Briefly: The European Collection

Joslyn Art Museum features distinguished paintings by Titian, Veronese, El Greco, and Claude Lorrain, as well works by noted Spanish and Dutch artists. The Museum is noted for the strength of its nineteenth-century European collection, which includes exceptional examples of Academic paintings by William Adolphe Bouguereau, Jean-Léon Gérôme, and Ernest Meissonier, as well as Impressionist masterworks by Camille Pissarro, Auguste Renoir, and Claude Monet. Joslyn is also home to one of two plaster versions of Edgar Degas' famed sculpture, Little Dancer, Fourteen Years Old.

Below are highlights selected from Joslyn's European collection.

European
Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema (British, born Holland, 1836–1912),
The Convalescent , 1869,
oil on panel, 27 ¾ x 18 ¼ in.; 70.49 x 46.36 cm
Gift of Francis T. B. Martin, 1991.3

Alma-Tadema’s much-admired paintings of classical antiquity depict aspects of everyday life imaginable in any era. In fact, they show activities that would have been familiar to his Victorian patrons, but in historical costume. Alma-Tadema’s scenes are made to look “real” by a host of archaeologically correct details. While they owe much to the colorful, descriptive style of England’s mid-century Pre-Raphaelites, these historical anecdotes also parallel those by such contemporary French Academic artists as Gérôme and Meissonier.

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Artist unknown (Northern European, 16th century),
Mass of Saint Gregory , n.d.,
oil on panel, 27 x 20 ½ in.; 68.9 x 52.1 cm
Gift of Mr. Himan Brown, 1961.570

The apparition of Christ to Pope Gregory I (560–604) as he celebrated Mass was a popular subject in northern Europe in the late fifteenth century. Compared with the lifelike naturalism of contemporary Italian paintings, this work looks flat and old-fashioned. However, such medieval characteristics as distorted perspective, inconsistent figure scale, and emphasis on anecdotal detail remained common in northern European painting of this time.

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Artist unknown (German, Rhenish, late 15th–early 16th century),
Saint Catherine of Alexandria , ca.1500,
polychromed wood, Height: 31 in.; 78.74 cm
Given in memory of Julia C. Morsman by her family and friends, 1974.2

This sculpture of the Roman martyr St. Catherine includes numerous allusions to her life. The figure’s elegant S-curve, the broad, tender face, and the angular drapery folds are characteristic of German Renaissance sculpture from the Lower Rhine region.

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Artist unknown (Italian, 16th century),
Saint Petronius , early 16th century,
polychromed terra cotta, 23 ½ x 18 x 15 in.; 59.7 x 45.72 x 38.1 cm
Museum purchase, 1963.366.B

Petronius, the patron saint of Bologna, is recognizable not only by his bishop’s cope and miter, but also by the model of the city resting on his knee. The inscription, gesture, and downward gaze all suggest that the figure was part of an altarpiece, or else sat in an elevated niche overlooking the congregation. 

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Master of Barluenga (Spanish, 13th century),
St. John on Patmos , ca.1285,
fresco transferred to canvas, 3 x 43 in.; 134.6 x 109.2 cm
Museum purchase, 1959.519

Depicting a scene from the life of St. John the Evangelist, this frescoes was part of an image series embellishing a small Romanesque church in northeastern Spain. Joslyn’s fragment shows the saint in exile on the Island of Patmos, writing the Book of Revelation. 

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Jean-Victor Bertin (French, 1767–1842),
Landscape , ca.1802,
oil on canvas, 5 ¼ x 18 ¼ in.; 38.73 x 46.35 cm
Museum purchase, 1984.13

Rather than depicting actual sites, Neoclassical landscapes present an ideal vision of nature, often as the setting for idyllic pastoral scenes. Individual motifs are arranged into highly ordered compositions of serene beauty. In Bertin’s Landscape, layered bands of sunlight and shadow as well as zones of wood and open areas allow the eye to survey and measure the picture space. Harmonious colors and uniform light enhance the structural clarity. 

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William Adolphe Bouguereau (French, 1825–1905),
The Knitting Girl (Tricoteuse) , 1869,
oil on canvas, 57 x 39 in.; 144.78 x 99.06 cm
Bequest of Jessie Barton Christiancy, 1931.106

In the mid-1860s, William Adolphe Bouguereau began painting idealized images of peasant women and children. Joslyn’s The Knitting Girl is Bouguereau’s first and most monumental representation of the image. Sitting serenely under a tree, this young girl is lost in thought as she knits. Dressed in simple clothes for the day (and barefoot!), she’s a wonderful example of the beauty of the everyday in art.

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William Adolphe Bouguereau (French, 1825–1905),
Return of Spring (Le Printemps) , 1886,
oil on canvas, 84½ x 50 in., 201.3 x 117.8 cm
Gift of Francis T. B. Martin, 1951.889

The classical origin of Bouguereau’s coolly elegant, idealized figures is a thin disguise for a sensuous display of the nude body calculated to appeal to the refined male art lover. Like Academic painters in general, Bouguereau’s artistic reputation has varied greatly. Celebrated in the nineteenth century, he was discredited in the twentieth for clinging to an outmoded tradition, only to be appreciated again recently for his superb technical mastery.

