|John Singer Sargent's Lady Agnew of |
Lochnaw, 1893, in the National Gallery of Scotland.
|The Stone of Scone in the Coronation Chair at Westminster Abbey, 1855.|
|What about her dress? It's not nearly as fanciful as many portraits of wealthy patrons, but it is quite feminine, even as we enter into how powerful her presence is. Arms symbolize strength, we use our arms on a daily basis to lift and carry; the sleeves of her gown are transparent, showing her arms, indicating that Sargent found her to be a strong woman, but those arms are in repose, they aren't using their strength. On the left arm, as it casually hangs down, we see a gold bracelet, suggesting a shackle; since that arm isn't prominently placed to display the jewelry, Sargent provides his commentary on Lady Agnew's marriage and the way this intense woman has been,... domesticated. What about the lavender sash around her impossibly tiny waist? Lavender is derived from purple, purple being both the color of kings and of royalty, because the king is supposed to suffer for his people, not the people suffer for their king. In this instance, the sash seems to be acting more as a chastity belt, suggesting this woman doesn't have a very fulfilling marriage to Lord Agnew, who possibly couldn't be everything his bride needed (this is rather prophetic of Sargent since the marriage produced no children and it was Lord Agnew's nephew who took over the position).. The lavender bows on his arms--again, a symbol of her strength--suggests that she has to hold herself in check with Lord Agnew who possibly didn't like her showing her own strength or, Lady Agnew had to hold herself in check with other members of her own high society, her boldness not being appreciated in the gentler classes.|
|Muddy Alligators, watercolor over graphite on paper, 1917.|
|For the years of World War I, soldiers lived in mud, fought in mud and died in mud. The trenches were elaborate mazes under ground, cold, wet and always depressing.|