Archive for category 1500

This Liberty Puzzle is one of the most interesting jigsaw puzzles that I have assembled, and the reason is not the fact that I like Alphonse Mucha very much. I must say liked this painting from the very first moment I saw it. However, when I found it, I was not sure whether I should buy it or not. The image in the box had golden tones that I somehow disliked. There was a label with the form of a puzzle piece that read ORO-OR-GOLD, so I figured it was some particular style of this brand. Eventually, in order to provide some diversity to my collection, I decided to buy it.

Image of the puzzle 1500, International Team, Liberty Puzzle, by Alphonse Mucha

Doing some research about the puzzle, I found out the manufacturer was International Team. They were an Italian company that disappeared in the 80’s that produced some very nice and unusual puzzles. Among them, they published 12 puzzles for a Zodiac series. Several illustrators designed all the different pictures for the series, getting their inspiration from Mucha. Then, to close the series, there was a 13th puzzle, which is this one. The puzzle depicts the painting titled represents a painting titled Flower, which Mucha completed in 1897.

Liberty Puzzle means Art Nouveau Puzzle in Italy

Interestingly, the title in the box is Liberty Puzzle. This title doesn’t seem to be related to the picture, and the original title by Mucha doesn’t even appear. However, we need to know that in Italy the Art Nouveau style was known as Liberty Style. That was due to the popularity of Art Nouveau designs from London’s Liberty & Co Department Store. In other words, the title is something like Art Nouveau Puzzle.

I ended up loving the puzzle. It was not golden, as I was thinking it would be based on the box. Once assembled, the final result was some kind of soft and silky texture that made a wonderfully crafted jigsaw puzzle. Simply beautiful. The original painting is a little bigger, and Mucha’s signature cannot be seen in the puzzle.

Although it is not exactly the same version of the puzzle, there is a 1000 pieces edition by D-Toys titled Fruit and Flower, where this painting appears, together with another one by Mucha.

1500, International Team, Liberty Puzzle, Alphonse Mucha, 58 x 78 cm, Reference number 9055.

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Spanish brand Educa has a very nice collection of 1500 pieces jigsaw puzzles under the label of Museum Series. This version of Leda Atomica by the Spanish artist Salvador Dalí is just one of the many puzzles in the series. In order to get the attention of the prospective buyer, they call it A Collector’s Item, and produce it in an elegant black box. Inside the box, you can find a golden tag with the title and the author. Later you can place that label on your puzzle and it will look like a painting in a museum.

I am not particularly fond of Dalí, so I don’t recall the reason why I bought this puzzle. Perhaps I thought I should expand my collection to puzzles out of my comfort zone. Or perhaps the price was very good and I didn’t want to miss the opportunity. The colors of the box had faded out slightly due to the sunlight. When that happens, or there is any other damage to the box, very often store owners lower the price.

Image of the puzzle 1500, Educa, Leda Atomica, by Salvador Dalí, Blog Post

Leda and the Swan

The title of this painting is Leda Atomica. It is Dalí’s version of the mythological topic of Leda and the Swan. Such topic has been revisited by many artists, including painters, sculptors, and poets. In the story, the god Zeus, in the form of a swan, seduces the mortal woman Leda.

Dalí completed Leda Atomica in 1949 and you can admire the original painting at the Dalí Theatre and Museum, in Figueras, Spain, Dalí’s birthplace. In his painting, Leda is a portrait of Gala, Dalí’s wife, who was his muse and appeared in many of his works.

When I assembled the puzzle, I never considered selling it. However, I later listed it in our online store. Although Educa published this puzzle in 1996, they produced another 1000 pieces version in 2003. In fact, Educa has produced many puzzles with paintings by Salvador Dalí

1500, Educa, Leda Atomica, Salvador Dalí, 85 x 60 cm, Reference number 7.713.

Image of the puzzle 1500, Educa, Leda Atomica, by Salvador Dalí, Picture of the box, Blog Post

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Joaquín Sorolla was a Spanish artist that knew how to capture the bright sunlight of Valencia, his native land, as we can see in this Walk on the Beach, or Paseo a Orillas del Mar, which you can admire at the Sorolla Museum, in Madrid. This is one of his most famous paintings.

