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