Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Mary Cassatt. Born on this day in 1844

Boating party, 1893. Of course baby is along and nobody has a life jacket. Living dangerously, with Mary Cassatt, born OTD 1844.

Cassatt, the daughter of a wealthy Pennsylvania businessman, became a student at the Pennsylvania Academy in 1861 and by 1866, moved to Paris. Her teas were a mecca for younger women artists, she was generous with introductions and her professional commitment was an inspiration.

Unlike Alcott, whom Chadwick has paired her with in her discussion of 19th century American women, Cassatt avoided the conflicts facing the woman artist by her wealth, class position, her strong personality and her refusal to marry. Other women were caught within an ideology of sexual difference which gave privileges to males and often forced women to choose between marriage and a career.

It was Degas who encouraged Cassatt to exhibit with the Impressionists after the Salon rejected her work. “At last I could work with complete independence without concerning myself with the eventual judgment of a jury. I already knew who were my true masters. I admired Maent, Courbet, and Degas. I hated conventional art. I began to live.” Degas was equally impressed by Cassatt's work, declaring “There is a woman who feels things like me.” Thereafter, Cassatt was the only American who was invited to show work with the group who exhibited under the name, Societté Anonyme. Cassatt regularly exhibited her work with the French Impressionists, contributing paintings in 1879, 1880, 1881, and to the last exhibition in 1886. (Mary Cassatt's contributions ...)

Little girl in a blue armchair (Wikiart)...http://mentalfloss.com/article/65011/15-things-you-should-know-about-little-girl-blue-armchair

"...Cassatt had completely absorbed from her Impressionist colleagues Caillebotte, Degas, and Renoir, as well as her study of Japanese prints, the modern idea that the background of a painting might be as significant as the foreground. She understood that establishing a tension between the two would capture the immediacy of vision, as well as mimic or falsify by turns, the focal shifts of human sight and perception. Thus the space and the objects in Portrait of a Little Girl that surround the figure seem to be in motion; the floor lifts up, and the chairs appear to have slid into various, almost accidental positions, not unlike that of the young girl. These changing elements affect our perception of the painting's psychological subtext: in contrast to [one] made clear by ... direct, outward gaze, that of Cassatt's "subject" is more complicated and elusive; the little girl's sideways glance, which avoids ours, makes her independent of us. She is in a world of her own, one that adults could fully understand only by recapturing their childhood personae."

- From "Mary Cassatt: Modern Woman", by Judith A. Barter

Further reading on Mary Cassatt

    * Mary Cassatt: Modern Woman, edited by Judith A. Barter. Catalog from the blockbuster show of 1998. 


Monday, May 21, 2018

Henri Julien Félix Rousseau. Born on this day in 1844

The Dream

May 21, 1844. Henri Julien Félix Rousseau (May 21, 1844 - September 2, 1910) was a French post-impressionist painter in the Naïve or Primitive manner. He was also known as Le Douanier (the customs officer), a humorous description of his occupation as a toll and tax collector. He started painting seriously in his early forties; by age 49, he retired from his job to work on his art full-time. In this image: Henri Rousseau, known as The Douanier Rousseau (1844 - 1910) Le Rêve [The Dream], 1910, oil on canvas, 204.5 x 298.5 cm New York, The Museum of Modern Art, gift of Nelson A. Rockefeller, 252.1954 © 2016. Digital image, The Museum of Modern Art, New York / Scala, Florence.

The Sleeping Gipsy

Portrait of Pierre Loti

Monkey in the Jungle

Born in the market town of Laval, France, Henri Rousseau moved to Paris in 1868 and remained there for the rest of his life. He served as a customs clerk on the outskirts of the city, a post which earned him the nickname "Le Douanier" (the customs agent).  A self-taught artist, Rousseau was unable to paint full time until his early retirement in 1893.  Despite these unfavorable circumstances, Rousseau had grand ambitions, hoping to join the refined artists of the conservative French Academy. 

As an outsider, Rousseau was unfamiliar with the rules of the artistic establishment.  Although he worked in traditional genres, producing landscapes, portraits, allegories, and exotic scenes, they were transformed in his hands, made odd in a way that provoked ridicule by traditionalists.  Often Rousseau turned to the popular culture of his time and class—illustrated magazines, dime-store adventure novels, postcards, and photographs—integrating its dramatic subjects and bold graphic style into his paintings.

Rousseau was best known for his bold pictures of the jungle, overflowing with flora and fauna.  But this painter of exotic locales never left France; his exotic paintings were the concoctions of a city dweller, shaped by visits to the botanical gardens, the zoo, colonial expositions, and images of distant lands seen in books and magazines.  Towards the end of his life, Rousseau was championed by a younger generation of avant-garde painters, writers, and their associates, including Pablo Picasso and the poet Guillaume Apollinaire, who saw in his work new possibilities for the future in his work.  In 1911, the year after his death, the Salon des Indépendants celebrated his achievements with an exhibition of more than 40 paintings.


Friday, May 18, 2018

Tamaa de Lempicka. Art Deco Glamor

Born Maria Gorska, Tamara de Lempicka was renowned for both her own beauty and her ability to create beauty. The painter captured the sensuality and stylized quality of the Art Deco movement. She also embodied the glamour of her era.

