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Thursday, November 30, 2017

Jean Georges Vibert

The Marvelous Sauce, Jean Georges Vibert
There are few things more delightful than an artist with a highly developed sense of humor. Psychologists tell us that a sense of humor is an important component of intelligence. It would seem that it takes a little extra mental capacity to see humor and then expand and expound upon it. In art, cartoonists are a prime example. But still more enjoyable is a painter who does more than paint funny looking pictures. The more important aspect of an artistic sense of humor is subtlety. At their best, those with a creative sense of humor are able to make pointed jabs at the foibles of mankind without being unkind, who are able to deliver a pin-prick without a stab in the back. That, in itself, is an art, the ability to lead us to laugh at ourselves without the anger that comes with being seen as a fool.

Peeping Roofers & the Woman's Bath, Jean Georges Vibert.
Painted in 1880 for the Vanderbilts.
The French painter, Jean Georges Vibert (pronounced vee-BARE), was one such artist. Vibert was a witty man of many talents, and interests. His paintings in oils and watercolors made him a much-admired artist in his native France, as well as in America. Vibert dared to use his knowledge of colors, medium, styles, and subject matter to differentiate himself from other artists of his time. His daring satiric paintings of a hypocritical clergy and pompous government were well received during his life, although his works probably would have meant imprisonment a century earlier. His humorous attacks were viewed however, as a part of the growing democratization of Europe, and made him most famous.

Jean Georges Vibert
Jean Georges Vibert was born in Paris in 1840. As a young man Vibert was a mediocre student. He was much more adept at drawing pictures of people in his copy-books than in paying attention to his masters lessons. Vibert decided early on that he was destined to be an artist. He entered the studio of Félix-Joseph Barrias, a painter of genre scenes, landscapes, religious, and mytholog-ical compositions, but is best known for his paintings of Cardinals in funny situations in a Realist style. During the war of 1870-71, Vibert took an active role and became a Sharp-shooter. He was wounded at the Battle of Malmaison in October of 1870. After the war, Vibert was awarded the Legion of Honor. Jean Georges Vibert died in Paris in July of 1902.

A Fine Point, Jehan Georges Vibert
Painting solo, Vibert debuted at the Salon in 1863 with two genre compositions titled The Siesta and Repentance. In 1864, he was awarded a medal for his painting Narcissus (below). His turn toward genre scenes took the form of satirical clergy members, in works such as The Preening Peacock, A Fine Point (above), and A Marvelous Sauce (top). Vibert exercised a new artistic freedom through his comedic portrayal of human weaknesses, and mocking the imperfections of the clergy and monarchy. Vibert had become the master of the anecdotal scene, which had great appeal to the more sophisticated art patrons in Paris. The popularity of his paintings spread, especially in America, including commissions from the Astor and Vanderbilt families.

Narcissus, Jean Georges Vibert
While Spain influenced many of Vibert’s paintings, his travel to the East also affected his style of painting. Vibert shared a keen interest in the detailing, of the Orientalists. Vibert also was very interested in the acceptance of watercolor medium, formalizing the Societe des Aquarellistes Francais, and becoming its president, in 1878. Jean used his scientific abilities to prepare paint colors of his own, by studying the chemistry of colors. In 1891, Vibert wrote a book of the science of painting, which he named La Science de la peinture .
The Canon's Dinner, Jean Georges Vibert

Vibert became a playwright, staging many productions, while also writing stories for The Century Magazine, based on scenes from his paintings, finding it a convenient way to advertise his works in America. In 1878, Jean placed six watercolors and seven oil paintings on exhibition in the Exposition Universelle, winning a third-class medal for his entries. Vibert was also had an active association with the stage and theatrical productions in Paris.

The Musical Nuns,  Jean Georges Vibert. Is this where the TV show ,The Flying Nun, or the movie, Sister Act, originated?
 A Difficult Choice, Jean Georges
Vibert--which smells the best?
Jean Georges Vibert wanted his somewhat controversial art to speak for itself. He compared his works to how a father loves all of his children, though he may seldom be completely satisfied with them. Vibert was daring enough to speak through his art, was accomplished by using his many inter-ests, his wit and style to create works of art which are displayed now at the more prestigious art museums in the United States, such as the Metro-politan Museum of Art, the Haggin Museum, and the Art Institute of Chicago. Having a way with words, Vibert delighted in writing about himself, but with a false sense of modesty, he tended to write in the third person.

"After some years, during which the artist, then entirely unknown, was trying to make his way, he met with his first success, and from that day on his life has been like that of other artist. He has had medals, crosses, honors. He has painted, he paints, and he will paint as long as God shall let him. With regard to his works, which are everywhere, they must speak for themselves; and as for saying which the artist prefers, we never shall. A father loves all his children, though he may be seldom satisfied with them."
The Evil Bishop, Jean Georges Vibert


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