Monday, January 25, 2010

THE AMERICAN GEROME





From OLOGY.com


From wikimedia
An American Southerner, born in Tuskeegee, Alabama, the son of a physician, Bridgman would become one of the United States' most well-known and well-regarded painters and become known as one of the world's most talented "Orientalist" painters. He began as a draughtsman in New York City, for the American Bank Note Company in 1864-1865, and studied art in the same years at the Brooklyn Art Association and at the National Academy of Design; but he went to Paris in 1866 and became a pupil of Jean-Leon Gerome. Paris then became his headquarters.
(Wikipedia)


Funerailles D'Une Momie
The Funeral Procession of a Mummy on the Nile
Oil on canvas
Private collection
From ARC


A trip to Algeria and Egypt in 1872-1874 resulted in pictures of the East that attracted immediate attention, and his large and important composition, The Funeral Procession of a Mummy on the Nile (above), in the Paris Salon (1877), bought by James Gordon Bennett, brought him the Cross of the Legion of Honor.
(Wikipedia)


A street in Algeria
Oil on canvas
Public collection
From ARC


One of Bridgman's most recognized Orientalist images, A Street Scene in Algeria (above), is exceptional for its biographical and historical significance. Many of its details can be considered "signature" motifs of the artist, and its subject, a pointed record of travel. In keeping with Bridgman's tendency in the 1880s to focus on intimate domestic subjects, two seated male figures are given pride of place in the center of the composition, gesticulating while they chat.
(Wikipedia)


On the Terrace, Algiers
Oil on Canvas
From Clarke Galleries


Marketplace in North Africa
Oil on canvas
Public collection
From ARC


In the Souk
Oil on canvas
Private collection
From ARC


Women at the Cemetery, Algiers
Oil on canvas
Private collection
From ARC


Arab Women at the Town Wall
Oil on canvas
Private collection
From ARC


An Eastern Courtyard
Oil on canvas
Private collection
From ARC


An Eastern Veranda
Oil on canvas
Private collection
From ARC


A Coastal Trail
Oil on canvas
Private collection
From ARC


Learning the Qu'ran
Oil on canvas
Private collection
From ARC


Aicha, a Woman of Morocco
Oil on canvas
Newark Museum (United States)
From ARC


Bridgman sampled the local nightlife and spent afternoons exploring the surrounding villages and oases on horseback. It was during this time that he began to paint North African scenes depicting the exotic culture in which he was immersed. Bridgeman remained in North Africa for the next five years, though he regularly took part in the Paris Salons, as well as exhibited in several London venues. Bridgman’s travels in North Africa and Egypt brought about a radical change in his palate, which became much paler. He was also a photographer and often worked from his photographs when painting, depicting the world of richly adorned women in veils and using transparent effects, and white on white. As well as his scenes of everyday life, Bridgman painted historical subjects from ancient Egypt and Assyria. The next ten years was a period of uninterrupted success.
(Johnson Hall Fine Art, Inc.)


A Circassian beauty
From cocoon.splinder.com


A veiled beauty of Constantinople
From cocoon.splinder.com


River Landscape with Deer
Oil on canvas
Public collection
From ARC


The Laborer
Oil on canvas
Public collection
From ARC


Although he was an Academic painter he liked the Impressionists. While we tend to think today of 19th century art movements as being separate and inimical to each other, friendships often flourished across ideological borders. Bridgman admired the Impressionists Manet and Renoir while Renoir admired the Romantic Delacroix. He loved Algeria and because of his exposure to slavery in the pre Civil War South he was an anti-colonialist.
(orientalistart.net)


Women Drawing Water From The Nile
Oil on canvas
Private collection
From ARC


From Bellas Artes Tex
Bridgman once explained the attraction that North Africa held for him, saying, “I was born in Alabama, and I have naturally followed the sunlight.” It was not, however, until after his journey up the Nile in the winter of 1873-74 that Bridgman began to devote himself to the exotic subjects of Orientalism. In his later paintings he incorporated the carefully observed archaeological details he had gathered in the sketches and drawings of Egypt during his visit. Bridgman became highly acclaimed in the 1870s-80s for many works and other romantic evocations of ancient scenes.
(EMORY)


Frederick Arthur Bridgman
at work on his painting, the game of chance
Paris studio at 146 boulevard Malesherbes
ca. 1885
From Smithsonian Archives of American Art


An Interesting Game
Oil on canvas
The Brooklyn Museum (New York, USA)
From ARC


Everything in this scene (above)—the clothing, architecture, and physical types of the people—suggests that Frederick Arthur Bridgman was presenting a slice of reality witnessed by him on his many trips to North Africa. In actuality, the painting was executed in Bridgman's Paris studio, which even had the lattice window and lounge shown here. Orientalism—the taste for Near Eastern subjects—was strong in the late nineteenth century, especially in the United States, where this painting was exhibited in 1881 and acquired by the noted Brooklyn art collector George I. Seney in 1882.
(brooklynmuseum.org)


