Featuring Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, Neo-Impressionist, and Contemporary-Impressionist artist I find inspiring.

I have been introduced to many of these artists by Impressionismart.
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Impressionism

Alexander Rose-Innes (1915 – 1996)

A South African impressionist painter, born in 1915 in Beauford West, Alexander Rose-Innes developed an aptitude for drawing at an early age. The Rose-Innes family moved to Port Elizabeth in 1927, where he began his art studies at the Art School of the Port Elizabeth Technical College, under Francis Pickford and Jack Heath. After completing his studies, he enrolled as an apprentice sign-writer, continuing to pursue his art in his free time.

Rose-Innes took up employment as a commercial sign-writer in order to earn a living. He joined the army at the start of the Second World War in 1940 and was based in Pretoria, Kimberley and Cape Town during the following five years. Following the war, he decided to dedicate himself to his art, and made the decision to move to Cape Town, where the New Group had an important influence on the local art scene.

Rose-Innes arrived in Cape Town in 1956, when he was 41 years of age. According to Bekker (1991:12), “In the 1950s Cape Town was, without doubt, the artistic capital of South Africa. Many of the leading artists lived and worked in the Cape. The art market was buoyant and the quality of works exhibited high, as was the public awareness of art and artists.” Rose-Innes initially began working as a sign-writer for a Johannesburg-based company, Neon-Fluorescent, in order to make a living in the Cape. Shortly thereafter he befriended the curator of the Michaelis Collection, Matthys Bokhurst, who encouraged him to continue painting and exhibiting his work.

Rose-Innes had his first solo exhibition in 1958, having previously participated only in group shows in the Eastern Province. In 1962 he exhibited in a group exhibition at the South African Association of Arts Gallery – together with Ruth Prowse, David Botha, Gregoire Boonzaier, Carl Büchner, Nerine Desmond and Frank Spears (Bekker, 1991).

He went on to have several solo exhibitions in South Africa and Belgium, and his work was included in numerous national and international exhibitions. In 1986, he was honoured by the University of Pretoria with a retrospective exhibition of his work and a medal for his contribution to the arts in South Africa.

Rose-Innes was a painter of “everyday situations like women selling flowers, people sitting in pubs and girls chatting” (Bekker, 1991: 28). He had particular interest in the scenes of the Cape Malay Quarter and District Six, figures and portraits of common people such as blacksmiths and fishermen, as well as the simplicity of still life compositions, Cape landscapes and domestic interiors. Rose-Innes portrays sensitivity towards his subject matter – always rendered in warm, subdued tones and following realistic conventions. The absence of strong colour notes, together with the use of close-up views, contributes to a sense of intimacy in his work. The subtle gradation of tone and the creamy thickness of paint application are prominent characteristics of his technique (Berman, 1996).

“It is impossible to distinguish between Alex the man and Alex the artist: his role as an artist dominates his whole life, while his deep-seated humanity permeates his whole art” writes Bekker (1991:24). His work was greatly influenced by both Russel Harvey and Gregoire Boonzaier – both of them close friends and colleagues. Esmé Berman (1996) argues that Harvey was of great influence, specifically with regard to his sombre colour palette and soft colour modulations.

Rose-Innes’ work can be accurately described as forming part of the Cape Impressionist tradition, influenced by the major exponents of that idiom. With regards to his subject matter, Bekker notes, “Alexander Rose-Innes is a conservative artist. He did not pursue innovation for the sake of innovation; nor did he follow fashionable trends. Yet his particular brand of painting has not only survived, but steadily grown in popularity.” Today his work forms part of most significant collections of South African masters in galleries and in numerous private collections.

Alexander Rose-Innes passed away in 1996.

http://www.johansborman.co.za/artist-biographies/rose-innes-alexander/

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Impressionism

JOSEPH KLEITSCH (1882-1931)

Jardin du Carrousel Paris c1927
Oil on canvas 45cmx53cm

Joseph Kleitsch was considered one of the premier painters in the early California School of Impressionism. Born in Deutsch St. Michael, Banat, Hungary on June 6, 1882, he began painting at the age of seven. After being awarded a scholarship by his village to study art, he continued his training in Budapest, Munich and Paris. Around 1901, he immigrated to Germany and then to Cincinnati, Ohio. In 1905 he moved to Denver. Between 1907 and 1909 he visited and painted in Chicago, Kansas and Mexico City. He was honored in 1912 for his portraits of Mexico’s President Francisco Madero and his family.

