Monday, August 14, 2017

Jean-Léon Gérôme (1889)

Jean-Léon Gérôme: Bathsheba
Jean-Léon Gérôme: Nude Woman
Jean-Léon Gérôme: The Harem Bath
Jean-Léon Gérôme: The Marabout in the Harem Bath

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Portrait of Donna Olga Caracciolo (1889)

Jacques Emile Blanche: Portrait of Donna Olga Caracciolo dei Duchi di Castelluccio

Maria Beatrice Olga Alberta Caracciolo (born in London 8 August 1871) was the daughter of the Duchess of Castelluccio, and rumored to be the natural daughter of Albert Edward, the Prince of Wales and later King Edward VII, a onetime lover of the Duchess. Olga, given the name Alberta in honor of the Prince who was also her godfather, was the only daughter and heiress to her father’s title of Duke of Castelluccio. Circumstantial evidence and the many favors later shown her and her second husband, the brilliant society photographer Baron Adolphe de Meyer, by the King (whose goddaughter she was), were thought by some to support the rumors regarding her paternity, which were never disproved.

Olga first married at Naples 11 May 1892 an Italian nobleman, Nobile Marino Brancaccio, younger son of Carlo Brancaccio, Prince of Triggiano and Duke of Lustra, but this marriage ended in divorce (7 June 1899) and she remarried to Adolphe de Meyer. Her beauty and elegance inspired not only Blanche, but also Whistler, Boldini, Sickert, Sargent, Conder, and Helleu to paint or draw her. The artist, reminiscing about Olga in his memoirs, wrote: she “has such a wealth of dresses, fans, and jewelry as befitted one who put in an appearance at all important social functions. When Olga enters the Orchestra stalls, the opera glasses of everyone were focused on her, the most elegant woman in the audience, the most thoroughbred of cosmopolitan society: Here is the Baroness de Meyer, they whisper spellbound.”

Jacques Emile Blanche, ten years her senior, first met Olga in Dieppe where his parents had a house and where Olga’s mother, the Duchess, had taken refuge from society in a villa presented to her by the Prince of Wales. Bianca Sampajo (who died in 1891) had married Gennaro Caracciolo-Pisquizi, Duke of Castelluccio, in Paris in 1869 but separated soon after the birth of their daughter two years later. Dieppe, at the time, was a fashionable seaside resort inhabited by a large English colony and the incognito visits of the Prince of Wales to the Duchess and his goddaughter only fuelled rumors and gossip. The villa, described by Blanche as the “Villa of Mystery,” was viewed with a mix of envy and disapproval by those excluded from the Prince’s circle. Olga herself was said by Blanche to be the model for Proust’s Odette (although the author more likely referred to her mother), in À la recherche du temps perdu; Blanche himself was the original of the painter Elstir. Blanche describes how he “painted her in a dress of rose cambric, upright, impassive, a sort of infanta in the style of Velazquez, already wearing the longer skirts in which girls who were to come out used to be dressed.” [Matthiesen Gallery]

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Jean Béraud (1889)

 Jean Béraud: La Patisserie Gloppe
Jean Béraud: The Departure of the Bourgeois

Monday, August 7, 2017

After The Ball (1889)

Henri Lucien Doucet: After The Ball

Henri Lucien Doucet was born on 23rd August 1856 in Paris. He studied under Boulanger and Lefebvre. He painted in oils and pastels and his subjects varied from historical scenes and portraits but he is best known for his genre scenes. He debuted at The Paris Salon in 1877 at the tender age of 21.

He went on to have a successful career that won him many plaudits and awards. These included ‘Le Grand Prix de Rome’ in 1880 and most notably a Gold Medal at l’Exposition Universelle de Paris in 1889. The paintings that Doucet submitted to the 1877 Salon caused something of a minor scandal - most notably those painted from the time he spent at the Villa Medici. He sent a painting entitled Berenice to Rome. The institute there refused to exhibit the painting at l’Ecole des Beaux-Arts because of “its impudent suggestion”. A confrontational figure, Doucet quarrelled with many of his contemporaries, most memorably with Cabat, who was at the time director of the French Academy in Rome. Cabat had taken exception to the daring composition and timbre of his painting entitled Harem. This elevated Doucet to something of a cause celebre.

In his first canvases Doucet showed the great debt he owed to Bastien-Lepage but on his return to France he had lost much of his emotional fervour and zeal. He became a more mundane and reserved painter often working in pastels. The painting After the Ball shows all the daring that had so upset Cabat 100 years previously. There is a tension that exists between the two figures that must, to a conservative Victorian public, have seemed most improper. After the Ball is a fine example of Doucet’s early work. [Williams & Son]

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Rosa Bonheur (1888)

 Rosa Bonheur: Chamois Mother and Baby
Rosa Bonheur: Oxen of the Cantal Breed

Friday, July 28, 2017

Relèvement du chemin de fer de ceinture, Station du Bel Air et rue Montempoivre (1888)

Paul Désiré Trouillebert: Relèvement du chemin de fer de ceinture, 
Station du Bel Air et rue Montempoivre

