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ART 4 2-DAY 10 October
DEATH: 1958 VLAMINCK
Born on 10 October 1738: Benjamin
painter who died on 11 March 1820.
Benjamin West was born in Pennsylvania; and died in London, England. He specialized in historical scenes and portraits. He was a leading English artist in his time. He was largely self-taught. He painted portraits in Philadelphia from 1746 to 1759. On a trip to Italy in 1759 he acquired a classical style of painting by copying the works of Titian and Raphael.
In 1763, West moved to England and set up shop as a portrait painter. He became friends with Sir Joshua Reynolds. King George III commissioned him to do portraits of members of the royal family. Later he became historical painter to the court. West was a founding member of the Royal Academy. In 1792, he became the second president of the Academy. He was a leader in the realistic movement. His painting The Death of Wolfe (1771) broke the usual tradition of depicting soldiers in contemporary battle scenes wearing Greco-Roman costumes. West taught many painters including: Gilbert Charles Stuart, John Singleton Copley, Charles Willson Peale, Thomas Sully, Mather Brown, John Downman, Ralph Earl, Charles Robert Leslie, John Linnell, Matthew Pratt, Henry Sargent, Edward Savage, and John Trumbull.
Benjamin West, painter of historical scenes and portraits, was one of the leading artists of his time. He was born in Pennsylvania, and was largely self-taught. He painted portraits in Philadelphia from 1746 to 1759. He went to Italy in 1759 and acquired a classical style of painting by copying the works of such Italian masters as Titian and Raphael. In 1763 West moved to England, where he soon gained the friendship of the English portraitist Sir Joshua Reynolds and the patronage of King George III, who commissioned him to execute portraits of members of the royal family and, in 1772, appointed him historical painter to the court. West was a founder, in 1768, of the Royal Academy of Arts and on Reynolds's death in 1792 succeeded him to the presidency. He became a leader of the developing realistic movement when his painting The Death of Wolfe (1771) broke the usual tradition of depicting soldiers in contemporary battle scenes wearing Greco-Roman costumes. West encouraged and influenced many young American painters who studied under him in London, among them Gilbert Charles Stuart and John Singleton Copley.
One of the first American artists to win a wide reputation in Europe, Benjamin West exerted considerable influence on the development of art in the United States through such young American painters as Gilbert Stuart, Charles Willson Peale, and John Singleton Copley. West abandoned the tradition of painting people in Greek and Roman dress, the first major artist working in England to do so. West was born of Quaker parents in in the Pennsylvania colony. Young West was encouraged to draw, and it was said that he got his first paints from his Indian friends. When he was 16 his Quaker community approved art training for him. For a time West studied in Philadelphia and New York City. He also served as a militia captain in Indian campaigns in Pennsylvania. Then he went to Italy for three years of study. In 1763 he went to England and remained there for life.
Known in London as "the American Raphael," he became a friend of Sir Joshua Reynolds, England's leading painter. Soon other influential Londoners, Samuel Johnson for one, took an interest in the young American. King George III commissioned him to paint several pictures, and in 1772 he appointed West historical painter to the king with an annual allowance of 1000 pounds. By another royal appointment West was made a charter member of the Royal Academy, succeeding Reynolds as president in 1792.
West painted historical and religious subjects on huge canvases. Among his famous works are Agrippina Landing at Brundisium with the Ashes of Germanicus (1768); The Death of General Wolfe (1771), the controversial painting in which he broke away from classical costumes; Penn's Treaty with the Indians (1772); and Death on a Pale Horse (1817), which anticipated developments in French romantic painting. Modern critics regard West's figures as somewhat stiff, his colors harsh, and his themes uninspired, but they respect his leadership and influence on later artists. West died on March 11, 1820, in London.
American-born painter of historical, religious, and mythological subjects who had a profound influence on the development of historical painting in Britain. He was historical painter to George III (1772-1801), a founder of the Royal Academy (1768), and in 1792 he succeeded Sir Joshua Reynolds as its president.
