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Phillip Medhurst presents drawings of Christ by Heinrich Hofmann colourised 14 Mary Magdalene encounters Jesus risen

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14  Heinrich Hofmann. Am Auferstehungs-Morgen. Kommet zu Mir – Bild 13. Original drawing in pencil. John 20:11-18.
In both of these colourisations a limited palette (each at the opposite end of the spectrum) sets the tone of quiet restraint of dawn’s early light – Noli me tangere – in contrast to the garish hues expressing the hands-on grief of the artificially-lit Entombment.

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Phillip Medhurst presents drawings of Christ by Heinrich Hofmann colourised 13 the entombment

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13  Heinrich Hofmann. Grablegung. Gedenke Mein – Bild 12. Original drawing in pencil. John 19_38-42.

In this colourisation the harsh colours and brutal tonal gradations make manifest the pain implicit in Hofmann’s depiction.

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Phillip Medhurst presents drawings of Christ by Heinrich Hofmann colourised 12 Pilate appeals to the mob

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12  Heinrich Hofmann. “Kreuziget ihn!!!” Kommet zu Mir – Bild 10. Original drawing in pencil. John 19:5-16.

There’s a lot going on in Hofmann’s drawing. Consider the choices made in the following two colourised simplifications:-

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Phillip Medhurst presents drawings of Christ by Heinrich Hofmann colourised 11 the last supper

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11  Heinrich Hofmann. Das letzte Abendmahl. Kommet zu Mir – Bild 9. Original drawing in pencil. 1 Corinthians 11:23-25.

Note that in the first two colourisations above the original monochrome image is reproduced faithfully. The third re-presentation is probably a rare adaptation on doctrinal grounds: in the original, Jesus and the disciples appear as though receiving Catholic-style Holy Communion. By eliminating the chalice while retaining the basin for foot-washing, the re-drafter has shifted the scene from the Synoptics to the alternatve account of the events in the cenacle in John’s Gospel – with the foot-washing and farewell discourses – perhaps in deference to the Protestant sensibilities of possible customers. Meanwhile, the image remains firmly rooted in the commonality of Scripture – John’s Gospel does not include an account of the Supper itself.

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Phillip Medhurst presents drawings of Christ by Heinrich Hofmann colourised 10 a sinful woman anoints Jesus’ feet

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10  Heinrich Hofmann. Die Sünderin. Gedenke Mein – Bild 7. Original drawing in pencil. Luke 7:37-50.

Photogravure made from the original pencil drawing.

Chromolithograph based on re-drawn image derived from the photogravure of the pencil drawing (possibly by Stemler). Here, unusually, colourisation has been used to enhance tonality.

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Phillip Medhurst presents drawings of Christ by Heinrich Hofmann colourised 09 Jesus blesses little children

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09  Heinrich Hofmann. Der Kinderfreundlich. Gedenke Mein – Bild 5. Original drawing in pencil. Matthew 19:13-15.

In this colourisation particular care and attention has been paid to the flesh colours and tones. This is probably because the chromist would have been aware of one of the most popular prints of the final decade of the 19th century: Prang’s Prize Babies. A chromolithograph is made using anywhere from eight to forty stones, one for each colour:  a “chromist” specialized in breaking down the colours needed to re-create the painting in ink. A progressive proof book by Louis Prang (1824-1909) called “Prang’s Prize Babies” had showed the process of chromolithography in creating an image from  separate colour stones. After an oil painting by Ida Waugh, the print was sold door-to-door by traveling salesmen and saleswomen. The thirty-eight progressive proof prints using nineteen separate stones to create the final image were printed in a limited edition given to those who sold the most prints, as an encouragement for their successful sales record. This became one of Prang’s most popular prints of the late 1880s. (“Prang’s Prize Babies. How This Picture is Made. An Outline of the Process of Chromolithography . . .” Louis Prang & Co. (Boston, Massachusetts) 1888.)

Prang’s Prize Babies 31st plate 16th colour; 32nd plate 16 colours combined.

Prang’s Prize Babies 35th plate 18th colour; 36th plate 18 colours combined.

Prang’s Prize Babies 37th plate 19th colour; 38th plate 19 colours combined.

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Phillip Medhurst presents drawings of Christ by Heinrich Hofmann colourised 08 the Sermon on the Mount

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08  Heinrich Hofmann. Bergpredigt. Kommet zu Mir – Bild 6. Original drawing in pencil. Matthew caps 3,5-7.

