Friday, September 8, 2017

Anecdotal Painting - 19th century (mid-to-late)

Charles Landseer
Eve of the Battle of Edgehill, 1642
oil on canvas
Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool

Rosa Bonheur
Ploughing in Nevers
oil on canvas
Musée d'Orsay, Paris

Eugène Delacroix
A Turk surrenders to a Greek horseman
oil on canvas
Harvard Art Museums

Adolph von Menzel
Théâtre du Gymnase in Paris
oil on canvas
Alte Nationalgalerie, Berlin

Johan Jongkind
Demolition work in the Rue des Franc-Bourgeois, St Marcel, Paris
oil on canvas
Gemeentemuseum, The Hague

"The bare details of destruction speak for themselves.  In seventeen years Haussmann remade the city in a quite unprecedented way.  On his own estimation, the new boulevards and open spaces displaced 350,000 people; 12,000 of them were uprooted by the building of the Rue de Rivoli and Les Halles alone.  Statistics are the language of Haussmannization, and capable of a certain rough eloquence in the baron's favour:  by 1870 one-fifth of the streets in central Paris were his creation; he had spent 80 million francs on sewers, and 2.5 billion francs on the city as a whole; at the height of the fever for reconstruction, one in five Parisian workers was employed in the building trade."

"Boulevards were the heart of the matter: it was they that laid waste the city, and we have photographs, prints, and paintings to indicate how dramatically.  There was thus the possibility of a picturesque of demolition . . . "

– from The Painting of Modern Life: Paris in the Art of Manet and His Followers by T.J. Clark (New York: Knopf, 1985)

Thomas Eakins
Biglin Brothers Racing
oil on canvas
National Gallery of Art, Washington DC

Kristian Zahrtmann
Scene from the court life of Christian VII
oil on canvas
Hirschsprung Collection, Copenhagen

William Frederick Yeames
And when did you last see your father?
oil on canvas
Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool

"This painting of a fictional event from the English Civil War (1642-1646) is perhaps the most popular work in the Walker Art Gallery.  It shows a Royalist house under occupation by Parliamentarians.  The young boy is being interrogated as to the whereabouts of the master of the house.  Behind him, a soldier gently holds the boy's crying sister.  To the left can be seen the children's mother, her fear and anxiety at the boy's possible answer written on her face."

"To the Victorians, children were often seen as ideals of truth and honesty.  The suspense in this work comes from the dilemma the boy now finds himself in; to tell the truth and possibly endanger his father, or lie and maybe save him.  Yeames was inspired to paint this scene by the innocent and candid nature of his nephew who lived with him.  The boy also acted as a model for the painting."

– curator's notes from Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool

Max Klinger
The Walker
oil on panel
Alte Nationalgalerie, Berlin

Évariste Vital Luminais
The Sons of Clovis II
oil on canvas
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney

"This demonstration of parental discipline of the Merovingian period remains shocking more than a century after its completion.  It says much for the grotesquerie of nineteenth-century Salon painting, of which it is so spectacular an example, that 'The sons of Clovis II' is still a collection favorite.  Alarmed by her sons' rebellion against their absent father, King Clovis, their mother – the regent, Sainte Bathilde – has their tendons cut before sending them, immobilized, downstream on a barge to their fate.  Though Luminais foreshadows the salvation of the malefactors in the distant shape of a Benedictine monastery, he is clearly more concerned with their present gruesome predicament.  His great success with this painting in the Paris Salon of 1880 was not repeated, its cadaverous sensationalism proving a hard act to follow."

– curator's notes from the Art Gallery of New South Wales

Max Liebermann
Free Period in the Amsterdam Orphanage
oil on canvas
Städelsches Kunstinstitut, Frankfurt

Frank Duveneck
Water-carriers, Venice
oil on canvas
Smithsonian American Art Museum

Henri Gervex
Session of the Painting Jury
before 1885
oil on canvas
Musée d'Orsay, Paris

Félix Vallotton
The Ball
oil on card, mounted on panel
Musée d'Orsay, Paris