Friday, December 30, 2016

Arnaut Blowing Smoke at his Dog (1882)

Jean-Léon Gérôme: Arnaut Blowing Smoke at his Dog

I nominate this guy for the title of biggest jerk ever to be depicted in a painting.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Frou Frou (1882)

Georges Jules Victor Clairin: Frou Frou

Born in Paris in 1843, Georges Clairin received his artist education at the École des Beaux-Arts under the tutelage of Isidore Pils and François Edouard Picot beginning in 1861. He accompanied Henri Regnault on his travels throughout Spain and Morocco, and went to Italy with François Flameng and Jean Léon Gérôme. During his stay in Morocco, Clairin met the Catalan artist Mariano Fortuny and together they visited Tetuan. In 1895, Clairin traveled to Egypt with the composer Camille Saint-Saëns. Clairin was awarded the Silver Medal at the Exposition universelle in 1889 and was made an officer of the Legion of Honor in 1897.

Clairin is best known for his portraits of Sarah Bernhardt, with whom he had an enduring friendship, and he painted her in a number of roles. In addition to these stage portraits, Clairin painted her several times in more intimate surroundings. His 1876 portrait of the famous actress made the artist's reputation and was very well received at the Salon of that year. 'Le portrait de Madame Sara Bernhardt est assurément une des oeuvres les plus saillantes du Salon, tant par l'originalit de la composition que par la splendeur du coloris.' (Théodore Véron, Le salon de 1876: mémorial de l'art et des artistes de mon temps, Poitiers, 1876).

Clairin's association with the theatre and Paris Opèra shaped his artistic development. His oeuvre is dominated by extraordinary images of larger than life characters, and Frou Frou certainly falls into this milieu. David B. Shepp writes in 1897: 'Frou-Frou is a character familiar to the world through the famous French drama of that name and the picture by Clairin is an ideal portrayal of the heroine of that play. She is perfectly typical -- a beautiful, coquettish, light-hearted merry young woman, committing perhaps many follies, never bad at heart and erring though thoughtlessness rather than through intent. The picture portrays her in a gown a waving flounces, plumed hat and jaunty slippers, tripping along with all the buoyancy of joyous youth. Painted in 1882, it was suggested to the artist by Bernhardt's notable and versatile presentation of that play, though it is by no means a portrait of that actress' (Daniel B. Shepp, Shepp's Library of History and Art, 1897, p. 202). [Christie's]

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Flower Seller in London (1882)

Jules Bastien-Lepage: Flower Seller in London

In a photograph of Jules Bastien-Lepage’s studio on rue Legendre in the 17th arrondissement in Paris, produced after his death in 1884, several of the artist’s works remain on display, including La Chanson du printemps (circa 1873), a portrait of his brother Émile Bastien-Lepage (1879); Fleur du chemin or La Petite bergère (1882) and the Portrait of Mme Juliette Drouet (1883) and the present work, Marchande de fleurs à Londres. Painted in 1882, the fact that the painting was found in the artist’s studio after his death clearly establishes its pedigree and its significance for the artist.

What is unusual about this Marchande de fleurs is that she is not French but English, and one of only two working-class subjects that Bastien-Lepage completed in London, the other being Le petit cireur de bottes (1882). Bastien-Lepage first visited London in 1879 when two of his portraits were included in the Royal Academy exhibition of that year. He used this opportunity to find prospective clients for portraits, returning to paint a portrait of the Prince of Wales (Portrait du Prince de Galles, 1879), and again, for the last time, in 1882.

Marchande de fleurs and Le petit cireur de bottes were painted in the studio of Dorothy Tennant (later known as Lady Stanley after her marriage to the explorer, Henry Morton Stanley, in 1890) herself an artist who had been very impressed by the young Bastien-Lepage as he made his impact on the London art scene. She recalled her impressions of the artist and of his two English subjects in an article published in 1897 in the London Art Journal, noting that the artist was so interested in the city “We undertook… to show him London – not the sights… but… those bits of London most characteristic or more picturesque.” (Stanley, p. 53) After painting the shoeblack in Le petit cireur de bottes, Bastien-Lepage decided, together with Tennant, that a flower girl would be an appropriate English subject. His model was found near Charing Cross and according to Tennant was “a tall, graceful girl, with sloping shoulders, wrapped in a thin weather-stained shawl, her hair tangled over the eyes, and drawn back in a knot at the back” (Stanley, p. 53). Tennant reproached him for not putting enough sentiment into the picture, to which he responded “I don’t put literature into the painting, like you English; I am satisfied to represent nature just as I see her” (Stanley, p. 56).  While the flower girl is situated confrontationally in the foreground, as if ready to speak to an approaching client, Bastien-Lepage added well-dressed figures farther away in the upper left, visually establishing the stratification of the social classes.

