30 Works, Today, April 28th. is artist Hugues Merle’s day, his story, illustrated with footnotes #117

Hugues Merle (French, 1823 – 1881)
The Lunatic of Étretat, c. 1871

Oil on canvas
60 1/8 x 39 1/8 in. (152.7 x 99.4 cm)
Chrysler Museum of Art

The woman’s face is a mask of suffering while she cradles, not a sleeping baby, but a wooden log! The figure’s anguish is a hallmark of Romanticism, a style that emphasized images of suffering, madness, and death. These images were often thinly veiled allusions to broader social suffering or political upheavals. Merle painted The Lunatic in 1871, the same year that France lost the Franco-Prussian War. Could his dark image mirror the broader national mood of political loss and desolation? More on this painting

Hugues Merle (1823–1881) was a well-known painter during the middle decades of the nineteenth century when academic realism and naturalism held center stage in the Parisian art world. His work was acclaimed and eagerly sought out by patrons both in Europe and the United States. His greatest popular successes were won by scenes of maternal affection and childhood innocence.”…

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Author: zaidangallery

I search Art History for Beautiful works that may, or may not, have a secondary or unexpected story to tell. I then write short summaries that grow from my research. Art work is so much more when its secrets are exposed

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