Pooh & Piglet update

Artdaily.org – The First Art Newspaper on the Net

Today, Sotheby’s London sold the finest single collection of E.H. Shepard’s original drawings for Winnie-the-Pooh books to have come on the market. The collection of Stanley J. Seeger & Christopher Cone realised the extraordinary total of £1,262,863 ($1,968,046), well in excess of the pre-sale high estimate for the sale (est. £648,900-931,500).

The top-selling lot in this afternoon’s sale was one of the most iconic and best loved illustrations of Pooh, ‘He went on tracking, and Piglet . . . ran after him’ and was extremely sought-after and contested for by more than four bidders in the saleroom and on the telephones. The illustration sold for the remarkable sum of £115,250 – more than double its pre-sale low estimate (est. £40,000-60,000) – establishing a new auction record for a drawing by E.H. Shepard.

The next highest price was for, ‘Bump, bump, bump – going up the stairs’, which sold for £97,250 and then “When Christopher Robin had nailed it on in its right place…”, which brought £73,25.

E.H. Shepard illustrations

According to BibliOdyssey forty two original E.H. Shepard illustrations will be auctioned at Sotheby’s (New Bond Street, London) on 17th of December.

These are among my favourite illustrations of all time, matched only by my love of the stories they accompany. I spent many hours reading these stories to my children and never grew tired of Milne’s humour and beautiful language. It is hard to imagine the stories without these wonderful illustrations which inspired, but were never matched by, Disney.I'm Not Throwing It, I'm Dropping It, Eeyore.He Went on Tracking, and Piglet ... Ran After Him.
This quote from peacay. He mentions on his blog that these images may be protected by copyright and that he will remove them if requested. As I have linked to him, they would then disappear from here too, ah well.

Ernest Howard Shepard (1879-1976) was born in London and encouraged to draw from a young age by his artist mother. He won a scholarship to the Royal Academy at the age of eighteen.

In the early years of the 20th century Shepard achieved some success with illustrated editions of Dickens and Aesop’s fables. By 1907, Punch Magazine had accepted some of his drawings for publication although he wasn’t a permanent Punch employee until 1921. He would remain there for more than thirty years.

In WWI, Shepard earned a Military Cross for bravery during service with the Royal Artillery in France and Belgium but he continued to sketch humorous vignettes which he submitted to Punch. In the 1920s, he was introduced to Alan (AA) Milne who reluctantly commissioned Shepard to do some line drawings for a children’s book he had written. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Shepard and Milne were never particularly close but their collaboration on the four books – ‘When We Were Very Young’ (1924); ‘Winnie the Pooh’ (1926); ‘Now We Are Six’ (1927) and ‘The House at Pooh Corner’ (1928) – ensured that their names would be associated for eternity. Characters included Christopher Robin, Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore, Piglet, Owl, Rabbit and Kanga.

The character of Winnie the Pooh was based on Milne’s son’s (Christopher) teddy bear, but the drawings were inspired by a toy bear named Growler, belonging to Shepard’s own son. Growler would be mauled to death by a neighbour’s dog, but Christopher’s bear (and other stuffed Winnie the Pooh animals) circuitously made their way to the New York Public Library where I believe they still live. Late in life, Shepard was said to have voiced some resentment that the “silly old bear” had overshadowed his other illustration work, but he had expressed his fondness for the characters on many more occasions, so this phrase may have been more affectionate than has been reported*.

Although he pursued book and magazine illustration all through his life, Shepard’s most notable work, beyond the AA Milne quartet, were the line drawings he produced for Kenneth Grahame’s ‘The Wind in the Willows’, published in 1931.

Lucrezia Borgia by Dosso Dossi

A pretty astonishing story today in Artdaily.org – The First Art Newspaper on the Net

MELBOURNE.- The National Gallery of Victoria announced today that it believes the subject of a mysterious Renaissance portrait it has owned since 1965 is Lucrezia Borgia, and that the painter is famed Renaissance artist Dosso Dossi (c1486-1542).

As a result of this astounding conclusion, the NGV’s painting could be the only surviving formal painted portrait of the famous Lucrezia. The discovery is attracting considerable international interest following extensive conservation and curatorial research work undertaken by NGV experts.

“This new research is revelatory”, said NGV Director Dr Gerard Vaughan.

“What was previously a portrait of an unknown sitter by an unidentified artist, now seems likely to be one of the most significant portraits surviving from the Renaissance, by one of the great Northern Italian painters”, he said.

