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DEATHS: 2003 HIRSCHFELD — 1875 MILLET 1900 RUSKIN
BIRTH: 1829 STANHOPE
^ Died on 20 January 2003: Al(bert) Hirschfeld [photo >], US show biz caricaturist born on 21 June 1903.
Hirschfeld

     — Al Hirschfeld's caricatures captured the vivid personalities of entertainers and their performances for more than 75 years.
      He drew a vast and imaginative portrait of the performing artists of his lifetime, particularly in the theater. He was a familiar figure at first nights and at rehearsals, where he had perfected the technique of making a sketch in the dark, using a system of shorthand notations that contributed to the finished product.
      His art was compared by critics to that of Daumier [20 Feb 1808 – 11 Feb 1879] and Toulouse-Lautrec [24 Nov 1864 – 09 Sep 1901] but, ultimately, it was Hirschfeld, cannily perceptive, wittily amusing and benignly pointed.
      Hirschfeld's art was distinguished by his deep feeling for people. He never went for the jugular, except on one occasion, when he did an ironic drawing of David Merrick [27 Nov 1912 – 25 Apr 2000], the producer, as a demonic Santa Claus. Merrick, to Hirschfeld's mixed reaction, liked the image so much that he bought it and used it on his Christmas cards.
      Hirschfeld continued to work until his death. On Saturday 18 January 2003, as usual, he was at work in his studio, drawing the Marx brothers, all of whom were his friends.
      In 1996 a film documentary of the artist's life was made by Susan W. Dryfoos: The Line King.
      Hirschfeld was best known for the caricatures that appeared in the drama pages of The New York Times. But his work also appeared in books and other publications and is in the collections of many museums. His other artistic work often reflected his travels to the South Pacific and to Japan, where he was deeply influenced by aesthetics and techniques.
      Hirschfeld's reinventions caught the spirit of their subjects with lines that, studied individually, might seem irrelevant but, taken together, added up to characteristic eyes, hairdos and motions — all in such a way as to distill the character of his subject.
      Dancer Ray Bolger's portrait shows him as a bumbling magician dancer. Barbra Streisand in “Funny Girl” looks birdlike, all points, with wide-open mouth and lidded eyes. Zero Mostel as Tevye in “Fiddler on the Roof” appears as a circle of beard and hair with fierce eyes peering upward, as at a heaven that did not understand.
      Hirschfeld was a lively, white-haired, white-bearded man 1m73 tall, who saw himself this way: “A couple of huge eyes and huge mattress of hair. Large eyes with superimposed eyebrows. No forehead. The forehead that you see is just the hair disappearing.”
      In the 1930's and 40's Hirschfeld wrote pieces on comedians, actors, Greenwich Village and films for The NY Times. In one he sharply criticized Snow White, Walt Disney's animated movie, for imitating “pantographically” factual photography and for being in the “oopsy-woopsy school of art practiced mostly by etchers who portray dogs with cute sayings.”

