A Street in Paris (1925)
Oil on Canvas
31.0 x 25.0 x 0.0
University Club of Chicago
Frederic Clay Bartlett, a member of the University Club of Chicago, whose art contributed significantly to the character and quality of the Club see, Franz Schulze, A Heritage: University Club of Chicago 1887-1987, revised edition 1999, esp. ТThe Singular Genius of Frederic BartlettУ, pp.39-45:The son of a millionaire manufacturer, Frederic Clay Bartlett rejected a life of leisure and embarked on the uncertain career path of an artist.
Although he found some personal fame and success as a painter, he is better known today for the remarkable collection of Post-Impressionist paintings he gave to The Art Institute of Chicago in 1926 in memory of his second wife and collecting companion Helen Birch Bartlett.
Bartlett's tastes were eclectic until the 1920s when he married Helen, a young poet and composer who encouraged him to turn his attention to the works of the avant-garde, mainly French, artists.
Though few in number, the paintings Helen and Frederic collected soon constituted one of the most adventurous and radical collections assembled in America.
A Street in Paris (1925) was created later in Bartlett’s professional career, during the same year that his second wife died, and contains flat surfaces, soft tones of color, and strong silhouettes.
The viewer is positioned inside, looking out through a closed window that is framed by red patterned curtains, and onto a bustling Paris street scene.
The city’s depth is predominantly flattened on the picture plane. A street cuts through the center of the composition to give a slight illusion of depth, as it grows smaller towards the upper left of the composition. The tonal quality of the painting depicts the city-scene with a calm or slightly melancholic mood.
Bartlett used rich colors throughout, as seen in the orange of the building on the lower left side of the canvas, but the cool and slightly muted tone creates an overall subdued sense of the city scene. The brightest point of the city is located near the top edge of the center of the canvas; two hot white spots of light act as guiding lights in an otherwise dim city scene.
While all other windows are dark across the city, these two lights lead the view up the city street towards the distant buildings. People and carriages are peppered throughout the composition, but the silhouetted figures all appear to be moving away from the position of the viewer, looking out the window, perhaps suggesting isolation or seclusion from the activity in the city scene.
In this, Bartlett captured the activity of life in ninetieth century urban Paris.
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