Many nineteenth century art critics, and their twentieth century followers, have tried to find correspondences between Bastien-Lepage’s style or manner of painting and his peers. Émile Zola described him as “le petit-fils de Courbet et de Millet." His flower girl in the present work has been compared with Édouard Manet’s Bar at the Folies-Bergère (1881-82), exhibited at the Salon of 1882, and the tilt of the sitters' heads, black chokers and indifferent yet enticing expressions certainly align. While Manet is mainly concerned with rendering the psychological state of his sitter, Bastien-Lepage is more interested in conveying the narrative of his scene and its implications for the principal character. [Sotheby’s]

Monday, December 26, 2016

The Last Moments of Maximilian (1882)

Jean-Paul Laurens: The Last Moments of Maximilian

Maximilian was installed as Emperor of Mexico by Napoleon III. This didn't end well for him.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Feeding New Friends (1882)

Émile Munier: Feeding New Friends

Munier appears to have been the inventor of the "paintings of kids with huge eyes" genre.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The Tulip Folly (1882)

Jean-Léon Gérôme: The Tulip Folly

Gérôme illustrates an incident during the "tulipomania," or the craze for tulips, that swept the Netherlands and much of Europe during the 17th century. The tulip, originally imported from Turkey in the 16th century, became an increasingly valuable commodity. By 1636/7, tulipomania peaked, and, when the market crashed, speculators were left with as little as 5 percent of their original investments. In this scene, a nobleman guards an exceptional bloom as soldiers trample flowerbeds in a vain attempt to stabilize the tulip market by limiting the supply. [The Walters Art Museum]

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Sunday Afternoon in the Jardin d'Acclimatation (1882)

Jean Richard Goubie: Sunday Afternoon in the Jardin d'Acclimatation

Located in the northern part of Paris' Bois de Boulogne, the Jardin d'Acclimatation (also known as the Jardin Zoologique d'Acclimatation) was opened on October 6, 1860 by Napoleon III and Empress Eugènie. The Jardin was designed, in part, to compensate for the heavily man-made landscapes of the Bois du Boulogne and entirely rebuilt into picturesque landscapes under Baron Haussmann's guidance in 1852-58. Its early director Isidore Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire intended the Jardin to "acclimatize" newly imported exotic animals to European environments, ultimately domesticating them or cross-breeding with domestic species (Baratay and Fugier, pp. 141-6). Though kangaroos, giraffes, and monkeys resided in enclosed houses or cages, others of the menagerie were allowed relative freedom to roam in low-fenced enclosures. It is one of these areas that Goubie depicts with vivid detail in the present work, exhibited to acclaim at the Paris Salon of 1882. Here, a crowd of children (accompanied by mothers and caretakers) feed an eager gander of geese, along with swans and ducks, while others enjoy an animal ride.

A student of Jean-Léon Gérôme, Goubie secured his reputation with equestrian scenes of well-dressed Belle Époque riders on a country ride or hunt astride handsome horses. The present work further demonstrates his keen sensitivity to the relationship of people and animals.  This composition could easily illustrate late nineteenth century guidebooks to Paris, such as the widely read editions published by Karl Baedeker, who encouraged a visit to the Jardin's "enclosures... containing quadrupeds trained for the purposes of the garden or the amusement of visitors. A great source of delight to children here is a ride on the back of an elephant or a dromedary, or a drive in a carriage drawn by ostriches, llamas, etc." (Karl Baedeker, Paris and Environs, 7th ed., 1881, p. 159). As Goubie portrays, the elephants in particular drew great crowds. The pachyderm's bulk and strength seemed an incredible feat of nature, while its docile termerament encouraged visitors to make safe contact. As Baedeker promised, spending a sunny afternoon among the Jardin's animals afforded "one of the most attractive promenades in the environs of Paris". Parisians could step away from city streets and into a realm of exotic (if heavily cultivated and curated) delight.

Goubie's panoramic composition creates a dramatic sense of space and movement: he places the promenaders along a winding path, allowing the viewer to follow them from the horizon line and as they exit the picture space.  An element of humor further enlivens the subject, which skewers the visitors' eagerness to "see and be seen" among the Jardin's inhabitants. The blues, reds, bright pinks and purples of the children's smart costumes outshine the fur and feathers of the animals on display. Only the ostrich, pulling the red carriage, its long neck rising above the crowd, seems to acknowledge the viewer's presence. [Sotheby’s]

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Friday, December 16, 2016

Dawn (1881)

William Bouguereau: L'aurore [Dawn]

Dawn – early morning represented by a female figure reaching back to smell a blooming calla lily – exemplifies William-Adolphe Bouguereau’s standards of beauty and technical skill. His attention to detail and smooth finished surfaces produced human figures that are both lyrical and ideal.

Greco-Roman antiquities and Italian Renaissance sculpture often influenced Bouguereau’s later work. Frequently, he portrayed biblical, mythological, and allegorical figures like Dawn. A passage in Homer’s Odyssey that describes the breaking of day as a “rosy-fingered dawn, the child of the morning” inspired him to paint the figure’s fingers and toes with a pinker hue than the rest of her flesh.

