A wonderful and idyllic mid 19th Century summery village scene, where a pretty young girl stands, knitting - perhaps she is secretly waiting for someone? while older village women eat and work together and a young swineherd walks past with his animals. According to an inscription on the stretcher, the scene takes place on Oleron Island, an island off the French Atlantic coast on the Bay of Biscay.
The artist, Charles Joshua Chaplin (1825-1891) would later become known as a painter of women. Manet, who admired him, observed that Chaplin ‘knew the smile of a woman’ - but his early work is Realist in style.
Realism was an artistic movement that emerged in France in the 1840s, around the 1848 Revolution. The Realists rejected Romanticism, which had dominated French literature and art since the early 19th century. They sought to portray real and typical contemporary people and situations with truth and accuracy. Realism is widely regarded as the beginning of the modern art movement due to the push to incorporate modern life and art together.
Yet whilst being a Realist, Chaplin's love for the world and its beauty always shines through in warm colours and empathy with his subject matter.
As a member of the Académie Royale de Peinture et de sculpture, Charles Chaplin exhibited his paintings at the Paris Salon, the official exhibition venue of members' work. He began exhibiting his paintings at the French Artists' Salon in 1845 and was represented there habitually each year. These exhibitions made him one of France's most famous portrait artists. Commencing in 1847, his work was exhibited regularly at the Royal Academy in London.
During his lifetime, he received acclaim for his work by the award of several medals: a third class medal in 1851; a second class medal the following year; and an honourable mention in 1865. He was made a Knight of the National Order of the Legion of Honour, and elevated to the rank of Officer in 1881. Works by Charles Chaplin are housed in the French museums of Bordeaux, Bayonne, Bourges, Mulhouse, Paris, Reims, Rouen and Saintes. Internationally, his works can be found in the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Harvard Art Museums in Massachusetts and the Indianapolis Museum of Art in Indiana. There are also several paintings by Chaplin in the Bowes Museum in the UK.
Our oil on canvas is signed at the lower right. The size of the canvas is 66 x 47 cm.
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