Tag Archives: England

Mark Demsteader

Mark Demsteader, painter

Mark Demsteader (born 1963) is a British figurative artist. According to The Daily Telegraph, he is “one of Britain’s best-selling figurative painters,” and according to a great many people, he creates some of the most beautiful artwork by any artist alive today. (I, for one, completely agree…I find his work to be truly enchanting, both visually and viscerally.)

Born in Manchester, his formative years were spent in Manchester’s meat market where he would accompany his father (Harold Demsteader) to the family butchery and meat-packing business. Completely absorbed in the noise, smells, and sheer physicality of this environment, the young Mark learnt more about the structure of sinew, bone, and flesh—albeit livestock—than in any subsequent life drawing class.

Mark Demsteader, at work
Mark Demsteader, at work

As a teenager passionate about pursuing an artistic career, Mark completed two foundation courses: first and at Oldham and then Rochdale Colleges of Art. However, in the 1980s conceptual art dominated the mainstream market and there were little opportunities for a young figurative painter in Manchester. Forced to return to work at his father’s wholesale butchery, Mark continued to attend life classes throughout the next decade.

“Chloe Standing”
“Hannah Seated”

In the early 1990s the family business fell victim to the recession and Mark was spurred on to find a commercial outlet for his work. To allow himself time to build a portfolio, he took a job as an art technician at an Oldham grammar school for another ten years. A short course at the Slade School of Fine Art gave him an opportunity to tour the London galleries with his portfolio, but with Brit Art in the ascendency he found drawing out of favour. Eventually, a gallery in Blackheath offered him space in a mixed show where he sold six works. Mark gave notice at the grammar school soon after.

“The Crossing”

In 1997 he became a member of the Neomodern Art Group founded by Guy Denning. He has held an annual solo exhibition with Panter & Hall in the West End of London since 2004. He is now represented in Daikanyama, Japan by Art Obsession.

“Swathe” – image from Panter and Hall Gallery

Notably, he produced a surreal portrait of musician Anomie Belle for her album Flux, and 34 paintings of Harry Potter actress Emma Watson.

Anomie Belle
Emma Watson
Emma Watson
Mark Demsteader and Emma Watson



For more information:

The artist’s website: markdemsteader.com
Twitter: @markdemsteader
Facebook: Mark Demsteader
Instagram: markdemsteader
Email: mark@demsteader.com

Text edited from:


Mark Demsteader

Digital collage portrait by Terri Maxfield Lipp
Created for The Artist Birthday Series
17 April, 2017
(click image for full resolution)

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George Ault

George Ault: painter

George Copeland Ault (October 11, 1891 – December 30, 1948) was an American painter. He was loosely grouped with the Precisionist movement and, though influenced by Cubism and Surrealism, his most lasting work is of a realist nature.


Ault was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and spent much of his youth in London, England, where his father was engaged in ink manufacturing. He studied at the Slade School of Art and St. John’s Wood School of Art (where his painting style was described as an anglicized version of Impressionism).

The Slade School of Art, as seen today


St. John’s Wood School of Art, seen here in the early 1900’s. The school closed in 1951.

In 1911 he returned to the United States where he would spend the rest of his life in New York and New Jersey. He began to paint New York night scenes and architectural subjects in a spare, modernist style. He became interested in night effects, a major theme in many of his later works. His shift towards a modern painting style caused his father (an academic painter) to stop supporting him.

"Sullivan Street Abstraction"
“Sullivan Street Abstraction,” 1924

By the mid-1920s, financial and personal problems began to interfere with Ault’s artistic progress. The home in which he had grown up had been emotionally troubled, and these issues came to fruition at this time. His mother died in a mental institution and three of his brothers committed suicide, all within the span of only a few years. By the time of his father’s death in 1929, the family fortune was largely dissipated. These unfortunate circumstances may explain the increasing turbulence and unhappiness of Ault’s personal life.

"Mantel Composition," 1929
“Mantel Composition,” 1929

Whatever the exact cause, during the 1920s, Ault grew neurotic and reclusive. He developed a severe case of alcoholism, almost blinding himself drinking poisonous bathtub gin. His behavior became so strange that his artist and dealer friends began to avoid him.

"Hudson Street," 1932
“Hudson Street,” 1932

In 1937, Ault moved to Woodstock, New York and tried to put his difficulties in the past. Depending on his wife for income, he created some of his finest paintings during this time, but had difficulty selling them. A nearby barn, which he painted three times, was a favorite subject, symbolizing a dying, agrarian way of life in the Catskills.

