Small Talk Tag: Painting

Framing the Miniature Madame

Johannes Landman

When we’re visiting another museum or gallery, we’ll admit it’s easy to miss what’s around the works of art: the frames. Which is a shame, because they are often works of art themselves! The same might be true of framed fine-scale miniature paintings. Upon closer inspection however, these gilded borders really shine. As we’ve discussed previously on SmallTalk, Johannes Landman is a miniaturist in a range of media. Once Landman had completed the miniature painting Madame de Pompadour, he mounted it in a custom-made frame.

To achieve fine-scale miniature accuracy, Landman used western ewe wood for its fine grain. He was able to shape the curves and tiny details of the frame using a Flexcut carving tool. Lastly, Landman gilded the wood using 24 karat gold imported from Italy. The finished product is a beautiful and classically designed frame fit for a queen … or in this case, a royal mistress!

Details in the Miniature Madame

Johannes Landman

As mentioned previously on SmallTalk, artist Johannes Landman’s painting of Madame de Pompadour replicates the 1756 portrait by François Boucher in stunning 1:12 scale. The original work was commissioned by King Louis XV of France to commemorate his mistress, Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson, being named as the queen’s lady-in-waiting. Boucher’s portrait depicts the lounging Marquise wearing a teal dress dotted with pink roses. Known as one of the best-read women of her time, she is surrounded by numerous books and writing tools.

While much of Landman’s work, including this painting, emulate masterworks down to the fabric folds and flower petals, he always leaves his own unique mark on a painting. See if you can play “Spot the Difference” between the original work and the miniature. We can spot at least three!

Painting the Miniature Madame

johannes Landmann

T/m’s miniature painting of Madame de Pompadour glows like the oil paintings of the Old Masters. The artist, Johannes Landman, has been known to label himself a perfectionist and his own “worst critic” when it comes to his art. He pays attention to every detail within his paintings to masterfully achieve the subtle color changes found in works such as Madame de Pompadour.

Although strikingly similar, the original full-scale painting by François Boucher was painted on canvas, whereas the miniature is painted on a wooden panel. Landman exclusively uses wood because he feels the texture of canvas would be too bold for 1:12 scale work. To prep the wood surface, Landman applied several layers of a white paint mixture called gesso as a primer, sanding each layer after it dried. Then, using ultra-fine 000 size brushes he layers on the oil paints until he is satisfied with the final product. Stay tuned as we explore more of the mini madame’s lovely qualities.

The gods are in the Details

johannes landman miniature paintings

What do John Hancock, Jan Van Eyck, and Johannes Landman have in common? Other than names that start with J, each of these fellows have a signature signature. In true, miniature tradition, however, it would take a trained eye to spot Landman’s tiny signature within the gold-plated brass rosette on T/m’s miniature harpsichord.

Tiny playful carvings of a mermaid and satyr flank the piece’s tiny keys. The mermaid between the posts is actually carved from a single piece. Landman paid special attention to this portion of the harpsichord, carving her head in such a way that it appears to tilt. Her tiny crown was skillfully turned on a small lathe and attached later.

Landman modeled the painting under the lid after one on a full-sized Flemish harpsichord and it is entitled Musical Contest Between Apollo and Marsyas, Judged by King Midas. The painting depicts the Greek goddess of wisdom, Athena, rejecting her flute because of the ugly face she made when playing it. A nearby satyr, Marsyas, makes her jealous by mastering the instrument and a duel between him and Apollo, the god of music, ensues. Things don’t end up well for the loser, Marsyas, who then gets turned into a wine flask—ouch.

An Artful Tradition

lee ann chellis wessel egg tempera

Like last year, we’re going to take a look at a work by Lee-Ann Chellis Wessel that commemorates the holiday season. Although her miniature version of The Virgin and Child by Italian painter Lippo Memmi was created nearly 700 years after his, Chellis Wessel has stayed true to the original media: egg tempera with gold leaf on a panel. Memmi’s trademark lacy halos and flattened gold patterns and trim within Mary’s robe all carry an intricate amount of tiny detail. We wonder how Chellis Wessel must have felt replicating those details in fine-scale miniature!

As a special treat this year, Chellis Wessel’s version is on display at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art next to the original work that served as her inspiration. Visitors can view it as well as others scattered throughout the Nelson-Atkins’ galleries as part of the exhibit, Highlights from the Collection of The National Museum of Toys and Miniatures on view now through February 22, 2015.

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