Thursday, January 26, 2017

Victorian Sensibilities

Thomas Lawrence painted this formal portrait in 1800-01. Sir Alexander Mackenzie shows the Scottish born man who joined the fur trade out of Montreal, beginning a life of trading, exploring distant corners of the country, and interacting with First Nations peoples. In 1789 he traveled down the great river that today bears his name all the way to the Arctic Ocean. Four years later Mackenzie found a passage through the Canadian Rockies to the Pacific Ocean- a full decade before Lewis & Clark. He was knighted for his efforts, and sat for this portrait with the artist while in London.


Frederic Leighton painted this oil painting, Actaea, The Nymph Of The Shore, in 1868. This is a figure of Greek mythology, one of the Nereids, the fifty daughters of Nereus the old sea god. The classical references of mythology allowed Victorian sensibilities to overlook that whole erotic quality of the painting. 


This is another Victorian era oil painting circa 1878, The Letter, by James Tissot, a French artist who spent several years in Britain. It is thought that the setting of this painting is the Dutch Garden of Holland House in London. The letter, torn to shreds on the ground, is a common motif among Victorian era paintings, suggesting absent or unrequited love. 


Fate And Love is the title of this bronze sculpture by the French artist Gustav Dore, done in 1877. It portrays the Greek divinities of Atropos (Fate) and Eros (Love) together.


This bust was nearby- a marble, and it caught my interest, but I seem to have not photographed its details, so it'll have to wait until my next visit.


This oil painting is by George Frederic Watts, titled Time, Death, And Judgment. Painted at some point between 1865-1886, it was a gift of the artist to mark Queen Victoria's Jubilee in 1887, one of the earliest gifts to the National Gallery of Canada. It is an allegorical painting. Time stands on the left, with Death to his right. Above them, Judgement hovers with scales.

27 comments:

  1. The 3rd painting is my favourite in this series!

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  2. A wonderful glimpse of the gallery

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  3. Not until reading about the explorers Lewis and Clark did I realize the importance of the fir trade. Gold from mammals. The first and last paintings captivate me.

    Janis
    GDP

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  4. i am fond of the Victoria oil painting ... i enjoy the colors ... i was never given the chance to work with oils when in art class in school, i wonder what it would be like? i always enjoyed art class. but when you look at the prices in art shops they are pretty pricey. i don't meet a lot of artistic though. guess it is not the popular sport these days? ( ;

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  5. I enjoyed this series immensely and as usual, I learned a lot reading your commentaries. Thanks for sharing!

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  6. My first thought was that the first guy wasn't usually dressed like this. Amazing that such paintings like the second one were even displayed in the Victorian era! Maybe it guaranteed the continued interest in mythology!

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  7. Love the sculptures William, Fate and Love is tres dramatique and the marble lady gorgeous!

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  8. @Linda: it's a good one.

    @Mo: thank you.

    @Janis: it was quite an industry.

    @Francisco: thank you.

    @Beth: as I understand it, oil paintings take a long time to dry.

    @Lowell: you're welcome.

    @Janey: Mackenzie would have dressed very differently out in the wild.

    @Grace: indeed!

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  9. her face is so life-like on that bust!

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  10. Great works of art! Thanks for showing that Frederic Leighton painting. Since I just visited his home in London a few months ago, it holds a special interest for me.

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  11. The sculptures in this post are beautiful, I think.

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  12. Much of the older art work had a religious theme. Churches commisioned much art.

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  13. The Fate and Love sculpture is my favorite. Thanks for the nice tour, William!

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  14. @Tanya: it is!

    @Sharon: ah, small world! I expect I'd enjoy visiting there.

    @Jan: they are.

    @Red: and with time that changed.

    @Bill: it's quite an unusual sculpture. I've featured a painting by Dore before from here.

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  15. I really like The Letter, William.

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  16. So beautiful and the colors are exquisite. You must have a great camera.

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  17. They are all nice, but I think The Letter is my favorite in this series.

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  18. Grandiose. I do love how the Victorians could leave moralizing behind when it came to mythology. The sculptures are fantastic.

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  19. @Revrunner: I know I can't!

    @RedPat: so do I.

    @Eve: it does the trick.

    @Lois: it's rather poignant.

    @Mari: yes, quite a contrast when you think of how seemingly repressed they could be.

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  20. William, I really enjoyed these. I can't get enough of museums. I guess photography is going to have to be my own creative outlet. I sure can't paint or sculpt.

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  21. The light, subject matter, and execution of these works appeal to me more than yesterday's...though all are wonderful.

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  22. I love the stories behind works of art. Thank you for a great post. Can't wait to hear about the bust - she caught my eye too.

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  23. Serious wonderful works! Thank you for explaining WHO Sir Alexander Mackenzie was! Glad to finally know

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  24. What an interesting collection! McKenzie must have lost his fair skin and rosy cheeks during his explorations. I love the composition of The Letter with the vegetation on the peristyle.

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