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Helen A. Cooper

(b Boston, MA, Feb 24, 1836; d Prout’s Neck, ME, Sept 29, 1910).

American painter, illustrator and etcher. He was one of the two most admired American late 19th-century artists (the other being Thomas Eakins) and is considered to be the greatest pictorial poet of outdoor life in the USA and its greatest watercolourist (see fig.). Nominally a landscape painter, in a sense carrying on Hudson River school attitudes, Homer was an artist of power and individuality whose images are metaphors for the relationship of Man and Nature. A careful observer of visual reality, he was at the same time alive to the purely physical properties of pigment and colour, of line and form, and of the patterns they create. His work is characterized by bold, fluid brushwork, strong draughtsmanship and composition, and particularly by a lack of sentimentality.

Homer was the second of three sons of Charles Savage Homer, a hardware importer, and Henrietta Benson Homer, a gifted amateur watercolourist. Brought up in Cambridge, MA, where he attended school, he had an active outdoor boyhood that left a lifelong liking for the country. An independent, strong-willed young man, he showed an early preference for art and was encouraged in his interest by both parents. Like a number of self-educated American artists, Homer was first known as an illustrator. At 19 he became an apprentice at the lithographic firm of ...

Article

Jens Christian Jensen

(Friedrich Erdmann von)

(b Breslau, Silesia [now Wrocław, Poland], Dec 8, 1815; d Berlin, Feb 9, 1905).

German painter, draughtsman, illustrator, printmaker, and teacher. He was the most important artist working in Berlin in the second half of the 19th century and in his later years was one of the most successful and respected artists in Germany. Living virtually all his life in Berlin, he executed numerous paintings and illustrations relating to events in Prussia’s recent history and was the foremost chronicler of the life of Frederick the Great (reg 1740–86). Through his portraits and industrial scenes and his more intimate studies of interiors and local religious events he became one of the greatest German proponents of Realism (see Realism, §3).

He was the son of Carl Erdmann Menzel (d 1832), the head of an educational institute in Breslau, who abandoned his profession in 1818 to establish a lithographic printing works. In 1827, at age 12, Adolph Menzel exhibited a drawing and in ...

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Gabriel P. Weisberg

(b Saint-Nicolas-d’Attez, Aug 5, 1823; d Colombes, Sept 11, 1891).

French painter. After his father died in 1840 Ribot trained himself as an artist while working as a bookkeeper in Elbeuf, a small village near Rouen. In 1845 he married and moved to Paris, where he worked as a decorator of gilded frames for a mirror manufacturer and became a pupil in the studio of Auguste-Barthélémy Glaize. He painted architectural backgrounds for Glaize and made his own studies from the nude model. Around 1848 he went to Algeria, where he worked as a foreman. After his return to Paris in 1851 he practised a variety of trades to support himself, colouring lithographs, decorating window-shades, painting signs and making copies of paintings by Watteau for the American market. It was not until the late 1850s that he began to produce his own paintings, working on realistic subjects at night by lamplight. This circumstance inspired his interest in the chiaroscuro effects that were to characterize his later paintings....

Article

John Milner

[Rus.: Suprematizm]

Term coined in 1915 by Kazimir Malevich for a new system of art, explained in his booklet Ot kubizma i futurizma k suprematizmu: Novyy zhivopisnyy realizm (‘From Cubism and Futurism to Suprematism: the new realism in painting’). The term itself implied the supremacy of this new art in relation to the past. Malevich saw it as purely aesthetic and concerned only with form, free from any political or social meaning. He stressed the purity of shape, particularly of the square, and he regarded Suprematism as primarily an exploration of visual language comparable to contemporary developments in writing. Suprematist paintings were first displayed at the exhibition Poslednyaya futuristicheskaya vystavka kartin: 0.10 (‘The last Futurist exhibition of paintings: 0.10’) held in Petrograd (now St Petersburg) in December 1915; they comprised geometric forms which appeared to float against a white background. While Suprematism began before the Revolution of 1917, its influence, and the influence of Malevich’s radical approach to art, was pervasive in the early Soviet period; ...