Saturday, October 31, 2015

The Lady with the Glove (1869)

Carolus-Duran: The Lady with the Glove

The Lady with the Glove, a life-sized full-length portrait of the artist's young wife, was a great success at the 1869 Salon, where it won a medal. Regarded by the critics as the archetypal formal portrait, the work shows a sober composition, masterful drawing and delicate use of color that recall David and Ingres. Standing out from a near-empty background painted in shades of grey and black, and the dark, changing colors of the gown, three interrelated elements catch the eye: the young woman's face and fashionable hairstyle, her hands, one drawing off a pearly grey glove, and the glove on the ground underlined by the painter's signature, in red. This anecdotal detail gives the work a modern instantaneous look that helps us understand why Emile Zola saw in Carolus-Duran a disciple of Manet. [Musée d’Orsay]

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Charles Édouard Boutibonne (1869)

Charles Édouard Boutibonne: At the Opera
Charles Édouard Boutibonne: Ladies Playing Billiards

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Pasha Going Out (ca. 1869)

Alfred Dehodencq: The Pasha Going Out

A pupil of Léon Cogniet in the Beaux-Arts of Paris, Dehodencq began his career with religious paintings and genre scenes. After a stay in Spain in 1849, the artist discovered a passion for Morocco in 1853 and traveled there for a number of years. He did a considerable number of studies, focusing on gestures, attitudes, costumes and decorations he found there, which aided him in his final compositions. In his choice of subjects inspired by the Moroccan daily life, Dehodencq is often compared to Eugène Delacroix, while his fluid touch and realism of the representations brings him closer to the style of Edouard Manet.

This scene is an important milestone in the work of Dehodencq, bringing stylistic aspects that ensured his fame. This painting impresses with its monumentality and the dramatic power that emerges. The composition is in a closed architectural setting, with only a blue sky and vegetation appearing in the top left corner of the canvas. This bias reinforces both the grandeur and own pump to magnify the appearance of the Pasha, to which the crowd gathers with respect. This type of composition is found in other works by the artist, including Justice of the Pasha and The Jewish Bride.

This work shows the great qualities of Dehodencq as a colorist. The dramatic tone of this painting lies in the powerful chromatic contrast between the brightly colored fabrics, light walls and architecture, in a particularly lively play of light. Attitudes and dynamic actions of some characters add to this theatrical spirit and contribute to the powerful appearance of the whole. [Sotheby’s (via Google Translate)]

Monday, October 26, 2015

The Death of Marshal Ney (1868)

Jean-Léon Gérôme: The Death of Marshal Ney

A somber painting for a somber event: the execution of Marshall Ney on trumped up charges, making him a scapegoat for the misfortunes that befell Napoleon's empire.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Quai des Célestins with the Pont Marie (1868)

Stanislas Lepine: Quai des Célestins with the Pont Marie

Stanislas Lépine painted many views of Paris in which the Seine and the surrounding area feature prominently. These urban landscapes mostly fall into two principal formats. For the first, the artist would place his easel on the riverbank and paint a frontal view of the opposite bank. For the second, as here, he would set himself up in the middle of the motif and look towards the horizon. The decoration would consequently be laid out along diagonals defining the space. In this view of the Quai des Célestins, these diagonals are formed, on the left, by the Seine placed very low, and on the right, by the row of trees planted on the embankment. The buildings above again reinforce the impression of moving forward to a vanishing point. These lines draw the eye towards the arches of the Pont Marie, one of the most ancient bridges in Paris.

