Monday, January 25, 2010

a man for all seasons: 1902

well, i have decided to go about this differently. starting at beginning... theo van hoytema, in the early 1900s, made 17 calendars. each included a seasonal lithograph for each month, though the one for 1918 is sketchy as that was the year of hoytema's death.

of hoytema, ArtDaily says, "Theodoor van Hoytema, a Dutch painter, lithographer and designer, was born in The Hague. He made many watercolours and drawings of plants and animals, which clearly reveal his appreciation for Japanese prints: he often outlined the separate areas of flat color with ink, in imitation of such prints, and he could describe the characteristic attitudes of animals with a masterly economy of line. 1

i was going to wait until i had assembled every month for every year, but it's already taken me days and days, and will likely be multiples of that to come. I didn't want to wait that long before posting anything. plus, the entire run would have been a massive post.

so i'll do one year at a time. interestingly, the only one i have every month for is 1902, the first year they appeared, so i'll start with that. don't know yet if the rest will be in chronological order.

to my knowledge, this has never been done before; the complete set, or even anything like it, has certainly never before published online, and the only book i've found devoted to the subject is missing many months for nearly every year. additionally, i've had a very hard time digging up information on hoytema in english, so i've ordered a bunch of books from the library.* that way i can include more about the artist as i go on.

*complete bibliography to be included with the final entry

Sunday, January 24, 2010

a man for all seasons: 1903



It is not the first, nor the second time that the work of Mr. T. Van Hoytema has been illustrated in THE STUDIO; yet one is surprised to find that the individuality and fantasy of the designer is not, so far,
as widely recognized in England as it deserves.

His work is too personal to be brought into any well-defined group and criticised accordingly. In spite of its shortcomings —or rather to speak more accurately, and at the same time more politely—in spite of its self-imposed limitations, within the little field Mr. Van Hoytema has chosen he is easily first.

For in his work there is a curious quality—that distinction which may be unobservant of academic scholarship, as in the case of Blake, or coupled with rare knowledge, as in the case of Mr. C. H. Shannon, and yet in both these unrelated examples entirely outside the ordinary standards. Mr. Van Hoytema's owls are always delightful, and his sketches of parrots, storks and turkeys show no less ingenious humour.

Nor is this quality achieved by humanising his feathered models; the touch of caricature he infuses is not in that direction. It is rather what you might expect if a bird developed powers of drawing, and started a series of portraits a la Rothenstein, in a limited edition issued by some winged equivalent of Mr. John Lane or Mr. Grant Richards.

Those who remember The Ugly Duckling (D. Nutt), or The Happy Owls (Henry & Co.), need not be told how cleverly Mr. Van Hoytema uses the resources of lithography in colours to express his ideas. Of course they suffer by translation to black and white, but at the same time much remains to prove his very facile handling and wayward fantasy.

They are un-English ; but that is no crime, for Mr. Van Hoytema is not a Briton. Much as one may prefer English ideals for England, it is still obvious that any other country which appreciates them does best when it assimilates, not imitates.

Because these birds are entirely unlike any of our own artists' impressions of fowls of the air, and are equally unlike birds as a Japanese would record them, they assume a distinct value ; because they add to the art of the world something not previously existing. It is a pleasure to make them known to a wider audience in England.

The two earlier books were obviously lithographed, and unless memory is at fault, in some previous announcement it was stated that the artist drew them himself upon the stone. If this be true, it is possible that his technical mastery is responsible for the only quality open to criticism, which is a fondness for superimposed cross-hatching and tints.

The charm of Mr. Walter Crane's mosaic of flat colours in his early toy-books, or of the graduated wash of Mr. J. D. Batten, and Mr. Morley Fletcher's colourprints, both satisfy one more entirely. In each the limitations of woodcut printing are evident, and the ordered result is more simple, yet more enjoyable.

But this is no doubt partly due to the scarcity of coloured lithography done by the artist himself, the millions of chromo-lithographs extant being almost, without exceptions, translations by skilled mechanics. Some modern Frenchmen have experimented in colour lithography
with the happiest results. In their work the economy of line,
which is in favour to-day, has produced a less complex,
but not less complete, effect.

Yet a certain drawing by M. Aman-Jean, and another by
L. Levy-Dhurmer (both reproduced in The Studio), pull you up sharply in any attempt to proclaim that flat pigments are alone admissible, and leave you again in presence of the truth, that any and every method can be justified in an artist's hands. 1

truth be told, that may not be the right december for this year, but it was a 'loose december,' so i'm glad to at least find a possibility for a month that is otherwise nowhere to be found! believe me, if i ever find the right december (if this isn't it), i'll replace it.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

a man for all seasons: 1904


To Herbert Cahoon

Black, under the candlesticks, moving in harness
To a slow music, we hang the sepulchre

And hear the herald angels sing, “He is not here.”
It is mid-November. The first snows

Have fallen silently over the town. I eat
Black pudding at the alter while a dove

Descends from the flaming tower. Later,
Dr. Rashdall, behind whose scholarship

A generation’s knowledge burns, will unmask
Newman. But now it is mid-November.
I eat black pudding and the dove descends.

In a hollow tree by the bridge, an owl awaits.
The moon is full and white. The stars are out.

Tall elms surround the statue of a nymph
Where old Etonians, festive in Norfolk jackets,

Commemorate D. G. Rossetti with a plaque.
I relish the scene, remembering old Watts-Dunton

Boasting, “Dogs have never bitten me!” that day
We talked about Rossetti. Later, attacks of gout,

That horrible baby that looked like Gosse, a wheelchair
Wobbling on toward Trinity, webs covering my eyes.

