Henry Clews and the God of Humormystics

Hey, hey! Sorry I’ve been away for awhile. But I have a good one for you! Henry Clews Jr. was an American artist by birth although he moved to France in 1914 because he felt Europe would be more conducive to his artistic experimentation, and there he remained for the rest of his life. Not long after the move he completed what would become his most famous piece, the marble and bronze God of Humormystics. The central figure is the titular god, and around the base of his pedestal are three other figures, all children. They are Adam, Eve and the God of Human Love (Eros).

Clews and his wife, Elsie Whelan Goelet Clews, called Marie, purchased the Château de la Napoule, a castle located in Mandelieu-la-Napoule, France which they set about restoring as it was in a state of disrepair. Once restored, they decorated it with many of Clews’ artworks including God of Humormystics, a wedding gift for Marie. Clews was an eccentric fellow who fancied himself a Don Quixote, and redubbed the castle Mancha. He also named his first son Mancha, but understandably, when he grew up he legally changed his name to Madison. Clews even called his valet Sancho.

Henry Clews - God of Humormystics (1910s) (1)

Henry Clews – God of Humormystics (1910s) (1)

Henry Clews - God of Humormystics (1910s) (2)

Henry Clews – God of Humormystics (1910s) (2)

Here you can really see Eve, the figure lying on the ground, very well.

Henry Clews - God of Humormystics (1910s) (3)

Henry Clews – God of Humormystics (1910s) (3)

Henry Clews - God of Humormystics (1910s) (4)

Henry Clews – God of Humormystics (1910s) (4)

Henry Clews - God of Humormystics (1910s) (5)

Henry Clews – God of Humormystics (1910s) (5)

Henry Clews - God of Humormystics (1910s) (6)

Henry Clews – God of Humormystics (1910s) (6)

Random Images: The Girl of Steel

Keith Ward - US Steel Advertisement (Undated)

Keith Ward – US Steel Advertisement (undated)

Like most companies in the mid-Twentieth Century, U.S. Steel relied on full page advertising to promote the value of their products. To display their uses in the home, U.S. Steel employed the talent of artist Keith Ward to create a happy home scene. Keith Ward (1906–2000) provided many illustrations for magazines such as Child’s Life, Boy’s Life and other magazines of the day. Ward was the illustrator for the ‘Dick and Jane’ series of books and his illustrations were used in advertising for companies such as Elmer’s Glue, Phillips 66 and of course U.S. Steel. The first U.S. Steel ad pictured above was printed in the Ladies’ Home Journal and featured a young girl, freshly bathed, being dried off by her mother in a bathroom filled with useful steel products. Interesting to note is the strategically held puppy in the girl’s hands. Much like the Avon ad in an earlier post, this image would never find a home in a magazine in today’s society.

Ernest Nister: Maker of Movable Books

Researching Ernest Nister has been a difficult pursuit as no business or personal archives are known. Additionally, as he appears to be of little interest today there are few researchers of Ernest Nister and the papers or text books they publish are difficult to acquire. What follows is a brief description of Nister and his publishing company that I was able to piece together from the few sources that are readily available.

Ernest Nister (1842–1906) was a publisher born in Darmstadt, Germany. Ernest spent his school days studying business. However what he did from then until 1877, I have been unable to determine. In 1877 Ernest acquired a small lithographic workshop in Nuremberg and set about modernising it. Most of the printing was done in chromolithography and the number of products the business produced included annuals, storybooks, toy books, poetry and religious stories, as well as calendars, greeting cards, embossed pictures and games. As these items are so ephemeral—calendars are normally disposed of at the end of each year—few examples exist today. However, I shall show some calendars and postcards I have found on the Internet.

