Homage to Vermeer by James Mahlon Rosen

Homage to Vermeer by James Mahlon Rosen

Homage to Vermeer

James Mahlon Rosen

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Homage to Vermeer

around 1975 
painting on linen with wax/oil emulsion; applied with brush and roller 
Image Size
20 x 20" canvas 
not signed 
Edition Size
1 of 1 unique 
linen canvas on stretcher bars 
Inventory ID
Price On Request 

James M. Rosen pays homage to the Old Masters with this "Homage to Vermeer" in this instance Vermeer's "The Art of Painting" (also called "Painter in his Studio"). He distills the moment to its essence, using transluscent oil and wax emulsion washes that soften the planes and lend a glow to the composition. The details of the figures - their faces, hands, and the textures of their clothes - are left to the imagination of the viewer.

The subject of this composition has long inspired countless artists, trained and untrained, over the centuries. Rosen uses his signature style to obscure the definite and reduce the composition to just "light", inviting the viewer to meditate on the work. For many, the more time spent with a Rosen painting, the more the content comes into focus, but the viewer has to be involved.

San Francisco critic Thomas Albright commented about his work on pages 226-7 of 'Art in the San Francsico Bay Area 1945 - 1980': "James Rosen's painting of the late 1970s...were uniquely luminous abstractions of natural forms that approached the vanishing point of minimalist field painting. He used [paint] to translate the highlights and shadows...into the sparest of gray and beige washes, and oils to reduce them further to greater or lesser concentrations of light on grounds that were virtually identical in hue and value.

"Rosen later explored other areas of subject matter...figurative images derived from the painting of the early Renaissance masters. Fragmented, tenuous, and yet persistent, these ghost-like icons projected great poignancy."

James Mahlon Rosen was born December 3, 1933 in Detroit, Michigan. He credits early exposure to art at the Detroit Institute of Arts with kindling his desire to draw and paint. After graduating high school he took courses at Cooper Union under Nicholas Mariscano, then completed his degrees at Wayne State University and Cranbrook Academy of Arts. Over time he developed an oil and wax emulsion technique that allowed him to layer colors in a transluscent manner, with some of his works resembling watercolors. These he would paint over with monotonal hues he called "veils", so that the works can be "completed by the observer". In an interview with the Museum of Contemporary Religious Art, June 4, 2011, he notes that he uses the Aristotelian term "entelechy" - "to hold something back", as inspiration for this technique.

Rosen was a professor of art history and painting at the University of Hawaii, University of California at Berkeley, Santa Rosa Junior College, and Augusta College where he was the William S. Morris Eminent Scholar in Art. He has been Artist/Critic with the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.

Selected solo exhibitions include: Museum of Contemporary Religious Art, St. Louis University, 2010 (retrospective); Gallery Paul Anglim, San Francisco (2003); Timken Art Museum, San Diego (1991); Galleria Civica d'Arte Moderna, Italy (1986); Betty Parsons Gallery, New York (1980)., The Annex Galleries, Santa Rosa (1980). Group exhibitions include: Gallery Artists, Mary Pauline Gallery, Georgia (2006); Homage to Betty Parsons, New York (1999); Newfoundland Drawings, Baird Gallery, Canada (1999); Faculty Exhibition, Museum of American Art, Philidelphia (1998); Southern Drawl, Montgomery Museum, Alabama (1997); On the Edge, Rosa Esman Gallery, New York (1990); American Watercolors, San Diego Museum of Art (1983); Spring Penthouse Show, Museum of Modern Art, New York (1973).

James Mahlon Rosen died in New York on February 5, 2023.

This painting from from the collection of now deceased Santa Rosa, California collectors Robert and Evelyn McAleece.


Please call us at 707-546-7352 or email artannex@aol.com to purchase this item.