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HOLBEIN: Capturing Character – REVIEW

Litercurious Book Review

Holbein capturing character Ed. Dr Anne Woolett
Holbein: Capturing Character Ed. Anne Woolett et al
TitleHolbein: Capturing Character
EditorDr. Anne Woolett et al
PublisherJ. Paul Getty Museum (October 19, 2021)
FormatHardcover
Page192
GenreIndividual Artistic Monographs, Art Portraits, Calligraphy Guides
LanguageEnglish
ISBN#10/131606067478 / 978-1606067475

EDITOR

Dr. Anne Woollett is curator of paintings at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, California, USA.

SYNOPSIS

HOLBEIN: Capturing Character was edited primarily by Dr. Anne Woolett. Her collaborator’s include: Ulrich Hans BirkmaierAustėia MackelaitėPeter van der Coelen, and John T. Qillen. This work is a comprehensive monograph of the work of Hans Holbein The Younger (1497/98–1543). This compact Gallery Book was published to accompany the exhibition of the 16th Century renaissance Master Hans Holbein The Younger. The exhibitions at the J. Paul Getty Centre on October 19, 2021, – January 9, 2022; and continuing at the Morgan Library & Museum from February 11, 2022, to May 15, 2022. 

HOLBEIN: Capturing Character, although petite at just 9×12 inches, contains a genuine treasure trove of ultra high quality plates that depict:

  •  a selection of Holbein The Younger’s most valued paintings, 
  • blockcutts, 
  • woodcut illuminations,
  • chalk illustrations “Trois Crayons” (three chalks), 
  • oils on panel, 
  • engravings, 
  • jewelry, 
  • hat badges, 
  • medallion designs on paper, 
  • arabesque ornament designs on paper, 
  • silverpoint by Hans Holbein the Elder (1460/70-1524), 
  • designs for a stained glass window, 
  • cartouches
  • paintings from tempera and oil on panel, 
  • oil on canvas, 
  • oil on paper glued to panel, 
  • mixed technique1,  
  • a selection of ornamental lids,
  •  page drafts, 
  • tempera on unprimed canvas, 
  • an example of a rundel portrait, and 
  • studies pen and brown ink, brown and black ash ink wash and highlights of white gouache and black chalk on paper. 

Anne Woolett and her associates have produced a invaluable asset for anyone who wants to study Holbein or those who simply enjoy his amazing talents.  

Each listing is individually numbered and contains essential details relating to the image containing information on:

  • the artist, the subject where available, 
  • the date, the material used, 
  • the dimensions of the original, 
  • its current location, and 
  • the current owner if known.

Hans Holbein was an artist with unsurpassed levels of observation and the ability to translate his vision to oil on panel or many other mediums.

Additional information included in the book are:

  • an impressive Forward that sets the context for the reader
  • a detailed list of Illustration Credits
  • a list of short biographies covering the most notable figures who sat for Holbein
  • a chronology of each of the more significant works
  • an extensive bibliography
  • a list of Lenders to the exhibition, and 
  • acknowledgements 

1(a method originally accredited to Leonardo da Vinci. It involved tempera and oil, called tempera grassa, to try and extend the limitations of the medium. He would use one part egg yolk mixed with one part linseed oil to form the binder for his pigments.)

CONCLUSION

The plates in this work are exquisite in their reproduction being large, high quality, full-color images of the Master’s works. They are accompanied by comprehensive pertinent details relating to each work of art. The Editor and her collaborators excelled at the presentation, format, and underpinned these with exquisite insights to the zeitgeist of the times.  

Holbein: Capturing Character is a catalogue that is engaging, entertaining, informative and an accomplished illumination worthy of the Great Master. The subject is handled masterfully and is impeccably researched. There are extensive and detailed notes for each chapter, and in addition a short comprehensive Bibliography. Holbein: Capturing Character proved to be an addictive read.    

It is often said that a thing of beauty is a joy forever and so it is for this pocket-sized library of perfection. 

Rating: 5 out of 5.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I would like to thank Editor Dr. Anne Woolett, et al. , J. Paul Getty Museum, and NetGalley for affording me the opportunity to review HOLBIEN: Capturing Character.

