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0 - 56 Impressionist Artists
The artists who participated in the eight Impressionist exhibitions, were about 56 in a period from 1874 to 1886. Some of them forgotten, because some died young such as Felix Cals, while others, have undertaken other routes. Some in fact became famous for their participation in other movements, or other styles, as is the case of Paul Gauguin, who despite declaring himself an impressionist painter and having participated in no less than 5 exhibitions, as well as organizing himself of painters, impressionists and symbolist, he will become famous forx being one of the founders of that school of Pont Aven who will then start his search for exoticism, which will lead him to leave the islands of French Polynesia, where he will realize the masterpieces that will deliver him to the history of art. Another example is that of Odilon Redon, who began his career in the field of Impressionism, he will detach himself to adhere to ways that precede the surrealist painting of which he will be a precursor, and taking inspiration from the symbolist painting of which, together with Gustave Moreau, will become one of the undisputed masters.
1 - Delacroix Gericault Courbet
For the young French artists, the works of these artists represented a wave of rebellion, to the stale language of the academics, who laid down the law in the Paris Salon. Not even the lessons of David and Ingres, could express that ferment, that was going through the society, in a period full of changes and social revolutions. As can be seen in the paintings in the exhibition here, such as the splendid Chasseur de la garde royale by Géricault or the study for La Mort de Sardanapale, the masterpiece painting by Delacruà, make it clear how the novelty of a less conventional pictorial approach can be a revelation for young artists of the time. The soldier of the Imperial Guard is not depicted in noble, emphatic poses, as the rule of the era dictated, but while maintaining the sense of pride. He is described in the middle of a ride, and the head of the horse in the foreground becomes together with the soldier the protagonist. The painting seems animated even in the static nature of the three protagonists. The scene is made alive by the setting given to the soldier and to the heads of the horses that, as a whole, suggests the sense of movement of the ride. The two heads, that of the soldier, and that of the left horse are surprised in a twist opposite one another, while the horse in the foreground points towards the outside of the painting. Gericault here gives a photographic rhythm to the scene like in an instantaneous shot taken directly. All this makes the painting dynamic and constitutes the great novelty, that of a group in real movement and not posing, as instead in the dictates of academism at the prevailing hour. This setting of Géricault’s painting is also found in the paintings of Delacruà, and Courbet, where attention is not in the description of a scene, but rather in the reality of a precise moment that is emphasized by a force of meditated and studied realism: to define the world around us in a real way. Courbet’s lecture will also be a profound reflection on the themes that will tend more and more to describe everyday reality, described for what is without emphasis, but with the will to bring to the forefront not the great heroic gestures or imaginary landscapes, but the normality of what surrounds us.
2 - Eugène Delacroix
Delacruà, has been the only one, to defend the painting of Manet in the exhibitions of the Parisian Salon is at the base of the renewal of French painting, which was inspired by many young artists including the group of Impressionists in seeking new ways. His direct and sometimes cruel painting, as evidenced for example by this beautiful representation of the “Mort de Sardanapàl”, will give the young people of the time a shock. His refusal to define contours and the exaltation of shadows and lights will create innovative effects within his graphic and pictorial production. Both Pissarro and Degas collected graphic works of Delacruà, from which they found inspiration for their research.
3 - Gustave Courbet
According to the date of this unpublished work, Courbet has been painted when he had begun his exile. It seems an extreme, tormented and solemn rethinking or “memory” of the places of birth, adolescence and albeit with various detachments of the whole existence. In fact Courbet will never forget it; and so he will make them reappear now in complete form now for fragments in many paintings of his extreme years. This theme of the ornanian inserts in the Swiss master’s catalog deserves a very accurate study. Moreover, this, not methodological procedure, Courbet had put into practice much earlier; sometimes with results that only the poignancy of painting could sustain. Giovanni Testori
4 - Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot
In this drawing, from the “Vente Cort” (the sale of the works made on the death of the master) the interior of a desert cafe’ is depicted without people, probably in the early hours of the morning. Corot describes its stillness and transforms the chairs and the table into the characters of the scene. He uses in this drawing the same stratagem used in his landscape drawings and paintings where the figures are absent or enter the landscape on tiptoes, generally overwhelmed by the environmental that surrounds them. Also in this case the absence of people feeds the sense of quietness and dynamics that is the characteristic of Corot.
