Charles Maurin: Motherhood and Malignancy

The original post on Maurin was made on the first Pigtails in Paint blog in March of 2011, but some things have changed since then.  For one, more of Maurin’s work, particularly his illustration, is available online.  Sadly, none of his major paintings except Maternity and a couple others seem to be available, at least not in large format.  The painting I am most interested in, The Dawn of the Dream, is one of those.  I would like to point out something else about this painting: it’s secondary title, Les Fleurs du mal, is also the title of a book of poetry by Charles Baudelaire.  (You can read the Cyril Scott translation of it here if you’re interested.) An artist buddy of mine actually had this book when we were teenagers, as he had taken an interest in the decadent poets at that time.  I recall having borrowed the book and read it, and, although I am unable to find the particular poem or recall its title–note that there are several editions of the book, and not all of them include every poem Baudelaire created for the volume–I do recall . . . sort of . . . a line from one of the poems.  It went something like this, and remember that I am paraphrasing here:

It is she, the little girl behind the bush, and she is dead!

Something like that.  Well, a pretty shocking line to be sure, and that’s why it stuck with me.  But here’s the weird thing: I cannot find this line or anything like it, either in relation to Baudelaire or to poetry in general, which inspires that awful feeling where you seem to have dreamed something and are haunted by it, even though you know it was a real experience.  I have these all the time.  Anyway, the original volume, although somewhat censored by the French state–six poems were removed–was published in 1857, well before Maurin’s painting of the same name was produced.  I don’t know to what extent Baudelaire’s poems inspired Maurin’s painting, but given its tone and the title, it seems to me that there has to be at least some link.

Ironically, it was in a book of Symbolism owned by the same friend that I first encountered this painting.  I have two books on Symbolism and it doesn’t appear in either of them.  Still, I will find the blasted thing somewhere!  It is a fascinating contrast to the rest of Maurin’s work, which consists primarily of straightforward portraits, adult female nudes, and charming scenes of mothers bathing toddler-aged girls.  Whereas these are well-executed but generally unremarkable works, The Dawn of the Dream, Maternity and The Dawn of Work are quintessentially Symbolist paintings.

Charles Maurin - The Dawn of of the Dream, or Les Fleurs du Mal

Charles Maurin – The Dawn of of the Dream, or Les Fleurs du Mal

Charles Maurin – Maternity

Charles Maurin - L'Aurore du Travail

Charles Maurin – L’Aurore du Travail

Charles Maurin – Aux Champs Élysées

Charles Maurin – Enfants et Nounous au Parc

Charles Maurin – Enfants et Nounous au Parc (detail)

Charles Maurin – Girl and Her Guardian Angel (1894)

Charles Maurin – Le ruban de coiffure

Charles Maurin – La Belle Pomme

Charles Maurin – Mother and Child (1)

Charles Maurin – Mother and Child (1) (detail)

Charles Maurin – Mother and Child (2)

Charles Maurin – Education sentimentale

Charles Maurin – New Sentimental Education (1901)

Charles Maurin – Petite fille et sa poupée (1)

Charles Maurin – Petite fille et sa poupée (2)

Charles Maurin – Footbath

Charles Maurin – La Chemise

Charles Maurin – La Toilette de Bébé

Charles Maurin – Le Tub de la Fillette

Charles Maurin – On the Potty

Charles Maurin – (Title Unknown)

Wikipedia: Charles Maurin

2 thoughts on “Charles Maurin: Motherhood and Malignancy

  1. hi, you can find “the dawn of the dream” in this book on symbolism:
    Charles Maurin: The Dawn of the Dream, linker Teil des Triptychons Dawn, 1892
    oil/canvas
    80 x 100 cm
    Musée d’Art moderne, Saint Étienne
    Unten rechts: Les fleurs du Mal de Ch. Baudelaire Ch. Maurin
    In: Rapetti 2005, # 85, p. 144.
    (Rapetti: Symbolism, 2005)

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