Monday, September 28, 2009
The first exhibition of the impressionists met with much negative criticism when it opened in 1874. Art critic Louis Leroy called his review "The Exhibition of the Impressionists", thus giving them their name. Of the famous Impression: Sunrise, Leroy wrote that "wallpaper in its embryonic state is more finished than that seascape."
Oddly today on the web one can find Monet's great painting as....wallpaper! But the price is slightly lower than the original hanging in the Musée Marmotton, Paris. I wonder if Leroy would still claim his opinion was right? We must be grateful to the silly man for naming this beloved school of painting, anyway!
Saturday, September 26, 2009
Auguste Renoir was a tailor's son and, as a boy, slept on his father's workbench -- the low wood platform on which the father sat crosslegged each day and sewed. Unfortunately for Auguste, his father often left stray pins there...ouch! For a while as a teenager he had work hand-painting pieces of china, but one day a visiting artist informed the family that Auguste must become a real painter. The family burst into tears, knowing that would condemn their son to poverty. On the other hand, as a boy he had a beautiful singing voice and his choirmaster, the composer Gounod ("Faust" etc.), hoped Auguste would become an operatic tenor. Ah, the turns of fate! We might today hear stories of the legendary tenor Renoir as Faust instead of the sweet, gifted painter he became! Did he sing when he painted?
Friday, September 25, 2009
I do not know the names of these two lovely young models but they capture how much in love the 25-year-old Claude was with his 18-year-old, upper-class model Camille who threw away her secure life to be with him.
I shall be posting as much as I can about the real Camille in the weeks to come. Sadly, all letters to and from her have been lost. No one back in the mid 1860s knew that he would be more than a haughty artist or she more than just another lovely girl come to Paris to find a life.
Everybody knows the picture of the old white-bearded man, well fed, showing visitors his Japanese bridge and water lilies, his vast studio and his plentiful table. But the young Claude personifies the starving artist. For months at a time, he and his good friend Renoir lived on a large sack of beans and made quick chalk sketches of the neighbors to pay the rent. More than once the young Claude was physically thrown out of his cheap rooms, once slashing his canvases before he ran out the door (to think of it!) and another time tossed out stark naked in the middle of the night. It was a long road to Giverny!
Here's our Claude age 25 -- wondering if anyone would ever want his work or if he could afford a flower pot, much less a garden!