Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The jealous love rival who tried to erase all trace of Monet's muse, his 1st wife Camille


 Pierre Auguste Renoir (French Impressionist painter, 1841-1919) Camille Monet Reading 1872

The jealous love rival who tried to erase all trace of Monet's muse, his 1st wife Camille

David Sharrock
The Guardian, The Observer, Saturday 5 March 2011

Camille Doncieux...was model, lover & eventually wife of Claude Monet, whose early paintings of her gave him his 1st taste of commercial & critical success.  But when Camille died young after a long illness following the birth of their 2nd child, the woman who replaced her in Monet's life was determined to obliterate her memory.

Alice, Monet's 2nd wife, was consumed by jealousy of her departed rival & destroyed all photographic records of Camille. Only one photo is known to have survived. Taken in Holland in 1871, it was kept in a private collection about which Alice knew nothing...

Camille was 18 when Monet, 7 years her senior, first met her. Introduced by Frédéric Bazille, with whom he shared a studio, Monet was captivated above all by her eyes & asked her to pose in The Picnic...Renoir & Monet were lifelong friends, often setting up their easels side by side. It was not surprising that Renoir also painted Monet's beautiful consort.

Despairing of finishing The Picnic in time for display at the Salon, Monet instead submitted a full-length portrait of Camille, which drew admiring comparisons with the work of Edouard Manet. The painting sold for 800 francs, an astonishing sum for a young, unknown artist in 1865. A year later Camille gave birth to their son Jean. It wasn't until June 1870, that they married in a civil ceremony in Paris.

Monet's scandalised family, who had withdrawn their support for the struggling artist, boycotted the wedding. Fellow impressionist Gustave Courbet was one of the witnesses. For the rest of their marriage Monet's financial circumstances were precarious, but in 1876 he met the mercurial collector Ernest Hoschedé & his wife Alice, with whom he is presumed to have commenced an affair. Monet painted at their lavish Château de Rottembourg in Montgeron, south-east of Paris. But Ernest lost everything & fled to Belgium to escape his debts. In 1878, Monet invited the impoverished Hoschedés to move in with his family in Vétheuil.

Ernest Hoschedé started working for the newspaper Le Voltaire, spending most of his time in Paris, leaving Alice & the family in Vétheuil. Camille's health deteriorated – the cause has never been fully explained although theories include the after-effects of abortions. In August 1879, Camille was close to death & a priest was called to administer the last rites & sanction her marriage to Monet. She died 5 days later, aged 32.

Monet painted her on her deathbed, overcome by grief. The painting remained in his possession for most of his life. "I caught myself watching her tragic forehead," he wrote to a friend after Camille's death, "almost mechanically observing the sequence of changing colours that death was imposing on her rigid face. Blue, yellow, grey & so on … my reflexes compelled me to take unconscious action in spite of myself."

After Camille's death, rumours began to spread about Monet's relationship with Alice. Ernest Hoschedé did not even return to his family that Christmas; & in January 1880, Le Gaulois newspaper announced a mock funeral, reporting the "grievous loss" of Claude Monet who was living in Vétheuil with his "charming wife" – Alice Hoschedé. The article said that Monet supported his former patron, Ernest Hoschedé, who was financially bankrupt & living in the artist's studio in Paris.


Orientalism by Pierre Auguste Renoir (1841-1919) & His Algerian Quest



Pierre Auguste Renoir (French Impressionist painter, 1841-1919) Odalisque 1870

Although he painted his most famous Odelisque in 1870, Renoir did not travel to Algeria until 1881, searching for the perfect orientalist model. He was disappointed, writing to a friend, that Algerian women were "unapproachable, I don’t understand their jabber and they are very unreliable...It’s unfortunate as there are some pretty ones, but they do not want to pose.” Instead of trying to learn to communicate with the folks in Algeria & portraying the actual women he saw there in 1881 & 1882, Renoir returned to the comfort of home to paint idealized French women wearing exotic garb.



Pierre Auguste Renoir (French Impressionist painter, 1841-1919) Madame Clementine Stora in Algerian Dress

Orientalism is a term used by art, literary, & cultural studies scholars for the depiction of aspects of Middle Eastern & Eastern cultures by writers & artists from Western cultures. Orientalist painting, depicting mostly "the Middle East" was one of the many areas of 19C art.