As a young man, West showed precocious artistic talent and was sent to Philadelphia in 1756 to study painting. At 20 years of age he was a successful portraitist in New York City and in 1760, through the assistance of friends, he sailed for Italy, where Neoclassicism was rapidly gaining ground. West visited most of the leading art cities of Italy and in 1763 went to London, where he set up as a portrait painter. His subsequent patronage by George III and the assurance of financial support from the crown absolved him of the necessity to continue to earn a living through portraiture.
In London he soon became intimate with Sir Joshua Reynolds and gained widespread popularity. The Death of General Wolfe (1771; several versions exist), one of his best-known and at the time most controversial works, made a noteworthy concession to realism in its use of modern dress rather than antique drapery to depict a contemporary historical event within a classical composition. It was considered by many academicians to be an affront to the art of history painting, but ultimately it was a popular success and won Reynolds' approval.
Though loyal to America, West retained the king's friendship and patronage until 1801. In 1802 he visited Paris and exhibited his final sketch for Death on the Pale Horse (1802; several versions exist), which anticipated developments in French Romantic painting. He never returned to the United States, but through such students as Washington Allston, Gilbert Stuart, Charles Willson Peale, and John Singleton Copley, he exerted considerable influence on the development of art in that country during the first decades of the 19th century.
Self-Portrait (1756) Self-Portrait (1770)
The Death of General Wolfe (1770, 153x215cm) _ detail _ This is an episode of the conquest of Quebec in 1759.
George Harry lord Grey (1765, 125x100cm; full size 2136kb; or see it half-size 459kb; or quarter-size 122kb)
Genius Calling Forth the Fine Arts to Adorn Manufactures and Commerce (1789, oval 49x62cm; full size 981kb; or see it half-size 254kb)
Cupid Stung by a Bee (1802, 32x53cm; full size 610kb; or see it half-size 161kb)
Christ Healing the Sick (1794; 73x115cm; full size 3646kb; or see it half-size 1047kb; or quarter-size 280kb)
A Domestic Affliction Pharaoh and His Host Lost in the Red Sea (1792, 99x78cm)
The Treaty of Penn with the Indians (1772, 190x274cm) _ The genre in which English painters were least happy in the second half of the 18th century was history painting; the efforts of Reynolds in this direction are strangely petrified for so living a painter. Yet it was through history painting that Neo-Classicism invaded the art in England. A Scot, Gavin Hamilton (1738-1820) and an American, Benjamin West, who enjoyed a prodigious success, were in advance of the French painter Jacques-Louis David in the conception of a painting as a scene from Classical history, based upon thorough archeological research. West was most successful when least pretentious; his illustrations of English historical events are simply illustrations, simply composed, uneffectedly direct. Neo-classicism had trained West to give value to the facts of the scene depicted, removing anything merely decorative or liable to spoil the sense of witnessing an actual event.
Edward III Crossing the Somme (1788, 137x150cm) _ Benjamin West, arrived in England in 1763, after spending three years in Italy. He quickly gained the patronage of George III, for whom he became Historical Painter in 1772 carrying out a number of projects, especially at Windsor Castle, involving classical, historical and religious subjects. West was a founding member of the Royal Academy of Arts in 1768 and succeeded Sir Joshua Reynolds as President in 1792.
A series of eight paintings illustrating events from the reign of Edward III was commissioned from West by George III to decorate the Audience Chamber at Windsor Castle. The task took three years to complete from 1786 to 1789, but the arrangement was dismantled by George IV during the mid-1820s when much of Windsor Castle was redesigned by Jeffry Wyatville. However, a view of the Audience Chamber with the pictures still in place is included in W. H. Pyne's The History of the Royal Residences of 1819. The present painting was double-hung on the left of the throne balancing The Burghers of Calais on the right, positioned above the door.
The series illustrates Edward III's campaign in northern France during the summer of 1346. Edward III crossing the Somme is the first in the sequence and shows an incident preceding the Battle of Crécy, when the king was trying to cross the River Somme at Blanche Tache, near Abbeville, in order to escape the French army. Edward III encountered and engaged a part of the French force under Godemar de Faye, the outcome of which, like the Battle of Crécy itself, was dependent upon the skill of the English archers seen in the upper right of the composition. The king is on horseback just to the right of centre and the figures accompanying him can be identified with the aid of a key provided by the artist for George III.
