Paule Gobillard

Title: Bottes de foin et coquelicots dans un pre / Haystacks and poppies in a field


No doubt this works was the concerted effort of Manet, Degas, Monet and Berthe Morisot herself. For it was all their tireless teachings that lead Paule Gobillard to the accomplished painting techniques she utilized throughout her painting career. At age 27, she held her first solo exhibit. Monet was barely 34 years old when he showed with the other new Impressionist painters in 1874.

Claude Monet
In 1890, Monet bought his home he had been renting at Giverny. It was there, a year later, that Monet had perfected his “Haystacks”. He had successfully painted a variety of light reflections on haystacks. This technique was taught to Paule Gobillard through intense study of his painting technique. Thus, her own series of haystacks are painted under different light conditions at different times of the day. She would generally start to paint and sketch before dawn, work for a half hour, by which time the light would have changed. The next day she would repeat the process.

In each sketch or study, the color of the haystack is different because the light shining on the haystack is different. The color of the haystack is determined by the colors the haystack absorbs. The color we see is simply the colorized light that is not absorbed and that is reflected into our eyes.

With the Monet Haystacks series, started in the late summer of 1890 and completed the following spring, Monet entered on a new period in his work. For the next thirty years he was able to concentrate almost exclusively on a few subjects: Haystacks, Poplars, Rouen Cathedral, the Houses of Parliament, the Waterlilies. What interested him henceforth was the expression of transient appearances – the motif itself would be unvarying and viewed always from the same angle, only the light would change, depending on the season, the weather and the time of day.

His method was to work on several canvases at once, devoting perhaps no more than a few minutes at a time to any one of them. It was necessary to work swiftly to capture the ‘moment’ before it dissolved. In this he was greatly assisted by his stepdaughter Blanche, who would slide the canvases into position on his easel. On October 7th, in full flight, he wrote to Gustave Geffroy, “…the further I get, the more I see how much work it will need to convey what I am searching for: ‘instantaneity’, and above all the external ‘envelope’, the same light spread everywhere…”

Monet was 27 years old when Paule was born.
Monet stopped painting in 1924.

Berthe Morisot
Paule Gobillard was the niece of Berthe Morisot, the only woman French Impressionist. Morisot was the daughter of a high government official (and a granddaughter of the important Rococo painter Jean-Honoré Fragonard).  Morisot decided early to be an artist and pursued her goal with seriousness and dedication. 

From 1862 to 1868 she worked under the guidance of Camille Corot. She married Édouard Manet's younger brother Eugène. In 1868, she met Édouard Manet, who was to exert a tremendous influence over her work. He did several portraits of her (e.g., Repose, c. 1870). Manet had a liberating effect on her work, and she in turn aroused his interest in outdoor painting.

One December evening, in the company of Auguste Renoir and Stéphane Mallarmé, Degas photographed Mallarmé's daughter Geneviève and "the little Manet girls"—Julie Manet (the seventeen-year-old daughter of Berthe Morisot and Édouard Manet's brother Eugène) and her cousins Paule and Jeannie Gobillard, all three of them orphans whom the elder artists had taken under their wing. Sitting before Degas, whose camera is reflected in the mirror, the young women are joined to one another by the continuous blackness of their dresses, a backdrop for the gentle rhythm of their hands.

There were three Morisot sisters: Yves (Paule's mother), Edma (who married Adolphe Pontillon), and Berthe. All three were talented painters, though Yves and Edma abandoned their painting -- Yves before marriage and Edma after marriage. Berthe Morisot was the quintessential Impressionist and was also the glue that held the other Impressionists together, even after they had gone their separate ways in regards to exhibiting. Thus, Paule (as well as her sister Jeannie and their cousin Julie Manet, daughter of Berthe Morisot and Eugène Manet, brother of the painter Edouard Manet) grew up in a context very rich in art. Not surprisingly, Paule began painting, and she herself became an accomplished artist, exhibiting at the Salons.

Year: c. 1914
Medium: Pastel on gray blue paper
Image size: 18 x 12 
Signature: Annotation on verso: P.G.,  Annote Mezy