Day in History 5 December – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – Alexandre Dumas – Claude Monet

Mozart circa 1780 by Johann Nepomuk della Croce

On this day in 1791, in my opinion, the greatest, most prolific and influential composer of classical music, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, died in Vienna at the age of 35.  His baptismal name was Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart.  Born 27 January 1756 at 9 Getreidegasse in Salzburg, capital of the sovereign Archbishopric of Salzburg, in what is now Austria but at the time was part of the Bavarian Circle in the Holy Roman Empire.  Of course my favorite works by Mozart are his operas particularly; Le nozze di Figaro (1786) (The Marriage of Figaro), Don Giovanni (1787), Cosi fan tutte (1790) (Women are like that) and  Die Zauberflöte (1791) (The Magic Flute).  Mozart married Constanze Weber on 4 August 1782.  Mozart met fellow composer Joseph Haydn in Vienna and the two became friends.  Haydn Told Mozart’s father; “I tell you before God, and as an honest man, your son is the greatest composer known to me by person and repute, he has taste and what is more the greatest skill in composition.” and “posterity will not see such a talent again in 100 years”.  Bravo Mozart!  The Final Footprint – In accordance with contemporary Viennese custom, Mozart was buried in a common unmarked grave at the St. Marx cemetery outside of Vienna.  In 1855, 64 years after his death, a gravestone was erected at what was presumed to be the correct spot.  Later the stone was transferred to the group of famous musician graves at Zentralfriedhof, the largest and most famous cemetery among Vienna’s nearly 50 cemeteries.  A cemetery worker replaced it with a memorial tablet, which was again expanded by several contributors.  Other notable Final Footprints at Zentralfriedhof include; Ludwig van Beethoven, Johannes Brahms, Antonio Salieri, Franz Schubert, Johann Strauss I, and Johann Strauss IIAmadeus a 1984 drama biopic film directed by Miloš Forman and written by Peter Shaffer, adapted from Shaffer’s stage play Amadeus, is based loosely on the lives of Mozart and Salieri.  The movie features F. Murray Abraham as Salieri and Tom Hulce as Mozart.  Amadeus was nominated for 53 awards and received 40, including eight Academy Awards (including Best Picture), four BAFTA Awards, four Golden Globes, and a DGA Award.  In 1998, the American Film Institute ranked Amadeus 53rd on its 100 Years… 100 Movies list.  One of my very favorite movies.  Perhaps the best line from the movie, by Salieri:  “This was no composition by a performing monkey!  This was a music I’d never heard.  Filled with such longing, such unfulfillable longing, it had me trembling.  It seemed to me that I was hearing the very voice of God.”

Alexander_Dumas_père_(1802-1870)_-_Google_Art_Project_2On this day in 1870, writer Alexandre Dumas, died at the age of 68 in Puys (near Dieppe), Seine-Maritime, France.  Born Dumas Davy de la Pailleteriein Villers-Cotterêts in the department of Aisne, in Picardy, France.  Perhaps best known for his historical novels of high adventure.  Translated into nearly 100 languages, these have made him one of the most widely read French authors in history.  His novels include; The Nutcracker (Histoire d’un casse-noisette, 1844) (a revision of E. T. A. Hoffmann‘s story The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, later set by composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky to music for a ballet),  The Three Musketeers (Les Trois Mousquetaires, 1844), and The Count of Monte Cristo (Le Comte de Monte-Cristo, 1845–1846).  His novels have been adapted since the early twentieth century for nearly 200 films.  Dumas’ last novel, The Knight of Sainte-Hermine, unfinished at his death, was completed by scholar Claude Schopp and published in 2005, becoming a bestseller.  It was published in English in 2008 as The Last Cavalier.  Dumas married the actress Ida Ferrier (born Marguerite-Joséphine Ferrand, but had numerous affairs, said to total 40.  He was known to have at least four illegitimate or “natural” children, including a boy who became a successful novelist and playwright, and was known as Alexandre Dumas, fils (son).  Among his affairs, in 1866 Dumas had one with Adah Isaacs Menken, an American actress then at the height of her career and less than half his age.  alexandreDumas_Zola_HugoThe Final Footprint – Dumas was cremated and his cremains were originally interred at his birthplace of Villers-Cotterêts in the department of Aisne.  In 2002 for the bicentennial of Dumas’ birth, the French President, Jacques Chirac, had a ceremony honouring the author by having his cremains inurned at the mausoleum of the Panthéon of Paris, where many French luminaries were buried.  The proceedings were televised: the new coffin was draped in a blue velvet cloth and carried on a caisson flanked by four mounted Republican Guards costumed as the four Musketeers.  It was transported through Paris to the Panthéon.  In his speech, President Chirac said:

