The Slave Ship

J.M.W. Turner  Oil Painting  1840

On November 29, 1781 and the days following, 133 Africans were jettisoned from the slave ship Zong in attempt to lighten the cargo load.  Men, women, and children, some of which were still shackled, were dumped into the Caribbean.   They were alive.

Captain Luke Collingwood became ill, along with a number of crew and slaves.  His crew made a series of navigational errors, and neglected to properly resupply the potable water. In addition, they were carrying more than twice the number of slaves typical for that size ship.

In the 18th century, Africans were nothing but cargo.  The “cargo” was sick and they were low on water.  If they died of natural causes the insurance would not cover their losses.  If they made it to land but were too ill to sell, it would also be a loss for the ship owners.

Money spoke louder than humanity, which isn’t overly surprising as it was a slave ship.  They found a loophole to exploit in the insurance policy.  A loophole that was nothing short of a massacre.

They used the law of General Average, a maritime law stating that all parties share any losses resulting from  a voluntary sacrifice of part of the ship or cargo to save the whole in an emergency.  They were low on water.  The crew later claimed the rest of the cargo couldn’t be maintained unless some were sacrificed.  For 133 people, this human sacrifice was not voluntary.  Ten others saw their sacrifice and jumped overboard in what was later described as an act of defiance.

A number of trials followed after the arrival of the Zong in Jamaica.  The insurance company wouldn’t pay, and the proceedings dragged on for years.  One important point to note, the insurance company actually stated that the use of General Average did not apply as it could never justify the killing of innocent people, slaves or not.  They went on to say that the actions of the crew were nothing short of murder.

Whether the legal team of the insurance company was just looking for a way to not pay, no one can be sure.  However, historians do believe they were swayed by Granville Sharp, an abolitionist.  The story of the Zong Massacre, although not widely reported at the time, became a horrific example of the treatment slaves faced and influenced the abolitionist movement for years to come.

Slavery was abolished in England in 1833.  Not until Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation of 1865 were slaves freed in the United States.

JMW Turner is one of Britain’s most beloved and highly treasured artists.  His Romanticism style landscapes gained as much popularity as the historic paintings of his time.  His later works, The Slave Ship included, are often seen as the precursors to Impressionism.

I’m such a fan of Turner’s earlier Romantic works, that when I first saw this piece I had the same reaction that many of his contemporaries had.  What is this?  Where are the beautiful masts with the wind blowing them like his other sea paintings?  Where are the rolling clouds and delicately detailed waves?

Maybe he had lost it.  People talked that he was loosing his eyesight, his patience, his mind.  But then I learned the story of the Zong.   Turner painted The Slave Ship after reading The History and Abolition of the Slave Trade by Thomas Clarkson.  It was painted for  a meeting of the British Anti-Slavery Society, of which Turner was a member.  He may have hoped Prince Albert would see it and would be inspired to enforce tougher anti-slavery laws.

This painting is difficult for me.  I like things orderly, deliberate, beautiful.  This is anything but.  It’s dark and furious, ominous.  You can see the ship in the background, but the light across the bow almost looks like fog.  But what you can see in the forground of the painting are limbs reaching from the water, some still shackled.  It even appears that there are a group of fish and birds attacking the flailing bodies.

As with so many other paintings, it’s the history that makes this painting beautiful to me, not the color, the technique, the brushstrokes.  The passion Turner felt, the horror, the sense that the story needed to be told.  And although it’s not the beautiful Turner style I would have chosen, it did its job.  It caught my attention.  It inspired me to learn and to share the story with you.

 

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The Thankful Poor

Henry Ossawa Tanner  Oil Painting  1894

Over the years, I’ve often filled my social media with rants about Thanksgiving and its misrepresentation of a joyful time of Pilgrims and Native Americans happily eating turkey and beautifully colored corn and pumpkin pie.  I would sometimes include paintings or articles about the persecution of Native peoples.  My favorite was to include statistics about the deaths in the turbulent times following (and preceding) the first Thanksgiving.

Sometimes I would point out that if there hadn’t been a smallpox outbreak amongst the Pokanoket brought to them via the Europeans, their leader, Oasamequin, wouldn’t have even had to make the alliance with the Pilgrims at all.  In reality, he could have let them starve to death.  All pretty gloomy stuff.

