Historical Commentary


Listed below are notations and comments made by 19th century writers and critics about Emile Munier and his work. These items are listed by date and are first given in the original language in which they were written and then have been translated into English.

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0 - Kennedy-Laurie, Antonia, La Photo-Gravure, Proofs Before Letters

- On the Mountain (Catalogue No. 1887.05).

Strange life this for a little maid, with the spring of youth in her veins. A lonely, self repressed life for the most part; for brothers and sisters hath she none, and the chalet is far from any neighbor's. There is much to solemnize in this child's existence, yet little to sadden, so while her eyes are thoughtful beyond her years, and her bearing sedate; there is no want of quiet happiness in the lines of the young face. She loves the long afternoons on the mountain slopes, with the sheep browsing around her; with the silver chimings of the church bells and the softened hum of traffic sounding musically from the valley below; and in the hot summer months, July and August, when the iron clasp of winter is loosed, there is no want of stir and excitement. Picturesque students, knapsack in hand, and cigar in mouth, making the mountains ring with wild college ditties: great lords and ladies from the cities on the plain, supercilious, indifferent, but lavish in silver largesse. At such times the chalet is brave to see, the carved furniture is polished to mirrorlike brilliancy; the crockery is bright and clean; the windows are draped in snowy muslin. Foaming pitchers of new milk and bowls of curdled cream; great baskets of fragrant woodstrawberries, and platters of sweet home made bread, invite the hungry and thirsty, and supplemented by the elixir of the mountain breezes, make the chalet a veritable "arbor in the hill." - At the yearly fair in September, what marvels are revealed! stupendous enough to feed, all through the Winter months, the imagination of one small maid, who has little to do, and much time for thinking. For then, father and mother, having netted a goodly store of kreutzers, and feeling a warm place in their kindly hearts for the demure little maiden tp whose ministry so much of their success as public caterers is due, become for the nonce, children themselves, and revel in the delights of gilt gingerbread, hobbyhorses and fortunetelling. So that between the free, wholesome life of the mountains, and the brief glimpse into city recreation, our Marie is as happy as any child in all the canton, as free from care as the gentle, fourfooted charges whom she has in her keeping.

 
 
1894 - Wallace, General Lew, Famous Paintings of the World

Pg. 164 - Cherry Time (Les Comfitures, Salon 1891, Catalogue No. 1891.01).

The name of Munier has become familiar among contemporary artists in both Europe and America. His rising fame is well deserved. This picture is a typical example of his work. The critical eye will discover in nearly all of his pieces a certain quality of 'consistency' which indicates careful study of his themes, careful drawing, and careful development of his characters. This Cherry Time possesses the quality in question. The cherries are ripe, but it is the first of the season; only the earlier fruit is fit for gathering. Note well that the season and the fact of Cherry Time are repeated and reflected in the three figures. All are youthful; but one is verging to womanhood. The same title might be retained allegorically if the real cherries were taken away; for the children, like the fruit, are in the June morning of ruby sweetness. Lips and eyes and fingers all accord with the ripe fruit so blood-red and tempting in the dish. Maud holds forth to Willie two of the coveted globes, and he, with smiling face, reaches out a chubby hand to receive them. The elder girl looks on with a quiet smile while the little play is enacted. Through the opening at the right the cherry orchard may be seen.

Pg. 300 - Catch

This picture is a visible representation of one of the many conceits of child-like adventure. The little lady, painted traditionally, holds up the hoop with the parrot sittiing in it within tempting distance of Kitty. It is a play in which the interest is mutual. The child watches the kitten; the kitten with eye and paw seeks the bird, and the bird answers the challenge. The Catch is the language of the little girl, as if she should say to the kitten, "Catch birdie if you can." This is the whole story. The little girl has climbed with her bare feet on the lounge, and contrived the little scene with all her wit. this, for the present, is the limit of her dramatic ability. After awhile she will introduce other characters into her piece. Maybe she will write a story with 'dramatis personae' and setting of various scenes. There is a sense in which Faust and Lear are only a development of Riding Hood and Mother Goose. What, therefore, may grow ultimately out of this scene, devised by Ella, five years of age? The kitten is in the highest stages of civilization, else there would be a sudden bound for the prey, with most tragical ending of the act? The civilized life smooths over the rapacities of animal being, as well as the unquenchable appetites of human nature. Under the influence of it the beast refined, and the human creature less animal in his instincts and passions.

 
 
1896 - Hitchcock, Ripley, The Art of the World

Page 101 - The Cold Bath (Catalogue No. 1892.01).

The subjects and the manner of this painter represent the school of M. Bouguereau. He reproduces episodes of a familiar character, and paints with a brush always smooth, never troubling himself with the striking effects of the new "Pein air" school. He obtained his first success at the Exposition of 1882. In a wood near a clear stream, which, below the casdace seen in the distance, spreads oout like a white cloth, a young woman, with breast and feet bare, is seated on a rock, holding on her knees an infant whom she has just been putting onto the water, and who, enlivened by the wholesome freshness of the bath, and proud of having braved the cold, smiles at his mother, who looks at him with love. With her right hand she holds his feet, and with her left begins to dry his little round body. Near by is a bucket of provisions, from which she has doubtless taken the fruit that the child holds in his hand. The landscape is in harmony with this simple scene, the execution of which is as happy as the subject, and will particularly please mothers.

 
 
1902 - Famous Pictures by Renowned Artists

Pg. 38 - Cupid Disarmed ( Catalogue No. 1886.02).

Emile Munier is a French painter, born in Paris, and a pupil of A. Lucas and Bouguereau, whose light and fanciful allegorical pictures enjoy and immense popularity. They always tell their story clearly, and with a pleasantly humorous touch to it, are well conceived and graceful in drawing, and agreeable in color. His Cupid Disarmed is an instance in point, possessing as it does all the qualities which have rendered the artist a favorite with the public. Venus, at sport with her tricksy offspring, has deprived him of the weapons of which he makes such extensive and often wanton and mischievous use, and laughs at his ineffectual efforts to recover them. Cupid deprived of his weapon is, indeed, rendered harmless, but the time has yet to come when the goddess will actually execute her threat, and convert her jest to earnest.

Pg. 189 - The Cascade (Catalogue No. 1893.02).

The Cascade gives another specimen from the brush of Emile Munier, who represents the spirit of the falling waters bathed in the spray of the stream of which she is a deity.

Pg. 263 - The Billet-Doux (Catalogue No. ND.03).

It is another breed of princess wich Emile Munier shows us in "The Billet-Doux" -- a comparatively modern princess of the bedchamber, and Abigail who has chanced upon some tender missive which has been sent to her mistress, and is adding another to that store of secrets which render men and women no heroes of their valets and their maids.

Pg. 274

... and the spirit of genre painting is exemplified in the picture by Munier.