Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Frederick Marriott and Pickford Marriott

Recently, I discovered the artworks of two British artists who worked together in the 1800-1900's. I found them through a website and have been captivated by them.

The artists are the brothers, Frederick Marriott (b. 1860 - d. 1941) and Frank Pickford Marriott (b. 1876 - d. 1935). I have learned they are often confused with one another. Pickford (Frank) lived in South Africa and his art can be found at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum in Port Elizabeth. As children, they were born in Britain and lived in Australia. Pickford moved back to England and at the age of nineteen went to college and studied art. He became a teacher of art in England but lived in South Africa (and taught) for awhile. His brother, Frederick (Peter) Marriott is listed as having been a sculptor and engraver. At the age of fourteen, Frederick studied pottery and was granted a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Art in 1879. Frederick also painted (and etched) traditional landscapes.

The two brothers collaborated together in a similar style when it came to art. Among their most impressive pieces are those that are made with genuine mother-of-pearl. They worked in gesso as well and combined the two to make stunning Pre-Raphaelite/Art Nouveau themed portraits. The older brother, Frederick, explained his methods in an article called, "Unpublished Notes on Gesso by Frederick Marriott". The process they used involved boiling shells in different colors to get certain hues. Then the shells were polished to reflect the saturation of the colors. The shell pieces were shaped, cut and affixed to tracing paper to see how to position the pieces and how the light would fall on them. Then raised gesso would be added and the gesso covered in gold leaf or platinum leaf.

To perfect these paintings, the process was extremely labor intensive.  Much emphasis was added into the details.

"The Annunciation" by Pickford Marriott (possibly both brothers), gesso and mother-of-pearl on panel. From the auction site Bonhams.

"The Faithful Knight in Equal Field subdues his Faithless Foe" circa early 1900's, by Frederick Marriott.

"The Angel of Night", 1904 by Frederick Marriott.

"St. Cecilia", 1903 by Frederick Marriott. Clearer/larger version here.

Unknown panel found via pinterest.

A very beautiful high resolution painting can be found at the Queensland Art Gallery: "Love in her eyes sits playing" 1902 by Pickford Marriott.

The brothers' works remind me of the symbolist painter, John Duncan. There's a 'King Arthur' mythology look to their styles with a good amount of Pre-Raphaelite themes.

Tristan and Isolde, 1912 by John Duncan.

Overall, the brothers have a very beautiful way of capturing light using a natural material like mother-of-pearl. I have not really seen artwork with such an unusual medium and am happy to have stumbled upon them. They really knew how to work with textures and patterns in unique materials as well.

British Paintings
Mapping the Sculpture Project

Solarpunk & Art Nouveau

A few years ago while browsing the website Tumblr, I discovered a post by user 'missolivialouise' which had a great idea. She had written about the idea for a new literary genre of science fiction. She called it "solarpunk".

What is 'Solarpunk'?

Solarpunk is a relatively new science fiction & art genre that focuses on the environment, sustainability, advanced technology, renewable energy and how societies in the future will adapt to these things. Solarpunk aims to be inclusive of others, diverse and promotes a world and life that is environmentally sustainable (and achievable).

Solarpunk follows in the footsteps of 'Steampunk', 'Cyberpunk' and other sci-fi literary/artistic categories.

What does this have to do with Art Nouveau?

In her original post in 2014 missolivialouise suggested the aesthetics for the newly created genre could be based in Art Nouveau/Edwardian styles. This is a fantastic idea as there is a lot of natural elements and organic themes in Art Nouveau. To see a movement from the 1890's-1900's reinvented with futuristic ideals and technologies, with an emphasis on nature would be amazing. The idea of solarpunk has captured the imagination of many people on Tumblr and beyond. There have been a few publications made (one example here) and many artworks showing what a "Solarpunk" future would look like.

Missolivialouise posted art she created to show what fashion might look like in a future like this:

In her post she said,
"Can you imagine how pretty it would be to have stained glass windows everywhere that are actually solar panels? The tech is already headed in that direction!  Or how about wide-brim hats, or parasols that are topped with discreet solar panel tech incorporated into the design, with ports you can stick your phone charger in to?"

...."A lot of people seem to share a vision of futuristic tech and architecture that looks a lot like an ipod – smooth and geometrical and white. Which imo is a little boring and sterile, which is why I picked out an Art Nouveau aesthetic for this."

I would agree that having a style like Art Nouveau, or Edwardian or even Victorian would be cool to be reinvented in a new way.

As someone who is very fond of (and supports) environmentalism, the creation of a genre like solarpunk struck me in a very sincere way. As of right now the world is going through many, many changes, and a lot of them are very negative for the environment. Changing the course will require a cultural shift and a new way of looking at things. People will ultimately have to change the way they think and live. There is no better time for a genre like solarpunk to pop up than now.

I'd like to imagine the future (and Solarpunk) with people living in beautiful, sustainable houses, growing their own food, using renewable energy and living a life that has a small footstep on the world.

When it comes to architecture and art nouveau, I have always had a personal fantasy to create a sculpted house (from cob, or other materials like adobe) and decorate it in the art nouveau style. I think this would fit into the idea of Solarpunk (and would be easy to customize). Indeed, someone has even tried to replicate art nouveau in sculpted concrete form for a house. And it looks great. Houses made of earthen materials would also be very customizable. You could basically 'sculpt' your own house with enough knowledge.

Fashion would also be a great topic to think about. In 2016 I made a little drawing of what I thought a Solarpunk dress/outfit would look like. Here's my concept idea:

and if you follow the solarpunk hashtag on tumblr, you will see many other concept designs, discussions, artworks and writings about Solarpunk.

I'm all on board for Art Nouveau to be the main style for Solarpunk. I hope others will join the online discussion and make Solarpunk a reality for everyone.

Credits: First three drawings made by missolivialouise. Used with permission.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Varun Bahl: When Art Nouveau meets India

Not too long ago I came across an article on the internet about an Indian fashion designer named Varun Bahl. Bahl had created an Indian fashion collection in 2017 inspired by Art Nouveau. The marriage of a European art movement with the silhouettes and styles of Indian fashion resulted in a beautiful and stunning collection. If you'd like to see the clothing, which debuted at India Couture Week 2017, please watch this video on youtube :)

Here's a news article regarding the designer's inspiration (which happened to be Mucha's paintings), and another one too. Overall a fantastic idea.

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