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Jules Breton (French, 1827–1906),
The Vintage at Chateau Lagrange , 1864,
oil on canvas, 37½ x 67 in., 92.7 x 170.2 cm
Gift of the Friends of Art, 1932.3

Born in a small village himself, Breton drew lasting inspiration from the customs and traditions of rural France. His ambitious pictures of stately, dignified peasants working contentedly appealed to the wealthy urban establishment, and Breton received a succession of awards and honors. The Vintage at Château Lagrange exemplifies perfectly Breton’s Academic approach to painting: although based on personal observation in the Médoc region in southern France and on photographs, the figures in the painting have a distinctly classical quality and express an idealized nobility rather than labored activity.

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Jules Breton (French, 1827-1906),
Two Young Women Picking Grapes (Study for The Vintage at Château Lagrange) , 1862,
oil on canvas,
Museum purchase, 2012.1

Born in the agriculturally-rich Artois region of northern France, Breton never lost his affection for the land and people of his childhood, drawing inspiration from rural traditions throughout his career.

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Jules Breton (French, 1827–1906),
The Weeders , 1860,
oil on canvas, 37 x 66 ½ in.; 93.98 x 168.91 cm
Museum purchase, 1984.47

The Weeders exemplifies perfectly Breton’s Academic approach to painting. It is a subtle blend of realistic observation, elevated style, and romantic sentiment. By capturing the delicate mauves and roses of the twilight sky and the simplicity of these stooped figures, Breton transforms the activity of common field labor into a scene of poetic reverie.

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Joos van Cleve, the elder (Flemish, 1480/85–1540),
Young Man With a Pink , ca.1520,
oil on panel, 20 x 13 ¾ in.; 50.8 x 34.92 cm
Museum purchase, 1943.37

Northern European portraits are distinguished by their straightforward descriptiveness and evocation of personality. Characteristically crowding the pictorial space, this sitter’s features emerge sharply outlined from a neutral dark background. His expression suggests confidence and sensitivity, and the materials of his fine clothing are convincingly rendered.

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Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot (French, 1796–1875),
Château-Thierry , 1855,
oil on canvas, 13¾ x 23 in., 34.9 x 58.4 cm
Museum purchase, 1942.1

Although trained in the neoclassical tradition, Corot supported the new, realistic approach to nature proposed in the 1830s by the Barbizon artists. Typical of plein-air painting, Corot’s landscapes record the particulars of geography and weather. At the same time — a legacy of his classical training — they are images of idyllic calm, a condition evoked by their silvery atmosphere and feathery, delicate brush work. Corot painted several views of the northern French village of Château-Thierry between 1855 and 1865. 

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Lorenzo di Credi (Italian, Florentine, ca. 1456–1537),
Madonna and Child with the Infant St. John and Two Angels , ca. 1490,
oil and tempera on wood panel, 35¼ in. diameter
Museum purchase, 1942.6

This panel exemplifies Florentine Renaissance painting with its brilliant colors and lively sense of human interaction. Embedded in a multitude of references to spiritual virtues, the figures are separated from the secular world represented by a view of Florence in the far distance.

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Girolamo da Carpi (Italian, 1501–1556),
Young Man With a Red Cap , n.d.,
oil on canvas, 20 x 17 ¾ in.; 50.8 x 45.1 cm
Partial gift of the Gilbert C. Swanson Foundation and Museum Purchase Fund, 1989.8

Unlike northern European portraits of the time, which stressed sharp, linear precision, this canvas exemplifies the Italian emphasis on atmosphere and bodily animation, achieved through soft modeling and harmonious warm coloring.

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François B.-M.-E. Cibot (French, 1799–1877),
Fallen Angels (Les Anges Déchus) , 1833,
oil on canvas, 49 x 37 1/2 in.; 124.46 x 95.25 cm
Museum purchase, 1995.18

Inspired by John Milton’s epic Paradise Lost, this painting shows the defeated rebel angels fallen from heaven. The bloodied wings, slithering serpents, fiery wasteland, and brooding figures plotting revenge are taken directly from the text. In subject and style, the painting epitomizes French Romanticism. Contrasting with Neoclassical rationality and restraint, its theme is highly emotional and celebrates the “dark side” of human existence.

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Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot (French, 1796–1875),
Château-Thierry , 1855,
oil on canvas, 13 ¾ x 23 in.; 34.93 x 58.42 cm
Museum purchase, 1942.1

Corot painted several views of the northern French village of Château-Thierry between 1855 and 1865. Although depicting everyday reality, they emphasize peaceful moods rather than the bustle of activities and events.

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Gustave Courbet (French, 1819–1877),
Coast Scene — Approaching Storm , ca. 1870,
oil on canvas, 21 ¾ x 15 ½ in.; 55.25 x 39.37 cm
Museum purchase, 1957.337

Founder of the Realist movement, Courbet advocated art that represented the visible world truthfully and accurately. In this spirit he painted urban and rural scenes, portraits, nudes, still lifes, as well as landscapes imbued with an almost mythic quality.

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Thomas Couture (French, 1815–1879),
A Cuirassier , 1856–58,
oil on canvas, 36 ¼ x 26 5/8 in.; 92.08 x 67.63 cm
Gift of C. N. Dietz, 1948.39

Couture’s just-milieu manner, which combines the opposing Neoclassic and Romantic styles, reflects the political, social, and aesthetic restlessness of his time, lurching between revolutionary fervor and bourgeois conservatism. In A Cuirassier equal weight is given to color and line, spontaneity and formality, sketch and finish, elements generally considered opposite.