Hirschfeld drawing      Albert Hirschfeld was born in St. Louis, one of three sons of Isaac and Rebecca Hirschfeld.
      When he was 12 years old and had already started art lessons, the family moved to New York City. He attended public schools and the Art Students League. By 18, he was art director for Selznick Pictures. In 1924 he went to Paris where he continued his studies in painting, sculpture and drawing.
      It was during a trip to Bali — where the intense sun bleached out all color and reduced people to “walking line drawings”, as he later recalled — that he became “enchanted with line” and concentrated on that technique.
      While on a visit to New York in 1926 from Paris, he went to the theater one evening with Richard Maney, a press agent who was handling his first show, a production that starred Sacha Guitry [21 Feb 1885 – 24 Jul 1957], the French star, in his first US performance. With a pencil, Hirschfeld doodled a sketch in the dark on his program. Maney liked it and asked Hirschfeld to repeat it on a clean piece of paper that could be placed in a newspaper. It appeared on the front page of The New York Herald Tribune, which gave him more assignments.
      Some weeks later, the artist received a telegram from Sam Zolotow of The NY Times's drama department asking for a drawing of Harry Lauder [04 Aug 1870 – 26 Feb 1950], who was making one of his numerous farewell appearances. Hirschfeld delivered it to the messenger desk at the newspaper. A few weeks later, he had another assignment from The NY Times.
      This went on for about two years, he later recalled, until he first met Zolotow in a theater lobby. He was told to deliver his next drawing in person, and he did, making the acquaintance of Brooks Atkinson, then The NY Times's drama critic, who became a close friend. Hirschfeld was never a salaried employee of The NY Times but worked on a freelance basis that left ownership of his work in his hands after it had been published in the newspaper.
      He applied his art to other subjects elsewhere. In the 1920's and early 30's, imbued with a sense of social concern, Hirschfeld did serious lithographs that appeared, for no fee, in The New Masses, a Communist-line magazine. Eventually, he realized that the magazine's interest was politics rather than art. After a dispute about a caricature he had made of the Charles E. Coughlin [25 Oct 1891 – 27 Oct 1979], the right-wing, anti-Semitic radio priest, the artist renounced a political approach to his work and, in his The World of Hirschfeld, later wrote, “I have ever since been closer to Groucho Marx than to Karl.”
      The Hirschfelds' daughter, Nina, was born in 1945. On 05 November of that year, her name made its debut in the pages of The New York Times, on an imagined poster in a circus scene for a drawing about a new musical, Are You With It? Thereafter Nina's name would covertly be insinuated into a caricature one or several times — perhaps in the fold of a dress, a kink of hair, the bend of an arm; which made the drawing a puzzle for those in the know.
      So popular did the Ninas become that the military used them in the training of bomber pilots to spot targets. A Pentagon consultant found them useful in the study of camouflage techniques. Hirschfeld realized how addicted readers had become to Ninas when he purposely omitted them one Sunday only to be besieged by complaints from frustrated Nina hunters.
      One Nina fan was Arthur Hays Sulzberger, then the publisher of The NY Times. In 1960 he wrote a letter to Hirschfeld to say that he always first looked for Ninas in Hirschfeld drawings but had learned that each included more than one. “That really isn't fair, since not knowing how many there are leaves one with a sense of frustration,” Sulzberger wrote.
      A letter from another reader suggested that the artist note in the caricature how many times a Nina appeared. From that time on, Hirschfeld appended the number of Ninas in the lower right-hand corner of each drawing (omitted in lithographic reproductions). Hirschfeld believed that acceptance of caricatures was a slow process and one that was always difficult for the artist. Occasionally actors and producers hinted at lawsuits or withdrawal of advertising because they did not find his drawings sufficiently attractive.
      But his art flourished and endured, and it sometimes seemed as if there were Hirschfelds at every point of the compass. He was represented for more than a quarter of a century by the Margo Feiden Galleries, which once estimated that there were more than 7000 Hirschfeld originals in existence. One that is no longer in existence is a Hirschfeld self-portrait reproduced in paint on Madison Avenue between 62nd and 63rd Streets, in front of the gallery in 1994. It was 14.6 m long, complete with Ninas, and survived a partial washout by rain the first day.
     In 1991 the United States Postal Service issued Comedians by Hirschfeld, a booklet of five 29-cent stamps honoring comedians: Stan Laurel [16 Jun 1890 – 23 Feb 1965] and Oliver Hardy [18 Jan 1892 – 07 Aug 1957], Edgar Bergen [16 Feb 1903 – 30 Sep 1978] and his ventriloquist's dummy Charlie McCarthy, Jack Benny [14 Feb 1894 – 27 Dec 1974], Fanny Brice [29 Oct 1891 – 29 May 1951], and Bud Abbott [02 Oct 1895 – 24 Apr 1974] and Lou Costello [06 Mar 1906 – 03 Mar 1959], as designed by Hirschfeld; contrary to post office policy forbidding secret marks, he was allowed to insert his trademark Ninas into the depictions.
      In the early 1940's he and a close friend, the writer S. J. Perelman [01 Feb 1904 – 17 Oct 1979], collaborated on a musical with Ogden Nash [19 Aug 1902 – 19 May 1971] and Vernon Duke [10 Oct 1903 – 16 Jan 1969]: Sweet Bye and Bye and opened and closed in Philadelphia on the same night.
      Subsequent travels resulted in books — words by Perelman, pictures by Hirschfeld — like Westward Ha! or Around the World in 80 Clichés and Swiss Family Perelman.
      In 1995 appeared the CD-ROM, Hirschfeld: The Great Entertainers.
      Dolly Haas Hirschfeld was his 2nd wife, adviser and social director from 1942 to her death 1994. An earlier marriage to Florence Ruth Hobby ended in divorce. In 1996 he married Louise Kerz, a research historian in the arts and a longtime friend, who survived him.
      In something of a self-criticism, Hirschfeld, in 1986, expressed his opinion about the defintion of beauty: “Beauty is incapable of being defined scientifically or aesthetically. Anarchy takes over. Having devoted a long life to the art of caricature I have rarely convinced anyone that caricature and beauty are synonymous. Beauty may be the limited proportions of a classic Greek sculptured figure but it does not have to be — it could be an ashcan.”
      Three days before Hirschfeld died, he signed the edition of his final lithograph: The End, showing Charlie Chaplin walking away, as in the close of many Chaplin silent films.
Caricature drawing itself
—  Author of The World of Hirschfeld (1970) — Show Business Is No Business — The American Theater as Seen by Hirschfeld — Hirschfeld on Line (1999) — Hirschfeld's New York — Hirschfeld's Hollywood — The Speakeasies of 1932 — Hirschfeld's Harlem.

Hirschfeld Gallery

Self Portrait, Absolut — Self Portrait, Inkwell [>>>]
Self Portrait at 86
Self Portrait at 89
Self Portrait at 90
Self Portrait at 98
— Parody [above, left] by “Del Fish” who added extra hand to Hirschfeld's Self Portrait at 99
Self Portrait in Barber's Chair
The Artist with his wife Louise Strolling Through the World's Greatest City
Modern Times (Charlie Chaplin) (1992)
Houdini (2002)
Bill Gates (2000)
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1991)
Puccini (2000, 68x53cm)
Tchaikovsky (1991)
Democratic Presidential Candidates (1988)
The Taj Mahal, A Tourist Eye's View (1947)
Alfred Hitchcock
Bach, Vandalized (1994)

 