“Generations of art historians have attempted to identify portraits of Lucrezia Borgia, but this appears to be the only one which contains direct personal references to this intriguing historical figure. The only reliable likeness of her features we have is on a portrait medal in bronze, made in 1502. The facial profile on the medal bears a striking resemblance to our portrait”.

Julian Merrow-Smith

There is an article in today’s Guardian about one of my favourite daily painters.

http://shiftinglight.com/images/081012.jpg<<In 1997, Julian Merrow-Smith lost his job at London’s Lumière cinema. An art-school graduate, he bought a ticket to the south of France and began painting for a living. By 2004, he was making “about enough to survive on”. Then he came across a US artist, Duane Keiser, who was doing a painting a day: small oils, mainly still lifes, posted and sold on the internet.

“I thought: hmm, there’s a living to be made here,” says Merrow-Smith, a chirpy voice on the line from his studio near the village of Bédoin in Provence. So he set up a website and began painting postcards: perfect little 4in x 6in oil-on-gesso pictures of, say, vegetables from his garden or fruit from the market, and luminous, ever-changing Provençal landscapes. “What was important, at bottom, was that they reflect this place,” he says.

The first two sold instantly, for his fixed price of $100. Within a few months he was selling most days. Then in 2006 the New York Times found him. “That night I sold everything I’d ever painted, most of it more than once,” he says. “It was crazy. For weeks I had 500 people wanting to buy every postcard. I spent my days organising credit-card refunds.”

So now his site, shiftinglight.com, hosts an auction, each work selling to the highest bidder at 10pm each night, generally for between $150 and $650. “I have 3,000 subscribers to my mailing list, and a few real collectors,” Merrow-Smith says. “There are people with 25 or 30 of my works, and people who buy one a year.”

On Friday, he will paint his 1,000th Postcard from Provence. Each takes up to three hours, “depending on how much wine I’ve drunk the night before”. Some weeks, he concedes, “I’m throwing things at the wall in frustration. But then people tell me it’s the only email they actually look forward to getting. I’m making a living, but I’m also spreading a little joy. It is satisfying.” >>

The Red Rose Girls

I recently read The Red Rose Girls: An Uncommon Story of Art and Love a biography of three women, who styled themselves after a picturesque inn where they lived and worked together. They were extraordinarily successful during what has been termed the “golden age of illustration in America.”Jessie

Primarily remembered for their representations of children and domestic life, illustrators Jesse Willcox Smith (1863-1935), Elizabeth Shippen Green (1871-1954), and Violet Oakley (1874-1961) captivated early-twentieth-century society with their brilliant careers .

Smith, Green, and Oakley were professional artists at a time when it was more common for women to take art classes as a symbol of social accomplishment rather than as a serious endeavor. They studied at the  Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and met as students in  illustrator Howard Pyle‘s illustration class at the Drexel Institute in Philadelphia. Pyle provided specialized training in the practical and aesthetic aspects of illustration, encouraging his female students to take their careers seriously. This was unusual for the time, as female students were prohibited from studying life drawing in most art schools and typically studied art in segregated classes. Only those who were extremely determined made their way in the male-dominated art world. Illustration, however, was considered an acceptable career for women because the creation of images for childrens books and the newly burgeoning field of magazines were deemed an extension of womens “natural” talents for decorating and child rearing.

The Book of the Child [Frontispiece], by Elizabeth Shippen Green and Jessie Willcox SmithTheir notable achievements include Elizabeth Shippen Green’s exclusive contract with Harper’s Magazine, for which she designed hundreds of covers and interiors over a twenty-three year period. Violet Oakley’s was commissioned in 1902 to paint eighteen murals in the new Pennsylvania State Capitol in Harrisburg, the first time an American woman artist had been given such a prestigious public commission. Jesse Willcox Smith became famous for her idealized pictures of children and domestic life in Collier’s, Harper’s, Ladies Home Journal, and Scribner’s magazines, among many others. In addition she illustrated more than forty popular books.

Life was made for love and cheer - Elizabeth Shippen Green

Ironically, in order to be viewed as serious professional artists, these women chose to forgo the very domestic life they so romantically portrayed. Committed to remain single and childless, they made a home together and relied on the support and domestic work of their housekeeper and friend, Henrietta Cozens, to sustain their prolific careers.  Cozens was not an artist, but gardened, cooked, and managed the household for the other three. Living together in their extended and unconventional family liberated these women to some extent from domestic distractions, while the supportive environment they allowed each other encouraged and sustained them in creating a world where art and life were inseparable.


