April 23, 2014
Abraham Brueghel - Woman Grasping Fruit [1689] on Flickr.Abraham Brueghel (Antwerp, November 28, 1631 - Naples, 1690) was a Flemish painter from the famous family of artists. He was the son of Jan Brueghel the Younger, the grandson of Jan Brueghel the Elder. 
[Musée du Louvre, Paris - Oil on canvas, 128 x 149 cm]

Abraham Brueghel - Woman Grasping Fruit [1689] on Flickr.

Abraham Brueghel (Antwerp, November 28, 1631 - Naples, 1690) was a Flemish painter from the famous family of artists. He was the son of Jan Brueghel the Younger, the grandson of Jan Brueghel the Elder.

[Musée du Louvre, Paris - Oil on canvas, 128 x 149 cm]

April 23, 2014
Antonio María Reyna Manescau - Venetian Canal on Flickr.Antonio María Reyna Manescau (Málaga, December 5, 1859 - Rome, February 3, 1937) was a Spanish painter of Venetian scenes. From a young age he showed great love for drawing and began his artistic training at the School of Fine Arts in Malaga, and in 1882 received a grant from the county council for further study in Italy. He moved to Rome, the city where he lived until his death and where he married the opera singer Beatriz Mililotti Desantis.
[Museo CarmenThyssen, Málaga - Oil on panel, 34.1 x 74.7 cm]

Antonio María Reyna Manescau - Venetian Canal on Flickr.

Antonio María Reyna Manescau (Málaga, December 5, 1859 - Rome, February 3, 1937) was a Spanish painter of Venetian scenes. From a young age he showed great love for drawing and began his artistic training at the School of Fine Arts in Malaga, and in 1882 received a grant from the county council for further study in Italy. He moved to Rome, the city where he lived until his death and where he married the opera singer Beatriz Mililotti Desantis.

[Museo CarmenThyssen, Málaga - Oil on panel, 34.1 x 74.7 cm]

April 23, 2014
Jean-Baptiste Greuze - The Village Bride [1761] on Flickr.This narrative painting reminiscent of Dutch genre paintings, depicts the moment of the exchange of the dowry from the father into the bridegroom’s hand that is being recorded by the public notary and being witnessed by the whole family.  The most important focal point is in the middle with the hands exchanging the money. The father is the only one speaking while the rest of the family are rendered displaying different emotions with gestures as part of little vignettes throughout the painting. The contemporary viewer would be able to make a direct connection with the unfolding drama. 
[Musée du Louvre, Paris - Oil on canvas, 36 x 46.5 inches]

Jean-Baptiste Greuze - The Village Bride [1761] on Flickr.

This narrative painting reminiscent of Dutch genre paintings, depicts the moment of the exchange of the dowry from the father into the bridegroom’s hand that is being recorded by the public notary and being witnessed by the whole family. The most important focal point is in the middle with the hands exchanging the money. The father is the only one speaking while the rest of the family are rendered displaying different emotions with gestures as part of little vignettes throughout the painting. The contemporary viewer would be able to make a direct connection with the unfolding drama.

[Musée du Louvre, Paris - Oil on canvas, 36 x 46.5 inches]

April 22, 2014
Jean Béraud - Couple Devant use Bijouterie on Flickr.This was given by Jean Béraud to his good friend, Maurice Poirson, an artist in his own right who, tragically, died at an early age and left no heirs. An article in Le Gaulois, published December 16, 1882, describes his passing as a disaster for the art community of Paris. After his death, this painting was left to Maurice’s half-brother, Paul Poirson, as was his studio on the Boulevard Berthier. Paul subsequently rented the studio to John Singer Sargent, from whom he would accept a fine portrait of his wife, Madame Paul Poirson, in lieu of payment. The painting, which likely features the Ravaut jewellery shop which was on Rue de la Paix in Paris, has since been passed down through generations of the Poirson family.
[Sold for $118,750 at Sotheby’s, New York - Oil on canvas, 32.5 x 40.5 cm]

Jean Béraud - Couple Devant use Bijouterie on Flickr.