"Bright Light at Russell's Corners," 1946
“Bright Light at Russell’s Corners,” 1946



Although Ault is often grouped with Precisionists, he did not idealize modern life and machinery as outlined by the parameters of that movement. Rather, his urban landscapes, filled with a sense of disquiet and psychic distress, echo both the Italian Surrealist Giorgio de Chirico, and Albert Pinkham Ryder, the American romantic visionary. The idealist and Futurist aspects of Precisionism are not so apparent in his work—in fact, he once referred to skyscrapers as the “tombstones of capitalism”. He employed flat shapes and portrayed the underlying geometric patterns of the manmade structures that found homes on his canvases.

"Sculpture On A Roof," 1945
“Sculpture On A Roof,” 1945

An analytical painter, he was especially noted for his realistic portrayal of light—especially the light of darkness—for he commonly painted nighttime scenes. The painter Henry Mattson, Ault’s neighbor, often shared ideas with him on painting nocturnes, considered a Romantic tradition and a technical challenge for landscape painters.

"January Full Moon," 1941
“January Full Moon,” 1941


"Nude And Torso," 1945
“Nude And Torso,” 1945 – modeled by Ault’s wife, Louise


George and Louise Ault, c. 1940
George and Louise Ault, c. 1940

On December 30, 1948, Ault was on one of his reputed late night drinking binges when he disappeared while returning home along the icy banks of Woodstock Creek, which at the time was treacherously overflowing. His body was found fived days later, having drowned in the river. Many clung to the thought that it was an accident, however the coroner deemed his death a suicide.



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Edward Burne-Jones

Edward Burne-Jones: painter

Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones, 1st Baronet ARA (1833–1898) was a British artist and designer closely associated with the later phase of the Pre-Raphaelite movement, who worked closely with William Morris on a wide range of decorative arts as a founding partner in Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co. Burne-Jones was closely involved in the rejuvenation of the tradition of stained glass art in Britain. His early paintings show the heavy inspiration of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, but by the 1860s Burne-Jones was discovering his own artistic “voice”.

Edward Coley Burne Jones (the hyphen came later) was born in Birmingham, the son of a Welshman, Edward Richard Jones, a frame-maker at Bennetts Hill, where a blue plaque commemorates the painter’s childhood. His mother Elizabeth Coley Jones died within six days of his birth, and he was raised by his grieving father and the family housekeeper, Ann Sampson. He attended Birmingham’s King Edward VI grammar school from 1844 and the Birmingham School of Art from 1848 to 1852, before studying theology at Exeter College, Oxford.

Portrait of Edward Burne-Jones, by George Frederick
Portrait of Edward Burne-Jones, by George Frederick

At Oxford he became a friend of William Morris as a consequence of a mutual interest in poetry. The two Exeter undergraduates, together with a small group of Jones’ friends from Birmingham known as “The Birmingham Set,” speedily formed a very close and intimate society, which they called “The Brotherhood”. The members of the Brotherhood read John Ruskin and Tennyson, visited churches, and worshipped the Middle Ages. At this time Burne-Jones discovered Thomas Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur which was to be so influential in his life. At that time neither Burne-Jones nor Morris knew Rossetti personally, but both were much influenced by his works, and finally met him by recruiting him as a contributor to their Oxford and Cambridge Magazine which Morris founded in 1856 to promote their ideas.

Burne-Jones had intended to become a church minister, but under Rossetti’s influence both he and Morris decided to become artists. Burne-Jones left college before taking a degree to pursue a career in art. In February 1857, Rossetti wrote to William Bell Scott,”Two young men, projectors of the Oxford and Cambridge Magazine, have recently come up to town from Oxford, and are now very intimate friends of mine. Their names are Morris and Jones. They have turned artists instead of taking up any other career to which the university generally leads, and both are men of real genius. Jones’s designs are marvels of finish and imaginative detail, unequalled by anything unless perhaps Albert Dürer’s finest works.”

"Sir Galahad," 1855
“Sir Galahad,” 1855

In 1856 Burne-Jones became engaged to Georgiana “Georgie” MacDonald (1840–1920). She was training to be a painter, and was the sister of Burne-Jones’s old school friend. The couple married in 1860, after which she continued in art, making her own work in woodcuts. Georgiana bore a son, Philip, in 1861. A second son, born in the winter of 1864 while Georgiana was gravely ill with scarlet fever, died soon after birth, and their daughter Margaret was born in 1866.

Portrait of Georgiana Burne-Jones, c. 1882 by Frederick Hollyer
Portrait of Georgiana Burne-Jones, c. 1882 by Frederick Hollyer

For much of the 1870s Burne-Jones did not exhibit, following a spate of bitterly hostile attacks on his artistic style in the press, as well as a scandal revolving around a  passionate affair he had (described as the “emotional climax of his life”) with his Greek model Maria Zambaco, which ended with her trying to commit suicide by throwing herself in Regent’s Canal.

