Tuesday 11 July 2017

Brooknerian Taste

If Brookner in her novels tells us how to live, in her art criticism she teaches us to see and distinguish and value. I enjoyed my visit to the Wallace Collection, but I suspect I may be among the viewers she identifies here:
Greuze's pictures have an immediate appeal - to the sentimental and untutored, of whom, fortunately, there are still many. (Greuze, Conclusion)
Her reaction to the uneven oeuvre of Jean-Baptiste Greuze, perhaps rather more than to that of Jacques-Louis David, subject of her other major study, gives insight into her taste. She dislikes much of Greuze's work, but singles out a handful of works for our appreciation and instruction:
The painter who could respond so openly to the civilized charm of the Marquise de Bezons, who could remember the exact stance of a bashful country girl, who could paint Wille and Sophie Arnould and the luminous infant Bertin* is one who deserves a permanent place not only in histories of art but in the affections of those who try, with a seriousness equal to Greuze's own, to understand the evolution of his century. (Ibid.)
*The Bertin painting featured on the book's dustjacket.

Marquise de Bezons, Baltimore

Study for L’Accordée de Village
Chalon-sur-Saône, Musée Denon

Portrait of Wille
Paris, Musée Jacquemart-André Collection

[Formerly thought to be] Portrait of Sophie Arnould
Wallace Collection

Portrait of E.-F. Bertin, Louvre

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