* Only a portion of the collection is shown.
Sandro Botticelli, whose real name was Alessandro di Mariano di Vanni Filipepi, was born in Florence in 1444 or 1445 as the youngest son of the Florentine tanner Mariano Filipepi. He died in the same city in 1510. Few records of his early years survive, but it seems probable that at 13, he was sent to become an apprentice goldsmith, before joining the studio of Filippo Lippi, a painter then popular in Florence. At first he derived his style from Lippi, while also being influenced by Verrochio, Antonio Pollaiuolo and others. However, he gradually evolved his own individual means of expression, independent of the trends of the time.
In 1470, he received his first commission, a record of which survives to this day. From then on his fame grew, and at the end of 1473 he was invited to paint frescos for the Cathedral in Pisa. After the Pazzi Conspiracy in 1478, he came under the patronage of the Medici family, and his reputation spread still further. In the second half of the 1470s and in the 1480s, he created several masterpieces, including The Spring and The birth of Venus.
The following decade, Botticelli fell under the spell of the Italian religious reformer, Girolamo Savonarola, and his many late works are laden with medieval religiosity.
His fame nearly died with him, until the nineteenth-century Pre-Raphaelite school rediscovered him, finding in him a kindred spirit. Botticelli is now ranked alongside those other Renaissance masters, Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo.
Simonetta Vespucci, the model for this painting, was one of the most beautiful ladies of the era. She was nominated as "The Queen of Beauty” at La Giostra (the equestrian games) in 1475 and became a lover of Giuliano, the younger brother of Lorenzo the Magnificent, who was the winner of the games. She died of a pulmonary infection at the age of 22 in 1476. She enchanted many poets and painters, including Angelo Poliziano, Botticelli, and Piero di Cosimo. Shi is thought to be a model for other Botticelli masterpieces such as The spring and The birth of Venus.
The paintings of Gainsborough, like those of Sir Joshua Reynolds, are representative of eighteenth-century English culture. A founding member of the Royal Academy, he is celebrated for his blue-and-green based portraiture, preeminently represented by The blue boy, held by the Huntington Library in San Marino, California, and The portrait of Mrs. Tomas Graham in the National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh.
But portraits were not Gainsborough's first love; in fact, he painted them just to make ends meet. He once confided to King George 3 that he much preferred landscapes, but these did not sell well, and he gave vent to his disappointment by locking them all in a warehouse for a while, refusing to show them to anyone.
In due course, however, some customers did show their appreciation of the work Gainsborough most enjoyed creating. One was the Duke of Bedford, who in May 1755 commissioned two over-mantels for his stately home. Of these, one addressed the same theme as the work in our collection. Another version of this painting hangs in the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Canada.
Before Gainsborough, British landscape artists had created utopian vistas inspired by biblical settings and by the classical scenery of Ancient Greece and Rome. Gainsborough broke new ground by putting onto canvas the countryside around his home in Suffolk. His inspiration was the naturalism espoused by the Dutch school, which he admired. Yet his paintings also convey a sense of elegance. Perhaps this reflects the influence of Watteau and other French rococo artists, an influence that appears in Gainsborough's treatment of both trees and human figures.
William Muller was born on June 28, 1812 in Bristol, a seaport in southwest England. His father was a Prussian scientist, born in Danzig, who fled the intensifying war with France on a cargo boat, abandoning all his possessions. As he was well-versed in botany, geology and conchology, he was warmly received into English academic circles. He settled in Bristol, because Curator of the Bristol Museum and married a local woman. William was the second of three sons.
William's father was so absorbed in his researches, and unenthusiastic about his children's learning, that William did not attend school, receiving instead a basic education from his mother. He did acquire from is father skill in the observation of nature, which must have influenced his decision to become a painter. From the age of ten, he produced drawings of marine shells and other items to accompany his father's learned essays. His determination to succeed led him to hone his draftsmanship.
At 15, Muller became a pupil of the landscape painter J.B.Pyne (1800 - 1870). Pyne was the only teacher Muller ever had, and he only studied under Pyne for two years. After his father's death in 1830, Muller received his first commission and embarked seriously on a career in art.