Maria Zambaco
Maria Zambaco

During these difficult years Georgiana developed a close friendship with Morris, whose wife Jane had fallen in love with Rossetti. Morris and Georgie may have been in love, but if he asked her to leave her husband, she refused. In the end, the Burne-Joneses remained together, as did the Morrises, but Morris and Georgiana were close for the rest of their lives.

 Edward Burne-Jones (back row, centre) and William Morris (back row, right) with their seemingly unhappy families
Edward Burne-Jones (back row, centre) and William Morris (back row, right) with their seemingly unhappy families

Burne-Jones’ son Philip, who became a successful portrait painter, died in 1926. His adored daughter Margaret (died 1953) married John William Mackail (1850–1945), the friend and biographer of Morris, and Professor of Poetry at Oxford from 1911–1916. Their children were the novelists Angela Thirkell and Denis Mackail. In an edition of the boys’ magazine, Chums (No. 227, Vol. V, 13 January 1897), an article on Burne-Jones stated that “….his pet grandson used to be punished by being sent to stand in a corner with his face to the wall. One day on being sent there he was delighted to find the wall prettily decorated with fairies, flowers, birds, and bunnies. His indulgent grandfather had utilised his talent to alleviate the tedium of his favourite’s period of penance.”

Burne-Jones with his grandchildren, Denis and
Burne-Jones with his grandchildren, Denis Mackail and Angela Thirkell

Burne-Jones’ early works are all more or less tinged by the influence of Rossetti; but they are already differentiated from the elder master’s style by their more facile though less intensely felt elaboration of imaginative detail. Many are pen-and-ink drawings on vellum, exquisitely finished. Although the subject, medium and manner derive from Rossetti’s inspiration, it is not the hand of a pupil merely, but of a potential master. This was recognized by Rossetti himself, who before long avowed that he had nothing more to teach him.

"Going to the Battle," pen-and-ink with gray wash on vellum, 1858
“Going to the Battle,” pen-and-ink with gray wash on vellum, 1858

Burne-Jones’s first sketch in oils dates from this same year, 1856, and during 1857 he made for Bradfield College the first of what was to be an immense series of cartoons for stained glass. In 1858 he decorated a cabinet with the Prioress’s Tale from Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, his first direct illustration of the work of a poet whom he especially loved and who inspired him with endless subjects.

The Prioress' Tale, cabinet decorated by the artist
The Prioress’ Tale, cabinet decorated by the artist

In the autumn of 1857 Burne-Jones joined Morris, Valentine Prinsep, J. R. Spencer Stanhope and others in Rossetti’s ill-fated scheme to decorate the walls of the Oxford Union. None of the painters had mastered the technique of fresco, and their pictures had begun to peel from the walls before they were completed. In 1859 Burne-Jones made his first journey to Italy where he visited Florence, Pisa, Siena, and Venice. He is said to have found the gentle and romantic Sienese more attractive than any other school. With Italy’s images in his mind and Rossetti’s influence still persisting, he created the two watercolors, Sidonia von Bork and Clara von Bork, in 1860. Both paintings illustrate the 1849 gothic novel Sidonia the Sorceress by Lady Wilde, a translation of Sidonia Von Bork: Die Klosterhexe (1847) by Johann Wilhelm Meinhold.

"Sidonia von Bork," 1860
“Sidonia von Bork,” 1860


"Clara von Bork," 1860
“Clara von Bork,” 1860

In 1861, William Morris founded the decorative arts firm of Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co. with Rossetti, Burne-Jones, Ford Madox Brown and Philip Webb as partners, together with Charles Faulkner and Peter Paul Marshall, the former of whom was a member of the Oxford Brotherhood, and the latter a friend of Brown and Rossetti. The prospectus set forth that the firm would undertake carving, stained glass, metal-work, paper-hangings, chintzes (printed fabrics), and carpets. The decoration of churches was from the first an important part of the business. The work shown by the firm at the 1862 International Exhibition attracted much notice, and within a few years it was flourishing. Two significant secular commissions helped establish the firm’s reputation in the late 1860s: a royal project at St. James’s Palace and the “green dining room” at the South Kensington Museum (now the Victoria and Albert) of 1867 which featured stained glass windows and panel figures by Burne-Jones.

