Sunday, December 01, 2013

Who painted this? #54

Who painted this? #54
When I first came across this artist, in a book, I was amazed that I'd never heard of him before given his fame and the success that he enjoyed in his lifetime.

Next week I'll tell you where you can see some fine examples of his paintings in London.

Don't forget besides wanting the answers to all the usual questions (see below) I'd also like to hear about what you managed to find out about the artist and painting - and the best answer wins this week's challenge!

How to participate in "Who painted this? #54"

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  • if correct it will not be published until the next post - which provides the answer 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 #53 - The Answer

Winter by Abel Grimmer
Abel Grimmer is a Flemish painter of the Baroque era. He was born in Antwerp in 1570.  His father was Jacob Grimmer (1525-before May 1590) who was also a landscape painter. Grimmer's other influences were  Pieter Brueghel the Elder and Hans Bol.

The two artists - father and son - specialised in landscapes and often completed sets of paintings based on the Four Seasons or the Months of the Year - often including a Biblical scene. There was a tendency to copy other painters or prints of sets of paintings.

You can see:
I was absolutely fascinated by the details of the origins of this painting which you collectively succeeded in turning up. Don't you just love the way art evolves over time!

Initial comments by those providing answers suggest that the antecedents of the painting are
  • a series of engravings by Hieronymus Cock
  • based on a series of drawing by Hans Bol (since lost)
Grimmer's painting was also recognised to be very like a painting by Pieter Brueghel the younger which is called Winter Landscape with Skaters ( of which at least one version resides in the Picker Art Gallery, Colgate University). However this was completed in 1616 which means the Grimmer came first!

Winter Landscape with Skaters by Piter Brueghel the Youngeroil on panel, unframed 16 3/8 x 22 1/4 in. (41.5 x 56.5 cm)
sold at Christies January 2003
This blog post (on Rompedas which is a very curious blog) about the painting by Pieter Brueghel explains the sequence.

However I think he relies on this catalogue description relating an art auction of works by Bol at Christies on January 23 in 2003
The composition of Pieter Brueghel the Younger's splendid winter landscape is closely based upon a lost drawing by Hans Bol (1534-1593). Bol was both a draftsman and painter, and an accomplished watercolorist ( waterschilderen ). Many of his drawings were made into prints by engravers such as Hieronymous Cock and Phillip Galle, and in 1570, a year after the death of Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Hieronymus Cock published a series of four engravings depicting The Four Seasons . These had been commissioned by the elder Bruegel, and were to be after compositions that he was working on. The drawing for Spring, in the Albertina, is dated 1565, that for Summer 1568. However, Brueghel the Younger was unable to complete all four drawings before his death, and Cock turned to Hans Bol to supply Autumn and Winter in time to publish his engravings in 1570. Neither of Bol's drawings survives. Ertz ( op. cit. ) notes that the present painting is the earliest dated version of this composition. Both Pieter Brueghel the Younger and Abel Grimmer used the series as the basis for paintings, Grimmer generally remaining more rigorously faithful to the original drawing/engraving. The present picture shows some of the younger Brueghel's adaptations. For example, Cock and Grimmer depict a circular island with a tall conifer to the right of the castle. Brueghel introduces the footprints in the snow in the left foreground, whereas Grimmer shows the snow apparently untrod. Brueghel retains Cock's fallen branch in the foreground, adding some twigs: these are present in this picture, slightly altered in number and position. Also, the composition and appearance of the buildings in the right background are Brueghel's adaptations, as are the large windows in the castle, and the absence of men working in the fields in the left background.
However alerted by these clues as to the provenance of the painting I kept going and found this
The drawings Spring ofr565 and Summer, carried out three years later, are designs for a set of engravings devoted to the cycle of the seasons, which Bruegel unfortunately did not complete: in 1570, a year after Bruegel's death, Hieronymus Cock issued the full, four-part series with Fall and Winter designed by Hans Bol. Although only Spring bears the monogram ofPieter van der Heyden, we can be reasonably certain that this printmaker engraved the entire series;3 and we can clearly see that in both Spring and Summer he beau- tifully preserved the power ofBruegel's spatial conception as well as the more delicate aspects of his drawings.
This comes from Pieter Bruegel the Elder : drawings and prints / edited by Nadine M. Orenstein ; with contributions by Nadine M. Orenstein, Manfred Sellink, Jürgen Müller, Michel C. Plomp, Martin Royalton-Kisch, Larry Silver which I downloaded from the Metropolitan Museum of Art Publications and scoured for references to drawings of seasons.

So - I think we now have the answer.

The series of images realised by Grimmer started as a series developed by Pieter Brueghel the Elder (who was the real innovator). However he died having only completed Spring. The series of drawings were completed by Hieronymus Cock - although the Autumn and Winter images were designed by Hans Bol. Abel Grimmer then copied the entire series - and much later Pieter Brueghel the Younger copied the Winter Landscape version of the Bol / Cock image.

There - we got there in the end!

Who guessed correct?

Who painted this #53? - The first person to get the correct answer was happyjacqui - who also contributed significantly to my understanding of where this painting came from. Marie also got the answer right.

However theartistsday identified that it's part of a pair - and I found this link so that you can see Autumn and Winter by Abel Grimmer (plus Spring and Summer by Abel Grimmer)

However - the prize for the most comprehensive and complete answer again goes to Bernadette Madden!

