The best works of John Constable all depict British areas that he is familiar with: these places make him interact with the nature. He is unlike another British landscape painter Turner who can draw the scenery at any where and at any time. Before creation, he will be immersed in the local scenery and appreciate it with sincerity. Hampstead Heathmade in 1820 by Constable shows the novelty, truth, simplicity and harmony, which are obtained from his observation for the nature. The shade depicted at the bottom of the painting makes a stark contrast with the green in the upper part of the painting. Such scene is like placing in the huge green clouds. The shades of light in the perspective change freely with the direction of sunshine. The character in the foreground is also influenced by this technique: a farmer is filling the pond after the heavy rain.
Constable likes the field scenery under the blue sky and the white clouds. He emphasizes the importance of sky in the landscape painting. He once said, “If the landscape painter does not take the sky as a material part of his works, then he has ignored one of the greatest assistant of his own. People often advise me to regard the sky as a blank sheet of paper. Indeed, if the sky is bright (as in my paintings), it would be very bad, but if you avoid the sky, that would be much worse. It must be and always will be one of the most influential parts of my work. It is difficult to classify or name the works where the sky is no the main structure, standard and basic emotional part…The sky is a natural source of light, ruling everything.” When Constable is painting the sky, he always writes down the date, time and wind’s direction, the sky he has painted is not the simple color arrangement, but with the image of life. He said, “The sky should and will become an effective part of the composition. This painting depicts the scenery with a wide view and the sky’s dominant position. The cascading hills and irregularly rugged slopes have long been unmentioned and walked by anyone, but they still contain the life. The painter uses the fine strokes and colors to truthfully portray the outlook of different objects and textures and makes the viewers feel fresh with the smooth curves to depict the field.
The paintings of Cassatt had been changed greatly after she settled in Paris. Influenced by the Impressionist painter Manet, she was in the pursuit of the artistic effect
puppy in the blue sofa. This puppy coincided with the little girl to form a strong contrast. The composition became very warm and symmetrical, the dark puppy and the light girl achieved a balance in the color. In particular, the dark napkin covered in the girl’s waist had the same color tone with the left puppy, making the whole painting gradually calm in turmoil.
Emmie and Her Childwas drawn by the female painter Cassatt in 1889 and is now collected in Wichita Museum of Fine Arts. Her works were full of the maternal love and freely depicted the indoor mother and daughter. Two people’s facial expressions were delicate and their emotional expressions were reflected in brows. As can be seen, Cassatt’s rough and lyric brushes were subject to the artistic effect of light perception, let alone the thinking of indoor colors shading and replaced by the cold tones to compose the painting. This was very helpful for people to appreciate the painter’s unique artistic personality. This painting had the smooth brushes and avoided the excessive and broad strokes. People thought this was the impressionistic label, but her techniques in content and style were embodied with another style different from the impressionism. Portrayal of women and children was the basic theme of the works of
Cassatt, but she neither had Renoir’s pure love nor Degas’s easy grace. As a woman without marriage and children, she always treated the mother and child with sacred solemnity. Some people said this painting was quite like Madonna and Child in the religious theme.
In this painting, the child’s modeling was portrayed accurately and his action was very lovely and childish. The color combination was harmonious and ornamental without the deep air perspective treatment. Instead, it had the plane sense: the mother’s face was painted rigorously, but her clothes seemed to be casual and elegant. In this painting, the relationship between the characters was much closer and more accurate. By this time, Cassatt had made the hand posture and placement as a means of expressing her feelings. The woman firmly clanged to the child. At the same time, the child also gently touched his mother. Such posture exhibited the mutual comfort and love between them. Cassatt placed the little hands of the child above the mother’s hands and the mother grabbed her own wrist with one hand and held the child’s thigh with another one. Two heads were placed together to emphasize this emotional consistence. The character’s head and limbs were portrayed very strong. The color layout was limited and harmonious: using the iridescence brown, red and white. The colorful clothes of the woman provided the only decorative composition and the white coat covered in the child’s chubby body corresponded with the kettle in the background.
Barbara Dmitrievna Mergassov Rimskywas made by Franz Xaver Winterhalter in 1864, which measured 117 x 90 cm. Now it is collected in France Orsay Museum of Paris. Franz Xaver Winterhalter had the unique charm in the art of portrait paintings and drew this elegant portrait in a relaxed and smooth brushwork. The figure in this painting was the wife of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov (from March 18, 1844 to June 21, 1908) who was a Russian musician in the late of 19th century–Nadezhda Nikolaevna Rimskaya-Korsakova (from October 9, 1848 to May 24, 1919). She was dressed in the gorgeous blue and white striped dress with her loose and beautiful long hair on her chest. She elegantly sat in the chair, which revealed her noble and romantic characters. She was considered one of the ten beauties in the world’s famous paintings.
