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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Dumb Impressionist Fact of the Day

posted by on June 19 at 13:04 PM

The rain eventually stopped, and Monet took his painting things into the forest. As soon as he began to work, he was stopped in his tracks by a bizarre accident. Discus throwers used to practice in the forest, and Monet was injured when a flying discus hit him in the leg. Again, Bazille was summoned, this time for his medical expertise. Using a large earthenware pot, which he suspended from Monet’s bed with a chain, he improvised a drainage system for the suspended leg. Nursed by Bazille, who painted the scene, Monet was soon back in the forest.

From Sue Roe’s The Private Lives of Impressionists, a slightly trashy book I’m reading in honor of the SAM show.

Bazille’s portrait of Monet in bed, from 1865, LíAmbulance improvisťe (The Improvised Field Hospital) (not in the SAM show):


Tonight at 6 is a lecture at SAM by Inspiring Impressionism co-curator Ann Dumas. I can recommend it because Dumas is quite the art historian and also charming and offhanded in the way only the English can be.

On the press tour, she shared things like, “I’m very proud of this corner. It’s the sort of thing that brings joy to an art historian’s heart,” referring to a corner with a painting by Velazquez and his assistants, a copy by Manet, an etching based on the copy by Manet, and a Renoir still-life in which Manet’s etching appears. It really is a nice corner.

She also shared that, in order to borrow a Berthe Morisot for comparison to a Francis Boucher, the curators had to court an elderly couple from the Morisot family that owns the painting. The husband was willing to lend, but the wife resisted. “I don’t know how many dinners we took them out to,” Dumas admitted. (Securing loans for many of the works in the show, including Titian’s stunning Danše, required coups of diplomatic begging.)

When we arrived at a Renoir bather with a low gate in front of it for protection, Dumas quipped, “Is this a National Gallery stipulation? This is National Gallery of London, so thou shalt not approach.

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Now, I'm not calling Sue Roe a liar, or discus throwers idiots, but why would you want to throw your discus in a place filled with many, many large obstacles, namely trees? Do discus throwers still practice in forests? I don't know much about it, but somehow I don't believe they do.

Posted by Fnarf | June 19, 2008 1:28 PM

Nice post again. I do hate the "Dumb Impressionist Fact" label though.

Posted by Scott Dow | June 19, 2008 1:43 PM

Dumb fact, but awesome anyway.

Posted by Abby | June 19, 2008 1:51 PM

I'd figger that any lecture by a co-curator art historian re Inspiring Impressionism would be chock full o' dum impressionist facts. Or smart impressionist facts? Or... what? Please. I'm Dim.

Posted by umvue | June 19, 2008 2:23 PM

Maybe the low gate in front of the Renoir bather is to prevent people from tripping and falling onto the thing, like someone did to the Warhol at SAM last month.

Posted by Fnarf | June 19, 2008 3:01 PM

That fact so calls for Bazille/Monet fanfic.

That indeed sounds like an awesome corner, and brings joy to the heart of this aspiring art historian.

Posted by Gloria | June 19, 2008 7:11 PM

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