Happy Birthday Pierre-Auguste Renoir

Today is the 174th birthday of the artist Pierre-Auguste Renoir. I first remember seeing his art in the hallways of my elementary school. I didn’t know who the artist was at the time, but as I learned more about art, I realized that his paintings had been part of my life all along. I remember lining up in the hallways and staring at his paintings while waiting to go wherever we were going, lunch, recess, etc. The world is a better place because he was in it and still feels the loss the a he left.

NAME: Pierre-Auguste Renoir
OCCUPATION: Painter
BIRTH DATE: February 25, 1841
DEATH DATE: December 3, 1919
EDUCATION: École des Beaux-Arts
PLACE OF BIRTH: Limoges, France
PLACE OF DEATH: Cagnes-sur-Mer, France

BEST KNOWN FOR: A leading Impressionist painter, Pierre-Auguste Renoir was one of the most famous artists of the early twentieth century.

The son of a tailor and a seamstress, Pierre-Auguste Renoir came from humble beginnings. He was the couple’s sixth child, but two of his older siblings died as infants. The family moved to Paris sometime between 1844 and 1846, living near the Louvre, a world-renowned art museum. He attended a local Catholic school.

As a teenager, Renoir became an apprentice to a porcelain painter. He learned to copy designs to decorate plates and other dishware. Before long, Renoir started doing other types of decorative painting to make a living. He also took free drawing classes at a city-sponsored art school, which was run by sculptor Louis-Denis Caillouette.

Using imitation as a learning tool, a nineteen-year-old Renoir started studying and copying some of the great works hanging at the Louvre. He then entered the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, a famous art school, in 1862. Renoir also became a student of Charles Gleyre. At Gleyre’s studio, Renoir soon befriended three other young artists: Frédéric Bazille, Claude Monet, and Alfred Sisley. And through Monet, he met such emerging talents as Camille Pissarro and Paul Cézanne.

In 1864, Renoir won acceptance into the annual Paris Salon exhibit. There he showed the painting, “La Esmeralda,” which was inspired by a character from Victor Hugo’s Notre-Dame de Paris. The following year, Renoir again showed at the prestigious Salon, this time displaying a portrait of William Sisley, the wealthy father of artist Alfred Sisley.

While his Salon works helped raise his profile in the art world, Renoir had to struggle to make a living. He sought out commissions for portraits and often depended on the kindness of his friends, mentors, and patrons. The artist Jules Le Coeur and his family served as strong supporters of Renoir’s for many years. Renoir also remained close to Monet, Bazille, and Sisley, sometimes staying at their homes or sharing their studios. According to many biographies, he seemed to have no fixed address during his early career.

Around 1867, Renoir met Lise Tréhot, a seamstress who became his model. She served as the model for such works as “Diana” (1867) and “Lise” (1867). The two also reportedly became romantically involved. According to some reports, she gave birth to his first child, a daughter named Jeanne, in 1870. Renoir never publicly acknowledged his daughter during his lifetime.

Renoir had to take a break from his work in 1870 when he was drafted into the army to serve in France’s war against Germany. He was assigned to a cavalry unit, but he soon fell ill with dysentery. Renoir never saw any action during the war, unlike his friend Bazille who was killed that November.

After the war ended in 1871, Renoir eventually made his way back to Paris. He and some of his friends, including Pissarro, Monet, Cézanne and Edgar Degas, decided to show their works on their own in Paris in 1874, which became known as the first Impressionist exhibition. The group’s name is derived from a critical review of their show, in which the works were called “impressions” rather than finished paintings done using traditional methods. Renoir, like other Impressionists, embraced a brighter palette for his paintings, which gave them a warmer and sunnier feel. He also used different types of brushstrokes to capture his artistic vision on the canvas.

While the first Impressionist exhibition was not a success, Renoir soon found other supportive patrons to propel his career. The wealthy publisher Georges Charpentier and his wife Marguérite took a great interest in the artist and invited him to numerous social gatherings at their Paris home. Through the Charpentiers, Renoir met such famous writers as Gustave Flaubert and ?mile Zola. He also received portrait commissions from the couple’s friends. His 1878 painting, “Madame Charpentier and her Children,” was featured in the official Salon of the following year and brought him much critical admiration.

Funded with the money from his commissions, Renoir made several inspirational journeys in the early 1880s. He visited Algeria and Italy and spent time in the south of France. While in Naples, Italy, Renoir worked on a portrait of famed composer Richard Wagner. He also painted three of his masterworks, “Dance in the Country,” “Dance in the City” and “Dance at Bougival” around this time.

