Thursday, July 17, 2014

My latest masterpiece "Creole Apothecary"

Creole Apothecary by Andrew LaMar Hopkins 

Over a month ago I got the ideal to paint a 18th century New Orleans Creole Apothecary. I had to imagine what it might have looked like. Like the famous Renaissance artist Michelangelo who once said “In every block of marble I see a statue as plain as though it stood before me, shaped and perfect in attitude and action. I have only to hew away the rough walls that imprison the lovely apparition to reveal it to the other eyes as mine see it.”  It is the same with me and canvas. I get visions and it is my work and job to release it with paint. I'm always working on 30 paintings at the same time as I get tired working on one at a time. 


At the end of finishing my Saint Joseph Altar painting I got the vision to paint Creole Apothecary. I had to start it on the same date. I did not have any fresh canvas in the size I wanted to paint it on so I gessoed a old canvas I had started to paint that I would most likely not finish. I had recently seen photo's of the beautiful  La chapelle des Carmélites in Toulouse, France. I loved the color schemes of the interior of the chapelle. I wanted the interior of this painting to be grand! Apothecary's like banks of the period were built and decorated to be imposing and impressive. Just by looking at a exterior or interior you were suppose to be impressed into spending your money in a beautiful place like the Apothecary depicted in my painting.  

 La chapelle des Carmélites in Toulouse, France. Inspiration for wood work in Creole Apothecary 

La chapelle des Carmélites in Toulouse, France. Inspiration for wood work in Creole Apothecary

La chapelle des Carmélites in Toulouse, France. Inspiration for wood work in Creole Apothecary

French Ionic capital with hanging flower garlands and Scamozzi-style volutes.

 During the mid 18th century New Orleans and Louisiana had new levels of prosperity. Louisiana realized increases in both trade and population due primarily to the arrival of an ancestor of mine Pierre de Vandreuil Governor of Louisiana from 1743-1753. Vaudreuil was popular with the upper-class colonist and French officials for his elegant manners. He frequently sponsored balls, dinners and other social events.  During this period New Orleans was know as the Paris in the Swamp. The panting depicts a elegantly appointed Apothecary of about 1785.  The cabinets and shelves have gilded  French Ionic columns and capitals with hanging garlands and Scamozzi-style volutes. The paneled cabinets are painted a dusty blue and marbleized trimmed with gilt and dark blue doors.  The baseboards of the case pieces are marbleized to look like Black Egyptian gold veined marble.

The shelves are lined with faïence blue decorated  tin-glazed pottery Pharmacy jars as well as glass jars. On the upper shelves are French 17th century pendent portraits of Christ and the Virgin Mary in ornate gold gilt frames with altar urns with carved gilded flowers on each side of the portraits. In the center of the shelves is a taxidermy alligator and lizard bringing  in the exotic. Louisiana has long captured America’s and Europe's imagination with its beautiful bayous, delicious cuisine and abundant wildlife. Stories about the alligator (or “crocodile,” as the French called them) began to appear in print soon after the Sieurd’Iberville established the Louisiana colony in 1699.

In fact, one of the first mentions of our alligator can be found in Iberville’s diary.  “We see a large quantity of crocodiles,” he wrote while exploring Bayou Manchac. “I killed a small one, 8 feet long. They are very good to eat.” Andre Penicaut accompanied Iberville on the expedition, and he claimed that one of the first places in Louisiana the French named was the Riviere-aux-Chiens "because a crocodile ate up one of our dogs there." This stream is modern-day Dog River in Mobile, Alabama the first capital of French Louisiana. Le Page DuPratz, another early explorer, frequently mentioned the alligator in his memoirs. According to DuPratz, they were not only widespread but downright huge. "Among other things I cannot omit to give an account of a monstrous large alligator I killed with a musquet (sic) ball …," he wrote. "We measured it, and found it to be 19 feet long, its head 3 feet and a half long … at the belly it was 2 feet, 2 inches thick…. M. Mehane told me, he had killed one that was 22 feet long."


 The the Apothecarist hands a bill to a Gentleman as his sick Creole Free lady of color gaze off with a sick expression holding her fan. 


