27 March 2007

Marguerite Gérard

This is Marguerite Gérard's 1804 Bad News

Clearly, the lady in blue has just read a letter bearing bad tidings. Her attentive friend has produced the smelling salts, which a woman surely needs in such times as these. And even the dog, as though to prove that this isn't just some melodramatic act, looks on with great interest.

Gérard (1761-1837) is another one of those French women painters whose legacy resides at the margins of art and art history. Unlike the other French ladies we've seen this month, Gérard's work wouldn't be confused with David's. It would (and has been) confused with the work of Fragonard, her brother-in-law. The two collaborated, influenced the other's work. It is easy enough to find web references that put Gérard forward as Fragonard's very savior, the influence that saved him from his dedication to Rococo even after the style had fallen out of favor.

Many of Gérard's images are much like the one above. Bad News is a scene of women, and I'd guess it is also intended for women. After all, they attended exhibitions too. Like other painters of her day, Gérard's work centers on the world she lived in, and that world consisted of well appointed homes, loving families, and wealthy friends. With so many women painting and patronizing the arts, it is unsurprising that mundane moments of their lives ended up on canvas.

1 comment:

Dad said...

I am not an expert, for sure, but she does seem to be using colors quite well in this painting and the use of shading to focus your eye in this work. I like it.