Presentation on theme: "The great master of wet-plate portraiture was Gaspard-Félix Tournachon (1820-1910), a French caricaturinst and novelist who went by the pseudonym of Nadar."— Presentation transcript:
The great master of wet-plate portraiture was Gaspard-Félix Tournachon ( ), a French caricaturinst and novelist who went by the pseudonym of Nadar. Almost immediately after its invention Nadar proved himself a master of the new art, exploiting its possibilities from every conceivable direction, including up (he invented aerial photography, from balloons). Nadars studio became a meeting place for all the intellectual and artitic figures of mid-19th century Paris. His portraits of painters, writers, composers, and scientists are not mere documents like those of Daguerre but works of art; so conceived, posed, and lighted as to bring out the full psychological and spiritual depth of a sitter without the aid of any of the props common in 19th century photography studios. For prototypes one can think only of the searching portraits of Raphael and Rembrandt. It does not matter that Nadar had no painting or drawing instrument in his hand, neither does an actor, but what he creates is art. According to Eugéne de Mirecourt, a contemporary of Ingres, as early as 1855 the great Neoclassicist sent all his sitters to Nadar first, and then worked from the photographs. Nadar, Eugéne Delacroix, c1855, daguerreotype
Timothy OSullivan, A Harvest of Death,Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, July, The photographs taken of the Crimean War (1856) by Roger Fenton and of the American Civil War by Matthew Brady and Timothy OSullivan are still unsurpassed as incisive accounts of military life, unsparing in their truth to detail and poignant as expressions of human experience. Of the Civil War photographs, the most moving are the inhumanly objective records of combat deaths. Although viewers might see this image as simple reportage, it also functions to impress on people the wars high price.Though it was years before photolithography could reproduce photographs like this in newspapers, they were publicly exhibited and made an impression that newspint engravings never could.
In 1872, the governor of California, Leland Stanford, sought Muybridges assistance in settling a bet about whether, at any point in a stride, all four feet of a horse galloping at top speed are off the ground. Through his sequential photography Muybridge proved they were. This experience was the beginning of Muybridges photographic studies of the successive stages in human and animal motion, details too quick for the human eye to capture. Muybridge presented his work to scientists and general audiences with a device called the zoopraxiscope, which he invented to project his sequences of images (mounted on special glass plates) onto a screen. The result was so lifelike one viewer said it threw upon the screen apparently the living, moving animals. Nothing was wanting but the clatter of hoofs upon the turf. The illusion of motion here was created by a physical fact of human eyesight called persistence of vision. Stated simply, it means the brain holds whatever the eye sees for a fraction of a second after the eye stops seeing it. Thus, viewers saw a rapid succession of different images merging one into the next, producing the illusion of continuous change. This illusion lies at the heart of the realism of all cinema. Eadweard Muybridge, Horse Galloping, 1878, Collotype print
Gustave Courbet, The Stonebreakers, oil on canvas, 63x102 (destroyed 1945)
Courbet had begun as a Neo-Baroque Romantic in the early 1840s; but by 1848, under the impact of the revolutionary upheavals then sweeping Europe, Coubet had come to believe that the Romantic emphasis on feeling and imagination was merely an escape from the realities of the time. The modern artist must rely on his own direct experience (I cannot paint an angel because I have never seen one, he said); he must be a Realist. As a descriptive term, realism is not very precise. For Courbet, it meant something akin to the naturalism of Caravaggio. As an admirer of Louis Le Nain and Rembrandt he had, in fact, strong links with the Caravaggio tradition, and his work, like Caravaggios, was denounced for its supposed vulgarity and lack of spiritual content. The storm broke in 1849, when he exhibited The Stone Breakers, the first canvas fully embodying his programmatic Realism. Courbet has seen two men working on a road, and had asked them to pose for him in his studio. He painted them lifesize, solidly, and matter-of-factly, with none of Millets overt pathos or sentiment: the young mans face is averted, the old ones half hidden by a hat. Yet he cannot have picked them casually; their contrast in age is significant - one is too old for such heavy work, and the other too young. Endowed with the dignity of their symbolic status, they do not turn to us for sympathy.
Gustave Courbet, Studio of a Painter: A Real Allegory Summarizing My Seven Years as an Artist, 1855, oil on canvas, 1110x197 In 1855 Courbets paintings were rejected by the Paris Exhibition. These works included theStudio of a Painter: A Real Allegory Summarizing My Seven Years as an Artist. Courbets friend and patron J.L. Alfred Bruyas helped to finance the construction of a special shed for a large exhibition of Courbets paintings, including the rejected works; the artist called this building the Pavilion of Realism. For the catalogue he wrote a preface setting forth the principles of his art. A model who has just shed her clothes, probably represented Truth, looks on approvingly, her voluminous figure revealed in the light. Courbet provided a lengthy explanation of his picture, but the group on the left remains, perhaps deliberately, somewhat obscure; we know that it comprises figures drawn from society at its best, its worst, and its average, with whom the painter had come in contact.
