Wednesday, November 24, 2010
More about Sargent's Luxembourg Garden picture
I was writing about this picture the other night and talking about it's tonalist leanings. But I noticed another thing about it that I want to mention. You who have read this blog for a while know that I often advocate linking shadows together. Look at the image of the painting below. I have fooled with the contrast in Photoshop to make the linkage here more obvious.
This painting has pretty much one big shadow shape. Even the little guy with the lady on his arm and a tasty tobacco product in his mouth, is linked to the background trees by a couple of strategically placed bushes.
If you were to place your finger on a dark in this painting you could travel all about the darks without having to lift it. This is useful for two reasons. First it guides the eye around the painting via a simple, plainly visible pathway. Secondly, every time you link one shadow to another, you reduce the number of shapes in your painting. If you can make of all your shadows a single linked shape, gerrymandered as it may be, it is a single shape. Usually a very interesting shape at that.
I was asked in the comments
"Think Sargent would have set his subject up with those props and colors in mind before hand?, or would he have translated the color scheme and the subject into what he painted?"
I think that Sargent imposed his color schemes on the paintings, but he based that on the props he found useful. He would have altered the color of things to get his dominant note spread around the way he wanted. For instance in this piece below;
The chair and the carpet may have had that rose color but I expect that Sargent "forced" it into the dress. I think all of those rose colored shadows in the shawl like thing that hangs from her shoulder must have been installed too carry his color scheme around the painting. Those hot shadows around the back of her lower leg look to have been pushed into that heated note. It would have been easy for him to force that note up into the upper left hand corner too. I am assuming that he liked the color of the chair and the rug and sewed the whole painting up in it.
Tomorrow night, a tangent.