Tag Archives: The Joy of Museums

Guest Post: Two Sisters or On the Terrace by Auguste Renoir from Joy of Museums

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Thank you to Joy of Museums for this delightful discussion of this painting and insight into the life of Renoir.

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Two Sisters on the Terrace by Pierre-August Renoir

Two Sisters or On the Terrace by Pierre-Auguste Renoir

Two Sisters or On the Terrace by Pierre-Auguste Renoir depicts the upper terrace of the Maison Fournaise, a family restaurant located on an island in the Seine in Chatou, the western suburb of Paris. The painting shows a young woman and her younger girl seated outdoors with a small basket containing balls of wool. In the background over the railings of the terrace, are flowering plants and vines and then the River Seine with boats and some buildings in the top left on the other side of the river.

Renoir painted this delightful scene as a homage to springtime in 1881, and he or his art dealer called it “Two Sisters” (French: Les Deux Sœurs), its alternative title “On the Terrace” (French: Sur la terrasse) was used by the first owner of the painting. Jeanne Darlot (1863—1914), a future actress who was 18 years old when she posed for the elder sister. The identity of who represented the younger sister is not known as they were not real sisters. Before working on Two Sisters, Renoir worked in this particular location on another well-known painting, Luncheon of the Boating Party.

Maison Fournaise

The Maison Fournaise is today a restaurant and museum located on Impressionist Island on the Seine in Chatou, west of Paris. In 1857, Alphonse Fournaise bought land in Chatou to open a boat rental, restaurant, and small hotel for the new tourist trade.

The family restaurant was a favourite of Pierre-Auguste Renoir, who painted many scenes of the restaurant and from the restaurant as well several portraits of Fournaise family members and many landscapes of the surrounding area. In 1880, Renoir wrote to a friend:

“My painting detains me in Chatou. Be kind enough to come and have lunch with me.
You won’t regret your trip; this is the loveliest place in the surroundings of Paris.”

The Maison Fournaise museum’s collection is focused on the history of the house and the golden age of the banks of the Seine. It also holds exhibitions around contemporary artistic movements from the Impressionist era.

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Guest Post: “Water Lilies” by Claude Monet from The Joy of Museums

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Thank you to The Joy of Museums for insights into Claude Monet’s mastery of the subject of water lilies.

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“Water Lilies” by Claude Monet shows a water-lily pond, from Monet’s garden in Giverny, with the sky, clouds and light reflecting on the lily pond. Monet attempted to capture the continually changing qualities of light, colour, water, sky and lilies by dissolving all the elements in what he expressed as:

“the refuge of peaceful meditation in the centre of a flowering aquarium.”

Claude Monet painted nearly 250 painting in his series of “Water Lilies”.  The paintings depict Monet’s flower garden at his home in Giverny which was the primary focus of Monet’s artistic endeavours during the last thirty years of his life. Monet painted many of his later works while suffering from cataracts.

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Guest Post: “The Visit of the Queen of Sheba to King Solomon” by Edward Poynter from The Joy of Museums

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Thank you to The Joy of Museums for the wonderful explanation of this painting:

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“The Visit of the Queen of Sheba to King Solomon” by Edward Poynter

“The Visit of the Queen of Sheba to King Solomon” by Edward Poynter depicts the story from the Hebrew Bible in which the Queen of Sheba visits Solomon the King of Israel and a son of King David. The Bible describes how the fame of Solomon’s wisdom and wealth had spread so far and wide, that the Queen of Sheba decided to visit and see for herself if the stories were real.

The queen came bearing gifts including gold, spices, and precious stones and King Solomon responded in kind and gave her “all her desire, whatsoever she asked,” and she left satisfied (1 Kings 10:10). Nearly 3,000 years later, the visit of the Queen of Sheba continues to inspire the creative imagination and has become the subject of many stories that have inspired many artists.

The land of Sheba has been identified as Saba, a nation on the coast of the Red Sea and was part of what are now Eritrea, Somalia, Ethiopia, and Yemen. An Ethiopian account from the 14th-century purports that the Queen of Sheba had sexual relations with King Solomon and gave birth to a son. Ethiopian tradition holds that the son grew up to become King Menelik I, and to found a dynasty that would reign for nearly 3,000 years until Haile Selassie was overthrown in 1974. King Menelik was said to be a practicing Jew who was given a replica of the Ark of the Covenant by King Solomon. Ethiopian tradition states that the original Ark was switched and went to Ethiopia, and is still there, guarded by the Christian Church. The Ethiopian government and church deny all requests to view the alleged ark.

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Guest Post: “The Hand of God” by Auguste Rodin from The Joy of Museums

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Thank you to The Joy of Museums for this article.

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“The Hand of God” by Auguste Rodin

“The Hand of God” was modeled by Auguste Rodin and attempts to compare the art of sculpture to the divine process of creation. A right hand, emerging from the earth, holds a lump of clay from which two struggling emergent figures, Adam and Eve, have been modeled.

The work presents Adam and Eve entwined in a fetal position and emerging from a lump of earth cradled in God’s hand. Rodin said,

 “When God created the world, it is modelling, he must have thought …”  

In this sculpture, Rodin depicts this metaphor of God’s hand cradles the material from which male and female emerge.

