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!