A subject taken from medieval history was an unusual choice for this date. According to West's earliest biographer, John Galt, it was George III who, 'recollecting that Windsor Castle had, in its present form, been created by Edward the Third, said, that he thought the achievements of his splendid reign were well calculated for pictures, and would prove very suitable ornaments to the halls and chambers of that venerable edifice.' In addition to his military prowess, Edward III had also been the founder of the Order of the Garter that is so closely associated with Windsor Castle. The paintings by West must be seen, therefore, as part of a revival of interest in the Middle Ages that was being pioneered by antiquarians such as Joseph Struttz and Francis Grose, to whose works the artist clearly referred for details of the arms, armor, and dress. For the historical narrative the primary sources in English were an early translation of the Chronicles (1325-1400) of Jean Froissart and the History of England (1754-62) by David Hume. West's work showed that ideal truth could be sought in themes unrelated to antiquity, and his lively treatment of such subject matter reveals his innovative qualities as an artist.
Died on 10 October 1958: Maurice
de Vlaminck, French Fauvist
painter born on 04 April 1876.
Vlaminck, with his friend French painter André Derain [10 Jun 1880 – 10 Sep 1954], was part of the group that exhibited at the Salon d'Automne in Paris in 1905 and became known as the Fauves. Born in Paris, Vlaminck was largely self-taught (he once boasted that he had never been inside the Louvre museum in Paris). He was a professional bicyclist and earned his living as a violinist before becoming an artist. Vlaminck's work was greatly influenced by the colors and brushwork of Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh, a retrospective of whose work had been shown in Paris in 1901. Painted in pure, intense pigments, Vlaminck's fauvist works such as Red Trees (1906) provide brilliant color contrasts. After the decline of fauvism, about 1908, his work—primarily landscapes—became more subdued in color and composition. Typical of these are The Painter's House at Valmondois (1920) and The Village Road (1935).
Vlaminck also wrote several novels. Des romans de Vlaminck: D’un Lit dans l’autre Fausse couleur Moyen Age sans cathédrale La haute-Folie Cartes sur table. Autres livres de Vlaminck (mémoires, pensées): Portraits avant décès Désobéir Tournant dangereux Le Ventre ouvert. (illustré) Le Boeuf. (poésies) Histoires et poèmes de mon époque, avec cinq bois gravés de l’auteur.
Maurice de Vlaminck was born to a Flemish father. His parents moved to the Paris area when he was only three years old. He showed only a slight interest in his studies, beginning the journey of autodidactism that characterized his relations with painting. During his adolescent years, he held all sorts of jobs to escape his poverty and it was not until the age of twenty-three that he turned to painting. He was accompanied in this by Derain, with whom he began to share a studio in Chatou (the Chatou School).
At the Salon d'automne of 1905 Vlaminck exhibited in the same room as the other fauves, and it was after this exposition that his financial situation began to gradually improve. His first one-artist exhibition took place at the Vollard Gallery in 1907. Immediately following World War I, he retired to the country, where he had always wanted to live because of his love for nature. The Nature morte aux poissons can be approximately dated to 1907-1910.
Like the other artists who first developed the fauvist technique under the influence of Van Gogh [30 Mar 1853 – 29 Jul 1890] and Gauguin [07 Jun 1848 – 08 May 1903], Vlaminck was strongly marked by Cézanne's work, which he admired at the retrospective presented at the Salon d'automne of 1907. Still life with fish, typical of the end of the fauvist period, reflects the influence of Van Gogh in its aggressive technique, violent colors, and its solid and schematic construction, as well as in the use of pure color.
After 1910, Vlaminck developed a style similar to Cézanne's, more sober in color as well as in construction. Crossing his brushstrokes, he alternates here a divisionist technique and large colored surfaces. The artist shows, albeit in a common subject, his passionate and instinctual temperament, ignoring classic notions of volume and subject treatment. The avant-garde expressionist power of this work and the absence of references, due to Vlaminck's autodidactism, make him one of the most violent fauvist painters and a precursor of the art of Soutine [1894 – 09 Aug 1943].