(Illustrator Unknown) - Calender (1889)

(Illustrator Unknown) – Calendar (1889)

(Illustrator Unknown) - Postcard (c1880)

(Illustrator Unknown) – Postcard (c1880) (1)

(Illustrator Unknown) - Postcard (c1880)

(Illustrator Unknown) – Postcard (c1880) (2)

Nister’s printing business also did work for other publishers like Castell, Farran, Griffith, Okeden and Routledge. Because of these contacts, Nister became a publisher in his own right in 1888 when he opened offices and design studios in London. Nister hired Robert Ellice Mack as director who was responsible for finding authors and illustrators as well as compiling and editing the books before sending them to Nuremburg for printing. Nister did very little of the creative work. Instead, he would organise and direct the workers, manage the business and supervise the printing process with the exception of wood engraving which was supervised by a co-worker named C. Priess. Distribution of the books in America was done by E.P. Dutton.

(Illustrator Unknown) - Peeps Into Fairyland (Cover) (1895)

(Illustrator Unknown) – Peeps Into Fairyland (Cover) (1895)

(Illustrator Unknown) - A Wave Coming from the book Cosy Corner (1892)

(Illustrator Unknown) – A Wave Coming, from the book Cosy Corner (1892)

John Lawson - Little Pussy, from the book Childhood Valley (1889)

John Lawson – Little Pussy, from the book Childhood Valley (1889)

Ernest Nister is remembered most for his embossed, panoramic and movable books. Embossed books were an early speciality for Nister. From these embossed books Nister developed the pop-up book whereby the embossed figures were die-cut then mounted within a three dimensional framework. The figures were then connected to the opposing page, by paper or fabric guides, so that when the page is opened the figures rise from the page. Nister was not the first person to create pop-up books, however, he was the first to create automatic pop-up books. Prior to Nister’s invention, pop-up scenes had to be manually manoeuvred upright by the reader. Displayed below you will see two differing types of Nister’s pop-up book. The first two are three-dimensional scenes set within a frame that are connected to the opposing page. The third is frameless and is created by standing the book upright and lowering the page onto the table making the characters appear as though they are standing on a stage.

(Illustrator Unknown) - The Procession of Nursery Rhymes from the book Peeps into Fairyland (1895)

(Illustrator Unknown) – The Procession of Nursery Rhymes, from the book Peeps into Fairyland (1895)

(Illustrator Unknown) - The Little Pet from the book Little Pets (1900)

(Illustrator Unknown) – The Little Pet, from the book Little Pets (1900)

E. Stuart Hardy - Untitled illustration from the book Land of Long Ago (1890)

E. Stuart Hardy – Untitled illustration from the book Land of Long Ago (1890)

Another of Nister’s inventions is the dissolving picture which works like a venetian blind. The picture is divided into five parts and when the tab at the bottom of the picture is pulled another picture slides from underneath and covers the original.

(Illustrator Unknown) - Untitled illustration from the book Playtime Surprises (1901)

(Illustrator Unknown) – Untitled illustration from the book Playtime Surprises (1901) (1)

(Illustrator Unknown) - Untitled illustration from the book Playtime Surprises (1901)

(Illustrator Unknown) – Untitled illustration from the book Playtime Surprises (1901) (2)

(Illustrator Unknown) - Untitled illustration from the book Playtime Surprises (1901)

(Illustrator Unknown) – Untitled illustration from the book Playtime Surprises (1901) (3)

The dissolving effect can also work with a sliding door type mechanism.

(Illustrator Unknown) - Untitled illustration from the book What a Surprise (1906)

(Illustrator Unknown) – Untitled illustration from the book What a Surprise (1906) (1)

(Illustrator Unknown) - Untitled illustration from the book What a Surprise (1906)

(Illustrator Unknown) – Untitled illustration from the book What a Surprise (1906)(2)

(Illustrator Unknown) - Untitled illustration from the book What a Surprise (1906)

(Illustrator Unknown) – Untitled illustration from the book What a Surprise (1906) (3)

The third type of movable book Nister created was the revolving picture. The mechanism consisted of two disks that covered each other and were divided into six segments. Those segments in turn fit together in a star formation. When a tab in the frame was pulled, one disk slid over the other to reveal a new picture.

