James Gillray

James Gillray (1757 – 1815) was a British caricaturist and printmaker famous for his political and social satires, mainly published between 1792 and 1810. His caricatures are almost all in etching, some also with aquatint, and a few using stipple technique.

I find the images themselves very powerful in their use of tragi-comedy and exaggeration. But the etching/aquatint style itself I find too elaborate.

Sources

James Gillray website Website launched in June 2015 on the 200th anniversary of Gillray’s death as a celebration of his life and works. It includes a chronological catalogue of Gillray’s known prints, a list of major museums and archives where his work can be seen, information about him and his working methods and techniques, and links to short biographical sketches of some of the people he caricatured.

Wikipedia

Tate Exhibition 2001

Edited from material on his website and Wikipedia, inserting You Tube videos.

I have left in the links to more detailed discussion of his work for future reference.

The caricatures

Nearly 1000 caricatures have been attributed to him; while some consider him the author of as many as 1600 or 1700. According to the Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition, “Gillray is as invaluable to the student of English manners as to the political student, attacking the social follies of the time with scathing satire; and nothing escapes his notice, not even a trifling change of fashion in dress. The great tact Gillray displays in hitting on the ludicrous side of any subject is only equalled by the exquisite finish of his sketches—the finest of which reach an epic grandeur and Miltonic sublimity of conception.”

His sketches are real works of art. The ideas embodied in some of them are sublime and poetically magnificent in their intensity of meaning, while the forthrightness—which some have called coarseness—which others display is characteristic of the general freedom of treatment common in all intellectual departments in the 18th century.

For detailed discussion of many of the caricatures see the many You Tube videos

Political Caricatures

The political caricatures comprise an important and invaluable component of the history extant of the latter part of the reign of George III. They were circulated not only in Britain but also throughout Europe, and exerted a powerful influence both in Britain and abroad. George III, George’s wife Queen Charlotte, the Prince of Wales (later Prince Regent, then King George IV), Fox, Pitt the Younger, Burke and Napoleon Bonaparte are the most prominent figures. In 1788 appeared two fine caricatures by Gillray. Blood on Thunder fording the Red Sea represents Lord Thurlow carrying Warren Hastings through a sea of gore: Hastings looks very comfortable, and is carrying two large bags of money. Market-Day pictures the ministerialists of the time as cattle for sale.

He was not a keen political adherent of either the Whig or the Tory party. His caricatures satirized members of all sides of the political spectrum.

George III: A number of his most trenchant satires are directed against George III, who, after examining some of Gillray’s sketches, said “I don’t understand these caricatures.” Gillray revenged himself for this utterance by his caricature entitled, A Connoisseur Examining a Cooper, which he is doing by means of a candle on a “save-all”; so that the sketch satirises at once the king’s pretensions to knowledge of art and his miserly habits.

Monstrous Craws, at a New Coalition Feast (1787)

Gillray could also be incredibly subtle, and puncture vanity with a remarkably deft approach. The outstanding example of this is his print Fashionable Contrasts;—or—The Duchess’s little Shoe yeilding [sic] to the Magnitude of the Duke’s Foot. This was a devastating image aimed at the ridiculous sycophancy directed by the press towards Frederica Charlotte Ulrica, Duchess of York, and the supposed daintiness of her feet. The print showed only the feet and ankles of the Duke and Duchess of York, in an obviously copulatory position, with the Duke’s feet enlarged and the Duchess’s feet drawn very small. This print silenced forever the sycophancy of the press regarding the union of the Duke and Duchess.

Fashionable contrasts

Among Gillray’s best satires on George III are: Farmer George and his Wife, two companion plates, in one of which the king is toasting muffins for breakfast, and in the other the queen is frying sprats; The Anti-Saccharites, where the royal pair propose to dispense with sugar, to the great horror of the family; A Connoisseur Examining a Cooper; the paired plates A Voluptuary under the Horrors of Digestion and Temperance enjoying a Frugal Meal, satirising the excesses of the Prince Regent (later George IV of the United Kingdom) and the miserliness of his father, George III of the United Kingdom respectively; Royal Affability; A Lesson in Apple Dumplings; and The Pigs Possessed.

