Untitled Essay Research Paper Title of Paper

Untitled Essay, Research Paper

Title of Paper : fricke collection

Grade Received on Report : B

The Fricke Collection

Lady Meux v. Frances Duncombe

Donated by the Fricke family is a collection housed on fifth avenue, ranging from sculptures and

paintings, to furniture of renowned artists. Paintings in particular, such as, Whistler’s, Lady Meux and

Gainsborough’s, Frances Duncombe, are classic examples of subtle yet provocative feminist portrayals. The

initial impact of these illustrations is a combination of the surface imagery and the abstract artistic message

conveying politics, religion or personal bias. Artist’s attention to detail on these portrait’s surface, captures

likeness but focuses setting through richness of color and poise into character personality. When

contrasting and comparing two paintings of distinct styles of select eras, conflicting perceptions are created.

Whistler’s, Lady Meux and Gainsborough’s Frances Duncombe both exhibit similar themes however were

dissimilar in character composure, panoramic setting, and mood representation.

In contrasting the portraits, confrontational and vulnerable personalities are clearly visible. These

separate presentations are outlined through Whistler’s Lady Meux’s determined expression and

Gainsborough’s Frances Duncombes subtle sidelong distracted look. Lady Meux exhibits simple

confidence and independence in her concrete and firm stance, as opposed to Duncombe’s fragile and

elegant unsteady footing. Gainsborough captures a complacent vulnerability perhaps suggesting

innocence. Whistler on the other hand, illustrates a more dramatic impact through the direct gaze of Lady

Meux’s expressive eyes which both dare and humble the viewer. Both artists, conveniently shape the

central figures by positioning them in creative scenery.

In each instance, the artist chooses a particular backdrop to heighten or diminish the central figure.

The scenery casts certain illusionistic differences that create the sensation of depth and solidarity. Lady

Meux commands attention as her profile encourages the viewer to step closer and absorb the scene

intimately. This portrait uses opaque colors of greys and pinks to bring out the subject’s features, however

the scope casts a dreariness about the piece. In Frances Duncombe, Gainsborough is careful in surrounding

her in an arboreal landscape, due to the size of the natural scene, the central figure is amplified. The

shadows in the piece engulf the regal subject, perhaps alluding to her place in society, as a solitary figure in

an ambiguous or precarious state. The obscured details of the trees, sunset, and faded classical architecture

seem to melt against Duncombe. The shadowed effect forces the viewer to step back a sufficient distance

to view the painting in it’!

s entirety. The artist purposely decreases Frances Duncombe’s features as if he intended to enhance the

details of her ornate costume instead of the subject herself.

In addition to the backdrop, the artist draws focus thru light and darkness to impress a mood. Both

pieces shroud each figure in obscure shadowy scenes but draw light from the model itself. Whistler, chose

colors such as grey, pink, and flat white, that downplays the heightened glow of her outfit. Gainsborough’s

piece illustrates ashen browns, olives, creams and azure blues in earthy tones to create a sense of mystery.

This portrait, unlike Whistler’s Lady Meux, uses light tones to capture Frances Duncombe’s milky white

flesh. This central figure is ghostly in complection as opposed to Whistler’s painting. Lady Meux appears

healthy in comparison, and shifts the mood by adding a slight pouty expression.

In short, these artists transcend our response into intense contrasting manipulations. Each piece

shares like and contrasting elements, either in Lady Meux’s well endowed form to Duncombes delicate

figure or the satin pink tresses to the satin teal folds of Duncombe’s costume. Both artists incorporate the

abstract as well as shadow and light that either enhances or detracts the femme fatale. On close

examination, each work exhibits calculated strokes that deliver a balanced arrangement of color variations.

The significance of the subject’s status quo, is hinted by each artist, however the possibilities for

interpretations are endless, be it the representation of female appreciation or contrasting inferior bias. In all

instances, the viewer takes with him a primal effect that will continue to last.


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