Topic: Oil bust, prov attr. Manet- his Pupils self portrait?'

Title: '46. Mille Vue_'  ('Thousandth Look_') pencil inscription verso.

Materials: Oil on canvas.

Dimensions: 275 X 405mm

Mounting:: 35 X 18mm lap-joint pine baton

Frame.  Missing

Subject: Eva Gonzales (anomalies of asymmetry [4], isolation of genetic 'mole' or 'fairy kiss' detail always observed by Manet).

(Proposed) date: Wedding-band/gold indicate post February 1879, 'maiden fringe' suggest commenced within days of ceremony.

Author: Subject to group opinion & consensus, the considered indicators all point to Eva Gonzales' self-reflection.

Provenance: (from 1947); Saltzburg wedding-gifted to Lydia, countess Desmonchilla (ne Gorin von Grozny), 1948 Lydia widowed/displaced granted UK asylum arrives London with refugee's hand-luggage, poss frame removed. 1950 locates rural North Devon. !958 (Lydia relocates London) gifted to mentor and friend Rosemary Kelly, deceased 1974. 1979 purchased (£25) by Christine Corby, subsequently damaged in transit, sold job lot to brick-a-brack trader 2009. Trader attached vendor's name 'Corby' and donated to local charity shop (when I gave £25.)

No clue what I was looking at (amateur fluke?) except beautiful, I took her to Paul Moorehouse at NPG London, who declared 'Manet', adding that the model should be easy to identify. 

Subject identity: 
Fair to say she is Eva Gonzales. Forensic indicators include isolation of a tiny 'mole' or 'fairy kiss' consistently present 1cm below right lip extreme (left in subject portrait), exactly depicted in sister Jeanne's exquisite 'warts an all' pencil study, Manet's first painting and last known pastel, and present a crisp, hi-res photo (recently published Wikipedia).
evabeautyspot5.JPG
The asymmetric references together shape a 'unique' combination of eccentric anomalies not least; 'D' shaped frontal, protruding eye, inclined nose (towards 'fairy kiss') and off-set lips with 'dimple' terminus.

Why it's not a Manet:
Preceding technical aspects of complexion, gold and lace, she is wearing Prussian blue. Manet didn't, apart from in commentary, use Prussian blue since the siege of Paris, when he wrote; 'I'll bet those tricky Prussian b******s with starve us out if they can'. 
Manet always included an element of red-tinted blue (purple, lilac or indigo) in his coloured works, even the monotone of 'Avec Palette' 1879 is signed with a flick of purple in the brim of black hat. There is not a trace of red-tainted or 'mystic' blue in the 'Mille Vue_'
Manet's gold was dull, brown and leaden, and incidental in comparison to the present alchemy, also the virtuoso of gossamer pleats never attempted cascading clouds of 'curly lettuce' lace. 
The intricate, dazzling rhythm of enamel and gold is detail unlikely to distract Manet, here, as if compulsively, the maker perfectly celebrates every precision dot and, peeping through tunnels of lace continues every polished link. The complexion of Manet's (painted) female subjects was often 'unfinished' beyond a soft, broad impasto aggregate of sub-dermis. One can almost suppose pores in the present un-powdered skin. The discretion or chivalry of obscured cleavage is unlike Manet.

Why it could be a self-portrait:
The 3/4 scale corresponds with a viewer's reflected image at arms length.
The eyes are directly engaged.
It is not signed.
The finish, effect and sentiment reflects (without apology) the gender of subject.

Evident skill set and perceptions of culprit:
The maker imparts intricate detail with exceptional precision, unstinting inclusion and perseverance, transforming the supposed mundane into dancing celebration.  The 'naked' complexion is, over a loose broader aggregate, microscopically finished not with conventional 'blending' or 'powdering' of gradient tones, but a micro-impasto of separate component constituents. The almost invisible 'fairy kiss' is imparted with a tiny 2mm sq. cross-hatching of burnt umber over a raised whorl. 
The subject's head is (conspicuous for period) 'tilted' (yet, eyes engaged she remains sincere).
There is elegant composition- and perhaps censor in the interposing hand, the tumbling attraction of apex 'V' imperceptibly continued. 
The palette is selective, essentially pink, brown and blue. The elements are separate and insular, not mixed or blended except in light or shade, as if the purity of the pigments themselves were treasured. The 'rugged' harlequin bands of absolute black and white also marvelously explore contrast of texture and tactile perception.
The dark ochre background is solid, final and impermeable.
The effect of colours, expression and detail is disarmingly beautiful, not necessarily or specifically the subject. She seems unflattered and honestly imperfect.
She portrays confidence, material security and independence, perceptions (or statements) likely observed by a male 'rebel' or woman artist. This Artist has indefatigable perseverance, patience and fidelity, and a sense of honesty and completeness. One would not expect to see aversion to challenge or 'skimping' of obligation in other work by this maker.   

