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A Private Passion

19th-Century Paintings and Drawings from the

Grenville L. Winthrop Collection, Harvard University

Musée des Beaux-Arts, Lyon

March 15-May 26, 2003

The National Gallery, London

June 25-September 14, 2003

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

October 23, 2003-January 25, 2004

Odalisque with a Slave" by Ingres

"Odalisque with a Slave," by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, oil on canvas, 28 3/8 by 39 ½ inches, circa 1837-1840

By Carter B. Horsley

In olden and golden days, some serious collectors had encyclopedic tastes and ambitions, but those days are long gone in part because the availability of really desirable objects has dwindled and/or become prohibitively expensive for most, and in part because few would attempt the daunting task of being a connoisseur in many, to say nothing of all, fields.

Those precious days, as Walter Huston might sigh, last belonged to the "robber barons" and those who can afford to indulge Sir Joseph Duveen, the art dealer, and Bernard Berenson, the art expert, an era in which flourished such collectors as J. P. Morgan, Henry Clay Frick, Benjamin Altman, Jules Bache, Samuel Kress, Horace Havemeyer and Robert Lehman in New York, Andrew Mellon and Duncan Phillips in Washington, and George Widener and John G. Johnson in Philadelphia, Henry Walters in Baltimore, Isabella Stewart Gardner in Boston and John Paul Getty in Los Angeles, just to mention the more prominent. (There were major collectors as well in Chicago, Cleveland, Minneapolis, Pasadena, Toledo and Boston.)

Grenville Lindall Winthrop (1864-1943) deserves membership in the pantheon of American Grand Acquisitors for his fantastic "collector's eye" that enabled him to acquire a stunning array of masterpieces. Indeed, With the exception of Henry Clay Frick and Andrew Mellon, Winthrop probably had a higher "batting average" in terms of getting masterpieces than any other American as witnessed by the overwhelming exhibition entitled "A Private Passion," that shows part of bequest to the Fogg Art Museum at Harvard University of his 19th Century paintings and drawings.

Some collectors may have a knock-out Rubens, or a drop-dead Schiele, or a memorable Monet, or a dazzling Kirchner, or a sensational Cézanne, or a mind-blowing Whistler, or a great Botticelli, but they are unlikely to significant and very important holdings in depth of several great masters.

Winthrop's 19th Century collection includes such holdings of the works of Ingres, Gustave Moreau, William Blake, Edward Burne-Jones, Dante Gabriel Rosetti, and Winslow Homer. It also includes masterworks by Renoir, Daumier, Van Gogh, Odile Redon, George Pierre Seurat, George Frederick Watts and Charles Bird King.

In 1943, Winthrop gave his entire art collection, comprising about 4,000 objects, to Harvard University and its museums. In 1938, in response to a request that he give it to a museum in Washington, he wrote that:

"I admit that more people of the 'general public' will visit Washington than Cambridge, but I am not so much interested in the general public as I am in the Younger Generation whom I want to teach in their impressionable years and to prove to them that true art is founded on traditions and is not the product of any one country or century and that Beauty may be found in all countries and in all periods, provided the eye can be trained to find it."

In the Directors' Foreword in the exhibition's large catalogue (which is available softcover for $50 from the bookstore of the Metropolitan Museum of Art), Marjorie B. Cohn, acting director of the Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, Massachusetts, Francine Mariani-Ducray, president, Direction des Musées de France, Philippe de Montebello, director of the Metropolitan Museum, Vincent Pomarède, director of the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Lyon, and Charles Saumarez Smith, director of the National Gallery, London, wrote that while Winthrop's gife, "unparalleled in Harvard's history, would instantly make the Fogg Museum a place of international importance to scholars and lovers of art" it "would also make the Winthrop collection one of the least familiar to the general public."

"Winthrop's modesty was such that few visitors of Harvard's Art Museums today are aware that its incomparable collection of early Chinese jades and archaic bronzes, Buddhist sculpture, and extraordinary holdings of nineteenth-century French and Pre-Raphaelite masters are due, in large part, to his munificence," the directors continued. "Winthrop's pursuits brought Neolithic Chinese jades and Mesoamerican sculpture together with work by August Rodin and Aristide Maillol, Paul Manship and Eric Gill. His active eye led him to early Italian panel painting and to drawings of then-modern masters, such as Henri Matisse and George Bellows. On the other hand, his collection is not just an assemblage of a broad spectrum of extraordinary objects. In the field of nineteenth-century Western painting, it is unique: it is the only collection, anywhere, to represent, at a uniformly high level of quality, the complete history of American, British and French painting and drawing. Harvard has always respected Winthrop's wish that his collection be available for study at the university. Therefore, for more than sixty years it has not loaned a single object from his bequest to any exhibition, no matter how important. However, an impending closing of the museum for architectural renovation created a new opportunity."