Under the depiction of generations of western painters, noble ladies and beautiful girls were the constant themes for them. This painting combined the lady’s pure, noble, and elegant temperament together. Franz Xaver Winterhalter vividly portrayed Nadezhda Nikolaevna Rimskaya-Korsakova. Her eyes squinted ahead and her yellow brown hair scattered half in front of her and half fell on her back shoulder. Her eyes were full of slight melancholy and dignified expression, as if seeming to be thinking about something. Her right hand fell upon her chest and the blue and white stripes dress did not cover her plump body, but exposed her sexy shoulders. Depicted by Franz Xaver Winterhalter, she could be called the most charming and elegant lady.
After the painter’s wife died, the model that Rossetti painted models was the wife of Maurice, Joan Baden. The old love made their relationship with the ambiguous color, but Rossetti, Maurice and Mrs. Maurice’s pure friendship was always praised by their friends who were familiar with them. Joan Baden has the bright eyes and slender mandible and a beauty similar to the Greek classical sculpture. There are seven paintings about Proserpine which all take her as the model, so that these works become the type of Rossetti beauty.
Proserpineis based on the Greek Rome myth. In the Rome myth, Proserpine is Persephone in the Greek myth who is the wife of Hades. It is said that she is daughter of the god Zeus and goddess of grain Demiteer. When she is picking flowers in the woods, the land suddenly opens. Then Hades comes out form the underground and robs Proserpine to marry him. Her mother, the goddess of grain Demiteer, is looking for her daughter, so that the land is barren without grain. The whole mankind falls into famine. The god Zeus has to judge that Hades allows Proserpine to go back to stay with her mother every spring. Therefore she is also known as the symbol of sowing and harvest goddess. This work of Rossetti is actually a portrait under the name of Proserpine. The black background represents the nether world and Proserpine holds a pomegranate and seems to be concentrating and missing the sunny life on the ground. Pomegranate bears fruit in June, which is the only fruit she can bring back to her country. Seen from the color, the bloom red pomegranate also forms the punch line, which is the most eye-catching place.
The Daydreamis made by the painter Rossetti based on a chick model, expressing his endless yearning and cherishing the memory for his deceased wife. This painting depicts in a thick tree, a beautiful young woman dressed in green clothes sits quietly under the trees. Her slender neck, plump and sexy lips, dim eyes and gaunt look add a touch of sadness to the entire painting. This painting is later known as the “Rossetti of beauty”.
We return to the painting and from the simple environment we can see this is an afternoon garden, this young lad with the dazed sadness places a book in her right knee and holds a rose in her left hand. The flower has lowered the beautiful petals, showing she has been sitting here for a long time, perhaps doing a waking dream. Maybe she would always sit down. From all the associated titles depicted here, there seems to be a waking-up feeling. Although the plants in the painting are in full bloom, they add a sense of confusion to make the audience feel confused and at a loss.
Reportedly, the young woman is the dead wife of the painter Rossetti. The reason why he has created this work is that for a long time, he always remains his wife in his memory. This beautiful young woman in the painting seems to the angel dropping from the clouds. In this sense, Rossetti has the vulgarity and ideal, especially the beautiful woman entrusts the painter’s nostalgia or even obsession with all sorts of feelings. The faint sadness is the painter’s long-term accumulation in emotional daydream deep in the heart. From this point to explain, I prefer to regard this as the spiritual portrait painter.
In addition, this painting has very exquisite composition and Rossetti always settles the people he has missed among the trees. The surrounding trees make the figures almost isolated from the rest of the world. The surrounding ethereal cloud constitutes a whole atmosphere and daydream, also building a perfect backdrop for the so-called dream. The books and flowers in her hand seem to fall to the ground at any time. At this point, this increases the certain depth of daydreaming to a great extent and also expresses this theme most incisively. In the technique, the beautiful face of the young woman, facial expression and sad expression are portrayed vividly. In dealing with the use of light and color, the painter’s excellent skills are shown obviously. The shining clothes of the woman and the luster of the leaves on the tree add radiance and beauty to each other, making the audience feel the close combination of humans and the nature. Perhaps, this is the painter Rossetti’s memory of a deceased wife—in the form of nature forever.
The Hay Wainis drawn by the British landscape painter John Constable, who is Britain’s greatest landscape painters in the 19th century. This painting has strong characteristics of naturalism, the sky, the light, color and processing technique of which is a kind of revolutionary style. Here, Constable takes the sky as an important subject and sets aside a large space depicting heaven clouds fluttering in the wind. The white clouds are surging in the sky and above the screen the dark clouds are quietly pressing towards, casting a shadow to the farmhouse and the woods on the ground.
When this landscape painting was exhibited in Paris Salon of France in 1882, many French painters were deeply fascinated by it. They thought this painting was a revolution in the history of painting. This painting also won a gold medal awarded by Charlie III. Now it is collected in the National Gallery in London. The Hay Wain is a most famous representative work of John Constable, which depicts a hay wain stretching the forest fields through a shallow stream. In the green grass, trees and leaves are covered with dew, shining the white light. Beside the farmhouse on the brook, a cordial and honest woman is doing the laundry by the stream and a puppy is barking towards the hay wain. This is all so fresh, natural, real and full of love and beauty, without any artificial sense. Wu Guohua, the president of the World Association of Art, praises him, “Because he is deeply in love with his beautiful hometown, the people in his hometown, every tree and bush, all the animals, brook and water, and the beautiful nature, he portrays all in the painting of hay wail. This is the wonderful painting of his heart, which will be handed down from one generation to the next.”
