On 14 July, I wanted to publish a post on Eugène Delacroix (26 April 1798 – 13 August 1863), one of two illegitimate sons fathered by Charles Maurice de Talleyrand Périgord (2 February 1754 – 17 May 1838) (2 February 1754 – 17 May 1838), but life took me to a second parking lot narrative. I am learning over and over again that planet Earth is not “the best of all possible worlds” (Voltaire’s Candide).
But let us first take a brief look at events, art, and life in 19th-century France.
The Duc de Morny and Eugène Delacroix: Half-Brothers
We have already met le duc de Morny (15–16 September 1811, Switzerland – 10 March 1865, Paris). He transformed the talented and beautiful Marie Duplessis (15 January 1824 – 3 February 1847) into Paris’ most prominent salonnière and courtesan. At that time in history, many marriages were arranged. In the aristocracy, lineage was a priority. Consequently, men took a mistress. The duc de Morny was born to Hortense de Beauharnais (10 April 1783 – 5 October 1837) and Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord’s grandson. But Hortense, whose mother, Joséphine de Beauharnais, married Napoleon I, married Napoleon’s brother, Louis Bonaparte, king of Holland.
David, Delacroix, Ingres: Romanticism and Neoclassicism
Between 1792 and 1871, France was a Republic, twice; a Monarchy, twice; an Empire, twice, and it suffered a Second French Revolution, which took place in 1848. The 1848 French Revolution echoed various uprisings occurring in several European countries, some rooted in decisions made at the Congress of Vienna (November 1814 to June 1815), which ended the Napoleonic Wars, others reflecting national disasters, such as the Greek War of Independence. The Greek War of Independence inspired Delacroix, and Lord Byron (2 January 1788 – 19 April 1824). Lord Byron had in fact, become a militant who died of a fever he contracted at Missolonghi.
The Turkish Bath, 1862, oil on canvas, diam. 108 cm, Louvre. A summation of the theme of female voluptuousness attractive to Ingres throughout his life, rendered in the circular format of earlier masters. (Caption credit: Wikipedia; Photo credit: Google images)
Grande Odalisque, 1814, oil on canvas, 91 x 162 cm, Louvre. The subject’s elongated proportions, reminiscent of 16th-century Mannerist painters, reflect Ingres’s search for the pure form of his model. (Photo and caption credit: Wikipedia)
We have seen a few examples of Islamic art and Orientalisme. The paintings featured above are by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (29 August 1780 – 14 January 1867) and constitute examples of orientalisme and exoticism, paintings associated with the Orient, the Near East. Several Europeans had gone to the Crusades centuries earlier. Their destination was Jerusalem, the Holy Land. But 19th-century orientalisme is associated with Napoléon‘s military campaigns. Napoléon took his Armée d’Orient to Egypt and Syria. (See French Campaign in Egypt and Syria, Wikipedia.) Egyptology was born at that time. Deciphering the Rosetta Stone, found in 1799, was one of its first and chief achievements.
We looked at the art of Jean-Léon Gérôme who had travelled to Egypt and returned with a large supply of ‘images,’ sketches. He depicted scenes from ordinary activities, genre painting. Ingres, however, had not travelled to the orient, the Near East. His style was the same as Gérôme: academicism. Moreover, both artists specialized in historical painting. Several artists travelled to the Near East, but no Orientaliste ever entered a harem, un sérail, where women were guarded by castrated servants called eunuchs. Yet, Orientalists did paint the interior of harems and Turkish baths, favourite scenes.
“Some of the most popular Orientalist genre scenes—and the ones most influential in shaping Western aesthetics—depict harems. Probably denied entrance to authentic seraglios, male artists relied largely on hearsay and imagination, populating opulently decorated interiors with luxuriant odalisques, or female slaves or concubines (many with Western features), reclining in the nude or in Oriental dress. Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (1780–1867) never traveled to the East, but used the harem setting to conjure an erotic ideal in his voluptuous odalisques.” (Orientalisme at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.)
Ingres’ Grande Odalisque shows anelongated female body. Painting elongated figures is a characteristic of 16th-century mannerism. However, Ingres’ odalisque is somewhat reminiscent of the curvy linear arabesque motifs of Islamic art. Yet, it isn’t busy. La Grande Odalisque has been an inspiration to several artists, one of whom is Matisse. It otherwise ressembles Jacques-Louis David‘s (30 August 1748 – 29 December 1825) depiction of Madame Récamier, an unfinished but celebrated portrait. For information on this painting, see Madame Récamier, Louvre. You may also visit the Wikipedia site on Juliette Récamier.
