#Friday Painting: Émile Joachim Constant Puyo “The Straw Hat”

The Straw Hat

Émile Joachim Constant Puyo “The Straw Hat” Oil Pigment Print, Cincinnati Art Museum

Today’s painting is a photograph by the French photographer, Émile Joachim Constant Puyo, who lived from 1857 to 1933. I confess that I have never heard of this photographer/artist so chose to feature Émile Puyo’s photograph, “The Straw Hat,” to gain insight into his work and the time when photography was in transition.

Émile Puyo believed that photographs were a form of art when the photograph was fashioned to demonstrate a beauty independent of the subject. That meant that photographs could be manipulated to express individuality. In that way, the photographer was the artist – not the camera, which Émile Puyo considered was an unemotional machine.

Émile Puyo associated with the Photo Club of Paris and was a champion for the practice of photography as an artistic medium.

Today, cameras and photography continue to evolve. They are powerful tools for capturing cultural memory. They document our time and our stories to be recalled in the years that follow.

#FridayPainting Théo van Rysselberghe “La dame en blanc”

Portrait of Mrs. Théo van Rysselberghe

Théo van Rysselberghe was a major player in the European art scene at the turn of the twentieth century. On October 28, 1883, he co-founded the Belgian artistic circle Les XX. This was a circle of young radical artists that rebelled against the status quo of the prevailing artistic standards.

Théo van Rysselberghe traveled extensively to Morocco, France, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands. The portraits and landscapes he brought back from his trips are a testament to his insatiable curiosity and desire to capture the essence of what he saw and experienced.

Emily Mary Osborn – Nameless and Friendless

“The rich man’s wealth is his strong city: the destruction of the poor is their poverty.”

Proverbs 10:15
‘Nameless and Friendless’ (1857) by Emily Mary Osborn

Emily Mary Osborn added this Biblical quote to her famous painting, “Nameless and Friendless.”  The painting demands an immediate emotional response, even without knowing the back history.

A young woman artist, clothed in black mourning, stands quietly, head bowed, and eyes lowered.  Her fear and nervousness are palpable. As her side, stands her brother with a countenance marked with resolute determination to receive a fair price for his sister’s artistic endeavour.

Artists are storytellers, allowing us to interact with the unfolding narrative.  They are also visionaries who demand our attention with a strident call to action.

Emily Mary Osborn was committed to creating a better life for women without financial resources or the ability to find rewarding employment.  She was a dynamic voice in the campaign for women’s suffrage. It is highly likely that “Nameless and Friendless” was meant to be a political statement, one that would dismay those who enjoy the comfort of the status quo.

“Nameless and Friendless” was exhibited at the Royal academy in 1857, which coincidentally was the same year that the Society of Female Artists came into being with a mission to help women exhibit and sell their work.

Born in 1829, during the Victorian era, Emily Mary Osborn lived beyond the turn of a new century.  She died on April 14, 1925, at the age of 97, the year my father was born.  Time moves quickly, but the story endures.

May we celebrate the progress made, and build upon those who have come before us. “Nameless and Friendless” serves as a call to action. This post was first published on ChasingART in 2019 for International Women’s Day. I am reminded in these complex times, that the work continues.

For more information on “Nameless and Friendless” visit the Tate Gallery and The Met.

#FridayPainting: Giuseppe Arcimboldo “Portrait of a Librarian” 1566

The first time I viewed a painting by Giuseppe Arcimboldo, I was certain that the date on the painting was incorrect. Surely, this was not a painter that lived in the 1500’s.

And yet, Giuseppe Arcimboldo’s birth was recorded in Milan in the year 1527, the son of a painter. In 1549, he worked as his father’s assistant at Milan Cathedral and a few years later, designed tapestry for Como Cathedral. It seems that his talents became known beyond Milan, for in 1562 he moved to Prague, becoming the Court painter to Ferdinand I.

Giuseppe Arcimboldo’s paintings remind me of the Surrealists who appeared in the aftermath of World War I. His compositions of painted flowers, vegetables and other bazaar objects thrilled the Hapsburg Court. His paintings continue to excite our century.

Giuseppe Arcimboldo “Portrait of a Librarian” 1566 Oil on Canvas

Very little of Giuseppe Arcimboldo’s signed work survives, nor did he leave any writings. That he was highly educated can be seen in his work. He was a true Renaissance man who had talents that spanned arts, sciences, engineering and philosophy.

“Portrait of a Librarian” is thought to be a portrait of Wolfgang Lazius, a humanist and historian who served Holy Roman Emperors and The House of Habsburg.

Some think that the painting is a celebration of scholarship, while others believe that it is a parody of book collectors more interested in collecting books than reading them.

I believe the painting is about books, created by an artist who loved the knowledge written on the pages of books.

#FridayPainting: Amedeo Modigliani “Alice”

What I am seeking is not the real and not the unreal but rather the unconscious, the mystery of the instinctive in the human race.” Amedeo Modigliani

Amedeo Modigliani “Alice”

I have often wondered how the name of paintings are discovered for it would seem to me that the name reveals itself as the painting comes to life.

Modigliani was well-known for regularly reciting Dante and other famous poets. I imagine him painting and reciting poetry.

“When I know your soul, I will paint your eyes” Amedeo Modigliani

The title, “Alice,” may seem understated, yet it defines what is obvious and stands in sharp contrast to the young girl’s unreadable expression. Her eyes hold a wisdom that draws our attention and curiosity.

Amedeo Modigliani was a brilliant artist, although he did not find fame in his lifetime. His work is unmistakable and is immediately recognized with just a glance. He may have died almost penniless, but the richness of his legacy continues unabated in art and museum collections across the globe.

It is your duty in life to save your dream.” Amedeo Modigliani

With one eye you are looking at the outside world, while with the other you are looking within yourself.” Amedeo Modigliani

Judith Leyster at the Rijksmuseum

Judith Leyster

Dutch Golden Age painter (1609-1660)

ChasingART has been involved in virtual travel these past months as museums and art galleries have opened their doors and outreach to global visitors.

Today, I traveled to the Rijksmuseum, the national museum of the Netherlands, located at the Museum Square in the borough Amsterdam South. Dedicated to Dutch arts and history, the Rijksmuseum was founded in The Hague on November 19, 1798, but was moved to Amsterdam in 1808.

The Women of the Rijksmuseum

Exciting things are happening at the Rijksmuseum! The Women of the Rijksmuseum project is underway, focused on exploring the role played by women artists in Dutch history. This ambitious project will run from 2021 to 2024, bringing together a working group from across the museum to gain a deeper understanding of their collection.

Cello Player by Judith Leyster

“How is the part played by women in Dutch history represented in the Rijksmuseum collection?  This is the overarching question explored by the research programme and its related activities.”


Judith Jans Leyster, 1609 to 1660, was a Dutch Golden Age painter, whose work included genre works, portraits and still lifes. Highly respected during her lifetime, she fell into obscurity after her death. Her entire creative output was attributed to Frans Hals or to her husband, Jan Miense Molenaer. But time has a way to bringing truth to the surface and the regrettable error is attribution has been rectified. We now recognize Judith Leyster for her brilliant artistic abilities.