The beauty of the week: 6 paintings where music is the protagonist

The beauty of the week: 6 paintings where music is the protagonist
The beauty of the week: 6 paintings where music is the protagonist

The beauty of the week: 6 paintings where music is the protagonist

What is music for? Nobody knows it well, but we all need it. “It is a revelation greater than all wisdom and philosophy,” he wrote. Beethoven, fascinated, convinced. Who could tell him that he was wrong? Without images, without lyrics, music moves us. Some tried to portray that magic on a canvas.

In this note, a brief but intense tour through a series of works that, each one, in the way that each one finds, will set a particular music: you just have to look at each painting for several seconds and let the sound emerge. Let us begin.

“The Music Lesson” (1660) by Johannes Vermeer

Let’s start with a piano, neat, magnanimous, at the back of the room.

Gentleman and lady playing the spinetalso know as The music lesson. An oil on canvas by the Dutchman Johannes Vermeer painted around 1660. It belongs to the Royal Collection of the British Royal Family and is kept in Buckingham Palace, London.

A young student, with her back turned, her teacher at her side, standing. Indoor scene, solar lighting in high perspective. There are lyrics: on the lid of the piano it reads: “Music is a companion to joy and medicine for pain.”

We also see a covered table, a vase on top, the aristocratic chair. On the floor, the viola da gamba, and above, against the wall, a mirror that reflects the girl concentrated on her instrument that marvels and moves us, spectators.

“The Fife” (1866) by Édouard Manet

A fife is an instrument, a kind of small flute with a very high pitch that is played crosswise. It is believed that the Swiss introduced it into their regiments after the Battle of Marignano. Edouard Manet He painted it in 1866: a teenage musician in the Imperial Guard band.

The fifewhich is today in the Orsay Museum in Paris, was made on a trip to Spain in 1865, where he discovered the work of Velazquez. Specialists assure that the influence of Spanish painting is clearly seen here, which is why the painting was rejected by the jury of the Paris Salon of 1866. After this rejection, the writer Emile Zola He published a series of articles in defense of the painter.

It was finally exhibited in 1867 in an exhibition in Manet’s own workshop and almost twenty years later, in 1884, it was present in the great retrospective exhibition of his work that was organized as a tribute. The painter died in 1883.

In the work the background disappears and only the boy remains playing in the powerful solitude of his music.

“Music I” (1895) by Gustav Klimt

Gustav Klimt, with its ostentatious, golden, somewhat gothic but above all beautiful style, has its postcard dedicated to music. It is not the only one, but it is a very unique one. The title is, pardon the redundancy, Music I.

The painting, painted in 1895, which today can be seen in the Neue Pinakothek in Germany, has something of Klimt’s Art Nouveau.

It is an allegorical representation. A woman dressed in a tunic holds a lyre. We also see a sphinx, floral motifs, geometric shapes. In addition to colors and shapes, there are textures. And the gold, of course, the artist’s signature touch, the beauty of it.

“The Concert Singer” (1890–1892) by Thomas Eakins

They say that every time I sang Weda Cook the world became different, it was dyed another color, another tone, as if everything were sensitivity, as if the simple fact of existing was something moving.

On the night of February 22, 1889 at the Art Students League of Philadelphia, the painter Thomas Eakins He heard her sing for the first time. She was in her twenties. He was an already expert portrait painter with a solid career, a personal quest and almost fifty.

At that time, critics said of Cook that he had a “powerful contralto voice.” The audience was more direct: he said that listening to her sing was like taking his heart out of her and holding it in his hands for a while.

One day he convinced her to go to his studio to pose. She needed, she told him, to paint her voice. That she knew how to do it. She just needed time. They began in 1890 and the arduous sessions lasted two years. In 1892 it was completed. He titled it The concert singer.

She then tried to sell it but couldn’t, until Cook told her she wanted to buy it herself. He said no. She eventually ended up, in 1929, at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where she is now.

10/06/2023 Work by Picasso, ‘Three Musicians’ EUROPE SPAIN MOMA CULTURE

It is not a single musician, nor a single painting. There are two collages and several oil paintings similar to this one. A version is in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York (MoMA); another is in the Philadelphia Museum of Art. But let’s talk about the musicians.

In three musicians There is a Harlequin, a Pierrot and a monk. Some say they represent Picasso, Guillaume Apollinaire and Max Jacob. The straight, hard, square shape seems to take away the sound of the work. Or is it that everyone puts what is in their own head?

“Picasso makes an intricate composition, similar to a puzzle. That is, he paints in a style of synthetic cubism, like paper cutouts glued together to create these very strange and fascinating characters,” he wrote. Miguel Calvo Santos In the portal

Picasso made this work in 1921 in Fontainebleau, near Paris, France, in his classic cubist style.

“The Orchestra of the Opera” (1868-1869) by Edgar Degas

During the 1860s, Edgar Degas He dedicated himself to exploring the environment of the opera and portraying it in its most mundane aspect. Two famous examples are The Source and The dance center at the Opera. At the end of that decade, between 1868 and 1869, he painted The Opera Orchestrafocusing on musicians.

In the center of the scene, a musician, who was also his friend: D. Dihau, who played the bassoon. Around him, the companions, all inside the pit, dressed in black, shadowed. In the distance you can see the dancers.

The Opera Orchestra It is located in the Orsay Museum, Paris, France. It is also known by the title The musicians of the orchestra. The framing is practically photographic. The painter’s dedication is amalgamated with that of the musicians portrayed. Everything combines, everything is in harmony.

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