"Homer," from the stained glass windows at what is now the Victoria and Albert Museum
“Homer,” from the stained glass windows at what is now the Victoria and Albert Museum

Although known primarily as a painter, Burne-Jones was also an illustrator, helping the Pre-Raphaelite aesthetic to enter mainstream awareness. In addition, he designed books for the Kelmscott Press between 1892 and 1898. His illustrations appeared in The Fairy Family by Archibald Maclaren (1857), The Earthly Paradise by William Morris (not completed), The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer by Geoffrey Chaucer (1896), Bible Gallery by Dalziel (1881), among many others.

In 1864 Burne-Jones was elected an associate of the Society of Painters in Water-Colours (also known as the Old Water-Colour Society), and exhibited, among other works, The Merciful Knight, the first picture which fully revealed his ripened personality as an artist. The next six years saw a series of fine watercolors at the same gallery. In 1866 Mrs Cassavetti commissioned Burne-Jones to paint her daughter, Maria Zambaco, in Cupid finding Psyche, an introduction which led to their tragic affair.

"Cupid Finding Psyche,"
“Cupid Finding Psyche,” 1866

In 1870, Burne-Jones resigned his membership following a controversy over his painting Phyllis and Demophoön. The features of Maria Zambaco were clearly recognizable in the barely draped Phyllis (as they are in several of Burne-Jones’s finest works), and the undraped nakedness of Demophoön coupled with the suggestion of female sexual assertiveness offended Victorian sensibilities. Burne-Jones was asked to make a slight alteration, but instead “withdrew not only the picture from the walls, but himself from the Society.”

"Phyllis and Demophoön,"
“Phyllis and Demophoön,” 1870

During the next seven years, 1870–1877, only two works of the painter’s were exhibited. These were two watercolors, shown at the Dudley Gallery in 1873, one of them being the beautiful Love among the Ruins, destroyed twenty years later by a cleaner who supposed it to be an oil painting, but afterwards reproduced in oils by the painter.

"Love Among The Ruins," oil reproduction of his ruined watercolor,
“Love Among The Ruins,” oil reproduction of his ruined watercolor, c. 1894

This silent period was, however, one of unremitting production. Until this point, Burne-Jones had worked almost entirely in watercolors. He now began a number of large pictures in oils, working at them in turn, and having always several on hand. The first Briar Rose series, Laus Veneris, the Golden Stairs, the Pygmalion series, and The Mirror of Venus are among the works planned and completed, or carried far towards completion, during these years.

"Mirror of Venus,"
“Mirror of Venus”

These years also mark the beginnings of Burne-Jones’s partnership with the fine-art photographer Frederick Hollyer, whose reproductions of paintings, and especially drawings, would expose a wider audience to Burne-Jones’s works in the coming decades.

Burne-Jones photographed by Hollyer, c.1890
Burne-Jones photographed by Hollyer, c.1890

At last, in May 1877, the day of recognition came, with the opening of the first exhibition of the Grosvenor Gallery, when The Days of Creation, The Beguiling of Merlin, and The Mirror of Venus were all shown. Burne-Jones followed up the signal success of these pictures with Laus Veneris, the Chant d’Amour, Pan and Psyche, and other works, exhibited in 1878. Most of these pictures are painted in brilliant colors.

"The Beguiling of Merlin," with model Maria Zacuto, 18
“The Beguiling of Merlin,” with model Maria Zambaco, 1874

A change is noticeable the next year, 1879, in the Annunciation and in the four pictures making up the second series of Pygmalion and the Image; the former of these, one of the simplest and most perfect of the artist’s works, is subdued and sober; in the latter a scheme of soft and delicate tints was used.

"Pygmalion and the Image"
“Pygmalion and the Image”

A similar temperance of colors marks The Golden Stairs, first exhibited in 1880. The almost sombre Wheel of Fortune was shown in 1883, followed in 1884 by King Cophetua and the Beggar Maid, in which Burne-Jones once more indulged his love of gorgeous color, refined by the period of self-restraint. He next turned to two important sets of pictures, The Briar Rose and The Story of Perseus, though these were not completed for some years.

"Wheel of Fortune"
“Wheel of Fortune”

Burne-Jones was elected an Associate of the Royal Academy in 1885, and the following year he exhibited (for the only time) at the Academy, showing The Depths of the Sea, a painting of a mermaid carrying down with her a youth whom she has unconsciously drowned in the impetuosity of her love. This picture adds to the habitual haunting charm a tragic irony of conception and a felicity of execution which give it a place apart among Burne-Jones’s works.

“Depths of the Sea”

He formally resigned his Associateship in 1893. One of the Perseus series was exhibited in 1887, two more in 1888, with The Brazen Tower, inspired by the same legend. In 1890 the second series of The Legend of Briar Rose were exhibited by themselves, and won the widest admiration. The huge watercolor, The Star of Bethlehem, painted for the corporation of Birmingham, was exhibited in 1891. A long illness for some time checked the painter’s activity, which, when resumed, was much occupied with decorative schemes.

