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January 08, 2020

Mid-Morning Art Thread [Kris]

Stewart Glade.jpg

The Glade
Julius LeBlanc Stewart

This artist was brought to my attention during a previous art thread. Since I was not familiar with him or his work, I decided to give him a try. This is a highly classical, late academic work, with tiny influences by Manet in the background. I do not know, however, if those influences are intentional or unconscious. In a lot of late Academic art, artists do apply a lot of early Modernism to their works, either to appeal to new tastes or the new styles just creep into the mind of the artist, like the larva of a Ceti eel.

The color scheme is one of contrast but cohesion. The shallow background is filled with different shades of green and yellow, adjacent colors on the color wheel. The glade is pleasantly shaded from the bright, warm sun, which we can see shining through breaks in the trees and shrubbery. It helps to break up the green screen of the background and gives definition to the leaves and trees. It also gives added depth to the work; there’s more to this landscape beyond the background. This forest is thick and lush and alive.

The foreground is dominated by the three beautiful nudes. Stewart doesn’t give us any clues who these women are, but I think they’re the Graces. They lounge in this clearing, enjoying life. The women are highly Classical. Their skin is a light ivory with warm, golden highlights and shadows. One woman is clothed in a pale yellow classical Greek costume. This blends into the color palette and allows the figure to inhabit the scene without being distracting.

In Greek mythology, the Graces are associated with, and attendants of, Aphrodite. They represent beauty in all its manifestations: Nature, Art, Physical, etc., and this painting presents them embodying all of these forms—this is art, they inhabit nature, and they are physically ideal. Traditionally, they aren’t usually named, except Hesiod calls them Joy, Radiance, and Flowering. For me, Joy is lying on the ground, enjoying the cool, soft grass. She is the most relaxed. Radiance is sitting on the stump. She is in full view of the audience, and the light makes her skin glow the most. Flowering, then, is the one still dressed. Since flowering can mean maturing or emergence, she has yet to fully emerge from her coverings. She also has the most flowers in her hair, so she’s flowering in the literal sense too. The Graces were associated with roses and spring flowers. Radiance has a rose and a daisy in her hair too.

Many times in art, the Graces are depicted dancing and frolicking hand-in-hand through a scene. They danced at the wedding of Achilles’s parents, and in Botticelli’s “Primavera,” for example. Here they relax, elegantly. Their figures form a wide acute triangle, but the angle is so wide, it’s almost 90 degrees with the apex at top and the base almost at the very bottom of the picture frame. This is a very stable shape. While a triangle’s basic form implies movement and some action, the right triangle is static and solid. In this work, with a very wide acute angle—it is quiet but still alive. The warm colors in the figures creating this triangle accentuate that vitality.


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posted by CBD at 09:30 AM

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