 In the center of the shelves is a carved wood Louis XVI  frame with cobalt background with gilt letters "Apothecary La Nouvelle-Orléans". Under the frame a Neoclassical  wrought iron safe door holds valuables related to the Apothecary trade under lock and key. In the center of the wrought iron is a  caduceus. It is the staff carried by Hermes in Greek mythology. The Caduceus as a symbol of medicine where it was sometimes associated with alchemy and wisdom. Under the wrought iron safe door is a faïence blue decorated water cistern and green glasses. On ether end of the counter are a pair of Louis  XVI style  Argand lamps. The Argand lamp is a lighting oil lamp producing a light output of 6 to 10 candelabra which was invented and patented in 1780 by Aimé Argand. 

Aside from the improvement in brightness, the more complete combustion of the wick and oil required much less frequent trimming of the wick. In France, they are known as "Quinquets" after Antoine-Arnoult Quinquet, a pharmacist in Paris, who used the idea originated by Argand and popularized it in France. He is sometimes credited with the addition of the glass chimney to the lamp. A English pottery Leech jar also sits on the counter. The European medical leech Hirudo medicinalis and some congeners, as well as some other species, have been used for clinical bloodletting for thousands of years. The use of leeches in medicine dates as far back as 2,500 years ago. 

If you came into apothecary one of the first things that would be done to you was bloodletting a very common practice from the late 19th century back. All sickness was thought to come from bad blood. If you were sick releasing some of the bad blood  was thought to be beneficial to the body and could cure or prevent illness and disease. Bloodletting was based on an ancient system of medicine in which blood and other bodily fluid were regarded as "humors" that had to remain in proper balance to maintain health. It was the most common medical practice performed by physicians from antiquity until the late 19th century, a span of almost 2,000 years. We now know  in the overwhelming majority of cases, the historical use of bloodletting was harmful to patients.


A elegantly dressed Lady stands at the counter as a young assistant gazes off  behind the counter.

18th century French fashion print. 

In the center of the room we have a gilt wood Louis XVI piece of furniture called a Athenienne.  The design was a French twist on a classical piece, which made its appearance in France around 1773. The essential pedestal table is supported by a tripod base.  You can have them in your living room or any room where you might entertain. "The multi-purpose athénienne was intended for entertaining in the salon or boudoir and was accordingly fitted with casters and an ormolu-mounted patinated copper cassolette, silvered on the inside and containing a removable spirit lamp, above which was set a tin-plated double boiler, surmounted by a marble slab and a patinated copper cover.

The uses of the Athénienne were eight:

as an ornament and focal point in the middle of a room
as a table under a pier mirror , or in a corner, or as a pedestal to support a candelabrum or a piece of sculpture
as a perfume burner as used in the painting 
as a heater for making coffee, tea, or chocolate
as a goldfish bowl
as a planter to grow bulbs in winter
as a bowl for cut flowers
as a device for keeping bouillon or other drinks warm."

 A English pottery Leech jar also sits on the counter. 

To the left of the painting a fashionably dressed Free man of color apprentice crushes herbs in a Mortar with a  Pestle on a Louisiana French styled cabriole leg table a preparation table where the medicine was mixed on prescription. A elegantly dressed Lady stands at the counter as a young assistant gazes off  behind the counter . The the Apothecarist hands a bill to a Gentleman as his sick Creole Free lady of color gaze off with a sick expression holding her fan. An Apothecarist was one trained and skilled in the arts of formal medicine. Though not as highly regarded as a physician, these workers devoted their time and studies to the arts of healing. Trained physicians were expensive and usually only retained and hired by kings, nobles and the elite. Therefore the Apothecarist served the common people. Commonly a monk or priest held the position and most available remedies came from the natural uses of plants, herbs and roots. It is believed that most of these practical applications were first discovered by the Celts and Druids. 

A fashionably dressed Free man of color apprentice crushes herbs in a Mortar with a  Pestle on a Louisiana French styled cabriole leg table a preparation table where the medicine was mixed on prescription.

