Thursday, October 25, 2012

British Museum: Renaissance to Goya: Prints and drawings from Spain

Head of a monk, 1625-64, Francisco de Zurbarán (1598-1664). Drawing, 277 x 196 mm.

Jose de Ribera: Drunk Silenusa (1628)

This exhibition, drawn from the British Museum collection, brings together for the first time important prints and drawings by Spanish and other European artists who were working in Spain from the mid-sixteenth to the nineteenth century. Through exhibiting these works, many of which have never before been on display, the exhibition will provide new insights into the visual culture and history of Spain, a country renowned for its painting and architecture, but not so well known for its graphic arts in comparison to its European counterparts, Italy and France. Outside of Spain, the British Museum has one of the best collections of Spanish drawings from the seventeenth century, a period often considered to be the 'Golden Age' of Spanish arts and literature. All of the most important artists are represented by key works in this display; Diego Velázquez and Alonso Cano in Madrid, Bartolomé Murillo and Francisco Zurbáran in Seville and Jusepe de Ribera in Spanish Naples. Francisco de Goya, who is universally regarded as one of the most important and compelling graphic artists of the period, is represented through the Museum's remarkable collection of his prints and drawings.

The lack of study and appreciation of Spanish prints and drawings is partly due to the misapprehension that Spanish artists did not draw, an attitude that has since been revised through further research on the subject. The reasons for these assumptions are complex, but can perhaps be rooted in the confiscation of Church possessions that took place in the nineteenth century, and subsequent dispersal of collections of Spanish art. The exhibition will consider the reasons behind this misapprehension and demonstrate the distinctive character of art in Spain during this period.

The exhibition begins exploring the mid-sixteenth century with the building of Philip II's monastery of the Escorial near Madrid that drew a large number of foreign artists, mainly Italian. The internationalism of Spain in the sixteenth century is key to understanding the nature of the work made at this time. The first part of the exhibition will be devoted to the foreign artists who worked in Spain, such as the Italians Pellegrino Tibaldi and Federico Zuccaro.

The engravings made by the Flemish printmaker Pedro Perret in Madrid depicting the Escorial are among the most remarkable architectural prints from the sixteenth century. However, whilst foreign influence may be unmistakable, artistic groups in Spain maintained their own traditions, and the process by which the Spanish absorbed the work of foreign artists is a complex one.

By the seventeeth century, each region of Spain was operating as an independent artistic 'centre', resulting in artistic practice being more segregated than the smaller countries of France or Italy. The exhibition is arranged into regions: Madrid and Granada; Seville and Córdoba; and Valencia/Naples, in order to highlight the differences.

The last part of the exhibition will be devoted to Goya and his contemporaries, including the Tiepolo family who arrived in Madrid in the 1760s and whose etchings revolutionised printmaking in Madrid. The selection of Goya's work that will feature will demonstrate the huge range of his graphic ability and the subjects that absorbed him. Much has been written of Goya's 'lone genius' but this exhibition will explore how his art should be seen in the context of the unprecedented scientific, social and artistic developments that were taking place in Spain and the rest of Europe during the eighteenth and early nineteenth century.

Examples of his Tauromaquin series can be seen in the exhibition, a collection of aquatint etchings of bullfighting subjects, which portrayed some of the most famous bullfighters of the day. In this series Goya has completely mastered the aquatint technique, achieving remarkable theatrical effects through the contrasting light and dark. Proofs from Goya's Disasters of War print series will also be on display, demonstrating his reaction to Napoleon's invasion of Spain and the horror that followed. It is through Goya and his contemporaries that we can see first-hand how the work they were producing helped to propel Spain to become an artistically dominant force, whilst changing the artistic landscape of Spain forever.

An accompanying catalogue has been published by the British Museum Press. Written by Mark McDonald, the curator of Renaissance to Goya: Prints and Drawings from Spain, it is a beautiful and comprehensive volume that examines for the first time the rich history of more than four hundred years of drawing and printmaking in Spain.

Edward Hopper in Paris

Edward Hopper exhibition at the Grand Palais, Galeries nationales, Paris, France 10 October 2012 – 28 January 2013

Paintings by Edward Hopper (1882-1967) have the deceptive simplicity of myths, a sort of picture-book obviousness. Each one is a concentrate of the hypothetical knowledge and dreams conjured up by the fabulous name of America. Whether they express deep poignancy or explore figments of the imagination, these paintings have been interpreted in the most contradictory ways. A romantic, realist, symbolist and even formalist, Hopper has been enrolled under every possible banner. The exhibition at the Grand Palais seeks to shed light on this complexity, which is an indication of the richness of Hopper’s oeuvre.

It is divided chronologically into two main parts: the first section covers Hopper’s formative years (1900-1924), comparing his work with that of his contemporaries and art he saw in Paris, which may have influenced him. The second section looks at the art of his mature years, from the first paintings emblematic of his personal style - House by the Railroad - (1924), to his last works (Two Comedians -1966).

Hopper entered Robert Henri’s studio at the New York School of Art in the early years of the twentieth century. Henri was a colourful figure; in 1908, he founded the Ashcan School, whose very name was a statement of the uncompromising realism of its most radical members.

