Wanderluster

National Gallery of Victoria: La Cigale by Jules Joseph Lefebvre

I want to share one of my favourite paintings from the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia.

La Cigale (1972) by Jules Joseph Lefebvre, oil on canvas.

This is a beautiful painting from the French artist Jules Joseph Lefebvre that refer to Aesop’s fable “The Grasshopper and the Ant”. Apparently this was a critique against Napoleon III whose poor leadership led France to economic collapse.

If I remember well this painting was exhibited in a very crowded hall that imitated the ambiance of the Paris Salon, where artists used to show their works to the critics. Although there were many beautiful pieces surrounding this painting, this stood out. I thought it was interesting how this painting didn’t try to hide the sexual organs of the women with a piece of cloth, a flower or a similar object, but instead any details on this part of her body were completely removed.

I always love to find some contradictions in the paintings and I think I saw a few in here. First, although this is a frontal nude, it is interesting how the cloth, the hair and the arms cover the woman a bit making her look sensual yet not aggressively sexual. Although she is naked the focal point of the painting are THOSE eyes, so expressive yet mysterious, she seems to be staring directly at the viewer, yet she seems to be thinking about something else… some have suggested that as in Aesop’s fable, she is regretting being unprepared in harsh times. Those intense eyes and dark hair also offer a powerful contrast with the soft unblemished skin and the soft tones of the background. What do you think? Can you find any other contrasts in this beautiful painting?

Liu Dan at the British Museum

During my last and rather short visit to the British Museum I discovered two amazing pieces by the artist Liu Dan.

Poppy by Liu Dan (2007),  ink on paper.

Dictionary by Liu Dan (1991), colour pencil in paper

Both paintings are quite large but they do not overwhelm the viewer thanks to the large negative spaces and the simplicity of the objects portrayed. They are beautifully detailed and the artist did a great job in capturing the different lines in the poppy and  in translating the subtle textures of the cloth, the paper and ink in the dictionary. Unfortunately, as it always happens, I couldn’t find any picture that made any justice to the real paintings.

If you can go to the British Museum, I can’t recommend enough to visit this free exhibition of Chinese ink paintings. I think it is a rare opportunity to see these amazing pieces that belong to private collectors.

27 Things To Do @ 5th Avenue, NY

Without any doubt, the 5th  is my favourite avenue in NY.  I’m sure I could spend a whole week, or even a month confined in this street and I wouldn’t be bored at all.  Here are some ideas of the activities you can do:

Cultural

Sightseeing

Shopping

Outdoors

Food & Drink

  • Grab a expresso, a gelatto or buy a panettone from Eataly @200 5th Ave.
  • Enjoy a beer or a Margarita during the happy hour at Dewey’s Flatiron @210 5th Ave.
  • Enjoy the view and possibly a very expensive drink at the 230 Fifth rooftop garden @230 5th Ave.
If you have any other suggestion or favourite place I should add, send me a comment!