As his fame grew, Renoir began to settle down. He finally married his longtime girlfriend Aline Charigot in 1890. The couple already had a son, Pierre, who was born in 1885. Aline served as a model for many of his works, including “Mother Nursing Her Child” (1886). His growing family, with the additions of sons Jean in 1894 and Claude in 1901, also provided inspiration for a number of paintings.

As he aged, Renoir continued to use his trademark feathery brushstrokes to depict primarily rural and domestic scenes. His work, however, proved to be more and more physically challenging for the artist. Renoir first battled with rheumatism in the mid-1890s and the disease plagued him for the rest of his life.

In 1907, Renoir bought some land in Cagnes-sur-Mer where he built a stately home for his family. He continued to work, painting whenever he could. The rheumatism had disfigured his hands, leaving his fingers permanently curled. Renoir also had a stroke in 1912, which left him in a wheelchair. Around this time, he tried his hand at sculpture. He worked with assistants to create works based on some of his paintings.

The world-renowned Renoir continued to paint until his death. He lived long enough to see one of his works bought by the Louvre in 1919, a tremendous honor for any artist. Renoir died that December at his home in Cagnes-sur-Mer, France. He was buried next to his wife, Aline (who died in 1915), in her hometown of Essoyes, France.

Besides leaving behind over two hundred works of art, Renoir served as an inspiration to so many other artists—Pierre Bonnard, Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso are just a few who benefitted from Renoir’s artistic style and methods.

Happ Birthday Eugène Atget

Yesterday was the 158th birthday of the French photographer Eugène Atget who took photographs of people and things at a time when most photography being taken was portraiture.  His photos of paris at the turn of the century are hauntingly beautiful.  The world is a better place because he was in it and still feels the loss that he has left.

 

NAME: Eugène Atget
OCCUPATION: Actor, Photographer
BIRTH DATE: February 12, 1857
DEATH DATE: August 04, 1927
PLACE OF BIRTH: Libourne, France
PLACE OF DEATH: Paris, France

Best Known For:  French photographer Eugène Atget recorded everything he considered picturesque or artistic in and around Paris, with an eye for strange and unsettling images.

At around age 30, Eugène Atget settled in Paris and became a photographer. The rest of his life was spent recording everything he could that he considered picturesque or artistic in and around Paris, with an eye for strange and unsettling images. His main clients were museums and historical societies. After World War I he received a commission to document the brothels of Paris.

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Happy Birthday Ivan Parker

 

Birth: Feb. 9, 1920
Death: May 18, 1988 (68)
Burial: Miller-Woodlawn Memorial Park Bremerton Washington, USA
Social Security Number (SSN):  537-03-8042

Today is my grandfather, Ivan Parker‘s birthday, he would have been 94.  A lot of people live to be 94 now, but he died at a far-too-young 68.  Seems unfair.

I remember that he had this strange way of floating on his back in the lake, his feet sticking out of the water, his hands slowly moving back and forth. It was sort of like treading water, sort of like floating on his back, but very casual. I try to recreate that floating when I am in the lake each summer, but I don’t have it exactly right because his head was sort of sticking up out of the water and he could hold conversations. I remember once, when my sister and I were very young, he was tucking us into our sleeping bags out at the lake house and my sister wanted to sleep in her socks. He told her that if she wore her socks to bed that her toes would rot off, jokingly. We laughed and laughed. I wish I could write down every single thing I remember about him, I probably will over time. I want to write it all down so I remember it all, forever.

ivan graveI will keep looking for more information and adding it when I find it, but he has very little internet presence, no obituary or anything like that.  I guess if I joined that family tree website, I could find things…

Since I am adding things, I will add other things that happened on this day:

On this day in 1964, the Beatles appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show for the first time, as teenage girls screamed hysterically in the audience and 73 million people watched from home — a record for American television at the time. Their appearance on the show is considered the beginning of the “British Invasion” of music in the United States. The Beatles appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show the following two Sundays in a row, as well. On this first time, exactly 49 years ago today, they sang “All My Loving,” “Till There Was You,” “She Loves You,” “I Saw Her Standing There,” and finally “I Want to Hold Your Hand” — which had just hit No. 1 on the charts.

It was on this day in 1870 that the U.S. National Weather Service was established.

