Cézanne

Paul Cézanne (1839-1906), French artist and Post-Impressionist painter whose work laid the foundations for the transition from the 19th century to the 20th in art, and a major influence on both Matisse and Picasso.

Richard may have taken up oil painting because it was the favoured hobby of Winston Churchill, who we know Richard admires. Churchill began in watercolours, but soon switched to oils, becoming known as a talented amateur painter.

Christopher’s Request

CHRISTOPHER: Now it’s totally your call and I don’t want to step on any plans you’ve already made, but I know Rory has a break in school coming up, and I was wondering if you’d be cool with her coming to visit for a couple of days.

Christopher finally shows some interest in his daughter, inviting her to spend a couple of days of her Christmas break with him in Boston. The fact that he mentions Sherrie had fixed up the spare room for her suggests that it might be his girlfriend encouraging him to make contact with Rory.

Although Lorelai said she’d always left the door to Rory open for Christopher, she doesn’t sound thrilled with this plan. She never seems to have considered it might mean leaving the door to Rory open for another woman as well.

Note the picture on the wall of the ominous all-seeing eye and the word OBEY on it – does Christopher feel as if he is under Sherrie’s surveillance, that he is doing her bidding? Is the phone call something she instructed him to do? It’s a hint that Christopher may be finding his first committed domestic relationship rather confining.

(I’m not sure, but I think the artwork might be by Shepard Fairey, a graphic artist and founder of OBEY Clothing who emerged from the skateboarding scene in the mid-1980s. He would later become well known for his picture of Barack Obama together with the word HOPE).

Michelangelo

RORY: We’re competing against the Michelangelo of snow.

Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni, known by his first name (1475-1564), Italian Renaissance sculptor and painter of unparalleled influence on Western art, often described as the greatest artist of his age, and sometimes as the greatest of all time. His best-known sculptures are the Pietà, and David, and he is famous for painting the Sistine Chapel in Rome.

Van Gogh

EMILY: The [painter] from Italy had some sort of breakdown.
RORY: Oh my God.
LORELAI: Hey, it didn’t hurt van Gogh, the guy should thank me.

Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890), Dutch post-impressionist painter who posthumously became one of the most famous and influential figures in the history of western art. In only a decade, he created more than two thousand oil paintings, most of them in the last two years of his life, his work becoming brighter, bolder, and more dramatic as his style developed.

Van Gogh suffered from psychotic episodes and delusions, and neglected his physical health, drinking heavily and not eating properly. His friendship with the painter Paul Gauguin ended with a confrontation during which van Gogh partially severed his own ear in a fit of rage. He spent time in psychiatric hospitals, but after being discharged, his depression continued. He is believed to have shot himself in the chest with a revolver, dying two days later.

Van Gogh was commercially unsuccessful during his lifetime, but attained widespread success over the ensuing decades, and today his works are among the world’s most expensive paintings to have ever sold. His legacy is honoured by the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.

Although van Gogh suffered lifelong mental health issues, it is thought he may have had an acute breakdown when he severed his ear, as he had no memory of the event. It certainly did hurt him – he ultimately killed himself. But Lorelai probably means it didn’t do his career any harm, as the mental illness and suicide have only given him an aura of tortured, misunderstood genius in the public imagination. [picture shows a Van Gogh self-portrait].

It’s clear the Italian painter’s Lorelai-caused breakdown also hurt him – a year later, he was apparently homeless or destitute, found rummaging through Emily and Richard’s recyclables. It was typical of Emily not to check that he was okay, or offer him help – after all, it was her daughter that supposedly drove him to madness! Hopefully he was just working on an art installation and looking for materials, or something.

Paris

While suggesting that Richard and Emily go to Paris instead of Martha’s Vineyard, Lorelai and Rory mention some of the things associated with this city.

Impressionism: A 19th century art movement associated with small, thin brushstrokes; an emphasis on light and movement; unusual angles; and ordinary subject matters. The movement arose in Paris during the 1870s and 1880s with a number of independent art exhibitions. Famous impressionist artists include Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and Camille Pissarro.

Poodles: A stereotypical image of Paris is an elegant middle-class woman taking her poodle for a walk. Although poodles were very fashionable in France some decades ago, they have fallen out of favour and are no longer chic. (The photo used was taken by American photographer Louise Dahl-Wolfe, and first published in 1940).

Crème brûlée: A rich, creamy custard dessert with a hard caramel topping. It originated in Spain, and was first given its French name (which means “burnt cream”) in the 17th century. It wasn’t common until the 1980s, and was popularised by Italian chef Sirio Maccioni at his New York restaurant Le Cirque. It isn’t particularly Parisian, although you can certainly eat it while in Paris.

It’s in keeping with their lack of travel experience that Lorelai’s and Rory’s visions of Paris are distinctly dated and second-hand.

Drella (Alex Borstein)

Drella is the harpist at the Independence Inn for the first few episodes of the show. She is named after Andy Warhol, oddly enough – he was given the nickname Drella by his friends. The nickname is a combination of Dracula and Cinderella, and perhaps that is meant to be a comment on Drella the harpist: she will go for your throat like Dracula, but sees herself as a poor put-upon servant like Cinderella. There will be many more references to Warhol and his circle during the run of the show.