An even greater scandal than that aroused by Luncheon on the Grass (Le Dejeuner sur lherbe), was caused by Olympia, shown in The public was infuriated not only by the style, but also by the subject of the picture. A yellow-bellied courtesan, a female gorilla made of india-rubber outlined in black, the Queen of Spades after her bath, a parcel of nude flesh or a bundle of laundry, and other similar characteristics appeared in newspapers. When words were exhausted some enthusiasts tried to finish with the picture physically, and it was saved only thanks to being hung high, above the reach of the fanatics. Edouard Manet, Olympia Oil on canvas, 43x63
Edouard Manet, Luncheon on the Grass (Le Déjeuner sur lherbe), oil on canvas, 7x810
Manet was the first to grasp Courbets full importance; his Luncheon is, among other things, a tribute to the older artist. There is a long tradition of such picnic scenes stretching back to an outdoor concert by Titian that Manet copied in the Louvre while an art student. He nevertheless offended the morality of the day by placing the nude and nattily attired figures in an outdoor setting without allegorical overtones. Even worse, the neutral title offered no higher significance. People assumed that Manet had intended to represent an actual event, yet the groups poses are too formal. Not until many years later was the source of these figures discovered; a group of classical deities from an engraving after Raphael that was in turn derived from a classical Roman sarcophagus.Had Manets contemporaries known of this origin in the revered work of Raphael, the Luncheon might have seemed less disreputable to them. As a visual manifesto of artistic freedom, the Luncheon is much more revolutionary than Courbets Studio. It asserts the painters privilege to combine whatever elements he pleases for aesthetic effect alone. The nudity of the model is explained by the contrast between her warm, creamy flesh tones and the cool black-and-gray of the mens attire. To put it another way, the world of painting has natural laws that are different from those of every day reality, and the painters first loyalty is to his canvas, not to the outside world. Here begins an attitude that became a bone of contention between progressives and conservatives for the rest of the century.
The Execution of the Emperor Maximilian of Mexico. In April 1864, Napoleon III persuaded the Hapsburg Archduke Maximilian to accept the Mexican throne. Less then three years later, in February 1867, Napoleon III withdrew all French troops from Mexico, leaving Maximilian totally defenseless. Benito Juárez guerillas captured Maximilian and his generals Miguel Miramon and Tomás Mejía and executed them on 19 June It is this date that Manet signed on his canvas.Probably in late September 1867 Manet began to work on a second variant of the theme of the execution, of which four fragments now survive in the National Gallery, London. Manet was not able to exhibit the painting in France, where it was regarded as politically incorrect, and it was first shown in New York in 1879.Manet treated the incident in a totally unexpected way, almost as a reaction against such elaborately staged protest compostitions as Gericaults Raft of the Medusa and Goyas Third of May, 1808 at Madrid. He made a close study of newspaper accounts and composite photographs of the execution, and enen of portrait photographs of the slain emperor, but rather than arranging the figures for maximum emotional effect, he seems almost to have taken a snapshot of the scene. Another traditional subject, this time a tragic one, has been modernized in terms of immediate vision. Edouard Manet. The Execution of the Emperor Maximilian of Mexico. oil on canvas, 1867
Edouard Manet, The Bar at the Folies-Bergère, 1882, oil on canvas,37x51
The entire foreground is constituted by the marble bar, laden with fruit, flowers, and bottles of champagne and liqueurs, forming one of the loveliest still lifes in all of French painting. As the nearer edge of the bar is cut off by the frame, we have the illusion that its surface extends into our space, and that we as spectators are ordering a drink from the stolid barmaid who leans her hands on the inner edge. This illusion is reinforced by the reflection in the mirror, which fills the entire background of the picture. Defying logic, Manet has shifted the entire reflection to the right so we can make out clearly a back view of the barmaid, in conversation with a top-hatted gentleman who, by elimination, must be identical with the spectator. Beyond the bar, shimmering chandeliers hover above the noisy crowd, and from the upper left corner dangle ther legs of a performing acrobat. Spatially, this is the most complex image we have seen thus far in the history of art. Manets masterpiece is painted with a brushwork that combines memories of Velázquezs virtuosity with the most brilliant achievements of the Impressionists. Paradoxically, the imposing dignity and centrality of the figure and the straight lines of the bar that frame her make this work his most monumental achievement.
Marie-Rosalie (Rosa) Bonheur, The Horse Fair, , oil on canvas, 8x167 Awarded a Légion dHonneur in 1865, Bonheur was the most celebrated woman artist of the 19th century. Although Bonheurs work contains Realist elements, she is perhaps more appropriately considered a naturalist. A realist passion for accuracy in painting drove Bonheur, but she resisted depicting the social complexity and contradictions seen in the work of Courbet, Manet, and other Realists. Rather she turned to the animal world. In her work, she combined a naturalists knowledge of equine anatomy and motion with an honest love and admiration for the brute strength of wild and domestic animals. She went to great lengths to observe the anatomy of living horses at the great Parisian Horse Fair, where the animals were shown and traded, and also spent long hours studying the anatomy of carcasses in the Paris slaughterhouses.The dramatic lighting, loose brushwork, and rolling sky also reveal her admiration of the style of Géricault.
