Lost and Found

Gustave Caillebotte (1848-1894)Chemin montant, 1881

Oil on canvas

Preserved discreetly in a French private collection, Caillebotte’s Chemin montant was only known to historians from a checklist of works included in the seventh Impressionists’ show in Paris in 1882.

His fifteen-month stay was one of the most productive periods in his short, ten-year career as an artist.

From then to 1930, when the painting resurfaced in the collection of Jeanne Schultz in Paris, its whereabouts were unknown. Possibly it belonged to her mother, Doris Schultz (1856-1927), who frequented Parisian artistic circles in the 1880s. Until 1994 its sole recorded likeness was a caricature published by Draner in Le Charivari.

Chemin montant conveys an enticing freshness and luminosity, which is enhanced by its generous dimensions.

The rediscovery of this important painting raises similar questions to those posed by the critics in 1882: Where was the composition painted? Who are the figures and what is their relationship? Why does the use of a relatively flat perspective contradict the very title of the painting (rising road)?

Caillebotte did not identify the location of this country scene, although the brilliant white and pink villa glimpsed on the left suggested a Norman seaside resort, likely the hills of Trouville or Villers-sur-mer, where Caillebotte spent many weeks each summer participating in local regattas.

Further evidence of the location was supported by Villas au bord de la mer, en Normandie, painted in the same year, in which the architecture of the house, its outer wall and gate convincingly match those of Chemin montant.

These architectural details led to the recent discovery of the villa itself—at the end of a steep private path on the hills of Trouville. Amazingly, the villa, the path, its surrounding houses and the vegetation have remained unchanged to this day.

As was customary for the Impressionists, Caillebotte modified the perspective of Chemin montant to suit his own artistic agenda.

In order to integrate the figures into the landscape for a seamless composition he flattened the road, which is correctly seen to be rising in Villas au bord de la mer, en Normandie, and generously filled the frame with lush vegetation. The two figures seem to be wealthy city dwellers, for whom the summer sojourn in Normandy became an obligatory ritual.

When depicting bourgeois figures at leisure, Caillebotte often presented them from the back, anonymously, with little or no interaction among themselves.

The scholar and curator, Anne Distel, suggests a more intimate reading of this picture: ‘The man in boating attire, shown from the back, haven’t we previously seen him in Caillebotte’s painting of the Park at Yerres? Might he be the artist himself, here pretending to smoke a pipe? And might not this young woman with a parasol be Charlotte Berthier, the artist’s companion until his death?’

Although Caillebotte painted more than fifty landscapes during his summers in Normandy (only a handful include figures), Chemin montantwas the only painting of this period he chose to exhibit during his lifetime, a testimony to its importance.

As was the case with L’Homme au balcon and L’Étalage, the present work was most probably gifted by the artist shortly after the 1882 Impressionist exhibition, although no surviving document to this effect confirms this. Like the identity of the couple in Chemin montant, the early provenance of the painting remains romantically mysterious.

Department Head, Christie’s Impressionist & Modern Art Department, Paris

Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

Captivating story telling by Rob Caskie on the race to the South Pole at the Knysna Literary Festival.

Wind buffeting the studio. Waters of the lagoon, seething. Perfect for Boeuf Bourguignon, made with oxtail. A tasty starter of Turkish figs with Gorgonzola wrapped in Parma ham. 

With sweat coated glasses, I could not distinguish where the holes were on the decent down Phantom Pass. My fingers chilled by the wind. Brake pads near red hot as they tried to slow my momentum. Surprisingly, after the strain they took going up the pass, my legs had the bicycle moving so fast that I almost overshot the track that turns off the road to Red Bridge. Amazing what a howling wind from behind does!

Lesa and Alan arrived for their holiday at Wilderness, where we stayed for a night in their house amongst the dunes. Wooden walkways through the tree tops an adventure playground. With my strained groin muscle I didn’t do the gazillion steps down to the beach. Not that the rain made a beach walk attractive.

‘Knysna’s Finest’, portrait of the herbalist who has a table on the odd occasion amongst the fruit and vegetable vendors near the taxi rank. His dreads piled up under a beanie in the traditional Rasta colours. The angles of his hair, and how the planes of his face were at odds with his smile gave me a hard time composing a portrait that was true to his character and still looked visually correct.

I started with the background, using the symbolic colours in Rastafari beliefs and then worked through his dark eyes to the rest of the portrait. Given the Rasta philosophy of wholeness and the body as a temple, I looked to create a flow of harmony and peace through the portrait.

