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Retired and enjoying my free time to paint. I love the French Impressionism era. Monet, Renoir, Bazille and Manet are some of my favorites.


Friday, December 3, 2010

Renoir , My Father by Jean Renior

Just completed this book by Jean Renoir on his father.  I found somewhat cumbersome since he covered many details of  Renoir .  Such as neighbors, friends, however in a way of really remembrance.  I was hoping to read on how  Renoir went about his paintings and his life in general but I found to much information on others that cared for.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Edgar Degas

Sulking, 1870
Metropolitan Museum of Art New York City
Like several of Dega's genre pictures from the late 1860s and early 1870s, this painting seems to reflect a literary or theatrical source.  None has been found, yet the drama that exists between the man and the woman continues to invite speculation.  Are they a husband and wife, a man and his lover, a father and his daughter, a banker and his client, a woman placing bets on horse races?  The ambiguity of the relationship harbors and endless fascination.

The picture's anecdotal character is reminiscent of Victorian painting, which Degas studied in the British section of the 1867 Exposition, Universelle in Paris.  When he was working on this canvas, Degas was closely allied with James Tissot, the most Anglophilic of French artists. Degas asked the writer Edmnd Duranty and the young model Emma Dobigny, who had been a favorite of Corot, Puvis, and Tissot, to pose for him.  the racing print behind them is Degs's careful copy of a color lithograph by J.F. Herring.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Edgar Degas

The Dance Class 1874
Metropolitan Museum of Art New York City

When Degas painted this work and a variant (Musee d'Orsay, Paris), they constituted his most ambitious figural compositions aside from history paintings.  About twenty=four women--ballerinas and their mothers--wait while a dancer executes an attitude for her examination.  Jules Perrot, among the best known dances and ballet masters in Europe, conducts the class.  The scene is set in a rehearsal room in the old Paris Opera--a poster for Rossini's Guillaume Tell is on the wall beside the mirror--even though the building has just burned down.

The work was commissioned in 1872 as part of an arrangement between Degas and the singer and collector Jean-Baptise Faure.  It was one of only a few commissions the artist ever accepted; the painting was delivered in November 1874 after two years of intermittent work.

Edgar Degas

The Ballet from "Robert le Diable ", 1887
Metropolitan Museum of Art New York City

This scene is from the third act of Giacomo Meyerbeer's opera "Robert le Diable."  The ghosts of dead nuns have been resurrected and greet one another amid the ruins of a moonlit monaster.  Although dated 1872, this canvas was painted in 1871.  In 1876 Degas executed a larger version (Victoria and Albert Museum, London) expressly for Jean-Baptiste Faure, who starred in the opera.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Book worth the read

Impressionist Quartet: The Intimate Genius of Manet and Morisot, Degas and Cassatt:  Author Jeffery Meyers

Just completed this book and it brings out wonderful detail on the inner circles of the impressionists and how they worked and socialized with each other. Enjoyed ready how Manet had a inner passion for Bertha Morisot, however being himself married did not bring it further. However, he did convince her to marry his brother so that she would be close to the family and that she did. She had strong feelings for Manet and found being close to him was sufficient.Degas was an interesting personality that at times was difficult to understand. His relation with the others and Cassatt is by far a wonderful experience.

 Sal Valenti

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Claude Monet

Bouquet of Flowers, 1891
Metropolitan Museum of Art New York City
(click image to enlarge)
The sunflowers harvested for this lush bouquet grew flanking the steps led down to Monet's garden at Vetheuil.  He exhibited this painting in 1882 at the seventh Impressionist exhibition, where the "brio and daring" of his technique elicited the critics' admiration.

Vincent van Gogh probably saw Monet's Sunflowers in Paul Durand-Ruel's gallery when he arrived in Paris in early 1886.  In a letter to his brother, Theo, in November 1888, Van Gogh recalled Monet's work in relation to his own "Sunflowers" series: "Gauguin was telling me the other day that he had seen a picture by
Claude Monet of sunflowers in a large Japanese vase, very fine, but--he likes mine better. I don't agree."(click image to enlarge)

Claude Monet

Ice Floes, 1893
Metropolitan Museum of Art New York City
(click image to enlarge)

The prolonged freeze and heavy snowfalls in the winter of 1892-93 inspired Monet to capture their effects on the Seine in a series of paintings for which he chose a vantage point not far from his home in Giverny.  The river had frozen in mid-January but began to thaw on the 23rd; the following day, in a letter to his dealer, Durand-Ruel, Monet lamented that "the thaw came too soon for me...the results--just four or five canvases and they are far from complete." By the end of  February, however, he finished more than a dozen paintings, including this view of the melting ice floes.

