Painters I Should Have Known About (009) Santiago Rusiňol, Part 2

This is the second part of a sequence of posts about a painter previously completely unknown to me. You can find the first part here.

Santiago Rusiňol made his first trip to Paris in 1888 with the sculptor (and fellow Catalan) Enric Clarasó, and the following year he and Ramón Casas returned to Paris to attend the Gervex Academy, where Rusiňol studied under Puvis de Chavannes and Eugène Carrière.

(Please click the thumbnails to enlarge the pictures)
thumbnail of Rue des Saules
Rue des Saules in Montmartre.

Here’s a postcard view of the same scene:
thumbnail of Rue des Saules photo

They certainly placed themselves at the ground zero of bohemian Paris by taking a shared room above the Moulin de la Galette, the bohemian nightclub in Montmartre that was a magnet for the young avant-garde of Paris. (79, Rue Lepic – 1, Rue Girardon, Montmartre. Paris)
The young blades from Spain mixed with painters and musicians such as Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, James Abbott McNeill Whistler, and Erik Satie in the evenings, but spent their daytimes putting the whole scene down in paint.

thumbnail of The suburb
Banlieue (Suburbs)

thumbnail of Figure Study
Figure Study

The Moulin looked rather seedy and distinctly unglamorous by day…

thumbnail of Café des Incoherents
Café des Incoherents, Montmartre
(You have to love the name of that café!)

thumbnail of The Cemetery, Montmartre
The Cemetery, Montmartre.
This one is a bit of a bleak and forlorn composition, but it’s madly modern! All of the pictures above inform us that Rusiňol was no avant garde colourist, but his layouts and compositions were very edgy for their time.

Take a look at the jangling geometries he’s worked into this next picture, showing the ticket seller at the entrance to the dance hall at the Moulin de la Galette, awaiting the evening crowd.
thumbnail of Entrance to the Dance Hall, Moulin de la Galette

thumbnail of Waiting For Customers
Waiting For Customers.

thumbnail of Miguel Utrillo
The painter, Miguel Utrillo, in the gardens of the Moulin de la Galette.

thumbnail of The Shooting Gallery
The Shooting Gallery, Moulin de la Galette.

thumbnail of The kitchens, Moulin de la Galette
The kitchens, Moulin de la Galette.

Rusiňol and Casas also came under the influence of Degas, Whistler and the then wildly fashionable Japanese print.

thumbnail of La Butte
La Butte

A couple of portraits of the wonderful composer Eric Satie, famous for writing “Three pieces in the form of a pear”, and also for his habit of wearing velvet suits (so much so that he was known as `Monsieur Velour´). The first shows Satie trying to warm himself in the classic starving artist’s garret that was Rusiňol’s lodging at the time.

thumbnail of Eric Satie
Portrait of Eric Satie
How bohemian does it get, really?

What strikes me about Rusiňol’s pictures of this era is the quality of isolation displayed in so many of his portraits.

This next one is a bit more intimate and personal because of the tighter framing of his subject; Eric Satie again.

thumbnail of Eric Satie
Portrait of Eric Satie at the harmonium

Here’s a contemporary photo of Satie:
thumbnail of Eric Satie Photo

A couple of observations about Rusiňol’s painting from this time. First, it’s impossible not to notice the very subdued palette he was using. In the next and last part of this group of three posts about Santiago Rusiňol, we will see a most astonishing explosion of colour bursting out of his work.

A trait of Rusiňol’s compositional style is his use of strong diagonals, often stemming from the very corners of the picture, that aggressively carve out great chunks of depth in the image.

All the while that Rusiňol was in Paris he was developing as a writer as well as a painter.
He availed himself of many contemporary stimulants, including fashionable absinthe and morphine. He formed an addiction to morphine and in 1899 he had to go through a “demorphinisation” treatment, or addiction treatment, to kick the habit.

Here’s a couple of paintings from this period:
thumbnail of Before The Morphine
Before The Morphine
thumbnail of Morphine
Morphine 1894

The next, final, part of this bunch of posts will deal with Rusiňol’s amazing rebirth as a painter of gardens.
This was a passion that kept him busy and fulfilled until the end of his days.

And what glory days they were….

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  1. these are great

    Posted 17 August, 2007 at 1:43 am | Permalink
  2. I study the Académie Carrière and the students of Eugène Carrière. Unfortunatly I couldn’t prove Rusinol studied with Carrière. Is there any text or Rusinol’s letters in which he spoke from this.
    Sylvie Le Gratiet
    President of the Carriere’s Society

    Posted 28 October, 2007 at 8:50 pm | Permalink
  3. I found your wesbite after meeting the work of Rusinol Prats in the recent Barcelona 1900 exhibtion. This has been my introduction to his work and I’m so glad to have encountered both it and you. I’m linking your website to one that I do for my metropolitan library system in New York State. What a feast.

    Posted 15 November, 2007 at 9:09 pm | Permalink
  4. michael

    @Sylvie. I’m sorry not to be able to answer your question at the moment. I will post here, or e-mail you when I learn more.
    (I am only just learning about proper academic referencing, so I apologise for not keeping the right research notes.)

    @Jane, I’m so glad you have enjoyed seeing what little I have discovered about this remarkable gentleman from Catalunia.
    I have another big post about him that is still in the pipeline, and it will show the astonishing transformation his work went through in the first decade of the new 20th century.

    I need a little more time to put it together, and make the images more presentable.

    Posted 16 November, 2007 at 12:20 am | Permalink
  5. michael

    @Sylvie, I have e-mailed you with some references from my original research, and put a couple more references in the e-mail as well.
    Let me know it that’s useful.

    Posted 18 November, 2007 at 4:17 pm | Permalink
  6. Rumen

    I am so glad I found this site.
    I met first time works of Rusinol in Amsterdam – Van Gogh museum in exhibition Barcelona 1900.
    I learned that he is play writer and poet.
    Can you send some of his letters or book I want to read something from him, if is possible in english please.

    Posted 14 November, 2008 at 5:06 pm | Permalink
  7. Arno

    Interesting artist and an attractive site. The image captioned ‘Portrait of Eric Satie at the piano’ actually shows Satie seated at a harmonium.

    Posted 20 January, 2009 at 4:19 pm | Permalink
  8. michael

    Of course you’re right, Arno! I’ve edited the caption now. Thanks!

    Posted 20 January, 2009 at 11:21 pm | Permalink
  9. The “morphine” pieces blew me away. Thanks for intruducing me to this great artist!

    Posted 24 August, 2009 at 4:20 am | Permalink
  10. michael

    @Francisco: I’m glad you enjoyed his work. There’s a third chapter about Rusinol on the way soon.

    Posted 6 October, 2009 at 11:03 am | Permalink
  11. t

    great bit of research
    fantastic artist

    Posted 14 December, 2011 at 3:39 am | Permalink
  12. Trevor Walshaw

    Amazing artist: captures so much of the inner feelings in his portraits: I too have just discovered him.

    Posted 17 December, 2011 at 9:12 pm | Permalink
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