Tag Archives: 19th century artists

#FineArtFriday: Ploughing in the Nivernais by Rosa Bonheur 1849

Rosa_Bonheur_-_Ploughing_in_Nevers_-_Google_Art_ProjectPloughing in the Nivernais by Rosa Bonheur

Genre: animal art

Date: 1849

Medium: oil on canvas

Dimensions: Height: 1,340 mm (52.75 in); Width: 2,600 mm (102.36 in)

Inscriptions: Signature and date right: Rosa Bonheur 1849

About this painting via Wikipedia:

Oxen ploughing in Nevers or Plowing in Nivernais, is an 1849 painting by French artist Rosa Bonheur. It depicts two teams of oxen ploughing the land, and expresses deep commitment to the land; it may have been inspired by the opening scene of George Sand‘s 1846 novel La Mare au Diable. Commissioned by the government and winner of a First Medal at the Salon in 1849, today it is held in the Musée d’Orsay in Paris.

The Nivernais, the area around Nevers, was known for its Charolais cattle, which were to play an important role in the agricultural revolution that took place in the area in the nineteenth century. Rosa Bonheur gained a reputation painting animals, and Ploughing in the Nivernais features twelve Charolais oxen, in two groups of six. On a sunny autumn day they plough the land; this is the sombrage, the first stage of soil preparation in the fall, which opens up the soil to aeration during the winter. Humans play a minor role in the painting—the farmer is almost completely hidden behind his animals. The freshly-ploughed land is prominent in the foreground, while the landscape behind is basking in sunlight. The painting’s clarity and light resembles that of the Dutch paintings (esp. by Paulus Potter) which Bonheur had studied as part of her education.

According to Albert Boime, the painting should be seen as a glorification of peasant life and its ancient traditions; he places it in the context of the revolutionary year 1848, when cities were the scene of chaos and strife. [1]

About the artist, via Wikipedia:

Bonheur was born on 16 March 1822 in BordeauxGironde, the oldest child in a family of artists. Her mother was Sophie Bonheur (born Marquis), a piano teacher; she died when Rosa Bonheur was eleven. Her father was Oscar-Raymond Bonheur, a landscape and portrait painter who encouraged his daughter’s artistic talents. Though of Jewish origin, the Bonheur family adhered to Saint-Simonianism, a Christiansocialist sect that promoted the education of women alongside men. Bonheur’s siblings included the animal painters Auguste Bonheur and Juliette Bonheur, as well as the animal sculptor Isidore Jules BonheurFrancis Galton used the Bonheurs as an example of “Hereditary Genius” in his 1869 essay of the same title.

In a world where gender expression was policed, Rosa Bonheur broke boundaries by deciding to wear pants, shirts and ties. She did not do this because she wanted to be a man, though she occasionally referred to herself as a grandson or brother when talking about her family; rather, Bonheur identified with the power and freedom reserved for men. Wearing men’s clothing gave Bonheur a sense of identity in that it allowed her to openly show that she refused to conform to societies’ construction of the gender binary. It also broadcast her sexuality at a time where the lesbian stereotype consisted of women who cut their hair short, wore pants, and chain-smoked. Rosa Bonheur did all three. Bonheur never explicitly said she was a lesbian, but her lifestyle and the way she talked about her female partners suggests this.

Bonheur, while taking pleasure in activities usually reserved for men (such as hunting and smoking), viewed her womanhood as something far superior to anything a man could offer or experience. She viewed men as stupid and mentioned that the only males she had time or attention for were the bulls she painted.

Having chosen to never become an adjunct or appendage to a man in terms of painting, she decided she would be her own boss and that she would lean on herself and her female partners instead. She had her partners focus on the home life while she took on the role of breadwinner by focusing on her painting. Bonheur’s legacy paved the way for other lesbian artists who didn’t favour the life society had laid out for them.

Bonheur died on 25 May 1899, at the age of 77, at Thomery (By), France. She was buried together with Nathalie Micas (1824 – 24 June 1889), her lifelong companion, at Père Lachaise Cemetery, Paris. Klumpke was Bonheur’s sole heir after her death, and later joined Micas and Bonheur in the same cemetery upon her death. Many of her paintings, which had not previously been shown publicly, were sold at auction in Paris in 1900. [2]


Credits and Attributions:

[1] Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:Rosa Bonheur – Ploughing in Nevers – Google Art Project.jpg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Rosa_Bonheur_-_Ploughing_in_Nevers_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg&oldid=380365743 (accessed April 8, 2021).

[2] Wikipedia contributors, “Ploughing in the Nivernais,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Ploughing_in_the_Nivernais&oldid=975131991 (accessed April 8, 2021).

