Sunday, May 29, 2011

Observations of Portrait de Mme. Piecamier

Jaque Louis David- Portrait de Mme Piecamier, 1800

Following is my journal entry of this painting typed out as it was written. I think it gives a good illustration of my thought process in analyzing a painting. (Please pardon any repetitious sentence starters.)

This painting stands out to me because I think its painted differently than the rest of Jaque Louis-David's paintings. Where the majority of JLDs other paintings construct light in a more "concrete" and opaque usage of paint that often seems to be void of brush marks, this particular painting constructs the light and form of the space in a more fleeting sense... a fugitive sense. This is purely in the technique of the light structure of the painting. The painting appears to use the light of the surface to create the lumination of the space within the painting. The paint on the surface is relatively translucent in large, especially within the background space and in the chair that the woman is lounging on.

Along with the translucency of the paint applied, the brushwork adds to the "Stand-out" factor in this painting. The brushwork on the painting flutters all over the place and doesn't try to hide it. In moments, especially in the woodwork of the chair she is lounging on, it even becomes directional. The fact that this painting doesn't seem to try to hide it's airy motion, it makes me feel like that is the importance of this painting. This painting, for example is displayed to the right of "...Brutus le Corpse..." Which is painted in a more anticipated David manner.

Comparison of the Light Structure

1789 Brutus Les Corpse se Ses Fils
- Values built from Dark to Light
-Effect: Motion of light and perception of represented light is absorbed into the space.
1800 Recamier
- Values built from light to dark.
-Effect: Motion of the perceived light is luminating outward.

...could this be a que that...
-The position of the viewer in relation to "Brutus" is meant to be absorbed into the scene leaving the viewer to be almost a voyeur of the scene?


-The painting of Madame Recamier gives authority to the woman depicted and it is more like she is the one looking out rather than the viewer looking in?

I also can't help but notice that this painting happened at the turn of the 19th century which is a century when (towards the end of it at least) artists like Cezanne begin to look heavily into constructing light in spaces and the phenomenological break-down of light. I see this JLD painting as a pre-curser to those ideas an I wonder if it in any way actually is.

Something to look into: When did Maurice Merleau-Ponty start writing?

-Areas of the painting are layed down in a more heavy/ opaque way. (See diagram)
***This does...
-Create a visual Hierarchy
-Cause visual tension because the most visually heavy and permanent element of the painting is being supported by the most fugitive seeming area of the painting.
-More tension can be sensed in the slight warping of perspective
-Woman seems slightly closer/bigger from the left side of the painting because of warped perspective
-Small foot stool also seems to sit in the space awkwardly. (Doesn't match the same perspective of the room.) This might suggest it was painted from different times and slightly different vantage points.... a product of observation.

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