Around 1914 Kleitsch moved to Chicago where besides painting portraits of many prominent citizens, he taught at the Art Institute of Chicago from 1914 to 1919. While there he joined the Palette and Chisel Club and participated in exhibitions where his new style of painting interior scenes with figures was shown. In 1914 he was awarded the Gold Medal by the Art Institute of Chicago.

In 1920 Joseph and his wife, Edna, moved to Laguna Beach and started the Kleitsch Academy. Although he was at the height of his art career in Chicago, he found the rustic local street scenes in his new home to be extremely inspiring and his painting flourished. He was soon exhibiting his work at Stendahl and Hatfield Galleries in Los Angeles while also making trips to San Francisco, Carmel and Europe in search of the next painting subject. Arthur Millier of the Los Angeles Times was quoted saying of Kleitsch, “He was a born colorist; he seemed to play on canvas with the abandon of a gypsy violinist.”

Kleitsch became an avid plein air painter and helped to cofound the Painters’ and Sculptors’ Club in 1923. It was a men’s only group patterned after the Salmagundi Club of New York. They worked with studio models and also had a sketching camp for landscape painting. He was awarded their Silver Medal.

From 1926 to 1929 Joseph returned to Europe, painting in Giverny to experience first hand the inspiration for Monet’s works and then traveling on to Hungary and to Spain before returning to Laguna Beach where he had a successful showing at the Stendahl. A few years later Kleitsch died suddenly at the age of 49 from a heart attack.

Impressionism

 Antonio Muñoz Degrain (1840 – 1924)

Memories of Granada 1881.Oil on canvas, 97 x 144.5 cm.
Torrential rain falls on one of the most picturesque areas of the city of Granada, where the Darro River runs alongside the street leading to the Generalife neighborhood. The choice of this city for a pictorial scene is significant in Muñoz Degrain, as he was attracted to its historical past and the possibility of recreating legendary Arab episodes, often set in the Alhambra. The stormy subject of this painting also gives this view of the city a strongly Romantic sense. This was one of the most highly praised works by Muñoz Degrain, who first conceived of it as the setting for a kidnapping scene, which he later applied to another work. The painting was shown at the Nation Exhibition of 1881 under the title Memories of Granada. With this image, Degrain achieved the very high level of lyricism and melancholy that marks all his work. It was acquired in 1882 for the Prado Museum, and was later sent to the Museum of Modern Art.
Antonio Muñoz Degrain, a clockmaker’s son, was born in Valencia on 18 November 1840 and was persuaded by his father to study architecture, which he soon abandoned for painting. Vehement and impetuous by nature – and these traits showed in his work – in 1856 he decided to walk to Italy with hardly any money. A student of the San Carlos Academy in Valencia from the age of twelve, he was a pupil of the painter Rafael Montesinos although, as he himself claimed, he was essentially a self-taught artist.
Like the great majority of Spanish painters of his day, he took part regularly in the National Exhibitions of Fine Arts from 1862 to 1915, and it was his successes at these competitions that decisively shaped his reputation. Indeed, in addition to receiving an honorary mention in 1862 and a third-place medal in 1864 for Vista del valle de la Murta (Alcira) [“View of the Valley of La Murta (Alcira)”], he was awarded second prizes in 1867 for Paisaje del Pardo al disiparse la niebla (“Landscape of El Pardo after the Mist has Cleared”) and in 1871 for La oración (“Prayer”).
Commissioned to decorate the Cervantes theatre in Malaga in 1870, he settled in that Andalusian capital, which he always considered his city of adoption. There he married and was appointed a supernumerary lecturer at the San Telmo Royal Academy of Fine Arts in 1879. Years later he became the master of a whole generation of artists, among them the very young Picasso, who always showed him affection and respect.
The first medal to be awarded to Muñoz Degrain in 1881 for a painting on canvas entitled Otelo y Desdémona (“Othello and Desdemona”) secured him a government grant that enabled him at last to make the long hoped-for trip to Rome and visit several cities of Tuscany and Venice. It was in Italy that he produced his great work entitled Los amantes de Teruel (“The Lovers of Teruel”), a masterpiece of his entire career and one of the most important Spanish paintings of the 19th century, which won him first prize at the National Exhibition of 1884. Thenceforward his growing prestige earned him many honours and public recognitions. A knight of the orders of Isabella the Catholic, Charles III and Alfonso XII, he received the medal of honour at the National Exhibition of 1910 and, following the death of Carlos de Haes, was appointed professor of landscape at the San Fernando Academy in Madrid, of which he became a member the following year and director in 1901 until his resignation in 1912; he was also president of the capital’s Circle of Fine Arts.
Muñoz Degrain enjoyed similar success at international events such as the Universal Expositions of Philadelphia (1876), Munich (1883) and Chicago (1893).
A highly prolific and generous artist, in his old age he made significant gifts of his works to the art museums of Valencia and Malaga, the cities that were dearest to him, and of nineteen works illustrating scenes from Don Quixote to the Biblioteca Nacional in Madrid. He died in Malaga on 12 October 1924.
Muñoz Degrain is one of the most outstanding painters of the fin-de-siècle period in Valencia. Naturally inclined from his youth towards landscape painting, which he never abandoned, he nevertheless explored a variety of subject matters throughout his career and displayed a particular fondness for literary passages, dramatic scenes of floods, Orientalist themes and history. From his earliest works he sacrificed the rigour of draughtsmanship in favour of an impassioned and joyful vision of colour in tones that became garish and violent in his mature period in order to convey his visions of fantasy and imagination with a feast of colour and a boldness that few artists of his day dared to attempt.
https://www.museodelprado.es/en/the-collection/art-work/memories-of-granada/2f5b5f43-58ce-4a85-b158-aaba6b42849d

