Into the breach, charged the hard-working Miss Sage,
moving heaven and earth to get these charming but reluctant
French artistes to part with their masterpieces.
Though, I have no idea why they would be so reluctant,
since I'm doubting that this Societe des Peintres etc
was formed for any other purpose
other than to promote their work.
Auguste Rodin was the president,
but I suspect this was in name only,
and I've yet to find reference to this society
in the biographies of any of the artist members
(though many of their other associations are listed)
And, I have no idea,
other than for promotional purposes,
why they would be so dead-set against the academy
when this was where almost all of them had studied,
and these apples don't seem to have fallen
all that far from the tree.
I.e. -- today they would mostly be considered quite
conservative -even backward for their time
and most of their names have now been forgotten.
But not by me !
What follows is a presentation of the works
pictured in that 1912 catalog
(all in black & white)
accompanied by whatever else I could find by the
same artists on the internet
(all in color)
to offer the gentle reader
a little slice of the European artworld,
post-academy and pre-modern.
This is the American painter, John White Alexander
(from the exhibit - and then from a piece currently in the Met)
The moody volumes and space of the exhibit's piece
(which remind me of Thomas Dewing
appeals to me more than the Met's,
which just seems to be
(since it hasn't been pushed to
(It's my theory that depiction always starts out
feeling small -- and stays that way unless
there's some reason to make any extra effort)Albert Besnard
No, I'm not really happy with this portrait either,
because it also feels small,
like an illustration
Here's another Besnard that I like more
because it feels more elegant,
but I still think it serves the client
more than us
as opposed to this dynamite portrait
of Besnard and his family.
But then, it pains me to report that Besnard
did not paint it --
it was done by another member of the Societe,
John Singer Sargent,
and doesn't it feel like the power of
spatial design has just been cranked up
two or three notches ?Jacques-Émile Blanche
This creepy Salome isn't making it for me
But the Blanche that I'm finding on the internet is
(maybe because I need a Mediterranean vacation ??)
A female portrait that's a cut above the
last artist shown
and this just seems to be
a good portrait of James Joyce
And here's the artist himself,
again painted by John Singer Sargent.
he looks like a man under pressureEugene Carriere
(click on his name for more pictures)
Everyone who's been to the Hotel Biron,
knows the work of Rodin's good friend.
He was already dead at the time of this exhibition,
but his reputation has lasted better than most.Emile Claus (
1849–1924) was a Belgian painter
who seems to have specialized in cattle
But it looks like he was keeping an eye
on Monet as well.
as well as PissaroGeorge Desvallieres
This moody portrait seems better to illustrate
a character in a story
than to flatter a client,
and maybe that's why I couldn't
find any more portraits by him on the internet
while this vision reminds us that
this painter was a student of Gustave MoreauHenri Duhem
Duhem was a descendant from an old Flemish family.
I like his moody, slightly uncomfortable paintings,
but he was an active art collector as well,
leaving a collection that included:
Boudin, Carrière, Corot, Gauguin, Guillaumin, Monet,
Pissarro, Renoir, Rodin, Lebourg and Le Sidaner.Antonio de La Gandara
(1861 - 1917)
(click on his name for more pictures)
Apparently, he was a very fashionable portrait painter
among he glitterati of pre-war Paris
But I can see why his reputation faded soon after his death.
This work just looks so temporaryGaston Latouche
Ahhh.. the good life!
Maybe if this were in color,
it wouldn't make me long so much for Watteau
But I think this is quite a charming landscape,
and it feels like it could have been done 100 years later.
More of the good life,
with a fine erotic theme,
and yes, color does make a difference,
though it still seems more appropriate for
a contemporary townhouse on the goldcoast,
than for the palace at VersaillesHenri Martin
Would this solid design improve with color ?
Yes... I think it would,
here's one of pieces in color,
and by the way,
this one recently sold at auction for $232,000
Had you ever heard of him ?
