Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Military Uniform Caricatures

The illustrations of military uniform caricatures below were found among the magnificent Prints, Drawings, and Watercolors site from the Anne S. K. Brown Military Collection at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island.

All the images in this post have been extensively background cleaned and, although you can click through on each picture below to access much larger versions, Brown U's website hosts very high resolution, large format files.

watercolour sketch of Indian soldier in gold uniform & monocle

Indian 'Cavalree' Skinners Horse

Date: 1910
Artist: Snaffles
Notes: gouache on grey board; from a pair of semi-caricatures

ink sketch caricature of French cavalry soldier with undersized head
French Carabinier, I Empire

Date: 1910
Artist: Leopoldo Cenni
Notes: pen/ink drawing measuring about 26 x 20 inches

watercolour drawing of artillery soldier, white tunic, pith helmet - humorous caricature render
Royal Artillery

Date: 1910
Artist: E., G.
Notes: gouache sketch, soldier decked out in tropical kit

absurd stylised sketch of turn-of-the-century infantry soldier super-skinny legs
2nd Queen's Own Rajput Light Infantry

Date: 1910
Artist: GH Brennan
Notes:  The 2nd Rajput^ was originally established as a Bengal Native Battalion in 1798 and brought under royal authority with the declaration of Queen Victoria as Empress of India in 1876. {from a series of four watercolour sketches}

musthachioed caricature painting of English soldier in uniform 19th c.
12th (The Prince of Wales's) Royal Lancers. Full dress

Date: 1880 (that's probably the date of the uniform. The artist wasn't active until 1888 and this sketch was most likely produced in the first decade of the 20th century)
Artist: A Roberson
Notes: Formed from a regiment of dragoons^ and bearing the badge of the three ostrich feathers, the 12th Royal Lancers^ were independently operational as a British cavalry regiment from 1715 until 1960.

Scottish soldier - comical appearance
The Cameronians

Date: 1908
Artist: GH Brennan
Notes: Watercolour and gouache; the unusual texture is from significant paint cracking and flake loss. [The Cameronians^ was a Scottish rifle regiment(1881) in the British Army, with its descendant units disbanded over about the last forty years]

caricature of 1860s English foot infantryman with mutton chop sideburns
67th South Hampshire Regiment

Date: 1864 (uniform date) 1910 (sketch date)
Artist: GH Brennan
Notes: subjects^ - "soldiers in art" "caricatures and cartoons" "history 19th century" "uniforms"

red lancer marine soldier with feathered hat & red uniform jacket
A Red Lancer

Date: 1912
Artist: Charles Johnston Payne (d. 1967)
Notes: from Payne's watercolour sketch series, 'Impressions of the Army' :::::  [W]- "Although the lance had its greatest impact in the charge, lancers were vulnerable against other cavalry, as the lance proved a clumsy and ineffective weapon (compared to the sabre) at close quarters. By the late 19th century, many cavalry regiments were composed of troopers with lances (as well as sabres or other secondary weapons) in the front rank and men with sabres in the second, the lances for the initial shock and sabres for the mêlée."

ultra-skinny comical side-on sketch of large bearskin hat-wearing soldier
Minden Day -  Lancashire Fusiliers

Date: 1908
Artist: GH Brennan
Notes: 3rd (of 5) in an unnamed watercolour series of military personnel caricatures. [W]-"Minden Day is a regimental anniversary celebrated on August 1 by certain units of the British Army. It commemorates the participation of the forerunners of the regiments in the Battle of Minden on that date in 1759. The celebration of the day involves the wearing of "Minden Roses" on the regimental head dress, and, in the case of the infantry regiments, the decoration of the regimental colours with garlands of roses." {MoD}

caped Prussian soldier watercolour sketch
Oesterreich-Ungarische Armee
11o. Dragoner-Reg. (Dienst-uniform)

Date: 1900-1912
Artist: J Ronni
Notes: This cloaked cavalryman sketch is from a group of 120 original caricature illustrations on postcards of Austro-Hungarian military uniforms, which is part of a larger collection of 805 postcards of various national armies.

ridiculous caricature sketch of Austro-Hungarian soldier marching exaggeratedly
Oesterreich-Ungarische Armee - Landwehr Infantry

Date: 1900-1912
Artist: J Ronni
Notes: Austro-Hungarian infantryman. {From the same caricature series and larger postcard set as above} [reminds me somewhat of  Švejk]

