Li Meng – 18th Century Beautification Pastels: From Miller to Ludong|Dreamwalking World

2023-05-19 16:13:26

People today often use “beauty” software when taking pictures. With a few clicks, makeup is instantly applied, lips are red and teeth are white, and then uploaded to social media, uh, Like, so happy. And time goes back hundreds of years ago, men and women who loved beauty at that time also had their “beauty” recipes.

“Pastels: From Millet to Redon” (“Pastels: From Millet to Redon”), which is being exhibited at The Musée d’Orsay in Paris, France, focuses on the painting style of “Pastel” , how to develop from the 18th century to the present, with its vivid, rich, and dreamlike presentation effects, has attracted many painters and viewers, and they never tire of participating in it.

The group exhibition of pastel paintings exhibited at the Musée d’Orsay this time is the largest in recent years, regardless of the number of participating artists or the total number of more than 500 exhibits. Millet (Jean-François Millet), Manet (Édouard Manet), Degas (Edgar Degas), Cassatt (Mary Stevenson Cassatt), Lu Dong (Odilon Redon), etc., star-studded, although they belong to different genres, But they all love pastels, and each left works with distinct styles and bright colors. Pastel paintings were popular in France and even Europe in the 18th century. An art critic at the time recorded the exhibition in the Louvre, claiming that “every artist holds a pastel brush”, which left a deep impression on readers.

The reason why famille rose became popular in the 18th century was that, on the one hand, famille rose was cheaper, lighter, and easier to use and preserve than oil paint, and more importantly, because of the unique visual effect of famille rose paintings. As the name suggests, pastels are made of “pink” and the color effect is soft and bright, which is always pleasing to the eye. At that time, the Rococo style was prevalent in the French art world. No matter in painting, music or literature, they all valued the gorgeous, light, ethereal and dreamlike look and feel. As such, it fit the characteristics and temperament of pastel paintings. Portrait painters especially used pastel sticks to paint the faces of characters. The soft skin and graceful facial lines in the paintings were especially sought after and favored by female patrons. Therefore, even if some old-fashioned and serious oil painters thought that pastel painting was just a “women’s pastime”, it did not shake the status of this creative medium at the time.

To apply a popular saying now: “Women’s money is best earned.” Looking back 300 years ago, the same is true.

Photo: Musée d’Orsay

Text: Li Meng
Li Meng, female, Gemini, nervous, hopeless food and classical music lover. Double master’s degree in mass communication and art history, column and art criticism articles scattered in newspapers and websites in Beijing, Hong Kong and Toronto.

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