Thursday, November 28, 2013

Three Lovers (ca. 1817-20)

Théodore Géricault: Three Lovers

Théodore Géricault's only known erotic painting, this small oil sketch depicts two lovers locked in a passionate embrace while their languid companion calmly watches from the left. The woman's nudity and relaxed pose evoke the classical tradition of representing repose after lovemaking, a tradition that is also evoked by the way her voluptuous figure complements the statue of Venus above. Encoiled in her lover's arms and with her legs provocatively exposed, the woman in white is an active participant in the amorous act rather than a passive object. With a modern directness, Géricault captured the intensity and energy of human sexuality in a manner very different from the idealizing conventions of his age.

Géricault 's expressive handling of line and paint accords with the passionate energy of the subject matter. Despite the small size and sketchy nature of this painting, Géricault made it as an independent work of art, intended for close private viewing. [Getty]

There's also a video commentary.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

René d'Anjou at Palamède de Forbin (1820)

Pierre Révoil: René d'Anjou at Palamède de Forbin

Another painting in the "Troubadour" style. The painting was commissioned by Count Auguste de Forbin, the director of the royal museums and a friend of the artist. Forbin was particularly interested in this subject because King René's host, Palamède, was his ancestor.

King René (King of Sicily and cousin of French King Charles VI) traveling through his estates in Provence, spent the night in the château de La Barben. In the morning, before leaving his hosts, he testified that he was satisfied with their reception and traced on the door of the vestibule his portrait. Palamède threw himself at the feet of the King to thank him for this sign of favor.

The artist's dates were 1776-1842.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Christ Blessing the Children (1820)

Antoine Ansiaux: Christ Blessing the Children

Ansiaux (1764-1840) painted subjects taken from sacred and profane history, and poetical subjects, are numerous, and place him among the best artists of the French school in the 19th century. He also painted portraits of several distinguished persons, ministers, and generals of Napoleon.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Head of a Woman (ca. 1820)

Antoine-Jean Gros: Head of a Woman

I love this dramatic portrait, which is somewhat unusual for Baron Gros.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Dubufe Family (1820)

Claude-Marie Dubufe: The Dubufe Family

A cheerful (and somewhat claustrophobic) portrait of the artist's family. The artist himself is at right. Dubufe was a historical and portrait painter, was born in Paris in 1790, and studied under Jacques-Louis David. His subjects were at first classical, and then scriptural, but his reputation rests chiefly on his portraits, of which he produced a large number. Dubufe, who was the last representative of the school of David, died at Selle-Saint-Cloud in 1864.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Drawn portraits (1819)

Two more by Ingres.

 Portrait of Andre Benoit Barreau, called Taurel
The Alexandre Lethiere Family

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Raft of the Medusa (1818-19)

Théodore Géricault: The Raft of the Medusa

Arguably Géricault's most famous work, The Raft of the Medusa is a triumph of Romantic art. It is an over-life-size painting that depicts a moment from the aftermath of the wreck of the French naval frigate Méduse, which ran aground off the coast of today's Mauritania on July 5, 1816. At least 147 people were set adrift on a hurriedly constructed raft; all but 15 died in the 13 days before their rescue, and those who survived endured starvation, dehydration and cannibalism.

Watch a video commentary on this painting.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Entrance to the Theatre de l'Ambigu-Comique (1819)

Louis Léopold Boilly: The Entrance to the Theatre de l'Ambigu-Comique before a Free Performance

As with all Boilly's works, there is a multitude of interesting detail to explore. The dogs are particularly interesting.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Study of a Model (1818-19)

Théodore Géricault: Study of a Model

Another sensitive portrait of a black person by a French artist (previous one here). It's clear from the painting that this man has suffered much. Yet, he is not depicted as being defeated by it.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Pygmalion and Galatea (1819)

Anne-Louis Girodet: Pygmalion and Galatea

One of many artistic renderings of this Greek myth. This was, of course, the basis for 'My Fair Lady'.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Roger Freeing Angelica (1819)

Jean-August-Dominique Ingres: Roger Freeing Angelica

Here Ingres is depicting another in the long line of stories of "damsels in distress" being rescued by the brave and stalwart knight. The story shown here is taken from the Renaissance epic poem "Orlando Innamorata," but has roots in such stories as the Greek myth of Perseus and Andromeda, and St. George and the Dragon.

Ingres's treatment here seems to stray from his usual Neoclassic approach to a more Romantic one (that's just my impression, completely devoid of any real knowledge of art history).

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Dog of the Regiment Wounded (1819)

Horace Vernet: The Dog of the Regiment Wounded

Émile Jean-Horace Vernet (1789-1863) was a French painter of battles, portraits, and Orientalist Arab subjects.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Louis XIV in the Park of Versailles (1819)

Anicet-Charles Lemonnier: Louis XIV in the Park of Versailles 
at the Inauguration of the Statue of Milo of Croton by Puget

Lemonnier (1743-1824) painted historical scenes.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Return of Pèlerin (1818)

Louis Julien Jean Aulnette du Vautenet: The Return of Pèlerin

This painting in the Troubadour style depicts a knight returning from Crusade to find his lady being seduced by a troubadour.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Drawn Portraits (1818)

Some more portraits by Ingres.