Afflicted by a heart ailment, Muller was destined to live only 33 years, dying on September 8, 1845. He was an avid traveler, taking frequent sketching trips to Britain, Europe, Africa, and the Asia Minor. In 1834, he left for a seven-month sketching tour on the Continent with his painter friend George Arthur Fripp, visiting Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, and Italy. In Venice, they spent nearly two months, staying at the Albergo dell' Europa Hotel opposite the Dogana (Doge's Palace) and abutting the Grand Canal. Almost daily, the pair would hire a gondola and sketch vigorously as they punted along.
On his return home, Muller completed many oil paintings from his sketches, working at a prodigious pace. He is reported to have finished his large works, an example of which is before you, in only three or four days. The Doge's Palace and the churches lining the canals were his favorite subjects.
His work remains popular to this day in Britain, and several exhibitions have been mounted in recent decades, most in England. One, held at the Bristol Art Gallery in 1962, commemorated the 150th anniversary of his birth. Others included a display of watercolors at the Tate Gallery, London in 1984, and another exhibition at the Bristol Art Gallery in 1991.
Little is known about James Webb. Born circa 1825, he exhibited in London at both the Royal Academy and the British Institute between 1850 and 1888, and many of his works still hang in London in the collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Tate Gallery.
Webb cannot be readily assigned to any one school. He depicted his own subjective relationship to a landscape in delicate brushwork, bathing the scene in soft light. He was particularly drawn to overseas locations, such as Constantinople (now Istanbul), Turkey and Mont Saint-Michel, France.
Webb lived in the age of Queen Victoria, when Britain acquired unprecedented prosperity, but at the expense of such destruction of nature as to deject the human spirit. Unconsciously, the artists of this time were painting their own nostalgia for a lost world that preceded the Industrial Revolution. They turned for their subjects to Ancient Greece and Rome, and to the exotic East.
Heidelberg Castle here looks older than it does today, although this picture was painted more than a century ago. Perhaps this is a case of Victorian nostalgia at work.
Burne-Jones, born in Birmingham in 1833, typifies English painters of the second half of the nineteenth century. He embarked on a study of theology at Exeter College, Oxford, but decided to become an artist after reading a book in about 1854-55 by John Ruskin, patron of the Pre-Raphaelites. In 1856 he met Dante Gabriel Rossetti, one of the leading Pre-Raphaelites, and began to study under him.
This influence is conspicuous in his many subsequent works, which are filled with a sense of mystery and introspection. At the end of the century this movement evolved into Art Nouveau, which exerted a considerable influence on Japanese art and culture in the Meiji period. This pastel drawing has three titles: Daybreak in Japanese, Nuages plumeux (Feathery clouds) in French and Lake and sky in English. Perhaps the French title best captures the impression the work leaves on the viewer.
In a mystical novel, Theodore Watts-Dunton, a friend of D.G. Rossetti, introduces a character named Winnie. She believes that a cloud shaped like a golden feather or a golden hand will bring good luck to those who see it. Looking at this picture, we can imagine that it depicts that moment of hope, when the sun is about to rise and its rays may give the feathery cloud a golden hue. For this reason, the Japanese title Daybreak, too, seems to be apposite. However, we can hardly discern the lake from the sky.
