Tuesday, April 15, 2014

VFFT week 9 - Young Woman Drawing by Marie-Denise Villers

Young Woman Drawing by Marie-Denise Villers (1801, oil on canvas, 63 1/2 x 50 5/8 in. (161.3 x 128.6 cm)

Outside of Rembrandt, Villers takes the cake for portraiture for me. She had a sharp eye for capturing light and feeling in her paintings and, quite frankly, she doesn't get enough credit for. I mean, the lady's work was credited to her teacher, Jacques-Louis David for most of her lifetime! As an artist, the very thought makes my skin crawl.

This painting is about life size and is twice as brilliant in person (See it at the MET!). The brush strokes and depth within the portrait make you feel like you can walk straight into it and peak at what she is drawing. Is she drawing the viewer? hmmm....

Everything, from the hem of her gown to the crack in the window is made with incredible care. She was certainly a master in her own right. In fact, she was an observer of common life way before the impressionists took up that task. Her paintings of water maids and peasant women and children are both romantic and heart rendering at the same. She took time for them while the masters around her were still depicting Roman and Greek mythology. While her painting style is very different, her work seems kindred to that of Jean-Francois Millet, decades later. Both emphasized a respect for the people they were rendering.

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