Père-Lachaise (4)

Père-Lachaise - painters

First: Jim Morrison, see last week. He got his text now.

This week: painters. It starts as well as ends with a Dutchman!

Gerard van Spaendonck (Tilburg, 22 maart 1746 - Paris, 11 mei 1822).

Gerard was born in Tilburg, an older brother of Cornelis van Spaendonck (1756 - 1840), who was also an accomplished artist. In the 1760s he studied with decorative painter Willem Jacob Herreyns (also known as Guillaume-Jacques Herreyns) (1743–1827) in Antwerp. In 1769 he moved to Paris, where in 1774 he was appointed miniature painter in the court of Louis XVI. In 1780 he succeeded Madeleine Françoise Basseporte (1701–1780) as professor of floral painting at the Jardin des Plantes, and shortly afterwards was elected as a member of the Académie des beaux-arts. Gerard van Spaendonck painted with both oil and watercolours. He contributed over fifty works to the Vélins du Roi, a famous collection of botanical watercolors possessed by French royalty. From 1799 to 1801 he published twenty-four plates of Fleurs Dessinees d'apres Nature (Flowers Drawn from Life), which were high-quality engravings for students of floral painting. Today, Spaendonck's Fleurs Dessinées d'après Nature is a highly treasured book on floral art. In 1788 he was appointed adviser to the Académie, and in 1795 became a founding member of the Institut de France. In 1804 he received the Légion d'honneur and soon afterwards was ennobled by Napoleon Bonaparte. (Wikipedia.)

One of his many compositions with flowers.

Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (Montauban 29 August 1780 - Paris 14 January 1867).

Ingres was a French neoclassical painter. Although he considered himself to be a painter of history, by the end of his life it was Ingres's portraits, both painted and drawn, that were recognized as his greatest legacy.

A man profoundly respectful of the past, he assumed the role of a guardian of academic orthodoxy against the ascendant Romantic style represented by his contemporary Eugène Delacroix (see hereafter). Ingres's talent for painting was not his only one. From the ages of thirteen to sixteen he was second violinist in the Orchestre du Capitole de Toulouse. Apart from ‘La Grande Odalisque’, one of his other famous paintings is ‘Le Bain Turc’.

La Grande Odalisque.

Eugène (Ferdinand-Victor-Eugène) Delacroix (Charenton-Saint-Maurice 26 April 1798 – Paris 13 August 1863).

Delacroix was a romantic painter and, as such, the counterpart of neoclassicist Ingres. He did not only paintings but also decorations, engravings and designs. And last but not least… he painted his own versions of ‘Odalisque’ – a bit more provocative then Ingres’ one.

La liberte guidant le peuple.

Camille (Jacob Abraham Camille) Pissarro (Saint-Thomas, Virgin Islands 10 July 1830 – Paris 13 November 1903).

The Virgin Islands were a Danish colony until 1917 (then sold to the United States) , reason why Camille Pissarro was for his entire life of Danish nationality. His father, born in Bordeaux and French, was of Portuguese Jewish descent; his mother was native Creole. Pissarro is one of the patriarchs of Impressionism and post-Impressionism. At the age of 12 he was sent to boarding school in France and studied there for 5 years. When he returned to Saint-Thomas his father wanted him to work for his business. Influenced and taught by the Danish brothers Melbye, Pissarro eventually lived and worked in Paris from 1855 on. His most important teacher there was Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot (1796 – 1875). In 1871 he married his mother’s maid, Julie Vellay, with whom he had eight (7?) children. The Franco-Prussian War of 1870 forced his family, him having only Danish nationality and unable to join the French army, to flee to England. On returning to France they found their house and all paintings destroyed. Pissarro befriended several of his famous colleagues, like Monet and Cézanne. When Vincent van Gogh lived in Paris Pissarro was his mentor, learning Vincent new techniques, using bright colours. The Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam has two of Pissarro’s works on display, next to two of Van Gogh’s works, just to show Pissarro’s influence on Van Gogh.

