‘A Good Book’ by Paul Fischer
I don’t think it will come as any surprise that I love paintings of interiors. Indeed, I have shown on a previous post some of the lovely interior illustrations I have in a portfolio by the architect R Goulburn Lovell, such as … and …
just three illustrations from the (incomplete) portfolio of 22 such lovely illustrations which I inherited from my mother.
I also have two books which chronicle pictures of interiors …
I confess I have not read them from cover. They are quite weighty books but they have the most superb illustrations and it is those illustrations that capture my imagination. I particularly love the Dutch interior paintings (particularly Vermeer) and in Imagined Interiors I like Pieter de Hooch’s Portrait of a family playing music (1663) (above). It isn’t so much the family in the foreground that has captured my attention. No, it’s the grandmother or the nanny in the background with the two little children and the vista to the window beyond and, a after that, courtyard. And just look at the magnificent chequer-board floor and the heavy, carved cabinet on the right. The Dutch masters were particularly good at painting materials, not only silks and satins, but also the wools of a rug or tapestry, such as the draped shawl over the table on which the woman in the foreground rests her arm.
And then, a little over a century later, another family enjoying a musical soiree, this time Johann Joseph Zoffany’s George, 3rd Earl Cowper with the Family of Charles of Gore (1775). I love to see not only the furnishings of this Georgian room, but also the fashions of the day. The book says, “In Zoffany’s [painting] the aesthetic qualities of the interior space correspond to the riches of the Gore family’s attire.” (Opinions differ as to whether ‘real’ interiors or fictitious backdrops were portrayed in such portraits – for example, it is unlikely that a wall, as depicted here, would ‘dissolve’ quite in this way into an exterior scene. But a lovely interior painting nonetheless.)
Next, (below) from At Home, The Domestic Interior in Art, I just love this interior by Adolf Henirich-Hansen entitled A Woman Reading in an Interior (1918), which continues both the style and the love of interiors’ paintings by the Dutch and Scandinavians.
You could warm your hands by that range, could you not? and I love the little footstool by the chair, and oh, look at all the gorgeous blue and white china and the highly polished copper pans, and even the tiles behind and beneath the range. But even with all the items of a wonderfully appointed kitchen, the eyes are drawn toward the woman reading, even though she is half-hidden through the doorway. No detail has been spared and perhaps we can learn something of the way of life then, even with the copper jamming pan on the highest shelf as perhaps it is only brought down once a year during the jam-making season?
Next (below), an interior totally different from the one above, which is filled with so many artefacts that the woman reading almost seems incidental to the scene. Here (below) in Danish artist Carl Holsoe’s, The Artist’s Home at Lyngby (at the end of the 19th century) the emphasis is on light rather than people, on a room sparsely furnished and yet one which is welcoming.
All this is bringing me to a couple of postcards which I’ve had for more years than I can remember. They were given away with Period House magazine, sadly a title no longer on the newsagent’s shelf. They are by Patrick William Adam (1854-1930), and are entitled The Green Tablecloth and Interior, Gribdae.
I have been using them as bookmarks, and I never tire of seeing them. So much so that I’ve looked online for reproductions of this artist’s work and, as we speak, a print is winging its way to me. I hope it will be as attractive as these paintings above, and that the quality of the reproduction merits my having it mounted and framed so I might hang it in the sitting room, our bedroom, bed sitting room, or kitchen.
I wonder what kinds of pictures you have on your walls? Prints of the old masters? Flower paintings from the 1950s? Photographs of the family? Framed embroideries or samplers? A landscape or seascape can often work wonders, especially in a small room, carrying the ‘view’ beyond the actual wall on which it is hung. Or perhaps you prefer plain walls, finding them more restful?
Until next time.