When Kip died in November of last year, I really thought about what he always said when I would post that sort of thing.  He would point out how although it may be true, I could focus on something positive in the world, instead of always something negative, even if I thought I was “shedding light” on some of America’s darkest times.

So last Thanksgiving I broke with tradition.  I instead posted a painting by Camille Pissaro entitled The Crystal Palace.  I wanted to “shed light” on a successful refugee who became the father of Impressionism.  You can read what I wrote last year here:  The Crystal Palace.  So in an attempt to keep with the positivity, I have chosen the painting The Thankful Poor by Henry Ossawa Tanner to share with you today.

Henry Ossawa Tanner is generally considered a realist painter, although I find that is a bit of a misnomer.  He did have highly realistic paintings, but he had others that were Impressionistic.  He was a painter of portraits, landscapes, Biblical scenes, and is even sometimes categorized as a Mystic painter.  He really has one of the most diverse libraries of work of any painter I’m aware of.  In this particular work, you can plainly seen the influence of his teacher, the great Realist Thomas Eakins.

Henry’s father was a bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church.  His mother was born a slave and escaped via the Underground Railroad.  He grew up in Pittsburgh and became the first and most successful African-American student accepted into the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.

Although he was successful in the States, he didn’t find true freedom until he went to Europe.  In Paris, he could live without the racism he endured during Reconstruction in a Southern leaning city.  He was free to marry his Swedish-American opera singer bride.

In Europe he wasn’t a successful “colored” artist.  There he was a highly acclaimed American artist.  The color of his skin didn’t define his artwork, his talent did.  He became the first African-American in history to have his works shown in a Paris Salon.

Henry O. Tanner went on to work for the Red Cross Public Information Department during World War I where he painted the front lines.  In 1923 he became a knight of the Legion of Honor for his service.

The Thankful Poor was painted on a visit back to the States in 1894.  This was done shortly after his award-winning The Banjo Lesson was met with acclaim all over Europe.  I like to believe both paintings share the same subjects, although I can’t find any sources to back up that theory.  However, the older man and child appear to be in the same room in both paintings.

This painting really expresses to me what Thanksgiving is actually about.  The man and child are bowing their heads to give thanks over their small, but sufficient meal.  The blended color of the walls is echoed in the table covering, giving a wonderfully muted yet colorful backdrop.  It really allows the folds in the man’s shirt and the curls on the boy’s head to really pop.

The grandfather figure’s face is in shadow, so you can’t see his features well.  The boy, conversely, is bathed in light.  The glow on the boy’s face from the light streaming through the window is nearly angelic.  To me, this seems like a metaphor for their lives.  The man has come through dark times, the boy has a bright future.

I imagine the man thanking God for his ability to have survived through his hardships, while asking for protection over his young grandson.  The boy maybe thanking God for having his grandfather there to protect him and support him and provide him with the meal.  That’s the beauty of art, it’s up to you to decide what it means.

However you spend this Thanksgiving, take a minute to be thankful for those around you.  Remember not only the parts of their lives they share with you, but those parts without you.  Be grateful for everything they have gone through to get to where they are today, and be hopeful for their future.

Happy Thanksgiving!

henry-ossawa-tanner-banjo-lesson-resized-600

The Banjo Lesson, 1893

 

 

The Magic Circle

John William Waterhouse  1886  Oil Painting

Long before there was Halloween, there was Samhain (pronounced sow-in), celebrated by the ancient Celts.  It was celebrated between the autumnal equinox and the winter solstice, falling on October 31.  As one of the four Gaelic seasonal festivals, it was one of the most important days of the year.

This day involved all the normal rituals you would assume for a time of the year when the days were getting shorter and colder.  Animals were brought in from pastures and slaughtered for the winter.  Bonfires would be extinguished an relit to symbolize cleansing needed before the long winter.

But most importantly, the evening of Samhain was a threshold between this world and the Celtic Otherworld.  This means spirits or other magical creatures like fairies would cross over to this world.  The Celts believed that if they left offerings of food and drink, the spirits would cross over to bless them and protect them over the long winter months.

In addition to spirits, it was also believed that the dead would return during Samhain.  The living would invite the dead to their feasts and leave their places open for them.  Not unlike Dia de los Muertos in Mexico, the dead were honored and revered, welcomed and remembered.  Modern Pagans continue to celebrate to this day.

