Friday, December 16, 2011

Arty Farty Friday: La Belle Epoch & Antonio de la Gandara

Noticing the name of an artist born in Paris, France this day, 16 December, in 1861: Antonio de la Gandara, led me to look into his "era", generally known as La Belle Epoque.
(Left: Antonio de la Gandara's portrait of Ida Rubinstein, ballerina and actress.)

La Belle Epoch covers, roughly, the last two decades of the 19th century and onward into the 20th, up to the start of World War 1 in 1914. The "label" refers to France, but modified versions of can be identified in Britain, Germany and elsewhere. It was a time of luxury, beautiful clothes, new means of transport, new flowering of the arts (think Art Nouveau), and peace after the Franco-Prussian war. Naturally, only the rich, famous and privileged were party to the goodies of La Belle Epoch. For the Great Unwashed life went on much as usual, though perhaps those in the upper reaches of the Unwashed did manage a few minor improvements to their lifestyles. World War was to bring the beautiful epoch to a shattering end for all.

Pluto transited Gemini during La Belle Epoch, for much of the time with Neptune also in that sign. I notice again and again how some of our most iconic writers, painters, communicators in all realms were born with Pluto in Gemini. Pluto, though it's a tiny body when compared with juggernauts such as Jupiter, can somehow still manage to pack a mighty punch here on this other tiny blue speck of ours. Watch what happens when Pluto transits a personal planet for evidence of this!

Back to the artist:

Said to have been nicknamed the Gentleman Painter, due to his elegant looks and bearing, he moved in all the "best" circles, hob-nobbing with what were called in a later time period the beautiful people, the in-crowd. His works include many portraits of beautiful, wealthy women; though he painted landscapes, family portraits too, he illustrated commercial advertisements and posters, his work was carried in classy magazines of the time.

His chart is shown, set for 12 noon.

He was born in France, but his parents were of different backgrounds. His father of Spanish stock, born in Mexico, his mother came from England (possibly of French parentage - not clear from online sources).

There's nothing of exceptional interest to note. This artist wasn't a particularly imaginative painter, he painted what he saw, so Neptune doesn't figure very harmoniously in his chart - it opposes Saturn/Jupiter, challenges Sun by square aspect. One nice aspect is Venus, planet of the arts and beauty in harmonious trine to Uranus (quite possibly to Moon too. Moon would have been between 9 and 21 degrees of Gemini, depending on time of birth). Although there's little hint of the avant garde, the unexpected or eccentric in Gandara's paintings, a powerful link to an outer planet, especially if conjoined to natal Moon, would have provided a certain extra drive - in his case a drive towards portraying beauty perhaps?

See also:
JSS Gallery
Art Experts

La Femme au Chien (woman with dog)

Portrait of Mademoiselle L.

La Bague a l'émeraude (the emerald ring)

Femme au Voile

Anne Catherine Wilms (the artist's first wife)


James Higham said...

Maybe not imaginative but the work had a something today's don't. And that belle era!

Twilight said...

James Higham ~~ Yes, it does. He was the Belle Epoch's equivalent of a Society photographer, I guess - along the lines of Lord Snowdon or Patrick Lichfield, in the UK.