(born January 1, 1864, Hoboken, New Jersey, U.S.—died
July 13, 1946, New York, New York), art dealer,
publisher, advocate for the Modernist movement in the
arts, and, arguably, the most important photographer of
Stieglitz was the son of Edward Stieglitz, a German
Jew who moved to the United States in 1849 and went
on to make a comfortable fortune in the clothing
business. In 1871 the elder Stieglitz moved his
family from Hoboken, New Jersey, to Manhattan’s
Upper East Side. Ten years later he sold his
business in order to devote himself to the
appreciation of the arts and to European travel.
In 1882 Alfred
Stieglitz enrolled in Berlin’s Technische Hochschule
to study engineering, but the subject apparently did
not strike his fancy. He did, however, spend an
undetermined amount of time studying with the great
photochemist Hermann Vogel, and, during this same
period, he committed himself to photography. It
would seem that this commitment did not seriously
interfere with his role as student prince, as he
spent much of his time at the racetrack and in
cafés, seeing operas by Wagner, and being
entertained by young women of the less affluent
classes. Nevertheless, by 1887 he was skilled enough
to win both first and second prizes in the “Holiday
Work” competition of the leading English journal
In 1890, after
eight years of footloose freedom, mostly in Germany,
Stieglitz returned to the United States. He was
convinced that photography should be considered a
fine art—at least potentially the equal of painting
and the traditional graphic arts—and he was
accustomed to getting his way.
He quickly became a leader of
photography’s fine-art movement in the United States (part
of an international phenomenon). In 1892 he became editor of
Camera Notes, the publication of the Camera Club of New
York, a position that allowed him to advance the
photographers and policies he favoured. By 1902, however,
resentment in the club had reached a point where Stieglitz
was forced to resign. He was ready to move on and already
had plans for his own organization and journal.
Early in 1902 Stieglitz announced the existence of a
new organization called the Photo-Secession, a group
dedicated to promoting photography as an art form.
The name of the group suggested that it was designed
to break away from stodgy and conventional ideas.
In fact, all the Photo-Secessionist photographers
were committed in greater or lesser degrees to what
was called the Pictorialist style, meaning they
favoured traditional genre subjects that had been
sanctified by generations of conventional painters
and techniques that tended to hide the intrinsic
factuality of photography behind a softening mist.
Members of the group were elected by Stieglitz, and
eventually its roll included 17 fellows and almost
twice as many associates. Founding members included
Gertrude Käsebier, Edward Steichen, Clarence H.
White, and Joseph Keiley.
It is difficult to
describe the character of Stieglitz’s photography
from this period without first identifying which
selection of early work one is considering. As an
active and talented publicist and publisher,
Stieglitz was able regularly to revise his own early
artistic achievement and to emphasize early work
that in retrospect seemed more interesting than it
had when new. For example, the negative for Paula
was made in 1889, but the first confirmed exhibition
of a print of it was in 1921, and the oldest extant
print is dated 1916.
Winter on Fifth Avenue, New York
If judged from the work that
Stieglitz chose to reproduce while editor of Camera Notes,
or from the 15 pictures selected by Stieglitz’s frequent
collaborator Charles H. Caffin in his important 1901 book
Photography as Fine Art, much of Stieglitz’s early work was
sentimental, conventional, or both. Little of it compares in
vitality—even within the narrow Pictorialist aesthetic—with
the contemporary work of Käsebier, Steichen, or White. The
exceptions in Stieglitz’s early work—those pictures that
seem to respond to the photographer’s own life and place,
such as Winter, Fifth Avenue or The Terminal (both 1892)—are
almost always answers to difficult technical problems, which
Stieglitz loved, and which often trumped his impulses to
make photographs that were artistically correct.
To promote his goals (and,
presumably, the goals of the Photo-Secession), Stieglitz
introduced a quarterly publication called Camera Work; its
first issue appeared in January 1903, and a total of 50
issues would be produced before it ceased publication in
1917. The magazine would largely define the artistic
ambitions of amateur photographers in the first quarter of
the 20th century. The quality of Camera Work’s production
was extraordinary, and many of its gravure
reproductions—often made directly from a photographer’s
negative—are still valued by collectors. (When Stieglitz had
returned to the United States in 1890, his father bought him
an interest in the Heliochrome Company, a firm working in
the then new technology of photoengraving. The business was
a failure, perhaps because of Stieglitz’s antibusiness
postures, but it is possible that he learned something about
the craft of printing that served him well in his subsequent
work as a publisher.)
Late in 1905, with the
encouragement of his young protégé Steichen,
Stieglitz opened the Little Galleries of the
Photo-Secession, a name soon shortened to 291, the
gallery’s address on lower Fifth Avenue in New York
City. During the gallery’s first four years it most
often functioned as an exhibition space for the
Photo-Secession photographers. By the 1909 season,
however, the gallery began to promote progressive
art in a variety of media, and the work of painters,
sculptors, and printmakers almost usurped the
gallery space. These exhibitions (many of them
arranged by Steichen) included the first shows in
the United States of the work of Henri Matisse,
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Paul Cézanne, and Pablo
As a result of his
varied activities, Stieglitz’s reputation in the art
world grew quickly, and in 1910 the Albright Gallery
of Buffalo, New York, a highly respected
institution, offered him its entire gallery space to
do an exhibition on the art of photography as he
understood it. The exhibition contained about 600
photographs, including 27 by Frank Eugene and 16 by
Anne Brigman, but not one by Carleton Watkins,
William Henry Jackson, Edward Curtis, nor by
Stieglitz’s fellow New Yorkers Jacob A. Riis and
Lewis Wickes Hine—all of them alive, and none
unknown. Stieglitz told friends that the Buffalo
exhibition was the realization of his dream of a
quarter century: “The full recognition of
photography by an important art museum!”
Alfred Stieglitz. Georgia O'Keeffe, Hands, 1918
The exhibition was a political
triumph, but not an artistic one, as it represented only a
very limited conception— Stieglitz’s own—of what
photography’s creative potential might be. In fact, the
exhibit revealed that, while claiming to be progressive, the
Photo-Secessionist ideals had in some ways become both
authoritarian and deeply conservative, ignoring work that
pursued anything other than an attenuated aestheticism.
After the Buffalo
exhibition, Stieglitz made few photographs for five years.
When he returned to creating his own photographs in 1915,
his work seems to have become washed clean of the old
artistic postures and darkroom manipulations and dedicated
instead to the clear observation of fact. The change was
perhaps due in part to his recognition that—for the most
part—the work in the Buffalo exhibition represented a dead
end and would lead only to progressively weaker repetition.
In addition, it is impossible to believe that a person of
Stieglitz’s artistic intelligence would not be changed by
exposure to the work of Rodin, Matisse, Brancusi, Picasso,
and Braque, which he had shown at 291 between 1908 and 1914.
But perhaps the most direct cause of Stieglitz’s artistic
renewal was seeing the first mature work of Paul Strand,
which Stieglitz featured in 1917 in the final (double) issue
of Camera Work. Stieglitz had always been quick to learn
from his protégés, and he was unquestionably challenged by
Strand’s work, which he characterized as “brutally direct,
pure and devoid of trickery.”
Alfred Stieglitz. Dirigible, 1910
Nevertheless, it must be said
that part of what was new in Stieglitz’s work transcended
Strand’s youthful bravura inventions and revealed (finally)
the values of an adult artist. The first of the new pictures
were portraits of the artists who were close to Stieglitz—Francis
Picabia, Charles Demuth, Marsden Hartley—and they make his
earlier portraits seem, in comparison, to be of characters
out of fiction. In 1916 he created an astonishing series
depicting Ellen Koeniger in her bathing suit—perhaps the
most joyfully sexual pictures that photography has produced.
Stieglitz’s new views were
incompatible with those of most amateur photographers, the
core of Camera Work’s pool of subscribers, who tended to
regard photography as a means not of exploring the world but
of hiding from it. When Camera Work began it had about 650
paying subscribers; by the time it stopped being published
in 1917 it had about 36. Many of its original subscribers
were doubtless disaffected by the magazine’s apparent
abandonment (parallel to Stieglitz’s own preferences) of
Pictorialist photography in favour of avant-garde painting.