“With you, we were D’Artagnan, Monte Cristo, or Balsamo, riding along the roads of France, touring battlefields, visiting palaces and castles—with you, we dream.”

Other notable Final Footprints at the Panthéon include: Victor Hugo, Louis Braille, Pierre and Marie Curie, André Malraux, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Voltaire, and Émile Zola.

Claude_Monet_1899_Nadar_cropOn this day in 1926, a founder of French Impressionist painting, Claude Monet died of lung cancer at the age of 86 in Giverny, France.  Born Oscar-Claude Monet on 14 November 1840 on the 5th floor of 45 rue Laffitte, in the 9th arrondissement of Paris.  In my opinion, Monet was the most consistent and prolific practitioner of the movement’s philosophy of expressing one’s perceptions before nature, especially as applied to plein-air landscape painting.  The term Impressionism is derived from the title of his painting Impression, Sunrise (Impression, soleil levant).   Monet’s Camille or The Woman in the Green Dress (La femme à la robe verte), painted in 1866, brought him recognition and was one of many works featuring his future wife, Camille Doncieux; she was the model for the figures in Women in the Garden of the following year, as well as for On the Bank of the Seine, Bennecourt, 1868.  Camille became pregnant and gave birth to their first child, Jean in 1867.  Monet and Camille married 28 June 1870.  Camille became ill in 1876. They had a second son, Michel, on 17 March 1878.  This second child weakened her already fading health.  In that same year, Monet moved to the village of Vétheuil.  On 5 September 1879, Camille died of tuberculosis at the age of thirty-two; Monet painted her on her death bed.  Monet later explained that his need to analyse colours was both the joy and torment of his life.  He reportedly said, “I one day found myself looking at my beloved wife’s dead face and just systematically noting the colours according to an automatic reflex!”  Monet married again, Alice Hoschedé (1892 – 1911 her death).  The Final Footprint – Monet is interred in the Giverny church cemetery.  He had insisted that the occasion be simple; thus only about fifty people attended the ceremony.  His home, garden and waterlily pond were bequeathed by his son Michel, his only heir, to the French Academy of Fine Arts (part of the Institut de France) in 1966.  Through the Fondation Claude Monet, the house and gardens were opened for visits in 1980, following restoration.  In addition to souvenirs of Monet and other objects of his life, the house contains his collection of Japanese woodcut prints.  The house is one of the two main attractions of Giverny, which hosts tourists from all over the world.


Le déjeuner sur l’herbe, (right section), with Gustave Courbet, 1865–1866, Musée d’Orsay, Paris

Woman with a Parasol, (Camille and Jean Monet), 1875, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC.

  • View at Rouelles, Le Havre 1858, Private collection.

  • Claude Monet – Mouth of the Seine, 1865, The Norton Simon Foundation, Pasadena, CA

  • The Woman in the Green Dress, Camille Doncieux, 1866, Kunsthalle Bremen.

  • Le déjeuner sur l’herbe, 1865–1866, The Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow.

  • Flowering Garden at Sainte-Adresse, 1866, Musée d’Orsay, Paris.

  • Women in a Garden, 1866–1867, Musée d’Orsay, Paris.

  • Woman in a Garden, 1867, Hermitage, St. Petersburg

  • Jardin à Sainte-Adresse, 1867, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City.

  • The Luncheon, 1868, Städel Museum, Frankfurt

  • Pheasant, 1869. Private collection.

  • The Magpie, 1868–1869. Musée d’Orsay, Paris.

  • Seine Basin with Argenteuil, 1872, Musée d’Orsay, Paris.

  • Springtime (1872). The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore.

  • Jean Monet on his hobby horse, 1872, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City.

