Painting in Paris focuses on the impact of the City of Light as a source of inspiration. Dickinson’s highlights include Robert Lefevre’s The Emperor Napoleon (1814), Édouard Vuillard’s The Election Posters, Square Berlioz (Place Vintimille) (1924) and Carmen Herrera’s Castilla la Vieja [Venetian Red, White and Black] (1949), all of which draw on the environment of Paris in some respect, whether directly as a subject or indirectly as an artistically rich environment.
The 19th century is represented by Lefevre’s portrait of Napoleon, depicted the year of his fall from power and exile. A master of propaganda, Napoleon elected to be painted in a Neoclassical colonnade filled with sculpted figures of monarchs and philosophers, which implicitly underscores his status. Lefevre was no less canny when it came to positioning himself for success: he maintained his position in Paris after the Emperor’s exile by painting a well-received portrait of the newly restored King Louis XVIII. Within two years, Lefevre had been appointed the monarch’s First Painter.
Paris itself is the subject of Vuillard’s 1924 cityscape The Election Posters, Square Berlioz (Place Vintimille). The choice of subject is unusual for a Nabis painter as these window views were inspired by the Impressionist tradition of Monet, Pissarro and Caillebotte. Between 1909 and 1928 Vuillard painted over 60 versions of this motif, at different times of day and under varying conditions. A likely explanation for his interest in this particular motif is that the naturally shy and reclusive artist relished the anonymity of painting his fellow Parisians from the isolation of his balcony.
From the Post-War era Dickinson is featuring Castilla la Vieja (Venetian Red, White and Black) by Cuban-American artist Carmen Herrera, executed during her seminal years in Paris. ‘It was a very happy time in my life’, Herrera reminisces. ‘I was young, I had a wonderful husband whom I loved….Paris at that time was like heaven.’ Arriving in June 1948, Herrera and her husband moved into a studio in Montparnasse and immersed themselves in the café culture of the Left Bank, circulating among artists and writers.
Whether as a source of patronage, of material, or of artistic community, Paris has long been of central importance to artists. With our virtual TEFAF stand Painting in Paris, Dickinson explores and celebrate the impact of Paris on individual artists as well as on larger artistic movements.