• When she was a child, ballerina Tanaquil Le Clercq used to look at the painting Sacred and Profane Love and wonder which figure represented Sacred Love: the fully clothed figure, or the nude figure? She was told that the nude figure symbolized virtue. Therefore, she was looking forward to dancing the role of Sacred Love in Sir Frederick Ashton’s ballet Illuminations — to be relatively unclothed is a blessing to a dancer, as too much costuming interferes with the ability to dance. Unfortunately, Sacred Love wore a lot of costuming in the ballet, whereas Profane Love wore much less costuming. In fact, the ballerina dancing the role of Profane Love wore one ballet slipper instead of two. However, this turned out not to be a blessing, as the ballerina frequently forgot which foot was shod and in going up on pointe with the unshod foot, she bruised all five toenails, resulting in some unballerina-like cursing in the wings.
• When trains were new inventions, Impressionist Claude Monet created paintings of them. He became friends with a stationmaster who helped him paint the trains. For example, the stationmaster would reschedule trains to enable Mr. Monet to finish a painting. In addition, the stationmaster would have the train engineers release clouds of white smoke so that Mr. Monet could paint them.
• Movie director Peter Bogdanovich’s father was an artist who would not sign a painting until after it was sold. He once went to the home of a person who had bought a painting and brought a palette so that he could sign it. Half an hour later, the art collector looked in the room where the painting was and discovered the artist busily repainting the work of art.
• Clementine Hunter was a self-taught African-American folk artist who painted after all her other work was done. Often, she painted at night while her husband, Emmanuel, tried to sleep. One night, he told her, “Woman, if you don’t stop painting and get some sleep, you’ll sure go crazy.” She replied, “No, if I don’t get this painting out of my head, I’ll sure go crazy.”
• The most famous painting in the world is perhaps Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. After he died, it became the possession of King Francis I of France. French royalty owned the painting for centuries, although they didn’t always choose to hang it in a place that art lovers would consider appropriate. For a while, the Mona Lisa was displayed in the royal bathroom!
• When Paul Cézanne was 13 years old, he rescued a skinny, near-sighted kid named Émile Zola from bullies. To show his gratitude, the future novelist gave the future painter a basket filled with apples. As an adult, Mr. Cézanne frequently painted apples and once declared, “I wish to conquer Paris with an apple.”
• Impressionist painter Edgar Degas regarded gold frames as garish and in bad taste. At a dinner party, he discovered one of his paintings in a gold frame. He waited until he was alone, then he took his painting out of the frame, rolled up the canvas, put it under his arm, and left the party, carrying away the painting.
• Some great art is painted on ordinary surfaces. In his 1889 work titled Self-Portrait with Halo, Paul Gauguin depicted himself as the Fallen Angel. The work was created at Marie Henry’s inn in Le Pouldu. Mr. Gauguin painted it in the dining room directly on wooden cupboard doors.
• In the first half of the 17th century, Artemisia Gentileschi of Italy was a painter who knew her own worth. Once she sent a painting to a patron, along with this note: “This will show your Lordship what a woman can do.”
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved
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