Well done all of you - that was a really challenging puzzle!


  1. Dang it, I came so close to getting this one.
    But alas, I went left instead of right!
    I was looking for a work done AFTER Brueghel!

  2. Who painted this? #54
    Artist: Jean-Louis Ernest Meissonier
    French, [1819 - 1891]
    Painting: A Painter
    Medium: Oil on mahogany panel
    Date: 1855
    Dimensions [unframed]: 26.7cm x 21.2cm [10.5 x 8.3 inches].
    Location: Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, Ohio, USA
    Notes from the website : "A painter in his studio is busy at work on a small canvas depicting a nymph and satyr, probably Jupiter and Antiope. The painter wears 18th-century dress, indicating that at the time of its creation in 1855, this picture was already a charming historical fiction. It was exhibited in the Paris Salon of 1857."

    Some other notes on Meissonnier's fame
    are that in 1897 a Parisian newspaper [Le Figaro] asked the leading French art dealers, critics, and curators: Which French artists of the 19th century would still be important one hundred years hence in the year 1997? The results were, number one, Adolphe William Bouguereau; second, Jean-Louis Ernest Meissonier; and, third, Léon Gérôme.
    Soon after his death his, along with Bouguereau and Gérôme's, fame declined into obscurity. His unpopularity would mean that his name was not included in a 20-century standard history of French painting and his statue removed from the Louvre in the 1960's [by order of the French culture minister André Malraux]. In the past 20 years there has been a re-appreciation of his work and rehabilitation of his legacy. In this matter, the author Ross King wrote "The Judgment of Paris" [1996] in which Meissonier's history and fame is recorded and favorably assessed.

    Last, Salvador Dalí considered Meissonier to be one of the most important painters. He entitled a portfolio of his lithographs "Hommage à Meissonier." Also, he desired his "Galatea of the Spheres" to be exhibited on an easel once owned by Meissonier.

  3. The artist is the 19th century classical French painter Jean-Louis Ernest Meissonier. Wikipedia has a decent discussion on this amazing artist who is known primarily for his paintings of the Napolenic wars.

    (Nanaimo, BC Canada)

  4. Jean-Louis-Ernest Meissonier

    19th century French classical painter known best for his paintings of the Napoleonic wars.

    Wikipedia has decent bio.

  5. I almost gave up on this one, no amount of Googling produced results, which made me wonder how Wiki and Google work out key words. Given that the title is A Painter and the man is obviously painting at an easel, you would think that any of those words would have produced a result.....but no!
    Artist............Jean-Louis Ernest Meissonier
    Title.............A Painter
    Medium........Oil on Mahogany
    Date ............1855
    Where it is.....Cleveland Museum of Art
    How I found it..........I thought I knew it and its only now,writing this comment, that I realise that the picture it reminded me of is Man Writing a Letter by Gabriel Metsu,which I often see because is in the National Gallery of Ireland. After hours of fruitless searching, I saw an image on the wonderfully named `My ear trumpet has been struck by lightening` site, called `The Painting Connoisseurs`. This looked like it might be by the same artist and so it turned out ,but even with the (possible)name of the artist it still took quite a while, but I got there in the end.
    There is a huge amount of information available on Meissonier, the basics are:
    Jean-Louis Ernest Meissonier was born in Lyons in 1815 into a well-off family. He showed great talent at an early age and was lucky that his parents, recognising this, allowed him to study to become a painter, rather than forcing him to go in to the family business. He married in 1838 and had two daughters. Almost from the start he was making a living from his work and commanding high prices, so much so that, at age 31, he bought a large mansion in Poissy which had two studios..... one for Summer and one for Winter as well as extensive living accommodation.In mid career he sold one of his painting,`Cuirassiers` for £10,000. To put that price in to context.... in Pride and Prejudice, written in 1813, Mr Darcy who had an income of £10,000 a year, is deemed to be extremely wealthy by Mrs Bennet and in 1899 a housemaid in London was earning £10 a year. His motto was Omnia Labor / Everything by Work and he does seem to have lived up to it. He could do anything he wanted with paint, such was his skill, religious ,genre,book illustrations, interiors, landscapes, historical ( Napoleon and his battles was a big favourite) amd much more.He also made etchings and lithographs. He went to endless lengths to set up his composition, making sketches and tiny models and never started a painting until he was sure it would work.He painted small pictures and big ones, sometimes taking years to finish a large piece. And that is only the tip of the iceberg....In spite of all his success.... the Presidency of the jury of the Great Exhibition of 1889, the numerous paintings exhibited in the Salon,the medals, the Legion of Honour,the Grand Cross, he still hankered after a Professorship in the École des Beaux Arts...and never got it.
    `A Painter` is a small historical piece, a little jewel, showing an artist painting a nymph and a satyr. Without being in any way hyper realistic,the attention to detail is such that you can almost feel the tension in the painter`s back as he leans forward to put brush to canvas, his legs gripping the edge of the carved stool on which he is sitting. Judging by the clothes, it is set in the recent past, to the time when it was painted...a device often used by Meissonier. These historical paintings were a little old fashioned but very popular; they sold well because they were easy to hang in the average house or apartment, both because of their size and subject and no one could fault the skill and beauty of the painting.


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