Ellen J. Andrews - Untitled illustration from the book In Wonderland (1895)

Ellen J. Andrews – Untitled illustration from the book In Wonderland (1895) (1)

Ellen J. Andrews - Untitled illustration from the book In Wonderland (1895)

Ellen J. Andrews – Untitled illustration from the book In Wonderland (1895) (2)

Ellen J. Andrews - Untitled illustration from the book In Wonderland (1895)

Ellen J. Andrews – Untitled illustration from the book In Wonderland (1895) (3)

As you would have noticed from the image descriptions there is a problem with finding the identity of illustrators for Nister’s images. The illustrator is largely unknown as Nister did not consider it important to leave the signature in the picture so it was either cropped out during editing or colored over during printing. Nister also constantly reused images and even added or deleted features to the original images. The date is also almost always omitted and if it had not been for researchers who are willing to go through library catalogues and find the earliest release of the books, it would remain unknown.

Lizzie Lawson - Under the Mistletoe from the book Bobby Robin - (Unknown Date)

Lizzie Lawson – Under the Mistletoe, from the book Bobby Robin – (Unknown Date)

John Lawson - Red Riding Hood from the book There Was Once (1888)

John Lawson – Red Riding Hood, from the book There Was Once (1888)

(Illustrator Unknown) – Land of Long Ago (Cover) (1890)

(Illustrator Unknown) - What a Surprise (Cover) (1906)

(Illustrator Unknown) – What a Surprise (Cover) (1906)

Nister died in 1906 and left the publishing business to his son Ernest Nister Jr. At this time the business had about 600 employees and could produce prints using the three-color, photoengraving, wood engraving, heliogravure, collotype, copperplate, halftone engraving, blind embossing and chromolithography printing processes. The business would not last more than ten years. As World War I started and an export ban was placed on Germany the Ernest Nister Publishing Company was one of the many businesses that collapsed as a result.

There are many videos on YouTube showing examples of Ernest Nister Books.
If anyone wants to research further you will need this source list as they are hard to find and contain so many more details. I used many of these in putting together this article.

Alexandre Lamotte

Last December I wanted to offer myself a painting as a Christmas (or New Year’s) gift, so I went into the gallery of Carré d’artistes, which sells paintings by contemporary artists at affordable prices; they propose only original artworks, never copies nor prints, in standardized formats at a fixed price for each size. My sight was attracted by small ones showing girls with strange eyes, painted by Alexandre Lamotte. I chose a 36cm × 36cm watercolor entitled Assoupie (dozing), with a black frame surrounding it. It is now hanging on a wall in my living room, above my computer. With sunny days coming back, I could photograph it without a flash:

Alexandre Lamotte - Assoupie (2015)

Alexandre Lamotte – Assoupie (2015)

Alexandre Lamotte is a French painter born on October 11th, 1976, in La Roche-sur-Yon in the Vendée department bordering the Atlantic Ocean. His biography on Carré d’artistes says:

Alexandre was born and raised in the Vendée region of France. From early childhood, drawing played a vital role in his activities. A creative child, he scribbled and sketched characters straight out of his imagination or inspired from comics.
During adolescence, he was fascinated by supernatural and fairy worlds, feeding on legends and stories and passionate about fantasy worlds. He discovered literature, film and illustration.
Gradually, his drawings became coloured and painting made its appearance in Alexandre’s creations. He decided to make art his career and began art studies, which he quickly left, preferring to teach himself. At the age of 20, he met Jacques Bessonnet, a stone sculptor, who shared his passion and his profession. Alexandre extended his skills and added sculpture to his pictorial creations.
A few years later, in the same studio, he met other artists and embarked on the adventure of the association “Village of Painters”. Each year, from April to October, the village of Vouvant (Vendée) becomes a place for pictorial events, exhibitions and artists’ workshops.
Alexandre works principally with paint in black and white. A game of light and shadow, both poetic and Gothic, appears in his works. He blurs the colours and creates graphic lines, traces of his childhood.
Alexandre is inspired by legends, fables and stories, as well as science fiction. He feeds on topics such as women and children, which are very present in his works.
He seeks a form of escapism through imagination: dreams begin when his spirit is freed.

