An American art student in Paris : the letters of Kenyon by H Wayne Morgan

By H Wayne Morgan

Kenyon Cox (1856-1919) studied portray in Paris from the autumn of 1877 to the autumn of 1882. those edited letters, written to his mom and dad in Ohio, describe Cox’s day-by-day regimen and explicate French artwork educating either within the educational atmosphere of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and in inner most ateliers, resembling these of Emile Carolus-Duran and Rodolphe Julian. The letters are vital for perception into the program and into Paris paintings scholar lifestyles mostly. Cox was once an educational, devoted to studying conventional drawing and composition earlier than constructing his personal inventive identification. many of the scholars who crowded the ateliers and lecturers of Paris shared this view, and Cox’s stories and reviews, usually pungently expressed, have been hence extra usual of this nice majority than have been these of experimenters reminiscent of the impressionists, who have been gaining become aware of whereas Cox used to be in Paris. He commented usually on present fads, fancies, and severe advancements within the artwork global in this transitional period.

Cox additionally defined his lifestyles and travels open air the academy. those letters are a worthwhile observation at the tradition of past due nineteeth-century Europe. He pronounced on live shows, operas, performs, work, and literature, and the numerous forms of life―the glance of the land, cities, constructions, and people―he encountered in the course of his summer time travels to the Seine valley, northern Italy, and the artist colony in Grez, south of Paris.

Art critics, historians, and creditors of conventional and educational artwork of this era will locate this booklet the beginnings of the traditionalist view for which Cox later turned well-known. additionally, the letters are a frequently relocating bankruptcy within the improvement of an intellectually precocious younger guy from the yankee Midwest who was resolute to turn into a painter with rules in addition to ability.

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8 Oh for a steak or a chop broiled, with the juice in it!  In a little more than a week, and the most monotonous week I ever passed.  What a literary genius I must have. " The Lotos­Eaters (1832), lines 84­85.  See Cox to his Father, July 8, 1881.  He is going home to Germany to see the old folks, which he does nearly every year, I believe, his brother being afraid of the water.  They are exactly like those we see in Toledo.  But what will it be when I get to land. Your ever loving son, Kenyon Cox, Jr.

These ideas were hardly new or unique to Cox, but his thoughtfulness was unusual in one so young and revealed his commitment to art as a way of life rather than merely as a profession.  These sites reinforced his conviction that art retained basic themes and purposes that should yield only slowly to changes in intellectual fashion or taste.  The same was true of the other old city­states Cox visited and described in lengthy letters home. "46 This Italian tour impressed him with the power and richness of tradition and introduced themes and artists that influenced him later in life as a mural painter.

See also his "Bastien­Lepage," Nation 54 (May 5, 1892): 344; The Classic Point of View, 176­77; Concerning Painting, 195­96.  These ideas were hardly new or unique to Cox, but his thoughtfulness was unusual in one so young and revealed his commitment to art as a way of life rather than merely as a profession.  These sites reinforced his conviction that art retained basic themes and purposes that should yield only slowly to changes in intellectual fashion or taste.  The same was true of the other old city­states Cox visited and described in lengthy letters home.

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