Saturday, May 3, 2014

My Favorite Drawing and Painting in Musée Cognacq-Jay, Paris

Wandering in Marais district of Paris, during my 2008 trip, I stumbled upon a small museum, the Musée Cognacq-Jay, located in Hôtel Donon, and saw some wonderful paintings and drawings by the likes of Watteau, Tiepolo, Rembrandt, Rubens, Cézanne and Degas, amongst decorative art displayed in twenty paneled rooms (four floors) in the styles of Louis XV and Louis XVI. "The collection was formed between 1900–1925 by Théodore-Ernest Cognacq (1839–1928) and his wife Marie-Louise Jay (1838–1925), founders of La Samaritaine department store." [source: wikipedia]

IMG_8980 - Musée Cognacq-Jay, Paris, 2008

What interested me most were works by Antoine Watteau, and my favorite was a study, titled Etudes de deux figures de femmes (Study of two female figures).  The line drawing was fluid, with just enough detail to give the figure a three-dimensional modeling, without overwhelming the figure with large hatching, therefore losing the trademark delicacy of the artist.  The figures were either aristocrats or actresses caught in their moonlit performances, a favored setting by this peculiar painter.

IMG_8970 - Etudes de deux figures de femmes Antoine Watteau, Antoine Watteau, Musée Cognacq-Jay, Paris, 2008
Etudes de deux figures de femmes, Antoine Watteau

My second favorite was an oil painting, a portrait of Gaspard Gevartius (an Antwerp city clerk) by Peter Paul Rubens.

IMG_8984 - Gaspard Gevartius, Peter Paul Rubens, Musée Cognacq-Jay, Paris, 2008
Gaspard Gevartius, Peter Paul Rubens

This painting is very similar to another portrait of Gevartius by Rubens, collected in Antwerpen Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten. Instead of giving him a writing table, a bust on the table represents the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius, a source of inspiration to Gevartius on whom he also wrote an unpublished book, as seen in the Antwerp painting, this more intimate piece in Paris focused solely on the sitter's bust.  The sharp features were rendered meticulously, and the rather serious, dark or even gloomy portrait was enlivened by the rosy cheeks of the sitter and his white ruff, which though elaborate, didn't compete with the face, rather it became a clever framing device, and draw viewer's eye upwards towards the sitter's intelligent face. Here, intimacy trumps grandeur.

My Favorite Museum Collection Series
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List of My Favorite Artworks in the Museums I've Visited  

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- My Favorite Sculptures in les Jardins du Ranelag, Paris
- Pieter Paul Rubens (June 28, 1577 – May 30, 1640)
- My Favorite Paintings at Antwerpen Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten (Antwerp Royal Museum of Fine Arts)
- My Favorite Paintings in Cathedral of Our Lady, Antwerp (Antwerpen), Belgium
- My Favorite Paintings at the Wallace Collection, London
- My Favorite Paintings at Museum of Legion of Honor, San Francisco
- Revisiting Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena

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