Many of his paintings evoke dreamlike memories of the magical world of childhood, and this impression is enhanced by his frequent use of grey or foggy backgrounds, as one can see in the following two works from his web gallery for Artistes pour l’Espoir:

Alexandre Lamotte - (work exhibited at Artistes pour l'Espoir) (1)

Alexandre Lamotte – (work exhibited at Artistes pour l’Espoir) (1)

Alexandre Lamotte - (work exhibited at Artistes pour l'Espoir) (2)

Alexandre Lamotte – (work exhibited at Artistes pour l’Espoir) (2)

Lamotte painted many women who unmistakably look adult. But as he started to make small format paintings for Carré d’artistes, his female subjects began to change, becoming “petite women” or young girls, and their eyes acquired a strange fairy-like look, as can be seen in a sample of such works on his website. Below I show one of these paintings, currently on sale:

Alexandre Lamotte - (work for Carré d'Artistes)

Alexandre Lamotte – Baies Roses (2015)

Here are two samples of “works in progress” from a his blog, one sees how the girls look ever younger:

Alexandre Lamotte - (works in progress)

Alexandre Lamotte – (works in progress)

Alexandre Lamotte - "encres" (works in progress)

Alexandre Lamotte – “encres” (works in progress)

Finally I show a picture of the artist at work, from the information leaflet by Carré d’artistes:

(Unknown photographer) - Alexandre Lamotte at work

(Unknown photographer) – Alexandre Lamotte at work

Biographical information on Alexandre Lamotte (in French) and further samples of his work can be found in the following links:

Most images shown here belong to the artist and are taken from his websites. Do not use them publicly without citing their authorship and origin (or, for commercial purposes, without the express permission of the artist).

Random Images: Avon’s Calling

image

(Artist Unknown) – Avon Ad (1963)

Before the age of digital advertising, magazines were the primary medium for companies to promote their products. Large and colorful full-page spreads featuring artwork and photographs primarily targeted the stay-at-home housewife. Everything from cleaning products to laundry detergent to children’s goods were peddled in numerous family magazines. Founded in 1886, Avon is a globally known direct sales company of beauty and personal care products. This full page ad from Avon is dated 1963 and was used to promote their line of children’s toys. Fresh from her bath, this bare girl sits upon a towel while she examines a Humpty Dumpty toy. The embodiment of Avon’s purity and cleanliness image, the girl’s hair is held up with a daisy chain of stars while an array of Avon’s other toys sits around her. In today’s culture this ad would have never made it to print. Much like the Coppertone girl, she would have been covered up because of some unfounded fear to controversy. Ads such as this one only showcased the innocence, purity and unspoiled beauty of childhood.

Process of Inspiration: Alain Laboile

Alain Laboile- The Process of Inspiration -(2016)

Alain Laboile- The Process of Inspiration (2016)

On a rural countryside in southern France, Alain Laboile shares the often under appreciated events of daily life. Born on May 1st 1968 in Bordeaux, France, Laboile never set out on a path for artistic photography. Laboile attended a rural French school between the ages of 6 and 10 that focused on the Célestin Freinet method of learning which focuses on creativity and exchange of ideas rather than learning by rote. At the age of 11, Laboile moved to the Ivory Coast after his father took a job in a dam building project. Spending his time in the bush playing with exotic animals, despite the dangers, he looks back on this time fondly and realizes there are no photos of his early years.

Alain Laboile - Untitled (1) (2010)

Alain Laboile – Untitled (1) (2010)

After meeting his wife Anne in 1990 and accompanying her to an art lecture, the inner artist in Laboile was awakened as he took up an interest in clay sculpting. What brought him into the world of photography was the fact that he needed additional material for his art portfolio. After picking up a compact camera, Laboile’s initial focus was entomology but his new passion was soon to emerge. Being the father of six, he was never short of subjects around his rural home. Capturing the everyday life of his children soon became his passion as he documents it in stunning monochrome.