In their genteel way these women were rebels, and yet their story, and their stylized illustrations were the epitome of respectability.

Al Hirschfeld

Al Hirschfeld was a truly original artist famous for his caricatures of celebrities. He depicted stage and screen personalities, capturing the magic of American theatre with his line drawings.

He was born in St. Louis in 1903. When he was eleven years old, an art teacher informed his mother, “There is nothing more we can teach him in St. Louis.” The family moved to New York and soon he was enrolled at the Art Student’s League. By the age of 17, Hirschfeld was an art director at Selznick Pictures. He held the position for about four years and then in 1924 moved to Paris.

In 1943, Hirschfeld married one of Europe’s most famous actresses, the late Dolly Haas. They were married for more than 50 years. His daughter Nina was born in 1945, and ever after Hirschfeld hid her name at least once in each of his drawings. The number of NINAs concealed is shown by an Arabic numeral to the right of his signature.

Hirschfeld was initially attracted to sculpture and painting but this gave way to his passion for pure line. His devotion to line stems from his respect for absolute simplicity. He is quoted as saying:

When I’m rushed I do a complicated drawing. When I have the time, I do a simple one.”

Over his 82-year career Hirschfeld’s work appeared in nearly every major publication and on everything from book and record covers to postage stamps.

Although Hirschfeld’s work is described as ‘caricature’, he does not mock his subjects. He had tremendous affection for the people he drew and his affection is clearly communicated in his work. In fact, it is considered an honour to be drawn by Hirschfeld, and many celebrities own their Hirschfelds”.


He died in 2003 at the age of 99, he was working up until shortly before his death

Kitty de Cheveigné

Kitty de Cheveigné was my husband’s aunt. Born in India to missionary parents, her father was English and her mother Canadian. She grew up mostly in Europe, living at Versailles for a while when her father was vicar there (who knew that there was an Anglican parish at Versailles?). She attended art school, (I am not sure where, RCA I think, or maybe the Slade) and worked as a nurse during the Second World War. She married a hero of the French resistance, Maurice de Cheveigné and lived in France for most of the remainder of her life. They had a small farm in the Pyrennees and she started painting again in her middle years. We have a few of her paintings from that time and I think they are very fine. She will probably never be famous, but perhaps by posting these here a few more will get to appreciate her great talent.
Canto Perdix - Spring
Canto Perdix – Spring
Canto Perdix - Winter
Canto Perdix – Winter
Olive Grove
Olive Grove
Mixed Bouquet
Mixed Bouquet



Riverbrink Art Museum

I went to Riverbrink today, Jonathan was playing at their open house and I have been meaning to go there for years. They have a lovely location and an impressive collection, supplemented at the moment by loans from galleries in New York.

Samuel Edward Weir, Q.C. was born in 1898, and was a lawyer in London, Ontario. He began collecting art in his twenties; pieces by Homer Watson and Dame Laura Knight (I hadn’t known her work before, really nice) were among the first. In the 1940s he bought land along the Niagara River, in the village of Queenston and built a house there which he called Riverbrink. He retired there in 1970 and died in 1981, leaving his home and art collection in the care of The Weir Foundation. It officially opened as a gallery and museum on June 15, 1983.

Weir collected some 160 works that illustrate the immediate area around Niagara Falls, as well as works that show the history and development of Upper and Lower Canada in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The collection contains pieces by many of the important Canadian painters and sculptors who worked before and into the early years of the twentieth century, including Cornelius Kreighoff, Paul Kane, Marc-Aurèle de Foy Suzor-Coté, Tom Thomson and members of the Group of Seven.

Exhibits are changed annually, with almost 200 artworks on display each year. Of 1,000 or so pieces of fine art in the collection, almost seventy percent are Canadian. The other thirty percent is by American and European artists, including pieces by Jacob Epstein and Augustus John.

This is a pretty impressive collection, especially with the addition of the extra paintings currently on loan from a couple of galleries in New York. My favourites are probably, the Augustus John sketches of Canadian soldiers from WW1, the oil study for “The Jack Pine” by Tom Thomson and a charming and very typical Paul Peel that would probably have got him put in jail for kiddie porn if he painted it today. Also the Laura Knight charcoal and watercolour paintings are lovely.