Saturday, November 9, 2013

A Life in Art - Arnold Friberg, Part 2

-By Howard Lyon

For the introduction to this two-part post, and to read Part 1, click HERE.



Indians and Mounties

This is a great painting, so much movement and drama. Friberg told me that beyond anything, he loved to paint horses and that is what he would like most to be remembered for. The guy with the rifle on the top of the stagecoach taking careful aim is one cool dude because it looks like the back wheels just bounced a good five feet into the air. If he can hit anything but the mountain back there, I will be impressed.



There is a ton of personality in that horse’s face. Looking right at the viewer as if to say, “Look out, we are headed right for you!” but it probably would be hard to understand it because it is a horse.


More amazing horses. I don’t think I have seen horses with so much movement painted any better than these.


A cool close up of the stagecoach. Look how Friberg exaggerated the effects of the dust to allow the back half of the stagecoach fade out into the background and create a great silhouette with the Indian in the lower left.


The next chunk of work all depict Mounties. These are just a few of the 200 paintings he did for them. Two more amazing horses.


A good close up of the horse. You can really see the boldness of some of the brushwork along with some really precision work in the tackle and gear.


I love the strong red light reflected off the Mountie’s coat and into the brow of the rider.




This old timer is great. The painting really reminds me of a Rockwell. Lots of great storytelling going on. All the great artifacts that this old Mountie has obtained, including the beaded moccasins on his feet. You can see portraits on the wall of his fellow officers and even a portrait of him with an Indian in full headdress, maybe the same one in the upper right of the painting.


That is a great face and moustache. That is the kind of moustache you can really strain some soup with. Whole potatoes and chunks of beef couldn’t pass through that hairy gate! Look at his bent fingers. It appears that it was broken at one point and not set back into place. Lots of adventure in those eyes and hands.


What a great stylized face for a hero. No wonder the Mounties adopted Friberg into their ranks. He painted them like Greek gods!





I thought that it was neat how the face on this Mountie was just indicated without much detail, but it works well.


I thought the lettering and emblems along the top and bottom of this painting were really beautiful. I don’t speak French, but I am pretty sure “Maintiens Le Droit” means “These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.” Move along.



Another beautiful horse. I love the contrast of the broad and loosely painted areas with the areas of fine and tight detail. The forms of the horse feel so solid. There is no doubt that the leather straps are following the shape of the head. You can feel the muscle and skin over bone in this horse. Amazing.


I include this shot because I liked how the red of the Mounties coat was bouncing red light everywhere, really defining the face of the men around him.





Painting a Queen

Friberg had the chance to paint Prince Charles and Charles was so pleased with the results, that he was chosen to paint the Queen. In both paintings we see a beautiful horse, Centennial who was the great-grandson of the famous horse Man-O-War.

Friberg said the horse was so magnificent and the saddle and gear so fine, that when he was doing a sketching session with the queen standing in front, he asked her if she could move out of the way so that he could better paint the horse. He said she didn’t laugh or even crack a smile.
While painting Charles and the Queen, he was invited to stay in Buckingham Palace and said that he was in a massive room, all alone for much of the time. The Queen would come in from time to time to sit and check on the progress.

Friberg was invited to be a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and added the RSA to his paintings signatures thereafter.







A Magnum Opus

Apart from horses, Friberg said that this painting of Washington praying at Valley Forge was his greatest work. I would tend to agree. It is a large painting, commanding the room it was in. The color and richness of the surface draws you in. You can feel the cold and there is a great stillness in the air.


Beautiful contrasting textures


I love the tension in the hands here. You can feel the strain and the earnestness in the petition.


I love this profile. Heroic and noble, but look at the coloration in his face. The forhead is pale, shaded by a hat worn regularly. His cheeks and nose are dark and ruddy from many days outside, a general leading his army in the bitter cold.


One last shot of a gorgeous animal.


And to close, a close up with lots of varied textures to enjoy.


Thank you for going through some of the paintings in this exhibit with me. If you already knew of Friberg, I hope you saw something new, and if this was all new to you, I hope you found something of interest.

12 comments:

  1. Stunning! Again! Thanks for the post, Howard!

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  2. Thank you for this post, I thought it was really interesting. Really nice of you to share those close ups as well, gives a great insight in how the painting was done.

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    1. Tak Per! I have found that when I go to a museum (there is no replacement to seeing paintings in person) that I always miss some details and taking photos can help to fill in the gaps when I get back home. Especially when you can't get really close to the painting, sometimes the camera can.

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  3. Maintiens Le Droit! What a great movie reference!

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  4. If Obi Wan Kenobi spoke French... Hmmmm.

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  5. Wow, great post. Seeing more of Friberg's work has really opened up my eyes to the quality of the man's work. Add another to the list of "great students of Harvey Dunn." (Along with Cornwell, Schaeffer, Tepper, Mario Cooper, Harold Von Schmidt, and so many more.) And he very much composes and thinks like a Dunn student.

    I see less Rockwell, compositionally speaking, and I'm not sure just how much Rockwell taught in New York. Maybe a few lectures? Friberg seems more influenced by Rockwell's style of rendering form and his level of craftsmanship and finish. Dunn we know taught weekly at Grand Central where Friberg found him, and Dunn really invited students to be part of his life, to come by his studio so as to become immersed in Brandywine picturemaking philosophy.

    An interesting aspect I'm seeing is just how knowledgeable about the golden age Friberg was. Pre-internet, artists had to work hard to see the best that had been done in the field. But now, you can google "Leyendecker Washington" to see his inspiration for his valley forge picture's figure, and "Remington Nigh Leader" for his wild horse picture. So nice to see how he took his inspiration and ran with it, and did something with it. With so many artists, their influences stand out like sore thumbs, because their picture aren't fully imagined.

    Thanks again,
    kev

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    1. Thank you Kev! You are spot on with his influences and the Golden Age illustrators. The Leyendecker inspiration for Washington is pretty direct. I understand that after he painted it, people dogged him a little about that and he was defensive, but he must have come to terms with it because when I heard him speak it came up and he said, I can't remember his exact words, something along the lines of "I don't think anyone could improve upon that pose" referring to Leyendecker's. Thanks for the great response and added thoughts.

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  6. Very inspirational for me, I very much appreciate both of your posts on his work. His horses are dazzling.

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    1. Yeah, the horses are just incredible. Thank you.

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  7. Arnold Friberg was a Mormon and also did some killer paintings depicting scenes from The Book of Mormon.

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