Corot was born in Paris and died there at the age of 79 in 1875. From 1822, he studied the classical approach to historical landscape painting, first under Achille-Etna Michallon (1796-1822), and then with Jean-Victor Bertin (1775-1842), but he also took his sketchbook to the forest at Fontainebleau, to study directly from nature. He was impressed by work of Constable that he saw exhibited at the Salon in 1824. Between 1825 and 1828, Corot traveled to Italy, soaking up the intellectual atmosphere and classic lines of Rome and the countryside nearby. Then, in 1827, he exhibited one of his first works at the Salon, Vue du pont de Narni (Bridge at Narni) (National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa), and he continued to send his works to the Salon until the year he died. From 1828, he traveled to many parts of France, producing La Cathedral de Chartres (1830, Musee du Louvre, Paris) and other works. Faithful to Michallon's teaching, he always sketched in the field, then painted in the studio from his sketches. During the 1830s and 1840s, he produced his Fontainebleau paintings and met Theodore Rousseau (1812-67) and Charles Daubigny (1817-78), among others. He revisited Italy in 1834 and 1843, then settled in Ville d'Avray. In February 1848, after the Revolution, he was elected a member of the Salon's hanging committee, and two years later he showed La matinee (1850, Musee du Louvre, Paris), which was purchased by the state. Predominantly executed in silvery-green, this picture evokes a poetic scene of nymphs dancing in the morning light. His success encompassed portraiture, too. At the Universal Exposition of 1855 in Paris, Napoleon 3 bought his Souvenirs de Marcoussis, pres de Montlhery (Musee du Louvre, Paris) and fame came to Corot overnight. His masterpiece, Souvenir de Mortefontaine (Musee du Louvre, Paris), went on display at the Salon in 1864. In 1862, he briefly went to London. There were further journeys around France, and Corot continued to paint until shortly before his death. His entire oeuvre, be it landscapes or portraiture, resonates with the same calm classicism.
Corot produced this picture for his mother's birthday; it was later discovered in his father's house at Ville-d'Avray. During the summer of 1847, when Corot was spending considerable time at Ville d'Avray in order to be close to his ailing father, he decorated the walls of a small kiosk with a series of six landscape compositions. This was one of these decorative series.
Its origin probably explains the restful family mood. The foreground figure, be hatted and reading a newspaper against the sunlight, is the artist's father. The two ladies, chatting as they lean on the handrail of a rustic bridge in the right background, are thought to be his mother and sister. Corot himself may be seen returning from a sketching expedition, carrying a portfolio under his arm. And in the center of the picture, waiting to welcome the painter on the path in front of the kiosk, or pavilion, is his brother-in-law, Mr. Sennegon, the husband of Corot's sister. The whole scene is one of contented country life, of a relaxed family enjoying a hot summer afternoon. The four tall trees, which seem to touch the sky over the pavilion, are strikingly green against the clear, refreshing blue of the sky.
The presence of all these family members demonstrates how important were the times spent in the gardens at Ville d'Avray. And the central significance given to his father suggests that his illness weighed heavily on the painter at a moment when the family gatherings were not only pleasant experiences but moments of concern for the well-being of a parent.
Gustave Courbet was born into a family of farmers in the village of Ornans , among the Jura mountains in the Franche-Comte region of France. In 1840, he moved to Paris to study law, but he soon sensed his true vocation and enrolled at an art school. He also copied and studied works by past and contemporary Flemish and Spanish masters in the Louvre, while he found inspiration of a different kind by making the acquaintance of Corot, Honore Daumier, Baudelaire, and Champfleury, among others.
He is generally counted among the members of the Barbizon school, as he frequented Fontainebleau and maintained contact with other members of the group.
The Salon first hung one of his paintings in 1844. He attracted controversy in 1850 with both his subject matter and its treatment when he exhibited L 'enterrement a Ornans, which was widely interpreted as an affront to the academicism of the day. More trouble ensued five years later, when he submitted L'atelier for the Paris Universal Exposition, only to have it rejected. Nail ing his realist colors to the mast, Courbet mounted his own exhibition, from which all traces of fantasy and idealization were expunged. Realism meant pa inting only what was in front of the artist, and from then on Courbet was the acknowledged leader of the realist movement. In the turbulent days of the Paris Commune in 1871, he was imprisoned for his part in the demolition of the Vendome Column, and his assets were confiscated. On his release, he retreated to Switzerland, where he died at la Tour de Peilz.
When Courbet moved to Paris, the artists' world in Paris was divided into two camps: the classicist followers of Ingres and the romanticist champions of Delacroix.
Being incorrigibly arrogant and provocative, Courbet had thrown down his personal gauntlet in front of both these masters. “If you want me to paint a goddess, you must first show me a goddess. To paint a landscape, you must be come familiar with it. I paint scenes from my home town, because I know it. The rivers in my paintings-they really exist. So do the rocks at Ornans and the Puits Noir. You should go there.”
