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Article

Elizabeth Ashman Rowe

Illuminated 14th-century deluxe Icelandic manuscript (420×290 mm, 202 fols; Reykjavík, Árni Magnússon Institute, GKS 1005 fol.) of King Sverrir’s Saga. It was compiled by the priests Jón Þórðarson and Magnús Þórhallsson for Jón Hákonarson (1350–before 1416), a wealthy landowner in northern Iceland who collected sagas of the kings of Norway. A note on folio 4r dates Jón Þórðarson’s contribution to 1387, and Magnús Þórhallsson’s annals at the end of the manuscript indicate the book was completed in 1394 or 1395. Magnús illuminated the whole manuscript and was the scribe of King Sverrir’s Saga (composed in part by Abbot Karl Jónsson of Þingeyrar, Iceland, c. 1185). The saga contains eight initials decorated in a style combining Gothic curved and draped human figures with Romanesque grotesques and acanthus motifs. Five initials depict Sverrir (with crown, orb and weapons), his opponent Sigurðr, and their soldiers. One initial is foliate, and two depict hybrid monsters. The taunting grotesque (fol. 156...

Article

Valerio Rivosecchi

(b Faenza, Aug 4, 1909; d Rome, April 5, 1981).

Italian painter, illustrator and stage designer. He began his training in Faenza in the workshop of the Italian painter and ceramicist Mario Ortolani (1901–55). After living briefly in Bologna (1927) and Paris (1928) he settled in Rome in 1929, first exhibiting his work at the Venice Biennale in the following year. His paintings at this time, such as Nude (Susanna after her Bath) (1929; Faenza, Pin. Com.), were characterized by an emphasis on tonal relationships and on the influence of the Scuola Romana. In 1934 he began to work with growing success as an illustrator for the journals Quadrivio and Italia letteraria. The contacts he established with Paris were intensified with his move there in 1947, resulting in three one-man shows at the Galerie Rive Gauche (in 1950, 1953 and 1957), and in his paintings he evolved a cautious balance between the representation and the disassembling of the image. Some of his best-known series of paintings date from this time, including his ...

Article

Avis Berman

(b Roxbury, MA, Sept 14, 1867; d New York, NY, Dec 23, 1944).

American illustrator. Gibson’s graphic creation, the “Gibson Girl,” became a symbol of upper-middle-class American womanhood from 1890 to 1914. The Gibson Girl’s appearance and dress were widely imitated and her popularity helped shape social attitudes at a time when women’s roles were undergoing dramatic changes.

Growing up in Massachusetts and New York City, Gibson entered the Art Students League at 16, studying there for two years. In 1885 he left school to make a living as an illustrator. Gibson drew in pen-and-ink, his medium for the rest of his career, but his early sketches were stiff and labored. In 1886 he sold his first drawing for $4 to Life, a weekly humor magazine. Emulating the draftsmanship of the British cartoonists John Leech, Charles Keene, George Du Maurier and Phil(ip William) May, Gibson developed a freer and more economical style. He successfully sold arch scenes of politics and society to Life...

Article

Simon Houfe

(b Blackheath, July 21, 1817; d Blackheath, Oct 5, 1897).

English illustrator and painter. While articled to his father’s estate agency for two years, he spent his time sketching City of London costumes and liveries and regimental uniforms. This meticulous historical knowledge helped when he became a full-time artist in 1836, exhibiting oils at the Royal Society of British Artists and the British Institution, both in London. From 1842 he was the first artist to contribute historical scenes to the Illustrated London News, making a total of 30,000 illustrations in 40 years. Gilbert found ample employment in book illustration, his classical draughtsmanship being ideal for such publications as Howard Staunton’s Shakespeare (1856–60). He began to paint in watercolour in 1851, developing mastery as a colourist and in working on a large scale; he was elected to the Old Water Colour Society in 1854 and was its President in 1871. He became an ARA in 1872 and an RA in ...