Thursday, March 22, 2018

07 Paintings, PORTRAIT OF A LADY, The beautiful and damned women of history

Théodore Chassériau, 1819-1856
MARY STUART SWEARING REVENGE
Oil on canvas
25 1/2 by 21 1/4 in
Private Collection

While Chassériau's precise inspiration for Mary Stuart Swearing Revenge is unknown, it is possible that the work was based on Friedrich Schiller's play of 1800 or Donizetti's opera, Maria Stuarda, written in 1845. 

It has been suggested that the face of Mary Stuart in this picture is recognizable as famed actress Alice Ozy (1820-1883), who became Chassériau's mistress around 1849 and who may have played Mary Stuart in Paris in 1845. The scene pictured is that of the death of David Riccio, who entered Queen Mary's service in 1561 and became a close confidant after helping to arrange her marriage to Henry Stewart, Lord Darnley. Darnley was suspicious of Riccio's close relationship with Mary, and eventually had him dragged from her supper room at Holyroodhouse and stabbed to death in front of her. Chassériau has chosen to capture Mary's grief and suffering at seeing Riccio's lifeless body before her.  As Louis-Antoine Prat suggests, she continues a theme of beautiful and damned women who inspired the artist, including Sappho (Below), Cleopatra, Cordelia, Juliette and Desdemona More of this picture

Théodore Chassériau, 1819-1856, see below


Théodore Chassériau, 1819-1856
Sapho, c. 1849
oil on wood
H. 0.27; L. 0.21
Musée d'Orsay, Paris, France

Sappho (c. 630 – c. 570 BC) was an archaic Greek poet from the island of Lesbos. Sappho's poetry was lyric poetry, and she is best known for her poems about love. 

Little is known of Sappho's life. She was from a wealthy family from Lesbos. Ancient sources say that she had three brothers; the names of two of them are mentioned in the Brothers Poem discovered in 2014. She was exiled to Sicily around 600 BC, and may have continued to work until around 570.

Sappho's poetry was well-known and greatly admired through much of antiquity, and she was among the nine lyric poets deemed major by scholars of Hellenistic Alexandria. Today, Sappho's poetry is still considered extraordinary, and her works have continued to influence other writers up until the modern day. Outside of academic circles, she is perhaps best known as a symbol of same-sex desire, particularly between women.

Théodore Chassériau, 1819-1856, see below

Théodore Chassériau, 1819-1856
Sappho Leaping into the Sea from the Leucadian Promontory, c. 18540
Watercolor
Musée du Louvre (France - Paris)

Théodore Chassériau, 1819-1856, see below

Circle of the MASTER OF THE MANSI MAGDALENA, (active circa 1510 - 1530 in Antwerp)
The death of Cleopatra as allegory of temptation.
Oil on panel.
47.5 x 35.5 cm.
Private Collection

According to accepted historical accounts, Cleopatra, the last active pharaoh of ancient Egypt, committed suicide by holding a snake to her body and allowing a snake, known as an asp, to bite her, killing her with its poisonous venom.  More The death of Cleopatra

Master of the Mansi Magdalen, active early 16th century. The Master is named from a picture known as 'The Mansi Magdalen' (Berlin, Staatliche Museum), perhaps of about 1525 or later. The Master borrowed from some of the engravings by Dürer, one as late as 1511. He was a follower of Quinten Massys. More Master of the Mansi Magdalen

Théodore Chassériau, 1819-1856
Othello and Desdemona in Venice, c. 1850
Oil on wood
25 × 20cm
Musée du Louvre (France - Paris)

Théodore Chassériau, 1819-1856, see below


Théodore Chassériau, 1819-1856
Desdemona Retiring to her Bed, c. 1849
Oil on canvas 
42 cm (16.54 in.), Width: 32 cm (12.6 in.)
Musée du Louvre (France - Paris)

Théodore Chassériau, 1819-1856, see below


Théodore Chassériau, 1819-1856
Desdemona, c. 1849
Oil on panel 
35 cm (13.78 in.), Width: 27 cm (10.63 in.)
Private collection

Théodore Chassériau (September 20, 1819 – October 8, 1856) was a French Romantic painter noted for his portraits, historical and religious paintings, allegorical murals, and Orientalist images inspired by his travels to Algeria.

Chassériau was born in El Limón, Samaná, in the Spanish colony of Santo Domingo (now the Dominican Republic). In December 1820 the family left Santo Domingo for Paris, where the young Chassériau soon showed precocious drawing skills. He was accepted into the studio of Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres in 1830, at the age of eleven, and became the favorite pupil of the great classicist, who regarded him as his truest disciple.

After Ingres left Paris in 1834 to become director of the French Academy in Rome, Chassériau fell under the influence of Eugène Delacroix, whose brand of painterly colorism was anathema to Ingres. Chassériau's art has often been characterized as an attempt to reconcile the classicism of Ingres with the romanticism of Delacroix. He first exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1836, and was awarded a third-place medal in the category of history painting. In 1840 Chassériau travelled to Rome and met with Ingres, whose bitterness at the direction his student's work was taking led to a decisive break.

In 1846 Chassériau made his first trip to Algeria. From sketches made on this and subsequent trips he painted such subjects as Arab Chiefs Visiting Their Vassals and Jewish Women on a Balcony...

After a period of ill health, exacerbated by his exhausting work on commissions for murals to decorate the Churches of Saint-Roch and Saint-Philippe-du-Roule, Chassériau died at the age of 37 in Paris, on October 8, 1856. More on Théodore Chassériau


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