Sunday, May 31, 2015

Flowers (1860)

Henri Fantin-Latour: Flowers

Henri Fantin-Latour (1836-1904; born Ignace Henri Jean Théodore Fantin-Latour) was the 19th century's premier painter of flower still lifes. As a youth, he received drawing lessons from his father, who was an artist. In 1850 he entered the Ecole de Dessin, where he studied with Lecoq de Boisbaudran. After studying at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris from 1854, he devoted much time to copying the works of the old masters in the Musée du Louvre. Although Fantin-Latour befriended several of the young artists who would later be associated with Impressionism, including Whistler and Manet, Fantin's own work remained conservative in style.

Whistler brought attention to Fantin in England, where his still-lifes sold so well that they were "practically unknown in France during his lifetime". In addition to his realistic paintings, Fantin-Latour created imaginative lithographs inspired by the music of some of the great classical composers. [Wikipedia]

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot (1855-1860)

 Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot: Pond with Three Cows
 Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot: Stream in the Woods
 Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot: The Pond and the Cabassud Houses at Ville d'Avray
Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot: Woman Picking Flowers in a Pasture

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot (1860)

 Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot: Daydreaming at the Fountain (1860s)
 Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot: Seated Young Woman with a Mandolin (1860s)
Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot: The Curious Little Girl (1860)

Friday, May 22, 2015

Charlotte Corday (1860)

Paul-Jacques-Aimé Baudry: Charlotte Corday
This very famous painting depicts Charlotte Corday after her murder of Jean-Paul Marat, one of the most radical leaders in the French Revolution.

The death of Marat was first depicted artistically by Jacques-Louis David in 1793 (below). Among later works, the Charlotte Corday by Paul Jacques Aimé Baudry, painted in 1860, during the Second Empire, when Marat's "dark legend" (the angry monster insatiably hungry for blood) was widely spread among educated people, depicts Charlotte Corday as a true heroine of France, a model of virtue for the younger generations. [Wikipedia]

Jacques-Louis David: The Death of Marat (1793)

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Gustave Boulanger (1860)

 Gustave Boulanger: Rehearsal of The Flute Player and The Wife of Diomedes in the atrium of Prince Napoleon’s Pompeian house in Paris
Gustave Boulanger: Venus Captive

Monday, May 18, 2015

Diogenes (1860)

Jean-Léon Gérôme: Diogenes

Searching in vain for an honest man...

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Paolo and Francesca (ca. 1856-60)

Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres: Paolo and Francesca

This painting depicts the doomed lovers Paolo Malatesta and Francesca da Rimini, apparently real historical figures who were immortalized in Dante's Inferno. Francesca was married, in a political marriage, to Paolo's crippled older brother Giovanni. Naturally she fell in love with Paolo. Giovanni caught them in the act and killed them both. [Wikipedia]

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Breton Mothers (1855-60)

 Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot: Breton Woman and her Little Girl
Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot: Breton Woman Nursing Her Child

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Rachel Felix (1859)

Jean-Léon Gérôme: Rachel Felix Personifying Tragedy

Rachel Felix was a celebrated actress. One of her champions was the critic Jules Janin, who wrote
Whatever the merit or the talent of tragic actresses before Rachel, the actor was the absolute master of tragedy, and as far as we were concerned, an actress always took second place. Then suddenly, we were both astonished and charmed by a young woman who represented all by herself the whole of Shakespeare.
"She set a pattern for professional endeavour that actresses all around the world were to inherit. The temptation to attribute the scale of her financial success primarily to her fondness for tough negotiation or, for that matter, to her apparently scandalous private life with its series of influential lovers and mentors, should be resisted. Whatever her strengths as an independent woman, her acting style alone was felt as the expression of large-scale struggles. She lived in an age of revolution, and the fact that her own political allegiances sometimes seemed to have been guided largely by opportunism does not affect the rebellious significance of her art. The idea that creativity could be autonomous, self-generating, was itself historically based and, although in France it could be linked to conservative tendencies on individualistic grounds, faith in the power of pure inspiration always enlivened the present. Rachel drew much of her potency from the complex intellectual climate in which she worked, and she gave back energy in return.

"In Gérôme's academic painting Rachel is surrounded, correctly, by the attributes of Melpomene: pillar, dagger and mask, and she leans against a plinth upon which are listed the roles with which she was most famously associated: Phedre, Hermione, Camille, Roxane, Pauline. On a sarcophagus to one side the names of the great tragic playwrights, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Corneille, Racine are all listed." [Three Tragic Actresses: Siddons, Rachel, Ristori, by Michael R. Booth, John Stokes, and Susan Bassnett. Cambridge University Prss, 1996, pp. 70, 73]

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Diana Reposing (1859)

Paul-Jacques-Aimé Baudry: Diana Reposing

The nude goddess, identified by the crescent moon in her hair and the bow and quiver at her side, reclines on a blue drapery in front of a recumbent stag in a wooded glade. An early inscription identifies this painting as a variant sketch for an overdoor in the hôtel of Achille Fould, the Minster of State. The hôtel, on the rue du Faubourg-Saint-Honoré, was acquired by the Duc d'Aumale in 1872, and its decor was transferred to the Château of Chantilly six years later. The overdoor, "Diane au repos," and another, "Venus jouant avec l'Amour," were both mounted in the Galerie des Cerfs. The actual overdoor is painted in "grisaille" unlike our sketch which is in naturalistic colors. In the overdoor the majestic stag is an integral part of the composition, whereas in this sketch he is barely discernible in the right background. This composition illustrates the artist's practice of imparting to his traditional subjects an air of modishness or coquetry, that may have resulted from his occasional use of professional beauties as models. The figure of Diana reposing in the sketch and the overdoor bears a striking resemblance to Blanche D'Antigny, an actress who at the age of eighteen modeled for Baudry's famous "The Penitent Madeleine," painted about the same time and acquired by the State at the 1859 Salon for the Nantes Museum. [The Walters Art Museum]

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Monday, May 4, 2015

The Angelus (1859)

Jean-François Millet: The Angelus

The painting depicts two peasants bowing in a field over a basket of potatoes to say a prayer, the Angelus, that together with the ringing of the bell from the church on the horizon marks the end of a day's work.

It shows two peasants during the potato harvest in Barbizon, with a view of the church tower of Chailly-en-Bière. At their feet is a small basket of potatoes, and around them a cart and a pitchfork. Various interpretations of the relationship between the two peasants have been made, such as colleagues at work, husband and wife pair, or (as Gambetta interpreted it) farmer and maidservant. Salvador Dalí insisted that this was a funeral scene, not a prayer ritual and that the couple were portrayed praying and mourning over their dead infant. Although this was an unpopular view, at his insistence the Louvre X-rayed the painting, showing a small coffin over-painted by the basket. [Wikipedia]

Friday, May 1, 2015