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Jean Antoine (Antonin) Carlès
Updated 4 September 2015
I found a biography of this artist on a French site (now apparently defunct):
Antonin Carlès [1851-1919] est un sculpteur gimontois, qui fit une belle carrière nationale, et même internationale (on lui doit les Muses de l'immeuble du Herald Tribune, à New York). Le petit guide du musée des Jacobins lui attribue à tort le prix de Rome, qu'il n'a jamais obtenu; mais ce lapsus est significatif, et il aurait bien mérité la villa Médicis. Il est académique et compétent. Son contemporain Rouméguère [Auch 1863-1925], peintre paysagiste, est moins académique, lui, mais hélas beaucoup moins compétent. Si l'on ne faisait qu'entendre parler de ses oeuvres, sans les voir, on aurait aussitôt un préjugé très favorable, à leur égard. Comme Seurat, il s'est beaucoup intéressé aux lois de l'optique, et à la chimie des couleurs; dentiste et fils de dentiste, il préconisait une "peinture scientifique". Comme Monet il avait la passion des Phases de la lumière.. C'est même là le titre de la plus intéressante parmi ces entreprises, une suite de dix petits tableaux censés capter l'évolution du jour sur des paysages pyrénéens, de l'aube au crépuscule. Ils ne sont intéressants, malheureusement, que comme idée. Dans un monde meilleur, où serait enseigné vraiment l'art de voir, on pourrait se servir de Rouméguère pour expliquer aux écoliers ce que c'est qu'un mauvais peintre. Ses intentions sont toujours excellentes, sa peinture ne décolle jamais. Sa touche est morne, sa pâte est triste, sa couleur est toujours celle de ses tubes, jamais celle de l'air, et moins encore celle de l'art.
Babelfish translation (oh, dear):
Antonin Carlès [ 1851-1919 ] is a sculptor gimontois, who made a beautiful national career, and even international (one owes him the Muses of the building of Herald Tribune, in New York). The small guide of the museum of the Jacobins wrongly allots the price of Rome to him, which it never obtained; but this lapse is significant, and it would have deserved the Médicis villa well. It is academic and qualified. Its contemporary Rouméguère [ Auch 1863-1925 ], painter landscape designer, is less academic, him, but alas much less qualified. If one did nothing but intend to speak about his works, without seeing them, one would have a very favorable prejudice at once, in their connection. Like Seurat, it was interested much in the laws of optics, and the chemistry of the colors; dentist and wire of dentist, he recommended a "scientific painting". As Monet it had the passion of the Phases of the light. It is even there the title of most interesting among these companies, a succession of ten small supposed tables to collect the evolution of the day on Pyrenean landscapes, paddle in the twilight. They are interesting, unfortunately, only like idea. In a better world, where would be really taught art to see, one could be useful oneself of Rouméguère to explain to the schoolboys what it is that a bad painter. Its intentions are always excellent, its painting never takes off. Its key is dull, its paste is sad, its color is always that of its tubes, never that of the air, and less still that of art.
So... now you know as much as I do.
The images link to bigger versions, although in most cases,
due to a frustrating lack of book or internet photos,
not much bigger...they’re just the biggest I could get!!!
(1, 2, 3, 4) Bacchanal: a sleek youth shows his suport for Bacchus, god of wine, by getting drunk,
while a panther lazes at his feet. Two nude versions in three marble and one bronze editions.
(7, 8, 9, 10) One dark and (11, 12, 13) two gilt bronze statuette versions of Bacchanal.
As usual in commercial reproductions, his genitalia are censored
by added drapery, although his buttocks remain naked.
(14, 15) The Hunter, aka The Savage: the savage hunter triumphantly carries his kill home to
his tribe. The statuette version, left, again has more drapery than the full-size version.
(16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22) A Boy of Gaul, aka Dans Les Gaules: the boy, seen in a similar pose to the Bacchanal’s (see below for comment on this) and with a similar ragged semi-loincloth to the hunter’s, seems to be a hunter himself, though not for the reason I’d previously thought. For decades I’d misinterpreted the bird behind him as a hunting hawk and the object in his hand as a sling, but recently on closer inspection I realised that the bird is actually his prey - a goose that he’s holding by the neck. Once I came to that realisation, I thought to myself, “how stupid can I get?” (No answers, please - I’m perfectly capable of finding that out for myself.)
Previously I’d only ever found one black and white picture of this statue in an ancient encyclopedia, but I’ve recently discovered another very small black and white image, as well as small colour pictures of a statuette version. According to the notes accompanying the black and white picture the whereabouts of the original is unknown. Shame.
(23, 24) La Jeunesse: a study in youthful femininity in both bronze and marble versions.
As can be clearly seen from these comparisons, the poses of Carlès’ Bacchanal
and Boy of Gaul are both almost exact mirror-images of Michelangelo’s David.
Talk about imitation being the sincerest form of flattery!
(25) Monument to the poet Pierre Goudouli; Flickr photo by Marie-Hélène Cingal.
Note how the boy’s hairstyle is similar to the Boy of Gaul above.
Long before environmentalism, artists practiced recycling.
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