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de FRICK Paul“LADY PLAYING WITH KITTENS IN AN ORIENTALISING INTERIOR”
First of all, Impressionism seems an unlikely style to depict an oriental scene in which everything is orderly, structured, like calligraphy. One must appreciate Frick's courage to set a rather exotic scene in a then trendy style. Secondly, the room is dressed with oriental trinkets but nevertheless, the woman seems to embrace a luxurious, self-indulgent, dare we even say spoiled, lifestyle. Notice how she just threw the book on the floor and put the flowers on the table instead of in a vase. Not something you would expect an oriental woman living in a Minka to do. The same goes for her posture, completely opposite of the stereotype image of a geisha sitting down on the floor for a cup of tea. Just like her traits (broad hips and shoulders but a fine head and elegant fingers), the whole painting tells the story of a mix between western and eastern cultures. Was she an ambassador’s wife? And if so, is it a European ambassador who embraced oriental cultural or vice versa? Either way, this painting is a pioneer, because what once was the exception has become the norm a hundred years later: a grown woman playing with a kitten, just lounging about. In a time where hobbies were still considered a waste of productive time by ninety-nine percent of working-class people, this is the “Netflix and chill” of the interbellum. Nowadays, leisure and relaxation lie within everyone’s reach, as well as an infinite array of cultural styles in which to do so. What a wonderful window into the past of our future. Paul de Frick (Paris 1864 – Paris 1935) was a painter of the French school, using his brush to capture genre scenes, town views, still lifes and portraits. He first studied with Gustave Boulanger and later with Luc-Olivier Merson. He expanded his horizons travelling to Great-Britain and Italy, and quickly became an artist to watch. Not only did he exhibit at the Salon des Artistes Français, where he received a commendation in 1914, his colleagues held him in high regard as well. Distinguishing the commission-painter from the authentic artist, Frick nonetheless de managed to be successful as both personas.
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