I’ve just come back from a business trip to St Petersburg, Florida, in which Lands’ End, Inc. held a School Uniform Fit Event for St Petersburg Catholic Highschool. As always, when I’m in a city for any length of time, I take advantage of any free time to hit the local Art Museum(s). St Petersburg is rich in that it has not one, but three: a Chihuly Museum, Salvatore Dali Museum and the Museum of Fine Arts, which held the greatest interest for me and was conveniently open when I had a spare hour.
I have to admit, I have a crush on this guy. The artist is Thomas Hovenden, an Irish-American, who was hired by the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts after they’d fired Thomas Eakins — just imagine! — because he insisted on his students learning to paint from the nude. Hovenden was, to me, a worthy choice. The brushstrokes are so luscious, rendering detail with such painterliness. And as for the model, why do Frenchmen always seem to have the best hair? Not that I wouldn’t recommend a different barber…..
A still life with fruit always brings Cezanne’s paintings to mind, but I like Kroll’s more realistic style and love the feeling it gives one to view an interesting cityscape out the window, especially when one is warm and cozy inside. Kroll was no doubt aware of Cezanne, as he completed his art studies in Paris.
I like the Regionalist paints of John Steuart Curry and Thomas Hart Benton. Regionalism not only portrayed the Great Plains world in which they’d grown up, an area that had been neglected in art; it expressed dissatisfaction with the centralization of manufacturing that had occurred following the Industrial Revolution and touted independence and agrarian values in art. Curry depicted families surviving natural disaster, man versus nature. The Dust Bowl Years on the Great Plains had created great suffering due to complete crop failure and lack of job opportunities. Curry did not produce propagandist paintings like Diego Rivera; he chose to express the endurance and pleasures of the common man, making the inextinguishable human spirit his inspiration.
There was too much of a glare on this painting to photograph it straight on. The contrast between the military helmet and the civilian clothes make me wonder whether Fletcher Martin is dressed for a reconnaissance mission or is a saboteur.
This painting by Jacques-Emile Blanche is reminiscent of Edouard Manet and is perhaps of a model both artists painted. He also painted portraits of Henry James, Virginia Woolf and James Joyce. (Click on the name to see the portrait.)
I would buy this little painting any day of the week. I love the loose, effortless-looking brush strokes.
Boudin famously convinced Claude Monet to begin painting “en plein-air,” that is, outdoors. I have always thought him a better painter than Monet. Again, I thought the Museum notes for this painting worth sharing, just because he was so influential. Though he paints more loosely, his work is significantly more realistic than the Impressionsists, so he is associated in my mind with CharlesFrancois Daubigny, who also painted rivers and lakes and is perhaps my favorite landscape artist.
Claude Monet called Jongkind, a Dutch painter, “his real teacher,” “to whom I owe the crucial training of my eye.”
To the left of the road is the house where Monet lived, and just above it is La Tourelles (The Turret), his landlord’s house.
Berthe Morisot exhibited in the first Impressionist Art Exhibit ever held, along with the other pioneers of Impressionism, Monet, Degas etc. She married Edouard Manet’s brother, Eugene, and unlike many women painters of the time, notably Mary Cassatt, who never married, managed to be both a mother and married woman AND a constantly productive artist. She only missed one Impressionist show, the year her daughter was born.
Again, the museum notes are worth reading. Corot is hard to pin down with respect to any movement in art. A Corot painting always looks exactly like a Corot painting. That dark gray, olive green is always present, as well as the airiness of his trees and subdued blue of the sky is a hallmark, but Corot is in a class by himself.
Charle Jacque was a friend of Jean-Francois Millet, and followed him to the village of Barbizon and the Forest of Fontainebleu, where they painted simple and humble subjects instead of the Greek Myths, religious subjects and Classical dramas favored by the Academy. I think it is gorgeous. It’s much like the landscape of Wisconsin.
This is likely a postpartum painting commissioned after Julia’s death. The crown of Morning Glories may symbolize the transience of life, especially for one who blooms only briefly as a young woman.
This painting was perhaps inspired by Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. It’s hero, Jean Valjean, is imprisoned for years for stealing bread to feed his sister’s children. Rafaelli studied with the academic painter, Jean-Leon Gerome, but became associated and exhibited with the Impressionsists by virtue of his subject matter.
Orientalism refers to the painted portrayal of a romanticized view of North Africa and the Near East, areas that Europeans were interested in colonizing in the 19th Century. Orientalist paintings are always among the ones I like best in any museum. They are rich in color, not stiff with indiscernible brushstrokes, nor disappointingly meager in realistic detail.
I included the Museum notes about this painting, because my love for paintings and love for interior decorating, collectible porcelain and antiques goes hand in hand. I can easily identify using my own home and those of my friends as subjects.
One of the greatest landscape artists of all time, along with Frederic Church and Albert Bierstadt, Moran was instrumental in persuading Congress to establish Yellowstone National Park due to his stunning portrayals of its landscape. This painting was inspired on a trip to St. Augustine with his wife, Mary Nimmo Moran, who was a first-rate etcher and landscape painter in her own right. Here is an example of her work:
What a well matched couple!
This moonlit painting of the village of Giverny is the antithesis of the scene we associate with that name, but I suppose the village may have been fairly stark. Monet’s gardens were a bower of watery loveliness away from the workaday world.
The French village of Grez-sur-Loing became an artists’ colony south of the forest of Fontainebleau. Grez attracted artists and writers in the latter half of the 19th century, Camille Corot being one of the first who painted there. During the 1870s and 1880s, other notables at Grez included author Robert Louis Stevenson, composer Frederick Delius, and painters like John Singer Sargent, Theodore Robinson and Willard Metcalf.