Early signs of realism-of depicting life in the raw, without beautifying what is inherently unsightly-had already appeared in the works of the eighteenth-century Spanish master, Goya. Modern painting can be traced back to this movement, and Courbet played a pivotal role in influencing those artists who came after him. Behind the artistic ideals, too, lay those of socialist philosophy, expounded, for example, by Perre Joseph Proudhon (1809-65).
In his declining years, however, Courbet felt disgust at the misunderstanding and scorn that his artistic and political conduct aroused in his fellows . Seeking comfort in the natural world, he began to paint forests, seas and other landscapes in which the only signs of human activity were occasional children, hikers of scattered dwellings. The painting in our collection is one of the works of this period.
The reason that Courbet's pictures are darker than those of the Impressionists and later artists in his belief that where there is no sunlight, nature is pitch-black, and that his brushes brought light to illuminate this primordial darkness. Acting on this belief, he first covered his canvas with black paint, then put other colors on top. Courbet, however, was no substitute for the sun.
Lebourg was born on February 1, 1849 in Montfort-sur-Risle, Eure, northwest of Paris. Form an early age, he attended an art school in Rouen and the studio of J.P.Laurens in Paris, studying painting, but it was not until be went to Algeria and became a sketching instructor that his paintings became worthy of note.
When he returned to France in 1877, he settled first in the Auvergne and then in Rouen. He exhibited together with the Impressionists in Paris, and became popular as a minor member of their group. His work went on show at the Expo in 1900 and received a silver medal. In 1903, he also received the Legion d'Honneur. In 1921, however, he was totally paralyzed following a cerebral hemorrhage. From that day on he was unable to take up his brushes. He died on January 7, 1929.
His works hang in various museums in France and elsewhere, including the Jeu de Paume (Paris), Rouen and Bucharest.
The work in our company's possession was also exhibited as No.9 at the 'Exhibition Lebourg' held at Galerie Paul Blanseur in 1942.
In a commentary on Lebourg's art, Gustave Geoffroy wrote in 1918: 'His works do not have brilliant colors or lights like fireworks. But when we look at his paintings, we are drawn into a well-balanced world, infinitely gentle, comfortable and transparent, where everything evaporates and dissolves into a charming and melancholic dream intoxicated with the graces chosen out of the universe.'
Gustave Loiseau was born on October 3, 1865, in Paris. After a year's military service, he took his father's advice and joined the family firm as a decorator. His parents expected him to take over the business, but the experience of his grandmother's death and his own typhoid led him to pursue his own interests and become a painter. He moved to Montmartre and began meeting artists.
In 1890, Loiseau visited Pont-Aven. Gauguin was absent, but exerted a vicarious influence on Loiseau through the other painters who were there.
In 1894, Durand-Ruel, a leading art dealer and champion of the Impressionists, began handling Loiseau's work. It was at around this time that Gauguin returned from his first trip to Tahiti, and in the five months before he set off again, Gauguin taught Loiseau directly at Pont-Aven.
In 1895, Loiseau moved to Moret-sur-Loing and started painting the rivers and hills there. Like Monet, he was fond of travel, and he painted landscapes in various parts of France, including the Normandy coast, Fecamp, Etretat, Saint Jouin, Le Havre, and Marseille. Between 1905 and 1910, he painted a series of landscapes in the neighborhood of Rouen. He returned to Paris in his later years, lived in an apartment in Quai d'Anjou and painted scenes from city life.
At first glance, his work closely resembles that of Monet. However, the latter depicted nature purely visually, emphasizing the effects of lighting, while Loisearu's looked at nature from a more subjective, emotional and sentimental perspective. For this reason, Loisearu was stimulated more by the sunshine of Normandy than that of the south of France, and by the lights of dawn and dusk rather than the midday sun; he was attracted to gentle light that appeared to permeate the air and embrace living things, feathery cotton blushing a beautiful pink, shining air, illuminated mists, and an attractive, delicate use of color ---- these are the hallmarks of his work. Loiseau's landscapes, with their modest color contrast, and set beneath clouds and among the mist, possess more beauty of touch than those of other impressionists, such as Monet or Sisley.