^ Died on 20 January 1875: Jean-François Millet, French Realist painter, draftsman, and etcher, born on 04 October 1814.
— He is famous primarily as a painter of peasants. Although associated with the Barbizon School, he concentrated on figure painting rather than landscape except during his final years. His scenes of rural society, which nostalgically evoke a lost golden age, are classical in composition but are saturated with Realist detail. Millet’s art, rooted in the Normandy of his childhood as well as in Barbizon, is also indebted to the Bible and past masters. His fluctuating critical fortunes reflect the shifting social and aesthetic lenses through which his epic representations of peasants have been viewed.
— The son of a prosperous peasant family in northern France, Millet devoted his career to painting rural life. Successive French governments favored his monumental images of peasants and their close relationship to the land, along with his fine etchings and drawings. But Millet’s often uncompromising illustrations of rural poverty were severely criticized and remain among the starkest depictions of people brutalised by hard labor.
Although Millet lived in the countryside and only depicted rural subjects all his major pictures were exhibited at the salon in Paris. Millet had nine children with his lifelong companion Catherine Lemaire, but only married her with a religious ceremony on his deathbed.

— The son of a small peasant farmer of Gréville in Normandy, Millet showed a precocious interest in drawing, and arrived in Paris in 1838 to become a student of Paul Delaroche. He had to fight against great odds, living for long a life of extreme penury. He exhibited at the Salon for the first time in 1840, and married two years later. At this time, the main influences on him were Poussin and Eustache Le Sueur, and the type of work he produced consisted predominantly of mythological subjects or portraiture, at which he was especially adept (Portrait of a Naval Officer).
     His memories of rural life, and his intermittent contacts with Normandy, however, impelled him to that concern with peasant life that was to be characteristic of the rest of his artistic career. In 1848 he exhibited The Winnower (now lost) at the Salon, and this was praised by Théophile Gautier and bought by Alexandre Ledru-Rollin, the Minister of the Interior. In 1849, when a cholera epidemic broke out in Paris, Millet moved to Barbizon on the advice of the engraver Charles-Émile Jacque (1813-94) and took a house near that of Théodore Rousseau. Devoted to this area as a subject for his work, he was one of those who most clearly helped to create the Barbizon School. His paintings on rural themes attracted growing acclaim and between 1858 and 1859 he painted the famous Angélus, which 40 years later was to be sold for the sensational price of 553'000 francs.
      Although he was officially distrusted because of his real or imaginary Socialist leanings, his own attitude towards his chosen theme of peasant life was curiously ambivalent. Being of peasant stock, he tended to look upon farmworkers as narrow-minded and oblivious of beauty, and did not accept the notion that `honest toil' was the secret of happiness. In fact, his success partly stemmed from the fact that, though compared with most of his predecessors and, indeed, his contemporaries, he was a ‘Realist’, he presented this reality in an acceptable form, with a religious or idyllic gloss. Nevertheless, he became a symbol to younger artists, to whom he gave help and encouragement. It was he who, on a visit to Le Havre to paint portraits, encouraged Boudin to become an artist, and his work certainly influenced the young Monet, and even more decidedly so Pissarro, who shared similar political inclinations.
      Although towards the end of his life, when he started using a lighter palette and freer brushstrokes, his work showed some affinities with Impressionism, his technique was never really close to theirs. He never painted out-of-doors, and he had only a limited awareness of tonal values, but his draughtsmanship had a monumentality that appealed to artists such as Seurat and van Gogh, who was also enthralled by his subject-matter, with its social implications. Millet's career was greatly helped by Durand-Ruel.