This was given by Jean Béraud to his good friend, Maurice Poirson, an artist in his own right who, tragically, died at an early age and left no heirs. An article in Le Gaulois, published December 16, 1882, describes his passing as a disaster for the art community of Paris. After his death, this painting was left to Maurice’s half-brother, Paul Poirson, as was his studio on the Boulevard Berthier. Paul subsequently rented the studio to John Singer Sargent, from whom he would accept a fine portrait of his wife, Madame Paul Poirson, in lieu of payment. The painting, which likely features the Ravaut jewellery shop which was on Rue de la Paix in Paris, has since been passed down through generations of the Poirson family.

[Sold for $118,750 at Sotheby’s, New York - Oil on canvas, 32.5 x 40.5 cm]

April 22, 2014
Lilian Lucy Davidson - Burying the Child on Flickr.Burying the Child is unusual for Irish painting of the time. It has echoes of the European tradition, Zola, Rilke, Dostoyevsky, and especially Picasso in his blue period, of artists who engaged with the dark side of the world in those apocalyptic years just before and after World War I. The restricted palette intensifies the emotion. The colour blue has a long tradition in Christian symbolic iconography, and is also associated with mourning; it is applied here to heighten the sense of tragedy, but without religious or heroic overtones. These are the poorest of the poor, suffering an annihilating grief. Ireland may be in the post-Famine period but, Davidson is reminding us, hope did not grow out of loss. All narrative is eliminated, there is no identifiable time or place, and yet the subject matter is indisputable. They have come from nothing, and now alienated and traumatised, they look past one another into nothingness.
[Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum, Hamden, Connecticut - Oil on canvas, 27.5 x 35.5 inches]

Lilian Lucy Davidson - Burying the Child on Flickr.

Burying the Child is unusual for Irish painting of the time. It has echoes of the European tradition, Zola, Rilke, Dostoyevsky, and especially Picasso in his blue period, of artists who engaged with the dark side of the world in those apocalyptic years just before and after World War I. The restricted palette intensifies the emotion. The colour blue has a long tradition in Christian symbolic iconography, and is also associated with mourning; it is applied here to heighten the sense of tragedy, but without religious or heroic overtones. These are the poorest of the poor, suffering an annihilating grief. Ireland may be in the post-Famine period but, Davidson is reminding us, hope did not grow out of loss. All narrative is eliminated, there is no identifiable time or place, and yet the subject matter is indisputable. They have come from nothing, and now alienated and traumatised, they look past one another into nothingness.

[Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum, Hamden, Connecticut - Oil on canvas, 27.5 x 35.5 inches]

April 22, 2014
Vincent van Gogh - Shoes [1888] on Flickr.Van Gogh painted several still lifes of shoes or boots during his Paris period. This picture, painted later in Arles, evinces a unique return to the earlier motif.
[Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York - Oil on canvas, 45.7 x 55.2 cm]

Vincent van Gogh - Shoes [1888] on Flickr.

Van Gogh painted several still lifes of shoes or boots during his Paris period. This picture, painted later in Arles, evinces a unique return to the earlier motif.

[Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York - Oil on canvas, 45.7 x 55.2 cm]

April 21, 2014
Norman Rockwell - Cousin Reginald Spells Peloponnesus (Spelling Bee) [1918]
The 1930s and ’40s proved to be the most fruitful period for Rockwell. In 1930, he married Mary Barstow, a schoolteacher, and they had three sons: Jarvis, Thomas and Peter. The Rockwells relocated to Arlington, Vermont, in 1939, and the new world that greeted Norman offered the perfect material for the artist to draw from. Rockwell’s success stemmed to a large degree from his careful appreciation for everyday American scenes, the warmth of small-town life in particular. Often what he depicted was treated with a certain simple charm and sense of humour. Some critics dismissed him for not having real artistic merit, but Rockwell’s reasons for painting what he did were grounded in the world that was around him. “Maybe as I grew up and found the world wasn’t the perfect place I had thought it to be, I unconsciously decided that if it wasn’t an ideal world, it should be, and so painted only the ideal aspects of it,” he once said.
[Norman Rockwell Museum, Stockbridge - Oil on board, 76.2 x 76.2 cm]

Norman Rockwell - Cousin Reginald Spells Peloponnesus (Spelling Bee) [1918]