Image of the puzzle 1500, Educa, Walk on the Beach, by Joaquín Sorolla, Picture of the puzzle assembled

Two copies of 1500, Educa, Walk on the Beach

I had two copies of this puzzle and both were incomplete. However, I was hoping that perhaps both versions were compatible, so that I could get a complete copy and leave the other one for replacements. Unfortunately, they were not compatible, but I decided to assemble both copies anyway. I have completed two copies of the same puzzle more than once before, and the second time is usually very easy because you can put it together over a puzzle already finished, so it was not such a big deal. Besides, except for all the pieces of the sand, the rest was quite feasible.

Very different copies

When I wrote about the possibility of replacing pieces from an incomplete copy, I mentioned some of the challenges. In these two copies, I found them all. In fact, except for the image itself, the puzzles were so different that they could have been from different brands. The cut was not the same, so the pieces were not compatible, and the shades of color were also slightly different.

However, the most significant difference was the fit of the pieces in both copies.In the first copy, the fit was so tight that I had to press them to put them in the right place. As a matter of fact, I don’t remember any Educa puzzle with such a tight fit. In the second copy, however, the fit was quite loose, if we compare with other Educa puzzles. I could pick up in the air the first copy as if it was glued, but not the second. The picture in this post corresponds to the second copy.

Other puzzles by Joaquín Sorolla

There are not many puzzles with paintings by Joaquín Sorolla and for that reason they are now difficult to find. Educa published this version of Walk on the Beach in 1991, but it was not the first puzzle available with a painting by Sorolla, since the company Diset produced a 2000 pieces version of Women at the Beach in 1990. I completed this Diset version some years ago and it was an excellent puzzle with very good quality. Years later Diset produced the same puzzle again, although in a different box. In 1996 Educa published the 1500 pieces version of Beach of Valencia by Morning Light in their elegant white box. They reedited it in 2005 in a black box.

Both copies of Walk on the Beach will be added now to the Missing Pieces section.

1500, Educa, Walk on the Beach, Joaquín Sorolla, 85 x 60 cm, Reference number 7.719.

Image of the puzzle 1500, Educa, Walk on the Beach, Picture of the box

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This puzzle is very unusual, and it is not just because it only has two corners. It is an illustration of the Grand Canal in Venice with a lot of really minute details. Although the title in the box is simply Venice, the complete title of the illustration is It’s a Doge’s Life on the Grand Canal, by Graham Clarke. MB produced it in 1992.

1500, MB, Its a Doges Life on the Grand Canal, Blog Post, Picture of the puzzle assembled

When I verified the puzzle, I got 1504 pieces. However, due to the very particular shape, there was no way to know whether the puzzle was complete or incomplete. For that reason, I put it together eventually, and I’m glad I did. The pieces have a very snug fit that I liked, although they seemed slightly different to other MB puzzles.

I found the puzzle more challenging than I had expected. Buildings, boats, ships, inscriptions, text… There are a lot of details that are difficult to distinguish unless you have very good eyesight or you look very, very close. This puzzle would probably have been more enjoyable in 3000 pieces. In any case, it was very fun and it was luckily complete. I listed it later in the online store and the puzzle went to new hands very quickly.

Venice and the Grand Canal

The Doge of Venice was the chief magistrate and leader of the Republic of Venice. He lived in the Doge’s Palace, which is one of the most characteristic buildings in the city. This building appears in many puzzles with paintings by Canaletto, like the 5000 pieces version by F.X. Schmid of Return of the Bucentaur to the Molo on Ascension Day. An even better image of the Doge’s Palace is the 3000 pieces puzzle by F.X. Schmid of Panorama of Venice. In our puzzle, we can distinguish the building just in the middle of the image, in a light pink color.

The Grand Canal forms the major water-traffic corridor in the city of Venice. In the banks of the Grand Canal there are more than 170 buildings, most of which date from the 13th to the 18th century, and demonstrate the welfare and art of Venice. Because most of the city’s traffic goes along the Canal rather than across it, only the Rialto Bridge crossed the canal until the 19th century. The bridge also appears in the illustration, which seems to include every detail. We can see the bridge with more detail in the puzzle 5000, Jumbo, A Busy Day Near the Rialto Bridge, by Antonio Pascutti.

There are a lot of puzzles with paintings and photographs of Venice and they are too many to list.

