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Francoise In Green
Francoise in Green, Sewing,
oil on Canvas,
Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, Montgomery, Alabama, Gift of the Ida Belle Young Art Acquisition Fund,
Nearby other works in which young working-class children are dressed and posed as upper-class children, this painting captures a fair-skinned white girl of about 10 seated, opulently dressed, and engaged with her sewing pastime.
This work is 81 by 65 cm and hung in portrait orientation. The work is framed by a gold-coloured wood frame which is 12 cm wide and embellished with carved decorative reliefs.
The girl has fine brown hair parted at the side and falling over her shoulder in loose ringlets. Her hair is held back with a red bow over her left ear. She looks down at her fingers, a hands-length from her face, as they presumably thread a needle. Her top is a cape or shawl-like lacy construction that appears through the painting technique to be like frothy foamy water with layers of bright white peeping through blues, greys and muted white brushstrokes. Her green skirt fills the bottom third of the painting, thick brushstrokes cascade its four vertically striped tiers down towards the observer in a symphony of greens. Sunlight spills into the scene from the left above the girl’s shoulder, highlighting the skirt and giving it a satiny glow. Her temple, cheek, shoulder and arm are also lit, giving them a smooth appearance in contrast to the blurred edges of the painting technique. The light also touches the back and arm of the padded, wide, King Louis the 16th style wooden chair she sits on. The chair back is a brownish grey fabric and has a lightly sketched floral pattern set in a decoratively carved thick wood frame. Behind her on the left is a bright green drape, and to the far right past her shoulder is the edge of a wall. Between them, a glimpse into another room with a muted yellow patterned rug, a chair back, and a section of mantlepiece against a far wall.
The artist's signature is in dark blue at the bottom right of the work.
Portrait Of Madame J
Portrait of Madame J (Young Woman in Black),
oil on canvas,
Collection of the Maryland State Archives,
MSA SC 4680-10-0010.
This work is one of 5 spotlit paintings in this section of the exhibition which has 5 angled walls, giving each work its own wall. Here, each of three works by McNicoll and two by Cassatt present us with an elegantly dressed woman posed indoors. In three paintings the woman is positioned on or beside a Chintz sofa or chair.
This work is 80 by 64 cm hung and in portrait orientation. The work is framed by a gold-coloured wood frame which is 10 cm wide and embellished with carved rope and ribbon patterns. A slim young white woman sits forward on an upholstered chair in a tasteful interior. She rests her left elbow on the arm of the chair and gazes off to the left, thinking.
The young woman is dressed in a black, long sleeve riding jacket. It has a high collar with a small decorative swatch of white fabric at the left of her neck. Her dark hair is almost completely covered by a short brimmed black hat with feathers and a thin veil which comes down to just under her lips. The veil gives her face a light greyish hue, making her face appear to be bright between the blacks of her outfit. Her lips are rosy and suggest a slight smile. The chair’s fabric is pale yellow with a floral pattern in red and dark green. Thick, long brushstrokes create the flowers and leaves of the fabric behind the woman and in a small triangle between her side and the bend of her elbow on the armrest. The wall behind her is a brownish purple of mauve and taupe hues with two horizontal lines of gold chair rail moulding on it. Hung above this and behind the top of her hat is a rectangular artwork. Against a white background it features the shape of an arch in brown and yellow which resembles the shape of a handheld fan when opened.
The artist's signature is in black at the bottom right of the work.
Also on display nearby is a video of a discussion in ASL between artists Rae Rezwell and Peter Owusu-Ansah about the work of McNicoll who was also d/Deaf.
The Open Door
The Open Door,
oil on canvas,
Lent by Samuel & Esther Sarick.
First, a moment to discuss the painting techniques which are hallmarks of these impressionist works that will be described in this exhibition. Impressionism is an art movement that was first named in France in the 1870s. Artists took their subject matter from contemporary life, and instead of using a highly realistic style of painting, artists created an ‘impression’ of what they saw through light and colour. In each of the audio described paintings the directionality of light is evident. The artists' techniques vary but can include thick layers of paint, visible brushstrokes such as cross hatching and the layering of colours.
This work is 76 by 63 cm and in portrait orientation. The work is framed by a gold-coloured wood frame which is 8 cm wide and embellished with ornate carved curlicues.
In The Open Door, a vibrantly painted thicket, viewed through a door which sits opened, takes up much of the left half of the painting. A white woman stands just inside the door on the right, focused on her sewing held in her hands. The colours in this piece are muted bluish greys with the exception of the brilliant bright yellows of the foliage, which is one the painting’s focal points.
