Joseph Coomans, the father of the Misses Heva
and Diana Coomans, was a Belgian artist, whose biography will be found
in full in a previous division of this work. "The Smile" is one of his favorite
and enormously popular Pompeiian subjects, a lady reclining upon a divan and cassting at some admirer
a glance of invitation and encouragement. It is one of the most characteristic of this class
of works which the painter produced during his long and incessantly active career.
Edouard Bisson, in "La Cigale,"
gives another interpretation to an old fable of which we have already given versions by several different artists.
In this case, they depicted the joyful and merry period of the poor grasshopper's life.
Bisson deals with its tragic side. The Spring ablaze with flowers, the Summer
basking in the bland beams of the sun, the Autumn fragment with its rich harvests have passed;
the cruel Winter, against which the Cigale made no provision, had arrived, and her gay songs are hushed as she shivers, shelterless,
in the snow. The artist is a Parisian, a pupil of the Ecole des Beaux Arts, and a popular
painter of sentimental and decorative subjects. The "Wood Nymph Reposing"
is one of the fine studies of the nude of Emmanuel Benner.
This picture was exhibited at the Salon of 1881 and is esteemed the artist's masterpiece. It was
by it that he secured his first medal.
Chapter 9 Text
Emmanuel Michel Benner
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Copyright © 2007, Mary S. Van Deusen