The Daily Art App, which I am now realising should be funding this blog, has once again thrown me an artistic morsel which I shall now chew on for your reading pleasure. Did you enjoy that mixed metaphor? I did not. Monet is one of the founders of the impressionist movement. On a side note, he was French. But that’s enough vulgarity for now. Monet painted this, one in a series of three, while staying at a hotel-restaurant in Pourville, a fishing village in Normandy, This is the owner, Paul Antoinne Graff, in his chef’s attire. Let’s delve into this a little deeper.
I love this portrait. These were so rare for Monet that the two he painted of Paul-Antoine and Eugénie with her lovely terrier (below) were a real testament to their close friendship. What I love about Monet is his confidence. In a time where artists went to great lengths to conceal their brush strokes in an effort to evoke an exact resemblance of what they are depicting. Monet paints in a way to deliberately show his brush strokes. This is part of my fascination with his portraits.
Observe the crude rendering of the beard, which is so wonderful to me. The curls in his hair and how Monet shows the grey hairs coming in sparsely is lovely. Look at how few brush strokes the artist has used to create a cooking jacket. Finally observe the minute swirl of brush strokes in the face to highlight the subject’s expression. I think this is very fine and worthy of much lauding.
As an aside, do observe this painting Monet made of Mme Graff, the aforementioned chef’s wife. Here she is looking longingly to the right while her terrier, Follette, looks directly at the painter. Now, what both of these portraits were designed to be looking longingly at a third painting – one of Mme Graff’s butter cakes!
This painting is worth another whole post in itself, but I am not so desperate for material as to subject you to that. Observe the extraordinary detail to showcase Mme Graff’s wrinkles! Her neck ribbon is also a delight to behold. And Follette is just adorable. Monet painted another portrait of Folelette by herself, but I will leave this to you to discover in your further research.
I’d like to close with the above, titled L’Alley Point, Low Tide, which money also painted in Pourville in 1882 during his stay with the Graffs. I am awe struck by this. The colours, the movement in the water, the people in the distance, the sky, the white rendering on the cliffs – every aspect of this is so masterful that I could not keep it from you, dear readers.
I hope you have enjoyed this short dissection. Please stay safe in this trying time.