Winthrop was the second son in "the ninth generation of an unbroken line of Winthrop males descending from two colonial governors: John Winthrop of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and his son John Jr. of Connecticut," wrote Stephan Wolohojian in his catalogue essay entitled "A Private Passion" " His father, Robert Winthrop," Mr. Wolohojian continued, "was initially a partner in the banking firm of Drexel and Company, but when Anthony Drexel decided on a merger with J. Pierpont Morgan in 1871, Robert started a private banking company under his own name....the Winthrop's financial position was in fact owed to Grenville's mother, Kate Taylor Winthrop, daughter of Moses Taylor, one of New York's wealthiest businessmen and president of City Bank....Grenville's childhood could have come out straight out of an Edith Wharton novel. Wharton, incidentally one of his mother's close friends, would often stop by their somber new house for tea, in the company of Sara Delano Roosevelt....Like most of his kin, Winthrop went to Harvard....He matriculated in a class that included the philosopher George Santayana and two classmates who would also become notable collectors: Charles Loeser and William Randolph Hearst....In his last semester at Harvard, Winthrop enrolled in [Charles Elliot] Norton's class on Venetian art. Later that year Bernard Berenson took his first course with the legendary teacher....After college, Winthrop stayed at Cambridge to study law. With his degree to practice in hand he returned to New york, eventually setting up a partnership with James B. Ludlow and Frederick Phillips. In 1892, at age twenty-eight, he married Mary Talmadge Trevor....He retired completely in 1896,...and relied on siblings and their heirs to manage his affairs for the rest of his life....Before the turn of the century, most likely while setting up house in New York, Winthrop gathered an unremarkably eclectic collection, typical of patrician tastes of the period: paintings by Narcisse-Virgile Diza de la Peña, the odd pair of eighteenth-century paintings he purchased as the work of Nicholas Lancret, canvases attributed to Camille Corot and Pierre Mignard, and other similar works. Through their renewed association, Berenson seems to have convinced, or as he would prefer to have his clients think, advised Winthrop to acquire Italian paintings....over the course of about two decades Winthrop...purchased about a dozen paintings from Berenson....Winthrop also became an avid collector of prints, thanks in part to his association with his former Harvard classmate Francis Bullard, who lived a short walk from Winthrop's large Lenox estate. In 1902 Winthrop bought the Elms in Lenox, a staid summer colony in the Berkshires, in western Massachusetts, where his mother and other members of patroon society also had properties. In these bucolic hills Winthrop enlisted the help of Carrere and transform a late Victorian fieldstone house into an overscale stone 'cottage'...Ever conscious of his ancestral roots, Winthrop renamed the property Groton Place, after the English village of his forebears."

In 1914, Winthrop met Martin Birnbaum who would become his trusted agent. "Birnbaum, an immensely intriguing figure," Mr. Wolohojian wrote, "could as easily have been a secret agent as a dealer in the works of art. His oldest friend, the write Upton Sinclair (who modeled Lanny, in his Lanny Budd series, after him), recalled how after Birnbaum had left a Hollywood dinner at which Charlie Chaplin was present, Chaplin and the host, taken by Birnbaum's mysterious charm, were convinced he was a German spy. A lawyer by training, an art dealer by vocation, but a violinist at heart, was as colorful as Winthrop was drab....Birnbaum credits himself with having been the first in America to mount shows on Oskar Kokoschka, Lyonel Feininger, Paul Klee, James Ensor, Edvard Munch, Paul Manship and many other artists....A translator of the poetry of Paul Verlaine, a failed playwright, a trained lawyer, but more remarkably a violinist of considerable talent - to say that Birnbaum was an eclectic figure is not to do him full justice....When Birnbaum first met Winthrop in 1914, he was head of the New York branch of the Berlin Photographic Company, a publisher of photographs and art books, which had a gallery space where Birnbaum was able to mount his own exhibits....Ernst Barlach, Beardsley, Charles Conder, John Marin, and John Sloan were some of the artists he presented. Birnbaum also distinguished himself as a critic. Over the years he published many volumes of essays on topics as diverse as Oscar Wilde, John Singer Sargent, and contemporary German art. Before World War I, Birnbaum also began an intimate association with Charles Ricketts and Charles Shannon, the renowned artist-aesthetics who, at the time, were living in their legendary house on the property of the great English collector Sir Edmund Davis...The lifelong friendship established with these artist-connoisseurs spliced Birnbaum into the central line of British artistic movements from the Pre-Raphaelites to the Aesthetic Movement and their followers....Winthrop's relationship with Birnbaum did not develop fully until after 1916, when Birnbaum joined the firm of Scott and Fowles, after Fowles went down on the Lusitania. Birnbaum encouraged the stodgy white-glove branch out and show more modern artists such as Edouard Manet, Whistler, Sargent, Winslow Homer, Ingres and Edgar Degas....There were no gardens at Groton Place. Instead, the subtle nuances of the carefully chosen clusters of foliage, whispering exotic chords as the wind blew chimes hidden within them,were pierced by legions of elegantly plumed birds - according to some accounts, numbering more than five hundred. Peacocks and pheasants - 'living jewels,' Winthrop called them - provided a movable pageant of color as they roamed about the property as if Winthrop had taken the opulent adornments of an Aesthetic Movement interior outdoors...."

"Gorton Place," Mr. Wolohojian wrote, "developed into a quirky compound. Over the years Winthrop...added an oriental garden, a small 'museum' of natural history, and an acquarium, which a surviving photograph shows looking disconcertingly like Homer's Mink Pond..., a gem he would add to his collection in later years."

In 1924, both of Winthrop's daughters eloped: Emily married her chauffeur, and Kate married her father's electrician. Around this time, Winthrop moved from his townhouse on East 37th Street to a new double-wide Georgian-style house at 15 East 81st Street.

