Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Source (1862)

Gustave Courbet: The Source

Courbet's The Source, painted in a naturalistic style and devoid of the trappings of academic allegory, may have been a response to Ingres's La Source (1856; Musée d'Orsay, Paris), which was exhibited at the Galerie Martinet in 1861.  [Metropolitan Museum of Art]

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Bouquet of Flowers in a Vase (1862)

Gustave Courbet: Bouquet of Flowers in a Vase

Gustave Courbet, who had previously painted less than a handful of flower pictures, took up the genre enthusiastically during a stay in western France in 1862. Intending to visit his friend Etienne Baudry for two weeks, he arrived at the garden enthusiast's château in May and remained in the area for eleven months. With his friend's encouragement, Courbet explored flower painting using Baudry's extensive gardens, greenhouses, and library of botanical books. He painted about twenty flower pictures and remarked to a friend, "I am coining money out of flowers."

Courbet had visited Holland in 1847 and his exposure there to Dutch flower painting is evident. His arrangement shares the exuberant spontaneity and abundance of Dutch artist Jan Van Huysum's Vase of Flowers. Like his Netherlandish forebears, Courbet chose flowers that bloom at different times of the year: lilies, roses, gladioli, stock, asters, ipomoeas, poppies, and others. While he typically eschewed allegory, Courbet may have also followed the Dutch practice of using ephemeral flowers to suggest the transitory nature of life and human happiness. Unlike Van Huysum and other Dutch painters known for their intricately detailed technique, Courbet used broad brushstrokes and often spread his thick paint with a palette knife. [Getty Museum]

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Military Review Under the Empire (1862)

Joseph Louis Hippolyte Bellangé: Military Review Under the Empire 
(aka Showing the Troops, 1810)

Friday, June 19, 2015

Eugène Emmanuel Amaury-Duval (1862)

 Eugène Emmanuel Amaury-Duval: Portrait of Jeanne De Tourbay
[a formidable looking woman]
Eugène Emmanuel Amaury-Duval: The Birth of Venus

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The Death of Priam (1861)

Jules Joseph Lefebvre: The Death of Priam

This painting was Lefebvre’s winning entry to the Prix de Rome in 1861. It shows the death of Priam, as described by Virgil in the Aeneid:

     Then Pyrrhus thus: “Go thou from me to fate,
     And to my father my foul deeds relate.
     Now die!” With that he dragg’d the trembling sire,
     Slidd’ring thro’ clotter’d blood and holy mire,
     (The mingled paste his murder’d son had made,)
     Haul’d from beneath the violated shade,
     And on the sacred pile the royal victim laid.
     His right hand held his bloody falchion bare,
     His left he twisted in his hoary hair;
     Then, with a speeding thrust, his heart he found:
     The lukewarm blood came rushing thro’ the wound,
     And sanguine streams distain’d the sacred ground.
     Thus Priam fell, and shar’d one common fate
     With Troy in ashes, and his ruin’d state:
     He, who the scepter of all Asia sway’d,
     Whom monarchs like domestic slaves obey’d.
     On the bleak shore now lies th’ abandon’d king,
     A headless carcass, and a nameless thing.

[Vivat! Crescat! Floreat!]

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Charlemagne Receives Alcuin (1861)

Jules Laure: Charlemagne, surrounded by his most important officials, receives Alcuin who presents several manuscripts, the works of his monks, to the Emperor in 780

Monday, June 15, 2015

Phryne revealed before the Areopagus (1861)

Jean-Léon Gérôme: Phryne Revealed Before the Areopagus

Jean-Léon Gérôme conquered the French public with his painting Phryne before the Areopagus. Compared to Boulanger’s arbitrary interpretation, Gérôme’s work adheres more strictly to the antique evidence, especially Athenaeus’ (XIII 590de), even though the Heliaea court, mentioned by the sources, is transformed into the more famous Areopagus (which was actually only responsible for judging blood crimes). The scene shows us the orator Hyperides just as he performs the crucial act of unveiling Phryne’s charms before the eyes of the judges, who are partly astonished, partly bemused, while the woman covers her face in a rather dubious, if not paradoxical, gesture of restraint, for her body is entirely bare, an inconceivably indecent pose even for antique sources, according to which Hyperides restricted himself to baring Phryne’s breasts. Despite this touch of spicy enticement, the painting nonetheless remains fatuous and rhetorical, and betrays the predominant aims of French painting at the time – captivating the eye of the spectator with an impeccable mastery of technical means, but without any study of the underlying historical problems and their psychological or ethical implications. [Mythimedia]

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Théodule Augustin Ribot (1861)

 Théodule Augustin Ribot: La Fête du Chef
Théodule Augustin Ribot: Still Life

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Napoléon III (1860-61)

Hippolyte Flandrin: Napoléon III, Emperor of France
This Napoleon was the nephew of the Napoleon.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Tobias Bids Farewell to his Father (1860)

William Bouguereau: Tobias Bids Farewell to his Father

William-Adolphe Bouguereau was the 19th century Academic painter par excellence. In his own time, Bouguereau was considered to be one of the greatest painters in the world by the academic art community, and simultaneously he was reviled by the avant-garde. To many, he epitomized taste and refinement, and a respect for tradition. To others, he was a competent technician stuck in the past.

Bouguereau was a staunch traditionalist whose genre paintings and mythological themes were modern interpretations of Classical subjects, both pagan and Christian, with a concentration on the naked female human body. The idealized world of his paintings brought to life goddesses, nymphs, bathers, shepherdesses, and madonnas in a way that appealed to wealthy art patrons of the era. [Wikipedia]

The Art Renewal Center is a major exponent of Bouguereau and his style; they have a rather hagiographic bio of him.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Still Life (ca. 1860)

Théodule-Augustin Ribo: Still Life with Pumpkin, Plums, Cherries, Figs and Jug