Developments in the 19th Century



 




Art Styles in 19th century - Art Map


 




The Impressionism


 



see collections:


Frederic Bazille

Armand Guillaumin

Berthe Morisot

Alfred Sisley

Mary Cassatt

Giuseppe de Nittis

Gustave Caillebotte

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec


 


 


Perception, Light, and Colour

What we perceive is more important to our minds than what is real. For example, the colours of Impressionism are not true to real life. In the works of Degas and Caillebotte, we find an illusory glimpse of social realism in the graceful, melancholy figures of the adolescent ballerinas and in the remoteness of the women working in laundries. For Toulouse-Lautrec, these deep reflections on life produced tragic pictures that evoked feelings of emptiness: the grimace of Yvette Guilbert; the misery of the sins of the flesh shrouded in ambiguous, artificial light; the green, purple, and yellow seediness of the small-town evening; the theatre and the cabaret. Delacroix's colour lit up his paintings. It was dynamic, excessive, and exuberant, pouring life over objects and figures and giving them movement. With Impressionism, colours were no longer the means of representation but became instead the focus of representation. The landscapes of Sisley became watery: water on canvas, for the supreme illusion or supreme realism.
Monet, whose father had been a wholesaler at Le Havre, saw water not merely as a childhood memory but as life itself, as light: "I would like to always be near or on the sea and, when I die, to be buried in a buoy."
Previously unknown forms of light flooded the canvases of the Impressionists with an infinite series of colours. Monet claimed: "The seed of my painting was found in Africa." He was stunned by the light in Algeria, where he spent two years doing military service with the Chasseurs d'Afrique: "One cannot imagine how much I've learnt," he wrote. There were other forms of light, too, in Paris, at Argenteuil, Anvers-sur-Oise, Pontoise, London, and many other places. Each had differences in density, purity, and translucence according not only to the place, but to the passing hours, which alter the relationships between colours and the very appearance of objects. For the Impressionists, painting became a frenetic activity as the speed of execution required an ever more difficult pace to sustain. Monet did not work for more than a quarter of an hour at a time on any one canvas, because a painting was "the registering of an unrepeatable emotion in an instant of time that will not return." He continually changed canvases according to the hour and the light, choosing the appropriate one from those in his large box. For him, the brisk walk of a man seen in the distance became, from the simple movement registered by the mind, a mere flicker of light on his canvas. For Renoir, the most classical Impressionist and the artist most interested in human subjects, painting was not about representing nature,
but feeling it, perceiving it, and seeing it. He favoured light-hearted scenes from everyday life and social events. Unconcerned with realism, he gave his paintings a feeling of movement and a sense of rotation, created by the light itself. From this point of view, he could be regarded as the father of cinema; he was, indeed, to become father of one of the cinema's most celebrated directors, Jean Renoir. In Renoir's paintings, there is nothing like the "life" that we find in the works of Delacroix or David, or in Gericault's Raft of the Medusa, where the shipwrecked are fixed forever on the canvas. Instead, an indefinable magic draws the images out of the light - images, it seems, that could vanish from one moment to the next. In The Dance at the Moulin de la Galette (1876), the people depicted are not portraits (although some faces belong to Renoir's friends and were painted as a compliment to them), but swirling apparitions created out of light, colour, and atmosphere. Renoir, like Monet, was fascinated by the strange effects of light filtering through foliage. His models, placed at tables and under trees and sprinkled with mottled light, were little more than vehicles for the expression of the momentary effects of light and shadow. For the Impressionists, life as a presence and a reality had been replaced by a mere impression of life, a bewitching, luminous spell that veers towards something vague and indistinct. Life and human identity vanish into thin air in an iridescent shattering of colours. In the works of Georges Seurat (1859-91), the idea of an impression made of light and colour would be carried to extremes. Using contemporary scientific colour theories, he applied small dots of unmixed colour side by side on the canvas, in a technique that became known as divisionism. His masterpiece Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte (1884), shown at the final Impressionist exhibition in 1886, is a visual statement of his ideals. In Manet's rich use of colour we can still detect a sense of structured composition and an awareness and use of the devices of pictorial representation. Along with Degas, he stands just outside the classification of true Impressionism. The girls in the works of Renoir and Monet are quite different from Degas's young girls. It seems that the instant we see them, they pulsate with that changing, fleeting rhythm of life. The expression of this sense of impermanence - perhaps the very core of
Impressionism - is based on the impressions engendered by the changeability of light. Renoir's two young women dancing, one the subject of Dance in the Country, the other of Dance in the Town, look as if they could whirl out of the canvas at any moment, smiling as they go. In both paintings, it is the light that changes and carries life with it. By doing so, it reveals the melancholy hidden deep within the paintings, which, on the surface, are so full of joy and exuberance. In the paintings of Pissarro and Sisley, everything is presented in a blaze of full, strong sunlight or under the blinding white. However, our eye seems to witnesses constant changes in the atmosphere, which moves in an uneven rhythm across the canvas. While the classical landscape painter captured scenes from nature that will endure forever, untouched by the centuries and the subjectivity of knowledge, both Pissarro and Sisley created landscapes that last only the time of a fleeting glance, before they change again and move onto another moment. In Monet's waterlily paintings, his subject is pure, beautiful, plant life that grows, takes shape and dies, changing colour and substance minute by minute, and we see organic material appearing and disappearing. The Impressionists felt that there was a subjective link between the painter, his canvas and the observer, they are inextricably linked and there is a perpetual movement occuring within the works.