5 - Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot
Jean Baptiste Camille Corot, was a great engraver. He engraved any kind of support with an incredible creative fever: copper plate, glass plate previously dipped in collodion or the so-called “cliché-verre”. The photographic plates at the collodion were above all utilized from 1850 to 1870. Even if he had success, the collectors feared that the quality was inferior to those of the etchings. However, the works that were made for example of the Souvenir d’Italie, printed on a paper that over the years took a bronze-colored patina, are works of a certain value, both in design and in their realization. Corot was the author, like Claude Gellée during the seventeenth century, together with Jongkind and Whistler of landscape representation. He wrote in his diaries: “I’m never in a hurry to get to the details, the masses and the general characters of a painting interest me first of all”. In fact, he never paid much attention to the technical problems posed in the act of engraving: bite on copper, transcription on paper, print runs, etc. He did not follow any particular rules and despite the criticism from the experts of the sector at the time, Corot followed only his creative instinct. His powerful temperament compensated with his technical shortcomings. Every stretch in fact in his works vibrates with intensity always transmitting an emotion that Corot kept in his memory and then transcribed it even after a long time in his etchings, as is the case in the subjects: Souvenir d’Italie. Many artists only engraved live while Corot instead engraved after his return to his atelier following the memory thought: “We must detach from external influences to remain ourselves”, but before going to the engraving he studied his drafts performed live and sufficient for to return an intact emotion and the poetry of the landscapes that he had loved so much. Degas paid him homage by remembering “I think Corot knows how to draw a tree better than anyone else”.
6 - Johan Bathold Jongkind
Johan Barthold Jongkind, a painter of Belgian origin, lived most of his life in France, particularly in the city of Honfleur. Jongkind was the basis of the birth of Impressionism and a precursor of that painting en plein air that will be its dominant feature. In Honfleur, Jongkind will meet a young Monet, who still looking for his style, will be passionate about his painting and will use his methods and compositional style. As evidence of this influence, just look at Monet’s masterpiece, the “Impression Soleil Levant” painting, which will give the Impressionism movement its name : it is nothing more than a replica of a part of Jongkind’s “Soleil couchant” engraving. Port d’Anvers ” was created by Jongkind a few years earlier. Monet, then went on to say that he owed a great debt to Jongkind as the meeting with this master was ,for him , like having finally gifted his eyes to look. Soleil couchant. Port d’Anvers was graven in 1868. This marvelous etching had four different phases and various landscape drawings were made on this same subject. This work, fundamental in Jongkind production , makes perfect the movements of the air, the central role of water, the games of reflections of the sky on it, the last light of the sun that sets at the back of the scene. Above this twilight mist, the last rays of sunshine illuminate the clouds. A luminous effect in the center of the representation ,as well as in the two churches on the left , is obtained with the use of the brunissoire, an instrument that allowed to work the copper plate to obtain lighter effects. The artist leaves us a glimpse of the life of this port, at sunset, with the impression of being present within this beautiful scene. The work is treated in a direct style, full of strength and emotion, which already contains, six years before its appearance, all the characteristics of Impressionism. Monet was strongly influenced by this etching, to the point of being inspired to realize the work” Impressions soleil levant “ which then, as is known, gave the name to the movement. Monet had a great debt of gratitude towards Jongkind and his friend Boudin, from whom he learned the pleasure of a free, airy painting, able to “breathe the air of nature”.
7 - Vincent Van Gogh
After Paris and Arles, where Gauguin reached Van Gogh, and where he cut off his ear the evening before Gauguin’s departure, Van Gogh, went to Auvers-sur Oise, where thanks to Théo, he could count on the medical care of the famous Docteur Gachet, an art collector and amateur artist who had already welcomed other artists such as Pissarro, Cézanne, Guillaumin and later Sisley, Monet and Renoir. Docteur Gachet incited Cezanne, to engrave his unique etchings and succeeded in convincing Van Gogh to engrave what would later remain his only engraving, two months before his death. Docteur Gachet, who signed his paintings as Van Ryssel, owned a press and everything necessary to make etchings. In a letter dated June 17, 1890, Van Gogh was part of the projects that, together with Docteur Gachet, he had planned: “I hope I can make some etchings of the Midi, like 6, I can have them printed without paying by Mister Gachet, who agreed to print without anything in return. It is certainly something that should be done, and will be done so that it can be a follow-up to the Lauzet Monticelli publication, if I find a good idea. Gauguin will probably engrave the subjects from some paintings in combination with mine. His painting that belongs to you and all for the rest of the Martinique’s things, paintings that Docteur Gachet will be able to achieve and of course we will leave him the freedom to make some samples for him too. One day he will come to Paris and see my paintings and then we will choose some to engrave. This letter shows that Van Gogh did not harbor a grudge against Gauguin after the dispute at Arles. He evokes the evolution of his projects and the intention to make engravings. Projects that will be interrupted fifty six days later when he makes the decision to commit suicide with a gunshot on his head. The artist decided to represent Doctor Gachet while smoking a pipe in his garden. The expression of the look is very intense, with a great capacity for rendering the hand and the wrist. It is an etching made of copper in the purest style, a beautiful execution that leaves only to our imagination what could have been your engraved production. This exhibited work is a heliogravure realized starting from the etchings of which only a few examples exist.