Absurd looking sketch of blue tunic-wearing soldier with feathered hat and sword on waist
Oesterreich-Ungarische Armee Militar-Arzt

Date: 1900-1912
Artist: J Ronni
Notes: {again from the postcard series as above} [incidentally, the slipcase housing the unbound series bears a gold title: "J Ronny, Austrian Uniforms (1900-1912), original watercolour caricatures"]

Austro-Hungarian soldier in ostentatiously ornamented uniform and single-feathered cap
Oesterreich-Ungarische Armee Ungarische-Leib-Garde

Date: 1900-1912
Artist: J Ronni
Notes: An Hungarian Life Guard {again from the postcard series as above} The Austro-Hungarian Land Forces 1848-1918 site aims to "document the organisational history of the land forces of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy from just prior to the outbreak of the Great War until the collapse of the monarchy in 1918."

soldier sketched in comical form, marching, caped, plume in squat hat
Oesterreich-Ungarische Armee 5o. Husaren-Regt.

Date: 1900-1912
Artist: J Ronni
Notes: Husaren or (more commonly in English) Hussar^ "refers to a number of types of light cavalry which originated in Hungary in the 14th century." {this sketch is, again, from the large postcard series as noted above}

Yeomanry regimental soldier caricature in decorative uniform jacket carrying feathered hat
The Oxford Hussars Levée^ dress

Date: 1908
Artist: GH Brennan
Notes: Yeomanry regimental soldier -- One of a collection of 5 watercolors by G.H. Brennan of British soldiers.

scottish kilt-wearing soldier with tall bearskin headwear - comic drawing
The Ross-Shire Buffs

Date: 1912
Artist: K.,A.
Notes: "Original gouache caricature on gray board, signed and dated by A.K.; standing uniform figure in profile facing left, wearing kilt." The Ross-Shire Buffs^ or "78th Regiment of Foot, was a Highland Infantry Regiment of the Line raised in late 18th Century Scotland for service against the French during the Napoleonic Wars."

caricature watercolour sketch of absurdly exaggerated monocled soldier in red tunic and tall beefeater hat
The Sand Bags

England's safe from any mob
while men like me are on the job

Date: 1913
Artist: James Walsh
Notes: Front view of Grenadier Guards officer. Originally^ (1656) a regiment of bodyguards for the exiled Charles II, the Grenadiers earned their famous title in 1815 at Waterloo by defeating the Grenadiers of the French Imperial Guard.

drawing of cartoon character soldier in green uniform, monocle & feathered hat
The Sharpshooters Naughty Boy!

Date: 1913
Artist: James Walsh
Notes: Gouache caricature on gray board - a front view of an officer of the 3rd County of London Yeomanry^ (aka Sharpshooters). The first line regiment (1/3rd) was formed in the creation of the Territorial Force^ in 1908 and was based in St John's Wood.

humorous sketch of absurdly thin, smiling smugly, dandy-soldier in plumed helmet
Westmoreland & Cumberland I.Y. Levée Dress

Date: 1908
Artist: GH Brennan
Notes: Another of the collection of 5 watercolour caricatures by Brennan of British soldier figures. The Westmorland & Cumberland Yeomanry regiment was formed after the Territorial and Reserve Forces Act 1907 created a volunteer army in Britain. {Levée Dress refers (I *think*) to the presentation style of uniform (that used to be) worn, according to strict protocols, when carrying out duties as an Equerry to royalty or when attending high status / formal events such as (royal?) court investitures or weddings}

turban-wearing lancer soldier on horseback - caricature / satirical sketch
The 18th Tiwana Lancers

Date: 1909
Artist: GH Brennan
Notes: (From a set of four caricatures, signed by the artist) Raised originally in (what is now) Pakistan in the 1850s as a combined Moslem-Sikh outfit, the 18th Tiwana Lancers was brought under the auspices of the Prince of Wales when he visited the region in 1908 but was renamed simply '18th Lancers' with the partition of the sub-continent and Pakistan's becoming a republic in 1947.

All the images above are found among the Prints, Drawings, and Watercolors from the Anne S. K. Brown Military Collection at Brown University.

The selection above is a mere sampling of the images returned for a narrow site search on 'caricature' during the years '1900-1915', as I recall. By September 2011 more than 20,000 items had been digitised from the Military Collection and posted online.

