Monday, December 1, 2008

Feilds of Black

I have this poster in my room, I first saw this painting about 12 years ago, in real life its over ten feet tall, and i was awestruck by it. It had been on tour at the met at the time and i believe has since been acquired as part of their permanent collection. There were a few years there that I couldn't find it again. So I'd obsess over the memory for a couple of reasons. The painting mostly black. Her dress is most of the canvas' real estate, and the back ground is muted as well, and the pale well lit skin and face are starkly contrasting. This is not like a baroque painting where the chiaro scuro extreme lighting makes black portions of every colored fabric. This image is fairly evenly lit and the large bit of black is compositional, the subject is just wearing black. The layout cherishes the model for her pale skin and her intriguing facial profile. Her features are particular and the painter pays tribute to them, at other angles the model may not have shown off the hook and bummp and personality of her nose, in a different dress she may not have seemed so ghostly pale, but the painter truely thought she was beautiful and shares his vision. Inspiring.

1 comment:

heidi said...

in the first take on this painting by Sargent it was considerably more risque then the version now in the permanent collection in the Met showed the strap of Madame X's dress lazily fallen off the shoulder (her right arm) and if you look at it closely you can see where it has been covered up....once i found out this little gem it became very easy to see and that the "new" strap seems to defy gravity...anyone with such delicate shoulders in such a repose would easily lose such a delicate strap and furthermore, if it did manage to stay up there would be tension around the soft skin of her shoulder...of which there is none.
i do love Sargent. please see link below.