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Emil Nolde: Colour is Life

The art exhibition with the above title is on at ModernTwo (The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art,) Edinburgh until 21/10/2018.

Nolde was born in a part of Germany that became Danish after a plebiscite in 1920 (though had presumably been Danish before the war of 1864) thought of himself as German yet retained Danish citizenship.

I noticed at the entrance that the gallery felt it had to emphasise it in no way endorsed Nolde’s anti-semitic views.

Despite those views and his membership of the Nazi party Nolde’s works were the single most withdrawn from museums by the Nazis (1,052 works) and the most represented in their Degenerate Art (Entartete Kunst) Exhibition, which managed to draw huge crowds – some of whom were quite enthusiastic about the contents.

I found myself not knowing quite what to make of Colour is Life. Some of the paintings were undoubtedly grotesque like Paradise Lost, Adam and Eve after expulsion from the Garden of Eden

Paradise Lost Emil Nolde

and his Immaculate Conception (which I cannot find an example of to embed here) showing the mother of Jesus in an attitude of ecstasy as the Holy Spirit hovers nearby is in a similar style only more so.

Others are reminiscent of Toulouse-Lautrec posters, only more garish:-

On the other hand some of his pen and ink drawings reminded me of the Rembrandt ones in the exhibition at the Scottish National Gallery.

His depiction of the sails in one of his paintings of junks looked like Japanese calligraphy. I’m not sure I’ve found the exact match, the original image of the one below is apparently copyright so this is only a thumbnail:-

Junks with Full Sails

This is a more colourful version of a similar subject:-

Junks (Red) Emil Nolde

The introductory video from the exhibition’s web page is also on YouTube:-

Rembrandt Exhibition, Edinburgh

The latest exhibition at the National Gallery of Scotland, Princes Street, Edinburgh – Rembrandt: Britain’s Discovery of the Master features quite a lot of paintings by the artist as well as many prints made from his etchings/engravings, along with other artworks by those who were influenced by him.

Of the two perhaps most famous of the paintings featured I found Belshazzar’s Feast to be somewhat overblown. (In the flesh it is a bit brighter than it seems here.) :-

Rembrandt: Belshazzar's Feast

The Mill is more restrained but an imagined Dutch scene I’d have thought. That promontory is just a bit too high, though the picture seems to have inspired many other artists.

Rembrandt: The Mill

His portraits, though, are stunning. Among those whose representations I could find on the net – these may disappear after the exhibition ends – are:-

An Old Woman Reading – originally thought to be a portrait of the artist’s mother:-

Rembrandt: An Old Woman Reading

and Girl at a Window which is said on the caption to be so lifelike that passers-by at Rembrandt’s studio would speak to its subject. (That seems a bit unlikely, why would the painting be near or in a window?)

Rembrandt: Girl at a Window

Two pictures in the exhibition capture light very well. Rembrandt’s own Landscape with the Rest at the Flight into Egypt:-

Rembrandt: Rest at the Flight into Egypt

(The English artist Joshua Reynolds is on record as complaining that Rembrandt painted light rather than the objects which it reflects from. Each to his own.)

The Holy Family by Night – thought now to be school of Rembrandt rather than by the artist himself:-

The Holy Family by Night

An example of his etching is The Three Crosses (more properly Christ Crucified Between the Two Thieves):-

Rembrandt: The Three Crosses

I must confess I preferred his etchings of rural scenes such as The Three Trees to the religious ones as in Christ Presented to the People.

He was the first (or among the first) artist(s) to recognise the commercial possibilities of the limited edition, altering plates to make variorum prints. The popular title given to the one below reflects the price it is said to have achieved.

The Hundred Guilder Print:-

Rembrandt: The Hundred Guilder Print

One of the most interesting exhibits, in a glass case in one of the rooms, was an actual etched copper plate set alongside a print made from it.

An introductory video to the exhibition can be found at

Drachten Again

I posted photos of some of the buildings in Drachten, Friesland, The Netherlands, in November 2016.

Last year we visited the town again and it seemd to be on a Mondrian kick.

Several commercial premises were done out in his signature style.


Mondrian Decoration, Drachten,The Netherlands,

Shoe shop:-

Mondrian Window Dressing, Drachten, The Netherlands,

Shoe shop’s other window:-

More Mondrian Window Dressing

Stack of cubes in a café:-

Stack of Mondrian Cubes

Suspended cubes in the same café:-

Suspended Mondrian Cubes

We asked in the café what the reason for the Mondrian decorations was and they seemed not to know but thought it might have been a celebration of De Stijl (the Style.) 2017 was its 100th anniversary.

More From “A New Era”

There’s less than a week left of the “A New Era” Exhibition at the Modern Two Gallery of the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art.

I thought I’d post more of the delights to be found there.

The Sensation of Crossing the Street by Stanley Cursiter:-

the sensation of crossing the street

Heavy Structures in a Landscape Setting by William McCance:-

heavy structures in a landscape setting

Cartwheels by Eric Robertson:-


Women Singing at a Table by Keith Henderson (reminiscent of his “The Harbour Crowd” at that earlier exhibition):-

Women Singing at a Table

After the Storm Loch Tay by William McTaggart:-

After the Storm Loch Tay

Das Schloss by Thomas Nigel McIsaac:-

Das Schloss

Orchestral: Study in Radiation by William Watson Peploe:-

Orchestral: Study in Radiation

The same artist’s Souvenir de triangle rouge:-

Souvenir de triangle rouge

Untitled (aquarium) a sculpture by William Turnbull:-

Untitled (aquarium)

The identically titled painting is an odd experience. You can almost see the fish moving:-

Untitled (aquarium)

Light Effects

What could this picture possibly be? Fingerprints? Abstract Art?