   
 

Berthe Morisot

The Morisot family was part of Manet's social circle, and his brother (Eugene Manet) eventually married the beautiful Berthe (1841-95). Morisot learned from Manet how to catch the passing hour and make it stay still for her, how to render the exquisite delicacy of light without hardening it into what it is not. During her early years she was taught by Corot and was also in contact with Charles-Francois Daubigny, an artist of the Barbizon School. She was influenced by their honesty in capturing the true, changeable atmosphere of the landscape as it truly appeared before their own eyes.
Morisot enjoyed an intense, mutually respectful relationship with Manet. This influence was offset by her affiliation with the Impressionist group, with whom she exhibited regularly (while Manet remained aloof). Her eventual adoption of a lighter Impressionist palette was itself of considerable influence on Manet's late works. Morisot is not a strong painter in the Manet sense, but only a strong woman could have forced this work through: women's art was universally derided at that time. The Harbor at Lorient is one of her finest paintings, a truly Impressionist work, in which the landscape is not subordinate to the figure and all is painted with the same care and the same ease. Great areas of contrasting blue
shimmer as still water reflects unstill sky, powerfully geometric diagonals anchoring the picture, and the wonderful freshness of the morning as a girl sits on the embankment, a blithely blurred image under her pink parasol. The world hovers at the corner of the eye, delightful and unobtrusive.
 


Berthe Morisot
Harbor at Lorient
1869
 

   
 

Mary Cassatt

The other important woman Impressionist, Mary Cassatt (1845-1926), was as upper-class as Morisot, but her family lived in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, not in Paris. It was after she came to France in 1868 to paint and exhibit with the Impressionist group that she became modestly well known. Her art has an amplitude, a solidity very different from Morisot's, and gender is one of the few things they have in common.
Cassatt's grave dignity is never over emphatic. Her Girl Sewing is made beautiful by the sheer variousness of the soft light. It pinkens the path behind the young woman, glows red in the flowers, and plays with a cascading grace over her simple frock. We are held by her attitude of childlike endeavor, lips set in concentration, and by the sheer brilliance with which her physical presence is captured. Cassatt was also an accomplished and gifted printmaker, and the widespread influence of Japanese prints is especially evident in her prints and drawings.
Cassatt's art shows her interest in physicality. This is very under staridable since it was Degas, not Manet, who was Cassatt's mentor. Degas, a cynic in later life and a misogynist at every age, was condescendingly surprised at Cassatt. He admitted her power, quite against his will. Yet this power of draftsmanship, and the ability to make a body palpably real, is very much his own.
 

