Manet, Whistler, Colville, Courbet, Bonheur, Constable, Turner

When you are learning to paint, you often “copy” from photographs or famous paintings.  Later, you paint from life.  Add your imagination and years of painting, and sometimes you notice the original influences coming through.

I always drew and painted animals instead of people.  The more unusual the animal, the more interesting to me.  Patterns and markings also absorbed me for some years.  The Okapi is a relative of the giraffe but lives in jungles, such that white people had not known of the animals until relatively modern times.

The fetishization of exotic species means they are desirable: alive for zoos and dead for natural history museums.  My “Olympia” is on display but directly gazes back at the spectator with dead eyes.

©2000 Marion Pennell

©2000 Marion Pennell

Olympia: Édouard Manet, 1863, oil on canvas, 144.3 by 162.4 cm

Olympia: Édouard Manet, 1863, oil on canvas, 144.3 by 162.4 cm

My rhinoceros painting bears the title “Le déjeuner d’herbe” as a play on words on Manet’s “Le déjeuner sur l’herbe”, although the content has no reference to that painting.  

©2000 Marion Pennell

©2000 Marion Pennell

The composition of this painting, “Cat Wants Out”, and the blocked out colours reminded me of “Whistler’s Mother” – the real title of Whistler’s work is “Arrangement in Grey and Black No. 1”.

©2000 Marion Pennell

©2000 Marion Pennell

Arrangement in Grey and Black No.1 (aka Whistler's Mother): James McNeill Whistler, 1871, oil on canvas, 130.5 by 190 cm

Arrangement in Grey and Black No.1 (aka Whistler’s Mother): James McNeill Whistler, 1871, oil on canvas, 130.5 by 190 cm

The series of paintings from 2001 is best represented by this large piece “Gravesite NYC with machines of construction”.  At the time I was very concerned with the sacred and the profane.  I studied landscapes of cemeteries and graveyards and ruins.  I knew I wanted the light and colour to reflect the English landscape painters who traveled to Italy.  The vertical can represent the man-made (masts of ships, etc.) and the horizontal is the God-made (the land, the horizon).  The colour scheme of all 22 paintings in this series was based on the colours used in the first painting “Loss” – all ochres, yellows, blues, purples, greys.  No red (fire, blood).

©2001 Marion Pennell

©2001 Marion Pennell

I remembered the English painters that traveled to Italy...

I remembered the English painters who traveled to Italy…

When I was young the Saturday paper also included a weekend magazine.  One week the Colville painting “Hound in Field” was reproduced on the cover.  I remember studying and staring at that for so long.  Whenever I am in Ottawa, I visit the Hound in the National Gallery.

©2011 Marion Pennell

©2011 Marion Pennell

Hound in Field: Alex Colville, 1958, acrylic on board, 76.2 by 101.6 cm

Hound in Field: Alex Colville, 1958, acrylic on board, 76.2 by 101.6 cm

So, given my professed love of Cézanne and Kandinsky?

Not yet… soon.  Takes decades for some things to gel in my head.

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2 thoughts on “Manet, Whistler, Colville, Courbet, Bonheur, Constable, Turner

  1. Ahh, thank you……… I learned something. Or, perhaps a timely reminder, to really look and take the time to actually let the piece come into us to percolate awhile.

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  2. I never put the together the connection between Cat Wants Out and Whistler’s Mother, but it’s plain to see, now that it’s been pointed out. Same for the English landscape paintings and Gravesite. I’m giddy with anticipation for a Cézanne-type painting.

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