Shelley’s Art Musings – Claude Monet

Water Lilies (1918) Musee Orangerie

The 11th November is Armistice Day, and this year marks 100 years of this monumental date, but did you know that Monet presented “Water Lilies” to the state as a monument of peace. This was done by writing to the Prime Minister and his friend George Clemenceau. The pair had been friends for over 30 years, and in Monet’s letter he wrote:

“I am on the verge of finishing two decorative panels which I want to sign on Victory day, and am writing to ask you if they could be offered to the State with you acting as intermediary.”

On November 14th this year, the Musee Orangerie will be holding an exhibition which will honour this act, where you can see this exquisite piece line the walls.  The exhibition will run into March 2019, if you want to find out more about the exhibition and how to get tickets you can find the out here.

“Water Lilies” was a piece which was a groundbreaking masterpiece, as the piece covers 100 linear meters in on the walls of the museum, encompassing its audience in a view of placid waters, water lilies and reflections of clouds, broken up by willow branches.  The inspiration for the piece was from the gardens of Monet’s home in Giverny.

Monet and his large family rented a house with 2 acres of land, and 7 years later, his success as a painter afforded him to purchase the house, gardens and surrounding buildings. He created studios and workspaces as well as greenhouses and gave his gardener daily written instructions on the specification of what he wanted to be planted in the garden and the architecture of it.

3 years after the purchase of the house, Monet purchased additional land and undertook a project in landscaping the area with ponds and planted water lilies which would form the basis of this inspiring work.

Monet (right) in his garden- New York Times 1922

Up to this point, Monet had a varied life and had already lost one wife, Camille, of whom Monet had completed studies of on her deathbed. He later married Alice.

By this time Monet had shunned his learning’s in traditional painting styles and shared new styles and techniques which concentrated on the effects of light on the surroundings and used rapid, short brush strokes and broken colours to present a different style which is now known as Impressionism.

Impressionism was not to identify the subject in minute detail, but to demonstrate the light and movement over time, and Monet perfected this technique. His paintings are visually stunning and packed full of the feeling of the fluidity of nature.

There are versions of Water Lilies, which can be seen in museums around the world, but the Musee Orangerie had special rooms created to house the gift to the state.

The piece is comprised of almost 300 paintings, over 40 of which were large format. Two types of composition were defined by the artist at the beginning of the cycle. The first includes the edge of the pond and its dense vegetation; the second, in contrast, plays on the emptiness and includes only the surface of the water with flowers and reflections interspersed.  As this was created towards the end of Monet’s life he was suffering from cataracts, and it wasn’t hung until a few weeks after his death.

In 1952 André Masson published an article comparing the rooms of the Orangerie to “the Sistine Chapel of Impressionism”, and it is easy to forget that at time of creation, Monet’s style and technique were ahead of his time.

I urge you if you are in the vicinity of the Musee Orangerie to take the time out and go and view this extraordinary piece.  Examine the composition and take in calm atmosphere that this painting creates.  Reveal in the beauty of the impression of Monet’s gardens and rejoice in the peacefulness of nature, knowing that it is all a cycle.

Figures in the Sun” by Claude Monet, 1888. Oil on canvas, 80 x 80 cm. The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL.

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1000 Portraits of Genius

Exhibition: The Art of Portraiture in the Louvre Collections

Date: May 30th 2018 – Sep 03rd 2018

Venue: The National Art Center, Tokyo

Since Antiquity, portraits have been commissioned to represent important people, figures, heroes, and gods. Over time, this artistic genre has evolved from the embellished Greek marble sculptures to contemporary paintings, photography and abstract works. While the specific aesthetic style of the portrait often varies over time, the main purpose of portraiture has remained consistent-to depict the personality, characteristics or essence of a person or important figure by using the face as the dominant feature of the composition.

