Sunday, October 26, 2008

Amazing Painting at the Met

I'm taking a momentary rest from showing you what I've been up to (part painting, part actually resting) -- so I thought I'd revisit some of my discoveries, surprises, and happy moments of the last two weeks. That includes the trips to New York for the Catharine Lorillard Wolfe Art Club Exhibit and the Studio Tour, plus my classes. So, starting with NYC and the Met.

Admittedly, the fact that I found an amazing painting at the Met shouldn't come as a shock -- but when viewing this particular painting at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), I was stunned. The painting is "The Church of Saint-Philippe-du-Roule, Paris" by Jean Beraud (French, 1849-1936) and it measures 23-3/8" x 31-7/8" -- so it's not huge. What surprised me was the extraordinary detail it contained. I saw it from far away and expected to see what artists call "mud-heads" -- simplified forms suggesting faces in the crowds -- but instead I found ridiculously well-painted miniature portraits, an entire crowd's worth.

I'm not sure what possessed Jean Beraud to paint this way. I've been accused (I'm sure lovingly) of creating lifelike figures in many of the scenes that I've painted, but there's always a fluctuation in the level of detail -- with the focus of the painting receiving more attention and the "background" elements painted more loosely and less defined. To achieve my level of detail takes an inordinate amount of time for each painting. I can't imagine how long Mr. Beraud took to paint this.

Side note. Randy and I have been watching documentaries on famous artists and art lately. Last night we watched "Stolen", a documentary about the search for the paintings stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston in 1990. Randy and I visited that museum last year -- loved it and couldn't believe that someone had the audacity to take these treasures (Rembrandts, Vermeer's "The Concert", etc.) from all of us.

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