Hopper’s time in Paris (nearly a year in 1906, followed by shorter stays in 1909 and 1910) offers an opportunity to compare his paintings with those he saw in the city’s galleries and salons. Degas inspired him to take original angles and apply the poetic principle of dramatisation. The massive structure of his views of the quays of the Seine was borrowed from Albert Marquet. He shared with Félix Vallotton a taste for light inspired by Vermeer. Walter Sickert was his model for the iconography of theatres and paintings of damned flesh. In Paris, Hopper adopted the style of Impressionism, a technique which he felt had been invented to express harmony and sensual pleasure.

Back in the United States he absorbed the gritty realism of Bellows or Sloan, that of the Ashcan School, whose dystopic vision he shared. He earned his living doing commercial illustrations, which will be presented in the Paris exhibition. But it was his etchings (from 1915) that brought about a metamorphosis in his work and crystallized his painting, as he put it. One room in the exhibition is devoted to his etchings.

1924 was a turning point in Hopper’s life and career. The exhibition of his watercolours of neo-Victorian houses in Gloucester, in the Brooklyn Museum and then in Franck Rehn’s gallery, brought him recognition and commercial success which enabled him to work full time on his art (he had previously sold only one painting, at the Armory Show in 1913). Hopper’s watercolours open the second major section of the exhibition, which shows the American artist’s emblematic paintings and iconography. The chronological presentation permits visitors to appreciate the continuity of his inspiration, the way he explored his favourite subjects: houses infused with a near “psychological” identity

(House by the Railroad, 1924, MoMA),

solitary figures sunk in thought (Morning Sun, 1952, Columbus Museum of Art),

the world of the theatre (Two on the Aisle, 1927, Toledo Museum of Art),

images of the modern city (Nighthawks, 1942, Art Institute Chicago).

The apparent realism of Hopper’s paintings, the abstract mental process that prevails in their construction, destined these works to the most contradictory claims. The bastion of the American realist tradition, the Whitney Museum of Art, regularly showed his work. And yet it was the MoMA of New York, the temple of Formalism, which gave him his first retrospective, in 1933. The MoMA’s director, Alfred Barr, hailed an artist whose compositions were often interesting “from a strictly formal point of view.”

The complexity of Hopper’s oeuvre puts it at the intersection of the two historical definitions of American modernity: one derived from the Ashcan School which claimed the Baudelairian principle of modernity linked to the subject, and the other taken from the lessons of the Armory Show which, in 1913, revealed the formalism of European avant-gardes (cubism and cubist futurism) to the American public. In the fifties, the surreal strangeness, and “metaphysical” dimension of Hopper’s painting led to comparisons with De Chirico. At the same time, in the columns of the magazine Reality, the painter joined American realist artists in denouncing abstract art, which, in their view, was submerging collections and museums.

Modern American Portrait Drawings from the National Portrait Gallery

"Eye Contact: Modern American Portrait Drawings from the National Portrait Gallery," a major traveling exhibition from the Smithsonian gallery's collection, opened May 25, 2002, at the Amon Carter Museum. The exhibition featured 50 of the gallery's most significant works on paper. "Eye Contact" introduced life portraits of renowned Americans from politicians and inventors to writers, artists and musicians and highlights the work of such artists as Mary Cassatt, Edward Hopper, Stuart Davis, Jacob Lawrence and Andy Warhol. It is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue, edited by exhibition curator Wendy Wick Reaves. This exhibition was organized by the National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.

The exhibition showcased aesthetic masterpieces that have been assembled since the National Portrait Gallery's collection originated in 1964. Encompassing a variety of media, including watercolors, pastels, charcoals and pen and ink drawings, most of these images are unfamiliar to the public.

"A good portrait is like a biography of a subject," said Amon Carter Museum Director Rick Stewart. "It shows not only the realistic aspects of a person, but it hints also at the invisible qualities that make that person truly individual. I hope everyone has the opportunity to see the outstanding portraits in this exhibition. It is portraiture at its very best."

"'Eye Contact' provided a unique opportunity for people to see the finest drawings in the National Portrait Gallery collection," added Marc Pachter, director of the gallery. "This is the first time we have assembled such a wide-ranging selection of drawings, which includes an array of modern American personalities."

"Eye Contact" examined the diversity of portraiture and includes such classic images as Luther "Bill Bojangles" Robinson by caricaturist Al Hirschfeld and William Zorach's pen-and-ink image of a young Edna St. Vincent Millay just after she won the Pulitzer Prize. The oldest piece in the exhibition, a watercolor self-portrait of Mary Cassatt, dated from the 1880s.


Eye Contact: Modern American Portrait Drawings from the National Portrait Gallery
by Wendy Wick Reaves et al.

(2002; 256 pages) 55 color and 65 b/w illustrations.
ISBN: 0-295-98267-5

Fifty graphic masterpieces representing the American artistic tradition from 1880 to the present day are showcased in Eye Contact. Reproduced as full-page color images, they range from portraits of Theodore Roosevelt by Charles Dana Gibson to Robert F. Kennedy by Roy Lichtenstein, and self-portraits by artists Mary Cassatt, Edward Hopper, Joseph Stella, and Jacob Lawrence. Essays discuss the changing nature of portrait drawings in the twentieth century and the intellectual developments that influenced artists' conceptualization of the figure.

