Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Blessing the Wheat in Artois (1857)

Jules Breton: Blessing the Wheat in Artois
Presented at the 1857 Salon, at the same time as Millet's Gleaners, this enormous painting won Jules Breton a second class medal. This was a mark of official recognition for the still youthful artist, and the work was even purchased by the State for the Musée du Luxembourg. It has to be said that this portrayal of rustic life is very pleasant compared to Millet's more Realist vision.

The scene depicts a Rogation procession which takes place three days before Ascension. In the countryside around Courrières, Breton's native village, young girls wearing their first communion dresses, clergy and local dignitaries, walk around the fields to attract Heaven's blessing on future harvests. The scene highlights the important role of Christianity in rural life.

The artist produced many accurate studies of clothes and faces for this work. He chose a composition in the style of a frieze, reminiscent of Courbet's Burial at Ornans. But whereas Courbet dealt with a contemporary subject in a very bold way, life-sized figures were usually only to be found in history painting, Breton portrays his characters in a small format, thus retaining the idiom of the genre scene. It was this anecdotal aspect of his work that brought him great success in France and in America. When he became a member of the Académie des Beaux-Arts in 1886, Breton was regarded as the official artist of rural life. [Musée d'Orsay]

Monday, March 30, 2015

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Gustave Courbet (1857)

 Gustave Courbet: Madame Auguste Cuoq
 Gustave Courbet: Louis Guéymard as Robert in Robert le Diable by Meyerbeer
Gustave Courbet: Seacoast (Souvenir of Les Cabanes)

Friday, March 27, 2015

Empress Eugénie on Horseback (1857)

Charles Édouard Boutibonne: Empress Eugénie on Horseback

This appears to be a reworking of Boutibonne's previous equestrian portrait of this lady.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Willows of Marissel (1857)

Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot: The Willows of Marissel
Corot traveled frequently throughout his life. He regularly visited the small village of Marissel, some 40 miles northeast of Paris, including a brief visit in June 1857, when he painted this work. Corot's reputation has always rested principally on his mastery in depicting light. This work highlights his ability to render with feathery brush strokes the diaphanous light of early morning mist as it envelops a line of poplars and willows. [Walters Art Museum]

Monday, March 23, 2015

Othello Relating His Battles (1857)

Alexandre Cabanel: Othello Relating His Adventures

Othello Relating his Adventures does not illustrate a scene from Shakespere’s play, but rather an event Othello describes in a speech in scene 3 of Act 1. In the event described, he relates the story of his life from year to year: his battles, sieges and fortunes that he has encountered. Cabanel shows him in the midst of his narration, leaning on the balustrade of a Venetian palazzo’s marble portico. He wears Moorish clothing and stands with his right arm outstretched and his left resting on the hilt of a long sword. Desdemona, seated on embroidered pillows, listens to him enraptured, leaning on the knee of her father, Brabantio, who gazes upward at Othello. The costumes, rug and draperies are luxurious. The color is warm and sumptuous. Hidden from their sight in the lower left is the malevolent Iago, intently listening to Othello’s narrative. The design leads the eye from Othello to the figure of Desdemona and her father and then down to Iago. Desdemona’s light drapery makes a beautiful pattern that catches the eye and leads it back to Othello. Unfortunately, the light on Othello’s lower left leg is too pronounced for its place in the shadow and distracts from the figure of Desdemona. [Stephen Gjertson Galleries]

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Alfred Dedreux (1857)

 Alfred Dedreux: Pug Dog in an Armchair
Alfred Dedreux: White Horse with Two Dogs

Friday, March 20, 2015

Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Spring (1856)

Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres: The Spring (La Source)

La Source is an oil painting on canvas by French neoclassical painter Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres. The work was begun in Florence around 1820 and not completed until 1856, in Paris. When Ingres completed The Source, he was seventy-six years old, already famous, and president of the École des Beaux-Arts. The pose of the nude may be compared with that of another by Ingres, the Venus Anadyomene (1848), and is a reimagination of the Aphrodite of Cnidus or Venus Pudica. Two of Ingres' students, painters Paul Baize and Alexandre Desgoffe, helped to create the background and water jar. [Wikipedia]

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Gustave Courbet (1856)

 Gustave Courbet: Woman in a Riding Habit (L’Amazone)
Gustave Courbet: Woman with a Garland

Monday, March 16, 2015

Madame Paul Sigisbert Moitessier (1856)

 Jean-August-Dominique Ingres: Madame Paul Sigisbert Moitessier
Marie-Clotilde-Inès de Foucauld was born in 1821 and married Sigisbert Moitessier, a wealthy banker, in 1842. The portrait is influenced by the art of antiquity and the Renaissance. The pose, with the hand touching the cheek, is derived from an ancient Roman fresco of a goddess, from Herculaneum. This may suggest that for Ingres Madam Moitessier represented the ideal of classical beauty. The National Gallery's Portrait of a Lady by Titian may have inspired him to add the profile in the mirror.

Ingres believed that portraiture was a less elevated art form than history painting. When first asked by Moitessier in 1844 to paint his wife, Ingres refused. On meeting her he was struck by her beauty and agreed. The picture was left unfinished and after seven years the sitter complained. In 1851, Ingres painted a standing portrait (National Gallery of Art, Washington) before returning to the seated portrait which he finally completed in 1856. The original intention had been to include the sitter's daughter Catherine, but she had grown up by the time Ingres came to complete the portrait. [National Gallery, London]

Friday, March 13, 2015

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Drawings (1856)

 Jean-August-Dominique Ingres: Mademoiselle Cecile Panckoucke
Théodore Chassériau: Portrait of Princess Marie Cantacuzene

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Gustave Courbet (1856)

 Gustave Courbet: La Bretonnerie in the Department of Indre
 Gustave Courbet: The Fringe of the Forest
Gustave Courbet: The Rock at Bayard, Dinant, Belgium

Monday, March 9, 2015

François-Léon Benouville (1856)

 François-Léon Benouville: Nicolas Poussin on the Banks of the Tiber
François-Léon Benouville: Saint Francis Carries a Dying 
Sainte-Marie des Anges to Bless the City of Assisi

Sunday, March 8, 2015

The Congress of Paris, 1856

Edouard Dubufe: The Congress of Paris, 1856

The Congress of Paris was a meeting of the European great powers for the purpose of making a peace treaty to end the Crimean War.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Installation of the Council of State (1856)

Auguste Couder: Installation of the Council of State, 25 December 1799

And there's a young Napoleon as the central figure.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The Horse Fair (1852-55)

Rosa Bonheur: The Horse Fair

This, Bonheur’s best-known painting, shows the horse market held in Paris on the tree-lined Boulevard de l’Hôpital, near the asylum of Salpêtrière, which is visible in the left background. For a year and a half Bonheur sketched there twice a week, dressing as a man to discourage attention. Bonheur was well established as an animal painter when the painting debuted at the Paris Salon of 1853, where it received wide praise. In arriving at the final scheme, the artist drew inspiration from George Stubbs, Théodore Gericault, Eugène Delacroix, and ancient Greek sculpture: she referred to The Horse Fair as her own "Parthenon frieze." [Metropolitan Museum]

Monday, March 2, 2015

Gustave Courbet (1855)

 Gustave Courbet: Dressing the Dead Girl
 Gustave Courbet: The Grain Sifters
 Gustave Courbet: The Painter's Studio;  
A real allegory summing up seven years of my artistic and moral life
Gustave Courbet: The Stream of the Black Well

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Paintings of Martyrdom (1855)

 Jules Eugène Lenepveu: The Martyrs in the Catacombs
Paul Delaroche: The Young Martyr