1500, MB, It’s a Doge’s Life on the Grand Canal, by Graham Clarke, 79 x 60 cm, Reference number 3890.21.

1500, MB, It's a Doge's Life on the Grand Canal, Blog Post, Picture of the box

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The Dinner at the Hotel Ritz in Paris, by Pierre-Georges Jeanniot, is not one of my favorite puzzles. That doesn’t mean it is not a nice and entertaining puzzle, which it is. Besides, it is always a pleasure to complete a Ravensburger puzzle due to the good quality of their pieces. However, I don’t think I would have chosen it in the first place if I had had a choice.

Image of the puzzle assembled 1500, Ravensburger, The Dinner at the Hotel Ritz in Paris

We are all human and we all make mistakes. I sold this puzzle to a customer in Poland, complete and with the pieces in excellent condition. However, when my customer finished the puzzle, he discovered that there was a foreign piece. That meant that the puzzle was actually incomplete. Ops! I think I can always detect foreign pieces, but I couldn’t detect this one.

I found and bought another copy of the puzzle, hoping that it would be compatible with my customer’s copy. That way, I could get a replacement piece for him. However, the copy was not compatible. Then, I assembled the puzzle and sent it to my customer in layers. Eventually he had the whole puzzle replaced and his work putting it together was not lost.

At home at the Hotel Ritz

Spanish philosopher José Ortega y Gasset wrote about the Hotel Ritz in one of his articles. He basically stated that no matter where you travelled around the world, if you stayed at a Ritz Hotel, you always had the feeling that you were staying at the same place, like at home. All these hotels have a tradition of refinement and elegance, particularly the one in Paris. For that reason, if you were at the Ritz, you were always at the same hotel.

Marcel Proust said something similar. In the 2nd volume of his masterpiece In Search of Lost Time, the protagonist and his grandmother travel to a similar luxury hotel in the fictional city of Balbec, where the aristocratic patrons felt “at home” the moment they climbed the marble-imitating stairs of the hotel.

Precisely the Hotel Ritz in Paris had a guest that felt at home: Coco Chanel, who lived in the hotel for 34 years, routinely using the staff entrance on Rue Cambon. She was intimately linked to the Ritz Paris and she decorated her Suite herself. Although she started to live in the hotel at the beginning of World War II, she was 21 years old when Pierre-Georges Jeanniot completed this painting, so she could have been one of the ladies in white having dinner.

You can stay at the Coco Chanel Suite in the Hotel Ritz in Paris for just 18000 euros per night.

1500, Ravensburger, The Dinner at the Hotel Ritz in Paris, Pierre-Georges Jeanniot, 84 x 60 cm, Reference number 16 258 1.

Image of the puzzle 1500, Ravensburger, The Dinner at the Hotel Ritz in Paris, Picture of the box

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Naval battle images like The Four Days’ Battle make beautiful puzzles. That’s why most jigsaw puzzle manufacturers have used these images in their catalogs for decades. Several classic puzzles come to mind, like the extraordinary 6000 pieces version of The Battle of Lepanto, by Andrea Vicentino. However, for some reason naval battles are not popular anymore. As a consequence, all those puzzles are now out of catalog and very difficult to find. In fact, the last time a classic naval battle puzzle puzzle appeared was 1998, when Educa manufactured, again, The Battle of Lepanto, by H. Letter.

Some puzzle fans say that the name naval battle is not the best for this type of puzzles. Instead, the name should be sky and sea puzzles. After all, most of the pieces belong to huge areas of sea and sky, while the ships are often just a small part of the image. While that is true, and sometimes there are large areas of solid tones that are very challenging, the truth is that most of these puzzles are magnificent. The Four Days’ Battle, which Ravensburger manufactured in 1974, is a good example. It is, however, unfortunate that we need to go back more than 40 years in order to find a classic naval battle puzzle.

Image of the puzzle 1500, Ravensburger, Four Days Battle, by Abraham Storck, Picture of the puzzle assembled

Four Days: June 11 to June 14.

This battle took place from June 11 to June 14 1666 during the Second Anglo-Dutch War, and it is considered the greatest sea fight of the Age of Sail. In fact, it remains one of the longest naval engagements in history. The conflict was between England and the Dutch Republic for control over the seas and trade routes. England tried to end the Dutch domination of world trade during a period of intense European commercial rivalry. However, after initial English successes, the war ended in a Dutch victory.