8 - Henry Somm
Francois Clement Sommier, called Henry Somm, was one of the protagonists of the Parisian life of the late nineteenth century, a friend of Degas, Renoir, Manet but especially of Toulouse-Lautrec who immortalized him in a splendid etching. To him we owe an endless series of portraits of young Parisian women, all painted live and surprises in the daily life of the walks in the Paris of the Bell’Epoque. His watercolors are a unique visual document and demonstrate the great skill of the hand of Henry Somm. In the exhibitions in addition to two watercolors, classic examples of his work, there is a pastel La lettre or Le Chagrin. A half-naked young woman lies distraught on the shoulder of her chaselong, holding in her hand a letter that is undoubtedly a harbinger of bad news. This work, considered one of Henry Somm’s masterpieces, testifies his great skills as a designer able to compete with the great masters of pastel as Degas, who esteemed him so much. Very popular for his illustrations and cartoons published in the satirical papers of the time, Henry Somm is one of the artists to be rediscovered by the general public and the masterpiece here exposed is an example of how much there is still to discover around the myth of the Impressionists.
9 - Pierre-Auguste Renoir
In 1882, Renoir was in Capri where he received a communication from an important publisher, as there was the opportunity as being in Italy , to meet Wagner who was in Palermo, in order to make a portrait to the great musician then engaged to write the Parsifal score. It was the intention of the publisher, given Wagner’s great popularity, to create a circulation of graphics from this portrait of Renoir, which surely would have had a great success with the Parisian public. Renoir then went to Palermo where he had to wait a couple of days before being admitted in the presence of Wagner. The pose lasted for about 35 minutes, as Renoir wrote in a letter. The result was satisfactory and from this Sicilian transfer to Renoir, in addition to some letters, remain an oil painting and the run of graphics, one of which is shown here.
10 - Pierre-Auguste Renoir
The large blood pastel exposed here, was commissioned to Renoir in 1913 from the city of Lyon, then transformed into a large tapestry to be placed in the Council Chamber. Made with the probable help of Albert André, a painter friend who was close to Renoir in the last years of his life, it is considered one of the largest pastels of Renoir in the world. With the outbreak of the First World War, the tapestry was never realized but the painting remains which is inspired by a theme dear to Renoir, that of the two rivers that meet and he already used for some paintings and above all, for a successful series of graphic works, entitled “Le fleuve Scamandre”. The Scamander River was a river of the Troas and also the deity of the Iliad that represented it in ancient mythological legends. It is also the title given to a series of etchings by Renoir representing this same subject. The representation sees the personified God who welcomes a female figure with open arms. Several versions were performed in a similar way with the only difference in the positioning of the woman’s arms. In this great pastel the rivers become the Saône and the Rhone, the two rivers of Lyon, the Saône is represented by a woman with generous forms in the style that belonged to the painter. The Rhone instead is a mature bearded man. Perhaps it could be an inspiration of the artist himself, who, in those years, sported a thick beard. The painting belonged to the Renoir family for several years and was later sold to the important swiss merchant and collector Ernest Beyeler, from whose collection the work comes from. Considered one of the last masterpieces of Renoir, also due to its size, it belongs to the last period where his painting flakes off, becomes immaterial, as well as in this extraordinary pastel which transforms a mythological scene, into an ethereal, magical vision, as filtered, through the mists of a dream.
11 - Pierre-Auguste Renoir
It was an idea of the brilliant Ambrose Vollard, to let make Renoir sculptures. The master, due to his illness and a rheumatoid arthritis was not able to make the sculptures, Vollard then flanked him a young Catalan sculptor, Richard Guino. They moved to Essoye where there were trainers and furnaces for the mergers and firings. The work done by four hands or it would be more correct to say two hands and four eyes, produced a series of works in which the spirit of Renoir is well present as can be seen in this terracotta portraying his wife Aline and the third son Coco. The sculpture recalls a famous painting made by Renoir some years before and preserves all the sense of maternal love with Aline holding the child in the act of nursing him; the sculpture, in the naturalness of the scene, restores all the “bourgeois” sense of Renoir’s work, always relaxed and disarming in its “apparent” simplicity.