Barges on the Seine near Le Pecq (1906, 65x92cm). From the Seine bridge at Chatou the road runs west by way of Le Vésinet to Le Pecq four kilometers away, where it again reaches the Seine, which has made a loop to the south. Here, and not at Chatou, is where the picture was painted, as can be seen by comparison with the picture by Derain bearing the place name "Le Pecq". Vlaminck, who called himself a "gentle barbarian", is here more gentle than barbaric. To be sure, the bright brick-red of the tree on the bank flames up announcing itself to the pale-blue, slightly arching sky, but the pale-blue reflecting water, done in vertical brushstrokes, with the moored barge in front and the bridge on the horizon are the contrasting and finally dominant elements of peace; in this connection, the role of the vertical mast in the center of the picture must not be overlooked as a static factor. Moreover, the paint is not applied impasto onto the canvas, but lightly, sweepingly and gaily. We can almost believe in a reflex of the pictures of his friend Derain done when the latter painted in Collioure with Matisse in 1905. And it is not difficult to go back from this picture to those that the Impressionists had painted in 1874 in nearby Argenteuil. It was not without reason that Chatou, where Vlaminck and Derain worked, was called the "Argenteuil of Fauvism".
Barges on the Seine (1908, very different) River (1910) _ detail Seine at Chatou The Yellow Brick Road Valmondois (1912) Dancer Woman with a Straw Hat Reclining Nude (1905)
The Factory (1904, 65x80cm) _ Although Vlaminck boasted that he never entered the Louvre, that he despised the artistic tradition and followed only his instinct, his "Factory" is, even so, very much in the tradition. As early as 1870, a generation earlier, Cézanne had painted the Factory in Front of Mont de Cengle [without factory: The Mont de Cengle, 1905] , and we might almost assume that Vlaminck was familiar with it, for the influence is more than obvious. Cézanne, too, had not failed in his landscapes of L’Estaque to incorporate the high smokestacks in the picture as structural elements. [The Bay from L'Estaque (1886) View of L'Estaque] The "urban dreariness" had long since been discovered; Signac [1863-1935] had painted the gasometers of Clichy in 1886, and van Gogh in the summer of 1887 Bridges Across the Seine at Asnières and Factories at Asnières Seen from the Quay de Clichy, to mention only these. This bleak industrial landscape by the Seine with the red, smoking stack and the red roofs behind the tawny foreground, in addition to the blue of water and sky, is static in effect rather than turbulent, as we might expect from the Fauve Vlaminck; the picture is conceived in breadth with the scene parallel to the surface, this being reinforced by the horizontal brushwork. The painter is only a beginner here, as shown by the otherwise unusual monogram. There is represented a factory on the Seine opposite Chatou, in Nanterre, which he painted again in 1906.
Factory (1930, 42x50cm, another one)
Still Life with Oranges (1907, 45x54cm) Vlaminck is at the height of his powers with this still life done in 1907; the colors are saturated and deeply luminous. They are not applied in patches and do not come trailing out of the tube, but are densely articulated. The deep blue of the two jugs at the right and the shining yellow of the lemons contrast with the vigorous red of the cloth; a patterned tea service mediates between the contrasting colors The objects, however, possess not only luminosity, they also have their weight and volume, thrown into relief by a bright light falling from the left. We know how greatly Vlaminck was impressed at the exhibition at Bernheim Jeune’s in 1901 by van Gogh, how his painting was influenced thereby, but we need only think back to van Gogh’s still life with the coffeepot of 1888, which is especially comparable with our picture, in order to realize the chromatic restriction to blue and yellow shades there and the chromatic fortissimo here, the effect of compositional distance in van Gogh and the vital clustering of objects here in this painting. The Flemish-French Vlaminck has here succeeded in investing modest everyday things with luminousness and intense life, effects he was never to achieve again later.
— 6 prints at FAMSF
on 10 October 1684: Jean-Antoine Watteau,
French painter who died on 18 July 1721.
Watteau typified the lyrically charming and graceful style of the Rococo. Much of his work reflects the influence of the commedia dell'arte and the opéra ballet (e.g. The French Comedy 1716).
