Impressionists, unlike their predecessors, were interested in painting
the social life at the Opera, rather than painting solely what was
on stage. The audience at the Opera included aristocrats (sometimes
patrons of artists) and/or friends. In a way this was the first attempt to create a "People's
Magazine" in painting for those who attended the Opera.
This reinforces the fact that Impressionists were fascinated by
the theater of social
that surrounded them.
The Loge 1882
is one of the paintings that Cassatt presented for the fourth Impressionist
exhibition--her first showing with the Independents.
we see two socialites enraptured by the performance. The curves of the balcony echo the curves
on the fan and the curves of the women's shoulders. The woman to the right holds a bouquet,
as would the star of the performance. She has a dreamy, introspective quality. The woman right behind her strikes a
theatrical pose. Her fan and her eyes are intent on the performance,
but her body is leaning towards the woman in the foreground, in
an act of public closeness.
the audience of an Opera performance the theme of a painting was a
new perspective introduced by those who were rebelling against the Salon.
is a study of the Paris Orchestra by Degas is a study in light
and movement, influenced perhaps by Degas' interest
expressionist strokes in between the players give dynamism to the
composition. It is interesting, that, similar to photography, the person
in the extreme foreground is blurred, while the musician in the middle
ground is clear.
on musicians in the orchestra pit was also novel. Degas experimented with theme and new styles of brushstrokes
to create dynamism and movement, as well as a perspective seldom seen
in Salon paintings.
Messalina at Bordeaux
famous for his seedy cafe scenes tackles
the Opera, no less...
breaks the rules in this piece is the composition: the star of the
performance is in the background, clearly provocative with her bright red-orange dress. In the forefront is a member of the
ensemble, far larger and in greater detail than the star. His muscular physiognomy is boldly portrayed,
his head tilted towards the star of the show, but his gaze fixed on
something else, away from the viewer. His hand is perched on his sword, a symbol of eroticism.
erotic tension between star and soldier is boldly portrayed by the
diagonal composition joining soldier in the foreground with bright
star in the background.
The red on the soldier's helmet, like the headdress of a cock,
matches the red on the woman's dress.
the rules too, is point of view.
We are not looking at the performance frontally, but
from the sidelines, as if we had gotten behind the curtains of the