Ever since I was a child I remember paintings hanging from my nan’s walls. They never ment much to me at that time, but i have always known that they were the work of my mothers great-uncle, Bill. I don’t know anything about Bill but feel very curious to find out more about him. One of the paintings which has always caught my eye was an impression of ‘Gabrielle with a rose by Renoir. I didn’t actually know who the original was by untill recently and i remember giggling at it as a child due to the revealed part of the beast. Obviously as I have grown up and learned to appreciate art, that is no longer an amusement to me.
Who is Gabrielle?
Gabrielle With a Rose was painted at a period of stability and domestic bliss. From 1890 Renoir, now in his fifties, set enthusiastically about becoming a grand old man of art. He spent increasing amounts of time in the south, where he had first been lured by Cézanne, and the warmth and bright clear sunlight (not to mention the considerable prosperity Durand-Ruel was bringing him at this period) helped him out of a depressive period in his life and what he subsequently recognised had been an impasse in his art. He relaxed, expanded, and took again to painting full-bosomed nudes in the fields and rivers, this time with ever richer, lusher brush strokes, so that his paintings seem almost edible. He also painted many flower-pieces and still-lifes, as well as tender and intimate portraits of his wife and children. Gabrielle was a country girl who came to work as a maid in the Renoir household in 1894; being very much Renoir’s ideal type of womanhood, she soon became his favourite model as well. Gabrielle With a Rose is typical of his later manner, with its preponderance of warm flesh tints and very liquid handling of the paint, using diluted oils almost like water-colors. http://www.impressionist-art-gallery.com/gabrielle_with_a_rose.html
Gabrielle by Renoir. Photo from http://www.impressionist-art-gallery.com/gabrielle_with_a_rose.html
Looking at differences and similarities between the two paintings, my first opinion is that Uncle Bill’s has possibly discoloured over time. I am not certain on this but there is a lot of yellow tones, he may have done this deliberately. I personally do not find the two paintings identical but I like that from Bill, and again has he done that deliberately or is that how he himself perceived the original painting? Uncle Bill isn’t alive today which is a shame as I would have a lot to ask of him about his work. similarities I find within both paintings are the smooth strokes used to structure the arms and then a change of deep and wide strokes that layer the background and clothing. What is this clothing? I get the feel of a feather shawl.
On a whole, I am quite proud of my family member for such a beautiful piece of work and think that there is some serious research to be made regarding Great Uncle Bill.