Martian light effects

It’s actually sand dunes on Mars catching low-angled sunlight.

From Astronomy Picture of the Day for 14/4/2018.

“A New Era” at Modern Two

We’ve been to the New Era exhibition of Scottish Modern Art 1900-1950 at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art (Modern Two.)

It’s not quite as good as the previous exhibition True to Life (for which I see some of the links to the paintings are no longer working) but there is still some good stuff there.

More so in the first two galleries. The pictures became darker both in tone and appearance as the galleries wore on.

Stanley Cursiter’s “The Regatta” is particularly striking with its bold slabs of colour:-

The Regatta

Cursiter’s “Rain on Princes Street”:-

Rain on Princes Street

J D Fergusson is more usually reckoned a colourist but though not an official war artist he was allowed to paint Portsmouth Docks during the Great War.

Porstmouth Dockyard

Another evocation of war is in Eric Robertson’s “Shellburst”:-


So too does Keith Henderson’s “Camouflage Hangars and Gas Gong”:-

Camouflage Hangars and Gas Gong

The caption for Edward Baird’s “Unidentified Aircraft over Montrose” is odd as it says the bridge at the lower left has since been replaced by a suspension bridge but the one depicted is clearly exactly of that type:-

Unidentified Aircraft

William McCance’s “Study for a Colossal Steel Head” is very modernistic:-

Study for a colossal steel head

Mini Kelpies, Kirkcudbright

A small model of The Kelpies in Kirkcudbright. The originals are in Falkirk at The Helix. Bridge over River Dee in background.

Small Kelpies at Kirkcudbright

Side view:-

Kirkcudbright Kelpies

Just along from the minin Kelpies is a memorial, “In memory of loved ones lost at sea.”

Kirkcudbright Memorial to Those Lost  at Sea

More from True to Life

At the True to Life, British Realist Painting in the 1920s and 1930s exhibition at Modern Two I noted down striking works by at least 25 artists.

These two paintings by Harold Williamson sum up the 1930s.


Spray by Harold Williamson


Picnic by Harold Williamson

Other aspects of 1920s/30s life were also covered. This is a portrait of the jazz musician Tom Whiskey (M Julien Zaire) by Glyn Philpot:-

Tom Whiskey by Glyn W Philpot

There was too an example of that quintessential 1930s art form, the railway poster. Fortunino Matania’s “Blackpool”:-

Blackpool by Fortunino Matania

Lancelot Glasson’s The Young Rower 1932, caused raised eyebrows at the time it was first shown – perhaps because it showed a young woman apparently at ease with her body.

On the other hand the distinctly quease inducing (I felt uncomfortable being in the same room as it) Little Sister by Dod Procter seemingly excited very little adverse comment despite depicting a barely pubescent girl.

But how about this: William Oliphant Hutchison’s “Walter Rankin Local Defence Volunteer” which as I recall is permanently on display in room 5 at Modern Two (but don’t quote me on that. Whatever; it surely lies outside the exhibition’s time frame.)

Private Godfrey to a tee:-

Walter Rankin Local Defence Volunteer by William Oliphant Hutchison

True to Life Exhibition at Modern Two, Edinburgh

A couple of weeks age we revisited the True to Life Exhibition at Modern Two, (Scottish National Gallery Of Modern Art,) Edinburgh.

I’ve left this a bit late as the exhibition is only on for a few more days now. Its full title is True to Life, British Realist Painting in the 1920s and 1930s.

I found this to be much more enjoyable than the Beyond Caravaggio exhibition recently finished at the Scottish National Gallery (see also here.)

The first picture in True to Life, though, David Jagger’s “Conscientious Objector”, would not have looked out of place at that Beyond Caravaggio exhibition. It exploits light in much the same way as those did. This is apparently a self-portrait:-

Conscientious Objector by David Jagger

“By the Hills” by Gerald Leslie Brockhurst features on the True to Life Exhibition catalogue cover though for me it’s a bit too sharply delineated. The artist was said to have used lipstick to paint the lips here:-

By the Hills by Gerald Leslie Brockhurst

Another such too sharp picture was Meredith Frampton’s “A Game of Patience”:-

A Game of Patience by Meredith Frampton

As with the David Jagger painting above Edward Baird’s “Dan Cross” also looks as if it could leap off the canvas. I feel as if I know this person:-

Dan Cross by Edward Baird

Keith Henderson’s The Harbour Crowd is another fine example of the capture of light. As I recall this painting was one of the exhibits in the Palace of Arts at the Empire Exhibition, Scotland, 1938. There was a black and white reproduction in the relevant souvenir booklet.

The Harbour Crowd by Keith Henderson

Some of the paintings in “True to Life” stretched the definition of realist somewhat.

Though it does contain figures (including the artist) “The Deluge” by Winifred Knights seemed to me to be at least influenced by Vorticism:-

The Deluge by Winifred Knights

Nora Russell by John Downton captures the impatient aspect of the early adolescent schoolgirl very well. I get the impression she didn’t really want to be painted:-

Nora Russell by John Downton

Beyond Caravaggio

This week we again visited the Beyond Caravaggio exhibition at the Scottish National Gallery again as it was its last week.

Apart from the four Caravaggios I thought one of the most striking uses of light was in “Christ Before the High Priest” by Gerrit van Honthorst but the reproduction below doesn’t really do it justice.

Christ Before the High Priest

Two even more impressive paintings were by an artist dubbed The Candlelight Master (whom the information labels suggested may possibly have been Trophime Bigot.)

One was “A Boy With a Lantern” of which I can find no example to show here. The other is from the Royal Collection and is called “Christ in the Carpenter’s Shop.”

Christ in the Carpenter's Shop

This last one, “A Man Singing by Candlelight” by Adam de Coster, is absolutely stunning on the wall.

Adam de Coster

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