Impressionism

Berthe Morisot 1841 – 1895

FEMME À L’ÉVENTAIL 
62 by 52 cm

Femme à l’éventail, also known as Tête de jeune fille,was painted in 1876 during a momentous period in French painting and is considered one of Morisot’s most accomplished canvases. Included in the third Impressionist group exhibition in Paris in 1877, this elegant depiction of a woman holding a fan exemplifies Morisot’s technique at its most painterly and sophisticated. Most striking here is her application of black paint, applied with varying degrees of translucency to convey the folds in the fan and the crispness of the gossimer fabric draped around the figure’s shoulders. The picture exemplifies Morisot’s individual Impressionist technique as well as the stylistic attributes shared by Edouard Manet, her mentor, brother-in-law and artistic collaborator. 

The identity of the sitter for Femme à l’éventail is unknown; neither a member of the artist’s family or a professional model can be clearly identified. But what is particularly striking about the present work is that it calls to mind a portrait of Morisot herself, dressed in black and holding a fan, that Manet painted two years earlier. Femme à l’éventail may very well be Morisot’s response to that portrait, but it arguably presents a more intimate and psychologically compelling rendering of its glamorous female subject. 

Berthe Morisot holds the distinction of being a founding member of the Impressionist group and one of its most important contributors. The casual elegance of her compositional style and her liberal application of paint, demonstrated beautifully in Femme à l’éventail and other paintings from the 1870s, helped to define the aesthetic of the movement. As one of its only women members in addition to the American, Mary Cassatt, Morisot lent a valuable female perspective to avant-garde art at the turn of the century. Her pictures gave insight to aspects of French society and provided a platform for ‘feminine’ subjects and concerns that remained unexplored by her male colleagues. The models for her paintings were mostly women and children, many of whom were members of her own family, and they posed for her with a level of ease and familiarity that was rarely seen in 19th century portraiture. 

In the year Femme à l’éventail was painted Morisot and her fellow Impressionists organised the second Impressionist exhibition held in Durand-Ruel’s galleries at 11 rue Peletier. As had been the case at their previous group showing in 1874, the critics of Paris responded ferociously to these avant-garde artists. One review in particular by Albert Wolff infuriated Morisot’s husband, Eugène, so greatly that he challenged the author to a duel. Morisot remained undiscouraged by her critical reception and chose to exhibit Femme à l’éventail at the third Impressionist exhibition in 1877. The show in general fared little better with the conservative press, but Emile Bergerat recognized the preeminent qualities of the present work writing, “The most gifted painter of all [the Impressionists], in the sense that they possess an innate gift for color, is a woman, Miss Berthe Morisot. This is the artist who has signed the best picture of the exhibition, a portrait of a woman holding a fan. Her brushstrokes are both spontaneous and precise” (Emile Bergerat, op. cit., April 17 1877, translated from French).

