One piece so captivated a young Garin Baker that his mother had to drag him out of the room at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

Lead Image: “1807, Friedland,” by Ernest Meissonier, 1861-1875, oil, 53 1/2 x 95 1/2 in. Collection of Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, New York

Baker remembers, “I was young. I was a kid. I must have been about 10 years old. I was literally awestruck, to the point where I couldn’t move. My mom had to call to me a couple of times: ‘Come on, let’s go!’”

What was it that got him? “The complexity of it. The ability to do what he did so convincingly that you really feel like you are in that space. And just the pageantry of it really captivated me. My mother literally had to grab me and change what I was looking at to get me out of there.”

Baker says, “Later on, when I was older, I thought how amazing it was that someone could conceive of this, and execute it. The die had been cast, and I had been impregnated with that bug, the art bug. Any time I would go the Met I would make a point to see that painting — I still do — and that Velazquez painting ‘Portrait of Juan de Pareja.’ To this day I still make a beeline to see my old friends for just a few minutes. And the Meissonier is one of them.

“I don’t really paint like this, but I think it is unabashed honesty on a canvas.”


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