   
 

THE JAPANESE INFLUENCE

The fashion for japonaiserie started in France. In 1881, despite the policy of closure that Japan had followed since 1639 (the year in which the governor of Tokugawa completely shut off the country from all Western contact), there appeared in Paris four volumes by Breton on Japanese culture, entitled Le Japan, ou moeurs, usages et coutumes des habitants de cet empire. In 1856, Felix Bracquemond had discovered a number of prints by Hokusai  (1760-1849) that had been used to wrap up china. Very soon, enthusiasm for Japanese art spread and began to influence many of the Impressionists, Degas, Manet, Renoir, Pissarro, de Nittis, Gauguin, and Toulouse-Lautrec painted on linen fans in the Japanese style; their wives were portrayed in kimonos and Oriental costumes; and Monet designed a Japanese bridge for his garden at Giverny. In 1862, a shop called La Porte chinoise ("The Chinese Door") opened under the arches in the Rue de Rivoli. Whistler shopped there for his blue-and-white china and Japanese costumes, and Manet, Fantin-Latour, Baudelaire, and the Goncourt brothers also visited the proprietors, M. and Mme Desoye. Japanese influence on Impressionist art was neither a question of style nor merely the result of curiosity in new and exotic subjects. It was a genuine discovery that helped confirm and shape new artistic ideas. Subjects were viewed from different, unconventional angles, and perspective from a single viewpoint - as practised in Western art since the Renaissance - was now abandoned. Figures were now depicted at the edge of, or even leaving, the canvas. In 1890, Pissarro wrote: "The Japanese exhibition is admirable.... I, Monet, and Rodin were very enthusiastic. I'm happy with my effects of snow and floods. These artists have shown that we are right in the way we see nature."
Monet was clearly inspired by Japanese prints for his La Japonaise (1875-76). The pose of his wife Camille, with her head tilted and her back curving, the shape of the kimono fastened behind and swirling out at the hem in a great sweep, and the strong colours contrasting with the silk embroidery covering the centre of the garment all pay homage to the East. But Camille's innocence is a foil for Shok, an aristocratic warrior embroidered on her kimono. He is portrayed by Monet as a grotesque dwarf with a broken sword, warding off the devil. There is a sharp link between the model with her open fan and the background covered with other fans, which accords with the rules of ukiyo-e ("pictures of the floating world") in its connection between figure and flat space. Meanwhile, Manet painted Zola seated with a Japanese screen behind him and oriental prints on the wall. He arranged the writing desk and the objects around the writer in parallel bands with no perspective, following the technique of polychromatic wood-printing. Also deeply inspired by the composition of Japanese art was Whistler, who produced his Nocturne in Blue and Gold: Old Battersea Bridge (1872-75) after seeing Hiroshige's Edo Bridge, from his series One Hundred Views of Edo (1857).
 

   


Mary Cassatt
The Coiffure

 

Japanese influence

Mary Cassatt
(1845-1926)
was an enthusiastic
collector of Japanese prints
and altered her work to
accommodate the
influences of
Japanese Ukiyo-e prints.
Motivated
by an exhibition that she
saw in 1890, Cassatt produced
a set of prints
using the Japanese techniques.
The work
illustrated above,
Woman with a Mirror, is
a woodblock print by
Kitagawa Utamaro
(1753-1806), who inspired
many of the themes in
Cassatt's paintings
and prints.


 

 


Mary Cassatt
Mother's Kiss

 

 

 

 


Mary Cassatt


born May 22, 1844, Allegheny City [now part of Pittsburg], Pa., U.S.
died June 14, 1926, Château de Beaufresne, near Paris, France


American painter and printmaker who exhibited with the Impressionists.

Cassatt lived in Europe for five yearsas a young girl. She was tutored privately in art in Philadelphia and attended the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 1861–65, but she preferred learning on her own and in 1866 traveled to Europe to study. Her first major showing was at the Paris Salon of 1872; four more annual Salon exhibitions followed.

In 1874 Cassatt chose Paris as her permanent residence and established her studio there. She shared with the Impressionists an interest in experiment and in using bright colours inspired by the out-of-doors. Edgar Degas became her friend; his style and that of Gustave Courbet inspired herown. Degas was known to admire her drawing especially, andat his request she exhibited with the Impressionists in 1879 and joined them in shows in 1880, 1881, and 1886. Like Degas, Cassatt showed great mastery of drawing, and both artists preferred unposed asymmetrical compositions. Cassatt also was innovative and inventive in exploiting the medium of pastels.

