Henri Gervex was an forgettable French painter during the days of Degas. It is unfortunate how many incredible artists exist in the annals of history who have simply been forgotten – even through Gervex’s controversial paintings of the time, he still wasn’t important enough to make the history books.
Museums are filled with art like this – paintings that are so consistently good in both technique and cultural significance that is easy to overlook them in the rows upon rows of similar greatness. You go into a stupor in museums simply because there is too much talent to take in at once. But, I guarantee, 96% of the names you do not know (even if you have studied art or art history!). This is a shame. In making this blog awhile ago, it was part of the goal to gain awareness of not just unknown living artists, but deceased as well. Not that is does them much good, but I still feel it is important to be inspired by those who lived for the passion of the craft, instead of the glory.
Though, Gervex was a fairly famous painter in his day (and, admittedly, not the most unknown painter nowadays either…). He primarily was famous for his controversial painting Rolla,which was hastily rejected by the Salon despite his early medal awarded to him when he was 26. Though the subject matter itself was not cray-cray – he was certainly not the first to paint a lounging and nude pale white woman, it was the inclusion of her clothes strewn about the floor that made this painting so risque. Including a RED corset on the ground, and the man’s walking stick protruding through its delicate folds, clearly was pornographic enough for it to be discarded from judging that year. That same smut, however, received great success when exhibited at a nearby gallery privately. I guess sex really does sell. WHO KNEW.