Lo and behold! It is my first French painter. This time, I chose a painter who is more well known in the artistic world. Pierre Auguste Cot was born 1837 in Southern France and became a student of the Academic Classicism School for art. Relatively popular during the 1900’s, he eventually married the daughter of one of his patrons Francisque Duret, the son of famous sculptor Francisque Joseph Duret. His most famous works include Spring, Dionysia, Ophelia and of course The Storm.
An interesting thing to note about this artist’s works is, like many others in his field at the time, he and others studied and produced their art under and through their respective schools. This bares similarities to the artists and minds of the Renaissance because all they knew of the arts came from classical antiquity, or Greek and Roman models. In this sense, Cot and others followed the guidelines set by the Académie des Beaux-Arts, who taught mostly after Romantic and Neocclassical models, because those standards were deemed to be of the highest aesthetic class. Unlike artists like Raphael, who only had works from Classical antiquity to build from, Cot and others had the experience of hundreds of artists to build from and model after.
Basically, Cot and others were doing their art in the way all the fancy learned people said they should. Kind of like those fancy people who tell you what types of clothes are appropriate in the opera. Yeah. . . a lot of artists rebelled against this. But I digress. . .
Moving on, I wanted to include this painting not because I am a sucker for popular opinion. I believe it to be a very well done portrayal of innocence and young love. I am very traditional in my beliefs on love. I do not like overly dramatic stories but prefer subtler romances. Also, I hate sensuality in movies and books. So this idea of two people falling love without worrying about what is going to happen in the bedroom later really appeals to me.
So. . . why do I like this painting? Firstly, I love its overall atmosphere. Though their situation happens during a rain storm it feels very gentle and warm. He could have portrayed their flight through the storm as stressful and negative. Instead he gave future onlookers a look into the simplicity and forgotten magic of nubile love. He used dark colors for the background, but the young lovers seemed almost to glow.
Secondly, I love the young man depicted in the painting. There is nothing overtly sensual about his demeanor at all. He has his hand around her waist to keep the sheet in place and another above them holding the sheet’s corner. He seems a strong, gentle and loving companion. Also, it is the way that he is looking at her. He looks as though she is the most wonderful thing in the world, truly smitten by and happy to be with her.
Lastly, I really like the way he painted their cloths and the sheet. They billow in a way that shows his expertise at capturing moving figures. In other words, it feels like a glimpse into a real life event. Other paintings he did like Spring showed something similar, however, it could easily have been taken with a camera or staged. (Not saying I do not like it. I love it actually.) Overall, I find this painting very lovely and would love to have it on my wall.