Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Charles Euphrasie Kuwasseg (1883)

Charles Euphrasie Kuwasseg: At the River's Edge
Charles Euphrasie Kuwasseg: Promenade en Bateau

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Jules Bastien-Lepage (1882)

 Jules Bastien-Lepage: The Little Bootblack in London
 Jules Bastien-Lepage: The Little Peddler Sleeping
 Jules Bastien-Lepage: The Thames, London
Jules Bastien-Lepage: The Village Lovers

Monday, January 16, 2017

The Arrival of the Fishing Boats (1882)

Victor-Gabriel Gilbert: The Arrival of the Fishing Boats

During his lifetime, Victor Gilbert established himself as the premier painter of the contemporary Parisian marketplace. He achieved considerable success at the 1880 Salon when he was awarded a second-class medal for his painting A Corner of the Fish Market. Gilbert’s interest in the activities of the Paris fish markets in Les Halles likely prompted him to investigate the market’s precursor, the harbor. The fish harbor and market became Gilbert’s most prized settings and The Arrival of the Fishing Boats is a detailed example of his ability to capture the intricacies of the fishing trade.

After the boats have come to shore, fishermen unload the catch but it is hard-working women who distribute and sort the various types of fish, selecting the best for their market baskets. Always striking in Gilbert’s fishing scenes, whether at the market or along the shore, is his exactitude in capturing the sheen and opacity of the bodies and scales of sea life.  [Gandalf’s Gallery]

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Saturday, January 14, 2017

La mort du Prince impérial (1882)

Paul Joseph Jamin: La mort du Prince impérial

In 1874, date of its coming of age, the imperial prince was the legitimate pretender to the succession of Napoleon III. Although exiled, he was the leader of the unfortunately divided Bonapartist party, but which nonetheless represented a potential danger to the Republic. However, the Universal Exhibition of 1878, which was a success comparable to that of 1867, revealed to the eyes of France and the world a Paris raised from its ruins, and the Republican regime grew in stature, both in the country and abroad.

In his English exile, the prince chafed at the inaction forced on him. He wanted to demonstrate his military valor and thus show himself a worthy heir of Bonaparte. He dreamed of glory. He asked to fight in Tonkin, but the French Republic objected. He applied unsuccessfully to the Emperor of Austria for permission to participate in the fight against the Turks in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Finally, Queen Victoria allowed him to take part in a punitive expedition against the Zulus who attacked the British Army in South Africa 15 February 1879. On 29 February, the imperial prince sailed from Southampton to Cape Town, not as an officer, but as a simple witness. He was able to participate in some reconnaissance in enemy territory, during which he distinguished himself by his valor.

On June 1, 1879, about four in the afternoon, the Crown Prince and his English escort were surprised during a halt by forty Zulus. Two British soldiers were killed and the others fled, while the prince tried in vain to mount his horse engaged in a frantic race. The saddle he kept for sentimental reasons - it had belonged to his father Napoleon III - was used: the belt broke, the rider fell and his horse continued his wild journey. The Crown Prince found himself alone against a horde of menacing Zulus.

It is this moment that the painter has chosen to capture on his canvas. Visible in the distance are the fleeing English and the galloping horse. The imperial prince defends himself courageously. He has lost his sword and points his gun in the direction of four Zulus, whose representation is characteristic of the image of the "native" aired in this time of recovery of colonial expansion. He will shoot three times but will eventually fall, pierced by seventeen spears. The prince died, and the Zulu also stripped his body of its clothes, leaving him only the gold medallion he wore neck and containing the portrait of the Empress Eugenie. [L’Histoire par L’Image]

Thursday, January 12, 2017

The Floral Path (1882)

 Jules Bastien-Lepage: The Floral Path (The Little Shepherdess)

The wild flowers which had died back during the winter months are in bloom in Bastien-Lepage’s painting of a young shepherdess, Fleur du Chemin. The abundant white heads of Queen Anne’s Lace, a rogue among the crops, dominates the more delicate ox-eye daisies, poppies and other flowers that blossom at the edges of the large rolling fields of north-eastern France. Being a terrain close to the artist’s home village of Damvillers, they were completely familiar. The girl who passes the viewer, in addition to her staff, carries a bunch of what appear to be golden ragwort, common in these regions. Her flock is unseen and, unlike the iconic shepherdesses of Jean-François Millet, overtones of rustic piety are missing. Indeed, where Millet’s grande bergère is clothed and cloaked against the windswept plain of Chailly, Lepage’s is dressed in a well-worn coat, striped skirt and long black shoes that are evidently too big for her. Framed by thick golden curls, her gaze is nevertheless compelling. The painter would have us believe that she is a wayside flower, blooming unkempt, on the hillsides of the Meuse. [Sotheby’s]

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Paying the Harvesters (1882)

Léon Augustin Lhermitte: Paying the Harvesters

Léon Lhermitte was born in the Aisne and lived there until he was about twenty, which explains his deep attachment to rural life and the focus of his prolific production on the work and daily life in the countryside of his time.

He came from a humble family and for many years earned his living with minor engraving work in France and England, before winning recognition at the Salon from 1874. Fame came after 1880, when the artist successively entered several large paintings depicting the life and people of his native village of Mont-Saint-Père. The Cabaret in 1881, this Paying the Harvesters in 1882 and The Harvest in 1883 used the same figures which can be identified from one painting to another. It is easy to recognize, on the left of the scene, the reaper Casimir Dehan, sitting absent-mindedly or resignedly on the bench, after the work is done.