A early Louisiana French styled cabriole leg table 


 In the center of the shelves is a taxidermy alligator and lizard bringing  in the exotic. Louisiana has long captured America’s and Europe's imagination with its beautiful bayous, delicious cuisine and abundant wildlife. Stories about the alligator (or “crocodile,” as the French called them) began to appear in print soon after the Sieurd’Iberville established the Louisiana colony in 1699. In fact, one of the first mentions of our alligator can be found in Iberville’s diary.  “We see a large quantity of crocodiles,” he wrote while exploring Bayou Manchac. “I killed a small one, 8 feet long. They are very good to eat.” Andre Penicaut accompanied Iberville on the expedition, and he claimed that one of the first places in Louisiana the French named was the Riviere-aux-Chiens "because a crocodile ate up one of our dogs there." This stream is modern-day Dog River in Mobile, Alabama the first capital of French Louisiana. Le Page DuPratz, another early explorer, frequently mentioned the alligator in his memoirs. According to DuPratz, they were not only widespread but downright huge. "Among other things I cannot omit to give an account of a monstrous large alligator I killed with a musquet (sic) ball …," he wrote. "We measured it, and found it to be 19 feet long, its head 3 feet and a half long … at the belly it was 2 feet, 2 inches thick…. M. Mehane told me, he had killed one that was 22 feet long."

18th century engraving showing a alligator 

18th century German spice sign showing the exotic. A plumed African, China-man and hanging Alligator  

A 17th century European Apothecary showing a lady having bloodletting done to her, not the hanging Alligator.  


The shelves are lined with faïence blue decorated  tin-glazed pottery Pharmacy jars as well as glass jars. On the upper shelves are French 17th century pendent portraits of Christ and the Virgin Mary in ornate gold gilt frames with altar urns with carved gilded flowers on each side of the portraits. 

French 17th century portrait of Christ 

Detail of gold gilt frame 

faïence blue decorated  tin-glazed pottery Pharmacy jars


faïence blue decorated  tin-glazed pottery Pharmacy jars


faïence blue decorated  tin-glazed pottery Pharmacy jars




18th century Brass Scale

 Louis  XVI style Argand lamps. 





An Apothecarist who was a member of a religious order often charged a donation to his sect for his services. A layman who served in the same occupation could charge whatever fees he or she wanted.  Ironically New Orleans had the first licensed pharmacist in the United States. In the early 19th Century when the Americans took charge of New Orleans (and the rest of the Louisiana Purchase) in 1803 and William C.C. Claiborne took over as Governor of the Louisiana Territory. 

In 1804, Claiborne approved an order that established a licensing exam for pharmacists. The Louisiana legislature re-affirmed this with a law after becoming a state in 1812. In 1816, Louis Dufilho, Jr., a resident of New Orleans, passed an exam administered by a board of experienced professionals at the Cabildo, becoming the first licensed pharmacist in the United States.  To add to the list of early pharmaceutical remedies, Voodoo potions were sold on the down-low in New Orleans pharmacies, and the recipes were taught to the pharmacists by local voodoo priestesses. Dufilho studied European medicine in Paris, but it appears he learned much from the African population in New Orleans. 



Creole Apothecary by Andrew LaMar Hopkins 

The painting is available for purchase here https://squareup.com/market/andrew-hopkins

You can follow my art on facebook here https://www.facebook.com/andrewhopkinsfolkart

Creole Apothecary 20x16 on Square Market

Guillaume Guillon-Lethiere (French, Guadeloupe 1760-1832), Philoctetes on the Isle of Lemnos, 1798

Guillaume Guillon-Lethiere (French, Guadeloupe 1760-1832), Philoctetes on the Isle of Lemnos, 1798

DEUX STATUES D'ANTINOÜS Suite de Pierre-Nicolas BEAUVALLET (1752-1818)




