Masters of Heavy-Handedness

Portion of “Preparing for the Soiree” by Adophe Joseph Thomas Monticelli (1870) @ Through Vincent’s Eyes

“I paint for thirty years from now,” responded Adolphe Monticelli to critics of his thickly textured brushstrokes and vibrant colors.

Of all the various works in the Through Vincent’s Eyes exhibit at the Columbus Museum of Art, from Van Gogh’s various inspirations and sources of his unique style, Monticelli’s was the most eerily similar. Many assumed he painted with a knife (so three-dimensional does the final product appear) but he did in fact use a brush, then wiped the colors with a cloth, spread the paint with his fingers — and later he just grabbed the paint tube and applied it that way. The end result is absolutely stunning.

I almost — almost — mistook his paintings for samples of Vincent’s.

After all, Van Gogh himself saw his work the same way, writing, “I sometimes think I am really continuing that man.” Indeed, Monticelli died before Vincent started his career as an artist. One can almost imagine the muse traveling from one painter to the next.

Sorry, my romanticism is showing.

I’ll leave you with one final tidbit on this artist, whose output I’m now slightly in love with: his position in history as a genius is far from secured. On the contrary, in the mid-2000s his works were chosen by the director general of the National Galleries of Scotland as some of the worst in their collection — one of them, A Garden Fete, getting the superlative honor of being “the worst painting in Britain […] Monticelli produces screamingly awful art. I call this one a Fete Worse Than Death.”

Don’t hold back, man. Tell us how you really feel.

Shot on Pixel 6 Pro.

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