Alain Laboile-Untitled-(2) (2013)

Alain Laboile- Untitled (2) (2013)

From frolicking in the mud to attending to their daily lessons, the camera captures the innocence and sense of wonder of a free childhood. The children romp and play free of clothing and without the forced shame of the outside world. From sadness to pure glee, the camera seems to be completely unnoticed by the children as they are free to express their true inner selves.

Alain Laboile-Untitled (3) (2016)

Alain Laboile- Untitled (3) (2016)

The work of Laboile has been exhibited throughout the world in such countries as Japan, India, Austria and the United States. Most recently, he published a collection of family photographs titled At The Edge of the World in October 2015.  Two other published works included En Attendant le Facteur (Waiting for the Postman) and Under the Monochrome Rainbow.  Laboile has created a Patreon funding page which enables artists to give access to new and unpublished work to users with as little as a $1 contribution per month. One last item to note is the lack of controversy that is usually associated with an artist of this nature. Sally Mann and Jock Sturges both faced intense criticism for their work in a similar field. It seems that living in a less repressed society such as France affords an artist to focus more on their work rather than defend it.

Alain Laboile - Untitled (5) (2013)

Alain Laboile – Untitled (4) (2013)

Alain Laboile - Untitled (6) (2014)

Alain Laboile – Untitled (5) (2014)

Alain Laboile- Untitled (7) (2016)

Alain Laboile- Untitled (6) (2013)

Alain Laboile- Untitled (8) (2016)

Alain Laboile -Untitled (7) (2016)

Alain Laboile - Untitled (9) (2014)

Alain Laboile – Untitled (8) (2014)

Alain Laboile-Untitled (9) (2014)

Alain Laboile-Untitled (9) (2014)

More information can be found on Alain Laboile’s official website.

Random Images: Young Ava Gardner

Ava Gardner (1922–1990) was a film actress in her heyday in the 1950s and ’60s.  This image was part of something called the John Springer Collection.

(Photographer Unknown) - Actress Ava Gardner as a Girl (1934)

(Photographer Unknown) – Actress Ava Gardner as a Girl (1934)

And thus ends our excursion into the Corbis Collection.  These images were not meant to be definitive by any means, but to show appreciation to RJ for his work.  In order to encourage the contributions of our readers, I often publish things they bring to my attention before my own leads or materials from my own collection.  I want readers to feel that they are respected and listened to.  Another run of random images I wish to present are those published in a Time-Life series including a volume on photographing children.  There are many great images of children shot by photographers that did not necessarily focus on this genre and should at least be mentioned on this site.  And it is important to emphasize the universal charm of little girls that they should appear so often in the work of such a multitude of artists.  -Ron

Random Images: Young Evelyn Nesbit

I must confess to not being even vaguely familiar with the name Evelyn Nesbit (1884–1967) until now.  Apparently, her image appeared frequently in various advertisements in the early 20th Century   In 1955, a fictionalized version of her life called The Girl in the Red Velvet Swing debuted.  Of course, the theme of the charming waif was a popular one of the time and so Nesbit having been shot in this role was almost inevitable.

Otto Sarony - "A Waif" No. 4 (1902)

Otto Sarony – “A Waif” No. 4 (1902)

Random Images: Young Jodie Foster

RJ found two images of Jodie Foster (b. 1962) in the Bettmann Archives.

The first is a headshot during her work in the television series Paper Moon (not to be confused with the film of the same name starring Tatum O’Neal).

(Photographer Unknown) - Young Jodie Foster (1974)

(Photographer Unknown) – Young Jodie Foster (1974)

The media have a tendency to treat child acting as a special category, but Foster always insisted that she be regarded as an actress, age notwithstanding.  In this photo she is 13 years old.

(Photographer Unknown) - Young Jodie Foster (1976)

(Photographer Unknown) – Young Jodie Foster (1976)

This actress will appear again on this site when it comes time to review the film, The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane (1976).