12 - Paul Cézanne
This work of great expressive force, was made at the studio of Docteur Gachet, and portrays part of the garden of the house where Vincent van Gogh committed suicide . It was built between 1872 and 1873 when Cézanne was a guest of Docteur Gachet, and where he was experimenting of graphics. Cézanne did not make many graphics. In fact his production counts only five etchings and four lithographs, almost all of them made in the study of Docteur Gachet. The expressive power of his painting, even in his work of engraving, always retains a disruptive character.
13 - Paul Cézanne
These two little masterpieces, are part of the group of studies, realized for the paintings dedicated to the theme of bathers preserved today at the Hermitage and at Musee d’Orsay. The theme inspired by Tiziano and Poussin finds in Cézanne a new vitality in which the bodies are seen with a monumental and square structure already close to the cubism. Made with stains of color, in their immediacy, they make us understand that for Cézanne each painting was a moment of study and deepening of the subject being a person or still life. These two beautiful watercolors are testimony to the great effort and work lavished by Cézanne before tackling the final painting.
14 - Paul Cézanne
Cézanne, showed no particular interest in the engravings. However, Pissarro, Guillaumin and Docteur Gachet urged him to realize this series of five etchings. This fourth representation depicting a girl’s head is definitely more interesting. It was engraved in September 1873 on the basis of a drawing by a girl from the Auvers region, perhaps preparatory for etching. The face is represented in a frontal way. The background is made in such a way that two different shades appear. The volumes are balanced and the intensity of the girl’s gaze shines through. Even the treatment allows us to understand a greater interest than the first tests for the technical possibilities that could offer this new technique. Cézanne made more examples of this subject. This version is part of the second group which was printed in ocher shades for the book by Vollard on Cézanne.
15 - Alphonse Legros
Influenced by Goya and his dark and distressing atmospheres, Alphonse Legros, a friend of Manet and Degas, took part in the Impressionist exhibition in 1876. Magnificent engraver, he had a great success with the public in life. He made about 700 engravings, all of great quality as the works here in which the effects of light, radiant and strong, outline the scenes with the wise use of light and dark, whether they represent a face, as in the work Extase poétique or an event, as in La Charette brisée or L’incendie where the scene, strongly dramatic, is rendered such by the skillful treatment of light.
16 - Eugène Boudin
Eugène Boudin as engraver created a single etching: a sea view exposed here along with two drawings. He was a great admirer of Jongkind who harbored a sincere sympathy for him, exerting considerable influence. Even before their meeting Boudin had begun to paint following the advice of Troyon and Millet. Later the art of Dutch landscape artists studied at the Louvre and the art of Jongkind fascinated him. He was therefore very excited to meet Jongkind in 1862. He had come to Trouville to find his teacher Isabey and stayed all summer in Le Havre. It was Monet who introduced Jongkind to Boudin. Both lovers of seascapes immediately sympathized, esteeming each other. Boudin decided to come to Paris for a certain period. He returned there in 1864, still little known to the public. It was the great engraver Cadart to sense his talent as a draftsman and as a painter of sea views. Cadart, within the Société des Aquafortistes, thought about the possibility of transcribing his drawings into etchings. He made the proposal to Boudin who was very interestedin it. In fact the following summer staying at the Normandy coast, he made some sketches with the prospect of making some etchings in Paris. However, what Corot with deep admiration called “The King of Heaven” left only one engraved plate. The representation he has choosen was a maritime landscape with a large sailing ship with boats around it. It is not possible to imagine the skill of the engraver with a single work, but it can still be said that the treatment is very interesting even if the features are still being defined. This makes us think that the artist would have created some beautiful impressionistic etchings if he would have just continued. His was definitely an impressionist attitude and with Monet, Renoir, Pissarro and 26 other painters participated in the first exhibition of the Impressionist movement organized by Nadar in 1874.
