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Riparian woodland in art

Riparian woodland in art




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Corot, Jean-Baptiste-Camille (1796-1875) Ville-d'Avray
The Seine near Rouen (1830-35)
A Flood (probably 1870-75)
Daubigny, Charles-François (1817-1878) The Banks of the Oise
Monet, Claude Oscar (1840-1926) The Seine at Port-Villez (A gust of wind)
The Petit Bras of the Seine at Argenteuil (1872)
Les Peupliers au bord de l'Epte (1891)
Flood Waters (about 1896)
Etienne Müller and Hélène Guilloy (2000) Ripisylve (2000)
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Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot (1796-1875) painted in romantic, realistic, and proto-impressionistic styles. Born in Paris, he learned classical principles of composition from the landscape painter Victor Bertin, and initially he painted in Italy. From 1828 until his death he lived in Paris, but during the summers he travelled and painted out-of-doors. His landscapes became increasingly romantic, and displayed the character of the later Impressionist movement (such as the famous painting of Ville-d'Avray). This development is evident in the paintings in this series. Corot was seen as the bridge between classical French landscape painting and contemporary painting, whether contemporary means the Barbizon school of the mid-19th century (Rousseau and Daubigny), or the more recent vision of Monet and the Impressionists.

For example, the painting of The Seine near Rouen (probably 1830-35), an oil on canvas about 20cm x 35cm, is typical of Corots small-scale panoramic countryside views. In these paintings he captured the tones of the landscape, and the effects of sunlight on natural forms. The view in this painting is of the Seine from Rouen in north-western France. The island dividing the river is the Île Rollet and the spire on the hill, that of the church at Canteleu. The painting was presented by the NACF to the Tate Gallery in 1926. The later painting of A Flood (probably 1870-75), an oil on canvas in the Salting Bequest to the National Gallery, is about 55cm x 65cm, and is a late, possibly unfinished, painting first described in Robaut's 1905 catalogue of Corot's work as 'Le Cap Boisé' (The Wooded Headland). It is possibly a view of a river rather than flooded land.

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Corot - Ville-d'Avray
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Corot - The Seine near Rouen
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Corot - A Flood
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Charles-François Daubigny (1817-1878) was a French painter who introduced into his landscapes a concern for the depiction of natural light through the use of colour, which had considerable influence on the Impressionist movement in the late 19th century. Like Corot, he favoured working out-of-doors and painting directly from nature, although he was not a formal member of the Barbizon school which espoused this method. Daubigny painted in the Morvan district, and through his career, he increasingly employed graduated light reflections from surfaces to give effects of space. These methods were directed at conveying a momentary impression of the landscape. Daubigny links the more classical naturalism of Corot with the less formal visual impressionism of his friends Claude Monet and Alfred Sisley. The example of Daubignys work shown here is The Banks of the Oise, an oil painted on wood.

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Daubigny - The Banks of the Oise
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Claude Oscar Monet (1840-1926) was a leader of the Impressionist movement in France. In the mid-1850s he was encouraged by his art teacher to take up painting nature in the open air rather than in the studio, and plein-air painting became central to the working methods of Monet and the other Impressionists. His fellow students in Paris in the 1860s included Auguste Renoir and Alfred Sisley. Monets investigations into capturing the effects of light and atmosphere in his paintings became central to the Impressionist style. He painted many river scenes in which the light played on the water, and the wind constantly disturbed the trees, developing a style in which light and motion were captured by using small strokes of pure colour. The resultant paintings were more like sketches than traditional finished paintings. The image of The Seine at Port-Villez, sometimes called A Gust of Wind, is a classic example (this oil-on-canvas is 60cm x 100cm, and is in the Columbus Museum of Art in Ohio). In the 1870s Monet settled in Argenteuil, near Paris. The town became the centre of Impressionist painting as Renoir, Sisley, Pissarro, and Manet were invited there by Monet. The group formulated the idea of holding independent exhibitions (later known as the Impressionist exhibitions) of their work, which had been rejected by the artistic establishment. The painting of The Petit Bras of the Seine at Argenteuil (1872) is a relatively conventional 53cm x 72cm oil-on-canvas from this period

In the early 1890s he began series of paintings showing particular locations under different light and weather conditions, including Poplars on the banks of the Epte (1890-1892). In these works, the texture is more dense and the juxtaposition of tiny brushstrokes of colour more complex than in the sketch-like earlier paintings. The "poplar" series was painted from a flat-bottomed boat so that the trees were silhouetted against the skies. When the nearby town of Limetz (near Giverny) decided to auction the trees for timber, Monet had to persuade a wood merchant to buy them jointly with him, on the condition that they were left standing for a few more months to enable him to finish his series. The painting of Flood Waters (an oil-on-canvas of 71cm x 92cm, from about 1896) is said to be of the flooded River Epte, which is known to have flooded in the autumn of 1896.

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Monet - The Petit Bras of the Seine at Argenteuil
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Monet - The Petit Bras of the Seine at Argenteuil
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Monet - Les Peupliers au bord de l'Epte
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Monet - Flood Waters
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Muller and Guilloy - Ripisylve

Etienne Müller and Hélène Guilloy of the FLOBAR2 team at the Centre dEcologie des Systèmes Aquatiques Continentaux (CNRS/Université Paul Sabatier, Toulouse), participated in an artistic project, "loeuvre collective", with 36 other participants, from 24 June-15 October 2000. This project was based on the work of Claude Rutault. Since 1973, Tutault had argued that the placing of a canvas on a wall was not a neutral act, and had proposed 297 sets of conditions (so-called "definitions/methods") for realizing paintings. In this case, d/m 49, defined as the "generalized interchangeable" constraint, was chosen by the museum for this collective work, and was imposed to the 36 participants. This constraint was that: a number of canvases, chosen from standard formats, is dispersed amongst an equal number of private or public places, one canvas per person, with each being painted in the same color as the wall on which it is fixed. The list of 36 participants, their addresses and descriptions of their paintings, were printed on a poster and distributed to the public during visits to the museum. In the museum only three paintings were visible. The other canvases were displayed at the participating addresses (restaurants, theatres, factories, research centres). The project "loeuvre collective" was therefore an invitation to the public to visit different sites in addition to the museum.

The proposal by the FLOBAR2 team members involved a glass-canvas 40cm x 64cm on which was painted beige "elements" (exactly the same colour as the wall of the entrance hall of the CESAC Laboratory. The elements were painted on one side of the glass-canvas but were visible from the opposite side. The painting approved by C. Rutault was called Ripisylve (riparian forest). In the proposal, Nature was considered the artist, and the FLOBAR2 team simply the go-between between the artist and the public. The elements painted on the glass-canvas have an ecological reality: they correspond to woodland patches along the Garonne river. The wall visible through or around the painting is the non-wooded vegetative matrix between the wooded "islands". The ecological message of the painting is very simple: riparian woodland displays continuity in a fragmented landscape. The size chosen for the glass-canvas was the same as for a sheet of the Vegetation Map of France. In the entrance hall of the CESAC Laboratory, the 80 sheets of the vegetation map are mounted on a wall. It took about 30 years for the Laboratory to realize this cartographic work, between 1955 and 1985. Therefore Ripisylve is also an historical echo of that cartographic work initiated by Henri Gaussen.

Ripisylve can be viewed at the Centre dEcologie des Systèmes Aquatiques Continentaux, 29, rue Jeanne Marvig 31055, Toulouse.