Reginald Marsh, High Yaller
I was informed by an alert reader that the book Composition by Cyril Pearce is not in the public domain as I had thought. So I guess I am not going to be able to continue translating it for you. I can show a page or two from a book under fair use, but I can't do a lot more than that, because it might diminish the market for the book. In 2022 the book will pass into the public domain. Lay down with your arms at your sides and wait patiently, I will get back to you then. It is weird that a book out of print since before I was born is not in the public domain. But it is not. I rather doubt anyone would reprint it either as it is in such stilted language as to need translation. So If you can find it, and I am guessing you can't, read it. The ideas in the book are already part of my thought processes as are the contents of many others.
The painting above is by Reginald Marsh. I want to talk a little about the arrangement he has made. This painting is an example of composition by distribution.The attention grabbing yellow dress is placed over the center or balancing point of the rectangle. Another principle of distribution is illustrated here though. The further from the center a weight is placed, the greater is its weight. If you were to imagine a card balanced atop a needle, a heavier weight placed just off its center could be balanced by a smaller weight near its edge.
Marsh has used that in this painting. At a glance you might think that all of those steps and balusters would throw the picture out of balance with the lighter, open space at the bottom. But the ladies feet, particularly the forward one are placed so near the lower edge of the painting that they counterbalance all the elements of architecture above. The weight of her body's downward thrust is implied in them too, since she stands on them, they have an even greater downward thrust than they might otherwise.
The little guy over there on the left affects the balance of the piece too, by leaning outward against the edge he too counterbalances the heavy newel post in front of the statuesque heroine of the piece.
The painting is balanced, but in an artistic and asymmetrical way. At first glance distribution would seem to call for an overly formal and rigidly symmetrical design, but because of the ability of a small weight near the edge of the rectangle to balance a larger one close to its center, an infinite number of balanced yet seemingly asymmetrical arrangements can be made to have equilibrium of design.