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#FineArtFriday: Canal in the Spreewald in Spring by Bruno Moras

Artist: Bruno Moras, (1833 – 1939)

Title: Kanal im Spreewald im Frühling (Canal in the Spreewald in Spring)

Medium: oil on canvas

Dimensions Height: 79 cm (31.1″); Width: 119 cm (46.8″)

What I love about this picture:

Moras captured the trees as they are when the leaves first burst forth, with a bright, yellow-green. The apple and plum trees, the first signs of spring around here, are blossoming. The water reflects the  colors of the world, yet a slight breeze moves it. The small boats drawn up to the shore can carry one or two fisher folk comfortably.

About the artist:

I have been unable to find much about Bruno Moras, other than he was the son of Walter Moras, was born, lived, and died in Berlin, and never achieved the fame his father had. This is too bad, as his works are just now becoming more in demand at auctions.

Still, his work survives. In a time when modern art was moving away from traditional landscape painting, Moras painted beautiful images of what he loved most: the countryside of his Germany.

Credits and Attributions:

Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:Bruno Moras – Kanal im Spreewald im Frühling.jpg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Bruno_Moras_-_Kanal_im_Spreewald_im_Fr%C3%BChling.jpg&oldid=273477004 (accessed March 13, 2020).

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#FineArtFriday: Street Scene on a Rainy Day by Francesco Miralles Galup (ca. 1891)

What I love about this painting:

We see a perfect rainy spring afternoon in a busy cosmopolitan city. It could have been any large city at the end of the 19th century. The street is busy, full of carriages, and pedestrians must be careful where they step.

A cart full of flowers passes in the background, headed for the market. Two well-dressed ladies dodge puddles in their effort to cross the street. Around them, shoppers gossip and umbrellas abound.

Like every chihuahua I’ve ever known, the little dog is miserable, unhappy with the damp.

 

About the Artist, via Wikipedia:

Francisco Miralles Galup was born Francesc Miralles i Galaup (6 April 1848, Valencia – 30 October 1901, Barcelona). He was a Catalan painter, best known for his realistic scenes of bourgeois life and high society.

When he turned eighteen, he received parental permission (and financial support) to study in Paris, where he would remain until 1893, with occasional visits home. During his first years there, he copied masterworks at the Louvre and may have worked briefly with Alexandre Cabanel. He eventually had several small studios in Montmartre and on the Rue Laffitte.

He exhibited regularly at the Salon and the Sala Parés, back home in Barcelona. He also became a client of the well-known art dealership Goupil & Cie, attracting wealthy buyers throughout Europe and America. This was a relief to his family, who had initially been concerned that they might have to support him indefinitely. Their ability to do so had been compromised as they had lost much of their fortune in the Panic of 1866 and were losing more of it as they paid off their debts. In fact, they eventually moved to Paris so he could help support them.


Credits and Attributions:

Escena de carrer c1891, Francisco Miralles Galup / Public domain

Wikipedia contributors, “Francesc Miralles i Galaup,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Francesc_Miralles_i_Galaup&oldid=894995022 (accessed February 28, 2020).

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#FineArtFriday: Barge Haulers on the Volga by Ilya Repin, 1870

Barge Haulers on the Volga by Ilya Repin  (1844–1930)

  • Date: 1870
  • Medium: oil on canvas
  • Dimensions: Height: 131.5 cm (51.7 ″); Width: 281 cm (110.6 ″)
  • Current location: Ж-4056 (Russian Museum)
  • Inscriptions: Signature and date: И. Репин / 1870-73

What I love about this painting:

A burlak was a person who hauled barges and other vessels upstream from the 17th to 20th centuries in the Russian Empire. Most burlaks were landless or poor peasants.

These men are shown working, painted with brutal truth. They are beyond exhausted. Their skin is darkened and weathered from years of work in the unremitting sun, except for the young man in the middle. One day he will be like the older men, hardened to the misery and enduring his lot in life.

Each face is filled with emotion, with a story of their own. Who knows what tragedies brought them to agree to this terrible existence, this seasonal slavery of physically towing boat upriver?

For the women and men who towed the barges, winter was even worse, because once the river froze over these burlaki were unemployed. Their life was a constant circle of starvation and hellish labor under the harshest conditions.

About this Painting (via Wikipedia)

Barge Haulers on the Volga or Burlaki (Russian: Burlaki na Volge, Бурлаки на Волге) is an 1870–73 oil-on-canvas painting by artist Ilya Repin. It depicts 11 men physically dragging a barge on the banks of the Volga River. They are at the point of collapse from exhaustion, oppressed by heavy, hot weather.[1][2]

The work is a condemnation of profit from inhumane labor.[3] Although they are presented as stoical and accepting, the men are defeated; only one stands out: in the center of both the row and canvas, a brightly colored youth fights against his leather binds and takes on a heroic pose.