At first it was called the Weather Bureau and it was part of the War Department because, it was said, “military discipline would probably secure the greatest promptness, regularity, and accuracy in the required observations.” It became a civilian agency 20 years later, under the Department of Agriculture, and then was switched to the Commerce Department in 1940. These days, the National Weather Service is based out of Silver Spring, Maryland. It plays a very big role in making sure that American air travel is safe, providing up-to-minute weather updates to air traffic controller centers across the nation.

 

Happy Birthday Fernand Léger

Today is the 134th birthday of the French artist Fernand Léger. His developed style of painting is distinctively his own. I see a combination of Picasso and Rivera cubism and the linear Art Deco formality. The world is a better place because he was in it and still feels the loss that he has left.

NAME: Fernand Léger
OCCUPATION: Painter
BIRTH DATE: February 4, 1881
DEATH DATE: August 17, 1955
EDUCATION: Paris School of Decorative Arts
PLACE OF BIRTH: Argentan, France
PLACE OF DEATH: Gif-sur-Yvette, France

BEST KNOWN FOR: French painter Fernand Léger created the abstract painting series “Contrast of Forms.” His work blended elements of Cubism with his own unique style, “tubism.”

Fernand Léger was born to a peasant family in the rural town of Argentan, France, on February 4, 1881. Léger’s father was a cattle dealer who hoped his son would follow in his footsteps and choose what he deemed a practical trade. Although Léger was initially discouraged from becoming an artist, his father became supportive once he recognized Léger’s gift for drawing.

With his father’s approval, Léger enrolled in architecture school and accepted an apprenticeship under an architect in Caen. In 1901, upon completion of his two-year internship, Léger moved to Paris, France, where he worked as an architectural draftsman.

Wishing to further pursue his art education, Léger applied to the prestigious École des Beux-Arts and was unfortunately rejected.In 1903 he stated attending the Paris School of Decorative Arts instead, while also being unofficially mentored by two École des Beux-Arts professors who recognized his potential. Up until this point, Léger’s painting style blended Impressionism with Fauvism. In 1907 he attended a retrospective of Paul Cézanne’s work. From then on, Léger’s work took on more elements of Cubism, but with his own unique style of slicing forms into tubular cylinders, casually referred to as “tubism.”

In 1913, he started a series of abstract paintings called “Contrast of Forms.” A year later, he put his art career on hold to serve in the French army during World War I. In 1916, he was gassed at Verdun. Having incurred a head injury, he was sent home and hospitalized until 1917.

After the war, Léger continued to paint but also tried his hand at other mediums, including book illustrations and set and costume designs for the theater. In 1924, Léger ventured to make his first film, Ballet Mécanique. That same year, he opened his own school of modern art.

As Léger’s work matured in the 1920s and ’30s, he increasingly incorporated elements of modernism—particularly representations of machinery and human figures expressing speed and movement. His notable paintings from this period include “The Mechanic,” “Mona Lisa with Keys,” “Adam and Eve,” and “Composition with Two Parrots,” among others.

With the arrival of World War II, in 1940, Léger temporarily relocated to America. During this time, he produced a series of paintings called “Divers,” noted for its unique use of large patches of color that overlapped outlines to portrayed stylized figures of swimmers diving off docks in Marseille. This series was followed by two others also portraying human figures in motion: “Acrobats” and “Cyclists.” In 1946, Léger went back to France, where he revitalized his art school and became active in the Communist Party. In the 1950s, Léger’s work focused on the theme of the common man, and further expanded to include tapestry, pottery, stained glass and mosaics.

Léger died on August 17, 1955, in Gif-sur-Yvette, France.

Happy Birthday W. Somerset Maugham

Today is the 141st birthday of the writer W. Somerset Maugham.  I was given a copy of “The Razor’s Edge” quite a while ago by a former employer stating “this is one of my favorite books and novels.”  He meant that he liked the story and like the look of the book, physically.  The book was given to him by the matriarch of a very prominent Seattle family when she was closing up and selling off her properties on the San Juan Islands.  I still have it and I hope to do the same with it one day.  The world is a better place because he was in it and still feels the loss that he has left.

