The Last Painting Sarah Bernhardt
“Life begets life. Energy creates energy. It is by spending oneself that one becomes rich.”
December 31, 2019 – the last painting in my 2019 page-a-day Gallery Calendar. How appropriate that it should be a portrait of the flamboyant French stage actress, Sarah Bernhardt. The artist was Georges Jules Victor Clairin. Georges and Sarah’s friendship spanned 50 years.
“Once the curtain is raised, the actor ceases to belong to himself. He belongs to his character, to his author, to his public. He must do the impossible to identify himself with the first, not to betray the second, and not to disappoint the third.”
What I enjoy most about art is where it leads me, unusually on the pathway to an adventure. The confident woman, relaxing on a luxuriant sofa with a dog sitting close by, has a story to tell. What a life she led. At ten, she declared that she would become a nun, but had difficulty following convent rules, a foreshadowing of future events. Bold, audacious, eccentric (she studied her roles in a coffin), Georges Clairin captured it all in this painting. What I did not know was that Sarah Bernhardt moonlighted as a sculptor.
I have just added a book to my 2020 reading list: The Art of the Theatre, by Sarah Bernhardt.
“I have not written this book to attract young people to the dramatic art but to give them friendly advice and guide them by my experience.”