Works included in the exhibition: (Title, artist)

Milton Avery

Ink on paper, 1938
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
(C) 2001 Milton Avery Trust / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Christopher Isherwood

Don Bachardy (born 1934)
Ink wash and graphite on paper, 1976
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
gift of the Mildred Andrews Fund
© Don Bachardy

Truman Capote

Don Bachardy (born 1934)
Graphite on paper, 1964
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
© Don Bachardy

Ralph Barton

Watercolor and graphite on paperboard mounted on illustration board, circa 1925
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

Rico Lebrun

Leonard Baskin (1922–2000)
Ink on paper, 1968
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

Henry James

Cecilia Beaux (1855–1942)
Charcoal on paper, 1911
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

W. C. Fields

Thomas Hart Benton (1889–1975)
Graphite on paper, 1937
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
© T. H. Benton and R. P. Benton Testamentary Trusts / Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

Mary Cassatt

Watercolor and gouache over graphite on paper, circa 1880
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

Frances Perkins

William Henry Cotton (1880–1958)
Pastel on illustration board, circa 1935
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

Stuart Davis

Stuart Davis (1892–1964)
Graphite on paper, circa 1927
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
© Estate of Stuart Davis/ Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

Ornette Coleman

Elaine de Kooning (1918–1989)
Graphite on paper, circa 1965
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
© Elaine de Kooning Trust

Harold Rosenberg

Elaine de Kooning (1918–1989)
Ink wash on laid paper, 1967
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
© Elaine de Kooning Trust

James Baldwin

Beauford Delaney (1901–1979)
Pastel on paper, 1963
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

Agnes Ernst Meyer

Marius de Zayas (1880–1961)
Pastel over graphite on paper, circa 1912–1913
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Anne Meyer

Paul Haviland

Marius de Zayas (1880–1961)
Charcoal on paper, circa 1910
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Mr. and Mrs. Harry H. Lunn Jr.

F. Scott Fitzgerald

Harrison Fisher (1877–1934)
Sanguine conté crayon and white paint on paperboard, 1927
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of his daughter, Mrs. Scottie Smith

Zelda Fitzgerald

Harrison Fisher (1877–1934)
Sanguine conté crayon and white paint on paperboard, 1927
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of her daughter, Mrs. Scottie Smith

John Steinbeck

James Fitzgerald (1899–1971)
Charcoal on paper, 1935
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
gift of Mr. and Mrs. Edgar F. Hubert

John Barrymore

Alfred J. Frueh (1880–1968)
Ink, ink wash, and graphite on illustration board, circa 1909
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of the children of Al Frueh

Fritz Kreisler

Paolo Garretto (1903–1989)
Collage of airbrushed gouache and crayon on wood laminate and illustration board, 1933
Original illustration for Vanity Fair, March 1934
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
© Vanity Fair, Condé Nast Publications Inc.

Paul Robeson

Hugo Gellert (1892–1985)
Lithographic crayon and graphite on paper, 1928
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

Theodore Roosevelt

Charles Dana Gibson (1867–1944)
Graphite and conté crayon on paper, 1898
Original drawing for Scribner's magazine, January 1899
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

Luther (Bill "Bojangles") Robinson

Al Hirschfeld (born 1903)
Ink on illustration board, 1939
Original illustration for the New York Herald Tribune, March 19, 1939
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
© Al Hirschfeld

Edward Hopper

Charcoal on paper, 1903
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

Hart Crane

Gaston Lachaise (1882–1935)
Graphite on paper, circa 1923
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of the Lachaise Foundation

Jacob Lawrence

Ink and gouache over charcoal on paper, circa 1965 and 1996
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
© Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence

Stokely Carmichael

Jacob Lawrence (1917–2000)
Ink, gouache, and charcoal on paper, circa 1966
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
© Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence

Igor Stravinsky

Rico Lebrun (1900–1964)
Charcoal on paper, 1947
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

Robert Kennedy

Roy Lichtenstein (1923–1997)
Felt-tip markers over graphite on mat board, 1968
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Time magazine
© Estate of Roy Lichtenstein

John Marin

Graphite and charcoal pencil on transparent film, circa 1945
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
© 2001 Estate of John Marin / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Beauford Delaney

Georgia O'Keeffe (1887–1986)
Pastel on paper, 1943
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of the Georgia O'Keeffe Foundation
© 1938 The Georgia O'Keeffe Foundation

Mark Strand

Philip Pearlstein (born 1924)
Watercolor on paper, 1983
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Mark and Julia Strand

Countee Cullen

Winold Reiss (1896–1953)
Pastel on illustration board, circa 1925
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Lawrence A. Fleischman and Howard Garfinkle with a matching grant from the National Endowment for the Arts

J. Robert Oppenheimer (enlargement unavailable)

Ben Shahn (1898–1969)
Ink on paper, 1954
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
© Estate of Ben Shahn / Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