Thomas Eakins ( ) was resolutely a Realist; his ambition was to paint things as he saw them rather than as the public might wish them portrayed. The too-brutal Realism of Eakins early masterpiece, The Gross Clinic, prompted the art jury to reject it for the Philadelphia exhibition that celebrated the American independence centennial. The work presents the renowned surgeion Dr. Samuel Gross in the operating amphitheatre of the Jefferson Medical College. The surgeon, acclaimed for his skill in this particular operation, is accompanied by colleagues, all of whom historians have identified, and by the patients mother, who covers her face. Indicative of the contempraneity of this scene is the anesthetists presence in the background, holding the cloth over the patients face. Eakins believed that knowledge, and where relevant, scientific knowledge, was a prerequisite to his art. Eakins later collaboration with Eadweard Muybridge in the photographic study of animal and human action of all types drew favorable attention in France, especially from Degas, and anticipated the motion picture. Thomas Eakins, The Gross Clinic, 1875, oil on canvas, 8x66
Henry Ossawa Tanner ( ) studied art with Eakins before moving to Paris. There he combined Eakins belief in careful study from nature with a desire to portray with dignity the life of ordinary people he had been raised among as the son of an African-American minister in Pennsylvania. The mood in the Thankful Poor is one of quiet devotion, not far removed from the Realism of Millet. The deep sense of sancity expressed here in terms of everyday experience became increasingly important for Tanner. Within a few years of completing The Thankful Poor, he began painting biblical subjects grounded in direct study from nature and in the love of Rembrandt that had inspired him from his days as a Philadelphia art student. Henry Ossawa Tanner, The Thankful Poor, oil on canvas, 38x211
Winslow Homer ( ), a largely self-taught artist from Boston, worked as a magazine illustrator. At the outbreak of the Civil War, he was sent by Harpers Weekly to do drawings at the front. After the war, he spent a year in France. From 1873, he worked in watercolor, which became as important a medium for him as oil. Homer visited Paris before the heyday of Impressionism, and his work can be regarded as transitional between Realism and Impressionism. In Breezing Up of 1876, Homers interest in the American identity of his subjects and their place in society is evident. At the same time, however, he has clearly been influenced by the Impressionist interest in weather conditions and their effect on light and color. The sea, churned up by the wind, is rendered as broken color with visible brushstrokes. By tilting the boat in the foreground, Homer creates a slanted floor that is related to Degas compositional technique. The interruption of the diagonal sail by the frame, the oblique viewpoint, and the sailors apparent indifference to the observer, suggest a fleeting moment captured by the camera. Winslow Homer, Breezing Up, , oil on canvas, 24x38
John Everett Millais, Ophelia, 1852, oil on canvas, 26x38 Millais's Ophelia is based upon a character from William Shakespeare's Hamlet. Millais showed Ophelia slowly drowning after she had been driven out of her mind by her father's death and Hamlet's cruel rejection of her love. The idea for the painting comes from literature, but the method was based on the careful study of real life. The artist actually had a model wear an antique dress and pose floating in a heated bathtub. The choice of colors was unusually vivid as the artist attempted to copy actual sunlight. Many Pre-Raphaelite landscapes capture a sense of brilliant light as effectively as the impressionist painters did 10 or 20 years later. Millais method is apparent in Ophelia, which he exhibited in the Universal Exposition in Paris in 1855, where Courbet set up his Pavilion of Realism. The subject, from Shakespeares Hamlet, is the drowning of Ophelia, who, in her madness is unaware of her plight. Although Millais technique was optically realistic, orthodox 19th century Realists would have complained the subject was not. At the same time as the Realist movement in France and the United States an independent but related revolution against official art was taking place among a group of extremely young and gifted English artists. In 1848, when the movement was founded, William Holman Hunt, its leader, was 21 years old and John Everett Millais was only 18. Their title, the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, was chosen because of their belief that in spite of Raphaels greatness the decline of art since his day was attributable to a misunderstanding of his principles.
