The workshop, the crossroads of artists' society

The workshop, the crossroads of artists' society

  • Meeting of artists in Isabelle's studio.

    BOILLY Louis Léopold (1761 - 1845)

  • L'Atelier de Bazille, 9 rue de la Condamine in Paris.

    BAZILLE Frédéric (1841 - 1870)

  • Mucha in his lithography studio.

    ANONYMOUS

To close

Title: Meeting of artists in Isabelle's studio.

Author : BOILLY Louis Léopold (1761 - 1845)

Creation date : 1799

Date shown:

Dimensions: Height 71 - Width 110

Technique and other indications: Oil on canvas

Storage location: Louvre Museum (Paris) website

Contact copyright: © Photo RMN-Grand Palaissite web

Picture reference: 89EE1595 / INV 1290 bis

Meeting of artists in Isabelle's studio.

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais

To close

Title: L'Atelier de Bazille, 9 rue de la Condamine in Paris.

Author : BAZILLE Frédéric (1841 - 1870)

Creation date : 1870

Date shown: 1870

Dimensions: Height 98 - Width 128.5

Technique and other indications: Oil on canvas.

Storage location: Orsay Museum website

Contact copyright: © Photo RMN-Grand Palais - H. Lewandowskisite web

Picture reference: 00-021116 / RF2449

L'Atelier de Bazille, 9 rue de la Condamine in Paris.

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais - H. Lewandowski

To close

Title: Mucha in his lithography studio.

Author : ANONYMOUS (-)

Date shown:

Dimensions: Height 11.8 - Width 16.9

Technique and other indications: Albumen print.

Storage location: Orsay Museum website

Contact copyright: © Photo RMN-Grand Palais - H. Lewandowskisite web

Picture reference: 01-001708 / Pho1991-11-1

Mucha in his lithography studio.

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais - H. Lewandowski

Publication date: February 2008

Doctorate in Art History

Historical context

The artist's studio in the XIXe century

Artist studios proliferated a lot in 19th century Europee century, in response to the significant increase in this social and professional category. The documents studied here represent the workshops of three European artists who lived in different contexts of the XIXe century: Isabey, Bazille and Mucha. Around the artist master of the place, a whole group gathers to admire, discuss or learn.

Image Analysis

The place of discourse on art

The canvas painted by Léopold Boilly (1761-1845) takes us into the studio of Isabelle, a painter from the first half of the 19th century housed in the Louvre Palace. The painter here shows the studio as a very popular, almost mundane meeting place. Many artists, musicians and architects seem to be speaking as if they were in a political circle, a literary salon or a philosophical café. Everything, from the clothes of the figures, the decorative ornaments and the piano, reveals a world of refinement far removed from the toil and concentration necessary for pictorial activity. This is only evoked by the painting lesson that Jean-Baptiste Isabey gives to Gérard, another student of David. It is also a theoretical discourse on art that seems to be the subject of the hushed studio of Frédéric Bazille (1841-1870), an impressionist of the generation of Renoir and Monet. This is a workshop typical of the Batignolles district in the 1870s, with its large spacious volumes lit by bay windows facing north, so as to maintain constant light throughout the day. Bazille and his two friends are gathered around his canvas, already framed and as if ready to leave the studio to join the walls of the Salon or the interior of a collector. One of the characters plays the piano, indicating that the workshop was a convivial place open to entertainment. Once again, nothing is shown of the painter's creative process, which remains a mystery since the perfectly clean palette is stored on the wall near the stove as a simple decorative element. The photograph showing Alfons Mucha (1860-1939) at work, the spearhead of Viennese Art Nouveau, once again evokes the studio as the historic site of the theory of painting and its implementation. In his interior decorated with heavy drapes, the painter is busy making a design for a poster. He is surrounded by attentive spectators who seem to listen religiously to the teacher's lesson.

Interpretation

The internal society of artists

These three images emphasize the social dimension of the artist's studio as a space for meeting, for discussion, for putting pictorial activity into perspective. They make it possible to draw an interesting parallel between the history of art and the socio-cultural history. We saw there that artistic creation was not totally independent of the social, economic and cultural microcosm of its time. The artist needs an entourage and an audience to put into perspective, discuss and receive what he creates. The workshop is this place in which students, admirers and even collectors are received. Strongly symbolic, the studio is the space of the physical emergence of the work of art, the one where it is thought out and then executed by the painter or sculptor. It precedes, for example, the Salon or the museum, which are places of exhibition and conservation. A place for discourse on art, for the sharing of techniques and opinions, a place for the entertainment of the senses, the studio is a crossroads in the world of artists. This theme so frequent in the painting of the XIXe century therefore appears to reveal both the aesthetic and the sociological dimension of the work of art. It participates in the anchoring of the figure of the artist, as much as the Salon de peinture and official institutions give him a place in the historical and social landscape of his time.

  • artist workshops
  • painters
  • living room
  • Mucha (Alfons)

Bibliography

The painter's studio and the art of painting, dictionary of technical terms, preface by André ChastelParis, ed. Larousse, 1990. Gérard GEFEN, Paris of artists, 1840-1940, Paris, ed. du Chêne, 1998.Anne MARTIN-FUGIER, Artist's Life in the 19th Century, Paris, Audibert, 2007. John MILNER, Artist workshops, Paris, Capital of the arts at the end of the 19th century, Paris, ed. Du May, 1990.Harrisson and Cynthia WHITE, The career of painters in the 19th century, Paris, ed. Flammarion, 1991 (original English edition published in 1965).

To cite this article

Claire MAINGON, "The workshop, crossroads of the society of artists"


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