—     Jean-François Millet reste la figure emblématique de Barbizon. nul autre que lui, parmi les paysagistes du XIXème siècle, n'a autant attaché son nom à ce modeste hameau seine-et-marnais, aujourd'hui village au renom international. La querelle est vaine de savoir si Jean-François Millet doit infiniment à ce village qui le mit sur le vrai chemin de son génie en lui offrant les thèmes de son chant de la terre, lui rappelant le milieu rural de sa jeunesse. En tout cas, cette dette est aujourd'hui largement acquittée par la gloire universelle qu'il a, à jamais, apportée à Barbizon.
Un grand nombre de peintres, ceux que l'on désigne communément sous le vocable d' École de Barbizon, ont avant lui, en même temps que lui, et après lui, contribué à la notoriété de ce célèbre village, mais c'est Jean-François Millet qui, durant ses vingt-cinq années vécues à Barbizon - avec quelques rares escapades vers le Bourbonnais, la Franche-Comté et son Cotentin natal — par sa passion sans limite pour ce village et son entière identification avec la vie de ses habitants et leurs occupations, consacra Barbizon pour lui bâtir une notoriété exceptionnelle dans notre pays, comme bien au-delà de nos frontières.
      Jean-François Millet est né à Gruchy, minuscule hameau dépendant de la commune voisine de Gréville-Hague, à 9 km à l'ouest de Cherbourg. Il était le second d'une lignée de huit enfants. Son père, Jean-Louis Nicolas Millet avait épousé Aimée Henriette Adélaïde Henry, celle que l'on appelait la "du Perron" car, sans faire partie de cette petite noblesse terrienne si fréquente dans les campagnes, elle appartenait à une certaine élite paysanne, sans avoir pour autant apporté l'aisance à son mari. Une grand-mère qu'il adorait et un grand-oncle surtout, l'aidèrent à parfaire son instruction. Ce dernier, un prêtre "habitué", rendant seulement quelques services à la paroisse et retiré dans sa famille, prépara l'enfant à la scolarité. Deux autres prêtres lui apprirent le latin et l'initièrent à l'étude des Anciens, en particulier Virgile, pour lequel toute sa vie, il professa une grande admiration.
      Durant sa jeunesse, Jean-François Millet montra peu d'empressement à fréquenter l'école de Gréville, mais son intelligence était déjà très vive, et s'il avait du mal à retenir les leçons de son maître, il préférait déjà dessiner sur les feuilles de son cahier d'écolier, voire avec un simple morceau de charbon de bois, des objets ou visages qui l'avaient frappé sur le chemin de l'école.
      Ces penchants précoces furent rapidement remarqués par sa famille, et en 1832, il avait alors dix-huit ans, son père le conduisit auprès d'un élève de David, Dumouchel, vieux rapin impénitent qui enseignait le dessin à Cherbourg. Celui-ci fut conquis par les dons prometteurs du jeune Millet et encouragea ses parents à le laisser aborder une carrière artistique.
      En novembre 1832, celle-ci faillit s'arrêter là. Son père venait de mourir et les travaux de la ferme familiale réclamaient ses bras : il retourna donc à Gruchy. Mais il faut croire que les travaux des champs ne l'inspirèrent guère puisque, quelque temps après, sous la pression de ses amis qui l'avaient remarqué, mais surtout grâce à la complicité de sa grand-mère, il retourna travailler à Cherbourg dans l'atelier du peintre Langlois qui avait été élève de Gros.
      Peu de temps suffirent à Langlois pour se rendre compte qu'il tenait en son élève Jean-François Millet un véritable artiste et il n'eut aucune peine à faire voter par le Conseil municipal de la ville une subvention annuelle de 1000 F qui autorisa enfin Jean-François Millet à tourner ses regards vers la capitale, où il débuta dans l'atelier de Paul Delaroche, un des pontifes de l'art académique de l'époque.
      Mais les enseignements de Delaroche ne passionnaient guère Millet qui préférait les longues stations contemplatives devant les chefs-d'œuvre de Poussin ou de Delacroix qu'abritaient les musées du Louvre ou du Luxembourg. Malgré la bienveillance du maître, les passions qui agitaient l'atelier lui firent abandonner celui-ci et préférer le dur apprentissage de son métier d'artiste, exécutant des pastels dans le goût du XVIIIème siècle, alors en vogue, allant même jusqu'à peindre des enseignes de boutiques qu'on lui on lui payait cinq ou six francs et des nus féminins qui l'aidèrent à subsister.
      Ce fut là une des époques les plus sombres de sa vie, qui allait en comporter d'autres. Les subsides de Cherbourg arrivaient alors très irrégulièrement et Millet se rendit plusieurs fois dans cette ville pour les réclamer, occupant son temps à peindre des portraits de famille ou quelques rares paysages haguais, mais sa vocation de paysagiste n'était pas encore affirmée.
      Il séjourna au Havre qui était déjà le port important orienté vers le grand large, où il exécuta plusieurs portraits d'armateurs ou de capitaines au long cours, et parfois des compositions qui lui étaient commandées, comme celles de Pauline-Virginie Ono qui s'éprit de lui, et qu'il épousa en 1841, mais cette union ne fut pas heureuse. Pauline Ono, de tempérament maladif et de faible constitution, n'était guère en état de partager les privations que la nature robuste de Millet supportait plus facilement. Et c'est dans le travail qu'il se jeta pour préparer ses premiers envois au Salon de 1842 qui, d'ailleurs, les lui refusa. Un dernier malheur l'assaillit : la mort de son épouse survenue de 21 avril 1844.
      Sans relâche, il travaillait pour ces Salons de la capitale dont les cimaises acceptaient seules les compositions historiques ou mythologiques. Celui de 1844 retint néanmoins Une Laitière et Une Leçon d'Équitation qui firent une grande impression sur le critique Théophile Thore.
      Millet n'était pas de ceux qui pouvaient vivre seuls, dans un célibat tranquille et monotone. Il lui fallait une solide et vigoureuse personne, quelqu'un de son pays, qui puisse accepter son caractère souvent empreint d'un sombre mutisme et dont la santé lui permettrait de devenir la mère de la nombreuse progéniture qu'il souhaitait ardemment. Ce fut Catherine Lemaire, modeste servante originaire de Lorient, rencontrée à Cherbourg, qui l'aimait en silence. Il finit par le savoir et décidèrent de vivre ensemble. Elle ne devait plus le quitter, l'entourant d'une passion admirative jusqu'à sa mort, après lui avoir donné neuf enfants.
      Après un court séjour au Havre où il continua ses portraits, ils partirent pour Paris en 1844 où ils trouvèrent un logement au 42bis de cette rue Rochechouart qui préfigurait déjà le célèbre «bateau-lavoir» montmartrois de 1904 car une nombreuse colonie d'artistes et d'hommes de lettres y vivaient déjà : Charles Jacque, Diaz, Troyon et beaucoup d'autres. De cette époque datent ses premières rencontres avec ses futurs compagnons barbizonnais.