"Spring Bouquet" by Renoir

"Spring Bouquet," by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, oil on canvas, inches

While Birnbaum sought out and acquired many of Winthrop's finest works, Winthrop "made some of his most impressive purchases independently," Mr. Wolohojian wrote, added that "He acquired Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin's dazzling late pastel Portrait of a Man...., and even in the final year of his life, surely knowing that he would never see it installed at home, he purchased Canaletto's Piazza San Marco, Venice...Through Wildenstein and Company in New York, he made some of his most remarkable acquisitions in the area of his and Birnbaum's focused interest. Among the works on this roster are Pierre-August Renoir's Spring Bouquet..., Daumier's Scapin..., Claude Monet's Road toward the Farm Saint-Siméon, Honfleur..., Vincent Van Gogh's Blue Cart..., and Ingres's Odalisque with the Slave, as well as his powerful late Self-Portrait...."

"The Print Amateur" by Daumier

"The Print Amateur," by Honoré Daumier, oil on wood panel, 13 by 9 3/8 inches, circa 1855

For a connoisseur what could be better than a painting of a connoisseur by Honoré Daumier (1808-1879). Daumier is known as one of the great caricaturists in art history but his oil paintings are not as fully appreciated despite their fine compositions and wonderful painterliness. "The Print Amateur" is an excellent oil on wood panel that measures 13 by 9 3/8 inches and is known in two versions, this one and, according to the catalogue, "a later, more carefully finished work now in the Dallas Museum of Art." "Closely connected with these is a variant at one time owned by Camille Corot, now in a private collection," the catalogue entry by Michael Patazzi noted, adding that "Little attention has been paid to the images paintings, drawings, or prints that Daumier incorporated into his own work. With rare exceptions these are variations on his own compositions."

"Peasant of the Camargue" by van Gogh

"Peasant of the Camargue (Portrait of Patience Escalier)," by Vincent van Gogh, brown ink over graphite on white wove paper, 19 ½ by 15 inches, 1888

"Peasant of the Camargue (Portrait of Patience Escalier)" is a powerful portrait drawing in brown ink by Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890) that is remarkable for its use of spikes, dots, plumes, arabesques and brutal hatching, according to Harry Cooper's catalogue entry on this work. Not pretty but extremely interesting, this is a true connoisseur's work. This superb drawing is a study for an oil painting known as "Portrait of a Peasant (Patience Escalier)" in the collection of the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, California. The catalogue entry notes that "with its vigorous and inventive use of the reed pen, it has been recognized as one of the triumphs of van Gogh's graphic art." The brown ink over graphite on white wove paper measures 19 ½ by 15 inches and was executed in 1888. "The Winthrop drawing enacts a conflation not so much of van Gogh's features with Escalier's as of the two heroic types that informed all of the artist's work of this period: the French peasant and the Japanese monk. If the content of the Winthrop drawing hints at the enthusiasm for Japan that overtook van Gogh in Arles, the form declares it. What is original in van Gogh's technique, and demonstrated in the Winthrop drawing perhaps better than any other, is the variety of marks in simultaneous, sometimes dissonant play. This play reaches its climax in Escalier's cheeks, whose sunburned color and furrowed structure, clearly visible in the Norton Simon painting, van Gogh transcribed in the drawing by jamming together all the kinds of marks present in the rest of the sheet. One might say that the cheeks in the drawing are hectic in both senses of the word 'red, flushed' at the level of depictionor transcription, and 'filled with excitement or confusion' at the level of pure form," Mr. Cooper observed adding that the color sequences that hold together his paintings are paralleled in the drawings by complex networks of contrasts and textures. "One might push this thesis farther still," he continued, "seeing the different combinations of marks in the Winthrop drawing as van Gogh's attempt to convey to Theo [his brother], and by extension to every viewer, the particular colors of the painting, or at least the fact that what distinguishes colors from one another is their particular vibration. This notion of vivid color and active mark as parallel kinds of vibration puts one in mind of Fauvism, and with good reason. One of several van Gogh drawings that Henri Matisse acquired around the turn of the century was a much smaller ink drawing of Escalier (private collection, Switzerland), a rather whimsical version of the second painting, which van Gogh probably enclosed in a letter (now lost) to Emile Bernard on September 5, 1888. It is the last of four extant images of Escalier by van Gogh. Through Matise, the aftershocks of van Gogh's encounter with Escalier were felt throughout the art of the twentieth century."

The cover illustration of the exhibition's catalogue is "Raphael and the Fornarina," an 1814 oil on canvas by Dominique Ingres that measures 25 ½ by 21 inches.

"Raphael and the Fornarina is a subject and a composition to which Ingres kept returning for most of his life, resulting in five successive painted versions and a finished and signed drawing, not to mention numerous preparatory studies. Raphael of the Fornarina is Ingres's ars pingendi, the pictorial expression of his theory of art," wrote Henri Zerner in his catalogue essay on this work.

"Raphael had always been widely considered the ultimate painter. Far from turning against him, the early Romantic period developed a new kind of veneration, of his life as well as his work. The ground had been prepared by his first biographer, Giorgio Vasari, who reports Raphael's deep attachment to an unnamed woman and claims the painter's premature death resulted from excessive lovemaking. Ingres's painting is replete with pictorial references. The heads in particular are subtly constructed out of a variety of Raphaelesque or pseudo-Raphaelesque models. It would be tempting to understand the painting as an allegory of how art sublimates desire into religious spirituality. But what we know of Ingres's concerns and beliefs, as well as the strangeness and unconventionality of the painting, forces us to understand it as a more troubling statement. While Ingres was Catholic out of tradition and habit, his true devotion was to art and he literally worshipped Raphael as a superior being of divine essence, a kind of godhead or prophet of an aesthetic religion in which sensuality and spirituality were inseparable," Mr. Zerner argued.

