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Richard Rooker

I had concluded business the day before at The Grand Palais des Champs-Élysées

where my Gustave Caillebotte painting would exhibit for 6 months prior to making its final move to the Musée du Louvre where it would become part of the permanent exhibit collection. Today was to be another day of adventure in Paris, seeing some of the most iconic pieces of architecture and historically recognized art museums in the world. Maybe not quite so famous but directly across the river from Musée du Louvre in the central part of Paris, where one finds all the art culture one could ever absorb in a year’s time, is the Musée d'Orsay.

Musée d'Orsay is housed in the former Gare d'Orsay, a Beaux-Arts railway station built between 1898 and 1900. The museum holds mainly French art dating from 1848 to 1914, including paintings, sculptures, furniture, and photography.  One of the better known artists whose work is displayed here is Henri Fantin-Latour.

Here we see Latour in a self portrait.

Just for the record he was officially born as Ignace Henri Jean Théodore Fantin-Latour.  It’s a French thing I guess.  Latour learned to draw by taking lessons from his father who was also an artist.  He went on to study at École des Beaux-Arts in 1854. One of his artist friends was James Abbott McNeill Whistler an American artist working in England and known world wide for his painting of his mother, which is now in the collection at, yes, Musée d'Orsay.

Whistler's Mother 

Whistler brought attention to the works of Latour which, especially his still life works, became well known and sold very well in England before they really became known in France.  I am just amazed at his sense of realism and light in his work.

My favorite subject to paint is my wife.  Of course.  Latour did proud by his wife, Victoria Dubourg who was an artist in her own right, by an extraordinary portrait of her. But perhaps the one piece that I am personally struck by is Latour’s painting “Still Life; Corner of a Table”.

An oil on canvas at about 38” x 49”, it is difficult to describe in words that do it justice.  But we are all in much luck here!  This painting is part of the permanent collection of the Art Institute of Chicago.  And as some of you know, one of the fun things I like to do is introduce young (and old) art enthusiasts to the Art Institute.  An hour and a half train ride to downtown Chicago from Milwaukee’s Intermodal station and a 15 minute walk from Union Station to the Institute, I am your official escort on a day trip to experience the wonders of the Art Institute of Chicago.  Give me a call or email if you have an interest!


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