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 Post subject: Fravia's Last Challenge
PostPosted: Wed Mar 24, 2010 5:09 pm 
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9/17/11 - This is a necropost! See last post.

The name won't mean anything at all to the vast majority of you, but Fravia+ was a man of legend in the cracking, reversing, and ultimately searching circles. He was the kind of man who could be mentioned, un-ironically, in the company of names like Greythorne (+Gthorne) and ORC+ (whose names will likely be just as unknown to you ...) Sadly, he passed away all too soon last May. His influence in the world of RCE truly cannot be measured. He left behind a vast legacy of intertwined essays and lore, and a community of thousands, many of whom can trace their roots in the discipline directly back to Fravia+ and +HCU, with its infamous "strainers".

Among all these things left behind, there is also a challenge. In the broader scheme of things, it's a triviality -- just a small thing to encourage the stretching of mental muscles, and with no deep import. In his latter years, Fravia had "moved on" to the topic of searching, especially as it pertains to the internet. One of his particular interests was the art of image searching where nothing is known about the image. In January of 2008, he issued this challenge:

http://www.searchlores.org/searching_image_challenge_2008_1.htm

The challenge is simple, and requires no special technical knowledge. Of course, knowing how to search will help.

The objective is simple: identify the title and of this painting and the name of the artist who created it:

Spoiler:
Image

There is additional important information and several "hints" on the challenge page. One would be well-advised that hints are seldom straight-forward with Fravia.

I'm posting this here because I and many others have wrestled with this on and off for two years now. Fravia issued several similar challenges over the years, but all of them have been answered in due course. To the best of my knowledge, this challenge remains unsolved. I've never heard anyone even claim to have solved it, and if anyone has recognized the painting from the start, they've kept their mouth shut about it. As it should be. Per the instructions on the challenge page, if by some odd stroke of luck you happen to know this painting already (*eyes Khross*), please do not offer any hints or suggestions. I want to see this solved, but only the "right" way.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 24, 2010 6:29 pm 
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I'll be damned if it doesn't look like art from Edward Henry Potthast, but I can't prove it.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 24, 2010 8:30 pm 
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Yes, Potthast's name has been tossed around as a possible candidate, but no one has (yet) been able to find this painting attributed to him. I can see the resemblance, but personally I don't think it quite matches his style.

Eugène Boudin has also been suspected, as has Berthe Morisot. To me, Boudin seems to be the closest, but I don't think it's Boudin, either.

The big debate is the location and time frame. Prime suspects for location are either France or Italy (because of the wine hint). Some have guessed that it might have even been featured on a wine label.

Personally, I lean towards France:
  • The painting obviously has impressionist influences, and that points more the France than any other country.
  • The boy's hat appears to be a french naval cap. It's dark navy or black, round, with red pom-pon
    Wikipedia wrote:
    Red pom-pons form a conspicuous part of the uniform of French naval personnel, being sewn on to the crown of the round sailor hat. Belgian sailors wear a light blue version.

    I believe this is called a bachi (see also this, about 1/3 of the way down)
  • The boy's toy ship appears to be some kind of cutter (note the double headsails tacked to the bowsprit, as opposed to a sloop). Some have suggested it might be a French Mutin. The rigging in the painting is a little abnormal since neither headsail is tacked to the hull itself, but that may just be artistic liberty by someone who isn't deeply familiar with boat rigs. The lack of a prominent forestay would seem to match fairly well with the Mutin identification, though.

If you happen to read this, Diamondeye, I don't suppose your military ID skills go back to 19th century? I suspect (because of the boy's hat) that it is a French naval vessel of some kind.

There are a few arguments for Italy, though:
  • Fravia was himself Italian
  • The method of painting appears to be impasto. If the name is any indication, it may have originated as an Italian technique

Of course, the answer could be something entirely different, or some blend of the two (perhaps an Italian student in France?).

Also, I think a lot of people are probably mis-dating this painting. Personally, I don't think the style is truly impressionist. It seems to have some elements of post-impressionism as well. Not full-bore Van Gogh, or anything, but compared to Monet, for instance. There's something too...geometric about the figures for strict impressionism. Again, I'm no art expert, but I'd guess late impressionism or early post-impressionism. That somewhat weakens one of the points in favor of France, but doesn't lend any particular additional weight to Italy.

It might be easier to pin down the exact style and location if I knew more about historical fashion. They appear Victorian to me, but that still gives a wide date range. Early victorian vs. late victorian might give a hint as to whether this painting lies in the impressionism -> post-impressionism scale, but I lack the expertise to make that kind of distinction. And I could be totally wrong. Since this is beach apparel, I really wouldn't know Victorian from Edwardian. I'd really appreciate some input from any historical apparel gurus.

Other than that, I think it's likely that this painting is by a relatively unknown or obscure painter. Not too obscure since Fravia hinted that a very small portion of his audience might recognize it. As well, we know that it exists somewhere on the web. From the color banding artifacts, I'd guess that the original was a higher resolution scan, perhaps of a half-tone print. I'd wager that the artist was a student of an impressionist master (in the small 'm' sense, but possibly in the large 'M' sense, too). That would also fit with my earlier speculation that the painting is late impressionist.

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Sail forth! steer for the deep waters only!
Reckless, O soul, exploring, I with thee, and thou with me;
For we are bound where mariner has not yet dared to go,
And we will risk the ship, ourselves and all.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 24, 2010 9:10 pm 
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Oh, and for those that aren't reading the original challenge page, the painting has been cropped on the right side to remove the artist's signature. It also crops out whatever the two women are looking at in the distance. Fravia's use of ellipses suggests that this could be important (but there is always more than one way to skin a cat).

If, as I suspect, they are looking at the full-sized version of the child's toy, then it it may be one of the ships listed in this index of French Navy Ships 1816-1859. It's a huge list, though, and I haven't had much luck with it. The Passe-Partout mentioned in the wikipedia article for Mutin is listed as a "screw aviso", FWIW. Unfortunately the site is low on sketches/diagrams/etc., so finding a likely match is difficult. If it is a ship that they're looking at, and we knew its name, this would probably lead directly to the painting.

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Sail forth! steer for the deep waters only!
Reckless, O soul, exploring, I with thee, and thou with me;
For we are bound where mariner has not yet dared to go,
And we will risk the ship, ourselves and all.


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 03, 2010 3:31 pm 
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I hope you find it....I've always been rather good at finding things on the internet, but not images.
Good luck!
Sorry to hear about this Fravia guy...he sounds like he was pretty awesome.

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 03, 2010 8:37 pm 
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What the necro-post?

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 03, 2010 9:07 pm 
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Stathol linked the thread when he helped LK find the image she was looking for.

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 04, 2010 8:29 am 
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Thanks Kaff...forgot to explain myself! :)

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 04, 2010 10:46 am 
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Because of the necro post I got to see this thread. I still have a lot of archived things from Fravia and +ORC and some others that taught me quite a bit. ]

/mourn + challenge!


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 17, 2011 2:22 am 
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Got it at last.

"On the Beach" (c. 1879) by Périclès Pantazis.

Currently on display at the Royal Museum of Fine Art in Antwerp.

You know that feeling when you can't remember someone's name, or the name of that song you liked, or that book you once read, and then you finally remember it hours later? The final solution may have been lame, but still -- it's like that x3 years.

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Sail forth! steer for the deep waters only!
Reckless, O soul, exploring, I with thee, and thou with me;
For we are bound where mariner has not yet dared to go,
And we will risk the ship, ourselves and all.


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 17, 2011 2:36 am 
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 17, 2011 3:39 am 
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Dang, Stathol.. Impressive!!

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