The Two English Friends
Post #941 • January 18, 2007, 4:35 PM • 8 Comments
One of the odder things in The Romance of Modernism is a canvas by Vuillard entitled The Two English Friends. (Sorry, no image - I'm looking at the catalogue.) George Shackelford quotes Guy Cogeval about the work (the note is Shackelford's):
This strange picture, which appears almost unfinished, is particularly well-documented in the artist's Journal. The figures in question are a Mrs. Booth and a Mrs. Courtot, two English women Vuillard had met through Lucy Hessel [the wife of Vuillard's dealer and a particular friend of the painter]. One day in 1923, they offered to act out an Art Deco version of Sacred and Profane Love.
I had never noticed any previous version at all of the theme, but the webernets turned up paintings by Titian, Baldung, George Bellows, and Baglione. From an artistic standpoint, we're looking at an excuse to paint a nude and and clothed female figure together, and I recognized it because I might have needed it myself at one point had I lived in non-contemporary circumstances. This is one of those odd motifs that can look great in painting but would look strange in real life, such as nudes in the landscape, or most still life arrangements. Yet another mystery about the art of painting.
I feel a bit jealous of older painters in that these themes aren't so viable anymore. Sacred and Profane Love. The Triumph of Justice. The Effects of Good Government. Truth Unveiled by Time. What the hell - I'm going to go paint a Leda.