Initially, Cassatt was a figure painter whose subjects were groups of women drinking tea or on outings with friends. After the great exhibition of Japanese prints held in Paris in 1890, she brought out her series of 10 coloured prints—e.g., Woman Bathing and The Coiffure—in which the influence of the Japanese masters Utamaro and Toyokuni is apparent. In these etchings, combining aquatint, dry point, and soft ground, she brought her printmaking technique to perfection. Her emphasis shifted from form to line and pattern. Soon after 1900 her eyesight began to fail, and by 1914 she had ceased working. The principal motif of her mature and perhaps most familiar period is mothers caring for small children—e.g., The Bath (La Toilette, c. 1892; Art Institute of Chicago).

Cassatt urged her wealthy American friends and relatives to buy Impressionist paintings, and in this way, more than through her own works, she exerted a lasting influence on American taste. She was largely responsible for selecting the works that make up the H.O. Havemeyer Collection in theMetropolitan Museum of Art, New York City.
 

 

 

 


Henri Toulouse-Lautrec


born November 24, 1864, Albi, France
died September 9, 1901, Malromé


in full Henri-marie-raymonde De Toulouse-lautrec-monfa French artist who observed and documented with great psychological insight the personalities and facets of Parisian night life and the French world of entertainment in the 1890s (see ). His use of free-flowing, expressive line, often becoming pure arabesque, results in highly rhythmical compositions (e.g., “In the Circus Fernando: The Ringmaster,” 1888). The extreme simplification in outline and movement and the use of large colour areas make his posters some of his most powerful works.
Childhood and education.

Toulouse-Lautrec's family was wealthy and had a lineage that extended without interruption back to the time of Charlemagne. He grew up amid his family's typically aristocratic love of sport and art. Most of the boy's time was spent at the Château du Bosc, one of the family estates located near Albi. Henri's grandfather, father, and uncle were all talented draftsmen, and thus it was hardly surprisingthat Henri began sketching at the age of 10. His interest in art grew as a result of his being incapacitated in 1878 by an accident in which he broke his left thighbone. His right thighbone was fractured a little more than a year later in a second mishap. These accidents, requiring extensive periodsof convalescence and often painful treatments, left his legs atrophied and made walking most difficult. As a result, Toulouse-Lautrec devoted ever greater periods to art in order to pass away the frequently lonely hours.

Toulouse-Lautrec's first visit to Paris occurred in 1872, when he enrolled in the Lycée Fontanes (now Lycée Condorcet). Hegradually moved on to private tutors, and it was only after hehad passed the baccalaureate examinations, in 1881, that heresolved to become an artist.

His first professional teacher in painting was René Princeteau, a friend of the Lautrec family. Princeteau's fame, such as it was, arose from his depiction of military and equestrian subjects, done in a 19th-century academic style. Though Toulouse-Lautrec got on well with Princeteau, he moved on to the atelier of Léon Bonnat at the end of 1882. In Bonnat, Toulouse-Lautrec encountered an artist who fought vehemently against deviation from academic rules, condemned the slapdash approach of the Impressionists, and judged Toulouse-Lautrec's drawing “atrocious.” His workreceived a more positive reaction in 1883, when he joined the studio of Fernand Cormon.

In the early 1880s, Cormon enjoyed a moment of celebrity, and his studio attracted such artists as Vincent van Gogh andthe Symbolist painter Émile Bernard. Cormon gave Toulouse-Lautrec much freedom in developing a personal style. That Cormon approved of his pupil's work is proved by his choosing Toulouse-Lautrec to assist him in illustrating the definitive edition of the works of Victor Hugo. In the end, however, Toulouse-Lautrec's drawings for this project were not used.

