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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Milne Ramsey: From Realism to Impressionism, Lobsters to Landscapes...

Milne Ramsey was an American artist who surrounded himself with master teachers and other well known artists. Many of these people revolted against French academic art and its strict rules. He was able to learn from these experiences to develop his own style and technique. Ramsey's still life paintings were primarily done in a very realistic manner, while confronting Impressionism with his landscapes. These different styles showed that Ramsey approached his art with experiments rather than guidelines. The very subjects of still life’s and landscapes taught as being the least important genres from academia. Ramsey defied these academic rules by focusing on these two genres.

Milne Ramsey inherited most of his artistic fame with his wonderful still life paintings. The realistic depiction of the various objects showed his deep understanding of textures and color. His strong use of light made the objects look three dimensional and added depth through the work to give it more realistic qualities. Ramsey's still life paintings contain both organic and man made objects. “Still Life with Lobster” shows how Ramsey would approach these various textures. The lobster shell's organic texture paired with the smoothness of the white cloth and the ridges from the stem of the glass, all show how these different textural objects can be placed together to form a perfect composition.

While Ramsey’s still life paintings focus namely on Realism, his landscape depictions exude impressionistic qualities. Ramsey used thick impasto brushstrokes for texture and light, giving his works a sense of movement. Ramsey’s landscapes were often times very small in size which made them feel very intimate. The small figures incorporated into many of his landscapes furthered this intimacy in his landscapes. At MIR Appraisal Services, Inc., we have been fortunate enough to have researched and appraised several of Milne Ramsey's works.

As a plein-air artist, Ramsey’s use of light in his paintings was very important to convey mood. He was able to capture warmth and a sense of peace with his loose brushstrokes and dark earthy color palette. On the contrast, Ramsey conveyed an energetic fun with his vibrant still life depictions. While Milne Ramsey may have been known for his still life paintings, his landscapes were just as significant in forming his career.

To understand why Ramsey painted the way that he did, we must look at his life and education. During his early years, he studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. There he was a member of the sketch club and elected president in 1874. During his time in the sketch club there is little doubt he knew Thomas Eakins, the great realist painter. The sketch club is the oldest artists club in America, and Eakins and Ramsey were members during the same time. There is strong belief that Ramsey used this time to study Eakins. They were also both students of Leon Bonnat, who was a well known French teacher of the arts. Ramsey spent a significant portion of his life living in France and studying the arts. Bonnat was a realist painter who taught his students to revolt against academic art and its teachings of idealism. Bonnat used these criticisms to teach numerous artists like Henri Toulouse-Lautrec and Georges Braque. Like these artists, Milne Ramsey didn’t just stop at Realism; he grew as an artist by incorporating different styles in his artwork, further enhancing his place in history.

Written and researched by Robert Snell

MIR Appraisal Services, Inc.
Principal Appraiser: Farhad Radfar, ISA AM
307 N. Michigan Avenue, Suite 308
Chicago, IL 60601
Phone: (312) 814-8510

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    Welcome to our blog site! MIR Appraisal Services, Inc. is a fine art and personal property appraisal company dedicated to serving clients throughout the United States and abroad since our incorporation in Chicago in 1994. We specialize in the multi-faceted field of appraising fine art, jewelry, antiques, and decorative items. We also provide professional fine art restoration and conservation treatment for various media, including but not limited to, artworks on canvas, board, masonite, and paper. We offer professional and precise appraisal services carried out by our team of accredited appraisers for the purposes of insurance coverage and claims, charitable donations, estate planning and probate, equitable distribution and fair-market value. We started our art commentary blog site as a venue for colleagues and fellow art enthusiasts to share their experiences within the art community.