Renoir was born in central France, in the town of Limoges. At the age of 13 he started work, painting decorative motifs on china plates and pots. In 1863, he became a pupil of Gleyre, and met Monet, Bazille, Sisley, and other artists. His early works show a debt to Delacroix and Courbet.
The first of his paintings to be accepted at the Salon was Esmeralda, exhibited in 1864, but he was soon helping to found the new movement known as Impressionism, and he showed masterpieces at the first, second, and third Impressionist exhibitions. Among the great works of the early years were La loge (1874) and Le Moulin de la Galette (1876). His Portrait de Mme Charpentier enjoyed great success at the Salon.
In 1881-82, Renoir traveled to Algiers and to Italy; he particularly admired the work of Raphael. For some time he adopted a "classical” style, characterized by clearly defined forms and a subdued palette, but from about 1890 his canvases recovered their vivid, sensual personality. Rheumatism brought him great suffering in old age, and he was unable even to grip a brush. A move to Cagnes, in the south of France, for his health brought the warm, rich tones of Provence to his final works. It was at Cagnes that he died.
At the end of January 1882, on his return journey from Italy, Renoir visited L'Estaque, staying at the Hotel des Bains overlooking the sea. L'Estaque, a small fishing village just west of Marseille, captivated the artist. “What a beautiful place this is!” he wrote to a friend. “It must surely be the most beautiful place in the world.” To add to his delight, he was able to spend time with Cezanne, a painter he respected. In the treatment of the sea and olive grove, the horizontal and oblique strokes appear to echo the technique of Cezanne's acquaintance.
“Spring without wind, just peaceful sunshine,” he wrote to the art dealer, Durand-Ruel. “This is pretty rare in Marseille.” The season was in fact winter, but the air was spring-like, clear and bright. Sunlight pours over the painting, soaking into the foliage of the olive trees and spraying into the atmosphere.
In his later years, Renoir moved to Cagnes, in southern France. There, in the garden of his Provencal home, “Les Collettes,” Renoir tried to create a shrine to love in the rose garden. He directed the creation of a sculpture of Venus victrix, an apple in her hand, as a symbol of Mount Olympus. In Ancient Greece, the word apple referred to fruit of any kind; some say it was an orange that Venus held.
Renoir may have imagined L'Estaque, the most beautiful place in the world, as a garden of love, in which Venus strolled, fresh from her birth at sea.
The original title of this work wasu 'Jocaste'. In 1895, Renoir painted many works based on the Oedipus legend. Oedipus, a well-known character both from Greek mythology and from the tragedy by Sophocles, Killed Laius, the King of Thebes, and took the widowed Jocaste to be his wire, unaware that he had murdered his own father and married his mother. This painting set out to depict the queen's distress on learning the terrible truth.
Fortunately or otherwise, Renoir always managed to find joy in life, and the painting fails to convey a sense of great tragedy. When the work arrived in Japan, it came to be known as 'Shinden no mai' (Dance at the Shrine), an appropriate enough description of the scene for a viewer who does not know Renoir's purpose.
This work is believed to have been one of a pair. The other, depicting Oedipus, hung on the wall of the studio at Cagnes during the artist's lifetime.
Odilon Redon was born in Bordeaux. In about 1857, he met Clavaud, a botanist, who taught him about all living creatures. This awakened his interest in philosophy and literature. In 1863, Redon joined Jean Leon Gerome's studio at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, but he left in 1865 to study under Rodolphe Bresdin (1822-85), a copper plate engraver, and began producing fantastic etchings and sketches. In 1878, he studied lithographic techniques with Fantin-Latour (1836-1904), and in the following year he published his first albums of lithographs under the title Dans le reve. He befriended such symbolist poets and writers as Mallarme and Baudelaire. Over the next decade, he executed illustrations for La tentation de Saint Antoine (1888, 1889, 1896) by Flaubert and for Les fleurs du mal (1890) by Baudelaire. In these works, he depicted bizarre, imaginary landscapes in black and white. From 1890, he switched to more majestic and colorful styles in pastels and oils, creating fantasy worlds of monsters, angels, women, and flowers.
