A month after Roseman painted December Morning, the Chief Curator of the Museums of France, François Bergot, praising the ''very beautiful landscape,'' acquired the painting for the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Rouen, of which he was the Director. He had previously acquired the artist's work on the monastic life for the Rouen Museum, ''whose collections of paintings and drawings are among the most complete and most renowned in France'' (French Master Drawings from the Rouen Museum). The acquisitions of Roseman's work include four drawings and the oil on canvas portrait Dom Henry, 1978, of which the Chief Curator of the Museums of France expressed "my admiration for this work imbued with insight and spirituality.'' (See "The Monastic Life," "Ora et Labora - Prayer and Work," "Exhibition at the Albertina," and "Excerpts from the Artist's Memoirs.")
Stanley Roseman at his easel in a snowy field in the French countryside, 2007. The artist is seated under a wide umbrella, which protects the canvas from potential snow flurries on a cold, overcast day. Roseman's working method is to cover the back of the canvas with a sheet of protective cardboard. The artist is wearing a workman's apron and woolen gloves without finger tips, a winter clothing accessory called "mitaines" in French. Placed on the crossbars of his portable easel, his paint box serves as a worktable.
Birches on a Hillside near the Abbey of San Pedro de Cardeña, Castile, 1998, (fig. 4), is a striking composition which Roseman drew in black and brown chalks, with touches of white chalk. A group of tall, bare birches with slender branches rise above the rural terrain.
At his easel in the countryside in Lorraine, Roseman painted the panoramic Winter Landscape, 2008, presented below, (fig. 9). Under a vast sky of gray-blue, pale-magenta, and light-ochre, a grove of tall, slender trees stands on a snowy plot in a plowed field. The artist has finely rendered the grove with its filigree of bare branches set against the variegated hues of winter.
1. Stanley Roseman - Dessins sur la Danse à l'Opéra de Paris / Drawings on the Dance at the Paris Opéra
(text in French and English), Bibliothèque Nationale de France, 1996, p. 10.
2. Pierre Rosenberg and François Bergot, French Master Drawings from the Rouen Museum,
Washington, D.C.: International Exhibitions Foundation, 1981), p. vii.
3. Fédia Muller, Dostoyevsky Archives, Montreux, letter to S. A. Ivanova from Dostoyevsky, Vevey, 5 July, 1868.
4. Giorgio Vasari, Vasari on Technique, (New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1960), p. 205.
5. Nicolas Turner, Florentine Drawings of the sixteenth century, (London: British Museum, 1986), p. 189.
6. Stanley Roseman - Dessins sur la Danse à l'Opéra de Paris, p. 12.
7. Alexander Porteous, The Forest in Folklore and Mythology, (Mineola: Dover Publications, Inc., 2002), pp. 248, 249.
The woodland, in deep blues with accents of greens, gold, and magenta, fills the horizon and brings a dramatic diagonal element to the composition. The crest of the high hill is in sharp relief against the beautiful, afternoon sky, whose chromatic variations applied with bold brushstrokes complement the colors of the terrain. With painterly textures and vibrant palette, Roseman's landscape is a celebration of summer in all of its glory.
Roseman's landscapes are distinctive in their division of pictorial space. In the present work, the pasture in the foreground is nuanced in green hues with subtle transitions to gold-ochre and soft shades of blue that are repeated in the finely rendered trees, hedges, and grove beyond, lit by the afternoon sun. The open area to the right of the stately oak invites the viewer to proceed farther into the spacial dimension of the picture, where long, blue shadows pattern the bright green pasture.
"Driving into the countryside with my art supplies," Roseman recounts, "I turned onto a rural road that leads to a beautiful view where trees and shrubs demarcate green pastures and the great woodland rises in the distance. The summer sky was to me like a kaleidoscope of colors, from light tones of blue, violet, and crimson to magenta and ultramarine deep. I very much appreciate the quietude and the long, summer afternoons at my easel in the open air."