      Mais la grande affaire pour tous était la préparation du Salon. Pour celui de 1846, Millet fit un Saint-Jérôme tenté par les femmes que Couture, l'ancien condisciple de l'atelier Delaroche qualifiait de morceau étonnamment superbe. Hélas, encore une fois, le Saint-Jérôme fut écarté par le jury du salon.
      Oedipe détaché de l'arbre par un berger fut l'oeuvre présentée au Salon de 1847 et la critique commença à s'intéresser à Millet, mais c'était encore un tableau qui portait l'empreinte des XVIème et XVIIème siècles, c'est-à-dire encore loin des sujets qui allaient, par la suite, consacrer la gloire du peintre.
      La révolution de 1848 marque un tournant dans la carrière de Jean-François Millet. Dans la vague de libéralisme qui suivit, le Salon de 1848 fut déclaré ouvert à tous. Les angoisses des peintres qui présentaient des oeuvres en pensant toujours aux susceptibilités des examinateurs et au credo qui guidait immanquablement leurs choix, disparurent. Millet a trente-trois ans. Son esprit est mûr.
      Désormais, il dédaignera de plus en plus l'art conventionnel, les nudités de fantaisie et les scènes d'imagination empruntées à la Bible ou à la mythologie.
      Et cette année 1848 se révèle décisive pour Jean-François Millet. Pour le salon, il prépara deux envois: Le Vanneur et La Captivité des Juifs à Babylone. Tout le succès alla au premier, qui constitua son premier début dans le genre où il allait s'illustrer. Pour la première fois, il choisit comme héros le paysan qu'il devait évoquer ensuite dans toutes ses scènes du labeur de la terre.
      Le Vanneur est l'oeuvre de Jean-François Millet qui rencontra le premier vrai et franc succès. La critique admirait Le Vanneur. Le public cherchait à se renseigner sur cette toile si émouvante dont on lui disait que l'auteur tirait le diable par la queue. Ledru-Rollin, syndic de la ville de Paris, sur les instances de Jeanron, Conservateur du musée du Louvre, rendit visite à Jean-François Millet et lui acheta Le Vanneur, qu'il paya 500 F. Jeanron qui savait Millet en sympathie avec les républicains lui fit, en outre, obtenir une commande de 1800 F à partager néanmoins avec son ami Charles Jacque. C'est le reliquat de cette somme qui devait, plus tard, permettre aux deux artistes de partir pour Barbizon.
      Le 20 Decembre 1848, un Bonaparte devenait officiellement Prince-Président de la IIème République et un arsenal de lois répressives confortait désormais celui-ci et le nouveau gouvernement en place. Tout cela n'arrangeait pas les affaires des artistes-peintres, ni celles de Jean-François Millet en particulier, qui commençait à mal supporter ces continuels débordements de la rue et qui aspirait au calme et à la tranquillité nécessaire pour terminer ses commandes. Son envoi au Salon de 1849, Une Paysanne Assise, passa presque complètement inaperçue par ces temps troublés.
      L'épidémie de choléra qui sévissait alors à Paris et que Millet redoutait pour les siens, l'extraordinaire amitié fraternelle qui le liait à Charles Jacque, la petite fortune que les deux hommes possédaient encore, «l'aura» artistique qui entourait déjà Barbizon, toutes les conditions étaient réunies pour l'ouverture de la période la plus prestigieuse de l'histoire du village de Barbizon.
      - «Où diable pourrions-nous bien aller établir notre campement? demanda Millet. Connaîtriez-vous un endroit où nous pourrions vivre et travailler sans dépasser les limites de notre budget? Moi, vous savez, je ne connais que Gruchy, c'est peut-être un peu loin!»
      - «Allons du côté de Fontainebleau, rétorqua Charles Jacque ; il y a aux environs un charmant petit hameau, un trou placé sur la lisière de la forêt, et dont le nom finit par Ion . Diaz m'en a beaucoup parlé. Il paraît que le pays est admirable. Ce n'est pas trop loin, nous trouverons sûrement quelque chose par là.»
      - «Nous avons pris, Jacque et moi, la détermination de rester ici pendant quelque temps» écrivait Millet à son ami Sensier.
      Ce «quelque temps» devait durer vingt-cinq années. La découverte de la forêt de Fontainebleau émerveilla Jean-François Millet. La campagne autour de Barbizon avec ses paysans au travail lui rappelait son Cotentin natal. C'était là son vrai domaine, celui de son cher Gruchy, mais son destin avait basculé pour en faire un peintre et chanter les louanges du seul travail qui comptât à ses yeux, celui de la terre, qu'il allait magnifiquement glorifier dans les années à venir.
      C'est durant cette longue période que tant de chefs-d'œuvre virent le jour dans cette modeste maison que lui prêtait Sensier et qui abritait son atelier et sa nombreuse famille. Les Salons restaient toujours son objectif principal mais il commençait à commercialiser sa production, surtout grâce à l'amitié de son ami Sensier. Et ce furent Les Botteleurs et Le Semeur en 1850 (comparer par van Gogh “d'après Millet”: Le Semeur 1 et Le Semeur 2). Au salon de 1853, Millet envoie trois oeuvres: Le Repas des Moissonneurs, Une Tondeuse de moutons et Un Berger. Millet reçoit sa première consécration: une médaille de 2ème classe pour ses Moissonneurs, mais la critique restait très partagée.
      La vie à Barbizon demeurait très difficile pour Jean-François Millet, mais c'est à cette époque qu'il se lia d'amitié avec Théodore Rousseau, qu'il avait déjà rencontré à Paris, mais qui avait découvert Chailly et Barbizon, dès 1833.
      Durant les années qui suivirent, toutes les oeuvres maîtresses de Jean-François Millet, orgueil aujourd'hui de tant de musées français ou étrangers, virent le jour dans l'atelier du peintre à Barbizon. Citons, pêle-mêle, les principales: Le Paysan Greffant un Arbre, Le Paysan Répandant du Fumier (1855, 81x112cm), L'Angélus, Les Glaneuses, L'Attente, Le Bout du Village de Gréville, La Becquée, La Grande Tondeuse, etc.
      Et faudrait-il taire ces autres chefs-d'oeuvre?
      Comme L'Homme à la Houe qui devait déchaîner tant de passions (1862) — ou La Naissance du Veau (1864) qui allait valoir une seconde médaille à son auteur. Le 14 Aug 1868, Jean-François Millet fut fait chevalier de la Légion d'honneur, consécration dont on n'a peu idée aujourd'hui, mais qui valait l'attribution d'un siège permanent parmi le fameux jury qui présidait chaque année les redoutés et redoutables Salons. La chance commençait donc à tourner pour Jean-François Millet, mais hélas, la maladie continuait à faire des ravages.
      Ses affreuses migraines qui le tenaillaient depuis tant d'années reprenaient de plus belle. Des quintes de toux le secouaient de longues minutes, ou durant plusieurs heures, lui ôtant toute vigueur et toute énergie. Le 20 janvier 1875, Jean-François Millet, alité depuis la mi-décembre, commença à délirer dans cette petite chambre du premier étage de son atelier de Barbizon.
      Une vie commencée à Gruchy, soixante et une années auparavant, s'éteignait. Il ouvrit une dernière fois les yeux, promena son regard sur Catherine Lemaire et son frère Jean-Baptiste restés à son chevet, puis prononça ces derniers mots : «C'est dommage, j'aurais pu travailler encore».


