Frederik Hendrick Kaemmerer

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Biography of Frederik Hendrick Kaemmerer ( 1839-1902 )

A pupil of Gérôme, this Dutch artist spent his life between The Hague and Paris.
Kaemmerer started with genre painting and historical tales, a  pretext of depicting the fine clothing of the late18th century.
His very detailed and acute representations of the “Merveilleuses” were highly appreciated in the United States. He exhibited in the ‘Salon de Paris’ in 1870. He was awarded in 1874, and received a silver medal at the Universal Exhibition in 1889. In the same year he was named Chevalier of the Legion of Honour.
Kaemmerer enjoyed particular success with his very finely finished works which were inspired by the Age of Enlightenment.
At the end of his life, his technique had evolved and indicated a freedom of brush, using brighter colours , a  manner of painting similar to that of the impressionists.
This painting is a subtle representation of an outdoor fun and historical event.
We note that Kaemmerer treats this painting like a outline study. If we look closely at the work as a whole, it is quite clear that the foreground is almost more present that the main subject of the painting itself, “the ascension”. The artist shows us a refined and well-groomed crowd, illustrated by its clothes and elegant hairstyle (the frock coat, cropped trousers, the wigs, the bow tying in the hair of the men, the richness and elegance of the women, their jewels), watching the event.  There is also an intellectual dimension to this piece of work, the artist leaves it to the onlooker to appreciate the two scenes happening under his eyes and to judge which one is overtaking the other. Is it the hot air balloon climbing with pride in the sky or is it the decadence of the 'monarchy', suggested by the man, falling down, awkwardly, backward on the ground ? With a great sense of humour,  the artist gives a colourful and skilled narration of an historical event and produces an outstanding artwork, exceptional by its size and its composition.

32 avenue Marceau
75008 Paris, France
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