Saturday, June 3, 2017

Swagger-portraits later than 1700

Rosalba Carriera
Portrait of Caterina Sagredo Barbarigo of Venice
ca. 1735-40
Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, Dresden

"It would have been impossible to say whether she blamed, whether she approved, whether she knew or did not know about these things.  Her features no longer bore any relation to anything except one another.  Her nose, her mouth, her eyes, formed a perfect harmony, isolated from everything else; she looked like a pastel, and seemed to have no more heard what had just been said than if it had been uttered in front of a portrait by La Tour." 

Andrea Soldi
Portrait of Thomas Barrett Lennard, 17th Lord Dacre
ca. 1736-44
oil on canvas
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Carle Van Loo
Portrait of Marie Leszczinska, Queen of France
oil on canvas
Palace of Versailles

Jean-Baptiste Van Loo
Portrait of Louis XV
oil on canvas
Palace of Versailles

Thomas Gainsborough
Portrait of Mary Little, later Lady Carr
ca. 1763
oil on canvas
Yale Center for British Art

"Then presently, whether it be in music or in literature or in painting, other works come along, works that may even be the very opposite of the ones which they supersede.  For the ability to launch ideas and systems  and still more of course the ability to assimilate them  has always been much commoner than genuine taste, even among those who themselves produce works of art, and with the multiplication of reviews and literary journals (and with them of factitious vocations as writer or artist) has become very much more widespread.  Not so long ago, for instance, the best part of the younger generation, the most intelligent and the most disinterested of them, through a change of fashion admired nothing but works with a lofty moral and sociological, and even religious, significance.  This they imaged to be the criterion of a work's value, renewing the old error of David and Chenavard and Brunetière and all those who in the past thought like them. . . . The truth is that as soon as the reasoning intelligence takes upon itself to judge works of art, nothing is any longer fixed or certain: you can prove anything you wish to prove."

Johan Zoffany
Portrait of Mrs Woodhull
ca. 1770
oil on canvas
Tate Britain

Thomas Lawrence
Portrait of Lord Amherst
oil on canvas
Toledo Museum of Art

Anton Raphael Mengs
Portrait of
Isabel de Parreño y Arce, Marquesa de Llano
ca. 1775
oil on canvas
Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando

Francisco Goya
Portrait of the matador Pedro Romero
ca. 1795-98
oil on canvas
Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, Texas

"Through art alone we are able to emerge from ourselves, to know what another person sees of a universe which is not the same as our own and of which, without art, the landscapes would remain as unknown to us as those that may exist on the moon.  Thanks to art, instead of seeing one world only, our own, we see that world multiply itself and we have at our disposal as many worlds as there are original artists, worlds more different one from the other than those which revolve in infinite space, worlds which, centuries after the extinction of the fire from which their light first emanated, whether it is called Rembrandt or Vermeer, send us still each one its special radiance."

Eugène Devéria
Portrait of Madame Jules-Antoine Droz
oil on canvas
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Édouard Manet
Portrait of Monsieur Brun
oil on canvas
National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo

John Singer Sargent
Portrait of Mrs Carl Meyer and her children
oil on canvas
Tate Britain

Louis Anquetin
Woman on the Champs Élysées by night
ca. 1889-93
oil on canvas
Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam

"He was soon followed by M. Verdurin, whose death caused grief to one person only and that, strangely enough, was Elstir.  For whereas I had been able to study Elstir's work from a point of view which was to some extent objective, the painter himself, particularly as he grew older, linked it superstitiously to the society which had provided him with models and which had also, after thus transforming itself within him through the alchemy of impressions into a work of art, given him his public, his spectators.  More and more he was inclined to believe materialistically that a not inconsiderable part of beauty is inherent in objects, and just as, at the beginning, he had adored in Mme. Elstir the archetype of that rather heavy beauty which he had pursued and caressed in his paintings and in tapestries, so now in the death of M. Verdurin he saw the disappearance of one of the last relics of the social framework, the perishable framework  as quick to crumble away as the very fashions in clothes which form part of it  which supports an art and certifies its authenticity, and he was as saddened and distressed by this event as  a painter of fêtes galantes might have been by the Revolution which destroyed the elegances of the eighteenth century, or Renoir by the disappearance of Montmartre and the Moulin de la Galette . . . "

Ernst Josephson
Spanish Blacksmiths
oil on canvas
National Gallery of Norway, Oslo

 quoted passages are from Remembrance of Things Past  by Marcel Proust, originally published between 1913 and 1927