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Edgar Degas (French, 1834–1917),
Little Dancer, Fourteen Years Old (La Petite Danseuse de quatorze ans) , 1881, cast ca. 1920–21,
plaster, height: 39 in., 99.06 cm
Gift of M. Knoedler & Co., Inc., New York, 1971.271.a-b

Among the Impressionist painters, Degas alone was also a sculptor. Little Dancer reflects his fascination with the ballet, whose mundane aspects — rehearsals and backstage activities — he liked to observe and record. At its only exhibition in 1881, Degas’ original Little Dancer sculpture, made of wax, elicited violent responses. Reviewers either praised the work’s radical modernity or deplored its artistic unconventionality: the use of real garments (tutu, bodice, ballet slippers), the wax medium, and the model’s “ugliness.” Joslyn’s plaster cast of Degas’ wax figure is the model from which the more than twenty known bronze versions were later cast. Reflecting recent research, its present tutu is a recreation of the skirt worn by the original sculpture.

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Eugène Delacroix (French, 1798-1863),
The Entombment (after Peter Paul Rubens) , 1836,
oil on canvas, 28 x 21 in.; 71.12 x 53.34 cm
Museum purchase, 1958.3

The epitome of French Romanticism, Delacroix’s wide-ranging works include literary, religious, historical, and Orientalist themes, as well as portraits and still lifes. Rejecting the restraint of Neoclassicism, his art is emotionally charged, compositionally dynamic, and sensuously painterly. Delacroix was deeply influenced by the Baroque style of Peter Paul Rubens, whose dramatic power and brilliant colorism he studied by assiduously copying his works. As seen here, Delacroix’s manner of painting was less detailed and descriptive than Rubens’ — his surfaces read as paint rather than flesh or cloth. Clearly Delacroix’s primary interest was emotional expression heightened by intense coloring and dramatic composition.

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Gustave Doré (French, 1832–1883),
Mountain Landscape , 1877,
oil on canvas, 30 x 60½ in., 76.2 x 153.67 cm
Gift of Mrs. Lily Javits, 1948.23

Although showing regularly in the Paris Salon exhibitions, Doré was acclaimed in France more for his illustrations of literature than for his paintings. Blending realism with a sense of heightened imagination, the paintings were better received in London, where Doré maintained a gallery from 1868 on. Drawn to wild mountain landscapes, many of Doré’s early compositions derived from travels to the Black Forest, the Alps, and the Pyrenees. However, according to Doré himself, after 1873 the majority of his works reflect his exploration of the Scottish Highlands. Indeed, this experience may well have inspired Joslyn’s sublime, mysterious Mountain Landscape.

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Jacob van Es (Flemish, 1590–1666),
Still Life , 1630,
oil on wood panel, 29¾ x 42 in.; 75.57 x 106.7 cm
Museum purchase through income from the Art Acquisition Endowment Fund 1970–75 and Major Arts Purchase, 1974.56

Van Es’ specialty were so-called “breakfast pieces” — representations of informal meals with eating and drinking utensils. In this characteristic example, each meticulously described object commands its own separate space, yethe composition is unified by the repetition of shapes and colors.  Seventeenth-century still lifes sometimes incorporated religious symbolism, so here, bread and wine may refer to the Eucharist, while the pomegranate may symbolize resurrection. More generally, the painting is a reminder of earthly transience, suggested by the interrupted meal.

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Benjamin-Eugène Fichel (French, 1826–1895),
The Necklace , 1866,
oil on panel, 9 3/8 x 7 9/16 in.; 23.81 x 19.21 cm
Gift of Francis T. B. Martin, 1995.34

Fichel won worldwide esteem as a painter of intimate genre scenes, which he regularly showed in the Salon exhibitions. His elegant scenes set in eighteenth-century interiors responded to a vogue for Rococo refinement and enjoyed great popularity.

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Niccolo da Foligno (Italian, Umbrian, , ca. 1430–1502),
Crucifixion , 1465–70,
tempera on panel, 32 ¼ x 16 ¾ in.; 81.9 x 42.5 cm
Museum purchase, 1945.118

Dating to the early Renaissance, this altarpiece displays some older traits: the decorative gold background in place of a realistic landscape, and relatively hard contours around the figures. Iconographically traditional, the image contains common symbolic elements, such as the three mourners, Mary (in a blue mantle), John, and Mary Magdalene (with long hair), and angels catching Christ’s blood.

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Mariano Fortuny y Carbo (Spanish, 1838–1874),
The Visitor , 1867,
oil on panel, 10 ½ x 17 ½ in.; 26.67 x 44.45 cm
Gift of Francis T. B. Martin, 1995.36

Although he also produced religious and history paintings, Fortuny was truly celebrated for his scenes of Spanish and Moroccan daily life. Joining French Academic painters like Vibert and Meissonier, he combined their detailed descriptive approach with a striking colorism and spirited brushwork that derived from Spanish masters like Goya and Velázquez. 

