Art Sunday #128: Georges Seurat – A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte


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A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte (French: Un dimanche après-midi à l’Île de la Grande Jatte) painted in 1884, is one of Georges Seurat’s most famous works. It is a leading example of pointillist technique, executed on a large canvas. Seurat’s composition includes a number of Parisians at a park on the banks of the River Seine.

The Island of la Grande Jatte is located at the very gates of Paris, lying in the Seine between Neuilly and Levallois-Perret, a short distance from where La Défense business district currently stands. Although for many years it was an industrial site, it is today the site of a public garden and a housing development. When Seurat began the painting in 1884, the island was a bucolic retreat far from the urban center.

The painting was first exhibited in 1886, dominating the second Salon of the Société des Artistes Indépendants, of which Seurat had been a founder in 1884. Seurat was extremely disciplined, always serious, and private to the point of secretiveness—for the most part, steering his own steady course. As a painter, he wanted to make a difference in the history of art and with La Grand Jatte, succeeded.

Source:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Sunday_Afternoon_on_the_Island_of_La_Grande_Jatte

Art Sunday #127: Ilya Repin – Barge Haulers on the Volga


Ilia_Efimovich_Repin_(1844-1930)_-_Volga_Boatmen_(1870-1873)

Barge Haulers on the Volga or Burlaki (Russian: Burlaki na Volge, Бурлаки на Волге) is an 1870–73 oil-on-canvas painting by the Russian realist painter and sculptor   . The work depicts 11 laboring men dragging a barge on the Volga River. The men seem to almost collapse forward in exhaustion under the burden of hauling a large boat upstream in heavy, hot weather.

The work is both a celebration of the men’s dignity and fortitude, and a highly emotional condemnation of those who sanctioned such inhumane labor.  Although they are presented as stoical and accepting, the men are largely 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.  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 Peredvizhnikimovement [for]….its unflinching portrayal of backbreaking labor”.

Art Sunday #126: Gustave Courbet – Self-portrait (The Desperate Man)


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Jean Désiré Gustave Courbet (10 June 1819 – 31 December 1877) was a French painter who led the Realism movement in 19th-century French painting. Committed to painting only what he could see, he rejected academic convention and the Romanticism of the previous generation of visual artists. His independence set an example that was important to later artists, such as the Impressionists and the Cubists. Courbet occupies an important place in 19th-century French painting as an innovator and as an artist willing to make bold social statements through his work.

Courbet’s paintings of the late 1840s and early 1850s brought him his first recognition. They challenged convention by depicting unidealized peasants and workers, often on a grand scale traditionally reserved for paintings of religious or historical subjects. Courbet’s subsequent paintings were mostly of a less overtly political character: landscapes, seascapes, hunting scenes, nudes and still lifes. He was imprisoned for six months in 1871 for his involvement with the Paris Commune, and lived in exile in Switzerland from 1873 until his death.

Source:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gustave_Courbet

Art Sunday #125: Eilif Peterssen – Lake Fishing


Eilif_Peterssen-Laksefiskeren_(1889)

Hjalmar Eilif Emanuel Peterssen was born in Christiania, now Oslo, Norway. He grew up in the neighborhood of Hegdehaugen in the district of Frogner.  In his later years Peterssen travelled all over Norway to paint landscapes. He made several visits to Skogstad in Valdres, where he was particularly inspired by the great mountain landscape. In 1920–21 he made his last travel abroad to Cagnes and St. Paul in Provence where he painted several landscapes of the small villages on the hills between Nice and Cannes. He died in Lysaker on December 29, 1928.

Source:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eilif_Peterssen

Art Sunday #124: Jean-Francois Millet – The Gleaners


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The Gleaners (Des glaneuses) is an oil painting by Jean-François Millet completed in 1857. It depicts three peasant women gleaning a field of stray grains of wheat after the harvest. The painting is famous for featuring in a sympathetic way what were then the lowest ranks of rural society; this was received poorly by the French upper classes.

The Gleaners is one of Millet’s best known works. Its imagery of bending peasant women gleaning was paraphrased frequently in works by younger artists such as Pissarro, Renoir, Seurat, and van Gogh. Art historian Robert Rosenblum says Millet’s painting introduced “imposing new presences in the repertory of mid-century art, with endless progeny in city and country. Daumier’s and Degas’s laundresses, and even more so Caillebotte’s floor-scrapers, are almost unthinkable without Millet’s epic hymn to labor.

The Gleaners provides evidence of Millet’s role as a contemporary social critic. His brutal depiction of three hunched, female paupers segregated from the laborers and the abundant crop in the distance demonstrates his attention to, if not necessarily sympathy for, the plight of the poorest members of the community around Barbizon and its larger neighbor, Chailly, as the area experienced the growing pains of French modernization. Only about thirty-five miles from the French capital (whose population doubled between 1831 and 1851), the rich, broad plain bordering the forest of Fontainebleau was among the earliest with a rail link to Paris, readily lending itself to feeding the burgeoning city. Studies tracing the transformation of rural France in the nineteenth century note that little change in peasant life occurred beyond northern France and the Paris basin until the last quarter of the century. Millet’s representation of class strife on a large-scale farm was thus uniquely modern in the 1850s.