From 1877 onwards Morisot continued to be consistently singled out for her sophistication and exemplary technique. Reviewing another Impressionist exhibition for the Gazette des Beaux-Arts, Charles Ephrussi wrote: ‘Berthe Morisot is French in her distinction, elegance, gaiety and nonchalance. She loves painting that is joyous and lively. She grinds flower petals onto her palette, in order to spread them later on her canvas with airy, witty touches, thrown down a little haphazardly. These harmonize, blend and finish by producing something vital, fine, and charming that you do not see so much as intuit…” (Charles Ephrussi, ‘Exposition des artistes indépendants’, in Gazette des Beaux Arts, May 1, 1880, pp. 485-88, quoted in op. cit. (exhibition catalogue), Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, San Francisco, 1992, p. 327.

http://www.sothebys.com/en/auctions/ecatalogue/2013/impressionist-modern-art-evening-sale-n08987/lot.6.html

Impressionism

Giuseppe de Nittis (1846-1884) An elegant modernity

Westminster Bridge, 1878
Oil on canvas – 110 X 95 cm

Trained in Naples, the Italian-born painter Giuseppe de Nittis, in his early twenties, settled in Paris in 1868. He fell in love with Léontine Gruvelle, the daughter of an “important costume dealer in Paris” who became his model and whom he married the following year. The young couple moved into a small house in La Jonchère, on the banks of the Seine, between Rueil and Bougival, welcoming Manet, Berthe Morisot, Caillebotte, Pissarro as guests into their home. De Nittis rode through the countryside painting scenes from life, of themes popular at the time.

Five of De Nittis’ paintings were included in the First Impressionist Exhibition of 1874. He was committed to a naturalistic art that explored the changing play of light. He frequently painted snow scenes, showing solitary figures in wintry streets or parks. He also specialised in depictions of the newly constructed areas of Paris and its suburbs. Under the influence of Japanese prints, he often left large open areas in his pictures, relegating buildings to the edges.

In London, he found a patron in the person of a banker who asked him to use his brushes to “photograph” typical scenes and figures. “London’s terrifying misery in all its hopeless horror” The large format of Westminster Bridge , whose composition is organized in three diagonal zones placing side by side from right to left, clearly outlined figures à la Caillebotte, the Thames and Parliament barely discernible in a Monet-like fog , finally a hesitantly reddish sky.

While his paintings continued to gain favor with the public, De Nittis also adopted the fashion of japonism after meeting Seitei, the master. De Nittis was, with Degas and Manet, among the first painters to use pastels on a large scale.

 In 1884, he died at 38 from a stroke.

Impressionism

Paul Jenkins (1923-2012)

Phenomena When I Looked Away, 1960

Paul Jenkins was an American painter who came to maturity during the reign of the Abstract Expressionists. Born in Kansas City, Missouri in 1923, he studied at the Art Institute in his hometown from 1938 to 1941, and then served as an apprentice at a ceramics factory. Afterwards, he moved to New York City to attend the Art Students League under the G.I. Bill. He remained until 1952, befriending fellow artists Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko, but choose to move to Paris after a year to escape the dominant influence of Abstract Expressionism. While abroad, he discovered the effects of staining a canvas as opposed to painting on it – color by flow instead of application. This interest was sparked by his earlier work in ceramics, translating the luminous effects of glazing to a new medium.

Upon his return to the United States in 1956, he encountered the works of the prevalent American Color Field painters Helen Frankenthaler and Morris Louis, after which he fully took to the technique of staining. Jenkins applied oil paint or thinned acrylic to primed white canvas, typically starting at the corners, and manipulated its flow by adjusting the canvas’ position, sometimes also using blade-like devices to direct the paint further. He normally used bright, bold colors in his works, all of which he gave titles that began was the word “phenomena” beginning in the 1960s. His works are indeed phenomena – something that is impressive and extraordinary. 

