The acquisition of our new "Henry Rogers" painting (#14 above) was motivated by the subject matter. Unlike the potentially generic street scenes of most of his other works, this one is clearly attached to a known site in Paris - Montmartre - and the world famous Basilique du Sacre-Coeur (below).
In an attempt to determine if these paintings were created in situ at the locations they portray, or just imitations done elsewhere, I used the "street view" technology of Google to search every side street around the white towered basilica to see if I could duplicate the perspective.
This duplicate perspective was found on a narrow side street west of the basilica (Rue Norvins at the blue pin above), and a careful comparison of the Rogers painting and the view from this street reveals a nearly perfect match.
Matching details include the relative position of the church towers, the general shape and "feel" of the intersecting streets, the encroching building and covered stall on the right, and most exactly, the low green metal roofed structure (right of center) with small lightning rod and the gable end building with round window (left of center).
One may see the lack of line of sight to the lower portions of the church towers, shown in the painting but not visible at street level, as an issue. One possible explanation may be found at the corner just behind the Google camera position where several east-facing second floor windows (see below) would provide the same angle with greater elevation.
But of course the term "artistic license" is not an irrelevant concept here, and we need not expect a merely photographic approach to painting this scene. In fact we see in the early 20th century painting below (Edouard Leon Cortes -1882-1969), clearly done at street level, the same "extra" visibility of the towers is taken as given. This painting of an artist painting the scene could be symbolic of Henry Rogers himself?
Of course, the street view from Google compared to the Rogers painting (below) is just that....a view from the street. The artist may have had an angle to the scene from a position to the right; in the park. Note also the two images below, a photo on the left and watercolor on the right, that show how elements of the scene can also be moved and recomposed to suit the artist.
I noticed the Google street vector was labeled "Place du Tertre", which meant nothing at the time, other than it could refer to the small park adjacent to the street. But it was soon apparent this was THE most important small park in Montmartre, as far as artists and art were concerned (below).
"The Place du Tertre is a square in Paris' XVIIIe arrondissement. Only a few streets away from Montmartre's Basilica of the Sacré Cœur and the Lapin Agile, it is the heart of the city's elevated Montmartre quarter.
With its many artists setting up their easels each day for the tourists, the Place du Tertre is a reminder of the time when Montmartre was the mecca of modern art. At the beginning of the 20th century, many penniless painters including Picasso and Utrillo were living there."
So not only is it certain Henry Rogers stood in this street to paint his image, but this seems to connect his painting output with the mass of "tourist" art that this area is famous for. The image of him working to crank out multiple versions of similar real settings now somehow seems more real. Does the motivation reduce the art? Is skill of creation to be denied because the act is somewhat "production line" (below)?
Note the display of almost 20 paintings, all similar style and subjects, in the picture of a Place du Tertre evening sale (above, right). At a distance one might be inspired to rush over to find a collection of Rogers canvases? ....and moreso walking along the Place du Tertre sale below, where a pair of paintings on the rack are very much in the style of the Rogers works we have been examining.
And if there reamins any doubt that the collection of Rogers paintings, all in the same style and all of similar, and sometimes nearly identical, scenes, could be the product of such a Paris street "industry", consider the display below at a recent Place du Tertre sidewalk sale.
The seller of our painting (above) described it as "Brand new...never framed." And it arrived as a rolled canvas, the painted area being 12 by 16 inches, with a margin of unpainted canvas of about 1 1/2 inches. The only evidence of it having been mounted were four holes and imprints of thumbtacks in the four corners.
But all indications are (below) that even the cheapest and most insignificant paintings at Place du Tertre are sold attached to strectchers.
And to expect any sort of artist to paint on an unstretched canvas, merely thumbtacked to a work surface, is not supported by reason (above, right). It appears that our painting was, originally, attached to a stretcher, and then was cut off the stretcher; an idea suggested by the somehwat ragged and uneven edges on the canvas.
So depending on the seller's description of "brand new" to date this work would be mistaken.
After this additional insight into Rogers' Montmarte paintings (this one and #16 below), it seems imagining him as a production artist actually working in Paris is the most "elegant" explanation for these various paintings.
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