Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Antoine Watteau monument by Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux in Valencienne

Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux was a French sculptor born in Valenciennes. Watteau is another famous French artist born in the same town. 

The Watteau monument is located in Valenciennes, square Saint-Géry (Nord - France). Many preparatory works are in the Fine Arts Museum in Valenciennes, where I took many pictures.

In 1860, Carpeaux sent a letter to the mayor of Valencienne offering to contribute the monument at cost. In July of the same year, Carpeaux presented a study of the project. Carpeaux worked on a new version of the monument in 1867.

In 1868, the artist decided that he would carve the statue of Watteau in marble and use stone for the four secondary figures.

By 1870, he has completed a full scale model of the main statue. But the cost estimate in 1874 for the monument is 27 000 French Francs. Carpeaux died on 12 October 1875, before the monument was started.

In 1879, it is decided to cast the main figure of Watteau in Bronze, based on Carpeaux’s full size model. The French State pays for the material. Another sculptor, Hiolle, is commissioned to create the four secondary figures and Emile Dusart was the architect on the project.

In 1881, the French government accepted to contribute to two third of the cost.

The monument was inaugurated on 12 October 1884, anniversary of Carpeaux’s death.

Related resources

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

3 Art books to check on Gutenberg Project

I referred in the past to art books published for free on Gutenberg Project. Here come 3 more for you to consider:

Wood Engraving by R. John Beedham

Wood-Block Printing by F. Morley Fletcher

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Cezanne at the MoMA in New-York

Pine and Rocks (Fontainebleau?) c. 1897 – Oil on canvas by Paul Cézanne

This is a focussed view, different from the large open landscapes like the views of the Mount Sainte Victoire that Cézanne painted in the South of France. The reason of the location “Fontainebleau” with a question mark in the title is that, even if we can’t be sure, the pine trees and large boulders are characteristic of this sandy forest near Paris. It was also a favourite spot for pre-Impressionists and Impressionists painter to paint.

Turning Road at Mongueroult, 1898 – Oil on canvas by Paul Cézanne

This is a plein-air painting (i.e. done on location). The palette of Ochre and and dark greens, and the blue outline are characteristic of Cézanne. This is the last painting Cézanne did on the village of Mongueroult before he returned to his hometown Aix-en-Provence (South of France), where he stayed until his death.

The Bather, c.1885 – Oil on canvas by Paul Cézanne

I don’t really like this painting. I am not sure why. I find the figure little stiff and the slight bird view shorten the legs (which reinforce the illusion that the man is short and bulky). Of course, this is just my personal opinion and you are free to disagree.

Still life with apples (1895-98) – Oil painting by Paul Cézanne

I kept the best (at least to me) for last. Cézanne explored stil life painting throughout his life. They were his laboratory when he could experiment. Apples are a feature of Cézanne’s paintings. I read someone that he was taking so much time than flowers would fade and dye long before the artist had finished his still life paintings. He resorted to artificial flowers, but even these faded… No such issue with apple that keep for weeks on.

This unfinished painting offers us clues into Cezanne’s working methods, The painted initial ouline is still visible in places and we can see how he approached the subject as a whole and painted touches of the same colour in different places to create unity.

Details for the museum

The Museum of Modern Art
11 West 53 Street
New York, NY 10019-5497

MoMA Website

Thursday, 13 March 2014

The Moneylender and his Wife

The Beaux-Arts museum in Valenciennes (North of France) has a painting labelled « The Banker and his wife » (from Marinus van Reymerswaele).

« The Banker and his wife » Oil on wood panel 80.5 x 115 cm - from Marinus van Reymerswaele

The notice for the painting explained that it derived from the Quentin Metsys’s painting hung in the Louvre museum in Paris and that there are at least 25 version of this painting from students or followers of Reymerswaele.

The Moneylender and his Wife (1514) by Quentin Matsys - Oil on panel, (71 x 68 cm) - Musée du Louvre, Paris. Source: Wikimedia 

Quentin Matsys was a painter in the Flemish tradition and a founder of the Antwerp school.

I managed to trace some of the versions of the painting, but it was not easy as the paintings have slightly different titles: “The money changer and his wife”, “The banker and his wife” or “The tax collector and his wife”.

Some times ago, I took a photograph of a similar painting in Munich ( in the collection of Munich's Alte Pinakothek), so I knew there was one there.

The money changer and his wife (1541) oil on panel by Marinus van Reymerswale
Alte Pinakothek – Source: Wikimedia

The moneychanger and his wife (1539) Oil on wood (83 cm x 97 cm) by Marinus van Reymerswaele, Museo del Prado, Madrid - Source: Wikimedia 

 The notice on the Prado’s website states that they hold a very similar version, by the same artist, which was in El Escorial monastery. This other painting measures 79 x 107 cm, is signed and dated 1538.

There is another one at the Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen, Denmark.

The Tax Collector and His Wife by Marinus van Reymerswale - Statens Museum for Kunst. Source: Wikimedia

Monday, 10 March 2014

Le Regal - Watercolour

 I am in Le Regal, which is hamlet near the village of Antraigues-sur-Volane  (Ardeche, France). The weather is magnifiscent and I could sit outside on Sunday to paint.

Le Regal – watercolour (13.5 x 21 cm) by Benoit Philippe (click to enlarge)

My temporary studio (cup of coffee included)

I brought my Sennelier watercolour travel box with me, but my sister-in-law gave me some paper and lent me a round box of Pebeo watercolours.

The material I used:
  • The paper is Montval watercolour paper by Canson – snowy surface, 125 lbs. A very nice paper to work with. It has a smooth surface and is sturdy enough not to buckle when wet.
  • Pebeo watercolour – 24 half pans with central mixing palette: This is a very nice box of artist quality watercolours. All the colours you need are there logically laid out in circle. The clever bit is the reproduction of the pans with the name of each colour on the lid of the box. This way, it is child play to replace a colour when you need too (it saves you sticking all the labels on a card as I do to remember which colours I put in my watercolour box…). This box is light and would be easy to carry around in a bag.

Photograph of the view I painted

Related resources

If you are in the US (Amazon affiliate link)

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Rosemary & co website: Excellent quality brushes at reasonable prices (not an affiliate link... just a satified customer)