The Siesta
(Afternoon in Dreams)
Oil on canvas
Public collection
From ARC


The exquisite painting, shown at the top is a woman reclining in a very lush and colorful interior. The catalogue notes that “her station in life is more open to interpretation” than similar French pictures, but adds that “there are hints of danger… The doorway at the far right, closed enough to suggest privacy but sufficiently open to suggest access or surveillance, adds ambiguity to the scene.” “The monkey, too, perched on the back of the divan, has been interpreted as a symbol of licentiousness, but that unsavory feature is external to the women, divorced from her and embodied in bestial form. The pipe in the foreground, the apparent source of her torpor, bars the viewer’s access to the most complex part of the picture, where a table, coffee, pipe, pillows, and the dreamer’s head converge. Ultimately the picture is about dreams and fantasies: those of the girl and those of the viewer,” the catalogue entry continued. Bridgman, it noted, “was America’s preeminent Orientalist painter,” who studied with Jean-Léon Gérôme, whose painting “The Snake Charmer” in the collection of the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, is one of the exhibition’s highlights. Michael Conforti, director of the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts, wrote that “By 1900, Orientalist themes were becoming common in the emerging advertising and mass entertainment industries, and by the 1920s Orientalist imagery had been appropriated for use in film posters, cigarette packs, popular music, fraternal organizations, and fashion.” “The common threat,” he continued, “was consumer interest in the Orient as exotic and, often, erotic.” In his excellent essay, Oleg Grabar finds the “roots” of American Orientalism in “the Protestant search for the space of revelations,” European aristocratic taste, popular culture in freemasonry and other fraternal organizations, and “the spirit of skeptical curiosity and adventure.” ”The Orient,” Mr. Grabar continued, “has become a toy, a game, a required masquerade away from normal and real life. This is the Orient that has dominated the world of advertising until our own times and in much of the movie industry. Curiously poised between desire and repulsion, beauty and ugliness, it is an Orient that answers deep psychological and social needs.”
(Noble Dreams Wicked Pleasures Orientalism in America, 1870-1930, The City Review)
In 1890 an exhibition of his pictures took place at Fifth Avenue Galleries in New York. As his career progressed, he continued to paint Orientalist themes, though he also explored the symbolist style, society portraiture and historical themes. In 1907 he became an Officer of the French Legion of Honour. Bridgman was a member of the National Academy of Design (NA), the Brooklyn Art Association and the Boston Art Club. He exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago; Boston Art Club;Brooklyn Art Association Corcoran Gallery Biennial;National Academy; Paris Exposition 1889; Paris Salon; Pennsylvania Academy; Royal Academy, London; St. Louis Exposition-World’s Fair 1904; and Vose Galleries, Boston. He is listed in more than 50 major art reference books.
(Johnson Hall Fine Art, Inc.)


Edge of Sea at Beaulieu
From OWEN GALLERY


Bridgman’s brilliantly colored, exotic views from countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea led to his tremendous success in the 1870s and 1880s and his paintings were in great demand. With his clients’ patronage he was able to travel for over three months along the Nile, and expanded and decorated his home in Paris with such extravagance that painter John Singer Sargent claimed it was one of the two sights in France worth seeing – the other being the Eiffel Tower!
While many of Bridgman’s artworks featured the people he met during his travels engaged in their daily rituals, he was very prolific while traveling and also completed a great number of seascapes and landscapes. Edge of Sea at Beaulieu (above) shows the small harbor town (whose name means “beautiful place on the sea”) located along the French Riviera between Nice and Monaco. Beaulieu is surrounded by steep rocky mountainsides and covered in lush terrain, which Bridgman captured in stunning vibrancy in Edge of Sea. Showing the French hillside covered in blooms while the glowing sun sets over the green and blue bay, Bridgman’s talent for capturing breathtaking sights the world over is wonderfully evident.
(OWEN GALLERY)
During the First World War, Bridgman suffered financial losses, in part due to gambling debts, and was forced to sell his lavish studio in the Boulevard Malherbes in Paris. Bridgman retired with his second wife, Marthe Yaeger, whom he had married three years after Florence’s death in 1901, to their house in Lyons-la-Forêt in Normandy where he remained until his death in 1928.
The work of Frederick Arthur Bridgman is represented in the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool; the Corcoran Art Gallery, Washington DC and the Art Institute of Chicago.
(RICHARD GREEN)



From CABELL COUNTY PUBLIC LIBRARY


The above photographs show a “19th Century Africa Through the eyes of American Painters-Travellers” exhibition at the Cabell County Public Library 2nd floor and at Marshall University Drinko Library 1st and 3rd Floors. The exhibition presented American Orientalist painters, including Frederick Arthur Bridgman.
(CABELL COUNTYPUBLIC LIBRARY)


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