Dawn is Bouguereau’s first artwork in a series of the times of day. Others include Dusk (1882); Night (1883); and Day (1884). Though each allegorical figure’s personality is as different from the others as night is to day, a continuity exists among them – in their poses, loosely draped garments, and the landscapes they occupy. The paintings, a study in complements and contrasts, share a harmony of line, form, and color. Although the artist exhibited each work at the Paris Salon, they never hung together; he sold them to his dealer Adolphe Goupil, who in turn placed them with American collectors. [Birmingham Museum of Art]

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Victor Gabriel Gilbert (1881)

Victor Gabriel Gilbert: Fish Hall at the Central Market
Victor Gabriel Gilbert: The Flower Market, Paris

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

After the Bath (ca. 1881)

Jean-Léon Gérôme: After the Bath

Yet another in the long line of harem bath paintings by Gérôme. I'm sure they sold well...

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Rue de Havre in Paris (1881)

Jean Béraud: Rue de Havre in Paris

The work includes an overview of the central street of Paris from its mouth on Boulevard Haussmann. To the right of the street and composition, Béraud fixed like a snapshot part of the marquee building department store "Printemps" in its reconstruction phase after the fire that destroyed it in 1881.

The red and white awning stripes, above the figure hat first, marks one of the sections of the Rue de Provence, which crosses the Havre. Below, despite the foreshortening of perspective, the entrance of Lycee Condorcet, photographed years later by Zola, is seen. [Source]

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Norbert Goeneutte (1881)

 Norbert Goeneutte: Children Playing at the Beach
Norbert Goeneutte: Les Halles de Paris

Friday, December 9, 2016

Girl Minstrel (1881)

Gustave Jean Jacquet: Girl Minstrel

This dewy, wide-eyed girl steps out of the hazy background as if emerging from a dream. A disciple of William Bouguereau, Gustave Jean Jacquet perfected the tight, enameled brush technique seen here. The painting captures the predicament of a young waif who must fend for herself in a harsh world. Dressed in rags and rough homespun, she holds a hurdy-gurdy, a musical instrument long associated with gypsies and the lower classes. Although seemingly innocent, Jacquet’s sentimental subject is a pretext for presenting a suggestive image of a vulnerable young girl in need of rescue. [Chrysler Museum]

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Henri-Pierre Picou (1881)

 Henri-Pierre Picou: Andromeda Chained to a Rock
 Henri-Pierre Picou: Mother's Luck
Henri-Pierre Picou: The Nymphs

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Cardinal Richelieu at the Siege of La Rochelle (1881)

Henri-Paul Motte: Cardinal Richelieu at the Siege of La Rochelle
The Siege of La Rochelle was a result of a war between the French royal forces of Louis XIII of France and the Huguenots of La Rochelle in 1627–28. The siege marked the apex of the tensions between the Catholics and the Protestants in France, and ended with a complete victory for King Louis XIII and the Catholics. [Wikipedia]

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Bashi-Bazouk Singing (1881)

Jean-Léon Gérôme: Bashi-Bazouk Singing

An Albanian soldier, called an Arnaut, is seated beside his hookah (water pipe), playing an oud (a lute-like instrument) accompanied by the cawing of a pet raven perched on its cage. Seated in the background are three Bashi-Bazouks, or members of the Ottoman Empire's irregular troops, who were noted for their ferocity. Gérôme visited Greece and Turkey in 1854, sailed up the Nile River in 1857, and returned to the Near East on a number of occasions. Much of his work was devoted to orientalist paintings, which he imbued with a sense of reality by providing a wealth of details. [The Walters Art Museum]

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Jerusalem from the Environs (ca. 1881)

Charles Théodore Frère: Jerusalem from the Environs

This painting is thought to have been exhibited by Frère at the Salon of 1881 as View of Jerusalem from the Valley of Jehoshaphat. Because the artist had not been to the Holy Land for twenty years—he last traveled there as part of Empress Eugénie’s retinue in 1861—the composition must be based on one or more earlier studies or photographs. Frère’s meticulous style derives from his training under the academician Léon Cogniet, whose ceiling decorations devoted to Napoleon’s Egyptian campaign (Musée du Louvre, Paris) were completed in 1837. [Metropolitan Museum of Art]

Friday, December 2, 2016

My Father’s Studio (1881)

Edouard Joseph Dantan: My Father’s Studio

Edouard-Joseph Dantan was the son of the renowned French sculptor Antoine-Laurent Dantan and nephew to Jean-Pierre Dantan also a sculptor and celebrated for his portraits and caricatures of his contemporaries. Growing up among these two great men, Dantan gained an intimate understanding of both the demands and pleasures of the artist's life. It is this first-hand, nuanced experience that informs the present My Father's Studio, the second version of the artist's Salon submission of 1880. The original, titled Un Coin D'Atelier, was so well-received that it was quickly acquired by the French State for the Musée du Luxembourg (and now hangs in the Sénat), with the demand for further versions soon apparent. In both compositions, Dantan shows his father in his Saint-Cloud studio absorbed in the restoration of his bas-relief of The Drunkenness of Silenus. Antoine-Laurent first completed a terracotta version of The Drunkeness of Silenus for the Prix de Rome in 1831, followed by the marble carving exhibited at the Salon of 1868. [Gandalf’s Gallery]

Thursday, December 1, 2016