|John Singer Sargent's Lady Agnew of |
Lochnaw in the National Gallery of Scotland.
But this is the most important element of the painting: her comfortable, beautiful chair is pushed into a corner. If we play a political game for a moment, Lady Agnew is not a socialite beauty, rather, a symbol of Scotland itself.
|The Stone of Scone in the Coronation Chair at Westminster Abbey, 1855.|
Lady Agnew is beautiful and wealthy, pampered and safe, but also, a prisoner: her golden bracelet on her left wrist indicates that she's bound; a prisoner may be bound in chains of gold, but she is a prisoner nonetheless (see the blog posted below on Ingres for additional comparisons of high society portraits). Now the ambiguous coloring of the wall behind her suggests that she is being lured by either hopes (if it's green) of future independence or lulled to sleep (if it's closer to blue) by her comfortable position in the corner.
Now that we understand Sargent's vocabulary a little better, let's go to some bigger political games.
|Muddy Alligators, watercolor over graphite on paper, 1917.|
|For years, soliders lived in mud, fought in mud and died in mud.|
The medium used was pencil on paper, then painted in with watercolors, and it's an uncanny statement of how events unfolded: treaties were signed between all the powers (the graphite on paper) and then the blood and carnage of the warring states filled in the empty places of what all those treaties actually meant, blood and carnage (the dripping watercolors). This was Sargent's statement on war: like the reptiles from antiquity, man hungers for power and gains it through war, and now, we've been dragged into it.
As always, much more could be written about both these works by John Singer Sargent, however, this is just a blogspot.
(I would like to make a personal note: I LOVE THE BRITISH. Given the current administration's continuous insults to our steadfast allies, I would like to emphasize my great and sincere admiration for the British people and their culture, and beg their pardon for the way "certain" politicians in power for the moment have treated them).