Ingres's odalisques are some of the most sensuous paintings in art history.

"The Bather" by Ingres

"The Bather," by Dominique Ingres, watercolor and white gouache over graphite, squared in graphite, on white wove paper, 13 3/8 by 9 inches, circa 1809 or circa 1824-33

Perhaps the most beautiful work in this exhibition is "The Bather," a watercolor and white gouache over graphite on white wove paper by Dominique Ingres. The extremely exquisite work is almost an identical replica at reduced scale of La Baigneuse, an 1808 oil painting in the collection at the Louvre that was often called La Baigneuse Valpinçon, but titled Etude when it was first exhibited at the Salon of 1808. In his catalogue entry on this work, Gary Tinterow provides the following commentary:

"The present watercolor so accurately reproduces the Valinçon bather that one could suspect that Ingres relied on some sort of mechanical aid in its creation. There is a tracing at the Musée Ingres, Montauban, that may have been taken from this work (all internal measurements are identical). That tracing may have served the artist in the creation of the related work of 1826 now at the Phillips collection, as well as the 1864 version now at the Musée Bonnat in Bayonne. The first record of the Winthrop watercolor seems to be the recollection of Ingres's student Amaury-Duval. He recalled seeing in 1833 on the walls of his master's apartment in the Institute de France 'a small repetition of the odalisque seen from the back, seated on the corner of a bed the most beautiful of his odalisques and to my surprise, the engraving of van Loo's Woman Climbing Into Bed [Musée des Beaux-Arts, Lyon]." (Although the pose is different, the van Loo has a very similar erotic effect.) The Winthrop Bather is the only known work that fits this description. The date of this work remains in question. Cohn and Siegfried make a strong case for 1808, citing the high quality and clarity of execution as well as a possible motivation, the creation of a record for his own enjoyment of a work reluctantly sent to Paris to satisfy a requirement of his scholarship at the French Academy in Rome. Nevertheless, Ingres was extremely parsimonious in any expenditure of time and effort and almost never made finished works for himself. The portraits he made of his friends in Rome are markedly less finished than commissioned works, and this ravishing watercolor has all the hallmarks of a commissioned work."

While "The Bather" is palpably and alluringly full of mystery, "Odalisque with a Slave," shown at the top of this article, has a much different temperament. The reclining woman faces the viewer while a female slave plays a lute while sitting at her feet and a eunuch stands in the background of a decidedly Middle Eastern-style interior. The colors are much warmer than the cool tones of "The Bather" and while this work is more explicitly exotic, it is not as erotic as the solitary "Bather." Gary Tinterow notes in his catalogue entry for this work that Ingres traced this work to "create a variant with a landscape background, largely painted by Paul Flandrin, for the king of Bavaria (Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore)," adding that "one of Ingres's pupils in Rome, J.-Ch. Thévenin, executed an elaborate grisaille copy of thepicture for an unrealized engraving. Thévenin's drawing was so esteemed that it was the only replica not by the master to be included in Ingres's 1867 posthumous retrospective. This may be the grisaille now in the Thaw collection at the Morgan Library, New York, where it is attributed to Ingres."

Other major works by Ingres in this exhibition include a wonderful 1859 self-portrait, two exceptional 1833 studies for "The Martydom of Saint Symphorien," and "The Golden Age, an 1862 arched painting that is a study for his large oil on plaster at the Chateau de Dampierre, Yvelines. Gary Tinterow noted in the catalogue that Ingres "made some five hundred drawings of the individual figures," adding that "Seeking to rival Raphael, Ingres had decided to executive the murals in oil on plaster, a medium akin to fresco, with which he was not familiar. It required a quick and decisive technique, with almost no possibility of reworking, and was vastly different from his customary oil-on-canvas techniques, which involved laying in, scraping down, revising, and correcting. He made great progress in the summers of 1843 and 1844, but when the duc de Luynes saw The Golden Age for the first time at the end of Ingres's stay during the latter year, he was shocked by both the nudity and the profusion of figures and by the slow rate of completion. Work progressed further, but the campaign of 1847 would be the last for, demoralized by the 1848 revolution and the death of his beloved wife in 1849, he never completed the project. Much later, in 1862, Ingres preserved the fruits of his labor in this small but exquisite reduction. It was made at a time when the artist, happily remarried, was interested in organizing his artistic legacy. The composition was not entirely new, but instead based on a tracing, now in Lyon (Musée des Beaux-Arts), that shows all of the figures of the Dampierre mural nude, though at the scale of the Winthrop reduction."

An artist who shared Ingres's love of the female body but whose style was more loose and colorful and fantastic was Gustave Moreau (1826-1898).

"The Apparition" by Moreau

"The Apparition," by Gustave Moreau, oil on canvas, 21 3/8 by 17 ½ inches, 1877

The Winthrop collection has several wonderful Moreaus including "The Apparition," an oil on canvas that measures 21 3/8 by 17 ½ inches and was executed in 1877.

