Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Watercolors by Charles E. Dana


Here's a painting of a door in Friburg by Pennsylvania artist Charles E. Dana (1843-1924). He studied architecture in Munich, and then went to Paris to learn from Gérôme and Bonnat.


The iron grille in the window, with rectangular mullions behind it, would have taken considerable patience and skill to record in the subtractive medium of transparent watercolor.


A 1915 article described him "as a student always, living much in the past, searching out the works of old craftsmen. It is only natural that his subjects should have been for the most part along the lanes and by-paths where these interests led him. So we find his work quite removed from that of the painter of moods, and his pictures depicting and recording certain real things which were in themselves the expression of the artist-craftsmen of a bygone period."

Left: A street in Cairo by Charles E. Dana

4 comments:

Jonathan Mayer said...

Do we know for sure that he was using a modern watercolor technique? Around the turn of the century, it was more common to use a wash-out technique, which was made possible because the paper had a higher quantity of size in it. The watercolor could be lifted from the substrate much more easily, so it was possible to paint darks first, then lift out the highlights.

It doesn't look like he probably used that technique here, but it's hard to tell without more detail.

Rich said...

There are quite a few painter-architects (or architect-painters) out there; past or present.
On the realm of painting they seem to have a grip of their own.

krystal said...

Fantastic! Yes, Le Corb was a painter, Gehry is a sculptor; Thom Mayne is a painter, Hundertwasser, Rem Koolhaas, Steve Holl etc. I often find that the painting is very sculptural; like how Mayne uses liquid graphite paste and carves/etches into designs upon designs on mylar and vellum and paints over them (which also alludes to the company name, "Morphosis". There is a book I picked up which is a Masterclass on technique of quite a few Architects: Architectural Drawing Masterclass" by Tom Porter. Last weekend, I visited the Eames House (there's a neat exhibit at Art Center at the moment; runs until May) and of course he used many different media. His wife also painted under Hans Hofmann; there is that great painting by the spiral stairs of the house; "For C (Charles, her husband) with a muted palette". Fascinating stuff, especially as I am studying Architecture, but I love drawing, painting and sculpting. Great post. Thanks!

David Webb said...

These are lovely, James. They remind me of an English artist ~ Ernest W. Haslehust (1866-1949). He was another of our railway artists. He was also the illustrator of a series of books on various countys in the UK. He was very prolific and there are plenty of his watercolours on the web.