17 - Camille Pissarro
Here is one of the masterpieces of Pissarro’s engraved art. This magnificent work was designed and engraved on zinc in the spring of 1895 and then later printed in héliogravure to illustrate the history of the engraving in France. This is the most beautiful market scene represented by the artist. Pissarro loved this crowd, this ferment. A happy and joyful crowd, aware of the usefulness of the work accomplished that is found in the market, seen as a place of rich traditions. It highlights the difference between an ordinary day and the day of the market as a place of comparison, satisfaction of hard labor and a rich place for meetings between relatives or acquaintances within the community of the country. The vivacity of the sketched traits makes it possible to fully appreciate the movement of the scene and it almost seems to perceive the vocals of the merchants and the buzz of the people. The market for Pissarro is nothing but a pleasant metaphor of life. With this work Pissarro created a central table within his production and within the graphics in general on the rural world. He returned 11 times on this theme, demonstration of the importance that covered this subject for him. The works displayed here Femme Accroupie, La gardeuse d’oies, la Faneuse, Bûcheronnes et groupe de paysans and Paysans portant du foin and Travailleurs dans les champs realized with his son Lucien illustrate well this theme addressed to the peasant world so loved by Pissarro
18 - Mary Cassatt
Mary Cassatt was a great painter and designer, and Degas always praised her great talent. This small but significant work represents a scene in which a couple can be glimpsed in the gallery of a theater. Sketched in her booklet of notes, the drawing is of particular importance because it was made together with her friend Degas, who also represented the same scene in his sketch book.
19 - Mary Cassat
Among the artists who adhered to Impressionism and exhibited in their exhibitions, there were French painters and artists coming from different countries, among which the American Mary Cassat, the only American of the group, and the Italian DeNittis and Federico Zandomeneghi. Among the foreigners it should also be counted Camillo Pissarro, born on the island of St Thomas, part of the danish Antilles, who kept the danish citizenship. Mary Cassat, admirer of Pissarro and fascinated by the work of Degas of which she become a good friend, was a unique example in the field of impressionist artists as she dedicated much of her research into the creation of graphic works pervaded by a great expressive force and highly appreciated by the collectors, more than her paintings. The interest in her engravings and drawings is due to the particular ability of Mary Cassat to find, in the force of the graphic sign, the synthesis of a style able to represent and transfigure reality.
20 - Jean-François Raffaëlli
Jean-François, Raffaëlli, was the subject of a dispute within the Impressionist movement, where some artists did not want him in the exhibitions of the group, not considering his paintings close to the Impressionist movement. Degas, who was a great admirer of Raffaëlli, wanted it at any cost and this diatribe was at the basis of the removal of Degas from the Impressionist movement where he later refused to exhibit. In fact, Raffaëlli’s, paintings had little to do with Impressionist painting being closer to the realist painting with episodes of daily life. He was a great engraver and was also one of the founders of the “Société de la gravure originale en couleurs” in 1900. He made over 180 etchings in his life. The work here exposed “Le marchand d’habits” illustrates a glimpse of everyday life to which Raffaëlli was very sensitive. He also created elegant and delicate landscape views such as La neige, soleil couchant and Vue de Notre-Dame.
21 - Alfred Sisley
In 1890 Sisley, participated in the second exhibition of the Société des Peintres-Graveurs alongside Félix Buhot, Norbert Goeneutte, and Odilon Redon. He proposed at this exhibition 4 very rare etching inside his production, considering that these works were the only ones recorded throughout his career. The etching Bords du Loing, the charette was printed in some examples and testifies to the artist’s approach to this new art. The work is one of the most successful of these tests and is perfectly representative of the artist’s taste for detail and the care he brought to landscapes and scenes of everyday life.
22 - Alfred Sisley
Made about a year after the Impressionist exhibition held by Nadaàr, this beautiful painting by Alfred Sisley, represents a field of poppies on the edge of a gentle hill. The painting is supported by sunlight, that caresses the hill and the surrounding landscape. The red of the poppies, that take up most of the scene and act as a counterpoint to the magical and idyllic atmosphere, that surrounds the picture contrasts with this brightness. All this, gives back a sense of serenity and peace. The landscape around Louveciennes, a place dear to the Impressionists, is here proposed on a sunny summer day, where it seems to hear in the background, the chirping of the cicadas that undoubtedly surrounded Sisley while painting.
23 - Berthe Morisot
Berthe Morisot, was a great painter, and she attended Impressionist artists. In particular, she was a friend of Camille Pissarro, Marcellin Desboutin and Edgar Degas, but especially Eduard Manet, whose brother she married. The theme of the woman, mother, relative or nurse was a subject of great inspiration for Berthe Morisot, who made drawings and also etchings on this subject. Tender scenes of nursing mothers, or scenes of maternal love in general, are often at the center of her production. This drawing with colored pencils, is no exception and portrays a woman with a child surrounded by grass and flowers. With a few strokes sketched by soft colors, Morisot manages to make the characters represented in a scene with a delicate and fresh composition. This work comes from the collection of the poet Paul Valery, and makes us understand all the delicate poetics of Morisot. Berthe Morisot, participated in the Salons, and was a leading female protagonist within the group of Impressionist painters.