Despite this approval, Toulouse-Lautrec found the atmosphere at Cormon's studio increasingly restrictive. “Cormon's corrections are much kinder than Bonnat's were,” he wrote his uncle Charles on Feb. 18, 1883. “He looks at everything you show him and encourages one steadily. It might surprise you, but I don't like that so much. You see, the lashing of my former master pepped me up, and I didn't spare myself.” The academic regimen of copying became insufferable. He made “a great effort to copy the model exactly,” one of his friends later recalled, “but in spite of himself he exaggerated certain details, sometimes the general character, so that he distorted without trying or evenwanting to.” Soon Toulouse-Lautrec's attendance at the studio became infrequent at best. He then rented his own studio in the Montmartre district of Paris and concerned himself, for the most part, with doing portraits of his friends.


The documenter of Montmartre.

Thus it was that in the mid-1880s Toulouse-Lautrec began his lifelong association with the bohemian life of Montmartre. The cafés, cabarets, entertainers, and artists of this area of Paris fascinated him and led to his first taste of public recognition. He focussed his attention on depicting popular entertainers such as Aristide Bruant, Jane Avril, Loie Fuller, May Belfort, May Milton, Valentin le Désossé, Louise Weber (known as La Goulue, or the Glutton), and clowns such as Cha-U-Kao and Chocolat.

In 1884 Toulouse-Lautrec made the acquaintance of Bruant, a singer and composer who owned a cabaret called the Mirliton. Impressed by his work, Bruant asked him to prepare illustrations for his songs and offered the Mirliton as a place where Toulouse-Lautrec could exhibit his works. By this means and through reproductions of his drawings in Bruant's magazine Mirliton, he became known in Montmartre and started to receive commissions.

Toulouse-Lautrec sought to capture the effect of the movement of the figure through wholly original means. For example, his contemporary Edgar Degas (whose works, along with Japanese prints, were a principal influence on him) expressed movement by carefully rendering the anatomical structure of several closely grouped figures, attempting in this way to depict but one figure, caught at successive moments in time. Toulouse-Lautrec, on the other hand, employed freely handled line and colour that in themselves conveyed the idea of movement. Lines were no longer bound to what was anatomically correct; colours wereintense and in their juxtapositions generated a pulsating rhythm; laws of perspective were violated in order to place figures in an active, unstable relationship with their surroundings. A common device of Toulouse-Lautrec was to compose the figures so that their legs were not visible. Though this characteristic has been interpreted as the artist's reaction to his own stunted, almost worthless legs, in fact the treatment eliminated specific movement, which could then be replaced by the essence of movement. The result was an art throbbing with life and energy, that in its formal abstraction and overall two-dimensionality presaged the turn to schools of Fauvism and Cubism in the first decade of the 20th century.

The originality of Toulouse-Lautrec also emerged in his posters. Rejecting the notion of high art, done in the traditional medium of oil on canvas, Toulouse-Lautrec in 1891 did his first poster, “Moulin Rouge—La Goulue.” This poster won Toulouse-Lautrec increasing fame. “My poster is pasted today on the walls of Paris,” the artist proudly declared. It was one of more than 30 he would create in the 10 years before his death. Posters afforded Toulouse-Lautrec the possibility of a widespread impact for his art, no longer restricted by the limitations of easel painting. They also enhanced the success he had enjoyed in the preceding year when his works were shown in Brussels atthe Exposition des XX (the Twenty), an avant-garde association, and in Paris at the Salon des Indépendants.

Toulouse-Lautrec is most important for his success in going beyond a representation of superficial reality to a profound insight into the psychological makeup of his subjects. He turned to the lithograph after 1892 as a medium well suited to this goal (see ). Among more than 300 lithographs produced in the final decade of his life were an album of 11 prints entitled “Le Café Concert” (1893); 16 lithographs of the entertainer Yvette Guilbert (1894); and a series of 22 illustrations for Jules Renard's Les Histoires naturelles (1899). But none of these works is more significant than “Elles,” a series done in 1896, presenting a sensitive portrayal of brothel life. Toulouse-Lautrec spent lengthy periods observing the actions and behaviour of prostitutes and their clients. The resulting 11 works revealed these individuals as human beings, with some of the same strengths and many of the weaknesses of other members of society. A masterpiece of this genre is “Au salon de la rue des Moulins” (“At the Salon”). This painting evokes sympathy from the spectator as he observes the women's isolation and loneliness, qualities which the young Toulouse-Lautrec had so often experienced himself. “At the Salon” is a brilliant demonstration, therefore, of his stateddesire to “depict the true and not the ideal,” in which truth is based not on a careful representation of detail but rather on capturing, in a few brief brushstrokes, the essential nature of a subject.