Everett Shinn

Pastel on paper, 1901
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

Joseph Stella

Gouache, graphite, metalpoint, watercolor, and crayon on prepared paper, circa 1940
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

Alice B. Toklas

Pavel Tchelitchew (1898–1957)
Gouache on paper, circa 1926–1928
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

Jamie Wyeth

Andy Warhol (1928–1987)
Graphite on paper, 1976
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
© 2001 Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts / ARS, New York

John Twachtman

Julian Alden Weir (1852–1919)
Charcoal on paper, circa 1895
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

Lincoln Kirstein

Jamie Wyeth (born 1946)
Graphite and crayon on paper, 1965
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
© Jamie Wyeth

Andy Warhol

Jamie Wyeth (born 1946)
Gouache, watercolor, and graphite on illustration board, 1976
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
gift of Coe Kerr Gallery © Jamie Wyeth

Edna St. Vincent Millay

William Zorach (1887–1966)
Ink, charcoal, and colored pencil on paper, circa 1923
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

An exhibition organized from the Carter's print collection, "Striking Likeness: Portrait Prints from the Permanent Collection," was on display in conjunction with "Eye Contact." With works from the late 19th to the mid-20th century, the exhibition brought together more than 40 portraits, self-portraits and group portraits. Mary Cassatt, James McNeill Whistler, John Sloan and George Bellows are among the artists whose works will be on view. Highlights include portraits of such well-known individuals as actor Paul Robeson and former slave turned activist, Sojourner Truth. Also included in the exhibition are self-portraits by Milton Avery, Thomas Hart Benton and Rockwell Kent, who probed their identities as artists through printmaking.

Revealing the African Presence in Renaissance Europe

The Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, MD presents Revealing the African Presence in Renaissance Europe, an exhibition exploring the little known presence of Africans and their descendants in Europe from the late 1400s to the early 1600s. The exhibition will look at the roles these individuals played in society. During the European Renaissance, there was a new focus on the identity and perspective of the individual. Africans living or visiting Europe at this time included artists, aristocrats, saints, slaves and diplomats. The exhibition of vivid portraits created from life encourages face to face encounters with these individuals and poses questions about the challenges of color, class and stereotypes that a new diversity brought to Europe. Aspects of this material have been studied by scholars, but this is the first time the subject has been presented to a wider American public.

On view Oct. 14, 2012–Jan. 21, 2013, the exhibition features 73 paintings, sculptures, prints, manuscripts and printed books by great artists such as Rubens, Pontormo, Dürer, Veronese and Bronzino. These artworks are drawn from the Walters, major museums in Europe and the United States, and private collections. The exhibition will travel to the Princeton University Art Museum in New Jersey Feb. 16–June 9, 2013.

“We hope that this exhibition will be a vehicle for conversations about cultural identity,” said Director Gary Vikan. “Through the vehicle of great art, visitors will be able to make personal connections with Africans who lived in Europe 500 years ago.”

An African presence was partially a consequence of the European drive for new markets beginning in the late 1400s. This included the importation of West Africans as slaves, supplanting the trade of slaves of Slavic origin. There was also increasing conflict with North African Muslims and heightened levels of diplomatic and trade initiatives by African monarchs. Publications by African scholars and writers in Europe contributed to a more balanced view of the African presence than previously available from European artists and writers alone.

The first half of the exhibition explores the conditions that framed the lives of Africans in Europe, including slavery and social status, perceptions of Africa, the representation of Africans in Christian art, blackness and cultural difference as well as the aesthetic appreciation of blackness. The second half shifts to individuals themselves as slaves, servants, free and freed people, and diplomats and rulers. The visitor’s experience concludes with St. Benedict (the Moor) of Palermo, widely revered in his lifetime, but also one of the African-Europeans of the 1500s with the greatest impact today.

“Recognizing the African presence within Renaissance society opens a new window into a time when the role of the individual was becoming recognized—a perspective that remains fundamental today,” said Curator of Renaissance and Baroque Art Joaneath Spicer. “We are just beginning to understand the contributions of people of African ancestry in that society, so the exhibition raises as many questions as it answers.”

Exhibition Highlights

This scene of daily life in Lisbon is astonishing for the concentration of Africans from a range of social and economic levels, from a slave in chains to the knighted man on horseback. Black people made up nearly 10% of the city’s population, more than anywhere else in Europe at that time.

Portrait of Maria Salviate de’ Medici and Giulia de’ Medici, Jacopo de Pontormo, ca. 1537

Free descendants of slaves were found at all levels of European society. The little girl with her guardian is Giulia de’ Medici, daughter of Alessandro de Medici, duke of Florence, the latter thought to be born of a union between Cardinal Giulio de ‘Medici and an African slave. Giulia enjoyed an aristocratic lifestyle and her descendants thrive today. The painting is considered to be the first formal portrait of a child of African ancestry in European art.

Portrait of an African Slave Woman, Annibale Carracci, attrib. 1580

Paintings representing real individuals in servitude primarily show them in domestic roles, such as this maid from the fragment of a larger portrait. She has remarkable presence, sensitively conveyed by the artist through the ambiguity of her facial expression.