OTHER WORKS FROM J. PAUL GETTY MUSEUM

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THE KING’S PAINTER – REVIEW

Litercurious Book Review

The King's Painter: The Life of Hans Holbein by Franny Moyle
The King’s Painter: The Life of Hans Holbein by Franny Moyle
TitleThe King’s Painter: The Life of Hans Holbein
AuthorFranny Moyle
PublisherAbrams Press (October 5, 2021)
FormatHardcover
Pages400
GenreArt History, Artist & Architect Biographies, Great
Britain History
LanguageEnglish
ISBN 10/131419749536 / 978-1419749537

#Artist & Architect Biographies, #Art History (Books), #Great Britain History (Books)

AUTHOR

Granny Moyle Author of The King’s Painter Author Section

Franny Moyle is the author of The King’s Painter. She is a Cambridge educated art historian and biographer.

SYNOPSIS

The King’s Painter: The Life of Hans Holbein written by Franny Moyle is a long-awaited full biography of the great German Artisan. Moyle presents her research and analysis into his life, times and work. Moyle posits that Holbein was arguably the greatest renaissance Master painter in Northern Europe with a wide repertoire during the 1530’s until his death. Holbein was exalted by his peers as comparable to the German artist Albright Dürer and indeed there are some similarities in their style of painting. Nicholas Bourbon compared him to Apelles of Kos. Others have described him as a multifaceted genius, humanist, political propagandist and a satirist. A man who’s deft work consisted of loosely concealed symbolism and allusion, hidden in plain sight. Moyle’s focuses upon the period of Holbein’s life from the 1520s until his death and the administration of his will. 

The King’s Painter begins with the unique and close relationships that Hans Holbein enjoyed with King Henry Vlll of England. Holbein is at the height of his power, and his talent was known around Northern Europe. He was arguably the most notable painter in Europe during the Reformation and the Dissolution of the Monasteries in England.  

Moyle’s research puts flesh on the bones of Hans Holbein the Younger. He was the son of Hans Holbein the Elder, also a painter famed for creating The Martyrdom of Saint Sebastian. Holbein the Younger earned his accolades through his skill, commitment and hard work. He aligned himself with wealthy patrons, principal amongst them: Erasmus of Rotterdam, Thomas Cromwell, Anne Boleyn, and King Henry Vlll of England.

The book begins in the 1530s; Holbein was an exalted artist enjoying the fruits of his labors. He had a wealthy clientele, fame and riches; all forged on his talent of creating realistic likenesses for his patrons. Such was his success that he was one of the few who could engage with King Henry Vlll in private, a very rare honor indeed. 

The gravitas of Holbein’s fame as Northern Europe’s most heralded painter comes into stark contrast when one considers his contemporaries. His peers during the period were: Leonardo da Vinci who was working in France at the time; Michelangelo who was painting the Sistine Chapel for Pope Paul lll; and the Venetian artist Titian da Cadore, also know as Tiziano Vecelli,, who was creating work for King Charles V The Holy Roman Emperor and Archduke of Austria.

Hans Holbein the Younger worked during some of the most tumultuous times in history. Times that were resplendent with great artists. His work was held in the highest esteem due to the verisimilitude of his portraits. He was respected and valued by the political elite, religious, and other connoisseurs.

It is difficult for us to imagine today just how popular Holbein’s art was during the late 16th Century’s European Renaissance period. When he released a new work, there was a frisson of excitement so powerful it was palpable. Holbein’s projects were considered to be a luxury. At a time before modern photographic processes, his paintings were seen as a way of passing down your visage to history and your decedents. At no time since Apelles had an artist been so able to depict his subjects with unfettered verismo.

By the end of Holbein’s life, he had accrued wealth and notoriety. Moyles posited that his sad demise was due to the plague. However, the absence of an identifiable resting place or his remains leave us with an enduring mystery.

CONCLUSION

The King’s Painter is a detailed history of 16th Century England, the Monarch Henry VIII and a testimony to the verisimilitude of the portraits painted by Holbein. Moyles book will be popular with those interested in; Hans Holbein the Younger, art history and those who wish to understand Holbein’s work through the context of his life and times. The King’s Painter is an authoritative dive into Hans Holbein’s past. It enlightens those of us who are fortunate to still enjoy the great artists work today. 

