Pavel Tchelitchew 1898-1957

Russian-born painter and stage designer. Born in Moscow. In early youth made drawingsinfluenced by the macabre Romanticism of Dor-23 and Vrubel. Moved in 1918 after the Revolution to Kiev. Was encouraged by Alexandra Exter; attended courses at Kiev Academy and received private lessons from Tchakrigine and the painter and stage designer Rabinovitch. Painted in anabstract style. Left Russia in 1920 and spent 1921-3 in Berlin, where he had considerable success as a designer for the theatre and opera. Moved to Paris in 1923. Began to paint figures and portraits in restrained colours and with an air of reverie. Exhibited with B-23rard, Eug-24ne Berman and others at the Galerie Druet, Paris, in 1926, he and his friends becoming known asNeo-Romantics; first one-man exhibition at the Claridge Gallery, London, 1928. Designed sets and costumes for Diaghilev’s Ode 1928 and other ballets and plays. Made some works akin toSurrealism and with violent distortions of perspective. Settled in the USA in 1934, but continued until the outbreak of war to spend the summers in Europe. Period of metamorphic works, followed by ‘interior landscapes’ of the human body and finally by space compositions. Lived mainly in Italy from 1949; died in Rome.

Pavel Tchelitchew


Van Gogh Meets Presley

John Singer Sargent

John Singer Sargent was an American painter by birth-right. He loved his country yet he spent most of his life in Europe.  He was the most celebrated portraitist of his time but left it at the very height of his fame to devote full time to landscape painting, water colors and public art.

Madame X, 1884, oil on canvas, 234.95 x 109.86 cm, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Manhattan.

Madame X

He was born in Florence, to American parents  and traveled extensively throughout Europe. His parents never settled back in America, not stepping foot in the States himself until right before his 21st birthday to retain his citizenship.

He was schooled as a French artist, heavily influenced by the Impressionist movement, the Spanish Master Velazquez, the Dutch Master Frans Hals, and his teacher Carolus-Duran . He was the darling of Paris until the scandal of his Madame X painting at the 1884 Salon. 

Discouraged at the rejection, even considered leaving art at the age of 28, he left Paris and settled (if that word could ever be used for him) in England where he reached the height of his fame. To be painted by Sargent was to be painted by the best.

The Daughters of Edward D. Boit

Although England would be his home, he never stopped traveling and he never stopped painting. To describe Sargent is to say that he painted.  It was his life and yet he had a deep appreciation for music and all art forms and went out of his way to promote other artists — for this selflessness he was greatly loved.Extremely bright, extremely gifted, an intense hard worker, he was the last great generalist. It is hard to put a label on him for he could master so many different painting styles. He was an Impressionist, a Classical Portraitist, a Landscape Artist, a Water Colorist, a Muralist of public art, and even started sculpting at the last of his life. He was all of these things and yet he was none of them in total. 

He once said that the knowledge of a technique for an artist, such as Impressionism, “does not make a man an Artist any more than the knowledge of perspective does — it is mearly a refining of one’s means towards representing things and one step further away from the hieroglyph”.

He is often passed by, not studied, or dismissed because he was never a radical artist or trend-setter. He always worked within the wide, rich textured pallet of known and established styles. Yet his brilliance was in fusing these elements together and for this he has never fully gotten credit.

His output was prodigious. Working dawn til dusk in some cases — even on vacations, and sometimes seven days a week. Between 1877 (when his work really started taking off) and 1925, he did over 900 oils and more than 2,000 watercolors along with countless charcoal sketch-portraits and endless pencil drawings. 

He painted two United States presidents, the aristocracy of Europe, the new and emerging tycoons and barons of business — Rockefeller, Sears, Vanderbilt; and he painted gypsies, tramps, and street children with the same gusto and passion. He hiked through the Rocky Mountains with a canvas tent under pouring rain to paint the beauty of waterfalls, and painted near the front lines during World War I to capture the horrors of war. He painted the back alleys of Venice, sleeping gondoliers, fishing boats and the dusty side streets of Spain. He painted opulent interiors and vacant Moorish Ruins.  He painted the artists of his time — performers, poets, dancers, musicians, and writers —  Robert Louis Stevenson, and Henry James. He painted the great generals of the Great War, and the Bedouin nomads in their camps.  He painted grand allegorical murals, and his friends as they slept. 

And he painted   . . . .

Where others kept journals, John Singer Sargent painted his, and his life can easily be chronicled by these records in color and canvas. He loved people, yet was intensely private. And he loved his family deeply and devotedly, though he never had a family himself (was childless and never married). He was simply, a great man and a great Artist.

Claude Monet

Claude Monet was born in 1840, the eldest son of a Parisian shopkeeper. The family moved in 1845, and he spent his childhood in the port town of Le Havre. Monet took his early painting lessons there from the painter Eugene Boudin. Boudin, who specialised in scenes of people strolling on beaches, worked up sketches out-of-doors and encouraged Monet to do the same. Monet was soon converted. At the age of 19, Monet enrolled at the Academie Suisse (founded by a retired model of David).

Water lillies

In 1858, he spent some time in Paris, studied briefly with Gleyre and met and befriended Pissarro and Manet. He spent the two years between 1860 and 1862 in military service in Algeria, then returned to Paris. Once back in Paris, he studied full-time under Gleyre and became close friends with Renoir, Sisley and Bazille – also students of Gleyre.

The period from 1867 to 1870 was coloured by extreme financial hardship. The birth of his illegitimate son Jean in 1867 occurred under such dire financial circumstances that, during a particularly brutal siege of poverty and hunger in 1868, Monet attempted suicide. At this time, the friendship of comrades like Bazille (who bought Women in the Garden) and Renoir (who actually stole bread for the Monet family) were his sole consolation. The gulf between his most laboured paintings and official acceptance seemed unbridgeable.

Impression: soleil levant

In September of 1870, following France’s declaration of war against Prussia, Monet took refuge with his friend Pissarro in London. It is during this time that he painted his views of Hyde park, the Pool of London and the Thames at Westminster. While in England, Pissarro and Monet visited the museums. They were especially entranced with the works of Rossetti and Watts, and they also spent some time studying the works of Turner and Constable.

Monet had a lifelong love of water, and he once joked that he would like to be buried in a buoy. By 1871, Monet had settled in Argenteuil so he could paint along the banks of the Seine River. Once there, he fixed up a boat with an easel and painted his way up and down the Seine, searching for the means to capture his impressions of the interplay of light, water and atmosphere.

Discouraged by the lack of recognition by the Salon, the Impressionists banded together as the “Societe anonyme des artistes peintres, sculpteurs, graveurs” in 1874. They exhibited their work together just before the annual Salon that year, and it was there that the term ‘Impressionist’ was coined. Monet had exhibited his painting Impression: Sunrise`, and a derisive critic fumed that “The Impressionists apply paint like tongue lickings”. The first exhibition was a financial failure, and none of the exhibitions were particularly successful, but they continued to exhibit together until 1886.

Saint-Georges Majeur au crépuscule

In 1883 Monet moved to Giverny. Caillebotte had communicated his love of gardening to Monet, and here Monet translated that enthusiasm into a remarkable garden. Painting the lilies in the pond of his garden hundreds of times between 1900 and 1926, they are the culmination of a lifetime in which the out-of-doors had become his studio. In 1916 he began the ‘cyclorama’ Nympheas, which he intended to donate to the French Nation (providing they displayed it suitably and bought his Women in the Garden. Arrangements were finally made and agreements signed for the twelve 13 foot long/6 foot tall panels to be displayed in the Orangerie. Monet continued to visit and work on the panels until his death at Giverny in 1926.