Monet painting at Giverny
Fine art enthusiasts will appreciate these fascinating film clips of four of the most celebrated artists in history. The film above features a 74-year-old Claude Monet (previously featured) painting in his glorious garden at Giverny in 1915. (This is the first time in memory that I've wished a black-and-white film was in color!)
The clip below shows a nearly incapacitated Pierre-Auguste Renoir, also age 74 in the year 1915, seated next to his easel as he paints. Son Claude, 14, stands by the master to assist him with his palette and brushes. At the time this footage was shot, Renoir was unable to walk and his hands were contorted. He relied on family and friends to move and position his wheelchair so that he could work. Renoir's son Jean, in his book entitled Renoir, My Father, described his father's condition at the time:
"His hands were terribly deformed. His rheumatism had made the joints stiff and caused the thumbs to turn inward towards the palms, and his fingers to bend towards the wrists. Visitors who were unprepared for this could not take their eyes off his deformity. Though they did not dare to mention it, their reaction would be expressed by some such phrase as “It isn’t possible! With hands like that, how can he paint those pictures? There’s some mystery somewhere.”
In the video below we see several sequences of Auguste Rodin at age 75, two years before his death. The first and second show the sculptor near a columned building and posing in a garden, respectively. The third sequence shows Rodin sculpting at what he considered his second home and studio at that time, the Hôtel Biron. Other notable renters of rooms at the Biron included Jean Cocteau, Isadora Duncan, Henri Matisse and Rainer Maria Rilke, who briefly worked as Rodin’s secretary.
Rodin sculpting in his studio
The final clip shows elderly Edgar Degas at age 81, two years before his death. The disavowed impressionist (preferring to be known as a realist) and capturer of the dance leisurely strolls the streets of Paris.