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Saturday, February 28, 2015

Albert Joseph Moore

Dreamers, 1875, Albert Joseph Moore. All three figures are the same model.                 
A Girl, Albert Joseph Moore--barely conscious.
What do you do when you can't go to sleep? Count sleepy sheep? Take a pill? Warm milk, anyone? Watch an old "B" movie? Myself, I have the opposite problem. I'll be sitting at my computer and doze off when I should be writing a blog entry. I often do my best writing late at night, if I can stay awake. If I'm really in need of sleep I'll sometimes read or pray or conjure up some fantasy, any of which will usually put me to sleep within minutes. Today, I discovered a new sleep aid. His name is Albert Joseph Moore. He was an English Victorian painter of beautiful women. And judging by his work, he must have required long settings of his models, the vast majority of whom seem to be sleeping, barely awake, or daydreaming in languorous boredom. Even some of this portrait subjects (above) seem to be battling the sandman head on. In any case, just looking at them, paintings such as Dreamers (above) from 1875, make me sleepy. His A Summer Night (below), from 1887-90, though not depicting sleeping women, has largely the same effect.
A Summer Night, 1887-90, Albert Joseph Moore
Silver, Joseph Moore
I suppose we today who paint people have gotten so used to using photos rather then live models that we give little thought to the hours upon hours of stillness many artists once demanded of their models. Personally, I haven't painted from a live model since I was in a figure painting class in college (about 1970). I'm sure if I were the model, I'd have trouble staying awake. However in Moore's case, I think there may have been a little more to it than that. Women during the Victorian Era in England were admired for their idle beauty and seductive perfection. Moore's work, perhaps more than most from that time, capitalizes upon this erotic ideal. In most cases, the eroticism is subtle, more a matter of body language and gauzy gowns such as seen in his Silver (right) than outright nudity, though the semi-nudity of A Summer Night (above) seems to have been okay. Apples (below) is simply...unconscious.

Apples, Albert Joseph Moore---ZZZZZZZZ

Dancing Girl Resting, Joseph Moore
Seldom did Moore paint male figures into his carefully staged scenes, and when he did, they were usually in secondary roles as seen in his The Loves of the Wind and the Seasons (bottom) from 1893. The style seems a cross between obvious Romanticism and Academic Classicism. Even at that, his male figure seems slightly effeminate. And where there is no sleep actually involved, as in Moore's 1867 A Musician (below) you get the feeling the man with the harp must be playing a lullaby. Moore's Dancing Girl Resting (left) while not suggesting more than a momentary pause in her activity, does present a contrast when compared to the sleepy indolence of the slave girl at her feet.

A Musician, 1867, Albert Joseph Moore--wake me when it's over.
Albert Joseph Moore, ca. 1867
Albert Joseph Moore was born in 1841. He was the thirteenth son of the York painter, William Moore and his second wife. They had fourteen children...only one daughter. Four of the elder Moore's sons became painters, one, Henry Moore, became a noted marine painter. The painting patriarch of the family died in 1851. From the age of ten Joseph was raised by his older brother, also a painter, John Collingham Moore. He eventually attended the Royal Academy in London, where he was heavily influenced by John Ruskin, before moving on to France in 1859 to study under the architect, William Eden Nesfield. That influence is also seen in his paintings, their being rife with architectural details.

Elijah's Sacrifice, 1863, Albert, Joseph Moore
While in Paris, Moore turned to religious works, painting The Mother of Sisera looked out of a Window (left), in 1861, Elijah running to Jezreel before Ahab's Chariot, and Elijah's Sacrifice (above) in 1863. The latter is quite atypical of his work--heavily male, heavily melodramatic, and lacking in the naturalistic qualities seen so strongly evident in The Mother of Sisera looked out a Window painted earlier. Moore's The Quartet (below) may be one of his best works, encompassing both French and English influences in a single work. In returning to London, Moore found his sleepy little niche in the British art world while doing a respectable number of outstanding portraits and major murals. He died in 1893 of a painful and incurable illness shortly after completing his final painting, The Loves of the Winds and the Seasons (bottom)

The Quartet, Albert Joseph Moore.

The Loves of the Winds and the Seasons, 1893, Albert Joseph Moore.


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