Chafariz d’el Rey in the Alfama District (View of a Square with the King’s Fountain in Lisbon), Netherlandish, ca. 1570–80

Los tres mulatos de Esmeraldas (Portrait of Don Francesco de Arobe and his Sons), Andrés Sánchez Galque, 1599

Rulers and diplomats were free to assert cultural difference in their portrayals in a way that African slaves in Europe could not. This European style portrait “likeness” was sent to the Spanish king by Don Francisco de Arobe, head of an Ecuadorian community founded by escaped slaves. He and his sons present themselves in European-style dress, but adorned with gold ornaments that were traditional local markers of status preceding the European conquest.

Adoration of the Kings Girolamo da Santacroce, ca. 1525–30 , oil on panel, 67.7 x 81.2 cm, The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, acquired by Henry Walters with the Massarenti Collection, 1902 (37.261)

Head of an African Man Wearing a Turban
Peter Paul Rubens, ca. 1609, oil on paper, laid down on panel, 54 x 39 cm, Private Collection, courtesy of Jean-Luc Baroni Ltd, London

Judith with the Head of Holofernes
Giuseppe Cesari (Il Cavaliere d’Arpino), 1603–6, oil on canvas, 61.3 x 47.9 cm., University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, bequest of Andrew C. Lawson (1943.2), Photographed for the UC Berkeley Art Museum by Benjamin Blackwell

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Picasso, Monet, Matisse, Gauguin: Stolen!

Thieves broke into the Kunsthal museum located in Rotterdam in the Netherlands, on Tuesday October 16, 2012 and took off with works from Picasso, Monet, Gauguin and Matisse.

Police haven't said how they pulled off the early hours heist, but an expert who tracks stolen art said the robbers clearly knew what they were after.

The heist at the Kunsthal museum is one of the largest in years and is a stunning blow for the private Triton Foundation collection, which was being exhibited publicly as a group for the first time.

The works taken were:

Pablo Picasso's 1971 "Harlequin's Head";

Claude Monet's 1901 "Waterloo Bridge, London" and

"Charing Cross Bridge, London";

Henri Matisse's 1919 "Reading Girl in White and Yellow";

Paul Gauguin's 1898 "Girl in Front of Open Window";

Meyer de Haan's "Self-Portrait," around 1890,

and Lucian Freud's 2002 work "Woman with Eyes Closed."

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


A major exhibition has opened at The Toledo Museum of art and will be on display until Jan. 1, 2013. Drawn from art collections around the world, Manet: Portraying Life features both Édouard Manet’s (1832–1883) formal portraiture and his scenes of family and friends in the context of everyday life. Organized in collaboration with the Royal Academy of Arts in London, TMA will be the exclusive U.S. venue for the show From 26 January 2013 - 14 April 2013 the Royal Academy of Arts will present the first major exhibition in the UK to showcase Édouard Manet’s portraiture.

The Railway (1873), widely known as The Gare Saint-Lazare, is one of the paintings which is on show.

The exhibition examines the relationship between Manet’s portrait painting and his scenes of modern life. By translating portrait sitters into actors in his genre scenes, Manet guarantees the authenticity of the figures that populate his genre paintings and asserts a new, more potent relationship between Realism and Modernity.

Boy Blowing Bubbles, 1867. Oil on canvas, 100.5 × 81.4 cm. Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon

Manet: Portraying Life includes over 50 paintings spanning the career of this archetypal modern artist together with a selection of pastels and contemporary photographs. It brings together works from both public and private collections across Europe, Asia and the USA.

Eva Gonzalès, 1870. Oil on canvas, 191.1 × 133.4 cm. The National Gallery, London. Sir Hugh Lane Bequest, 1917

The exhibition is arranged thematically, exploring Manet’s world and the landscape of nineteenth - century Parisian society. Different sections focus on The Artist and his Family - Manet, Suzanne Leenhof Manet and Léon Koëlla Leenhof; Manet and his Artist Friends including Berthe Morisot, Eva Gonzalès and Claude Monet; Manet and his Literary and Theatrical Friends such as Emile Zola, Zacharie Astruc, Théodore Duret, George Moore, Stéphane Mallarmé and Fanny Claus; Status Portraits including Georges Clemenceau, Henri Rochefort and Antonin Proust, and finally, The Artist and his Models which encompasses both female friends such as Méry Laurent and Isabelle Lemonnier as well as professional models, such as Victorine Meurent.

Highlights include The Luncheon, 1868 (Bayerische Staatsgemaldesammlungen–Neue Pinakothek, Munich), depicting Léon, the son of Manet’s wife;

Mme Manet in the Conservatory, 1879 (The National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design, Oslo);

Berthe Morisot with a Bouquet of Violets, 1872 (Musée d’Orsay, Paris),

Street Singer, c.1862 (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston),

Le Déjeuner sur l'herbe, c.1863-68 (The Courtauld Gallery, London),

and Music in the Tuileries Gardens, 1862 (The National Gallery, London)
which brings together the literary and theatrical friends of the artist.