With the outbreak of World War I, others were repelled by
Stieglitz’s pro-German sentiments. In a larger sense, Camera
Work may have died because Stieglitz had lost interest in
the aims—promoting photography as a fine art along the lines
of painting—that it was founded to advance. People closely
associated with Stieglitz became alienated by his arrogance
and manipulative strategies: one by one the most important
of the Photo-Secession members—Käsebier, Steichen, White—all
eventually broke with him, and by 1917 the 291 gallery
Free at last of the duties of publisher, editor, and (for
awhile) gallery proprietor, Stieglitz began, in his early
50s, the most original and productive period of his life as
an artist. During the following 20 years, he produced the
work that defines his stature as a modern artist. In 1917 he
met the painter Georgia O’Keeffe, who would quickly become
his lover and finally (in 1924) his wife, after Stieglitz
gained a divorce from his first wife, the former Emmeline
Obermeyer. His serial portrait of O’Keeffe, made over a
period of 20 years, contains more than 300 individual
pictures and remains unique and compelling in its ability to
capture many facets of a single subject. Until he stopped
photographing in 1937, Stieglitz also created series
depicting the changing skyline of New York, cloud formations
(“equivalents”), and the surroundings of his summer home at
Lake George, New York. These later works remain remarkably
vital and continue to inspire and challenge photographers
and artists in other fields.
Stieglitz also continued
his efforts to support and exhibit Modernist art. After
closing 291, he opened two additional galleries: the
Intimate Gallery, from 1925 to 1929, and An American Place,
from 1929 until his death in 1946. These small galleries
were dedicated almost exclusively to the exhibition of the
American Modernist artists in whom Stieglitz believed most
deeply: Demuth, Arthur G. Dove, Hartley, John Marin, and
O’Keeffe. (To a lesser extent, he also showed the work of
American photographers. In 1936 he showed the work of Ansel
Adams, the first new photographer whom he had shown since
Strand 20 years earlier. Two years later he showed the work
of Eliot Porter.) Through such efforts Stieglitz helped
increase the public’s respect for American art.
contributions to the cultural life of his country were thus
many and protean, but the judgment made by Steichen in 1963
seems just: “Stieglitz’s greatest legacy to the world is his
photographs, and the greatest of these are the things he
began doing toward the end of the 291 days.”
William Dyce, (born
Sept. 19, 1806, Aberdeen, Aberdeen, Scot.—died Feb. 14,
1864, London), Scottish painter and pioneer of state art
education in Great Britain.
Dyce studied at the
Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh, and the Royal
Academy schools, London. One of the first British
students of early Italian Renaissance painting, he
visited Italy in 1825 and 1827–28, meeting in Rome a
group of young German painters, the Nazarenes.
He exhibited regularly at the Royal Academy, being
elected associate of the Royal Academy in 1844 and
academician in 1848.
n 1830–37 in Edinburgh he made portraits for a
livelihood. But his Italian studies led him to
anticipate the English Pre-Raphaelites in the quest
for a primitivist simplicity and repose in his
painting that harked back to the art of 14th- and
At the time of his
death Dyce was engaged in painting a series of
frescoes for the Houses of Parliament, of which
remain the “Baptism of Ethelbert” in the House of
Lords (1846) and the “King Arthur” series (1848;
unfinished) in the queen’s robing room.
Alexej Georgewitsch von Jawlensky (13
March 1864 – 15 March 1941) was a Russian expressionist painter
active in Germany. He was a key member of the New Munich Artist's
Association (Neue Künstlervereinigung München), Der Blaue Reiter
(The Blue Rider) group and later the Die Blaue Vier (The Blue Four).
Life and work
Alexej von Jawlensky was born in Torzhok, a town in Tver
Governorate, Russia, as the fifth child of Georgi von Jawlensky and
his wife Alexandra (née Medwedewa). At the age of ten he moved with
his family to Moscow.
After a few years of military training, he
became interested in painting, visiting the Moscow World Exposition
c. 1880. Thanks to his good social connections, he managed to get
himself posted to St. Petersburg and, from 1889 to 1896, studied at
the art academy there, while also discharging his military duties. Jawlensky gained admittance to the circle of Ilya Repin, where he
met Marianne von Werefkin, one of Repin's former students and a
wealthy artist four years Jawlensly's senior who gave up her career
to promote his work and provide him with a comfortable lifestyle.
Free to pursue his artistic vision,
he moved to Munich in 1894, where he studied in the private school
of Anton Ažbe. In 1905 Jawlensky visited Ferdinand Hodler, and two
years later he began his long friendship with Jan Verkade and met
Paul Sérusier. Together, Verkade and Sérusier transmitted to
Jawlensky both practical and theoretical elements of the work of the
Nabis, and Synthetist principles of art.
In Munich he met Wassily Kandinsky
and various other Russian artists, and he contributed to the
formation of the Neue Künstlervereinigung München. His work in this
period was lush and richly coloured, but later moved towards
abstraction and a simplified, formulaic style.
Between 1908 and 1910 Jawlensky and Werefkin spent summers in the Bavarian Alps with
Kandinsky and his companion Gabriele Münter. Here, through painting
landscapes of their mountainous surroundings, they experimented with
one another’s techniques and discussed the theoretical bases of
their art. Following a trip to the Baltic coast, and renewed contact
with Henri Matisse in 1911 and Emil Nolde in 1912, Jawlensky turned
increasingly to the expressive use of colour and form alone in his
Expelled from Germany in 1914, he moved to Switzerland. He met Emmy
Scheyer in 1916 (Jawlensky gave her the affectionate nickname, Galka,
a Russian word for jackdaw), another artist who abandoned her own
work to champion his in the United States. After a hiatus in
experimentation with the human form, Jawlensky produced perhaps his
best-known series, the Mystical Heads (1917–19), and the Saviour’s
Faces (1918–20), which are reminiscent of the traditional Russian
Orthodox icons of his childhood.
In 1922, after marrying Werefkin’s
former maid Hélène Nesnakomoff, the mother of his only son, Andreas,
born before their marriage, Jawlensky took up residence in
Wiesbaden. In 1924 he organized the Blue Four, whose works, thanks
to Scheyer’s tireless promotion, were jointly exhibited in Germany
and the USA. From 1929 Jawlensky suffered from progressively
crippling arthritis, which necessitated a reduced scale and finally
forced a cessation in his painting in 1937. He began to dictate his
memoirs in 1938. He died in Wiesbaden, Germany, on 15 March 1941. He
and his wife Helene are buried in the cemetery of St. Elizabeth's
In November 2003 his Schokko (Schokko mit Tellerhut) sold for
US$9,296,000 and in February 2008 for GB£9,450,000 (US$18.43
The 2006 album by the jazz group
Acoustic Ladyland, Skinny Grin, features one of his works, Portrait
of The Dancer Alexander Sacharoff, as its cover art.
The five CD's issued by CPO with
the complete string quartets by the Polish composer Mieczysław
Weinberg (1919–1996), and played by the Quatuor Danel, all have a
female portrait by von Jawlensky on their cover. Volume 1 shows "Frauenbildnis"
Volume 2 has "Kind mit blauen Augen". Volume 3 has "Weiblicher
Kopf" (1912). Volume 4 has "Spanierin" (1911). And volume 5 shows "Mädchen
mit Haube" (1910).
Paintings by von Jawlensky are displayed in galleries and museums
around the world.
The Museum Ostwall in Dortmund, Germany, maintains
a collection of exceptional depth.
Paul Serusier, in full
Louis-Paul-Henri Sérusier (born November 9, 1864,
Paris—died October 6, 1927, Morlaix, France), French
Post-Impressionist painter and theorist who was
instrumental in the formation of the short-lived, but
highly influential, late 19th-century art movement known
as the Nabis. The group was noted for its expressive use
of colour and pattern in the mode of Paul Gauguin.
Sérusier’s early paintings featuring the people and
landscapes of Brittany are noteworthy for their muted,
contemplative mood, which the artist achieved by using
firm contours and blocks of unmodulated colour.
Sérusier’s father was
a businessman of Flemish descent. As a boy, Sérusier
attended the Lycée Condorcet, a secondary school
that placed much emphasis on the study of
philosophy, and he received a baccalaureate in
letters in 1883. Not much interested in the sales
job that his practical father helped him obtain, he
determined to become an artist and in 1885 entered
the Académie Julian, a noted private art school in
Paris. While there he met and befriended the young
Maurice Denis, who would become a major influence in
the revival of religious art in France. During the
summer of 1888 Sérusier traveled to Pont-Aven in
Brittany, which was a popular gathering place for
artists. There he met French painter and theorist
Émile Bernard, who at the time was engaged in
translating the theories of the Symbolist poets to
the medium of paint. That summer, in conversations
and painting sessions, Bernard and his friend Paul
Gauguin developed their notions about the freedom to
move beyond Impressionism and its studies of light
and nature—to simplify, interpret, and arrange
On the last day of his
vacation, Sérusier painted with Gauguin, who encouraged him
to forgo modeling, perspective, and all such attempts at
three-dimensional effects and to use a simplified colour
palette. The experience brought about an epiphany. Sérusier
produced an unfinished painting—a demonstration of
technique, really—that he took back to Paris to show his
friends. Formally called Landscape at the Bois d’Amour at
Pont-Aven (1888), it was known to the Nabis as The Talisman,
and it is considered the first Nabi painting. Although by
the summer of 1889 Sérusier’s enthusiasm for Gauguin’s work
had begun to subside, he joined Gauguin at Pont-Aven in the
summer and later in the year at the Breton village of Le
Pouldu. There, in addition to working on a philosophy of
painting based on the Synthetism practiced by Gauguin,
Sérusier developed his lifelong working method: sketching in
plein air and completing the work away from the subject, in
the studio. He also felt a growing appreciation for the
landscape and isolation of Brittany.