24 - Félix Bracquemond
This work by Bracquemond, depicts the artist’s wife as she portrays her sister in their villa in Sèvres, a city already famous for ceramics and porcelain, where Bracquemond worked in the decoration of ceramics and was an artistic director. Considered one of the masterpieces of Bracquemond, it is perhaps the best known of his works even unanimously considered as the most impressionist of his works. The scene, set on various levels, fades slowly thanks to the different clamps given to the copper plate and has a strong pictorial impact. The lights and shadows that pervade this work, make the scene magical and perfectly integrated with the surrounding nature, giving a sense of intimate and relaxed serenity.
25 - Félix Bracquemond
In this etching made in 1877, Bracquemond is inspired by the pictorial mode of Monet, and creates a work with strong impressionistic features enhancing the sense of immediacy, and being able to capture the precise moment in which the scene takes place, almost as if he wanted to make a photography. The scene depicts the river, the Seine, after a summer storm, where the gusts of water falling from the sky, can still be seen on the right. The sky in the background, is still dark and cloudy while the center, is already bleached by the light of the sun, that is opening the clouds. The scene is alive and animated, both because of the rain but above all for the delightful representation of the small boat that is reaching the bridge. A fresh and dynamic effect, that makes the scene a true masterpiece of Impressionism.
26 - Marcelin Desboutin
Marcellin Desboutin, was an emblematic character of the Paris “Fine de Siecle”, from a rich and wealthy family dedicated the first part of his life to travels and stays in the most beautiful cities of the time. He lived for about 14 years on the hills of Florence in a famous villa, called Villa dell’Ombrellino still existing today. In this villa stayed important people including Galileo Galilei who lived here for more than ten years. Thanks to his wealth, Desboutin loved to host the most illustrious personalities of the time in his sumptuous residence. Among the others, he hosted Degas for a long time his great friend and admirer of the skills of an engraver. A sudden economic collapse reduced him into poverty within a very short time, forcing him to sell the villa of the Ombrellino and return to Paris. Here he could count on the help of Degas and Manet and thanks to his skill as an engraver, with important orders from some publishers, he managed to survive. Both Degas and Manet will paint portraits of him, in fact he is the face in the famous painting by Degas “Les Buveur d’absinte” for which he posed as a model. Of particular importance in addition to portraits made of personalities of the time, are the self-portraits in which he tells himself mercilessly through the metamorphoses and changes that the time and the events of his life have imposed on him. Like Rembrandt, who portrayed his personal dramas and happiness in his portraits, Desboutin also creates a sort of dialogue with the viewer by stripping bare and revealing his anguishes and sufferings. Desbutin, was also a prolific writer and playwright and the French government gave him the légion d’honneur the highest honor for his talent as an artist.
27 - Claude Monet
Painted in the years of maturity, when his research is concentrated in that small, but vast world consisting of his garden of Giverny, this extraordinary masterpiece is to refer to another similar painting, in the structure, but different in brightness. This suggests that the two paintings were made on the same day but at different times. The one here exposed, brighter, clearer, with a colder light, then in the morning, while its contralto, darker, reddish makes you think of the colors of the sunset. As is known, Monet in recent years suffered from an incipient cataract, which partly prevented him to see clearly the contours and colors of his works. But like Beethoven, who despite being deaf and composed of extraordinary musical masterpieces, Monet, master of color, managed to transform the vision of a magical and enchanted garden, like that of Giverny, into a series of works that have distorted the story of world painting, giving rise to the birth of informal painting. The painting exposed testifies the gradual passage of Monet between the description, that of the water lilies immersed in stagnant water, moreover here just mentioned, and the search for the spiritual essence of painting, which is given by the undoing of form, which anticipates precisely informal painting. The painting made of streaks of color has in the reflections in the water the magical sense of painting, capable of evoking even the invisible. In fact, Monet creates with the fronds of the trees, hidden in the upper part of the landscape and then out of our eye, a compositional rhythm, which transcends the theme of water lilies which here cut the scene horizontally. This compositional rhythm is the true essence of the painting and gives the work the sense of a full, joyful and universal painting.
