Friday, May 9, 2014

Changeable Weather, by Gustave Leonard de Jonghe

Here, a picture for anyone who has suffered through this winter and current spring…

As we have seen in previous pictures, the draftsmanship and compositional skills of Gustave Leonard de Jonghe (1829 - 1893) are formidable.  As with the previous two paintings we have looked at, de Jonghe had superb skills of drawing and composition, strategically placing figures within the painting to create the most dramatic effect.

Here, however, de Jonghe conveys emotional impact chiefly through color.  The painting Changeable Weather is a series of grays and blacks punctuated with dots of color to create a somber mood.

The rooms in which our human figure inhabits are washed-out gray.  Wan sunlight through the gauzy portion of the curtain is diffuse, and even the painting behind the figure is indistinct.  The only significant daubs of color are the elaborate shawl draped over the chair, upon which rests her yellow-brown gloves.  This lack of color is accentuated through the blackness of her dress and cape.

The landscape outside the window, too, is washed-out and somber.  Indeed, the simple whiteness of the subject’s complexion becomes an almost incandescent pallor by comparison.  The white bonnet hangs from her hand, and seems to comment on the expectant, hesitant look upon her face.

Finally, the window is closed … heightening the sense of enclosure and compression.

So, yes, as is to be expected, the drawing and composition is executed with de Jonghe’s usual mastery … but what is interesting and significant here is that the sense of foreboding and uneasy expectancy is achieved primarily through color.

A masterful piece of work.

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