Watteau was baptized at the church of St. Jacques in Valenciennes. He was the son of Jean-Philippe Watteau, master roofer and carpenter, who knew how to read and write, and was officially registered as a bourgeois. All we know about Watteau’s mother is the name: Michelle, née Lordenois; of Watteau’s three brothers that they continued his father’s enterprise. It is unknown whether his parents encouraged his artistic vocation. None the less they allowed the boy, on turning fifteen, to get some instruction from Jacques-Albert Gérin, the correct, mediocre official painter of Valenciennes.
After the death of Gérin (in 1702), Watteau studied with another painter, who specialized in decorating theatres. Watteau accompanied this man to Paris, where he was called to decorate the Opera House. Watteau helped his master for a few months, then moved back to his native town. From this short experience Watteau derived various staging devices, a certain science of costume and setting, and theatrical poses, which lend his pictures the character of pantomime. Later in Paris at the print-shop of Pierre II Mariette and his son Jean, Watteau had ample opportunities to study the great masters in the collection there (Rubens, Titian, Bruegel, Callot and others). He met there (in 1703) Claude Gillot, who asked him to come and lodge together. Gillot had won some recognition with pictures drawn from the performances of the commedia dell’arte. It seems that Watteau borrowed from him the idea of the fêtes galantes. In 1707 Watteau left Gillot for obscure reasons. His new partner was Claude Audran.
Before or after parting with Audran, at any rate between 1708 and 1711, he left for Valenciennes with some money paid him by the art dealer Sirois, Gersaint’s father-in-law, for a picture. The town was then in a zone of military operations. The warlike bustle and atmosphere inspired him. Such subjects were, in fact, quite current. Watteau did not work on commission but only as it pleased him, which did not prevent his pictures from being purchased. That accounts for the naturalness and vivacity of his military-scene sketches and for the free treatment of his paintings. Like veritable pieces of reportage, the painted scenes do not have usual solemnity of such pictures. Instead of celebrating grandees, they capture the truth of life.
On his return to Paris Watteau competed for the Prize of Rome, which would have enabled him to go to Italy and study the great masters there. The attempts failed. Watteau was now living in Sirois’ house. He frequented the theatres and, abandoning the military scenes, began to paint fêtes galantes, quasi-pastoral idylls in court dress which became fashionable in high society. Still dreaming of Italy, he submitted a few works (Jealousy, or Pierrot Content, A Party for Four and A Jealous Harlequin) to the Royal Academy of painting, in the same hope of being sent to Rome. Once again he failed, but was asked to join the Academy.
After 1712 Watteau disappeared for a while and this period is almost totally unknown. In 1717 he joined the Academy of Painting. Of the two versions of the Embarkation for Cythera, one in Berlin and one in the Louvre, the earlier one in Louvre was the enrollment picture which Watteau deposited with the Académie in 1717 – a little belatedly, as he had become an Academician in 1712.
The tinge of melancholy in Watteau’s work is matched by his life. A lifelong sufferer from tuberculosis he went to London in 1719 partly in hopes that the famous Dr. Mead might cure his consumption, partly, perhaps from desire to extend his sphere of action. He was already, however, fatally ill. On his return to France (in 1720), he painted his last great work, depicting the interior of the shop of his art-dealer friend Gersaint, drawn from nature and intended as a signboard, but in fact the most classical and most perfectly composed of his paintings. L'Enseigne de Gersaint. As his death approached, he destroyed, being persuaded by the abbot of Carreau Abby, a large number of his more erotic paintings.
Watteau never had his own house and moved from one friend, or patron, to another. Watteau died in Gersaint’s house on 18 July 1721, in the arms of Gersaint. He was 37.
During his 15-year artistic career, Watteau tacked a wide variety of genres, subjects and techniques: tapestry cartoons and ceiling decorations, wainscot, fans and harpsichord panels, also allegoric and satirical pictures, genre painting, military, theatrical and religious scenes, landscapes and rustic subjects, character heads and portraits. He gave his full measure, however, in his fêtes galantes. By the specificity he lent this theme, which is now strikingly associated with his name, Watteau succeeded in establishing it as a distinct genre. These fêtes galantes entirely crystallize the spirit of his painting. Essentially aristocratic in conception, Watteau’s paintings fell into disfavor at the Revolution, and it was not until the end of the 19th century that they regained popularity. Watteau is now regarded as a forerunner of the Impressionists in his handling of color and study of nature.
| Watteau was the
greatest French painter of his period and one of the key figures of Rococo
art. He was born at Valenciennes, which had passed to France from the Spanish
Netherlands only six years before his birth, and he was regarded by contemporaries
as a Flemish painter. There are indeed strong links with Flanders in his
art, but it also has a sophistication that is quintessentially French.