Avenue de l'Opera and the effect of snow.

Gustave Caillebotte (Paris, 19 August 1848 - Gennevilliers, 21 February 1894).

Caillebotte was born to a wealthy Parisian family. His father (1799 – 1874) inherited the family’s military textile business and was also a judge. Gustave grew up in the heart of Paris, earned a law degree with ease, was the recipient of a generous allowance in his youth and then received a large inheritance. So he was never under pressure to anything he didn’t want to. In 1870, however, he was drafted to fight in the Franco-Prussian war. After the war he started to study painting seriously. He had a special gift for perspective but was marginalized because his subjects did not fit what was accepted to feature in art at the time – like fashionable mythological characters or even idealized farmers. Instead he painted the things, natural to his upper-class life: enjoying a game of cards, playing piano, dining together or, when away to the country, swimming, boating, fishing, relaxing. After he moved to the countryside he was often joined by his dear friend Pierre-Auguste Renoir. He was a generous patron of the arts, especially to his friends Seurat and Gauguin. He even persuaded the Louvre to purchase Édouard Manet’s ‘Olympia’! At the time of his death, Caillebotte’s personal art collection included major works by close friends Pissarro, Monet, Renoir, Sisley, Degas, Cézanne and Manet. He never married because the love of his life, Charlotte Berthier, eleven years his junior, came from a very poor family. He probably was not able to break the social barrier – however he left her a sizeable inheritance.

Rue de Paris, Temps de Pluie.

George (Georges-Pierre) Seurat (Paris 2 December 1859 - Paris 29 March 1891).

He is most known for his pointillism. And of course his painting ‘Un dimanche après-midi à l'Île de la Grande Jatte’ (see below). George was born to a wealthy family and very serious about his art. He devoted years to mastering black and white drawing before he painted. When his painting ‘Une baignade à Asnières’ was rejected by the Paris salon, he rejected the entire art establishment in general. Seurat and some other artists he had met set up a new organisation, the Société des Artistes Indépendants. Near the end of his young life he moved to a quiet studio with a young model, Madeleine Knobloch. She bore him a son named Pierre-Georges. She was heavily pregnant with their second child when he took Madeleine to meet his parents and introduce them to Pierre. Georges died two days later at the age of 31. The cause of his death is uncertain, and has been variously attributed to a form of meningitis, pneumonia, infectious angina, and diphtheria. His son died two weeks later from the same disease. Madeleine gave birth to their second son, but he died at childbirth.

Un dimanche après-midi à l'Île de la Grande Jatte.

Amedeo (Amedeo Clemente) Modigliani (Livorno 12 July 1884 – Paris 24 January 1920).

