art Academy) during the 1830s and 1840s, when the Academy was directed by the painter Wilhelm von Schadow.[1]

The work of the Düsseldorf School is characterized by finely detailed yet fanciful landscapes, often with religious or allegorical stories set in the landscapes. Major members of the Düsseldorf School advocated plain air painting", and tended to use a pallette with relatively subdued and even colors. The Düsseldorf School derived from and was a part of the German Romantic Movement. Prominent members of the Düsselorf School included von Schadow, Karl Friedrich Lessing, Johann Wilhelm Schirmer, Andreas Achenbach, Hans Fredrik Gude, Adolph Tidemand, Oswald Achenbach, and Adolf Schrödter.

The Düsseldorf School had a significant influence on the Hudson River School in the United States, and many prominent Americans trained at the Düsseldorf Academy and show the influence of the Düsseldorf School, including George Caleb Bingham, David Edward Cronin, Eastman Johnson, Worthington Whittredge, Richard Caton Woodville, William Stanley Haseltine, James McDougal Hart, Helen Searle, and William Morris Hunt, as well as German émigré Emanuel Leutze. Albert Bierstadt applied but was not accepted. His American friend Worthington Whittredge became his teacher while attending Düsseldorf."

Here's some background information regarding the Kunstdruckerei Künstlerbund Karlsruhe (KKK) (Art Print Artists Association Karlsruhe (KKK), the likely source of the print:

The founding of a separate printing shop for the Karlsruhe Artists' Association, which was founded on April 25, 1896, was initiated by the two Academy professors and association members Leopold Graf von Kalckreuth and Carlos Grethe. The trained lithographer Carl Langhein, who had been Kalckreuth’s assistant since 1895 and head of the academy’s lithography class set up in the same year, was entrusted with managing the art print shop, which opened in May 1897 as the Langhein lithography print shop for the Karlsruhe Artists’ Association at 35 Akademiestraße and which formerly the Hasperschen Hofbuchdruckerei of Josef Lang at Kaiserstraße 235. With the sale of the latter to the G. Braunsche Hofbuchdruckerei in the same year, the art print shop was also transferred to the Braunsche company. Langhein became manager of the Braun subsidiary, which moved to Erbprinzenstraße 10 in 1898, was converted into a limited liability company in 1901 and from this point on officially traded as the art print shop Künstlerbund Karlsruhe (KKK). In addition to the production of artistic color lithographs by the members of the association, the commercial use of lithographic technology for printed matter of all kinds for industry and trade was in the foreground right from the start. Langhein succeeded in hiring a few wholesalers (including Heinrich Schlinck, Palmin, in Mannheim; Julius Baader, Baaders Brezeln, in Freiburg i. Br.; Mayer & Grammelspacher, Diana air guns, Eureka weapons, in Rastatt) for the creative implementation of Win promotional printed matter through the KKK. In 1901, a contract was signed with the two Leipzig publishers B. G. Teubner and R. Voigtländer for the publication and sale of the artistic quick press prints, while the KKK continued to sell the exclusive hand-signed hand press prints. The connection with Leipzig opened up new exhibition, publication and sales opportunities for the members of the Karlsruhe Artists' Association, especially in the context of the art education movement of the time. According to the address book, the KKK also owned a copper printing shop from 1904, which produced both artist etchings and works for large companies such as the Bremen shipping company Norddeutscher Lloyd. Standardized bulk goods included the production of stamps for the Grand Duchy of Baden, printed folding boxes and cigarette packaging (from 1921 the KKK had its own folding box department), area maps and cadastral plans. In 1916 the KKK became the owner of the neighboring building at Erbprinzenstraße 8. In 1921 it opened a shop for the art publishing department at Erbprinzenstraße 10. In 1923 the art print shop was converted into a public limited company. The following year, she took over the Carl Metzeroth copper engraving institute in Hildburghausen, which expanded production to include maps from leading German hiking clubs. In 1930 the establishment and expansion of a photo and reproduction department began. From the 1930s, the production of atlases was added, including the Heimatatlas Südwestmark Baden (1934) and people, home and the world. Atlas for elementary school (1941). At the beginning of the Second World War in 1939, the Army Planning Department and the Main War Map Office used the company's cartographic experience. After the death of Werner Knittel in 1940, the junior boss of the KKK, his brother Eberhard Knittel, who was responsible for the G. Braun company at Karl-Friedrich-Strasse 16, also took over the management of the KKK. In 1950 the company was expanded to include Erbprinzenstraße 6 and was converted into a GmbH. In 1957/58 the business complex was expanded to include Erbprinzenstraße 4 and 12. Advertising, packaging and cartography continued to be the three focal points of the large graphic company. In the early 1980s, operations were reduced to Erbprinzenstraße 4 before being closed in 1984."

Here are just a few examples of his large body of works: 

Monday, September 12, 2022

Unknown Artist - Nude Female - Recent Ceramic Casting - An Example of Artistic Appropriation?