The 1930s and ’40s proved to be the most fruitful period for Rockwell. In 1930, he married Mary Barstow, a schoolteacher, and they had three sons: Jarvis, Thomas and Peter. The Rockwells relocated to Arlington, Vermont, in 1939, and the new world that greeted Norman offered the perfect material for the artist to draw from. Rockwell’s success stemmed to a large degree from his careful appreciation for everyday American scenes, the warmth of small-town life in particular. Often what he depicted was treated with a certain simple charm and sense of humour. Some critics dismissed him for not having real artistic merit, but Rockwell’s reasons for painting what he did were grounded in the world that was around him. “Maybe as I grew up and found the world wasn’t the perfect place I had thought it to be, I unconsciously decided that if it wasn’t an ideal world, it should be, and so painted only the ideal aspects of it,” he once said.

[Norman Rockwell Museum, Stockbridge - Oil on board, 76.2 x 76.2 cm]

April 21, 2014
Georges Seurat - Die Seine an der Grand Jatte, Frühling on Flickr.In November 1879, at the age of 20, Seurat went to Brest to do his military service. There he drew the sea, beaches, and boats. When he returned to Paris the following autumn, he shared a studio with another painter, Édmond-François Aman-Jean, who then joined him in Lehmann’s class. But Seurat and Aman-Jean departed from the policies of the École des Beaux-Arts in admiring the warm landscapes of Jean-Baptiste Millet at the Louvre. The two friends often frequented dance halls and cabarets in the evening, and in spring they took the passenger steamer to the island of La Grande Jatte, the setting of Seurat’s future paintings. 
Seurat exhibited at the official Salon, the state-sponsored annual exhibition, for the first time in 1883. He displayed portraits of his mother and of his friend Aman-Jean, and in that same year he began his studies, sketches, and panels for Une Baignade, Asnières. When the picture was refused by the jury of the Salon in 1884, Seurat decided to participate in the foundation of the Groupe des Artistes Indépendants, an association “with neither jury nor prizes,” where he showed his Baignade in June.
[Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, Brussels - Oil on canvas, 65 x 82 cm]

Georges Seurat - Die Seine an der Grand Jatte, Frühling on Flickr.

In November 1879, at the age of 20, Seurat went to Brest to do his military service. There he drew the sea, beaches, and boats. When he returned to Paris the following autumn, he shared a studio with another painter, Édmond-François Aman-Jean, who then joined him in Lehmann’s class. But Seurat and Aman-Jean departed from the policies of the École des Beaux-Arts in admiring the warm landscapes of Jean-Baptiste Millet at the Louvre. The two friends often frequented dance halls and cabarets in the evening, and in spring they took the passenger steamer to the island of La Grande Jatte, the setting of Seurat’s future paintings.

Seurat exhibited at the official Salon, the state-sponsored annual exhibition, for the first time in 1883. He displayed portraits of his mother and of his friend Aman-Jean, and in that same year he began his studies, sketches, and panels for Une Baignade, Asnières. When the picture was refused by the jury of the Salon in 1884, Seurat decided to participate in the foundation of the Groupe des Artistes Indépendants, an association “with neither jury nor prizes,” where he showed his Baignade in June.

[Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, Brussels - Oil on canvas, 65 x 82 cm]

April 21, 2014
Giovanni Paolo Panini - The Lottery in Piazza di Montecitorio [1743-44] on Flickr.The Lottery in Piazza di Montecitorio illustrates Panini’s gifts as a master of architectural perspective and as a painter of everyday life with brilliantly orchestrated figural groups. The painting shows a large crowd of people assembled to witness the lottery draw taking place on the balcony of the Palazzo di Montecitorio in Rome - something which occurred nine times a year from 1743 onwards. The majority of Panini’s works show more conventional views of Rome. The Lottery in Piazza di Montecitorio is a rare example of him portraying contemporary events. In this case, the painting affords a connection across the centuries because the lottery remains the game of chance most favoured today. In his own lifetime, Panini’s reputation rivalled that of Canaletto in Venice. Although Panini was a popular artist with British tourists, present holdings of his work in British public collections are small.
[National Gallery, London - Oil on canvas, 105 x 163 cm]

Giovanni Paolo Panini - The Lottery in Piazza di Montecitorio [1743-44] on Flickr.

