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Thanks for resting your eyeballs here for a moment.(They are resting, right?) If you rest them a little longer, you may learn some interesting,(hopefully)entertaining, and, yes, ocassionally BIZARRE things about FRENCH COUNTRY LIFE (more…)

| January 27th, 2017 | Continued

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The Birth(and Death) of Impressionism – Part Two

The Birth(and Death) of Impressionism – Part Two

Pierre Auguste Renoir: vie et œuvres majeures

Author’s Note: If you missed Part One of the Impressionist story – IT’S HERE.

Renoir had been inspired by Claude Monet since the day they first met in 1862.With this renewed motivation, Renoir seemed to push himself to take more chances, work harder and never give up.

Renoir painted with Monet whenever he could and he loved to have Monet and his wife Camille pose for him, especially Camille.Over the course of a few years Renoir painted Camille no less than 15 times.In fact Renoir dropped by Monet’s home so often that a bed was always kept open for him.

Edouard Manet also showed up to paint with Monet. MANET had long been seen as the leader of the avant-garde but he had yet to experiment with the impressionist technique.

The turning point for Manet came because of the tremendous amount of press the first impressionist exhibition had generated.

This made it clear that these younger artists with their newer forms of expression were becoming the avant-garde. And MANET, the older man wanted to keep a pace with the forward movement of the impressionists.

MANET painted Monet not only in his studio boat, but in Monet’s garden.

One sunny afternoon he began to paint Camille and then Renoir showed up. their two paintings have exactly the same subject: Camille and Jean lying upon the grass in exactly the same location.

The Story goes that when Monet went o look at Renior’s painting, he said this boy just can’t paint Better tell him to pack it up.

This is something that was said absolutely as a joke because he recognized that the Renoir’s was the most devastatingly successful sketch. And indeed a sketch that makes Monet’s own work look slightly stayed.

While MANET was painting with Monet, his brother Eugene was vacationing on the Normandy coast.

Also on vacation in fake off were Berthe Morisot and Jean Monnet an amateur artist. The two spent days on end painting together.

In the spring of 1876 the Impressionists began organizing their second group exhibition. This time the group presented itself less as simply an association of independent artists and more as a movement.

The second exhibition had more works of art by each of the members who were thought to be central to the movement.

While only a few thousand would actually attend the show, newspapers Worldwide were quick to cover the story of these independent artists.

When the second impressionist exhibition closed in May of 1876 the group took solace in the fact that they did not lose money and were pleased the show had piqued the interest of a handful of new collectors.

But it was only a handful not enough to support the needy artists Pissarro Renoir and Monet.

In the fall of 1876 Claude Monet left Camille and their nine-year-old son to work in Mahjong on a series of paintings for his best patron Ernesto shidae a nest. He and his wife Elise were immensely wealthy. They not only had a chateau, but a private train to bring in their guests.

Ernest liked to spend money and he spent quite a bit of it on art and asked Monet to paint several large-scale works depicting scenes around his chateau.Monet set up a studio on the estate and moved in with Elise and her children.

Then, the dark clouds began to hover over this happy artistic scene.In the spring of 1877 Ernesto’s business went bankrupt and he lost everything. Including the Chateau.

Clearly, Monet was also in a difficult situation. He was broke and his creditors were out of patience. Monet and Camille began sharing a house with Elise and her six children hoping to save money by joining their families together.There were eleven people in this house.

To make matters even more difficult ,Camille was pregnant with her second child. She gave birth to a boy Michel in March 1878. But Camille seemed unable to recover after the delivery.

By the summer of 1879 she was alarmingly weak and in constant debilitating pain. Monet borrowed a thousand francs to pay for her doctors. But they were unable to help.Four days later Camille was dead at 32 years old.

Camille was buried in a simple plot in the corner of the Vettii graveyard.In the depths of his sorrow Monet stood for day after day in the brutal cold that came that winter and painted the Seine, churning with ice. While these paintings would soon spark new sales for the rest of the winter, Monet Elise and the eight children barely had enough to eat.

End of Part 2

The Birth (And Death)of Impressionism – Part One

Reproduction de La Promenade de Claude Monet – Galerie Mont-Blanc


Early in the 1860s a few young artists began to paint modern life as they saw .They had quietly rejected the idea that art was to tell stories of religious mythology or history. They were not interested in the past.