  • Camille Monet on a Garden Bench, 1873, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City.

  • The Artist’s house at Argenteuil, 1873, The Art Institute of Chicago

  • Poppies Blooming, 1873, Musée d’Orsay, Paris.

  • Train in the Snow, 1875, Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris.

  • Madame Monet in a Japanese Costume, 1875, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

  • Camille Monet at her tapestry loom, 1875, Barnes Foundation, Merion, PA

  • Argenteuil, 1875, Musée de l’Orangerie, Paris.

  • The Boat Studio, 1876, Barnes Foundation, Merion, PA

  • Saint Lazare Train Station, Paris, 1877, The Art Institute of Chicago

  • Rue Montorgueil, 1878, Musée d’Orsay, Paris.

  • Vétheuil in the Fog, 1879, Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris.

  • Camille Monet on her deathbed, 1879, Musée d’Orsay, Paris.

  • Street in Vétheuil in Winter, 1879, Gothenburg Museum of Art

  • Lavacourt: Sunshine and Snow, 1879–1880 National Gallery, London.

Claude Monet, in his garden, by Étienne Clémentel, c. 1917

Monet, right, in his garden at Giverny, 1922

Port-Goulphar, Belle Île, 1887, Art Gallery of New South Wales

  • The Artist’s Garden at Vétheuil, 1880, National Gallery of Art

  • The Lindens of Poissy, 1882

  • La maison du pêcheur à Varengeville (The Fisherman’s house at Varengeville), 1882, Museum Boymans-van Beuningen, Rotterdam

  • Rock Arch West of Étretat (The Manneport), 1883, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

  • The Cliffs at Etretat, 1885, Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts

  • Still-Life with Anemones, 1885

  • Claude Monet – Bordighera, 1884, The Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois

  • Study of a Figure Outdoors: Woman with a Parasol, facing left, 1886. The pictured woman is Suzanne Hoschedé (c. 1864–1899), eldest daughter of Alice Hoschedé, second wife of Claude Monet, Musée d’Orsay.

  • The Port Coton Pyramids, 1886

  • Oat and Poppy Field, Giverny, 1890

  • Haystacks, (sunset), 1890–1891, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

  • Poplars, (autumn), 1891, Philadelphia Museum of Art

  • Four Poplars on the Banks of the Epte River near Giverny, 1891, Metropolitan Museum of Art

  • Rouen Cathedral, Façade (sunset), 1892–1894, Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris

  • The Seine at Giverny, 1897, National Gallery of Art

  • Charing Cross Bridge, 1899, Collection Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza, Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, Madrid

  • Bridge over a Pond of Water Lilies, 1899, Metropolitan Museum of Art

  • Poplars on the Epte, 1900, National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh

  • The Garden in Flower, 1900

  • Garden Path, 1902, Österreichische Galerie Belvedere

  • Houses of Parliament, London, c. 1904, Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris

  • Water Lilies, 1906, Art Institute of Chicago

  • Water Lilies, 1907, Bridgestone Museum of Art, Tokyo

  • Palace From Mula, Venice, 1908, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

  • The Grand Canal, Venice 1908, Boston Museum of Fine Arts

  • Water Lilies, 1914–1917, Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo, Ohio

  • Nympheas, 1915, Neue Pinakothek, Munich

  • Nympheas, 1915, Musée Marmottan Monet

  • White and yellow Water Lilies, (1915–1917), Kunstmuseum Winterthur, Winterthur, Switzerland

  • Nympheas, c. 1916, Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris

  • Water Lilies, 1916, The National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo

  • Water Lilies and Reflections of a Willow (1916–19), Musée Marmottan Monet

  • Water-Lily Pond and Weeping Willow, 1916–1919

  • Water Lilies, 1917–1919, Honolulu Museum of Art

  • Weeping Willow, 1918–1919

  • Weeping Willow, 1918–1919, Kimball Art Museum, Fort Worth

  • Water Lilies, 1919, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City

  • Sea-Roses (Yellow Nirwana), 1920, The National Gallery, London

  • Water-Lily Pond, c. 1915–1926, Chichu Art Museum, Naoshima, Kagawa, Japan

  • The Rose-Way in Giverny, 1920–1922, Musée Marmottan Monet

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