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Tudor Portraits

Monday, 11 May 2009

Gallery Addictions

Paintings that knocked my socks off in person.

Everyone's got heroes, and in the world of art, there's a few pieces I have the urge seek out repeatedly to admire. It occurs to me that I'm not heading to a museum to wander, but I'll want to go visit the Ophelia painting specifically.

So, here's a shortlist of my favorite paintings that I've seen and that really stuck in my mind. Ones I'd visit again in a heartbeat.

1. John William Waterhouse
Lady of Shallot
The detail, especially the lantern, her horrible resigned and fearful expression. It's beautiful, it's creepy. I love it.

2. Rene Magritte
Empire of Light

I made a giant copy of this one in scenic painting class, just to have one of my own. Probably the most soothing surrealist painting ever created. It sits in that mysterious region between night and half-light evening- even if the sky is technically a bright blue day.
There was a version of this one in Brussels, and another in the Guggenheim in Venice, and both times I couldn't recall anything else in the room.

3. John Singer Sargent

I can't pick.
His paintings are intriguing in person- the paint strokes up close are light and loose, even sloppy looking; but from across the room- he gets the perfect porcelain glow on pottery and stunning subtle light that you'll swear is real.

So, for drama: Madame X
For light: Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose
And for the vases: The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit

There was a great exhibit at the National Gallery called Americans in Paris, where I saw these in person, and was astounded. And the one with the lanterns is at the Tate Britain.

4. Gustave Caillebotte
Paris Street, Rainy Day
At the Chicago Art Institute: This rainy day on giant canvas would make me get on the El in the snow. The color tone of the buildings, that grey light, it puts you there instantly. It transports you without jetlag and an umbrella, which is always nice.

5. Edmund Dulac
Princess and the Pea
Admittedly, I've not seen this in person- but I do have a print in a book. The low angle view, the brightly coloured duvets, it's fantastic. In fact, I would love to recreate the whole room some time, just to nap there.


6. Sir John Everett Millais
Ophelia
Rumor is the model caught a terrible cold from posing for this in a bathtub. I'm of the opinion it was worth it. The way the hair and dress play in the water is incredibly done, and it's got the perfect blend of beauty and serenity and tragedy that Gertrude describes in the scene.

Now, I've left Mucha off the list, because I couldn't choose. I would see anything of his in person again, but since so much is product design and graphics, they do tend to reproduce well.

3 comments:

  1. I haven't seen all of these in person, but they are some of my favorites too--brilliant!

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  2. I went to the Tate specifically to see the pre-Raphaelite exhibit.. and I also was shocked by The Lady of Shalott... it was one of my favourite paintings, and to see it live.. it was a little like a pilgrimage for me.

    And as to Ophelia, it is recorded that Lizzie Siddal (the model) did indeed catch illness from lying in the bath! It was warmed underneath by candles.. but then the candles went out.. oops! hehe. You should read 'Lizzie Siddal: Tragedy of a Pre-Raphaelite supermodel' it's about the strange life of the poor model.

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  3. I'll have to check out that book. I love the stories behind the paintings...

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