He was trained in the 1870s by academic artists in France and Italy, and soon became deeply interested in Impressionism. He never joined the group, however, in spite of a brief stay at Giverny, where he painted alongside Monet and even painted Monet himself at work. His fortunes at the critics hands were as volatile as his style; praised one year he was attacked the next, and always for different reasons. Though eventually he was recognized as the leading painter in the English-speaking world (America & England), no one ever called him great. Like Cassatt, he did not cross the watershed to Post-Impressionism by deserting visual reality in the interests of form or expression. But Sargent was beyond comparison the most brilliant master of the brush as a communicator of optical effects in any country since Velázquez, whose painting he greatly admired. His accidental groupings of figures were arresting and compeling, and even more original were his portraits, which in contrast to so many 19th century artists he seems to have enjoyed painting. John Singer Sargent, The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit, 1882, oil on canvas, 73x73
James Whistler, Nocturn in Black and Gold: The Falling Rocket, c1874, 24x18 Nocturne in Black and Gold: Falling Rocket, painted in England about 1874 and exhibited there in 1876, was described in an article by the English critic John Ruskin, a supporter of truth in art and of craftsmanship in what he believed to be the medieval sense, as a pot of paint flung in the publics face. Any apparent prophetic resemblance between this daring picture and the Abstract Expressionist works of the 1950s is dismissed by the subtitle. In brillaint and witty testimony during a lawsuit he brought against Ruskin, Whistler claimed that his art was divested from any outside sort of interest... an arrangement of line, form, and color first. The last word in the sentence discloses its true substance, however, because even if Whistler felt that his pictures were arrangements first, there is nothing by his hand that is not at the same time thoroughly representational. The jury followed the judges instructions and decided in Whistlers favor but awarded him only a farthing in damages. The significance of this absurd trial is its function as a window on aesthetic conflict in the late 19th century. It exemplified the rise of the critic as a potent force in the 19th century art world.
The French Academy Controlled the art world during the first part of 19th century Emphasized realistic painting Themes were historical, political, mythological or religious Characteristics included sharply defined contours and edges, and figures in classical poses In general, the paintings of this period were extremely formal
Adolphe-William Bouguereau, Nymphs and Satyr, 1873, oil on canvas, 86 ht. To understand better the publics reaction to modern painting it is instuctive to look at the work of the highly acclaimed French academic artist Adolphe-William Bouguereau. In works such as Nymphs and Satyr, Bouguereau depicted classical mythological subjects with a polished illusionism. Although he arguably depicted this scene in a very naturalistic manner, it is emphatically not Realist. His choice of a fictional theme and adherence to established painting conventions could only have been seen as staunchly traditional. Bouguereau was immensely popular (becoming a millionaire) during the later 19th century, enjoying the favor of state patronage throughout his career.
The Beginnings of Modern Art In 1863 the Salon was the most important art Show in France. It was controlled by the French Academy and they refused any works of art which did not conform to their ideas. A second show, the Salon des Refuses, was organized by the government and allowed artists working in other ways to exhibit their work. Many artists which were to make up the group referred to as the Impressionists were included in the Salon des Refuses.
The Impressionist Style These artists studied the effects of atmosphere and sunlight on their subjects. Artists used dabs and dashes of bright color that seem to blend together when seen from a distance. Shadows are done in blues and violets. Surfaces of the paintings are richly textured with many short brushstrokes. Edges are suggested rather than clearly defined. Themes are from the every day world.
The name Impressionism was first used in jest when Claude Monet exhibited a work called Impressionism-Sunrise in an 1874 exhibition. The painting has colored streaks and blobs on a pale blue ground that represents what a person sees when looking momentarily into a sunrise over a harbor. The works of the group were mockingly called impressions and not paintings. The title stuck, although several of the Impressionists did not like it. Claude Monet, Impression-Sunrise, 1872
The two rust colored boats anchor the center of the painting, and the blues and greens of the sky and water shimmer around them. The lighting effects convey the feeling of midday in Summer. The distant river bank, the other boats and the near shoreline on which two figures take in the scene comprise a horizontal wedge which divides the canvas and separates the treatment of the sky from the treatments of the water. The various boat masts form a trianglular shape and its inversion which hold the upper and lower portions in place, compositionally. The sky is described simply and leaves the viewer free to investigate the intricate development of the floating plant life on the water. This was to be an important subject in his later years in Giverny. The viewer senses the play of shimmering daylight on all the objects in the painting, and the impression of color is achieved through the juxtaposition of almost pure colors, often having a complementary relationship. Monets colors seem sensual rather than descriptive. Claude Monet, Argenteuil, 1875, oil on canvas
Claude Monet, Study of a Figure Outdoors
In 1883 Monet moved to Giverny (an estate given to him by the French government late in his life), a village about 50 miles west of Paris where he spent his later years. He build a water garden, which included a Japanese bridge, that inspired many of his later paintings, including a series of large canvases of water lilies. Monet loved to work outdoors and to directly confront the environment he was painting. His early work shows a fascination with light. Later he discovered that shadows are not black or simply darker tones of a color, as Renaissance and Baroque painters had shown them. Colors are in the shadows, too; they do not leave an object just because it is in shadow. He realized that shadows can be painted by adding opposite or complementary hues to the colors of the objects. Thus, he added blues to create the shadows on warm-colored (red to yellow) surfaces; the deeper the shadows, the darker the blue became. Scientists studying the physics of light were finding out the same things. Monet often worked in a series of paintings of one subject. In this way he was able to try for the momentary effect of light on his subject at many times of day and in different types of weather. Claude Monet,Water Lilies, , oil on canvas
Claude Monet, Branch of the Seine Near Giverny, 1897
Camille Pissarro, Boulevard Montmartre on a Sunny Afternoon, 1897 Boulevard Montmartre at Night 1897 Camille Pissarro was, by the admission of all participants, the father of the Impressionists. Paul Cezanne admired him, painted side by side with him, and in the catelogue of his last show had written Paul Cezanne, pupil of Pissarro. The young Paul Gauguin studied under Pissarro. Later in his years Pissarro influenced the young Henri Matisse, and shared his views with the other great Impressionists of the period, Monet, Renoir, Manet, and especially his close friend,Degas.