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Jean-Léon Gérôme (French, 1824–1904),
The Grief of the Pasha , 1882,
oil on canvas mounted on masonite, 36 3/8 x 29 in., 92.4 x 73.6 cm
Gift of Francis T. B. Martin, 1990.1

The Academic painter Gérôme achieved worldwide renown with highly finished, meticulously rendered scenes of exotic subjects. Whether set in ancient Rome or in the “Orient” (the Near East), a host of authentic objects, such as the oriental carpet and the huge candles here, give even his imaginary episodes an aura of reality. Inspired by a Victor Hugo poem, in which a Turkish potentate mourns the death of his pet tiger, The Grief of the Pasha is an exemplar of Gérôme’s mastery of the Academic approach: authentic props, correct drawing, and high finish result in a realism often called “photographic.”

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Jean Léon Gérôme (French, 1824–1904),
The Muezzin (The Call to Prayer) , 1866,
oil on canvas on masonite, 32 x 25 ½ in.; 81.28 x 64.77 cm
Gift of Francis T. B. Martin, 1995.37

One of the foremost Academic Orientalists, Gérôme undertook regular study trips to the Near East, which resulted in depictions of contemporary Arabian life. The muezzin’s call for prayer is a familiar feature of Muslim tradition, and Gérôme painted it with drama and characteristic attention to realistic detail.

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workshop of Jan Gossaert, call (Flemish, ca.1478–1532),
Madonna and Child with Saints Catherine and Agnes , 1520s,
oil on wood panels, 41 x 55 ½ in.; 104.14 x 140.97 cm
Gift of Mrs. Charles V. Hickox, 1958.361.A-C

A stellar work from Gossaert’s workshop, this triptych incorporates elements of the ornate and affected Flemish Mannerist style — wildly elaborate architecture, crowded space, smooth enamel-like finish, and exaggerated elegance. The theme, a traditional one, is the triumph of Christianity over paganism, as suggested by the flanking saints.

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El Greco (Domenikos Theotokopoulos) (Spanish, born Crete, 1541–1614),
Saint Francis in Prayer , 1580–85,
oil on canvas, 45½ x 40½ in., 115.57 x 102.87 cm
Museum purchase, 1942.2

El Greco’s highly individualistic style incorporated numerous elements of Venetian Mannerism — rich hues and thickly textured brushstrokes, elongated forms, compressed space, and acid colors. The visionary quality of his paintings reflects the influence of Spanish mysticism. In this work, exaggerated features (such as sunken eyes and cheeks) and the turbulent sky dramatically convey the saint’s passionate character. He is shown meditating over a skull and a crucifix, one symbolizing mortality, the other salvation.

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Charles Emile Jacque (French, 1813–1894),
Return of the Flock , n.d.,
oil on canvas, 22 x 18 ¼ in.; 55.88 x 46.36 cm
Gift of Francis T. B. Martin, 1991.4

Jacque’s manner of painting in increasingly thick impasto (eventually relying almost exclusively on the palette knife) produces a rich paint texture that simulates the physical qualities of straw, rough masonry, and animal hair and plumage, accounting for the lifelike naturalism of his works.

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John Hoppner (English, 1758–1810),
Portrait of Lady Redesdale (Nee Frances Perceval), 1767–1817 , 1790,
oil on canvas, 36 ¼ x 28 3/8 in.; 92.06 x 72.07 cm
Gift of Jay A. Cherniack and Helen Wessel Cherniack, 1995.25

In this painting, the artist plays with the concepts of formal and informal portraiture. The traditional pose, setting, and lighting suggest a formal representation, suitable for prominent display in the main rooms of a house. Conversely, the fluid brushwork, painterly style, and the subject’s frank, engaging gaze produce an air of informal naturalness.

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Jean-Louis Laneuville (French, 1748–1826),
Portrait of Ruamps de Surgeres , 1792,
oil on canvas, 25½ x 21½ in.; 64.77 x 54.61 cm
Museum purchase, 1960.268

In this painting by Laneuville, a student of Jacques-Louis David, the sitter’s natural hair and plain clothing identify him as a citizen of the new Revolutionary order; his open gaze and informal pose suggest a forthright personality. Tranquil light and a neutral background contribute to the air of enlightened unpretentiousness. Ruamps de Surgeres was an ardent Revolutionary. As a delegate to the National Convention in 1792, he voted for the execution of the deposed Louis XVI.

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Sir Thomas Lawrence (British, 1769–1830),
Portrait of Sir Samuel Shepherd (1760–1840) , 1796,
oil on canvas, 50 ½ x 40 ½ in.; 128.27 x 102.87 cm
Gift, through purchase, of Helen and Ted Kolderie, 2005.28

An excellent draughtsman and brilliant colorist, Lawrence was much sought-after as England’s leading early Romantic portraitist.

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Jules Joseph LeFebvre (French, 1836–1911),
Study for Chloé , 1875,
oil on panel, 1 1/8 x 5 ½ in.; 28.26 x 13.97 cm
Gift of Francis T. B. Martin, 1995.38

A successful product of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris and recipient of numerous prizes, including the coveted Prix de Rome, LeFebvre began as a traditional history painter. Soon, however, he specialized in idealized classical nudes, usually representing historical and mythological figures such as goddesses and nymphs. The choice of such classical themes, however, only thinly disguises their principal purpose — to display the charms of the perfect female body.    

