May 27, 2013

Google against Forain

There is a relatively known French impressionist painter called Jean-Louis Forain (1852-1931). He was sort of obsessed with the inspection and abuse of ballerinas at the backstage of the Parisian Opéra. I bet his pieces work as a complaint, since he was a very well known caricaturist.

Forain, Sur le plateau (1912)

Last night I spent a good amount of hours searching for the authenticity of this image, which has been wrongly labeled on Google. Somebody attended an exhibition and recalled wrongly its author. It has been hard to correct it, because the painting is rather unknown and belongs to a private collector. 

Since then, it has been falsely attributed to Toulouse-Lautrec, instead of Forain. This image was –I guess– scanned from the catalog because the original one stumbling on Google has white uneven margins on the left and lower sides – which I removed.

It is interesting to observe the mechanism of the internet: one mistake keeps repeating. Is it possible to retrieve it? All people keep reposting this image as "Toulouse-Lautrec's Dancer". Maybe people posting it should rename the file.

Just one person post it correctly: Forain, Sur le plateau (1912). Another blogger wrote a correct description of the painting: "Sur le plateau (daté de 1912, coll. particulière) montre un bourgeois « maquignonnant » avec assurance une danseuse comme pour en évaluer le prix." 

Although it is not absolutely clear on this image, the signature on the right lower corner does not correspond to Toulouse-Lautrec's. It looks rather like a Forain signature (specially as the third sample here).

This video about a retrospective hold in Paris two years ago excludes any doubt (see 2:12).

Forain liked the theme: a man inspecting women, as if they were objects, products or stuff.

Update (May 29):

I just talked to the woman who wrongly attributed the Forain painting to Toulouse-Lautrec. She was so kind to check it up in the catalog of the Portland exhibition where she saw the painting. I do not have a copy of the catalog but she assured me that the credit is given to Toulouse Lautrec, The Dancer. Now their post has been taken down.

The investigation needs to go deeper... I will contact the staff at the museum.

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