The Secret Lives of Artists

From the grand studio homes of Victorian artists residing in their suits to the paint splattered studios of Frank Auerbach and Lucian Freud, rare photography archives reveal the creative environment and working practices of artists from the last two centuries.

 

Allen Jones, 1976 (b/w photo) by Jorge Lewinski, © The Lewinski Archive at Chatsworth
Allen Jones, 1976 (b/w photo) by Jorge Lewinski, © The Lewinski Archive at Chatsworth

The Lewinski photo archive

Jorge Lewinski, a Polish refugee who served in the RAF, is a foremost photographer of artists in their studios. The Lewinski photo archive contains striking photographs of over 300 artists, from Britain and abroad, working and exhibiting in Britain from the 1960s to the mid 1990s. It was purchased in 2002 by the Earl of Burlington, the Duke of Devonshire’s son and is held at Chatsworth.

Unlike the snap-shot aesthetic of many contemporary portraits, Lewinski has said that he wished to ‘achieve a deeper kind of portrait – portraits which not only describe a person but give the viewer an insight into the imaginative world of each sitter.’

 

Left: L. S. Lowry, 1964 (b/w photo) by Jorge Lewinski © The Lewinski Archive at Chatsworth Right: Francis Bacon, 1967 (b/w photo), JorgeLewinski © The Lewinski Archive at Chatsworth
Left: L. S. Lowry, 1964 (b/w photo) by Jorge Lewinski © The Lewinski Archive at Chatsworth
Right: Francis Bacon, 1967 (b/w photo), JorgeLewinski © The Lewinski Archive at Chatsworth

Freud at work by David Dawson

Lucian Freud (1922-2011) gave his assistant David Dawson unique access to his daily life, photographing the artist during his final years, giving us an intimate look into the painter’s private persona and painting process. 

Working at Night, 2005 (photo) by David Dawson, Private Collection
Working at Night, 2005 (photo) by David Dawson, Private Collection

 The Rob Dickins collection – Victorian artists

In the nineteenth-century public curiosity with celebrities extended to their homes and lifestyles. Artists encouraged this interest through building grand studio houses. Notable photographs in the artists at home series depict G.F. Watts, Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema and Frederic Leighton. 

 

Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, portrait photograph from the 'Artists at Home' series, 1884 by John Mayall
Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, portrait photograph from the ‘Artists at Home’ series, 1884 by John Mayall

 

The Larousee archive, Paris – French Artists

Around 1887, a photographer who used the pseudonym Dornac started doing the rounds of Paris society, explaining to his sitters that he planned to build up a photographic survey of the great and the good. Not much is known of Paul Francois Arnold Cardon (1859-1941) but his series of photographic portraits are interesting in the way they bring to life the working practices of artists from the late 19th and early 20th century including Monet, Rodin and Rousseau.

Henri (Le Douanier) Rousseau (1844-1910) in his studio at rue Perrel, Paris, 1907 (b/w photo) by Dornac (Paul Francois Arnold Cardon) (1859-1941); Archives Larousse, Paris, France; Giraudon; French, out of copyright possible copyright restrictions apply, consult national copyright laws
Henri (Le Douanier) Rousseau (1844-1910) in his studio at rue Perrel, Paris, 1907 (b/w photo) by Dornac (Paul Francois Arnold Cardon)  Archives Larousse, Paris, France

Musée Marmottan Monet – French Impressionists & Monet

The home of one of Paris’ largest Impressionism collections: 100 of Claude Monet’s masterpieces (from Impression, Sunrise to the water lilies) as well as numerous works from the artist’s personal collection (Gauguin, Renoir, Sisley, Degas, and more). A less well known part of this museum’s collection is a series of photographs of Monet at work in his studio, holidaying in Venice with his wife and relaxing in his famous garden at Giverny.

 

Claude Monet in front of his paintings 'The Waterlilies', in his studio at Giverny, 1920 by Henri Manuel, Musee Marmottan Monet
Claude Monet in front of his paintings ‘The Waterlilies’, in his studio at Giverny, 1920 by Henri Manuel, Musee Marmottan Monet

 

 See more pictures of artists in their studio from the Bridgeman archive

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