Thursday, May 5, 2011
My Juste Milieu Year
So, this is the backdrop as I approached my 55th birthday. Last spring David and I had been planning on taking part in a hiking trip in Spain. The last day of this trip we would spend in Madrid where Sargent's painting of the Daughters of Edward Darley Boit would be on display with Velasquez's Las Meninas for the very last day. But David's knee gave out and we had to scrap these hiking plans. Perhaps I was a bit sullen as we drove into Houston last spring on the day after my birthday (We had enjoyed a fine birthday dinner at The Olive Garden in Texarkana!) Mary's junior year was wrapped up and she lived near the Museum of Fine Arts Houston. So we drove by the MFAH and draped over the side of the building was a huge sign: Sargent and the Sea. I couldn't believe my good fortune! Naturally, I went to see the exhibit twice while we were in Houston. My favorite painting was the one above, Fishermen Returning, set in Cancale in Brittany, France. The light is magical, at once luminescent but also a little sad. I tried to absorb as much as I could of the young Sargent's brilliant rendering of water and humanity, sky and creatures. Included in the exhibit were Sargent's early scrapbooks, which were fantastically inspiring.
A couple of weeks later we went to see Jacob graduate from Washington University, Saint Louis with a masters in finance. Now, we would not have been able to attend this graduation if we had been in Spain, so the trade off had become very easy. We stayed at a hotel a little ways out from the campus. The restaurant where we had our breakfast had these very pleasing paintings which made me think of Millet. I was very curious about them. It was quite surprising, when I went to look up Juste Milieu to discover that Jules Bastien-Lepage, the ringleader of the Juste Milieu was the painter of the paintings imitated on the walls of the hotel outside St. Louis!