Sérusier returned to Paris
in the fall of 1889, but he again joined Gauguin at Le
Pouldu in the summer of 1890. That year he quit the Académie
Julian, being out of sympathy with its philosophy, and began
to work on his own. The Nabis continued to meet on a regular
basis, extending their group to include several individuals
with Symbolist credentials, writers, musicians, actors, and
others. By the mid-1890s, however, the Nabis—most of whom
remained friends—had developed individual styles, and
Sérusier himself had become deeply involved with theosophy.
When his Polish mistress, Gabriela Zapolska, suddenly left
him in 1895, Sérusier escaped to the solitude of
Châteauneuf-du-Faou in Brittany. In a low state of mind, in
1897 or ’98 he visited, for the first of several times, the
Benedictine abbey of Beuron in Germany, which was the site
of an influential art school. He was deeply influenced by
their concepts of religious symbolism and geometry and
sacred proportions in composition. Sérusier continued to
develop his philosophy and to paint and sketch according to
it, and in 1908 he began teaching colour theory at the newly
established Académie Ranson. During this period he
crystallized the principles he laid out in his ABC de la
He married in 1912, but the
marriage was unhappy. His wife was confined to an
institution in Morlaix for long periods of time. Sérusier
retired to Brittany in 1914, though he continued to travel
and to see friends. Most critics consider his work beyond
this point inferior to that of his early years.
Toulouse-Lautrec, in full Henri-Marie-Raymonde de
Toulouse-Lautrec-Monfa (born Nov. 24, 1864, Albi,
France—died Sept. 9, 1901, Malromé), French artist who
observed and documented with great psychological insight
the personalities and facets of Parisian nightlife and
the French world of entertainment in the 1890s. His use
of free-flowing, expressive line, often becoming pure
arabesque, resulted in highly rhythmical compositions
(e.g., In the Circus Fernando: The Ringmaster, 1888).
The extreme simplification in outline and movement and
the use of large colour areas make his posters some of
his most powerful works.
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
Childhood and education
Toulouse-Lautrec’s family was wealthy and had a lineage that
extended without interruption back to the time of Charlemagne. He
grew up amid his family’s typically aristocratic love of sport and
art. Most of the boy’s time was spent at the Château du Bosc, one of
the family estates located near Albi. Henri’s grandfather, father,
and uncle were all talented draftsmen, and thus it was hardly
surprising that Henri began sketching at the age of 10. His interest
in art grew as a result of his being incapacitated in 1878 by an
accident in which he broke his left thighbone. His right thighbone
was fractured a little more than a year later in a second mishap.
These accidents, requiring extensive periods of convalescence and
often painful treatments, left his legs atrophied and made walking
most difficult. As a result, Toulouse-Lautrec devoted ever greater
periods to art in order to pass away the frequently lonely hours.
Toulouse-Lautrec’s first visit to
Paris occurred in 1872, when he enrolled in the Lycée Fontanes (now
Lycée Condorcet). He gradually moved on to private tutors, and it
was only after he had passed the baccalaureate examinations, in
1881, that he resolved to become an artist.
His first professional teacher in
painting was René Princeteau, a friend of the Lautrec family.
Princeteau’s fame, such as it was, arose from his depiction of
military and equestrian subjects, done in a 19th-century academic
style. Though Toulouse-Lautrec got on well with Princeteau, he moved
on to the atelier of Léon Bonnat at the end of 1882. In Bonnat,
Toulouse-Lautrec encountered an artist who fought vehemently against
deviation from academic rules, condemned the slapdash approach of
the Impressionists, and judged Toulouse-Lautrec’s drawing
“atrocious.” His work received a more positive reaction in 1883,
when he joined the studio of Fernand Cormon.
In the early 1880s, Cormon enjoyed
a moment of celebrity, and his studio attracted such artists as
Vincent van Gogh and the Symbolist painter Émile Bernard. Cormon
gave Toulouse-Lautrec much freedom in developing a personal style.
That Cormon approved of his pupil’s work is proved by his choosing
Toulouse-Lautrec to assist him in illustrating the definitive
edition of the works of Victor Hugo. In the end, however,
Toulouse-Lautrec’s drawings for this project were not used.
Mr. Toulouse paints Mr. Lautrec (ca. 1891) Photo taken by
Despite this approval,
Toulouse-Lautrec found the atmosphere at Cormon’s studio
increasingly restrictive. “Cormon’s corrections are much kinder than
Bonnat’s were,” he wrote his uncle Charles on Feb. 18, 1883. “He
looks at everything you show him and encourages one steadily. It
might surprise you, but I don’t like that so much. You see, the
lashing of my former master pepped me up, and I didn’t spare
myself.” The academic regimen of copying became insufferable. He
made “a great effort to copy the model exactly,” one of his friends
later recalled, “but in spite of himself he exaggerated certain
details, sometimes the general character, so that he distorted
without trying or even wanting to.” Soon Toulouse-Lautrec’s
attendance at the studio became infrequent at best. He then rented
his own studio in the Montmartre district of Paris and concerned
himself, for the most part, with doing portraits of his friends.
Photo taken by Maurice Guibert (1892)
The documenter of Montmartre
Thus it was that in the mid-1880s Toulouse-Lautrec began his
lifelong association with the bohemian life of Montmartre. The
cafés, cabarets, entertainers, and artists of this area of Paris
fascinated him and led to his first taste of public recognition. He
focused his attention on depicting popular entertainers such as
Aristide Bruant, Jane Avril, Loie Fuller, May Belfort, May Milton,
Valentin le Désossé, Louise Weber (known as La Goulue [“the
Glutton”]), and clowns such as Cha-U-Kao and Chocolat.
In 1884 Toulouse-Lautrec made the
acquaintance of Bruant, a singer and composer who owned a cabaret
called the Mirliton. Impressed by his work, Bruant asked him to
prepare illustrations for his songs and offered the Mirliton as a
place where Toulouse-Lautrec could exhibit his works. By this means
and through reproductions of his drawings in Bruant’s magazine
Mirliton, he became known in Montmartre and started to receive
Toulouse-Lautrec sought to capture
the effect of the movement of the figure through wholly original
means. For example, his contemporary Edgar Degas (whose works, along
with Japanese prints, were a principal influence on him) expressed
movement by carefully rendering the anatomical structure of several
closely grouped figures, attempting in this way to depict but one
figure, caught at successive moments in time.
Toulouse-Lautrec, on the other
hand, employed freely handled line and colour that in
themselves conveyed the idea of movement. Lines were no longer bound
to what was anatomically correct; colours were intense and in their
juxtapositions generated a pulsating rhythm; laws of perspective
were violated in order to place figures in an active, unstable
relationship with their surroundings. A common device of
Toulouse-Lautrec was to compose the figures so that their legs were
not visible. Though this characteristic has been interpreted as the
artist’s reaction to his own stunted, almost worthless legs, in fact
the treatment eliminated specific movement, which could then be
replaced by the essence of movement. The result was an art throbbing
with life and energy, that in its formal abstraction and overall
two-dimensionality presaged the turn to schools of Fauvism and
Cubism in the first decade of the 20th century.
The originality of Toulouse-Lautrec
also emerged in his posters. Rejecting the notion of high art, done
in the traditional medium of oil on canvas, Toulouse-Lautrec in 1891
did his first poster, Moulin Rouge—La Goulue. This poster won
Toulouse-Lautrec increasing fame. “My poster is pasted today on the
walls of Paris,” the artist proudly declared. It was one of more
than 30 he would create in the 10 years before his death. Posters
afforded Toulouse-Lautrec the possibility of a widespread impact for
his art, no longer restricted by the limitations of easel painting.