The Lottery in Piazza di Montecitorio illustrates Panini’s gifts as a master of architectural perspective and as a painter of everyday life with brilliantly orchestrated figural groups. The painting shows a large crowd of people assembled to witness the lottery draw taking place on the balcony of the Palazzo di Montecitorio in Rome - something which occurred nine times a year from 1743 onwards. The majority of Panini’s works show more conventional views of Rome. The Lottery in Piazza di Montecitorio is a rare example of him portraying contemporary events. In this case, the painting affords a connection across the centuries because the lottery remains the game of chance most favoured today. In his own lifetime, Panini’s reputation rivalled that of Canaletto in Venice. Although Panini was a popular artist with British tourists, present holdings of his work in British public collections are small.

[National Gallery, London - Oil on canvas, 105 x 163 cm]

April 20, 2014
Antoine-Jean Gros - Self Portrait on Flickr.After the fall of Napoleon and the restoration of the Bourbons (who gave Gros the title of baron), Jacques-Louis David was forced into exile and Gros became the head of his studio. As the heir of Neoclassism, Gros tried to work in a style closer to that of David. He continued to paint large compositions, but these academically Neoclassical pictures lacked the Romantic vitality of his earlier historical paintings. His best works after 1815 were portraits, some of which approached the quality of his Napoleonic pictures. He was, however, continually plagued by David’s criticism of his work and became increasingly dissatisfied with his own accomplishments. A sense of failure exacerbated his already melancholic nature, and he committed suicide on June 26, 1835.
[Musée National du Château de Versailles et du Trianon - Oil on canvas]

Antoine-Jean Gros - Self Portrait on Flickr.

After the fall of Napoleon and the restoration of the Bourbons (who gave Gros the title of baron), Jacques-Louis David was forced into exile and Gros became the head of his studio. As the heir of Neoclassism, Gros tried to work in a style closer to that of David. He continued to paint large compositions, but these academically Neoclassical pictures lacked the Romantic vitality of his earlier historical paintings. His best works after 1815 were portraits, some of which approached the quality of his Napoleonic pictures. He was, however, continually plagued by David’s criticism of his work and became increasingly dissatisfied with his own accomplishments. A sense of failure exacerbated his already melancholic nature, and he committed suicide on June 26, 1835.

[Musée National du Château de Versailles et du Trianon - Oil on canvas]

April 20, 2014
Antoine-Jean Gros - The Battle of the Pyramids, July 21, 1798 [1810] on Flickr.After landing and capturing Alexandria in early July 1798, Napoleon advanced towards Cairo and within sight of the Pyramids with the Egyptian capital only four miles away he fought his first major battle against the Mamelukes. The battle was a clash between a modern European Army and a medieval Middle Eastern Army. Although heavily outnumbered Napoleon realised that the only Egyptian troops of any worth on the battlefield were their cavalry so he arranged his forces in large divisional ‘Squares’ with the front and rear made up of a demi brigade each (six ranks deep) and the third Demi Brigade of the division making up the two sides of the square. The French Squares repelled the Mameluke horsemen with artillery fire supporting, French infantry then drove the disorganised Egyptian infantry (Fellahin) away killing several thousand after about an hour of fighting. The French losses amounted to about 300 while estimated Egyptian losses were around 4,000 to 6,000. Seeing the defeat of the Mameluke horse by the French a larger Mameluke army waiting in Cairo dispersed into the desert leaving the capital open to Napoleon.
[Musée National du Château de Versailles et du Trianon - Oil on canvas, 389 x 311 cm]

Antoine-Jean Gros - The Battle of the Pyramids, July 21, 1798 [1810] on Flickr.

After landing and capturing Alexandria in early July 1798, Napoleon advanced towards Cairo and within sight of the Pyramids with the Egyptian capital only four miles away he fought his first major battle against the Mamelukes. The battle was a clash between a modern European Army and a medieval Middle Eastern Army. Although heavily outnumbered Napoleon realised that the only Egyptian troops of any worth on the battlefield were their cavalry so he arranged his forces in large divisional ‘Squares’ with the front and rear made up of a demi brigade each (six ranks deep) and the third Demi Brigade of the division making up the two sides of the square. The French Squares repelled the Mameluke horsemen with artillery fire supporting, French infantry then drove the disorganised Egyptian infantry (Fellahin) away killing several thousand after about an hour of fighting. The French losses amounted to about 300 while estimated Egyptian losses were around 4,000 to 6,000. Seeing the defeat of the Mameluke horse by the French a larger Mameluke army waiting in Cairo dispersed into the desert leaving the capital open to Napoleon.

