Today we are going to Muse about change and what it may mean to the art world. If this is your first visit, welcome to Musings. If you have been here before, welcome back. Over time we are going to talk about many things: the past, the present, perhaps the future, travel, art, society and more. Wherever my musing takes me. I hope you will come along with me. This is the way to Tribbyarts Boutique. Click on the lion and you will go there.
Colored text is a link. Clicking on the text will provide additional information about the subject.
The Changing Fashion
In the second half of the nineteenth century, 1850 to 1900, who would you say was the most famous artist in France, the most wealthy, the most sought after?
Now really! That is only a little more than 100 years ago.
Ernest Meissonier of course!
Over his lifetime he received many awards and gold metals in artist competitions. People would wait years for Meissonier to complete a painting. His painting Friedland, 1807 took 10 years to complete.
He was exact in his detail. For some of his military scenes he had a maquette, a small model of the scene, created so that he could study exactly how the shadows would fall. He acquired uniforms and other military equipment to use as reference when creating his painting.
In order to understand how horses moved, Messionier had an oval track with a rail bed built on his estate. He would sit on a sofa which had wheels and have his servants push him around the track while horses were ridden past and while he sketched them. He wanted to get the movement of the legs correct.
The painting “Friedland, 1807” gained notoriety in 1876 when the American department store magnate Alexander T. Stewart (1803–1876) purchased it from the artist, sight unseen, for an astronomical sum of $60,000. In today’s dollars that would be $1,350,000, but having that sum in 1876 had the economic power that having $120,000,000 would have today. Judge Henry Hilton acquired the work at Stewart’s estate sale and in 1887 bequeathed it to the Metropolitan Museum.
It is a small work, easily overlooked. Here are other examples of his work.
Rich, sought after, famous and you never heard of him? What happened?
Taste in art changed, overnight. Messionier painted historic or genre scenes celebrating the past, much of it things that happened 100 years or more before. But tastes changed. People wanted art celebrating daily living and contemporary life.
Édouard Manet led the way
Suddenly the Impressionists exploded on the scene. Artists like Monet, Renoir, Van Gogh, Cézanne, Gauguin, Cassatt, Sisley and Degas became the driving forces in the world of painting. Messonier fell out of favor. His works were removed from the Louvre. His bust was removed and sent to the cemetery where he is interred. Today he is largely forgotten.
This may very well happen again. Many people consider the Impressionists their favorite artists. However, contemporary art is markedly different from the Impressionists which to many people is pretty dated. It could be that tastes will change significantly enough that artists of the past we revere today will be relegated to obscurity.
more to come
If you like Musings, take a moment and click the sign up button on the side-bar to the right so you will be notified by e-mail when I make a new post. There is no obligation.
Books by Thomas L. Tribby Available Click on title below to preview
Original Paintings Available
A Day at the Beach oil on canvas 40″ x 60″