They also enhanced the success he had enjoyed in the preceding year
when his works were shown in Brussels at the Exposition des XX (the
Twenty), an avant-garde association, and in Paris at the Salon des
Photo taken by Maurice Guibert
Toulouse-Lautrec is most important
for his success in going beyond a representation of superficial
reality to a profound insight into the psychological makeup of his
subjects. He turned to the lithograph after 1892 as a medium well
suited to this goal. Among more than 300 lithographs produced in the
final decade of his life were an album of 11 prints titled Le Café
Concert (1893); 16 lithographs of the entertainer Yvette Guilbert
(1894); and a series of 22 illustrations for Jules Renard’s Les
Histoires naturelles (1899). But none of these works is more
significant than Elles, a series done in 1896, presenting a
sensitive portrayal of brothel life.
Toulouse-Lautrec spent lengthy
periods observing the actions and behaviour of prostitutes and their
clients. The resulting 11 works revealed these individuals as human
beings, with some of the same strengths and many of the weaknesses
of other members of society.
A masterpiece of this genre is Au salon
de la rue des Moulins (At the Salon). This painting evokes sympathy
from the spectator as he observes the women’s isolation and
loneliness, qualities which the young Toulouse-Lautrec had so often
At the Salon is a brilliant demonstration,
therefore, of his stated desire to “depict the true and not the
ideal,” in which truth is based not on a careful representation of
detail but rather on capturing, in a few brief brushstrokes, the
essential nature of a subject.
The appearance of Elles coincided
with a growing deterioration in his physical and mental condition.
Toulouse-Lautrec’s figure, even among the great human diversity
found in Montmartre, remained unmistakable.
His fully developed torso rested on
dwarfish legs. Not quite five feet one inch tall, his size seemed
further diminished because of his practice of associating with
unusually tall men, such as his fellow students Maxime Dethomas and Louis Anquetin and his cousin and close friend
Gabriel Tapié de Céleyran.
His frequently ironic tone failed to mask a fundamental dislike of
his physical appearance, and his letters contain many derogatory
remarks about his body and references to an increasing number of
ailments, including syphilis. Drinking heavily in the late 1890s,
when he reputedly helped popularize the cocktail, he suffered a
mental collapse at the beginning of 1899. The immediate cause was
the sudden, unexplained departure of his mother from Paris on
January 3. He was always close to his family, particularly to his
mother, who had always supported his ambitions; and he interpreted
her leaving as a betrayal. The effect on his weakened system was
severe, and he was committed shortly thereafter to a sanatorium in Neuilly-sur-Seine. This decision was made by the
artist’s mother, against the advice of relatives and friends of the
artist, in the hope of avoiding a scandal.
Toulouse-Lautrec remained formally
committed until March 31, 1899, though he chose to stay on at the
sanatorium until mid-May. While there he was able to demonstrate his
lucidity and power of memory by preparing a number of works on the
theme of the circus. These works, however, lack the force and
intensity of his earlier compositions. In the spring of 1900 he
started drinking heavily again. Less than three months before his
37th birthday, he died at Château de Malromé.
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
Toulouse-Lautrec greatly influenced French art of the late 19th and
early 20th centuries by his use of new kinds of subjects, his
ability to capture the essence of an individual with economical
means, and his stylistic innovations. Despite his deformity and the
effects of alcoholism and mental collapse later in life,
Toulouse-Lautrec helped set the course of avant-garde art well
beyond his early and tragic death at the age of 36.
Toulouse-Lautrec was not a profound
intellectual. Tapié de Céleyran wrote that he read little and when
he did it was usually at night, because of insomnia. But he was a
great satirist of pretense and convention. In typical fashion, he
passed off his initial, unsuccessful attempt at the baccalaureate by
having name cards printed “Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, flunker of the
arts.” This iconoclasm surfaced also when he parodied Pierre Puvis
de Chavannes’s serious Symbolist work The Sacred Grove by turning it
into a boisterous scene filled with rowdy friends (1884). Yet he
also could push himself in pursuits like swimming and boating, and
toward the end of his life he installed a rowing machine in his
studio. In his enthusiasm for sports he once accompanied a French
bicycling team on a trip through England. Toulouse-Lautrec was, as
two observers have concluded, a “sensitive, deeply affectionate man,
conscious of his infirmity but wearing a mask of joviality and
Although recognized today as a major figure in late 19th-century
art, Toulouse-Lautrec’s status in his lifetime was disputed.
Indeed, the artist’s father, who took
slight interest in his son after his disabling injuries, regarded
his son’s work as only “rough sketches” and could never accept the
idea of a member of the aristocracy betraying his class by turning
from a “gentleman” artist to a professional one. Stung by such
criticism and hampered by his infirmities, Toulouse-Lautrec
persevered to emerge as a prolific artist whose work eventually
helped shape the art of decades to come.
Alan Curtis Birnholz
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. En la sala de la Rue des Moulins.
As a result
of complaints about the Salon of 1863, the number of works
rejected by the jury drops by 40 per cent. Manet, Morisot,
Pissarro and Renoir exhibit; but Monet and Bazille make no
submissions, though both are productive, working together in
1st Renoir begins his military training — incumbent on all
French citizens unable to pay for a substitute.
7th Manet poses for Fantin-Latour's Homage to Delacroix
(exhibited at the Salon in May).
FANTIN-LATOUR Homage to Delacroix
When Delacroix died, on August 13th, 1863, Fantin-Latour invited a
number of writers and artists to pose for this group portrait as a
memorial to him. They are, from left to right: (back row) Louis
Cordier, Alphonse Legros, Whistler, Manet, Bracque-mond and Albert
de Balle-roy; (front row) Duranty, Fantin-Latour, Champ-fleury and
4th Louis Martinet's gallery hosts the first exhibition of the
Societe Nationale des Beaux-Arts, an organization created by
Martinet to boost the credibility of mixed exhibitions.
27th Manet asks for a ten-day extension for his submissions
to the Salon.
Study for a portrait of Manet by Degas
(black chalk, с 1864).
Each witty and sharp-tongued, Manet and Degas
maintained a life-long love-hate relationship.
6th Degas visits Ingres' studio to see an exhibition of his
drawings which are described in the publicity as 'done in the style
of the Old Masters'.
7th Renoir finishes his military training.
12th Bazille goes to Honfieur with Monet and visits the
latter's parents at the nearby village of Ste-Adresse. Bazille finds
them 'charming', and they invite him to spend August with them.
Pissarro paints on the banks of the Marne.
Banks of the Marne
Exhibited at the Salon of 1864, this view of the banks of the Marne
in, winter shows the extent to which Pissarro, despite all his
stylistic experiments, remained under the lingering influence of
Corot, whom he still acknowledged as his master. The He de France
had been Corot's favourite landscape subject, and Pissarro was
preoccupied with the same efforts to depict the play of light on
5th Renoir, described as a pupil of Charles Gleyre, comes tenth
out of 106 candidates in a sculpture and drawing examination at the
Ecole des Beaux-Arts.
7th Cezanne obtains permission to copy Poussin's Shepherds
in Arcadia at the Louvre.
12th Bazille fails his medical exams and decides to become a
22nd Rene Degas, the painter's youngest brother, writes from
Paris to his cousins in America: 'Edgar does an enormous amount of
work without seeming to do so. He has not only talents, but genius.
Will he ever express it?'
Portrait of the Artist with
Evariste de Valernes
с 1864 (unfinished)
This double portrait shows Degas with his friend
Evariste de Valernes, an unsuccessful painter of
noble origin who subsisted mainly by copying famous
Degas' last self-portrait, it was painted in his
studio in the rue Laval.
The poses are reminiscent of those used by popular
photographers of the time, and X-rays have revealed
that originally Degas, like de Valernes, was wearing
a top hat.
Charles Gleyre is overwhelmed by financial difficulties.
Renoir, Monet, Bazille and Sisley leave his studio - shortly
before it closes.
3rd Opening of the Salon.
This year the jury is much more tolerant, the proportion of
rejections having dropped to 30 per cent from 70 per cent in
1863. Works exhibited include Dead Christ and Angels and
Episode from a Bullfight by Manet; Banks of the Marne, and
The Road to Cachalas by Pissarro, who describes himself as
'a pupil of Corot'; and A Souvenir of the Banks of the Oise
and Old Roads at Auvers by Morisot. Renoir has only one
work, La Esmeralda, accepted (which he subsequently
destroys). Meissonier's Napoleon III at the Battle of
Solferino is one of the big successes of the exhibition.
25th Manet departs for a holiday in Boulogne, where
he sketches the Unionist corvette Kearsage,
which is in port there.
2nd Bazille, Monet, Renoir and Sisley paint in the
forest of Fontainebleau. Renoir meets Diaz de la Pena, whose
influence encourages him to lighten his palette.