As Redon said: “True art is art that is felt,” and, unlike the Impressionists, Redon placed great importance on sensitivity and spirituality in art.
In the first half of his artistic career, Redon concentated on monochromatic drawings and engravings of wastelands and nightmarish dreamscapes. Among these works, there is a pencil drawing of 1878 bearing a famous quote from Pascal: "The eternal silence of these infinite spaces scares me.” This passage seems to epitomize the inner drive behind Redon's work at that time, revealing the torment of a human quivering in terror, oppressed by an atmosphere of primeval light, darkness, and silence.
During the second half of his life, his style changed markedly, from about 1890 entering a period characterized by brilliant and surrealistic colors. The work in our collection belongs to this period, when the artist was in his prime.
The focus of our attention is not the fantastic flower, but the blue vase. In contrast to the somber-hued marigolds, which seem to melt into the colors of the background, the vase is refreshingly sensual. Its phosphorescent blue color is life itself. The vase floats shadowless in an undefined space, reminding us of L'apparition (emergence), a recurring theme in the Redon's art.
Henner was born on March 5, 1829 in Bernwiller, in the south of Alsace. He was the youngest of a farmer's six sons.
His artistic career falls into three periods. The first that of his youth, began in 1845 and ended with his winning the Prix de Rome in 1858. His first studies were in his hometown and Strasbourg, and then from 1846 he studied in Paris. During his early years, he painted numerous portraits on his family and other people close to him. The second period is that of his sojourn to Italy, from 1859 until 1864. At the Academie de France in Rome, he painted landscapes and copied works by Italian masters, including Giotto and Correggio. During the third period between 1864 and 1905, Henner was at the height of his powers. He lived in Paris, exhibited a handful of works at the Salon each year and basked in his reputation as an official artist. The painting in the Marubeni collection derives from this last period. In 1873, Henner received the Legion d'Honneur, rising through the ranks until he became grand officier in 1903.
In his third period, Henner borrowed copiously from mythology and religion, finding particular inspiration in the pastoral poetry of Virgil and Ovid, which he delighted in reading. The Franco-Prussian war of 1870 - 71 cast a dark shadow over his life, not least because his native Alsace came under Prussian occupation, and his paintings took on an ironic pessimism. He sometimes portrayed the Alastian landscape at the nostalgic backdrop to a female nude, and in this regard may perhaps be regarded as a symbolist. He did not live to see his beloved Alsace returned to France, dying in Paris on July 23, 1905.
The city of Rouen, located in the northwest of Paris, was, until more than 5000 buildings were destroyed in World War 2, famous as a Gothic town and city of museums. Gothic churches and picturesque streets stimulated artists to put brush to canvas.
In this beautiful town, a succession of landscape painters worked between 1895 and 1940, seeing the cathedral and the beautiful valley of the River Seine through impressionist eyes. This group was called the Ecole de Rouen, and was an offshoot of the Impressionists. Its members were born in Normandy, generally in Rouen itself. They spent most of their lives in the region, painting the attractive local landscapes.
Pierre Dumont was one such artist. Although born into the Rouen bourgeoisie, he took up his study of art at La Ruche, a rendezvous for poor Paris painters, as his parents did not understand his art and refused to support him. He soon ran out of funds, and returned to his home town to join the Ecole de Rouen.
Although Dumont's paintings show something of this group's influence, much of his work is actually closer to the movement of Fauvism. The strong contrast of light and shade that we see in this painting, with black handled in a bold, intense manner, is characteristic of his style.
In 1909, Dumont held his first personal exhibition at a Rouen gallery. In the same year, he formed the group of XXX, forerunner of the Society of Contemporary Norman Painters, and came into contact with avant-garde artists Jacques Villon and Marcel Duchamp, as well as various poets and writers. All this brought him even closer to Fauvism and Cubism.
In 1912, with the assistance from Apollinaire, Dumont published a magazine called La Section d'Or in Paris in cooperation with such artists Later, he exhibited at the Salon des Independants and Salon d'Automne. In 1927, he began to suffer from mental derangement and this eventually led to his death in Rouen in 1936. tists, an influence that appears in Gainsborough's treatment of both trees and human figures.