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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Gustave Moreau

Lake Nemi1872Oil on canvas30 x 45 in (76.2 x 144.3 cm)Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

The three basic types of American landscape painting: realistic, impressionistic and abstract. Thomas Cole, Frederick Church and Albert Bierstadt typify the glories of the "realistic" Hudson River and Rocky Mountain "schools; John Twachtman, William Merritt Chase and Childe Hassam typify the glories of the "impressionist" camp; and Richard Diebenkorn, Georgia O'Keefe and Charles Sheeler as the "abstract" practitioners.There is, however, another category, Tonalism, which epitomize the late work of George Inness, who was born in 1825 in Newburgh, New York and began his career as a Hudson River School painter.In contrast with the clarity of the Hudson River School aesthetic, the flourishes of the Impressionists and the boldness of the abstract artists, Tonalism is poetic, lush, rapturous and intimate. It evokes the best of Whistlerian reverie and begs for some diaphonous ladies by Thomas Wilmer Dewing.

In the mid-1850s, Inness was commissioned by the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad to create paintings which documented the progress of DLWRR's growth in early Industrial America. The Lackawanna Valley, painted ca. 1855, represents the railroad's first roundhouse at Scranton, Pennsylvania, and integrates technology and wilderness within an observed landscape; in time, not only would Inness shun the industrial presence in favor of bucolic or agrarian subjects, but he would produce much of his mature work in the studio, drawing on his visual memory to produce scenes that were often inspired by specific places, yet increasingly concerned with formal considerations.

Henri Julien Félix Rousseau was a French Post-Impressionist painter in the Naive or Primitive manner. He is also known as Le Douanier (the customs officer) after his place of employment. Ridiculed during his life, he came to be recognized as a self-taught genius whose works are of high artistic quality.

His best known paintings depict jungle scenes, even though he never left France or saw a jungle. His inspiration came from illustrated books and the botanical gardens in Paris, as well as tableaux of wild animals. He had also met soldiers, during his term of service, who had survived the French expedition to Mexico and listened to their stories of the subtropical country they had encountered. Along with his exotic scenes there was a concurrent output of smaller topographical images of the city and its suburbs.
He claimed to have invented a new genre of portrait landscape, which he achieved by starting a painting with a view such as a favourite part of the city, and then depicting a person in the foreground.
In 1905 a large jungle scene The Hungry Lion Throws Itself on the Antelope was exhibited at the Salon des Indépendants as the first showing of The Fauves. Rousseau's painting may even have influenced the naming of the Fauves. In 1907 he was commissioned by artist Robert Dalunau's mother, Berthe, Comtesse de Delaunay, to paint The Snake Charmer.

The Snake Charmer, 1907
Rousseau's work exerted an "extensive influence ... on several generations of vanguard artists, starting with Picasso and including Léger, Beckmann and the Surrealists," according to Roberta Smith, an art critic writing in The New York Times. "Beckmann’s amazing self-portraits, for example, descend from the brusque, concentrated forms of Rousseau’s portrait of the writer Pierre Loti".
Gustave Moreau was a French Symbolist painter. He was born and died in Paris.
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