Impressions

I’ve been meaning to post up my review of my most recent book club book, but just haven’t gotten around to it. The book club I am a member of is takes place at a local art museum, and the books often tie in with the current exhibit. Some books, like this one, are more directly related than others. So, for January, we read The Ultimate Trophy.

Book cover of The Ultimate Trophy: How the Impressionist Painting Conquered the World

Not an overly lengthy book, but it took me a little while to read it. The book begins with sort of a history of the beginnings of Impressionist painting. Nothing new there that I didn’t get in my Art History classes. But, from there the author tracks the paintings and how they were bought and sold, collected and turned into evidence of wealth and social class forward in time. He speaks about the paintings being taken by the Germans, being bought by the nouveau riche in America, and eventually becoming pieces purchased by Japanese business owners. It’s an interesting look at how the pieces became less about the art, and more about possessing something of value.

I did really enjoy the discussion on this book (plus there was wine and cheese, so, I was a captive participant). When I was initially reading this book, I did find it rather dry and dull. But, as I went on, I became more and more engaged in the anecdotes. And, as sometimes happens with a book…once you’ve finished it, pieces of it still stay with you. So, I’ve had to go back and change my rating of it on Goodreads, from my initial rating.

Although, this has already become a crazy long art thesis, I wanted to touch on a couple of things that have struck me after reading this book. Of course, my start on Camille seemed rather timely, with this book selection. I hope to get back to Camille soon, since I’ve wanted to stitch her for so long. Also, at the Golden Globes, Scorsese was given a lifetime achievement award, and when they showed the montage of his work (I love a good montage), one of the movies included was The Age of Innocence, one of my absolute favorite movies. It’s also an excellent book, and one I would highly recommend. Anywho…the book deals a lot with the rise of the nouveau riche Americans at the turn of the century. And one specific scene I remember, was the society party where the host had purchased a rather risqué new painting and had it hung in plain sight. Shocking. But, in many cases, as the author of my book club book surmises, the paintings were a show of wealth and were treated as such. If you haven’t seen the movie, or read the book, do so.

ageofinnconce2

The third thing that came about after reading this book was a conversation with some stitching friends in which I was advocating museums and visiting them regularly. You can look at all the photos you want of a painting, but there is nothing at all like standing in its presence. Some, leave you flat. Some, are exciting and wondrous. But, there’s still nothing like seeing them up close and personal. Even (and especially) those whose images are so well-known (ie the Impressionists). So, I’ll leave you with an image of one of my favorite paintings ever – one that when I turned a corner in the Met and was greeted by it hanging at the end of a series of doorways, left me speechless.

Madame X John Singer Sargent

This is John Singer Sargent’s Madame X.

So, that’s all that I have for you today. I’ll be back soon with some stitching to show. Thanks for checking in.

I am grateful for art.

18 thoughts on “Impressions”

  1. Michelle…I totally agree with you that seeing the actual piece of art is always greater thatn just seeing a print or a copy of the paiting in a book or an image on the computer. Being able to travel over in Europe I always make time to go to the art museums and I am always amazed when I come across the originak. I guess my biggest surprise was the “Girl with the Pearl Earring” in a museum at The Hague, Netherlands. IT was smaller than I thought it would be but truly amazing. Also seeing “The Scream” in Oslo a few years back before it was stolen. We are also blessed to live in this part of the country with great museums like the Kimbell and Dallas Museum of Art which can bring some of the truly amazing art works to us here.

  2. Michelle…I totally agree with you that seeing the actual piece of art is always greater thatn just seeing a print or a copy of the paiting in a book or an image on the computer. Being able to travel over in Europe I always make time to go to the art museums and I am always amazed when I come across the originak. I guess my biggest surprise was the “Girl with the Pearl Earring” in a museum at The Hague, Netherlands. IT was smaller than I thought it would be but truly amazing. Also seeing “The Scream” in Oslo a few years back before it was stolen. We are also blessed to live in this part of the country with great museums like the Kimbell and Dallas Museum of Art which can bring some of the truly amazing art works to us here.