"The Apparition" is a medium-size variation on a theme treated by Moreau in a watercolor that was included in the Salon of 1876. "The seated musician," the catalogue entry noted, "has disappeared, and a black panther has been added at Salome's feet. Herod and Herodias, on the left, and the executioner on the right, are rapidly sketched in. The architecture and the lighting are different, though certain details are used, such as the capitals inspired by the Alhambra in Grenada, Spain, and the haloed statue in the center, which, barely visible in the watercolor, in the painting stands out against a bright background.Particularly forceful is the evocation of temple caves in India, especially those at Elephanta, photographs of which he had studied at the Palais de l'Industrie in 1873. Salome's attitude is the same as that in the watercolor. She is slightly less covered in jewelsThe head of John the Baptist appears to be more tinged with blood than in other versions, surrounded by an enormous luminous halo, similar to the one in the large painting The Apparition, which the artist kept in his studio. Hence the painting is far from simply a minature of one or another version; it has its own originality, its particular, glowing-red sumptuousness. The lugubrious iconography corresponds to the general idea of decadence that haunted the artist after the Franco-Prussian War and its aftermath, the Commune." (See
The City Review article on a major Moreau exhibition.)

"Saint Sebastian" by Redon

"Saint Sebastian," by Odilon Redon, watercolor and black chalk on off-white wove paper, 9 ¼ by 6 inches, circa 1912

Odilon Redon (1840-1916) has a very colorful painterly style that is as lush as Moreau's though one that is more ephemeral. "Saint Sebastian" is an unusual but very striking Redon. "In its technique and style, this watercolor is characteristic of many works on paper created by Odilon Redon during the last decade of his life. Using a light tought with brilliant colors and leaving the support in reserve, the artist combined broad strokes with fine lines and hatching similar to a pen drawing, consistent with the advice he once received from Corot: 'Next to an uncertainty, place a certainty,'" the catalogue entry for this work by Dario Gamboni, noted. "Redon," he continued, "devoted about fifteen works, executed in watercolor, pen and wash, pastel, or oil, to the martyrdom of Saint Sebastian. Over its long pictorial history, this theme was favored by, among others, Gustave Moreau, the inspiration of Redon's youth (Redon would critically assess that artist'' works at the opening of the Moreau museum in 1900). On May 22, 1911, Gabriele D'Annunzio's drama The Martyrdom of Saint Sebastian was performed at the Théatre du Châtelet, with music by Claude Debussy and sets by Léon Bakst; Redon had been in contact with Debussy since 1893 and Diaghilev reportedly asked Redon to design the sets for Debussy's ballet, Afternoon of a Faun, which premiered at the Théatre du Châtelet in 1912. The archbishop of Paris issued an interdict of D'Annunzio's 'mystery play' because the title role was given to a woman, Ida Rubenstein. The indeterminate gender of the saint in Redon's work may reflect the casting choice. The watercolor in the Winthrop collection shows the saint in a curiously restful pose that further distinguishes him from the usual iconography. The pose is remarkable for its two-dimensional and abstract character. The lack of depth is indicated by the trajectory of the arrows, which seem to be coming from every direction, and by the outline surrounding the composition. Lacking any determinate iconographic or iconic identity, the outline motif is richly suggestive. It may bring to mind the mandorla in medieval Christian art and the auras portrayed by the theosophists of Redon's time. But it is especially reminiscent of the organic world and evokes by turns a cell, a microscopic animal, an egg, a shell, or even a uterus. In any case, Redon introduces a contradiction by juxtaposing the protective enclosure and the body exposed to the arrow attack. The red of the wounds, however, reappears in the kidney-shaped outline. The martyrdom, metaphorical or symbolic rather than historical or religious, thus appears to be a conception or a birth, which the saint's closed eyes place on an internal and spiritual plane. That interpretation of the torment, luminous and peaceful at least in appearance, echoes a text written more than thirty years earlier, in which Redon sought to make sense of the isolation he felt as a man and as an artist: 'He who suffers is he who rises up. Strike. Always strike. The wound is fertile.'"

"Thy Sons and Thy Daughters...." by William Blake

"Thy Sons and Thy Daughters Were Eating and Drinking Wine," number 3 of The Book of Job, by William Blake, watercolor, black ink, and graphite on cream antique laid paper, 11 ½ by 8 7/8 inches, 1821

Moreau and Redon are operatic and magical artists and Winthrop obviously found them almost as fascinating William Blake (1757-1827), the English mystic. Winthrop's collection of Blakes is very substantial. John Linnell (1792-1882) commissioned a set of 21 images of The Book of Job from Blake in 1821 and nineteen of the images are in the Winthrop collection. One of the strongest works in this group is "Thy Sons and Thy Daughters Were Eating and Drinking Wine," which is number 3 of The Book of Job. The watercolor, black ink and graphite on cream antique laid paper measures 11 ½ by 8 7/8 inches.

The collection includes some works by the French Impressionists. Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919), for example, is represented by two very strong works, "Spring Bouquet," and "Portrait of Victor Chocquet." The former is an extremely lovely oil on canvas, 42 ¼ by 31 5/8 inches, of flowers that is notable for its pale blue and pale green palette as opposed to the artist's more familiar saturated reds. Painted in 1866, the catalogue entry by Christoper Riopelle notes that "Douglas Cooper has related it to a letter of spring 1866 in which the artist told a friend, the painter Jules Le Coeur, that he had discovered la vraie peinture, true painting. The announcement coincided with Renoir's adopted a freer, more confident approach to his art, using thinner paints applied with the brush alone, rather than with the palette knife he had often employed before this date." This and a similar floral study were made for Jules Le Coeur's older brother, Charles, an architect and the artist's "earliest and most loyal patron," according to Mr. Riopelle. "A photograph from the early twentieth century shows that the painting did indeed hang in the family's Paris home. It was set directly into the boiserie, or wood paneling, of a sitting room furnished in elegant eighteenth-century style. Flanking it on wall brackets were Chinese vases not unlike the one depicted in the painting itself."

