Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Liljefors: Pine Marten and Grouse

Bruno Liljefors (Swedish, 1860-1939) painted this dramatic scene of a pine marten jumping up to capture a black grouse hen. The marten appears at the top of its leap, its rear feet upraised and its tail in a blur.
Liljefors, Pine marten and black grouse hen,
watercolor and gouache, 1888, 34.5 x 48 cm, source
The drybrush handling of watercolor and gouache gives the forest textures a nervous energy. Liljefors frequently painted scenes like this outdoors, with dead specimens rigged into position with strings and wires. 

Liljefors, capercallie

He also observed and sketched living animals first-hand, both in the wild and in captivity. For a while he kept his own menagerie, but he was aware that the animals looked and behave differently in cages than they do in the wild.
Some detractors in his day complained that his work looked unfinished because he didn't paint every leaf or hair. 

Portrait of Liljefors by Zorn
"Truly, you cannot count the feathers on that duck's wing. But, let me ask, do you ever see the leaves as you search for some living creature in the mysterious depths of forest foliage? You'd have to look too sharp for that. And if you do see the creature, does it occur to you to count the feathers in its wings, even if it stays  long enough for you to detect its species?" 


A Colonel of Truth said...

James, if you have yet to visit Zorn's home and museum in Mora, Sweden, add to your junket list. And spend at least a week in Mora. Incredible. Been there four or five times and planning another trip.

Rich said...

"Truly you cannot count the feathers on that duck's wing.",... to quote Liljefors.

If I may add another quote:

"If Art's service is but to imitate Nature, then burn all the picture galleries and let us have instead photographic studios. It is becaus Art reveals what Nature hides that a small picture is worth more than all the jewels of the millionaires and the treasures of the princes."

James Gurney said...

Rich, apt quote, thanks! Sri Aurobindo, right?

Colonel, Haven't been there yet, but I'm sure I would love it.

Rich said...