The Loss of  Faro Bank or – the rook’s pigeon’d (1797)

The Loss of the Faro Bank, Lady Buckinghamshire is told by her cowed husband that a theft of money has taken place; Charles James Fox (1749–1806), a prominent Whig politician of the time, is seated at the card table hoping not to be found out.The enduring quality of this piece lies in the visual metaphors and symbolism Gillray has used: the locks on the door and the visual contrast between the opulence and gambling inside and the panic-stricken husband outside. But it’s the people on the inside that have caused the problem, not those locked out.

French Revolution Gillray took a conservative stance; and he issued caricature after caricature ridiculing the French and Napoleon (usually using Jacobin), and glorifying John Bull. A number of these were published in the Anti-Jacobin Review.

The Plumpudding in Danger -The world being carved up into spheres of influence between Pitt and Napoleon — “probably the most famous political cartoon of all time, it has been stolen over and over and over again by cartoonists ever since.”
John Bull enjoying a meal

Other famous works include: The Bridal Night; The Apotheosis of Hoche, which concentrates the excesses of the French Revolution in one view; The Nursery with Britannia reposing in Peace; The First Kiss these Ten Years (1803), another satire on the peace, which is said to have greatly amused Napoleon; The Hand-Writing upon the Wall; The Confederated Coalition, a swipe at the coalition which superseded the Addington ministry; Uncorking Old Sherry; Making Decent; Comforts of a Bed of Roses; View of the Hustings in Covent Garden; Phaethon Alarmed; and Pandora opening her Box.

Social Critique

The miscellaneous series of caricatures, although they have scarcely the historical importance of the political series, are more readily intelligible, and are even more amusing. Among the finest are: Shakespeare Sacrificed; Flemish Characters (two plates); Two-Penny Whist (which features an image of Hannah Humphrey); Oh that this too solid flesh would melt; Sandwich-Carrots; The Gout; Comfort to the Corns; Begone Dull Care; The Cow-Pock, which gives humorous expression to the popular dread of vaccination; Dilletanti Theatricals; and Harmony before Matrimony and Matrimonial Harmonics—two exceedingly good sketches in violent contrast to each other.

Personal life

The name of Gillray’s publisher and print seller, Miss Hannah Humphrey—whose shop was first at 227 Strand, then in New Bond Street, then in Old Bond Street, and finally in St James’s Street—is inextricably associated with that of the caricaturist himself. Gillray lived with Miss (often called Mrs) Humphrey during the entire period of his fame. It is believed that he several times thought of marrying her, and that on one occasion the pair were on their way to the church, when Gillray said: “This is a foolish affair, methinks, Miss Humphrey. We live very comfortably together; we had better let well alone.”

Gillray’s eyesight began to fail in 1806. He began wearing spectacles but they were unsatisfactory. Unable to work to his previous high standards, James Gillray became depressed and started drinking heavily. He produced his last print in September 1809. As a result of his heavy drinking Gillray suffered from gout throughout his later life.

His last work, from a design by Bunbury, is entitled Interior of a Barber’s Shop in Assize Time, and is dated 1811. While he was engaged on it he became mad, although he had occasional intervals of sanity, which he employed on his last work. The approach of madness may have been hastened by his intemperate habits.

In July 1811 Gillray attempted to kill himself by throwing himself out of an attic window above Humphrey’s shop in St James’s Street. Gillray lapsed into insanity and was looked after by Hannah Humphrey until his death on 1 June 1815 in London; he was buried in St James’s churchyard, Piccadilly.