Description: DEUX STATUES D'ANTINOÜS Suite de Pierre-Nicolas BEAUVALLET (1752-1818) 
France, XIXe siècle 
MATÉRIAU Marbre bleu turquin 
H. 162 cm, L. 52 cm, P. 50 cm 
€ 150 000 - 200 000 
Cette paire d'importantes statues en marbre bleu turquin est une copie fidèle de l'Antinoüs de la villa d'Hadrien, aujourd'hui conservé au Vatican. Celle-ci se trouvait au début du XIXe siècle au Musée du Louvre où Pierre-Nicolas Beauvallet a pu la découvrir et la reproduire fidèlement. Le thème d'Antinoüs, représentant le favori de l'Empereur Hadrien (IIe siècle ap. J.C.) sous les traits d'un éphèbe aux muscles saillants et coiffé de la coiffe traditionnelle égyptienne, le némès, rencontra au XVIIIe siècle et au début du XIXe siècle un vif succès. 
Nos statues reprennent trait pour trait les deux statues conservées au Musée Marmottan à Paris et attribuées à Pierre-Nicolas Beauvallet. Elles auraient été conservées jusqu'au début du XXe siècle dans la cour intérieure de l'hôtel de Mailly-Villette avant d'êtres acquises en 1935 par Hector Lefuel agissant pour le compte du Musée. La puissante musculature, les proportions harmonieuses du corps et la pureté des lignes firent qu'Antinoüs devint un modèle de l'Idéal Egyptien, particulièrement bien adapté à la décoration des demeures à la mode. On le rencontra sous forme de pilier ou de statues encadrant la porte principale. La Villa Borghèse, le Salon Egyptien de Thomas Hope ou le Palais d'Ostankino à Moscou en sont des exemples probants. Il se développa même sous la forme de fontaine. Beauvallet conçut ainsi la Fontaine du Fellah, dite aussi « la Fontaine au Porteur d'eau » de la Rue de Sèvres à Paris entre 1806 et 1809 .Dans une époque où l'Egyptomanie était de mise, les canons de l'Antinoüs, répondirent exactement à cette vogue et justifient cette notoriété qui se déploya bien au-delà des frontières.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

New Orleans Saint Joseph's Day altar painting

"New Orleans Saint Joseph's Day altar" by Andrew LaMar Hopkins

Yesterday was the last day of a six month period of painting "New Orleans Saint Joseph's Day altar". The painting was thought up by a client last Fall. I got the commission to start on "New Orleans Saint Joseph's Day altar" last January. The painting was suppose to be finish by last Easter but it dragged on.  Over lunch today a good friend ask me how many hours I put into my latest masterpiece. After thinking a bit I answered "out of the six month period I probably  worked on the painting two weeks straight. Add that up in hours. Although I did get more money then originally agree for the paintings. It's paintings like this that makes me not want to take commissions as I have turned down many over the last 3 months. 


 Many parts of the painting had to be over painted. I painted the background on this paintings over 6 times and decided to work on the background last. I original painted tired tables with a linen tablecloth and the client wanted local cypress cabriole leg tables with lace tablecloths where one would see the cypress. Originally there was 3 altar boys. He wanted a priest added  and one of the Altar boys to be black. To make this a New Orleans painting he wanted the 18th century Early Louisiana cabriole leg table to one side of the alter with hurricane globe and beehive candlestick and the two 18th century Louisiana Latterback chairs to the other side. After working on it for a month I showed him the painting with the altar mostly complete but just with Saint Joseph in the center. He wanted the cross on one side and the Virgin Mary on the other. I turned the Virgin Mary into Our Lady of Prompt Succor. She is also known as Notre-Dame de Bon Secours. She is the principal patroness of the state of Louisiana, the Archdiocese of New Orleans, and the city of New Orleans. Her feast day is celebrated on January 8.


The three table that make up the Saint Joseph altar also represents the Trinity.  

The priest and altar boys old up silver candlesticks and cross. This is the first time I use silver paint in one of my paintings.  

