ART HISTORY II
Monday 16th October
Japanese and Chinese Art.
The second meeting of the Art History Group took place on Monday 16th October when we discussed a few points of Japanese and Chinese art. This is a huge subject and there is no way in which we could even scratch the surface.
Margaret began the discussion by producing two antique blue bowl which she had. Helen had pictures of Chinese wallpaper, which can often be seen in National Trust properties. Deirdre brought along a book of peasant paintings showing many aspects of ordinary life. Julia had a book which she had brought from the (little-known of) Museum of Taipei which has many Chinese artifacts which had been 'rescued' over the years. Jean told us of the Japanese artist Hokusai.Some of this had been shown at an exhibition at the British Museum earlier this year. He painted many of the pictures we know with Mount Fuji in the background. In all there were 36 of these – mainly in response to a sudden surge in domestic travel in Japan. Wendy had a picture of a carved lacquer box. Carved lacquer was revealed to be an extremely long process and was usually in black or red, occasionally with gold. Jean continued with the story of Hokusai. Jenny had sought out the history of Chinese brush painting which began c 4000 BC. This also had a very long training period with artists taking years on the basic bamboo before being allowed to the next step which was birds. Calligraphy was always last to be learned. She then showed us illustrations of two basic styles. There followed some discussion on the influence of Chinese and Japanese art on Western art which can be seen from about 1860 and was largely due to the trading which these countries had with the Dutch (China and Japan were very closed societies).
Enid wound up with a book which traced the history of both country's art from earliest time to the 1660s.
The next meeting will be in the Pinney Room , 2.30pm November 13th. The subject is paintings of historical events – battle, weddings, coronations, meetings, etc.
Monday 18th September Meeting.
The first Art History session for 2017/18 took place on the afternoon of Monday Sept 18th. The subject was Art Illustrating Verse. After introductions, as we had some new members, and apologies Jenny led off with a book of verse and images together compiled by Pamela Norris. These were medieval illustrations taken from pieces such as Books of Hours and Altarpieces with accompanying verses. Some of the artists were Holbein, Raphael, Bruegul and Bosch and while most of the verse was by that ubiquitous chap "Anon" there was one by Henry VIII. Jenny went on to introduce us to a book of 20th century poetry by Edward Thomas (1878 - 1917) with paintings by Valerie McLean.
Margaret continued the meeting with 'The World of Christopher Robin' (AA Milne) with illustrations by E(rnest) H(oward) Shepard(1879 - 1976).Most of the illustrations were the well known black and white drawings but there were also some colour entries.
Julia brought an illustrated book of 'Persian Love Poetry' and an (also illustrated) version of 'The Prophet' by Kahlil Gibran (1883 - 1931).
Wendy spoke of her memories of illustrations for Thomas Gray's (1716 - 1771) 'Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard' and also the very scary (to a child) pictures for 'The Jabberwock' in 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland'. She then went on to tell us about Edmund Dulac (1882 - 1953), a prolific French born British naturalised illustrator. He had begun his career by illustrating the novels of the Bronte sisters. He produced light relief books during World War I and then turned to magazine illustration (among other ventures) after the war. Wendy had an illustration from The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyan.
Jean produced Vincent van Gogh's (1853 - 1890) 'The Starry Night'. Giving us a potted biography she reminded us of his depressive condition and ultimate suicide. as she linked the painting to a poem by American poet Anne Sexton (1928 - 1974) who had written a poem in 1961 about this artwork. She also was depressive and eventually also committed suicide.
Enid concluded by reading a poem by T S Eliot (1888 - 1967) about himself (How Unpleasant to meet Mr Eliot) - rather derogatory - with an accompanying portrait of Eliot by Patrick Heron (1920 - 1999) which hangs in the National Portrait Gallery. This item had been selected by Glennis who was unable to attend. Enid then continued with her own selections: The paintings by john Everett Millais (1829 - 1896) and william Holman Hunt (1823 - 1910) illustrating 'Isabella and the pot of Basil' a poem by John Keats (1795 - 1821). This poem is based on a story from 'The Decameron' (Boccaccio). This was followed by Gustave Dore's (1832 - 1883) etchings for 'Paradise Lost' by John Milton (1608 - 1674). Enid also had illustrations by Gustave Moreau (1826 - 1898) and Marc Chagall (1887 - 1985) for the 'Song of Solomon' - also known as 'The song of Songs'. This is a poem of sexual love found in both Jewish religious texts and the Christian Bible. She ended with two illustrations for 'The Faerie Queene' by Edmund Spenser (c1553 - 1599). These were the frontispiece - artist unknown - and a painting of a story in Book III of Britomart (a lady knight) rescuing Amoret from Sir Scudamore painted by William Etty (1787 - 1849)