 

Rembrandt

Rembrandt had a studio with fantastic quality daylight; the window light was soft and he used reflector sheets to bounce light back where he wanted it. In other words he used soft controlled light which is what the studio softboxes of today http://www.rembrandthuis.nl/cms_pages/index_main.html

Rembrandt creative commons website

Exercise: The Night Watch
The painted portrait had to show the viewer what was important either to the sitter or the creator. This was done in some cases by pose, in some by costume or uniform or significant items with inherent meaning, or simply by position – being higher up than others or at the optimum positional point of the image. Look carefully at Rembrandt’s famous painting The Night Watch, commissioned by Frans Banning Cocq, the figure in the centre foreground.

Before you follow the link below, make some notes in your learning log about how the artist uses the elements listed above (background, pose, clothes, props, light). What effect does
he create? What does the portrait say about Banning Cocq?
Look particularly at the use of light and dark in this huge portrait. How might you create similar effects photographically?
Now follow the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N9jj74aOr_Q

Yuji Hiratsuka

Yuji Hiratsuka sees Japan as a land of contrasts. On the surface it looks rather westernized with McDonald and Coca Cola. But underneath the facade traditional Japanese culture and values remained unchanged. His graphic work is a witty and original synthesis of old Japanese ukiyo-e tradition and modern Western elements.

website: http://www.artelino.com/articles/yuji_hiratsuka.asp

Google images

Japanese gardens are cultivated high atop thirty story Western skyscrapers, or people dine on McDonald’s hamburgers while watching Sumo wrestling. In my work I explore this chaotic coexistence.

“There are many and varied points of view in modern Japan. Some survive from historic periods of significant aesthetic and philosophical development. Two periods in particular contribute to what is known as traditional Japanese art.”

“During the first, in the middle of the 16th century, the Shogun lords closed Japan to all foreign interactions and evolved an art independent of Chinese models. The most important influence was the simplicity born in the spirit of the Zen sect. Art based on Zen was an art of suggestion rather than expression; it emphasized the importance of empty spaces and simple forms.”

“The second period is the Edo era of the 17th century in which the Ukiyo-e school developed a popular art form, largely prints and reproductions, inexpensively designed for common people. Ukiyo-e art was decorative and brightly colored and often featured poster-like caricatures of national personalities (Yakusha-e).”

“In my work I draw from the ancient and the contemporary to express the mismatched combinations and hodgepodge which is Japanese daily life. The Zen aspect can be seen in my portraits. In this case, I always leave the face blank or flat and profile very simple.”

“I do not draw eyes or noses on my portraits. The human face is always changing; the face at work is different from the face that enjoys the love. Aging changes the faces also. I want my prints to express this change. The portraits are left ambiguous so that the viewer can add his/her interpretation. This is the aspect of suggestion rather than expression. Also, I am interested in the humorous and colorful aspects of Ukiyo-e poster art.”

“In my portraits I want to incorporate an element of wit through exaggeration and distortion. For emphasis, I fill in small areas with bright, whimsical colors. To express contemporary influences I use the figure dressed in Western style. My primary source of subject matter is photographs, frequently black and white, which I tear from books, magazines and newspapers. These materials are kept in my studio or in my bag, and whenever I am ready to begin a drawing for the print, I rummage through the wrinkled images.”

“There are small transitions in my work from time to time, and my interest is always based on unpredictable texture that is printed from the etched surface of the copper plate. My prints explore the complex relationship of paper, ink and etched plates to describe my thought, as well as the relationship which occurs between figures and space to express other human experiences. Always I try to investigate the maximum potential available to me as a printmaker.”

Biography

Yuji Hiratsuka was born in Osaka, Japan. In 1973 until 1978 he studied at Tokyo Gakugei University, Koganei-shi, Tokyo, Japan. In 1978 he graduated with a BS (Batchelor of Science) in Art Education.

In 1985 the young artist, then 33 years old, decided to take a plane in Eastern direction, and moved to the United States. Hiratsuka has not been the first one to make this step. Many Japanese artists of the 20th century went to the United States – some for studies, others for teaching. Some remained only one or two years in the U.S.A. and others forever.