Though Sicilian immigrants introduced the custom to America, the celebration is not confined to any nationality. Rather, it has become a public event which its devoted participants embrace for a host of private and personal reasons. The feast is alternately a source of petition and thanksgiving.The majority of Italian immigrants in New Orleans are from Sicily and started to arrive in large numbers in the 1880s to escape a homeland, that had fallen into a corrupt, dangerous, and unlawful state. They arrived in a city where previous Italian immigrants had already established a decent-sized community, dating back to the French era. In fact, the Italian-born Henri de Tonti, as part of a French expedition, explored Louisiana even before New Orleans existed and later became a leader in the fledgling colony. A street named Tonti still exists in the city.


The table tops are abound with Italian breads of different shapes. Local foods such as oysters, redfish and crabs. Brass urns line the tables with local Sago palms leaves. 

Two Creole Louisiana 18th century latterback chairs are to the side of the altar. 

The Italians began social clubs and benevolent organizations as other ethnic groups in New Orleans did. The oldest group began before the Civil War, but more and more formed with the wave of Sicilian immigrants during the last part of the 19th century. These organizations were often linked to a specific region in Italy to preserve customs among members and helped provide a support network for new arrivals. Many Italians settled in run-down apartments of the French Quarter, which, for a while, was locally known as “Little Italy.”

18th century Early Louisiana cabriole leg table to one side of the alter with hurricane globe and beehive candlestick

Christ on the cross on a gilded Rococo cross with paneled Faux Marble wall and columns with gilded Corinthian capitals. 

Over the decades, however, Italians became integrated into New Orleans culture and society. The Sicilian tradition of building elaborate St. Joseph’s Day altars is now a New Orleans tradition.  Just as everyone becomes Irish on St. Patrick’s Day, New Orleans Catholics (along with a few other Christians) become Italian for a while in March, as the altars are prepared. The faithful will then go around the city, from altar to altar, visiting family and friends. They’ll stop for a prayer or two, then leave some coins to help offset the costs of setting up the altar (leftover cash is then donated to the poor). On the way out, folks will stop and pick up a “lucky bean,” a fava bean symbolizing the restoration of the crops in Sicily.

Our Lady of Prompt Succor.  She is the principal patroness of the state of Louisiana, the Archdiocese of New Orleans, and the city of New Orleans. With paneled Faux Marble wall and columns with gilded Corinthian capitals. 

Saint Joseph stands over the stone altar. 

St. Joseph altars, representing the Holy Trinity, are divided into three sections with a statue of St. Joseph at the head. The devout place candles, figurines, flowers, medals and other items around the alter creating a beautiful, lush and overflowing effect. Since the altars thank St. Joseph for relieving hunger, offerings of food are essential.

Over Saint Joseph is a Triangle representing the Trinity in clouds and sun rays with cross behind. 



Cookies, cakes and breads, often in the form of shell fish, are common decorations for altars. Fava beans, or “lucky beans” are particularly associated with St. Joseph because they sustained the Sicilians throughout famine. Pick some up for good luck! As tradition has it, the altar is broken up on St. Joseph’s day with a ceremony of costumed children, pretending to look for shelter, finding sustenance at the altar. Food and donations are then distributed to the poor.

The gilded Tabernacle door has a image of the lamb of God. The front Altar a profile of  the Virgin Mary. The Altar sticks are Baroque. If you look at the front center of the table with the silver cross between you will see the "lucky fava beans" it is one of the most well-known customs and comes from the time of the famine in Sicily when all the crops withered and died, except for the fava bean, which flourished and enabled the citizens to live through the famine.  It is said that Sicilians and the people of New Orleans often carry a dried fava bean for good luck. I carry 3 in my picket every day. 


"New Orleans Saint Joseph's Day altar" by Andrew LaMar Hopkins

Symbols abound on St. Joseph's Altars:  Breads baked in the form of fish represent the Lenten Season.  Those in the form of carpenter's tools allude to Joseph's occupation as a carpenter.  Other symbols often used as a form for bread or other baked goods are:  sandals, staff, chalice, dove, lamb, cross, a crown of thorns, palms horn of plenty.

We decided to do Gothic decoration in the background of the altar. 



In the blue and ormolu urns on each side of the altar are local flowers. Ginger flowers and hydrangeas. 

I can't wait to work on my next Saint Joseph's Altar painting!!!