Heinrich (Johann Michael Ferdinand) Hofmann (1824 – 1911): German painter and illustrator. His most famous works are in the Riverside Church in New York: “Christ and the Rich Young Ruler”, Christ in Gethsemane”, “Christ in the Temple” and “Picture of Christ”. Probably with newly-developed printing processes in mind, Hoffmann created three portfolios of pencil drawings depicting the life of Christ. As published by heliogravure, their names in English are: “Remember Me” (1886), “Come Unto Me” (1887), and “Peace Unto You” (1898). They were widely distributed in Europe and America.

Chromolithograph based on re-drawn image derived from the photogravure of the pencil drawing. Possibly by Stemler.

Otto Adolph Stemler (1872-1953): American illustrator. When chromolithography was invented in the late 1800’s, American artists began to convert popular illustrations into colour. Stemler converted most of the Hofmann monochrome lithographs. He also converted the works of other famous illustrators such as Doré, Bida, Plockhorst and Bouguereau, as well as creating his own Bible illustrations while working for the Standard Publishing Company. Little is known about Stemler in his early career. Later in life he worked for Standard Publishing full-time, but he may have done freelance work before that because his images show up in the publications of Providence Litho, Messenger Corporation et alia. Apparently Stemler published religious art almost exclusively.

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Phillip Medhurst presents drawings of Christ by Heinrich Hofmann colourised 07 the daughter of Jairus raised

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07  Heinrich Hofmann. Jairi Töchterlein. Gedenke Mein – Bild 4. Original drawing in pencil. Mark 5:22-24,35-43.

Photogravure made from the original pencil drawing.

This colourisation is unusual in that it elaborates on the original image and makes another quite demanding adaptation. Firstly, coloured pattern has been added to the drape, the counterpane and the rug, and the chair has been given a carved back. Together with the items in the original image, all of which have been retained, they cumulatively invoke the domestic – a private space decorated according to personal taste – maybe even according to 19th century American bourgeois taste. Secondly, the lighting of the scene has been altered. In the original pencil drawing, the light appears to come from us, the picture’s observers, as though we were holding up a light to see into this intimate setting of the young girl’s bedchamber and the private drama taking place – a privilege not afforded to those peeping in through the door behind. This reflects the character of the biblical account: only Peter, James and John were allowed access. Jesus’s halo of light which, in Hofmann’s drawing, replaces the usual Renaissance ellipsis has no natural effect on the illumination of the scene, suggesting the light is not of this world. The light in the colourisation also has spiritual purport: Jairus’ daughter now appears to be the light-source, and the world of daylight now waits beyond the chamber door. Is it too fanciful to assert that this was the re-drafters way of depicting the life now flooding back into the erstwhile dead girl through the touch of the Saviour, who, thus depicted, needs no halo to declare his power?

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Phillip Medhurst presents drawings of Christ by Heinrich Hofmann colourised 06 Jesus heals the sick

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06  Heinrich Hofmann. Heilung von Kranken. Gedenke Mein – Bild 6.Original drawing in pencil. Matthew 14:34-36, 15:29-31.

Photogravure made from the original pencil drawing.

In these three colourisations no liberties at all have been taken (apart from the removal of the elliptical halo of Renaissance convention) with the original image. Instead we see the extent of the freedom to experiment with colour which a black and white exemplar afforded.

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Phillip Medhurst presents drawings of Christ by Heinrich Hofmann colourised 05 raising the son of the widow of Nain

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05  Heinrich Hofmann. Jüngling zu Nain. Kommet zu Mir – Bild 7. Original drawing in pencil. Luke 7:11-17.

Chromolithograph based on re-drawn image derived from the photogravure of the pencil drawing. Possibly by Stemler.
This re-draft of Hofmann’s image well illustrates the tendency of the colourisers to simplify the scene and concentrate on the inter-action between the core characters. This was partly to reduce the labour in redrafting, and partly to provide broader areas for colour. Here six members of the arrested funeral procession have been eliminated: one figure is deemed adequate to suggest the awe of any witness to the miracle. By way of compensation the glimpse of a landscape of Nain in the background of the drawing has been developed into a vista of a walled town (fortifications only suggested in close-up by Hofmann through arches with heavy masonry). In the drawing the boy’s erstwhile status as a corpse is suggested by the cowl which had presumably covered his face. The colouriser may have felt that this item was too suggestive of female attire; it has been removed in his re-draft to reveal the boy’s hair – short as dictated by modern convention. Instead, the presence of a white pall is indicated by the different colour of the boy’s robe. Thus the colouriser has remained true to the artist’s original intent.