Berthe Morisot, the Art of Astrology – Musings

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Photo by Burst, pexels.com

Often considered one of the three great ladies of impressionism, Berthe Morisot’s works were described as exuding much feminine charm.

Born to a wealthy family, her early style was said to be ‘effleurer’, or of a light touch, though her palette was usually quite restrained in the use of colour.

She had three major periods in her work, watercolour, pastel, and then oil painting, though at times she was not averse to mixing all three mediums together. Even during her lifetime she was considered one of the best impressionists and still has a high reputation today.

Responsive love of balance

What can we see from her chart?

She has Cancer rising, making the Moon her ruler, which is in Libra conjunct Mars in house 4.

She seems to have had very strong feelings, and could probably argue well. The Moon in Libra loves balance and harmony and this is invigorated by the Martian energy. She was clearly very responsive. Mars is also the ruler of house 10 of career and house 5 of creativity, all indicative of an energetic and creative career.

A spur to achievement

Her Capricorn Sun in house 7 along with Mercury, gives her the ability to graft and study seriously, but clearly her marriage to Manet’s brother Eugene was extremely important, as was her relationships to other artists of that period, from whom she gained much inspiration.

However, the Sun’s challenging square to her Moon and Mars, shows that there were some major difficulties in her relationships at home, possibly in her childhood, which could have felt like a cleavage, but a spur to achievement in the long run.

A sea of artistic inspiration

It’s like her own strong feelings being at loggerheads with her sense of duty as a person as she grew.

Most interesting of all to my mind is Venus conjunct the MC in Pisces in house 9. If Venus can represent an aspect of art, then Pisces is like a sea of inspiration, very close to one of the prime indicators of career, or life direction.

This, perhaps, more than any other point in her chart, describes her very soft, subtle signature style of ‘effleurer’ and the ‘feminine charm’ she was known to illustrate in her work.

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Paul Signac and the Art Revolution – Astrology Musings

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Paul Signac had a deep love of the sea. Photo by Pixaby. Pexels.com

Paul Signac is not necessarily the first name that springs to mind when one thinks of the post impressionist period at the end of the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Nevertheless, a short study of his life reveals how key he was, not only in supporting Georges Seurat, founder of pointillism, and helping Henri Matisse develop and grow beyond Fauvism, but also in establishing ideas in art theory and encouraging communist anarchism, which was very much a supporting philosophy, opening up so-called artistic freedom.

He was also a great collaborator and supporter of fellow artists, and became a long time president of the Société des Artistes Indépendants.

The sea

Although he originally trained as an architect, he began to paint seriously after seeing Monet’s work.

Signac adored the sea, not just painting it, but being on it, a part of it, sailing around the coasts of Europe, drawing and sketching, to bring ideas back to the studio. Eventually he settled by the sea at St. Tropez.

Pointillism

Intrigued by Seurat’s revolutionary pointillism, he became a supporter and developed the technique himself, which in his hands further developed later into larger squares of colour, as opposed to small dots.

In time he became president of the Salon des Independents, an important organisation of the time which set the standards for 20th century exhibitions, allowing more freedom for the artist.

Dominant water element

He also knew Van Gogh and worked with him for a time and wrote extensively on the theory of art, with much of his output remaining unpublished.

So what about his birth chart? Well, he has Aries rising, quite fitting for his pioneering attitude. He also has Neptune quite close to his ascending degree, also appropriate since he was so fond of the sea, almost spiritually attached to it. Neptune is quite often prominent in the charts of artists. The water element is also quite dominant in his chart as a whole.

Strong Scorpio and 8th house

Neptune is in opposition to Venus in Aquarius, another symbol of the feminine, which leads one to feel that this was often a source of unease in his life, particularly in regard to relationships, which might have been quite unusual and prone to mysterious endings.

What is most interesting in his chart though, is a very full house 8 in Scorpio. Here we have his ruler, Mars conjunct Mercury and Jupiter and the Sun and Moon together later in that house.

Penetrating, intense mind

His ruler here will add greater intensive energy; his systematic approach to art, like sailing around the European coasts for the purpose of painting, is an example of this.

Mars close to Mercury and Jupiter, gives him a deeply penetrating, inwardly expansive mentality, which as we have seen, correlates well to his writings about art theory and his strong interest in political movements like anarchistic communism.

Do or die attitude

Indeed, this house 8 activity, including of course his Sun and Moon, suggests a strong interest in and attachment to others and their establishment of security, and in the deeper, more secretive aspects of life, like death, regeneration, existence itself.

It is this ‘do or die’ outlook which could have led to the interest in more fundamental theorising politically and philosophically. It also points to the fact that he was a very loyal friend and collaborator to other artists and helped to steer the movement along a more productive path.

Fundamental

What’s more, there is the opposition of Pluto in Taurus in house 2 to house 8 Mercury, Mars and Jupiter.

Here we can see fully underlined the undermining attitude he had towards the status quo through his interest in anarchistic communism. He wanted to change things for the better, but believed that only fundamental, even drastic political change could bring that about, even at the potential cost of his own security.

A prime mover

Considering all this Scorpio and house 8 activity, it is perhaps not surprising that Paul Signac is not necessarily one of the better known artists of his time. Yet, he was nevertheless a prime mover behind the scenes.

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Henri Matisse, Breaking New Ground in Art – Astrology Musings

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Photo by Shelagh Murphy from Pexels

Henri Matisse, rival of Picasso, was one of the ground breaking artists of the last hundred years or so. He was noted for his sculpture and printmaking too.

Having first trained as a lawyer in France, he disappointed his wealthy father by taking up painting.

Meeting Australian artist John Russell in Brittany changed his life. Russell introduced him to impressionism and the work of Van Gogh.

Intensity of colour

Immediately he began to experiment with the use of intense colour, which led him to being one of the forerunners of the Fauvist movement of the early 1900s. From then on, he became ever more experimental, using large blocks of intense colour and increasingly more revolutionary styles. His extraordinary career spanned 50 years.

Astrologically, Matisse was born with expressive Leo on the ascendant, always pretty useful for a creative person who wants to make a mark.

His Moon in Sagittarius in house 5 would add a creative restlessness to his character, always open to new influences, especially from abroad. Nevertheless, with Saturn quite close to the Moon, he would always likely seek practical ways of applying that expression.

Personal drive

However, his ruler, the Sun, is found in Capricorn in house 6. Here is the ambition added to the forceful personality, the determination to apply and establish himself through hard work.

What is more, his Sun is trine a Jupiter Pluto conjunction on his midheaven in Taurus. This adds great practical opportunities and an intense drive to his career aspirations.

Practical application

The fact that he could turn his hand to more tactile work like sculpture and printmaking is shown by the Capricorn Taurus link up here.

Venus rules Taurus and his Venus is in Aquarius, hinting of his unusual, unique perspective on art. Jupiter, prominently placed and aspected, also rules his house 5 of creativity, which adds further to the mix.

Channelled energies

Though his Mercury in Capricorn shows mental astuteness, it is in exact opposition to his Uranus in Cancer in house 12 and square Neptune in Aries in house 9.

I think this indicates much mental agitation and energy, especially with Mars also not far away from Mercury. With Uranus in house 12 and Neptune involved, he might not have been consciously aware of where this agitated energy came from, but it may well have been a bonus for his creativity, inspiration and originality in art.

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Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Light and Colour – Astrology Musings

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Photo by Daian Gan from Pexels

One of the most well known figures from the French Impressionist movement, Renoir’s birth chart has some highly interesting features.

Firstly, there is Neptune rising in Aquarius, loosely sextiling both Jupiter and Pluto.

Aquarius is often rather different, a forward thinker, though also with a conservative streak. Neptune’s nebulous, inspirational qualities placed here, will find a unique style of expression. Here is an unusual, mysterious, (and yes, impressionable), though highly inspired personality.

And Neptune is usually regarded as a feminine energy; Renoir’s depictions of females are particularly noteworthy, as if there was a deep connection to the archetype.

Light and Colour

It’s interesting to note that he preferred singing to drawing or painting when he was younger, the former being considered his greater talent. Mercury conjunct Uranus in Pisces, plus Venus conjunct Moon in Aries, may also reflect natural singing talent, as well as artistic ability. The vibrant light and saturated colour are a key character of his paintings, which also reflects the astrological symbolism.

Allied to this, his Sun trine Mars (10th house) and the Mercury Uranus conjunction (already mentioned above) in Pisces in the 2nd house, underlines his manner of needing to make a ‘secure’ living and career using his key artistic and unusual talents. He might have made a rather good poet, too, if he had shown the inclination.

Mars in Scorpio (10th) would add a determined ambition, sustained over time, an important strengthening feature amidst a lot of inspiration.

The female nude

Another notable feature, alluded to above, is the conjunction of Moon, Venus and Pluto in Aries in the 3rd house.

Here, we might speculate, is symbolised the deep, ardent love of femininity. He was indeed one of the primary impressionist painters of the female nude.

Renoir travelled quite extensively for his career, too, going to Algeria, Spain, Italy and Guernsey. Sagittarius on the midheaven with Jupiter in its own sign is an indication that travel, or exploring all avenues, will be a feature of the career.

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Astrology Bites: Vincent Van Gogh

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Photo by wendel moretti on Pexels.com

We are inspired by many things. What makes someone pick up a guitar and try to play it? Why are some of us artistic and others not?

And what made an artist like Van Gogh paint with such compulsive passion and intensity?

A look at his birth chart may cast a little light on this.

Spiritual impulses

The part of his chart that particularly stands out for me is the 9th/10th house around his midheaven.

Here we have Venus conjunct Mars in Pisces, along with Neptune in the earlier part of the Fish.

We know he initially wanted to be a priest, and certainly, one interpretation of this aspect, close to the midheaven, could be that he was very much inclined to religious feelings and impulses and would want to use them outwardly, in a career.

Uniting with the numinous

In Pisces, though, it’s often difficult to know where these feelings come from, there’s a lot of subconscious, unfathomable energy here, a deep impulsive need to unite with the numinous, strongly and intensely.

So, in other words, the love principle is very deep here and emotionally supercharged by nearby Mars square to Jupiter.

But although he clearly had a strong spiritual impulse, it never quite seemed to suit or satisfy him being involved in a conventionally religious way, like training for the priesthood.

Expression in the world

The process of painting, using strong imagery and colours, however, eventually gave this deep intensity greater expression in the world.

Painting brought all of this out into the open in a most wondrous flowering of creativity over a relatively short period of time, bequeathing to us an incredible legacy.

His Sun and Mercury in Aries would only heighten this energy and impatience, giving him great verbosity (trine Jupiter) too, plus a tendency towards impatience and anger.

Wanderlust

Van Gogh was always likely to travel too. Cancer rising gave him an emotional, caring approach to life but his ruler, the Moon, is in far ranging Sagittarius and close to the Archer’s ruler Jupiter in his 6th house of work. And Jupiter also rules the sign on the midheaven, doubling up.

This in itself, is an indicator of travelling long distances for work, but also has religious and philosophical connotations, if not the deeper, more spiritual impulses.

Creative outpouring

Although born in Holland, he spent time in London and northern France, before settling in the south of France for those last, few, incredibly intense years of his short life, which produced, arguably, one of the most brilliant outpourings of artistic creativity ever.

It’s as if painting was the only medium which allowed him to express what he felt subconsciously.

However, in the end, even painting failed to keep him long in this world. I’m sure, however, that we are eternally grateful that he stayed long enough to leave us so many paintings to enjoy.

A fish out of water

He sought the eternal numinous in his short life but was never quite satisfied. Ironically, his struggle did achieve eternal fame for him posthumously. He only sold one painting while he was alive.

Looking at his chart as a whole, it is largely top heavy. Van Gogh poured out his soul to the world which could not sustain him.

He was very much a fish out of water.

Paintings: The Norfolk Coast, England

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Cley, North Norfolk

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Here is a ‘blast from the past’, some of my many oil paintings on the subject of Norfolk and its beaches. The one above is of the beach huts at Wells.

Below is an interpretation of the beach at Heacham, near King’s Lynn.

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Poem: At Cromer

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When I look down toward the beach,
the distant pier seems to stride
forward from the shining sea.
I like to look beyond,
to the bands of turquoise and blue,
an ocean painted in bold,
abandoned strokes.

Why are we drawn to the waves?
Those elemental rhythms,
sounds and colours
of a primary world,
where sparse pointillist spots
busy themselves on
yellow-ochre sands.

Some days the morning
unfolds through mists,
groynes spacing out
the distances along the strand,
until a final fade-out,
well before the sea
can meet the sky.

Overhead, pterodactyl shapes
patrol against fresh patches
of blue. As I approach,
the blurred semblances
of buildings appear, rectangles
feathered violet or grey,
as if stepping off the cliff.

copyright Leofwine Tanner 2019, 2011