John William Waterhouse was an English Pre-Raphaelite most known for his paintings of Greek mythology and Camelot.  Being nearly a generation younger than the original Brotherhood, he is generally considered the last of the great Pre-Raphaelites, working well into the 20th century.   He managed to bridge classicism, Pre-Raphaelitism, and Impressionism, and also happens to be one of my favorite artists.

I struggled to find the right painting for Samhain.  Although I was originally looking for something more specifically Celtic, I just love Waterhouse and thought it was a good opportunity to feature him.  This is one of his earlier works.

Practically every single one of his paintings feature a lone female, and this is no exception. It’s implied that she is some sort of witch, as she draws the circle around herself and her cauldron.  However, unlike most paintings featuring a witch, cauldron, frog, and raven, she is young and lovely.  There are flowers in her belt and her dress features what appears to be Greek warriors.  It’s an odd choice when you think about it, but somehow it works perfectly.

My favorite part of this painting is the steam rising from the cauldron.  It seems like there is just a hint of forms, although no matter how hard I look I can’t quite make out something specific.  I’ve always imagined it as the spirits crossing over, not quite formed.

The look on her face, the concentration, the passion.  It’s like she sees something we can’t.  Maybe it is the soul of a lost beloved, crossing over for one night.  I envy her.

I wish you all a blessed Samhain.  May you prepare for the coming winter in any and all ways you see fit.  Maybe set an extra spot at the table tonight, just in case.

 

 

Leif Erikson Discovers America

Hans Dahl  Oil  Late 1800s

On October 9 we celebrate the journey of Leif Erikson from Greenland to North America, the first European to do so, nearly 500 years before Christopher Columbus.  Actually, no we don’t.  Generally, Americans have no idea there even is a Leif Erikson Day, even though it has been a US holiday since 1964 (in Illinois since 1956).  And if you do know, you probably don’t know that date, although you may know “somewhere around Columbus Day.”

So why is it October 9?  That’s the date the Restauration arrived in New York in 1825.  It held the first emigrants from Norway to the US.  No, it holds no significance to Leif Erikson himself.

Leif Erikson is the son of Erik the Red (hence the “Erik-son” name).  His father settled Greenland after being exiled from Iceland.  Erik the Red took after his father, who settled Iceland after being exiled from Norway.  So you could say that Leif had exploration in his blood.  Luckily for him, he wasn’t exiled, just looking for adventure.

Around 1000 CE Leif Erikson set off from Greenland in search of land first seen by Norse explorer Bjarni Herjolfsson.  Although “explorer” is a bit of a stretch for a title.  Herjolfsson was sailing for Greenland and was blown off course.  He saw other land (probably Labrador and/or Newfoundland), but was in a hurry to get to Greenland, so didn’t even step ashore.  But his story inspired Leif, who a few years later went to check it out for himself.

According to the Norse Sagas, Leif went to Norway and became a companion to King Olaf.  Here he was converted to Christianity.  The king sent him out convert the people of Greenland and beyond to Christianity as well.

So Leif set out for a new world.  He landed first at a place he named Flat Rock Land or Slab Land, then went to a place he named Forest Land.  I guess he thought since his dad had named Greenland, those were exciting names.   But finally he came to Vinland (or Vineland) a place full of salmon and grapes.  The story goes that he and his crew stayed there for the winter and then returned to Greenland with a second boat full of grapes.

Notice that story is pretty uneventful.  Kicked around Canada a bit, did some fishing and wine making, built some huts, went home.  No slaughter of First Nations people.  No land grabbing or gold mining or spice stealing.  His brother and sister had different experiences when they returned, but that’s why they don’t have their own days.  Leif was the explorer, they were the exploiters.  He never made a return trip.

This oil painting is by Norwegian Romantic painter Hans Dahl, best know for his sweeping Norwegian landscapes, most often with a wind-swept figure facing away from the viewer.  In the late 19th century he was part of the Düsseldorf School, a group of highly talented and influential artists.  Unfortunately for him, by that time Romanticism had fallen out of favor for Modernism and his art was considered old-fashioned and not en vogue.

This painting, Leif Erikson Discovers America, is a bit of a break from Hans Dahl’s other works.  Although it does show hills in the distance and the wonderful breaking waves of the ocean, the focal point is on the hero and his crew.  The figures are arranged so your eye travels right down the line to the small bodies at the bottom and then out to the boat where the rest of the crew waits, then out to the water.