The appearance of “Elles” coincided with a growing deterioration in his physical and mental condition. Toulouse-Lautrec's figure, even among the great human diversity found in Montmartre, remained unmistakable. His fully developed torso rested on dwarfish legs. Not quite five feet one inch tall, his size seemed further diminished because of his practice of associating with unusually tall men, such as his fellow students Maxime Dethomas and Louis Anquetin and his cousin and close friend Gabriel Tapié de Céleyran. His frequently ironic tone failed to mask a fundamental dislike of his physical appearance, and his letters contain many derogatory remarks about his body and references to an increasing number of ailments, including syphilis. Drinking heavily in the late 1890s, when he reputedly helped popularize the cocktail, he suffered a mental collapse at the beginning of 1899. The immediate cause was the sudden, unexplained departure of his mother from Paris on January 3. He was always close to his family, particularly to his mother, who had always supported his ambitions; and he interpreted her leaving as a betrayal. The effect on his weakened system was severe, and he was committed shortly thereafter to a sanatorium in Neuilly-sur-Seine. This decision was made by the artist's mother, against the advice of relatives and friends of the artist, in the hope of avoiding a scandal.

Toulouse-Lautrec remained formally committed until March 31, 1899, though he chose to stay on at the sanatorium until mid-May. While there he was able to demonstrate his lucidity and power of memory by preparing a number of works on the theme of the circus. These works, however, lack the force and intensity of his earlier compositions. In the spring of 1900 he started drinking heavily again. Less than three months before his 37th birthday, he died at Château de Malromé.

Assessment.

Toulouse-Lautrec greatly influenced French art of the late 19th and early 20th centuries by his use of new kinds of subjects, his ability to capture the essence of an individual with economical means, and his stylistic innovations. Despite his deformity and the effects of alcoholism and mental collapse later in life, Toulouse-Lautrec helped set the course of avant-garde art well beyond his early and tragic death at the age of 36.

Toulouse-Lautrec was not a profound intellectual. Tapié de Céleyran wrote that he read little and when he did it was usually at night, because of insomnia. But he was a great satirist of pretense and convention. In typical fashion, he passed off his initial, unsuccessful attempt at the baccalaureate by having name cards printed “Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, flunker of the arts.” This iconoclasm surfaced also when he parodied Puvis de Chavannes's serious Symbolist work “The Sacred Grove” by turning it in to a boisterous scene filled with rowdy friends (1884). Yet he also could push himself in pursuits like swimming and boating, and toward the end of his life he installed a rowing machine in his studio. In his enthusiasm for sports he once accompanied a French bicycling team on a trip through England. Toulouse-Lautrec was, as two observers have concluded, a “sensitive, deeply affectionate man, conscious of his infirmity but wearing a mask of joviality and irony.”

Although recognized today as a major figure in late 19th-century art, Toulouse-Lautrec's status in his lifetime was disputed. Indeed, the artist's father, who took slight interest in his son after his disabling injuries, regarded his son's work as only “rough sketches” and could never accept the idea of a member of the aristocracy betraying his class by turning from a “gentleman” artist to a professional one. Stung by such criticism and hampered by his infirmities, Toulouse-Lautrec persevered to emerge as a prolific artist whose work eventually helped shape the art of decades to come.

Alan Curtis Birnholz
 

 
 
 


Paris: A City of Extremes


Chansons and cabaret

 

 


One finds great luxury here and, at the same time, the greatest filth, noise,
shouting, fighting and dirt -more than one can imagine.
One vanishes from sight in Paris -
and that is convenient because no one is
interested in the life one is leading.