The Seated Scribe, Serapeum, Saqqara, Egyptian, Old Kingdom, 4th Dynasty, c. 2620-2500 B.C.E. Painted limestone statue, inlaid eyes: rock crystal, magnesite (magnesium carbonate), copper-arsenic alloy, nipples made of wood, height: 53.7 x 44 x 35 cm. Musée du Louvre, Paris.

The first known portraits can be traced back to prehistoric times (c. 30,000 B.C.E.) when men reproduced the outlines of their shadows as an attempt to preserve their memory in times of absence. Over time these depictions evolved into monochrome representations with simple lines and shapes, which now can be compared to the contemporary “portrayals” and abstract forms created by modern artists such as Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse.

Christ Pantocrator, 1148. Mosaic. Cefalu Cathedral, Sicily. Byzantine.

This collective work attempts to create a comprehensive outline of the history of portraiture illustrated in both painting and sculpture. In the hierarchy of art theory, the portrait was initially viewed as inferior compared to history painting but superior to still life and other genre paintings. Throughout the history of art, theorists have occasionally been skeptical or critical regarding the issue of resemblance to the sitter, implying that the artist often portrays his or idealization of the subject. Despite this, the immense number of surviving portraits suggests that portraiture was nonetheless a popular request by those responsible for commissioning artworks across the artistic timeline.

Sandro Botticelli (1445-1510), Italian, Portrait of a Man with a Medal of Cosimo the Elder, c. 1475. Tempera on wood and gilded stucco, 57.5 x 44 cm. Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence.

Portraiture is often overshadowed by other styles and genres of art. Art that qualifies as narrative painting or sculpture is almost always more appreciated amongst the masses than the black and white portrait of a political figure or famous artist. Perhaps this occurs because people assume that a portrait does not directly appeal to the imagination or tell a particular story. The differences between a portrait and a narrative piece of art can be compared to that of a novel and a biography. The first focuses predominantly on plot and action, while the latter is more concerned with the development and analysis of a specific individual.

Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675), Dutch, Girl with a Pearl Earring, c. 1665. Oil on canvas, 44.5 x 39 cm. Mauritshuis, The Hague. Classicism.

Therefore a biography could be considered flat in comparison to a novel that is full of dramatic scenes. However, depending on the nature of the writing itself a biography can be just as fascinating and compelling as a novel. Evidently, in the same respect, a portrait that has been painted in such an exemplary and skillful manner can be just as insightful as an illustration of a particular myth or story.

Jacques-Louis David (1748-1825), French, Napoleon Crossing the Alps at the St. Bernard Pass, c. 1800. Oil on canvas, 260 x 221 cm. Musée National du Château Malmaison, Rueil-Malmaison. Neoclassicism.

Knowing some background information regarding the identity of the sitter often impacts the accessibility of the portrait, because the spectator instantly recognises the subject and can, therefore, compare their understanding of the person with the particular representation.

Paul Delvaux (1897-1994), Belgian, Madame Pollet, 1945. Oil on canvas, 100 x 80 cm. Fondation Paul Delvaux, Saint-Idesbald. Surrealism.

But even the portrait of an “unknown” subject can be so charged with meaning and depth that the visitor cannot help but be intrigued. A great portrait artist can illustrate a story so effectively that sometimes a precise title is not even necessary. Therefore, Titian‘s (Tiziano Vecelli) Man with the Glove, Rembrandt’s (Harmenszoon van Rijn) Portrait of a Man located in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Diego Velasquez’s Lady with the Fan may appeal to us even more powerfully than many of the identified portraits by these same masters.

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Art Nouveau

Exhibition: Mucha and the others – Treasures of Art Nouveau

Date: Nov. 25, 2017 – Mar. 25, 2018

Venue: Hall No. 3, 3rd Floor, Guangdong Museum

Art Nouveau was confirmed as a trend in 1900 as a result of the Universal Exposition, which proclaimed the movement’s quasi-universal victory.