Contrary to popular belief, Impressionism is not a style but an attitude toward the relationship between life and art that believed it should express what people care about in their daily lives.
The first impressionists were Claude Monet, Aguste Renoir Camille Pissarro and Edgar Dega. This small group of artists dared to throw off the shackles of the past creating art that was ahead of its time.

It all began early in 1873 when Claude Monet invited several of his painter friends to a meeting at his home. Money had decided it was time to find an alternative to the old system where French artists lived at the mercy of the salon jury for success at the salon ,the state-run art exhibition.

At that meeting, the painters planned a group show that would be independent of the salon. To maker their independent exhibition dream a reality,the group desperately needed money.
They began by collecting duess and looked to expand their membership.Next invited to join the group was it’s first female member ,Berthe Morriset. She would later be joined by another Female aritist, the first and only American in the group, Mary Cassatt.

Black-and-white photograph of a seated older woman with light skin. She wears a dark dress with a fur stole and long necklace. Her dark hat is adorned with a group of large, wispy feathers and covers her hair. Her expression is open and calm.


Edouard Manet, the leading avant-garde painter of the day had declined to join. He was determined to make his name at the salon idependently.
Camille pissarro was busy helping to organize the show when he got word that his nine-year-old daughter Manette was ill with a respiratory infection. The family doctor could do little and the infection grew worse. Manette died on April 6 1874.

Pissarro rejoined his friends in making final preparations for the show. They found a space for the exhibition in one of the poshest sections of town on the boulevard de kappa. Monet who happily had a good marketing instinct ,painted the view from the window.This would enable visitors to the exhibitioin to compare Monet’s painting with the actual scene of modern life below.

In contrast to the classic salon presentation, where you saw all the paintings at once,you only saw the impressionist works one at a time.
The exhibition opened on April 15th 1874 and immediately captured the attention of the art critics in fact it seemed that every art critic in Paris had something negative to say about the impressionist’s work.

One example: “what we see in the work of this school is a revolting insult to the taste and intelligence of the public.”
The painting that became the cause celeb of that exhibition was “Morning Sunrise” by Monet and the word Impressionism comes from the title of that painting When a critic said: “These are nothing but impressions.” Meaning weren’t finished works.

So it was that the group of impressionist painters had moved from anonymity to noteriety in a matter of weeks. But not selling enough to even cover their expenses, they were so disappointed that it be two years before they would exhibit again .

End of Part One.

Christopher Strong Bicycle Gourmet – Born at the Right Time – Part Four


Christopher Strong Bicycle Gourmet – Born at the Right Time – Part Four…


brings us to the inevitable conclusion of my French-Mexican adventure. Checking out Parts One, Two and/or Three may help you connect the dots more easily.

After two plus weeks of Ten hour “Mr. Fix-It-Up” days Paul returned to France for Christmas. DA BG had agreed(with no arms twisted) to stay on until the end of January to provide a “security presence.” (my greatest unhearlded talent.)

With Paul gone my routine remained basically the same. With one exception: Wine Rationing! I had only three bottles of White to last seven weeks! Which meant less than a quarter (tiny)verre per meal. And(shock horror) only once per day. This, dear reader was wine appreciations most challenging  hour. Why didn’t I just buy more from our tiny village “supermercado?” One word: “Undrinkable!”

Like all good things, my mission of “Mexican assistance” came too soon to an end. Again I was on the same bus. This time in the opposite direction. And this time – no Ramon . Wait – it gets worse. Yes, dear reader, this driver/DJ was into hard core Country Music. “Big eight wheeler rollin’ down the track means your lovin’ daddy ain’t comin’ back – I’m movin’ on” (sung with a closepeg on your nose for maximum fidelity)

After two weeks back in the land of drinkable wine(almost) everywhere, no “bon mots” from Paul or Denis. I was just about to phone when Denis appeared at my door. With a shoe box.
I sensed correctly from his uncharacteristically somber mood that a shoe-based joke would not be appropriate.

After a long pause Denis murmured softly: “It’s Paul……last night…..” He didn’t finish the sentence. Nor did he need to. “How” I asked. “In his sleep” Denis replied.

No further words were needed. As we each silently savored our connections to this treasure of a man.

Finally, Denis offered me the box. “He left this for you.” You know what was in the box, dear reader. Do you not? Inside the glass was this note. In Paul’s elegant calligraphic hand : “Whenever you drink from this I hope you’ll remember your time in Mexico with an old pal.” And I do, dear reader. I do.