Saturday, July 18, 2015

The Clark to see Whistler's Mother and the Van Gogh one more time with lectures and brunch

It was a perfectly planned outing. 
As members of the Clark, we were there at 9 and let in to see the Whistler's mother.  I did not really understand there was only one.  Mona Lisa exists in so many varieties.  What would the actual Whistler's Mother be doing at this isolated museum in Williamstown Massachusettes.
But there it was.   This piece that had made so much history.  On load from

The "talk" was really fine.  We learned a good deal.  With the centerpiece were other prints that whistler did to make the money he needed after he sued John Ruskin for libel.

He won a farthing.

And then he had all the lawyers to pay.

I did not expect the subject of some of his prints to be fisherman and wharves.  This one is actually on the wall in the Whistler's Mother painting.

Because I have no sophisticated art skills, I tend to like bits of boats and water and fish.  Then too I like those that have stories around them.  Even Mad Magazine (you know, the one that J. Edgar Hoover sued) was involved.'s+mother+mad+magazine+cover&tbm=isch&

Poor Whistler lost so much to lawyers that he had to hock the painting and for ten years it was with creditors. Then the French bought it and it became the first American Painting to be displayed in the Louvre.

She was a pious and conservative mother.
He was an extravagant and "dandy" sort of fellow.

It must have been hard living together in his studio.

That is how she ended up posing.  His model did not show up.  He wanted her to stand, but after a couple days she got tired. So she sat.  She was sour because these were long sessions and because photography had taught folks not to smile.  It was too hard to hold a smile for those old cameras.

The frame was also probably original and that in itself was exciting.  It was like the frames that Whistler loved, thick and gold.  I liked it.

Some of his prints were in "nocturne" style where things are a bit dark.    Then there were some very colorful Japanese prints.  I was to see these in the Van Gogh exhibit as well.

When Depression hit, Whistler had a better American audience and there was an American Tour of "Whistler's mother" that was very popular.  Before that he had a better French than American or British audience. 
In 1934 there was a postage stamp


We then went to brunch, a buffet of great fruit, thin and crispy bacon, grand sausage, good coffee and some pastry.  I went off the diet for a bluebetty muffin and I did not pay for it.

After the food the lunch included a fine lecture on Van Gogh with slides and lots of information.  He was a letter writer and has 800 letters that survived.  They are on line. Some are collected here

Much of the focus of this exhibit was Van Gogh's love of nature.  I don't respond well to Impressionist painting, but I did like this theme in connection with other writers of the time and before. 

I did like some of the painting. 
"Rain" is so sad.  It was his last.  He had been in and out of mental facilities.  He put a bullet in his brain.

In many ways his life is very sad.  He sold one painting.  Now, here he is being celebrated by people all over the world. He never knew that might happen.

Just as the crowds of people were arriving, we were leaving.  How nice!
I love being a member.  What it cost we have retrieved many times over.  We hardly ever visit without Elizabeth buying something at the gift shop and as members we get 10%.

Also, Elizabeth went once with Ann Marie and they assumed she was part of the family dual.

Finally, we are able to visit for a few hours and then go home without thinking that we had wasted out entry fee.  An art museum to me is like a buffet.  There are many more things to enjoy than is possible to enjoy in one visit. 

Elizabeth spent most of her time in the Van Gogh, but I went in search of my regular favorites.  They are well documented in other visits/posts.

I was introduced to these as new to me.

Bierstadt's Pugent Sound on Pacific Coast.
This was actually on load as a football wager.

The Poacher by DeCamps

Death and the Maidens  Chavannes
I really get this painting. I want to choose just the maidens.  However, there is the old fellow just waiting for me.

Gainsborough's Elizabeth and Thomas Linley

I was really caught by this portrait.  The photo does not do justice to the what the faces were developed. It was stunning.  I'll be adding this one to the favorites I visit each trip.

I liked this one. Another card playing painting.  From 1631 by Dirck Hals

And finally, I spent a bit of time with the little Goya they have and wished I was in the Prado or eating wild pork at El Pardo.  To decorate El Pardo for the king, Goya painted this in 1786 and others that were so celebratory and light.  I love them.  So did Christine from France who toured the museum with me many years ago.

All in all it was a great visit and I can't wait to go again.

71st Birthday visit

NOTE:  At the end of this post it seems sometimes to repeat itself.  I can't quite figure how to get that out of the post.  My intentio...