Tag Archives: Crocker Art Museum

Review: Those Old Masters could draw

By Laura Grimes

Mr. Scatter boarded a plane this morning when the sky was barely light so I’ll be his best blog buddy and post a link to his visual arts review that ran in The Oregonian this morning.

Here’s an excerpt teaser from his review of A Pioneering Collection: Master Drawings From the Crocker Art Museum, which is on view at the Portland Art Museum through Sept. 19:

German artist Johann Georg Bergmüller’s crowded and energetic 1715 drawing and watercolor “Saint Martin Appealing to the Virgin,” for instance, is suffused with allegory and religious phantasmagoria. It revels in the sense of a larger, ordinarily invisible universe just out of human grasp: the artist is chronicler of the real but unseen.

Johann Georg Bergmüller, German, 1688-1762, "St. Martin and Other Saints Appealing to the Virgin," 1715, Crocker Art Museum, E. B. Crocker Collection

Johann Georg Bergmüller
German, 1688-1762
St. Martin and Other Saints Appealing to the Virgin, 1715
Pen and brown ink, brush and brown and gray washes, blue, pink, red, and orange watercolor, white opaque watercolor on cream laid paper
13 7/8 in. x 7 7/8 in. (31.0 cm x 22.0 cm)
Crocker Art Museum, E. B. Crocker Collection


Mr. Scatter recently wrote about how several artists through history have rendered the grisly tale of Holofernes, an invading general who lost his head to the beautiful and clever Judith.

Losing our head over the Old Masters

Hendrick Goltzius, Judith with the Head of Holofernes, n.d.  Pen and dark brown ink, brush and grey wash and blue and white opaque watercolor, partially darkened, on brown laid paper, 20.3 x 16.6 cm. Crocker Art Museum, E. B. Crocker Collection 1871.142

By Bob Hicks

Here’s the thing: If you’re an invading general with a roving eye, never invite a beautiful woman from the enemy city into your tent and then get so rip-roaring drunk you pass out.

Holofernes, this post’s for you.

Two intriguingly intertwined shows opened yesterday at the Portland Art MuseumThe Bible Illustrated, maverick cartoonist R. Crumb‘s faithfully rendered graphic depiction of The Book of Genesis, and A Pioneering Collection: Master Drawings from the Crocker Art Museum, a gathering of almost 60 old-master drawings from the Sacramento museum’s impressive collections.

Friend of Scatter D.K. Row wrote vigorously in The Oregonian about Crumb’s project, and sometime in the next week or so the O will run my review of the Crocker exhibit. But first, let’s spend a little quality time with Holofernes, and Judith, and her faithful handmaiden, and one of our favorite Dutch artists, Hendrick Goltzius, an artist we admire so much we’ve featured him twice before: in this post about Hercules and baseball’s steroid scandal, and in this post about Wall Street’s bull and bear markets (we found his engraving of Icarus tumbling from the sky apropos).

Caravaggio, "Judith Beheading Holofernes," 1598-1599. Oil on canvas, 57 inches × 77 inches, Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica, Rome.In brief: Holofernes, a star general for the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar, is laying siege to a city of the Israelites, and things are getting brutal. Alarmed and angry, Judith, an attractive young widow, sneaks out and into the enemy camp, where she charms Holofernes in his tent. She feeds him sweet cheeses, then gets him drunk as a skunk. While he’s sleeping it off she grabs his sword and lops off his head. When Holo’s army sees what’s happened it panics and heads for the hills. Judith saves the day!

This story has fascinated artists for centuries, and everyone’s version seems singular. Why draw and paint pictorially? Because representational art tells stories, and there are as many different ways to tell a story as there are storytellers. Caravaggio, a genuine genius with a notorious violent streak, concentrated (inset) on the gorgeously bloody deed itself.

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Scatters revisited: Let’s play catch-up

Art Students and Copyists in the Louvre Gallery (for Harper's Weekly), 1868, wood engraving, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

Art Scatter is considering a new motto: All the news that fits, comes back to bite you again.

Maybe it’s not as elegant as the New York Times’s All the news that’s fit to print or as slobberingly juvenile as The Onion’s Tu Stultus Es (translation from the Latin: You Are Stupid). But we seem to be getting pingback, and we are not referring simply to those odd “comments” that pop up semi-regularly from online hucksters selling axle grease or whoopie cushions. (Mr. Scatter attempts to zap those into oblivion before our readers have a chance to see them, unless the links are unusually entertaining, such as the one that seemed to translate this post into some unknown language and back to English again, transposing “large smelly boys” into “vast sharp boys” and “Portland public schools” into “Portland open propagandize system.”) Stories don’t always end when the writer thinks they do. So consider this a chance to revisit some of our recent hits, with updates and amplifications:


COPY CATS: In our recent musings on the value of museums (we had worked ourselves into something of a dither, a century late, over the idiocies of the Futurist Manifesto, which called for abolishing them) we tossed in this aside: “Why are our young artists not haunting the halls of the museums? Rarely – almost never – do you see someone set up with easel and paints in a Portland Art Museum gallery, copying the masters to learn their techniques, a sight that is common in European museums.”

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