He moved to Paris in about 1702 and about 1703-1707 he worked with Gillot, who stimulated his interest in theatrical costume and scenes from daily life. Soon afterwards he joined Claude Audran, Keeper of the Luxembourg Palace, and thus had access to Rubens's Marie de Médicis paintings, which were of enormous influence on him, even though Rubens's robustness was far removed from the fragile delicacy that characterized Watteau's art. Rubens was one of the prime inspirations for the type of picture with which Watteau is most associated - the fête galante, in which exquisitely dressed young people idle away their time in a dreamy, romantic, pastoral setting. The tradition of lovers in a parkland setting goes back via Giorgione to the medieval type known as the Garden of Love, but Watteau was the first painter to make the theme his own, and his individuality was recognized by his contemporaries.
In 1717 he submitted a characteristic work, The Pilgrimage to the Island of Cythera (there is a slightly later variant), as his belated reception piece to the Academy, and owing to the difficulty of fitting him into recognized categories was received as a 'peintre de fêtes galantes', a title created expressly for him. He was, indeed, a highly independent artist, who did not readily submit to the will of patrons or officialdom, and the novelty and freshness of his work delivered French painting from the yoke of Italianate academicism. creating a truly 'Parisian' outlook that endured until the Neoclassicism of David. Watteau's world is a highly artificial one (apart from scenes of love he took his themes mainly from the theatre), but underlying the frivolity is a feeling of melancholy, reflecting the certain knowledge that all the pleasures of the flesh are transient. This poetic gravity distinguishes him from his imitators, and parallels are often drawn between Watteau's own life and character and the content of his paintings. He was notorious for his irritable and restless temperament and died early of tuberculosis, and it is felt that the constant reminder of his own mortality that his illness entailed 'infected' his pictures with a melancholic mood.
In 1719 he travelled to London, almost certainly to consult the celebrated physician Dr Richard Mead, but the hard English winter worsened his condition. His early death came when he may have been making a new departure in his art, for his last important work combines something of the straightforward naturalism of his early pictures in the Flemish tradition with the exquisite sensitivity of his fêtes galantes: it is a shop sign painted for the picture dealer Edmé Gersaint and known as L' Enseigne de Gersaint (1721 ).
Watteau was careless in matters of material technique and many of his paintings are in consequence in a poor state of preservation. A complete picture of his genius depends all the more, then, on his numerous superb drawings, many of them scintillating studies from the life. He collected his drawings into large bound volumes and used these books as a reference source for his paintings (the same figure often appears in more than one picture). In spite of his difficult temperament, Watteau had many loyal friends and supporters who recognized his genius, and although his reputation suffered with the Revolution and the growth of Neoclassicism, he always had distinguished admirers. It is perhaps as a colorist that he has had the most profound influence. His method of juxtaposing flecks of color on the canvas was carried further by Delacroix and later reduced to a science by Seurat and the Neo-Impressionists. Watteau's principal, but much inferior, followers were Lancret and Pater. He also had a nephew and a great-nephew (father and son) who worked more-or-less in his manner. They are both known as 'Watteau de Lille' after their main place of work - Louis-Joseph Watteau [1731-1798] and François-Louis-Joseph Watteau [1758-1823].
