Adolphe Monticelli, Fete Champetré, 15.5 x 23.5 inches, 1860-1865
Jean-Antoine Watteau, Fete Champetre, 1718/1721, 19 x 25 inches, Art Institute of Chicago
I wanted to look a bit at the influence of the painter Adolphe Monticelli on Vincent van Gogh, in order to convey to readers that van Gogh didn’t jump fully formed out of the head of Zeus with mad eyes and fully juiced up paint. We can also move from Monticelli back to the Watteau to get a sense of just how structured and reliant on Old Master painting the “Independent” art of the late 19th century actually was. One way to look at the development of van Gogh’s work would be as a combination of Monticelli and Delacroix–Monticelli, from whom he derived in his dense impasto and varied calligraphy and Delacroix’s revolutionary use of the new variety of colors available to artists of that time period. (We can only imagine what Delacroix and Vincent would have done with the varieties of quinacridones, thalos, etc.!)
It’s safe to say that without Monticelli and Delacroix we would’t have van Gogh… or rather, we wouldn’t have the van Gogh that we see in museums. Monticelli is an extraordinary painter, once again another painter whose work should be far better known and appreciated than it is. It makes little to no sense at all that van Gogh is viewed as one of the greatest painters of the late 19th century, while simultaneously the painter who was instrumental in liberating his brush exists in complete obscurity.
Another influence on van Gogh, Narcisse-Virgilio Diaz de la Peña. Below is a lovely Diaz de la Pena that oddly brings to mind a painter like the Dutchman Philip de Koninck
Diaz de La Pena
Koninck, who almost invariably seems to place the horizon where Diaz de la Pena places his in the repro above. Who knows why? (The view from on high?)
For a head on comparison between Monticelli and van Gogh, Le Figaro has provided some excellent examples:
One more painter to look at in relation to van Gogh. A quote from Naifeh/Smith’s Van Gogh: The Life:
Dismissing those, like Anquetin, who considered Monet and the Impressionists the keepers of Delacroix’s palette, Vincent celebrated his own private panthon of true heirs-painters like the Belgian Henri de Braekeleer and the long-dead Barbizon master Narcisse Virgile Diaz de la Peña–and anointed a little-known Marseille painter, Adolphe Monticelli, as the truest disciple of all.
I have to confess, while well aware of Monticelli and Diaz de la Peña, Braekeleer’s name was only vaguely familiar. Shame on me. But I now find his discovery very exciting indeed. Shades of Pieter de la Hooch:
Henri de Braekeleer, Man in a Chair, 1876
One thing that can be said is that Vincent van Gogh had uncommon taste, intelligence, and original insight to fasten himself to drawing lessons from such brilliant company of painters, particularly since (outside of Delacroix) they were apparently less than popular.