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workshop of Pietro Lorenzetti (Italian, Sienese, active 1280–1348),
The Last Communion of St. Mary Magdalene , n.d.,
tempera on panel, 27 x 18 ½ in.; 68.6 x 47 cm
Gift of Robert Lehman, 1945.103

This panel may have served as an altarpiece in a small church, or as an image for private devotion. It depicts Mary Magdalene, the biblical sinner who washed Christ’s feet with her tears and dried them with her hair, living as a hermit in the desert, sustained by nourishment brought by angels.

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Claude Lorrain (Claude Gellée) (French, 1600–1682),
Rest on the Flight into Egypt , ca. 1640,
oil on canvas, 30 x 36 ¼ in.; 76.2 x 92.07 cm
Museum purchase, 1957.17

Claude Lorrain’s paintings epitomize the classical approach to landscape. Although based on the detailed study of nature, they are idealized and follow a conventional composition scheme that uses elements such as trees, boulders, and roads to frame a distant vista and direct the eye to the horizon. Small, almost incidental figures contribute to the harmony of Claude’s landscapes, as their actions mirror nature’s mood and vice versa.

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Philippe Jacques de Loutherbourg (French, 1740–1812),
The Smugglers Return , 1801,
oil on canvas, 29½ x 42 in., 74.3 x 106.7 cm
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Wiesenberger, 1960.299

Born and trained in France, de Loutherbourg became an important figure in British landscape painting. He created many pictures of shipwrecks, and this late example reflects his great sense of the theatrical. Addressing the popular Romantic theme of man’s struggle against nature, part of the story is told in the operatic gestures of the smuggler reunited with his family. De Loutherbourg’s characteristic sketchy paint application and fluid brushstrokes are well suited to the portrayal of stormy weather and crashing seas.

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attributed to Alessandro Magnasco (Italian, 1667–1749),
Two Monks in a Landscape , n.d.,
oil on canvas, 38 ¾ x 28 ¾ in.; 98.43 x 73.03 cm
Museum purchase, 1957.16

Fascinated by the rituals of monastic life, the Baroque painter Magnasco produced a number of compositions showing monks in a landscape. Frequently bizarre and fantastic, his works nonetheless powerfully convey the passion and ecstasy Magnasco associated with cloistered piety. Rendered in his characteristic painterly brushstrokes, the landscape elements are exploited for dramatic effect.

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Konstantin Egorovich Makovsky (Russian, 1839–1915),
Russian Beauty and Cat , 1865,
oil on canvas, 45¼ x 36½ in., 115.6 x 92.7 cm
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Charles W. Martin, 1954.172

Makovsky was a founding member of The Wanderers, a group of students at the Imperial Academy of Arts in St. Petersburg who advocated a socially relevant art free from Academic rules. His paintings nevertheless show his continued association with the Academy in their descriptive precision, telling details, and smooth finish. The subject of Russian Beauty with Cat, a Tartar woman wearing traditional costume and seen in a typical house, reflects the grass-roots nationalism of mid-century Russian art, but her idealized, dignified beauty recalls contemporary French painting. Indeed, Makovsky later moved to Paris and joined the art establishment, winning international acclaim at the Salon exhibitions. 

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Jean-Louis-Ernest Meissonier (French, 1815–1891),
The Print Collector , 1849,
oil on panel, 6 ½ x 4 ¼ in.; 16.51 x 10.795 cm
Gift of Francis T. B. Martin, 1995.40

Meissonier enjoyed worldwide renown, great wealth, and official honors for his small historical genre paintings. Like this work, they are historically accurate, precisely described, and masterfully executed.

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Jean-Louis-Ernest Meissonier (French, 1815–1891),
Young Man Playing the Cello , 1841,
oil on panel, 14 x 10 ½ in.; 35.56 x 26.67 cm
Gift of Francis T. B. Martin, 1995.39

Meissonier enjoyed worldwide renown, great wealth, and official honors for his small historical genre paintings. Like this work, they are historically accurate, precisely described, and masterfully executed. Frequently, they depict gentlemen — smokers, art lovers, chess players, and musicians — in realistically recreated seventeenth- and eighteenth-century interiors.

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Giovanni di Niccolo Mansueti (Italian, Venetian, ca.1459–1527),
Sacred Conversation — Madonna, Child, Saints and Donor , early 16th century,
tempera on panel, 24 ¼ x 39 7/8 in.; 61.6 x 101.3 cm
Gift of Mrs. Elsa Koenig and Madie Koenig in memory of William Koenig, 1936.605

Sacred Conversation
represents the Virgin and Child surrounded by saints, all of whom seem engaged in some kind of dialogue. An acknowledged master of this type, Mansueti created figures that appear convincingly alive as they turn to each other and make eye contact — especially the donor kneeling at left, St. John the Baptist standing behind him, and the Christ Child blessing him. 

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Willem van Mieris (Dutch, 1662–1747),
Ulysses Threatening Circe , 1690,
oil on panel, 13 ¼ x 17 ¼ in.; 33.66 x 43.82 cm
Gift, through purchase, of Helen and Ted Kolderie, 1995.20

Based on Homer’s Odyssey, this panel depicts Ulysses forcing the sorceress Circe to release his companions, whom she had turned into swine, visible in the background. This masterpiece of illusionism, painstakingly executed with fine brushes, exemplifies the highly detailed, precise style of the Leiden school of painting.

