Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Joyeux Quatorze Juillet !

Rue Mosnier with Flags
"Rue Mosnier with Flags"
Édouard Manet
25 3/4 x 31 3/4 in. oil on canvas 1878
Getty Museum, Los Angeles
photo by Gregg Chadwick

Édouard Manet's "Rue Mosnier" was painted two years before July 14th was declared the French national holiday in 1880. The holiday is known as the Fête Nationale in France and commemorates the Fête de la Fédération of 1790, held on the first anniversary of the storming of the Bastille prison in Paris by an angry mob on 14 July 1789, sparking the revolution that rid France of its monarchy. Manet painted the scene as if he is looking down from his second story studio onto the flag decked street below. Manet's brush is fluid and the color scintillating but the weary amputee on crutches, perhaps a war veteran from the disastrous Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871, is the figure with which we enter the painting. In essence we as viewers enter the scene carrying a ladder just behind the man on crutches bearing the "costs and sacrifices" of nationalism and national pride. With this in mind, the swirling strokes of red, white and blue that make up the French tricolor flag are not as joyous as a cursory glance would suggest.

And also on this Bastille Day, I look forward to a future Evin Day in Tehran, when that horrible prison is at last closed down.
In the United States and France we celebrate our freedoms and our revolutions and we remember the brave souls fighting with words - tweets and blogs - against tyranny in Iran.

From the Getty's description of Manet's " Rue Mosnier with Flags":
" The French government declared June 30, 1878, a national holiday: Fête de la Paix (Celebration of Peace) which marked France's recovery from the Franco-Prussian War and the divisive Paris Commune that followed.

The urban street was a principal subject of Impressionist and Modernist painting; many artists aimed to show not only the transformation and growth of the Industrial Age but how it also affected society. Manet's eyes saw both elegant passengers in hansom cabs and, in the foreground, a worker carrying a ladder."

Modernkicks has more on the birth of Liberté.

Bonne fête !

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