In a 2009 review of his work, Roberta Smith described his paintings as “too beautiful for their own good.” Jenkins worked in this mode for the entirety of his career. He was the subject of two major retrospectives at the Houston Museum of Fine Arts and the San Francisco Museum of Art, both in 1971, but he received the greatest critical attention in 1978 when his work was featured in the movie An Unmarried Woman. Starring Alan Bates, the movie chronicled the life of a Manhattan artist; the works supposedly done by Bates’ character were actually those of Jenkins, who reportedly spent weeks coaching the actor in the finer points of his working process. Jenkins died in New York City in 2012 after a short illness.

Randy Kennedy, “Paul Jenkins, Painter of Abstract Artwork, dies at 88,” The New York Times, June 12, 2012

Impressionism

Edward Mitchell Bannister (1826-1901)

BostonStreet Scene 1895
Oil on panel

For years, Bannister painted landscapes with muted colors that recalled the works of the French Barbizon school so popular among New England collectors during the second half of the 19th century. However, in one of his last works, which he painted during a stay in Boston in the late 1890s, Bannister adopted a much more vivid palette. 

Bannister, the son of a black immigrant from Barbados and his Scottish-Canadian wife, was born in St. Andrews, New Brunswick, Canada. Initially a seaman, he settled in Boston, where he eked out a living as a hairdresser and as a hand-tinter of photographs. With the encouragement of his wife, he turned to painting and for a while shared a studio with Edwin Lord Weeks. 

His atmospheric landscapes found a ready market, especially in Boston. At the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition in 1876, Bannister received a first-place medal. He was the first African-American artist to win a national award, but the judges were surprised by his ethnic background. Bannister resided in Providence, Rhode Island, where he became one of the seven founding members of the Providence Art Club, an institution that still flourishes today.

On January 9, 1901, Bannister collapsed at an evening prayer meeting at the Elmwood Street Baptist Church and died shortly thereafter.

http://art.thewalters.org/detail/4695/boston-street-scene-boston-common/

Impressionism

Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944) and Synesthesia Inspired Abstract Paintings

FRAGMENT 2 FOR COMPOSITION VII, 1913

oil on canvas  

framed: 45 3/8 x 50 1/8 inches (115.25 x 127.32 cm) 

For Wassily Kandinsky, music and color were inextricably tied to one another. So clear was this relationship that Kandinsky associated each note with an exact hue. He once said, “the sound of colors is so definite that it would be hard to find anyone who would express bright yellow with bass notes or dark lake with treble.”

Born in Moscow in 1866, and studied art in Munich. In 1909, after a trip to Paris during which he was introduced to the works of the Fauve artists Henri Matisse, Georges Braque, André Derain and Maurice de Vlaminck, his paintings became more highly coloured and loosely formed.

In fact, it was after having an unusually visual response to a performance of Wagner’s composition Lohengrin at the Bolshoi Theatre that he abandoned his law career to study painting at the prestigious Munich Academy of Fine Arts. He later described the life-changing experience: “I saw all my colors in spirit, before my eyes. Wild, almost crazy lines were sketched in front of me.” 

Around 1913, Kandinsky began working on paintings that came to be considered the first totally abstract works in modern art, for they made no reference to or described objects in the physical world. In 1911, along with Franz Marc and other German expressionists, Kandinsky formed Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider), a group of artists who shared a belief that art should be in the service of the spiritual and transcendent rather than describe the material world.

The neurological phenomenon Kandinsky experienced is called synesthesia (or “joined perception,” from the Greek word synmeaning “join” and aisthesis meaning “perception”). It’s a rare but real condition in which one sense, like hearing, concurrently triggers another sense, such as sight. People with synesthesia might smell something when they hear a sound, or see a shape when they eat a certain food. Kandinsky literally saw colors when he heard music, and heard music when he painted.

The artist explored these sensations in unconventional, artistic ways. Conceived for the theatre, Kandinsky created experimental performance-based expressions of synesthesia–The Yellow Sound being the most famous–which utilized original musical scores, lighting, and various media to explore prevalent color theories of the time.

Music played an important role in the development of Kandinsky’s abstract paintings. The famous Viennese composer Arnold Schönberg was one influence. Schönberg abandoned tonal and harmonic conventions in his compositions the same way that Kandinsky rejected the figure or recognizable object in favor of shapes, lines, and discordant colors in his work. He deployed color, line, shape, and texture to create a rhythmic visual experience that evoked an emotional response. Not surprisingly, Kandinsky gave many of his paintings musical titles, such as Composition or Improvisation. 