— Watteau is considered the greatest painter of early eighteenth-century France. He went to Paris in 1702 and became acquainted with Pierre Mariette, who enabled him to study the works of such artists as Jacques Callot, Titian, and Rubens. In the studio of Claude Gillot, he learned theatrical themes, and through Claude Audran, concierge of the Luxembourg Palace, he had the revelatory experience of studying Rubens's Marie de Medici cycle. Watteau returned to Valenciennes in 1710, where he produced scenes of military life. Upon arriving again in Paris, he met Pierre Crozat, a wealthy amateur, whose collection of drawings was to prove influential in the perfection of the artist's craR. In 1717 Watteau was elected to membership in the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture with Pilgrimage to the Island of Cythera as a painter of fêtes galantes, a genre created especially for him, and. which he refined and amplified as his own pictorial invention. He went to England in 1719-1720, but poor health brought him back to France, where he died at the age of thirty seven. Watteau's personal style, characterized by a delicate palette and sensitivity to atmosphere, brought him great acclaim during his lifetime.
The Fortune Teller
L'Amour au Théâtre Français _ aka The French Comedy (1714, 37x48cm) _ In 1734 The French Comedy and The Italian Comedy were reproduced as copper engravings by C. N. Cochin. He named them respectively L'Amour au théâtre français and L'Amour au théâtre italien, thus making the artist's intentions clear.
A shepherd and shepherdess in a park, surrounded by a company of people, form the focal point of the French Comedy. Bacchus is reclining on a stone bench, drinking to a huntsman, while musicians provide music for the dance. One must not assume that Watteau had any particular play in mind; he was probably aiming to portray the various characters of the Comedy. This does not mean that he never depicted real people or happenings; at all events he will have taken for granted that the observer or his patron would be able to recognize such details. The gentleman in black on the right is in all probability the well-known actor Paul Poisson.
The theatre plays an important part in Watteau's art. His teacher Gillot, with whom the twenty-year-old Flemish-born painter began his work in Paris, appears to have encouraged this interest in the theatre. Watteau's most famous portrait, the Gilles in the Louvre, is the portrayal of a stage character. Stage-play and reality are strangely interwoven, as they are also in his pictures of social occasions, the fêtes galantes, which Watteau originated and executed with such artistry. These gained for him recognition by the French Academy.
Une Pause Pendant la Chasse Réunion Pierrot (Gilles) La Leçon de Musique Seated Woman Seated Woman Holding a Fan 3 studies of a boy's head
— La Contredanse (1719, 45x55cm; half-size 220kb) _ full size (897kb)
— La partie carrée (1713, 50x63cm; half-size 195kb) _ full size (768kb) _ detail (double size) Pierrot and woman with fan _ detail (double size) woman with fan and woman next to her
The Italian Comedy (1714)
Born on 10 October 1656: Nicolas
de Largillière, French Rococo
painter who died on 20 March 1746.
Nicolas de Largillière was born in Paris but passed his youth in Antwerp and, from about 1674, spent some years in England as Lely's assistant. He was thus almost a Flemish painter when he returned to Paris in 1682. He became one of the most successful portrait painters of the second half of Louis XIV’s reign. His principal rival was Rigaud (who had beet his assistant) but, although Largillièrre was patronized by the Court, most of his sitters came from the wealthy middle classes, leaving the aristocrats to Rigaud. By the end of Largillière's career he had produced some 1500 portraits. The Sainte Geneviève is the only survivor of the large ex-voto type of picture that he painted for the Corporations. He also painted a few pictures of still-life. In 1734–1735 and again from 1738 to 1742 he was Directeur of the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture, of which he had been a member since 1686.
— Nicolas de Largillière once told a friend that he never wanted official commissions; private clients were less troublesome, and payment was quicker. Unlike his friend court painter Hyacinthe Rigaud, Largillière worked for Paris's wealthy middle class. He grew up in Antwerp, then worked in England as Sir Peter Lely's assistant, painting draperies and still lifes and developing a lustrous version of Anthony van Dyck's style. This Flemish training imparted the warm hues, broad, thick brushstrokes, and sinuous curves that gave Largillière's paintings their dynamism. He returned to Paris in 1682, gained Académie Royale membership in 1686, and ultimately became its director. By the late 1680s, Largillière had established his reputation among the bourgeoisie. He produced 1200 to 1500 portraits in his lifetime, gradually becoming less formal and more relaxed in describing pose and costume. He also painted group portraits to commemorate solemn occasions, landscapes, still lifes, and religious works. When Largillière ordered his student Jean-Baptiste Oudry to depict a bouquet of all-white flowers, Oudry reported learning a basic lesson in color. By carefully observing their subtle variations and then trying to paint them, Oudry came to understand how to express highlights, shades of gray, and shadows as his teacher Largillière did.
