Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Multi Ritratti: Antonin Proust

Antonin Proust (1835-1905) was a French politician, unrelated to Marcel Proust the writer. As the link above indicates, his career had its ups and downs, ending in his suicide.

Apparently not many portraits of Proust were made, but those that were, were created by the cream of the late 19th century artistic crop. I was made aware of Proust portraits by an article by Oliver Trostmann in this catalog for a recent exhibit at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston.

To set the scene, here is a 1877 photograph of Proust by a photographer known as Franck.

These are (top) a 1877 study by Édouard Manet and (below) a painting from the same year.

Manet painted this more finished portrait of Proust in 1880.

In 1885 the sculptor Auguste Rodin made this etching of Proust.

Anders Zorn painted this portrait of Proust in 1888.

Who did the best job? Not Manet, I'm afraid. And Rodin's etching is more a technical study than a portrait showing character. So in my opinion, Zorn wins, even though his painting was one of the first portraits he made using oil paints. (In his early career, Zorn usually worked in water-based media.)

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