Madame D'houseville & The Modern Woman

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MADAME D'HOUSEVILLE & THE MODERN WOMAN Madame d'Houseville & The Modern Woman

Madame d'Houseville & The Modern Woman

Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres

Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres was the painter the modernists warned us against. Americans, in general, have never really warmed to him. He died at 86 in 1867--which means he did not live quite long enough to see the young impressionists change the art of Paris, which probably is just as well. Their triumph would have broken his heart. He was just what they were not. A gifted painter nowadays might expect a retrospective at the age of 28. The superbly gifted Ingres achieved success at last at 44. He was one of the first painters to study in museums, A portrait drawing, amazingly, took Ingres just four hours. But when polishing the details of a single canvas he was willing to spend years. Ingres portrait show seems not at all old-fashioned. Explode his contribution, break it into pieces, and you will see his legacy everywhere. Hollywood actors and magazine photographers have taken up his haughtiness. Vogue magazine has inherited his intense fascination with high-cost Parisian fashion. And his sense of pure geometry living independently in the messiness of life seems to point, in retrospect, to the cubism to come (Kempton, 1986).

Madame d'Housville

Madame de Stael was Madame d'Haussonville's grandmother and her own mother was the Duchesse de Broglie. The Broglies are imbedded in 19th-Century French history as demonstrations in proof of the habit that revolutions have of concluding with the triumph of the very class they set out to overthrow (Kempton, 1986).

There were revolutions and counter-revolutions and new-revolutions and, after each turn of the wheel, there was a Broglie and a d'Haussonville still at its top. Louise d'Haussonville's father, husband, brother and son were each a member of the French Academy and thus consecrated with the authority to blackball Balzac.

Her own artistic gifts were for displays of melancholia in its more romantic and high-born phases. The 20 of her watercolors the Frick has assembled run to scenes of women weeping beside drooping willows or on rose carpets in front of gold-leafed dressing tables. She flirted as across the dinner table with republican notions, and a cherished subject of her prose was Byron, to whom she was drawn possibly because he was a radical poet and probably because he was a radical Peer.

Not the least of her exhibition's delights is its catalogue, ...
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