Here's the artist's portrait
(done by himself, this time, not by Sargent)
and I think it's quite a monument to
the life of a practicing aesthete
who loves the world
and wants to add some more beautyEmile Rene Menard
And here's a interesting piece of text
from the Musee d'Orsay website:Fallen out of favour, these many lyrical scenes have often been removed from the places for which they were designed. This has allowed the Musee d'Orsay to present ten monumental paintings, executed between 1908 and 1915, for the various rooms of the Paris Law School. Among them, six paintings (in fact three diptychs called Antique Dream, The Golden Age and Pastoral Life), which were presented at the Salon of the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts in 1909, were designed to be put on either side of the monumental doors of the Salle des Actes, where they stayed until the building was refurbished in 1970.
Here's a close-up of a drawing
And here's another.
Sweet, peaceful, full-bodied
Classical nudes -- look familiar ?
This is the graphic version of Maillol,
which, I confess, has me
Here's one of those large, decorative panels
now in the Musee d'Orsay
And here, remarkably, enough
is the color reproduction
of the same painting that came to Chicago in 1912,
now on display in Musee d'Orsay
And as it turns out,
the "Societe des Peintres et des Sculpteurs"
did include, within its ranks,
another small band of artists
known as "Les Nubiens"
(not to be confused with the
" unconventional female duo that came out of Bordeaux, France, in the 1990s, who offered a jazzy, sophisticated style of R&B")
The group also included Lucien Simon, Charles Cottet and Andre Dauchez - whose paintings "were drawn entirely from philosophy and nature and were known for the harmonious tonality of their work."
The above is Menard's portrait of Charles Cottet.
I'm not sure that Menard's large panels serve as
anything more than pleasant decoration,
but it's hard to tell from the tiny jpg's.
I'm glad they've been rescued by the Musee d'Orsay,
but it looks like his work is still way under-valued at auction.Charles Cottet
I have difficulty imagining this one
looking any better in full color,
however Miss Sage, the curator of this exhibit,
acquired it for her museum in Buffalo.
But where is it now ?
I don't remember seeing it when I lived in Buffalo 30 years ago,
and recently the Albright-Knox transformed itself into a
museum that, according to Thomas Hoving :
"Has one of the most thumping modern and contemporary collections in the world."
This Cottet seascape looks more pleasant.Andre Dauchez.
(1870 - 1948)
This painting could have been done 50 years earlier,
but, of course, I'm not one to complain about that.
It's a beautiful day at a beautiful placeLucien Simon
A nice slice of life,
doesn't literature do a better job of it ?
like the following text clipped
from Willa Cather's story called "Scandal"
(which happens to mention this artist by name)
The long front of Kitty's study was all windows. At one end was the
fireplace, before which she sat. At the other end, back in a lighted
alcove, hung a big, warm, sympathetic interior by Lucien Simon,
This painting made, as it were, another room; so that Kitty's study on
Central Park West seemed to open into that charming French
interior, into one of the most highly harmonized and richly
associated rooms in Paris. There her friends sat or stood about,
men distinguished, women at once plain and beautiful, with their
furs and bonnets, their clothes that were so distinctly not smart
--all held together by the warm lamp-light, by an indescribable
atmosphere of gracefuland gracious human living.
This is a portrait of Simon by Cottet
(both of them loyal "Nubians")James Wilson Morrice
This is the only Canadian in the show,
and I can understand why Canadians
are so proud of him
Many more works can be found here
His paintings feel so direct and honest to me
showing how he enjoys the world,
not how the world is supposed to be enjoyed
Here's a Canadian Madonna
and here's another,
these feel like such honest,
(who keep their clothes on,
like good girls should)
Maybe I've lived too close to the Canadian border,
but this world just seems so real to me.RENE XAVIER PRINET
(French 1861-1946) (student of Gerome)
This is what I would an "illustration"
since only some attachable narrative
could compel any interest in this work.
