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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Opium Eater, Addendum

A reader sent me two more images of languid women for consideration.

Repose (Nonchaloire), John Singer Sargent, 1911, National Gallery of Art, Washington DC

Again, look at the hands which bring tension into the pose.

The Artist's Wife and His Setter Dog, Thomas Eakins ca. 1884–89, Metropolitan Museum of Art

To me this is the most difficult position to paint. It's easy to inadvertently make the figure rise in steps like a Ziggurat. That's especially risky in this situation, where the gown stands so off so intensely from the background. Eakins twisted the torso slightly and further modified the blue shape with the shadows at the front of the skirt and the bodice, creating a lovely, flowing gown.


SqUaNg said...

I think the picture by Sargent is beautiful. The link to the picture that leads to the Nicole Kidman pictures are also very interesting because they talk about how pictures were put on Vogue. The picture of Nicole Kidman is nice, but I don't think it quite captures the atmosphere of the painting, which is sad, because i found it to be the best part...

Carol Douglas said...

Hi, Squang.

I hadn't looked at the Nicole Kidman portrait before and also found it interesting. Would Sargent have liked it? I have mixed feelings. From an aesthetic standpoint, I think he would have found the high contrast and high key of the portrait annoying and technically immature. (His tight chromatic control is what gives this painting such atmosphere.) He might have objected to her goth makeup and hair because, above all, Sargent loved and idealized women.

On the other hand, he was a skilled social portraiturist, perhaps with as much in common with the photographer Annie Leibovitz as with any modern painter. So he would have adapted himself to the times, methinks.

BTW, the website I took that image from seems to be a treasure trove on Sargent. I will look more carefully at it later.

John said...

Carol! Where are you! Out painting something beautiful I hope! I wish to propose a mutual project...(this partly inspired by my recent acquisition of the RDCV illustrated edition of the Bible - see my blog for more info).

Let us discover/choose/select at least one piece of biblically inspired artwork each month and collaborate on some commentary. You from an artists point of view and I from a pastoral point of view. What do you think????


John said...

This is me waiting...