José Manuel Capuletti

Who is Capuletti?

José Manuel Capuletti
Nationality: Spanish
Art Movement: Magic Realism

This month’s artist is a fairly unknown one. In fact, I’ll place a bet that you probably haven’t heard of him before- José Manuel Capuletti.

I stumbled across some of his paintings on Wikiart and was immediately intrigued. He has the style of Dali (in fact he was a student of Dali’s) but he has a lighter, less complex (dare I say, less morbid?) feel to his art. While sometimes looking and immersing yourself in Dali can feel like a bad acid trip – Capuletti feels more like you’re watching the comedy channel.

I am captivated by his works. There is virtually no information about him at all on the internet that I could find. He doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page.. but somehow this Spanish painter has found his works collected by some very prestigious people including the Duke & Duchess of Windsor, Arthur Rubenstein and King Juan Carlos of Spain. He was also reportedly Ayn Rand’s favourite artist – beating out stiff completion from Vemeer, Rembrant and even Dali himself. Ayn is said to have commented on Capuletti as being “a man who is in love with life, with this earth.”

From what I can gather and stitch together from snippets available on the web, Capuletti was born in Valladolid, Spain in 1925. He became fascinated with art quite early on and after school he worked as a stage decoration designer for a Ballet group that toured Europe. This is where he met his future wife, María del Pilar López Fernández (Pilar) who he married in Paris in 1951.

Pilar features heavily in Capuletti’s art – she is often depicted with a brunette pixie haircut with her back to the viewer.

Capuletti has the passionate intensity of Spain, the elegance of France, and the joyous, benevolent freedom of America.

- Ayn Rand

The majority of Capuletti’s art gives off an imaginative yet serene vibe – the people and animals depicted in his art are very much in harmony with the landscape they find themselves in. Even when presented with some surprising surrealist items in the landscape, the items somehow feel like they are meant to be part of the scene. Nothing is forced, there is a lot of tongue-in-cheek and you can possibly read all sorts of allegory and iconography into the art if you look hard enough – but I personally think that Capuletti was just having fun. I think life amused him and therefore art amused him. He saw a happier, lighter, less tortured side of surrealism than Dali and this feeds into the bright colours and simple shapes that make up his work.

Well, I hope you enjoyed learning about this lesser known artist like I did. View his art and appreciate the lighter side of life. Peace out.

Ps. If you’re an amateur art collector, it may be worthwhile keeping an eye out for Capulettis work when it comes up. His oil’s generally sell for less than EU 10,000. While his watercolours are less than EU $1500. Which I think is a great price for an artist with an impressive collector list like Capuletti has.

Capuletti - Fashion Inspiration

This look channels a 50’s vibe but it would be remiss to not throw in some unexpected items for a little surrealist action.

Sweet but spicy.

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Week 42 - Fashion Finds

When shit gets surreal...

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Madame X by John Singer Sargent

The scandal of Madame X...

Madame X by John Singer Sargent

American / Realism, Portrait
Painted with oil paints on 208.6 x 109.9 cm canvas
Currently on display at The Met in New York, USA

Ohhh do I have a good one for you this week. This bold and scandalous picture is titled Madame X due to the fact that the woman who modelled for it was so scandalised by the artwork that she insisted that John Singer Sargent remove her name from all associations with it. However, this once-scorned picture is now one of the most revered pictures and has a prominent position at The Met in New York.

So what makes this picture so scandalous?… well, let me tell you a story.

John Singer Sargent was an American artist but he had spent a lot of his life in Paris. He was determined to become the premier Portrait painter of the time. He had had some recent success but needed one high profile project to catapult him to the next level of fame. It was around this time that he was doing a portrait of a man called Dr. Pozzi – Dr Pozzi, just happened to be carrying on a very illicit and well-known affair with a lady called Madame Gautreau.

Madame Virginie Amélie Gautreau was well-known in Paris for being the “It” girl at the time. She was young, vibrant and married to a man 20+ years her senior and she somehow managed to get away with all sorts of scandalous things.