Madame Récamier by Jacques-Louis David, 1800 (Photo cedit: Wikipedia)
Juliette Récamier (4 December 1777 – 11 May 1849) was a salonnière who had married Jacques-Rose Récamier(1751 – 1830), a wealthy older man and banker, on 24 April 1793. The marriage was never consummated and rumour has it that he was her father. In 1805, Jacques-Rose sustained financial losses. (See Juliette Récamier, Wikipedia.) He and Juliette had a salon where they entertained distinguished guests, but she retired at l’Abbaye-aux-Bois. The salons survived the French Revolution. Juliette had befriended François-René de Chateaubriand (4 September 1768 –4 July 1848), the author of Le Génie du Christianisme(1802), a literary monument that incorporatedAtala andRené, exotic novellas based on Chateaubriand’s stay in North America. He was an aristocrat and therefore fled France during part of the French Revolution. When Chateaubriand started to live as a recluse, Juliette Récamier was the only person he visited. He visited her every day. In David’s painting, she is leaning on a sofa now called a récamier, after her. By clicking on Madame Récamier, one can read what the Louvre has to say about this very famous painting.
Arabesque motif (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Orientalisme also includes Arabesques in music.
Arabesques, Turkish music, are composed in the Phrygian mode. This form of music was used by Claude Debussy and other composers. It was orientalisme, “in the manner of,” rather than Turkish music. I have inserted two pieces by Debussy.
Let me conclude by recommending you read OrientalismeandMadame Récamier. At this point, my continuing to write about this topic would be repetitious and not as and complete and concise as the documents I have referred to. I will note, however, that interest in the Orient takes us back to Marco Polo and the above-mentioned Crusades. Moreover, Islamic art includes elegant calligraphy, Islamic calligraphy, and illuminated manuscripts.
François Boucher (29 September 1703 – 30 May 1770) “was a Frenchpainter, a proponent of Rococo taste, known for his idyllic and voluptuous paintings on classical themes, decorative allegories representing the arts or pastoral occupations, intended as a sort of two-dimensional furniture. He also painted several portraits of his illustrious patroness, Louis XV’s official mistress, Madame de Pompadour.” (Wikipedia)
News of his talents quickly reached Versailles. He worked for the queen and for Mme de Pompadour, Louis XV’s chief mistress. “He became a member of the Royal Academy in 1734 and then became the principal producer of designs for the royal porcelain factories, as well as director of the Gobelins tapestry factory. In 1765 he became director of the Royal Academy and held the title of first painter to King Louis XV.”[ii]
Rococo art, decoration and architecture are characterized by movement. It is a busy and often features a profusion of fabrics. It followed the baroque, a more restrained style. Rococo æsthetics is in fact an extreme that called for a return to sober depictions and more serious contents that would reflect the intellectual endeavour of the Encyclopédistes. For instance, although Jacques-Louis David was a student of François Boucher, he is a neoclassicist. As for Boucher, his art typifies the lightheartedness that preceded the French Revolution. We see opulence and hear laughter, but a storm is approaching. In this regard, Boucher’s art resembles that of Antoine Watteau (1684 – 1721) and Jean-Honoré Fragonard 1732 – 1806).
Yesterday, I published a post in which I noted that France had rebuilt promptly after one of the worst revolutions in recorded history: the French Revolution. Although history can hurt humans, humans can often work their way out of catastrophic circumstances. One cannot bring the dead back to life, but we can recover from the economic hardship caused by wars.
The Death of Marat by Jacques-Louis David, 1793
In 1800, Jacques-Louis David (30 August 1748 – 29 December 1825) produced his nearly iconic portrait of Madame Récamier. David was a neoclassicist, a movement that preceded the French Revolution, and painted his portrait of Madame Récamier a year after Napoléon (15 August 1769 – 5 May 1821) engineered a coup d’état that made him First Consul.
Yet, in 1793, David had made a portrait of Jean-Paul Marat (24 May 1743 – 13 July 1793) lying in his bathtub, stabbed to death by Charlotte Corday or Marie-Anne Charlotte de Corday d’Armont (27 July 1768 – 17 July 1793 [death by guillotine]). His tub was the only place Marat, a medical doctor, could find relief from the discomfort of a debilitating skin disease, probably dermatitis herpetiformis.
Jacques-Louis David’s two portraits therefore attest to a form a resilience on the part of the French. France had not been bombed nor set ablaze, but it had to start anew and it did.
From France to the United States of America
Similarly, like the phoenix, the United States can rise from its own ashes. Two wars have left it panting… but no plan such as the Marshall Plan, the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956, or TARP is being approved. I must therefore conclude thatman-made impediments are getting in the way of recovery.
TheMarshall Plan and the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956
The Marshall Plan was also an instance of resilience. In the space of four years, beginning in 1948, the United States succeeded in rebuilding Europe and Japan. The Marshall Plan went into operation three years after W. W. II, and that calamity befell Europe when the United States had only just begun to recover from the Crash of 1929 and the Great Depression.
