Ten Favorite Paintings from the Getty Center
Los Angeles, California

Dr. Phillip M. Feldman


1. The Paintings


1. Irises, Van Gogh, 1889


2. Man with a Hoe
Jean-Francois Millet, 1860-62




3. Portrait of Louise-Antoinette Feuardent
Jean-Francois Millet, 1841

4. The Ransom
John Everett Millais, 1860-62
5. A young girl defending herself against Eros (Cupid)
William Adolphe Bouguereau, about 1880
6. Hermitage Garden, Maison Rouge
Camille Pissarro, 1877



7. Young Italian Woman at a Table
Paul Cezanne, about 1895-1900
8. Jeanne (Spring)
Edouard Manet, 1881
9. The Empress Sailing
French (Beauvais manufactory), about 1697-1705

10. central panel from French cabinet

2. Notes

  1. Click on any of the large thumbnail images to display a full-screen version in a separate window.

  2. To examine details, click on the full-screen version to display a full-resolution (larger than full-screen) version.

  3. With the exception of the Van Gogh piece (#1), for which I have a special affection, there is no significance to the numbering of the images.

  4. The Getty describes Irises as follows:

    Van Gogh painted Irises in the garden of the asylum at Saint-Remy, where he was recuperating from a
    severe attack of mental illness. Although he considered it more a study than a finished picture, it
    was exhibited at the Salon des Independents in 1889. Irises exemplifies van Gogh's practice of
    working directly from life. Its energy and theme—the regenerative powers of the earth—express the
    artist's deeply personal belief in the divinity of art and nature.
    
  5. Millet's Man with a Hoe (#2) reminds one of the hardships of pre-industrial life. The Getty's plaque for this painting reads as follows:

    Millet wrote of his painting, "In a rocky place a man, all worn out ... tries to straighten himself
    for a moment and breathe. The drama is surrounded by beauty."  The exhausted peasant faces a rough
    terrain of rocks and thorns; his hope for a productive future is suggested by the cultivated fields
    in the distance.  Millet's brutal image is beautifully painted, with the peasant and landscape
    united by rich earth tones and crisp brushstrokes.
    
    I would like to suggest an alternative name for this painting—The Value of Education.
  6. Millet's Portrait of Louise-Antoinette Feuardent (#3) conveys a sense of sadness and peaceful resignation.

  7. The Ransom (#4) by Millais (not to be confused with Millet) is a piece that captured my imagination as a child. I remember being somewhat disappointed upon learning that the story was fictional. The Getty describes this painting as follows:

    In this scene of a sixteenth-century knight being reunited with his kidnapped daughters, Millais
    indulges the Victorian taste for sentimental drama and historical fiction. Expressive looks and
    gestures convey the narrative. A captor still holds the girls firmly by the wrists. One daughter's
    fingers grip her father's shoulder as he lays a comforting palm on her back. Offering additional
    payment, the knight stares intently at the lead captor, while a co-conspirator's hand hovers above
    the jewels, heightening the suspense of the exchange.
    
  8. The Getty's plaque for A young girl defending herself against Eros reads as follows:

    Bouguereau's idealized treatment of the nude made him one of the most popular artists of his time.
    This painting, a small version of the composition he exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1880, may have
    been intended for a private home. In the picture a young girl playfully struggles with Eros (Cupid)
    to avoid love's arrow.
    
  9. The Getty describes the Hermitage Garden, Maison Rouge as follows:

    Pissarro once commented that his art was not designed for the hurried viewer. Densely packed with
    brushstrokes applied with varying degrees of force and energy, this canvas is richly encrusted with
    painterly detail. The garden's inhabitants--a child at play and an older woman bent over her sewing,
    each absorbed in quiet activity--epitomize the intense concentration with which Pissarro believed
    his paintings should be viewed.
    
  10. The Getty's plaque for Young Italian Woman at a Table reads as follows:

    The young woman's pensive pose is traditional in the history of art to convey a somber, thoughtful
    mood. Here it is combined with a haunting, mask-like face, giving the figure a psychological depth
    unusual in Cezanne's work. Cezanne reformulated the art of the past, however, with his bold
    brushwork, reinterpretation of space, and radical use of color. His new style would prove to be
    extremely influential on the next generation of artists, especially Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse.
    
  11. The careful observer will notice that items 9. and 10. are not paintings at all. The shocking paucity of noteworthy paintings at the Getty made it difficult for me to fill out the quota of ten works; I solved the problem by sneaking in these extraordinary works done in other media.

  12. The Getty plaque for item 9. reads as follows:

    The Empress Sailing
    From "The Story of the Emperor of China"
    French (Beauvais manufactory), about 1697-1705
    
    Woven under the direction of Philippe Behagle (1642-1705), after designs by Guy-Luis Vernansal
    (1648-1729), Jean-Baptiste Monneyer, and Jean-Baptiste Belin de Fontenay
    
    This tapestry is one of a set of ten showing scenes from the Chinese imperial court during the
    reigns of Shunzhi (1644-1661) and his heir Kangxi (1662-1722). The set was woven for Louis-Alexandre
    de Bourbon and hung is his country residence.  His monogram appears in the four blue ovals in the
    border.  Other scenes from the same set are displayed in the adjacent gallery.
    
    This tapestry contains an incredible amount of detail, and its production would have required many man-years of labor. The pineapples (in the upper-left and upper-right corners) are a symbol of wealth. Click here to see another tapestry from the same set.
  13. Item 10 is one panel from a French cabinet. The description follows:

    Cabinet
    French (Paris), 1788
    
    Stamped G. Beneman for Guillaume Benneman (died after 1811, master 1785).
    
    Oak veneered with ebony, mahogany, and lacquer; solid ebony legs; hardstone plaques; gilt-bronze
    mounts; marble top.
    
    This cabinet was one of a pair delivered in 1788 to the chateau of Saint-Cloud for the bedroom of
    Louis XVI.  It was originally decorated with panels of Japanese lacquer, which were later replaced
    with hardstone plaques.  The present panels demonstrate the variety of hardstone inlay techniques.
    
  14. These photos were made with a hand-held Nikon D7000 camera, using ambient light only.

Last update: 13 March, 2016