"Briar Wood," from the Legend of the Briar Rose series
“Briar Wood,” from the Legend of the Briar Rose series

An exhibition of his work was held at the New Gallery in the winter of 1892-1893. To this period belong several of his comparatively few portraits. In 1894 Burne-Jones was made a baronet. Ill-health again interrupted the progress of his works, chief among which was the vast Arthur in Avalon. In the winter following his death a second exhibition of his works was held at the New Gallery, and an exhibition of his drawings (including some of the charmingly humorous sketches made for children) at the Burlington Fine Arts Club.

"Arthur in Avalon"
“Arthur in Avalon” (click for larger image)

Burne-Jones’s aim in art is best given in some of his own words, written to a friend: “I mean by a picture a beautiful, romantic dream of something that never was, never will be – in a light better than any light that ever shone – in a land no one can define or remember, only desire – and the forms divinely beautiful – and then I wake up, with the waking of Brynhild.”

He was an artist was ever true to his aim. Ideals resolutely pursued are apt to provoke the resentment of the world, and Burne-Jones encountered, endured and conquered an extraordinary amount of angry criticism. Insofar as this was directed against the lack of realism in his pictures, it was beside the point. The earth, the sky, the rocks, the trees, the men and women of Burne-Jones are not those of this world; but they are themselves a world, consistent with itself, and having therefore its own reality. Charged with the beauty and with the strangeness of dreams, it has nothing of a dream’s incoherence. Yet it is a dreamer always whose nature penetrates these works, a nature out of sympathy with struggle and strenuous action. Burne-Jones’s men and women are dreamers too. It was this which, more than anything else, estranged him from the age into which he was born. But he had an inbred “revolt from fact” which would have estranged him from the actualities of any age.

"The Golden Stairs"
“The Golden Stairs”

In 1881 Burne-Jones received an honorary degree from Oxford, and was made an Honorary Fellow in 1882. In 1885 he became the President of the Birmingham Society of Artists. At about that time he began hyphenating his name, merely—as he wrote later—to avoid “annihilation” in the mass of Joneses. In November 1893, he was approached to see if he would accept a Baronetcy on the recommendation of the outgoing Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone, the following February he legally changed his name to Burne-Jones. He was formally created a baronet of Rottingdean, in the county of Sussex, and of the Grange, in the parish of Fulham, in the county of London in the baronetage of the United Kingdom on 3 May 1894, but remained unhappy about accepting the honor, which disgusted his socialist friend Morris and was scorned by his equally socialist wife Georgiana. Only his son Philip, who mixed with the set of the Prince of Wales and would inherit the title, was the one who truly wanted it.

Philip Burne-Jones was to inherit the title his father didn't want, but took on to gift his son the honor he so desired
Philip Burne-Jones was to inherit the title his father didn’t want, but took on to gift his son the honor he so desired

After his friend Morris died in 1896, the health of the devastated Burne-Jones declined substantially. In 1898 he suffered an attack of influenza, and had apparently recovered when he was again taken suddenly ill, and died on 17 June 1898. Six days later, at the intervention of the Prince of Wales, a memorial service was held at Westminster Abbey. It was the first time an artist had been so honored in Britain. Burne-Jones was buried in the churchyard at St Margaret’s Church, Rottingdean, a place he knew through summer family holidays.


St Margaret's Church, Rottingdean
St Margaret’s Church, Rottingdean

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wonderful information and images. 

Henri Cartier-Bresson

Henri Cartier-Bresson: photographer

Henri Cartier-Bresson, (1908—2004) was a French photographer whose humane, spontaneous photographs helped establish photojournalism as an art form. His theory that photography can capture the meaning beneath outward appearance in instants of extraordinary clarity is perhaps best expressed in his book Images à la sauvette (1952; in English, The Decisive Moment).

Cartier-Bresson was born and attended school in a village not far from Paris. In 1927–28 he studied in Paris with André Lhote, an artist and critic associated with the Cubist movement. Lhote implanted in him a lifelong interest in painting, a crucial factor in the education of his vision. In 1929 Cartier-Bresson went to the University of Cambridge, where he studied literature and painting.


As a boy, Cartier-Bresson had been initiated into the mysteries of the simple “Brownie” snapshot camera. But his first serious concern with the medium occurred about 1930, after seeing the work of two major 20th-century photographers, Eugène Atget and Man Ray. Making use of a small allowance, he traveled in Africa in 1931, where he lived in the bush, recording his experiences with a miniature camera. There he contracted blackwater fever, necessitating his return to France.