The right half of the foreground is mainly open. Here, Lépine put in a scene of everyday life in Paris, as Daumier might have done before him, and Monet or Sisley after him. A dark mound can be seen on the bank. This is certainly coal being collected in carts. Depicting this commercial activity enabled the painter to animate the scene with people at work. He used a limited number of colors. Lépine preferred discreet tones and glazes, with a fluid, almost transparent use of paint, which modified the colors beneath. These characteristics place the painting in the tradition of Camille Corot's poetic evocations, but transplanted into a contemporary, urban setting. With his light palette and very delicate tones of grey, Lépine is another of the artists who opened the way for Impressionist landscapes. [Musée d’Orsay]

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Source (1868)

Gustave Courbet: The Source

Courbet escaped from the traditional norms of painting by subordinating the description of nature to an eminently personal experience. His reasons were mainly those of his native region, Franche-Comté. The valley of the Loue, caves and woods, and were tirelessly visited as many benchmarks necessary for the balance of his painting. The harmony of the natural and animal was celebrated with lyricism, as the merger of women with nature. The Source ignores the allegorical academicism usually reserved to the subject and is part of the series of paintings that Courbet devoted to the most noble and most unequivocal theme of the painting, the nude. By unveiling the truth of a body marked by wearing the corset, and by including it in the context of an identity landscape, the canvas daringly symbolizes as much a taste of the real, the imaginary painter. [Musée d'Orsay]

Monday, October 19, 2015

Sunday, October 18, 2015

The Weeders (1868)

Jules Breton: The Weeders

This is a smaller variant of a composition Breton painted in 1860 (Joslyn Art Museum, Omaha) and exhibited to wide acclaim at the Salon of 1861 and the World’s Fair of 1867 in Paris. In his autobiography, Breton described this twilight scene of peasants pulling up thistles and weeds—"their faces haloed by the pink transparency of their violet hoods, as if to venerate a fecundating star"—noting that he had discovered the subject as a "finished picture" near his native village, Courrières, in northern France. [Metropolitan Museum of Art]

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Penelope (ca. 1868)

Charles-François Marchal: Penelope

This painting and its pendant, Phryne (location unknown), were an immediate success at the Salon of 1868. They are typical of the scenes of fashionable life in Paris that Marchal painted in the decade prior to his suicide.

Penelope is not represented as the legendary wife of Odysseus but as a contemporary woman, dutifully engaged in needlework as she dreams about her husband, portrayed in the miniature before her. By contrast, Phryne was intended as an analogy to the classical Athenian courtesan of the same name. Marchal depicted her in an evening dress, glancing provocatively into her mirror as she completes her toilette. [Metropolitan Museum of Art]

Monday, October 12, 2015

Gustave Courbet (1868)

 Gustave Courbet: Nap During Haying Season, Doubs Mountains
Gustave Courbet: Winter

Saturday, October 10, 2015

A Jewess of Morocco (1868)

Charles Émile Hippolyte Lecomte-Vernet: A Jewess of Morocco, costume de fête

In the decades following Napoleon's Egyptian campaign (1798-99), Europeans became increasingly fascinated by the rich and still mysterious Islamic cultures of the East, prompting many to travel there for a closer look. In their quest for new and exotic experiences, artists, too, journeyed to North Africa and the eastern Mediterranean, or Holy Land-a vast, ethnically diverse region that Europeans described simply as the Orient. Returning home, many artists specialized in romantic depictions of Moroccan, Egyptian, and Near Eastern life, fueling the European taste for "Orientalist" art. The Parisian painter Lecomte-Vernet made the journey at least once, in 1863, and devoted much of his later career to images of beautiful North African women in elaborate, ceremonial dress. His seductive, brilliant-hued Jewess of Morocco is a striking example. [Chrysler Museum of Art]

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Monday, October 5, 2015

Le Coucher de Sappho (1867)

Marc-Gabriel-Charles Gleyre: Le Coucher de Sappho

Although Gleyre was Swiss, he was firmly in the French Academic tradition and was greatly influential in 19th Century French art.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Repose (1867)

Jules Breton: Repose

This drawing dates from perhaps the most formally successful decade of Breton's career. The artist represents a young woman lost in dreamy contemplation as she pauses for rest during the harvest. Her fellow harvesters continue to work behind her, and there are haystacks visible in the distance. The contrast is notable between the highly finished manner of the resting woman and the far sketchier treatment of the landscape background and secondary figures. The resting woman is characteristic of Breton's classicizing treatment of form in the 1860s, but it may also reflect an awareness of more recent sources. [The Walters Art Museum]