It really gives you the sense that he is the most important.  Everything else seems small behind him, even the large, blue sea.  He looks so grand, so majestic, like he derseves to have a national holiday named after him.

Happy Leif Erikson Day!

For more reading and cool paintings of Leif Erikson, check out this cool blog.  Leif Erikson

 

 

A Bold Bluff

Cassius Marcellus Coolidge  Oil on Canvas  1894

In 1903, the publishing company Brown & Bigelow commissioned a series of paintings from American artist Cassius Coolidge for cigar advertisements.  Collectively, these are now generally referred to as “Dogs Playing Poker.”  This isn’t a completely accurate description, however, as not all of the paintings were actually gambling.  I particularly like one entitled “One to Tie, Two to Win,” which depicts a baseball game.

For this National Dog Day, I have chosen “A Bold Bluff.”  It’s probably one of the most popular dog paintings of all time, so  it seems fitting.  “Poker Game” is also a popular selection from this series, but that depicts all St. Bernards.  I prefer this one since it shows a more diverse group.

There’s probably nothing on this earth I enjoy more than anthropomorphic animals.  Two of these dogs are even wearing glasses.  I mean come on, what’s not to love?

I especially love the expression of the bulldog.  He is really examining that St. Bernard, who seems to have quite the poker face.  Although we can’t see all of his cards, he looks to have a pair of deuces and a nice stack of chips.

I’d also like to point out that in “Poker Game” an incredibly similar looking dog is also getting looks from his cohorts and seems to be winning there too.  It appears he could be a hustler, but that’s just my interpretation.

Don’t believe me?  Check out the painting “Waterloo” that Coolidge painted in 1906.  It was originally entitled “Judge St. Bernard Wins on a Bluff” and shows this same group moments later.  I love this dog on the right that looks like he was just shaking his head.  Classic.A_Waterloo_Dogs_Playing_Poker

National Dog Day was founded in 2004 by Colleen Paige to raise awareness about dogs of all breeds awaiting adoption.  Learn more at National Dog Day.  If you’re able, go adopt a dog.  If not, go pet someone else’s dog.

HRH Princess Anne, Princess Royal

 

June Mendoza  Oil with Pastel  1983

Happy Birthday to Her Royal Highness Princess Anne, Princess Royal, who turns 66 today.  Princess Anne holds the title Princess Royal, as she is the eldest daughter of the British Monarch, HRH Queen Elizabeth II.  She is the younger sister of Prince Charles.

Often over shadowed by her older brother and her younger brother, Prince Andrew, Duke of York and their children, Princess Anne began taking on royal duties at a young age.  Following her graduation, she immediately began representing the Royal Family at engagements.  She was the first member of the Royal Family to have an official visit to the Soviet Union in 1990.

Aside from her royal duties, she keeps extremely busy with charitable work.  She has been the president of Save the Children for over twenty years.  She continues to maintain a hectic schedule saying she likes to be busy and is meant to work.

By all accounts, HRH is down to earth and level-headed.  Her children, Zara and Peter, do not have titles.  She refused their right to honorary titles.  Instead, they carry the last name of their father, Mark Phillips, whom she divorced in 1992.  Most would argue this divorce made it easier for nephews Charles and Andrew to obtain divorces shortly after.

Although the divorce caused a bit of a stir, she hasn’t created much controversy.  Aside from some love letters to and from her second husband (hence the divorce), she’s kept a pretty low profile.  Her biggest “scandal” (if one can even call it that), was her statement that the UK should reconsider their ban on horse meat consumption.

The statement caused quite a kerfuffle, particularly since HRH is an accomplished equestrienne.  She was the first British Royal in history to participate in the Olympics in Montreal in 1976 (Zara would follow her in 2012 in London winning a team silver metal).  However, she gave some very legitimate and interesting arguments about horse welfare when owners know they can sell the horses for meat after their athletic careers are over to keep them in good health.

Her official title is Her Royal Highness The Princess Anne Elizabeth Alice Louise, Princess Royal, Royal Lady of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, Extra Lady of the Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle, Dame Grand Cross and Grand Master of the Royal Victorian Order, Dame Grand Cross of the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem.

June Mendoza is an Australian portrait painter.  She is a member of the Royal Institute of Oil Painters and has painted several royal portraits.  This painting was commissioned in 1983 for the Royal Scots, in which HRH Princess Anne is the Colonel-in-Chief.