With the pyramid shaped composition, Theodore Gericault unfolded the event that grasped the instant scene and depicted the victims’ suffering, anger and pain. The whole painting was full of the stifling atmosphere of tragedy and initiated romanticism. The painter spent 18 months painting this masterpiece and then made a continuous modification. Its first public exhibition was in 1819. The painter did not expect this work was able to produce such sensation effect. Although this event had passed for a long time, when the people stood in front of the painting, they seemed to see the surging waves, and saw the soldiers’ isolated and helpless situation.
The painting, The Raft of the Medusa, did not have the smooth description, but had great originality layout and shocking picture, which strongly stimulated the viewer’s emotions. Apparently, the artist in this shipwreck event saw the similar scene encountered in the French Revolution. The Raft of the Medusa was not a simple “news” painting, but the real mapping of the painter. Such romanticism was like the tempestuous and dangerous scene described in the British romantic poet Byron’s narrative poem Don Juan and was the ideological reflection of the advanced art.
A raft was floating on the sea, the sea breezed the sail made of sheet and the raft lifted by the surge constantly thrashed. The refugees in the raft had been dying and some were still looking into the distance. People at high attitudes waved the red and white linen and continuously called to the remote places. The whole painting gave people the turbulent and crisis feeling. Audience standing in front of the paining felt shocked. In the painting, the sail and the survivors on the raft just formed a triangle and became the center of the painting in order to show the scene of raft floating at sea. Some people were dead and some people held the bodies of their loved ones and lost in thought. And a pile of arm straight forward person broke the shackles of the stable triangle and constituted a turmoil and passionate triangle. They pushed one after another until the highest one was raised high and waving a red scarf. Along their shout direction, the careful readers can find a small shadow in the distant wave. Compared with the death, it meant the hope of life. But the painter intended to draw a sail in the background and the wind blew the raft back, which causes the tension between the victims’ mood for life and the reality created by the blowing wind.
In the summer of 1884, every day Seurat devoted himself drawing characters and scenery sketch in the BowlIsland from morning to night. For Seurat who lived long in Paris, it must be a very warm scene. A year ago, based on the theme of Asnieres located across the BowlIsland, Seurat created his first work Final Study For Bathing At Asnieres(preserved in London National Gallery). Seurat once painted 14 paintings to draw Final Study For Bathing At Asnieres.
From the overall composition, Seurat distinguished the water and the land with slashes. This painting was the first painting that established Seurat’s position by stippling methods. The work depicted people enjoy bathing in the west of Paris along the Senna River. At that time, Seurat was only 25 years old and he explored a new technique—stippling method, which coordinated several raw materials, but did not mix the colors on the palette. Instead, this method took use of the human’s intuition conversing through the brain and showed some colors in the eyes of viewers. Although this painting did not establish such stippling techniques, it was the so-called Impressionist declaration historical work.
The true greatness of Final Study For Bathing At Asnieres was its artistic conception, which was the rational composition and perfect technique quite natural to convey to us clear lyricism. Like the discussion about the great spirit, the production of this lyricism went beyond the limit we were able to discuss. We could only say that this lyricism comes from the soul of a poet. Poer Farrell said, “People live in the real world, but what they see is only from their own dream.” If the artist is to give the real world dream with the rigorous modeling of human, Seurat is worthy of a rare great artist in this sense.
This was the ideal work to represent the principles of neo-impressionism exhibited in 1886 by the founder and the main representative of neo-impressionism. The painting depicts people having a vacation on the island of Seine River. Under the sun, in the riverside, people were having a rest, walking and fishing. It was apparent to see a few figures were going boating on the water. The afternoon sun dragged people down and the painting looked very quiet and harmonious. This painting mainly used the pointillism.
To finish this painting, Seurat painted more than 30 pieces and color drafts and spent two years drawing this monumental work, which was one of the most important events in modern art. Seurat was engaged in writing according to his theory and he sought to make the painting’s composition in accordance to the geometry. Based on the rule of golden section, he made a completely new composition for the relationship between the object, size and shape, the balance of the vertical and horizontal line, and figure’s angle configuration. He focused on the characteristics and volume of static sense of artistic image and created the shape order of the painting.
The painting’s figures were arranged according to the perspective and the accurate mathematical formulas and were repeated to compose the painting in decreasing the size in the depth of characters. The woman taking the kids was placed in the geometric center. There was a large contrast image and each part was made up of thousands of parallel complementary small brush strokes of colors, making our eyes turn from the prospect to the beautiful background. The whole painting was achieved the balance and unity in the color volume. In this painting, the painter used color segmentation and geometric relationship between vertical and horizontal line and depicted 40 people playing in the big bowl Island scenario under the burning sun of midsummer, the painting was filled with a sense of magic air, without personality and sense of life in figures and the mysterious isolated characteristics. This painting of Seurat indicated Cezanne‘s art and the later Cubism, abstract expressionism and surrealism, enabling him became one of the pioneers of modern art.