Camille Pissarro Young Peasant Making A Fire
In his book on Pissarro, Joachim Pissarro describes his drawing in this way. The several techniques visible include diagonal hatching... drawings, to which some early French drawings still resort principally; a subtle blending of a linear scaffolding with hatched shading and with stress put on fragments of lines, delineating tree trunks, for instance a predominant spare architectonic structure - seen particularly in early Pontoise pen-and-ink drawings. Or again, the exact opposite in some drawings where linear structure and diagonal hatchings are almost entirely superseded by a subtle palette of different shades, achieved with charcoal and white chalk, modulating all the intermediate values and creating a dramatic set of chiaroscuro effects that also help to elaborate the depth of the receding space within the drawing - here a riverscape. This is seen in his drawing In the Woods, done with black chalk heightened with white.
Camille Pissaro, The Foot Bath, 1895 It is possible to see the same study of light through depiction of value in the painting The Foot Bath. Pissarro summarizes his approach to art in his interpretation of Impressionism. Really Impressionism was nothing but a pure theory of observation, without losing hold of fantasy, liberty, or grandeur-in a word, of all that makes an art great.
Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Bather with Long Hair, 1895, oil on canvas, 32x25 Pierre-Auguste Renoir first met Claude Monet at the Academie Gleyre in They painted outdoors together at Barbizon, Chailly in 1866 and La Grenouillere in During this period they developed the techniques of capturing the illusion of light and its reflections by the application of small brush strokes of color which were percieved in combination,i.e. mixed by the eye, rather than mixed on the palette. The sense of shape and volume is conveyed by the interaction of the colors applied in small strokes, rather than the use of line. This tends to give these paintings a soft, almost out of focus feeling. These were the painting attributes which would come to be known as Impressionsim. Renoirs interest was primarily in figures and the daily activities of the life around him. This painting conveys a romantic, idealized scene, with diffuse reference to landscape. The figure is only slightly more solid feeling than the background. Objects are almost felt rather than seen. The indication of an object comes from the modulation and juxtoposition of lighter and darker areas of small strokes of paint, often in complementary color schemes. The figures pose and expression convey a sense of tranquility and one feels immersed in a dreamlike representation of an idyllic summer day.
Pierre-Auguste Renoir, The Swing, 1876 Renoir, the most sensuous and effervescent of the group, has not bothered with the detail that occupied Pissarro. Rather he has captures a moment of high excitement. Warmth, physical delight, and intense joy of life are the perpetual themes of Renoir; as a painter his touch is correspondingly both silkier and more spontaneous than that of Pissarro. Trained first as a painter of porcelain, he later studied with the academic painter Charles Gabriel Gleyre, who also taught Monet, and soon make the acquaintance of the Impressionist group, with whom he exhibited until 1886.
Pierre-August Renoir, The Luncheon of the Boating Party, 1881 Renoir captured the spontaneous moment, much like photography.
Pierre-Auguste Renoir, The Luncheon of the Boating Party - detail, 1876 Although he had initially taken the lead with his rainbow palette, Renoir had always been more traditional than Monet in his concern with the human figure, and his Boating Party of 1881 is still fully Impressionistic. Its diaphanous brushwork beautifully catches the trembling leaves and shimmering water and quivering vibrations of air inundated with blazing summer light filtered through canvas awnings on to clean white linen and cut glass and soft human flesh.
Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Bal du Moulin de la Galette, 1876
The most exuberant image from the Impressionist heyday is Renoirs Le Moulin de la Galette of 1876, depicting a Sunday afternoon in a popular Parisain outdoor café dansant in Montmartre. Young couples, bewitching in their freshness, are gathered at tables under the trees, or dancing happily through the changing interplay of sunlight and shadow. Characteristically, there is not a trace of black; even the coats and the shadows turn to dark blue, delicious as a foil to the higher tones of pearly white and soft rose. One could scarcely imagine a more complete embodiment of the fundemental theme of Impressionist painting, the leisurely enjoyment of the moment of light and air. Although he later turned toward a Post-Impressionist style, Renoir never surpassed the beauty of this picture, which sums up visually the goal he once expressed in words: The earth as the paradise of the gods, that is what I want to paint. Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Bal du Moulin de la Galette, 1876
Pierre-Auguste Renoir Two Girls, c1881
The Impressionist group had one founding woman member, Berthe Morisot ( ), who exhibited with them from the start (Mary Cassatt joined in 1879) and was treated on a par with her male colleagues - the first time in history of art since the Middle Ages that a woman artist enjoyed such a position of unquestioned equality in any artistic movement. Morisot was a grandniece of Fragonard, who died more than a generation before her birth. Much of her technical excellence - for in some ways she was the most skillful member of the group - she disciplined by assiduous copying of Old Masters in the Louvre. In her youth, moreover, she profited by the guidance of Corot, whose silvery tonalities she emulated in her early landscapes. Although by no means such an innovator as Monet, Manet, or Renoir, Morisot was a painter of great sensitivity of observation, insight, and touch and above all, unrivaled lyric intimacy. Berthe Morisot, Summers Day, 1879
Japanese Woodblock Prints Many Impressionists became aware of the Japanese Prints during this period and collected them. Their approach to perspective placed objects in a zigzag pattern with objects near the bottom being depicted as close to the observer and those at the top being depicted as further away. Impressionists such as Mary Cassatt and Edgar Degas utilized planes of flat color and compressed spaces just as the Japanese prints exhibited.
Utagwa Kuniyoshi,Katsushika Hokusai
Katsushika Hokusai, The Great Wave of Kanagawa, 1831
Edgar Degas, Edouard Manet, c1865, pencil A wealthy aristocrat by birth, he had been trained in the tradition of Ingres, whom he greatly admired. Degas portrait of Manet, made soon after they met, recalls Ingres study of Louis Bertin; its masterly command of line and its sure grasp of the sitters personality show that, had times been otherwise, Degas might well have become the greatest professional portraitist of his day. Like Ingres, he despised portraiture as a trade but, unlike him, he acted on his conviction and portrayed only friends and relatives
Edgar Degas The Absinth Drinker, 1876 This painting shows the influence of Japanese composition and perspective which the Impressionists had seen in the Japanese prints. It is also framed like a candid photograph, rather than adhering to any formal compositional rules. Like many artists of the last decades of the 19th century, Degas was facinated by café life, including its seamier aspects. His Absinthe Drinker shows a sodden couple, beyond communication, merely tolerating each others presence. The womans glass of milky green liqueur is the addicative, stupor- inducing absinthe. The picture is a superb composition of apparently accidental diagonals in depth, composed of the tables, the bench, and even the diagonal relationship between the couple and their reflections in the mirror.
Edgar Degas The Dancing Class, 1876 Degas paintings reveal that he learned a great deal from studying Japanese prints and photographs. Degas was an amateur photographer himself. Cut-off figures, unusual points of view, and candid poses are seen in many of his paintings. Although Degas was in sympathy with many of the objectives of the Impressionists and was eager to exhibit with them, he did not consider himself to be one of them. He always painted in his studio using sketches made from life. His great interest in drawing also set him apart from the other Impressionists. He was a master of line and drawing and was reluctant to abandon it in favor of the Impressionists soft contours. Degas drawings, and the paintings that he developed from these drawings, show that he was concerned with the line, form, and movement of the human body. This explains why so many of his paintings and drawings show scenes from the ballet. They offered him the chance to capture the split-second movement of a dancing ballerina.
Miss LaLa at the Cirque Fernando, Paris Edgar Degas
Impressionists also depicted more formal leisure activities. The facination Degas had with patterns of motion brought him to the Paris Opéra and its ballet school. There, his great observational power took in the formalized movements of classcial ballet, on of his favorite subjects. In Ballet Rehearsal, Degas used several devices to bring the observer into the pictorial space. The frame cuts off the spiral stair, the windows in the background, and the group of figures in the right foreground. The figures are not centered but rather arranged in a seemingly random manner. The prominent diagonals of the wall bases and floorboards carry the viewer into and along the directional lines of the dancers. Finally, as is customary in Degas ballet pictures, a large, off-center, empty space creates the illusion of a continuous floor that connects the observer with the pictured figures. By seeming to stand on the same surface with them, the viewer is drawn into their space. Edgar Degas, Ballet Rehearsal, 1876
Edgar Degas Dancers, 1899 pastel
Edgar Degas, Cafe Concert, The Song of the Dog, pastel & gouache Over the course of his long career, Degas developed techniques which were perfectly suited to his unique description of his world. He departed from his traditional training when he began investigating the effects of lighting in the theaters and cafes of Paris. Following some of his contemporaries Impressionist artistic investigations, he began to produce pastels which conveyed the unreal effects of up light produced by the footlights which provided the main source of illumination in theater of the day. The cafe was another place he spent much of his time. He captured the soft illumination of the globe lights in portraits that described a sense of atmosphere rather than romanticizing the subjects. He exaggerated the effects, and the colors he chose pushed the feeling of the artificial light even further.