Source:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Gleaners

 

Art Sunday #123: Jules Breton – The End of the Working Day


(The_End_of_the_Working_Day)_-_Jules_Breton

Jules Adolphe Aimé Louis Breton (1 May 1827 – 5 July 1906) was a 19th-century French Realist painter. His paintings are heavily influenced by the French countryside and his absorption of traditional methods of painting helped make Jules Breton one of the primary transmitters of the beauty and idyllic vision of rural existence.

Source:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jules_Breton

Art Sunday #121: Piet Mondrian – Evening: Red Tree


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Evening; Red Tree is a 1908-10 oil on canvas painting by the Dutch artist Piet Mondrian in the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag.

This painting shows the artist’s luminist period where he painted realistically but with brighter than actual colors and simplifying contours. This painting is a cross-over to his more rectangular and analytical style. Mondrian painted this painting in the Zeeland coastal resort of Domburg, at that time a popular artist’s colony in the summer months. His trees illustrate his shift towards abstract cubism.

It was exhibited twice during Mondrian’s lifetime; the first time at the exhibition Schilderijen en teekeningen door C. Spoor, Piet Mondriaan en Jan Sluyters in the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam in 1909. In 1910 it was shown at the 20th annual exhibition of members of nl:Kunstenaarsvereniging Sint Lucas in Amsterdam. It was sold for 500 guilders to Marie Tak van Poortvliet.

Source:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evening;_Red_Tree

Art Sunday #120: Pablo Picasso – Girl Before A Mirror


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Girl before a Mirror is a painting by Pablo Picasso that was painted in March, 1932.  The painting has been widely known for its varied interpretations of the lover and the beloved.  Girl Before a Mirror was painted during Picasso’s cubism period.

The painting is of woman looking into a mirror and the image is different which forms the basis of the interpretation. The woman in the painting is shown to be beautiful with smooth complexion and big eyes. The colors have been given to enhance the beauty of the woman.  The front part painted with choicest of colors merges with rough colors that reflect in the mirror to highlight the difference.

Picasso was married when he met Marie-Thérèse Walter who is the subject of the painting. During the 1930s, she became his favorite subject and in this painting he used colors and symbols to show the different ways he viewed her and the ways that she viewed herself.  The art work is considered erotic in Picasso’s art, and received a wide range of reactions and interpretations.

How Pablo Picasso views his beloved forms the understanding of one interpretation where her beauty is the subject. The yellow side of her face represents happy times with Picasso. The bright colors represent the times together. This side of her face shows her youth in the makeup free completion. This woman is painted with colors that increase her beauty.

The reflection represents the other interpretation of how she views herself. The colors used here are dark and make her look very old. Instead of happiness the meaning here is more of hate and unhappiness, fear and as if aging is getting on to her indicative of her fear of losing her youth.

Source:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Girl_before_a_Mirror

Art Sunday #119: Paul Cezanne – The Card Players


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The Card Players is a series of oil paintings by the French Post-Impressionist artist Paul Cézanne. Painted during Cézanne’s final period in the early 1890s, there are five paintings in the series. The versions vary in size, the number of players, and the setting in which the game takes place. Cézanne also completed numerous drawings and studies in preparation for The Card Players series. One version of The Card Players was sold in 2011 to the Royal Family of Qatar for a price variously estimated at between $250 million and $300 million, making it the third most expensive work of art ever sold.

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The largest version, painted between the years 1890–1892, is the most complex, with five figures on a 134.6 x 180.3 cm (53 × 71 in) canvas. It features three card players at the forefront, seated in a semi-circle at a table, with two spectators behind. On the right side of the painting, seated behind the second man and to the right of the third, is a boy, eyes cast downward, also a fixed spectator of the game. Further back, on the left side between the first and second player is a man standing, back to the wall, smoking a pipe and presumably awaiting his turn at the table. It has been speculated Cézanne added the standing man to provide depth to the painting, as well as to draw the eye to the upper portion of the canvas.  As with the other versions, it displays a suppressed storytelling of peasant men in loose-fitting garments with natural poses focused entirely on their game.

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A more condensed version of this painting with four figures, long thought to be the second version of The Card Players, is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. At 65.4 x 81.9 cm (25 3/4 x 32 1/4 in), it is less than half the size of the Barnes painting. Here the composition remains virtually the same, minus the boy, with viewers’ perspective slightly closer to the game, but with less space between the figures. In the previous painting, the center player as well as the boy were hatless, whereas this version has all the men hatted. Also gone are the shelf to the left with vase and lower half of a picture frame in the center of the wall, leaving only the four pipes and hanging cloth to join the smoking man behind the card players.

Source:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Card_Players