57) Friedland byJean-Louis Earnest Meissioner 1815-1891
This enormous masterpiece can be seen at the Met in New York. It is a tour de force. I find it awe inspiring. A small reproduction only hints at what the real thing looks like.
Scale matters in painting, not in images.
(that sounded so cool when I wrote it, that it had to be in bold text, there is the benefit to a forced writing regimen, stuff does pop out at you)
It's (gotta remember to get that right, that's a contraction for "it is", I know that, but still get it wrong routinely. It is a blog though, I have no editor, they get paid). easy today when we have seen movies of the same subject which are full of detail plus movement, to dismiss a painting like this as just another image like so many others, and still at that. That would be true if it were an "image". When you stand in front of it, and think of it as a painting, that is a different thing. It is a magnificent painting. The drawing is so incredible that you can stand and be entertained by it. I can watch it like a TV set.
Meissioner loved to draw, and spent 12 years making the thing, he posed models, made little sculptures of figures and even had a legion of horsemen ride over a crop in the field to know what that would look like. The exhaustive research and the endless sketches and studies add up to a very beautifully wrought painting.
In art school they used to dismiss technique as hollow, a teacher might have used the sobriquet "empty technique". Different styles and periods of art have valued different qualities in painting. In the 19th century, beautiful worksmanship was highly esteemed. Think of Faberge eggs and Belter furniture. Meissionier believed in technique as art, the story was important, but what it looked like was where the painting lived. The painting was "well considered in all its particulars",
as the period vernacular would have it.
More on this tomorrow, I have to paint. I have a big project I am furiously working on.