Monday, July 31, 2006

THE ANVIL OF ART



Young Norman Rockwell dreamed of the day he would paint as well as his idol, the great illustrator J.C. Leyendecker. Rockwell spied on Leyendecker, trying to discover the secret of his genius:
I'd followed him around town just to see how he acted....I'd ask the models what Mr. Leyendecker did when he was painting. Did he stand up or sit down? Did he talk to the models? What kind of brushes did he use? Did he use Winsor & Newton paints?
But Leyendecker's secret had nothing to do with his brand of brushes. A few years later, Rockwell visited Leyendecker in his studio and observed Leyendecker working on the painting above. He recalled:
New Rochelle published a brochure illustrated with reproductions of paintings by all the famous artists who lived in the town. Joe worked on his painting for months and months, starting it over five or six times. I thought he'd never finish it.
The painting was beautiful, with many fine touches.







It was nearly finished, and the client would have been happy to get it. Yet, Leyendecker remained unsatisfied. Rather than completing the painting, he set this version aside and started all over again, searching restlessly for the image he wanted. The final published version looked like this:



Nietzsche once wrote, "you admire the beauty of my spark, but you don't feel the cruelty of the hammer on the anvil that makes it happen."

Leyendecker paid a heavy price for that spark. Whatever it cost, the young Rockwell must have concluded that it was worth it. When Rockwell's turn came, he paid too. Rockwell may not have traded his soul to the devil, but he painted "100%" in gold at the top of his easel to make sure that he never gave anything less. That credo kept Rockwell at his easel seven days a week painting countless studies and refining his craft as his first wife filed for divorce and was hospitalized for depression. She was alleged to have committed suicide. His second wife was hospitalized for alcoholism and depression. Rockwell himself sought professional help for his own depression. And yet, the brilliant pictures kept on coming.


Today, we admire such artists from a safe distance. Few of today's heavily promoted artists are willing to spend the same time on the anvil. I can't say that I blame them, especially when most of their audience is incapable of distinguishing real sparks from glitter.

Egyptian Monuments and Hieroglyphs

















[click for much large versions - scaled down a little and touched up for background artifact]

It is no small coincidence that two of the pioneers of egyptian archaeology were inclined towards linguistics. Jean-François Champollion (previous post) was given the opportunity to decipher the Rosetta Stone because of his gift for languages, following which he developed an interest in the antiquities of Egypt. He spent a year there in 1828 with a Franco-Italian mission and his egyptian hieroglyphs interpretations were released after his death at a young age.

Prussian Karl Lepsius (1810-1884) on the other hand, studied European archaeology for a doctoral degree. He was then introduced to the Champollion translation work by a tutor and thereafter applied himself to further deciphering the egyptian language. He spent some years travelling around Europe, studying egyptian artifacts and educating himself in hieroglyphs. He visited Champollion's expedition partner, Ippolito Rosellini, in Italy and published his own improvements on the initial translation analysis. Later, he would develop an alphabetical system for transliterating african languages.

On the advice of Alexander von Humboldt, the Prussian King sent Lepsius with an expedition in 1842 to study the egyptian/nubian/ethiopian monuments and to bring back any treasures discovered. The mission would last for 4 years and the party made detailed surveys of a vast number of ancient structures ranging from Alexandria in the north as far south as Khartoum in the Sudan.

Artists and mould makers accompanied the expedition and nearly 900 illustration plates were ultimately engraved for a massive 12 volume series recording their findings. Lepsius brought back 15,000 (!) individual pieces from the tour, including columns and walls dynamited by the ruler Muhammad Ali and given as a present during a ceremonial dinner. The texts themselves remain primary documents in egyptology and in cases where buildings and artifacts were destroyed (as was inevitably the case, back then), they remain as the only surviving record.

Lepsius would go on to become a Professor and oversee the egyptian artifacts housed at the Berlin Museum. He ventured back to Egypt later and uncovered the Decree of Canopus, an adjunctive trilingual tablet supporting the Rosetta Stone translation.

2 final points in the trivia stakes:

-- there is only one set of hieroglyphs at the Great Pyramid of Giza. It was carved at the entrance by Karl Lepsius in 1843 (not so trivial really).
-- Lepsius coined the expression 'The Book of the Dead' with his 1842 publication, 'Das Todtenbuch der Ägypten nach dem hieroglyphischen Papyrus'.

