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Posts Tagged ‘impressionist’

Art: Van Gogh
Moulin d’Alphonse, painted in Arles in southern France.

Once again, a master’s work has been rediscovered. This time the master is Van Gogh, and the work’s identification is all thanks to a sister-in-law who knew a great artist when she saw one.

Dalya Alberge at the Guardian has the story. “A landscape by Vincent van Gogh is to be exhibited for the first time in more than 100 years following the discovery of crucial evidence that firmly traces back its history directly to the artist.

“The significance of two handwritten numbers scribbled almost imperceptibly on the back had been overlooked until now. They have been found to correspond precisely with those on two separate lists of Van Gogh’s works drawn up by Johanna, wife of the artist’s brother, Theo.

“Johanna, who was widowed in 1891 – months after Vincent’s death – singlehandedly generated interest in his art. She brought it to the attention of critics and dealers, organising exhibitions, although she obviously could never have envisaged the millions that his works would fetch today.

“Le Moulin d’Alphonse Daudet à Fontvieille, which depicts vivid green grapevines leading up to a windmill with broken wings in the distance, is a work on paper that he created with graphite, reed pen and ink and watercolour shortly after he reached Arles, in the south of France. It dates from 1888, two years before his untimely death.” More here.

When I was sixteen, I passed through Arles on a kind of tour. I am sorry to say the only thing I remember clearly is that the teacher said you had to translate “to Arles” as “en Arles” instead of “à Arles,” as you would say for other cities. Only guess what! A quick Google search informs me “en Arles” is only for people stuck in the 19th century.

On me pose très souvent la question de savoir si je me suis trompé en disant à Arles (vs. en Arles). Et bien non, à part si vous êtes resté au IXème siècle …

David Larlet is the source, and I have no idea if he is an expert. I assure you I wasn’t 16 in the 19th century, but my teacher was rather old fashioned.

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Another good lead from the voracious reader of magazines in my household.

This Smithsonian story shows how a relatively simple invention made it possible for the Impressionists to do much more painting outdoors, en plein air.

Perry Hurt writes, “The French Impressionists disdained laborious academic sketches and tastefully muted paintings in favor of stunning colors and textures that conveyed the immediacy of life pulsating around them. Yet the breakthroughs of Monet, Pissarro, Renoir and others would not have been possible if it hadn’t been for an ingenious but little-known American portrait painter, John G. Rand.

“Like many artists, Rand, a Charleston native living in London in 1841, struggled to keep his oil paints from drying out before he could use them. At the time, the best paint storage was a pig’s bladder sealed with string; an artist would prick the bladder with a tack to get at the paint. But there was no way to completely plug the hole afterward. And bladders didn’t travel well, frequently bursting open.

“Rand’s brush with greatness came in the form of a revolutionary invention: the paint tube. Made from tin and sealed with a screw cap, Rand’s collapsible tube gave paint a long shelf life, didn’t leak and could be repeatedly opened and closed.

“The eminently portable paint tube was slow to be accepted by many French artists (it added considerably to the price of paint), but when it caught on it was exactly what the Impressionists needed to abet their escape from the confines of the studio, to take their inspiration directly from the world around them and commit it to canvas, particularly the effect of natural light.

“For the first time in history, it was practical to produce a finished oil painting on-site, whether in a garden, a café or in the countryside.” More.

Dear artist friends, I can picture what it would have been like for you traveling by train after an outing to some scenic spot before this invention. “Oh, Madame, I am so terribly sorry. I’m afraid my cobalt pig’s bladder burst!”

Photo: Chrysler Museum of Art
The tin tube, below, was more resilient than its predecessor (the pig bladder), enabling painters to leave their studios.

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