LINKS
Mother Feeding her Child (1861; 600x483pix _ ZOOM to 1400x1128pix)
The Whisper (1847; 600x472pix _ ZOOM to 1400x1101pix)
Les Glaneuses (1857; 600x804pix _ ZOOM to 1400x1876pix)
Paysan Plantant un Arbre (1855; 600x752pix _ ZOOM to 1400x1755pix)
Le Coup de Vent (1873, 91x118cm; 487x635pix, 129kb _ ZOOM to 1400x1825pix) _ A powerful gust of wind sweeps across the landscape, uprooting a tree, and almost blowing a man off his feet. Everything in sight, the clouds, leaves, even the artist’s brushstrokes, moves in the direction of the wind. Millet conveys the inconsequence of the human figure in the face of this violent force of nature. The man’s unsteady stance echoes the shape of the windswept tree, but he is considerably smaller. The scene is set on the peninsula of La Hague, which juts out into the English Channel just west of Cherbourg.
The Sheepfold (1868, 72x95cm; 484x635pix, 84kb) _ This image of a shepherd driving his flock into a sheepfold exploits an entrancing weather effect – moonlight shining through mist. Using pastel, Millet describes almost the entire scene in lines radiating from the moon. As the light floods towards us, Millet’s marks change in density and thickness to describe the shadowy forms of the shepherd, his flock and fold. This highly textured effect binds man and nature together as if both were part of the same rich fabric.
L'Angélus (1858; 600x483pix _ ZOOM to 1400x1128pix)
Fishermen
The Flight into Egypt
Jeune Femme (1844)
Spring (1870)
Porteurs de Fagots
Harvesters Resting (Ruth and Boaz) (1853)
Bringing Home the Newborn Calf (1858)
L'Église de Gréville (1874)

