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22 November 2021

The exhibition of David Gentleman's paintings, called 'On Location' and featuring his work over fifty years, closed yesterday so it can only be viewed online here. This week on the Post, as a way of narrowing the collection down – because all the paintings are so wonderful it's impossible to highlight one over another – we shall focus on Italy, partly because most of us have not been to Italy, or in fact anywhere, for nearly two years, indeed the thought of going casually there is still an impossible dream. This is the Forum in Rome, painted in 1996.

19 November 2021

In the overview of the exhibition in the Financial Times Jackie Wullschlager concludes: 'The Marmottan excavates stories that triply fascinate: a fresh approach to the imaginative processes of dead white male genius; a consideration of women's negotiations with cultural and social structures; and the psychological truth of how human relationships fuelled revolutions in modern painting and poetry.' Very well put, especially the mature attitude to our great-grandmothers' negotiation of social structures eg. devoting themselves to the male genius. There are several books about this, most of them resentful that women had to do it. But actually Julie and Jeanne were not resentful. Here are (from left to right) Paule Gobillard, Jeannie Gobillard, Julie Manet, and Geneviève Mallarmé in 

18 November 2021

Julie herself painted. This (undated but possibly late 1940s) portrait of a friend was unseen, ie. it hung privately on someone's wall, until this year when it came to light. Here is the story of its discovery. Portrait of Madeleine Gouaillardeu  by Julie Manet © Chantal Sagouspe / Claudine Mariscottiis is in the Marmottan exhibition.

17 November 2021

Ernest Rouart, Julie Manet, Paul Valéry and Jeannie Gobillard photographed on the day of their double wedding in May 1900 © Musée Marmottan Monet

16 November 2021

More than 100 paintings, sculptures, pastels, watercolours and engravings trace the life of Julie Manet (1878-1966), 'whose life’s work was to ensure that her mother and uncle gained the recognition they deserved' (Marmottan website). Julie Daydreaming, Berthe Morisot’s portrait of her daughter, was painted in 1894 when Julie was 16 © Christian Baraja SLB.

15 November 2021

The Marmottan in Paris has a fantastic (sounding) new exhibition. Goodness knows if we shall be able to get to it but on the Post this week – some highlights. The exhibition is called Julie Manet: An Impressionist Heritage; her mother was Berthe Morisot and her father was Eugene Manet, the brother of the famous painter. Julie was brought up at 40 rue Villejust, where the Morisot-Manets offered 'one of the most authentic centres of civilised Parisian life' said Renoir. This is Morisot’s painting of Julie aged 8 and the concierge’s daughter, Marthe Givaudan, playing with goldfish in a beautiful bowl which was a gift from Morisot’s brother-in-law Edouard Manet.  If Dorothy Canfield Fisher had seen this painting she would have very much approved: the Montessori doctrine, and her own beliefs, wanted children to learn how to use beautiful objects rather than just look at them behind locked glass cabinets.

12 November 2021

The New Statesman piece concludes: 'How do we keep on living in the face of crushing disappointment? It’s a question that feels pertinent now, when the pandemic and, let’s face it, the whole political, economic and environmental shit-show has robbed so many of us of our imagined futures. And it’s particularly poignant as Middlemarch contains so many characters trying to be good. What they discover is that decency, intelligence and hard work can’t prevent disaster... If there’s no way of avoiding disappointment,  what may be redeemed from it? Humility? Stoicism? Moral development? For every character, growth is enabled or constrained by others – which is presumably why Dorothea has to make peace with achieving little more than marriage, children and some nebulous “unhistoric acts” of good. There is a sense of mortal resignation in the novel’s beautifully ambivalent [and famous] final paragraph. “But the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive: for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.”'And as a final note: for the next two months the marvellous six episode adaptation of Middlemarch is available on BBC iPlayer here.

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