Frederic Chopin, c. 1831

 


At the heart of Montmartre: The Moulin Rouge

 

Paris, a happy-go-lucky place. The pianist and composer Frederic Chopin came to this conclusion in 1831, shortly after arriving in the Seine metropole as a Polish emigre. "You can amuse yourself here, you can laugh — you can delight in all things. And no one gives you dirty looks, for here everyone does what they please." Half a century later, Montmartre was looked on as the centre of dissolute life in Pans. A quartier on the urban fringes, Montmartre had only recently become part of the city. Where pious nuns had once prayed and decent wine-growers earned an honest, hardworking wage, beggars, prostitutes and drug dealers were now in abundance. They were followed by singers, writers and penniless painters, all of them unknown. This dubious artists' colony was to turn Montmartre into a household name, even though its fame was of a decidedly dubious nature. Most of the money earned there fell into the pockets of pimps, pickpockets and streetwalkers. Montmartre was shunned by the bourgeoisie and by most successful artists.
The poet Aristide Bruant was one artist who managed to make a living there. Born in 1851, he left the local lycee at the age of seventeen because his family faced financial rum. Working as a goldsmith and on the railway, he became intimately acquainted with destitution and the underworld. His experience provided the material for the many chansons he wrote and sang, making him one of the first French chansonniers as we know them today. After founding his own cabaret in Montmartre, where his mocking of the public was met with outrage, he made the acquaintance of a young painter in 1886. A scion of the aristocracy, the twenty-two-year-old Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec was fascinated by Montmartre. As Bruant's fnend, he became the leading chronicler of Pans nightlife. Painting in bars and brothels, dance-halls and cabarets, he also found time to draw for a gazette Bruant had launched and illustrated the poet's chansons when they were published. The public got to know Toulouse-Lautrec through his posters. He sold his first one to the Moulm Rouge music-hall. Well-founded criticism was offset by a strong resistance to Toulouse-Lautrec's style of poster. When Bruant was planning to appear at Les Ambassadeurs, a cafe with concerts in the centre of the city, the stage manager was appalled by the poster designed for the occasion. He considered it a cheap advertisement and a "nasty smear" on his establishment. Bruant however, already a celebrated eccentric, simply refused to appear in the cafe if the poster was not displayed — a poster that is now one of the most famous in the world.

 

 


Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
Outrageous and lascivious: Chilperic (Mlle Marcelle Lender Dansant le Pas du Bolero)
1896
 

 


Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
Les Ambassadeurs, Aristide Bruant
1892
Coloured lithograph
 

 

 

 

THE FEMALE FIGURE IN IMPRESSIONISM

Almost all Monet's models were female. They were not erotic figures, but forms that captured certain myths - scenes of lost childhood, for example, or of an idyllic garden where women wore sweeping dresses and held parasols that cast shadows over the lush grass. They bring touches of life to the canvas and seem to embrace and regenerate the very essence of being. There is nothing more feminine — and less sensual — than his Woman with a Parasol (1875). Very different from such gentle portrayals was Manet's Olympia, a work that caused a great scandal. Shown at the Salon in 1865, it continued the long tradition of the reclining nude, and the composition was based directly on Titian 's Venus of Urbino. However, the work was condemned as an outrage to public morality for its brazen portrayal of a courtesan and its glorification of the flesh, said to be almost unreal in its whiteness. Later revived and re-interpreted by Cezanne (1869 and 1873), Picasso (1901), Dubuffet (1950), and Pop artist Larry Rivers (1970), Olympia remains one of the most celebrated paintings of the period. After Manet's experience, Toulouse-Lautrec was more cautious in showing his risque works. He presented a collection with great discretion at the Galerie Manzi-Joyant in 1896, because "it could be thought that I want to create a scandal." The theme of the loneliness of women in their most private and intimate moments is explored by Degas, both in his painting and sculpture. Renoir, on the other hand, glorified the female form, highlighting the ripeness of its curves by bathing women in a soft light full of colours.