"Portrait of Victor Chocquet" by Renoir

"Portrait of Victor Chocquet" by Renoir, oil on canvas, 20 7/8 by 17 1/8 inches, circa 1875

The other great Renoir in the Winthrop collection is "Portrait of Victor Chocquet," an oil on canvas that measures 20 7/8 by 17 1/8 inches and was executed circa 1875.

Renoir was an uneven artist and unfortunately the art market has been flooded for years with his not terribly well-done, indeed often clumsy-looking, paintings of women with rosy cheeks in red backgrounds. Renoir, however, could be a fabulous portrait painter on occasion as witnessed by this stunning portrait of Victor Guillaume Chocquet (1821-1891). In the catalogue, Christopher Riopelle provides the following commentary about Chocquet:

"He was a low-paid customs officer in the Ministry of Finance, one, moreover, who resisted career advancement if it meant leaving Paris. Nonetheless, he used what resources he could to assemble a superb collection of paintings, objects d'art, and fine furniture. He filled his modest apartment on the rue de Rivoli, overlooking the Tuileries Gardens, that he shared with his wife, Caroline. Only late in life did Chocquet enjoy financial ease, when an inheritance came his wife's way in 1882. At that point, oddly, his passion for collecting seems to have abated. During the 1860s and 1870s, however, he haunted dealers' shops, auction houses, and artists' exhibitions, where he acquired works by the artists who most excited him. First among them was Eugène Delacroix, whose works he began to acquire in the 1860s; some twenty-three paintings and watercolors by the artist were included in the posthumous auction of Chocquet's estate in 1899. In the mid-1870s, he was smitten in turn by the works of the young Impressionists and became one of their most assiduous early champions and collectors. Chocquet missed the first Impressionist Exhibition of 1874. He did attend the disastrous sale of their works the following year, although he did not buy. It was there, however, that he seems to have met Renoir, and soon thereafter Chocquet commissioned a portrait of his wife from the artist (Staatsgalerie, Stuttgart). Chocquet also began to acquire the young painter's works, and by the time of the second Impressionist exhibition, in 1876, he was in a position to lend no fewer than six Renoir paintings. Renoir later spoke in exaggeratedly glowing terms of Chocquet's patronage. He was 'le plus grand collectionneur français depuis les rois, peut-être du monde depuis les papes (the greatest French collector since the kings, perhaps in the world since the popes). Chocquet also became enthusiastic about Paul Cézanne, to whom Renoir introduced him. Indeed, he was Cézanne's first real collector, accumulating some thirty-one works. Chocquet identified Renoir as a follower of Delacroix, the natural inheritor of his coloristic art, and here Renoir acknowledges the compliment by including Delacroix's Hercules Rescues Hessione of 1852 into the portrait."

"Café-Concert" by Seurat

"Café-Concert (À la Gaîté Rochechouart)," by George Pierre Seurat, conté crayon and white gouache on buff laid paper, 12 1/8 by 9 ¼ inches, 1887-8

George Pierre Seurat (1859-1891) moved to Montmartre in 1887-8 at a time when that Parisian neighborhood's nightlife, aided by the invention of gaslight, was booming and cabarets and cafés abounded. In her catalogue entry for "Café-Concert (À la Gaîté Rochechouart)," Susan Alyson Stein provides the following commentary:

"In the late 1880s greater and lesser talents, from Toulouse-Lautrec to Emile Bernard, tacked the subject, which had been given memorable form in the works of Daumier and Degas and a contemporary edge by commercial illustrators and poster artists, such as Jules Chéret. Degas, whose preeminence in the genre had gone unrivaled for nearly a decade, was prompted around 1885 to rework several of his earlier black-and-white prints with pastel. These richly inventive prints exerted a decisive influence on the efforts of younger artists, not least of all Seurat, who was inspired to produce a formidable suite of drawings that with their kindred emphasis on dramatic lighting effects, provocative viewpoints, nuanced graphic touch, and technical mastery effectively met Degas on his own ground. Distinctive for their unity of conception and for their high degree of finish, the eight drawings that Seurat dedicated to the café-concert represent his most conscientious undertaking as a draftsman. Seurat featured drawings from this group in four exhibitions. Seurat made two almost identical versions of À la Gaîté Rouchechouart: a unique occurrence in his oeuvre, which has intrigued and puzzled scholars." The other version is in the collection of the Rhode Island School of Design. Ms. Stein wrote that the Winthrop drawing is "the more fully resolved" of the two sheets by virtue of its signature and is provenance. The conté crayon with white gouache on buff laid paper measures 12 1/8 by 9 ¼ inches and was executed in 1887-8.

Two of five panels of "The Days of Creation" by Edward Burne-Jones

Two of the five panels of "The Days of Creation" by Edward Burne-Jones, watercolor, gouache, shell gold, and platinum paint, on linen-covered panels prepared with zinc white ground, each panel approximately 40 3/16 by 14 1/8 inches, 1875-6

The Winthrop collection is particularly strong in major Pre-Raphaelite works including five of the six watercolor panels of "The Days of Creation" by Edward Burne-Jones (1833-1898). Executed between 1875 and 1876, they were, according to the catalogue essay on the works by Malcolm Warner, "part of the spectacular array of paintings he showed at the first exhibition in 1877 of the Grosvenor Gallery in London that "made him famous overnight and established him as the leading artist of the Aesthetic Movement in British art."