Édouard Manet was born in Paris in 1832 into a middle-class family. His father Auguste, was a senior civil servant in the Ministry of Justice, and his mother, Eugénie-Désirée, the daughter of a diplomat. Manet enlisted in the merchant marine and travelled to South America in 1848. A year after his return to Paris in 1849, he entered the studio of the successful salon artist Thomas Couture and for the next six years, he pursued training within and beyond Couture’s studio. Exposure to contemporary art came through the Paris Salon and independent exhibitions. In 1863, Manet married Suzanne Leenhoff, a talented pianist and the mother of Léon Koëlla Leenhoff, who became part of the Manet family but whose paternity remains uncertain. His younger brother, Eugène, married the artist Berthe Morisot in 1874. Manet’s independence of style, individuality of subject matter and seemingly non-conventional technique meant that his exhibition career was fraught with rejection and on-going negative critical response. However, despite supporting his younger contemporaries, the Impressionists, and observing closely their own innovative approach to subject matter and technique, he resolutely refused to exhibit with them in the eight Impressionist exhibitions (1874–1886).

Jeanne Duval, Baudelaire's Mistress, Reclining (Lady with a Fan), 1862

Throughout his life, Manet surrounded himself with a wide circle of friends, admirers and supporters from the artistic, literary and musical communities – all of whom professed leanings towards the more radical movements of the day; they defended his art and served as sitters for his portraits. Manet’s career as a professional artist lasted less than three decades, cut short by his premature death in 1883 at the age of 51.


Manet: Portraying Life has been organised by the Royal Academy of Arts, London, in collaboration with the Toledo Museum of Art, Ohio. The exhibition has been curated by MaryAnne Stevens, Director of Academic Affairs, Royal Academy of Arts and Dr Larry Nichols, Toledo Museum of Art, Ohio.


Manet: Portraying Life is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue featuring essays by leading scholars working in the fields specific to Édouard Manet, portraiture and photography, and the issues surrounding the definition and application of such terms as Realism, Naturalism and ‘modern life’. Authors include Carol Armstrong, Colin Bailey, Stéphane Guegan, and Leah Lehmbeck.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Thomas Eakins: Newly Restored, Eakins's 'The Gross Clinic'

The Gross Clinic of 1875 is the most renowned work created by the great Philadelphia painter Thomas Eakins (1844-1916) and a landmark in the history of 19th-century American art. In late 2008, the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, joint owners of The Gross Clinic, initiated a plan to evaluate the condition of the painting, to research its conservation history, and assess the potential benefits of an effort to clean and restore it. The resulting study of The Gross Clinic and numerous other Eakins paintings made clear the potential of a new conservation treatment that would address the problems caused by an aggressive cleaning of the painting’s surface in the 1920s.

An Eakins Masterpiece Restored: Seeing ‘The Gross Clinic’ Anew
enabled visitors to appreciate the painting in new ways, exploring its creation, its critical reception, and the physical changes it has experienced over time. Following a sensitive treatment of the painting, which was carried out in recent months by the conservation staff of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the exhibition (July 24, 2010 - January 9, 2011) culminated an extensive study that yielded a comprehensive understanding of the painting’s original appearance, and documented the changes that had occurred to it over time.

The exhibition conveyed the remarkable initial public reaction to The Gross Clinic, using source materials from the Centennial that include news accounts expressing the range of response, from awe and praise to outright horror. The first room situated The Gross Clinic at the Centennial, which was a massive world’s fair in Philadelphia that marked the nation’s first century, and where Memorial Hall was built to house the first historical survey of American art. Displayed in this gallery were photographs of Memorial Hall showing art that was exhibited, including five works by Eakins but not his masterpiece, because The Gross Clinic was relegated to the U.S. Army medical post model. Also displayed were images of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, where Eakins had studied and taught from 1876-1886, as well as a biography of the famed Dr. Samuel D. Gross, a leading physician at Jefferson Medical College whom Eakins immortalized in The Gross Clinic.

At the core of the exhibition was the room devoted to Eakins’s major medical paintings. With The Gross Clinic was seen the

Portrait of Dr. Benjamin H. Rand of 1874 (Crystal Bridges Museum), which was the artist’s first full-length portrait of a doctor, also presented at the Centennial Exhibition, and

The Agnew Clinic of 1889 (owned by the University of Pennsylvania). In stark contrast to The Gross Clinic where the doctors are wearing street clothes, The The Agnew Clinicshows 14 years later a more modern medical team wearing surgical whites.

Three surviving preparatory studies for The Gross Clinic and a new full-sized X-radiograph were on view in a third room providing insight into Eakins’s painting process, supplemented by texts explaining the artist’s commitment to an ideal of pictorial tone and color.

This room also contained photographs of The Gross Clinic that documented changes that restorers made over the years, having mistaken Eakins’s subtly adjusted tones and contrasts for surface grime. In addition are case studies from other works treated by Mark Tucker, including Eakins’s

Between Rounds (1898–99), and

Mending the Net (1881).

