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Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Intermission, part 8

The narrative began with Act 1, scene 1 on April 10, 2013.
To access all scenes, scroll to blog archive at the bottom of the page.

This intermission attempts to track the connected artistic 'lineage' of some influential painters, from the early 15th century to the present. To follow this thread and to see all images mentioned, 
go back to part 1 of this intermission.

And then came photography.

Photography has been a game changer for the art of painting. The historical depth of photographic experimentation is impressive. Pinhole cameras have been in use since the time of Aristotle (384 BC – 322 BC). Canaletto was able to produce highly detailed scenes of Venice, for example, with the help of a camera obscura in the early18th century; and the first successfully etched permanent photographic image was made in 1822 by Nicéphore Niépce. Delacroix was a pioneer in the use of photographs in his studio practice. Artists since the 19th century have been able to use photographs and to manipulate them to freeze light and shade, to magnify detail, to verify or interpret colour (after the arrival of colour printing), and to freeze the pose of a model, for example. On the other hand, photography encouraged some artists to explore the perception of space in new ways, to re-interpret the appearance of objects, and finally to examine those formal aspects of painting that are unrelated to the visible properties of any object in the natural world.

The Neo-classical style of David and Ingres, the Romantic art of Delacroix, and the new art of photography all played roles in the evolution of Impressionism, and perhaps in all painting since.

Below is an excerpt from the web site of the Musée National Eugène Delacroix 
6 rue de Furstenberg 
75 006 Paris

Baudelaire, for whom Delacroix was the modern artist par excellence, would sit on a bench in the Place de Furstenberg on the lookout for the artist who he would then follow without daring to approach directly. From the window of a neighboring building, Monet and Bazille would try to make out his shadow as he went about his business in his studio. Manet would ask for permission to copy the Barque of Dante (Lyon Musée des Beaux-Arts; New-York, Metropolitan Museum) in the Louvre. Fantin-Latour painted a Homage to Delacroix (Paris, Musée d’Orsay). Thus grew up a small set of admirers around the figure of Delacroix.
This tutelary image was to have a lasting effect on artists such as Cézanne, Degas, and Van Gogh, all three of whom copied his compositions. Cézanne worked fervently on an Apotheosis of Delacroix that he would never complete. He even delighted in singing the praises of the red of the oriental slippers in Women of Algiers (Paris, Musée du Louvre), comparing its savor to that of a glass of wine in the throat and readily asserting to anyone who cared to listen that "we all paint through him!" Degas, a collector of past works, brought together almost two hundred and fifty of the master’s paintings and drawings.
The Impressionists were also highly indebted to him. With his disjointed brushwork and palette of varied hues, Delacroix provided a foretaste of solutions that the open-air painters would adopt to convey the effects of light. This is apparent in some of his sky studies in watercolors or pastels, and in a small painting, the Sea at Dieppe (Paris, Musée du Louvre). Seurat and Signac studied Delacroix’s works and writings at length. Like him, they set their art between "mathematics and music," and in 1899 Signac even traced a direct line of descent in a treatise entitled From Eugène Delacroix to Neo-Impressionism. Moreover, Signac, like Maurice Denis, another great admirer of Delacroix, was one of the founding members of the Société des Amis d’ Eugène Delacroix, established in 1935 to save the studio on Place Furstenberg from being destroyed.
Claude Monet, Bathing at La Grenouillere, 1869