Ivory Coast, 1931
Ivory Coast, 1931

The portability of a small camera and the ease with which one could record instantaneous impressions must have struck a sympathetic chord, for in 1933 he purchased his first 35-mm Leica. The use of this type of camera was particularly relevant to Cartier-Bresson. It lent itself not only to spontaneity but to anonymity as well. So much did Cartier-Bresson wish to remain a silent, and even unseen, witness, that he covered the bright chromium parts of his camera with black tape to render it less visible, and he sometimes hid the camera under a handkerchief. The man was similarly reticent about his life and work.

1933, Spain


1933, Spain


1933, Spain


1933, Spain

In more than 40 years as a photographer, Cartier-Bresson wandered continually around the world. But there was nothing compulsive about his travels, and he explicitly expressed a desire to move slowly, to “live on proper terms” in each country, to take his time, so that he became totally immersed in the environment.

1935, Mexico
1935, Mexico


1935, London
1935, London

In 1937 Cartier-Bresson produced a documentary film, his first, on medical aid in the Spanish Civil War. That year also marked his first reportage photographs made for newspapers and magazines.

Photographers Jacques Lemare, Henri Cartier-Bresson and Herbert Kline, 1937
Photographers Jacques Lemare, Henri Cartier-Bresson and Herbert Kline, 1937


Children playing - Spain, 1937
Children playing – Spain, 1937


Proud boy with wine - Spain, 1937
Proud boy with wine – Spain, 1937


The crowning of King George VI, 1937, London
The crowning of King George VI, 1937, London

His enthusiasm for filmmaking was further gratified when, from 1936 to 1939, he worked as an assistant to the film director Jean Renoir in the production of Une Partie de campagne (A Day in the Country) and La Règle du jeu (The Rules of the Game).

As a photographer he felt indebted to the great films he saw as a youth. They taught him, he said, to choose precisely the expressive moment, the telling viewpoint. The importance he gave to sequential images in still photography may be attributed to his preoccupation with film.

1939, New York
1939, New York

In 1940, during World War II, Cartier-Bresson was taken prisoner by the Germans. He escaped in 1943 and the following year participated in a French underground photographic unit assigned to record the German occupation and retreat. In 1945 he made a film for the U.S. Office of War Information, Le Retour, which dealt with the return to France of released prisoners of war and deportees.


Though Cartier-Bresson’s photographs had been exhibited in 1933 in the prestigious Julien Levy Gallery in New York City, a more important tribute was paid to him in 1947, when a one-man exhibition was held in that city’s Museum of Modern Art. In that same year, Cartier-Bresson, in partnership with the U.S. photographer Robert Capa and others, founded the cooperative photo agency known as Magnum Photos.

1951, Rome - Magnum Photos/Henri Cartier-Bresson
1951, Rome – Magnum Photos/Henri Cartier-Bresson

The organization offered periodicals global coverage by some of the most talented photojournalists of the time. Under the aegis of Magnum, Cartier-Bresson concentrated more than ever on reportage photography. The following three years found him in India, China, Indonesia, and Egypt.

1950, Egypt
1950, Egypt


1949, Nanjing, China - portrait of General Ma Hung Kouei
1949, Nanjing, China – portrait of General Ma Hung Kouei


1958, China
1958, China


1948, India - the funeral of Mahatma Gahndi
1948, India – the funeral of Mahatma Gahndi

This material and more, taken in the 1950s in Europe, formed the subjects of several books published between 1952 and 1956. Such publications helped considerably to establish Cartier-Bresson’s reputation as a master of his craft. One of them, and perhaps the best known, Images à la sauvette, contains what is probably Cartier-Bresson’s most comprehensive and important statement on the meaning, technique, and utility of photography. The title refers to a central idea in his work—the decisive moment—the elusive instant when, with brilliant clarity, the appearance of the subject reveals in its essence the significance of the event of which it is a part, the most telling organization of forms. Later books include Cartier-Bresson’s France (1971), The Face of Asia (1972), and About Russia (1974).


1944, portrait of Matisse
1944, portrait of Matisse


1944, Matisse painting
1944, Matisse painting

He was singularly honored by his own country in 1955, when a retrospective exhibition of 400 of his photographs was held at the Museum of Decorative Arts in Paris and was then displayed in Europe, the United States, and Japan before the photographs were finally deposited in the Bibliothèque Nationale (National Library) in Paris. In 1963 he photographed in Cuba; in 1963–64, in Mexico; and in 1965, in India. The French filmmaker Louis Malle recalled that, during the student revolt in Paris in May 1968, Cartier-Bresson appeared with his 35-mm camera and, despite the explosive activities, took photographs at the rate of only about four per hour.