Art Nouveau meant marvels of joaillerie, bijouterie, silver, glass, mosaics and ceramics. In the beginning, Art Nouveau was produced by architects and decorators returning to their roots in national traditions (or who simply wished to remain faithful to the same), who were able to derive magnificent and delightful new variations from old domestic themes that had been more or less forgotten.

Enter a captioEmile Gallé, Orchid Vase.
Glass with inserted ornaments and relief.
Private collection.

Art Nouveau was also the work of French architects like Paul Sédille and Jean-Camille Formigé, who (on the heels of their predecessors Henri Labrouste and Emile Vaudremer) eagerly combined novelty with talent, taste, and ingenuity and were able to introduce ornamental iron and ceramic work to the visible structural skeleton of modern construction and homes.

Art Nouveau was the eccentric Barcelona of Gaudí (although notably absent from the 1900 Universal Exposition), which provided Spain such a colourful and appropriate image.

Antoni Gaudí, Dressing Table, c. 1895. Wood.
Güell family collection, Barcelona.

Art Nouveau was the work of English, Belgian and American architects, subject neither to classical principles or the imitation of Greek and Italian models, but deeply and completely committed to modern life, who created a solemn, refined style that was not always faithfully copied by their imitators, work that was new and original and usually excellent: a youthful and lively architecture that truly represented their respective countries and time.

Victor Horta, Solvay House, view from main salon, 1895. Brussels.
© 2007 – Victor Horta/Droits SOFAM – Belgique

Art Nouveau meant pastel-coloured wallpaper, tapestries,10 and fabrics that made French interiors sing with exquisite harmonies and French walls burst forth with delightful new flora and fauna.

Art Nouveau appeared in the form of illustrated books, such as those decorated by Eugène Grasset, Alphonse-Etienne Dinet, James Tissot, Maurice Leloir, and Gaston de Latenay, in France; Morris and Crane, among others, in England; German artists in Berlin and Munich; and Russian artists in Moscow.

Among a few masters in France, England, and the United States, Art Nouveau was the art of bookbinding.

Art Nouveau was the art of the poster, because posters were needed during this era of insistent advertising. Of course, we refer to the poster as created by Jules Chéret, such as it was and continues to be interpreted after him in England, the United States, Belgium, and France by many exceptional artists with imaginative flair: posters displaying delightful whims of colour, harmony, and line, sometimes exhibiting grace and beauty, and posters displaying pyrotechnics, razzle-dazzle, and the use of harsh and brilliant colours.

Eugène Grasset, Salon des Cent, 1894.
Print for a colour poster. Victor and Gretha Arwas collection.

Art Nouveau was the printmaking of Henri Rivière, respected interpreter of the French and Parisian landscape. In the simplicity of his images, Rivière sometimes applied more truth and more genuine and moving poetry than was available in works of the most famous classical masters, and his wondrous rendering, perfect colour, and eloquent Impressionism, evoke and even surpass the very Japanese works that inspired him.

Gustav Gurschner, Nautilus Lamp, 1899.
Bronze and nautilus shell. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond.

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盖尔(Emile Gallé):时光的脆弱性

展览:热情地凝视日本艺术:Emile Gallé作品中的日本主义


地点:北泽美术馆,Kitazawa Museum of Art


十九世纪末,西欧的装饰艺术经历了一次伟大的重生和复兴,艺术重心转向了模仿自然。事实上,在19世纪60年代,重要的科学著作(Haeckel, Kommode, Primeldt等著)出版,提供了新的艺术形式,并引导它走向现代性的道路。同时,日本艺术的品味也开始发展,通过在法国定居的艺术商人Hayashi Tadamasa等人,使西欧能够发现日本的艺术方式。日本艺术是基于对自然的观察,对自然形态的诗意阐释。在十九世纪,科学和艺术呈现出类似的复兴趋势。