 Portrait of the Kaunitz Sisters
Portrait of the Stamaty Family

Friday, November 8, 2013

Waterfall at Mont-Dore (1818)

Achille-Etna Michallon: Waterfall at Mont-Dore

This wonderful painting anticipates Courbet's style. (We will be seeing a lot of Courbet in due time.)

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Farewell of Telemachus and Eucharis (1818)

Jacques-Louis David: The Farewell of Telemachus and Eucharis

Eucharis, who does not appear in Greek mythology, was one of the nymph Calypso's attendants in Fénelon's novel Les Aventures de Télémaque (1699). In Fénelon's modern prose epic, an improvisation upon Homeric themes, Telemachus while searching for his father, Odysseus, has been shipwrecked on Calypso's island, and there has fallen in love with Eucharis but must leave her, dutifully to pursue his quest. Fénelon, in charge of the education of the heir to the French throne, offered his novel, "not as a frivolous novel, that is offered here, reader, for your idleness, but a learned parable". Its theme of the conflict between duty and love is a persistent one, central in French 17th-century classical theater, but peripheral to the Odyssey in spite of its erotic episodes. A sub-theme in Les Aventures de Télémaque, of spiritual education, is summed up by Mentor who says, "He who has not felt his weakness and the violence of his passions is not yet wise; for he does not yet understand himself and does not know how to distrust himself." [Wikipedia]

Fixing the viewer with a dreamy gaze, the fair-haired Telemachus grasps Eucharis's thigh with his right hand while holding his sword upright with the other. The ill-fated lovers say farewell in a grotto on Calypso's island. Facing towards us, Telemachus's blue tunic falls open to reveal his naked torso. Eucharis, seen in profile, encircles Telemachus's neck and gently rests her head upon his shoulder in resignation. In this way, Jacques-Louis David contrasts masculine rectitude with female emotion.

David painted The Farewell of Telemachus and Eucharis during his exile in Brussels. The use of saturated reds and blues contrasted with flesh-tones and combined with a clarity of line and form typifies the Neoclassical style, which is characteristic of David's late history paintings. [Getty]

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Men Arguing and Women Fighting (1818)

Here's an interesting and humorous pair of canvases by Louis-Léopold Boilly.

 Men Arguing
Women Fighting

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The Death of Leonardo da Vinci (1818)

Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres: The Death of Leonardo da Vinci

Another of Ingres's tributes to a past master.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Daphnis and Chloe (1817)

Louis Hersent: Daphnis and Chloe

These two were the subjects of a second-century AD Greek novel. It is the story of a boy (Daphnis) and a girl (Chloe), each of whom is exposed at birth along with some identifying tokens. A goatherd named Lamon discovers Daphnis, and a shepherd called Dryas finds Chloe. Each decides to raise the child he finds as his own. Daphnis and Chloe grow up together, herding the flocks for their foster parents. They fall in love but, being naive, do not understand what is happening to them. Philetas, a wise old cowherd, explains to them what love is and tells them that the only cure is "kissing." They do this. Eventually, Lycaenion, a woman from the city, educates Daphnis in love-making. Daphnis, however, decides not to test his newly acquired skill on Chloe, because Lycaenion tells Daphnis that Chloe "will scream and cry and lie bleeding heavily [as if murdered]." Throughout the book, Chloe is courted by suitors, two of whom (Dorcon and Lampis) attempt with varying degrees of success to abduct her. She is also carried off by raiders from a nearby city and saved by the intervention of the god Pan. Meanwhile, Daphnis falls into a pit, gets beaten up, is abducted by pirates, and is very nearly raped. In the end, Daphnis and Chloe are recognized by their birth parents, get married, and live out their lives in the country. [Wikipedia]

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Henri de la Rochejaquelin (1817)

Pierre-Narcisse Guérin: Henri de la Rochejaquelin

Henri de la Rochejaquelin was a leader in the counter-revolution of 1793, wherein royalist forces attempted to take France back from the forces of revolution. After seeing a great deal of action in this endeavor, he was finally killed - at the tender age of 22.

I don't know French history from the period of 1817 (when the painting was done) in enough detail to understand Guérin's motives for painting what might be considered a politically inflammatory work. Perhaps, with Napoleon finally out of the picture, he was committing himself to the forces of the Restoration?

Friday, November 1, 2013

Louis XVI Distributing Alms to the Poor (1817)

Louis Hersent: Louis XVI Distributing Alms to the Poor

I see this as basically a propaganda picture - "see, we rich and powerful are actually nice and generous."

Louis Hersent (1777-1860) was a student of David. He was most active during the Restoration period.