The modern city was the artistic muse of the French Impressionists and their contemporaries. The Barbizon School trained Paul Désiré Trouillebert was among the artists who found inspiration in Paris' industrial surroundings. In the present painting, Trouillebert takes as his subject the Bel Air train station then undergoing renovations. Such a scene, which would have been an inconceivable subject for artists earlier in the century, offered Trouillebert a means of exploring the avant-garde theme of urban industrialization. Trouillebert adds a touch of softness to what could otherwise be a cold portrait of modernity by including a mother and child holding hands in the foreground and rendering his composition in pastel colors. [Christie’s]

Monday, July 10, 2017

The White Slave (1888)

Jean-Jules Antoine Lecomte du Noüy: The White Slave

The White Slave (1888) also achieved great renown, gracing the cover of a contemporary edition of Victor Hugo's Les Orientales and Gerard de Nerval's Voyage en Orient. The subject, one of the Georgian or Circassian concubines who on the basis of race was most highly prized in the Ottoman Empire, is rendered as an opulent object of consumption. The luxurious fabrics and succulent foods that surround her, the abstracted expression with which she contemplates the plumes of smoke curving upward from her lips, and her opaline, nearly boneless body present an impossible dream of leisure and pleasure. Although the composition is clearly indebted to the odalisques of Ingres and Gérôme, its sultry, seductive radiance bears an idiosyncratic stamp. [Art Renewal Center]

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Cabinette de toilette (1888)

Maurice Lobre: Cabinette de toilette de Jacques-Emile Blanche

Maurice Lobre (1862-1951) was a French artist. He was born in Bordeaux and died in Paris. Lobre first gained recognition in the late 19th Century when his work was displayed at the Salon du Champ de Mars. In 1888 he received an honorary mention and a travel grant from the Salon. That summer he traveled to Normandy where he stayed with Jacques-Émile Blanche. By this time, Blanche regularly hosted popular artists. Degas and Whistler were among his most prominent guests. When Europe descended into chaos in the summer of 1914, Maurice Lobre helped depict its atrocities. [Gandalf’s Gallery]

Friday, July 7, 2017

La soupe de l'Enfant (1888)

Léon Augustin Lhermitte: La soupe de l'Enfant

Leon Lhermitte was born in 1844 and was still executing works in the French rural tradition at his death in 1925, making him the last in an illustrious group of artists. He showed artistic talent at a young age and in 1863 left his home at Mont-Saint-Pêre, Aisne for the Petite Ecole in Paris where he studied with Horace Lecoq de Boisbaudran. Lecoq was known for his program of training the visual memory of his students, and his theories had a profound effect on Lhermitte. It was in his studio that Lhermitte formed a life-long friendship with Cazin and also became acquainted with Legros, Fantin-Latour and Rodin. Lhermitte sent his initial entry to the Salon in 1864 when he was nineteen, and continued to exhibit charcoal drawings and paintings regularly, and pastels after 1885, winning his first medal in 1874 with La Moisson (Musée de Carcassone). Other prizes and honors came to Lhermitte throughout his long career, including the Grand Prix at the Exposition Universelle, 1889, the Diplome d’honneur, Dresden, 1890, and the Legion of Honor. He was a founding member of the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts.

Lhermitte’s subject matter rarely deviated from the peasants and rural life of his youth. The most profound influence upon his work was certainly Jean François Millet who, like Lhermitte, was equally adept with pastel as with oil. While one could not characterize Lhermitte as an innovator, it is fair to say that he remained true to his own artistic conscience, creating beautiful, light-filled works in the Barbizon tradition while reinforcing the dignity of peasant life and the glory of the French rural landscape in the face of encroaching technology. He has been accused of simply marrying traditional academic practices to the brighter colors of the Impressionists for the sake of his considerable commercial success, but this criticism is probably unjust. He was a talented artist, much admired by his peers. Van Gogh wrote “He (Lhermitte) is the absolute master of the figure, he does what he likes with it -- proceeding neither from the color nor the local tone but rather from the light - as Rembrandt did--there is an astonishing mastery in everything he does, above all excelling in modeling, he perfectly satisfies all that honesty demands.” [Schiller & Bodo]

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Friday, June 30, 2017

The Organ Rehearsal (1888)

Henry Lerolle: The Organ Rehearsal

This is the most important painting by Lerolle, a friend and collector of such artists as Degas, Denis, and Vuillard. Set in the choir loft of the church of Saint-François-Xavier in Paris, it features members of Lerolle’s intimate circle, including his wife (bare-headed) and her sisters, in fashionable matching hats; his brother-in-law, composer Ernest Chausson, plays the organ. The painter himself gazes outward at left. Shown at the Salon of 1885, this picture triumphed the next year in New York, in the first major Impressionism exhibition in America. One critic recalled, "spectators … spoke low before it, as if waiting for … the voice of the singer to be heard." [Metropolitan Museum of Art]

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Jean-Charles Cazin (1888)

 Jean-Charles Cazin: The End of the Day
Jean-Charles Cazin: The Rainbow

Friday, June 23, 2017

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Émile Friant (1888)

Émile Friant: Idyll on a Bridge (Les Amoureux) 
Émile Friant: Spring
Émile Friant: The Rowers of the Meurthe