Mary Cassatt, The Boating Party, 1893 In the Boating Party, Cassatt uses the Impressionist close-up, another pictorial device inspired by photography. She combines it with a slanting viewpoint to emphasize the intimacy between mother and child. Cassatt intensifies the tension among the three figures by flattening the space and foreshortening both child and rower. Cassatts bold planes of color, sharp outlines, and compressed spaces, as well as the side sash worn by the rower, exemplify the influence of Japanese woodblock prints on the Impressionist painters.
The observer looks in on a private moment. Cassatts skill as a printmaker reinforced her attraction to the Japanese woodblocks, the flat patters of which recur in The Letter. Mary Cassatt was the daughter of a prominent Pittsburgh banker. She studied art in Philadelphia even though her father said he would almost rather see her dead than have her become an artist. She was strong-willed, and, at the age of twenty-three, she went to Paris to continue her studies. She soon found that a woman had to work twice as hard to gain recognition in the competitive nineteenth- century Paris art world. There she was especially drawn to the work of Degas. Her own paintings soon attracted his attention, and they became good friends. He introduced her to the Impressionists, and they liked her work so much that she was invited to show her work at their exhibitions. Mothers and children were one of Mary Cassatts favorite subjects, and she is unmatched in her ability to express, in both oils and pastels, the mutual love between the two. Cassatt was well respected among her peers in Paris, but she was not appreciated at home in Philadelphia, so she remained in Europe. As an older woman, her eyesight, like Degas, failed and when she could no longer paint she became very influential in getting several American families to buy the paintings of her Impressionist friends. As a result, museums and private collections in the United States have superb collections of their work. Mary Cassatt, The Letter, 1891, etching and aquatint, 17x12
Auguste Rodin, The Age of Bronze, 1876, ht. 510 Rodin is one of the few great sculptors of Western tradition since the Middle Ages (in addition to Michelangelo, Donatello, Claus Sluter, Bernini, and Brancusi). Although Rodin had single-handedly revived scupture as a leading art, his style was so strongly personal that he attacted no major followers.... Rodin was exclusively concerned with the human figure. Like those few Impressionist painters who treated the figure, he saw it in action and in light, but unlike them in moments of great physical and emotional stress. He is, therefore, closely related to both Donatello and Michelangelo, who work he studied with a passion, and whose expressive intensity he was the first sculptor of modern times to revive and the only one to rival. His art was always controversial. At the Salon on 1877 he exhibited The Age of Bronze, a superb statue he had created the preceeding year. Its realism, as compared to the idealized nudes then found palatable, produced a storm of indignation and the accusation that he had passed off a cast from a living figure as an original work. What Rodin had in fact done, and what he was to continue to do throughout his long career, was to experiment with transient poses and accidental effects, without predetermined compositions and often, without preestablished meaning, much in the manner of Monets paintings of railway stations and Degas studies of dancers.
Many statues in marble and bronze by Rodin originated in a large-scale commission he received in 1880 for the doors of the Museum of Decorative Arts in Paris. Still unfinished at the sculptors death, the Gates of Hell was inspired by Dantes Inferno. It is the most ambitous sculptural composition of the 19th century and one of the great imaginative conceptions of modern times. Although an obvious counterpart to Ghibertis Gates of Paradise, the cosmic scope of the work was clearly indebted to Michelangelos Last Judgment and to Rubens Fall of the Damned. Before its completion, many of the figures in the Gates of Hell, most notably the Thinker, emerged as individual large-scale sculptures. Rodin admits us to a world of flame and smoke, through those gusts tormented spirits are propelled in poses and groups of great originality and expressive power. Always intensely interested in the figure in motion, Rodin used to ask his models to move at random through his studio, turning, jumping, squatting as they wished; when spotted an unusual attitude, he would signal for an immediate freeze, and then capture the essence of the pose in a few split- second lines and touches of wash. Many of the startling poses in the Gates of Hell originated in this manner. Auguste Rodin, Gates of Hell, , bronze, 18x12
Auguste Rodin, The Thinker, , bronze, ht. 27 Who is the Thinker? In the context of the Gates of Hell, he was originally conceived as a generalized image of Dante, the poet who in his minds eye what goes on all around him. Once Rodin decided to detach him The Gates, he became The Poet Thinker, and finally just The Thinker.... In this new image of a man, form and meaning are united, instead of being separated.
Auguste Rodin, The Kiss, marble, over-lifesize The Kiss, an over-lifesize group that also evolved from The Gates was meant to portray Dantes Paolo and Francesca, but Rodin rejected it as unsuitable. Evidently he realized that The Kiss shows the ill-fated pair succumbing to their illicit desire for each other here on earth, not as tortured souls in Hell. Knowing its original title helps us to understand a striking aspect of the group: passion reigned in by hestiance, for the embrace is not yet complete. Less powerful than The Thinker, it exploits another kind of artful unfinishedness. Rodin had been impressed by the struggle of Michelanglos Slaves against the remains of the blocks that imprison them. The Kiss was planned from the start to include the mass of rough-hewn marble. The effect approximates the sense of growth seen in his bronzes. The lovers emerge from, yet remain attached to the base, which thus symbolizes their earthbound passion. The contrast of textures emphasizes the sensuous softness of the bodies.