Her birthday Doodle was created by artist Matthew Cruickshank, who paid homage to Lempicka’s unique style.

He said: “Few artists embodied the exuberant roaring twenties more than polish artist Tamara de Lempicka.


Monday, May 14, 2018

Thomas Gainsborough, Baptized on this day in 1727

Blue Boy

Mrs Siddons

Mr and Mrs William Hallett

The Duchess of Beaufort

Baptized on May 14, 1727, Gainsborough became the most famous English landscape and portrait painter of the 18th century - surpassing his rival, Sir Joshua Reynolds. His fame came through his innovations and techniques  in both landscape and portraiture. Gainsborough’s work reflected the love of elegance, luxury and leisure of the 18th century aristocrats who could pay for his full sized  paintings to grace their drawing rooms But his most influential works were ones of idealized pastoral life in the rural countryside. 

Wooded Landsape

He was born in the spring of 1727 and christened on May 14. Perhaps due to his mother's penchant for painting flowers and encouraging her son's talent with a pencil, Gainsborough assembled a rather impressive portfolio at a young age. By 10, he had drawn some local village landscapes, and added caricatures and other facial studies.

His father was sufficiently impressed with his work to allow him to go to London, England, where he studied at an academy in St. Martin's Lane under the renowned William Hogarth and other masters known for etching, historical painting and portraiture.
During this time he fell in love with Margaret Burr, the illegitimate daughter of the Duke of Beaufort, and her dowry allowed him to set up a studio in Ipswich by the time he was 20. At first, he was not successful so he moved his wife and two daughters to Ipswich, He developed his painting style by studying the works of Van Dyke. 

But by 1774, he had become so successful that it was foolish not to be in London. He was one of the founding members of the Royal Academy, and not long after moving his family to the capital, he was summoned to the palace and began portraits of King George III and other nobles. Although the king was obliged to name his rival, Joshua Reynolds, as the official court painter, Gainsborough remained the favorite of the royal family.

"The art historian Michael Rosenthal described Gainsborough as "one of the most technically proficient and, at the same time, most experimental artists of his time". He was noted for the speed with which he applied paint, and he worked more from observations of nature (and of human nature) than from application of formal academic rules. The poetic sensibility of his paintings caused Constable to say, "On looking at them, we find tears in our eyes and know not what brings them."  Rosenthal, Michael. "Gainsborough, Thomas". Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online. Oxford University Press. Web.

He died on August 2, 1788 of cancer. 


The modern Landsape: https://www.hamburger-kunsthalle.de/en/exhibitions/thomas-gainsborough

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Born May 12, 1828 in London

Fascinated by women’s physical allure, Rossetti here imagines a legendary femme fatale as a self-absorbed nineteenth-century beauty who combs her hair and seductively exposes her shoulders. Nearby flowers symbolize different kinds of love. In Jewish literature, the enchantress Lilith is described as Adam’s first wife, and her character is underscored by lines from Goethe’s Faust attached by Rossetti to the original frame, “Beware . . . for she excels all women in the magic of her locks, and when she twines them round a young man’s neck, she will not ever set him free again.” The artist’s mistress, Fanny Cornforth, is the sitter in this watercolor, which Rossetti and his assistant Dunn based on an oil of 1866 (Delaware Art Museum).

Jane Morris

Fanny Cornford
Born in London in 1828, the child of Italian immigrants, Rossetti divided his work between art and poetry all his life. The founder of the Pre-Raphaelite brotherhood, his relationships with women were complex and largely destructive to the women in his life; his first wife became an addict and probably committed suicide, his long term relationship with William Morris' wife helped to destroy that marriage and made her ill health more difficult to bear. 

But Rossetti was also self destructive, addicted to chloral and alcohol, became paranoid and depressed and largely withdrew from society until his death in 1882. 

Many of Rossetti's self-estimates of himself as a writer vs his talent as a painter were accurate. Had he been able when young to choose a literary career, he would probably have been a better poet than painter; he was a genuinely original and skillful writer. In part, his achievement was vicarious: he galvanized others in many ways not easily measured. However, insecurity and self-reproach manifested themselves in all but his earliest poems. Rossetti was haunted by a (perhaps partially accurate) private assessment of his weaknesses as a painter and obsessed with Jane Morris as a model. Yet he was perhaps right that his intense response to such private archetypes was the chief distinction of his work. But it would be wrong to sentimentalize Rossetti as a victim of “tragic loves.” It seemed to serve some inner purpose for Rossetti to idealize women who were withdrawn, invalid, and/or melancholic. Their genuine alienation seems to have provided some counterpart for an inner sense of inadequacy and isolation in him. In some way he seemed to need serious emotional attachments with women poised on the edge of withdrawal. In any case, a sense of this equilibration heightened the effects both of his paintings and of his poetry.

Elizabth Siddell

Jane Morris

"It would be difficult to imagine later nineteenth-century Victorian poetry and art without Rossetti's influence. His writings can perhaps best be viewed as an unusually acute expression of Victorian social uncertainty and loss of faith. Rossetti's poetry on the absence of love is as bleakly despairing as any of the century, and no poet of his period conveyed more profoundly certain central Victorian anxieties: metaphysical uncertainty, sexual anxiety, and fear of time.