"Within Burne-Jones's work," Mr. Warner wrote, "the Days belongs to a family of serial compositions in which he used figures to represent times; elsewhere the subjects are the seasons or the hours. Here the addresses the grand narrative of the creation of the universe, each panel in the series showing God's acts on one of the days of creation as described in the first chapter of the Book of Genesis. The days are personified by angels, whose complicated wings and feathered costumes are the decorative theme of the series. Much of the extraordinary beauty of the series lies in the effects of color that Burne-Jones achieves in his treatment of this dominant feature. The colors of the feathers seem to defy being named, such is the subtlety with which they shift and blend the gradual warming of color through the series suggesting the progress of creation as it becomes more and more hospitable to mankind. All but one of the angels holds a glassy sphere in which a stage of creation is represented. The spheres suggest at once the earth and the universe as a whole; the divine acts of creation seem to unfold within strange and indefinable spaces appropriate to the mysteriousness of the vents. Having presented their spheres their heads marked by a flame of spiritual energy as they do so the first five angels continue to appear in the compositions that follow, standing behind or alongside the successive newcomers to the group. This makes for an effect of crescendo, like that of a piece of music played first on a single instrument and then by two together, then three, and so on. The six sphere-holding angels are joined in the final composition by the angel of the seventh day, the day of rest, who plays on a medieval psaltery. Burne-Jones may have been the first since medieval times to treat the whole sequence in a single work. For him the paramount good in a work of art lay in its beauty and in its broad, universal meaning to which drama and emotion, beyond a dreamy melancholy, were inimical. When Henry James saw The Days of Creation at the Grosvenor Gallery, he was fascinated above all by the angels' faces and `that vague, morbid pathos, that appealing desire for an indefinite object, which seems among these artists an essential part of the conception of human loveliness.' Burne-Jones avoided expression because he wanted his figures to be 'types, symbols, suggestions,' rather than individuals with whom we might identify. It is typical of the cross-fertilization that took place between Burne-Jones's activities as a fine artist on the one hand and a designer on the other that he first developed the idea of the series under the auspices of the decorative-arts firm that he had helped found with his friend William Morris. Its original was a stained-glass window that he designed in 1870 for All Saints Parish Church, Middleton Cheney, Northamptonshire; the six small Days of Creation lights form the middle tier of the window, above three much larger lights showing Shahrach, Meschach, and Abednego. The present series of watercolors, which follows the basic designs of the Middleton Cheney windows fairly closely, seems to have been planned in 1872 and executed in 1875-76 over a ten-month period. The idiosyncratic technique Burne-Jones used in carrying out the work is far removed from that of a typical British watercolorist of his own or any other period. His object seems to have been to make watercolor look like anything but itself" the matte surface recalls fresco or tempera; the small brushstrokes and crosshatching also recall tempera; the fine weave of the linen support shows through like canvas through oil paint; and the many touches of gold and silver (in fact platinum) throughout the panels would, for most of Burne-Jonese's contemporaries, have suggested a decorator's work rather than that of the fine artist. The Days were originally displayed in a frame of Burne-Jones's own design. Clearly it was important to him that the series should be seen together and in this setting. Despite the artist's wishes, the original frame seems to have been destroyed after the watercolors were acquired by Grenville Winthrop, who reframed them singly in plain gilt moldings."

The catalogue notes that "The Fourth Day" in the series is not in the exhibition because it had been stolen from a dining room in Dunster House at Harvard University in 1970 where the entire series was hanging on loan from the Fogg Art Museum. The catalogue also notes that "apparently the earliest finished designs for the series are in a private collection in England and that further Days of Creation stained-glass windows were made by Morris for Saint Editha's Church, Tamworth, Staffordshire (1874), and Manchester College Chapel, Oxford (1895), and the Della Robbia Pottery in Birkenhead made some ceramic panels (1895-1904). The panels were acquired through Martin Birnbaum in 1934 for 860 pounds at the Sotheby's auction of property from Alexander Henderson, later Lord Faringdon.

"Companions" by Albert Joseph Moore

"Companions," by Albert Joseph Moore, watercolor, gouache and graphite on off-white wove paper, 17 1/8 by 8 ¾ inches, circa 1885

Albert Joseph Moore (1841-1893) is another leading figure of the Aesthetic Movement and his "Companions," an 1885 watercolor, gouache and graphite on off-white wove paper is one of the loveliest works in the exhibition.

In her catalogue essay on the work, Robyn Asleson provides the following commentary:

"The pursuit of ideal beauty provided the focus of Albert Moore's career. Essentially self-taught, he went on to become a leading figure in the English Aesthetic Movement. Moore's early work as an architectural draftsman and designer helped him to develop a geometric system of proportion that he used in formulating his pictorial compositions. All his works are underpinned by meticulously refined linear armatures, which dictate the placement of every element. In Companions, the result is an extremely complex arrangement of contrasting patterns in which the strict orthogonal linearity of the architecture contrasts with the flowing folds and floral motifs of the fabrics and wallpaper. Moore conceived of such pictures as perfected arrangements of line, form, and color, without conventional subject matter or thematic significance. The idealizing features of the two women in Companions and the elegant arrangement of their drapery attest to Moore's analysis of classical Greek sculpture, while the picture's flat, allover surface patterning reflects his study of Japanese prints. This stylistic eclecticism is consistent with Moore's belief in the essential formal unity of all beautiful things a central tenet of the Aesthetic Movement."

