Saturday, February 16, 2008
Today commemorates the birthday of Charles Daubigny (1817-1878), a painter of the French "Barbizon" school.
Daubigny is one of those artists who are a link between the "plein air" painters of the Barbizon school and the Impressionists. Though he was invited to exhibit with the Impressionists, he remained independent of the "movement" and though his style became looser and more atmospheric he never quite abandoned himself to the effects of light over matter, continuing to remain comfortable with both.
In 1857 he bought a 29 foot houseboat for himself, called "Le Botin", converted it into a studio, and for much of the remainder of his life sailed up and down the rivers Meuse and Seine basking in the world of the riverscape.
I've often mused on the river-barge life. John Renbourn, the English guitarist who has been a longtime idol of mine, once lived on a houseboat in France, traveling about leading the young bohemian musician's life on the river.
Myself, though quite relishing the familiarity of a neighborhood and the rhythm and ritual of familiar friends and haunts, can well imagine traveling down the river; painting, playing guitar, stopping now and then to play saxophone in a local jam session, sell a painting to get by for awhile, and reconnect with the human race - knowing full well that the boat and the watercourse always would be there, waiting for me to come back to my senses.