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Painting Reality: 4 Art and the State
Many Naturalist paintings depicted the plight of the rural poor during the early years of the French Third Republic, which was hailed for the reforms which its politicians promised. One of the major accounts of Naturalism in France at that time, by Richard Thomson, considers at length the relationship... Read more
The painted politics of Édouard Debat-Ponsan
This week’s dip into the missing artists archive brings a painter whose fine academic finish mixed pastoral scenes with strong political messages, and whose grandson was an architect of modern France’s system of government: Édouard Debat-Ponsan (1847–1913). He was born in Toulouse, and trained under Alexandre Cabanel at the... Read more
Painting Truth: When did she emerge from a well?
At the very end of the nineteenth century, there was a sudden rush of paintings depicting the personification of Truth as a nude woman climbing from a well. They came apparently from nowhere, were popular for a decade or so, then vanished. Look back 200-300 years earlier, in the... Read more
The Franco-Prussian War: Aftermath
The provisional French government had been very circumspect about capitulating at the end of the Franco-Prussian War in late January 1871, because of their fears of insurrection. The dangers of this were greatest in Paris, where those defending the city had necessarily acted independently of the rest of France... Read more
Alexandre Cabanel and his pupils: the master
Over the last few months, I have paid particular attention here to artists in France and the Nordic countries who, in the late nineteenth century, painted in realist style and may be thought of as Naturalists. Their leading light was the French artist Jules Bastien-Lepage, whose works came to... Read more
Alexandre Cabanel and his pupils: the pupils
Having looked at the life and work of Alexandre Cabanel, I turn now to representative works of some of his pupils: those who learned their skills, techniques, and perhaps styles and motifs in his teaching atelier at the École des Beaux-Arts. In each case, I show the earliest painting... Read more
Painting Reality: 1 Emergence (1883)
The Paris Salon of 1883 was very large, with nearly 2,500 paintings on display. Among those emerged a new school of painting – not that of Impressionism, which had remained fiercely independent and even then was hardly popular, but of a new form of realism: Naturalism. For the next... Read more