Space the Final Frontier,

Mission: Hubble Space Telescope (HST) Spitzer Space Telescope (SST), Spacecraft: Hubble Space Telescope Spitzer Space Telescope (SST), Instrument: Infrared Array Camera (IRAC)Visible Light, Product Size: 2905 samples x 1486 lines, Produced By: California Institute of Technology, Full-Res JPEG: PIA08097.jpg (560.3 kB)

Original Caption Released with Image: These shape-shifting galaxies have taken on the form of a giant mask. The icy blue eyes are actually the cores of two merging galaxies, called NGC 2207 and IC 2163, and the mask is their spiral arms. The false-colored image consists of infrared data from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope (red) and visible data from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope (blue/green).

NGC 2207 and IC 2163 met and began a sort of gravitational tango about 40 million years ago. The two galaxies are tugging at each other, stimulating new stars to form. Eventually, this cosmic ball will come to an end, when the galaxies meld into one. The dancing duo is located 140 million light-years away in the Canis Major constellation.

The infrared data from Spitzer highlight the galaxies' dusty regions, while the visible data from Hubble indicates starlight. In the Hubble-only image (not pictured here), the dusty regions appear as dark lanes.

The Hubble data correspond to light with wavelengths of .44 and .55 microns (blue and green, respectively). The Spitzer data represent light of 8 microns.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/STScI/Vassar

NASA images generally are not copyrighted. Unless otherwise noted, images and video on JPL public web sites (public sites ending with a jpl.nasa.gov address) may be used for any purpose without prior permission. The endorsement of any product or service by Caltech, JPL or NASA must not be claimed or implied.

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Andy Virgil


There's really no information about Andy Virgil that I've been able to find. He seems to have arrived on the scene around 1955 out of nowhere. Perhaps he was honing his skills, uncredited, on advertising work? But where and for whom remains a mystery at this point.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Space the Final Frontier, Comets

Target Name: Comet, Mission: Spitzer Space Telescope (SST), Spacecraft: Spitzer Space Telescope (SST), Instrument: Multi-band Imaging Photometer, Product Size: 2947 samples x 2035 lines.
Target Name: Comet, Mission: Spitzer Space Telescope (SST), Spacecraft: Spitzer Space Telescope (SST), Instrument: Multi-band Imaging Photometer, Product Size: 2947 samples x 2035 lines.
Produced By: California Institute of Technology. Full-Res JPEG: PIA08438.jpg (1.157 MB)

Original Caption Released with Image: This image from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope shows three of the many fragments making up Comet 73P /Schwassman-Wachmann 3. The infrared picture also provides the best look yet at the crumbling comet's trail of debris, seen here as a bridge connecting the larger fragments.

The comet circles around our sun every 5.4 years. In 1995, it splintered apart into four pieces, labeled A through D, with C being the biggest. Since then, the comet has continued to fracture into dozens of additional pieces. This image is centered about midway between fragments C and B; fragment G can be seen in the upper right corner.

The comet's trail is made of dust, pebbles and rocks left in the comet's wake during its numerous journeys around the sun. Such debris can become the stuff of spectacular meteor showers on Earth.

This image was taken on April 1, 2006, by Spitzer's multi-band imaging photometer using the 24-micron wavelength channel.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA images generally are not copyrighted. Unless otherwise noted, images and video on JPL public web sites (public sites ending with a jpl.nasa.gov address) may be used for any purpose without prior permission. The endorsement of any product or service by Caltech, JPL or NASA must not be claimed or implied.

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Trouvelot Astronomy

The planet Jupiter. Observed November 1, 1880, at 9h. 30m. P.M.

The planet Mars. Observed September 3, 1877, at 11h. 55m. P.M.

Total eclipse of the sun. Observed July 29, 1878, at Creston, Wyoming Territory.

Four views of Jupiter, 1872.
"[T]hese views were produced using the [Harvard] observatory's 15-inch refracting telescope made by Merz of Munich, Germany. They show the planet's characteristic cloud belts with festoon structures within that have been now been resolved in detail by robot spacecrafts such as Voyager. At this time, drawings made at the telescope using only the eyes showed more detail than could be produced using the insensitive photographic plates then available."

Mare Humorum. From a study made in 1875.