[Musée National du Château de Versailles et du Trianon - Oil on canvas, 389 x 311 cm]

April 20, 2014
Antoine-Jean Gros - The Interview Between Napoleon I and Francis II after the Battle of Austerlitz, December 4, 1805 [1812] on Flickr.After the fall of Napoleon and the restoration of the Bourbons (who gave Gros the title of baron), Jacques-Louis David was forced into exile and Gros became the head of his studio. As the heir of Neoclassism, Gros tried to work in a style closer to that of David. He continued to paint large compositions, but these academically Neoclassical pictures lacked the Romantic vitality of his earlier historical paintings. His best works after 1815 were portraits, some of which approached the quality of his Napoleonic pictures. He was, however, continually plagued by David’s criticism of his work and became increasingly dissatisfied with his own accomplishments. A sense of failure exacerbated his already melancholic nature, and he committed suicide on June 26, 1835.
[Musée National du Château de Versailles et du Trianon - Oil on canvas]

Antoine-Jean Gros - The Interview Between Napoleon I and Francis II after the Battle of Austerlitz, December 4, 1805 [1812] on Flickr.

After the fall of Napoleon and the restoration of the Bourbons (who gave Gros the title of baron), Jacques-Louis David was forced into exile and Gros became the head of his studio. As the heir of Neoclassism, Gros tried to work in a style closer to that of David. He continued to paint large compositions, but these academically Neoclassical pictures lacked the Romantic vitality of his earlier historical paintings. His best works after 1815 were portraits, some of which approached the quality of his Napoleonic pictures. He was, however, continually plagued by David’s criticism of his work and became increasingly dissatisfied with his own accomplishments. A sense of failure exacerbated his already melancholic nature, and he committed suicide on June 26, 1835.

[Musée National du Château de Versailles et du Trianon - Oil on canvas]

April 19, 2014
Balthus - Young Girl at Her Toilet [1948] on Flickr.The narrative of this scene is not entirely clear: the older attendant stands in profile, with the towel ready to envelop the young girl who stands at her dressing table, pausing as she pulls back her chair; her clear and open glaze arrests the viewer’s eye. 
As Balthus recalled: “I’ve always had a naïve, natural complicity with young girls… Spiritual risks occur during long posing sessions. Making the spirit surge forth in a sweet and innocent mind, something not yet realised, that dates back to the beginning of time and must be preserved at all costs.… There is nothing riskier or more difficult than to render a bright gaze, the barely tactile fuzz of a cheek, the presence of a barely perceptible emotion like a heaviness mixed with lightness on a pair of lips. But the body and facial features were not my only focus. That which lay beneath their bodies and features, in their silence and darkness, was of equal importance.” 
[Sotheby’s, New York - Oil on canvas, 54.5 x 45.7 cm]

Balthus - Young Girl at Her Toilet [1948] on Flickr.

The narrative of this scene is not entirely clear: the older attendant stands in profile, with the towel ready to envelop the young girl who stands at her dressing table, pausing as she pulls back her chair; her clear and open glaze arrests the viewer’s eye.

As Balthus recalled: “I’ve always had a naïve, natural complicity with young girls… Spiritual risks occur during long posing sessions. Making the spirit surge forth in a sweet and innocent mind, something not yet realised, that dates back to the beginning of time and must be preserved at all costs.… There is nothing riskier or more difficult than to render a bright gaze, the barely tactile fuzz of a cheek, the presence of a barely perceptible emotion like a heaviness mixed with lightness on a pair of lips. But the body and facial features were not my only focus. That which lay beneath their bodies and features, in their silence and darkness, was of equal importance.”

