Mary Bashkirtseff (1858-1884). A Meeting. (1884) Oil on Canvas. 193 cm x 177 cm. Orsay Museum. Paris.
Mary Bashkirtseff, is writer, painter and sculptor of Ukrainian origin. Of a fortunate family, she travels with her mother to Europe. She usually speaks Russian, French, English and Italian. She studies painting with the Julian Academy, in France, one of rare the academy in Europe to accept the women. This painting : A Meeting, is a scene of kind, it represents schoolboys of modest condition who discuss and seems to prepare something. The painting is located in the tradition of the Baroque time initiated by Murillo which represents the poor children of the streets of Seville. Mary Bashkirtseff thus transposes the topics of her friend and mentor the painter naturalist Jules Bastien-Lepage at the city like does it also Fernand Pelez (1881-1913). The purpose of this representation of the popular classes is to devote itself to a reflection on the human condition. On the website of the Museum of Orsay you can read that the little girl who moves away on the left is a feminist sign of the ideas of the artist, the women are excluded from the male companies… We say here that technically this character who moves away is there to give depth of field to the painting, which is an objective analysis. To say that this part of the painting expresses the feminist ideas of the artist is a subjective interpretation, because it’s feminist ideas Mary Bashkirtseff expresses them under the pseudonym of Pauline Orrel in the review “the Citizen” of Hubertine Auclert. The cruel destiny of Mary Bashkirtseff, died with 25 years of tuberculosis, all its life and its work, are also an edifying lighting on the human condition. Dice its childhood between 12 and 14 years Mary writes each day in her newspaper. She also corresponds with Guy of Maupassant.
And in this newspaper what shows through especially it is the conscience to be only of passage and a savage will to leave a trace. “ If I were going to die, like that, suddenly, I would perhaps not know if I am in danger, it will be hidden to me… There will remain soon nothing any more me… nothing… nothing ! It is what always terrified me. To live, to have so much ambition, to suffer, cry, fight, and, with the end, the lapse of memory ! … as if I had never existed… ”.
It seems that Mary Bashkirtseff in her newspaper had several intuitions, rather premonitory…. Yes it was seriously sick and its family said anything to him, like often, to protect it and not to frighten it. Yes Mary Bashkirtseff has well failed not to leave any trace because the Nazis during the Second world war baited themselves against its work and destroyed all the tables which they found.
There remain to us some portraits and of many drafts and drawings. To realize fortunately enough that Mary Bashkirtseff had an immense talent of portraitist. There remains also its tomb with the cemetery of Passy, (Paris-France), very original, a studio of artist… The life of Mary Bashkirtseff was so short… It had the presentiment of the catastrophe. Fortunately in its newspaper it analyses, it fixes, it precisely develops its original thought, its revolts, its feelings and especially this conscience to be a double being, which at the psychological level is of a great interest. As Vincent Van Gogh it complains about his disease only because it prevents it from working suitably. She says herself “embanked by the ears ”.
And its nerves are over-excited in an extreme way: “My work suffers from it; I paint while being devoured chimerical apprehensions. I think quantities of horrors… it is able to me to rise in start and of going to the other end of the garden, like insane. And constantly, now, the thought of dead mingles with my dreams. ”
Thus this newspaper which begin with things of no importance gains with the wire of time of density and in-depth, it is completed by a disconcerting fact.
His/her friend and model Jules Bastien-Lepage, dying itself, comes to make him a last visit. Mary Bashkirtseff is lying in her living room: so that Jules Bastien-Lepage can see it, one carries it like a child. And the same word escapes to them, a cry of sorry artists: “Ah ! if one could still paint ! ”
And it on these words that is completed, is stopped by the anguish, the newspaper of Mary Bashkirtseff.
The point of view of the spectator is located in the middle of the children. First of all the glance goes up in the middle of this meeting of young boys and note the expression characteristic of the faces. Then on the line he sees the little girl who moves away and who gives depth of field to the picture. Then in the third time the spectator is interested in the palisade, the graffiti, and the torn posters.
It is understood quickly that it is not a question here of beautiful quarters, but schoolboys, because of the blouses, with the relatively modest social condition.
The meeting proceeds in the middle of the 4 natural points of interest. 2 boys are located on the 2 natural points of interest left and right, largest boy on the left equipped of black holds in its hand an object that it manufactured certainly, composed of a point connected to a piece of string and the fair one on the right has a left shoe without lace, lace which it has can be lent for the occasion.
In the center the young boy who has a string in the mouth launches a distrustful look to the large boy equipped with black. It acts can be of an experiment, a new handset, of a demonstration, everyone seems very attentive.
The guiding lines of the palisade to the back make it possible the artist to completely isolate the group. Work is magnificiently made up. The geographical center of the picture is in the middle of the children.
The guiding lines are horizontal or vertical. This induces a very geometrical pictorial space. The few diagonals all are close or in the middle of the children. The experiment which will take place has certainly a relationship with the geometry.
As the string is rolled up around the point it must be a question of a spinning top or a cup-and-ball. (See zoom or details).
In the center the child who has a string in the mouth looks at the large one equipped with black with a side glance. This one presents the point around which it rolled up a string with the others. He must have at the end of the string in his mouth the second part of the object. (Spinning top or cup-and-ball).
The young boy of right-hand side uses a cane to walk and be held right. The lace which misses with its left shoe east can be used for the experiment in progress.
This small fair a little décoiffé seems to trust and very interested by what it occurs.
Light : The scene is lit by a natural light which comes from the left.
Colours: Harmonize between hot colours. Few colours. Especially let us tons clear. Saving in means.
Similar paintings :
Mary Bashkirtseff (1858-1884). Portraits.
Mary Bashkirtseff. The Pain of Nausicaa. (1884). Rule out of bronze.
Esteban Murillo. Children Playing Dices. (1675).