For Kandinsky, color also had the ability to put viewers in touch with their spiritual selves. He believed that yellow could disturb, while blue awakened the highest spiritual aspirations. Just a year before he painted Fragment 2 for Composition VII, Kandinsky wrote Concerning the Spiritual in Art. An important statement of Kandinsky’s theories on art’s potential to evoke psychological, physical, and emotional responses, the treatise is considered the first theoretical foundation of abstraction.

He returned to Moscow during the Revolutionary period to teach at the Moscow Academy of Fine Arts, leaving in 1921 to teach at the Bauhaus in Germany. He remained at the Bauhaus until the Nazis closed the school in 1933, this time moving to Paris where he died in 1944.

http://denverartmuseum.org/article/staff-blogs/wassily-kandinskys-symphony-colors

Impressionism

Between sea and sky: a portrait of Clarice Beckett (1887 – 1935)

Evening, St Kilda Road

Oil on Canvas 1930

In the early 1930s, along the low-slung coastal promontory of Beaumaris in Melbourne, a middle-aged woman could be seen wheeling a homemade cart stacked with paints and canvases. The artist, Clarice Beckett, produced atmospheric paintings of suburban streets and strangely eerie landscapes.  

At the time Beckett’s art was maligned by the critics, who were dismissive of her association with Melbourne’s fringe ‘Tonalist’ movement, and during her lifetime she sold very few works. In 1935, at the age of forty-seven, Beckett died in a nursing home, and her work was soon forgotten.

Beckett’s favoured artistic terrains, her subjects were also of an urban (and suburban) modernity. Drawn to ideas of Theosophy as a creative stimulus, Beckett composed elements of the suburban everyday (cars, trams, telegraph poles, and tarred roads) into poetically-hazed city and land-scapes which transcend everyday reality and hint at the supra-real or infinite.

‘Evening, St Kilda Road’ lyrically elaborates the artist’s signature subject in an image of the city’s soft-focused modernity. Fusing an urban electric glow with twilight’s ambient luminosity, Beckett explores the sfumatoed limits of representation, using darkened box-shaped cars to retrieve her composition from a misty point of abstraction. Beckett activates colour for potent atmospheric effect, enveloping the city with a rosy-toned veil that evokes the last moments of twilight.

Beckett’s preference for early evening or morning subjects was not for simple poetic effect. Instead, as ‘Evening, St Kilda Road’ demonstrates, she was drawn to the technical challenge of painting the essence of her subject within the fleeting moment; and of observing light effects and developing delicate tonal nuances that blurred the terrains of reality and illusion.

Nearly forty years after Beckett’s death, around two thousand of her artworks were discovered in a shed on a property in rural Victoria. Many of these paintings were rotted and torn, and unable to be identified or restored. Rosalind Hollinrake, who is a curator, former gallery owner, and Beckett’s biographer, helped salvage the artworks, and began to piece together the life and work of one of Australia’s most unique landscape artists.

Clarice Beckett’s personal life remains something of an enigma; her dedication to her art, and her refusal of several marriage proposals pitted her against her family’s traditional view of a woman’s role in society; a view more akin to the Victorian era into which she was born she than the heady, turbulent inter-war period, when Beckett was at her creative highpoint. She was twenty-seven years old when she finally attended art school; her father refused to allow her to set up a studio in the family home, where, as an unmarried woman, she remained all her life, and thus bore the full load of caring for her ill and ageing parents. Beckett’s bleak domestic life was compounded by the hostility of art critics, and at times, her own peers, who misunderstood her distinctive approach. Despite these circumstances Clarice Beckett was driven to make art, and each day at dawn and dusk she could be seen in the suburban streets around her home, and most often on Beaumaris Beach, paintbrush in hand, absorbed in her painting. and managed to exhibit her work annually over a ten year period.

Today her posthumous reputation grows as her vision of modern urban and coastal Australia is acknowledged by contemporary painters, with her works now held in over four of the country’s major public galleries.

Impressionism

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

http://www.christies.com/imp_mod_sites/mod_nov03_ny/article.asp?page=2