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Claude Monet (French, 1840–1926),
The Meadow , 1879,
oil on canvas, 32 x 39 ¼ in., 81.3 x 99.7 cm
Gift of Mr. William Averell Harriman, 1944.79

In typical Impressionist manner, Monet captures the feel of a summer day with loose brushstrokes of unmixed color that simulate sunlight playing over flowers and leaves and suggest the movement of clouds across the sky. The seeming naturalness and spontaneity, however, are the calculated result of a deliberate process, as many Impressionist paintings were finished in the studio.

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Claude Monet (French, 1840–1926),
Small Country Farm at Bordighera (Un coin de ferme à Bordighera) , 1884,
oil on canvas, 29 1/8 x 36 3/8 in., 73.98 x 92.4 cm
Museum purchase, Joslyn Endowment Fund, 1943.39

In 1884, Monet spent two months in Bordighera, a coastal village near the French-Italian border. There he felt the challenge of a new intensity of light and color and of overabundant nature — how to translate them into paint and patterns of brushstrokes? His sojourn yielded forty paintings, among them Joslyn’s composition. Its exceptionally varied brushwork captures the explosive vigor of tropical nature and conveys the sparkle of the Mediterranean sun.

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Jean-Marc Nattier (French, 1685–1766),
Portrait of a Lady, traditionally called the Princesse de Lambesc (Jeanne Henriette de Durfort, 1691-1750) , 1749,
oil on canvas, 32 ¼ x 25 ½ in.; 81.91 x 64.77 cm
Museum purchase, 1945.1

Nattier was a leading portraitist of his day, favored by the French royal family and many members of the European aristocracy. His portraits of the ladies of Louis XV’s court are representative of the Rococo style, the elegant and pleasure-loving art that disappeared with the French Revolution. Every aspect in this painting is delicate, from the thinly applied paint and feathery, spirited brushstrokes to the cool, silvery colors and shimmering fabrics to the woman’s fine aristocratic features.

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Willem de Pannemaker (Flemish, active 1515–ca. 1581),
October, from the series Months of Lucas , ca. 1550,
wool, 130 in.; 330.2 cm
Gift of William Averell Harriman in memory of his mother, Mrs. E.H. Harriman, 1943.59

This tapestry is one of a series called The Months of Lucas after Lucas van Leyden, the sixteenth-century artist once believed to have designed it. Only few individual months still exist of the numerous complete series that were produced over two centuries. This example was woven in Brussels under the direction of Willem de Pannemaker, a celebrated sixteenth-century masterweaver.

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Jean-François-Pierre Peyron (French, 1744-1814),
The Death of Socrates , 1788,
oil on canvas, 39 x 53 ½ in.; 99.06 x 135.9 cm
Museum Purchase with additional funds from The Robert H. and Mildred T. Storz Trust; E. James and No, 1999.55

The subject of this outstanding example of Neoclassicism is the Greek philosopher Socrates (469–399 B.C.), condemned to death by poison for alleged impiety and corruptive teaching. True to his principles, he stoically accepted his fate, even admonishing his friends to contain their grief. Stylistically, Peyron's composition follows the standard Neoclassical formula. The action is set in a well defined, stagelike space, with the characters arranged friezelike in the foreground. The idealized figures demonstrate a variety of emotional responses, clearly conveyed by their gestures and poses.

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workshop of Giovanni Pisano (Italian, Pisan, 1245/8–1319?),
Saint Paul , ca. 1290–1305,
marble, height: 56 in.; 142.24 cm
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas C. Woods, Jr., 1965.169

One of the important sculptors of the early Renaissance, Pisano’s figures break with medieval stylization and attempt to convey human reality. The heavy, voluminous folds of the robe suggest the body underneath, while the intense scowl indicates a stern personality. The sculpture’s size and unfinished back suggest it may have adorned an architectural complex, such as one of the Pisano workshop’s famed pulpits.

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Sir Henry Raeburn (Scottish, 1756–1823),
Portrait of Mrs. Andrew (Elizabeth Robinson) Hay , ca. 1795,
oil on canvas, 49½ x 39 in.; 125.1 x 99.06 cm
Museum purchase, Joslyn Endowment Fund, 1941.40

The lively color scheme of complementary hues; the painterly technique of broad brushstrokes; the moody, imaginary landscape background; and the sitter’s elusive, slightly mysterious expression mark this as a fine example of British Romantic portraiture. Raeburn became the leading portraitist in his native Edinburgh. His highly acclaimed paintings commemorate many well-known figures of this notable period in Scottish history. 

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Pierre August Renoir (French, 1841–1919),
Young Girls at the Piano (La Leçon de piano) , ca. 1889,
oil on canvas, 22 x 18¼, 55.9 x 46.36 cm
Museum purchase, 1944.20

Although a close friend and painting companion to Monet and Pissarro, and an active participant in most of the eight Impressionist exhibitions, Renoir soon abandoned the characteristic soft Impressionist style and, in the 1880s, introduced tighter brushstrokes and firmer outlines. Unlike most of the Impressionists, who painted landscapes and urban motifs, Renoir preferred more intimate, domestic subjects: portraits, nudes, and young women in interiors, often reading or playing the piano. Joslyn’s canvas is one of several depictions of young women at the piano, a motif so meaningful to Renoir that he chose it also for a government commission in 1892.

