Name That Painter!
The little time I've had with this artist has been filled with MANY reflective moments for me as I hope also for you. I wish I could blog her complete profile, but alas I realize I can only give you bits and pieces of her life. I will try and give you some of the best glimpes though. A few lines from her letters might be of interest to you...
I had mentioned in an earlier post that she considered giving up art at one point. Here is an excerpt from one of her letters dated July 1871... "I have given up my studio & torn up my father's portrait, & have not touched a brush for six weeks nor ever will again until I see some prospect of getting back to Europe. I am very anxious to go out west next fall & get some employment, but I have not yet decided where." The situation behind this letter is that while back in the United States during the Franco-Prussion war (my guess is that one would not want to be in Paris at that time) she attempted to show and sell her work in which she found NO buyers. Okay!?
Discouragement filled her life at this point partly because a father whom she loved dearly was still unwilling to support her passion and fund the art supplies she needed, AND she couldn't find the inspirational art to glean from that was so readily available in Europe. Without much money, support, and inspiration, you can easily read between the lines and empathize with her in this low moment of life.
A reflective moment here... Our human tendency is to think life is greener on the other side, or that life must be much easier for So-and-So. But as you probably know, any battle won comes with multiple hills to climb and valleys to tread.... Our artist is no different, her success came later in life and beyond - mostly beyond. In her pursuit of employment she went through yet another valley in Chicago, where she had hoped to sell some of her work. Instead, a few of her pieces where lost in the great Chicago fire of 1871. Sheesh!...fires were big and plentiful then.
Shortly after, a much needed commission came - AL-LE-LU-IA, Alleluia!!! The commission from the Archbishop of Pittsburgh not only displelled her gloominess but propelled her back into the artwork she so loved. She was asked to paint copies from the High Renaissance artist -Correggio- in Parma, Italy. Her feelings BOUNCE like a rubber ball right off the page as she exclaims, "O how wild I am to get to work, my fingers farely itch and my eyes water to see a fine picture again." Her commission included money to travel back to Europe and part of her lodging while there. Our artist felt an affinity towards Correggio (one of his paintings below) who's style and influence can be seen in many of her later paintings. The little naked children and cherubs are a clue....a super big clue y'all!
Years later she wrote in a letter to a friend..."I felt I needed Correggio and I went to Parma. A friend went with me. She did not remain, but I stayed there for two years, lonely as it was. I had my work and the few friends I made. I was so tired when my day was done that I had little desire for pleasure."
I watched a movie recently about an artist who sometimes would stay up late into the night to paint. In the morning she would be found sleeping on the floor with paint still in her hand. Funny...hmmm - I can relate, although I DO love my pillow! I'm sure the passion found in our artist caused her to endure all kinds of sacrifices.
Along with the study of Correggio she also studied the artist Parmigianino (sounds like an expensive cheese to me). Correggio's painting were found as frescos on the ceilings of dimly lit cathedrals. Imagine for a moment how dim it would've been without the help of electricity or a flashlight! To see his work up close, she had to climb up as far as she could in the choir lofts, maybe she held a candle in her efforts to see?
NEXT...stay tuned for a few more glimpes - particularly the friendship of Degas and Monet, the unveiling, and my Wichita Art Museum visit. Till next time....Ohh, and I hope to hear from YOU!
Name That Painter!
1866 brought forth new vigor and hope for this artist who left for Paris in the company of her mother as a chaperone. A plan to continue her art education was her focus. She was not allowed to attend the art school there because she was a woman. Here we go again... Harrumph I say!! To some, well, this might've been too big of a stumbling block - But No - not to this determined young lady. She just found a way to circumvent it. Let's find another door -- and that's exactly what she did. She applied for private lessons with the school masters. Some of her teachers included Jean-Leon Gerome, Charles Chaplin (not the funny Charlie Chaplin we all know - that's an era in the future), and Thomas Couture.
Another way she pursued more instruction was to visit the Louvre on a daily basis and paint from the wonderful paintings there. She wasn't the only one who set up her painting materials at the Louvre. Many artists congregated in that place for painting and socializing. Do you know the name William Bouguereau? Wow, he's one of my favorites, his paintings are a-m-a-z-i-n-g! Anyway, he also roamed the halls of the Louvre in that same time frame, admiring the art and finding inspiration in the works of the past.
In Paris there was a Salon (not like a hair salon like you and I might think, but an Art Exhibition Salon) Don't think hair braiding or up-dos, think of a somewhat snobby juried art show where artwork is displayed from the floor to ceiling. Organized by the Société des Artistes Français, the Salon was held annually and later biannually, between the years 1748–1890. Our little artist submitted paintings over a ten year period to the Salon only to be frustrated with many rejections. I just have to shake my head because I'm not sure what they were thinking... You see her artwork - what is up with that!? An uproar eventually resulted from other frustrated regular exhibitors who were also finding increasing rejection of their works.
The art scene was changing in France. As you know, artists don't like being put in a box and told what to do, freedom is a prerequisite of art. Without that freedom, or silly expectations and traditions put on artwork, the results would inevitably bring on some sort of artistic mutiny. Some broke away and one particular group formed their own independent exhibition with a whole new way of painting and seeing the world. Does the word Impressionist effect your visual senses? Our artist, found friendship there.... but that is for another post. Stay tuned...
Name That Painter!
Ready for some more clues? Boy, I sure am! My time has been gobbled up in the other aspects of business, so I've been anxious to do some blog-blog-blogging! Okay to start, it turns out that this artist really had some great parents who were supportive of their child in learning many new things. The art profession just wasn't exactly what they had in mind. It was radically out of scope for what the expectations where for a woman of that time period. Her parents hesitation could also be in part because of the close proximity she would have around the male students who dominated the college. The SAME males students that painted from LOTS of nude models. You get my drift? Men, men, painting nude female models, men... Her father is actually quoted in saying, "I would almost rather see you dead" when discussing her profession in art.
There is no evidence that anyone else in her immediate family held the same gift and eye for art as did she. Sounds like a lonely independent road ahead... Though her father possessed little comprehension of art, he DID swallow some pride and eventually stepped out of her way, allowing her to pursue her talents.
Did you catch it? This artist is a she - a very beloved she, I might add (even in our generation).
Becoming a professional artist was her primary goal and so she entered school with a resolute and determined mind to study and study hard. Interestingly, she did so right smack during the American Civil War years. The Pennsylvania Academy brought disappointment though because of the slow nature of the instruction and the "women just can't be as good at painting" attitude she felt from the male students and instructors. Well, harrumph I say! This only caused her to make up her mind MORE resolutely to go on her own in training. She said goodbye to the college after four years there and moved to Paris. Here's were her stubborn trait sometimes came in handy... Later it will be tested as she considers giving up art entirely.