Friday, November 15, 2013

Who Painted This #52

Who painted this #52?
Inspired by the recent exhibition of artwork by the Society of Wildlife Artists I went looking for other artwork of the same ilk - and found this.

Now the question is - do you need to identify the birds to identify the painting?

Don't forget besides wanting the answers to all the usual questions(see below) I also now need to know something about the artist and painting - and the best answer wins this week's challenge!

How to participate in "Who painted this? #52"

PLEASE make sure you read the rules before posting a comment - and ONLY POST ON THIS BLOG what you think is the answer.
Click this link to read THE RULES for participating in this challenge (this saves having to copy them out for each post!).
In short:
  • use your brains not software to find the answer - search using words only on a database of images 
  • leave your answer as a comment on this blog - do not leave the answer on Facebook! 
  • if correct it will not be published until the next post - which provides the answer 
  • if wrong it will be published 
  • the winner - who gets a mention and a link on/from this blog - is NOT THIS WEEK the first person to give me a completely correct answer for ALL the things I want to know. It's the person who does all this AND provides the BEST answer (see above)

Who Painted This #51 - The Answer

The bride's song by Gunnar Berndtson
You can see more paintings by Gunnar Bendtson here

Who guessed correct?

Who painted this #51? - Just one person got it right - which made me feel a lot better about the fact I couldn't work it out!

This week, I think the only person to get the right answer was John O'Grady (John O'Grady paintings)

For the record, this was my response to Bernadette who set me the challenge for reaching #50
It looks like a wedding breakfast. Late 19th century - judging by the corsets and dress. I've tried various word combinations but am not getting any results. BTW - sneaky on the choice of a topic which throws up infinite numbers of photos for any of the words such as wedding, bride or orange! :)

William Frith looked like a possible contender as did Edward Leighton but I don't think it's either of those. It's got a European vibe to it - but not too much which makes me think maybe French or Spanish. But the composition makes me think Russian for some reason.

So not sure - and no time to look further!


  1. Can I get a hint? Lovely piece by whoever it was.

  2. I'm afraid not. I only start giving out hints after three days with no correct answers! :)

  3. ... Uh... you did give a hint... in the form of a question... and thanks

  4. Did I?

    There again it might have been a rhetorical tease? ;)

  5. Artist: Léon Bonvin
    Title: Birds resting on Bushes
    Date : 1864
    Medium: Watercolour with gum heightening, gouache,iron gall ink and pen, and graphite over graphite underdrawing on slightly textured, moderately thick cream wove paper.
    Where it is: Walters Art Museum
    How I found it: I searched with all the obvious words...Plants,birds, goldfinch and more. When I tried birds weeds on Wiki the first image up was by Leon Bonvin, called Landscape with birds and weeds. It looked similar so I looked him up and found it.
    Born In Paris, in 1817, Francois Bonvin was the first child of a policeman and a seamstress. His mother died when he was four, his father remarried, moved to Vaugirard ( a village near Paris) and went on to have nine more children, one of whom was Léon , who was born in 1834. Both boys were talented at drawing from an early age. Having been brought up in Paris, Francois had much better opportunities to see work in museums and to improve his skills.He became a successful artist who made a good living from his work. He gave a large degree of help to his much younger brother, encouraging him to try different mediums and sending him paper,paint, ink and charcoal from Paris. Having married in 1861, Léon Bonvin made a meagre living running the family inn at Vaugirard . He still continued to paint,being inspired by the landscape around him. This landscape was bleak and so was his work, though it is often enlivened by a touch of red or orange.In 1866, his business failing, he went to Paris to try to sell some work, was rejected by an art dealer and took his own life the next day.To me, only seeing them on line , his paintings are beautiful;finely crafted and made with great skill and observation.In`Birds resting on Bushes`, with its limited palette ,it is obvious that this is a scene he observed many times over. Words like moody, luminous,pristine lines and colours were often used about his work in the few articles I could find about him. And I realised that I had more questions about him than answers.Such as... Who did he marry?
    Did he have any children?
    Where did he usually sell his work?
    Did he (as one article suggested) stop using oil paint because he couldn`t afford it, thus working out a way of making work unique to himself?
    Was there a reason why his brother, who seems to have given him a lot of help when he was young, didn`t introduce him to a good dealer?
    And lastly .... The Walters.. father and son, who donated the art works to found the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. William Walters bought most of the watercolours in a sale ,after Bonvin`s death. How did he know about Bonvin?
    And if he a wealthy and successful collector, thought the work was worth buying ,why did Bonvin find it so hard to sell work when he was alive?
    I do hope someone else has the answers.....
    And.....big congratulations to John O` Grady for being the only one who worked out Challenge number 50 !!
    Bernadette Madden

