Saturday, December 16, 2017

03 Paintings, PORTRAIT OF A LADY, of the 18th & 19th C., with Footnotes. #20

Konstantin Korovin, (1861–1939)
Portrait of Vera Fokina
Oil on canvas
82 × 66 cm (32.3 × 26 in)
Private collection

Fokina, Vera (1886–1958), a Russian ballerina. Born Vera Petrovna in 1886; died in New York on July 29, 1958; graduated from the St. Petersburg Ballet School in 1904; married Michel Fokine, in 1905 (died 1942); children: one son, Vitale Fokine.

Vera Fokina supported the reforms of her husband Michel Fokine and danced in many of his ballets under the aegis of the Diaghileff company. In 1918, she formally resigned from the Maryinsky Theatre and, in 1924, settled with her husband in New York, where they formed their own company. During the 1920s, Fokina made many concert appearances in America, while also traveling widely with her husband who worked for numerous companies. She retired from the stage around 1928. After her husband's death in 1942, her health began to deteriorate, and she died in 1958. More on Vera Fokina

Konstantin Alekseyevich Korovin (1861 – 1939) was a leading Russian Impressionist painter. Konstantin was born in Moscow. In 1875 Korovin entered the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture.

In 1885 he then traveled to Paris and Spain. "Paris was a shock for me … Impressionists… in them I found everything I was scolded for back home in Moscow", he later wrote. In 1888 he traveled to Italy and Spain. He painted in the Impressionist, and later in the Art Nouveau, styles.

Korovin's subsequent works were strongly influenced by his travels to the north. Korovin painted a large number of landscapes. The paintings are built on a delicate web of shades of grey. The etude style of these works was typical for Korovin's art of the 1890s. 

In 1900 Korovin designed the Central Asia section of the Russian Empire pavilion at the Paris World Fair and was awarded the Legion of Honour by the French government.

In 1905 Korovin became an Academician of Painting and in 1909–1913 a professor at the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture.

During World War I Korovin worked as a camouflage consultant at the headquarters of one of the Russian armies. In 1923 he moved to Paris to cure his heart condition and help his handicapped son. There was supposed to be a large exhibition of Korovin's works, but the works were stolen and Korovin was left penniless. For years, he produced the numerous Russian Winters and Paris Boulevards just to make ends meet.

In the last years of his life he produced stage designs for many of the major theatres of Europe, America, Asia and Australia, the most famous of which is his scenery for the Turin Opera House's production of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov's The Golden Cockerel.

Korovin died in Paris on 11 September 1939. More on Konstantin Alekseyevich Korovin

Jules Lefebvre  (1834–1912)
Graziella, c. 1878
Oil on canvas
78 3/4 x 44 1/4 in. (200 x 112.4 cm)
Metropolitan Museum of Art

During the second half of his life, Lefebvre's meticulously executed portraits and paintings of nudes were regularly shown in the Paris Salons. He won many awards, including the prestigious Prix de Rome, three Salon medals, and the French Legion of Honor. The American collector Catharine Lorillard Wolfe—who bequeathed to the Museum 143 pictures, commissioned "Graziella" in 1878. It depicts the Neopolitan fisherman's daughter, who is the heroine of Alphonse de Lamartine's novel of the same name. A smoking Mount Vesuvius is visible in the background. More on this painting

Graziella is an 1852 novel by the French author Alphonse de Lamartine. It tells of a young French man who falls for a fisherman's granddaughter – the titular Graziella – during a trip to Naples, Italy; they are separated when he must return to France, and she soon dies. Based on the author's experiences with a tobacco-leaf folder while in Naples in the early 1810s, Graziella was first written as a journal, and intended to serve as commentary for Lamartine's poem "Le Premier Regret".

First serialised as part of Les Confidences beginning in 1849, Graziella received popular acclaim. An operatic adaptation had been completed by the end of the year, and the work influenced paintings, poems, novels, and films. The American literary critic Charles Henry Conrad Wright considered it one of the three most important emotionalist French novels. More on Graziella

Jules Lefebvre, (1834–1912)
Graziella, c. 1878

Jules Joseph Lefebvre (14 March 1834 – 24 February 1912) was a French figure painter, educator and theorist. Lefebvre was born in Tournan-en-Brie, Seine-et-Marne, on 14 March 1834. He entered the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts in 1852 and was a pupil of Léon Cogniet.,He won the prestigious Prix de Rome in 1861. Between 1855 and 1898, he exhibited 72 portraits in the Paris Salon. In 1891, he became a member of the French Académie des Beaux-Arts.

He was professor at the Académie Julian in Paris. Lefebvre is chiefly important as an excellent and sympathetic teacher who numbered many Americans among his 1500 or more pupils. Among his famous students were Fernand Khnopff, Kenyon Cox, Félix Vallotton, Ernst Friedrich von Liphart, Georges Rochegrosse, the Scottish-born landscape painter William Hart, Walter Lofthouse Dean, and Edmund C. Tarbell, who became an American Impressionist painter.

Lefebvre died in Paris on 24 February 1912. More on Jules Joseph Lefebvre

Balthus (Balthasar Klossowski) (French, Paris 1908–2001 Rossinière)
Thérèse Dreaming, c.1938
Oil on canvas
59 x 51 in. (149.9 x 129.5 cm)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art

With closed eyes, Balthus's pubescent model is lost in thought. Thérèse Blanchard, who was about twelve or thirteen at the time this picture was made, and her brother Hubert were neighbors of Balthus in Paris. She appears alone, with her cat, or with her brother in a series of eleven paintings done between 1936 and 1939. More on Thérèse Dreaming

A petition to cease displaying this provocative painting by Balthus on the walls of New York’s Metropolitan Museum has struck a raw nerve at a moment when US society is publicly, painfully grappling with issues of sexual harassment and misconduct. More on the petition

An unusual figure in the history of twentieth century painting, Balthus (Balthasar Klossowski) (French, Paris 1908–2001 Rossinière) both traveled among and drew upon the work of other major artists of his time, while at the same time following a unique individual trajectory. He was mentored by, friends of, and/or even collaborated with seminal creative figures from different eras, while cultivating his own highly refined style of painting. The scenes he usually depicted were very ordinary bourgeois interiors or outdoor settings, which nonetheless managed to reveal the heightened inner states of his subjects (often young females) as well as the states of mind of those who might be viewing them. More on Balthus

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