Sarah Hague, a seasoned blogueuse herself, has been one of my most loyal supporters from the launch of my blog at Another Place. I had no hesitation in inviting her to contribute to Salut! Forum
Bare Feet or Puppets?
Did you know that Americans were among the first collectors who were instrumental in developing the popularity of the Impressionists? I didn't, but I found exactly that out in the latest exhibition at the Musée Fabre in Montpellier: L'Impressionnisme, de France et d'Amerique.
The museum has recently been renovated, and very clean and welcoming it looks too, although a little sombre with its black shiny floors. Still, it's an art gallery so we have to take things seriously!
It was Wednesday evening, and packed, but once I actually managed to see what was on show, I was enthralled by the quality and quantity of the paintings brought together by the FRAME organisation (French Regional & American Exchange).
Information, in French, was painted onto the khaki walls and I learned that early wealthy American merchants bought Impressionist paintings because so many of the older paintings were being copied.
They turned to investing in contemporary ones as a safer bet. They also found the subjects chosen easier to cope with as paintings portrayed everyday scenes rather than obtuse allegories.
The exhibition was laid out coherently and had paintings by all the great names – Monet, Manet, Renoir, Degas, etc. - including Mary Cassett.
One thing that intrigued me was a sketch by her called L'enfant aux pieds nus of a mother holding a baby.
Down at the bottom of the sketch the artist had written Les Marionnettes and indeed, the child was obviously holding up her hands to make the marionnettes dance. It's a French song where the mother sings this song........
Ainsi font, font, font Les petites marionnettes, Ainsi font, font, font Trois p'tits tours et puis s'en vont.
.........while the child twists its hands from the wrist to make them dance.
Why then, was the title changed to something so nul and unevocative? When I read the original title, it brought the sketch to life as I sang the song in my head and imagined the laughing bouncing baby trying to do the movements.
What was so special about her bare feet anyway? She had blond hair too. Why not call the painting L'enfant aux cheveux blonds? Actually I think the name was changed to make it part of a collection of "bare feet" sketches. How boring is that?!
I left the exhibition irritated by the changing of a perfectly evocative title, and impressed by the collection overall. It's on until September 23. Despite that reservation, I strongly recommend it.
* Please visit Sarah Hague's excellent blog, St Bloggie de Riviere, at http://www.sarahhague.blogspot.com/