Previously: Military Caricatures -<>- Waiter, there's a Hair in my Satire -<>- Aztec Mexico -<>- Surinam Slave Trade (all derived from the fabulous Brown University holdings). And, generally speaking: combat and costumes.

Follow along at Twitter, Delicious & Pinboard.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Sun-Birds

"I believe that my first attraction towards the family of Sun-birds took place in Nubia, where I fell in with Hedydipna metallica, the first truly tropical form of bird that I had ever procured. 
The sense of pleasure with which I preserved my first specimens of this beautiful little species on the banks of the Nile above the First cataract, and the engaging habits of the species, impressed me so much, that on subsequent visits to the African continent I paid especial attention to the Sun-birds in each country I visited." [link]
[from the Introduction to 'A Monograph of the Nectariniidae' by Captain GE Shelley]

lithograph of yellow birds

red-breasted golden bird duo - 19th century litho

sketch in colour: trio of grey-throated sun-birds

19th c lithographic sketch of 2 birds in a tree branch

birds drawing

[W]: "The sunbirds and spiderhunters are a family, Nectariniidae, of very small passerine birds. There are 132 species in 15 genera.

The family is distributed throughout Africa, the Indian Subcontinent, Southeast Asia and just reaches northern Australia. Most sunbirds feed largely on nectar, but also take insects and spiders, especially when feeding young. Flower tubes that bar access to nectar because of their shape, are simply punctured at the base near the nectaries. Fruit is also part of the diet of some species. Their flight is fast and direct on their short wings.

The sunbirds have counterparts in two very distantly related groups: the hummingbirds of the Americas and the honeyeaters of Australia. The resemblances are due to convergent evolution brought about by a similar nectar-feeding lifestyle. Some sunbird species can take nectar by hovering like a hummingbird, but usually perch to feed."

Sun-birds (Nectariniidae) information, photos and videos at the Internet Bird Collection - "a non-profit endeavour with the ultimate goal of disseminating knowledge about the world's avifauna."

2 illustrations of sun-birds

ornithological lithograph from 1870s book

book illustration

sun-birds book illustration lithograph

Common Sunbird-asity book lithograph by Shelley + Keulemans 1870s

coloured litho of Tacazze Sunbird

bird illustration

sketch of birds in antique ornithology book

George Ernest Shelley (1840-1910) was a geologist, ornithologist, nephew of the renowned poet, Percy Bysshe Shelley^ and author of a number of books on African birds.

Of particular note was an unfinished 5-volume series covering all the birds of Africa^ which was cut short when the author suffered a stroke towards the end of his life. Regrettably, a stand-in author, tasked by Shelley's wife to supply at least another three volumes to complete the series, for whatever reason only managed to polish up Shelley's final book and he went no further with the project.

It was Shelley's (and our) good fortune that he was able to collaborate on the Sun-birds book with the excellent Dutch artist and naturalist, John Gerrard Keulemans (1842-1912). Keulemans had begun his career as a taxidermist for the Leiden Museum of Natural History and its director encouraged him to accompany a 2-year expedition to Africa in the mid-1860s as a kind of artist-scientist.

Our author, GE Shelley, obviously had sufficient regard for his illustrator's journal notes from the African trip, as he relied upon them as a source when writing the Sun-birds book. (in fact, Shelley acknowledged Keulemans' artistic and scientific reporting qualities in a glowing reference to the illustrator in the book's introduction)

More than 120 lithographs were prepared by Keulemans for the collaborative project on Sun-birds which consisted of twelve instalments being issued over a four year period to a mere 250 subscribers. No wonder a first edition copy of the bound book was sold in recent times for around $11,000.

The lithographic illustrations - printed by M&N Hanart - were hand-coloured and finished with gum arabic highlighting to particular small sections among the feather arrangements.
"Keulemans paid particular attention to colour and structure of feathering and his ability to transmit clear, accurate impressions of various plumages was held in much esteem. Overall, his skills for accurate representations are attributable to his detailed study of birds." [source]
The quality of the plates from 'The Monograph of the Nectariniidae..' (also known by its original working title of 'Monograph of the Cinnyridae..') brought Keulemans instant acclaim, early in a very notable book illustration career. He moved to England and became the leading ornithological artist of the late-Victorian era, contributing illustrations to a number of significant book and journal publications on birds.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Marine East Asia

The Chinese Fish Collection is a large set of 19th century watercolour sketches depicting species  from the waterways and seas of China and Japan. 