She was most known for her pale pale skin, copper hair, striking nose and swan-like neck that she delicately showed off in clothing that accentuated her curvaceous figure and bucked the traditions of the time.

Mdme Gautreau was graceful and seductive. She reportedly spent a great deal of time on her appearance and went so far as tinting her skin white with lavender chalk to achieve an almost cadaverous paleness which she then accentuated by applying rouge to her ears, lips, cheeks and tinted her eyebrows with a mahogany pencil to achieve her signature look.

John Singer Sargent, along with many of the famous artists of the time, was desperate to paint her – this was the exact type of person that could make him as an artist. So he begged Dr Pozzi to refer him to Madame Gautreau. Dr Pozzi eventually did and Sargent received the long-awaited invitation to join the Gautreau’s at their country estate where he began the first of many sketches of his new muse. It was decided that Sargent would produce a portrait of Madam Gautreau that he would submit to the Salon for their prestigious show that year. Both artist and sitter were gleeful at the thought of the fame that would come to them after the portrait was well-received from the Salon and Parisian society.

(Side note: The Salon could basically make or break artists. Artists clamoured to be accepted into the show and to be given prime place in the placement of their art).

Every time I paint a portrait I lose a friend.

- John Singer Sargent

It took Sargent a year to create the piece – with many issues in-between – it seems that Madame Gautreau had the attention span of a gnat which made painting her impossible. What had once started as an infatuation quickly turned to frustration but eventually, Sargent finished the piece– and everyone who saw it, including Madame Gautreau, claimed it would be a huge success.

Well, it wasn’t. Paris was scandalised.

This notorious flirt was now immortalised in such a way that her seduction was front and centre. The French don’t mind a good affair as long as it’s discreet, and Sargent had pushed their frail sensibilities to the edge with this bold and stroking portrait which some claimed looked ‘decomposed’ and ‘vulgar’. After the unveiling supposedly Madame Gautreau’s mother, made such a scene screaming at Sargent,

“All Paris is making fun of my daughter. She is ruined …She’ll die of chagrin.”

(ie: Chagrin means distress at being humiliated.. a tad dramatic wouldn’t you say!)

An interesting point to note – at the time the painting was shown in the Salon and in its original state – Sargent had painted the strap of her dress as falling off her right shoulder, giving her even more of a seductive air. He made the decision to paint the strap back on her shoulder hoping to quell some of the gossip surrounding the painting but nothing seemed to be able to rescue this painting from the notoriety it had already attracted.

Madame Gautreau’s reputation was tarnished forever. She begged to have the painting removed from the Salon but it was refused. She eventually had to flee Paris and went into hiding until the scandal blew over. Although she tried, she never quite got her “It” girl status back and while she did eventually commission other portraits (including another one that featured a falling strap) none quite created the praise of her beauty that she desired. By the end of her life, she was a virtual recluse and she died in Paris, quite forgotten, in 1915.

In 1916, a year after Madame Gautreau’s death, John Singer Sargent finally sold the painting to The Met for $1000. Sargent made a point of making it a condition of sale that The Met disguise the sitter’s name – which is how it received its title “Madame X”.

Sargent, who had fled Paris after the scandal, held onto the portrait for all those years in between – keeping it in his studio. In a way, his identity as a painter was tied up to the striking painting. He finally made the concession that

“I suppose it is the best thing I have done.”

While the controversy surrounding the painting never quite left Sargent, he did create a good career as a portrait painter and is now recognised as one of America’s finest painters of the time. Nothing he has done has quite held up against Madame X’s portrait in my eyes though.

Full disclosure – I absolutely adore this painting!

Madame X - Fashion Inspiration

This is my kind of outfit. It’s all black, black, black and heavy metals.

I couldn’t resist that Balmain dress – OK, so I know its $6000 but it just so perfectly fits the Madame X vibe that its there for reference only! I promise.. haha. Oh, and the Chanel bag… One of my ultimate lust items. It’s pure perfection for Madame X.