19th Manet paints the encounter off the French coast
between the Kearsage and the Confederate
20th Pissarro visits his friend the landscape painter
Ludovic Piette at La Roche-Guyon.
27th Manet exhibits The Battle of the Kearsage'
and the 'Alabama' at Cadart's gallery in the rue de
The Battle of the 'Kearsage'
and the 'Alabama '
On June 19th, 1864, a corvette of the United States Navy,
the Kearsage, attacked and sank confederate raider, the
Alabama, off Cherbourg. Manet did not witness the
ecounter, but he had sketched and painted the Kearsage
while it was in port at Boulogne.
Anxious to produce a painting that would appeal to the Salon
jury, he used his own sketches from Boulogne together with
newspaper photographs and drawings in order to create what
one contemporary critic termed 'a picture of war and
Eventually exhibited at the Salon of 1872, it was sold by
Durand-Ruel to the American collector John G. Johnson in
1888 for $1500.
9th Monet departs for Honfleur.
13th Monet writes to Bazille urging him to come to
Monet is joined by Bazille. The two artists work together,
painting coast scenes in the Honfleur and Le Havre area.
They also paint still lifes of flowers.
The Morisots move to 40 rue Villejust (now rue Paul-Valery),
where M. Morisot builds a studio for his daughters in the
MANET Dead Toreador
NOVEMBER 5th Manet moves into an apartment at 34 boulevard des
Batignolles, near his favourite cafe, the Cafe de Bade.
Jules and Edmond de Goncourt visit Manet's studio in search
of material for the character of Coriolis in their novel
MONET Spring Flowers c. 1864 In his letter of August 26th to Bazille, Monet enthused about the
flowers in the Honfleur area. The influence of Boudin and Jongkind,
who worked with him for a while in 1864, is evident in the rich
impasto of this painting.
LETTERS FROM HONFLEUR
Photograph of the harbour at Honfleur in the 1860s -
the time when
Monet most frequently painted there.
There is something rather moving about the camaraderie of the
young artists, later to be known as the Impressionists, who had
studied under Charles Gleyre - and it was especially strong
between Monet and Bazille. Monet's letters from Honfleur to his
friend in Paris give an indication of the spirit that existed
What on earth can you be doing in Paris in such marvellous
weather, for I suppose it must be just as fine down there? It's
simply fantastic here, my friend, and each day I find something
even more beautiful than the day before. It's enough to drive
one crazy. Damn it man, come on the sixteenth. Get packing and
come here for a fortnight. You'd be far better off; it can't be
all that easy to work in Paris.
Today I have exactly a month left to work in Honfleur, and what
is more my studies are almost done; I've even got some others
back on the go. On the whole, I'm quite content with my stay
here, although my sketches are far from being what I would like.
It really is appallingly difficult to do something which is
complete in every respect, and I think most people are content
with just approximations.
Well, my dear friend, I intend to battle on, scrape off and
start again, since one can do something if one can see and
understand it, and when I look at nature, I feel as if I'll be
able tq paint it all, note it all down - and then you can forget
it once you're working.
All this proves you must think of nothing else. It's on the
strength of observation and reflection that one finds a way.
So we must dig and delve unceasingly.
The popularity of Monet's The Lighthouse of Honfleur (hung at the
Salon of 1865) is
indicated by the fact that this wood engraving of
it appeared in the illustrated annual L'autographe аи Salon.
I had just spent a day at Ste-Adresse when your letter arrived.
It gave me great pleasure, please write nice long ones like that
more often. I hope you're working hard, it is important that you
devote yourself to it wholeheartedly and seriously now that your
family is reconciled to your giving up medicine. I'm still at
St-Simeon; it's such a pleasant place and I'm working hard,
although what I'm doing is far from being what I should like. We
are now quite a crowd here in Honfleur, several painters I did
not know - and very bad ones at that - but we form a very
pleasant little group of our own. Jongkind and Boudin are here,
and we get on extremely well and stick together. Ribot is coming
too; he's planning to paint a fishing boat with figures 'en
plein air'. I'd be interested to see him do it. I'm sorry you're
not here, since there's a good deal to be learnt from such
company, and the landscape is growing more beautiful. It's
turning yellow and becoming more varied, really lovely in fact,
and I think I'm going to be in Honfleur for some time yet.
I must tell you that I'm sending my flower picture to the Rouen
exhibition, there are some really lovely flowers about at this
time. Why don't you do some yourself, since they're an excellent
thing to paint?
Symphony in White,
No. 2, also known as The Little White Girl is a painting by
James Abbott McNeill Whistler (Whistler
McNeill). The work shows a woman in
three-quarter figure standing by a fireplace with a mirror
over it. She is holding a fan in her hand, and wearing a
white dress. The model is Joanna Hiffernan, the artist's
mistress. Though the painting was originally called The
Little White Girl, Whistler later started calling it
Symphony in White, No. 2. By referring to his work in such
abstract terms, he intended to emphasize his "art for art's
sake" philosophy. In this painting, Heffernan wears a ring
on her ring finger, even though the two were not married. By
this religious imagery, Whistler emphasizes the aesthetic
philosophy behind his work.
Whistler created the painting in the winter of 1864, and
it was displayed at the Royal Academy the next year. The
original frame carried a poem written by Whistler's friend
Algernon Charles Swinburne – titled Before the Mirror –
written on sheets of golden paper. The poem was inspired by
the painting, and to Whistler this demonstrated that the
visual arts need not be subservient to literature. Though
there are few clues to the meaning and symbolism of the
painting, critics have found allusions to the work of Ingres,
as well as oriental elements typical of the popular
Artist and model
James Abbott McNeill Whistler was born in the United States
in 1834, the son of George Washington Whistler, a railway
engineer. In 1843, his father relocated the family to Saint
Petersburg, Russia, where James received training in
painting. After a stay in England, he returned to America
to attend the US Military Academy at West Point in 1851. In
1855, he made his way back to Europe, determined to dedicate
himself to painting. He settled in Paris at first, but in
1859 moved to London, where he would spend most of the
remainder of his life. There he met Dante Gabriel Rossetti and other members of the Pre-Raphaelite
Brotherhood, who would have a profound influence on
It was also in London that Whistler met Joanna Hiffernan,
the model who would become his lover. Their relationship has
been referred to as a "marriage without benefit of clergy." By 1861, Whistler had already used her as a
model for other paintings. In Wapping, painted between 1860
and 1864, Hiffernan (according to Whistler) portrayed a
prostitute. The direct precursor of The Little White Girl
was a painting created in the winter of 1861–62, initially
called The White Girl and later renamed Symphony in White,
No. 1. Hiffernan supposedly had a strong influence over
Whistler; his brother-in-law Francis Seymour Haden refused a
dinner invitation in the winter of 1863–64 due to her
dominant presence in the household.
Whistler: "Symphony in
White, No. 2"
History of the painting and Swinburne's poem
Whistler painted The Little White Girl in 1864, with
Hiffernan as his model.
In 1865 it was exhibited at the summer exhibition of
the Royal Academy; Whistler had offered The White
Girl for the 1862 exhibition, but it had been
rejected. English critics were not too impressed by
the painting; one in particular called it "bizarre",
while another called it "generally grimy grey".
In 1900, however, it was one of the pictures
Whistler submitted to the Universal Exhibition in
Paris, where he won a grand prix for paintings. The
first owner of the painting was the wallpaper
manufacturer John Gerald Potter, a friend and patron
of Whistler. In 1893 it came into the possession
of Arthur Studd, who gave it to the National Gallery in
1919. In 1951 it was transferred to the Tate Gallery.
In 1862 Whistler had met the English poet Algernon Charles
Swinburne, with whom he developed a close friendship.
The relationship between the two was mutually beneficial.
Inspired by Whistler's Little White Girl, Swinburne wrote a
poem with the title Before the Mirror. Before the
painting went on exhibition at the Royal Academy,
Whistler pasted the poem written on gold leaf onto
idea of decorating a painting's frame with a poem was one
Whistler had gotten from Rossetti, who had similarly pasted
a golden paper with one of his poems on the frame of
his 1849 painting The Girlhood of Mary. To Whistler, this
poem underlined his idea of the autonomous nature of the
painted medium. It showed that painters were more than mere
illustrators, and that visual art could be an inspiration
for poetry, not just the other way around.
A misconception circulated at the time that the painting
had been inspired by Swinburne's poem. In a letter to a
newspaper, Whistler refuted this, while still showing his
respect for Swinburne's work; "those lines" he wrote "were
only written, in my studio, after the picture was painted.