The Inscription: (calligraphy, message & numeric clue).
The sentiment 'Mille Vue_' ('Thousandth Look_') is (objectively/grammatically) more a technical reference than aesthetic description, and conceivably relates to the process of making. The occasion or dedication 'Mille_' would likely be reserved for something or someone special. The conspicuous value '46.' is unlikely recounted, or clutter the worded sentiment unless relevant between maker and recipient.
evainscrptjpg[1].JPG
   

Materials:
Oil on fine 48 wpi (nr 2 strands per mm) canvas, London maker's blue ink stamp; entwined serpents with trefoil heads border 'Jabez Barnard & Son, London.' (1860-1876 then 'J. Bernard & Son') kindly identified and dated by Cathy Proudlove NPG London, canvas made 3+ yrs before proposed date of painting. (Finer canvas increasingly favoured by Parisian portraitists, 1893 first record of London canvas maker establishing premises in Paris.)

Construction:
Simple, fluently made lap-joint stretcher, 35 X 18 mm pine baton, fixed with 3 pins per corner. Similar baton and fixings support some Manet (and Gonzales) canvas, larger frames 'H' braced.

Dimensions: 405 X 275mm.
The proportions are exceptionally 'tall', in this case accommodating Subject's hair without compromising 3/4 scale. The unconventional format sometimes adopted by Alfred Stevens and society portraitist Charles Chaplin (associates of Subject), although apparently not the same 275 X 405mm formula.   

Why she could be by Eva G: (in no priority order)
The frame fits. The custom measurements occur in 6 earlier works by Eva with fractional variance (2%); 'La Soubrette', 405 X 270mm, 'La Demoiselle' 400 X 275, 'La Psyche' 400 X 270, 'La Fenetre', 405 X 275, 'La Femme en Bleu' 4?0 X 270, 'Joueuse de Harpe' 410 X 275.

Manet said of Eva (to poor Berthe); 'she has poise, perseverance and ability to see things through.', qualities attributable to the model, concept and making of the 'Mille Vue_,

Eva's work is invariably, fearlessly beautiful in effect, not inhibited by gender or fear of (male) critical derision, her perception and commentary, especially when responding to Manet's major themes, was defiantly feminist and always presented (often with impudent contradiction no doubt exasperating and enchanting Manet) a woman's perspective.

In a letter to Eva May 1879 Manet describes now being able to see Eva's 'leaves' (layers) every day, and that his 'own self' is now receiving praise.

The portrait could be with Manet by now, perhaps only just. If art is the matter of Manet's rare letter, and not the uncanny appearance of leaves in May, it would be understandably cryptic or romantically parodied. I feel the context refers to the many laminations of narrative in the 'Mille Vue_'. (She may be disapproving, reassuring, inquiring- stern, even adoring depending on my 'malarky' when I look at her.) 

The 'tilted head' with eyes engaged. Yet not coy, the subject remains sincere. This intriguing exercise was not seen in England until 1884 (except cosmetic effect- eg; Landseer's Charlotte Bronte 1838, George Richmond's same subject 1850) when Richmond's son William Blake Richmond returned from Paris, and painted author Robert Lois Stevenson (Treasure Island).
Eva pioneered this beguiling technique in first weeks with Manet- not in first venture with the Master ('Portrait of a Woman', who's head is conventionally upright as all Manet's subjects unless incumbent) but in first painting as Manet's Student. Eva's first 'tilted head' experiment engaged her mother, who's sincerity she trusted. The Artist continued to explore the intensifying effect, and never again painted or drew a bolt upright head. The concept became popular early 20th c.

     evasmum1.JPG


Eva pioneered this beguiling technique in first weeks with Manet- not in first venture with the Master ('Portrait of a Woman', who's head is conventionally upright as all Manet's subjects unless incumbent) but in first painting as Manet's Student. Eva's first 'tilted head' experiment engaged her mother, who's sincerity she trusted. The Artist continued to explore the intensifying effect, and never again painted or drew a bolt upright head. The concept became popular early 20th c.

























