Cuddly Critters

Its almost unpardonable in its sentimentality. Almost a crime to get sucked into the trite, obvious and even vulgar. But then painting is merchandise. There was a long period where hack, formula art was considered a patriotic defense of the purity and sanity of art and its corresponding social and religious values against attacks by what were considered insane, mad boors in the name of entrenching privilege against types like Delacroix, Manet and Gericault reinforcing the axiom that honesty can be a very dangerous policy. Delacroix said an academician “taught beauty as one teaches arithmetic.”…

One of her better pieces. The Horse Fair. She had great appeal to Victorian sensibilties and some of her better work can be defended as a social document with some hints of impressionism. Not as kitschy as Landseer and a more interesting social background coming from a Saint-Simonian style family. Image WIKI

For some reason, in Salon painting, animals were often painted in the same vein as children; basically, offensively coy images, self consciously engaged in being cute. Cows and sheep held an almost unhealthy fascination for Salon painters, perhaps as an urbanzied recollection of bygone pastoral days which now saw the cow transplanted into the living room as a familiar phenomenon. Rosa Bonheur in France was one of the most conspicuous animal painters conveying the same type of human attributes into animals so commercially viable in the work of a Landseer. Animals then enjoyed the same emotional gamut as the French nude.

It could be said that Rosa Bonheur was the grandmother of paint by numbers and provider of the bread and butter staples of decorative painting in the American style that filled decorative painting publishing for decades. Image:


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