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Born in Villars, Vaucluse on 15th February 1834, Paul Camille Guigou was an art student who later specialized in producing paintings depicting the landscapes of his native Provence region of France. Guigou successfully captured sceneries in Provence on canvas panoramas. He developed an immense liking for the region and its beautiful landscapes. Guigou devoted his time towards developing art pieces that showed natural landscapes with the occasional person engaged in activities like farming. Guigou’s depictions of Provence can be regarded as an effort to show its stunning allure to the world in a form of artistic exposure.
In spite of his artistic prowess, Guigou was overlooked. At the time, impressionism triumphed over Camille’s realism. Guigou consigned himself to working as drawing instructor, a job he held until he died of stroke in 1871. Guigou had developed a sense of pride for the culture of Southern France. In the era, the citizens of Southern France sought to maintain a sense of independence, both culturally and linguistically as they spoke a different dialect. Consequently, the country’s leadership, under Louis Napoleon wanted to naturalize the citizens.
The run-ins with the national government may have been a source of motivation for Guigou as he wanted to help assert the uniqueness of Provence, as well as its cultural difference from the rest of the country. The artist used his painting skills to prompt other people to appreciate the innate beauty of Provence and recognize its exceptional identity. The emerging globalization and industrialization of Provence aggravated the area residents’ feeling of identity loss, and Guigou took it upon himself to promote the land with brush. His paintings were transformed to objects for advocating for the rich cultural heritage of the region.
Guigou employed southern light in his works and he was adept at distinctly outlining each element in a picture with an unparalleled clarity. All the landscapes he painted had depth in them and the pictures extended for great distances, which was made possible by the generous use of southern light. The painter’s connection to his home region of Provence is exemplified in his 1860 painting, Wheat Field. Like his other works, this painting illustrates the fields of Provence with an outstanding physical specificity.
Wheat Field is a shining demonstration of Guigou’s attachment to Provence. The painting depicts the region’s rich agricultural background. In the image, three women can be seen working in a wheat plantation, presumably harvesting the wheat. Their belongings are tucked under a tree. At the end of the wheat field is a rocky outcrop with a few trees. A number of birds can be seen flying in a single file in the sky. The main subject in the painting is the golden wheat which Paul warmly illuminates with light, he also adds flecks of the colors blue, red, and green on the wheat. The painting has a subtle roughness which was characteristic of Guigou as he had a disdain for the smooth refinement of the impressionists. The ruggedness of the painting is redolent of the countryside life of Provence.
The women in the picture are deeply engrossed in their work, and this shows the author’s preference for portraying the rural reliance on the environment for sustenance. The picture can be described as melancholic because the women seem to be individually carried away in their work on the farm. The artist does not show their faces and it is up to the reader to evaluate Guigou’s presentation of women working restlessly on the backdrop of Provence. He uses warm yellows to depict an energetic image of the area, conversely, he uses blue on the women to convey sadness and despair. The color shows the gloominess of the people of Provence in the midst of an assault on their language and culture by the northern countrymen.
The painting Wheat Field is an oil on canvas piece and it uses brownish tones to reflect the traditional life in Provence. The artist utilizes warm lighting to illuminate the golden strands of wheat. The lighting is also used to differentiate the different forms in the painting. Guigou uses light brushstrokes and sparse paint to depict the living items in the picture, he uses a light blue shade for the women’s clothes and accessories. Additionally, the birds are lightly shown in gray. In doing so, the painter fully immerses the viewer into the beauty of the landscape, rather than the people. And this goes in hand with his advocacy for the landscapes of Southern France. Paul Guigou draws the women from behind to give them a sense of inexplicableness, and their position in the painting is the only give away of their occupation.
The natural physical characteristics in the painting like the trees and the rocky formation at the back are presented using deeper colors and broader brushstrokes. The sky is painted with sparse blue paint, and it lacks any artistic gesture. There are light clouds that partially cover the sky, and the warm lighting comes from the right side of the painting. The wheat plantation goes beyond the right edge of the painting where the warm light is also concentrated. The lighting together with the color spots are meant to draw the viewer’s attention towards the wheat plantation. His pigmentation becomes heavier as he draws the natural attributes of the painting.
The artist represents an idyllic countryside which is associated with the life in Provence. The painter’s choice of motif is shown by his focus on the ecological aspect of the artwork. TheWheat Field painting merges a number of processes of natural growth. The wheat in the picture appear to sway, and the natural environment is animated by the inclusion of the birds and the green trees. The people of Provence’s relationship with their natural environment is shown by harmonious placement of the wheat field, which leaves out room for the trees, grasslands, and rocky outcrop.
In Provence, the synchronization of man and nature is pegged on the fair use of the environment. Guigou does not make the wheat a dominating aspect of the picture. Although the piece is known as Wheat Field, the artist’s positioning of the landscape and the deep color he utilizes tends to draw the viewer’s attention from the subject matter, which is the wheat. Guigou presents the agricultural aspect of Provence and delicately intertwines it with the region’s beauty by strategically positioning the viewer to indulge in every facet of the panorama. As the audience immerses itself in the wheat, the warm lighting allows them to find order in the picture, and it makes them realize that the appreciation of the picture transcends recognizing the agricultural activities, but also the landscape as a whole.
Guigou was sentimental about Provence, and he glamorized the region in his art. His sentimentalism of Provence in the midst of industrialization and cultural dilution is immortalized in his works. In the piece, Wheat Fields, Guigou tries to preserve Provence’s balanced natural past. In spite of the technological progress and industrialization that swept the time, he pursued an ecological point of view and illustrated the harmony between man and nature.
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