Pierre Auguste Renoir (French Impressionist painter, 1841-1919) Algerian Woman 1881




Pierre Auguste Renoir (French Impressionist painter, 1841-1919) Algerian Girl 1881




Pierre Auguste Renoir (French Impressionist painter, 1841-1919) Seated Algerian Woman 1882




Pierre Auguste Renoir (French Impressionist painter, 1841-1919) Algerian Woman 1883




Pierre Auguste Renoir (French Impressionist painter, 1841-1919) The Harem




Pierre Auguste Renoir (French Impressionist painter, 1841-1919) Dancer




Pierre Auguste Renoir (French Impressionist painter, 1841-1919) Odalisque 1895




 Pierre Auguste Renoir (French Impressionist painter, 1841-1919) The Concert




 Pierre Auguste Renoir (French Impressionist painter, 1841-1919)  Gabrielle (1878-1959) in an Oriental Costume with a Rose 




 Pierre Auguste Renoir (French Impressionist painter, 1841-1919)  Mademoiselle Fleury In Algerian Costume




 Pierre Auguste Renoir (French Impressionist painter, 1841-1919)  Gabrielle (1878-1959) in an Oriental Costume with Jewelry




 Pierre Auguste Renoir (French Impressionist painter, 1841-1919)  Young Algerian Girl




 Pierre Auguste Renoir (French Impressionist painter, 1841-1919)  Gabrielle (1878-1959) in an Oriental Costume with open blouse


 Pierre Auguste Renoir (French Impressionist painter, 1841-1919)  Madame Heriot 1882.


 Pierre Auguste Renoir (French Impressionist painter, 1841-1919)  Gabrielle (1878-1959) in an Oriental Costume at a Mirror 1910


 Pierre Auguste Renoir (French Impressionist painter, 1841-1919)  Child with an Orange




 Pierre Auguste Renoir (French Impressionist painter, 1841-1919) Gabrielle (1878-1959) in an Oriental Costume Seated




 Pierre Auguste Renoir (French Impressionist painter, 1841-1919) Buste de femme en costume oriental




  Pierre Auguste Renoir (French Impressionist painter, 1841-1919)  Gabrielle (1878-1959) in an Oriental Costume




 Pierre Auguste Renoir (French Impressionist painter, 1841-1919) Dancing Girl with Tambourine 1909




  Pierre Auguste Renoir (French Impressionist painter, 1841-1919)  Gabrielle (1878-1959) in an Oriental Costume a sa Coiffure.




  Pierre Auguste Renoir (French Impressionist painter, 1841-1919)  Algerian Woman with Child




 Pierre Auguste Renoir (French Impressionist painter, 1841-1919)  Gabrielle (1878-1959) in an Oriental Costume




  Pierre Auguste Renoir (French Impressionist painter, 1841-1919)  Young Algerian Girl.




Pierre Auguste Renoir (French Impressionist painter, 1841-1919) Gabrielle (1878-1959) in an Oriental Costume

For further information see:

André, Albert. Forward. Renoir’s Atelier. San Francisco: Alan Wofsy Fine Arts, 1989. xxxv-xxxvii.

Bailey, Colin B. “Renoir and Algeria.” The Burlington Magazine. Sept. 2003: 682-684.

Benjamin, Roger. Renoir and Algeria. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2003.

Orientalist Aethetics: Art, Colonialism, and French North Africa, 1880-1930. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2003.

Charbonnier, J.M. “L’Algérie des Peintres : le Sabre & le Pinceau.” Beaux Arts Magazine. Nov. 2003: 68-70.

Guégan, Stéphane. “Images coloniales?” De Delacroix a Renoir: L’Algerie des peintres. Paris: Institut du mondearabe, 2003. 16-19.

House, John. “Renoir’s Worlds.” Renoir. Rugby, Great Britain: Jolly & Barber Limited, 1985. 11-18.

Prochaska, David. “The Other Algeria: Beyond Renoir’s Algiers.” Renoir and Algeria. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003. 120-141.

Rivière, Georges. Renoir et Ses Amis. Paris: H. Floury, 1921.

Said, Edward W. Orientalism: Western Conceptions of the Orient. London: Penguin Books, 1995.

Thornton, Lynne. The Orientalists: Painter-Travellers. Paris: ACR PocheCouleur, 1994.