The King’s Painter is not a gallery book filled with images of either the artist or his works. Instead, Moyle has produced an academic examination of Hans Holbein, his associations and challenges. Moyles writing is exceptional and she maintains the readers attention with her deft narrative.

The King’s Painter is engaging, entertaining, informative and accomplished. The subject is handled masterfully and is impeccably researched. There are extensive and detailed Notes for each chapter and in addition a short, Selected Bibliography. The King’s Painter proved to be an addictive read.    

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I would like to thank Franny Moyle, Abrams Press, and NetGalley for affording me the opportunity to review The King’s Painter: The Life of Hans Holbein.

OTHER BOOKS BY THIS AUTHOR

Turner: The Extraordinary Life and Momentous Times of J.M.W. TurnerBy Franny Moyle
Turner: The Extraordinary Life and Momentous Times of J.M.W. Turner By Franny Moyle

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Manet and Modern Beauty – REVIEW

Litercurious Book Review

TitleManet and Modern Beauty: The Artist’s Last Years
EditorsScott Allan, Emily A. Beeny, and Gloria Groom (Ed.)
PublisherGetty Publications 1st Edition (25 Jun, 2019)
FormatKindle     
Page400    
LanguageEnglish     
ISBN #1606066048 ISBN #-13 (978-1606066041)     

The editors of this work should be proud. They have managed to create a work of art that Édouard Manet would have considered a fitting epitaph. The publication is dripping with beautifully reproduced works by the brilliant and talented Manet.

Who is the Target Audience?

This book is a must have for anyone who enjoys the Impressionist period of Modern Art. I would especially recommend this volume to students of art history or those with a love of the Impressionist Movement. There is so much information in the book that it could reasonably be considered as an encyclopedia of the artist and his works.

Synopsis

The contents are arranged in an organized fashion with accompanying high-quality photographic images of Édouard Manet’s paintings, sketches, personal letters, and more; much more. The Editors include a useful chronology dating from 1876 until Manet’s death in 1882. You can expect to learn about his background, his years at the Salon (Portrait of Antonin Proust, 1880. Cat. 22). We also learn details of his personal challenges experienced shortly before his tragic death. It is evident from Manet’s works included herein that Velasquez was one of his major influences. I believe that is most evident in Manet’s oil painting on canvas entitled A Bar at the Folies-Bergère, 1881. The Editors have made it easy to reference the illuminations.

The aspect of the book I enjoyed the most is the personal letters which Manet illustrated with wonderful watercolor sketches. Sketches that elevate an otherwise mundane note to a whole new level (See the Chapter entitled: Manet’s Little Nothings). After reading this “Manet Encyclopedia” I have a more complete understanding of the man and his work. I found the Chapter on Manet’s methods and Materials to be interesting and educational; as any artist would. By viewing the artists’ palette, we can see the insight for the paintings he created. There are close up images of individual brushstrokes revealing some of his methods in applying oil paint; an aspect that I found to be very helpful. I adored the summary of pigments detailed in a table complete with abbreviations, techniques employed, and references. There is even a color chart detailing individual colors that Manet used in his palette. Keep a look out for the Chapter on Manet’s private selection of personal letters 1878-83, for a genuine insight into the mind of the artist. It’s appropriate that the chapter of personal letters is followed by Plates that include a Portrait of Édouard Manet, 1867 (painted by Henri Fantin-L’atour) See Cat. 1. The Plates are resplendent with painting after painting. I laughed when I saw his painting of a brioche with a rose in it. This image in particular speaks of the artist’s outlook on life. I have yet to see a better painting of Irises in watercolor than the one contained in this tome.

Conculsion

The book concludes with a Catalogue of the Exhibition – 1866. Manet was at the height of his power as is evident from the contents of the catalogue. The Editors generously provide us high-quality images of the paintings from the 1866 exhibition.
This is the seminal work in my opinion of the late years of Édouard Manet and is a fitting epitaph to the great artist. I have no compunction in recommending this work of editorial art to you.

Acknowledgment

My sincere thanks go to: NetGalley, and J. Paul Getty Museum for affording me the opportunity to review “Manet and Modern Beauty.”