The northeastern region of Lake Geneva has been a creative milieu for generations of writers, artists, and composers. The novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky, who came to Vevey in 1868, writes in correspondence to his niece: "The mountains, the water, the light - all is magic.''
In a pasture high on a mountainside above Lake Geneva, Roseman painted a marvelous panorama of the great lake in the glow of an evening mist. Spring Evening - View of Mont-Pèlerin and Lake Geneva, (Soirée de printemps, vue du Mont Pèlerin et du lac de Genève), 1988, (fig. 2, below), entered the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Rouen, that same year. Equally enamored of "this very beautiful landscape," the Chief Curator of the Museums of France acquired the painting as a companion work to December Morning, representing two times of day traditionally devoted to prayer and meditation.
Spring Evening takes the viewer on a visual flight from dark pines in the foreground and steep, wooded slopes with light-green pastures; to the undulating coastline far below where lie the towns of Montreux, Clarens, La Tour-de-Peilz, and Vevey. Mont-Pèlerin rises in the distance and beyond, the silhouette of the Jura Mountains bordering on France. With fine brushwork Roseman renders the mist rising from the lake and the sun's subdued, golden reflection in the pale, blue-green water.
On an early morning in December, 1987, with distant Alpine peaks silhouetted against a golden light of dawn and a mist ascending the hillside where Roseman stood at his easel, the artist painted December Morning - View from Chardonne Overlooking Lake Geneva, (Matin de Décembre - Vue de Chardonne sur le Lac Léman), (above). The breathtaking view from the Swiss village of Chardonne, on Mont-Pèlerin, takes in a panorama of the eastern end of the great lake, the awesome peaks of the Dents du Midi, and a range of the Savoy Alps.
Drawings account for a great part of Roseman's oeuvre. Speaking about the importance of drawing, the artist acknowledges Giorgio Vasari: "The celebrated sixteenth-century Florentine architect, painter, and author of Lives of the Artists affirmed that drawing is the animating principle of the creative process. Vasari, who was the first great collector of drawings, esteemed drawings for their inherent value."
In November 1998, Abbot Marcos heartily welcomed back Roseman and Davis to the Trappist abbey, where the artist had drawn the monks some nineteen years before. The kindly Abbot, who was greatly encouraging of Roseman's work, invited the two friends to stay through December to spend Christmas with the Community, which Roseman and Davis gratefully accepted.
Through his work, Roseman shares with the viewer the artist's commune with Nature. On a warm afternoon in late May, Roseman carried his drawing book, shoulder bag of drawing materials, and folding stool into a grove of birch trees. The artist employs a combination of chalks and pastels for a great number of his landscape drawings. Pastel is a medium akin to painting, as much as to drawing. Paper is the traditional support of a work in pastel, and therefore works in pastels are generally referred to as drawings.
Pasture and Woodland in Autumn, 2004, (fig. 8, below), is a splendid painting of which the artist renders the landscape with a freedom of brushwork and a harmonious juxtaposition of warm colors of the fall foliage, accented by passages of cerulean blue and complemented by vivid greens of the grassy hillside.
The engaging composition is based on a geometric division of the canvas in three distinct areas of earth, woods, and sky. With painterly textures, strong lights and darks, and fluent strokes of autumnal colors, Roseman renders the triangular expanse of woodland in contrast to the sweeping diagonal of the verdant pasture and the rectangular pictorial space of the pearl-gray sky.
Nature's renewal after the dormancy of winter is beautifully expressed in the superb painting Spring Afternoon, White Blossoms on a Hillside in Lorraine, 2015, (fig. 6, below). The region of Lorraine in northeastern France is abundant with pastures and woodlands. Roseman writes in his journal: "I was looking forward to painting in the month of April when early spring-flowering shrubs enhance the countryside that I have come to know through my work. On a pleasant afternoon I packed the car with my paint box, portable easel, travel bag of art materials, and several canvases of different dimensions which gave me the possibility to decide on a composition on location. Taking a familiar route out of town and continuing along a rural road, I saw luminous white blossoms flourishing on a steep hillside that inspired me for a spring landscape."