Sunday, February 28, 2016

William Bouguereau (1872)

 William Bouguereau: Petites Maraudeuses [Little Thieves]
William Bouguereau: The Fisherman's Daughter

Friday, February 26, 2016

Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot (1872)

 Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot: Crecy-en-Brie, Road in the Country
 Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot: Old Bridge at Limay, on the Seine
 Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot: Saint-Nicholas-les-Arras, 
Small Willows on the Banks of the Scarpe
Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot: Souvenir of Ville d'Avray

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Pollice Verso (1872)

Jean-Léon Gérôme: Pollice Verso

Pollice Verso (from Latin: with a turned thumb) is a painting by French artist Jean-Léon Gérôme, featuring the eponymous Roman gesture directed to the winning gladiators.

The gesture on the painting is given by the Vestals to the victorious secutor, awaiting the decision on the beaten retiarius at Colosseum. The painting inspired the 2000 film Gladiator, where Commodus holds out a raised thumb to spare Maximus.

Apart from the gladiators and Vestals, the picture shows the emperor in his box. Gérôme deliberately used the light and perspective to depict some features. The blend of voyeurism and a sense of moral superiority is a specific 19th-century feature.

Gérôme's depiction of Colosseum's architecture is based on accurate drawings and the armour of gladiators follows the design of those found in Pompeii. Gérôme also checked the written sources for archaeological reference. Some Latin textbooks used Pollice Verso to illustrate Roman customs. The producers of Gladiator showed Ridley Scott a reproduction of Pollice Verso before he read the film script. "That image spoke to me of the Roman Empire in all its glory and wickedness. I knew right then and there I was hooked", said Scott. However it was found that the secutor's armour is not properly assembled. [Wikipedia]

See also “Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down? Looking at Gérôme’s Pollice Verso” in the Getty Online magazine.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

The Parc des Lions at Port-Marly (1872)

Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot: The Parc des Lions at Port-Marly

Camille Corot, whose art was halfway between Romanticism and Realism, preferred to paint a nature that inspired poetry and bucolic fantasy than to render it realistically as Courbet did. A pioneer of plein air painting, throughout his lifetime he attempted to capture the essence of nature, which earned him the admiration of the Impressionists, for whom he was a constant reference.

Located some twenty kilometers from Paris, Port-Marly — where Alfred Sisley later lived — is a village on the banks of the Seine, like Asnières, Argenteuil, Chatou, Louveciennes, Bougival and Saint-Germain-en-Laye, which would very soon be made famous by the Impressionist painters. The Parc des Lions at Port-Marly, one of the most beautiful compositions from his final period, is an example of the artist’s landscape style. It was executed from life in August 1872 during a ten-day stay at the Château des Lions, owned by the Rodrigues-Henriques family since 1853.

In the painting in the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Corot depicts an everyday scene in the park next to the castle featuring his host’s children, Valentine with a stick and Henri on a donkey. Two huge silver birches divide the composition into two halves and the dense undergrowth provides a protective wall, while also surrounding the clearing in the distance where what could be the outline of Saint- Germain-en-Laye can be distinguished. The composition is painted in a range of greens with a few hints of red on the boy’s smock and on the roofs in the background, while the execution, with light touches of color that make the foliage vibrate, foreshadows the first steps towards Impressionism. [Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza]

Friday, February 19, 2016

Gustave Courbet (1872)

 Gustave Courbet: La manche, near Étretat
Gustave Courbet: Stream in the Jura Mountains (The Torrent)

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Relief for the Sufferers of Chicago (1872)

Jules Émile Saintin: Relief for the Sufferers of Chicago

This painting commemorates the great Chicago Fire of October 1872.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

L'Albanaise (1872)

Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot: L'Albanaise [Young Woman of Albano] 
Creamy skin, subtle blushing, and exotic dress complement the model who sat for The Young Woman of Albano (L'Albanaise). This teenaged girl, Mademoiselle Darmelas, also posed for Orientale Reveuse (Pensive Oriental). Albert Robaut, compiler of the 1905 Corot catalogue raisonné, observed the painter at work, in his studio, on L'Albanaise, on January 9, 1872. In Corot's shifting focus from landscape views to figure painting, a theme emerged: languid, dreamy girls who were lounging, caught in the act of reading or fantasizing, enigmatic near-smiles playing about their countenances. [Journal of the American Medical Association, 2011;305(17):1737. doi:10.1001/jama.2011.448]

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Friday, February 12, 2016

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Les Contrebandiers (1872)

Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot: Les Contrebandiers [The Smugglers]

Les Contrebandiers (The Smugglers) depicts two mounted riders herding a group of young horses through a verdant gorge. In the foreground, a pond reflects the stormy sky above.

Corot's lyrical landscapes were part of his self-confessed retreat from the external world. He expressed his lack of sympathy for much that was going on around him in artistic circles in a remark to Millet's biographer, Alfred Sensier, in 1857: ' This is for me a new world which I no longer recognise; I am too attached to the past...If you understand what I am saying, I want to make a new art for myself.' (quoted in Etienne Moreau-Nélaton, Histoire de Corot et ses oeuvres, Paris, 1905, p. 180).

This escapism accords perfectly with Corot's paintings of the 1860s and 1870s, be they his Salon pictures or the innumerable smaller works he also produced for an increasingly enthusiastic public. Corot was not alone in producing such ethereal visions of nature and in the 1860s there developed a considerable school of pastoral landscape painting in France, particularly in the environs of Paris, which had suffered from what some perceived to be its dehumanization on account of the pulling down of the old quartiers and construction of the grands boulevards under Baron Haussmann. [Sotheby’s]

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Before the Bath (1872)

Emile Lévy: Before the Bath

Emile Lévy was a French painter, who examined many different angles of his art. He was as well a portrait painter than a pastellist. He realised some scenes of genre and historical themes too. After been the pupil of François-Edouard Picot and Abel de Pujol at the Fine Art School of Paris, he gained in 1854 the First Prize of Rome, on the same year than his classmates Giacomotti and Maillot.

After his stay in Italy, he came back to France in 1859 and devoted himself to the painting in the respect of the academic tradition, while he was friend with Delaunay, Edgar Degas and Gustave Moreau. Waver between genre and historical painting, Levy belonged, like Félix Clément and William Bouguereau to the neo-classic movement that was developing in the 1850's and the 1860's.

This feminine nude composition dives the viewer into a decor both intimate, luxuriant and voluptuous. Emile Lévy showed his talent by the precision of his line and by a remarkable work on the formations, the finish of the form and the flesh-tint. [Galerie Ary Jan]

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Auguste Toulmouche (1872)

 Auguste Toulmouche: In the Library
Auguste Toulmouche: The Blue Dress

Friday, February 5, 2016

The Blessing of the Sea (1872)

Alphonse Legros: The Blessing of the Sea

The tradition of "Blessing the Sea" comes from a medieval legend. The story tells of fishermen caught in a terrible storm which only stopped when a monk fell to his knees to pray by the sea. Alphonse Legros often depicted peasant life and this painting shows the blessing of the sea in the small coastal village of Etretat, just north of Le Havre in France. This annual ceremony still takes place in Etretat every May. [Museum Sheffield]

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Bivouac after the Battle (1872)

Alphonse de Neuville: Bivouac after the Battle of Le Bourget, 21 December 1870

The Battle of Le Bourget took place during the Franco-Prussian War.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot (1871)

 Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot: Arleux-du-Nord, the Drocourt Mill, on the Sensee
 Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot: The Fisherman's Cottage