I find this portrait interesting partly because it is so flattering.  Of course, Princess Anne is quite a bit younger in this painting, but it seems she may have taken just the right amount of liberties to accentuate her positive attributes.  It’s also interesting to see her presented in such a girly, fluffy dress.  HRH has always been considered a tomboy, and has never been shy about admitting she has no interest in fashion.  Aside from the odd selection of dress, I think it’s still a lovely portrait.

Happy birthday to the most under appreciated British Royal, HRH Princess Anne, Princess Royal!

Amelia Earhart

 

 

Howard Chandler Christy  Oil  1933

“We must be on you, but cannot see you – but gas is running low. Have been unable to reach you by radio. We are flying at 1,000 feet.”  This is one of a series of radio transmissions from Amelia Earhart to the Itasca, the Coast Guard cutter tasked with communicating with the famed aviatrix during her 1937 world flight on the Howland Island leg.  Although they were receiving her messages loud and clear, she could not hear their response, nor could she see the island.  That was 79 years ago today.

In 1923, the 26-year-old became the 16th woman in history to be issued a pilot’s license.  This after much hard work and determination.  She reportedly had to take the bus to the end of the line in Long Beach and then walk the remaining four miles to get to her flying lessons.

Arguably the most famous pilot in history,  Amelia Earhart has stood as a role model for generations. For girls and young woman she is seen as proof that we can all make our dreams come true.  In the field of aviation, her awards and honors are numerous.

Although some may find it controversial that I say this, I believe hers is also a cautionary tale.  She was one of the biggest celebrities of her time.  She had major endorsement contracts.  She was the most photographed woman in the United States.  And some would say her celebrity became more important than her aviation.

We may never know what happened that day as she and her navigator Fred Noonan seemingly blindly searched for their refueling station.  At this point, we still don’t know if they landed and perished on another island, ran out of fuel and crashed into the sea, were shot down by the Japanese, ran away together, or were abducted by aliens.  We may never know for certain.

But what we do know is that the radio equipment on the Lockheed Electra was new and unlike what she or Fred Noonan had used before.  We know neither were formally trained on how to use it.  We also know that the Itasca could hear them, but could not place them.  They were close, but were transmitting on the incorrect frequency.

It’s also widely accepted that Fred Noonan, an extremely accomplished navigator, was also an alcoholic.  Reportedly, he was sometimes incapacitated or at least not at his best.  Due to his accomplishments and expertise, he did not feel the need to learn to use the new equipment installed that would have helped them find Howland Island.

What’s my point?  Keep your eye on the prize.  This, of course, is merely my opinion.  But it seems that maybe the focus was no longer on being the best aviator and navigator, but being the most famous.  And who knows, maybe that was just the pressure surrounding a superstar, but certainly there was some human error involved.  If nothing else, the fame and hoopla surrounding the flight led to poor preparation.

Maybe I’m wrong.  Maybe someday we’ll learn there was a malfunction with the equipment or there was a problem on the Itasca.  But maybe I’m right.

Howard Chandler Christy was an American artist that initially gained fame as a combat artist.  He illustrated several  posters for the Navy and Marines, which led to illustrating magazine covers.  His most famous work is Scene at the Signing of the Constitution of the United States, which hangs in the Capitol building.

I love how strikingly confident Amelia Earhart appears in this painting.  She wears a slight smile that could almost be characterized as a knowing smirk.  She’s the best there is and she knows it.  It’s not a look of braggadocio or pretentiousness, but a look of accomplishment.

I love the colors in this painting.  Of course, this was the jacket and attire she was known for, but the artist captures the folds and highlights.  Her pink scarf floats in the wind without looking romantic, and her hair looks perfectly out-of-place.

What a senseless loss of two amazing talents.  Maybe some day the mystery will be solved.  But sometimes solving the mystery doesn’t make the story happier.  I choose to remember Amelia Earhart as an extraordinary woman, pilot, and activist.

Learn more about the search for clues here:  TIGHAR

 

The Vienna Portrait

Michael Sittow  Oil  1500-1505

There are few subjects I can talk about more than Henry VIII and his wives.  I’m pretty convinced I’m probably the premiere expert in at least a six block radius.  Of course, I have no way to prove this.  It’s probably better that way.