It is likely that Abraham Storck enjoyed painting The Four Day’s Battle, since he was Dutch. Had he been English, perhaps he woudn’t have painted the scene at all. He had a great reputation for his marine paintings and different brands have published puzzles with his works. Jumbo published a 3000 pieces version of Sham Fight on the River Y, and Nathan published a 2000 version of Frigate in Amsterdam.

I assembled the puzzle during a weekend and I had a great time. Although I couldn’t work with natural light, the puzzle was not too difficult. It is amazing how Ravensburger puzzles remain in great shape after several decades have passed.

1500, Ravensburger, The Four Days Battle, Abraham Storck, 84.1 x 59.4 cm, Reference number 625 5 636 6.

Image of the puzzle 1500, Ravensburger, Four Days Battle, by Abraham Storck, Picture of the box

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Paul Gustav Fischer is the author of The Fire Brigade Turn Out in Kultorvet, Copenhagen. It is a very interesting painting depicting a fire brigade at work in the public square of Kultorvet, in the city of Copenhagen.

Image of the Assembled Puzzle 1500, Falcon, The Fire Brigade Turn Out in Kultorvet, Copenhagen

Kultorvet in the Past

Image of the Kultorvet Square in CopenhagenKultorvet was created after the large Copenhagen fire of 1728, which destroyed a large part of the city. For a very long time, even before the fire, that area of the town was a site for market trade. After that, it continued to be so until the 20th century. Today, it is a beautiful pedestrian area in Copenhagen. In the photograph you can see the square of Kultorvet around the year 1890, which was during the lifetime of Paul Gustav Fischer. In fact, he completed this painting in 1900, so we can say that it looked exactly like that. The main two buildings in the background behind the smoke appear clearly in the photograph.

This was a very nice puzzle, although it was very difficult to assemble. It was not due to the image itself, which includes a lot of variety in details and colors, but for a problem with the jigsaw pieces. For some reason (aging perhaps, since it was an old puzzle), the paper layer with the puzzle image became detached off the cardboard, and I had to be carefully fixing a lot of pieces using glue stick and patience.. It is not uncommon to find pieces that have suffered during the assembling process, mainly with secondhand puzzles. However, this looked more like a factory defect which is not very common. Repairing one or two pieces in a used puzzle is not usually a big deal. However, repairing one hundred is a different story.

1500, Falcon, The Fire Brigade Turn Out in Kultorvet, Copenhagen, Paul Gustav Fischer, 86 x 60 cm, Reference Number 4774.

Image of the Puzzle 1500, Falcon, The Fire Brigade Turn Out in Kultorvet, Copenhagen, Picture of the Box

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Most of us are probably familiar with the 1995 epic movie Braveheart, with Mel Gibson. That movie is probably what first comes mind when we mention the name of William Wallace. He was a Scottish knight who became one of the main leaders during the wars of Scottish independence from England at the end of the 13th century and beginning of the 14th.

William Wallace won the important Battle of Stirling Bridge against the English army on September 11, 1297. After that, he became Guardian of Scotland until his defeat at the Battle of Farkilk in 1298. Some years later, in 1305, they captured and executed him.

Image of the Puzzle 1500, Jumbo, Trial of William Wallace, Picture of the Puzzle Assebled

The painting by Daniel Maclise represents the trial, which took place on August 23, 1305. Although the title in the box is Trial of William Wallace, the true title of the painting is Wallace’s Trial in Westminster Hall. They charged him with high treason and crimes against English civilians.

The execution of William Wallace

As soon as the scene in the painting concluded, they hanged him. However, they released him while he was still alive. Then, they emasculated him, eviscerated him, and burned his bowels before him. Finally, they beheaded him and cut him into four parts. They placed is head on a pike atop London Bridge. His limbs were displayed, separately, in Newcastle, Berwick, Stirling, and Perth. It seems like they did want to send a strong message.

As we can see in the picture, he has a garland of oak as a crown, to signify that he was the king of the outlaws. His figure is big and dominates the scene. His bold countenance aligns with his response to the treason charge: “I could not be a traitor to Edward, for I was never his subject”.