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Sir Joshua Reynolds (English, 1723–1792),
Portrait of Miss Franks , 1766,
oil on canvas, 30 ¼ x 25 ¼ in.; 76.84 x 64.14 cm
Gift of Mrs. Sarah H. Joslyn, 1934.428

The most influential figure in eighteenth-century British art, Reynolds was also the most fashionable society portraitist. Unlike his many paintings of sitters in historical or mythological guises, Miss Franks offers a relatively direct representation of the subject in a neutral setting without literary or artistic references.

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workshop of Jusepe de Ribera (Spanish, 1591–1652),
Saint Jerome , after 1640 ,
oil on canvas, 46 ½ x 35 ½ in.; 118.1 x 90.2 cm
Museum purchase, 1961.198

Representative of seventeenth-century Neapolitan painting, Ribera’s works are distinguished by striking light-dark contrasts, thickly textured paint, the unidealized depiction of physical reality, and profound emotional depth. Here, St. Jerome is identified by his standard attributes — a book (alluding to Jerome’s translations of Scripture), a skull (a reminder of mortality), and rock (used to beat his bare chest in penitence). 

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Martin Rico y Ortega (Spanish, 1833-1908),
Aubade, Zanudo Garden , ,
oil on canvas, 28 3/4 x 19 1/4 in.; 73.03 x 48.9 cm
Bequest of Jessie Barton Christiancy, 1931.21

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Georges Rochegrosse (French, 1859–1929),
Salome Dancing Before King Herod , 1887,
oil on canvas, 41 x 65 in.; 104.14 x 165.1 cm
Gift of Francis T. B. Martin, 1953.239

The internationally acclaimed Salon painter Rochegrosse was best known for his Orientalist subjects, which he executed with archaeological accuracy and sumptuous color. Based on first-hand knowledge of Near Eastern architecture and artifacts, which he studied on several visits to Egypt and North Africa, Rochegrosse’s historical genre scenes have a convincing air of reality. In Salome Dancing, inspired by the biblical account of the death of St. John the Baptist, minute details of setting and human physiognomy encourage the viewer to share with the painted audience the lithe dancer’s provocative performance.

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Peter Paul Rubens (Flemish, 1577–1640),
Decius Mus Consulting the Soothsayers (The Interpretation of the Victim)
, 1617–18 ,

oil on panel, 28 ¾ x 42 ½ in.; 73.03 x 107.95 cm
Museum purchase, 1946.127

Although he was from northern Europe, Rubens’ art exemplifies the sensuality characteristic of Italian Baroque painting. This freely brushed sketch is a modello (model) for one of a series of tapestries illustrating the story of the Roman commander Decius Mus. It shows the head priest, after reading the entrails of a sacrificial ox, announcing that the stricken but resolved commander will die in battle and thus secure a Roman victory.

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Jacob van Ruisdael (Dutch, Haarlem, 1628/29–1682),
Landscape with Waterfall , 1665–75,
oil on canvas, 38 ¾ x 53 in.; 98.43 x 134.62 cm
Museum Membership Fund Purchase, 1949.163

Contrasting with the classical landscape style, which offered idealized views of imaginary Italian scenery, Ruisdael represents the northern landscape tradition — his paintings construct convincing images of the wilder, less domesticated north European countryside. However, although seemingly more naturalistic, showing “real” Dutch trees, rivers, houses, and peasants, his compositions nonetheless depict imaginary rather than actual sites and follow pictorial formulas.

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Adolph Schreyer (German, 1828–1899),
The Oasis , n.d.,
oil on canvas, 39 1/16 x 56 ¼ in.; 99.22 x 142.88 cm
Gift of Francis T. B. Martin, 1990.6

Schreyer, trained at the Düsseldorf academy, is best remembered for his pictures of Arab horsemen. Based on first-hand observation in North Africa around 1860, they remained his mainstay for decades to come. Not unlike the Romantics before him, Schreyer emphasized the (to Western eyes) mystery of Arabian nomadic life and the exoticism of customs and costumes.

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Massimo Stanzione (Italian, Neapolitan, 1585–1656),
Susannah and the Elders , ca. 1631–37,
oil on canvas, 60 x 70 ¼ in.; 152.4 x 178.44 cm
Museum purchase, Collectors' Choice, 1983, 1983.27

The most prominent painter in Naples in the mid seventeenth century, Stanzione was an eclectic artist who was able to assimilate divergent artistic influences without sacrificing his own gifts for powerful narration and lyrical expression. In Susannah and the Elders he combines the sharp contrasts of light and shadow in his interpretation of the story of the virtuous young heroine who was falsely accused of adultery, even though rebuffing the advances of the two elders who plotted to seduce her.

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Bernardo Strozzi (Italian, Genoese, 1581–1644),
Erminia Among the Shepherds , 1620–30,
oil on canvas, 58 x 78 in.; 147.32 x 198.12 cm
Museum Membership Fund Purchase, 1952.270

This painting illustrates a scene from Torquato Tasso’s great epic poem Gerusalemme Liberata (1575): Erminia, a Saracen princess and warrior maiden, is listening to an old shepherd describing his peaceful country life, making her wish she could become a shepherdess herself. Tasso’s poetic lines are vividly brought to life in the tranquil atmosphere of the rustic landscape as well as in the contrast between the troubled Erminia (representing a life of strife) and the contented old man (embodying peaceful harmony). 