  6. Hello Katherine,

    Who painted this #52? is called 'Birds Resting on Bushes'.

    I first searched for the type of birds, found they were goldfinches. I searched in google images for paintings with goldfinches - no success. After a few more searches, including searching for Fabritius who had painted a tethered goldfinch, I tried paintings of birds in bushes and it came up.

    It was painted in 1864 by a self-taught French artist and inn keeper with a tragic story called Léon Bonvin born in 1834 in Vaugirard, then outside Paris, who died in 1866.

    An elegant and subtle watercolor created with gum heightening, gouache, iron gall ink and pen, and graphite over graphite under drawing on slightly textured, moderately thick, cream wove paper, its dimensions are 24.4 cm by 18.5 cm.

    It resides at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore.

    Although at first you could pass by this little gem without noticing it because this quiet painting seems to be about mist and greys, if you give it a little bit of your time, soon you notice a few highlights of colour in the foreground.

    When you are surrounded by mist, your eyes become accustomed to the diffused light and start noticing what’s around. In ‘Birds Resting on Bushes’ you can now make out a group of birds and you can even identify European goldfinches. In the background, you can see tall thistles and if you are a bird lover you may know that goldfinches eat their seeds.

    Goldfinches are often featured in paintings. Imbued with Christian symbolism relating to Christ’s Passion and his crown of thorns because they feed on thistle seeds, the birds appear in pictures of the Madonna such as 'Madonna of the Goldfinch' by Raphael, (c. 1505–6) to represent the foreknowledge Jesus and Mary had of the Crucifixion.

    It’s likely that Bonvin was aware of these symbolisms through his brother, François Bonvin, a noted artist who lived in Paris and visited Le Louvre. He encouraged his younger sibling and shared his paints and knowledge recommending him to study the Dutch and Italian masters as well as Chardin.

    The more you look at this painting the more you realise Leon Bonvin’s mastery of the media he used. He deftly juggled the transparency of the watercolour with the opaqueness of the gouache, the metallic of the graphite and the purple black of the iron gall ink to suggest mood and temperature as well as the blue-grey light at that particular time of day. This painting can transport you to this uncultivated land in a Parisian suburb that could be anywhere in the northern hemisphere.

    Léon’s activities as an inn-keeper constrained him to paint his surroundings yet he knew them so well he was able to show us a glimpse of his life.

    This painting conveys a bleak early morning heavy with a cold mist the French call ‘à couper au couteau’ (to cut with a knife) yet there is life. The group of beautiful birds with colourful feathers bring a moment of joy.

    Patrick Kavanagh, the Irish poet wrote in The Great Hunger that “a man might imagine.... these birds the birds of paradise”.

    It’s also likely he can hear their melodious songs which have made them popular cage birds.

    This painting was created two years before he took his own life by hanging from a tree in the forest of Meudon the day after a collector refused to buy his paintings dismissing his work as “too dark, not gay enough”.

    Soon after his death, some of his work was acquired by William T. Walters, father of Henry Walters, who inherited them in 1894. When he died in 1931, he bequeathed his art collection including the Bonvin paintings and the palazzo building that housed them to Baltimore. The Walters Art Museum opened in 1934.

    Several bloggers and in particular Jane Librizzi from the blog 'the blue lantern' talk well about Leon Bonvin’s work.



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