The woman is slim, young and dark haired with her hair pulled back and worn up. She wears a collared, white floor-length dress cinched at the waist with the sleeves folded to her elbows. Her back is to the door and her slightly raised shoulders are curled forward. Her mouth has fallen slightly open as she focuses on a small swatch of gauzy white fabric or lace. She holds the cloth up for examination close to her face, the tail end of which falls to her waist. Inside the door to her right is a dresser with a mirror that has a gold candlestick and silver metal kettle on it. Out the door, the lush tangle of bushes and a tree glistens with the daylight that filters inside and highlights the woman’s right shoulder, collar, knuckles and skirt. Leaves are indicated with a cross-hatched texture that fill the entire outdoor view. On the far left, on the back of the open door, hang a coat and hat. The woman’s short shadow is cast against the wooden floor.
This work is paired with a Cassatt painting which hangs to its left and is called Young Girl at a Window. It features a young elegantly dressed woman sitting with her back to a window opened to the Paris skyline.
Wood Green And Broadstairs
Wood Green and Broadstairs,
from Gower Sketchbook,
graphite and watercolour on wove paper,
Art Gallery of Ontario, Gift of Jane and John McNicoll, 2002,
Displayed on a table and under Plexiglas, this is one of 8 sketchbooks at the centre of the last room in the exhibition. This room displays the two artists' works in their own right. A series of five colour prints on paper by Cassatt are on one wall, and on the others are paintings from McNicoll’s travels of landscapes and figures.
The vertically oriented sketchbook is 20 cm tall by 16 cm wide and is open to a small watercolour sketch and life drawings of figures in pencil on both of its off-white pages.
In the right upper half of the top page is the watercolour which is slightly larger than a business card. Two thirds is of a dramatic sky with towering grey clouds and one patch of pastel blue near the top. The lower third is a landscape with still waters on the left and a sandy beach and an escarpment rising on the right. Patches of grey, blue and brown dot the beach and indicate bathers at the shore.
Under the watercolour is a sketch of the rear view of a child holding a pail and walking in the sand wearing a sunhat with a ribboned band. In a sketch to the left, another child, also seen from behind, sways in a swimming dress with horizontal stripes.
To the top left and bottom right of the bottom page are inscriptions. The writing at the top left reads: Wood Green May 1903. Under this are three rear view sketches of a barefoot adolescent figure in a skirt. One is standing with their arms in front of them, presumably carrying something. The remaining two sit perched on a ledge, with one facing left with their left knee raised to also rest on the wall.
Writing at the bottom right reads Broadstairs 1903. Spaced around the bottom page are 6 walnut sized sketches of scenes that the artist would have seen during a trip to Broadstairs, on the coast of England. Two depict a child in a sun hat playing with a bucket on the beach. Four are of a person in what resembles a long wool bathing dress and beret-shaped swimming cap. They alternately sit up and recline, leaning on an elbow in the sand, with two sketched as outlines with only a few short strokes of pencil.
Around 60 additional images from all the sketchbooks are shown on a monitor mounted on the wall nearby. The other sketchbooks in the case are opened to show drawings such as: sketches of models, females in the nude and males wearing only loincloths, seaside landscapes and village scenes, pencil portrait sketches, a young boy leaning on a staircase, women beside an easel talking in an art class, and a man standing behind a tripod with a surveyor’s instrument called a Survey Transit Telescope.
The Moose Story
The Moose Story by Art Gallery of Ontario
5 My Mothers Last Hand
My Mother’s Last Hand
from Untitled (Watercolour Notebook)
notebook with 13 watercolours
Audio description of the work
This is a description of a watercolour painting in a notebook which is slightly larger than letter paper size. The notebook is displayed under a plexiglass case at standing height eye level and is open to this watercolour of the palm of a left hand, made as a part of a daily practice of drawing.
Taking up a full page of the right side of the notebook, this line drawing is of a left hand, palm up angling from the bottom left to the top right of the page. The thumb is parallel to the other fingers and is held in a resting position between the pointer and middle fingers. It is in profile and has a short nail quite close to it’s knuckle. The hand, drawn in black ink, has cross hatched shading on the right side of the fingers and on it’s heel and springlike coils of hair along its thick wrist. It is shaded in with a watery magenta. The space on the page above it, on the left, is purple and below it, is yellow. Written diagonally along its upper flank are the words -Quote “My mother’s last hand” end quote.
Looming large beside the work on the right is a giant reproduction of a watercolour painting of a woman reclining, A work Cohen created after the style of a painting featuring what he would have called an Odalisque, an eroticized artistic genre in which a concubine is represented mostly or completely nude in a reclining position.
End of Audio Description.
Exhibition label text:
This watercolour notebook contains 13 drawings made by Cohen over several years and executed in a consistent style. The full selection can be seen on the monitor to the left. Many are annotated with a single line or couplet that responds to the content and mood suggested by the drawing. The notebook is open at the page that shows the hand of his mother, Masha, who died in 1978. He later explained: quote “Drawn in the last few months of her life, it is her hand and my hand drawn as one.” end quote
End of Exhibition label text.