28 - Paul Gauguin
Made from a carved wood, this terracotta vase is made in very few and rare example, and is the synthesis of the mysterious presences, that inhabit the life of the inhabitants of Polynesia. The figures, represented are none other than the inhabitants of the small island, in which Gauguin had chosen to live. Apparently, they are normal scenes, two figures are talking, Hina and Teatoa. One wields a kind of spear, more likely the branch of a tree, and the standing figure with the collected hair is still and fixes something in front of her. The normality of these scenes is however transfigured by the desired primitiveness of Gauguin who manages to create in the viewer a sort of fear as if it were in the presence of some magical, spiritual ritual. It is the strength of the sign of Gauguin that comes out strongly and manages to make us see things hidden mainly in our sub-conscious. This terracotta exhibited permanently in the Museum of Art and Design in Denmark was recently exhibited in the large exhibition on Gauguin held at the Moma in New York.
29 - Paul Gauguin
Paul Gauguin, made two stays in Tahiti, the first from 1891 to 1893, and the second from 1895 until 1901. Then, he left for the Marquesas Islands, where he died two years later. Manano Tupapau, means “The spirit of the Dead watches” and “Manau”, to believe, to think. In his diary, Noa Noa, Gauguin, recounted the vision of this young Tehura girl in fear, in a mysticism created by the spirits and legends of the Maori people. Gauguin, very often painted exotic scenes, that portrayed aspects of local daily life with its habits and traditions. The legends of the gods and spirits were very widespread on those islands and Gauguin tried to rewrite them through his works full of symbols and the bright color range. “… I lit the matches and saw … motionless, naked, lying on her stomach on the bed, her eyes vastly frightened by fear: Tehura looked at me but did not seem to recognize me … I remained a few moments in a strange uncertainty. Strange contagion emanated from the terrors of Tehura and it seemed to me that a phosphorescent light dripped from her fixed gaze. I have never seen her so beautiful, so touching. In the grip of the darkness populated by dangerous apparitions, to the point that I feared to make some gesture that scared her even more: who am I for her at that moment? Who could say if at that moment she would not have mistaken me for some demon, ghost or tupapau whose stories and legends of her people filled the sleepless nights? ” This very rare composition brings together two woodcuts, the first Manao Tupapau and the second Une Femme Maori, depicting a woman intent on urinating in the tropical forest, a simple natural gesture, made with extreme non-care as a natural fact. It is striking in these two scenes the extreme synthesis to which Gauguin had arrived, especially in his woodcuts, made with rough materials and composed with a primitive severity that was what he was looking for.
30 - Paul Gauguin
Gauguin, made several monotypes, and this technique consists, in the creation of an image usually printed with the aid of an engraving press, in which the matrix of different shapes, dimensions, materials, is drawn directly with the calcographic ink with oil colors or with the latest water inks, inserting scraps of colored papers, metallic pieces, and more according to personal taste becoming a single example. Gauguin’s monotypes were often studies, designed to better understand the subjects he would later develop in his paintings or his woodcuts. The use of this technique was an almost obligatory choice for Gauguin, since he was not able to obtain supplies for printing and was thus almost forced to use this technique that allowed him immediately to try out the various drafts. In this case the subject is repeated on both sides of the sheet with some differences due to the different pressure and the different intensity of the inking. Both sides, although having the same subject, are unique works: monotypes. This sheet was miraculously saved along with a few other works from the burning of the personal effects of Gauguin ordered by Bishop Martin to Hiva Hoa, following the death of Gauguin. This monotype design was exhibited about a year later in Paris with other monotypes and works by Gauguin from Polynesia. They are a series of studies of arms and hands later used for some paintings. The curious shape of the asymmetric sheet is probably due to the cut made at the time to eliminate the parts scorched by the fire from which this and other sheets were saved.
31 - Edgar Degas
Degas, distinguished himself, in the engraving world from the technical research he had made about the different possibilities offered by this technique, and for the originality and the way of composing the treated subjects. From a technical point of view, Degas used all sorts of possible practices: etching, dry tip, soft paint, aquatint, lithography, monotype and finally héliogravure. The héliogravure Femme nue debout à sa toilette is one of the most reproduced subjects of Degas’s graphic work. This theme of the representation of the woman in her intimacy was one of the favorite subjects of the artist. He repeated this scene with different settings but always leaving the first importance to the figure and its movement. With her free hair bent, a breast can be glimpsed in the inclined posture of the woman concentrated in the ritual of her toilet. The female subjects were always like the representation of the dancers at the center of the subjects represented by him. Degas was a great collector and bought with great taste prints, etchings or paintings. We can mention some of his favorite artists: Géricault, Delacruà, Ingres whom he admired so much and his friends Manet, Renoir, Mary Cassatt, Susanne Valadon, Pissarro and Sisley. He kept about 800 lithographs of Daumier and often said that he thought of arranging them in a museum with a selection of his works. The project was unfortunately never realized and considering the high artistic value of this collection would have allowed to safeguard an important heritage carefully selected by him. He did not realize a great number of etchings probably due to the attention to details and a scrupulous meaning that during the realization often slowed down his productions in this sector. However this enthusiasm for graphic art remained intact, witnessed by the long series of monotypes he made, so much so that at the dawn of his 72 years he declared “If I had to relive my life, I would dedicate myself to engravings, in black and white”.
