Posts Tagged ‘pen drawings’
John A. MacDonald (1815-1891)
The dominant figure of Canadian Confederation, he had a political career which spanned almost half a century.Macdonald was designated as the first Prime Minister of the new nation, and served in that capacity for most of the remainder of his life, losing office for five years in the 1870s over the Pacific Scandal (corruption in the financing of the Canadian Pacific Railway). After regaining his position, he saw the railroad through to completion in 1885, a means of transportation and freight conveyance that helped unite Canada as one nation. Macdonald is credited with creating a Canadian Confederation despite many obstacles, and expanding what was a relatively small colony to cover the northern half of North America. By the time of his death in 1891, Canada had secured most of the territory it occupies today.
Conservative Senator Hugh Segal believes that Macdonald’s true monument is Canada itself: “Without Macdonald we’d be a country that begins somewhere at the Manitoba-Ontario border that probably goes throughout the east. Newfoundland would be like Alaska and I think that would also go for Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and B.C. We’d be buying our oil from the United States. It would diminish our quality of life and range of careers, and our role in the world would have been substantially reduced.”
Macdonald’s biographers note his contribution to establishing Canada as a nation. Swainson suggests that Macdonald’s desire for a free and tolerant Canada became part of its national outlook: “He not only helped to create Canada, but contributed immeasurably to its character.” Gwyn said of Macdonald,
his accomplishments were staggering: Confederation above all, but almost as important, if not more so, extending the country across the continent by a railway that was, objectively, a fiscal and economic insanity … On the ledger’s other side, he was responsible for the CPR scandal, the execution of Louis Riel, and for the head tax on Chinese workers. He’s thus not easy to scan. His private life was mostly barren. Yet few other Canadian leaders—Pierre Trudeau, John Diefenbaker for a time, Wilfrid Laurier—had the same capacity to inspire love.(ack: wikipedia)
Hans Holbein (1498- 1543)
Hans Holbein the younger together with Albrecht Duerer and Lucas Cranach, marks the climax of the German Renaissance. Little is known of his life apart from some details. He left his father’s workshop at the age of seventeen to go to Lucerne. He was in Italy and twice he went to England and finally settling there in 1532 as Court Painter to Henry VIII. He died in the year of the plague in 1543.
He lived at a time when the geographic boundaries of the earth were extended with the discovery of America. It was also disconcerting to be told that earth was not the centre of his universe. The revolt against the Church was hotting up. In these upheavals only assurance he needed to have was that his art was at his command. His portraits wonderfully encapsulate the sitters in their momentariness. He didn’t espouse the vision of Rembrandt of portraiture as medium for distilling spiritual quality in the chiaroscuro of his subjects. His lines drew what was apparent and his sharp eye did not lie. His humanism shone through whether in his royal portraits or in his illustration to ‘The Praise of Folly of Erasmus. He had no dearth of sitters what with Henry the Eighth and his many wives, Sir Thomas More and his household. His pencil captured not their earthly power but their humanness. Just as he would have done justice to his art as he did in the oldest democracy of the world, Switzerland. He solely devoted to portraits after 1532.
He was right in the thick of the spiritual ferment that spread across, and his title page (2nd ed.) to Martin Luther’s translation of the New Testament(1521)attest to his skill.
Technically he belongs to the fifteenth century tradition which he acquired from his teacher Hans Burgkmair. His Italian sojourn helped him to arrive at an individual style. ‘His delineation, his simplicity, his distinct coloring, and- not the least-his composition to which he subordinated his decorative details, enabled him to present the human figure and its surroundings not only in realistic truth but also in perfect beauty.’