Modigliani was born into a Jewish family in Livorno, Italy. When his father’s business failed, the family lived in crushing poverty. His mother Eugenia home-schooled Amedeo until he was 10 years old. He had severe health problems and struggled to survive pleurisy more than once, and bouts of typhoid fever and tuberculosis. From an early age he was drawing and painting, so his mother arranged for him to study art in his hometown. He was doing well but forced to quit painting due to his tuberculosis. After recovering he studied in Florence and Venice where he took up a full-blown bohemian lifestyle of drugs, drinking and sex. In 1906 he moved to Paris, to continue his lifestyle in Montmartre. Amadeo quickly spiraled into the life of an alcoholic and addict, but he was prolific in his work. At times he was creating hundreds of pieces of arts in a day, but he would typically lose them, give them to women he was having sex with or leave them behind when he had to quickly change addresses. He met the first serious love of his life, Russian poet Anna Akhmatova, in 1910, when he was 26. They had studios in the same building, and although 21-year-old Anna was recently married, they began an affair. Anna was tall (as Modigliani was only 5 foot 5 inches) with dark hair (like Modigliani's), pale skin and grey-green eyes, she embodied Modigliani's aesthetic ideal and the pair became engrossed in each other. After a year, however, Anna returned to her husband. Sick and frail he returned to Livorno to recover, but the moment his health improved he raced back to Paris. In the spring of 1917 he was introduced to a beautiful 19-year-old art student named Jeanne Hébuterne (1898 – 1920). From a conservative bourgeois background, Hébuterne was renounced by her devout Roman Catholic family for her liaison with the painter, whom they saw as little more than a debauched derelict. Despite her family's objections, soon they were living together, and although Hébuterne was the current love of his life, their public scenes became more renowned than Modigliani's individual drunken exhibitions. On 3 December 1917 Modigliani's had his first one-man exhibition. The chief of the Paris police was scandalized by Modigliani's nudes and forced him to close the exhibition within a few hours after its opening. After he and Hébuterne moved to Nice, she became pregnant, and on November 29, 1918, gave birth to a daughter whom they named Jeanne (1918–1984). Although he continued to paint, Modigliani's health was deteriorating rapidly, and his alcohol-induced blackouts became more frequent. In 1920, after not hearing from him for several days, his downstairs neighbour checked on the family and found Modigliani in bed delirious and holding onto Hébuterne, who was nearly nine months pregnant. They summoned a doctor, but little could be done because Modigliani was in the final stage of his disease, dying of tubercular meningitis. Modigliani died on January 24, 1920. There was an enormous funeral, attended by many from the artistic communities in Montmartre and Montparnasse. Hébuterne was taken to her parents' home, where, inconsolable, she threw herself out of a fifth-floor window, a day after Modigliani's death, killing herself and her unborn child. Modigliani was interred in Père-Lachaise Cemetery. Hébuterne was buried at the Cimitière de Bagneux near Paris, and it was not until 1930 that her embittered family allowed her body to be moved to rest beside Modigliani. A single tombstone honors them both. His epitaph reads:  ‘Struck down by Death at the moment of glory’. Hers reads:  ‘Devoted companion to the extreme sacrifice.’ Modigliani, managing only one solo exhibition in his life and giving his work away in exchange for meals in restaurants, died penniless and destitute.

Man with Hat.

Karel (Christiaan Karel) Appel (Amsterdam 25 April 1921 – Zürich 3 May 2006).

Appel was born on 25 April 1921 in his parents' house at Dapperstraat 7 in Amsterdam. On the ground floor, his father, Jan Appel, had a barber shop. His mother, born Johanna Chevalier, was a descendant of French Huguenots. At fourteen, Appel produced his first real painting on canvas, a still life of a fruit basket. For his fifteenth birthday, his wealthy uncle Karel Chevalier gave him a paint set and an easel. An avid amateur painter himself, Chevalier gave his namesake some lessons in painting. He was destined to be a barber in his father’s shop but always wanted to be a painter. After effectively having worked in his father’s shop he eventually, in 1942, started studying the arts. His parents disapproved of his choice and kicked him out of the house. In 1948 Appel joined CoBrA (from: Copenhagen, Bruxelles, Amsterdam) together with the Dutch artists Corneille, Constant and Jan Nieuwenhuys and with the Belgian poet Christian Dotremont. The new art of the CoBrA-group was not popular in the Netherlands, but it found a warm and broad welcome in Denmark. By 1939, Danish artists had already started to make spontaneous art and one of their sources of inspiration was Danish and Nordic mythology. It was also in Denmark that the CoBrA artists started cooperating by collectively painting the insides of houses, which encouraged and intensified the exchange of the typical 'childish' and spontaneous picture language used by the CoBrA group. Appel used this very intensively; his 1949 fresco 'Questioning Children' in Amsterdam City Hall caused controversy and was covered up for ten years. As a result of this controversy and other negative Dutch reactions to CoBrA, Appel moved to Paris in 1950 and developed his international reputation by travelling to Mexico, the USA, Yugoslavia and Brazil. He also lived in Florence. After 1990 he became much more popular in the Netherlands; he had several big shows in Amsterdam and in Brussels. Also the CoBrA-museum in Amstelveen organized several shows with his work. He became the most famous Dutch artist of CoBrA.