With exceptional, perhaps unique realism the slippery gold glows and the lace unfolds, here the same sumptuous fabric Jeanne describes, and identical in constitution and delicate execution in 'Woman in White'. Contemporary critic Octave Milbau described; 'translucent veils' that no-one else could make.

In most of Eva's pictures one will find no fear for regimental rows or segmented arcs, the 'Blue Mosque' was a self-imposed challenge.

Similar examples of brushwork could be found in selected similar pictures, but surprisingly, although in a different time, scale and tempo, the little oil-sketch ('suggestions' thread; 'Provenance, presumption & imposition') shares 5 distinctions with the later portrait; 1, thin burgundy forming line, 2, 'pile' of dither in crook of rt.view shoulder, 3, intriguing 'sooty' ingrain throughout both complexions, apparently an underlayer revealed by scratching, 4, a thick, concave bead with darker centre runs from bridge to tip of nose,  5, a misty streak of ochre accentuates the whiteness of lace in painting. A similar isolate streak of pale ochre appears in similar area, perhaps enhancing the symbolic suggestion of whiteness in the sketch.
(With benefit of our Host's hi-res resource, have found tears in both eyes of sketch.)

The Artist's elusive self-portrait would no doubt be inspired by, or commemorate a major event, as suggested in the inscription.
Of elegant calligraphy unconventional double-columned 'M' with descending arch concave, unlike Manet's triple-columned loop with convex arches. Conspicuously, the 'V' is preceded with an exceptionally rare clockwise whorl, a deliberate, pre-determined, non-reflex gesture encountered by present researcher only in Eva Gonzales' similarly elegant hand.

The sentiment of wording infers or implies technical reference rather than aesthetic description, the epic occasion 'Mille' likely reserved for something or someone special. By incidental coincidence Manet named his villa 'Belle Vue.'
If commenced in February as the maker expects we believe, it commemorates exactly 10 years of association between Eva and the Master, and the end of an essential dimension in their relationship. Like Berthe before her, one married, Eva would never paint with, or pose for Manet again. 
'46'? Implausible the sentiment would be diluted or cluttered with an unrelated numeric value, or the maker would have calculated and commemorated the number unless it represented some reference or code intimately relevant between maker and recipient. The inclusion is in any event an intrinsic clue to authorship and chronology.
 
Since, according to the count No's 47-49 are the nuptial trio; 'Une Mariee', 'La Demoiselle d'Honnour', 'La Mariee'. the preceding No 45 is a sudden departure from Eva's abstract views of Jeanne, the direct, powerful confrontation of an innocent child 'Mlle Sarrasin' could be a conscious preparatory exercise to the self-study.

The cryptic clue '46.' corresponds with, and seems to relate to Eva's 46th finished portrait since first collaboration with Manet.

The painting reflects everything known and admired about Eva, even the casual eye will find a delectable confection of pink, brown and blue, arcs of dazzling precision, and 'softness' of subject and concept. Of the Fleeting Star's legacy, one could say without opinion; if not beautiful, it's not Eva Gonzales..

Avoiding conjecture and persuasion these are the principle forensic and common indicators suggesting the portrait is a self-study, designed and dedicated to Manet.

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Love one maker more than any other, absorb and understand them, then (you will) see the differences in all art.

Re: Oil bust, prov attr. Manet- his Pupils self portrait?'

illus Eva the 'fairy kiss'.

Love one maker more than any other, absorb and understand them, then (you will) see the differences in all art.

Re: Oil bust, prov attr. Manet- his Pupils self portrait?'

addendum illus. Eva's 'fairy kiss'

Love one maker more than any other, absorb and understand them, then (you will) see the differences in all art.

Re: Oil bust, prov attr. Manet- his Pupils self portrait?'

addendum illus. Eva's mum

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Love one maker more than any other, absorb and understand them, then (you will) see the differences in all art.

Re: Oil bust, prov attr. Manet- his Pupils self portrait?'

addendum illus' 'Mille Vue_' inscription

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Love one maker more than any other, absorb and understand them, then (you will) see the differences in all art.

Re: Oil bust, prov attr. Manet- his Pupils self portrait?'

re-submit 'fairy kiss'

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Love one maker more than any other, absorb and understand them, then (you will) see the differences in all art.