The Changing Fashion


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.button linked to Tribbyart's Boutique     This is the way to Tribbyarts Boutique.  Click on the lion and you will go there.

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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, Self-portrait, 1889

Ernest Meissonier, Self-portrait, 1889

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.

Friedland, 1807  by Ernest Meissonier

Friedland, 1807 by Ernest Meissonier

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.

I was in the Musée d’Orsay  several years ago and I could only find one of Messionier’s works, French Campagne 1814.



It is a small work, easily overlooked. Here are other examples of his work.

National Gallery - Messionier

National Gallery – Messionier

The Theobo Player by Ernest Messionier

The Theorbo Player by Ernest Messionier

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



A Bar at the Folies-Bergerè, 1881-82 Édouard Manet

A Bar at the Folies-Bergerè, 1881-82 Édouard Manet

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

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Books by Thomas L. Tribby Available Click on title below to preview

Works on Paper

On The Waterfront

Impressions of Florida


Original Paintings Available

A Day at the Beach       oil on canvas            40" x 60"

A Day at the Beach oil on canvas 40″ x 60″

Click to see

   Beach Time Oil on Canvas      48" x 36"
Beach Time Oil on Canvas 48″ x 36″

Click to see

Beach Parade Oil on Canvas    30" x 48"
Oil on Canvas 30″ x 48″

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Lifeguard on Duty     Oil on Canvas          36" x 48"
Lifeguard on Duty Oil on Canvas 36″ x 48″

Click to See

For information about these or other original works of art, please feel free to contact us: 



About Thomas L. Tribby

Professional artist: painter, sculptor, print maker. Maintains a studio in West Palm Beach, Florida
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