Yellow Ochre and Burnt Sienna as the base colours of his face, with a dark mix of ultramarine blue and madder deep. Naples Yellow and touches of Sap Green in his eyes, with burnt umber for the irises. 

Shoes (the polished leather sort) socks and a jacket for the Cat Simoni show. Great entertainment and while the food wasn’t brilliant, it was a great evening.

Dashes of paint across the canvas for my painting ‘A Wild Day’. Splotches without detail, allowing imagination to interpret figures, sea and the dogs running on the beach. A restful painting that carriers one along the endless beach walks.

The three small elephant paintings are sold and two of the sold portraits have been couriered to their new homes.


Messing About with Paint

Knysna’s Finest

Portrait of the herbalist who has a table on the odd occasion amongst the fruit and vegetable vendors near the taxi rank. His dreads piled up under a beanie in the traditional Rasta colours. The angles of his hair, and how the planes of his face were at odds with his smile gave me a hard time composing a portrait that was true to his character and still looked visually correct
I started with the background, using the symbolic colours in Rastafari beliefs and then worked through his dark eyes to the rest of the portrait. Given the Rasta philosophy of wholeness and the body as a temple, I looked to create a flow of harmony and peace through the portrait.
Yellow Ochre and Burnt Sienna as the base colours of his face, with a dark mix of ultramarine blue and madder deep.  Naples Yellow and touches of Sap Green in his eyes, with burnt umber for the irises.
Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

 The exhibition in the studio changed for the Knysna Literary Festival with poems from Terry’s collection ‘Thank you Calliope’, on the walls between the paintings. Great that people are reading the poems and buying the books. It’s the first time I have been able to see the three paintings I did of the fish market in Dar Es Salaam displayed together.


Aly and Eugene here from France for the week. Rain sweeping in over the lagoon. Chasing us inside for chats, red wine and not enough sleep. 

Surprisingly, for me, the Chardonnay was a much better accompaniment than Pinot to the excellent calamari with cabanossi and olive dish that Hirsh cooked for us. Lime and chilly fish with bok choy parcels infused with delicate flavours. A hint of crunchiness from the water chestnuts and bamboo shoots. The De Toren Diversity quite stunning. 

Walking alongside an elephant, at the Knysna elephant park, as the light peers through the morning mist must be one of the most remarkable experiences possible. 

Yes, the eye that gazes down at you, from beneath those long lashes, is one of amused tolerance. And there is something slightly nerve wracking about having two tons of elephant towering above you. 

But also something deeply humbling and moving about being in contact with the elephant. Especially if you are lucky enough to have that contact when their stomach rumbles. Remarkable. A hundred years of collective sorrow that we have mercilessly slaughtered them for something as useless as their tusks. 

Whether you can accept that they are trained, alive and happy, rather than free and dead is something each individual has to work through. The handlers of the elephant have Fiberglas rods with bullhooks for handling that I still find disturbing. Even if used as a guide and not a weapon. However, my walk with the 20 year old Nandi was managed with gentle words, to which she responded. With amused tolerance.

Seeing part of the herd running through lush grassland was breathtaking. 

Paintings sold from the studio, with a couple of small paintings completed of elephants. On the easel, a painting of the guy who sells his forest herbs and medications.

The Chase

Oil on canvas 20cmx20cm 



William Vonnoh (1858 – 1933) 

An American Impressionist painter known for his portraits and landscapes. He traveled extensively between the American East Coast and France, more specifically the artists colony Grez-sur-Loing.

Robert William Vonnoh has long been recognized as a pioneering figure in the development of American impressionism. The radical coloristic brilliance and dramatic impasto of some of his early paintings distinguished him among his contemporaries and in posterity as one of the most advanced first-generation American practitioners of impressionism. 

In the mid-1880s, a group of advanced Boston painters began to broadcast their interest in the new mode known as impressionism. Boston painters Lilla Cabot Perry (Vonnoh’s former classmate at the Cowles School) and John Enneking, both of whom would serve as catalysts for local interest in impressionism, were among Vonnoh’s associates. 

Although he later claimed to have not seen Claude Monet’s work until 1889, Vonnoh visited the French impressionist exhibition at the Mechanics Building in Boston in 1883, as well as the impressionist collection the Durand-Ruel gallery displayed in New York three years later. 

In 1887 Vonnoh returned to France for an extended stay that marked a turning point in his young career. Undertaking more daring experiments in pure color and broken brush strokes, as in the paintings of poppy fields that declared him “a devoted disciple of the new movement in painting.” 

