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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 with Necklace, c. 1916- 17
Muse as Modigliani’s “Jeanne Hébuterne with Necklace”. Jeanne was Modigliani’s true love.
Amedeo Modigliani’s Most Comprehensive Exhibition at Tate Modern: Curator Interview
BY SARAH MOROZ, MODERN PAINTERS | NOVEMBER 20, 2017
“Juan Gris,” 1915, Amedeo Modigliani (1884 – 1920). Oil paint on canvas, 549 X 381 mm. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
(Courtesy This And Facing Page: Courtesy Tate Modern)
The Tate Modern is showcasing the most comprehensive Amedeo Modigliani exhibition ever held in Britain, assembling celebrated figurative portraits, sculptures once shown at the 1912 Salon d’Automne, and drawings created throughout his short life (1884–1920). The Italian-born Jewish artist moved to Paris at age 21, where he toiled experimentally, mingled with turn-of-the- century creative luminaries, and frequented shows by Gaugin and Cézanne. Across almost 100 works — including his then-incendiary nudes —the exhibition examines the abundant influences that shaped Modigliani’s spectacular output. MODERN PAINTERS speaks to Emma Lewis, an assistant curator at Tate Modern, about the show — which opened…
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。
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.
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.