Repin conceived the painting during his travels through Russia as a young man and depicts actual characters he encountered. It drew international praise for its realistic portrayal of the hardships of working men, and launched his career.[4] Soon after its completion, the painting was purchased by Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovich and exhibited widely throughout Europe as a landmark of Russian realist painting. Barge Haulers on the Volga has been described as “perhaps the most famous painting of the Peredvizhniki movement [for]….its unflinching portrayal of backbreaking labor”.[5]

The characters are based on actual people Repin came to know while preparing for the work. He had had difficulty finding subjects to pose for him, even for a fee, because of a folklorish belief that a subject’s soul would leave his possession once his image was put down on paper.[8] The subjects include a former soldier, a former priest, and a painter.[9] Although he depicted eleven men, women also performed the work and there were normally many more people in a barge-hauling gang; Repin selected these figures as representative of a broad swathe of the working classes of Russian society. That some had once held relatively high social positions dismayed the young artist, who had initially planned to produce a far more superficial work contrasting exuberant day-trippers (which he himself had been) with the careworn burlaks. Repin found a particular empathy with Kanin, the defrocked priest, who is portrayed as the lead hauler and looks outwards towards the viewer.[10] The artist wrote,

“There was something eastern about it, the face of a Scyth…and what eyes! What depth of vision!…And his brow, so large and wise…He seemed to me a colossal mystery, and for that reason I loved him. Kanin, with a rag around his head, his head in patches made by himself and then worn out, appeared none the less as a man of dignity; he was like a saint.”[11]


Credits and Attributions:

Wikipedia contributors, “Barge Haulers on the Volga,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Barge_Haulers_on_the_Volga&oldid=918607811 (accessed November 1, 2019).

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#FineArtFriday: Portrait of Madame X by John Singer Sargent 1884


What I love about this Painting:

I love everything–the moody colors and textures–she needs no necklace, no jewels to prove she is someone unforgettable.

Madame X is mysterious; she is a promise unspoken.

She is dangerous the way uncharted seas are.

Her pose, the elegance of the black dress, the turn of her head—this portrait shouts “Here is a woman to be reckoned with.” Everyone who knew Virginie Amélie Avegno Gautreau said that in this Portrait of Madame X, American expatriate artist  John Singer Sargent captured something real, something true about the woman, something well beyond the unashamed sexuality of the portrait.

About this painting, via Wikipedia:

(John Singer Sargent’s) most controversial work, Portrait of Madame X (Madame Pierre Gautreau) (1884) is now considered one of his best works, and was the artist’s personal favorite; he stated in 1915, “I suppose it is the best thing I have done.” When unveiled in Paris at the 1884 Salon, it aroused such a negative reaction that it likely prompted Sargent’s move to London. Sargent’s self-confidence had led him to attempt a risqué experiment in portraiture—but this time it unexpectedly backfired. The painting was not commissioned by her and he pursued her for the opportunity, quite unlike most of his portrait work where clients sought him out. Sargent wrote to a common acquaintance:

I have a great desire to paint her portrait and have reason to think she would allow it and is waiting for someone to propose this homage to her beauty. …you might tell her that I am a man of prodigious talent.

It took well over a year to complete the painting. The first version of the portrait of Madame Gautreau, with the famously plunging neckline, white-powdered skin, and arrogantly cocked head, featured an intentionally suggestive off-the-shoulder dress strap, on her right side only, which made the overall effect more daring and sensual. Sargent repainted the strap to its expected over-the-shoulder position to try to dampen the furor, but the damage had been done. French commissions dried up and he told his friend Edmund Gosse in 1885 that he contemplated giving up painting for music or business.

Writing of the reaction of visitors, Judith Gautier observed:

“Is it a woman? a chimera, the figure of a unicorn rearing as on a heraldic coat of arms or perhaps the work of some oriental decorative artist to whom the human form is forbidden and who, wishing to be reminded of woman, has drawn the delicious arabesque? No, it is none of these things, but rather the precise image of a modern woman scrupulously drawn by a painter who is a master of his art.”


Credits and Attributions:

Wikipedia contributors, “John Singer Sargent,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=John_Singer_Sargent&oldid=904608954 (accessed July 25, 2019).

Madame X (Madame Pierre Gautreau), by John Singer Sargent, 1884 PD|100

Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:Madame X (Madame Pierre Gautreau), John Singer Sargent, 1884 (unfree frame crop).jpg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Madame_X_(Madame_Pierre_Gautreau),_John_Singer_Sargent,_1884_(unfree_frame_crop).jpg&oldid=358225955 (accessed July 25, 2019).

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