[Sotheby’s, New York - Oil on canvas, 54.5 x 45.7 cm]

April 19, 2014
Jean Hélion - L’Homme au Front Rouge [1946] on Flickr.Jean Hélion (Couterne, April 21, 1904 - Paris, October 27, 1987) was another close member of Thomas and Diane Bouchard’s milieu and in the late 1940s he worked out of a studio in the same Lexington Avenue building as Miró, Léger and Bouchard himself. The present work features prominently in the Bouchard film Hélion: Un artiste au travail, for which the artist himself wrote the script and provided narration. The film opens on the New York skyline before cutting to Hélion’s studio and a sort of makeshift title card, the reverse of a canvas which the artist has signed and situated New York 1946. 
The truly captivating film takes the viewer on a tour of Hélion’s studio, highlighting certain works and then plunging into the narrative of that painting or series. Close ups of Hélion’s figures are juxtaposed with scenes of urban culture in New York and his models walking through crowded streets. A shot of Hélion admiring the crumbling façade of a warehouse building in midtown quickly cuts to a detail of an oil in which he was represented the same decay in the painted façade of a pictorial building. We are granted an incredible insight into the artist’s process, seeing ink drawings, gouaches and the entire contents of his studio, in addition to his working process.
[Sotheby’s, New York - Oil on canvas, 63.5 x 53.6 cm]

Jean Hélion - L’Homme au Front Rouge [1946] on Flickr.

Jean Hélion (Couterne, April 21, 1904 - Paris, October 27, 1987) was another close member of Thomas and Diane Bouchard’s milieu and in the late 1940s he worked out of a studio in the same Lexington Avenue building as Miró, Léger and Bouchard himself. The present work features prominently in the Bouchard film Hélion: Un artiste au travail, for which the artist himself wrote the script and provided narration. The film opens on the New York skyline before cutting to Hélion’s studio and a sort of makeshift title card, the reverse of a canvas which the artist has signed and situated New York 1946.

The truly captivating film takes the viewer on a tour of Hélion’s studio, highlighting certain works and then plunging into the narrative of that painting or series. Close ups of Hélion’s figures are juxtaposed with scenes of urban culture in New York and his models walking through crowded streets. A shot of Hélion admiring the crumbling façade of a warehouse building in midtown quickly cuts to a detail of an oil in which he was represented the same decay in the painted façade of a pictorial building. We are granted an incredible insight into the artist’s process, seeing ink drawings, gouaches and the entire contents of his studio, in addition to his working process.

[Sotheby’s, New York - Oil on canvas, 63.5 x 53.6 cm]

April 19, 2014
Louis Anquetin - Avenue de Clichy, Le Soir, Cinq Heures [1887] on Flickr.This composition is today considered to be one of the major works that in 1887 led Édouard Dujardin to hail Anquetin (Étrépagny, January 26, 1861 - Paris, Augsut 19, 1932) as the chief proponent of Cloissonism. This work indeed illustrates the principle elements of this new artistic movement that affirmed the supremacy of drawing and borrowed its style from not only medieval stained glass windows and enamels, but also Japanese prints. The parallel between this blue-toned pastel and the art of stained glass was indirectly confirmed by Émile Bernard, who recalled that Anquetin’s monochromatic compositions were inspired by the latter’s habit of looking at landscapes through panes of coloured glass. The exceptionally elegant and shadowy black outlines as well as the flat treatment of the surface are further testament to this particular way of seeing.
[Sotheby’s, New York - Pastel on board, 60.3 x 50.3 cm]

Louis Anquetin - Avenue de Clichy, Le Soir, Cinq Heures [1887] on Flickr.

This composition is today considered to be one of the major works that in 1887 led Édouard Dujardin to hail Anquetin (Étrépagny, January 26, 1861 - Paris, Augsut 19, 1932) as the chief proponent of Cloissonism. This work indeed illustrates the principle elements of this new artistic movement that affirmed the supremacy of drawing and borrowed its style from not only medieval stained glass windows and enamels, but also Japanese prints. The parallel between this blue-toned pastel and the art of stained glass was indirectly confirmed by Émile Bernard, who recalled that Anquetin’s monochromatic compositions were inspired by the latter’s habit of looking at landscapes through panes of coloured glass. The exceptionally elegant and shadowy black outlines as well as the flat treatment of the surface are further testament to this particular way of seeing.

[Sotheby’s, New York - Pastel on board, 60.3 x 50.3 cm]

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