Chapter Sixty Six
We Hittys are enjoying our home schooling classes and feel very fortunate to be surrounded by miniature settings that make the learning more interesting. Our visit across the room to Twin Manor helped us learn how people lived in the 18th century and we were so pleased at the response to the little book we made.
Over the past several years we have made several visits to the miniature Art Gallery located beside our rooms. Esther explained that the four years before she discovered Hitty that her main interest had been Impressionist Art. She was intent on finding information about the lives of the artists. She even went to Paris to see some of the actual paintings, walk around the neighborhood where the artists lived and look up addresses of the places mentioned in the biographies about them.
So we went to the Gallery and she taught us about when the paintings were painted and told us stories about the artists. We were fascinated! She said she had built the Gallery because she was inspired by the life of Paul Durand-Ruel the dealer who devoted his life and energy to the Impressionists. Their paintings at the time were avant-garde with landscapes, cityscapes and subjects of everyday life made possible by their being able to leave dusty studios behind. Paint could now be carried in tubes and the great outdoors beckoned and a group of young painters in Paris took full advantage!
First we went into the office. We were reminded that everything here is in 1/12th scale so we must be very careful. On the desk in the office are actual reduced copies of bills of sale. Above the desk hung paintings by Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Edouard Manet.
On the other side of this smaller room was a seating area for clients to sit and ponder the painting of interest to them. Hitty Carol was most interested in this area and we all liked hearing the story of "Luncheon of the Boating Party" by Renoir. Esther told us the story how the painting came to be and that the girl Aline Charigot, who became Renoir's wife, was in the painting. She is the one on the left holding the little dog.
Before we went any further, Esther wanted us to see the painting that gave the Impressionists their name. At their first public exhibit in 1874 one of Claude Monet's paintings was called "Impression, Sunrise." A newspaper reporter, Louis Leroy dubbed it only an impression of a painting and the phase has held from that day forward.
HittyBelle went into the back room where preparing paintings for shipping was carried out and found a painting she thought she has seen in the main room. Indeed it was similar! Renoir and Monet were friends and would often paint the same picture while standing side by side. The particular one HittyBelle found was "Seine at Argenteuil River" by Renoir and then she and Hitty Carol took it over to compare it with "Sailboats at Argenteuil" by Monet. They were painted in the summer of 1874.
Very early in both the careers (1869) of Monet and Renoir they again stood side by side and painted ones that both named. La Grenouillere. Hitty Carol noticed the one by Renoir when she was in the sitting area of the office and commented when she saw Monet's in main room. They are difficult to tell apart. Hanging above the Renoir painting is "The Beach at Trouville" painted in 1865 by Eugene Boudin who encouraged Monet in his early years.
One of my favorite paintings is "The Artist's Studio, Rue de la Condamine" by Frederic Bazille. I like the crispness of the painting. Bazille was considered one of the Impressionist and probably would have had a successful career but his life was cut short when he was killed in the Franco-Prussian War in 1870.
Monet loved to paint scenes around water and after he moved to Giverny he had a boat built to use as his studio for water scenes. Not only did he paint from the boat but painted it several times. One was named "The Studio Boat" shown here with "The Japanese Bridge at Giverny." Monet painted that bridge many different times using the light of various times of day.
There are several sculptures in the gallery and we all liked the ones by Edgar Degas. His "Young Dancer Fourteen Years Old" is famous and reproductions appear in many museums around the world. The original was done in the mode now identified with wax museums and wore actual slippers, a gauze shirt and a silk bodice! Today, the entire sculpture is cast in bronze.
Hitty Carol wanted to know more about the painting of the baby in the cradle. Esther explained that the name of the painting was "The Cradle" and it was painted in 1872 by Berthe Morisot as a gift to her sister on the birth of her sister's first baby. It was quite unusual for a woman to be accepted as a painter in those day. She was a close friend of Manet and married his brother Eugene.
Across the room a painting that looked all smoky and strange took HittyBelle's eye. It was "Gare St- Lazare Station" by Monet. Even before Monet became famous he marched into the Gare Saint-Lazare train station and arrogantly insisted the train manager stop the trains while he painted. He must have been very convincing since the trains were held up long enough for him to paint several train pictures.
For centuries before the mid 1800's artists painted solely indoors. Paints were fragile and mixed by the artist. The advent of paints being put into tubes made painting outdoors possible and hence " en plain air" and the Impressionist movement was underway. HittyBelle points to several outstanding examples, "The Magpie" and "Boulevard des Capucines" by Monet; "Snow at Louveciennes" and "Flooding at Port-Marly" by Alfred Sisley.
We ended our visit to the Gallery with Hitty Carol taking one last look at "The Girl with the Watering Can" by Renoir. Esther said we could visit the Gallery as often as we wished and explained that Impressionist paintings are today among the most admired of all art-works. They are the pride of every public and private collection. Not all the artists in the movement are mentioned in this chapter so I know we will make other visits to learn of their work.
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