Once upon a time, when I was a child and through my teens, I was obsessed with arts & crafts -I didn’t know this denomination back then, though-. I wanted to be a painter, a sculptor, a fashion designer, a playwright, a violinist, a dancer & an opera singer (I cannot sing, so it was really good I didn’t insist too much on the latter!). As long as some sort of artistic expression was involved, I wanted to be in.
I mention this because my “art” (ahem!) classes and books are the only thing I still remember fondly from my school days. Teachers were pretty bland, but books were there to save me from them… and the mean world. From my books I remember three paintings which I adored until the point I tried to replicate them. What can I say? I was young and bold!
So, this is the story of the three paintings that accompanied me during my early teens (between 10 and 13 years old, if I remember correctly).
I thought this was the most beautiful portrait I had ever seen -I still believe it’s one of the greatest portraits in art history-.
She’s Berthe Morisot (1841-1895), an Impressionist painter. The canvas was created by her fellow artist Édouard Manet (1832-1883), and it’s currently part of the Musée d’Orsay collection in Paris.
Édouard Manet was never an Impressionist, although he was acquainted with most of them, especially with Berthe Morisot, to whom he would eventually become her brother-in-law. He did support the Impressionists, sometimes morally, sometimes economically. He was part of the circle, but not a member.
I loved this following painting so much! I thought I could learn to play piano as well. I still remember when I tried to replicate this canvas (I was so happy whilst painting it!). It was a marvellous and satisfying failure!
The artist who successfully created it was Pierre Auguste Renoir (1841-1919), he was indeed an active member of the Impressionists. However, during their fourth exhibition together, a new rule was imposed -it was Edgar Degas’ idea-: the member could not exhibit at the Salon if he or she wanted to be part of the Impressionist group. Renoir pragmatically chose the Salon. It went well for both, Renoir and the 4th Impressionist exhibition. Today this painting is part of the Musée d’Orsay collection as well.
And last, but not least: the painting I managed to replicate. It was infinitely smaller and I did it with markers, every.single.dot. I gave it to my then favourite aunt. She framed it and hang it on her living-room wall. People who went and visited her loved it.
The real painter was Georges Seurat (1859-1891) a Post-Impressionist. He is truly a master of colour, not just as an artist, but as a scientist, since optical science was his approached to it. The painting is currently being exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago.
Although I primarily focus on the Impressionists, since there is not a clear line for every and each one of them, I like to refer to some great contemporary artists as their circle. I know some preceded them, others came afterwards and some didn’t make it to the real group. Some might be members, some pupils, some friends, some acquaintances, some bystanders; it doesn’t matter, I love them all because of their talent, their perseverance, their techniques and their art.
I wish I could be part of the Circle of the Impressionists! (You saw this coming, didn’t you?)