And the writing of them was a rare and graceful tribute from
the poet to the painter – a noble recognition of work by the
production of a nobler one." Swinburne repaid the
compliment: "...whatever merit my song may have, it is not
so complete in beauty, in tenderness and significance, in
exquisite execution and delicate strength, as Whistler's
Women dressed in white was a theme Whistler had treated
in his Symphony in White, No. 1,
and would return to in
Symphony in White, No. 3.
Composition and interpretation
Whistler, especially in his later career, resented the idea
that his paintings should have any meaning beyond what could
be seen on the canvas. He is known as a central proponent of
the "art for art's sake" philosophy. The development of
this philosophy he owed largely to Swinburne, who pioneered
it in his 1868 book William Blake: a Critical Essay. Later,
Whistler began referring to The Little White Girl as
Symphony in White, No. 2. By the musical analogy, he
further emphasized his philosophy that the composition was
the central thing, not the subject matter.
One of the most conspicuous elements of the painting is the
ring on the model's ring finger. Resting on the mantle
piece, it becomes a focal point of the composition. The
ring was a device of which Whistler was conscious; it had
not been present in The White Girl. Though he and Hiffernan
were not married, the ring showed a development in how he
represented her in his art; from prostitute in Wapping, to
mistress in The White Girl, and finally a wife in The Little
White Girl. At the same time, this development reflected
Whistler's notion of his own position in the English art
world: towards greater legitimacy. The ring is also an
allusion to the Christian sacrament of marriage, which lends
a religious aspect to the aestheticism that he and Swinburne
were trying to develop.
In The Little White Girl, Whistler can be seen to clearly
move away from the realism of the French painter Gustave
Courbet, who had previously been a great influence on him.
The painting contrasts soft, round figures with harder
geometrical shapes, using "brushy, transparent touches and
dense, vigorous strokes." Various artists and styles
have been suggested as inspirations for The Little White
Girl. The painting has been compared to the work of Ingres.
Though Whistler's painting was different from Ingres' art in
many ways, he was nevertheless an admirer of the French
artist, and was inspired by his work. The fan in the
model's hand and the vase on the mantelpiece are oriental
elements, and expressions of the Japonisme prevalent in
European art at the time. Apart from this, there are few
clues for the viewer, and the picture invites a wide variety
of individual interpretations. A contemporary review in the
newspaper The Times commented that "Thought and passion are
under the surface of the plain features, giving them an undefinable
attraction." Art critic Hilton Kramer sees
in Whistler's portraits a charm and a combination of craft
and observational skills that his more radical landscapes
(1796-1864), Scottish painter, was born at Stockbridge,
Edinburgh, on the 24th of October 1796. He was
apprenticed by his father, a shoemaker, for seven years
to a painter and house-decorator; and during this time
he employed his evenings in the study of art. In 1820 he
formed the acquaintance of Clarkson Stanfield, then
painting at the Pantheon, Edinburgh, at whose suggestion
he sent three pictures in 1822 to the Exhibition of
Works by Living Artists, held in Edinburgh.
In the same year he
removed to London, where he worked for the Coburg
Theatre, and was afterwards employed, along with
Stanfield, at Drury Lane. In 1824 he exhibited at
the British Institution a view of Dryburgh Abbey,
and sent two works to the first exhibition of the
Society of British Artists, of which he was elected
president in 1831. In the same autumn he visited
Normandy, and the works which were the results of
this excursion began to lay the foundation of the
artist's reputation - one of them, a view of Rouen
Cathedral, being sold for eighty guineas. His scenes
for an opera, The Seraglio, executed two years
later, and the scenery for a pantomime dealing with
the naval victory of Navarino, and two panoramas
executed jointly by him and Stanfield, were among
his last work for the theatres. In 1829 he exhibited
the "Departure of the Israelites from Egypt," in
which his style first becomes apparent; three years
afterwards he travelled in Spain and Tangiers,
returning in the end of 1833 with a supply of
effective sketches, elaborated into attractive and
popular paintings. His "Interior of Seville
Cathedral" was exhibited in the British Institution
in 1834, and sold for £30o; and he executed a fine
series of Spanish illustrations for the Landscape
Annual of 1836, while in 1837 a selection of his
Picturesque Sketches in Spain was reproduced by
In 1838 Roberts made a long tour in the East, and
accumulated a vast collection of sketches of a class
of scenery which had hitherto been hardly touched by
British artists, and which appealed to the public
with all the charm of novelty.
The next ten years of his life
were mainly spent i elaborating these materials. An
extensive series of drawings was lithographed by Louis Haghe
in Sketches in the Holy Land and Syria, 1842-1849. In 1851,
and again in 1853, Roberts visited Italy, painting the
"Ducal Palace, Venice," bought by Lord Londesborough, the
"Interior of the Basilica of St Peter's, Rome," "Christmas
Day, 1853," and "Rome from the Convent of St Onofrio,"
presented to the Royal Scottish Academy. His last volume of
illustrations, Italy, Classical, Historical and Picturesque,
was published in 1859. He also executed, by command of Queen
Victoria, a picture of the opening of the Great Exhibition
of 1851. In 1839 he was elected an associate and in 1841 a
full member of the Royal Academy; and in 1858 he was
presented with the freedom of the city of Edinburgh. The
last years of his life were occupied with a series of views
of London from the Thames. He had executed six of these, and
was at work upon a picture of St Paul's Cathedral, when, on
the 25th November 1864, he died suddenly of apoplexy.
A Life of Roberts, compiled
from his journals and other sources by James Ballantine,
with etchings and pen-and-ink sketches by the artist,
appeared in Edinburgh in 1866.
Roberts set out from Cairo for the
Holy Land on 7 February 1839, with
a, small caravan including servants
in Arabian and Turkish dress, an
armed escort of Bedouins and
twenty-one camels which transported
provisions and baggage as well as
tents for overnight encampments.
With Roberts travelled two
Englishmen, John Pell and John G.
Kinnear, who two years later
dedicated his own book of memoirs,
Cairo, Petra and Damascus, to
Charles d'Albert (10 April 1864 – 3 March 1932) was a
Scottish-born German pianist and composer.
Eugen d’Albert, in
full Eugen Francis Charles d’Albert, Eugen also
spelled Eugène (born April 10, 1864, Glasgow,
Scot.—died March 3, 1932, Riga, Latvia), naturalized
German composer and piano virtuoso best remembered
for his opera Tiefland (1903) and his arrangements
and transcriptions of the music of Johann Sebastian
After receiving his
basic musical training in London, where he enjoyed
his first triumphs as a pianist, d’Albert went for
further study to Vienna, where he became a friend of
D’Albert toured widely and successfully and taught
for many years in Berlin, but his chief interest lay
He wrote 21 operas, 2 piano concerti, chamber music,
lieder, piano pieces, and a few orchestral works.
Stephen Foster, in full
Stephen Collins Foster (born July 4, 1826, Lawrenceville
[now part of Pittsburgh], Pa., U.S.—died Jan. 13, 1864, New
York, N.Y.), American composer whose popular minstrel songs
and sentimental ballads achieved for him an honoured place
in the music of the United States.
Foster grew up on the urban
edge of the Western frontier. Although formally untutored in
music, he had a natural musical bent and began to write
songs as a young boy. He absorbed musical influences from
the popular, sentimental songs sung by his sisters; from
black church services he attended with the family’s servant
Olivia Pise; from popular minstrel show songs; and from
songs sung by black labourers at the Pittsburgh warehouse
where he worked for a time.
In 1842 he published his
song “Open Thy Lattice, Love.” In 1846 he went to Cincinnati
as a bookkeeper, returning to Pittsburgh in 1850 to marry
Jane McDowell, a physician’s daughter. In 1848 he sold his
song “Oh! Susanna” for $100; together with his “Old Uncle
Ned” it brought the publisher about $10,000. In 1849 Foster
entered into a contract with Firth, Pond & Co., the New York
publishers to whom he had previously given the rights for
“Nelly Was a Lady.” He was commissioned to write songs for
Edwin P. Christy’s minstrel show. The most famous, “Old
Folks at Home” (1851), also called “Swanee River,” appeared
originally under Christy’s name; Foster’s name appeared on
the song after 1879. In 1852 he made his only visit to the
Although he stated that his
ambition was to become “the best Ethiopian [i.e., Negro
minstrel] song writer,” he vacillated between composing
minstrel songs (for which he is largely remembered) and
songs in the sentimental “respectable” style then popular.
He was never a sharp
entrepreneur for his talents, and in 1857, in financial
difficulties, he sold all rights to his future songs to his
publishers for about $1,900. The profits from his songs went
largely to performers and publishers.
