Friday, February 3, 2012

Clairin, Georges

Portrait de Sarah Bernhardt
Oil on canvas
250 x 200 cm
Musιe des Beaux-Arts de la Ville de Paris, Petit Palais.

Georges Clairin (1843 - 1919), French painter. In addition to being a well-known portraitist, Clairin also completed numerous decorative commissions for public buildings such as the theatres in Tours and Cherbourg, the Opéra in Monte Carlo, etc. He was knighted in 1897.

In the privacy of her home or in the theatre, Sarah Bernhardt made her life into a spectacle at the service of her talent. To achieve this, she managed to inspire the admiring complicity of painters, sculptor, photographers and poster designers, who depicted the many facets of her role as a Diva.
The painter Clairin, who was her lover and then a loyal friend, remained the official portraitist of his illustrious muse for fifty years. He used to have his own studio in her beautiful house in Belle-Île.

The 32-year-old actress, Sarah Bernhardt, Member of the Comédie Française, was enjoying her first triumphs in the plays of Racine and Hugo at the time. As a sign of her social ascent, she had just moved into her new mansion near to Monceau Park, the bohemian splendour of which is depicted in this painting.
This large portrait showing the subject in a white satin dress, with a very studied nonchalance, was one of Sarah Bernhardt’s favourites and she kept it all her life.