With the King Sculpture Court ceiling currently undergoingconservation, all works normally on view have been moved to storage. Sadly, this includes our Japanese Coiling Dragon, easily one of the most popular works on view. So, we thought it would make a fitting subject for our first-ever gif! What do you think?
Japanese dragons, like other dragons, are fearsome and powerful creatures. However, they are also considered to be just and benevolent, often bringing wealth and good fortune to those who see them. Dragons also serve as water deities in Japan and are associated with rainfall and bodies of water. Fittingly, the coiling dragon here served as a fountain out in the museum’s courtyard for a number of years. For its original function, an incense basin rested on a stylized plume of water spouting from the dragon’s mouth.
Image: Japanese Coiling Dragon, Meiji period, late 19th century Bronze Gift of Charles F. Olney, 1904.723
On January 19, 1839, Paul Cézanne was born in the town of Aix-en-Provence, in the south of France. Leaving his studies early, Cézanne moved to Paris in 1861 and began to paint with Camille Pissarro. Consistently rejected by both the Paris Salon and various art schools, Cézanne returned to the south of France in 1870, thus also avoiding conscription in the war with Prussia. There he began to study nature and to experiment with landscape painting. By 1872, Cézanne was again working closely with Pissarro before participating in the First Impressionist Exhibition in 1874. Cézanne’s paintings were singled out for particularly harsh criticism by the French press. However, by the late 1890s, his paintings began to be noticed by younger artists and he is now considered one of the masters of 19th century painting and his work was extremely influential on many artists of the 20th century. (Read more).
Cézanne’s Viaduct at l’Estaque (Le Viaduct à l’Estaque) from 1882 has been a highlight of the AMAM’s collection since it was acquired in 1950. In this podcast, Oberlin College Professor of Neuroscience Mark Braford discusses the AMAM’s Cézanne painting as an analogy to the way scientists now believe the optical system works.
Cézanne painted at least one other view of the viaduct at l’Estaque that dates between 1879 and 1882, Le Viaduct à l’Estaque in Helsinki. The facture of that painting includes much of the diagonal stroke that characterized Cézanne’s work shortly before the moment of the Oberlin canvas.