Jules Bastien-Lepage was born in Damvillers, France on November 1, 1848. His father grew grapes in a vineyard and sold them to support the family. Jules started to show that he was interested in drawing ever since he was very little and his parents supported his interest by buying him prints of paintings for him to copy. By the time he was nine years old he was very good at drawing with pencils. He went to the Verdun seminary and won every prize for drawing. He had now decided that he wanted to be a great painter. He was later sent to Paris, which was a very good place to go to study art at the time.
In Paris he supported himself by working as a postal clerk. He did this until he realized that he could not be an artist and a clerk at the post office at the same time and quit the postal service. When he quit, he returned home for a short time, and then came to Paris to study with Cabanel. He worked with him until the summer of 1870. During this time he showed off his work.
At this time the Franco-Prussian war broke out. Jules voluntarily fought when men were needed for the troops. At this time he was already a man. After the war he went back home and began to paint the villagers there, which he liked to use as subjects. In 1873 he painted his grandfather in the garden. This painting later became a favorite for a lot of art lovers because it looked so realistic.
In 1874 Jules began to win awards. He won a third-class medal for a painting he did of the museum of Verdun. The government later bought it from him. In 1875, he won second class for a painting of a man named Monsieur Simon Hayem. In 1875 the competition of the Prix de Rome took place. Jules entered his painting The Angels Appearing to the Shepherds. He worried that the painting wouldn’t have a good chance of winning because even though the event between angel and shepherd happened at night Jules decided to paint the scene at dawn so the slight color of the items in the scene were visible. Jules felt that painting night scenes was not good because it had certain unpaintable qualities. Because he changed this part in his painting it won second prize and not first. Jules was upset and disappointed by this.
In 1880, Jules painted the Joan of Arc (or Joan of Arc Hearing Voices). It was first exhibited in that year at the Salon in Paris and then in Ghent, Belgium. Jules used an apple tree in his grandfather’s garden to be the model for the tree in the painting. He also used his family’s barn to do the cottage in the painting. Between 1880 and 1883 he traveled in Italy. By now his health was starting to get bad. He died in 1884.
Jules wanted painters to go back to nature. He liked the painters of the 1400s, who reflected nature’s truth. He was against anything that changed truth of nature. His love of nature is why he would paint out in the fields or in the village square.
In 1889 some of his best work was shown at the Paris Exposition. Even though people love his paintings now, when he was alive they didn’t sell very well. Jules was described as a man that was honest and sincere. He was very positive. Jules was very modest about his own work and his success. He loved nature very much. He had many friends who loved him.
The painting that I chose to analyze is the Joan of Arc, by Jules Bastien-Lepage done in 1880. This painting is the most interesting painting that I saw while I was at the MET. When I walked by it, it almost pulled my eyes back to it and wouldn’t let me leave. I couldn’t believe how realistic this work is. At first glance I was sure that this was a giant picture. This painting gives you a sense that there is something mystical about it.
I felt that there was something very mysterious and even eerie about this painting. The first thing that I really noticed about it I was the effect given to the painting in the foreground and background by the shrubs and twigs and plants throughout the painting. It seems to blend the whole setting together. I then noticed that Joan’s arm was stretched out in the air and I couldn’t tell whether she was holding on to something or lifting her hand to whatever was speaking to her. It can also be that she is just grabbing on to a branch, I’m still not sure.
The colors that Jules uses also play a big part in the effect created by the painting. He uses mainly earth tones. This helps to blend and hold the painting together. It also does a good job of setting the mood for this painting. You automatically now that this is not a joyful or even an anger-filled one. The mood that is set is one of calmness and tranquillity; suspense and fear.
The lighting in the painting is also interesting because you can’t tell exactly where the source is. It seems to be coming from everywhere and nowhere at the same time. When you look into the background you can clearly see the light in the sky, but Joan is standing under a tree and her face still has a good amount of light on it that doesn’t go with the darkness of the trees and bushes around her. This helps to give the painting a supernatural atmosphere that goes great with the theme. Joan is depicted as an average woman. She is not shown as a mighty warrior or a holy saint. She almost looks like your average peasant. Her clothes do not make her look as a person of importance whatsoever.
The front of the house also seems to have a mist of fog that gives it a scary aspect as to let you know that something strange is going on. All of the weird aspects finally started to make sense when I finally noticed that there are three beings floating in the air in front of the house to the left. These beings are almost hidden in the trees. They seem to almost just appear out of the wall of the house and the tree branches.
I think that the best part of this painting is the image of Joan of Arc. She is done very beautifully. She seems as if she is the real Joan of Arc. She looks as if at any moment she could turn to you and say something. Her clothing looks very real, which gives her an even more naturalistic feel. This painting is truly one of the best I have ever seen with its realistic representations and dramatic tone.
Jules was an artist that I had never hear of before but know I’m interested to know more about this man who has just become my favorite artist.