The puzzle is very nice, with a lot of variety and detail. If I recall well, it was not very difficult and it was a pleasure to assemble. Unfortunately, it was incomplete. That’s what often happens when buying used puzzles. For that reason, it is now added to the Missing Pieces section and it is available for replacements.

There is another very interesting puzzle with a painting by Daniel Maclise: Robin Hood and His Merry Men Entertaining Richard the Lionheart in Sherwood Forest.

1500, Jumbo, Trial of William Wallace, Daniel Maclise, 90 x 60 cm, Reference Number 80076.

Image of the Puzzle 1500, Jumbo, Trial of William Wallace, Picture of the Box

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The title of this naval battle is Tribute to Nelson, by the British artist William E.D. Stuart. He flourished as a painter in the mid-19th century, but there is not much information available about this painter or his works. That is surprising, since he has left some exceptional paintings, like this one.

We are assuming it refers to British Admiral Horatio Nelson, but there is no reference to any particular battle or war event. Based on the information on the box, the reproduction for the manufacturer F.X. Schmid was a courtesy of the Rehs Galleries Inc. in New York, USA. After having searched the inventory, I haven’t found this painting, and it is very likely that it went to some private collector.

I completed the puzzle in the summer of 2014. These naval battle puzzles are challenging when they are larger, but in this case it was doable, because there are many different fields of color. It has a lot of detail and variation in shades. Most naval battles have a lot of sea and sky pieces, and they are difficult, but in this painting the scene is full and there are plenty of references, so the puzzle is easy.

Tribute to Nelson and other old Naval Battles

F.X. Schmid has manufactured very nice naval battle puzzles since the 80’s. Another great example is the Battle of Trafalgar, also painted by William E. D. Stuart. A picture of the assembled puzzle is available here. It is unfortunate that puzzle manufacturers don’t use these old paintings anymore.

The exact number of pieces in this puzzle is 1504 (47 x 32). That is usually the number in most 1500 old puzzles by F.X. Schmid, although different brands have their own cut and the exact number varies.

1500, F. X. Schmid, Tribute to Nelson, William E. D. Stuart, 85 x 54 cm, Reference Number 98404.

1500, F.X. Schmid, A Tribute to Nelson, Box

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Image of the 1500, F.X. Schmid, Bouquet, Jan Brueghel the Elder, Picture of the Puzzle Assembled

This Bouquet was painted by Jan Brueghel the Elder in 1603. This painter was the son of Pieter Brueghel the Elder and brother of Pieter Brueghel the Younger. At the same time, he was the father of Jan Brueghel the Younger. There are many jigsaw puzzles in the market by all the different members of this family of artists, and I had several of them in my collection. The original painting can be seen at the Alte Pinakothek, in Munich, Germany.

Not being a big fan of paintings with still lifes and flowers, I have completed two jigsaw puzzles with that topic. This one had its own challenges due to the large number of dark pieces. I bought it second hand, I don’t remember when or where, and in the end there were two missing pieces and one seriously damaged, which I ended up discarding.

The puzzle is now available for replacements in the Missing Pieces section.

1500, Schmidt, Bouquet, Jan Brueghel the Elder, 57 x 84.4 cm, Reference Number 625.2636.

Image of the 1500, F.X. Schmid, Bouquet, Jan Brueghel the Elder, Picture of the Box

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The complete title of this painting is Suburbs of a Paranoiac-Critical Town: Afternoon on the Outskirts of European History, and the artist is the Spanish painter Salvador Dalí. Although Dalí has very strong supporters, he is not one of my favorite painters, and I don’t like this particular work very much. I think I bought the puzzle because it was rare and it was a way to add variety to my collection.

The puzzle was manufactured by MB. The image in the jigsaw puzzle represents only a part of the original. Surrealism is difficult to understand, and it is even difficult to relate the content of the painting and the title. Perhaps they thought it wouldn’t make much difference to crop the image and leave out what I think it’s a significant part of the content.

The puzzle was very easy to assemble. It was completed during the summer of 2014. Once piece was missing and the puzzle is now offered for replacements at the Missing Pieces section.

1500, MB, Suburbs of a Paranoiac-Critical Town: Afternoon on the Outskirts of European History, Salvador Dalí, 79 x 60 cm, Reference Number 3753.23.

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