32 - Edouard Manet
Although Manet, was close to the impressionists whose revolutionary instincts, he breathed and was normally considered to be a part of the group, but in fact he never took part with his paintings at their exhibitions, preferring to exhibit at the official exhibitions organized by the state associations, during the large exhibition of the Salon and where his paintings appeared alongside the masters at the time officially recognized. In the first Impressionist exhibition, he sent only a few engravings which were made some years earlier and therefore without the impressionist sense of feverish work that will be the hallmark of Impressionist painting and which will create the scandal that will later decree success. In 1871 the Civil War or “Commune de Paris” broke out in Paris, which saw the clash between citizens called “Communards” and troops of government soldiers. For a year, from the summer of 1870 to the summer of 1871 the civil war took place. On the battlefields and on the streets of the city people fought and died. Manet was not insensitive to this tragedy and decided to represent her. An important oil painting was done entitled La Barricade and in the exhibit is one of the preparatory studies together with a héliogravure on the same theme. Despite his belonging to the bourgeoisie, Manet’s sympathies supported the partisans of the Commune de Paris. The soldiers sent by the government immediately killed every person found with a weapon in his hand and it is a similar episode that Manet chose to represent in La Barricade: a barricade not yet dismantled that hinders the road. At the corner of a house two or three men are hit by bullets, disappearing in a cloud of smoke from which only the group of soldiers emerges. The body of a partisan is lying on the ground. The part dealt with more precision, particularly in héliogravure, was that of the partisans to whom Manet gave honor by portraying their face in the most tragic moment. Both in the painting La Barricade and in the preparatory study the influence of Goya is very well seen of which Manet will resume the compositional sense.
33 - Edouard Manet
Published in the work Edouard Manet by Théodore Duret in 1910, this graphic is pervaded by a sense of melancholy sadness. It portrays the painter Berthe Morisot, dressed in black with a dark and sad face. The drama of this portrait, is due to the fact that the husband of Berthe Morisot, brother of Manet, had died a few days before and Manet wanted to portray his sister-in-law showing all the tragic of the moment with great expressive force. From this etching will then be made several héliogravure and then, subsequently, also a famous painting.
34 - Edouard Manet
A delightful preparatory study for the great painting Un Bar aux Folies Bergère is one of the notes made by Manet to get, to the end, to the final paining. Made with quick brush strokes, the setting of what will be the final idea is already glimpsed, here visible through the etching made by Manet together with Henri Guerard and published in the Gazette des BeauxArt. In the small study the right faced waitress is talking to a patron. She is in the hall surrounded by people. In the final painting the artist preferred the position behind the counter and with the cinematic effect of the mirror reflecting the interior of the room, as can be seen in the etching described above. In this small painting exhibited, the scene is lively, tumultuous as the room of the Folies Bergere was. The quick and delicious style of Manet’s painting is exalted in this small but delightful masterpiece in which the colour scheme gives prominence to the dim light in the lamps in the background. It is probably one of the first preparatory studies made by Manet for the great painting.
35 - Edouard Manet
Baudelaire, a famous writer and great friend of Manet, is immortalized in this etching of which there are five versions and five other proofs of printing, in all, therefore, 10 sheets. Baudelaire was the first who with his authority endorsed the renewal of the etching and just by seeing the etchings of his friend Manet became one of the passionate supporters of the renewal of the graphics. In this portrait in which Baudelaire is seen in three quarters, Manet abandons the graphic design and realizes the face with a skillful dosage of light and shade and the face emerges from the darkness of the background and is enhanced by the light, which falls perpendicular from the left and reveals all the features of the poet’s face. But what strikes in this etching is the expressive force of the eyes that make this small engraved sheet a masterpiece. The cut of the image with the strokes of light are clearly photographic inspiration because this portrait is taken from the famous photograph that Nadar has done in Baudelaire. Manet was very fond of this portrait and knowing that a book about the life and work of Baudelaire was being published, he asked the editor to publish it on the front of the book.