The subject and technique of Paying the Harvesters belong to the Naturalist movement. However Lhermitte did not make this painting into a manifesto against the grinding toil of agricultural laborers as Jules Bastien-Lepage did in his painting Haymaking in 1877, also in the Musee d'Orsay. He was content with a bald statement devoid of polemics in which he uses his great artistic skill, from the remarkably balanced overall composition to the extremely precise rendering of the tiniest details. [Musée d'Orsay]

Monday, January 9, 2017

The Terrace of the Glacier Café (1882)

Léon Joseph Voirin: The Terrace of the Glacier Café, Stanislas Place at Nancy

Describing the city of Nancy at the turn of the nineteenth century, prolific travelogue author Mathilda Betham-Edwards, wrote in her East of Paris "why so few… travelers visit this dainty and attractive little capital is not easy to explain." Despite the conveniences of a newly built canal and train travel, the northeastern city was often overlooked by both tourists and fellow French. Emerging from the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-1, Nancy, located so near the German border, had difficulty rising above its reputation as embattled military outpost. Yet, as Betham-Edwards assured, while "the ancient capital of Lorraine is one of the largest garrisons on the eastern frontier…the military aspect is not too obtrusive…. in order to enjoy Nancy thoroughly, a day or two, should be devoted to it and creature comforts are to be had."  Indeed, in addition to its large population of soldiers, the city also boasted many industrialists and prominent bourgeois businessmen who supported a rich social and cultural city life of museums, restaurants, grand hotels and cafés. The very center of the city's pleasures is captured in Voirin's view of the popular Café du Glacier just off the Place Stanislas. Completed in 1756 by Emmanuel Héré, and named for its sponsor, Stanislas Lesznski, the exiled King of Poland (who found a home in Nancy and was later Duke of Lorraine), the Place joined the medieval section of the city with modern developments. Voirin’s painting perfectly replicates the interior of the Place as bordered by the neat facades of Jean Lamour's wrought-iron gilded gates, which linked the Vaudémont and Haussonville bastions. Barthélémy Guibal's rocaille Amphrite fountain marked the entrance to the Café's courtyard where, just as in Paris, well-dressed people gathered to sip coffee, quaff aperitifs, enjoy the city's renowned pastries (the baba au rhum being a particular favorite) and good conversation. Voirin maintains an important distinction between the café society of his native city from the paintings of Parisian artists. Flanking Café du Glacier's courtyards is a one-story military garrison, reminding the viewer of the constant need for defense.  This is further emphasized by other elements: the pull toy of a horse and soldier in the center of the composition and a young boy in a military costume who plays with his dog as a more sedate soldier, sword near at hand, sits in the background. [Sotheby’s]

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Nothing Doing (1882)

Jules Bastien-Lepage: Nothing Doing

A young boy looks directly out of the painting clad in raggedy clothes and large unlaced boots. His relaxed air fits the title which is an abbreviation of the French slang: 'Il n'y a pas meche' meaning 'There's nothing doing'. The whip he holds and the horn slung on his back suggest that he was a barge boy who would have controlled the horses pulling the barge and alerted the lockmasters of its imminent arrival. The painting was made for the London art dealers Arthur Tooth and Sons and was included in the artist's memorial exhibition held in Paris in 1885. [National Galleries Scotland]

Friday, January 6, 2017

The Slave Market (1882)

Gustave Boulanger: The Slave Market

The Slave Market is a painting of about 1882 by the 19th century French artist Gustave Boulanger, who specialized in classical and Orientalist genre scenes. It depicts an Ancient Roman slave auction. It shows the marketing of seven young people, ranging in age from children to young adults, as slaves. Both male slaves, as well as three of the female slaves, bear a similarity in appearance perhaps suggesting that they are members of a family forced into slavery by economic conditions. All are wearing tags to indicate their availability as slaves. The youngest boy is completely naked, while the young man next to him is wearing a loincloth. The young woman sitting next to them is topless, wearing only a skirt, but she is covering her breasts with her legs. The standing African woman is also topless, wearing a white loincloth, and she is covering her breasts with her hands. The taller, standing, young woman is wearing a translucent garment which clearly shows her breasts and pubic hair—she is trying to shield her eyes, perhaps because her potential buyers include former friends and neighbors, who are probably seeing her nude for the first time. The adolescent girl next to her is also topless and barefoot, wearing a skirt. The young woman sitting next to them is wearing a loose garment which leaves both her breasts and her genitals exposed. The auctioneer eats his lunch with a very casual attitude. [Wikipedia]

Thursday, January 5, 2017

The Death of Polyxena (1882)

Paul François Quinsac: The Death of Polyxena

In Greek mythology, Polyxena was the youngest daughter of King Priam of Troy and his queen, Hecuba. [Wikipedia]

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

The Pope and the Inquisitor (1882)

Jean-Paul Laurens: The Pope and the Inquisitor

The Pope and the Inquisitor shows Pope Sixtus IV with Torquemada, who is examining the Papal Bull making him Inquisitor General of Castilla and Aragon in 1483.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Le Pere Jacques (1882)

Jules Bastien-Lepage: Le Pere Jacques (The Woodgatherer)

The Woodgatherer, painted for the Salon of 1882, is one of Jules Bastien-Lepage's most important works. The old woodsman, a family friend, and his granddaughter represent the heavy weariness of old age and the innocence of youth, as well as the passage of time. The remarkable color and handling of paint reflect the artist's unique ability to blend the greater luminosity and atmosphere of the Impressionists with the more conservative, precisionist technique of the Academicians. By the early 1880s, Bastien-Lepage had become the leader of the Naturalist school, and many of his contemporaries believed that he would one day succeed Manet as the leader of modern painting. [Milwaukee Art Museum]