Thursday, April 8, 2021

The Lap Box

Eugen Dücker 1841-1916 painted this portrait—possibly a self portrait—in 1900, showing a portable lap box rig used frequently by plein-air painters at the time.  

The artist sits on a tripod chair with a wooden box open and the painting pinned or propped on the inside of the lid. There also seems to be a white umbrella folded up on the ground next to him.

The arrangement has several disadvantages: you can't easily stand up or back up from the work; the size of the painting is governed by the size of the lid, and unless you have slots cut into the top frame there's no easy way to store wet paintings.  
Read more about 19th-century plein-air painting methods in the book The Painted Sketch: American Impressions From Nature 1830-1880


Ruth Squitieri said...

My husband gave me an antique paintbox a couple of years ago, it was similar to this and meant for plein air. It is heavy, has a strap for around your shoulder/neck, which makes the box itself press into your belly/chest area. It is about 18" wide, so the painting propped into the opened lid is only that far away from your eyes. I tried it out at home and stood up with it, making painting motions....and then decided to just hang it in my studio for interest sake. No way would I be able to make even a halfway decent painting with that.

Ruth Squitieri said...

Ruth Squitieri

Loretta said...

Talk about painting your self into a corner!

Dichotomy of how things look and how they function.
An artist by the seashore,slapping paint around.
A passerby thinks how bucolic, a fellow artist thinks, what agony.

SummaSummanum said...

To be honest, the vantage point of this painting is a bit higher up, as would be for a standing painter at a tripod. So, this is likely a representation of an "amateur" artist painting happily away.

giannini said...

i work like this en plein air and i can tell you it is not comfortable.