1968, Paris - student protest
1968, Paris – student protest


1968, Paris - student protest
1968, Paris – student protest


1968, Paris - Henri Cartier-Bresson photographed by Alain Nogues during the student protests
1968, Paris – Henri Cartier-Bresson photographed by Alain Nogues during the student protests

In the late 1960s Cartier-Bresson began to concentrate on making motion pictures—including Impressions of California (1969) and Southern Exposures (1971). He believed that still photography and its use in pictorial magazines was, to a large extent, being superseded by television. On principle, he always avoided developing his own prints, convinced that the technical exigencies of photography were a harmful distraction. Similarly, he directed the shooting of films and did not wield the camera himself. With this medium, however, he was no longer able to work unobtrusively by himself. Cartier-Bresson devoted his later years to drawing.


His Leica—his notebook, as he called it—accompanied him wherever he went, and, consistent with his training as a painter, he always carried a small sketch pad. There was for Cartier-Bresson a kind of social implication in the camera. To his mind, photography provided a means, in an increasingly synthetic epoch, for preserving the real and humane world.


Cartier-Bresson died on August 3, 2004, at the age of 95. He was buried in the Cimetière de Montjustin, in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, France.


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Aubrey Beardsley

Aubrey Beardsley: illustrator, author

Aubrey Beardsley (21 August 1872 – 16 March 1898) was an English illustrator and author. His drawings in black ink, influenced by the style of Japanese woodcuts, emphasized the grotesque, the decadent, and the erotic. He was a leading figure in the Aesthetic movement which also included Oscar Wilde and James A. McNeill Whistler. Beardsley’s contribution to the development of the Art Nouveau and poster styles was significant, despite the brevity of his career before his tragically early death.

Aubrey Vincent Beardsley was born in Brighton, England, on 21 August 1872, and christened on 24 October 1872. His father, Vincent Paul Beardsley (1839–1909), was the son of a tradesman, but had no trade himself and relied on a private income from an inheritance that he received from his maternal grandfather when he was 21. Vincent’s wife, Ellen Agnus Pitt (1846–1932), was the daughter of Surgeon-Major William Pitt of the Indian Army. The Pitts were a well-established and respected family in Brighton, and Beardsley’s mother married a man of lesser social status than might have been expected. He had one sister, Mabel who was one year older.

Aubrey and Mabel, 1975
Aubrey and Mabel, 1975
Mabel and Aubrey, c. 1884
Mabel and Aubrey, c. 1884

In 1883 his family settled in London, and in the following year he appeared in public at 9 years old as an “infant musical phenomenon”, playing at several concerts with his sister. In January 1885 he began to attend Brighton, Hove and Sussex Grammar School, where he would spend the next four years. His first poems, drawings and cartoons appeared in print in “Past and Present”, the school’s magazine.

Illustrations from "Past And Present," 1887
Illustrations from “Past And Present,” 1887

In 1888 he obtained a post in an architect’s office, and afterwards one in the Guardian Life and Fire Insurance Company. In 1891 however, he took up art as his profession, thanks to the advice and encouragement of the Pre-Raphaelite painter Sir Edward Burne-Jones, as well as the co-founder and president of the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts, Pierre Puvis de Chavannes. In 1892 he attended the classes at the Westminster School of Art, then under Professor Fred Brown.

Sketch of Professor Fred Brown, 1892
Sketch of Professor Fred Brown, 1892

In 1892, Beardsley travelled to Paris, where he discovered the poster art of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, and the Parisian fashion for Japanese prints, both of which would be major influences on his own style. Beardsley’s first commission in 1893 was quite a spectacular one, illustrating Le Morte d’Arthur by Thomas Malory, for the publishing house J. M. Dent and Company.

Aubrey Beardsley - Le Morte d_Arthur arthur-and-the-strange-mantle from-the-morte-darthur-illustrated-by-aubrey-beardsley-1359730845_b
His six years of major creative output can be divided into several periods, identified by the form of his signature. In the early period his work is mostly unsigned. During 1891 and 1892 he progressed to using his initials, A.V.B. In mid-1892, the period of Le Morte d’Arthur and The Bon Mots he used a Japanese-influenced mark which became progressively more graceful, sometimes accompanied by “A.B.” in block capitals.

