Art Curatorial Exhibitions

Impressionism: La Maison de Monet

Giverny, house
House front view. Image from Foundation Claude Monet Giverny,

On an estate in Giverny, France sits a long two-story home, its pink facade perforated with windows, each framed by Veronese green shutters. Intermittently, a Virginia creeper meanders its way up, around and between the windows. In front of the home an orchard space has been converted into an expansive flower garden. Beyond, a river has been expertly manipulated into a serene water garden.

This was the home of Claude Monet.

At the Milwaukee Art Museum Impressionism: Masterworks on Paper has made its debut with more than 120 drawings, watercolors, and pastels on display from some of the best known (and even a few lesser known) impressionist and post-impressionist artists. This seems a fitting time, in the spirit of impressionism, to discuss (in lieu of any one piece from his oeuvre) Monet’s home and gardens in Giverny, France.

Art Library/Archives

Vive “Verve”

VERVE The French Review of Art Volume 2, Number 8 (September-November 1940) Printed in France Gift of Lillian Schultz
Matisse’s cover, VERVE The French Review of Art Volume 2, Number 8 (Sept-Nov 1940). Printed in France. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Lillian Schultz. Photo by Beret Balestrieri Kohn.

Imagine having your favorite artists, authors, philosophers and others ready at your beck and call for any project you desire.

What would you have them do?

Published by E. Tériade, “Verve: The French Review of Art” was a legendary quarterly art journal with that kind of seemingly-limitless access to legendary artists.

From 1937 to 1975, Tériade (real name Stratis Eleftheriades, French 1889–1983) was an art critic, patron, and publisher that commissioned artists and philosophers, including Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, and André Derain to produce works for his prestigious journal.

This particular issue of “Verve” (Vol. 2, No. 8, Sept—Nov 1940), devoted to the “Nature of France”, features a luxurious dark dust jacket after Matisse’s paper cutouts.

Art Curatorial

From the Collection—Charlotte-Françoise DeBure by Catherine Lusurier

Charlotte-Françoise DeBure PAINTINGS Lusurier, Catherine French, 1752-1781 1776 Oil on canvas H. 29 1/2 x 24 in. Bequest of Arthur & Noryne Riebs (M1959.80)
 Catherine Lusurier (French, ca. 1752-1781), “Charlotte-Françoise DeBure”, 1776. Oil on canvas, 29 1/2 x 24 in. Milwaukee Art Museum, Bequest of Arthur & Noryne Riebs. (M1959.80) Photo by Larry Sanders.

One thing to keep in mind when you look at art is not to trust the labels. Well, I don’t mean the labels that museums put on the wall next to the artwork–we try to make those as accurate as possible. I mean that you should not trust the little metal plaques that sometimes decorate the frames of many older artworks. Why? Let me tell you one an example.

Tucked in one of the side niches in the Museum’s 18th-century French room, Gallery #8, is a painting of a young girl. Decked out in her lace finery, her blonde hair pulled back with a pink ribbon in that matches her pink dress and posed with a basket of flowers, she is the epitome of a blushing sweet child.

The ornately carved frame has a metal label at center bottom that reads “H. DROUAIS, le fils”. You’d assume this must be the artist or the subject. But upon looking at the Museum’s object label, you see that the painting is a likeness of young Charlotte-Françoise DeBure by the artist Catherine Lusurier, who lived from about 1753 to 1781. Neither of them is named Drouais.

So, what’s going on with that frame plaque?

Art Education

Slow Art–Bouguereau’s Homer and His Guide

William-Adolphe Bouguereau (French, 1825-1905), Homer and His Guide, 1874. Oil on canvas. Milwaukee Art Museum, Layton Art Collection, Gift of Frederick Layton. Photo credit Larry Sanders
William-Adolphe Bouguereau (French, 1825-1905), Homer and His Guide, 1874. Oil on canvas. Milwaukee Art Museum, Layton Art Collection, Gift of Frederick Layton. Photo credit Larry Sanders

It was easier to begin my 45-minute looking experience at William-Adolphe Bouguereau’s Homer and His Guide than it was at Ernst Ludwig Kirchner’s Street at Schöneberg City Park, the subject of my last “Slow Art” post. I have loved Bouguereau for about four years now, ever since I gave gallery talks on his work at the Frick Art & Historical Center in Pittsburgh, PA. Like Jean-Honoré Fragonard, he is not the most respectable artist for an art historian or museum educator to love: his work is sentimental, it doesn’t really push boundaries, and it is on the whole pretty safe. But I have always been drawn to the way he paints–his style is luminously realistic, ridiculously meticulous. He is one of the few painters whose figures always seem to me about to jump off the canvas.