James McNeill Whistler - Harmony in Blue and Silver: Trouville 1865

Symphony in White, No. 2. The Little White Girl 1864 Blue and Silver Trouville 1865 Crepuscule in Opal Trouville 1865 Harmony in Blue and Silver. Trouville 1865 Sea and Rain. Variations in Violet and Green 1865 The Beach at Selsey Bill 1865 The Princess from the Land of Porcelain 1865
Harmony in Blue and Silver: Trouville 1865

Harmony in Blue and Silver: Trouville 1865
49x75cm oil/canvas
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston

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From Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston:
In this painting, a dynamic tension between surface pattern and the evocation of expansive space is reinforced by the ambiguous direction of the gaze of Courbet’s small figure at the lower left. If the figure’s head is turned toward the right, then he gazes diagonally across the sands, with his “Assyrian” beard visible in profile, though wearing his hat at an oddly precarious angle. Alternatively, the figure might be looking straight out to sea, as the hat’s placement tends to suggest. The ambiguous direction of the figure’s gaze may be taken to relate to the picture’s suspension between flat immediacy and expansive depth: in one reading, the figure directly confronts the flat bands of color; in the other reading, the figure gazes across a sea that recedes toward a vanishing point defined by a sailboat in the middle distance and a second boat on the far horizon.