What can we apprentice about an artisan from his or her final assignment of art? French historian and artisan Bernard Chambaz carefully mines this affluent accountable in a new book, The Aftermost Painting, a abysmal dive into art history and a brainwork on activity and death. He highlights the lives of artists addition aback hundreds of years, alignment from Old Masters to Impressionists, all the way through the contempo past, with examples by abreast artists such as Cy Twombly and Zao Wou-ki.
As Chambaz notes: “There are no rules, and there is absolutely no justice. Afterlife can appear at any time, behindhand of age or how advantageous you are. Some painters died in their thirties, others able-bodied into their eighties; some as the aftereffect of an accident, such as Signorelli falling from his scaffolding, others for affidavit foreseen, such as Cézanne, racked by diabetes.”
Most of the book’s 100 entries are bound to a distinct page, yet anniversary is arranged with absorbing and generally affecting capacity about the lives and practices of some of our best admired artists. Actuality are some of the works accent in Chambaz’s book.
Michelangelo, The Crucifixion of St. Peter (1546–50).
The aftermost adorn anytime accomplished by Michelangelo (1475–1564) was the aftereffect of a agency by Pope Paul III, who asked the adept to acrylic the Pauline abbey in the Vatican. This assignment (along with a additional painting, The Conversion of Saul) was broadly beheld as black by audiences at the time. Afterwards, Michelangelo, at the age of 75, grumbled to Giorgio Vasari, the columnist of The Lives of the Best Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects, that painting—and adorn painting in particular—is “not an art for an old man.”
Diego Velázquez, Mercury and Argus (1659).
Chambaz writes that the ascendant activity in this final painting by Spanish adept Diego Velázquez (1599–1660) is one of “somnolence.” The acrylic had almost broiled on this account when Velázquez was appointed by the Spanish King to adapt a adventure to the Pyrenees. But anon after, attenuated by the trip, he began activity ill and died anon afterwards his acknowledgment to Madrid.
Johannes Vermeer, A Adolescent Lady Seated at a Virginal (around 1670).
“Vermeer can still affect us with this adolescent woman’s face, which fills us with both blue and music, this abeyant moment, the bow aural arm’s reach,” Chambaz writes. About the aforementioned time this painting was made, Vermeer (1632–1675) was at financial ruin, and a faculty of abatement beatific the artisan into “a baleful frenzy.” When he died, he larboard abaft 11 children, accepting already active three. “Then,” Chambaz writes, “for two centuries, he is universally forgotten.”
Theodore Gericault, The Larboard Duke (1824).
Jean-Louis André Théodore Géricault (1791–1824) had a “morbid habit” of affairs amputated limbs from the morgue, Chambaz writes. He would accumulate the limbs at his abode for weeks while he corrective these anatomical fragments. “At the actual end,” Chambaz says, “he after-effects goodbye to the apple with this hand.” Géricault died eight hours afterwards this assignment was done, at six in the morning on January 26, 1824, age-old 32.
Caspar David Friedrich, Mural with Grave, Coffin, and Owl (around 1835).
“Life hasn’t been too affectionate to him: at the age of seventeen, he absent his mother, two sisters, and brother, drowned in freezing water,” Chambaz writes of Caspar David Friedrich (1774–1840), whose aftermost amber depicts an owl aloft a casket adjoin a arid landscape. Though the grave has been dug, it is out of afterimage and the grave diggers accept larboard their shovels in the foreground. The acceptation of the owl is multifaceted: they are sometimes said to accept the ability to see the asleep in the afterlife, and the Romans believed an owl in ample aurora adumbrated approaching death.
John Constable, Arundel Mill and Castle (1837). Image Creative Commons address of WikiArt.
After pausing assignment on this painting in 1836 to allot time to added paintings, John Constable (1776–1837) alternate to it with fervor, admitting aggressive a rheumatoid fever. He took accurate affliction with the accouchement arena on the low bank in the foreground, “bound up with memories of his childhood,” Chambaz writes. On February 17, 1837, Constable wrote to a acquaintance saying: “It is, and shall be, my best picture.” Accepting accomplished the painting, his affection bootless anon afterwards, on March 31. The painting was presented at the Royal Academy and remained in Constable’s ancestors for the abutting 40 years. His grandson awash it in 1878 for £2,200.
Edgar Degas, Two Dancers Resting (1898).
Two Dancers Resting is Edgar Degas’s (1834–1917) “final lap”, Chambaz writes. By age 65, amaurosis affected the Impressionist painter to carelessness painting in oil, abrogation him to assignment alone in pastels and charcoal. This assignment is the acme of those final efforts, done on chamois cardboard with a chicken background.
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, The Admiral Viaud, or Paul Viaud in an Admiral’s Costume (1901).
Having suffered a afflicted year in 1900—one apparent by sickness, hallucinations, and pain—Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864–1901) spent the summer of 1901 on Arcachon Bay on the Southwest bank of France with his friend, Paul Viaud. Attenuated by a stroke, Toulouse-Lautrec retired to his mother’s chateau, area he began assignment on this, the better account he anytime painted. As Chambaz writes: “He provides his acquaintance with an English admiral’s uniform, an eighteenth-century wig and—quite ironically—a red nose, back he was butterfingers of bubbler as abundant as a bottle of wine.” The artisan died on September 9, at the age of 36.
Thomas Eakins, Account of Dr. Edward Anthony Spitzka (around 1913). Address of Creative Commons.
Towards the end of his life, Thomas Eakins (1844–1916) was accident his apparition and accommodated hopes of actuality recognized, admitting some absorption from the Metropolitan Building of Art, which offered in April 1916 to buy one of his paintings. Eakins, however, admired the building would buy a beyond work, and two months after he died and was cremated in secret. The accountable of his creepy, amateurish portrait, Dr. Edward Anthony Spitzka, was an anatomist who agitated out an dissection on the academician of the apache of President McKinley.
Edward Hopper, Two Comedians (1966). Image address of Sotheby’s.
“So generally a painter of absence, actuality he depicts a presence, but it is the attendance of those who are about to disappear,” Chambaz writes of this final assignment by Edward Hopper (1882–1967). The picture, which is said to characterize the artisan and his wife, Jo, was accomplished anon afore his afterlife at age 84. Interestingly, this painting was already endemic by Frank Sinatra and has a contempo bazaar record: Sotheby’s awash it at bargain this accomplished November for aloof beneath $12.5 actor with premium.
p class=”wp-caption-text”>Mark Rothko, Untitled (1970). Image address of the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
In conceivably the best anapestic avenue of this list, Mark Rothko (1903–1970) set the agreement of his own annihilation with this final work, which was begin aloof anxiety abroad from area the artisan committed suicide in 1970.
The Aftermost Painting is appear by Acc Art Books and retails for $50.
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