The art of oil painting is passed down from teacher to student. The Golden Gate Atelier is part of a lineage that goes back to Jaques-Louis David. We are honored to be part of this great tradition and to teach it to a select group of students.
Jaques-Louis David was the most important French painter of the late 18th Century. His art was a return to classical forms and the direct study of nature. An excellent draftsman, David placed drawing at the center of his atelier program. He taught both the layered technique passed down from Rubens and direct painting. David was devoted to teaching women as well as men. Among his many pupils were Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres and Antoine-Jean Gros, who took over David’s atelier. Gros’ star pupil was Paul Delaroche who become one of the most important painters and teachers of his time.
Delaroche, in turn, taught Jean-Leon Gerome. They were both exceptionally skilled artists, masters of historical recreation. Gerome taught at the Ecole de Beaux-Arts for twenty-seven years.
With his student Charles Bargue, Gerome created a drawing course that become the standard throughout Europe and is used at the Golden Gate Atelier. Gerome’s students became naturalists, impressionist, tonalists, symbolists, and illustrators. He had a considerable influence on American art. Among his pupils were Thomas Eakins, Abbot Thayer, Dennis Miller Bunker, and William McGregor Paxton.
After his studies with Gerome in Paris, Paxton returned to Boston and joined his fellow painters Tarbell, Decamp, and Bunker. These academically trained American impressionists are known as the Boston School.
Inspired by Vermeer and Velazquez, the Boston School took a more painterly approach than their French teachers. As students they learned sight-size portraiture, the technique John Singer Sargent studied in the ateliers of Carolus-Duran and Bonnat. Sight-size probably came to 19thCentury Paris via the British School (Reynolds, Raeburn, Lawrence) and the technique ultimately goes back to Van Dyck and Titian. Sight-size was practiced by the Boston School and taught at the Museum of Fine Arts School, where Ives Gammel learned it from Paxton.classical painting alive in the mid-20th Century. Without Gammel, the technique of sight-size portraiture may well have been lost.
Gammel founded an atelier in Boston, where he taught for more than thirty years. Among his students was Richard Lack who set up his own atelier in Minneapolis. Lack’s Atelier Training for Painters outlines the classical atelier training he received from Gammel. Two of Lack’s student’s were Charles Cecil and Daniel Graves. When Cecil and Graves moved from Lack’s atelier to Florence, the classical tradition returned (via America) to the city of the Renaissance. Europe was formative for Cecil and Graves because they were able to study the old masters at first hand. This refined their taste and strengthened their technique. In Florence, the classical tradition was still alive, carried forward by the great portraitist and teacher Pietro Annigoni. Graves and Cecil ran an atelier together from 1982 until 1991 when Graves opened the Florence Academy of Art.
Filadelfo Simi was a Florentine Nineteenth Century painter and student of Gerome. He was inspired by the Barbizon school and the Macchiaioli (the Italian impressionist movement). Simi was a distinguished figurative and landscape painter, and he taught both in Florence. Nerina Simi was Filadelfo Simi’s daughter and student. She took over her father’s atelier in 1923 and ran it for sixty-four years. One of her students was Simona Dolci who joined Daniel Graves at the Florence Academy. Thus the two strands of Gerome’s legacy united. Graves rediscovered the drawing program Charles Bargues created for Gerome and made it central to his teaching.
The Golden Gate Atelier founders Andrew Ameral and Sean Forester received their classical training in Florence where they also taught at the Florence Academy. Ameral founded the FAA Anatomy and Ecorche program and Forester founded the program in Art History, Humanities, and Composition. Ameral’s background in anatomy and illustration and Forester’s in humanities enriches their classical training. The result is the Golden Gate Atelier, a classical painting school that takes the best of tradition and helps students bring it to the modern world. Here is a chart of our lineage:
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