Born: 25 January 1874 UK Embassy, Paris, France
Died: 16 December 1965 (aged 91) Nice, France
Occupation: Playwright, novelist, short story writer
Notable works: Of Human Bondage, The Letter, Rain, The Razor’s Edge

Today is the birthday of W. Somerset Maugham, born in Paris (1874). His father was in Paris as a lawyer for the British Embassy. When Maugham was eight years old, his mother died from tuberculosis. His father died of cancer two years later. The boy was sent back to England into the care of a cold and distant uncle, a vicar. Maugham was miserable at his school. He said later: “I wasn’t even likeable as a boy. I was withdrawn and unhappy, and rejected most overtures of sympathy over my stuttering and shyness.” Maugham became a doctor and practiced in the London slums. He was particularly moved by the women he encountered in the hospital, where he delivered babies; and he was shocked by his fellow doctors’ callous approach to the poor. He wrote: “I saw how men died. I saw how they bore pain. I saw what hope looked like, fear and relief; I saw the dark lines that despair drew on a face; I saw courage and steadfastness. I saw faith shine in the eyes of those who trusted in what I could only think was an illusion and I saw the gallantry that made a man greet the prognosis of death with an ironic joke because he was too proud to let those about him see the terror of his soul.”

When he was 23, he published his first novel, Liza of Lambeth, about a working-class 18-year-old named Liza who has an affair with a 40-year-old married man named Jim, a father of nine. Jim’s wife beats up Liza, who is pregnant, and who miscarries, and dies. The novel was a big success, and Maugham made enough money to quit medicine and become a full-time writer. For many years, he made his living as a playwright, but eventually he became one of the most popular novelists in Britain. His novels include Of Human Bondage (1915), The Moon and Sixpence (1919), Cakes and Ale (1930), and The Razor’s Edge (1944).
Somerset Maugham said,

To acquire the habit of reading is to construct for yourself a refuge from almost all the miseries of life.

At a dinner party one should eat wisely but not too well, and talk well but not too wisely.

Dying is a very dull, dreary affair. And my advice to you is to have nothing whatever to do with it.

Excess on occasion is exhilarating. It prevents moderation from acquiring the deadening effect of a habit.

It was such a lovely day I thought it a pity to get up.

Happy Birthday Cristóbal Balenciaga

Today is the 120th birthday of the Spanish fashion designer Cristóbal Balenciaga.  The world is a better place because he is in it and still feels the loss that he has left.

NAME: Cristóbal Balenciaga
OCCUPATION: Fashion Designer
BIRTH DATE: January 21, 1895
DEATH DATE: March 23, 1972
PLACE OF BIRTH: Getaria, Spain
PLACE OF DEATH: Valencia, Spain

BEST KNOWN FOR: Cristóbal Balenciaga was a Spanish-French fashion designer and the leading couturier of Spain in the 1920s-30s. He moved to Paris during the Spanish Civil War.

Balenciaga was born in Getaria, a fishing town in the Basque province of Gipuzkoa, on January 21, 1895.[1] His mother was a seamstress, and as a child Balenciaga often spent time with her as she worked. At the age of twelve, he began work as the apprentice of a tailor. When Balenciaga was a teenager, the Marchioness de Casa Torres, the foremost noblewoman in his town, became his customer and patron. She sent him to Madrid, where he was formally trained in tailoring.[1] (Balenciaga is notable as one of the few couturiers in fashion history who could use their own hands to design, cut, and sew the models which symbolized the height of his artistry.)

Balenciaga was successful during his early career as a designer in Spain. He opened a boutique in San Sebastián, Spain, in 1919, which expanded to include branches in Madrid and Barcelona. The Spanish royal family and the aristocracy wore his designs, but when the Spanish Civil War forced him to close his stores, Balenciaga moved to Paris. Balenciaga opened his Paris couture house on Avenue George V in August 1937.

However, it was not until the post-war years that the full scale of the inventiveness of this highly original designer became evident. In 1951, he totally transformed the silhouette, broadening the shoulders and removing the waist. In 1955, he designed the tunic dress, which later developed into the chemise dress of 1957. And eventually, in 1959, his work culminated in the Empire line, with high-waisted dresses and coats cut like kimonos.

In 1960 he made the wedding dress for Fabiola de Mora y Aragón when she married king Baudouin I of Belgium. The Queen later donated her wedding dress to the Cristóbal Balenciaga Foundation.

His often spare, sculptural creations were considered masterworks of haute couture in the 1950s and 1960s.

Balenciaga closed his house in 1968 at the age of 74 after working in Paris for 30 years. He decided to retire and closed his fashion houses in Paris, Barcelona and Madrid, one after the other. Balenciaga died March 23, 1972 in Xàbia, Spain.

