Honoré Daumier - The Print Lover

The Print Lover - 1857-60
Petit Palace - Paris

Honore Daumier was a French artist, whose many works offer commentary on social and political life in France in the 19th century. He is best known for his caricatures of people, frequently government officials, which were used to criticize the politics and society. If he was working today he would be one of the major contributors to the New Yorker. He was extremely prolific creating thousands of lithographs, paintings, drawings and sculptures.  There is a similar version of this painting at the Art Institute of Chicago.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir - The Large Bathers



Pierre-Auguste Renoir - The Large Bathers - 1884-87
Philadelphia Museum of Art

Although this painting depicts a fleeting moment when one bather playfully threatens to splash a companion, it has a timeless, monumental quality. Renoir in an attempt to reconcile this tradition with modern painting labored over this work for three years, making numerous preparatory drawings for individual figures and at least two full-scale, multifigure drawings. Faced with criticism of his new style after completing The Large Bathers, an exhausted Renoir never again devoted such painstaking effort to a single work. At the end of his life, he was suffering from severe rheumatoid arthritis. He turned once again to the bathers as a subject and painted several versions in a much different style. You can see him painting at home: http://bit.ly/2laNiNp . A lovely movie about this time in his life is “Renoir” which can also be found on youtube. 


Charles Wilson Peale – Staircase Group

Staircase Group - 1795
Philadelphia Museum of Art

The subjects in this painting are his two sons Raphaelle and Titian (youngest), named after two of his favorite painters. His third son was Rubens. This painting was done in the trompel'oeil fashion. The bottom step is real and the picture frame looks like the frame of the door they are walking through. Peale painted this to put in his new museum for art and Science, the nations first museum. A ticket to that museum is found on the second step in this painting.  The story goes that when George Washington came to see the museum, he was fooled by the painting and bowed to the boys in greeting. Peale also founded the first art school in US, The Pennsylvania Academy. 

Édouard Manet - Le déjeuner sur l'herbe

Le Dejeuner sur L'Herbe 1862-63 Musée d'Orsay, Paris

Le Dejeuner sur L'Herbe 1862-63
Musée d'Orsay, Paris

In English, "The Luncheon on the Grass", originally titled Le Bain (The Bath). In 1863, Manet shocked the French public by exhibiting his Déjeuner sur l'herbe. The shock value of a nude woman casually lunching with two fully dressed men, which was an affront to the propriety of the time, was accentuated by the familiarity of the figures. Manet's wife, Suzanne Leenhoff, and his favorite model, Victorine Meurent, both posed for the nude woman, which has Meurent's face, but Leenhoff's plumper body.  The two men are Manet's brother Gustave Manet and his future brother-in-law, Ferdinand Leenhoff. Manet's refusal to conform to convention and his initiation of a new freedom from traditional subjects and modes of representation - can perhaps be considered as the departure point for Modern Art. The modernist reinvention of pictorial space had begun. To see the original: http://bit.ly/1QIQLwM

Francesco Hayez – The Kiss

The Kiss - 1859 Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan

The Kiss - 1859
Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan

This painting conveys the main features of Italian Romanticism and has come to represent the spirit of the Risorgimento (Italian Unification). The painting represents a couple from the Middle Ages, embracing. It is among the most passionate and intense representations of a kiss in the history of Western art. The girl leans backwards while the man bends his left leg so as to support her, simultaneously placing a foot on the step next to him as though poised to go at any moment. The painting aims to portray the spirit of the Risorgimento. The girl's pale blue dress signifies France, which in 1859 (the year of the painting's creation) made an alliance with the Kingdom of Piedmont and Sardinia, enabling the latter to unify the many states of the Italian peninsula into the new kingdom of Italy. To see the original: http://bit.ly/1Ud1lP4

Georges de La Tour - The Cheat

The Cheat - 1650 Musée du Louvre

The Cheat - 1650
Musée du Louvre

Also known as The Cheat with the Ace of Diamonds. Two versions of the painting circa 1630 and 1635. The version I have placed Santa in is from the Louvre. The other version is in the Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth Texas. The Texas version is called The Cheat with the Ace of clubs because in the second version he changed the suit of the cheat card from a diamond to a club. This painting is a direct reference to The Cardsharps by Caravaggio (see blog post Dec 7). De La Tour was one of about 50 artists who showed there admiration for Caravaggio by copying this work of art.
In 1934, the Cheat was featured in the memorable exhibition of the Painters of Reality that brought French 17th-century painting back to glory and marked the revival of Georges de La Tour. This sparked a growing craze for the artist and the corpus of his works broadened. To see the original: http://bit.ly/2gzgcbJ

Jean-François Millet - The Gleaners

The Gleaners – 1857 Musée d'Orsay

The Gleaners – 1857
Musée d'Orsay

Millet first unveiled The Gleaners at the Salon in 1857. It immediately drew negative criticism from the middle and upper classes, who viewed the topic with suspicion. Having recently come out of the French Revolution of 1848, these prosperous classes saw the painting as glorifying the lower-class worker. To them, it was a reminder that French society was built upon the labor of the working masses, and landowners linked this working class with the growing movement of Socialism. To see the original: http://bit.ly/2fFkfPt

Gerrit van Honthorst - Musical Group on a Balcony

Musical Group on a Balcony - 1622 The J. Paul Getty Museum

Musical Group on a Balcony - 1622
The J. Paul Getty Museum

The J. Paul Getty Museum
Van Honthorst was a Dutch Golden Age painter from Utrecht. He painted for several royal families in the Netherlands, England and Italy. He was strongly influenced by Caravaggio and chiaroscuro receiving the nickname "Gherardo delle Notti" (Gerard of the night). He made a number of paintings of musicians, both as individuals and in groups.
This illusionistic ceiling painting was on of the first of its kind in the Netherlands (1622). The idea sprang from his visit to Italy. Through calculated perspective, he makes the characters seem to extend the height of the overhead plane. An interesting addition to the minstrel group is the dog and parrot he hangs around the railing. To see the original: http://bit.ly/2gPncSv