28/10/20

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Charles Gleyre (1806-1874) | The teacher of Monet and Renoir



Marc Gabriel Charles Gleyre was a Swiss artist🎨 who was a resident in France from an early age.
He took over the studio of Paul Delaroche🎨 in 1843 and taught a number of younger artists who became prominent, including Claude Monet🎨, Pierre-Auguste Renoir🎨, Alfred Sisley🎨, James Abbott McNeill Whistler🎨, Auguste Toulmouche🎨, Louis-Frederic Schützenberger and Henri-Lionel Brioux.


Gleyre was born in Chevilly, near Lausanne.
His parents died when he was eight or nine years old, and he was brought up by an uncle in Lyon, France, who sent him to the city's industrial school.
He began his formal artistic education in Lyon under Bonnefond, before moving to Paris, where he enrolled at the École des Beaux-Arts under Hersent. He also attended the Academie Suisse and studied watercolour technique in the studio of Richard Parkes Bonington.
He then went to Italy, where he became acquainted with Horace Vernet and Louis Léopold Robert.
It was through Vernet's recommendation that he was chosen by the American traveller John Lowell Jr. to accompany him on his journeys round the eastern Mediterranean, recording the scenes and ethnographic subjects they met with.
They left Italy in spring 1834 and visited Greece, Turkey and Egypt, where they remained together until November 1835, when Lowell left for India. Gleyre continued his travels around Egypt and Syria, not returning to France until 1838.
He returned to Lyons in shattered health, having been attacked with ophthalmia, or inflammation of the eye, in Cairo, and struck down by fever in Lebanon.
On his recovery he proceeded to Paris, and, establishing a modest studio in the rue de Université, began carefully to work out the ideas which had been slowly shaping themselves in his mind.


Mention is made of two decorative panels "Diana leaving the Bath", and a "Young Nubian" as almost the first fruits of his genius; but these did not attract public attention until much later, and the painting by which he practically opened his artistic career was the "Apocalyptic Vision of St John", sent to the Salon🎨 of 1840.
This was followed in 1843 by "Evening"🎨, which received a medal of the second class, and afterwards became widely popular under the title "Lost Illusions".
It depicts a poet seated on the bank of a river, with his head drooping and a wearied posture, letting his lyre slip from a careless hand, and gazing sadly at a bright company of maidens whose song is slowly dying from his ear as their boat is borne slowly from his sight.
In spite of the success of these first ventures, Gleyre retired from public competition, and spent the rest of his life in quiet devotion to his artistic ideals, neither seeking the easy applause of the crowd, nor turning his art into a means of aggrandizement and wealth.
After 1845, when he exhibited the "Separation of the Apostles", he contributed nothing to the Salon except the "Dance of the Bacchantes" in 1849.
Yet he worked steadily and was productive. He had an "infinite capacity of taking pains", and when asked by what method he attained to such marvelous perfection of workmanship, he would reply, "En y pensant toujours".


Many years often intervened between the first conception of a piece and its embodiment, and years not infrequently between the first and the final stage of the embodiment itself.
A landscape was apparently finished; even his fellow artists would consider it done; Gleyre alone was conscious that he had not "found his sky".
Gleyre became influential as a teacher, taking over the studio of studio of Paul Delaroche - then the leading private teaching atelier in Paris - in 1843.
His students included Jean-Léon Gérôme🎨, Jean-Louis Hamon, Auguste Toulmouche, Whistler and several of the Impressionists: Monet, Renoir, Sisley and Bazille.
He did not charge his students a fee, although he expected them to contribute towards the rent and the payment of models. They were also given a say in the running of the school.
Though he lived in almost complete retirement from public life, he took a keen interest in politics, and was a voracious reader of political journals.
For a time, under Louis Philippe, his studio had been the rendezvous of a sort of liberal club. To the last -amid all the disasters that befell his country - he was hopeful of the future, "la raison finira bien par avoir raison".
It was while on a visit to the Retrospective Exhibition, opened on behalf of the exiles from Alsace and Lorraine, that he died suddenly on 5 May 1874. He had never married.





Charles Gleyre è stato un pittore Svizzero🎨. Gleyre fu il maestro di molti grandi pittori impressionisti.
Charles Gabriel Gleyre nacque nel Cantone del Vaud, nella Svizzera romanda francofona.
Terminati i primi studi, si recò a Parigi nell'atelier di Louis Hersent per divenire pittore.
Alcuni anni dopo si recò a Roma, dove realizzò il suo primo quadro: "Les Brigands romains" nel 1831. Nel 1834 accompagnò John Lowell Jr., industriale americano, filantropo e appassionato d'arte, in un lungo viaggio attraverso la Sicilia, la Grecia, l'Egitto, il Sudan ed il Vicino Oriente.
I costi del viaggio di Gleyre furono assorbiti da Lowell, che volle in cambio tutti i suoi disegni relativi ai siti archeologici che i due visitavano.
Gleyre rientrò a Parigi nel 1837, purtroppo affetto da un tracoma che alterò la sua vista e che, anni dopo, lo costrinse a chiudere il suo studio.
Numerosi suoi lavori orientalisti andarono distrutti durante un incendio a Cairo nel 1837, prima del suo ritorno in patria.
Nel 1840 il duca di Luynes gli commissionò una pittura murale per il suo castello di Dampierre. Quest'opera, dopo qualche tempo, venne sostituita da un affresco di Dominique Ingres.
Al Salon del 1843 Gleyre espose il quadro "Le Soir"🎨, in seguito chiamato "Les Illusions perdues".


Artista dal disegno impeccabile, Charles Gleyre con la poetica di questa opera dai colori irreali, anticipa ed apre la via ai pittori simbolisti. Il quadro ottenne un vibrante successo al Salon e venne accolto dal Museo del Louvre.
Nel 1843 Gleyre fu nominato docente all'École des beaux-arts di Parigi come successore di Paul Delaroche, del quale ereditò anche l'atelier, soprannominato "La République". Istituì anche una sua "Accademia", od atelier, in rue de Vaugirard, di cui abbiamo la descrizione nel romanzo "Trilby" di George du Maurier.
In questa "Accademia" studiarono alcuni artisti che sarebbero divenuti dei maestri dell'impressionismo, come Alfred Sisley🎨, Claude Monet🎨, Frédéric Bazille🎨 ed Auguste Renoir🎨. Quest'ultimo seguì anche i corsi di Gleyre all'École des beaux-arts.
Gleyre si comportò con grande generosità verso i suoi allievi meno abbienti, non facendo pagare loro la retta e i modelli. E, non volendo forzare la loro inclinazione, egli mirò anzitutto a preservarne la personalità artistica.


Ma l'insegnamento dell'arte accademica di Gleyre mirava comunque ad un ritorno al passato e ciò si poneva in aperto contrasto con le sue attenzioni di docente.

Egli, infatti, disse una volta a Claude Monet:
"Ricordatevi, dunque, ragazzo mio, che quando si esegue una figura, bisogna sempre riferirsi all'antichità".

La stessa sera, Monet riunì Bazille, Renoir e Sisley, e suggerì loro, alla luce della dichiarazione di Gleyre, di lasciare l'atelier, cosa che essi fecero due settimane più tardi, nella primavera del 1863.
Secondo altri autori fu invece Sisley, che, indignato per il disprezzo di Gleyre nei confronti del paesaggio, incitò i suoi amici ad abbandonare l'atelier e ad andare a dipingere fuori, nella natura.
Il 5 maggio del 1874, Charles Gleyre, colpito dalla rottura di un aneurisma, morì all'improvviso.




Charles Gleyre | Lost Illusions