In the 16 July 2012 issue of CNN Money, I read first that “[s]everal economists are now cutting their forecasts for second quarter growth closer to 1%,” which is called the Zombie economy. But as I scrolled down, I read that, according to Dean Croushore, chair of the economics department at the University of Richmond, “[h]iring isn’t falling off a cliff.” In fact, Professor Croushore says, “[i]t’s really been growing fairly slowly but steadily throughout.”
Times of draught: “People aren’t spending…”
Scrolling down a little more, I read that according to Croushore “[t]he fundamental problem is we had this financial crisis and a lot of people still haven’t recovered from that.” Crouchore also says that “[p]eople aren’t spending nearly as much as they used to and they’re not likely to spend a lot more until they’re out of financial trouble.”
That’s how we react. If one loses money and jobs are disappearing, one does not spend, yet spending is how we keep an economy functional. So the loss of jobs is a central issue, if not the central issue, not to mention that the government is cutting back benefits for the unemployed. The United States can and should provide the citizens of America with a comprehensive safety net.
As the above pictures indicate, France, a chaos in 1794, had been put together again by the early years of the nineteenth-century. So let me repeat that one can rise again.
Greed & Prejudice
Greed and prejudice. As painful as it is, I must suggest that unnecessary obstacles are being put in the way of the Obama administration, obstacles that are not new but are more obvious. These would be:
greed, an old problem;
an under-developed sense of nationhood or, otherwise said, a form of individualism that overrides concern for collective needs;
For an economy to be functional, it would be my opinion that
people need to pay their fair share of taxes;
that people must have jobs and, if they do not have jobs, that jobs should be created. In this regard, President Obama has proposed a stimulus package that has been opposed. Why?
And it would also be my opinion that
a limit on the number of jobs than can be exported should be legislated.
that a better safety net should be put into place, a safety net that would provide adequate benefits for the unemployed; and
that rules are required.
There is money…
Yet, there is money, but among the rich and infuential, too many persons are paying to make sure that those who are elected into office next November will provide the rich with tax cuts. Moreover, while jobs are disappearing, CEOs, president of banks and insurance companies, the wizards of Wall Street and others continue to give themselves gargantuan bonuses.
Remember that, in the fall of 2008, when the US economy was facing a crash, TARP was signed into law by George W. Bush on 3 October 2008. The impending crash required immediate remedial action and got immediate and bi-partisan remedial action. Yet, as the economy was crashing, the above-mentioned wizards of Wall Street, etc. collected their bonuses, thereby making a display of their greed and acting irresponsibly. There were exceptions, but…
In the fall of 2008, we had, on the one hand, the very rich who live in mansions, often own several luxury cars, a yacht or two or more, one for each coasts, and also own a plane, an apartment in Paris, one in London and one or two luxury condominiums in Canada, just in case…
But, on the other hand, we had families who could no longer put bread on the table and individuals who stood to lose their life savings! Had compassion and justice gone out of fashion? Good citizens attend to the collective needs of their nation. The wealthy seem to think that because they are doing well, so is everyone else. That is individualism run amuck and fuelled by greed.
Prejudice & Greed
Yes, greed and also prejudicial actions, such as voter expulsion. I listened to Governor Rick Scott of Florida explain that a voter purge was good. He was so unconvincing that he actually confirmed me in my suspicion that many, not all, Republicans are afraid persons of colour will vote for President Obama. They are afraid to the point of eliminating them as voters. So I have to repeat, after President Lyndon Baines Johnson in a speech on the 1965 Voting Rights Act, that[i]
[i]t is wrong – deadly wrong – to deny any of your fellow Americans the right to vote in this country.
One’s ethnicity is like one’s rank in society. It is a mere accident of birth. We are all the same. Yet, it could be that ethnicity is related to the obstacles President Obama has faced from the day he was elected, the worst of which has been a tightening of the national purse when jobs need to be created and much fewer exported.
Given that a man of colour was voted into the office of President of the United States, it could bepeople are washing their hands and arguing that the nation has proven that it does not discriminate on the basis of ethnicity. But as you know, President Obama has experienced such difficulties in his efforts to attend to the needs of his people as to make the results of the 2008 Presidential Elections look like a token gesture. Why was the stimulus package he proposed not adopted?
As for yours truly, she remembers, that within six years of the French Revolution, Madame Récamier, Jeanne-Françoise Julie Adélaïde Bernard Récamier (4 December 1777 – 11 May 1849), posed wearing a high-waisted empire styles dress (see Empire silhouette high-waisted empire style dress (see Empire silhouette) leaning on her récamier, the name now given the piece of furniture she is sitting on. In my opinion, the lessons of history are a source of wisdom…
A wrong cannot correct a wrong, so not in a million years would I advocate punitive taxes, but people who have an income must pay their fair share of taxes and the amount of money levied from wealthy people should be higher than the amount of money paid by persons whose income is much lower.