Group of sun spots and veiled spots. Observed on June 17th 1875 at 7 h. 30 m. A.M.

Aurora Borealis. As observed March 1, 1872, at 9h. 25m. P.M.

Frenchman Étienne Léopold Trouvelot (1827–1895) was primarily a portrait artist when he arrived in Massachusetts in 1852. During the following 30 years that he remained in America his amateur passion for science would ensure a legacy that straddles both fame and infamy.

Trouvelot had a particular love for silkworms and he had a 4 acre plot behind his house where he cultivated a native variety. To increase production he hoped to crossbreed the regular type with a species from Europe. He brought back Gypsy Moth eggs from a trip home and so introduced a virulent pest that ravages forests in America to this day. To his (slight) credit, he realized the enormity of the problem straight away when some of the introduced moths escaped. He made it publically known, but unfortunately local entomologists did nothing at the time to eradicate them.

Trouvelot turned his attention from moths to the stars and began illustrating celestial phenomena. His drawings were so good that the Director of Harvard College Observatory put Trouvelot on staff where he gained access to their powerful telescope.

He would go on to produce some 7000 astronomical drawings and publish 50 scientific papers. His works were displayed at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition in 1876 and Trouvelot began to assemble his best drawings for wider publication. In 1881 a series of 15 chromolithographs were released for $125 (!) to great acclaim. He spent the last 3 years of his life back in France pursuing his fascination for solar phenomena.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Space the Final Frontier, Andromeda galaxy

Target Name: Messier 31, Mission: Spitzer Space Telescope (SST), Spacecraft: Spitzer Space Telescope (SST), Instrument: Infrared Array Camera (IRAC).
Target Name: Messier 31, Mission: Spitzer Space Telescope (SST), Spacecraft: Spitzer Space Telescope (SST), Instrument: Infrared Array Camera (IRAC), Product Size: 720 samples x 486 lines, Produced By: California Institute of Technology

The visible-light image highlights the galaxy's population of about one trillion stars. The stars are so crammed into its core that this region blazes with bright starlight.

In contrast, the false-colored Spitzer view reveals red waves of dust against a more tranquil sea of blue stars. The dust lanes can be seen twirling all the way into the galaxy's center. This dust is warmed by young stars and shines at infrared wavelengths , which are represented in red. The blue color signifies shorter-wavelength infrared light primarily from older stars.

The Andromeda galaxy, also known affectionately by astronomers as Messier 31, is located 2.5 million light-years away in the constellation Andromeda. It is the closest major galaxy to the Milky Way, making it the ideal specimen for carefully examining the nature of galaxies. On a clear, dark night, the galaxy can be spotted with the naked eye as a fuzzy blob.

Andromeda's entire disk spans about 260,000 light-years, which means that a light beam would take 260,000 years to travel from one end of the galaxy to the other. By comparison, the Milky Way is about 100,000 light-years across. When viewed from Earth, Andromeda occupies a portion of the sky equivalent to seven full moons.

Because this galaxy is so large, the infrared images had to be stitched together out of about 3,000 separate Spitzer exposures. The light detected by Spitzer's infrared array camera at 3.6 and 4.5 microns is sensitive mostly to starlight and is shown in blue and green, respectively. The 8-micron light shows warm dust and is shown in red. The contribution from starlight has been subtracted from the 8-micron image to better highlight the dust structures.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Harvard-Smithsonian CfA/NOAO

NASA images generally are not copyrighted. Unless otherwise noted, images and video on JPL public web sites (public sites ending with a jpl.nasa.gov address) may be used for any purpose without prior permission. The endorsement of any product or service by Caltech, JPL or NASA must not be claimed or implied.

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Friday, July 28, 2006

Space the Final Frontier, Supernova

Mission: Spitzer Space Telescope (SST), Spacecraft: Spitzer Space Telescope (SST), Instrument: Infrared Array Camera (IRAC), Product Size: 2325 samples x 2329 lines.Mission: Spitzer Space Telescope (SST), Spacecraft: Spitzer Space Telescope (SST), Instrument: Infrared Array Camera (IRAC), Product Size: 2325 samples x 2329 lines. Produced By: California Institute of Technology, Full-Res JPEG: PIA08533.jpg (325.5 kB)
This image is the galaxy M74, as seen by Spitzer's infrared array camera. The white box (see figure 1) to the left of the galaxy's center identifies the location of the supernova remnant. In all the images, the blue dots represent hot gas and stars. The galaxy's cool dust is shown in red.