 


Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
In the Salon at the Rue des Moulins
1894
Musee Toulouse-Lautrec, Albi

 

 


ARTISTS, WRITERS, AND MUSICIANS


During the Impressionist period, there was a great deal of debate between the protagonists of the various arts. They exchanged ideas and discussed politics and cultural issues. Painters, writers, and musicians frequented the same venues and often socialized together.
Manet was at the centre of a group that met regularly at the Cafe Guerbois in the Batignolles district of Paris. He included portraits of other members of the group in his paintings. In Music in the Tuileries Gardens, he painted several of the cultural figures of France's Second Empire: the novelist Champfleury; Jacques Offenbach, the "Mozart of the Champs d'Elysees," as Rossini called him, and composer of La Belle Helene (1864) and La Vie Parisienne (1866); and Baudelaire, who sometimes accompanied the artist on his walks through the Tuileries Gardens. In the following year, Baudelaire published L 'Heroisme de la vie moderne, in which the new ideal of heroism was no longer something transcendental but was to be found in the actions of everyday behaviour: "All the newspapers provide proof that all we have to do is open our eyes to see the heroism of our time all around us." The painter and the writer, both portrayed by Fantin-Latour in Homage to Delacroix (1864), met in 1859, and their friendship lasted until Baudelaire's death in 1867. The friendship between Manet and Mallarme was also enduring, lasting from 1873, the year the poet arrived in Paris, until Manet's death in 1883. Mallarme, who had defended the artist in several articles, mourned his death: "I have seen my dear Manet almost daily for ten years, and now cannot believe he has gone," he wrote to Verlaine. The paths of the artists of various disciplines often crossed: for example, Degas illustrated the novel La Fille Elisa by the Goncourt brothers; Manet designed the lithographs for Cats Meeting to illustrate the book of anecdotes about cats by Champfleury; and Guy de Maupassant sometimes accompanied Monet on his painting trips. Emile Zola, a childhood friend of Cezanne, appeared with Manet, Renoir, and Bazille in Studio in the Batignolles Quarter (1870) by Fantin-Latour. The picture paid homage to Emile Zola as the first supporter of Manet's art: reviewing the 1886 Salon in the pages of L 'Evenement, the writer advised the readers that it would be a "good investment" to buy Manet's paintings.
In the early years of Impressionism, Zola had used his column in L 'Evenement to champion the movement. Gradually, however, his bond with the painters weakened. In his fourth article on Naturalism in the Salon (1880), he wrote that the Impressionists as a group no longer existed. His relationship with them ended in acrimony in 1886, with the publication of his novel L 'Oeuvre. In this, the ambitious hero - said to combine characteristics of
Manet and Cezanne -dreams of greatness but meets with failure.
 
 


Henri Fantin-Latour


Fantin-Latour - a painter of still lifes Manet had a particularly wide circle of friends and artists, including Monet, Renoir, Cezanne, and Bazille, an early Impressionist painter who died in 1870 in the Franco-Prussian war . There were other artists who were friends with the Impressionists, but who never quite crossed over into the fleetingness of their world.Fantin-Latour (1836-1904), for example, who was especially famous for the exuberant beauty of his flower arrangements, always remained a Realist, painting his flowers with the objectivity achieved from prolonged contemplation. Flowers and Fruit, with its meticulous detail, shows little awareness of the way Manet, Monet, or Renoir would dissolve the blooms into iridescence. His group portrait Homage to Delacroix reveals Fantin-Latour's friendship with some of the most advanced artists of the day, yet the dark, brooding colors and the substantial feel of each figure confirm his preference for consistent, realistic images.

 


Henri Fantin-Latour
Studio in the Batignolles Quarter
1870
Musee d'Orsay, Paris

The group of artist-friends resembles a jury examining the painter at work.
 Each one seems to be giving great thought to the work of the others.

 


Henri Fantin-Latour
Homage to Delacroix
1864
Musee d'Orsay, Paris

The group of friends, painters, and writers stands tightly together for the picture.
The world of artists, although regarded as one full of envy and differing opinions, appears very close.

 


Henri Fantin-Latour
The Corner of the Table
1872
Musee d'Orsay, Paris

 

see collections:


Frederic Bazille

Armand Guillaumin

Berthe Morisot

Alfred Sisley

Mary Cassatt

Giuseppe de Nittis

Gustave Caillebotte

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec


 

 

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