Claude Monet

The Valley of The Nervia,1884
Metropolitan Museum of Art New York City
(click image to enlarge)

Monet Painted "The Valley of the Nervia" during a ten-week trip to the Italian Riviera in early 1884.  The river Nervia flows into the Mediterranean near the French-Italian border between Ventimiglia and Bordighera.  The Maritime Alps are visible in the background behind the village of Camporosso.  In this painting Monet employs the lighter, brighter palette that he first adopted after a trip to the Riviera in 1883.

Recommended Books on Impressionism and the French Impressionists

  •  Recommended Books on Impressionism and the French Impressionists by
  •  Herbert, Robert L. Impressionism: Art, Leisure, and Parisian Society.
    New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988.
    ISBN-10: 0300042620
    ISBN-13: 978-0300042627
    A lively, engaging read on how the architectural, civic and societal innovations of mid-to-late 19th-century Paris aided in the formation and development of Impressionism. More a social than an art historic approach, which I, for one, found rather refreshing in a steady diet of the latter.
  • Roe, Sue. The Private Lives of the Impressionists.
    New York: HarperCollins, 2006.
    ISBN-10: 0060545585
    ISBN-13: 978-0060545581 I loved that this book presented the French Impressionists as a group (rather than concentrating on one specific artist), with all the funky dynamics - friendship, rivalry, poverty, wealth, varying social statuses, "office" romances and clashing political views - that any group contains. Well-written and researched, and highly entertaining (read: a gossip lover's treat).
  • Thomson, Belinda. Impressionism: Origins, Practice, Reception.
    London and New York: Thames & Hudson, 2000.
    ISBN-10: 0500203350
    ISBN-13: 978-0500203354
    Though not exactly light reading, this informative volume pulls together recent scholarship on primary source documents from and concerning the original French Impressionists, and presents all in context.

Recommended Books/Publications

  •   Recommended Books on Impressionism and the French Impressionists by
  •  Mauclair, Camille; P. G. Konady, trans.
         The French Impressionists (1860-1900).         London: Duckworth & Co.; New York: E.P. Dutton & Co., 1903.

  • Nochlin, Linda (ed.). Impressionism and Post-Impressionism 1874-1904: Sources and Documents.
         Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, 1966.
        ISBN-10: 0134520033
        ISBN-13: 978-0134520032

  • Rewald, John. History of Impressionism. New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1973 (4th rev. ed.).
    ISBN-10: 0810960354
    ISBN-13: 978-0810960350
    First published in 1946, this is the classic academic text on Impressionism. Nearly encyclopedic in scope, it is worth owning for its bibliography alone.

  • White, Harrison C., & Cynthia A. White.
    Canvases and Careers: Institutional Change in the French Painting World.
    Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993 (Reprint ed.).
    ISBN-10: 0226894878
    ISBN-13: 978-0226894874
    The original edition, published in 1965, was a groundbreaking survey covering how the Académie des Beaux Arts lost its power to individual French artists, artist groups, dealers and critics in 19th-century Paris. Still fresh today, the reprint edition includes an afterword containing more recent scholarship.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Claude Monet

Palm Trees at Bordighera, 1884
Metropolitan Museum of Art New York City
(click image to enlarge)

This canvas, like "The Valley of the Nervia", was painted during Monet's trip to the Italian Riviera in Early 1884.  The view looks to the west across the Bay of Ventimiglia and toward the Maritime Alps on the Italian-French border.  Monet who had first visited the Riviera with Renoir in December 1883 decided to return alone on his second trip from mid-January to early April 1884; he later wrote Renoir that he felt working
"at deux" was aways a mistake.

Claude Monet

Houses of Parliament (Effect of Fog), 1903-04
Metropolitan Museum of Art New York City
(click image to enlarge)

In the fall of 1899 and the early months of 1900 and of 1901, Monet executed a series of views of the Thames River in London.  From his room at the Savoy Hotel, he painted Waterloo Bridge to the east, and Charing Cross Bridge to the west; beginning in February 1900, he set up his easel on a terrace at Staint Thomas's Hospital across the river, reserving time in the late afternoon to depict the Houses of Parliament. 

While in London, Monet produced nearly a hundred canvases, reportedly moving from one to another as the light changed.  He continued to work on these paintings in his studio at Giverny.  In May 1904, thirty-seven
were exhibited at the Galerie Durand-Ruel in Paris, including this view of the Houses of Parliament cloaked in dense fog.