In 1860, already struggling
with sinking morale and alcoholism, he moved to New York
City. His songs after that date are largely sentimental
songs such as “Poor Drooping Maiden.” His wife left him in
1861, except for a brief reconciliation in 1862. He spent
the rest of his life in debt.
He left about 200 songs,
for most of which he wrote the words as well as the music.
They include “Camptown Races,” “Nelly Bly,” “My Old Kentucky
Home,” “Massa’s in de Cold, Cold Ground,” “Old Dog Tray,”
“Old Black Joe,” “Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair,” and
La belle Helene
Helen), is an opéra bouffe in three acts by
to an original French libretto by Henri
Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy. The operetta parodies the
story of Helen's elopement with Paris, which set off the
It was first performed at Paris's Théâtre des
Variétés on December 17, 1864, starring Hortense
Schneider and José Dupuis.
While some experts (cf Grove) are of the opinion
that the creation of La belle Hélène was a "largely
untroubled" affair, others (cf Jacob) paint a
different picture: Although Offenbach had managed at
great cost to persuade Schneider, known by then as
"La Snédèr", to accept the role of Helen, the
premiere remained in doubt to the very last minute.
During rehearsals, La Snédèr constantly complained
that the extravagant Léa Silly (in a male role as
Oreste) was trying to upstage her: La Silly
extemporized (a privilege reserved for the prima
donna); she imitated her; she danced a cancan in her
back while she was singing an important aria, etc.
etc. La Snédèr not only walked off the set
repeatedly, but kept threatening to leave the world,
or at least Paris, altogether! It took all of
Offenbach's skills at creating harmony to see the
La belle Hélène was
an instant success with both the public and the
critics and enjoyed an initial run of 700
performances. Premieres in Vienna (1865), Berlin
(1865), London (1866), and Chicago (1867) followed
shortly. It also had a run in New York City at the
Grand Opera House beginning on April 13, 1871. It
had its Czech premiere in Prague in 1875, under
Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Paris and Helen from a production of
La belle Hélène at the Mikhaylovsky Theatre.
Richard Strauss, in
full Richard Georg Strauss (born June 11, 1864, Munich,
Germany—died September 8, 1949, Garmisch-Partenkirchen),
an outstanding German Romantic composer of the late 19th
and early 20th centuries. His symphonic poems of the
1890s and his operas of the following decade have
remained an indispensable feature of the standard
Strauss’s father, Franz, was the principal horn player of
the Munich Court Orchestra and was recognized as Germany’s
leading virtuoso of the instrument. His mother came from the
prominent brewing family of Pschorr. During a conventional
education, Strauss still devoted most of his time and energy
When he left school in 1882, he had already
composed more than 140 works, including 59 lieder (art
songs) and various chamber and orchestral works. These
juvenilia reflect Strauss’s musical upbringing by his
father, who revered the classics and detested Richard Wagner
both as a man and as a composer, even though he was a
notable performer of the horn passages in performances of
Through his father’s
connections, Strauss on leaving school met the leading
musicians of the day, including the conductor Hans von Bülow,
who commissioned Strauss’s Suite for 13 Winds for the
Meiningen Orchestra and invited Strauss to conduct that
work’s first performance in Munich in November 1884.
Following this successful conducting debut, Bülow offered
Strauss the post of assistant conductor at Meiningen.
Thenceforward Strauss’s eminence as a conductor paralleled
his rise as a composer. Among the conducting posts he went
on to hold were those of third conductor of the Munich Opera
(1886–89), director of the Weimar Court Orchestra (1889–94),
second and then chief conductor at Munich (1894–98),
conductor (and later director) of the Royal Court Opera in
Berlin (1898–1919), and musical codirector of the Vienna
State Opera (1919–24).
At Meiningen Strauss met
the composer Alexander Ritter, who reinforced that
admiration for Wagner’s music which Strauss had previously
nurtured in secret so as not to upset his father. Ritter
urged Strauss to abandon classical forms and to express his
musical ideas in the medium of the symphonic, or tone, poem,
as Franz Liszt had done. Strauss had to work his way to
mastery of this form, a half-way stage being his Aus Italien
(1886; From Italy), a “symphonic fantasy” based on his
impressions during his first visit to Italy. In Weimar in
November 1889, he conducted the first performance of his
symphonic poem Don Juan. The triumphant reception of this
piece led to Strauss’s acclamation as Wagner’s heir and
marked the start of his successful composing career. At
Weimar, too, in 1894 he conducted the premiere of his first
opera, Guntram, with his fiancée Pauline de Ahna in the
leading soprano role. She had become his singing pupil in
1887, and they were married in September 1894. Pauline’s
tempestuous, tactless, and outspoken personality was the
reverse of her husband’s aloof and detached nature, and her
eccentric behaviour is the subject of countless anecdotes,
most of them true. Nevertheless the marriage between them
was strong and successful; they adored each other and ended
their days together 55 years later.
The years 1898 and 1899 saw
the respective premieres of Strauss’s two most ambitious
tone poems, Don Quixote and Ein Heldenleben (A Hero’s Life).
In 1904 he and Pauline, who was the foremost exponent of his
songs, toured the United States, where in New York City he
conducted the first performance of his Symphonia Domestica
(Domestic Symphony). The following year, in Dresden, he
enjoyed his first operatic success with Salome, based on
Oscar Wilde’s play. Although Salome was regarded by some as
blasphemous and obscene, it triumphed in all the major opera
houses except Vienna, where the censor forbade Gustav Mahler
to stage it.
In 1909 the opera Elektra
marked Strauss’s first collaboration with the Austrian poet
and dramatist Hugo von Hofmannsthal. Strauss wrote the music
and Hofmannsthal the libretti for five more operas over the
next 20 years. With the 1911 premiere of their second opera
together, Der Rosenkavalier, they achieved a popular success
of the first magnitude. Their subsequent operas together
were Ariadne auf Naxos (1912; Ariadne on Naxos), Die Frau
ohne Schatten (1919; The Woman Without a Shadow), and Die
ägyptische Helena (1928; The Egyptian Helen). But in 1929
Hofmannsthal died while working on the opera Arabella,
leaving Strauss bereft.
After 1908 Strauss lived in
Garmisch, in Bavaria, in a villa that he built with the
royalties from Salome. He conducted in Berlin until 1919,
when he agreed to become joint director, with Franz Schalk,
of the Vienna State Opera. His appointment proved
unfortunate, since it coincided with a postwar mood that
relegated Strauss and similar late Romantic composers to the
category of “old-fashioned.” Strauss was neither interested
nor skilled in politics, national or musical, and he
resigned from his post in Vienna in 1924. This political
naïveté tainted Strauss’s reputation when the National
Socialists came to power in Germany in 1933. Though able to
manipulate grand dukes and kaisers, he proved to be no match
for the ruthless totalitarians of the Third Reich and
unwittingly allowed himself to be used by them for a time.
Thus from 1933 to 1935 he served as president of Germany’s
Reichsmusikkammer (Chamber of State Music), which was the
state music bureau. But in the latter year he fell foul of
the Nazi regime.
After Hofmannsthal’s death in 1929 he had
collaborated with the Jewish dramatist Stefan Zweig on a
comic opera, Die schweigsame Frau (1935; The Silent Woman).
This collaboration was unacceptable to the Nazis.
The opera was banned after four performances, and Strauss
was compelled to work with a non-Jewish librettist, Joseph Gregor. The fact that his son’s wife was Jewish was also
held against him. Above all else a family man, Strauss used
every shred of his influence as Germany’s greatest living
composer to protect his daughter-in-law and her two sons. He
spent part of World War II in Vienna, where he was out of
the limelight, and in 1945 he went to Switzerland. Allied
denazification tribunals eventually cleared his name, and he
returned to Garmisch in 1949, where he died three months
after his 85th birthday celebrations.
Richard Strauss, by Max Liebermann, 1918
Strauss’s first major achievement was to harness the
expressive power of the huge Wagnerian opera orchestra for
the concert hall. Although some of his early Mendelssohnian
works, such as the violin concerto (composed 1882) and the
first horn concerto (1882–83), are still played, the real
Strauss emerged with the symphonic poem Don Juan (composed
1889), in which his ardent melodic gifts, descriptive
powers, and mastery of instrumentation first became fully
evident. Harmonically even richer is the climax of the
symphonic poem Tod und Verklärung (1888–89; Death and
Transfiguration), in which a dying man surveys his life and
ideals. The rondo form is used in the tone poem Till
Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche (1894–95; Till Eulenspiegel’s
Merry Pranks), wherein Strauss found the exact instrumental
sounds and colours to depict the 14th-century rogue Till’s
adventures, from his scattering pots and pans in a market
and mocking the clergy to his death-squawk on a D clarinet
on the gallows. Also sprach Zarathustra (1896; Thus Spoke
Zarathustra) is ostensibly a homage to the philosopher
Friedrich Nietzsche but is actually a concerto for orchestra
in which the entities of man and nature are illustrated and
contrasted by opposing tonalities.