— Although born in Paris, Largillierre spent his youth in Antwerp, becoming a student of the still life and genre painter Antoine Goubau in 1668. Soon after his acceptance as a master in the Guild of Saint Luke (1672), the artist went to England. There he studied portraiture, perhaps in the studio of Peter Lely. He returned to Paris in 1679 and became a member of the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture in 1686, advancing rapidly to important posts in the hierarchy of that institution. The major part of his work is devoted to portraiture, but Largillierre also produced history paintings, landscapes, and still lifes. His rival for court commissions was Hyacinthe Rigaud, while his own clientele was primarily the wealthy bourgeoisie who found his taste for warm color tones, sumptuous fabrics, and a regal manner of presentation very much to their liking. Extremely successful during his long life, the artist produced a huge ceuvre. Anthony van Dyck's influence on English portraiture as well as the seventeenth century French portrait tradition are both critical to his stylistic development. Largillierre is pivotal in the transition from the baroque to the rococo portrait style during the reigns of Louis XIV and Louis XV.
— De Largillière's students included Jean-Baptiste Oudry, Jean-Baptiste Descamps, Robert Gardelle, Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne II, Gustaf Lundberg, Pierre Mosnier, Jean Restout II.
— Self-Portrait (1725, 889x700pix, 60kb)
— The Artist and his Family (1710, 149x200cm; 800x1095pix, 116kb)
— Catherine Coustard, Marquise de Castelnau, Femme de Charles-Léonor Aubry, avec son Fils Léonor (1700, 138x106cm; 1/3 size, 255kb — ZOOM to 1/2 size, 343kb) _ Catherine Coustard came from a family of well-to-do cloth merchants in Paris and married into the Aubrys, wealthy, middle-class civil servants and statesmen from Tours. At the time of this portrait, her father-in-law had just been ennobled after serving twenty years as secretary to the king, thus precipitating the great step upward in family prestige that this picture commemorates.
— A Boy in Fancy Dress (1710, 115x146cm; 960x752pix, 70kb) _ Dressed in a fanciful Roman costume, a young boy with blond hair and blue eyes poses before an enigmatic landscape. Facing frontally, he twists his torso in order to hold and stroke his dog. Both the boy and the animal watch a goldfinch with outspread wings perched on a thornbush. Although the young sitter's identity is unknown, he is presumed to be a member of the French royal family. Nicolas de Largillière positioned his figure before an atmospheric landscape and used fluent brushwork, rich autumnal colors, and exquisite treatment of draperies. All these characteristics betray his training in a Flemish late Baroque style heavily indebted to Anthony van Dyck. The inclusion of elaborate symbolism also reflects a Baroque sensibility. The child's costume refers to nobility, his pet dog to fidelity, and the thornbush to the Crown of Thorns. Through an extended series of connections, the goldfinch functions as a symbol of the Passion: goldfinches eat seeds from the thorny thistle, another reminder of the Crown of Thorns, and the red spot on their breast is a further reminder of Christ’s bloody death.
— Gentleman A (81x65cm; 3/4 size, or see it 3/8 size)
— Gentleman B (136x105cm; 5/6 size; or see it 5/12 size; or 5/24 size)
— Pierre Van Schuppen? (1680, oval 72x60cm; 3/4 size, or see it 3/8 size)
— A Lady (81x65cm; 3/4 size, or see it 3/8 size)
— A Lady as Pomona (65x55cm; 2/3 size, or see it 1/3 size)
— Charles Le Brun (1686, 232x182cm, 953x750pix, 120kb)
— Princess Louisa Maria Teresa Stewart (1700, 127kb)
— The Countess of Montsoreau, her Sister as Diana, and an Attendant (1714, 122kb)
— Gentleman C (1720, 126kb)
— Paysage Boisé (136kb)
— Nature Morte avec Gibier, Fleurs, Fruits, et un Épagneul (1680, 1097x1448pix, 589kb)