Category Archives: Old Pastel Masters

James Whistler, The Cemetery

James Abbott McNeill Whistler "Cemetery"
James Abbott McNeill Whistler “Cemetery”

Artist: Whistler, James Abbott McNeill
The Cemetery, 1880
Pastel on brown paper

This sheet, made early on in Whistler’s stay in Venice, features the cemetery island and church of San Michele in the brilliant light of day. With a heavy application of pastel, the artist renders the gleaming marble of the Renaissance structure, the cypress trees within the cemetery walls, and the canopied funeral boat at left. Short strokes and zigzagging lines make up their vivid reflections in the rippling water. Whistler probably sketched the scene aboard a gondola. Find more works by Whistler in Whistler’s Venice book.

Dimensions: 203 x 301 mm.
source: Frick Collection
Click on the image to see it in a higher resolution.

Old Pastel Master: Francis Cotes

Francis Cotes Collage
Francis Cotes Collage

Francis Cotes (1726 – 1770) was an English painter, one of the pioneers of English pastel painting, and a founder member of the Royal Academy in 1768.
The son of an apothecary, Francis Cotes trained in the 1740s as a portraitist in pastels and oils. An early pastel portrait gained him recognition and even inspired a love poem, “Address to Celia’s picture.” By the 1760s, he had achieved wide-reaching success as the pre-eminent pastel painter in England. Cotes helped found the Society of Artists and became its director in 1765. Three years later he became a founding member of the Royal Academy. In his last decade, Cotes began to paint more in oil, a medium less labor intensive and more profitable than pastel. However, he remained renowned as a pastelist: John Russell wrote his famous 1772 treatise, The Elements of Painting with Crayon, as an explanation of Cotes’s pastel technique, and Cotes was referred to as “the Rosalba Carriera of England.” His inventive compositions, dramatic use of saturated color, bold handling of line, and informal naturalism contributed to Cotes’s fame. Tragically, his premature death at age forty-four cut short his career.
source: Getty Museum, LA

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