But tonight the moon is full, and white. Thus 1904 begins.

Weldon Kees

Weldon Kees, “A Late History” from
The Collected Poems of Weldon Kees
edited by Donald Justice.
Copyright 1962, 1975, by the University of Nebraska Press.
© renewed 2003 by the University of Nebraska Press.

The Disappearing Poet

with thanks to laura for scans!

Friday, January 22, 2010

a man for all seasons: 1905

what an adventure this is turning out to be!

first, from jalf flach, i received a bunch of months i (coincidentally) didn't have before and couldn't find! because they're numbered differently from the ones i had, i couldn't match up months by end/start dates, so i asked him if he knew the years for the ones he sent. he responded that for many years after hoytema's death, the calendars were continually re-printed, not always keeping the same months' images together as they had first appeared!

so please let me explicitly ask: if anyone out there has images from these calendars, i would love to hear from you. thanks.

coincidence as well, synchronicity. laura at her cool animalarium blog, being perhaps the only other person on the planet who owns the book that inspired me to start on this, did a post on it.

and, being italian, as is the book, was in the process of translating bits of it, which she will allow me to post here!

"The book from which these images are taken is Theodoor van Hoytema – Calendari by Ezio Godoli. it was published in 1989 by Cantini Editore, a Florentine publisher who in the 1980s–90s produced some really nice and well documented illustrated books about art, illustration, fashion and ephemera. Unfortunately, as far as I know Cantini is no longer active but some of these out of print books can be found at bargain prices in used bookstores around the city and on the web." 1

more from the book: "As an adolescent Theo van Hoytema loved animals, and was fascinated by illustrated books on entomology and natural history. Having noticed this, in 1888 his uncle A.P.M. van Oordt, a publisher and typographer, commissioned him to draw some illustrations for scientific publications on zoology. To accomplish the job, Theo went to study and sketch the animals at Leiden's Museum of Zoology and perfected his lithographic technique. This experience marked the beginning of his career as a serious artist, and in a few years' time, he became internationally known as one of the most original interpreters of the Nieuwe Kunst, the Dutch version of Art Nouveau." 1

laura has also offered to do more translation, and, as she did for her post on her blog (and you'll see some here), to provide us with scans!

a bit on my process. these images are collected from 1001 places; some i've had for years. others i've adapted from illustrations in the book. while laura can scan them beautifully, my photos of the pages really do not turn out very well. some that i find are abbreviated, showing only the main image, thus leaving out the madly delightful critters in the frames.

and now further truth -- sometimes i even have the images with the clever frames, but use a main image only because one i've downloaded and the other i'd have to photograph and then spend an amazing amount of time trying to make it look halfway decent.

i will continue to search for better images, to work with my photos, and to welcome any scans, and will replace old images for new in an ongoing way, if i can improve on them. the calendars are still being reprinted and sold, so more images might be out there somewhere.

the flip side is that if the close-up images are good enough, then they're lovely to have all in themselves, and i likely will run both, when i can.

so thanks for visiting here; only 15 years remaining!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

a man for all seasons: 1906


sore uma ga uma ga to ya iu oya suzume

"Watch out for that horse!
Watch out!"
mother sparrow calls



waga io ya akutare karasu yase botan

at my hut--
rascally crows
emaciated peonies



kasumu zoyo matsu ga sambon meoto-zuru

in spring mist
three pines, two cranes
husband and wife



tori mo naki chô mo tobi keri furu tatami

birds singing
butterflies flitting...
old tatami mat


Or: "a butterfly flitting." Shinji Ogawa points out that naki means "sang" in this haiku, not, as I originally thought, "devoid of."
With his correction, the haiku now makes perfect sense.
Issa sits on his old tatami mat, enjoying the spring day along with the birds and butterflies.


tori no su ni akewatashitaru iori kana

surrendering it
to the nesting birds...
my hut


Issa ends this haiku, simply, with "hut" (iori kana). In a revision four years later (in 1824), he clarifies his meaning by ending the haiku with "the hut that is empty because its owner is away" (rusu no io). Issa is leaving his hut for a while, generously offering it to nesting birds. Shinji Ogawa notes that the verb akewatashitaru denotes Issa's abandoning or surrending his hut.


kyô mo kyô mo damatte kurasu ko kamo kana

today too
keeping perfectly quiet...
little duck



tabi-gasa wo chiisaku miseru kasumi kana

their traveling hats
looking small...


year unknown

ao no ha wa shiohi nagure no karasu kana

some stay behind
in the green leaves...
low tide crows


Nagure is the same as nagori ("vestiges," "remains"); see Kogo dai jiten (Shogakukan 1983) 1213. The crows at low tide are doing the same thing as their human counterparts: looking for shellfish. A few linger behind in trees and field.


chikazukeba [kyû] ni sabishiki momiji kana

drawing near them
a sudden loneliness
autumn leaves



ushiro kara ôsamu kosamu yozamu kana

behind me--
big cold, little cold
night cold



yuki no hi ya dô ni gisshiri hato suzume

on a snowy day
the temple is packed...
pigeons, sparrows


many continued thank yous to the amazing david g lanoue and his glorious issa pages, revealing the poet's humanity, humor, and the nature and customs of his world.

as is obvious, i have not yet been able to find a july for 1906 yet.
will remedy and announce when i do.