Monday, September 25, 2006

Art Blogging: Charles Gleyre

Marc-Charles Gabriel Gleyre (1806-1874) was a Swiss-French Academic painter and teacher. He was born in Lausanne, orphaned at a young age, and sent to live with relatives in Lyon, France. He studied in Paris and Italy, toured the Near East, and finally settled down in Paris, founding an atelier. Success came late and Gleyre finally won a Salon medal in 1843. Quiet and reserved, he shunned public attention and ceased submitting competition works entirely after 1849. Gleyre was a perfectionist, even taking up a life of celibacy so that he could devote himself entirely to his craft. He ran a small school, but refused to take payment for his instruction. Renoir, Monet, Sisely, and Gerome were among his many students who went on to great fame. Although Gleyre never sought that fame for himself, he had a tremendous impact on 19th Century French painting.
This is The Bath (1868) at the Chrysler Museum in Norfolk, Virginia. Like many Academic painters of his day, Gleyre drew much subject matter from classical Greco-Roman motifs (or 19th Century idealizations of them). Here we see two women bathing a child in the center of a Roman atrium.

This is The Departure of the Apostles to Preach the Gospel, now in a private collection. The followers of Jesus have received the Great Commission and witnessed the ascension of Christ into Heaven. Some remain on their knees in awe while others are already moving out for the Gospel.

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