He taught fashion design classes, inspiring other designers such as Oscar de la Renta, André Courrèges, Emanuel Ungaro, Mila Schön and Hubert de Givenchy. Today the Balenciaga fashion house continues under the direction of Alexander Wang and under the ownership of the Gucci Group.[5]

On 24 March 2011 at San Francisco’s M.H. de Young Museum they celebrated the opening of “Balenciaga and Spain,” a 120-piece fashion retrospective of Cristóbal Balenciaga’s career. “You can’t even measure it,” said Rodarte designer Laura Mulleavy of Balenciaga’s influence. The $2,500-a-ticket fund-raiser for the museum drew 350 guests, including Marissa Mayer, Jamie Tisch, Gwyneth Paltrow, Orlando Bloom, Balthazar Getty, Maggie Rizer, Connie Nielsen, Maria Bello and Mia Wasikowska.

On 7 June 2011, the Balenciaga Museum was inaugurated in his hometown of Getaria by Queen Sofía of Spain and with the presence of Hubert de Givenchy, honorific president of the Balenciaga Foundation. The museum has a collection of more than 1,200 pieces designed by Balenciaga, part of them donations by disciples like Givenchy or clients, like Queen Fabiola of Belgium and the heirs of Grace Kelly.

Happy Birthday Berthe Morisot

Today is the 174th birthday of the artist Berthe Morisot. There are so very few female French Impressionist painters that she deserves note. You recognize her paintings, but probably didn’t know her story. The world is a better place because she was in it and still feels the loss that she has left.

NAME: Berthe Morisot
OCCUPATION: Painter
BIRTH DATE: January 14, 1841
DEATH DATE: March 2, 1895
PLACE OF BIRTH: Bourges, France
PLACE OF DEATH: Paris, France

BEST KNOWN FOR: Berthe Morisot was a French Impressionist painter who portrayed a wide range of subjects—from landscapes and still lifes to domestic scenes and portraits.

Born January 14, 1841, in Bourges, France. Berthe Morisot’s father was a high-ranking government official and her grandfather was the influential Rococo painter Jean-Honoré Fragonard. She and her sister Edma began painting as young girls. Despite the fact that as women they were not allowed to join official arts institutions, the sisters earned respect in art circles for their talent.

Berthe and Edma Morisot traveled to Paris to study and copy works by the Old Masters at the Louvre Museum in the late 1850s under Joseph Guichard. They also studied with landscape painter Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot to learn how to paint outdoor scenes. Berthe Morisot worked with Corot for several years and first exhibited her work in the prestigious state-run art show, the Salon, in 1864. She would earn a regular spot at show for the next decade.

In 1868, fellow artist Henri Fantin-Latour introduced Berthe Morisot to douard Manet. The two formed a lasting friendship and greatly influenced one another’s work. Berthe soon eschewed the paintings of her past with Corot, migrating instead toward Manet’s more unconventional and modern approach. She also befriended the Impressionists Edgar Degas and Frédéric Bazille and in 1874, refused to show her work at the Salon. She instead agreed to be in the first independent show of Impressionist paintings, which included works by Degas, Camille Pissarro, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Claude Monet, and Alfred Sisley. (Manet declined to be included in the show, determined to find success at the official Salon.) Among the paintings Morisot showed at the exhibition were The Cradle, The Harbor at Cherbourg, Hide and Seek, and Reading.

In 1874, Berthe Morisot married Manet’s younger brother, Eugne, also a painter. The marriage provided her with social and financial stability while she continued to pursue her painting career. Able to dedicate herself wholly to her craft, Morisot participated in the Impressionist exhibitions every year except 1877, when she was pregnant with her daughter.

Berthe Morisot portrayed a wide range of subjects—from landscapes and still lifes to domestic scenes and portraits. She also experimented with numerous media, including oils, watercolors, pastels, and drawings. Most notable among her works during this period is Woman at Her Toilette (c. 1879). Later works were more studied and less spontaneous, such as The Cherry Tree (1891-92) and Girl with a Greyhound (1893).

After her husband died in 1892, Berthe Morisot continued to paint, although she was never commercially successful during her lifetime. She did, however, outsell several of her fellow Impressionists, including Monet, Renoir, and Sisley. She had her first solo exhibition in 1892 and two years later the French government purchased her oil painting Young Woman in a Ball Gown. Berthe Morisot contracted pneumonia and died on March 2, 1895, at age 54.