In Poppies the horizon is pressed close to the top edge of the image or eliminated altogether for an abstract effect heightened by the application of unmixed pigment seemingly directly from the tube. This work has been cited as evidence of Vonnoh’s awareness not only of Monet’s brilliant poppy field paintings but also of post-impressionism. 

As an influential teacher at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in the 1890s he helped to nurture not only a taste for impressionism but individual self-expression, a value that proved fundamental in the advances of the next generation. Yet Vonnoh remains little known beyond scholarly circles, and that almost entirely for his radical impressionist work of the late 1880s and early 1890s. 

Throughout his long career his production was notably bifurcated not only between landscape and figure and portrait painting but within each of those genres between a manner informed by impressionist color and light and a more academic, tonal approach. 

When Vonnoh died in Nice, France, at the age of seventy-five, he was hailed as a versatile artist, although one best known for portraits “built up…solidly with regard to academic tradition.”

Diary of an Adventure


I don’t speak ‘Border Collie’. The trust, in those fathomless dark brown eyes. Pleading for understanding. The gentle pressure of a foot. 

Gentle soul. Socks on elbows. Her last night. Every hour. Giving everything she had. Wagging tail. Sparkling eyes. Asking for understanding. Her shadow in the studio. Midnight walk, to visit her water bowl. Last cuddle on Afghan carpets of timeless compassion. Infinite sadness of the last breath. It’s time. Breaking our hearts. The clock, strikes a new hour. Time. Life. Moves onwards. Memories. Now reality. 

Thank you Polly for your life. 


Armand Guillaumin París, 1841-1927

Jean-Baptiste-Armand Guillaumin, Impresssionnist painter with intense colors, he is famous for his landscapes of Paris, Creuse and Esterel areas. 

Born in Paris on 16 February 1841 into a working-class family, who moved to Moulins soon after his birth. In accordance with his father’s wishes, he was sent to Paris to study business and placed under the care of his aunt and uncle where he started to work at the age of 15 in his uncle’s store, while attending evening drawing lessons.

At the beginning of the 1870s, he worked with Pissarro in Pontoise, a village of farmers hardly affected by industrialization where Pissarro had settled. They were joined by Cézanne and would often visit Paul Gachet in Auvers, who was socialist, free-thinker, and a regular visitor of the Café Guerbois. Dr. Gachet placed a house at his disposal, while he worked at night with the highway department. During this time, Cézanne did a portrait of Guillaumin entitled “Guillaumin at the Hanged man”.

Working with Pissarro, Guillaumin developed his art of landscape painting. Perspectives opened by winding paths, while introducing industry themes, bringing a certain romanticism. He took part in the first Impressionist Exhibition in 1874, showing three landscapes, among them Sunset in Ivry. 

Zola in his article “Naturalism at the Salon” writes in 1880: : “[…] the true revolutionaries of the form appear with Mr. Édouard Manet, with the Impressionists, Mr Claude Monet, Renoir, Pissarro, Guillaumin, and others too. 

These painters intend to leave workshops in which painters shut thelselves up since so many centuries, to go outdoor to paint in open air, simple fact the consequences of which are considerable. In plein-air, light is not unique any more, and consequently multiple effects diversify and transform radically the aspects of things and human beings. This study of light effects [… ] is what one called more or less properly Impressionism, because a painting consequently becomes an impression of one moment felt in front of nature. 

[… ] Mr Pissarro, Sisley, Guillaumin went in the footsteps of Mr. Claude Monet[… ] and they endeavoured painting pieces of nature around Paris under real sunlight, without giving up in front of the most unforeseen effects of coloring.”

Towards the end of the 1880s he became a friend of Van Gogh, and some of his paintings were sold by Théo Van Gogh.

In 1886 he married his cousin Marie-Joséphine Charreton, a school teacher and settled in the town of La Creuse in 1887. In 1891, he won 100000, French francs in the lottery, a windfall that enabled him to devote himself exclusively to painting. From this point on, he made numerous visits to Saint-Palais-sur-Mer, Agay, Brittany, and the Auvergne. In 1904 he travelled to the Netherlands which inspired a number of paintings

Although. Armand Guillaumin was regarded as a secondary artist within the Impressionist movement, his paintings are composed in strong, vivid colours, and his images of factory buildings, railway stations, and similar locations are imbued with a convincing atmosphere. His painting lost some of its intensity during his years in La Creuse, with greens and purples becoming more dominant in his palette. Guillaumin died in Paris on 26 June 1927 at the age of 86.