(But I am interested in the lives of
active, creative women,
so I like these illustrations)Raoul Andre Ulmann
I like this dark, damp
November of the soul
"Life as a day at the beach" ?
but the kind of beach that invites melancholy
reflection rather than swimmingJean Francois Raffaelli
Raffaelli is currently one of the more famous
artists in the collection,
although I confess that I can't remember ever seeing him,
because what is the above
other than a charming postcard ?
But, as you can see from this self portrait,
he was as much an artist as Van Gogh
I imagine him as poor,
art obsessed art bum,
who can't help but make paintings
of what he sees
I've read that his earlier work
was "realistic scenes of working people"
(hopefully not all as sentimental as this one)
He hung out in artist cafes,
painted romantic ruins,
and he sure seems to be the kind of guy
you see in every European capitol,
selling drawings on the street
not really my kind of thing,
but there is a certain honest charm about it,
and if you squint just a little,
it does resemble a
nice strong, abstract painting
that might belong in the Armory Show.Charles Despiau
Moving on to the sculptures in this exhibit,
Despiau is one of the leading names in the 20th C. --
and featured here
in my web gallery.
I think his powerful, simple portraits
(like this one, not from the 1912 exhibit)
are his major contributions to the tradition
(but what do I know ?)Jane Poupelet
(1878 - 1932)
I first discovered this sculptor
at a small exhibit of small sculpture
at the Institute of Chicago about 5 years ago.
(the above piece would fit into your hand)
I made an internet page for her here
She did lots of small animals,
but she also did a good job
with classical nudes
and actually -- she's one of my favorites
in this genre.Robert Mileham
is going to have to add her to his list
of sculptresses (although I feel her work to be a bit androgynous)
Her girls have a certain tension, purposefulness
about them that's missing from
the mythic bimbos of Maillol
(although I do like bimbos, too)
Count Troubetsky (1866-1938)
Yes, I'm also a big fan of this Russian/Italian/American
who just seemed to have a natural gift for
lively, balanced sculptural design
that puts him far ahead of his
(who I'm sure could make a more
anatomically detailed horse, but
could not make that horse a sculpture)
I've begun a page for him here
but the best place to look so far
is in another Art Institute of Chicago catalog from 1912
(thanks, Robert, for the link)
Louis Dejean (1872-1954)
Dejean's career seems to have spanned the
two centuries -- beginning with the
rather blowsy romantic piece above
and culminating in the modern classicism of the
Palais de Chaillot (Trocadero)
where I first discovered him many years ago.
I prefer his classical style,
but since this entire monument's style was also preferred by
the National Socialists,
I don't think he's ready to be rehabilitated.
Eugene Lagare (1870-??)
And finally, we have the one
artist from this exhibit who is
completely invisible to the internet.
The catalog says that Rodin
considered him at the time
to be his "most promising pupil"
and that he had gotten some private
garden commissions in America.
But now seems to have fallen off the radar.
And finally, we have one photograph from the exhibit,
Edward Steichen's portrait of Rodin,
back from the days when
photography was first being promoted
as a fine art -- like painting and sculpture.
Obviously, the tactic here
was to make the photograph look like a painting or drawing.
Did it work?
Of course it worked !
And today, the same Art Institute that had this show a century ago,
has not given an exhibit to a living figure sculptor since ...
since before my time.
(while they currently specialize in post-modernist photography)
maybe it didn't work,
if you're at all sensitive to how things can be drawn
and can feel the morbid, dead-hand clumsiness
of the photographer's lens.
And that completes our tour of the 1912 exhibit catalog
(though many other artists were shown
who did not make it to the catalog)
One final note of interest --
is just how obscure so many of these artists are today,
i.e. they belong to the world of private but not public collections.
Even the Art Renewal Center
"The World's Largest On-line Museum"
which specializes in the 19th Century,
and has, as of today, 5,270 artists.
ARC includes less than half of the artists found in this show.
(the exact count, as of today, is 10 out of 24 )