Sunday, April 1, 2012

Franz Paul Guillery, 1862-1933

In nineteenth-century Europe painting became a fad. Everybody painted, or else had a cousin or sister who painted. The new professional class hung paintings in their parlors and even in their bedrooms, creating a huge market for art painted to middlebrow taste. Public galleries appeared, and while the greatest concentrated on works with aristocratic appeal, those in smaller cities bought the sort of things that their audience of bankers and mine managers' wives wanted to see. The result was an explosion of middlebrow art. As a middlebrow sort of fellow myself, I like a lot of this work. And since there were so many painters in Europe, there are always more to discover, always new things to see when one tires of the famous and over-hyped. Thus Franz Paul Guillery (1862-1933), a German painter I never heard of until yesterday. Above is a picture of his wife, Josephine.

Guillery was born near Cologne, the son of a mining engineer with upper class pretensions. His family money allowed to study art full time, and he spent seven years of his 20s in Rome soaking up the Italian ambiance and honing his style. Yes, that's Venice above, but I haven't been able to find a painting of Rome. Perhaps his Roman works are not very good, or perhaps he really spent that time in wineshops and whorehouses.

Three cows from a painting of the Tuscan countryside. (I like these very much.)

A self portrait, dated 1925. Somehow he doesn't look like a man who spent seven dissipated years in Italy.

Guillery left a huge body of work of many different sorts: portraits, still-lifes, landscapes, street scenes, unbelievably sappy Christian works, scenes from German mythology, and more. Above, the English garden in Munich, where he settled after returning to Germany.

Two wonderful images of children. The bottom one is a boy, clearly. The best source I have found identifies the top picture as a girl, but with those damnable Victorians and their cross-dressing ways (for children), it's impossible to tell.

Harburg an der Wohrnitz. This is the picture that started me researching Guillery.

You can tell we're reaching the 20th century when women whose ribs show are presented as sexual objects.

A more formal picture of his wife Josephine.

The harbor of Venice.

No comments: