The Gallery: This Month's Featured Artist . . .
Ted Seth Jacobs, "An American Painter in the Land of Lafayette"

In this Premier Appearance of this new regular feature, American artist Ted Seth Jacobs takes us on a charming tour through France. We start in Paris, then travel into the peaceful and beautiful French countryside, then on through the wine country and finally down to the mystical South of France, all by way of the exquisite paintings of one of the BWW Society's most acclaimed artists.

About the artist: Ted Seth Jacobs, shown here in this self-potrait, has a career which has spanned more than five decades. Mr. Jacobs has had more than 60 one-man shows and exhibitions and has taught thousands of art students over the past half-century. His home is located in the picturesque French region of Anjou, and is listed in museum guides as "La Maison Musee de l'Artiste".

Ted Seth Jacobs

Que fais-tu la, Ted?

'Que fais-tu la, Ted?' Oil 25 x 30" 1984.

I first came to France from New York City in the early 1970s, and returned very frequently thereafter. France is a very pretty country, and quite varied from region to region. When I visited different parts of the country, I was fond of bringing home artistically photographed postcard reminders. I selected a group of these from my collection, and composed them on a board as a collage, which served as the model for this painting. The droll title is derived from a card received from a neglected friend ('What are you doing there, Ted?). This is an unusual example of trompe-l'oeil in my work. I believe a capable painter should be able to suggest any subject the eyes see.

'Paris, the Old, the New.' Oil 13 x 11" 1980.

I would like to invite you now to follow my peregrinations in France, through my art. The first stop is Paris. I am constantly fascinated by the startling juxtaposition of ancient and very modern in this city. We are looking down La Rue des Blancs Manteaux, toward Fifteenth Century houses. Looking like a landed extraterrestrial machine atop them is the Beaubourg Museum. I painted this sitting in the street daily, for a few weeks, and old-time passersby remarked, " I see you are interested in 'The Refinery.'

Paris, the Old, the New
Five Meringues

'Five Meringues.' Oil 12 x 18" 1981.

This was painted from a window overlooking an inner courtyard in the Marais, in the Third Arrondissement, which is the oldest quarter of Paris. This part of Paris has since been quite gentrified, and I am happy to have documented its original appearance. For me, alas, poverty is always more picturesque and historic, than renovation.

'Breads of Paris.' Oil 15 x 17" 1982.

Paris produces a great variety of breads. Their rich textures and colors are a feast for the eyes, as well as for the palate. I am fond of identifying my subjects with a locale, and the background was done from drawings of the Seine monuments, La Conciergerie, and Notre Dame.

Breads of Paris

'Brie.' Oil 22 x 20" 1981.

I find great beauty, and a certain mystery in commonplace objects, such as these cheese boxes, recycled from the street.

'Champagne Crystal.' Oil 22 x 20" 1982.

An art dealer presented this bottle of Roederer's to me, to celebrate the opening of an exhibition. The interpaly of transparencies and reflections has been a favorite subject for me, and again, I drank it with my eyes. This is an instance where I incorporated trompe-l'oeil elements into my own style, Restructured Realism. The picture is painted to look as if its canvas is being removed from the wooden stretcher bars.

Champagne Crystal
A Decorative Bread

'A Decorative Bread.' Oil 20 x 24" 1984.

We have now left Paris, to stop off at my house in the Loire Valley, in Anjou, before traveling south. My museum/home dates from the Seventeenth Century, and the old weathered wall makes a wonderfu, if demanding subject, for a background. In this region, the bakers make very paintable decorative breads, which are not edible, except, again, for the eyes! The golden and white powdered tones are extremely beautiful.

'Le Quai Ravel, Ciboure.' Oil 16 x 20" 1976.

In 1976 I spent two years in St Jean de Luz-Ciboure, in the southwest Basque corner of France, on the Spanish border. The area is famous for its beauty. From my apartment, it was a five minute walk to the beach, and fifteen into the green foothills of the Pyrenees. This town is known too for the special quality of its light, which is limpid, and delicately tinted gold. The shadows dance with light and color. Maurice Ravel was born in the ocher house on the right. The church dates from the Fifteenth Century.

Le Quai Ravel, Ciboure
Sainte Barbe, St Jean de Luz

'Sainte Barbe, St Jean de Luz.' Oil 18 x 24" 1977.

The green promenade along the beach is lined with Tamarisk trees, twisted by the prevailing winds. I spent about two months painting this view from my balcony, and toward the end, the buds on the trees had turned violet.

'The Noh Dancer.'
Drawing, Sepia conte lead and pastel.

This was one of the Tamarisk trees mentioned above. It reminded me of the controlled grace of Japanese Noh dancers.

The Noh Dancer
Fisherman's Cottage

'Fisherman's Cottage.' Oil 8 1/2 x 11" 1977.

This view encapsulated for me the life of the local fishermen in St Jean de Luz- their home, with its garden, family and boat, with the everpresent sea.

'Gateau St. Honore.' Oil 14 x 14" 1977.

Another feast of textures and color. This cream puff cake looked especially appetizing against the blue water, with a whiff of the sea air and boats, in the harbor of St. Jean de Luz.

Gateau St. Honore
A Sketch in the Pyrenees

'A Sketch in the Pyrenees.' Oil 4 1/2 x 7" 1977.

The harmonious colors and abstract patterns of these hills, seen from above, captivated me. It was a merry few hours, accompanied by three art students from Paris, and a bottle of cider brewed by an uncle of one.

'Samedi Soir, Juan les Pins.' Oil. 18 x 24" 1981.

We are now on the Mediterranean side of France, the Riviera. Most of the seaside towns of France swarm with sun-seekers in season, and the streets become all-night discos. I was excited by the river of artificially lit color in town, set off against the soft fading evening twilight tones of nature in the background.

Samedi Soir, Juan les Pins
Le Portail de Thor, Chateauneuf de Gadagne

'Le Portail de Thor,
Chateauneuf de Gadagne.' Oil 12 x 18" 1981.

This ancient Thor's Gate is inland from the sea, in a stony village baked by an unrelenting sun, in the region of the Vaucluse. The air is dry, the light clear. In 1981 the village was untouched since centuries, an authentic ancient artifact.

'La Lieutenance, Honfleur.' Oil. 12 x 16" 1982.

We have come quite far north, to Normandy, the region of apple orchards. In the Nineteenth Century, Honfleur was a preferred locale for French painters. Eugene Boudin immortalised its beaches, sprinkled with bonneted and parasoled ladies, their ribbons whipped by the wind. The old wooden houses around the boat basin are a tourist attraction. When I painted there, an ice cream vendor plied his trade in the shadows of the building in front of me.

La Lieutenance, Honfleur

'Pornic.' Oil 12 x 10" 1982.

I am now in Brittany, closer to home. Pornic is another seaside town, with its dramatic castle perched above an inlet from the sea. To me, Brittany has a Nineteenth Century romantic and dramatic air, perhaps frrom its Celtic influences. It seems to brood, as the sea crashes against its rocky beaches.

'Ploumanac'h Plage.' Oil 11 x 16" 1982.

Arriving at this beach village, I entered a truly startling, lunar landscape. Enormous, gigantesque rounded boulders are strewn everywhere. Adding to the effect, on the right, shrouded in mist, is 'The Devil's Castle.' I was a far way from Manhattan!

Ploumanac'h Plage
Sainte Marie sur Mer

'Sainte Marie sur Mer.' Oil 8 x 6" 1982.

Another Emily Bronte setting. I am always fond of curious juxtapositions, as in this case, colorful flower beds in the foreground, with a greenhouse, and a blasted church against a storm tossed sky in the background. This is on the northern coast of Brittany, and we will now journey farther south, along the west coast, on the Bay of Biscay.

'Windmill on Noirmoutier.' Oil 8 x 12" 1993.

Noirmoutier is a lovely island conected to the mainland by a causeway. A sign announces, 'You are now leaving mainland Europe,' which makes you feel you are driving into the ocean. There is a fortress castle in the center of the island, and the windmill shown here is one of a string along the beachfront.

Windmill on Noirmoutier
La Belle Angevine

'La Belle Angevine.' Oil 26 x 21" 1995.

And now we are home, in my tiny Anjou village, population, 450 gentle souls. Sabrina, the lovely maiden, lives a few kilometers up the road. She wears an authentic Nineteenth Century costume of this area. She has none of the strained and stressed look of so many New York women of her age! Life is closer to nature here, with no affectations to speak of. Nobody is trying to 'be something.'

'A Farm Girl.' Oil 12 x 9" 1992.

This was painted in my art school, as a lecture-demonstration. The young woman wears another regional folkloric costume. Many painters wish for the interesting clothing of other centuries.

A Farm Girl
The Castle of Passavant

'The Castle of Passavant.' 9 x 13" 1991.

Passavant is a village about five miles from where I live. The Passavants were an influential family in this area, and the name is scattered about. It is said to derive from an ancient battle cry, 'Move ahead!'

'Le Bas Coudray.' Oil 18 x 24" 1996.

This was painted on a farm on the outskirts of my village. I am fond of the Nineteenth Century painters called, the 'Symbolists.' Their works are charged with a strong emotional and poetic, suggestive aura, some of which I often borrow. I would like my images to carry an intensity, somewhat beyond everyday reality, like visions seen in dreams. Not shown in the painting are t he cows who gathered round and listened respectfully as I painted, and sang to them.

Le Bas Coudray
Un Coin de la Rue, Les Cerqueux sous Passavant

'Un Coin de la Rue, Les Cerqueux sous Passavant.' Oil 8 x 8" 1989.

This street corner in my village was painted for my students, as a lecture-demonstration outdoors. Like many small French villages, mine usually has a somewhat abandoned aspect, much of the time. Driving through, you might think the plague had struck in 1345, and nobody has been here since. There is a certain tranquil loneliness, which I hoped to suggest.

'L'Atre.' Oil 11 x 15" 1986.

And now we are back, inside my museum-home. This picturesque fireplace corner has two ancient bread ovens on the right. I find that living in France, surrounded by so much history, has a very humanising and civilising effect on me. A mellowing influence seeps into one, over time. I find too, that it greatly facilitates my artistic inspiration. After their eight month stay, most of my students remark on a heightening of their spiritual insights.


'Haycart.' Oil 22 x 29" 1990.

I have often painted dolls, and arranged them as if involved in some human activity. The wooden cart drawn by animals I found in an antique shop. The doll with its porcelaine head, was made by an elderly woman in nearby Angers. The hay is from a field outside the door, and the brown cloth is meant to suggest the newly turned rich earth.

'Jouets d'Antan.' ( 'Toys of Yesteryear.' ) Oil 25 x 21" 1997.

These are toys found in antique shops nearby. I hope they create a certain mysterious and indefinable mood.

Jouets d'Antan
Un Coin de Jardin

'Un Coin de Jardin.' Oil 24 x 18" 2000.

I am intoxicated by the beauty of flowers. This 'Corner of a Garden' was actually painted from potted flowers, in my studio. It is displayed, with most of the above paintings, in my museum, 'Mes Illusions,' against walls painted in trompe-l'oeil murals.

'Mes Illusions.' Staircase Mural.

This is the view as one descends the staircase in my home. I conceived of the house as one integrated work of art, in which were hung paintings and drawings. From each room, there are views of mural paintings in other rooms, so that they are interconnected in a somewhat cinematographic fashion. If you ever find yourself in my 'neighborhood' I would be pleased and honored to have you drop in!

Mes Illusions
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