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Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo (Italian, 1727–1804),
Saint Joseph and the Christ Child , ca. 1750,
oil on canvas, 17 5/8 x 14 3/8 in.; 44.77 x 36.51 cm
Bequest of Dorothy Bonin-Longare, 1994.36

Trained by his father, the great Venetian Rococo painter Giambattista Tiepolo, Giovanni Domenico’s early works, such as this, continue the elder’s much-admired style. Its distinguishing elements include delicate line, flickering, airy brushstrokes, and a light palette of soft pinks, cool blues, and icy whites. The emotional characterization of the two figures reflects eighteenth-century sensibility in general, but also reveals Giovanni Domenico’s particular preference for reality-based imagery.

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Titian (Tiziano Vecellio) (Italian, Venetian, ca. 1488–1576),
Giorgio Cornaro with a Falcon , 1537,
oil on canvas, 42¾ x 38 inches
Museum purchase, dedicated in honor of Robert H. Ahmanson of Omaha, philanthropist, patron of the arts and arts education, 1942.3

Titian was the outstanding Venetian painter of his era. This portrait exemplifies his prodigious talents in psychological characterization, lively composition, and rich painterly colorism.

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Veronese (Paolo Caliari) (Italian, Venetian, 1528–1588),
Venus at Her Toilette , ca. 1582,
oil on canvas, 65 x 49 inches, 165.1 x 124.46 cm
Museum purchase, 1942.4

Veronese is regarded, with Titian and Tintoretto, as one of the greatest painters of the Venetian High Renaissance, admired for his luminous colorism and convincing realism. Here Venus, the Roman goddess of beauty and love - identified by her attributes, roses and doves - is shown with numerous Renaissance accouterments. Bracelets, earrings, ornate beds, and mirrors were all found in sixteenth-century wealthy Venetian households, and blonde hair was deemed the height of beauty. Thus, the mythological subject is a thin disguise for a sensual contemporary nude. 

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Jean Georges Vibert (French, 1840–1902),
The Grasshopper and the Ant (Le Cigale et la Formi) , 1875,
oil on canvas, 24 ¼ x 33 ½ in.; 61.6 x 85.1 cm
Gift of Francis T. B. Martin, 1995.44

Vibert was one of France’s most acclaimed Academic genre painters, renowned for his irony and wit, specializing in satiric pictures of the Catholic clergy, which were highly popular. Here he has recast the familiar fable of the fun-seeking grasshopper and the industrious ant: a lone minstrel accosts a group of monks, only one of whom stops to hear his pleas.

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Jean Georges Vibert (French, 1840–1902),
The King of Rome , 1900,
oil on canvas on panel, 32½ x 47, 82.55 x 119.38 cm
Gift of Francis T. B. Martin, 1990.7

Best known for his witty episodes involving cardinals, Vibert also created entertaining anecdotes from historical events. Here dignitaries pay homage as Napoleon’s small son is proclaimed King of Rome. Although this is an imagined scene, painted almost 100 years after the fact, it includes many telling details that produce a sense of reality. These details range from a real room in Versailles to recognizable portraits, among them Napoleon on the throne, Cardinal Ercole Consalvi respectfully bowing, and Napoleon’s brother-in-law, Joachim Murat, announcing the guests. The Empress Josephine watches fondly from a seat at the right of the steps. Ironically, the most prominent figures are two anonymous clergymen on the left, whose unexplained animosity arouses the viewer’s curiosity.

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Jean Georges Vibert (French, 1840–1902),
Sharpening the Bullfighter’s Knife (Chez le Rémouleur)
, 1874,

oil on panel, 13 x 9 ½ in.; 33.02 x 24.13 cm
Gift of Francis T. B. Martin, 1995.45

Vibert was one of France’s most acclaimed Academic genre painters, renowned for his irony and wit. Commenting on his work in later years, Vibert suggested that Sharpening the Bullfighter’s Knife reflected his personal experience while visiting Spain. The many accurate details of costume and setting lend credence to this claim and realism to the scene. 
 
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Jean Vignaud (French, 1775–1826),
Abelard and Heloise Surprised by the Abbot Fulbert , 1819,
oil on canvas, 47 ½ x 39 ¾ in.; 120.65 x 100.96 cm
Museum purchase, Collectors' Choice, 1985, 1985.6

A typical example of early-nineteenth-century Troubadour Painting, Abelard and Heloise reflects a romanticized fascination with the Middle Ages, not only in its subject (a true story of tragic love in the twelfth century), but also in its style. Imitating the detailed precision of Gothic art, the costumes, furniture, and decor are depicted in a flat, “primitive” manner, while carefully applied transparent glazes produce clear color contrasts and an enamel-like finish. 

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Peter Wtewael (Dutch, 1596–1660),
The Repentant Magdalen , ca. 1620s,
oil on panel, 20 3/16 x 14 3/8 in.; 51.28 x 36.51 cm
Museum Purchase with funds from the Joslyn Art Museum Association and Collectors' Choice VIII, 1999.15

Mary Magdalen, the prostitute who renounced her worldly life to follow Christ, was a favored subject with many artists. Wtewael’s portrayal includes Mary Magdalen’s conventional attributes — abundant blond hair (with which she dried Christ’s feet), a jar of unguent (used to anoint the body of Christ), and costly robes. Trained by his father, Peter Wtewael’s work shows the influence of Flemish Mannerism in its crowded composition, complex twisted pose, and smooth finish.

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