Once again, the hollow halls of eBay USA has burped up a little “I stole that!” gem. As any serious art collector can tell you, you can find “beauty” in the strangest, least costly, and most unlikely of places. I have no idea who created this small ceramic sculpture of a female nude but it hit two bells in my belfry. First of all it contained a certain gentle beauty of a female nude in the not so familiar form of an unmarked ceramic and somewhere in my old memory it had all of the attributes of an artistic appropriation. It brought back memories of my time in Art School when I learned that artistic expression did not really depend upon the unique genius and imagination of the artist (it helps) but in reality relied up the ability of an artist to “appropriate” an image and turn that reinterpretation into something “unique” to that artist. In other words, artistic expression builds upon the past. I have an original drawing by New Orleans artist George Dureau (1930-2014) in my collection. In researching the artist and his works, I was amused to find that every time Robert Mapplethorpe visited his studio in New Orleans, George would literally hide his latest drawings and paintings because if Mapplethorpe saw them the exact images would invariably end up in one of Mapplethorpe's newest works! Any art historian will gladly admit that Pablo Picasso was the biggest beg, borrow, and steal artist of the 20th Century. If the image or idea wasn’t nailed down, Picasso would “appropriate it", reinvent it, and produce it in one of his own works! Much to my surprise, artistic appropriation is a time honored tradition in art circles. Appropriation Art refers to the utilization of existing objects or imagery with almost no alteration. In the art world artistic appropriation refers to the correct adoption, borrowing, recycling, or sampling of any human-made cultural imagery (think Marcel Duchamp).

Okay, but how does this particular ceramic figure of a female nude fit in with “Artistic Appropriation?” I searched the halls of my memory when suddenly a recollection of a painting by Sir George Clausen, RA. titled “Youth Mourning” (1916) came to mind. The pose had been slightly altered but the over all feeling of the work was definitely on target. Did the creator of this small ceramic work expound upon his or her visualization of Clausen’s original work? Who knows? But the similarity is just too obvious to not make that assumption.


                                  Sir George Clausen RA: Self Portrait

Clausen created the original painting in 1916 in honor of his young daughter upon hearing the news of the death of her fiance on the battlefields of France in World War I. Here is Clausen's painting of grief:


Sunday, September 4, 2022

Joseph Duncan Gleason (1881-1959). Standing Nude Boy - Watercolor on Paper - circa 1950


                          The Artist: Joseph Duncan Gleason (1881-1959)

                           The work coming into my collection:

                              Title: Standing Nude Boy
                              Artist: Joseph Duncan Gleason (1881-1959)
                              Materials: Pencil Drawing, Watercolor on Paper
                              Signed: Not Exhibited, Artist's Label on Reverse
                              Dated: Circa 1950

At first appearance you might just wonder why a Blog featuring a preponderance of 19th Century Academic Nudes would include an Academic nude which was created circa 1950 by an America Artist. The secret to my collecting this work lies in the “classical” European training that the artist received and not necessarily in the age of the work, although the beauty of the work speaks for itself. My first impression when I spotted this work on eBay was “Wow.. that's amazing!.....shades of Renoir’s 1868 painting: “Young Boy with a Cat!” It is a beautiful lyrical depiction of innocence in the form of a young male nude subject, classically posed in that standing contrapposto pose. The initial impression was just that strong, but in this case, the medium was different, watercolor on paper, which shows the complete command of drawing and painting the artist possessed. Watercolor is not an easy medium to master and here you see a fine mastery of the medium by a sight-size classically trained and talented artist. You can readily see the underlying pencil drawing and I did some quick research on the artist which proved to me that he had a very respectable compilation of auction results and was well listed and exhibited. The listed price was somewhat below his other sales results for a works on paper and the subject matter was indeed unique, so I executed the buy. Now, what about the history of this artist really caught my attention? His art training at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries was the detail which really peaked my interest: "College of Fine Arts at USC, in 1899 the Mark Hopkins Institute, San Francisco, San Carlos Academy in Mexico City, The Art Institute of Chicago, and The Art Students League of NewYork"…. All before 1910! That is some impressive classical European Academic training, unpolluted by later modernist artistic garbage. Gleason is best known for his maritime paintings but his minor figurative works will be listed here below.

Here is a quick biography of the artist as it originally appeared on the listing:

"Joe Gleason was a native of California, born in Watsonville, in 1881.  He was known for his landscape and marine paintings of San Pedro Harbor on the California coast.  He also wrote and illustrated several books on California maritime history and worked for the scenic art department at Metro Goldwyn Mayer and Warner Brothers studios. 

Gleason was raised in Los Angeles, California, and was working for the Union Engraving Company when he was only fourteen years old.  He was skilled at drawing and sketching and took his first art training at the University of Southern California as a pupil of Lees Judson. Gleason then moved north to San Francisco to attend the Mark Hopkins Institute of Art.  While going to school he worked for the Sunset Engraving Company as a commercial artist.  
He studied in Chicago at the Art Institute of Chicago and from 1900 to 1901, took lessons from Frank DuMond at the Art Students League in New York City.  He supported himself as a commercial artist. 

He stayed in New York for ten years before returning to Los Angeles in 1910.  He exhibited at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (1924), the Arizona State Fair (1932), the California Palace of the Legion of Honor (1945) and the Golden Gate International Exposition (1939).  He painted murals in the Hotel Clark and for Gardena High School (Los Angeles). 

When he wasn't pursuing a career in art, Gleason was training as a championship gymnast.  He won the International Championships eleven times on the Rings.  Gleason was also an author and illustrator of two books he wrote about the California coast.  Later in life he worked for the MGM and Warner Brothers Studios in Los Angeles. Gleason died in Glendale, California on March 9, 1959.

Here is what immediately came to mind when I first set eyes on the above work:

                      "Young Boy With a Cat" ... 1868

         Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919)

                                 Here are additional views of the Gleason work:

And last but not least, here are a few examples of his other figural works:

And what he is best known for and which bring in the big bucks at auction: