A Little Funny Bunny

Most Sundays when I was little – when we went to museums, it was to see paintings…

Madame Charpentier and Her Children by Renoir, Metropolitan Museum

I loved this painting especially because of the big dog (I wanted a big dog to sit on too). But I also loved the elegant room and furnishings, the beautiful clothes, and the lovely faces… I could easily imagine myself as one of the little girls.

My parents were not interested in contemporary art so we spent our hours in rooms full of masterpieces from previous eras.

West Gallery at the Frick Collection showing Rembrandts, photo New York Times

My Dad worshiped Rembrandt’s work – here its being shown at the Frick Collection – a museum that we frequented when I finally got old enough at age 10.

I’d overhear my parents talking in front of artwork and then I’d try to see what they saw. Their talk was about technique, color, composition, poses, light and shadow, and all those other things that artists think about.

In this way I learned naturally by osmosis about all the artists and their art. Even as a kid, I became very good at recognizing an artist’s style and work. I had quite a surprisingly sophisticated set of favorite paintings including more mature works like Madame X by Sargent.

I was frequently allowed to purchase postcards of these paintings – so I had my own collection to look at at home. Actually all four of us had postcard collections – my parents looked to them for inspiration, and I just enjoyed studying them at leisure.

Adele Safran's postcard collection

This was my mother’s collection of postcards – she has a lot of Impressionist and Post Impressionist artists represented because she aspired to paint like them. The collection also includes an eclectic assortment of things that appealed to her.

I had my favorite pastimes in the paintings collections. For example: I enjoyed looking for little details like flowers, bugs, and animals…

Detail of rabbit from St. Francis in the Desert by Bellini, Frick Collection

A little funny bunny in a big painting – the kind of look and see game I played with many paintings.

I liked looking at the people in the paintings; their different hairstyles, clothes, or expressions…

I really loved the Medieval and Renaissance paintings with all the luxurious details – especially the golden halos and embellished clothes…

Saint Justina of Padua by Bartolomeo Montagna , the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Here’s an example of a painting that had lots for me to look at – a beautiful lady, golden jewellery and halo, amazing clothes, and great hair.. and its beautifully painted.

I also liked paintings that had landscape backgrounds that receded into a clear horizon with trees, buildings, castles and boats – all on a tiny, far away scale…Metropolitan Adoration of the Shepherds by Andrea MantegnaThe Adoration of the Shepherds by Mantegna is a painting I could stand in front of and study for a long, long time while my parents were off discussing something serious. There are wonderful people in it; it tells a great story; it has great animals; and a receding, yet intricate landscape – all in beautiful color and detail…

Ernesta (Child with Nurse) by Cecilia Beaux, the Metropolitan Museum of Art

It wasn’t just paintings of little girls, like me, that I loved – its just that this was another favorite painting so I had to include it.

And I loved pictures of children…

All in all, I was a very lucky kid to get such an in depth education in the history of art and art appreciation. I owe it all to my artist parents.

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2 thoughts on “A Little Funny Bunny

  1. Pingback: Inspiration-”The Artist” | its all art

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