"Sailboat and Fourth of July Fireworks" by Winslow Homer

"Sailboat and Fourth of July Fireworks," by Winslow Homer, watercolor and white gouache on white wove paper, 9 ½ by 13 5/8 inches, 1880

Winslow Homer (1836-1910) is widely considered the greatest American artist and the Winthrop collection has several masterpieces by him.

"Sailboat and Fourth of July Fireworks," is an 1880 watercolor and white gouache and white wove paper that measures 9 ½ by 13 5/8 inches. "There is about it the unmistakable aroma of James McNeill Whistler, Homer's expatriate contemporary," observed Nicholai Cikovsky Jr., in the catalogue entry for this work. "The nighttime subject and close and subdued tonal range of Sailboat and Fourth of July Fireworks are squarely in the vein of Whistler's notorious nocturnes; what is more, in its depiction of fireworks it resembles the most notorious nocturne of all, the Nocturne in Black and Gold: The Falling Rocket (1875; Detroit Institute of Arts), the one that John Ruskin said in print was 'a pot of paint' flung in the public's face, and for which, in 1877, Whistler sued him for libel. Homer could not have seen The Falling Rocket itself when he painted Sailboat and Fourth of July Fireworks in 1880, and he never spoke of Whistler at this time (although he spoke very little at any time about anything).

Homer was an early Impressionist but would not appear to have influenced by Whistler. This work is extremely impressive for its daring abstraction.

Another great Homer watercolor in the Winthrop collection is "Schooner at Sunset," a dazzling work of 1880 that is flamboyant and richly colorful.

"The Mink Pond" by Winslow Homer

"Mink Pond," by Winslow Homer, watercolor over graphite on white wove paper, 13 7/8 by 20 inches, 1891

It is amazing to compare these two, quite wild watercolors that are much more powerful than his brilliant earlier work in the medium, with "Mink Pond," a magnificent, large watercolor over graphite that Homer painted in 1891. "Mink Pond" is a quarter of a mile or so from the North Woods Club in Minerva, New York in the Adirondacks. Homer was a member of the club and visited the Adirondacks 18 times.

"Mink Pond" shows a flower, a fish and a frog amid waterlilies in a state of perfect, if not natural, equilibrium. It is a pristine, frozen moment, rendered in exquisite detail. There are no wild flourishes and also no clues to what might happen to the fish or frog. They co-exist for the moment, confronting each other with a butterfly in between.

This is a formal, highly finished work of realism, not impressionism, and not expressionism. It is extremely lush and very intimate. Albrecht Durer and even Michelangelo would have approved. Many collectors would trade their entire collections for this incomparable work.

There are several Whistlers in the Winthrop collection including a lovely blue-green nocturne painting.

"October Noon" by George Inness

"October Noon," by George Inness, oil on canvas, 30 5/8 by 44 5/8 inches, 1891

There are two other highlights in the American section of the collection, a very important and impressive "cabinet" still-life by Charles Bird King, and a great landscape by George Inness (1925-1894)(see The City Review article on a 2003 exhibition on the artist at the National Academy of Design), entitled "October Noon." Although Inness began as a Hudson River School landscape painter, he evolved his own personal and very evocative style of Tonalism, an impressionism of soft, atmospheric palettes and delicacy. "October Noon" is an oil on canvas that measures 30 5/8 by 44 5/8 inches and was completed in 1891 and is one of the artist's masterpieces. It deserves to be flanked by two great reddish horizontal abstractions by Mark Rothko and it would not be dominated or overwhelmed.

"The simple composition of October Noon approaches abstraction," wrote Theodore E. Stebbins Jr., in his catalogue essay on the painting. "Three nearly equal horizontal bands dominate: in the foreground lies a green pasture, which itself is bisected by a path leading into the distance; above it is a band of trees composed of an orchard, and, farther to the right, a copse of tall trees, through which one sees a few houses; while the top third comprises a muted blue sky with clouds. A woman in red, perhaps going home, walks away from us down the path, while a tall, spindly white birch, already half-bare of autumn leaves, leans to the left, balancing the rightward course of the walking figure. Inness's varied brushwork and his occasional use of subtractive, calligraphic markings, incised with the blunt wooden end of the brush, emphasize his emotional involvement with the painting. Inness here may well have been ruminating on departure and death, given his emphasis on the late autumn coloring, the end-of-day mood, and the single receding figure in his composition."

In his late landscapes, Inness achieved poetic heights with very bold compositions, fabulous brushwork and richly saturated colors. "October Noon" celebrates the simple landscapes of New Jersey, where the artist lived, but its intensity of perspective raises its banner high. The solitary tall birch suggests a flagpole buffered in the wind of a very bright, unambiguous, definitely not uncertain, day.

The Winthrop exhibition is adjacent to another entitled "Across the Channel," which examines relationships between English and French artists in the 19th Century. "Across the Channel" is highlighted by several superb works by Gericault and a study for Delacroix's great "Death of Sardanopoulos," but it pales in comparison with the Winthrop exhibition. Surprisingly, the Metropolitan has not promoted the Winthrop exhibition as much as the "Channel" exhibition.

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