The Gross Clinic is owned jointly by the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, thanks to the successful campaign launched by the two institutions in 2006 to keep the painting in Philadelphia when it was offered for sale by Thomas Jefferson University. The Gross Clinic will move to the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts for a period of three years following the close of this exhibition in January. At the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, it was presented in Anatomy/Academy, an exhibition exploring the intersection of Philadelphia’s art and medical communities. Anatomy/Academy was on view January 29 through April 17, 2011.

Renoir's Final Decades

Late Renoir June 17, 2010 - September 6, 2010

The Philadelphia Museum of Art presented the first exhibition to survey the achievement of the great Impressionist painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919) during the last three decades before his death. 80 of the artist’s paintings, sculpture, and drawings were on view, accompanied by a selection of works by Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Pierre Bonnard, and others who were inspired by the master.

A landmark exhibition, Late Renoir examined new directions that the artist explored several decades after he and others such as Claude Monet and Camille Pissarro created the new style of painting known as Impressionism. This new and widely admired phase in Renoir’s career propelled him into the modern age and, at the same time, enabled him to recapture a classical past with expressive brushwork and a palette of sensuous colors that were both lyrical and decorative. Late Renoir included major works on loan from public and private collections in Europe, the United States, and Japan.

The exhibition was co-organized by the Reunion des Musées nationaux, the Musée d’Orsay, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, in collaboration with the Philadelphia Museum of Art. It drew some 420,000 visitors in Paris before traveling to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The Philadelphia Museum of Art was the only East Coast venue.

“Renoir has a special importance in Philadelphia, which will be the best place in the world this summer to appreciate the breadth and distinctive character of all that he achieved during the last several decades of his life,” said Timothy Rub, The George D. Widener Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. “In 1933, the Museum presented the first museum exhibition ever to be devoted to Renoir in the United States and it is now the largest lender to Late Renoir. The Museum’s collection is rich in his works as well as those of his contemporaries, and nearby in Lower Merion, the Barnes Foundation also contains the world’s largest private collection of Renoir’s late paintings. Thus, visitors to Philadelphia will have a double opportunity to experience the most joyful but least understood and, to some, the most rewarding phase of this great artist’s career.”

Renoir had played an active part in the first Impressionist exhibition of 1874, presenting his work alongside those of his friends Degas, Monet, Pissaro, Sisley, and Morisot. He began eventually to distance himself from the group however and by the 1880s he embarked upon new avenues of expression, returning after many years to commissioned portraits. Now less interested in capturing the fleeting moments of everyday life, he also began to pursue timeless subjects, especially the theme of the female nude which became more central as he modeled his figures on the postures of classical sculpture. He opened an artistic dialogue with such old masters as Raphael, Titian, Rubens, Fragonard, and Watteau, while employing fluid brushstrokes and a bright palette that was inspired by his move from Paris to the south of France. Many of Renoir’s late works suggest an endless summer in which youthful, Arcadian figures inhabit a world of beauty and grace. This is the focus of the period from 1890 until Renoir’s death in 1919.

The exhibition in Philadelphia was organized chronologically, enabling the visitor to appreciate the evolution of Renoir’s late style, beginning with portraits and genre scenes and examining his full embrace of the nude and mythological subjects. “Time and again throughout his career, Renoir reinvented the way he worked,” noted Jennifer Thompson, The Gloria and Jack Drosdick Associate Curator of European Painting & Sculpture before 1900 and the Rodin Museum. “His continual experimentation in his later years appealed to younger artists, so while he is widely admired for his important contributions to Impressionism, audiences may be surprised by how diverse Renoir’s work proves to be.”

Several of the works were seen in Philadelphia only. They include The Guitar Player, 1897 (private collection), which has not been on public view in 90 years or more;

Woman Combing Her Hair, 1908 (private collection);

Woman Tying Her Shoe, c. 1918 (Courtauld Gallery, London); an exquisite drawing lent by the Phillips Collection, Washington, DC; and additional drawings and pastels from the Museum’s collection.

A major work not seen at the Paris venue, The Judgment of Paris, 1913-14 (Hiroshima Museum of Art), was added in Los Angeles and was also seen in Philadelphia. Renoir said of this and related works: “the earth was the paradise of the gods . . . that is what I want to paint.”

Other highlights in the exhibition include Two Girls Reading, 1890-91 (Los Angeles County Museum of Art), a sensitive and intimate genre study distinguished by warm tonalities and free-flowing brushwork;

Girl in a Red Ruff, c. 1896 (Philadelphia Museum of Art), in which a young girl’s profile appears at once affectionate and iconic;

the light and amusing Bathers Playing with a Crab, c. 1897 (Cleveland Museum of Art), which has been compared to the work of Boucher and Fragonard,

and Gabrielle with a Rose, 1911 (Musee d’Orsay), which treats the theme of the woman at her toilette; Renoir’s frequent model and babysitter for his son Jean is rendered with luminous highlights and a reflective gaze.

The exhibition also offered the opportunity to compare Renoir’s final painting of the bathers with works in the Museum’s collection,

especially the Large Bathers, 1884-87.