—(070119)
The 1863 painting: L'homme à la houe by Jean-François Millet inspired the 15 January 1899 poem The Man with a Hoe, by US schoolteacher Charles Edward Anson Markham (1852-1940), who used the penname Edwin Markham.. The poem quickly became as famous as the painting. Both continue to be moving testimonies to what the too prevalent inhumanity of humanity can cause.
Homme à la houe
The Man with a Hoe

Bowed by the weight of centuries he leans
Upon his hoe and gazes on the ground,
The emptiness of ages in his face,
And on his back, the burden of the world.
Who made him dead to rapture and despair,
A thing that grieves not and that never hopes,
Stolid and stunned, a brother to the ox?
Who loosened and let down this brutal jaw?
Whose was the hand that slanted back this brow?
Whose breath blew out the light within this brain?

Is this the Thing the Lord God made and gave
To have dominion over sea and land;
To trace the stars and search the heavens for power;
To feel the passion of Eternity?
Is this the dream He dreamed who shaped the suns
And marked their ways upon the ancient deep?
Down all the caverns of Hell to their last gulf
There is no shape more terrible than this--
More tongued with cries against the world's blind greed--
More filled with signs and portents for the soul--
More packed with danger to the universe.

What gulfs between him and the seraphim!
Slave of the wheel of labor, what to him
Are Plato and the swing of the Pleiades?
What the long reaches of the peaks of song,
The rift of dawn, the reddening of the rose?
Through this dread shape the suffering ages look;
Time's tragedy is in that aching stoop;
Through this dread shape humanity betrayed,
Plundered, profaned and disinherited,
Cries protest to the Powers that made the world,
A protest that is also prophecy.


O masters, lords and rulers in all lands,
Is this the handiwork you give to God,
This monstrous thing distorted and soul-quenched?
How will you ever straighten up this shape;
Touch it again with immortality;
Give back the upward looking and the light;
Rebuild in it the music and the dream;
Make right the immemorial infamies,
Perfidious wrongs, immedicable woes?

O masters, lords and rulers in all lands,
How will the future reckon with this Man?
How answer his brute question in that hour
When whirlwinds of rebellion shake all shores?
How will it be with kingdoms and with kings--
With those who shaped him to the thing he is--
When this dumb Terror shall rise to judge the world,
After the silence of the centuries?

Died on a 20 January:

^ 2007 Daniel James Christensen, US abstract painter born on 06 October 1942 in Nebraska. He is best known for his unfettered use of color in various styles, including Color Field painting and lyrical abstraction. In his teens, some of the works of Jackson Pollock [], which he saw during a trip to Denver, inspired him to study painting. He got a B.F.A. from the Kansas City Art Institute in 1964. Then he went to the University of Indiana, from which he dropped out in 1965 and moved to New York City. In 1967 he departed from his classical training and began to paint stacked loops with a spray gun. He would make a grid by spraying over square pieces of tape and then removing them. He would turn the grids into tightly coiled loops, evolve these into looser whirls and end up with strokes and lines of color. In the 1970s he would cover layers of color with a dark, and later white coating, then scrape some of the coating to show the colors beneath.
Amino Royale (2006; 36x127cm)
–- Chord Progression 2 (1269x924pix, kb) _ The pseudonymous Abdenago Confirmsen has made a microminimalist tranformation of this:
      The Chordate's Progress (2007; 36x51pix, 1kb, the original version _but, if you are not an extremist minimalist, you may ZOOM to 712x1024pix, 1kb _ ZOOM+ to 1024x1448pix, 1kb _ ZOOM++ to 1864x2636pix, 1kb), but Confirmsen is really a maximalist, and, in that capacity has produced the intrically detailed interrelated symmetrical abstractions
      _ Discord Regression (2007; 712x1024pix, 306kb _ ZOOM to 1024x1448pix, 484kb _ ZOOM+ to 2636x1864pix, 5294kb) and
      _ Record Digression (2007; 712x1024pix, 306kb _ ZOOM to 1024x1448pix, 484kb _ ZOOM+ to 2636x1864pix, 5294kb) —(070205)

2004 George C. Woodbridge, 73, of emphysema, US illustrator of military history books and Mad magazine caricaturist.

1937 Richard Benno Adam, Munich German painter born on 05 March 1873, grandson of Benno Adam [1812–1892] and great-grandson of Albrecht Adam [16 Apr 1786 – 28 Aug 1862]. Richard Benno Adam studied in Munich under Nicolas Gysis at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste, under Sigmund Strähuber and Ludwig von Langenmantel [1854–1922], and in the private school run by Heinrich Knirr [1862–]. Between 1892 and 1894 Richard Benno Adam studied at the Staatliche Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Karlsruhe. From 1896 he painted his first equestrian portraits of the German, Austrian, Bohemian, and Hungarian nobility. In 1899 he painted The Budapest Hunting Society, which included 47 equestrian portraits. He was a war artist during World War I in Galicia and in the Imperial Headquarters in France. Between 1928 and 1931 he made several commission-related visits to the US, producing such works as the American Sportsmen.

1917 Alejandro Ferrant y Fischermans [09 Sep 1843–], Spanish painter, nephew and student of Luis Ferrant Llausas.
Sanctuary of the Charity of Illescas (586x800pix, 72kb) it is in Toledo Cardinal Francisco Ximénez de Cisneros OFM [1436 – 08 Nov 1517] is seen on its construction site. Cisneros was a religious reformer, twice regent of Spain, Cardinal, Grand Inquisitor, missionary of the Moors, promoted the Crusades in North Africa, and founded the Complutense University.
Pabellón de España en la exposición universal de Paris de 1878 (36x59cm; 373x640pix, 44kb)
Hidalgo (48x32cm; 464x224pix, 11kb) elongated à la El Greco. —(090121)