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Guest Post: “The Mona Lisa” by Leonardo da Vinci ~from The Joy of Museums

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Thank you to The Joy of Museums for today’s guest post.

Painting of Mona Lisa

“The Mona Lisa” by Leonardo da Vinci

The Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci is a portrait which he started in Florence around 1503. It is thought to be of Lisa Gherardini, wife of a Florentine cloth merchant. Leonardo took this painting with him to France when he joined the court of the French King, and after his death, the picture entered King François I’s collection. The Mona Lisa became part of The Louvre collection in 1797 and is considered to be one of the world’s best-known paintings, the most written about and the most parodied works of art in the world.

In 1911, Leonardo’s Mona Lisa painting was stolen from the Louvre, and the Louvre closed for an entire week during the investigations.  The theft created a media sensation and rewards were offered. Pablo Picasso was on the original list of suspects questioned and jailed for the robbery, but he was later released. After many false leads and claims, the Mona Lisa thief was caught when he attempted to sell it to the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. It was returned to the Louvre in 1914 and the thief, a Louvre employee Vincenzo Peruggia only served six months in prison for the crime.  Peruggia was hailed for his patriotism in Italy as he claimed he wanted to return the Mona Lisa to the country that gave birth to the Mona Lisa and Leonardo. Perugia argued, that the Mona Lisa had been stolen from Florence by Napoleon and that he deserved a reward for doing his patriotic duty and returning it to its real home in Italy.

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The Mona Lisa is on display in the Uffizi Gallery, in Florence (Italy), just before it was returned to the Louvre.

Before the 1911 theft, the Mona Lisa was not widely known outside the art world. The nearly two-year hunt across multiple continents helped to publicise the Mona Lisa to the public imagination. In 1956, the painting was damaged when a vandal threw acid at it, which provided more publicity and notoriety. That same year, a rock was thrown at the canvas which left some minor damage.

Bulletproof glass was then used to protect the Mona Lisa. Which was fortunate when in 1974, a woman, upset by the museum’s policy for disabled people, sprayed red paint at the Mona Lisa. More recently in 2009, a Russian woman, upset for being denied French citizenship, threw a ceramic teacup at the famous painting.

The painting has been exhibited in New York City, Washington, D.C, Tokyo and Moscow with great success. Before the US tour, in 1962 the picture was assessed for insurance at $100 million. In today’s terms that translates to approximately $800m, considered to be the most valued painting in the world.

Leonardo da Vinci - Mona Lisa (detail) - WGA12713

In art terms, the Mona Lisa is the earliest Italian portrait to focus firmly on the sitter in a half-length portrait and set the standard for future artists. Depicting the subject in front of an imaginary landscape, Leonardo was one of the first painters to use perspective in this way. Da Vinci pioneered a shadowing technique at the corners of her lips and the corners of her eyes which give her a remarkably lifelike appearance and look of amusement.

An unexpected historical copy of the Mona Lisa was discovered in 2012 at as part of the Prado collection in Madrid. When the painting was cleaned, scientific analysis revealed that the copy was probably painted by another artist, possibly an apprentice of Leonardo da Vinci, who sat beside Leonardo and copied his work, brush-stroke by brush-stroke. The Prado painting suggests what the Mona Lisa might look like if layers of yellowed varnish could be removed from the original. The face, especially the smile, does look slightly different but it is a close copy in many other respects and dates to a similar time. The painting cannot be considered as a workshop copy due to its careful and thorough execution, as well as its use of materials such as lapis lazuli or red lacquer, which were used by Leonardo.

The Joconde by a student of Leonardo da Vinci

A copy of the Mona Lisa that was discovered in 2012 at as part of the Prado collection, in Madrid.

Leonardo da Vinci was an Italian painter, draftsman, sculptor, architect, scientist and an engineer who was already famous in his lifetime and is today considered a genius. Leonardo’s masterpiece had considerable influence during his lifetime and continued to influence and attract lovers of history and art in our life.

Mona Lisa:

  • Title:           Mona Lisa
  • Français:    La Joconde, La Gioconda
  • Artist:         Leonardo da Vinci
  • Created:     1503
  • Periods:      High Renaissance
  • Subject:      Not certain, possibly Lisa Gherardini
  • Media:        Oil paint on poplar wood
  • Dimensions: 77 cm x 53 cm
  • Museum:    The Louvre (since 1797)

Leonardo da Vinci:

  • Name:               Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci
  • Born:                 1452 – Vinci, Republic of Florence (present-day Italy)
  • Died:                  1519 (aged 67) – Amboise, Kingdom of France
  • Movement:      High Renaissance
  • Masterpieces:

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“The greatest deception men suffer is from their own opinions.” Leonardo da Vinci

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Photo Credit 1) By Sambodhi Sakhare (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons 2) By Apprentice of Leonardo da Vinci. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons 3) See page for author [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons 4) Robert L. Knudsen [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons 5) Leonardo da Vinci [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons ; Museo del Prado [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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