这与西欧各国民族的艺术觉醒密切相关。这不再是过去的问题,也不是外国的味道。相反,每个国家都发展了自己的审美。最重要的是,功能性成为艺术的重点,装饰性减少,有用的装饰功能和物体出现在人们面前。这种艺术在本世纪通过各种各样的趋势被禁止:“[本世纪]没有民间艺术。”1900年,Emile Gallé如是说。






1889届巴黎世博会反映了新艺术运动的影响,不仅展示了新艺术运动在各种生产领域的完整形象,也展示了民族主义的发展趋势。新艺术运动于1895在法国兴起。同年十二月,德国血统法国国籍的艺术商人Siegfried Bing,开辟了一个画廊完全致力于新艺术运动,并在新艺术运动的传播中发挥了重要作用。



在装饰艺术领域,一位法国南锡出生的玻璃艺术家、木匠和陶艺家Émile Gallé(1846-1904),以他的新艺术风格艺术作品在十年间声名大噪。1877年,他将自己对植物学的热爱融入了他父亲的陶器和玻璃器皿贸易中。他的灵感来源于自然和他收集的日本艺术家的作品。他开发了新技术,申请专利,并指导了发展过程中的各种步骤,在他的工作室中,留下了工业革命的遗产。在1889年多的世博会期间,Gallé获得了三项奖项。然后他获得了来自评论家Roger Marx的赞扬。

Hen terrine,1880年,Faience。黄色薄片,白锡,釉面,高度:16厘米,宽:27厘米,深:18厘米。布鲁塞尔艺术博物馆。


在1901,与Victor Prouvé(1858—1943),Louis Majorelle(1859-1926)和Eugène Vallin(1855-1922)一道,Émile Gallé建立了工业艺术联盟,也称为南锡学派。他们的目标是消除学科间的分离:经验和经验不足的艺术家之间不再存在区别。自然是他们审美的基础,通过花和植物的创造出来。新艺术运动于1900年前后达到顶峰后,但很快就从艺术世界消失了。Art Nouveau是一种奢侈风格,难以大规模复制。1902年都灵第一届现代装饰艺术展表明,一场新的艺术运动已经萌芽,那就是Art Deco.


Jeanne Hébuterne, artist and muse of Modigliani

marina's muses

Jeanne Hébuterne, artist and muse of Amedeo Modigliani

Amedeo Modigliani is known for his distinctive portraits and nudes characterised by their elongated oval faces, graceful lengthened noses, and small bud mouths, often with blank sad eyes appearing to gaze nowhere.

Jeanne Hébuterne was the love of Modigliani’s life and his sole muse for his last three years. She was also a talented artist but didn’t pursue a career in art after she met Modigliani.      My muse of Jeanne has been influenced by Modigliani’s portraits of her, some of which exaggerate and distort her beauty, not conforming to the conventional ideal. Modigliani saw beauty in the soul and believed that once he knew the inner being of a person he could paint their eyes.

Modigliani's Portrait of Jeanne Hébuterne 1916- 17. Modigliani’s Portrait of Jeanne Hébuterne with Necklace,  c. 1916- 17

Muse as Modigliani's "Jeanne Hébuterne with Necklace". Modigliani's muse and lover, becoming his common law wife for a short 2 years, Jean had a tragic end. Muse made by Marina Elphick. Muse as Modigliani’s “Jeanne Hébuterne with Necklace”. Jeanne was Modigliani’s true love.

