This past weekend I was in Winnipeg for a wedding in my family. It was a wonderful trip. While I was there Ian and I dropped into the Winnipeg Art Gallery. They had an exhibit of Greek sculptures that was fabulous. I will talk about them another time. I want to share two paintings from the gallery.
Here I am in front of one of the paintings.
Afternoon Tea (The Gossips), 1889, Sir John Everett Millais, Winnipeg Art Gallery
What and how artists choose to paint a subject is always interesting to me. These girls are in their fancy clothes having a tea party…that is fun. I know that I have had tea parties with my nieces Natalie and Madeline and we have also dressed up in our finery. :) I found the lighting interesting as they are in full light but not bright sunlight. I don’t know many kids who would have a picnic under a cloudy sky but maybe this was staged in Millais’ studio. , I see that the shadows are soft like a cloudy day, and the folds in the dresses are very well done. I still have this fascination with fabric which I suspect it will last a long time. The pug is the only one looking directly at the artist. There was no accompanying text with this painting. But there is an interesting story around this painting.
I got this off the WAG website: “The Winnipeg Art Gallery announced the acquisition through gift by donation from the Honourable Douglas Everett of Winnipeg and his family in memory of his wife Patricia Everett. This is one of the finest paintings created by Sir John Everett Millais, a leading 19th century British artist… This extraordinary donation is one of the largest gifts of an individual artwork to the WAG in its 98-year history.”
Then the news release continues about the artist: “John Everett Millais 1829–1896 won a place at the Royal Academy Schools at the unprecedented age of eleven for his amazing talent. He founded the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood in 1848 with William Holman Hunt and Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Millais has been called “the presiding artistic genius of his age.”
And here is what they say about the painting: “Afternoon Tea presents a captivating image of childhood-infectious and delightful-with an immediacy of impact, painted with great vivacity. It is the epitome of style that evolved over the last 20 years of Millais’ career, touching on a theme that is consistent throughout his entire career. As with many of his works, the artist endeavored to embrace the broadest possible audience in his celebration of the art of art’s sake aesthetic. Over a century later, the picture is now accessible to a new generation of audiences.” (with some editing)
“The Story”, 1890, George Agnew Reid (Canadian), Winnipeg Art Gallery
The second painting is a group of boys. I love the lighting in this painting. It is so dramatic. Look at how only one boy has full light on his face. I loved how the artist chose to highlight the light where he wants you first to look. The first place my eyes went to was the ‘story tellers’ face.
The text under the painting revealed: “…In this painting the Artist transforms a banal scene of boys in a hayloft into a heroic statement. Before beginning this painting, Reid constructed the actual hayloft in his studio (imagine having a studio large enough to do that). He carefully arranged all elements, particularly the lighting, in order to best illuminate the narrative and express the desired sentimental effect.”
So the last thing I want to say about these paintings…the names of them are very revealing. Boys are story tellers…Girls are gossips. Really!?! I know that these paintings were done in 1890’s but the sad part is that I don’t think that we have fully moved beyond that dichotomy yet. That is my little side comment beyond the actual amazing paintings.
Now I would like to wish my parents a very Happy 54th Anniversary to my parents! Don’t you just love the smiles. :)
Then on to the festivities that had us travel to Winnipeg in the first place. I am texting to our sons who are in Alberta and Australia watching the live feed. Ian is waving Hi! There were people from all over Canada, Brazil and elsewhere watching! :)
The bride was stunningly beautiful!
Congratulations to my brother and his new wife! It was a joy to witness your love for each other.
See you on Monday. I will have a painting to share by then. It has been a busy time. This weekend is filled with teaching, both Saturday and Sunday.