Yuji Hiratsuka has stayed until now in his new homeland. He first extended and intensified his studies. From 1985 until 1987 he made his MA (Master of Arts) in printmaking at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, NM. And from 1987 until 1990 he studied at Indiana University, Bloomington, and graduated with an MFA (Master of Fine Arts) in printmaking.

In 1987 Hiratsuka began to work as an art instructor. Since 1992 he is an Associate Professor at the Department of Art, Oregon State University in Corvallis.

Technique: Chine Collé with Etching

The artist uses a mixed media combination of Chine Collé with etching. Thisis a  time-consuming printing process that requires a lot of skill and experience.

“My personal technique using Chine Collé with traditional and innovative etching is the following:

With continuous alterations to a copper plate I print a sequence of black, yellow, red and blue, passing the same plate through the press for each design and color change.

To start with; the first tones to the plate are given with line etching, drypoint, aquatint, softground, photocopy transfer or roulette. I pull my first color. With these first impressions, I work back into the plate with a scraper, burnisher and emery paper to enhance the lights and accent the motif. I then go on to the second, third and fourth colors.

Finally, the print is completed from the back with a relief process of woodcut or linocut to intensify shapes and/or colors.

I print on the paper which best suits my work; this is a thin Japanese paper known as Toyama Kozo (Japanese Mulberry). As in the French use of Chine Colle I apply glue to the back of the Kozo print and pass it through the press, with a heavier rag paper (BFK Rives or Somerset, etc.) beneath. What the viewer sees; is my four color intaglio print saturated with subtle tones that come through the back of a Toyama Kozo paper which is set deep into a rag paper.”

Eric Ravillious

Eric William Ravilious (1903 – 1942) was an English painter, designer, book illustrator and wood engraver. He grew up in East Sussex, and at the Royal College of Art (1922–5) was taught by Paul Nash and became close friends with Edward Bawden. In 1939 he officially served as a war artist, and died when the aircraft he was in was lost off Iceland.

He is particularly known for his watercolours of the South Downs, empty rooms and war paintings. His use of watercolour and limited muted palette to capture light, often overlaid by crayon lines, has a beautiful shimmering quality. He uses exaggerated perspectives, unusual viewpoints and abstract shapes to create drama, suspense and movement. The effect is often haunting – reflecting a mix of nostalgia and foreboding in the world destroyed by the war.

Sources:

CONSTABLE, F. & SIMON, S. 2003. The England of Eric Ravillious, Surrey, UK, Lund Humphrey.

Tate Gallery

Wikipedia

Dulwich Picture Gallery exhibition 2015

Selected images to music

Use of perspective

His use of two point perspective – slightly off – creates a feeling of claustrophobia, uncertainty and unease. The eye goes first towards the bed, strangely reflected in the ceiling of a windowless room. But then is taken down the empty corridor that appears to go upwards to nowhere and round a corner to the light. Is this an escape? Or a dead-end to nowhere? Or worse?

 

M C Escher

Sources:

Official website: http://www.mcescher.com

Piller, M., Elliott, P. & Peterse, F. 2015. The Amazing World of M.C.Escher, Edinburgh, UK, National Galleries of Scotland.

Wikipedia

Maurits Cornelis Escher (1898-1972)  played with architecture, perspective and impossible spaces. He aimed to show reality is wondrous, comprehensible and fascinating. During his lifetime, made 448 lithographs, woodcuts and wood engravings and over 2000 drawings and sketches. Apart from being a graphic artist, M.C. Escher illustrated books, designed tapestries, postage stamps and murals.

Perspective

Hand with Reflecting Sphere
Tower of Babel

Impossible constructions

 

Convex and Concave
Still Life and Street

Transformation Prints

Day and Night

Realism

He also made more realistic work during the time he lived and traveled in Italy. Castrovalva for example, shows Escher’s fascination for high and low, close by and far away. The lithograph Atrani, a small town on the Amalfi Coast was made in 1931, but comes back for example, in his masterpiece Metamorphosis I and II.