Generally, this portrait is considered to be Catherine of Aragon, first wife of Henry VIII.   Today is the anniversary of their marriage.  The daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella (yes, THAT Ferdinand and Isabella), she with betrothed to Prince Arthur at the age of three.

What most people don’t realize, is although she was a princess of Spain, Aragon, and Castile, she also had a strong claim to the English throne in her own right.  Some historians would suggest she actually had a better claim than either of her husbands or her father-in-law, Henry VII.  Her ancestry  goes back to John of Gaunt, the Plantagenet Duke of Lancaster, son of King Edward III.

If you take even a short look through her ancestry you’ll see that her heritage is more British, and certainly more royal, than practically anyone in history.  And although popular culture likes to portray her as dark complected with black hair, she actually had a very Anglican appearance with a pale complexion and red hair.  Yep, red hair.

She was married to Prince Arthur at 16 years old for less than six months before his death.  Both succumbing to a sickness shortly after they wed, the marriage was never consummated.  She became a pawn between her father, King of Castile, and her former father-in-law, King Henry VII of England.

Catherine was raised to be a queen.  She was well-educated and extremely smart.  She would not be played.  To support herself and her ladies-in-waiting she became the official Spanish ambassador to England.  She was the first female ambassador in all of Europe.

After several years of limbo between the two fathers, everything changed when Henry VII died suddenly.  There are many conflicting opinions as to Henry’s opinion of Catherine before their marriage, but he married her immediately after he became king.  That was this day, June 11, 1509.

I happen to be of the opinion that Henry was quite fond of Catherine at this point.  They had known each other well during his most formative years.  I believe he felt a sense of protectiveness for his brother’s young widow, but also respected her lineage and intelligence.

Like I said, I could yap about this for days.  I’ll save some for another day and choose to just remember the happy occasion of their wedding today.  Happy anniversary King Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon!

A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte

640px-Georges_Seurat_-_A_Sunday_on_La_Grande_Jatte_--_1884_-_Google_Art_ProjectGeorges-Pierre Seurat  Oil  1884-1886

I hope everyone is taking the day off today to celebrate the anniversary of the release of one of the greatest movies of all time (well, at least for everyone in my age bracket) Ferris Bueller’s Day Off in 1986.  There’s so much to say about Ferris, but really the best thing I can say is just watch the movie.  Again. And again.  If you haven’t seen it in a while, I suspect a rewatch will do you some good.  As I’ve been saying a lot lately, perspective.

Like so many people, one of my favorite scenes is the museum visit to the Art Institute of Chicago.  I’m relatively sure every 30 and 40 something that has ever visited has imitated Ferris, Sloane, and Cameron mimicking the Rodin statue.  And I, as so many others, made a point to kiss in front of the Chagall windows.

But while Sloane and Ferris share their kiss in front of the American Windows, Cameron is studying Seurat’s A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.  For me, through the beginning of the movie Cameron is just whiney and annoying.  But as Cameron stares at the painting the viewer starts to understand him more.  He’s not just a killjoy full of teen angst, there are deeper, darker feelings at work inside him.

There is terror in his eyes.  We get even more of a glimpse in the pool scene (another favorite).  But I won’t spoil it in case you’re the last person on earth who hasn’t seen it.

John Hughes really explains the significance of this painting to Cameron well in his commentary for the 1999 release.  There’s no need for me to try to explain his words.  Just watch this little segment here:  John Hughes Commentary.  Also, the Smithsonian has an interesting commentary on this moment as well.  Here is a link to that article:  Smithsonian.

Although many people know Seurat as a Neo-Impressionist Pointillist, many don’t realize he’s also the father of chromoluminarism.  Just like tiny colored dots make up the picture  on a TV screen, Seurat and other Divisionists separated their colors and placed them next to each other.  So basically, your eyes actually combine the colors optically to make them appear the desired color, not the painter.  If you watch the clip in the link mentioned above you can see what I mean, as there is an extreme close up of the painting.

Probably because I’ve seen the movie so many times, I naturally look directly to the mother and child in the center.  But actually, there are a lot of really interesting things in this painting.  Did you notice the monkey on a leash?  How about the guy that appears to be playing a trombone backwards?  I’ve tried to find some explanation for that guy, but no luck.  It’s just a fun painting to explore.

In the words of the infamous Ferris Bueller, “Life moves pretty fast.  If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

 

 

 

 

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