1900 John Ruskin, English painter born (full coverage) on 08 February 1819. —(070119)

1815 Caroline-Friederike Friedrich, German artist born on 04 March 1749.

^ 1814 (15 Dec?) Jean-François-Pierre Peyron, French painter and draftsman born on 20 (15?) December 1744. — {Ceux qui voudront un Peyron paierons} — He was the son of a provincial administrator and at the wish of his family studied law until the death of his father in 1765, when as a protégé of Michel-François Dandré-Bardon he enrolled in the Ecole de Dessin at Aix-en-Provence. In 1767 he moved to Paris as a student of Louis Lagrenée and also enrolled in the school of the Académie Royale de Peinture. He was also a student of Joseph-Marie Vien. In 1773 he won the Prix de Rome in competition with Jacques-Louis David. Peyron’s version of the prize subject, The Death of Seneca, is known through an engraving by the artist. In 1774, working to designs by Charles-Louis Clérisseau, he decorated the salon of the Hôtel Grimod de la Reynière, Paris, with the first examples of Neo-classical grotesque decoration in 18th-century France. — Nicolas-André Monsiau was a student of Peyron. — LINKS
La Mort d'Alceste ou l'héroïsme conjugal (1785, 327x325cm; 755x750pix, 43kb) _ Malheureusement pour Peyron, le Salon de 1785, où il exposa ce tableau commandé par Louis XVI, fut celui du triomphe de David avec son Serment des Horaces (1784, 330x425cm; 648x833pix, 77kb). La concurrence entre les deux artistes fut permanente et fatale à Pierre Peyron, peintre capital pourtant, et l'une des plus grandes figures du premier néoclassicisme. Le tableau, conservé au Louvre, emprunte à Euripide un de ces exempla virtutis chers à l'esthétique classique : pour avoir négligé de sacrifier à Diane le soir de sa nuit de noces, Admète, roi de Thessalie, doit mourir. Il obtient d'Apollon la possibilité de se faire remplacer aux enfers. Hélas, seule sa femme sera volontaire ! L'ambitieuse composition a été préparée par ce dessin (1784, 36x50cm; 300x418pix, 31kb) et de nombreux autres.
— a different version of The Death of Alcestis (1794, 97x97cm; 500x491pix, 98kb) _ The prestigious Grand Prix award enabled Peyron to spend seven years studying in Rome, where he profited from the examples of Italian artists and of his French predecessor Poussin. Peyron returned to enjoy patronage that included a commission for King Louis XVI for the subject of Alcestis' death. The original version was exhibited at the Salon of 1785. Dated 1794, this smaller version reveals some compositional changes. The figures are arranged in studied poses meant to convey the timeless value of the scene. The servant in the center has been repositioned and redrawn to present a profile suggested by antique sculpture. Details of ancient furniture are simplified, and more emphasis is placed on the classical folds of the drapery. The subject is the conjugal virtue of Euripides' tragic heroine Alcestis, who when her husband angered the gods, volunteered to give her life so that he might be spared. The grieving husband and especially the child heighten the sadness of the death scene. The morality of Peyron's subject, popularized in France a few years earlier by Gluck's opera, reflects official rejection of the frivolous rococo period and its obsession with games of love.


Born on a 20 January:


>1903 Esteban Vicente [–10 Jan 2001], Spanish Abstract Expressionist painter, who moved to Paris in 1929, to Barcelona in 1935, and to New York in 1936, and became a US citizen in 1940. — a retrospectiveLINKS
Central focus (1990, 112x168cm; 434x648pix, 86kb) —(100119)

1871 Nicolas Alexandrovitch Tarkhoff (or Tarchoff), Russian painter who died (main coverage) on 05 June 1920. —(100119)

1838 Willem Geets, Belgian history, genre, and portrait painter who died on his 81st birthday. He was a student at the Mechelen Academy and went on to study under Nicasie de Keyser in Antwerp. He continued study in Paris under Léon Cogniet. He returned to Belgium in 1869 and became Director of the Mechelen Academy.
— (in an artist's studio) (450x318pix, 14kb)
Virginie Loveling (1914; 267x200pix, 25kb) —(060119)

1829 John Roddam Spencer Stanhope, English painter who died (full coverage) on 02 August 1908. —(070119)

1811 Vincent Vidal, French artist who died on 14 June 1887.

1801 (Jo)Hanne Hellesen, German artist who died on 09 May 1844.

^ 1795 Frans Vervloet, Flemish painter and lithographer who met his death in Venice on 11 March 1872 (unrelated to the 1912 novel Der Tod in Venedig by Thomas Mann [06 Jun 1875 – 12 Aug 1955]). In 1809 he began to study at the Akademie voor Schone Kunsten in Mechelen and was also given instruction by his brother J. J. Vervloet [1790–1869], a genre and portrait painter. During this early period he produced both genre pieces and copies after Old Masters (including Peter Paul Rubens), although he concentrated mostly on architectural painting, for example the Installation of Archbishop F.-A. de Méan at Mechelen (1817). Following the great success of this painting, he made more paintings of church interiors, for example Interior of the Gesù Church at Subiaco (1826, 20x15cm). Most of his paintings were vedute, such as View of the Gulf of Naples with Vesuvius (1832, 45x65 cm). But he painted also some historical scenes, such as Arrival of the troops of prince Louis Napoléon in Italy (1849, 38x60cm), and some genre pictures such as A Woman and a Priest in a Church (21x16cm)
–- View of Piazza San Marco with figures (30x42cm; 838x1200pix, 69kb)
–-Monikken aan het werk (1827, 32x25cm; 840x654pix, 65kb) —(100119)

1755 Jean-Pierre-Henri Elouis, French painter who died (main coverage) on 23 December 1840. —(060119)


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