Jeanne Hébuterne was Modigliani's muse and lover, dying tragically young at 21. Jeanne was a talented artist in her own right, yet her life was too short for her creativity to mature. Muse made by Marina Elphick. Marina’s muse as the…

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在印象派的圈子中,德加是与雷诺阿风格最接近的一位,他们都热爱将生动的巴黎生活作为绘画的主题。德加没有参加过格莱尔(Gleyre)的工作室,很有可能他与未来的印象主义者的第一次会面是在Guerbois咖啡店。埃德加·德加(Edgar Degas)来自于与莫奈、雷诺阿和西斯利完全不同的环境中。法国大革命期间,他的祖父René-Hilaire de Gas在1793年被迫从法国逃到了意大利。他的祖父是一名粮食商人,在意大利手收获了商业的繁荣。

德加的祖父在那不勒斯创建了一家银行,与热那亚的富裕家庭的一个女孩成婚。埃德加·德加喜欢简单地将名字写成德加,尽管他与意大利的众多亲戚维持着愉快的关系。他在1853年在Louis-Ernest Barrias工作室开始了学徒生活,从1854年开始,在路易斯·拉莫特(Louis Lamothe)的指导下学习。拉莫特非常崇拜Ingres,远远超过了其他画家。他将这种敬佩之情传染给了德加。从1854年开始,德加开始频繁地前往意大利:首先到达那不勒斯,认识了好多表兄弟;然后到了罗马和佛罗伦萨,从古典大师那里不懈地临摹和学习。












Turquerie: Evolution of Turkish theme in European art, style

In 18th-century Europe, especially with the arrival of Ottoman embassies to the royal courts, Turkish fashion, also named ‘Turquerie,’ emerged sumptuously influencing fine arts, architecture and music.

Victoria, Princess Royal, in a Turkish-style costume by William Charles Ross.

The Western world’s interest in the East is not something new. Since the Crusades, the travels of warriors, merchants and pilgrims to the towns ruled by the Turks helped to maintain this interest on slow but rational grounds.

In the 14th century, the carpets weaved in Eastern Anatolia were considered luxury goods in France, the country that they were exported to and decorated the French palaces. It is enough to look at the paintings by 16th century painters such as Hans Holbein, Lorenzo Lotto, Bernardino di Betto and Sebastiano del Piombo to see how much these carpets were favored.

A colorful diplomacy

When the Ottoman ambassador that was sent to France in 1607 visited the Palace of Fontainebleau in southern Paris, he aroused curiosity and interest among the nobles. Even a couple of years after this visit, musicians wearing Ottoman-style clothes took the stage at a French ballet performance.

Interesting scenes also came out when King Louis XIV of France gave an audience to the Ottoman ambassador Suleiman Agha. The king spared no gaudiness to influence the ambassador. Suleiman Agha was a low ranking Ottoman official; he ironically echoed Istanbul’s view of the Sun King. As a matter of fact, the ambassador was not as captivated as he was accustomed to see much more gaudiness in Istanbul. However, the noblemen began to imitate the splendor and colorful attires of the Ottoman delegation. The Turkish fashion was in high demand especially in masquerade balls. In Moliere’s play “Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme,” staged in 1702, the scene with Turkish celebration where actors wearing Turkish-style clothes catches people’s attention.

A time came when the most well-known French artists of the 18th century envied to become a Turkish painter. It is not surprising to see that Flemish artist Jean-Baptiste van Mour (1671-1737) who spent 30 years of his life in Istanbul, depicted oriental scenes in his paintings. However, the Turkish themes in the paintings by the painters such as Parrocel, Latour, Cochin, Lancret and van Loo who had never set a foot in the East are quite interesting. These painters selected their models among the Ottoman delegation that traveled to France during the reign of Louis XV and enchanted the court as well as Parisians.

The Turks’ friendship with the French goes back to the 16th century that began with the friendly relationship between Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent and Francis I of France. However, the cultural encounters of the two countries began in the early 18th century. The Ottoman ambassador Yirmisekiz Mehmed Chaleby, who was sent to the France in 1721, during the Tulip Era, when the Ottomans reached to a high and refined aesthetic, made a splash in Paris and the Parisian newspapers featured the ambassador and his eccentric entourage for days. The king liked to see this foreigner. The ambassador’s attire and his manners were quite different from the noblemen who were ever allowed to make a presence before the French king.

