I had the good fortune to visit the Haggin Museum in Stockton, CA. recently with a friend. This tiny out of the way museum has within its rooms some of the finest paintings of the late 19th. century French Academic style. They also own the largest collection of J.C. Leyendecker’s in the world. I traveled to the museum 2-3 years ago and at that time my focus was only to see the recently unveiled Leyendecker show. I didn’t expect to find so many other wonderful hidden gems. In addition to the aforementioned collection, they also have some great works by Rosa Bonheur and California landscape artists such as Bierstadt (how can you not like a painter named “Beer Town”), Thomas Moran, and others.

Currently, I am reading Vibert’s book called “The Science of Painting”. It is decidedly a 19th c. work, but it is surprising in its accuracy in the realm of chemistry. Vibert’s works are by far the most well preserved works of any period that I have ever seen. The colors seem glimmer as jewels. Not only is he as master craftsman, but he is decidedly an amazing draftsman. The two people who I believe could rival him in all of painting would be Charles Bargue or Earnest Meissonier. Needless to say, I am going to follow his suggestions regarding painting technique to the letter from now on. It seems odd to me though that here is a repository of knowledge that CLEARLY works; why this is not mandatory reading at every art school is beyond me?

Just a quick note on scale, these works are between 10×14 inches for single figure pictures and 20×14 for pictures with more than one figure in them. So the average shoe is around the size of a tic-tac.