Guys, Constantin (1802-1892) by Scholes, Robert

Constantin Guys (1802 – 1892) Famously designated “The Painter of Modern Life” by Baudelaire, he worked mainly as an illustrator, sketcher, and watercolorist. He was born in Vlissingen, Holland, but made his career in Paris. Michèle Cone has written this about him in a review on artnet: Guys, the son of a diplomat, was a very shy, insecure yet proud individual. He neither signed nor dated his pictorial efforts. He begged Baudelaire not to divulge his name in his writings about him, hence the recurring initials C.G. in the famous text . Though the artist carried himself with aristocratic bearing, he eked out a meager living as an illustrator for English and French weeklies, traveling and reporting on the wars and revolutions that raged throughout Europe during his lifetime. “Bulgaria, Turkey, Crimea, Spain have been great visual feasts for the eyes of M.G.,” Baudelaire tells us. When in Paris, Guys frequented the same hauts lieux de plaisir as did Baudelaire. (The latter’s descriptions of women in bear an uncanny resemblance to Guys’ female pictorial types.) The Painter of Modern Life Le Peintre de la vie moderne

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