“Our monumental painting on this theme was the result of many preparations, and was a great struggle as well as achievement,” Ms. Thompson commented, “but when you come to the lounging odalisques that he painted against a Mediterranean landscape over 30 years later, where figures and landscape assume an equal significance, you witness a sense of freedom from the struggles of existence, which suggests perhaps why Renoir regarded The Bathers of 1918-19 as the culmination of his life’s work.” Matisse called this painting, “one of the most beautiful pictures ever painted.”

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About the Artist:

Pierre-Auguste Renoir was born in Limoges on February 25, 1841. The son of tailor, Renoir moved to Paris as a young child where he grew up near the Palais du Louvre which would later play a critical role in his career and artistic development. Apprenticed to a porcelain painter at age thirteen, Renoir’s first love was painting; he spent his free time copying paintings at the Louvre and visiting the studio of the academic painter Charles Gleyre. Renoir enrolled in the École des Beaux-Arts in 1862 and in 1864 exhibited his first painting at the Salon.

During the late 1860s Renoir became friendly with a group of young artists who painted outdoors in the forest at Fontainebleau and rejected conventional academic painting methods in favor of working in front of a motif and using spontaneous, free brushwork. Their paintings, criticized for their rough paint handling, were rejected by Salon juries. In 1874 the group organized an independent exhibition of their work; the sketch-like paintings which they displayed caused one critic to dub them ‘Impressionists.’ Renoir exhibited with the Impressionists from 1874 to 1877 and became known for his portraits and scenes of modern Parisians at leisure, enjoying dances, attending the theatre, or rowing on the Seine.

By the early 1880s Renoir was dissatisfied with the limitations of the Impressionist technique and subject matter and undertook a series of travels within France and to Algeria and Italy. Influenced by ancient art and the work of Renaissance painters like Raphael, Titian, and Veronese, he sought to adapt his new manner of painting from nature with the art of the past. Working a linear style with a pale palette, he proclaimed his break from Impressionism and bold ambitions in a monumental work of 1884-87, Large Bathers (Philadelphia Museum of Art). In 1885 a son, Pierre, was born to Renoir and Aline Charigot, a seamstress who was one of his models in the 1880s; the couple married in 1890.

In 1892 the French state commissioned a painting by Renoir to hang in the national museum. Young Girls at the Piano (Musée d’Orsay) became the first work by an Impressionist painter to enter the state’s collection and signaled that the public had finally recognized the innovations of Renoir’s painting style and its place within the history of French painting. In this decade his scenes of young bourgeois women, wearing elaborate costumes and hats and engaged in leisure activities were popular with collectors and ensured Renoir’s financial security. With his growing family (a second son, Jean, was born in 1894), Renoir divided his time between Paris and the village of Essoyes in Champagne where his wife grew up as well as travel to Spain, the Netherlands, Germany, and England.

At the Salon d’Automne in 1904, an entire room was devoted to a survey of Renoir’s career and attracted the attention of younger artists. Troubled by arthritis and increasingly limited in his movements, Renoir and his family spent much of their time in the south of France. They rented a house in the town of Cagnes-sur-Mer until 1907 when they purchased the nearby farm of Les Collettes. The family also maintained an apartment in Nice where their three sons (Claude was born in 1901) went to school. Renoir’s energies in this decade were focused on timeless subjects that recalled the classical past such as bathers, Mediterranean landscapes, and mythological scenes. He made his first experiments with sculpture in 1908 when he modeled in plaster a head of his youngest son Claude. A steady stream of artists, including Maurice Denis, Auguste Rodin, and Aristide Maillol, visited Renoir in Cagnes.

Renoir painted ceaselessly in the last decade of his life. His work was seen less frequently in Paris, but exhibitions of his latest material, like a show held at the Bernheim-Jeune gallery in 1913, astonished collectors, artists, and critics who proclaimed that he was “the greatest living painter.” Henri Matisse moved to Nice in December 1917 and became a frequent visitor to Les Collettes where he and Renoir exchanged ideas about painting. On the advice of the dealer Ambroise Vollard, Renoir continued his exploration of sculpture, relying on young sculptors to produce plaster models with his input since he was no longer able to handle the clay himself. Renoir died on December 3, 1919, having worked on a still life of anemones earlier in the day and declaring “I think I am beginning to understand something about painting.”


The exhibition was accompanied by an impressive 440-page scholarly catalogue, published in separate English and French editions. A sumptuous production with 319 illustrations, 213 in full color, it presents a comprehensive overview of Renoir’s late career, the first of its kind. Edited by Sylvie Patry (Musée d’Orsay) and Claudia Einecke (Los Angeles County Museum of Art), the exhibition catalogue offers new research and fresh ideas on this largely unpublished topic. The catalogue includes 13 essays by established as well as younger scholars and curators, individual entries for each object in the exhibition, and an illustrated chronology. Contributors to the catalogue include: John House, The Walter H. Annenberg Professor of Art History at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London; Roger Benjamin, Research Professor in the History of Art at the University of Sydney; Virginie Journiac, curator of the Musée Renoir in Cagnes-sur-Mer, France; Guy Cogeval, Isabelle Gaëtan, Monique Nonne, Laurence Madeline, and Emmanuelle Héran of the Musée d’Orsay; Claudia Einecke, and Sylvie Patry.