To illustrate the exploits
of Don Quixote (1897), Strauss employed the variation form
in this tone poem. Sheep, windmills, and flying horses are
magically described in music that is suffused with poetry.
Don Quixote was followed by
the quasi-autobiographical tone poem Ein Heldenleben (1898), in which Strauss’s adversaries
are the music critics (characterized by petulant woodwinds)
whom he defeats in a battle scene of astonishing power and
virtuosity before retiring to the countryside to contemplate
his “works of peace” (a string of musical self-quotations)
with his wife.
Two other tone poems
followed that were dignified by the title symphony. In
Symphonia Domestica (1903), a huge orchestra describes 24
hours in the life of the Strauss family household, including
bathing the baby, quarrels, and love making. In Eine
Alpensinfonie (1911–15; An Alpine Symphony) an even larger
orchestra (more than 150 players) describes a day in the
Bavarian Alps, with a thunderstorm, a waterfall, and the
view from a mountain summit as highlights.
Like his great contemporary
Gustav Mahler, Strauss wrote magniloquently for a large
orchestra but was also able to achieve textures of
chamber-music delicacy. But whereas Mahler’s music explores
his own spiritual and psychological obsessions, Strauss’s
music is more objective and is concerned with sensuous
emotions and everyday life, rather than with spiritual
torment and death. The opulence of Strauss’s orchestrations
is tempered by harmonic acerbity.
Richard Strauss engraved
by Ferdinand Schmutzer (1922)
Strauss had an unrivaled
descriptive power and a remarkable ability to convey
psychological detail. This last quality was particularly
evident in his operas. His first opera was the
Wagnerian-influenced Guntram (1892–94, rev. 1940). His next
stage work, the satirical comic opera Feuersnot (1900–01;
Fire-Famine), employs impish humour to mock small-town
prudery and hypocrisy. With Salome (1903–05), Strauss
transferred his mastery of the orchestral tone-poem to an
opera that is outstanding for the intensity with which it
conveys Salome’s naive lust for John the Baptist and the
depravity of her stepfather Herod’s court.
His next opera,
Elektra (1906–08), is a second blockbusting one-act study of
female obsession, in this case revenge. In this score
Strauss went as far toward atonality as he ever desired.
Elektra was followed by Der Rosenkavalier (1909–10), a
“comedy in music” that is set in 18th-century Vienna and
features an anachronistic string of waltzes and characters
like the Marschallin, Baron Ochs, Octavian, and Sophie, whom
audiences at once took to their hearts. This opera remains
Strauss’s most popular stage work, despite its occasional
Strauss had two musical
gods, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Richard Wagner, and in his
work they struggle for possession of his artistic soul.
The battle is fought most
persuasively and equally in the opera Ariadne auf Naxos (1912, rev. 1916), in which Strauss’s
light, parodistic vein and his heroic style are blended and
reconciled. At the opposite extreme is Die Frau ohne
Schatten, a Wagnerian version of Mozart’s The Magic Flute
that requires singing on a scale to match its grandiose
conception and staging. Its portraiture of the lowly dyer
Barak and his shrewish wife is a foretaste of Intermezzo
(1918–23), where the protagonists are Strauss and Pauline,
thinly disguised. Arnold Schoenberg was among the first to
recognize the mastery and seriousness of this opera, which
was at first lightly regarded but in which Strauss perfected
his conversational melodic recitative.
With their last opera
together, Arabella (1929–32), Strauss and his librettist
Hofmannsthal returned to Vienna and amorous intrigue in
their most romantic and lyrical work. Strauss’s opera with
Zweig, Die schweigsame Frau (1933–34; The Silent Woman), has
finally come into its own as a delightful comedy. Of
Strauss’s three operatic collaborations with Gregor, the
best is Daphne (1936–37). For his final opera, Capriccio
(1940–41), Strauss and the conductor Clemens Krauss wrote an
inspired “conversation piece” on the relative importance of
words and music in opera. These two media are personified by
a poet and a composer who are rivals for the love of a
widowed countess, who is herself given the last of Strauss’s
marvelously rewarding roles for the female voice.
This last opera initiated
the composer’s “Indian summer,” when he recaptured the
freshness of his youth in a second horn concerto (1942), an
oboe concerto (1945), two wind sonatinas (1943–45), and a
concertino for clarinet and bassoon (1947). He also
composed, in Metamorphosen (1945–46), a study for 23 solo
strings that is an elegy for the German musical life that
the Nazis had destroyed. Strauss’s richly scored, poignantly
retrospective Vier letzte Lieder (1948; Four Last Songs) for
soprano and orchestra crowned a career of which his 200
songs comprise an important part.
As a young composer,
Strauss came under the influence of Wagner, Hector Berlioz,
and Liszt just when his technique and imagination were
sharpened to make the most of their impact. From the tone
poem Aus Italien onward, his style became recognizable as
the big, bravura, flexible, post-Romantic panoply that
dominated audiences in the late 19th and early 20th
centuries. But, having achieved fame as an avant-garde
composer, Strauss after Der Rosenkavalier became a
conservative whose musical evolution was pursued in
isolation, unaffected by the advances and experiments going
on around him. He spent the last 38 years of his life
refining and polishing his style, writing often for smaller
orchestras, partly out of practical considerations (to
ensure the audibility of sung words in the theatre) and
partly because large-scale Romantic musical textures were
becoming less and less significant. In later years Strauss’s
style became more classical in the Mozartean sense. Indeed,
the opera Capriccio and other late works may be said to have
achieved a perfect fusion of the late German Romantic and
the Neoclassical manner.
William Henry Fry
(August 10, 1813 – December 21, 1864) was a pioneering
American composer, music critic, and journalist. Fry was the
first person born in the United States to write for a large
symphony orchestra, and the first to compose a publicly
performed opera. He was also the first music critic for a
major American newspaper, and he was the first person to
insist that his fellow countrymen support American-made
William Henry Fry was born on August 10, 1813 in
Philadelphia. His father, William Fry, was a prominent
printer and, along with Roberts Vaux and Robert Walsh, ran
the National Gazette and Literary Register, a major American
newspaper at the time—edited by Robert Walsh from 1821 to
1836. William Henry had four brothers—Joseph Reese, Edward
Plunket, Charles, and Horace Fry. He was educated at what is
now Mount Saint Mary's University in Emmitsburg, Maryland.
After returning to Philadelphia to work for his father, he
studied composition with Leopold Meignen, a former band
leader in Napoleon Bonaparte's army and the music director
of the Musical Fund Society orchestra. He eventually became
secretary of the Musical Fund Society.
Fry's operatic compositions include Aurelia the Vestal,
Leonora (based on the 1838 play The Lady of Lyons), and
Notre-Dame of Paris (based on the 1831 novel by Victor
Hugo). Leonora was a very successful production at its
premiere in 1845 and second run the following year. Leonora
is also significant as it was the first grand opera written
by an American composer.
After a six-year sojourn in Europe (1846–52), where he
served as foreign correspondent to the Philadelphia Public
Ledger, Horace Greeley's New York Tribune, and The Message
Bird (later known as the New York Musical World and Times),
Fry gave a series of eleven widely publicized lectures in
New York's Metropolitan Hall.
These dealt with subjects
such as the history and theory of music as well as the state
of American classical music.
In addition to his operas, Fry wrote seven symphonies
that have extra-musical themes. His Santa Claus: Christmas
Symphony of 1853, which was very well received by audiences
but derided by many of Fry's rival critics, may be the first
orchestral use of the saxophone, invented barely a decade
before. His 1854 Niagara Symphony, written for Louis
Jullien's orchestra, uses eleven timpani to create the roar
of the waters, snare drums to reproduce the hiss of the
spray, and a remarkable series of discordant, chromatic
descending scales to reproduce the chaos of the falling
waters as they crash onto the rocks.
Fry's other works, including Leonora (New York debut in
1858) and Notre-Dame of Paris (1864, Philadelphia), received
mixed reviews along partisan lines: conservatives tended to
dislike Fry's music, whereas political progressives highly
enjoyed it. His other musical works included the Overture to
Macbeth, the Breaking Heart, string quartets and sacred
From 1852 until his death in 1864, Fry served as music
critic and political editor for the New York Tribune.
William Henry Fry died at age 51 on December 21, 1864, in
Santa Cruz (Saint Croix) in the Virgin Islands. His death
was apparently from tuberculosis "accelerated by