I know the theme today is "My Favorite Things" but todaywould also have been my grandfather's birthday! And this is the last part of a 4-part series. And since his artwork -- paintings, sculptures, etc., are among my favorite things...I hope it works for the Shootout as well.
The strength and the weakness my grandfather’s art was its variety. The only reason I say “weakness” is because after his death, my grandmother and I contacted the Boston Museum of Fine Arts to see if they were interested in receiving any of the paintings as donations. He was known well enough at the time so a curator came out to visit. He said he found himself in a dilemma because he wanted some of them and felt the quality was there but...The problem was finding a place to hang them.
He explained that large art museums need paintings to meet one of two criteria. Either the artist has to be famous enough to hang simply because of his name. Or the artist has to be representative of a particular school or style of art. Although the curator appreciated the variety of my grandfather's work, it didn’t fit into the scheme of any particular style.
This study for a larger mural of Jesus and the Fishermen was the one the curator liked the most and almost took. I'm actually glad, bcause I've still got this hanging in my kitchen.
Butler and I always appreciated the fact he experimented with so many styles and always looked for a new way to present something.
Another aspect of his art was the care and patience with which he approached things. This marble bust below that he chiseled of Jean, his daughter and my mother took 8 months to complete.
If you look at the neck, you can see where right at the end, a wrong hammer blow caused the marble to crack, separating the head. While he was able to repair it, the crack bothered him so he spend another 8 months doing a perfect duplicate – without the crack. The pictured one sits on our mantle piece and the second "perfect" one is in Wrentham, marking her grave.
His interesting in art went deep. He studied anatomy and even has some illustrations in older editions of Gray's Anatomy -- which I can't show here, unfortunately, because I went and gave it away to my friend, Barclay, when he graduated from Medical School.
Joseph Cowell studied the chemical composition of paint and was fascinated with how the early master's made it.
For the portrait above (another one of his daughter, Jean) he experimented with something from the middle ages and did the skin tones with paint he developed using egg whites.
He did stain glass for churches but one of my favorite things is his student project when he was first learning to work in stain glass.
One the one hand, I could blog forever, but on the other hand, it's Friday, and I think I'll just mostly post pictures. I've probably talked too much about him already.
One of the things about doing this blog that has been really great
has been rediscovering his old sketchbooks from London
Sweatt Park in Wrentham --
Design and bas relief
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, GRANDEE