Monday, October 5, 2009

Piercing Eyes

Recently, I quoted a passage from Count Sforza's memoirs, comparing and contrasting Queen Elisabeth of Belgium and her tragic aunt, Empress Sissi. Here is another excerpt from Makers of Modern Europe, describing the Queen's all too truthful artwork...
...(A) few years ago, Elisabeth discovered that she had eyes with which to see the external manifestations of life. I have never seen any one probe so searchingly as she does into the mystery- and often the horror- that a human face hides. She tried painting, and succeeded. She paints now, almost always human faces, faces of men and women in the ripe period of their life. A strange gallery it is, frequently with evident technical faults, but always with, described on each face, the deepest psychological traits that one makes even from oneself: Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. But the manner is not purposely cruel; or it is only cruel as everything true is cruel. Her technique as a painter reminds one of some early German master; just a touch of external gaucherie; a certain gray monotony of color, but with something so genuine, so seen-through. Some of her models seem sometimes as if they had forced her to paint as Hogarth drew. But one quickly realizes that there is no trace here of the caricatural overloading of Hogarth; if we feel the Hogarth touch, it is simply because of the models, as she sees them around her...
Unfortunately, I have never come across any of Elisabeth's paintings but here are a few samples of Hogarth's satirical work...

The Shrimp-Girl (1740-1745)
Hogarth's Servants (mid 1750's)

2 comments:

Pilgrim said...

I´ve seen HRH´s painting at the Gallerie Royale in Buxelles. The Queen had a bit of Ensor style mixed with v.Stuck, idk., I´m no expert in painting, but I know a fine one from a naive one. :-D Propz Pilgrim

Matterhorn said...

Interesting! Thanks.