Last summer the Petit Palais hosted a retrospective exhibition of Slovenian Impressionists who were influenced by the French Impressionist movement which we were fortunate to visit. I thought it was a good subject to share. Their style, however, drew less on the original Impressionism born in France in 1860–1870 than on the form it was given by Monet in his Haystacks and Rouen Cathedral series, Van Gogh and his gestural Expressionism, and Giovanni Segantini, whose symbolism-inflected landscapes were a potent influence in this part of Europe. Their ambition was to transcend landscape painting’s anecdotal realism in favor of an emotional power some of them strove for in compositions verging on the abstract. Of the four, Ivan Grohar was the one closest to Symbolism in his spiritual conception of landscape. His Sower (seen above from 1907) was immediately taken up as the emblem of the emerging Slovenian nation. Matija Jama set out to capture the intense luminosity of tranquil landscapes, while Matej Sternen focused more on the human figure. Rihard Jakopič was the driving force behind the art scene in Ljubljana, where in 1909 he built, at his own expense, a pavilion that became an avant-garde exhibition venue. His bold, ardent paintings cover a wide range of themes, including spirited images of figures merging with the natural setting.
I have been posting on the large gardens of Paris, so I thought I would present some of the smaller gardens as well. This is inside the Hôtel-Dieu complex, a working hospital, next to Notre Dame. The French believe that gardens help cure patients more quickly. This hospital has a full time gardener who keeps the gardens in good condition. The medicinal garden was a staple of gardening in medieval times, often mixed in with the kitchen garden. Also known as a herb garden or a garden of simples, specialized medicinal gardens have been made at least since the Middle Ages, though plants were grown for medical purposes long before. A “simple” is a herb used on its own in medical treatment. Many modern drugs are, of course, extracted from herbs and other plants.
This small collection of enameled portrait miniature watches from the 18th century was just too exquisite to pass up, I hope you enjoy them too. The practice of painting portrait miniatures in enamels developed out of the decorative work of goldsmiths and watchmakers in the French cities of Blois, Châteaudun and Paris. Portrait plaques had been made in the enamelling workshops of Limoges in central France during the 16th century, but in the 1630s, artist Jean Toutin adapted existing techniques to make the subtle colouring and delicate detail of enamel miniatures possible. Small objects like watches or snuffboxes were ideally suited to this technique and many were decorated with portraits and mythological or allegorical scenes. Artists throughout Europe continually refined their approaches to painting enamel portraits. While 17th century enamellers used a very fine stipple to create light and shade in their miniatures, artists in the 18th century began to use larger brushstrokes for a more fluid effect. The watch shown above is by a Mercier from the first part of the 18th century, not Paul Mercier of Baume and Mercier. I cannot find anything about him.
They were having an exhibition of Félix Zeim at the Petit Palace and we decided to go. Starting his career in the shadow of Delacroix and ending it in Picasso's, the importance of Félix Ziem (1821-1911) in 19th century French art has too often been overlooked. Félix Ziem is an artist of the pre-impressionist generation who has a unique style inspired by the chromatic variations between the sky and the sea. His paintings of Venice and Constantinople were very successful among the collectors of the time and remain sought after icons of 19th century travel painting today. His contemporaries; Théophile Gautier, Théodore Rousseau and Chopin all held him in great esteem. An extensive traveller, friend of the Barbizon school of artists, admirer of Claude Lorrain and JMW Turner, Ziem played a unique part in the 19th century art world. At the end of his life, concerned with his legacy, Ziem had put aside a significant body of work, 171 drawings, paintings and watercolours, to donate to the brand new City of Paris Beaux-Arts Museum. Two small notes, he did not date his works, thus no dates occur in my captions and unlike my previous posts I did not include the frames because the are for the most part simple wood.
The Petit Palais was built for the 1900 Universal Exhibition, like its neighbour the Grand Palais, on avenue Winston Churchill. It became a museum in 1902, housing the City of Paris Museum of Fine Arts (Musée des Beaux-Arts de la Ville de Paris). Designed by Charles Girault, it is based on a trapezium shape and is made up of four wings around a semi-circular garden bordered by a richly decorated peristyle. The tympanum depicting the city of Paris surrounded by muses is the work of sculptor Jean Antoine Injalbert. The main entrance gate, designed by Girault himself, was immediately praised for its elegance and the virtuosity of its craftsmanship.