Auguste Rodin, The Burghers of Calais, , bronze, 610x71x66
Rodins status as a major sculptor was confirmed in 1884, when he won a competition for the Burghers of Calais, commissioned to commemorate an event from the Hundred Years War. In 1347 Edward III of England had offered to spare the besieged city of Calais if six leading citizens (burghers), dressed only in sackcloth with rope halters and carrying the keys to the city, would surrender to him for execution. Rodin shows the six volunteers preparing to give themselves over to what they assume will be their deaths. The Calais commissioners were not pleased with Rodins conception of the event. Instead of calm, idealized heroes, Rodin presented ordinary looking men in various attitudes of resignation and despair. He exaggerated their facial expressions, expressively lengthened their arms, greatly enlarged thier hands and feet, and swathed them in heavy fabric, showing not only how they may have looked but how they must have felt as they forced themselves to take one difficult step after another. Rodins willingness to stylize the human body for expressive purposes was a revolutionary move that opened the way for the more radical innovations of later sculptors. Nor were the commissioners pleased with Rodins plan to display the group on a low pedestal. Rodin felt that the usual placement of such figures on an elevated pedestal suggested that only higher, superior humans are capable of heroic action. By placing the figures nearly at street level, Rodin hoped to convey to viewers that ordinary people, too, are capable of noble acts. Rodins removal of public sculpture from a high to a low pedestal would lead, in the 20th century, to the elimination of the pedestal itself and to the presentation of sculpture in the real space of the viewer. Auguste Rodin, The Burghers of Calais, , bronze, 610x71x66
Auguste Rodin, Monument to Balzac, 1897, bronze (not cast until 1954), ht. 93 The Monument to Balzac was Rodins last, as well as most daring and controversial, creation. The sculpture was rejected by the writers association that had commissioned it, and remained in plaster for many years. He had been asked at the insistence of the author Emile Zola to take over the project when the first sculptor died after producing only a sketch. Rodin declared it to be the sum of my whole life. Outward appearance did not pose a problem (Balzacs features were well known). But Rodin wanted far more than that. He was searching for a way to express Balzacs whole personality, without adding allegorical figures or symbolic attributes, which were the usual props of monuments to genius.... The sculpture shows the writer clothed in a long dressing gown which he like to wear while working at night. The statue is larger than life, physically and spiritually; it has an overpowering presence. From a distance we see only the great bulk of the figure. The head thrusts upward - one is tempted to say, erupts - with elemental force from the mass formed by the shroudlike cloak.
Henri Labrouste, Bibliothéque St. Geneviéve, Paris, , A early and brilliant use of exposed iron for architectural purposes is the Reading Room of the Bibliothéque St. Geneviéve in Paris, built in by Henri Labrouste ( ).... The interior is roofed by two parallel barrel vaults of iron plates, resting on iron rivets cast with a perforated vinescroll design of the greatest lightness; these are supported in the center by iron arches springing airly from slender Corinthian colonettes. Metal had been used from time to time in the history of architecture as an adjunct to other materials, such as the bronze or iron dowels in the centers of Greek columns and the iron frames used to enclose sections of stained glass windows in Gothic cathedrals. Iron beams had even been inserted in the 16th century to strengthen the fragile outer walls of the Palazo degli Uffizi in Florence. Cast iron came into use on a grand scale in England and France toward the end of the 18th century in bridges and for the inner structures of factories, and in the 1830s for railway stations. Almost invariably buildings using cast iron were intended for purely utilitarian purposes. A conspicuous exception was the Royal Pavilion at Brighton, whose onion domes were carried on iron frames.
Joseph Paxton, The Crystal Palace,
The triumph of iron architecture was the Crystal Palace, built in the astonishing space of nine months in by Sir Joseph Paxton, who had learned the principles of construction of iron and glass from building greenhouses. No glass-and-iron structure had ever before been put up on such a scale, however, and the airy interior with its barrel-vaulted transept and multiple galleries all of glass on an iron skeleton showing throughout was the luminous wonder of the London Great Exhibition, the first in a long procession of worlds fairs. A comparison with the Bibliothéque St. Geneviéve will show that iron has now developed an ornamental vocabulary of its own. No more colonnettes, no more vinescrolls, the elements are cast with only the lightest of surface ornament. The rapid end of cast-iron arhcitecture was spelled by its unsuspected vulnerability to fire. The Crystal Palace (the first of many in Dublin, New York City, and elsewhere) was reconstructed at Sydenham, south of London, in supposedly permanent shape in , buy it perished by fire in However, the utility of metal for architecture had been established, and the material was to be revived for a somewhat different constructional role, giving rise to strikingly new architectural forms after the invention of a method of making steel in 1855 by Sir Henry Bessmer. Joseph Paxton, The Crystal Palace,