painting

Posted by Ellen

Camille Doncieux was one of the favorite painting subjects of both Claude Monet, who married her, and Claude's close friend Pierre-August Renoir. Here, she reclines and reads for an 1872 portrait by Renoir.

Monet first met Camille in 1865, when he sought out models for his large-format figurative work, "The Picnic." They had two children together and finally married in 1870, around the same time that Monet and Renoir were working out the new approach to painting that became known as Impressionism.

Although Impressionism is widely associated with scenic paintings–sunlight sparkling on water, buildings reflected in the ripples–Impressionist-style portraits of Camille by both Renoir and Monet were much easier to sell in the earlier years than were the outdoor scenes. The two artists often used her as a model in paintings of gardens or city streets, perhaps to improve saleability.

Camille died young, in 1879 at the age of 32, from pelvic cancer. Monet painted her one last time on her deathbed. He and his two sons then retreated to his farmhouse at Giverney, where he remained somewhat secluded for the rest of his life, cultivating and painting his famous garden.

Posted by Ellen

The guy behind the desk with the papers in his hands and the moneybags scattered all about–today is his day, April 15. He's the taxman, and he owns us.

Sometime between 1620 and 1640, the Flemish artist Pieter Breughel the Elder painted this scene, "Paying the Tax." The original painting was lost long ago, but we know it through some forty copies painted by the artist's son, Pieter Breughel the Younger.

Nothing subtle here. The villagers are struggling to settle up with eggs and produce and promises; the clerks are slovenly and unsympathetic, and the head taxman is all decked out in royal purple. Got the picture?

Posted by Ellen

 In the 1890s, Toulouse-Lautrec painted a number of works showing lesbians kissing in bed. This painting, "The Bed" (1893), is probably part of that series, though the gender of the bedheads is arguably ambiguous and he may in fact be portraying a boy and a girl. 

In any event, this is among the first Western paintings to show two adult human beings sleepily together in bed. Sshh.

Posted by Ellen

 

We've seen the work of Avram Dumitrescu before--his tiny chicken, his staring steer--but this painting is different. Here, in "Front Street Books," he shows a scene that is arguably unremarkable: a woman is settled into an armchair in a bookstore, with a cat curled up on a rug near the magazine shelves. What I like about this painting is that the bookstore is in Texas--rural west Texas, in fact, in the tiny town of Alpine. Paintings of Texas are supposed to show cowboy boots and pickup trucks and longhorn skulls in the sun, next to broken-down oil derricks. Avram's painted a little of that, and seeing as how he's a foreigner transplanted into west Texas, we might forgive him for painting a lot of that.

But here he's showing us a mild-mannered bookstore scene in Texas, and it's every bit as real, as true, as all the redneck stuff. I'm thinking that Republicans would fume: This scene doesn't show the real Texas. But what can I say? Texas is a big, messy, complicated place, and those Republicans are just wrong, as always. 

The cat's name is Frisky-Sweets. Avram notes that she posed for him "very reluctantly."

Posted by Ellen

"Playing Chess with Tracey," painted in 2003 by the British artist Peter Blake. From his series, Marcel Duchamp's World Tour.

No comment.
 

Posted by Ellen

They Didn't Expect Him, by Ilya Serin, 1883. A revolutionary returns home unexpectedly from political exile, setting up a cinematic sort of family scene.

The man's mother rises to greet him. The little girl, his younger child, seems a little frightened; perhaps he has been gone so long that she doesn't recognize him. The boy, a little older, looks thrilled. The man's wife, sitting at the piano near the door, is startled and confused; perhaps she had given him up for lost. Perhaps too, she has been angry about his political obsessions that left the family abandoned for so long. The servants are watchful, eager to see what happens next.

The man himself looks haggard and unsure of himself. His return is not triumphant; perhaps it's not anything at all like what he might have imagined while he was away. Can he pick up the pieces of his old life? Will his wife welcome him back? What about his political and intellectual life, which had led to his exile? What does he do now?

Posted by Ellen

Girl with Peaches, by Valentin Serov, 1887.

Posted by Ellen

In 1543, the artist Titian painted this picture of the male members of the Vendramin family of Venice, who are shown venerating what is said to be a relic of the cross on which Jesus was crucified. The relic actually belonged to a different Venetian family, but some years earlier it had been accidentally knocked into a canal during a procession, and Andrea Vendramin, the grandfather of the doge in the center of this portrait, had dived in after it and retrieved it, thus sealing a special relationship between it and the family.

It is believed that Titian had help in completing this portrait; specifically, it is said that his apprentices painted some of the children. Titian himself did the boy with the red stockings and the dog, but the three boys at the left, and perhaps also the two other boys at the right, represent the work of his assistants.

Posted by Ellen

Several of you asked to see more work by our Romanian Northern Irish West Texas friend Avram Dimitrescu. He calls this acrylic painting "Longhorn and Mountains."

For many more images, see Avram's blog and his portfolio website. He doesn't just paint chickens and cows, though I might be satisfied if he did; he's also got  paintings and drawings of landscapes, buildings, vehicles, food, and the digging arm of an excavating machine.
 

Posted by Ellen

Avram Dimitrscu's father was a musician in a Romanian concert band, behind the Iron Curtain. In the 1970s, the band toured western Europe, including the Channel Islands, where Avram's mother, a native of Belfast, Northern Island, was working at a resort hotel. They fell in love, and when it came time for the band to return to Romania, she helped him hide and eventually defect.. Avram was born on the Isle of Jersey and raised in Belfast. His parents ran a catering business until the 1990s, when travel to Romania became possible. Then they bought a truck and began operating a charity, collecting donations of food, clothing, and everything else, and driving all the way across Europe every month or so to deliver the contributions to Romanians in need.

Avram grew up during the troubles in Northern Ireland, in a Catholic part of town, and enrolled as an art student at the University of Belfast. He worked at a McDonald's near campus during the school year but spent his summers abroad, in Maine, where he worked as a camp counselor at a boys' camp. It was there that he met fellow-counselor John Stein. Avram and John traveled together, and Avram spent time in Alabama with all the Steins--always with his sketchbook in hand. Eventually, he married an American woman and moved to the town of Alpine, in the Big Bend area of extreme west Texas. He paints, illustrates, teaches art, runs the Dimitrescu Gallery, and surely still keeps his sketchbook close at hand.

This is his "Tiny Chicken #8."