2008/02/20

Puvis de Chavannes at Rodin Museum


A while ago I saw this small mural by Pierre Puvis de Chavannes 1824-1898, at the Rodin Museum in Philly. (click to view larger)

Legendary Saints of France
Reduced version of the frieze above 'The Childhood of Saint Geneviève', church of Saint Geneviève [The Panthéon], Paris
c. 1879
Oil on canvas
Left canvas: 30 1/4 x 32 1/2 inches (76.8 x 82.5 cm); center canvas: 30 1/4 x 35 inches (76.8 x 88.9 cm); right canvas: 30 1/4 x 32 inches (76.8 x 81.3 cm)

I knew Chavannes was a renowned muralist, and hadn't been aware of this piece.

Found this wonderful article on Chavanne's methods; it describes in detail his media and the background of his mural works; how he strove to get the feeling of fresco in the way he prepared his canvas, and how the marouflage was done;

"...The final step in the preparatory process was the creation of a full-scale painted cartoon combining many of the earlier studies. According to Puvis's student and collaborator Paul Baudouin, the cartoons Puvis produced for his mural projects “were very precise and studied works, in which all of the values were expressed” (Baudouin 1935, 300). Baudouin also noted that Puvis used either paper or canevas (a French word describing a coarse, light-colored cloth used for tapestry making) as a support for his large-scale cartoons. Notations on a photograph taken while the cartoon for the Inspiring Muses was on exhibit in the Salon of 1920, in the files of the Musée d'Orsay, indicate that the cartoon was painted in gouache on paper. The present whereabouts of the cartoon are unknown; its last location was in the attic of the Comic Opera, Paris (d'Argencourt et al. 1977, 231).

Puvis executed the Boston murals on a plainweave linen canvas, typical of the type he generally chose for his monumental wall decorations. In the library murals the coarseness of the canvas is evident in many thinly or dryly painted passages. Puvis had access to immense canvases. Only two pieces of linen were used for The Inspiring Muses, each one measuring 4.88 m (16 ft.) high with the left half 8.81 m (28 ft. 11 in.) long and the right half 6.60 m (21 ft. 8 in.) long. If seams were necessary in his large mural projects, Puvis did his best to camouflage or hide them. In the huge Sorbonne mural, The Sacred Grove (1886–89), for example, the two seams coincide with vertical tree trunks... continued... link *

*PUVIS DE CHAVANNES'S ALLEGORICAL MURALS IN THE BOSTON PUBLIC LIBRARY: HISTORY, TECHNIQUE, AND CONSERVATION
TERI HENSICK, KATE OLIVIER, & GIANFRANCO POCOBENE

I hope to sometime visit his and Sargent's murals at the Boston Public Library.
photo via Gruenemann on flickr, and this one too. Another reason to visit BPL; this amazing amount of siena marble!!http://www.comitepierrepuvisdechavannes.com/english.html
"More than 60 descendants of Edouard, Marie-Antoinette and Joséphine Puvis de Chavannes, brothers and sisters of the artist, are members of this Committee."

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