American Art · American Art of the Week · Art History

American Art of the Week: Paris La Nuit by Charles Courtney Curran

charles_courtney_curran_-_paris_la_nuit_28188929
Paris La Nuit by Charles Courtney Curran, 1889. Terra Museum of American Art. Photo via Wikimedia Commons [Public domain].
I think there’s something quite fascinating about paintings of Europe by American artists. It’s interesting to compare how European cities look through American eyes with American scenes and with European artists’ representations of the same cities. Does a Frenchman represent Paris differently than an American? How does an American see London compared with how he sees New York? Since so many nineteenth and twentieth-century American artists visited and studied in Paris and other major European art capitals, such images are more common than one might think. This painting of Paris at night by Charles Courtney Curran (1861-1942)  is truly magical. By focusing on the narrow view of lights, people, and activity rather than a wider view of more permanent attributes like architecture, Curran presents a homey little scene that feels more small town than big city. Paris certainly didn’t feel much like this when I visited over a century later, but I’m intrigued by the possibility that it once did.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s