Saturday, July 17, 2010

Such very good friends! -- life among the impressionists

Here is the young Renoir curled up in a chair in his good pal Frederic Bazille's studio. One of the reasons I was compelled to write Claude and Camille: a novel of Monet was my fascination for the friendship among these then utterly unknown artists, particularly in the 1860s and 1870s when Monet had likely never heard of a water lily; he was fortunate to have a humble potted plant in the rooms he lived in! The young impressionists (who had never heard the word impressionists then either) slept on each others floors, painted the same model side by side, scrounged paint and scraped down canvases and shared dreams. It is interesting to me that often a creative person rises in a creative group. A fascinating nonfiction book is the Private Lives of the Impressionists. And a tender novel about Renoir which I recommended some months ago is Susan Vreeland's Luncheon of the Boating Party. Both capture the unique friendship of these talented men and women.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

the personal things Renoir left behind

I am only allowed in this generous blogspot to post in one image per each blog. I did find a treasure trove of personal things Renoir left behind listed in Hantmann's Auctioneers and appraisers. I chose the wedding certificate to his beloved Aline and then found so many other things on the site that you can go look for yourself and perhaps put a nice bid on Aline's beautiful fringed kimono. I coveted Renoir's spectacles. I wonder what strength they were?

I have a strong affinity as a historical novelist to touch objects worn by those figures I so love. I think it would be wonderful to see Monet's bedroom slippers. I have to look on line!

Here is the Hantmann's link if you wish to go shopping among the misc. things left by the impressionists. Would anyone have Manet's famous opera hat and cane?

Eugene Boudin, Monet's first teacher

I think I may have posted something about this fine man and artist here before, but a Twitter friend directed me to a NPR site with this photo and I wanted to share it. If I might quote from the story:

Boudin didn't start out to be a painter. His father ran a ferryboat between Honfleur and Le Havre, the big English Channel port, and Boudin worked on the boat as a child. "And one day he fell overboard and was caught by one seaman," says Bridget Mueller, who guides visitors around Normandy. "Otherwise he would have drowned — so his mother said, 'You're not going on this ship again.' "

Instead, young Eugene went to school. A teacher spotted artistic talent, and from then on, Boudin went to sea via the canvases he painted. Mueller says there's hidden proof of the artist's seamanship: a notation on the back of every painting, recording the weather and the winds on the day it was made.

It was Boudin who challenged the 17-year-old arrogant Claude Monet to try landscape painting and the rest is history. Claude never looked back. Even in his old age, he referred to Boudin as "my master." The whole story can be found at