But the concern of the day is that if the Marshall Plan was put into operation, the interstate highway Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956 approved, and TARPvoted into law by President George W. Bush, why are jobs not created? Why is the US not helping itself and not allowing its President to help his nation? In light of previously daring remedial actions and given the voter purge, I sense that recovery may be very slow and that President Obama may be blamed for not doing what Congress has prevented him from doing due to…
This isan election year in France (please click) and WordPress author “Becoming Madame” has published an essential post on the subject. I have to let you know about this post.
Jean-Paul Marat (24 May 1743 – 13 July 1793) was a “radical voice.” He escaped the guillotine, butwas killed by Charlotte Corday on July 13, 1793. He was working in his bathtub where he found relief from a debilitating and itchy skin disease, probably dermatitis herpetiformis or Duhring’s disease, not caused by the herpes virus.
(April 26, 1785 – January 27, 1851) was born in Les Cayes, Saint-Domingue, the current Haiti, and was the “illegitimate son of [a] merchant, planter, and slave trader”[i] and a Creole woman. He was first named Fougère Rabin, or Jean Rabin, but he and his half-sister were legalized by adoption in 1794 and sent to France.
His origins therefore resemble those of Alexandre Dumas, père, the immensely popular author of the Count of Monte Cristo, The Three Musketeers, and La ReineMargot (Marguerite de Valois who was married to Henri IV against her will) and other historical novels. But there is a difference. Financially, Dumas did well early in his career, but John James Audubon’s art did not bring him money until later in life.
Return to America: From Philadelphia to Kentucky
At the age of eighteen (1803), his father sent him to United States where he had a property near Philadelphia. As a result, Jean-Jacques avoided conscription. To what extent John James looked after the property is difficult to assess. He sold that property in 1807 and the following year, he married Lucy Bakewell.
The couple moved to Kentucky, but during his stay in Philadelphia, Audubon had become very interested in ornithology, the study of birds, and had started honing his skills as an artist to become one of a most revered bird-artists. Sadly, before drawing the birds of America, he killed them and ran a wire through their body so they would look alive. They posed.
He is said to have boasted that he studied art with Jacques-Louis David (30 August 1748 – 29 December 1825), probably the finest among artists who survived the French Revolution. This may not be the case, but it doesn’t matter since Audubon’s own art reveals considerable artistry. He used pastel, watercolour and oil.[ii] Moreover, Audubon was both an artist and an ornithologist but, it would appear, the better artist.
After declaring bankcruptcy, he travelled up the Ohio and Mississipi Rivers in search of birds. He wife was tutoring and whenever he came to a town or village, he would do portraits, which provided him with the money he needed to identify and make paintings of all the birds of America. It was an extremely ambitious project which he completed successfully.
The Great Blue Heron
He and his wife moved to New Orleans c. 1821, in the former Louisiana, a French colony sold to the United States in 1803. Shortly thereafter, he travelled back to Europe, exhibited his work and looked for an engraver. The engraver he hired was Robert Havell 1793-1878) and, in 1827, the first (4 vol. 435 hand-coloured plates) of the 87 portfolios that would eventually constitute the depiction of 1,065 birds was published. With the assistance of Scottish naturalist and ornithologist William MacGillivray, Audubon also published “an accompanying text,” his Ornithological Biography.
Audubon goes to Europe: the King as Sponsor
John James found sponsors and patrons in Europe, including the king of England. Yet by now he had spent a fortune having his artwork put into book form. He therefore published a less lavish and shorter Ornithological Biography, 5 vol. (octavo, 1831–39). A Synopsis of the Birds of North America(1839), which served as an index.
The Snowy Egret
Audubon was then able to return to the United States and settled in a “spacious” house on the Hudson River (Manhattan, New York). There he prepared a smaller edition of his Birds of America, 7 vol. (octavo, 1840–44). However, his work was not over. He illustrated the Reverend John Bachman‘s three-volume TheViviparious Quadrupeds of North-America (1845-1853), which his sons completed.
According to Richard Rhode, quoted in Wikipedia, John James truly loved birds: “I felt an intimacy with them…bordering on frenzy [that] must accompany my steps through life.”[iii]The Wikipedia entry also reveals that he attended military school during the years he lived in France and that his father had owned a sugar plantation in Saint-Domingue, the current Haiti.
In so many areas, the internet is a miracle. For instance, one can see in a wealth of details many of Audubon’s paintings of birds. As well, the National Audubon Society sells an Audubon calendar that not only keeps a person up to date, but does marvels for the decoration of one’s kitchen. The Society also provides information on bird sanctuaries and has a little marketplace.