Monday, June 20, 2011

Art and Beauty Tuesday--John Everett Millais

This 19th century oil on canvas is called Wedding Cards.  Having just come from my own son's wedding over the weekend, I was touched by the contemplative expression on the bride's face, wondering, perhaps, what married life will be like, or perhaps, contemplating leaving the only home she has ever known.

She seems to gaze into the future and abide in the past all at once.

Her face is beautifully rendered and individual, making us feel as though we know her personally.  We in the 21st century are not put off by her 19th century dress.  Its darkness makes it fade a bit into the background and  doesn't overwhelm her personality.

The artist uses touches of blue with tiny bits of green and purple to break up the dark color of the sleeves, and even uses some blue on her hands.

All in all, I think this is a very forward-looking work of art, mixing a painterly style with some modern sketchiness in an overall realistic rendering of this beautiful young woman.

ETA:  Please see the first comment by Diddleymaz for clarification on this painting.  The card is a Victorian calling card sent through the mail to invite the receiver to call on the sender.  The wedding, apparently, is that of the receiver of the card.

This sheds new light on the painting and makes much more sense than my original musings.  As Diddleymaz suggests, perhaps she is wistfully thinking of the groom as being out of her reach forever.

Thanks so much, Diddleymaz for the clarification!


Anonymous said...

Its not a card for her wedding its the visiting cards of a newly married couple sent to her through the post as an invitation to call. British Victorian social etiquette had a whole raft of rules and calling had a whole rule book, look it up,its fascinating.
She is actually thinking about the newly weds. Was he someone she loved and now out of reach ? or is she contemplating the loss of her friend to some strange man?

Dymphna said...

Thanks so much for the clarification!

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"Slavery ended in medieval Europe only because the church extended its sacraments to all slaves and then managed to impose a ban on the enslavement of Christians (and of Jews). Within the context of medieval Europe, that prohibition was effectively a rule of universal abolition. "— Rodney Stark

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