Ambassador Mehmed Chaleby, who was an Ottoman intellectual, was worthy of this kind reception. As he was kind to the curious Parisian ladies who flocked to the palace that were assigned for his use and showed interest in everything that he saw up close, Duchess d’Orleans said, “He is the most kind and understanding man that I have ever seen in my life.” Following Mehmed Chaleby, all Ottoman ambassadors excited the Parisians equally.

The welcoming of the Ottoman ambassador to Paris in 1721 turned into a spectacle. On one side, the Ottoman delegation in their colorful and elegant clothes and on the other side ushers, guards and generals offered favorable scenes for the painters. History painter Antoine Coypel painted the ceremony of the king receiving the ambassador and presented the painting to the king’s regent Philippe d’Orleans. This painting was followed by others with the same theme by other painters. They were sold at very high prices; the French nobles preferred to decorate their walls with these paintings. Parrocel, on the other hand, portrayed these noble and beautiful scenes in phases and some of his paintings are kept in the Versailles Museum. The Paris visit of the Ottoman ambassador drew so much attention that his visit not only subject to paintings but also tapestries which were modelled from the paintings.

Rondo Alla Turca

Paris has always been taken with foreigners. To reflect their administration, they brought new fashion movements in their hair styles as well as attire. The effect of “A la Turque” fashion did not go away easily for years after the ambassador of the Ottoman Sultan returned to his home. Hence, the West’s admiration for the Orient that began during the reign of Mehmed the Conqueror and known by the names of “Turquerie,” “Turkomanie,” and Alla Turca increasingly continued. This Orient-effect affected a large portion of social life from art to architecture, clothing to food.

Some French families in Istanbul brought traditional souvenirs when they returned to their homeland and presented these objects to the French king. On the other hand, some mesmerized the Parisians with heavy fabrics and ornamented costumes and posed for the painters. Turban became the most popular accessory in women’s clothing.

The noblemen in the 18th century Europe began to dress up in Ottoman-looking clothes, hold their wedding ceremonies in the Turkish-style and keep Turkish carpets, tulips, coffee, and sherbet in their palaces and castles. Turkish themes were also in demand in various fields such as literature, painting, performance arts and decorations. Especially novels, ballets and operas featuring Turkish characters were in common.

Wearing Turkish costumes in balls and posing for the painters in Turkish clothing became a habit for the Europeans. French diplomat Harbette said: “Paris has almost become like one of Istanbul’s neighborhoods,” describing this period in France. The Turkish influence in Europe’s social life first surfaced as dread then continued as curiosity, imitation and finally the birth of Orientalism.

Moustache a la Turque

The Jardin Turc (“Turkish Garden”), once Paris’s most popular gardens turned out to be a favorite background for paintings. Madame de Pompadur and Madame du Barry, two famous socialites in France ordered painter Charles-Andre van Loo to depict them in Turkish-style attire in a portrait.

In music, composers inspired from Ottoman janissary band music and Oriental themes began to be heard in balls and festivities. Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven have “Alla Turca-style” compositions. Another interesting account is that during the wedding of Austrian princess Maria Josepha and Saxonia Prince Friedrich August in 1719, a large group of young people in janissary uniform and “moustache a la Turque” performed a show. The ship that brought the bride and the wedding venue was also inspired from Ottoman-style. The Ottoman-Austria wars made traditional Turkish coffee (“Türkentrank”) popular in Europe, notably in Paris through war captives. Some cafes inspired from the Turkish-style made a common point of intellectuals and socialites, even became a symbol of Paris.

All in all, European architecture, design and even daily items had their share from Turquerie fashion. The Belvedere Palace’s side domes looking as if they were covered by tasseled tent or the Karlskirche, which has towers reminiscent of minarets are some the examples of this trend. In 1785, a mosque built in the Scwetzinger Palace’s garden is another illustration of the Western world’s interest to the East.

by Ekrem Bugra Ekinci

Source: Daily Sabah