"For five or six years Marcel
had worked at the famous painting which (he said) represented
the Passage of the Red Sea; and for five or six years, this master-piece
of color had been obstinately refused by the jury. In fact, by
dint of going and returning so many times from the artist's study
to the Exhibition and from the Exhibition to his study, the picture
knew the road to the Louvre so well enough to have gone thither
of itself, if it had been put on wheels" (195).
The visual arts enjoyed a rise in popularity and respect
after the French Revolution, however, perceptions
of the people who created the works of art were often divergent. Because
of the stance that most Bohemians took, that they were outside of the
Bourgeois culture, they often were not
accorded the same amount of respect as a wealthy business man might be.
As always, both art and artists, were in the eye of the beholder.
Gustave Courbet was a sucessful painter,
and the imagery of this painting, The Painter's Studio: a
Real Allegory shows that. He is someone very much within
the French artistic community and therefore painted an art studio
in a postive light, as an allegory.
|| Gustave Courbet
| Gustave Courbet (1819-1877),
a friend of Henry Murger, painted The Painter's Studio; a Real
Allegory in 1855. In the center of the canvas, the well-dressed
artist creates a beautiful landscape, surrounded by a beautiful
(and naked) woman, a small awe-struck boy, and a host of other
people, including an apparently wealthy couple. Other people,
presumably other artists, are also in the studio, as well as
works of art in progress (such as a statue of the crucifixion)
and signs of other kinds of art, such as a guitar and books.
In spite of this almost chaotic scene, the room is full of golden
light and the painter seems to be much appreciated.
Thakeray described the lives of Bohemian
artists in his Paris Sketch Book, published in 1840. This
volume was created for a British audience, and its aim was to
lampoon the whole of French culture. Thackeray devotes a section
of the book to discussing young artists. The sketch below is
just such a lampoon. Each artist, dressed in styles
that differ greatly from those of the typical Bourgeois of the
day, painstakingly paints the model who poses in the corner.
Note the beards and long hair which really flew in the face of
the fashion of the day.
The life of the young
artist here is the easiest, merriest, dirtiest existence possible.
| William Thackeray
| An excerpt from Thackeray's Paris Sketch
Book: He comes to Paris, probably
at sixteen, from his province; his parents settle forty pounds
a year on him, and pay his master; he establishes himself in
the Pays Latin, or in the new quarter of Notre Dame de Lorette
(which is quite peopled with painters); he arrives at his atelier
at a tolerably early hour, and labors among a score of companions
as merry and poor as himself. Each gentleman has his favorite
tobacco-pipe; and the pictures are painted in the midst of a
cloud of smoke, and a din of puns and choice French slang, and
a roar of choruses, of which no one can form an idea who has
not been present at such an assembly.
- William Makepeace Thackeray