Sunday, July 28, 2019

Painting Animals as People

William Holbrook Beard School Rules
William Holbrook Beard (1824-1900) was an American artist who painted animals in human guises.

William Holbrook Beard, Making Game of the Hunter
He studied at the Dusseldorf school in Germany and moved to New York City in 1861, becoming a member of the National Academy of Design.

He had a studio at the famous Tenth Street Studios, so he would have rubbed shoulders with Homer, Church, and Bierstadt.

He often painted scenes where the human and animal roles were reversed, or where monkeys took on human roles, a common pictorial idea after the 1859 publication of Darwin's Origin of the Species. Beard's art was quite popular and often reproduced.

His painting of The Bear Dance is often used to illustrate the popular song "Waltzing with Bears."

The Power of Death
Looking at his work, I can't help but wonder about how artists are products of their times, and how times change. What ideas drove Beard's work? Why was it popular then and not so popular now? Which pictures that are being made now will fall out of favor in the future, and which will remain?


My Pen Name said...

Humanizing animals and reversing the roles remain popular.
hard to say why he's not popular now..something about his painting style

We're poor predictors of the future (remember Frances' greatest artists of the 19th century - according to the public and experts - only realist painters are familiar with them now.) .. but Tom Wolfe famously said that no one will remember Picasso in 10 years..

Ten years ago I would have said 'if only' now I fear what will replace him.

Smurfswacker said...

It's a bit off-topic, but MyPenName's comment reminded me of an amusing observation by Will Rogers. He went on a European tour in the late 1920s and professed to be bored by the stream of classical art and statuary shown him. Besides, he said, what we're seeing isn't the good stuff. The good stuff that people really put in their homes was destroyed in all those endless wars. We're seeing the stuff that survived because everybody hated it and stuck it away in the basement.

Penny Taylor said...

I know he was American, but the first thing that popped into my mind was he studied in Germany. On top of which he grew up in a time where Grimm brothers' fairy tales were published everywhere & probably had even more contact with Grimm brothers' tales when he got to Germany. On the other hand, when you talk about being influenced by the times I also see it coming around with the times. Seeing the paintings, I have no doubt that some of the characters on Grimm, the television series were influenced by the paintings. The stories, sure, that's obvious, but when I look back on the way the characters themselves where designed for the production, I bet there was a lot of influence from Beard. Especially the characters of Monroe, Rosalee & Bud... That being said, I now have an urge to re-watch Grimm. I really got a kick out of that show

Roberto Quintana said...

Beard's paintings remind me of the ‘Dogs Playing Poker’ painting series -RQ

“It’s not commonly known, but Dogs Playing Poker by Cassius Marcellus Coolidge refers to not just one painting, but 18 of them! The series includes the artist’s original Poker Game (1894) painting, along with 16 other oil paintings commissioned in 1903 by Brown & Bigelow to advertise cigars, and an additional 1910 painting. All eighteen of these paintings feature comical, humanized dogs; however, only eleven of the paintings actually depict poker-faced pups playing cards around a table.
A Friend in Need (1903) is arguably one of the most popular (and thereby most recognizable) paintings ever. However, unlike other iconic works such as Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus, and Van Gogh’s Starry Night, Coolidge’s paintings were never considered by critics to be genuine “art.” Instead, when they were first published, Coolidge’s oil-on-canvas paintings left people in hysterics. Art historian and director of the Chrysler Museum of Art in Virginia, William Hennessey, even went so far as to publicly mock the series on April Fools Day in 2002 by releasing a press releaseclaiming he was trying to acquire the series for the museum’s collection. However, Hennessey later admitted, “I’ve always liked them,” and he isn’t alone.
With their expressive faces, smoker pipes, and whiskey glasses, Coolidge’s poker dogs have become iconic. So much so that they’ve been referenced in popular TV shows—such as Cheers, Parks and Recreation, and The Simpsons—copied and parodied countless times, and have even become popular kitsch motifs for t-shirts, coffee mugs, and home decor. Furthermore, Coolidge’s first painting, Poker Game (1984), was recently sold for $658,000 at a Sotheby’s New York sale on November 18, 2015.”

Roberto Quintana said...

Beard's paintings remind me of the ‘Dogs Playing Poker’ painting series -RQ

excerpt from:

Peter parker said...

How can I create a new account for Blockchain?
Do you want to enter the world of Blockchain? Do you want to create a new account in Blockchain? If yes, take full-fledged assistance from the professionals who have been working in Blockchain industry from long time and now got hand in fixing it on fingertips. Users can dial Blockchain support phone number and acquire all the steps and procedure to create a new account in Blockchain. The professionals are active all day and night for assistance. Sometimes users come across numerous errors that hamper their work in the middle of nowhere.

Ted B. said...

I fear that in today's political correct atmosphere that an artist venturing past cats snd dogs for caricature or political commentary would run a-foul of the self-appointed PC polic ...or worse.

Sadly, there's always someone who's offended or aggrieved these days.