What’s your favourite piece in this Madame X collection?

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Week 25 - Fashion Finds

Black with a side of black...

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Women in the Garden by Claude Monet

The ultimate muse...

Women in the Garden by Claude Monet

French // Impressionism
Painted with oil paints on 205 x 255 cm canvas
Currently on display at Musée d’Orsay, Paris, France

While Claude Monet is now primarily known as a landscape painter (hello, water lillies!), his early works featured a variety of portraits. Out of all of them, his first wife Camille is the most popular subject. Painted in 1886, “Women in the garden” is one of his most well-known portrait paintings. It features three women in period dresses, for which Camille posed for all 3 of the ladies in the portrait.

Camille was just 18 when she met Monet. They were introduced by Monet’s studio partner Bazille – who knew Camille through her modelling work for other painters. Camille was reportedly enchanting with her wit and full of kindness and grace. When they met, Claude Monet was said to be completely captivated by her eyes and asked her to pose for a painting he was doing at the time called “The Picnic”. Monet’s first real taste of recognition and commercial success came from an early painting of Camille around this same time. His full-length painting of Camille in a rented green promenade dress sold for an unbelievable 800 francs – an amount unheard of for a young, unknown artist at the time.

Camille and Monet’s relationship thrived with the scandalous addition of a baby boy approximately one year later. It took them another 4 years to officially wed with Monet’s family boycotting the wedding and withdrawing all monetary support to the couple – leaving Monet and his new family in a precarious financial position struggling to pay rent, moving constantly and often fleeing in the night.

In 1877 Camille & Monet moved to a small french village and welcomed into their family home a former wealthy patron of Monet’s who had recently lost his fortune. Ernest & Alice Hoschede and their 6 children moved in and Alice nursed Camille when she became gravely ill following the birth of her second son Michel in 1878. It was wildly rumored that Monet & Alice had already started having an affair by the time the Hoschede’s came to live with the Monet’s – even speculation that one of Alice’s sons had been fathered by Monet during a previous visit of his to the Hoschede’s chateaux in 1876.

Camille tragically never got to profit off her husband’s eventual prosperity and she also never got to see the gardens of Giverny which inspired the famous Water Lilllies and landscapes that Monet would become so famous for. Camille died in 1879 at the very young age of 32 leaving behind her two sons and a legacy of roughly forty paintings from some of the most famous painters of the time including Renoir & Manet. Side note: A recent Renoir painting of Camille sold for approx US$15 million.

Everyone discusses my art and pretends to understand, as if it were necessary to understand, when it is simply necessary to love.

- Claude Monet

As one last final act in her role of muse, Monet painted a portrait of Camille just after she’d passed away – It’s a shadowly blizzard of paint that is cold and tragic but tenderly captures the enduring love between Camille & Monet. In describing the artwork to a friend Monet writes –

”You cannot know the obsession, the joy, the torment of my days…I was at the deathbed of a lady who had been, and still was very dear to me…I found myself staring at [her] tragic countenance, automatically trying to identify” things like “the proportions of light.”

Monet insisted that the painting never be exhibited and he never signed the artwork.

Following Camille’s death, Alice continued to live with Monet and raise their combined family. They eventually married some 14 years later once Alice’s estranged husband eventually died. However, during this time in cold fits of jealousy Alice removed all trace of Camille from their family life – including destroying all her letters and photographs. It seems she did a pretty thorough job with only one photograph remaining of Camille.

But no-one – not even a jealous second wife – could remove this famous muse from her beautiful paintings that today hang proudly in art galleries all around the world. RIP Camille.

Monet - Fashion Inspiration

Camille Monet serves once again as muse and inspiration for this week’s fashion inspired challenge. Its all about pretty dresses in black and white and navy tones – with a distinctly French-inspired edge that any modern Parisian woman would be happy to be seen in.

The shoes are to die for!

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