One version of Beardsley's unique signature
One version of Beardsley’s unique signature

Aubrey Beardsley - A Platonic Lament from Salome Aubrey_Beardsley_-_Edgar_Poe_1

He co-founded the quarterly literary periodical, “The Yellow Book,” with American writer Henry Harland, and for the first four editions he served as Art Editor and produced the cover designs and many illustrations for the magazine. He was closely aligned with Aestheticism, the British counterpart of Decadence and Symbolism. Most of his images are done in ink, and feature large dark areas contrasted with large blank ones, and areas of fine detail contrasted with areas with none at all.


He ended up being dismissed from “The Yellow Book” due to his friendship with Oscar Wilde and the general revulsion against Aestheticism that followed the scandal surrounding Wilde’s arrest in 1895. Following his dismissal from the magazine, Beardsley then became principal illustrator of another new magazine, “The Savoy.”


He also illustrated numerous books, including in 1896 Alexander Pope’s Rape of the Lock. It was also during this time that he wrote several poems and a prose parody, Under the Hill (1903; the original, unexpurgated version, The Story of Venus and Tannhauser, appeared in 1907). He also completed and had published the collection, A Book of Fifty Drawings by Aubrey Beardsley (1897).

"Battle of the Beaux and the Belles," from "The Rape Of The Lock," 18
“Battle of the Beaux and the Belles,” from “The Rape Of The Lock,” 1896


"The Abbé Fanfreluche," 1896, from "Under the Hill"
“The Abbé Fanfreluche,” 1896, from “Under the Hill”

Beardsley is often considered the most controversial artist of the Art Nouveau era, renowned for his dark and perverse images and grotesque erotica, which were the main themes of his later work. His illustrations were in black and white, against a white background. Some of his drawings, inspired by Japanese shunga artwork, featured enormous genitalia.


His most famous erotic illustrations concerned themes of history and mythology; these include his illustrations for a privately printed edition of Aristophanes’ Lysistrata.

"Lysistratamen," 18
“Lysistratamen,” 1896


Lysistrata haranguing the Athenian women
“Lysistrata Haranguing The Athenian Women”


"Lysistrata Shielding Her Coynte"
“Lysistrata Shielding Her Coynte”

He is also very well known for his drawings for Oscar Wilde’s play Salome, which was first published in Paris in 1896, but has been in reprint ever since.


“The Dancer’s Reward”


“The Woman In The Moon”


“The Peacock Skirt”

Beardsley was a caricaturist and did some political cartoons, mirroring Wilde’s irreverent wit in art. Beardsley’s work reflected the decadence of his era and his influence was enormous, clearly visible in the work of the French Symbolists, the Poster art Movement of the 1890s and the work of many later-period Art Nouveau artists.


Beardsley was a well known to be quite eccentric, privately but also in public. He said, “I have one aim—the grotesque. If I am not grotesque I am nothing.” Oscar Wilde said of him that he had “a face like a silver hatchet, and grass green hair.”


Beardsley was obsessively meticulous about his attire: dove-grey suits, hats, ties; yellow gloves were his casual attire. He would also do things like appear at his publisher’s in a morning coat and patent leather pumps (a formal men’s shoe in the late 1800’s, not the women’s footwear what we call “pumps” today).
Although Beardsley was associated with the homosexual clique that included Oscar Wilde and other English aesthetes, the details of his sexuality remain in question. He was generally regarded as asexual, but with the flamboyant “dandies” of the day, he certainly felt most at ease in style and personal freedom of expression.

"Portrait of Aubrey Beardsley," by Jacques-Emile Blanche, 18
“Portrait of Aubrey Beardsley,” by Jacques-Emile Blanche, 1895

Delicate in health from the age of six, throughout his entire career, Beardsley had recurrent attacks of tuberculosis. He suffered frequent lung hemorrhages and was often unable to work or leave his home. From 1896 his health had declined to such a point that he was left an invalid.

Beardsley at home, 1897
Beardsley at home, 1897

Perhaps because of his progressing illness (and his mother’s influence), Beardsley converted to Roman Catholicism in March 1897, and subsequently begged his publisher, Leonard Smithers, to “destroy all copies of Lysistrata and bad drawings… by all that is holy all obscene drawings.” Smithers ignored the artist’s wishes, and actually continued to sell reproductions as well as forgeries of his work long after Beardsley’s untimely demise .


Later in 1897 his deteriorating health prompted his move to the town on Menton on the French Riviera, where he died a year later on 16 March 1898 at the Cosmopolitan Hotel, due to complications of tuberculosis. He was attended by his mother and sister. Following a Requiem Mass in Menton Cathedral the following day, his remains were interred in the cathedral’s adjacent cemetery.


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Special thanks to: Daily Artfixx, On This Day, Wikipedia,
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wonderful information and images.