The illustrations range from the absurd to the accurate and the selection below skews intentionally towards the former. The captions are all taken from the source site.

Exocoetus evolans L [= Exocoetus volitans Linnaeus, 1758]

Exocoetus evolans L [= Exocoetus volitans Linnaeus, 1758

Crayracion hispidus Blkr [= Arothron hispidus (Linnaeus, 1758)]
Crayracion hispidus Blkr [= Arothron hispidus (Linnaeus, 1758)]

Duymeria aurigaria Blkr [= Pteragogus aurigarius (Richardson, 1845)]
Duymeria aurigaria Blkr [= Pteragogus aurigarius (Richardson, 1845)]

Platophrys (Platophrys) pavo blkr [= Rhombus pavo Bleeker, 1855]
Platophrys (Platophrys) pavo blkr [= Rhombus pavo Bleeker, 1855]

Carrasius auratus [Carrasius auratus (Linnaeus, 1758)]
Carrasius auratus [Carrasius auratus (Linnaeus, 1758)]

inktvis Euprimna morsei (Verrill, 1881)
inktvis Euprimna morsei (Verrill, 1881)

Uranoscopus asper Schl [Uranoscopus asper Temminck & Schlegel, 1843]
Uranoscopus asper Schl [Uranoscopus asper Temminck & Schlegel, 1843]

Hemipteronotus pentadactylus (punctulatus) [= Novacula pentadactylus Valenciennes in C&V, 1840]
Hemipteronotus pentadactylus (punctulatus) 
[= Novacula pentadactylus Valenciennes in C&V, 1840

Mastacembelus fasciatus [= Ablennes hians (Valenciennes, 1846)]
Mastacembelus fasciatus [= Ablennes hians (Valenciennes, 1846)]

Blennius ocellaris L. [qstnmrk] [Blennius ocellaris Linnaeus, 1758]
Blennius ocellaris L. [qstnmrk] [Blennius ocellaris Linnaeus, 1758]

Tetraodon ocellatus Osb [Tetraodon ocellatus Linnaeus, 1758] (= bimaculatus Rich.) [Tetraodon bimaculatus Richardson, 1845]
Tetraodon ocellatus Osb [Tetraodon ocellatus Linnaeus, 1758] 
(= bimaculatus Rich.) [Tetraodon bimaculatus Richardson, 1845]

Uranoscopus guttatus Cuv[qstnmrk] [Uranoscopus guttatus Cuvier in C&V, 1829] fig. artificialis
Uranoscopus guttatus Cuv[qstnmrk] [Uranoscopus guttatus Cuvier in C&V, 1829] fig. artificialis

Antennarius marmoratus Gunth [Chironectes marmoratus Lesson (ex Cuvier), 1831]
Antennarius marmoratus Gunth [Chironectes marmoratus Lesson (ex Cuvier), 1831]

Pseudoscarus pyrrostethus Blkr [= Scarus ghobban Forsskål, 1775]
Pseudoscarus pyrrostethus Blkr [= Scarus ghobban Forsskål, 1775]

Trichidion [vrgtkn][vrgtkn] fasciatum Blkr [unknown name]
Trichidion [vrgtkn][vrgtkn] fasciatum Blkr [unknown name]

Trachicephalus uranoscopus (Bloch & Schneider, 1801) - (fig artifice)
Trachicephalus uranoscopus (Bloch & Schneider, 1801) - (fig artifice)

Holland's Groningen University plays host to a unique collection of 19th century watercolour sketches produced somewhere, some time, in the far east of Asia. Two boxes, containing more than 450 drawings, were bequeathed to the University's Natural History Department in about 1870 via the estate of the former Dutch consul in Canton, MJ Senn van Basel (d. 1863).

There is little in the way of background information online relating to this collection (story of this blog's life). It's not known whether the set was commissioned or purchased by van Basel and there's no indication as to the name(s) or origin(s) of the artist(s) involved.

Pencilled notations of the Latin name(?) of the species and what is likely the surname of the person who first described the animal - (eg. Cuvier or Linnaeus etc) - appear on all the sketches, as well as the less formal species names written in Chinese characters. It's quite possible both sets of handwriting were later additions.