  3. I need to spend more time in museums of all kinds. I just found out this week that anyone who works for my employer gets free entrance into museums all over the country on the first Saturday of the month. I need to take advantage of that!

  4. I need to spend more time in museums of all kinds. I just found out this week that anyone who works for my employer gets free entrance into museums all over the country on the first Saturday of the month. I need to take advantage of that!

  5. Now I want to read the art book! Loved Age of Innocence, too (book, and movie!).I know what you mean about seeing a great masterpiece IRL… That happened to me about a week after Leah was born. My mom & I went to B’more for a special George stubbs exhibit – there were a lot of pieces on loan from museums and private holdings in the UK. Whistlejacket is life size… and absolutely stunning, jaw dropping… just… arresting. It’s a beautiful work of art in a book, but in person… wow. Amazing how paint and canvas can leave such a lasting impression, isn’t it?

  6. Now I want to read the art book! Loved Age of Innocence, too (book, and movie!).I know what you mean about seeing a great masterpiece IRL… That happened to me about a week after Leah was born. My mom & I went to B’more for a special George stubbs exhibit – there were a lot of pieces on loan from museums and private holdings in the UK. Whistlejacket is life size… and absolutely stunning, jaw dropping… just… arresting. It’s a beautiful work of art in a book, but in person… wow. Amazing how paint and canvas can leave such a lasting impression, isn’t it?

  7. Michelle, you will enjoy Elizabeth Kostova’s latest book, “The Swan Thieves”. Not necessarily because it’s a good book (it’s an okay book… nice story but not necessarily compelling… certainly not “The Historian”), but because of the art that is such a big part of the story. I thought of you the whole time I listened to it.

  8. Michelle, you will enjoy Elizabeth Kostova’s latest book, “The Swan Thieves”. Not necessarily because it’s a good book (it’s an okay book… nice story but not necessarily compelling… certainly not “The Historian”), but because of the art that is such a big part of the story. I thought of you the whole time I listened to it.

  9. IIRC the fine art museum in Birmingham has a Sargent too. It was stunning. I’ll have to look it up, I think she was wearing red…

  10. IIRC the fine art museum in Birmingham has a Sargent too. It was stunning. I’ll have to look it up, I think she was wearing red…

  11. I mis-remembered, she’s wearing black too.

    Birmingham owns Lady Helen Vincent, Viscountess d’Abernon. I could’ve stared at her all day.

  12. I mis-remembered, she’s wearing black too.

    Birmingham owns Lady Helen Vincent, Viscountess d’Abernon. I could’ve stared at her all day.

  13. Michelle, my access to has been limited. But an experience that changed my outlook on art was a PBS special on Dale Chihuly. His glasswork just amazes me; so one fall I visited my sister in Minneapolis and we went to a museum there and to my delight, the last exhibit was one of the Chihuly chandeliers displayed. I just about cried. We were lucky enough for some strange reason to get a small exhibit of his here a few years ago—being able to see such organic, colorful, flowing pieces changed me.

  14. Michelle, my access to has been limited. But an experience that changed my outlook on art was a PBS special on Dale Chihuly. His glasswork just amazes me; so one fall I visited my sister in Minneapolis and we went to a museum there and to my delight, the last exhibit was one of the Chihuly chandeliers displayed. I just about cried. We were lucky enough for some strange reason to get a small exhibit of his here a few years ago—being able to see such organic, colorful, flowing pieces changed me.

  15. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Madame X!!!!!!! I also love the movie The Age of Innocence. I need to read the book for sure. Have you ever been to the Art Institute in Chicago? I have to go again soon after reading this post. I took some Art History classes in college and loved them.

  16. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Madame X!!!!!!! I also love the movie The Age of Innocence. I need to read the book for sure. Have you ever been to the Art Institute in Chicago? I have to go again soon after reading this post. I took some Art History classes in college and loved them.

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