Astronomers using NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope have spotted a "dust factory" 30 million light-years away in the spiral galaxy M74. The factory is located at the scene of a massive star's explosive death, or supernova.

While astronomers have suspected for years that supernovae could be producers of cosmic dust particles, the technology to confirm this suspicion has only recently become available.

The dust factory, also known as supernova SN 2003gd, is shown at the center of the two small insets from Spitzer's infrared array camera. A white arrow points to its exact location (see figure 1). The yellow-green dot shown in the July 2004 inset (see figure 2) shows that the source's temperature is warmer than the surrounding material. This is because newly formed dust within the supernova is just starting to cool. By January 2005, the dust had cooled and completely faded from the camera's view (see figure 3). However, it was still detected in January 2005 by another instrument aboard Spitzer called the multiband imaging photometer. The image from that instrument is not shown here.

The images are false-color, infrared composites, in which 3.6-micron light is blue, 4.5-micron light is green, and 8-micron light is red.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/STScI

NASA images generally are not copyrighted. Unless otherwise noted, images and video on JPL public web sites (public sites ending with a jpl.nasa.gov address) may be used for any purpose without prior permission. The endorsement of any product or service by Caltech, JPL or NASA must not be claimed or implied.

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Illustration Friday: CLEAN


Minty fresh clean :o)
Nice and neat....just the way I like it!
Digitally altered watercolor on paper.

Art Seiden, American


American magazine used a steady roster of tradition painterly illustrators for its fiction articles during the 1950's. But for some reason Art Seiden was chosen to illustrate this August 1951 story, The Ornamental Hen. Whatever it was that struck the art editor's fancy to choose Seiden, one could only wish it had struck more often... unfortunately this is the only example I've come across in my stack of American mags.

You can see the back-up piece Seiden did for this article here.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Remains of the Day



Manolo Prieto (1912-1991) was an advertising and book cover/poster
graphic artist from Spain. This and this are direct links to the galleries
from where the above works were taken - the framed site is a little
annoying. There are other images available from the parent site,
including some of Prieto's famed bullfighting paintings.

Tho' Johnson - 'The First Pugilist in the World' -
in Thomas Fewtrell's 'Science of Manual Defence'1790
at the Linacre School of Defence
.
There are about 50 pages available but from
(dim) memory this is the only illustration.


'Report of the construction of Edystone Lighthouse' by civil engineer John Smeaton was published in 1813 and is online at Kyoto University Library.
It is a history of the 4 lighthouses built near Plymouth at the western end of
the English Channel in the 17th/18th centuries. There are about 20 excellent
images (well, if you're into lighthouse architectural drawings they are)
with high resolution details available.

This gorgeous chrysanthemum is from the 'Camerarius Florilegium',
produced in about 1589 by at most 2 artists for Joachim Camerarius.
The Harald Fischer Verlag site has about 20 images in large format.
Link direct to images (2 pages). Link to information in english.
Link to the site in german - there is a pdf file in here which
has a bit more background and a couple more small images.



Illustrations © Szymon Kruczek from Poland. He seems to like the moon, fish and...whimsy. Click around; although 'alignment' of the images became
a bit of an issue in firefox. I had to nab the source code and open the images
in an another tab to save them. But there is always the chance it was just me.
There is a link from his site to 'polskie strony artystyczne' -
I have only had a quick look at a few things, but I sense there
is some major Polish artistic timekill in amongst that lot.

I have no recollection where this Portuguese heraldic plate comes from.

'Deutschland, Mißgeburt mit Flügeln und schuppigem linken Bein,
die 1506 in Florenz geboren sein soll, nach 1506, Druck, Nürnberg,
Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Graphische Sammlung, HB 21779'

'Nürnberg 1501-1600 ' [I have a very vague recollection that I've either seen or
previously posted a colour version of this image(?)]


'Schmaritz, Jakob, Flugblatt ..Von dem grossen Wunder und Mirackel
eines Fisches..., 1624, Flugblatt, Nürnberg, Germanisches Nationalmuseum.'
These last 3 images were found in the magic/religion theme in
'Bildindex der Kunst und Architektur des Bildarchivs Foto Marburg'.