But the charm of the series really derives from the stylised and amusing, near-anthropomorphic, representations and vivid colours of the marine animals, rather than in the degree of scientific accuracy. While there was some active prejudice in the selection of the examples above, the bizarre and absurd types certainly outnumber the regular, run of the mill sketches in the collection, that's for sure. And thankful we all are too!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Rise of the Living Type

Stylised 17th century floriated letterforms
grotesque mask sprinkles

stylised grotesque organic Letter 'A' IN: 'Libellus novus elementorum Latinorum cum aeneis picturis usui aurifabrorum inservientib'

Letter 'A' (Jan Chrystian Bierpfaff + Jeremiasz Falck, 1656) - 'Libellus novus politicus emblematicus civitatum'

Letter 'B' - engraved fantasy, organic, botanical letter design

Letter 'C' - baroque fantasy design (Bierpfaff + Falck, 1656)

fantasy floral Letter 'D'

Letter 'E' designed by Jan Chrystian Bierpfaff, 17th century)

stylised Letter 'F' formed out of fantasy plants 1656)

absurd, organic, ornamental Letter 'G' (Jan Chrystian Bierpfaff + Jeremiasz Falck, 1656)

Letter 'H' - fantasy foliage letterform - 17th century engraving

Title page - designs by Jan Chrystian Bierpfaff, 1645-1650

Baroque absurdities or genius ornamental typeforms? Take your pick.

The prints above and below were designed in the mid-1600s by the Polish goldsmith, Jan (or Johann) Christian Bierpfaff (1600-?1690). He apprenticed with the Mackensen family of metalworkers in Cracow who introduced the Dutch auricular ('shell or ear-like')^ style of ornament into the Polish gold and silver workshops.

Bierpfaff's organic alphabet (dedicated to the patriarch of the Mackensen clan) blends the newly discovered shell patterns with grotesque botanical styling to produce extraordinary, abstracted figures in which the ornament itself comes to life. These are wonderful and astonishing print designs to my way of thinking. In fact, I'd go even further and suggest that the first image right up the top - the 'A' - is just about the most ingenious piece of printed artwork that that has ever been featured on this site.

The design is whimsical, imaginative and exquisite, all while being restrained within the confines of a recognisable alphabetical form. We see and feel dynamic, emergent shapes of plant and monster life-forms. Glance away and the appearance might change. It is a remarkably 'fluid' perspective. And a bizarre, autonomous child-form stands alongside its presumptive mother; the artist is no longer required. We have achieved self-replicating ornament. Now that's what I call proto-surrealism.

Although the background information online seems a little ambiguous as to publication dates, I believe the series above (released as a suite of 20+ prints called: 'Libellus Novus Elementorum Latinorum..') was the first appearance of Bierpfaff's innovative designs. His fellow-countryman, Jeremias Falck (a renowned artist in his own right), engraved the suite, and it's worth clicking through to see them in a larger format.

The image series below appears to be absolutely identical to the Falck engravings, except for the addition of grotesque masks and similar, odd accoutrements (as well as the text in the title page cartouche). This second suite of prints was engraved by the Strasbourg artist, Peter Aubry.
  • An incomplete series of alphabet prints (above) from 'Libellus Novus Elementorum Latinorum' can be found at the Rijksmuseum website. Strangely, I could only find the images via a google image search using Bierpfaff's name {they didn't even turn up searching through the museum site itself for reasons that escape me; some local search poltergeist I assume ---- I can't even find them all now as I'm about to post this entry, so I don't know what I did to find them last week!}
  • The majority of images below come from The Art Institute of Chicago and, although modestly sized, I think the collection is approximately complete.
  • The two images with double letters each came from MAK^ via Ornamental Prints Online ("Bierpfaff")
  • Short bio on Bierpfaff.
  • Jeremias Falck at Wikipedia.
  • Previously: a few Falck prints appear in Grab Bag.
  • Previously: the general bookmark of calligraphy.
  • Follow along at Twitter. I'm also using Pinboard for blog summaries AND significant collection bookmarks, in addition to the regular tagged summaries on Delicious.
  • LATER: Actually, one very relevant post from late 2011deserves linking here: Satyr Taxis features another (amazing/extraordinary) collection of prints - this time from the 16th century - in which the ornament came to life.

pair of fantasy botanical baroque letterforms

pair of fantasy letterforms - 'l' + 'm'

17th century engraving of floral letterform - letter 'n'

letter 'n' - proto-surrealist organic engraving

grotesque style foiate letter 'q' engraving, 1650s

engraved letter 'r' - 17th cent.

The letter 'X' - foliated design engraved in 1600s

grotesque alphabet letter engraving - 'y'

absurdist organic letterform

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