Sunday Painting and the Start of NYRB Classics Reading Week


My Sunday Painting feature is the perfect way to kick off my first contribution to NYRB Classics Reading Week hosted by Mrs. B and Coffeespoons.

One thing that is so brilliant about NYRB Classics is the wonderful cover images that make one stop and take second notice.When I first noticed NYRB Classics a year or two ago it was the cover art that caught my eye. I had never seen this imprint before and I might not have if not for the distinctive cover design. Something so wonderful, and comforting to the OCD in me, about the standard design template for these covers. (My plea now to NYRB is that they not alter their template…)

And lest some of you berate me for judging books by their covers, if it weren’t for those arresting covers I would never have picked up some really amazing books, some of which I will talk about later this week.

So, here are four great NYRB covers and the paintings from whence they came. NYRB also does some great photo images, but since this is Sunday Painting, I am limiting myself to that medium.

Lander’s Peak, Rocky Mountains, 1863
Albert Bierstadt (1830-1902)
Fogg Museum,  Harvard University

Hands (Man in the World), 1925-26
Pavel Filonov (1883-1941)
The Russian Museum, St Petersburg

High Steppers, 1938-9
Walter Richard Sickert (1860-1942)
National Galleries of Scotland

The Bend in the Road, 1902-1906
Paul Cezanne (1839-1906)
National Gallery of Art, Washington

Sunday Paintings: Book Illustrations

I decided to do something a little different this week for my Sunday Painting.  Can you guess what book these illustrations came from? Although different in style, they remind me a bit of the illustrations in my copy of Rebecca West’s The Modern Rake’s Progress.

What’s that you say? You can’t figure out what book it is? That’s because I lied. These aren’t from a book at all. They are murals that I see every weekday at work. Aren’t they amazing? They desparately need cleaning. You can see them in context below. It was a little hard to take the photos because there are lots of columns in the way. But I think you can get the sense of them.


Sunday Painting: Australian Beach Pattern by Charles Meere

Advance Australia Fair

In honor of the great book I read this week and reviewed this morning, I decided to make today’s Sunday Painting something from Australia. I have a quite a few great art postcards from our trip to Australia back in 2007. Unfortunately none of them have anything to do with the subject matter of A.B. Facey’s A Fortunate Life (which I review immediately following this feature).

One thing about Australia is how familiar much of it seems to an American, but also how different it is. I have said before it is like a fabulous parallel universe where things feel comfortable and foreign all at the same time. The Internet and globalization have opened up whole new worlds to whole new audiences, in a way that I certainly appreciate. But it is also nice to know that Australia is just isolated enough geographically to nurture a culture and outlook that is decidedly different from its English speaking friends in the Northern Hemisphere.

And so, while Facey’s memoir details the settling of at least part of this great continent-country, this week’s painting connects us with at least one aspect of Australia’s close relationship with the ocean that surrounds it.

Australian Beach Pattern (1940)
Charles Meere (1890-1961)

Sunday Painting: The Hermitage at Pontoise by Camille Pissarro

Last year at this time we were driving around the Loire and the Luberon, and while this painting of Pontoise is not in either location it reminded me of our trip. Plus a final look at summer seemed appropriate as we speed into September.

The Hermitage at Pontoise, ca. 1867

And I had to post this picture just because it reminds me of that trip a year ago. A scene light years from the eight hours I spent this weekend pulling about a decade’s worth of ivy.

Sunday Painting: Elizabeth II by Pietro Annigoni

Since we just made the decision to spend five days in London in November, I knew my Sunday Painting this week had to have a British connection. I love the National Portrait Gallery and I have always found this portrait of the Queen fascinating. A realistic depiction, but she seems to be rising out of the ocean or perhaps a post-apocolyptic Britain.

If you haven’t already commented on my previous post What should I do in London?, I would love it if you would scroll down and let me know what you think.

Elizabeth II (1969)
Pietro Annigoni (1910-1988)